Wednesday, 12 August 2020

Author Guest Post and Book Spotlight: The Punishment by Paul Clayton

One of the great pleasures of primary school was that on Friday afternoon, fifteen minutes before the bell, Miss Smith would tell us all to pull our chairs away from our desks and face the front and to close our eyes. She would then read us 1a chapter of a story. In this way she introduced me to the world of Narnia and other rather beautiful tales. 

I was lucky to be a child of the Jackanory generation. Every day on my return from school, I would sit myself in the front room, which as anybody from the North of England will know is quite simply the poshest room in the house, turn on what we referred to as the colour telly; the pictures were black-and-white, but the television was orange, and lap up whatever story was being told that week. Sometimes the storyteller would make me lose interest by Wednesday. They just didn't seem to believe in what they were saying but on other weeks, the conclusion on a Friday would bring with it a deep feeling of loss and a desire to run to the library at the end of the Lane and take out the book and read the story in full. Looking back, it's interesting that both of these experiences involve the idea of a story spoken word. Something we tell each other. 

The incident on which I based "The Punishment” happened to me in the early 1980s when as an unemployed actor I had to find all sorts of ways of passing the time and raising money. I wasn't as adventurous as Dan is in the book, and I said no to the proposition, but the circumstances that led up to it have often formed what I think is an amusing dinner table story. I have told it in a variety of circumstances to an awful lot of people, some of whom may have found their way into the finished version. 

Writing two non-fiction books about the world of acting, I was immensely grateful in being guided by an editor who told me to write in the second person as though telling young actors how they might build a successful career. That style stood me in good stead when I settled down to create what I'd always wanted to write; a book that kept people turning the pages. 

The first exercise we did on a writing course in France run by the fabulous Jane Wenham Jones was to tell our partner an incident which had involved breaking the law. Somewhere in the darkest recesses of my mind, the story surfaced of the sexy burglar. My partner, an ex-CID officer from Liverpool, who was a sheer delight and didn’t arrest me on the spot, questioned me and I realised that here was the basis of a tale that could take in a world I was familiar with. The life of an actor, veering as it does from the depths of unemployment to the heights of TV soap stardom and in the telling, I hoped I could have a little fun along the way. I think a day where you don't make people laugh is a day wasted. 

Although it's not popular in the genre, I determined that my finished story would amuse as well as thrill. It was enormous fun to put my alter ego through the situations in the book and to surround him with a cast of characters who, I hope, would provide great opportunities for the best of British actors if it's ever adapted for the screen. Whether I've succeeded, is for you to decide. I just hope you enjoy making the decision.  

Paul Clayton

The Punishment by Paul Clayton 
What do you do when you are an ex-soap star down on your luck and running out of money?
For Daniel Maple, a chance meeting in a nightclub presents him with an offer he finds hard to refuse...
But crime makes you pay.
And someone, somewhere, wants you punished.

Amazon UK           Amazon US 
Clayton is an actor best known for his appearances as Ian Chapman in five series of the awardwinning Channel 4 comedy Peep Show and as Graham in two series of the BAFTA winning comedy Him and Her. Other credits include Coronation Street, Hollyoaks and Holby City as well as This is Alan Partridge, Doctor Who, The Crown, Vera, Wolf. He is a former member of the Royal Shakespeare Company.

His previous books are So You Want To Be A Corporate Actor? and The Working Actor and he is a regular columnist in The Stage.
He is a proud patron of Grimm and Co, the children’s literacy charity, based in his home town of Rotherham.

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