The Abattoir of Dreams: Still Being Discovered Three Years On

On 28th February 2017, The Abattoir of Dreams was published. With the help of some supportive and enthusiastic book bloggers, the book began to gather some fantastic praise and reviews. Although the story does include the subject of institutional child abuse, readers have also said that the friendship, love and trust between the two main protagonists, Michael and Liam, are what has kept the book in their minds a long time after reading it. Here are just a few of the reviewers thoughts on the book:

‘I have to mention briefly Michael’s relationship with his childhood pet Oxo as well as Liam who he befriends in the boys home. These relationships moved me to tears and are ones that will stay with me for a long time to come.’
5* from Sarah Hardy @ By The Letter Book Reviews.

‘The characters in the book grabbed my heart – Michael – seriously my heart was torn out reading his journeys – the wasted opportunities for him to be saved; the adults who let him down and horrors he faced, I wanted to reach into the pages and rescue him! Liam – I loved – he was not willing to stand back and let the bad guys win and I cheered for him throughout, what a strong and determined character!’
5* from Sharon Bairden @ Chapter In My Life.

‘Liam Truman is someone we meet along the way and my heart went out to this kid. Tough on the outside, his loyalty, friendship and desire to protect those he cared about …no matter what the cost….really pulled at my heartstrings!’
5* from Noelle Holten @ Crime Book Junkie

Here’s an extract from the book that shows the friendship and humour that can be shared, even in difficult situations. Michael and Liam have run away from Woodside, a children’s home. They’ve found a way into a run down and empty pub:

‘We’re in luck,’ Liam said.
I could think of better words to describe the place. Shithole, sprang to mind. ‘What?’
He pointed at a small plastic square set in the bottom of the door. ‘It’s got a cat-flap.’
I was about to remind him we weren’t cats, when he unhooked his rucksack, dropped onto his knees, and tugged at the flap. Within a few seconds, it came free. He held up a hand triumphantly, and then pushed his way inside. I wouldn’t say it was a tight squeeze, but it had probably been easier for his mother to give birth to him. He pushed and grunted, shoes scrabbling on the ground for a foothold. Eventually, he
popped through the hole.
A few seconds later, he poked his head back through the hole.
‘Come on, Mikey. Pass your bag and my rucksack through. Then,come in.’
He looked so happy, as if, for the first time in his life, he’d played a game and won. I didn’t fancy my chances of getting through there. I was slightly bulkier than him, and a damn sight less enthusiastic. But, it was better than nothing, and nothing was all we had right now. I passed the rucksack and my small canvas bag through.
‘Careful. You’ll squish the cakes,’ he said, grinning like a clown.
I suppose it was inevitable. I got stuck halfway through. To tell the truth and shame the devil, as my Aunt Jean used to say before she got her loyalties all muddled up, my arse got stuck.
And then one of my shoes fell off.
It’s hard to explain the panic that sets in when you can’t move. I couldn’t breathe. I felt dizzy. Liam grew two grinning heads. He tried to pull me through the flap, but the harder he pulled, the more I flapped (no pun intended). To make matters worse, I caught my knackers on the metal rim of the blasted thing. Searing pain ripped up into my belly.
‘Can’t you push with your feet at the same time as I pull?’
‘I’m trying.’
‘Well try harder.’
‘You pull harder.’
He did. And virtually castrated me. ‘YOW! My nuts. My fucking nuts.’
He stopped pulling. ‘How am I supposed to help you if you keep squealing like a girl about your bollocks?’
‘Girls haven’t got bollocks,’ I shouted.
‘I doubt they’d make as much fuss as you if they did.’
‘Seriously, Liam. They feel as if they’re in my guts.’
He laughed. ‘Watch you don’t get yourself pregnant.’
‘Ha, ha, very—’
Without warning, he yanked again. Harder. Short sharp jerks, like Oxo on his lead when he saw a cat. And then I was through. Lying on a filthy kitchen floor, with my chin resting on a large coconut mat.
‘What a girl.’
I was off that mat and up in an instant. I think Liam thought I was going to hit him. I never told him the real reason for my sudden burst of energy: a spider. More related to a money-spider than a tarantula, but a spider all the same.

Later on the book both Liam (Truman) and Michael (Tate) have been ‘charged’ with criminal offences in a kangaroo court in the boiler room underneath Woodside. DI Carver, and teachers Kraft and Malloy, play judge and jury as Liam maintains his strength and courage:

Carver referred to his notebook. ‘Truman is charged with theft, criminal damage, unauthorised absence, wilful neglect, assault, arson, carrying a weapon with intent to endanger life, resisting arrest, abusing a man of the cloth, blasphemy, and dereliction of duty.’
Kraft nodded, as each of the trumped-up charges was read out. He shouted across the room to Liam. ‘Do you understand the charges, Mr. Truman?’
Liam hung from the railing, like an animal in a butcher’s shop window. ‘Fuck you.’
Kraft shook his head. ‘I see the prisoner has lost none of his appetite for insolence. Have you anything to say in your defence, Mr. Truman?’
Liam didn’t answer. He made a hacking noise in the back of his throat and spat on the floor.
Kraft turned to Malloy. ‘Can defence offer any mitigation for the prisoner?’
Malloy shook his head. ‘Unfortunately not, your honour. Truman has always been an awkward character. He has consistently shown a flagrant disregard for authority. On reflection, he might have benefited from a stricter approach regarding discipline, but,
as I’m sure you’re aware, your honour, hindsight is a wonderful thing.’
‘Indeed. But, it is not the duty of this court to rake over the ashes of a prisoner’s past. What’s done is done. I understand the prisoner’s father committed suicide?’
Malloy preened himself like a strutting peacock. ‘That is the case, your honour.’
Kraft looked at Liam. ‘The apple never falls far from the tree, does it, young man?’
Liam held his head as high as he could and looked Kraft in the eye. ‘No. And sometimes people end up swinging from that same tree.’
Kraft banged his mallet down hard enough to split the wood.
‘I see that tongue of yours makes a very effective noose. I would like to remind you that you’re in a court of law. Everything you say can and will be used as evidence against you.’
Liam turned away, his face crushed by pain.
Kraft addressed Carver again. ‘You say the prisoner resisted arrest?’
‘Yes, your honour. We pleaded with both defendants to see sense, but Truman seemed to take some sort of perverse pleasure in taunting us. He said he’d poured petrol down the cellar steps, and he would set fire to it if anyone came through the door. We didn’t have a key, your honour. The best we could do was try to appeal to their better nature.’
Kraft adjusted his wig and dabbed at his forehead with a handkerchief. ‘It might be fair to surmise characters such as these don’t possess a better nature.’
‘I fear you’re right, your honour,’ Carver said. ‘That has already been made apparent by the prisoners’ behaviour in the church.’
‘As I can unfortunately bear witness to. His language was both foul and abhorrent.’ He turned to me. ‘Why did you go to the church, Tate?’
To rob the place. ‘I don’t know.’
‘If I might offer a suggestion, your honour,’ Carver intervened. ‘They went there to steal.’
‘Steal what, Mr. Carver?’
‘Perhaps the gold candlesticks?’
Kraft wrote something down on a jotter. ‘Is that true, Tate?’
‘No.’
Kraft turned to Carver. ‘I’d be interested to know why they went to the church, Detective Inspector. The vicar is a personal friend of mine. I’m sure he would appreciate an answer. It might be prudent to see if you can elicit one from Truman.’
‘Certainly, your honour.’ He walked over to Liam and stood a few feet in front of him. ‘You heard the judge. He wants to know the real reason why you went to the church.’
Liam tried to straighten his head and look Carver in the eye. His breath rattled in the back of his throat. His glasses were perched precariously on the end of his nose. ‘We… went…there… to… pray…’
‘Pray for what, boy?’ Kraft said. ‘Salvation?’
‘To… pray… you… lot… die… a… slow… and… painful…death…’

If you’d like to see how Michael and Liam became friends and what happens next, then you can find the book using this link. I hope that you enjoy the rest of it.

As always, thank you for your continued support, and special thanks to all those who continue to praise and recommend The Abattoir of Dreams.

Best wishes,

Mark.

Two Years Ago Today

Two years ago today, the first novel I had published by Bloodhound Books was released. The Abattoir of Dreams was met with a pretty favourable response and has since continued to receive positive reviews. When I first had the idea for the story I knew I wanted to say something about a topic that I feel very strongly about – institutional child abuse, and it’s cover up by those in authority.

Although some people are of the opinion that this sort of thing went on in the seventies, research told me that’s it’s very much alive and kicking now. The level of abuse and the status of the people who commit some of these vile acts is unbelievable. Let’s just say that it’s a huge mistake to trust some of those who purport to defend the rights of children. I could go on forever about how deeply ingrained paedophilia is in the highest echelons of power, but it’s up to people to do their own research and make their own minds up. I’m just trying to lift a rock and shine a light on it. Now, after two years, I’m very happy and grateful that Bloodhound Books saw the potential in the story and published it.

It was a difficult book to write because of the subject matter, but I wanted the book to highlight such an important issue. In an earlier blog post, ‘Giving Abused Children a Voice – The Abattoir of Dreams,’ I look at the cases I’d seen in the news that led to me want to say something on the subject, and writing the book.

There has also been a lot of discussion about the book in Facebook groups. Some readers have felt that due to the subject matter, the book description should include a trigger warning. The book description does say the story includes abuse and murder, but for some, that isn’t enough. I watched these discussions with interest as group members shared their opinions, and then I started my own discussion. In ‘Warning! This Blog Post Contains Discussions about Trigger Warnings,’ Peter James and Betsy Reavley, amongst others, share their thoughts on the pros and cons of trigger warnings.

One of the two young male protagonists, Liam, lets readers know his feelings about the children’s home he and his friend Michael are in through poetry. In ‘Poetry in Fiction,‘ I discuss how a poem was used to convey the character’s feelings, and how poetry has been used in a variety of other writer’s fiction.

The systematic abuse of children is appalling. The homes where the abuse takes place are like abattoirs; slaughterhouses for kid’s dreams. The fictional setting in the story, Woodside Children’s Home, is, sadly, for many children a stark and horrifying reality.

As always, I welcome comments.

If you’d like to find out more about the book, you can find it here on Amazon.

 

Thank you for your continued support.

Best wishes,

Mark.

 

Canine Characters in Fiction

Many fictional books include canine characters. They can end up being as popular with readers as their human counterparts. They can evoke a range of emotions, and for those of us who have enjoyed the company of dogs, remind us of those relationships.

In The Abattoir of Dreams, 14-year-old Michael rescues a dog he sees tied up in a yard, adopts him and names him Oxo. This boy and dog partnership created quite an emotional response in readers, with many commenting on it in their reviews.
For example:

‘I have to mention briefly Michael’s relationship with his childhood pet Oxo as well as Liam who he befriends in the boys home. These relationships moved me to tears and are ones that will stay with me for a long time to come.’
(From a review by Sarah Hardy.)

Oxo – although I’m a dog lover – I don’t usually mention animals in my reviews – but seriously – Oxo the dog – the scenes with him and Michael melted my heart – I was literally mush reading them!
(From a review by Sharon Bairdon.)

Every single character will evoke an emotion for one reason or another and that includes Oxo, Michael’s dog.
(From A review by Neats Wilson.)

When I was 8 years old, I overheard that a puppy was due to be put down after its elderly owner couldn’t look after it any more. All day I begged and pleaded with my parents to let me have the puppy. I couldn’t bare the thought of it being put down. The begging worked and Cindy was brought home. Continue reading

A Year Ago Today.

Today marks the first anniversary of the publication of The Abattoir of Dreams. It’s been a great year! The Ben Whittle Investigations were re-launched, and The Liar’s Promise was published last November. I’m now looking forward to the publication of The Key to Death’s Door on 1st May.

Huge thanks to everyone at Bloodhound Books who do such a great job at supporting and encouraging all of their authors. And to all the readers and bloggers who have been so supportive.

Here’s the book description for The Abattoir of Dreams and some of it’s reviews:

 

Book Description:
The past is never far away.

Michael Tate has not had an easy life. With his father in prison, and his mother dead, Michael was sent to Woodside Children’s Home.

Now an adult, Michael wakes up in hospital from a coma suffering from amnesia and paralysis. Confused and terrified, he is charged with the fatal stabbing of his girlfriend, Becky. He also learns he attempted to end his own life.

Detective Inspector John Carver is determined that Michael is sent to prison.

With no way of defending himself, Michael is left in his hospital bed awaiting transfer to remand.

But then strange things begin to happen and his childhood comes back to haunt him.

Can Michael ever escape the past?

Will he ever discover the truth about Becky’s murder?

And why is DI Carver so eager to make him suffer?

The Abattoir of Dreams is a bitter sweet story of murder, innocence and abuse.

 

Review Quotes:

There is a supernatural(ish) element through the book, which appears to be a side affect of severe head trauma. To that extent, it kind of reminded me a little bit of Stephen King’s ‘Duma Key’ and what happened to Edgar Freemantle after his head trauma. With Michael Tate (our protagonist) we really don’t know if it is real, imaginary, or just the way he manages to cope with his returning memory.
5* from Steve Robb, BookieWookie.

I so admire this book and the author for writing it; not that it’s an easy read, emotionally, as the author masterfully puts the reader through the mill, but it is justified. It’s an exceptionally powerful, well-constructed book, with a story that needed to be told. It reeks of authenticity, more’s the pity. The use of the afterlife in the plot is skillful, beautifully effective and credible. It’s rare for my heart to pound with excitement or fear whilst reading a thriller, but this book made me sweat with concern over the fate of the hero, Mikey. 5* from Joy Mutter, author.

This is a difficult book to define. It seems to have a little bit of everything, and it doesn’t fit neatly into any one genre. If you love suspense novels, you’ll enjoy it. If you love novels with supernatural elements, then you’ll enjoy it. If you love family saga’s, then you’ll enjoy it. There are also small elements of horror and romance. It’s a book that slips easily between all these different genres, making is truly unique.
4* from Kim Ebner, The Buzzing Bookmark.

It’ll horrify you, upset you, and hopefully open your eyes – at times the horror (of a very human kind) is relentless, but then again, perhaps it is in reality too, although we might like to think otherwise. It’s a book that once read cannot be forgotten, it’s a triumph for Tilbury and cements the fact that in reading his books, I’m on a journey with a very talented author. 5* from Shani Struthers, author.

Mark Tilbury has written a roller coaster of a crime thriller for sure, but this novel is also a rich and harrowing story of the psychology of evil and those who strive to stop it, this is certainly one read that will stay with you long after you’ve finished the book. Mark Tilbury is a new author (this is where I kick myself) to me but this certainly won’t be the last book I read by this author. If you enjoy a crime thriller that isn’t the norm and you don’t mind a disturbing read then this book is definitely one you don’t want to miss.
5* from Lorraine Rugman, The Book Review Cafe.

 

If you’d like to find out more about The Abattoir of Dreams you can find it here on Amazon.

As always, thank you for your continued support.

Best wishes,

Mark.

Poetry in Fiction – The Abattoir of Dreams.

I used poetry in The Abattoir of Dreams to explore one of the character’s feelings about the situation he was in and the abusive experiences he’d been through. The poem is written by 14 year-old Liam, who shares it with the main character, Mikey, when they run away from Woodside Children’s Home. The poem was also the inspiration for the title of the book.

Here is the poem in full:

How I wish I could feel,
The hot sun on my back,
Fresh cut grass,
Beneath my feet,
My father’s hand,
Strong upon mine,
His aftershave,
Bottled nostalgia,
Promises of tomorrow,
Safe within his smile,
But the night stalker comes,
Cloaked in shadows,
The sound of his heels,
Marking time on the floor,
His stinking breath,
Whispering threats,
You’d better not tell,
You’d better not scream,
No one can hear you,
In the Abattoir of Dreams.

I felt the poem helped to explain exactly how Liam saw Woodside, and how it made him feel. His poetry also acted as inspiration for Mikey.

When used in the right way/place, poetry can work really well in fiction. Other novels that have used poetry successfully are: Continue reading