So I wrote this book Superniceabout an alien invasion. The aliens create a dystopia of oppressive new rules and terrible consequences for breaking them. In response, the government replace advertising hoardings with posters that politely (and then not so politely) tell the public how to behave to avoid trouble. Following are some quotes from the book. (And the book can be acquired for a dollar, to your right, if you fancy)
At first the messages seemed friendly:
Advertising hoardings stretched along the seafront. Usually they were filled with adverts for phones or cars, but now the adverts were in pastel shades of purple and pink, with butterflies and smiling faces. In large letters the messages were simple:
SHOW LOVE, NOT HATE
PSST, YOU’RE BEAUTIFUL, PASS IT ON
But even then, Natasha was suspicious and happy to see signs of rebellion:
As she headed back home, Natasha passed a hundred more pink posters in bus stops and stuck to lampposts. Some had already been defaced.
KINDNESS SPREADS was graffitied with DESTROY!
And LOVE UNITES US in purple, with FUK DA ALIENS in angular black writing over the top. Natasha had never liked graffiti – she always thought it made a place look messy – but this was righteous.
And finally as the oppression became more extreme and the pretense ended:
The main road had changed again. Instead of advertising hoardings with hippy messages, now there were screens, each showing an order.
POLITENESS IS NECESSITY and SHOW RESPECT and DON’T BECOME ONE OF THE TAKEN.
I wanted to create an atmosphere of tension and uncertainty, but one in which people needed to find a way to not only survive, but to still laugh, still connect, still keep going. And of course they wanted to dupe the aliens and escape too.
Well now I’m back at work, I’ve discovered that is exactly what London has become. Lots of instructions with cute pictures, saying Cover your face, Keep your distance, Don’t travel unless you have to. It’s all considerate messages for our own safety, but the atmosphere is still intense. With half our faces covered, people are more suspicious of each other, and anyone could be a virus carrier. But we still need to laugh, connect and keep going. Luckily we don’t need to worry about the alien bit. Yet.
I haven’t written for a few days. With everything going on in the US with BLM protests and then protests in UK, it feels rude to chatter about 3-legged cats.
I’m not gone though. And I hope that any of you bloggers in the US, (I know Darnell Cureton, Boo and Shameful Narcissist are, so I hope they’re all ok) are safe. And I really hope that all this leads to change. The UK definitely has it’s problems with institutional racism in our police force, but the violence is so much less and there is usually some accountability. I’m a long way away and only get to see videos and pictures, but the shameless misuse of power by cops in the US looks terrifying.
Also, I got a call from my boss today. I’m back to work in a week and a half. I can’t pretend I’ve hated being off, laziness and isolation suit me fine, but I can’t wait to see my colleagues and to be outside with the plants all day. And it means I can stop doing proper exercises, like aerobics and all that bastardry. I’ve learned to tolerate it, but I would always rather be digging up something than leaping around to a perky presenter.
My book is out there! And it’s free on Smashwords! Supercheap on Amazon! For any of you I sent a copy to who liked it, do you know anyone else who’d enjoy it? Please spread the word and I’ll be forever thankful. I’m not looking to make money, I just really like it when people read my stories.
A funny and gripping story about a tyrannical alien invasion in a sleepy seaside town.
Chirpy YouTuber Nick and his cynical teenage daughter Natasha have their lives thrown into turmoil one afternoon when the walls inexplicably start swallowing people. Over the next week, more and more are snatched away, until the announcement is made: Earth is under new management. Aliens have taken control and they’re not happy with how humans have been behaving.
The new leaders introduce a series of increasingly oppressive rules. Make a single mistake and you’ll be taken away – to be transformed into an upstanding member of the community.
An upstanding, smiling member of the community with a brain like mashed potato.
As their town, and the world, are thrown into chaos, Nick and Natasha each find their own way to deal with the horror. Nick becomes a YouTube celebrity, convincing the public to behave. Natasha joins a makeshift rebellion working out how to dodge the alien demands. Each wants the best for the other, but they end up on opposing sides in humanity’s most vital and bizarre battle.
Will they ever be united against the real enemy? Will the human race become the docile drones that the aliens want? Or is universal niceness an impossible and undesirable dream?
The above is my blurb for my book, Supernice. I’ve mentioned many times that I hate writing blurb. I spent ages fiddling with it and I’m still not sure, so any feedback on that will help me out.
Also, yesterday, I sent out the last four chapters out to bloggers who wanted to read it and which feels quite momentous. To any of you who’ve been reading it, I’d really like to hear your views or if you have any questions. What did you think of Nick and Natasha? Do you think others would like the book?
My plan is to release it in a week or so on Amazon and Smashwords.
So I fixed my goddamn camera (well, I assume I did. I was trying to fix it and now it works. I’m not exactly sure what the connection between these two states is, but presumably I did something.) And I can take actual photos! I can’t really go out exploring, of course, but then the fox cubs came to visit.
I crept out the back door and got a couple of wonky snaps, (I had to kind of lean over the fire escape, it was awkward) and then, just as I was about to take the best photo ever, the kid from next door started shouting out the window.
‘Go away foxes! Go away!’ she yelled.
They weren’t even in her garden, they were in mine. The little bugger.
I sympathise though, she’s about eight, has been left with her grandparents and is going slowly insane. She spends hours hitting their washing with a stick while singing nonsense very loudly. This cannot be an easy situation for an only child. Still, she could have waited a few minutes before shouting.
There’s this guy that I’ve seen at the end of my road a few times and I’m trying to figure him out. He’s tall, good looking with little dreads and always wears shorts and a singlet. The first time I saw him was a few weeks ago, he was outside my house when I was on the other side of the road and he was sprinting up and down, as if in a very small race. The next time, a few days later, he was at the end of the road having a dance. There wasn’t any music playing, but he was boogying away. An older gentleman looked over as he passed and dreaded-guy gave a ‘Cuh! Funny old world, isn’t it?’ expression.
I saw him a few days ago standing on the steps of what I guess is his house, just up the road, which is a fairly normal thing to do. But the way he did it was just a bit too superheroey, you know? Hands on waist, scanning the street for trouble. It was spoiled briefly when a little old lady who I guess also lives there, asked him to move.
Then today I got a shock when I saw him four feet in the air. He was standing, steady as you like on a pavement bollard. I went to my doorstep and looked back and he was still there, but threw something (looked like a cape) to the ground and then leapt down.
Now bloggers, you’ve helped me before, what’s going on here? He doesn’t look distressed or unkempt in any way, in fact just the opposite. So is he:
A superhero in training?
An exhibitionist who is used to getting compliments, but is missing out due to covid?
Tried wearing a mask out today, but no one in my part of London is wearing one. It means everyone stares at me and i feel as if I’m the outsider insulting strangers with my foreign ways.
Some of you might remember me writing about being on a journey to work last year and some guy started acting like he was going to punch me. I still see him around. Sometimes he’s following people. One time he waved at me, so I waved back. He can be a bit scary, but clearly has serious problems to deal with, so I always wish him well (in my head anyway).
Today I saw him sitting on a mattress with a lady friend (who also had difficulties to deal with). They looked like they were having a picnic in the park – a couple of cans, some snacks, plenty of sunshine. Except they were at the side of a busy road on a mattress in the middle of a pandemic. They looked happy.
It’s not an ideal situation, but take your smiles where you can, I think.
For those of you looking for a free book to read who haven’t signed up for Supernice yet. Here’s the start of the book. It starts from a bird’s eye view, but actually follows the lives of Natasha and her dad Nick when a particularly strange alien invasion occurs.
The deal is if you write to me at petra_jacob @ outlook.com (remove the spaces) I will send you the first 12 chapters, and then 3 more chapters every 3 days (it’s not actually released yet). All for free, with no tricks or obligations. I just want people to read my book and those already reading seem to be enjoying it, now I want MORE!
Supernice by Petra Jacob
In New Delhi, Mr Patel was halfway through explaining Pythagoras’ theorem to class 12B when he fell asleep. He gently slumped into the white boards, smearing the bottom angle of a red triangle across his face, his blue-striped tie rumpling up to his chin. This would have caused delight to his students, except that they too were all asleep. Some gently snoring, some hanging from their chairs, but every one blissfully unaware of the world around them.
At the Zenith Heights Casino in Las Vegas, it was nearly midnight, but instead of the usual bustling drama, customers were folded and crumpled across fruit machines and tables. While Celine Dion wailed over the speakers, a young, balding man had fallen against a slot machine, his fingers around a pork rib taken from the buffet. Just out of sight of the machines, a hostess wearing a glittery costume, a peacock headdress and a thick coating of makeup was lying with her face in a line of coke, straw dangling from her nose.
Although most of Mexico City was asleep since it was two in the morning, the red-light district was still filled with punters. Car horns were blaring non-stop as sex workers had fallen back from the policemen they were straddling. Late night clubbers and early morning delivery drivers in London had all collapsed where they stood. And fifty miles away, in Icking, near Worthing, Natasha had stopped getting ready for school. Halfway through putting on her socks she had tipped sideways onto her bed.
The minutes ticked by and the sleep continued. The insomniacs, the busy, the lazy – all united in slumber.
Outside Natasha’s house a light rain had started, speckling the cars. A black cat sat licking its paws at the side of the road. Then it stopped, looked at the ground in alarm, and in one graceful movement leapt onto a wall, making a low yowling moan, its tail waving as it sniffed the air. Nothing happened for a moment, and then with the faintest creaking the road lifted up and a small tarmac wave rolled down the white lines. The cat bolted along the wall and disappeared over a fence. Then another wave lifted and rolled beneath the cars parked along it. A large removal truck sailed down the road towards the battered Ka belonging to Natasha’s dad. As the truck hit the bumper, another wave lifted and carried it away.
Not only the tarmac was morphing. Cars wobbled and bulged, small bubbles of paint were popping and settling. Lampposts bent as if the weight of light was too much, bowing to the liquid road. With a slight shiver, and the smell of freshly mixed concrete, paving slabs shifted as if they’d been laid on molten lava. Then the slabs themselves became square pools of concrete with insects skating on the surface between stones that popped up and bobbed. Natasha didn’t wake when the mattress she was lying on bulged and collapsed beneath her, the material oozing into her mouth and around her eyes. She didn’t wake when the walls bowed in, squashing the furniture so it dented like marshmallow.
At the local supermarket, the shelves creaked as the metal struts puddled on the floor, then slowly rose again, leaving only a few packets of cornflakes spilled onto the now liquid ground.
The postman of Icking was leaning against a wall, three bills and a package containing a hairdryer still clutched in his hand, as the bricks against his cheek became as soft as dough and oozed around him. His nose was slowly sinking when with a pop he bounced back out, unharmed, still sleeping.
For three hours the streets, buildings and vehicles across every continent wriggled and floated as curious, intrusive intent took control, flexing and claiming. As the hours moved on, the movement slowed. All distorted objects came to rest exactly as they had been.
When everybody woke up four hours and sixteen minutes later, the world looked virtually unchanged, nobody suspected all life was now waiting to upend. Nobody knew that the Wave had begun.
penetraliain – most parts of a building or temple; innermost secrets
pismirism – hoarding of small or insignificant things
There’s a tradition round my way, that when you want to get rid of furniture or bric a brac, you stick it out on the pavement. Right now you can tell people are stuck at home, because the streets are full of evidence of their clear-outs. Over the last week, I’ve seen clothes, cupboards, kids’ toys (a line of cuddly toys on the wall like they were waiting for a bus) and now cassettes. I’m not sure it’s the wisest idea with the plague going on (I wonder if they did the same in the fourteenth century), but I guess it can all be washed.
I’m releasing up to chapter 9 of Supernice today. A science fiction story of a girl and her dad trying to survive a bizarre alien invasion. It’s got dad jokes, aliens that get inside your brain to change your personality, and lots of fake smiles.
Here are some comments I’ve received so far:
“I read the first 3 pages and was hooked!!!”
“Read the first three chapters last night and loving it. Looking forward to the next three – intriguing concept.”
“I am enjoying your book a lot! It’s veryyyy engaging and I honestly cannot wait to see where you take your characters next! Making this quarantine so much more bearable.”
“I am hooked! …And I love your way with words. Brilliant.”
So maybe it’s time YOU had a read. Or not if it’s not your thing. But if you’re intrigued, it’s free, involves no obligation and no spreading of germs. The ultimate Covid19 experience!
Just contact me on petra_jacob @outlook. com (without the spaces). Let me know what format you want it in (PDF, ePub, Word etc) and I’ll send the first nine chapters.
Parent fox left the three cubs alone in next door’s garden where they climbed over each other for a while. I guess they’re getting big enough to be left alone.
Went to the little Sainsbury’s since it’s the only one that usually has a combination of food and no-queues winding up the street. Which was the case again.
I bought some veg and bread and milk and although there was someone at the checkout, I figured the self-checkout is fairer because it doesn’t put the cashier at risk. Anyway, I happily beeped through my items until I got to my loose potato. It has no bar-code, so I pressed the Look up other items button and Veg. No sign of potato. I pressed the Popular items button. No potato. I pressed the help button and a Sainsbury lady cautiously approached, I did my best not to breathe and explained about the lack of potato options.
The cashier shouted over from the tills, ‘You can’t buy a potato at that self checkout till. You have to use that one.’ He gestured at another self-checkout that was occupied. ‘Or this one.’ He gestured at his own till. The Sainsbury lady gave me a Whoops, that’s foolish! expression and I had a chuckle and then bought the single potato at the front till. It cost 39p.
It’s these little moments of the ridiculous that make my day.
Oh and the foxes.
Life’s entertainment has got much smaller, but I don’t think it’s got any less entertaining, although that might be my simple brain.
How about you? Any small moments that made you smile?