Title

Out Of My Head

Christopher Fowler
In 'Film Freak' I recounted this anecdote; A girl I knew, Amber, specialised in performing pantomimes in old folks’ homes. In one such place in Sevenoaks she played Cinderella. During the intermission she waited in full ball gown costume at the foot of the stage because there were no changing rooms, and a very old lady approached her.             ‘I know who you are,’ said the old lady, pointing at her clothes, ‘you’re Cinderella.’             ‘Yes, I am,’ said Amber.             ‘Well, Cinderella, could you answer a question for me?’ the old lady asked.             ‘I’ll try,’ said Amber.             ‘Cinderella,’ said the old lady, ‘where the hell am I?’ I feel a bit like that these days. There are times when 'I don't know if I'm at the park or the pictures, as we used to say. And various degrees thereof. So I rather let the cat out of the bag at my last event. After suffering a bit of a mental furlough (for which read 'Pretty Bloody Depressed') I forced myself to perk up, go for broke and try another Bryant & May novel while I was still feeling relatively stable. The title had long been bandied about - 'The House That Jack Built' - but I needed to finish my other books first. Now, 'Word Monkey', 'The Foot on the Throne' and 'Total Midnight: Complete Short Stories 1984-the present') have ALL been delivered, most of which I worked on in hospital, which was more fun than asking, 'Have you finished with that Woman's Realm?' They're not fully edited because sadly I'm not clairvoyant, but I really don't think there's too much to do to them. And so, on to the resurrection of Arthur Bryant, something which, unlike Holmes's Reichenbach Falls adventure, was cunningly designed into the PCU story arc in case of emergency. But there are changes; one involves putting a bit more mystery into the Bryant & May mysteries. I'm doing this by reducing the London historical element (for which 'Bryant & May's Peculiar London' was pretty much the dernier cri) and raising the more traditional 'slightly-creepy-murder-puzzle' element, with a little added 'Where the hell is he going with this?' confusion. Which is the structure is unusual, with seemingly unrelated drama at the front, Bryant gone and no tangible murder mystery to speak of. But let's not be slaves to convention; that's what Richard Osman is for.  Oh, and the setting isn't central London either, but a famously eerie forgotten town. There are deaths, of course, both somewhat unexpected, and a few decent jokes, although not as many as, say, 'Hall of Mirrors' because it's time to put the crime back into the crime story. As for how a certain bald, scarfed-up, querulous old man is revived, you'll have to wait and see. I'm well into the novel now but for me, the race will be to finish it. I can offer comment on how it's progressing if you like that sort of thing or leave you in the dark - as always, I'll be bound by the readers' verdict. And yes, the title 'The House That Jack Built' is exactly what you think it is - and yet not.

Comments

Stu-I-Am (not verified) Wed, 17/08/2022 - 12:59

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

@admin Couldn't be more delighted to hear some good news, at least on the literary front. You are one amazing chap. Not that we didn't know that, of course, but (at least for me...) the last several months have truly brought that home. Any word yet on tentative publication dates for the Fowler cornucopia ? And, of course,I,for one, would very much appreciate regular updates on '‘The House That Jack Built.’ "Keep On Keeping On"

Gary Locke (not verified) Wed, 17/08/2022 - 13:07

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I, for one, would love updates on the progress of "The House That Jack Built", but I also want to read anything you write. Shopping lists included.

H (not verified) Wed, 17/08/2022 - 15:22

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Could not agree more with comments from Stu-I-Am and Gary Locke. Yes, do, please keep us updated for as long as you can/want. It’s your journey. We are armchair travelers.
Looking forward to all your literary creations.
Thank you for your courage and forthright communication.

Martin Tolley (not verified) Wed, 17/08/2022 - 15:22

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

@Gary I think I'd like to be surprised by the completed work, the title alone is enthralling enough. Shopping lists could be good - maybe a mysterious (or even a missing) item from a shopping list might be a vital clue to unmask the villain in some future tale...

Stu-I-Am (not verified) Wed, 17/08/2022 - 17:04

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Better fill up on good literature while we can. Looks like the future may be bleak for the humanities. Rishi Sunak has vowed to 'crack down' on university degrees with poor career outcomes.

Chris Erickson (not verified) Wed, 17/08/2022 - 17:18

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Can't wait for everything yet to come. You are truly amazing! Just finished Peculiar London, had to order from Waterstones as I couldn't wait for the December US release. I loved it, it brought back great reminders of my 2018 trip to London and makes me want to go back. Tha nk you

Joel (not verified) Wed, 17/08/2022 - 17:58

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

am all for updates, and thankful you are still posting in here

Helen+Martin (not verified) Wed, 17/08/2022 - 20:04

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Agree in favour of updates. Those who prefer waiting can skip those bits. Amazing that we'll actually get those titles. I've hoped for "Foot on the Crown" but never hoped to see it. Of course it doesn't even have a pub. date yet but we can do a little more than hope.
I got the three titles I didn't order when they came out and am reading "Hot Water" which is pretty good and totally different from anything else I've read. I'm not sure about the wisdom of Hannah's choices, though. We'll see at the end.

Stu-I-Am (not verified) Wed, 17/08/2022 - 20:37

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

H-m-m. Could 'The Joker' (aka CF) be setting us up for a B&M installment with a touch of horror per this post's cryptic last line ? Could a clue be the use of a photo here from 'The Avengers' 1966 episode also titled 'The House that Jack Built'--- a surreal outing, focusing almost exclusively on Emma Peel and her past. She inherits a great house that was a former psychiatric hospital from an uncle she never knew --- and who never existed. (sound of scary organ music). Or mayhap with a nod to another psychological horror effort, called as well, 'The House that Jack Built,' a 2018 film starring Matt Dillon as a serial killer in one of Danish director Lars von Trier 's most controversial.

Helen+Martin (not verified) Thu, 18/08/2022 - 02:50

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

We really have to rely on our knowledgeable members for meaningful comments. I would not be surprised to see a little horror creep in. Not that there haven't been horror elements - how about the tar and feathers and the wicker man at the end of Burning Man?
We could have watched The Last of Sheila last night. One of my favourites thanks to Chris.

Ed+DesCamp (not verified) Thu, 18/08/2022 - 03:47

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Wonderful news and am looking forward to every/anything that you are willing/able to gift us. Thanks.

Granny (not verified) Thu, 18/08/2022 - 04:00

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Would love to hear comments on progress, thank you for sharing

Jo W (not verified) Thu, 18/08/2022 - 07:26

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

“ A famously eerie forgotten town” ? Well that has me wondering……..There’s quite a few of those around, as in I visited ##### yesterday but it was shut!
Keep it to yourself Chris or drop little breadcrumbs for us to follow and do you know what, we’ll follow. In the meantime, please be kind to yourself and Pete. This time should be all about you. X

Cornelia Appleyard (not verified) Thu, 18/08/2022 - 09:34

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I’m sure that any updates you choose to give will add to the mystery and excitement of waiting for another book - but as others have said, be kind to yourself, and only do what you want to do.
I don’t think you have ever been a slave to convention.

Roger (not verified) Thu, 18/08/2022 - 10:12

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Can a "forgotten town" be famously anything?

E Bush (not verified) Thu, 18/08/2022 - 10:58

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I look forward to anything you write. Leave us a crumb, or more if you're feeling up to it. Or just surprise us. Whatever you want to do is fine. Just thank you so much for creating another book. You're amazing.

Paul C (not verified) Thu, 18/08/2022 - 11:52

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Wonder if the eerie forgotten town is Dunwich in Suffolk (handily close to London) ? Most of Dunwich fell into the sea centuries ago leaving just an odd tiny village now. Perhaps H P Lovecraft's use of the name is a coincidence ?

The new novel sounds brilliant. Looking forward to it !

Mary Ann Atwood (not verified) Thu, 18/08/2022 - 11:52

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Please sir, can I have some more?
How fortunate I am that Blackwell's delivers to the US without a charge for shipping. I've no patience for US publication dates.
Attempting to send positive thoughts and enthusiastic energy through the ether to you.

Andrea Yang (not verified) Thu, 18/08/2022 - 12:17

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Thrilled to hear another novel is on the way! I would enjoy any updated you care to share. I am still enjoying Peculiar London - I am reading a few chapters each weekend! Wishing you well!

Stu-I-Am (not verified) Thu, 18/08/2022 - 14:09

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Will the 'Trickster' focus on either 'Jack' or the 'house' he built or, instead --- following the scheme of the cumulative nursery rhyme --- cast his piercing stare on people and things linked to it/him ? Or, will he change the title and make my tiresome conjecture moot ? (organ sting) Stay tuned.

Chris Adams (not verified) Thu, 18/08/2022 - 15:21

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Great news but only in your own time.Halfway through Peculiar London and love it.Please put yourself and Pete first but again great news!!

Brooke (not verified) Thu, 18/08/2022 - 16:09

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I say again, it must be trying for a intelligent, thoughful and sensitive character like Arthur to have an author who is always plotting his, Arthur's, demise. Over the series course, there have been several "requiescat in pace," followed by RESVGAM. I have it on good authority, Arthus himself, that he would rather rest in peace.

Christopher Fowler Thu, 18/08/2022 - 17:44

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Ah, but would you, Brooke? I'm sure Raymond Land would like to be left in peace, and Gervase Fen was majestically revived after two decades.
Roger is wrong, Paul C is right.

Helen+Martin (not verified) Thu, 18/08/2022 - 18:01

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Why couldn't you be famous for being forgotten? Looking forward to whatever there is.

Joan (not verified) Thu, 18/08/2022 - 20:01

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Fascinating stuff about Dunwich bells and all, looking forward to any of your postings Chris, crabby or otherwise.
Never believed that Arthur was done for, can’t get rid of him that easily. He is the Phoenix rising from the ashes!

Brooke (not verified) Thu, 18/08/2022 - 21:32

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Mr. Fowler, I knew you were going to reference the Montgomery/Crispin not-believable character. Fen mercifully disappeared again after 2 yrs, along with his odious elders Gideon Fell and Colonel March. Arthur is so much better; leave him be..

SteveB (not verified) Fri, 19/08/2022 - 00:44

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I love that last Gervase Fen book, it‘s tonally very different but maybe my favourite of the series even. The characters remind me a bit of Mapp and Lucia. It‘s got a severed head too, just like that Avengers episode!
Yes Admin please keep us updated.

Peter T (not verified) Fri, 19/08/2022 - 11:22

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Is the author the true villain, the Napoleon of crime and arch enemy of our heroic detectives? If Conan Doyle was Moriarty, who is Fowler?

Roger (not verified) Fri, 19/08/2022 - 12:29

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Dunwich is famously lost, but it isn't famously forgotten.
Disgraced relatives of the aristocracy can be infamously forgotten, but that's a different thing. They can unexpectedly become famously unforgotten at inconvenient moments.

Helen+Martin (not verified) Fri, 19/08/2022 - 17:37

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I don't know why Roger's comment brought it to mind but if you want a really strange expedition to keep you totally bemused search for The Champagne Safari. Weird vehicles tangling with mud and locals up through northern British Columbia. If it weren't absolutely cross my heart and hope to die true I would be sure it came out of a drug induced dream.

Jan (not verified) Sun, 21/08/2022 - 02:54

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Here Mr F isn't the "House that Jack built " not a nursery rhyme like a repitition one ? There's another word for this style of rhyme but I can't remember it. The House that Jack.built is one Of those stories where this happened because this happened, because that happened which brought about something else ... I can't hardly remember it at all except "this is the man all tattered and torn"

It seems like a very clever way for an author such as yourself good sir to revive his recently departed hero but of course i.Never knew the aged Tec had departed as my buddy with the brain fog forgot to send the book to tell the fan whose name was Jan that London was peculiar
I'm not having a pop....... I'm just chirping really.....

Dunwich is it really about Dunwich? Famous it's way in its day and believed to be the site of big Anglo Saxon.battle. Most of it in the North Sea now.

Hope you're not massively fed up anymore sounds like you've got lots of stuff sorted out on the work front. ( I can still lend you that Woman's Realm.)

Jan (not verified) Sun, 21/08/2022 - 03:09

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

In that cartoon book about Jack the Ripper you know the one that was made into a film starring Robbie Coltrane and Jonny Depp (Before the Domestic Violence allegations and the subsequent court case shenanigans effectively ended his film career) I can remember old Abbbeline the senior detective remarked that his home was
" The House that Jack.built" Mortgage paid courtesy of the overtime accrued on the Ripper case.

Roger (not verified) Sun, 21/08/2022 - 04:06

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Until you mentioned The Champagne Safari, Helen Martin, Charles Bedaux was deservedly unknown to me. I will now try to deservedly forget him.

snowy (not verified) Sun, 21/08/2022 - 10:30

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I think this is more properly within the expertise of LizT, but I'll risk it, [she can always steer me right if I get it wrong].

Where a story or song grows as elements are added at each 'verse' that form is called a 'Cumulative tale'.

[Other examples relate: the unfortunate end of an elderly dipteravore due to some very unwise self-medication and gross over-manning in the fodder harvesting industry.]

Stu-I-Am (not verified) Sun, 21/08/2022 - 13:28

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

@snowy Indeed --- with cumulative tales or rhymes dating back to at least the 6th c. There are even some dealing with fruit.

Helen+Martin (not verified) Sun, 21/08/2022 - 19:10

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Hmm, can't seem to get recognition of dipteravore or dipta even (unless you're talking about India) but my favourites from years ago are "There was an old lady who swallowed a fly" and of course we don't know why she swallowed a fly. The other is "a hole in the ground" in which grew a tree with branches, nests and so on. There's also "the ladies of the harem of King Caractacus" who are passing by. Don't know any with fruit.
Speaking of fruit, did you know that along with the smell of durians there is also a danger of death from cranial damage when they fall from their tree?
Roger, no, don't forget Mr. Bedaux and company. Use him as an example of how useless and damaging a person can be to the world around, especially when no one seriously tries to stop them.

Anna-Maria Covich (not verified) Mon, 22/08/2022 - 12:53

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Updates! Please, yes, they make little bumps of excitement along the road. :-)

Diane (not verified) Mon, 22/08/2022 - 17:28

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

It all sounds feckin’ fantastic!

Hazel Jackson (not verified) Mon, 22/08/2022 - 22:42

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Very pleased to hear you are progressing well with The House That Jack Built. Would love to get updates on progress. Looking forward to it.

Liz+Thompson (not verified) Wed, 24/08/2022 - 12:37

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Updates or no updates, am filled with anticipation! One of the really well know cumulative folk songs is in praise of beer (it would be, wouldn't it), and involves every possible container, whether bulk or pub for local drinking, being named in order of size. Its length varies considerably, due in part to needing someone deeply knowledgable of all ancient and current beer containers or measures, and in part to the state of inebriation of those singing. Firkin, anyone?

Wayne Mook (not verified) Wed, 24/08/2022 - 13:35

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

With your Bedaux Helen, we could have a house the Jack boot built, Oswald Mosely would be the one for the foundations.

Forgotten towns I was thinking of all those that became part of London around 1965 like Dagenham, you could have girl pipers but that would be Barking (another famous place that many forgot was a town - I guess this counts Roger.).

Sorry I was on my jollies for a few weeks and only came back last week and have only just got to grips with being back. Went to Portugal for my brother-in-laws wedding, and then after stayed at my mother in laws there, it was cooler than your 30 degree heatwave, when I got back to Manchester it was raining at the airport, I love Manchester, and that morning I was swimming outside. There was a buffet breakfast, so I had a 3 course breakfast, fry-up, continental (cheese & cold meats) and then cakes, oh dear.

At least I've scored a Vimto Jam, lovely.

Wayne.

Wayne Mook (not verified) Wed, 24/08/2022 - 13:36

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Oh yes to updates if you fell like it.

Wayne.

Stephen Groves (not verified) Thu, 25/08/2022 - 10:43

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Where going to need a bigger house.
All best
STALKY