Having reached a point where I’m probably two thirds of the way through my life, I seem to be reminiscing about the past increasingly frequently these days. When Andrew Carter got in touch about his latest book I realised I’m not the only one so I invited Andrew to stay in with me on Linda’s Book Bag and tell me all about it.
Staying in with Andrew Carter
Welcome to Linda’s Book Bag Andrew, Thank you for agreeing to stay in with me.
First of all, thank you so much for inviting me to do this feature. As a relatively new author starting out, any opportunity to get my work out to potential readers is massively appreciated.
(It’s my pleasure. I’m hoping to be in your position myself one day and I know how hard it is to get your book noticed.)
Tell me, which of your books have you brought along to share this evening and why have you chosen it?
I have brought my second book, The Thing Is, which has just come out, published by Proverse. The book is a collection of (hopefully amusing and entertaining) anecdotal tales from my life so far. I’ll admit, this doesn’t sound too spectacular and I probably need a new pitch but, if you stay with me, hopefully, I can sell it a bit…
(Oh, I don’t know. If your life has been anything like mine The Thing Is could be a real eye opener!)
What can we expect from an evening in with The Thing Is?
The book begins with one of the strangest, and worst, days of my life. I was 19 and on my gap year. It is impossible to say gap year without sounding middle class and annoying, isn’t it? To be honest, I imagine I was pretty annoying at 19. I was an idiot.
(Many 19 year olds frequently are I think…)
Anyway, after saving up through call centres by day and fast food outlets by night, my pals and went on a (insert cliché here) round-the-world travelling trip. We’d had an incredible time in Asia, Australia and South America, experiencing new cultures and traditions, trying exciting new activities, and forming lasting bonds with like-minded souls (drank too much, run out money, crashed a scooter and attempted to romance foreign women with little success.)
(That sounds like a pretty compulsory approach!)
Our trip culminated in Rio De Janeiro and we arrived at the airport for our flight home hungover, exhausted and ready for some boiled vegetables. Sadly I realized I’d left my passport in the pockets of some shorts I’d spilled red wine on and thrown in a bin at our hostel the previous evening. I urged my pals to go home without me and, following a fairly severe public breakdown where I was moved along by airport staff, went to an internet café to cry a bit and email my mum. On opening my Hotmail account, I discovered a new email in broken English from the one foreign lady I’d had a modicum of romance with. A Bolivian. She said she was pregnant and the baby was mine. Bad day, eh?
(Er – probably not your most stress-free I imagine. Having been to Rio I can see that the location might have been tricky too Andrew.)
Hopefully this tale gets readers invested in the book, which then goes back to my childhood days with stories of playground tough guys, Sunday League football and bizarre family traditions, such as the time my mother made me wear half a boiled onion strapped to the side of my head to supposedly cure a bout of an earache.
(That made me laugh. I immediately had a vision of you complete with onion.)
The book then explores my formative years with park cider sessions, fake IDs, clumsy attempts at finding a girlfriend, and my time as a guitarist in a (fairly appalling) punk rock band. I particularly enjoyed writing about this period when life was, in turn, exhilarating and excruciating. Indeed, these years have shaped who I’ve become and my taste in fashion, music, films and friends has not changed all that much in the subsequent 15 + years. Whether this is a good thing or not, I’m not sure.
In the final third, I share anecdotes from my twenties including the gap year travels, meeting my wife at university and trying that little bit too hard to look cool (spikey sideburns and an overplaying of my interest in drum and bass music). There are also chapters about a range of poor to terrible jobs I’ve had, as well as my clueless post-university period, which resulted in clearing off to China to teach English.
I’ve been fortunate to have a good upbringing and travel around the world etc., but I haven’t climbed Everest barefoot or wrestled sharks and I’m aware that on paper my life hasn’t been all that remarkable. I hope, though, this is where the charm lies and people will enjoy reading stories they can relate to.
(I think The Thing Is sounds very entertaining.)
What else have you brought along and why?
I have brought four pints of Carling with me. I don’t particularly like Carling but it used to be £1.29 in The Three Horseshoes, my local pub. In my teens and early twenties, if I scrabbled together £6, I could have four pints, a packet of KP nuts and one go on Deal or No Deal on the quiz machine. What more do you need in life? There were periods where my friends and I would do this 3-4 nights a week and we had some wonderful evenings.
(Having lived on rum and black whilst playing the space invaders machine every lunch time at university, I can see where you’re coming from here Andrew.)
When I read a book, I like to feel that the story could have been told by a pal in the pub, and I hope The Thing Is has this effect. For the most part, it’s a fun, light-hearted read, but I’d like to think there are deeper, more touching parts too. A bit like when you’re on that fourth pint and open up about how you feel about that girl at work, or how life isn’t necessarily going as well as you make it out to be.
Now that I have a wife, a son and a mortgage, I don’t go to the pub and have four pints of Carling with my friends all that often. I’m not complaining as life is great now and spending nursery fees on lager is frowned upon, but I do miss those carefree evenings. In many ways, writing The Thing Is replaced the role of The Three Horseshoes. It’s been a chance to blow off steam, talk nonsense and reminisce, and I hope people enjoy reading it as much as I’ve enjoyed writing it.
I hope they do too Andrew. Thanks so much for staying in with me to chat all about The Thing Is and good luck with it.
The Thing Is
Andrew Carter is a man in his thirties with a wife and child, greying hair and a tendency to go to bed before 10pm. His second book, The Thing Is, is a collection of charming and hilarious tales about all that went on before.
From a childhood where he cheated in chess tournaments and tough kids stole his SNES games, he grows into an adolescence including dalliances with drink and drugs, attempts at punk rock stardom and an overwhelming desire to look cool in front of girls.
Wanderlust takes him across the globe where there’s a spot of bother in Bolivia, Australia in a battered van, a police chase in the Greek mountains and a stint as a minor celebrity in Hong Kong.
There are late nights and fistfights, Sunday league struggles, call centre hell, a campus love story and a whole lot more.
Like a perfect conversation with your pals in the pub, you’ll feel fuzzy with nostalgia, wince in recognition and laugh out loud.
The Thing Is is available for purchase here.
About Andrew Carter
Andrew Carter is an author from Leeds. His first novel, Bright Lights and White Nights, a comedy crime caper inspired by the three years he spent living in Hong Kong, was published by Proverse in 2015 and received critical acclaim.
Since then, Andrew has written articles for Forbes, Coconuts Hong Kong, and Leeds City Dweller.
His second book, The Thing Is, a hilarious collection of anecdotal tales, is out now.
Andrew has a day job as a probation officer and lives with his wife and young son in Leeds.