Friday, February 14, 2014

Jonathan Gould shares an excerpt of his latest work - Scrawling! #excerpt

Abites - I'm privileged today to have Jonathan Gould stop by to share with us an excerpt of his latest book - Scrawling. 

One reader has said of Scrawling, "This story is witty and sharp, but also satirical; satire is something Jonathan does particularly well. I guarantee this third outing with Neville will amuse, entertain and charm you, and like me, you’ll be fidgeting in anticipation of his next book." 

Neville waited expectantly for the class to begin. He watched as the Teacher Fish opened its mouth. He listened carefully as the Teacher Fish uttered two words:
“Swim away!”
Immediately, the rest of the class echoed the cry.
“Swim away,” they all screamed.
Neville looked around, trying to figure out what had caused such panic to descend on the previously well-ordered class. At first, he couldn’t see anything. Then he realised there seemed to be some sort of dark shadow approaching from directly behind them.

“What is it?” he cried.
None of the other fish were interested in taking the time to tell him. With what seemed like effortless twitching of their fins and tails, they quickly vanished, leaving Neville all alone at the bottom of the sea.
Not quite all alone. There was still the matter of the shadow, which was rapidly gaining in both size and darkness.
Neville tried to copy the other fish and twitch his fins and tail, or at least his nearest equivalent, but it didn’t do him any good. There was no way he could swim away so quickly. With the speed the shadow was approaching, he had no chance of getting out of the way in time.
By now, it was no longer just a shadow. A more precise shape was defining itself. Like the fish in the Teacher Fish’s school, this creature was also made entirely out of words, but the words weren’t very nice. And the shape of this creature was definitely not very nice, either.
It was huge: easily four times as big as Neville. It had a long, sleek body, narrowing down towards the far end, before widening out into a powerful tail. Atop its back was a large triangular fin, and at its front end, a broad jaw opened up, full of razor-sharp teeth.
Even from a distance, Neville had no doubt what this creature was: the most fearsome predator that lurked beneath the sea. The one beast most feared by all who entered the water. And it was getting closer and closer.
Neville did his best. He paddled with his arms, and kicked with his legs, but there was no way he could outswim this monster. He was the outsider, caught in the domain of the beast. Escaping from its grasp did not seem possible.
The brute was almost upon Neville. Its massive jaws gaped ever wider, and even though there was very little light this far down in the sea of words, still the teeth inside glistened and gleamed.
Neville was still paddling and kicking for all he was worth, trying in vain to outswim the beast. At any second, he expected to feel those teeth ripping into him.
But the monster didn’t bite. Instead, from out of its gaping mouth, words flew out.
“Call that swimming? You couldn’t win a dog-paddle race in a field of cats.”
Neville stopped, momentarily relieved. Could it be that this creature didn’t want to eat him, after all?
Then the words hit him. A couple struck him in the arms, and a couple struck him in the legs, but most of them slammed straight into his midriff.
“Owww,” Neville wailed. Where they had connected, the words stung and burnt. It was like being hit with steaming-hot acid.
“Oh dear, a bit dainty are we?” More words flew at Neville from the mouth of the creature. More burning pain exploded across Neville’s body where they hit.
“Ouch, that really hurts,” Neville cried. “What are you doing?”
“You don’t know?” said the monster, shaking its head. “You’ve got less spine than a jellyfish and fewer brains than a sea sponge.”
The words sped towards Neville like deadly torpedoes. Luckily, this time he was half ready, and he managed to dodge most of them, though a couple just grazed his chest. He rubbed at the angry red marks, doing his best to relieve that burning feeling.
“Your words are really hurting me,” he said.
The monster laughed. “Of course my words are hurting you. Words are the deadliest weapons there are. If you really want to hurt somebody, the best thing you can use against them is words.”
Neville was ducking and weaving, trying to avoid the words as they rocketed towards him. He found that the first few, the ones projected while the creature was laughing, hurt even more than the others.
“Why do you want to do that?” said Neville, after the last of the words had hurtled past.
“Why would I want to do what?” sneered the creature.
“Hurt other people with words.” Neville prepared himself to take evasive action.
The creature laughed again. “Because I can. Because it’s fun. But mostly, because idiots like you are constantly asking for it. If you say something stupid, I’m going to be gunning for you. And as far as I can tell, that means every time you open your mouth.”
“Do you really think everything I say is stupid?” said Neville, as his body contorted in three directions at once in an attempt to avoid the rapid-fire words.
“Without a doubt,” the giant fish scoffed. “You’re as thick as an overfed sperm whale. You’re as dumb as a mouthless toadfish. You’re as—”
“Hang on a minute,” Neville cried, trying to gain some relief from the seemingly endless barrage of stinging insults. “I think I know what your game is. You’re softening me up before you try and eat me.”
“Oh, that takes the cake,” the monster chortled. “You think I want to eat you. That’s the stupidest thing you’ve said so far, and you’ve already said a whole bunch of really stupid stuff.”
“You don’t want to eat me?”
“Why would I want to eat you? I’m having far too much fun with you just the way you are.”
“But I thought creatures like you were always looking to eat other creatures. Isn’t that what you do?”
“Creatures like me? What sort of creature am I, according to your totally inadequate mind?”
“It’s obvious, isn’t it?” said Neville, now starting to feel quite exhausted from matching wits with this rather unpleasant creature, as well as continual pain from the bombardment of words he had long since given up trying to dodge. “You’re a shark, aren’t you?”
“That’s the best one yet,” roared the monster, bursting into more burning torrents of laughter. “You think I’m a shark.”
“You look like a shark,” said Neville.
“You really think I’m a shark?”
“Well, if you’re not a shark, what are you?”
“I’m certainly not a shark,” said the creature. “Though I suppose a dimwit like you might think I resemble one. But I’m something much, much nastier. Something that can do a lot more damage. Something you definitely want to stay well away from. I’m a Snark.”
Neville recoiled in shock. It all made sense. He could see why those words caused so much pain when they struck him. He understood why the other fish had fled as soon as they saw this monster approaching. A Snark was definitely one of the nastiest beasts you would ever want to meet, especially down at the bottom of a sea of words.
Fortunately, Neville had a good idea how to handle a Snark. He knew it wouldn’t do him any good to try to stand firm and bear the pain of the words hurled in his direction. There was a far more effective way of dealing with creatures like this.
Neville turned and began walking away.
“Can’t take the pressure,” the Snark sniggered. “You’ve got as much guts as a filleted codfish.”
The words pounded into Neville’s back, but they didn’t seem to hurt anywhere near as much as when they had hit him in the front.
The Snark tried again. “Too scared to face the music. If a marching band came past, you’d probably faint from shock.”
The words pinged off Neville’s back with all the impact of table tennis balls.
Still, the Snark wouldn’t let it go. “I could paint a picture of you, and I’d only need one colour,” it cried. “Yellow.”
This time, Neville hardly felt anything. The Snark’s words were losing their impact completely.
“At least this way I get to see your best side,” the Snark called after Neville, somewhat pathetically. Then there was the swish of a fin and a whooshing sound. When Neville finally turned around, he could barely see the shadow of the beast disappearing into the distance.

Want to check out Scrawling for yourself? Just click here to go to its Amazon page. 


Sequel number two for the Goodreads Choice semi-finalist Doodling.

Neville Lansdowne drowned in a sea of words.

Of course, he didn't really drown. You can't actually drown in a sea of words. But you can sink a long way down into its depths, and that's exactly what happened to Neville.

Deep down in an undersea world constructed entirely out of words, Neville meets some peculiar new companion and soon finds himself in the middle of another strange and wholly unexpected adventure.

For more stories that stand out from the crowd, check out these other books by Jonathan Gould:

Doodling: More strange and unexpected adventures for Neville Lansdowne.
: Even more strange and unexpected adventures for Neville Lansdowne.
Magnus Opum
: An epic fantasy that's slightly skewed - Tolkien with a twist. 
Flidderbugs: A political satire, a fable, or maybe just a funny little story about a bunch of bugs with some very peculiar obsessions.

About the Author:

Jonathan Gould has lived in Melbourne, Australia all his life, except when he hasn't. He has written comedy sketches for both the theatre and radio, as well as several published children's books for the educational market.
He likes to refer to his stories as dag-lit because they don't easily fit into recognisable genres (dag is Australian slang
for a person who is unfashionable and doesn't follow the crowd - but in an amusing and fun way). You might think of them as comic fantasies, or modern fairytales for the young and the young-at-heart.

Over the years, his writing has been compared to Douglas Adams, Monty Python, A.A. Milne, Lewis Carroll, the Goons, Dr Seuss, Terry Pratchett, and even Enid Blyton (in a good way).


  1. Thanks A.B. for having me here today.

    1. It's my pleasure Jonathan. Thanks for sharing your excerpt with us. :)