Bricklayer, teacher, Chandelier cleaner, paper boy.
Wow! That’s quite varied.
Yes, my C.V would look something like this: Amazon bestselling author of four short story collections; former alcoholic; drug dealer; Christian cult member who was deported from the United States, who went onto to complete a degree in Spanish and Philosophy and became a teacher . Has lived the life he writes about in his short story collections and memoirs.
Can you share a little bit about what you are working on now?
Yes, I have just finished my debut novel, “Ray Dennis Does the Secret.”
When Ray Dennis, an alcoholic, English bricklayer, living in Maryland is deported back to the UK on a drug charge, he has no idea that his life and identity are about to change forever. Shattered by his knowledge that he is a failure, Ray dedicates himself to self-improvement and he unwittingly puts himself and his family on a trajectory to disaster once he discovers the book, The Secret.
And I have also completed the first draft of my second novel.
Why did you choose to write “Ray Dennis Does the Secret?”
I wanted to write the kind of book I love to read. I love books that are original and different. I don’t want to write commercially, that would take all of the joy out of my writing. I decided
I should write to entertain myself, and even if publishing rejections rolled in, I could at least enjoy the process and be proud of the result.
What kind of research did you do for the novel?
I did some reading-lots of reading! And I Richard Dawkins, to answer a philosophical question. (He has not yet responded)
Your novel’s epigraph is a biblical quote, “Therefore I say unto you, what things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.” (Mark 11:24.)
How do you think that quote applies to your book?
It is the foundation of the book! There have been so many recent non- fiction, new age books written on the subject of positive thinking and visualisation and harnessing cosmic power, but these ideas have been around, as the quote shows, since biblical times. I have taken these ideas and turned them into an action packed novel where the main character does implement positive thinking and puts it to bad use instead of good.
Where is the book set?
London, Los Angeles and Andalucía, these are all places that I have lived before, so it saved on research!
Is the story autobiographical then?
To start with, maybe, Ray Dennis did start out life as my alter ego in my short story collections, much of what drives the plot is a reaction to things that have happened in my life, and are things that could have happened in my life. I needed a crisis to drive the story, and the murder of your whole family is singularly terrifying to all. As for the other plot elements, I can relate to each of my characters on some level.
Why did you choose to write this particular book?
Since doing my degree in philosophy, my mind has changed. It is more open to questions that may not be answered, measured or proven, or are hard to do so. One question I have sought answers to is how big an influence our mind has on the physical. This led me to read books on visualisation by the likes of Napoleon Hill. All of these books talk about the positive influences of mind over matter, but I wanted to see what would happen if someone had this knowledge who used it for greed, power and domination. The result is-Ray Dennis does the secret.
What was the hardest part of writing this book?
Procrastination! Many of the definitions for this word mean, laziness, it was the part of the definitions that said procrastination was the practice of carrying out less important tasks in preference to more urgent ones, that really brought it home to me.
Whenever I had to work on the novel, I would find all manner of things to do before tackling the book. I would read far too much meaningless stuff around the subject, thinking that I was doing myself a favor, but what I was really doing was avoiding the task in hand. I realised I was not fundamentally lazy, as some of the procrastinating was really hard work. The reason I was procrastinating was to avoid the writing because of fear: The fear of doing a bad job.
What would you love to produce in your life?
I would love to produce a simple, yet thought provoking novel like animal farm. Yes, it is good to set your dreams high!
For the first time ever, this collection of short stories by Gary Troia brings together, in chronological order stories and memoirs from Spanish Yarns and Beyond, English Yarns and Beyond and A Bricklayer’s Tales into one complete volume.
“Excellent! A collection of short stories about depression, alcoholism and drug use. Very compelling reading. I read this short story collection all in one go.” (Maria, Goodreads.)
A Bricklayer’s Tales is the ultimate “I hate this job” story, written as a collection of short stories and memoirs, each one revealing a snapshot in the life of Ray. Troia captures the tedium of working in a low paid, menial job and living hand to mouth. This book of short stories is sad and questions the reader to ask questions about their own life. This book achieves clarity without trying.
Ray has three expensive hobbies: drinking, drugs, and running away. Without the income that Bricklaying provides, he would not be able to maintain his chosen lifestyle, so he compromises his principles and continues with his trade.
A collection of short stories and memoirs that include:
The Cuckoo’s Egg. Boyhood antics lead to tragedy.
My Grandfather’s Shed. The making of an English key
No Comb on the Cock. Gypsies, champion fighting cocks, and career choices.
What I Did In My Summer Holidays In 1000 Words. Could having an idea ever be considered a criminal act?
My Best Mate’s Head. Did a weekend of boozing save Ray from certain death?
The Shetland Isles. A trip to sunny Benidorm, a chance meeting with some Glaswegians, and a cold, miserable job in Lerwick.
Pointing a House in Islington. Too much alcohol and cocaine don’t mix well on building sites!
Angel Dust. The peculiar story of a man whose new life in America leads to conversations with Ancient Greek philosophers
Peyote. Hippies, LSD and an idyllic refuge
Return Ticket. Handcuffed and ready for deportation. A sad departure from the States
When I Joined a Cult. Sober dating as Ray discovers religion.
Bilbao. How very, very English!
Teaching Other People. The grass is always greener-the escape from bricklaying.
A Week in the Life of Ray Dennis. With the prospect of no money for food or alcohol this Christmas, Ray has to find work quickly.
Catania. A meeting with a Sicilian fox, some Neapolitans, and a man with a camel haired coat.
Advert In The Art Shop Window. Will a new building job in Spain be the start of a new life?
Gaudi. A flight to Barcelona for a kebab, and a look at the Sagrada Familia.
The Day My Soul Left Me. “To be or not to be? That is the question”
How Not to Travel to The Alhambra. Hung-over, the wrong fuel, the car breaks down. Will they ever make it to Granada?
The Road To Ronda. A terrifying drive to Ronda, was it worth it?
Poking A Carob Tree. A new home and new neighbours, just in time for Christmas.
Spain Reborn.No more commuting to London. Lets celebrate!
Home From Home. A parallel world where the Spanish have taken over Weymouth.
Three Common Carp.An epic battle with a whale and marlin it is not.
Mrs. McClintock. An absurd farce in which a Glaswegian couple retire to Spain
Steak, Egg and Intensive Care. A harmless dinner leads to hospitalisation.
The Unchangeable Chameleon. Can a leopard change it’s spots?
A Bricklayer’s Tale. The story of a disillusioned, alcoholic bricklayer
A collection short stories and memoirs of British dark humour.
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Genre - Fiction, Short Stories
Rating - PG-16
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