Small Town, Dark Heart…
A long way from anywhere, on a road going nowhere, lays a small, unremarkable town. It seems a peaceable, prosperous little place, on the surface at least.
Away from prying eyes however, in the shadows and the forgotten corners, there is a web being weaved through the lives of its inhabitants by the town’s urbane and mysterious Mayor.
A man prepared to make a deal for your heart’s desire and, maybe, for your very soul…
Welcome to Hawker’s Drift, a town where nothing is quite as it seems…
I spent half my childhood in my local library, or so it seems looking back.
I was an awkward kid, shy and insular, never quite fitting in with one group or another. Too gangly and clumsy to fit in with the sporty kids, too out of touch with fashion or music to fit in with the hip kids, not quite bright enough to fit in with the academic kids. School wasn’t great; I suppose it never is for the kids who don’t quite fit.
One place I did fit, however, was my local library. My sanctuary. Everything quiet and orderly, no hustle, no bustle, and the only fitting in required was for the books to be on the right shelves.
I was forever there stocking up on new books, each one helping me to escape the mundane and humdrum, escape childhood pains and teenage fears. Each visit a little pilgrimage, each book a path that would, for a little while at least, take me to different lives and different worlds.
I’d hurry through those grey inner city back streets to the library with a sense of anticipation, the last visit’s books swinging in a carrier bag as I wondered what might have magically appeared on the shelves.
There was something magical about walking into that library. A modest Victorian pile a ten minute walk from my home, red bricks and towering façade outside, a glass dome in the ceiling and hard wood floors scuffed and polished by a million feet shuffling from one book case to the next inside. Old books returned, a little smile and a nod from the librarian and I was free to enter, all my troubles checked in at the door.
I loved both the silence and the occasional little sounds that broke it. The thud of an ink stamp, the hiss of books being slid out from their fellows, a librarian stifling laughter with her colleague, the rustle of pages turned. There was a peace there I can’t recall experiencing in any other man made place.
I’d often spend far longer there than I needed to in order to pick a few books, and it wasn’t just because some of the younger librarians were pretty enough for a lonely teenager to daydream about. It wasn’t a particularly big library, but amongst those little canyons of shelves I felt I was somewhere I belonged and in taking those books home, I wasn’t just taking wonderful stories to entertain, educate and enlighten, I was taking a little splinter of that magical place with me too.
Looking back now, as I descend in my befuddled dotage in this age of electronic wonders and instant gratification, I miss the silence of that little library, where time moved more slowly than in the rest of the world and there was space for thoughts and dreams to flourish.
Sometimes, just now and then, when I pick up a new book, I fancy I can still hear the thud of an ink stamp in some dark, quiet corner of my mind; an echo from a place where a boy still roams those shelves, at peace with everything in the world.
After a high-flying academic career and glittering success in professional sport, followed by a jet-set lifestyle of wild parties, exotic holidays and beautiful women, he settled down to write internationally acclaimed best-selling novels.
Andy Monk has a tendency to exaggerate and has an occasionally tenuous grip on reality.
He does, however, have a goldfish.