I hosted a fantastic guest post from Peter Taylor-Gooby here on Linda’s Book Bag about why he writes dystopian fiction when The Baby Auction was published and having reviewed Peter’s Ardent Justice here, I’m thrilled to welcome Peter back to tell me about his latest book, Blood Ties.
Staying in with Peter Taylor-Gooby
Welcome back to Linda’s Book Bag Peter and thank you for agreeing to stay in with me.
Tell me, which of your books have you brought along to share this evening and why have you chosen it?
Blood Ties, my most recent novel. I’m sure I could think of a good reason, maybe it’s got something to say about the strange mixture of isolation and kindness that seems to mark our times as we huddle in our houses and come to wave to our neighbours, or leave a few vegetables on their doorsteps or clap the NHS. The truth is that the book’s just out and I want to talk about it!
I can fully understand that. Congratulations on your third book Peter!
What can we expect from an evening in with Blood Ties?
It’s set in the context of people-trafficking but it’s really about the mingled love and tension between a father and his two children whose paths in life are very different.
That sounds very affecting Peter.
Here’s an extract:
Argon Road slants off the North Circular to the trading estate behind Ikea.
‘You’ll wait for us? Ten minutes?’ I hand over an extra £20.
The door locks click and he’s off.
I pull my coat tight and look round. The air’s damp from the river and smells of diesel fumes and tarmac.
Two-storey corrugated iron sheds line the road, each with its compound, behind a three-metre metal fence. Harsh yellow streetlights clustered in fours on forty metre poles cast midnight shadows. I feel like an intruder in a giant’s world. A huge lorry with blank sides like a moving fortress glides past, the driver invisible in the cab. In the background the roar of the A406 is continuous, here there’s the pulse of solitary engines and the occasional shout and clatter of iron crates, but no movement I can see.
I shift closer to Nic but she’s concentrating on the torn packet, holding it out in front of her as if it’s a map and she expects to see landmarks. I shade my eyes to look for numbers on the buildings.
The letters SPM in lime-green neon, superimposed on a golden bullock, shine out from a scaffolding above a one-storey shed at the end of the row.
Nic’s ahead of me, I half run to keep up with her.
I can’t catch my breath.
‘Slow down, we’ve got to keep together.’
‘That’s it,’ she says again. ‘Don’t you see – they outsource. No forced workers actually in your restaurant, just in the packing shed.’
‘Nic, it’s just a business. Come on, you need to get home. We’ll sort out your pills.’
The windows along the side of the shed are ablaze with light. I smell the sour salt smell of blood and see people moving around inside. The fence is higher than the one for the next compound, and the gates are locked. Nic stands back, checking it where it turns a corner. The air’s chill on my face and I start to shiver inside my overcoat. She doesn’t seem to notice the cold.
She hooks her fingers into the wire mesh above her head and hoists herself up. I grab at her belt.
‘Don’t be a fool. That’s razor-wire on top.’
‘Lend me your coat.’
Her shoes are too broad to get a foothold. I catch her as she slithers down. She stumbles backwards against me and I get my arms round her.
She pauses for a second, leaning back into my chest. She’s so cold. I open my coat and wrap it round her. For a few moments neither of us moves. I could stand there, like that, forever, they’d find us frozen in the morning. She stirs and rattles the fence.
‘Thanks Dad. Let’s go.’
I take her hand.
‘I’ll see if we can get a cab on the main road.’
That is so intriguing. Now, of course, I’m desperate to know what happens next. I’m so glad I have a copy of Blood Ties to read.
What else have you brought along and why?
A bottle of wine because it helps the conversation along, some of my homemade treacle cake (Grandmother’s recipe!) and my earnest desire that we come out of this grim, glum crisis with a determination to keep the good things: kindness to strangers, generosity to the vulnerable who can’t get to the supermarket, our appreciation of all those from nurses to carers to delivery drivers who make our lives possible.
You can have the wine Peter as it doesn’t suit me, but I’m right with you for the treacle cake and your wishes. I think we need social and Blood Ties more than ever. Thanks so much for being here and chatting to me about what sounds like another brilliant read.
Thanks for inviting me along, Linda.
Blood Ties is about love, betrayal and compassion. Ritchie, a successful advertising executive, is blackmailed into leading a campaign to make modern slavery acceptable to the public. His children, activists in the struggle against people-trafficking, are horrified. The novel tells of his journey through a Britain where rich and poor live as close and as distant as the cheeks of the blade of an axe, and how he finds that it is only through self-sacrifice that he can reunite his family.
Blood Ties is currently available in e-book from all online sellers including here.
I shall be sharing my review of Blood Ties on 28th August 2020 to coincide with the paperback release day so do come back then and find out what I thought!
About Peter Taylor-Gooby
Peter enjoys talking to his children, holidays, hill-walking and riding his bike. He has worked on adventure playgrounds, as a teacher, as an antique dealer and in a social security office in Newcastle. Before that Peter spent a year on a Gandhian Ashram in Vijayawada, supporting himself as assistant editor on a local English-language newspaper. In his day job Peter is an academic but believes that you can only truly understand the issues that matter to people through your feelings, your imagination and your compassion. That’s why he writes novels.
His first novel, The Baby Auction, 2017, is a love story set in a fantasy world where the only rule is the law of the market. That someone should help another because they care for them simply doesn’t make sense to the citizens of Market World, any more that auctioning babies might to us. His second, Ardent Justice, 2018, is a crime story set in the world of high finance and city fat-cats, where money rules, but greed can trip even the most successful. Peter’s latest book, Blood Ties, 2020, is about the ties of love in a troubled family, and the bonds of debt that chain illegal immigrants to people-traffickers, and how they can be broken through self-sacrifice. He hopes you enjoy them.
For more information you can follow Peter on @PeterT_G.