Many years ago I began writing a book about a family, but I couldn’t make it work. Truth is, my writing wasn’t good enough, and it took another 10 years before it probably was.
The catalyst to begin writing this book was an article by Melvyn Bragg where he bemoaned the absence of ‘the working class novel’, with characters from the past who will simply be forgotten. ‘Dead Dog Floating’ is about these people, a dysfunctional family, a father with dreams he never had the courage to reach for and a mother who becomes the victim of her own making.
It is a book about the struggle for jobs in a failing midlands industrial town, and most of all it is a book about the loss of innocence and childhood
I realised though that the difficulty I had writing this book was because it isn’t really about a family. They are a cast of gruesome characters who demonstrate their inadequacies at every turn, but they are props. The book is about a 12-year old boy called Derek Jackson. By letting him talk, I found my own 12-year-old self, and together we told Derek’s story about his struggle to try and fix a broken family, the search for his absconded father, and his at times logical take on life and at others the fantastical.
We also honoured three dead boys who otherwise would be forgotten and the people who laboured, lost and loved in a drab rain-soaked midlands town where we both grew up
Most of all though, Derek made me laugh. I laughed at his innocent irreverence, his resilience in the face of adversity, his language and his courage.
In essence he allowed me to write a story few adults could write because he chose me, and I enjoyed every minute. I hope you do to, and that in the end you love Derek Jackson aged 12 as much as I do. He even has his own Facebook page if you would like to take a look.
There is also a video which you may like to watch. Please click here.
‘A warm, moving, funny, poignant read with more than a whiff
of Alan Bennett and Roddy Doyle. A novel to make you laugh and cry.’
Sophie Duffy- author of ‘The Generation Game’.
EDITOR: If you would like to read Simon's article on The Truth About Us, see here.