Controversial relationship manuscript to get a ‘dusting’

“The demons are those shadowy thoughts that lurk in the deep recesses of our minds. You know, the painful ones that loiter on the periphery of our consciousness just waiting for a song, place, smell or taste to order them to the fore and remind us just how much we miss someone.” Extract from COMING UP FOR AIR.

So, it’s the early hours of the morning and by early I mean 04,00 and, in the immortal words of Faithless, ‘I can’t get no sleep’.

It’s naturally frustrating  because, after  a very busy week of early starts, the weekend generally tends to be the time to sleep in yet, for some obscure reason, my body has decided that to get a natural night’s sleep at weekends would be a total waste of perfectly productive and useful time.   The nett result is that I have a newfound respect for all fellow insomniacs out there!

The cause of my new-found  insomnia is unknown but I’m attributing it to a series of big projects that I’m involved with at the moment; one of them being Casa Bella’s latest  event; Halloween which is taking place on October 29th. Things are not exactly going to plan at the moment as I’m having a particularly tough time sourcing the costumes and props that I’d like since these only appear to be available from the USA! What’s that all about?  Okay, so maybe our cousins across the pond are more into the whole Halloween thing but don’t people know I have an experience to develop and I can’t do that with the everyday chintz that most UK retailers believe is the only acceptable way of celebrated ‘the dark side’ of the year.

Meanwhile, I’m being continuously asked about new writing projects and, of course, my immediate response  is “there’s too much else going on right now” but then I have to ask myself how much of that is ‘writer procrastination’? After all, writers write, don’t they? Even at 04:00 in the morning.  So, am I procrastinating?   Generally speaking, I’d have to say no as there really are some very important developments happening in my life right now and there truly are not enough hours in the day, hence my body’s compulsion to expel me, most prematurely, from the arms of Morpheus.  Mercifully, I’m expecting a lot of this to reach a conclusion by the end of the year.

That said,  the other night I was enjoying some well deserved downtime with the somewhat

One of the US Marines featured in Coming Up for Air

traditional practice of settling on the sofa with good friends, a snugly throw,  hot tea and a good selection of luxury biscuits, when we ended up discussing an old writing project of mine, called COMING UP FOR AIR; a non fictional novel, in some places autobiographical,  about relationships.  The concept was inspired by the somewhat dramatic collapse of my own six year relationship and reads just like most novels but with a difference; each story is 100% true. The scene setting is based on the narrative as relayed by the real life protagonists. Between chapters, it also features my own assessment of each case but invites you to make up your own mind. Remember, ‘there’s always two sides to  every story’ and, where I can, I try to include both, which may explain why this project  has gathered the proverbial dust for so many years. The manuscript features just a few of  hundreds real life stories, including my own which is not without its own controversy.  Of course, as the author, I could exact a few edits here and there but then it wouldn’t be true to the book’s premise or its purpose; which is to highlight why, as humans, we can be so loving yet hurtful to one another.

The good, the bad, the ugly and the beautiful in the first draft of  Coming Up for Air was  compiled over two years, one of these spent researching (interviewing)  literally hundreds of people both in the USA and the UK about their personal relationships. I heard all sorts and it has given me  a unique insight into the human factor. The process itself turned out to be an incredible  adventure featuring a series of  planes, trains, automobiles, and SUVs and led to a  collaboration with the Pentagon and, by association, members of the United States Air Force and United States Marine Corps. Many interviews took place right here in the UK  at RAF Mildenhall and Lakenheath where I was fortunate enough to receive exclusive clearance to the bases and access to US Air Force personnel  at the height of the post 9/11 security alerts. Interestingly, the research process  led me  to the very place where my own relationship began and and where it met its demise; the depths of North Carolina.  It  was an effective cathartic exercise but not necessarily one I’d recommend.

So, on the charge of  procrastination, in this case only,  I plead guilty; the first draft of this manuscript has been put on hold more times than most of its protagonists deserve. In hindsight,  I realise that this is due to its somewhat ‘explosive’ content; there is much in this manuscript that some would much rather not share with the rest of the world, and I guess this has always troubled me.

However, the recent trip down memory lane has  led me to ‘dust off’ (figuratively speaking)the manuscript that I’d started nearly a decade ago to discover  that it’s actually over 200 pages long and features some of the most dramatic, heartfelt, inspiring and compelling stories you”ll ever read and, most interestingly, they’re all true, proving  that, regardless of our distinctive differences, we’re all, ultimately, just human. (well most anyway).

I had forgotten just how close to completion this particular manuscript was and this author cannot ignore that nor the collaboration of so many who gave willingly of their time and candidly shared the most intimate details about their lives with the view to helping others.  Okay, so some did use the meetings as a mini counselling session but I believe it was a small price to pay for such compelling insight that taught me so much about the complexities of human interactions, how  we can on the first day be the  nucleus of somebody’s life  but on the next be  marked for outright deletion. Something I learned first hand with my own introspection.

I truly believe that, no matter how regretful, sad or traumatic an experience; everything happens for a reason.  That’s why I’ve decided that my realistic resolution for the new year will be to revisit this project and finish it once and for all. Because, in the words of an esteemed US Marine Colonel, “if this book can help just one person then it is well worth our time and dedication”.   If you’ve  loved, been loved, have hurt or been hurt , lost or thrown away somebody special, then this book is not only for you but it is about you.

Watch this blog for updates and maybe even some tasty excerpts  in 2012 but be warned, one of the primary objectives of this manuscript was to record true life, there’s nothing added, nothing taken away which means that whilst it may prove flattering for some, it may not shine as beautifully on others but then again, nobody’s perfect, are they?

This post was updated in May 2014. See the latest here


in hardback, paperback and audiobook (featuring a full cast).

Take a listen to the audiobook excerpt below or visit the COMING UP FOR AIR page for story previews and trailers.


  1. Selina Daley says:

    wow this really got me thinking about the writing i’ve been doing since my first boyfriend at 17. I have written about each relationship as a kind of narrative journey into how it felt to live in that moment. Was thinking the other day about how a fiction book mixed with non-fiction elements might really work. Every week at the book shop i see what’s popular and what isn’t… that’s very helpful

  1. […] Wow, my Sunday blog posts have always proved  popular with readers (must be all that spare time) but none as much as yesterday’s article about my soon to be revived manuscript about relationships, COMING UP FOR AIR. You can read the original post by clicking here. […]

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