Proud to unveil the cover design for CALLING MAJOR TOM, my novel which will be published by Trapeze Books, a new imprint of Orion, in 2017.
Below you’ll see the absolutely brilliant cover – they’ve nailed the look of the Earth-bound Ormerod family, Ellie, James and Gladys. And under the image there’s an exclusive extract from the book.
Here’s the blurb:
CALLING MAJOR TOM is a funny, uplifting tale of friendship and community about a man who has given up on the world… but discovers in the most unlikely way that it might not have given up on him.
We all know someone like Thomas.
The grumpy next-door-neighbour who complains to the Residents’ Committee about the state of your front lawn. The man who tuts when you don’t have the correct change at the checkout. The colleague who sends an all-company email when you accidentally use the last drop of milk.
Thomas is very happy to be on his own, far away from other people and their problems.
But beneath his cranky exterior lies a story and a sadness that is familiar to us all. And he’s about to encounter a family who will change his view of the world.
An irresistible and heart-warming tale of a very unexpected friendship, perfect for fans ofThe Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry and A Man Called Ove. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry and you will cheer on all the curmudgeons in your life.
Obviously, having read that, you’ll want to pre-order the book. It’s out JANUARY 19th 2017 in ebook and MAY 11th 2017 in paperback, available from all your favourite book-purveyors.
Here are a couple of pre-order links:
Now, on with the cover reveal… and don’t forget to keep scrolling for an extract.
11th FEBRUARY, 1978
A long time ago, in a cinema far, far away from where he is now, a boy and his dad are pushing through the doors into darkness. The boy hugs a bag of Revels and a small popcorn to his chest, his dad steers him with a firm hand to the shoulder down the aisle, the carpet sticking to their feet. The film hasn’t started yet but already the faces of those seated are turned towards the advertisements, their faces painted with pale light. Tendrils of cigarette smoke weave and knot together in the black void between the screen and the audience, there is a muted and slightly reverent murmur of whispered conversation.
Thomas Major has never been happier, he thinks. It is his eighth birthday treat, coming to the cinema to watch this movie he has been aching to see, that feels it is already, has always been, part of his life, imprinted on his DNA. His belly is weighed down agreeably with the Wimpy he had for lunch, but he still has room for sweets and treats. His dad shakes his head and comments on his “hollow legs” before handing over the money at the kiosk. At home, carefully positioned on the desk in his bedroom are his presents from his actual birthday, almost a month previously; a Star Wars Cantina playset, which comes with action figures of the aliens, Snaggletooth and Hammerhead, whom you can fix to little stands that twist and turn as though the characters are fighting, and a recording of the movie’s soundtrack by the London Philharmonic Orchestra, placed neatly next to his mum’s old Dansette and the stack of her old 45s she has given him to play on it.
And now, Thomas and his dad are at the film. The actual film. The opening weekend. They have queued around the block to get in and while they wait Thomas asks his daddy if he would like to go to space.
“I bet when you’re my age they’ll have cities on the moon,” says daddy. “Not for me, though. No atmosphere.” He guffaws and slaps Thomas on the shoulder. “You could go and live there. Be like that song. Major Tom. Your mummy was about three months gone when that song was out. I think that’s why she wanted to call you Thomas. She’s about the same time gone now.” Daddy pauses, then looks at Thomas. “Bloody hell. Is that Figaro still top of the hit parade? I don’t fancy shouting that out of the back gate at tea-time.”
“Space Oddity,” says Thomas absently. “It’s not called Major Tom, it’s called Space Oddity.”
Now dad is directing him to a single empty seat on the end of a row, next to a man and a woman sandwiching three small girls. Thomas feels something knot inside him, something he can’t put a name to. He looks quizzically at his dad. “But there’s only one chair.”
“Wait here,” says dad, and goes over to speak to the lady who sells ice creams. She has hair that looks as though it has been carved from granite and a face to match, which she turns towards Thomas, her pin-prick eyes peering at him through the gloom.
Dad gives her a pound note and she gives him two choc ices. She looks at Thomas again, then at dad, who pulls a face and gives her another pound note. Then he walks back to Thomas with the lady behind him. Thomas has the popcorn balanced on his knees and the Revels in his pocket. Dad pushes the ice cream into his hands.
“Thomas, son,” he says. “Dad’s got to run an errand.”
Thomas looks at him, and blinks. “What errand? What about the film?”
“It’s all right,” says dad. “It’s very important. It’s…” He looks at the screen, as though he might find inspiration there. “It’s a surprise for your mum.” He taps the side of his nose. “Boys’ day out rules, OK? Just between us.”
Thomas taps the side of his nose, too, but without much conviction. He suddenly feels a whole yawning chasm open in his belly. Dad says, “This is Deirdre. She’s going to keep an eye on you until I get back.”
The woman looks down her nose at Thomas, her mouth set in a thin, bloodless line, as though the sculptor couldn’t be bothered to even try to make it human-looking.
“How long will you be?” says Thomas, suddenly feeling the weight of all that blackness in the cinema against his back, suddenly feeling very alone.
“Back before you know it,” says dad, and winks. Then the music starts, and Thomas turns to look at the screen as it fills with stars and words begin scrolling away from him.
It is a period of civil war.
Rebel spaceships, striking from
a hidden base, have won
their first victory against
the evil Galactic Empire.
Thomas briefly looks back to see his dad, but he’s already gone.