Friday 29 March 2024 / Leave a Comment


Take a deep breath. Stop shitting yourself. Wipe, flush, fire, clear. The wait is finally over. Neil Randall’s latest novel Three Days with Adrianna is out TODAY!


From his padded cell in Belgrade’s Институт за ментално здравље, the sadly ailing author had this to say about the inspiration behind the book: 

“There is an old saying about tatty, rundown coastal towns – or, more specifically, about the dregs of humanity who invariably end up there – ‘With the sea, they can go no further.’

      “I never really understood what that meant until I was much older. My childhood in a small coastal town was particularly idyllic – endless summers on the beach, football and cricket down the park with my friends, adventure, excitement, and new discoveries around every corner.

      “Back then, the town was a popular tourist destination. The beaches and caravan sites were packed, all day, every day from June through to September – and sometimes beyond. The cafes, restaurants, and pubs were mad busy. Queues formed halfway round the town for the fish and chip shops. But more than that, there was a real sense of fun and laughter in the air. I remember feeling very lucky to live in a town like this.

      “But in what felt like a very short period, everything changed. Maybe the fact that overseas travel – Spain, France, Greece – became more affordable and accessible played a big part. Maybe the economic downturn, how ordinary working people seemed to get squeezed harder and harder each year, how everything got that little bit more expensive, but wages didn’t reflect those rises in any way, shape, or form. Big businesses got greedier and greedier.

      “As a result, the same cafes, restaurants, and pubs that had thrived in years gone by started to close down at an alarming rate. There was a marked and steady decline in the number of holidaymakers who visited the area. Jobs, even during the summer season, became hard to find. The town was no longer such a nice place to live.

      “Drink, drugs, a genuine lack of hope and opportunity. Kids in gangs with vicious fighting dogs straining at their leashes jostled with a cavalcade of pram-pushing single mums for high street superiority. There was a dark, almost seedy underbelly to the town now. In a handful of years, barely a generation, it had gone from being a tranquil holiday destination (the gem of the Norfolk coast) to the armpit and arsehole of the world combined – and whether that is an anatomical impossibility, I make no apologies for conjuring such an image.

      “Regardless, a lot of my stories - including Three Days with Adrianna - are set in the town. For reasons not altogether clear to me, I’ve become a chronicler of the slow, sad decline of the English seaside resort, and all the people that have (and are) going down with it.”

 If you can restrain yourself no longer, here’s the link to buy the book on amazon.



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Thursday 21 March 2024 / Leave a Comment


Here's the updated cover art for Neil Randall's new novel Three Days with Adrianna. Watch this space for more details about the release date for this truly twisted revenge thriller. 

For now, why not enjoy the opening chapter:

The Part About Adrianna

As soon as she walked into the shop, he knew she was Angie’s daughter. The likeness was scary. He could’ve been back at his old flat twenty-odd years ago, staring at her mum through a late-night cloud of second-hand smoke.

     “Are you Gary Talbot?” she asked, straight out.

      Instinct told him to say, ‘No, sorry, he’s away for a week’. But something held him back; something he could never really explain – over the years he’d always been such a convincing liar.

      “Yeah,” he said as casually as possible, placing the LPs he was about to price up down on the counter. Jesus, he thought to himself, she really is the spitting image of Ange, with the shiny coal-black hair, dark eyes, that rich Mediterranean colouring, she was even the same sort of height, not particularly tall but not particularly short, and had the same shapely, curvy figure. “How can I help you, love?”

      At first, she didn’t say anything. She just stood there, in this stylish navy-blue trouser-suit, looking all shy and unsure of herself.

      “Well, it’s not the easiest thing to…” she trailed off and lowered her eyes. “What I mean to say is I – I wanted to talk to you about – about…” and she broke down in floods of tears, just like that.

      Gary didn’t know what to do, whether to let her get it out of her system, or whether to try and comfort her in some way.

      “Hey, don’t cry.” He walked around the counter and tentatively put a hand on her shoulder. “Look. Why don’t I turn the closed sign ’round, eh? Pop the kettle on, and you can tell me all ’bout it, get whatever it is off’a your chest.”


“Yeah, you don’t half look like your mum,” he said, warily, unsure of how to approach the situation, how to act – friendly, serious, or defensive – he had no idea how much this girl knew, and what kinds of questions she wanted to ask. “And you say your name’s Adrianna, right?”

      She nodded and took a sip of tea from a faded Manchester United mug that had been through the dishwasher one time too many.

      “That’s right. Named after my great-grandmother, so I’ve been told.”

      After he’d brought the tea through, she’d confirmed what he already suspected: that she was Angie’s daughter. Now she’d pulled herself together, she came across as a really well-spoken girl, educated, polite, classy, a little intimidating, in the way attractive women can, without really trying. And in no way could he tell if she was hostile towards him or not.

      “Thing is, Gary, I never knew my real mum. I was brought up by foster parents. It was only a year or two back that I got in contact with my real grandmother. Since then, we’ve got to know each other quite well. I visit her every other week. And she’s told me a lot about my mum, important stuff, because it’s hard not knowing where you come from, not having any proper family, like reference points. All my adult life I’ve felt like there was something missing, you know?”

      And she went on tell Gary about her education and plans for the future, a first-class honours degree, something to do with the sciences, laboratory research, and how she’d landed herself a dream job in Melbourne, Australia, how she was going to emigrate, how this was literally her last few days in England. As she spoke, Gary nodded his head, said Yeah a few times, and smiled encouragingly, not really knowing why he was listening to all of this, or where it was heading.

      “So, as you can imagine, I might not be coming back to England any time soon. And I guess I want to know more about my mum before she died, what kind of person she was, what interests she had, what she did at weekends, just ordinary, everyday stuff. Here.” She reached into her slim, stylish leather handbag and pulled out an old cassette. “I bet you recognise this, right?”

      Gary took the cassette and turned it over in his hands.

      “Yeah,” he said, staring at his own scruffy handwriting on the track-list scribbled on the inlay cover. “Bloody wars! You’re going back a few years here. Look: Prodigy – Your Love, Zero B – Lock Up, Joey Beltram – Energy Flash, 2 Bad Mice – Bombscare, Krome and Time – This Sound is For the Underground. Ha!”

      “And you remember doing this tape for my mum?”

      Of course he remembered. Back then, Ange could only have been fourteen or fifteen years old. It was around the time they first started knocking about together, when she’d walk along the beach from town, where Gary and his best mate Goosey used to hang out, light a camp-fire, drink and smoke themselves silly, and blast out music on a battered old beat box. Ange knew they were bad boys, small town rebels, was attracted to older lads with a dubious reputation, always in trouble with the police. At first, they didn’t really like the idea of her leeching onto them. It could only lead to trouble, they told themselves, bring unwanted attention – an under-age girl cramping their style like that. But gradually, they got used to having her around, to seeing her trudging along the beach in her school uniform, got used to having a laugh and a joke (usually at her expense), getting this young bird so pissed and stoned she’d puke or pass out, taking advantage of her. ‘This music’s ace,’ she said to Gary one summer evening. ‘Can you do me a mix tape, one I can listen to at home?’ At the time, he was big into dance music, him and Goosey used to go to illegal raves up and down the country, and like most lads bang into his tunes, Gary prided himself on putting together the best mix tapes around.

      “You even wrote a little message on the back,” said Adrianna, pointing to the cassette in Gary’s hand. “If you turn the inlay cover over, you can see.”

      He did as she said, taking the cassette out and finding: To my very own little raver, Ange, E is the way forward. Drop as often as you can. Feel the love. Gaz scribbled inside. Gary almost winced at the blatant drug reference, sensing that this was perhaps the moment Adrianna would flip, go into one about the dangers of drugs, how this proved that he was somehow responsible for what happened to her mum.

      “Yeah, yeah,” he said slowly, putting the cassette back in the case and closing it. “They were, erm…different times back then, love, different music, different attitudes to stuff.”

      But she didn’t bring it up, shout at him, or appear in any way angry or upset.

      “Last year, I bought an old stereo at a car boot sale, one with a tape deck in it, just so I could listen to the tape.”

      “Really?” He handed the cassette case back to her. “What’d you think?”

      Adrianna shrugged and rolled her eyes. A light, friendly, amused, maybe even warm gesture, which made him feel a whole lot more comfortable.

      “Not really my kind of thing, a bit manic, a bit out there.”

      “Yeah, I s’pose. Then again, it’s probably generational. If you liked the stuff people my age were listening to back then, music would never move on, would it? It’d be stuck in a rut.”

      She nodded, shifted her weight, and slipped the cassette back into her handbag.

      “Look, Gary, the reason I came to see you is that I want to ask a favour. Like I said earlier, I want to know more about my real mum. I want to try and get a clearer picture of her in my head. I know she was no angel. And I know she did a lot of mad stuff before she had me, but it wouldn’t feel right – leaving the country, leaving everything behind, my roots and all that – without learning more about her life, where I came from.” She shot him a quick, anxious look. “So, what I’m going to suggest is this: I’m staying at a small hotel in town for the next few days, and wondered if you’d give me a tour of the area, you know, places my mum used to visit, her old haunts, if you like.”

      Gary tried to think of all kinds of excuses – work commitments, a family do up North, a fictitious doctor’s appointment – but none of them sounded particularly convincing in his head. Besides, Adrianna had a certain charm, a way about her that made it hard for him to refuse. For that reason, he found himself agreeing, saying that, although he hadn’t got much free time at the minute, with the shop and everything, he could take a few hours off here and there, could find a spare evening maybe, to do just that, to show Adrianna around town, to talk to her about her mum.

      “Really?” she beamed, flashing the whitest, straightest teeth he’d ever seen. “That’s so kind of you, Gary. It would mean the world to me.”

      “No problem.”

      “So, we can meet here, at the shop, tomorrow, late morning, yeah? And you’ll show me around?”

If you've liked what you've read so far, why not check out Neil Randall's amazon page?

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Tuesday 19 March 2024 / Leave a Comment


Keep a date free in your diary: the second of May 2025.


Canadian publisher Dark Winter Press will be releasing Neil Randall’s latest novel The Professional Mourner – Book One from the soon-to-be-fabled Yugoslav Trilogy.

Written in incredibly challenging circumstances, many consider this to be the author’s finest work to date.

As you know, Neil was deported from his home country back in September 2021. His crime: approaching perfection. Little did his detractors know, he would rise phoenix-like from the ashes in his Balkan exile. Moving from one brutalized architectural anomaly to another, he eventually came under the influence of a flame-haired temptress – part-soothsayer, part-succubus, part-time bus conductress. In exchange for the ancient pagan storytelling gift, he made a pact. He gave her his heart but she wanted his soul. A transaction he happily transacted: money for nothing.

Over the course of the next eighteen months, they travelled up and down the country, attending dozens of funerals in small Serbian towns and villages. Not due to any fatalistic obsession with the darker side of life (or death), rather to watch a much-feted professional mourner perform: one Milica Stankovich.

Thus, the seeds for the novel were well and truly sown.

Needless to say, Neil paid a high price for the exchange. Having lost a foot in an industrial accident, and gone completely bald due to an epic bout of stress-induced alopecia, soulless, friendless, hairless, living out of the back of a wheel-less 1981 Yugo, with only the Mirijevo street dogs for company, all he can do each day is chronicle all he learnt from watching the same Milica Stankovic prostrate herself before one coffin after another.


Nikad. Nažalost. Volim te.


Here’s a short sample from the start of the novel to give you a flavour for the story:


On a rainy overcast Wednesday in the small town of Velika Plana a baby girl was born to Dragan and Nevena Stankovic. Seen very much as a miracle – the proud parents were in their mid-forties and had almost given up hope of ever conceiving a child – it would be no exaggeration to say that little Milica (as she was soon to be called) came kicking and screaming into this world. A perfectly natural state of affairs, many would assume. Only she didn’t stop screaming. Not from the moment she was safely delivered into her mother’s arms, to the moment Dragan and Nevena left the local hospital the following morning. Nothing seemed to pacify her. No amount of shushing or cradling or rocking. Even when her exhausted mother, in the hours immediately following the birth itself, presented the baby with a teat, she somehow managed to both greedily suck the milky goodness from Nevena’s swollen breast and continue to cry, sob, wriggle around, and prostrate herself in a manner the midwife (a veteran of over ten thousand deliveries) or any of the physicians on duty that day had ever seen before.

     “It’s the most curious thing,” observed Dr Ivanovic. “If I didn’t know any better, I would say the infant actually enjoys being in a state of utmost distress.”


On their return to the family home, a modest apartment in the working-class district of town, the concerned parents did everything in their power to try and settle the baby down – more shushing, cradling, rocking, and feeding. They even let her suck on a wine-soaked finger (a now frowned upon but nonetheless effective technique routinely deployed many years ago). And while their efforts were rewarded with brief periods of respite when Milica had literally screamed herself to sleep – it didn’t last long. A matter of thirty or forty minutes at a time. 

      After two sleepless nights, they were nearing their wit’s end. 

     “Whatever are we going to do?” asked Nevena, red-eyed and haggard through exhaustion. “I know all babies cry. But this isn’t natural. It’s as if God has blessed and cursed us in equal measure, as if He has given us the one thing we most wanted in life, only for that great gift to be the most onerous of burdens.”

      “I don’t rightly know,” Dragan replied. “But you can cut out all that superstitious nonsense. Milica is a perfectly healthy baby. You heard the doctors say so yourself. This is probably just a tetchy period of adjustment. I’m sure she’ll be right as rain soon.”

      But that didn’t prove to be the case, and it caused untold problems in town.


By the end of the first week of constant bawling all through the night and early hours of the morning, not to mention the vast majority of the day, the neighbours started to complain. Not just about the noise, you must understand – if many a resident did bang a piece of wood against their radiators time and again when the crying fit reached a feverish late-night or crack of dawn pitch. But because these were still a deeply superstitious people, regardless of the incredible technological advances made in recent decades. They saw something strange and worrying, portentous of evil spirits and bad omens in an infant who simply wouldn’t stop crying.

     “Mark my words,” they said. “This don’t bode well for any of us. That there little girl is possessed by dark forces. She be cursed. If we don’t watch out, she’ll bring bad luck upon every decent man, woman, and child in the region.”

      They openly displayed their annoyance, if not outright hostility towards what, up until the birth of their daughter, had been a popular and well-respected couple. If they saw the father, Dragan Stankovich, on his way to the steelworks in the morning, or returning home after a hard day’s toil, they either crossed the street or, if they hadn’t had the good fortune to see him approaching, turned their back on him completely. If they saw the mother, Nevena Stankovich, with her pram, they did likewise. Some of the older women went so far as to openly make the sign of the cross in her direction.

      “Be away with you,” they hissed. “You should’ve drowned that one at birth. Now all of us will have to suffer.”

      Irrational, unkind behaviour which only added to the Stankovich’s plight. Not only did they have an infant who cried from dusk till dawn, they were now treated as pariahs by the local community.


If you’ve enjoyed what you’ve read so far, why not check out my published novels on Amazon.

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Wednesday 13 December 2023 / Leave a Comment


Neil Randall is delighted to reveal the cover art for his upcoming novel Three Days with Adrianna. Tentatively slated for a March 2024 release by Anxiety Press (watch this space for updates), the novel is the darkest and most twisted of all dark and twisted revenge tales.

      Inspired in by the author’s hometown and admiration for Paul Auster’s The Music of Chance, a young woman returns to her birthplace to find out who was responsible for her mother’s drug-fuelled death.

      Here’s another extract from the first part of the novel:


“SO, WHERE ARE you going to take me first, then, Gary?” asked Adrianna, as they walked along the sunny, blustery promenade.

      “Well, I was thinking ’bout giving you a little tour of the coastline. Only I’m not sure if your get-up’s, erm…suitable. It’s a bit of a hike, see, a good coupl’a miles outt’a town.”

      Adrianna wore a thin parka, silky blouse, a pair of those spray-on jeans and slipper-like shoes, like ballet shoes.

      “Oh, don’t worry about that,” she said, waving his words away. “I’ll manage. Besides, it’s pretty nice today, sunny for the time of year.”

      “True. And the tide’s all the way out so we can take the scenic route, if you like, walk on the wet sand.”

      “Great. I’ll let you lead the way, then.”  

      Even though this was supposed to be the most attractive part of town, with the pier and fishing boats, the old Victorian buildings and church tower looming in the background, it was a pretty dismal rundown sight. Most of the little gift shops and cafes had long since gone out of business; scaffolding and boarded-up windows predominated. All the beach-huts had been vandalised, spray-painted, were no more than battered, derelict shells now.

      “If we walk along here till the end of the pathway, we can get down to the beach.”

      “Okay,” said Adrianna. “And what’s that up there?” She pointed to a red-bricked building in the throes of being renovated, half covered in one of those giant plastic bin-bags.

      “That? Oh, it used to be an old toilet block. Rumour has it that the council is gonna to do it up and sell it on as a house.”


      “Yeah, weird, innit? Don’t know if I’d like to live in an old shit-house, sort’a bad karma, all the, erm…waste products that have flowed through the place over the years, centuries of crap.”

      Adrianna threw back her head and laughed.

      Encouraged, Gary said, “Yeah, I remember this one time when me and my mate Goosey were off our…” he trailed off; he stopped himself just in time.

      “When you and your mate were what?”

      “Oh, nothing, just high jinks when we were kids, when we didn’t know no better.”

      But hard as he tried, he couldn’t shake that particular memory from his head, a memory that starred Adrianna’s mum, at fifteen years old, on the toilet block’s flat roof, tripping her nuts off, him and Goosey giving her bong after bong, how she kept getting closer and closer to the edge of the roof, kept stumbling and tottering, and they knew how dangerous it was, how high up they were, but still they did nothing, still they encouraged her to get more and more stoned, to have one more hit, one more swig of cheap vodka, until the inevitable happened, until she really did fall off that roof. How she didn’t break her neck, let alone an arm or leg or wrist or ankle was a miracle. Maybe because she was so off her face she didn’t tense up, and her rubbery limbs cushioned the fall, because by the time Gary and Goosey had got over the shock, got themselves together and peered over the edge, Ange was hauling herself back up the drainpipe, pissing herself laughing, didn’t even know what had happened, and it was a good twelve, fifteen-foot drop.

      It was then Gary realised that this might not have been such a good idea, after all. He hadn’t been down here for years, hadn’t accounted on how many old memories – good, bad, and ugly – were tied up with the place, that just being back here could affect him so much, making him lower his guard, say something he shouldn’t really say.

      Thankfully, Adrianna changed the subject.

      “So, what was it like growing up around here, then?”

      “Pretty grim,” he said, in all honesty. “When I left school, I didn’t have much chance of getting a decent job. There was the crab factory or the turkey farm – that was ’bout it. And I could never see meself slaving away on some stinking production line for peanuts, so I just signed on, got into petty thieving, the odd burglary, drugs.” He stopped at the bottom of a narrow slipway leading down to the beach. “It might be a bit dodgy underfoot here, love. Take my hand.”

      “Oh right, yeah.” She took his hand and let him guide her over a bank of rocks, stones, and shingle. “Thanks, Gary.”

      “No problem. It’s all gravy from here on out.” He pointed to a long stretch of flat wet sand intersected by the odd breakwater. “Look. Not another soul in sight.”

      “It’s a beautiful part of the world,” she said, staring out to sea. “Did you used to come down here a lot?”

      “Yeah. There weren’t really anywhere else to go.”

      They walked on in silence for a few minutes before coming to the exact spot where he used to hang out with Goosey and Ange.

      “Bloody hell,” he said, stopping and pointing up ahead again. “Look, over there, scorch marks on the sand, right where we used to make a big fuck off fire. Christ! Kids these days must have much the same idea.” He walked up to a sandy, grassy mound directly in front of the cliffs. “We’d plonk ourselves right here.”

       “And what did you do?”

      “Just played tunes, smoked a bit of weed, had a few beers. Nothing very exciting or original, I’m afraid.”

      “Sounds pretty good to me,” said Adrianna, “– a big fire, all your friends around you, a few drinks. How many of there were you, usually?”

      “Oh, it varied,” he lied. He didn’t want her to know that it was always just him, his mate Goosey, and an under-age girl who just so happened to be her mum. “From week to week, and what time of the year it was.”

      “So mum was a bit of a rebel, then, yeah? Used to bunk off school, and come down here to hang out with you cool kids?”

      “Yeah, something like that,” he said slowly, fearing that he might’ve been a bit too frank about what they got up to. “Not that I meant to sound flippant. You know, in light of what happened to you mum. If I came across like that I’m sorry.”

     “No, no, don’t apologise, Gary. I want you to tell me the truth. I want you to be upfront with me. I want to know what she was like, what she got up to. That’s why I’m here. And I mean, it’s not as if she’s the first school kid to get falling over drunk, to smoke a joint, to want to irritate her parents and teachers, the first teenager to fall pregnant, even.”

      Gary lowered his eyes. “No, no, of course not. But she weren’t all bad, far from it. She was dead funny and intelligent, good to be around.”

      “And pretty, right? My nan said that she was a real stunner. But she hasn’t got any photographs of mum as a teenager, they got lost years ago, when she moved house.”

      “Really? That’s tragic. But she’s right, your gran, I mean. Ange was a gorgeous-looking girl, stylish an’ all, had all the designer clobber. Can see where you get it from, your fashion sense I mean.” He stole a quick, uncertain glance at her. “And tell you what, I might have some old photos knocking ’bout me flat, of your mum just before she had you. When I get home, I’ll have a look, see if I can’t find ’em out for you.”

      “That’d be great. Thanks ever so much, Gary. And thanks for bringing me down here.” She looked right and left, taking everything in. “You’ve given me a real insight into mum’s life when she was younger. Just being here makes me feel closer to her.” She smiled, a little sadly, perhaps. “And – and what other stuff was she into, apart from music and socialising, being around her friends?”

      Gary hesitated. He didn’t really know what to say, because he didn’t know much about Ange’s interests, the things she was into before she started getting off her head at every opportunity.

      “I know she was big into horses,” said Adrianna, brushing a few strands of windswept hair from her face “– equestrian stuff, like eventing and dressage. My nan showed me all her old trophies.”

      “Oh yeah,” he lied for a second time. “I remember her telling us ’bout all that stuff, show-jumping, yeah? I think that might’ve been something she’d have pursued, you know, later in life.”

      “That’s what nan said, that mum would’ve had a career with horses one day. It’s strange, though, isn’t it? – when people die young, thinking about all the stuff they could’ve done with their lives, all the wasted talent.”

      “Yeah. Yeah, it is.”  


“So,” said Gary, as they started to climb a concrete pathway up from the beach, “what’s this new job of yours all ’bout in Australia, then?”

      “Well, believe it or not, I’ve always been a bit of a science geek. At school I was really into chemistry and biology, stuff like that. After getting pretty good A-Level results, I went on to study at the University of Manchester Institute for Science and Technology.”

      “Sounds impressive,” he said, trying to mask his heaving breaths – the climb up to town was a hell of a lot steeper than he remembered.

      “Yeah, it is. One of the top universities around. Anyway, I was lucky enough to get a work placement at a big research facility in the North-West, part of a team carrying out different laboratory experiments. My dissertation was actually about the long-term effects of substance abuse. I did a big experiment with two rats, monitoring their behaviour when intoxicated over a long period of time.”

      “No shit.” Gary chuckled and came to a halt, leaning on the rusty metal railings, pretending that he wanted to look out to sea, when in reality all he wanted to do was catch his breath. “I’d probably be the ideal case study.”

      A doddery old couple passed by with two eager scampering Yorkshire terriers straining at their leads. They smiled, said good afternoon, and made passing reference to the pleasantness of the day.

      “And what about you, Gary?” said Adrianna, leaning on the same railings, “– running your own record shop now, living the dream.”

      Flattered, he shrugged modestly, but couldn’t resist the opportunity to talk about himself.

      “Yeah, I’ve done all right. As a rule, small businesses don’t tend to last too long in backwater towns like this. Didn’t know if I’d ever be able to make a proper go of it, but the internet has really helped. I sell over sixty per cent of me stock on-line, see? And have sort’a built up a loyal customer base, people come from all over the county to buy stuff from the shop. I do record fares, too. So yeah, I guess you could say I’m living the dream, working, to a very small degree, in the music industry.”

      “That’s great. I’m sure mum would’ve been really, really proud of you; one of her besties making good.”

       “Erm, yeah,” he said, smiling awkwardly. “I’m sure she would.”


If you've liked what you've read so far, why not check out two short stories that were recently published on Anxiety Press' sister website: A Thin Slice of Anxiety:

My Legendary Boyfriend

Eatin' Pussy

And if you want to learn more about Neil Randall's published work, head over to his Amazon page.


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Tuesday 5 December 2023 / Leave a Comment


Watch this space for full details of Neil Randall's brand-new novel. Tentatively scheduled for a March 2024 release, here's a teaser from the book:

THREE WHOLE WEEKS, not a bloody word, not a simple phone call telling us where she were, didn’t know nothing ’bout no static caravan up the coast, worried sick I was, had no other option than to call the police, even if it meant getting the social services involved, even if it meant that the baby might be taken off’a her. I mean, she’d wandered off so many times, said she were just popping out to the shops, or to visit a friend for a cuppa and a fag, and I wouldn’t see hide nor hair of her for days, just dumped the baby on me, see, left me right in the lurch. And when she finally came home, she’d have great big bags under her eyes, her beautiful hair were all matted and greasy, stinking to high heaven, smoke, booze, you name it. Then all she’d wanna do was sleep, go up to her room and not surface till the next day. Only this time it were different. Bad as Ange had been in the past, she’d never dream of being away this long. It weren’t right. It didn’t make no sense. And I tried phoning round her friends, even the rough druggy bastards from town, the two lads she always used to knock ’bout with, but they swore that they hadn’t seen or heard from her for a good coupl’a weeks.

      In the end, like I said, I had to get on to the local police, had this horrible smarmy young constable call round to the house, still in his bloody twenties, still had bum-fluff on his face, knew Ange of old, see, knew she’d been in trouble in the past, had a bit of a reputation ’round town, for drugs and what have you, and for that reason, her safety and well-being weren’t important, like whatever might’ve happened to her, however horrible, were her own fault, didn’t say as much, but I could tell, by all these snidey comments like: Did you give your daughter any money, Mrs Carboni, Did she say who she was going to be seeing? If so, are they also involved in the local drug scene? And I had to keep on at ’em, the police, I mean, to make ’em take me seriously, had to call ’em every day, hassle ’em, tell ’em to get their fingers outt’a their arses, that my girl had a baby daughter who were missing her something chronic, and that it were a small town, that she couldn’t have gone very far, but all I kept getting back were: Unfortunately, we’ve had very few significant leads to follow up on, but rest assured, we’re doing everything in our power to find your daughter.

      If it ain’t have been for Ange’s friend, Katie I think her name were, remembering her saying something ’bout visiting that caravan, we wouldn’t have found her for months. Apparently, it belonged to one of those tossers from town, the ones we spoke to before, shared it with a cousin or something, had it gifted ’em in their granddad’s will, used it as a bit of a party place by all accounts, ’specially in the summer months. That’s when I knew them lads had been lying when we asked ’em if they had any idea where Ange could be – how else would she have got the keys, eh?

      Never forget that awful phone call, when the police rang to tell me that they’d found Ange’s body, that she’d been dead for a considerable amount of time. Considerable, I asked ’em, how long is considerable? It were only later I found out that she’d been lying there, all on her own, dead, God rest her soul, for the best part of two and a half weeks, over a bloody fortnight! When he did his autopsy or whatever you call it, the coroner reckoned that she’d had liver or kidney failure, that her vital organs ruptured, nigh on exploded, due to chemical excess, that more likely than not she had a massive seizure, like a stroke, started bleeding from every orifice in her body. I had to go down to the morgue to identify her, she were in one helluva state, all bloated and puffy, her skin had turned this horrible bluey-green colour, half her hair had fallen out at the roots. And I knew that were the case ’cause I tried to touch her, don’t know why, it were just a natural kind’a reaction, to reach out and touch her face, the top of her head, like saying goodbye, knowing that’s the last time I’d ever see her, and a great big clump of her hair came away in my hand.

      Next day, the police had those evil wankers, those druggies in for questioning, but they closed ranks, said they didn’t know how Ange had got into the caravan, that she must’ve climbed in through a window or forced a door, that they had no idea what drugs she’d been taking or who she’d got ’em from, despite the fact she had little or no money on her. And ’cause the police couldn’t prove nothing, that they didn’t have any witnesses or material evidence as they called it, linking them two lads to any of the drugs found at the scene, they couldn’t do nothing ’bout it, couldn’t prosecute, they had to let ’em go scot-free.

      That’s when I started to hear whispers, you know, rumours ’round town, ’bout how them two lads had given Ange some dodgy pills to try, like a bloody guinea pig, how they planned to have a big weekend up at the caravan, that they’d given her the keys a few days in advance, said they’d meet up with her on the Friday or Saturday, only when they got round to it they found her lying there, dead, and didn’t have the decency to call the police, call me – her mum – so I could come and take her away, give her a respectful funeral, a proper send-off, ’cause they were scared that they’d find out ’bout those pills. They just let my little girl, my only daughter rot away in that caravan, like she were nothing more than a piece of meat, like road kill splattered at the side of a motorway, that she were dirt, that her life didn’t mean nothing. And that’s something I can never forgive ’em for, that’s something those bastards should have pay for for the rest of their lives.

If you've liked what you've read so far, why not check out two short stories that were recently published on Anxiety Press' sister website: A Thin Slice of Anxiety:

My Legendary Boyfriend

Eatin' Pussy

And if you want to learn more about Neil Randall's published work, head over to his Amazon page.

Read more »


Wednesday 29 November 2023 / Leave a Comment


Neil Randall is delighted to announce that his new short story The Cancer Dogs of Mirijevo has just been accepted for publication by Paris-based literary journal RIC. Based on an encounter with a street dog in the eponymous Belgrade suburb of the title, the story explores themes of bereavement, true love, and facing up to the losing that one special person in your life.

To whet your appetite, here are the opening scenes of the story: 

Ever since her Serbian husband of over forty years ended his life at Dignitas in Switzerland following a long and not particularly dignified battle with bowel and bladder cancer, Professor Patrica Atlee had been looking for something to occupy her mind. Recently retired and relocated to the Belgrade suburb of Mirijevo (assisted suicide isn’t cheap and the couple had to sell their highly desirable property in the far more exclusive area of Dedinje), Atlee had entered a dull and directionless period of life. Having enjoyed a successful career in the serious disease research field, she knew she had to either reignite her old passion for photography and painting, or find a new interest before she slipped into the same distressing rut that her husband had during the final years of his life.

At sixty-seven, the idea of entering the ‘mature’ dating scene horrified her. The mere thought of a series of pseudo-intimate encounters with strangers, no matter how pleasant, intelligent, or attractive was appalling. Whenever possible, she tried to catch up with family and friends for coffee, but found their company dull and insipid, rather than engaging and comforting. After long bouts of sudoku, the perusal of favoured medical journals, and internet surfing, she found herself wandering around her new home enclave, a singularly unattractive amalgam of high-rise apartment blocks, populated by thousands of young families.

Whether it was this – observing so many people at the start of their lives rather than the end – that both depressed and fascinated her, she could never quite tell. But it often saw her stroll towards the busy park near the supermarket, a well-appointed concrete quadrant equipped with swings, slides, roundabouts, and some nifty and well-used exercise equipment.

And it was during one of these now-regular forays that she noticed something so extraordinary, she knew she had just found the project she so badly needed at that time.


If you like what you’ve read so far, you can read the story in its entirely on RIC’s website.


And if you want to read more of my published work, head over to my Amazon page.

Read more »


Friday 4 August 2023 / Leave a Comment


Neil Randall is delighted to announce that his brand-new short story “Eatin’ Pussy” has been published by Anxiety Press. The tale of two very different brothers – one a classically trained pianist who never quite fulfils his potential, the other a never-do-well lay-about who lands a role in a cult film and becomes a household name – the story examines the meaning of success, contentment, achievement, the things in life that can make a person truly happy, and the cruel reality of knowing that even if you work as hard as you can possibly work, even if you dedicate yourself to something, be it an artform, a career, even a relationship with someone you truly adore, there’s no guarantee that you will succeed or get what you deserve in the end.

     Perhaps, therefore, the story is more an examination of failure, how the vast majority of people conduct their everyday lives with the dark cloud of personal defeat hanging over them at all times.


To give you a feel for the story, here are the opening pages:


In the early 1980s, or hate-ies as I like to call them, my brother Miles landed a small part in what would become a hugely successful cult movie. His role, that of an arresting police officer interrogating a suspect, consisted of only nine words.

      “Where’d you get that scar, tough guy? Eatin’ pussy?”

      Inexplicably, that section of dialogue and what amounted to around fifteen seconds of screen time would provide him with a comfortable existence for the rest of his life. He never had to find himself a regular job. He never had to struggle to make ends meet. How remains a mystery to me to this day. But perhaps the reason why is an even more perplexing proposition, one I’ve been wrestling with for years.

     Twelve years Miles’ senior, I felt an acute sense of shock when our parents sat me down one day and explained that I would soon have a little brother or sister to play with. Having been perfectly content with the family dynamic up to that point in time, I saw no reason why my mother and father would want to upset our peaceful domestic routine with another child. More to the point, I was considered somewhat of a prodigy back then, a gifted piano virtuoso. Much of my time – and by extension, my parents’ time – was spent either travelling to and from music lessons, or playing the piano itself, at intimate gatherings (i.e. for my mother and father’s exclusive delectation) or modest performances in the local area. I just couldn’t see how we could possibly accommodate another hugely demanding human presence into our busy schedule.

      “Don’t worry, Nicholas,” said my mother, as if sensing my disgruntlement. “Everything will work out just fine. And while father and I will have to spend a lot of time with the new baby, it doesn’t mean that we love you any less.”

     Worthy sentiments, but actions are so much more important than words.

     Vividly, I remember seeing my little brother for the first time at the hospital. Grotesquely fat, the wriggling ball of pinkish flesh in my mother’s arms did little during what constituted the first twelve to eighteen months of its existence other than gorge itself on the copious amounts of milk in her swollen breasts. Not only did the new arrival cause all kinds of unwanted distractions in my life, he transformed my once pretty and petite mother into a bloated whale of a woman who failed to recover her slender, attractive figure, no matter what lengths she went to with different and innovative dieting regimes. Never again would she wear stylish cocktail dresses to one of my recitals, rather hessian-sack like sartorial disasters which were a source of great embarrassment to everyone concerned.

     But I digress.

     I won’t bore you with a classic tale of sibling rivalry. How the older child was jealous of the attention his parents bestowed upon the baby of the family. Then and now, I consider myself above such primitive emotions. I simply accepted our much-changed circumstances and continued to dedicate myself to the pursuit of artistic excellence. I ignored, if not completely drowned out the new baby’s crying fits. I banished the smell of soiled diapers from both my mind and airwaves, through intense piano work and the lighting of endless incense sticks throughout the home. If I was ever encouraged to interact with the infant myself, I would dutifully fulfil my brotherly role and play with the baby or pose for family photographs.

     Besides, great changes were on my own personal horizon. Namely, I was offered a place at the world-famous Sibelius Academy in Helsinki, Finland. With enduring pride, I remember my high school principal inviting me to his office to discuss a ‘matter of utmost importance’.

     “You’ve been presented with an incredible opportunity, Nicholas. Not many young people from Hoboken are invited to attend one of the finest conservatories in the world.”

      Hence, I was absent for much, if not all of Miles’ formative years. Bar standard visits home during the holiday periods: Christmas (always), Thanksgiving (every other year), Summer (never, due to the cultural delights of Europe and a punishing musical schedule), I only saw my brother from around the age of four or five to his early twenties on a dozen or so occasions. That’s not to say I didn’t get regular updates from my parents. In heartfelt letters or tearful long-distance phone calls, they spoke of a lazy, unruly child constantly in trouble at school or with the police in the local area. They told wild, fantastical, almost unbelievable tales of my brother’s antics. The kind of teenager into everything before it was fashionable, he drank alcohol and smoked illicit substances, shoplifted and handled stolen goods (on more than one occasion, the high school principal caught him in the act of selling car radios or cartons of cigarettes to his fellow students), he somehow contrived to lose his virginity at the age of thirteen and faced paternity tests regarding the fatherhood of two babies (both of which proved thankfully inconclusive), and spent nine weeks in a juvenile detention centre for stealing a car and driving some friends to Miami for spring break.

     But what perhaps distressed my parents more than any of the above was their second child’s innate indolence, his lack of drive and purpose in life.

     “We’re at our wit’s end,” said my mother, during one of her weekly telephone rants. “We simply don’t know what to do with Miles anymore. We can’t understand why he’s so different to you. Since the day you were born, you were such a bright, inquisitive child. Once you discovered your musical gift, there was no looking back. You dedicated every free moment to the piano. Even though Miles has been given the same opportunities and encouragement you had – we’ve paid for music lessons, sports classes, out of school initiatives – he just can’t seem to stick at anything for more than five minutes. He’s perfectly content to sit in his bedroom all day, play computer games, and smoke those funny cigarettes of his.”

      I didn’t really know what to say to reassure my parents, other than reel off standard cliches about the teenage years being difficult and it just being a phase Miles was going through. To be perfectly honest, there was far too much going on in my own life at the time for me to show much interest or genuine sympathy. Consequently, I never really, truly understood the depth of the problem.


If you like what you’ve read so far, you can read the full story on the Anxiety Press website.


And if you liked “Eatin’ Pussy”, why not check out my published works on Amazon.

Read more »


Monday 24 July 2023 / Leave a Comment

Neil Randall is delighted to announce that his new short story A Short Film About Dying has just been published by Middle Level Management Literary Journal. Described as Soyent Green for the Dignitas generation, the story, about an old man who has just come to the end of his useful working life, is set in a cold, uncaring, near-future society that, to all intents and purposes, is identical to the world we live in today. With retirement ages rising to point where our corpses will be expected to put in a solid eight-hour shift ad infinitum, and widespread uncertainty regarding the sustainability of pension funds, the expedient erasure of every citizen no longer able to work would be manna in heaven for the politicians and the money people.


Here’s the opening scene to whet your appetite:


They said there was nothing they could do for him. At eighty-five years old, R. had just completed his useful working life cycle and must leave his post with immediate effect. Legally, they could no longer let him continue with his administrative duties at the Ministry. 

     “But I’m in perfectly good health,” he had argued. “You need only look at the results of my last medical.”

     But the Terminations Officer, a prim, upright, immaculately dressed young woman with her hair scraped back into a neat bun, looked singularly unimpressed. 

     “Granted, your eyesight is exceptional for a functionary of your age, as are your blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Heart rate is strong. You have had no significant health problems throughout your useful working life cycle. Nor is there any history of serious illness in your family. Functionaries ten or even twenty years your junior would be delighted to have results like yours. Unfortunately, we have restrictions in place to serve the wider populace.”

     “But I’m simply not in a financial position to retire.” 

     “You need some assistance?” Her nostrils twitched, as if she had caught the scent of something unpleasant. She tapped a few keys on her computer keyboard. “But from the looks of your employment history, you’ve only been with the Ministry for fourteen years. Not nearly long enough to be eligible for a pension. More to the point, your early records are incomplete. For instance, what were you doing between the years of 2018 and 2043?”

     “I dedicated my early years to the arts.”

     “The what?”

     “I didn’t go down a traditional career path. I travelled a lot, never staying in one place for too long.”

      “I’m not sure I quite understand. But with these gaping holes in your records and insufficient state contributions to receive even a small monthly stipend from the government, you’re in an unenviable position.”

      “But couldn’t you make an exception?”

     She shook her head. “Out of the question. As far as the Terminations Department is concerned, there really is nothing else I can do for you. You can no longer legally work in any capacity. Your final salary has been paid up in full and your records amended accordingly.

     “If you wish to apply for financial assistance, you’ll have to visit the Appeals Department. I doubt they’ll be able to help you, but they’ll be much better briefed than I am regarding your options.”

     “And where is that? In this building?”

     “Of course. Floor 201. You can take the elevator from just along the corridor.” She attempted to smile, but it quickly collapsed into an uncomfortable grimace. “Before you leave, would you care to rate our interaction today?”


     “Yes. On a scale of one to ten, how satisfied have you been with the service I provided?”

     “Service? I just came here to see where I stood in regards to keeping my job.”

      “Affirmative. And did you receive the correct and most up-to-date information?”

     “Yes, I suppose I did.”

     “Therefore, you would rate the interaction as a ten?”

     “A ten?”

     “Thank you so much for your participation in the survey. Your score of ten has been added to my Personal Achievement file. Have a nice day.”


If you like what you’ve read so far, you can read the story in its entirety on the Middle Level Management website.


And if you like the story, why not check out some of my other published work here.

Read more »


Friday 17 March 2023 / Leave a Comment


Neil Randall is delighted to announce that his new short story A Fancy Dress Party at a Russian Lunatic Asylum has just been published by Body Fluids literary journal.

      The story is about Svetlana, a local government official whose existence is turned upside down when her husband, colleagues, and a host of bit-part players in her life claim not to recognise her.

     Here are the opening pages of the story: 

A Fancy Dress Party at a Russian Lunatic Asylum

Every day there was a farmer’s market in the town square. If Svetlana saw a succulent cut of meat or a piece of fresh fish, she would call her husband to ask if he wanted it for his evening meal. Only today, when he answered the telephone, he claimed not to recognise her voice.

      “Please stop messing around, Mikhail. You and your practical jokes. Now, would you prefer the seabass or the beefsteak?”

      “Look, I really have no idea who you are. You accuse me of playing practical jokes, but you’re the crank. You’re the one who –”

       “Enough. I refuse to play along a moment longer. I will buy the fish and a bottle of Tsinandali. If you get the chance – I know you’re busy marking exam papers today – could you please cut some fresh fennel from the window box?”

        “What? How do you know such things? – my occupation, my current activities, my favourite wine? Who exactly are you? What is this all about?”

      “Mikhail, it’s me – your wife. I’m on my lunch break. I’ve called to see what you would like to eat this evening, something I’ve done countless times before.”

       “My wife? Don’t be absurd. I’m a bachelor. I live alone, and have done all my life.” He slammed the phone down.

      Svetlana didn’t know what to make of such an odd and protracted scene. Briefly, she toyed with the idea of calling straight back, or, alternatively, heading home to see if Mikhail was all right. But memory of his past antics, his practical jokes, not to mention a pressing workload, compelled her to return to the office instead, without buying anything for their evening meal. The way she saw it, Mikhail would only have himself to blame if all he had to eat tonight was bread and cheese. As she left the town square, she began to see the funny side of the situation, how he would very much be made to suffer for behaving like an idiot. 

      By the time she reached the office, she had almost convinced herself the incident hadn’t been as worrying as it seemed. During the post-examination period, Mikhail was under a lot of stress. Maybe this was his way of letting off steam.    

      “Excuse me, madam,” said the security guard stationed at the main reception desk. “All visitors must sign in.”

       Confused, Svetlana came to a stop and turned to face him. “But I work here. We spoke only this morning. It’s Pavel, isn’t it? We pass each other every day.”

      “I’m sorry. But I’ve never seen you before in my life. And I’ve been employed here for around five years now.”


If you like what you’ve read so far and would like to know how the story ends, you can read it in its entirely here.

And if you’re interested in my published work, why not check out my amazon page.

Read more »
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