I’m currently working on a new novel, Halfway House. It tells the story of Wayne, a boy who resorts to desperate measures when confronted with a problem at the age of twelve. The story opens with the central character, now 19, living in some dire hostel in a run down, neglected town by the sea in the north east of England. Like with my debut novel, Secrets by Lawrence Estrey, this one’s part psychological thriller.
Everyone’s perceptions vary, I guess, but to me the sea resembles a stagnant mass, set alongside bare and wild hills with a faded sepia-like sky thrown in for good emphasis. A couple of oldish blokes take their motor boat out when the weather allows for it, but generally the promenade’s deserted, apart from the seagulls screeching in the distance and the dog walkers in their winter clothing, hurrying along in the chill. People who don’t fit in also congregate around the promenade, either alone or in huddles. Often, you’ll see junkies shivering in huts or oddballs drinking cider out of a two litre plastic bottle with the labelling torn off. In the evenings, groups of teenagers in hoods run around the promenade, making as much noise as possible as they search unsuccessfully for interesting things to do.
During late autumn and winter, the cold bites and gets deep into everyone’s lungs. Mists fall regularly, along with icy rains and battering winds. The cold is everywhere. You can’t escape it, even with plenty of layers on, but the nights are worse at the Halfway House. You can feel the cold then and hear it, alongside the slamming doors, restless pacing on the floorboards and thudding music. Six men currently live in the house. At nineteen years of age, I’m the youngest one there.