Two novels mentioned in The Secret App
My novels The Beasts of Electra Drive and The Imagination Thief (and one of my main writing locations) are mentioned in a beautifully-produced new app that I’m pleased to be a small part of—“The Secret App”, which reveals “secret” places in big cities. As one of the app’s 57 Londoners, I present six off-the-beaten-track locations in London that I enjoy and/or make use of, which deserve to be better known than they are:
And I explain why I’ve made the choice, at the bottom of the app’s individual page for each of those six locations, including the following trio of places.
The Imagination Thief mentioned in The Secret App
First, my novel The Imagination Thief is mentioned in my explanation on The Secret App’s page about Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park:
where I say, “This is nearly 30 acres of gloriously dilapidated gravestones and woodlands, being the burial place of hundreds of thousands who lived and died in the hard-scrabble East End since the mid-19th century. Untamed, unsanitised and irreplaceable, it’s open 24 hours a day—though this is no kind of cosy neighbourhood, so if you go there at night, you may want to pack heat. Embedded in the ebook format of my novel The Imagination Thief is a short film called “ALAIA 34”, which I have affectionate memories of shooting in Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park (as can be seen in this handful of stills from the film).”
Some of those film stills are on this page here, showing one or two glorious Victorian Gothic tombs. The film “ALAIA 34” (4’56”) is a suggestion of a couple of The Imagination Thief’s main characters, foreshadowing their love for each other—the charismatic singer Alaia Danielle and the narrator Jaymi Peek. Being located in a cemetery, the film also foreshadows their deaths, although neither of them dies in the novel. (That’s not a spoiler.) Produced by Tiresias Media and me, it was filmed by Robert Chilcot and excellently edited by him, using a complex layering of images.
Playing Alaia (with me as Jaymi), Alexis Worrell radiated her stunning allure across that landscape of death: for some shots she climbed up high onto a grand tomb; and then for just one or two of her other close-ups, Robert set aside the HDV camera and used a venerable Super-8 celluloid camera instead, so as to capture Alexis’s amazing beauty through this retro film format’s subtly sensuous colours and its flickery home-movie-like evocation of our half-remembered past and our half-imagined future, both of which will one day fade into oblivion.
In The Imagination Thief’s ebook format, this film “ALAIA 34” can be seen on the title page of the novel’s Part I, which is called “Ghost town arrival: spotlight with Alaia”. The film can also be seen on this website, on Vimeo, on YouTube, on the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) or right here below. The film’s audio is an extract from the novel’s audiobook format, performed by me, being excerpted from mini-chapter 34 “Big Bang: song of death”.
Another edit of our footage from that fabulous cemetery appears in one more film, “ALAIA 8” (3’57”), in which Jaymi whirls Alaia and himself through a couple of her own private memories and an intimate fantasy of hers: “You can’t coil around the hovering Jaymi viewpoint, because it is just a viewpoint and you are just sugar; yet it seems that you want to.” This film’s audio is also an extract from The Imagination Thief’s audiobook format, being excerpted from the novel’s mini-chapter 8 “The statue of black sugar”. “ALAIA 8” can be seen on Vimeo, on YouTube and right here below.
The Beasts of Electra Drive mentioned in The Secret App
Then, over on The Secret App’s page about the Leake Street Graffiti Tunnel, my novel The Beasts of Electra Drive is mentioned:
where I say, “This is a wide 300-metre-long tunnel entirely covered with ever-changing street art and graffiti, all of which adds up to a blast of energy and some of which is awesome. I discovered it when I was launching my novel The Beasts of Electra Drive in 2018 in a bookshop that was located (no longer) beside the Tunnel’s south entrance. If you breathe in deeply, you may get high from a multi-coloured scent of spray-paint, as there’s almost always new artwork gong up somewhere in the Tunnel.”
That joyful bookshop event beside the Tunnel was a joint launch of Dan Holloway’s novella Kill Land and of The Beasts of Electra Drive, compered in generous fashion by novelist Jane Davis, as part of Safeena Chaudhry’s Novel London series. Links to them, plus various videos and photos of the fun, may be found at:
One of my writing locations in The Secret App
Finally, another page on The Secret App focuses on somewhere that’s been one of my main writing locations, i.e. the far north-west corner of the third-floor lobby of the National Theatre:
where I say, “This secret is not the National Theatre, nor anything to do with theatre. This secret IS that the corner of the third-floor lobby overlooking the Thames is a great venue in which to write a novel (as I’m currently doing there) or to do anything else that requires long periods of solitude-in-public-with-headphones. It’s an obscure enough storey not to be crowded, yet the far north-west corner of the third-floor lobby has a grand river view, tables and chairs and (a rare and vital thing) enough electrical sockets; it’s free to use, with no need to buy anything in order to work there; and it’s open until late evening, six days a week.”
Here are a few snapshots that were snapped in that very place, during a session working on tale number 7.
Best of luck to The Secret App, which can be downloaded via this page.