First Aid Kit Girl now available on Kindle

The Green Press are pleased to announce that First Aid Kit Girl is now available on Kindle! Download a sample or buy it here.

If you enjoy the book, please leave a review or tell a friend.

Not into ebooks? Buy the paper version here.

Did you know? You can now follow Steph on Twitter for some de-motivational tweets. Don’t worry if you haven’t read the book yet… no spoilers!

An interview with Lynsey Rose…

The Green Press author Lynsey Rose is interviewed about her debut novel First Aid Kit Girl by journalist Katy Georgiou.

Your book deals with some heavy and taboo subjects: self harm, depression, sociopaths… can you tell me a bit about your choice of these topics?

Haha, who is the sociopath? Is it Sam or Steph?! I suppose I should say something like I’m this tortured artist with lots of experience of self-harm and mental illness, but I’m not. The self harm aspect actually came from something really mundane; I bite my nails really badly (in fact, I pick them with pins! Hardcore) so I am often rummaging in the First Aid Kit at work for plasters. I noticed there were some weird and wonderful things in there and wondered what the point of them was, and the idea stemmed (!) from there. I have personal and family experience of mental illness and depression but nothing as extreme as this.

Do you think these are important subjects to bring to the light?

I do, but it isn’t a political book. I’m not making a specific statement about self harm. It’s more of a metaphor for her mental state. Which is what self harm is anyway. I did do some research on self harm message boards. I spoke to a few people and was quite shocked that there were galleries on these sites where girls (primarily) showed off their scars and discussed methods. It was like being on a messageboard for a band, but they were worshiping at the altar of their own suffering. That sounds a bit wanky. It was horrible, anyway.

Why do you think it’s important to push the boundaries in storytelling?

I don’t think that at all. You must tell whatever story is in you. Any boundaries are self-imposed so pushing them would be useless. Just ignore them.

You started working for Samaritans after you wrote this book, and learnt there that there are media guidelines which encourage the press not to report details self-harm because of research that shows this can provoke copycat situations, particularly amongst young audiences. How did this affect the way you see your book (if it did)? Do you think there’s a place for conflict between fiction and reporting?

What we do at Samaritans with regards to our media guidelines is extremely important. Newspapers have a responsibility not to be irresponsible, and in fact it’s one area where Samaritans do have some control over the media. But we cannot influence art or we’ll end up banning Romeo and Juliet. It made me wary that when people read my book at work I might get into trouble. But I wasn’t going to go back and censor my book. I would have had to delete the whole thing! I don’t think Steph is a hero anyone would copy. It’s obvious that she’s drowning. And hopefully, although you root for her, no one would aspire to be her.

Who do you feel this book is ‘for’? Eg when you were writing it, did you have any one or any group of people in mind that you wanted to leave an impact on?

No writer should ever think about that when writing a book, in my opinion. I always write for myself. The audience will find itself if the work is strong enough. This is probably why I’m still broke.

What’s the impact you want/hope the book to have on someone reading it?

That they enjoy it and think it was worth reading.

Do you see any of yourself in Steph?

Of course there are elements of myself in Steph. She is a very exaggerated version of me. I’m not Steph but I could have been – especially if I’d stayed in a certain job a few years back.

The book takes on an almost oppressive style of running Monday to Friday, week after week, and we never get to see Steph ‘off duty’ at the weekends. Was this deliberate?

Very. I wanted the style to be oppressive. I wanted her home life and past to remain very much a mystery. I didn’t want her to have some Simon Cowell style ‘sob story’ – although there’s the tiniest hint at one point. I deliberately wasn’t explicit about where she worked or what her job was as I wanted the reader to feel it could be any place, any job, relatable. For a long time I didn’t even give the main character a name, but that proved quite impractical.

Where did you/do you draw your inspiration from?

Reality and misery, usually. I’d prefer to have a more fantastical imagination but my ideas seem rooted in the mundane.

Although the book deals with serious issues, it’s also darkly humorous. Did you always want it to have that comedy side?

I never intended that, but I didn’t intend for it to be some misery-fest either. I think there’s always humour even in the grimmest things I write otherwise it would just be a drag. I always read out something really horrible at the writing group I go to and then laugh at the end! Some people have read the book now and have come up to me and told me it’s hilarious. I find that quite weird as I see it as tragic.

In the blurb about your book, you say ‘for anyone who has ever wanted to kill everyone they work with’. Would you recommend anyone who is unhappy in their job to write a book?

No, I’d recommend they get a new job. Not everyone can write a book. But most writers write to get pain out.

Why doesn’t Steph get out of her job, do you think?

I almost feel like it’s never occurred to her, although it does at times in the book, but I think it just feels like too much for her to cope with. I always wondered if readers would get behind her, or if people would just get frustrated with her and think ‘why don’t you just get a new job?’ I hope readers understand why it’s not that easy for her. It’s like saying to someone, ‘why don’t you just run a marathon?’ She just doesn’t have it in her.

When did you first start writing? Was it an outlet, something that just came naturally, something you fell into?

I have written since I was three years old. I have boxes and boxes of my old stories from that time, stapled together on post-it notes, and with illustrations, too. Luckily I’ve given up the drawing. Then I went onto the usual tormented poetry and all that. I had a very vivid imagination as a child – I find it harder now. Most writers find it a struggle, I think. That’s the joy of it!

What do you like most about writing?

Writing is all I’ve ever wanted to do, and it has kept me sane. Even if something awful happens, I think ‘well, at least I can write about it.’ I almost hope something awful will happen so I can write about it.

Do you remember the first thing you wrote?

No! But I remember I used to get my friend to give me a subject to write a poem about at school and I’d write her a poem, pretty much on a daily basis. Such a show off.

When did you realise that being a ‘writer’ was something you wanted to aspire to?

I’ve always just been a writer. My boyfriend disagrees with me, but I say you either are a writer or you aren’t. It’s not something you pick up. It’s not a hobby. It’s in you or it’s not. It’s more of an affliction than a leisure pursuit. No sane person would take it up by choice. Most writers feel guilty when they’re not writing – I definitely do.

As well as books, you’ve had poetry published, have your own TV blog and you help run a writing group. Which style of writing do you get the most satisfaction over? Where would you like it to all lead?

I don’t mind. As long as I’m writing, I’m happy. I like writing in all different styles. I also write for a living, so you think I’d probably be sick of it, but I’m not. I really enjoy writing my blog because it’s just opinions on a page and doesn’t need an edit. First Aid Kit Girl required years of slog! But of course you get the most satisfaction from that once it’s in your hand.

Your book and poems have a very different feel to your blog. Do you think that the different formats help you tap into different emotions or that one style of format lends itself better to a particular kind of thought process than another?

I just think people just have different sides to their character. I can be very silly and very opinionated but with my fiction writing I try harder to write the best sentence possible. I go over it again and again.

Who are your favourite authors? Do you read a lot? Do you think you need to read a lot to become a good writer?

I do think you need to read a lot to be a good writer, and I don’t read nearly enough. I could blame modern technology but I think I’m just lazy. I used to read constantly. My friend’s reading list puts me to shame. My favourite writers are all sort of dystopian misery guts; Douglas Coupland, Chuck Palahunik and Irvine Welsh. My favourite writer has only ever written two books, though, and that’s Carol Topolski. I think her debut novel Monster Love is the best book I’ve ever read; truly chilling but almost a love story at the same time. She has a really smart turn of phrase, too – I’m envious of her. I wonder why she’s not very prolific and it gives me hope! I also read a lot of Morrissey books. Every Morrissey book that comes out, even though I know it all! If you’ve ever read Morrissey and Marr, you’ll know it’s like doing an A Level in Morrissey. That’s my sort of thing.

Tell me a bit about your course in Creative Writing at Middlesex. How helpful was it?

Extremely. It was initially writing and publishing but I specialised in creative writing. It beat all the clichés out of me. I learnt all the obvious stuff like show and not tell, but it was brilliant. The image and imagination section was so useful, reading stuff like The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy and seeing how a banana could be described so exotically really surprised me. It’s not my style of writing but it showed me what was possible. I wrote a novella about a girl with a terminal illness where she can’t sleep, and having a deadline forced me to finish it. The course was also really fun. As part of a group we wrote a sitcom called Studmuffins which was about a bakery which was next door to a sex shop, but the joke was that all the dirty stuff happened in the bakery, not the sex shop. Unfortunately, that was our only joke, but it was a good one. It’s really hard to write scripts, and to write by committee, actually! I think I can only write comedy unintentionally. I also wrote my dissertation on Eastenders, which I enjoyed, although I’ve given up watching it now – terrible writing.

You’re book has been described as a ‘darker Bridget Jones’ – how do you react to that? Is it good/bad? Would you liken it to anything else you’ve read?

I’ve not read Bridget Jones, and I wouldn’t touch it, but I take it as a compliment because I think it’s a comment on the internal monologue, not the rubbishy romances. The same person said Catcher in the Rye but I wouldn’t be so bold. It’s just one voice, one perspective, so if you like that sort of thing, you’ll probably like it. I like books and TV all set in one place or one room. It makes me feel safe.

Where do you want to go next? In a fantasy world, I would love to be a novelist and a TV columnist. But to be honest, my life’s work is done. I’ve got my book out. I’m happy.

Slow burn

Lynsey Rose reading from her novel “First Aid Kit Girl”

I push in the cigarette lighter. I like the red ring that lights up around it. I like the click it makes when it€™s ready.

I lick my lips, bite my nails. I change songs. The lighter clicks, stops glowing. I push it in again.

My battery will survive. I€™ll go back soon. Before…

First Aid Kit Girl is available from The Book Depository and Amazon

First Aid Kit Girl out now

Girl meets razorblade meets boy…

We have some super exciting news! We are proud to announce that The Green Press has published it’s latest novel, First Aid Kit Girl by first-time author, Lynsey Rose. You can buy it here, and it will be on Amazon very shortly.
The book is a black comedy, a story about oppression, hope and self-harm. Read Lynsey’s Next big thing interview to find out more about what the novel is about. You can also like First Aid Kit Girl on Facebook.

Keep your eye on Lynsey’s blogs Extol and Exitainment for more information.

You can also follow Lynsey on Twitter or find out more about her here.

Mr Achampong is back…

Here’s an extract from writer Jeff Achampong’s latest novel…

€˜What do you mean I need a pass?€™ Kwik was right in the face of the doorman who stood patrolling the VIP area. €˜Were on the list!€™ The doorman took a step back and wiped the spray from Kwik’s tirade from his forehead €“ and iPad screen. He cleared his throat. €˜I€™m sorry, sir, you are not on the list because there is no list. You need a pass to access the VIP room, so would you mind stepping aside? You€™re blocking the entrance.€™
€˜Yeah, blood, come out the fucking way.€™ All five of Kwik€™s group turned to see a crowd of eight or nine guys €“ none of them looking like they were going to make it past the dress code check at the entrance.
Kwik turned to Darron and then back to the group noticing that they all had bottles in hand. €˜Man, what€™s your problem, shut the fuck up and wait your turn. Don€™t you see I€™m chatting here?€™ Jasmine and Sharon €“ realising that this had the potential to go bad at any moment €“ quickly unravelled themselves from Darron and Kwik, backing away.
€˜The problem€™s yours, bruv, not mine.€™ One of them, who was holding a champagne bottle, pushed through to the front and went nose-to-nose with Kwik. Darron who had seen this exact scenario play out many times before where Kwik was involved, was about to push the guy back, but iwas taken by surprise as his friend Bram pushed him to the side and muscled his way between the two; careful to make sure he did not spill his drink on either. €˜Chill out man, this ain’t worth it.€™
By this time, the Beastman from the main door appeared from inside the restricted area. He didn€™t need utter a word; the smile, along with his utterly impressive but surely steroid-created physique, was enough for all parties to know that Bram was probably right. Champagne-bottle man stepped back a pace from Kwik, took a swig from his bottle and looked over the two girls. €˜Any of you gals wanna come in VIP? Come party with us. Fuck these losers.€™ The doorman lifted the barrier and they bundled past Kwik, Bram and Darron and went inside. At least two of them made sure they stepped on Kwik€™s shoes on the way past, and Bram noted that none of them showed any sort of pass. Sharon and Jasmine looked at each other and then followed them through the barrier before Beastman slammed it shut.
The three of the group left delicately made their way up to the rooftop terrace which was inhabited by a dozen or so smokers, as well as a few couples chatting. They found a table and Kwik lit up a Marlboro.
Bram was first to speak, €˜Well, that when less than well€™.
Kwik took a drag on his cigarette. €˜Shut up Bram, I don€™t need your analysis right now.€™

It’s a hit

<![CDATA[Evening peeps! Tonight we’ve got a short story from author Antony Wootten.

Sit back, relax and enjoy…



I pressed the accelerator and felt the Volvo surge forwards, the windscreen wipers slashing their way through sheets of rain like a Machete through dense undergrowth. I realised I was sweating. This was insane! I never lost my head like this, not when I was in the forces and not in my… more recent work. I had to get a fucking grip. The narrow road curved beneath a crag and I felt the car twitch as the tyres skittered slightly on the wet tarmac. I glanced at the clock as the car straightened, and I opened up the power again, pressing forwards towards the town. I had less than eight minutes.
On the passenger seat, the knife lay, still wrapped in the blood-soaked cloth. In the darkness, I couldn€™t even tell whether or not it had stained the seat, but, seeing a straight stretch of road before me, I grabbed the bundle and stuffed it into the glove compartment. I€™d have to clear up any mess later on. There was no time right now. Close-up hits always took it out of me; it was much simpler to kill from a distance, with a gun. But my last hit, just ten minutes ago, had become unexpectedly complicated. I€™d had to get right up close, and open his throat. I hadn€™t had chance to prepare for the mess. Normally, I€™d have had a fresh set of clothes in the car, but not today. That was clumsy, especially given where I had to go next. If there was blood on my clothes, it would give me away.
I had just four minutes now, and my heart was actually thundering. I had to clear my head or I€™d mess the whole thing up. There was so much riding on it; I€™d already let the boss down more than once recently. I had to get this one right.
Around me now, the town streaked by. A red light; I ran it. A horn; I gave them the finger and threw the car round a corner. A lorry; I hit the brake hard, bracing my back against the seat as the ABS kicked in and I guided the car between lorry and bus… Several more frantic manoeuvres as I hurtled deeper into the town€™s sprawl. At last, the tower block loomed before me, and I brought the car to a halt.
I almost dropped the key as I switched off the ignition and and flung open the door. I had to compose myself. This was ridiculous! I was practically panicking. Glancing at the clock one last time, I saw I had only moments left. The deadline was rushing at me, so I grabbed the package from the back seat, and the crow bar, and hurried towards the tall building, the package tucked under my jacket to keep it out of the rain. I knew I couldn€™t use the front door; he€™d be arriving any moment and I€™d blow the whole thing if I was spotted now. So I scaled the wire fence and hurried round the side of the tower block. I found the door to the fire exit, and glanced back around the corner just in time to see a black hatchback pull into the car park. I knew that must be him. With a few frantic jerks on the crowbar, I forced open the fire exit and hurried inside. I flung the crowbar into the dark space beneath the stairs and I could still hear the ringing of metal on concrete when I reached the second floor. I paused for breath, remembering a time when I€™d have climbed a tower block stairwell without breaking a sweat. Thank God I was only heading for the fourth floor.
When at last I arrived, I was gasping for air, but I didn€™t have time to recover. I eased open the blank fire-door and peered into the space beyond, where the two heavily graffitied lift doors stood side by side. I heard the soft chime which told me one lift was arriving, and without any further hesitation, I slipped through the door and round the corner. Behind me, the lift wheezed open, and voices spilled out. I ran the length of the corridor, fumbling in my pocket for the key the boss had given me yesterday along with the words, €œLet me down again and I€™ll fucking kill you.€ I managed to slip it in the lock, glancing behind me at the corner I€™d just come round. The corridor was still empty, but would only be for another second or two.
I suddenly remembered to give the four-beat knock, just in case; then, I pushed the door open and slipped into the darkness of the flat, clicking it shut behind me.
€œIt€™s me,€ I hissed into the darkness. €œStay down.€
€œBloody €˜ell, Mike,€ came a voice. I couldn€™t see him but I knew it was Tim, my oldest friend. We€™d served in the Middle East together, seen plenty of action there. €œCuttin€™ it a bit fine aren€™t you? We saw €˜em pull up!€
€œShut up,€ I said. €œThey€™re right behind me.€
I made straight for the pale glow of the kitchen area, slamming my shin into the unseen corner of a coffee table and sending something flying.
I limped round the end of the counter which partially divided the lounge from the kitchen, and dropped to the floor, desperately trying to control my breathing. There was someone else nearby, but I couldn€™t see who. I heard a few quiet voices and a snigger. I shushed them crossly.
I heard the door open. I removed the package from inside my jacket and put it on the floor beside me. The light came on and I heard his voice, his high, rippling giggle.
And this was the moment I€™d come for. It seemed to happen so slowly: I stood, revealing my presence, and gazed at my little boy. He was looking down at the photos I€™d knocked off the coffee table, but his mother€™s hard, brown eyes were pointing straight at me. And then the room was full of people, appearing from behind the sofa, from the curtains, the bathroom, the kitchen.
€œSurprise!€ They cacophonied.
David was stunned into silence for a moment, then his gorgeous smile sprang into life as his aunts, uncles, cousins and friends laughed and clapped and all spoke at once.
And he saw me.
€œDad!€ I laughed and moved towards him with my arms wide, and everyone seemed to part for us. He threw himself into my embrace and I whirled him round with delighted enthusiasm. I kissed him and cried out, €œHappy birthday, son!€ I sat him on the counter top and handed him his present. I hadn€™t even had time to get wrapping paper for it; it was still in the packaging it had arrived in. €œHere you go,€ I said. €œSorry I haven€™t wrapped it.€ He smiled and tore into it. I looked past him at his mother. She was standing there, arms folded, giving me that €˜I hate you€™ look, and now the room was full of excited people who didn€™t quite know whether or not it was alright to speak.
€œHello, Boss,€ I said. I’d always called her that, even back when things were good between us.
€œDon€™t call me that, Mike,€ she warned.
David pulled his new football top from the wrapping paper. €Thanks, Dad,€ he said.
€œThat€™s alright, son,€ I grinned. €œTell you what,€ I said, as I took off my jacket and loosened my tie, €œwork€™s been going pretty well recently.€ That was as much for his mother€™s ears as his. And, if I€™m to be honest, everyone else€™s too. €œI€™ll take you shopping tomorrow, maybe get you that bike you wanted.€ Behind David, the boss sighed and shook her head. Nothing was ever good enough for her.
€œDad,€ David said, but I was busy out glaring the boss, and enjoying the spell we had cast over the rest of the people in the room. €œDad,€ David said again, but I had just noticed the way Tim had moved across next to her, and she€™d given him that warm, welcoming look she used to give me, and everyone seemed to be staring at me. €œDad.€
€œWhat?€ I said, instantly regretting the note of anger in my voice, but everyone was staring at me and I was starting to feel paranoid, defensive.
€œWhy€™s your shirt got that red hand print on it?€]]