We’re definitely deep into the Christmas season now with festive stories popping up all over… my own included. Not today, though. Today it’s the turn of author Zakarrie Clarke, who writes tongue-in-cheek English, which is always a delight, and whose Christmas novella Full O’Festive Spirits will be out in two days time on December 16th… Check out her boys below, and I’ll add the links when I have them.
Thank you for having me, Jackie…and Merry Christmas to all your readers.
I thought it might be fun to publish a few novellas on Kindle Unlimited, to keep me busy between MLR books. While my novels are contemporary stories, the novellas are p’raps best described as a quirky take on genre fiction. I’ve put every bit as much love into them, but they are a mite more tongue-in-cheek. I don’t have any grand aspirations, they were written purely for the joy of it. Mostly in hopes of creating a happy place to retreat to, when the world feels grim ‘n’ grey…
Last month I released the first two novellas in my Duke & Dandy series. They are Regency romances, but while I’ve paid strict attention to period detail, there isn’t a smidgen of starchiness elsewhere. Quite the contrary…they are far more Carry on Dick than Merchant Ivory.
This month, however, I wanted to release something a mite more festive, so I have been beavering away on a Christmas story, in order to have it ready for release this weekend.
Full o’Festive Spirits
Gabriel is staggered, upon overhearing two old dears declare that only 21 shopping days remain ’til Christmas. He hadn’t even noticed that December had dawned, far too busy being grim ‘n’ grumpy to be bothered. This, after losing his job—again—leaving him too fed-up of enforced thriftiness to differentiate days that did not. Let alone recall the date on the calen— A thought that sends Gabriel scuttling off the bus, in a belated bid to secure his favourite part of the festive season…an advent calendar. If they have any left. Upon clattering into the nearest shop, he finds himself coshed by the most splendid sight he e’er did see. A Christmas Feast for the eyeballs so sublime, it seemed—for a hectic heartbeat—that they’d all come at once. As the latter was a feat so improbable in said company, they definitely had not.
Dylan is much dismayed by the ramshackle litter of limbs and belongings that trips into the off-license, halfway through his shift. It being way too early for the drunk and determinedly irritating to come staggering in. In the wake of arriving too late to audition for a role he’d set his heart on, Dylan is no mood to deal with a human hatstand—doe-eyed and demented—intent upon purchasing a bloody advent calendar. On the third of December. For himself. Strewth. Could fate have possibly dumped a less welcome portent of festivities doomed to disaster on the doorstep?
Excerpt from Full O’Festive Spirits by Zakarrie Clarke
Dylan’s trip down misery lane was rudely interrupted by the teeth-gritting jangle of the bell that heralded the entrance of each customer. Reason enough to want to bolt the bloody door to ensure that no one could set the damn thing off.
Christ, no. It was way too early for the pissed-up and perennially irritating to start staggering in. Dylan glared at the ramshackle onslaught of limbs and belongings that clattered into the shop. This, with a godawful racket reminiscent of a one-man band, created by what appeared to be: one person, a single guitar, and some plastic bags. The latter were either full of saucepan lids, tambourines and stray cats…or, the customer could cause chaos in a broom cupboard. On his own. Neither of which boded well for the duration. He would no doubt browse for fifteen minutes, knock Dylan’s painstaking display of colour coordinated decorations off the shelf—then insist on arguing about fuck-all—before finally purchasing a cheap lighter, some Rizzla papers and a Snickers bar.
Dylan had, clearly, been working in an off-license far too long. This had been true about an hour into his first shift, despite the fifteen percent staff reduction that had clinched the deal in the first place. Dylan watched, incredulous, as the litter of limbs and baggage rearranged itself into something that resembled a human figure. Albeit, a far too…extravagant one. Then, he lifted his head.
How simple that sounded. The customer’s face had formerly been obscured by the brim of his hat; a battered black trilby, barely a shade darker than eyes as bottomless as they were huge. Framed by excessive eyelashes and skin so pale, he could have played Pierrot, sans make-up. A fact not helped by lips so wind-chapped, they looked kiss-bitten. Or, he’d earned enough to buy more than a packet of bloody Rizzla and a Snickers in the very recent past. If he hadn’t already blown it on his next fix. Get a grip. Who the hell would cart a guitar around with them, while out pulling punters? Punters, f’fucksakes?
“Hiya.” His little-boy-lost features lit up in a smile as startling as his voice; coming from a body comprised of far too many corners. Dylan had expected clipped cockney tones or a harsh estuary drawl. The ‘hiya’ had scarce classified as a word, it had been but a wisp of melody. This particular nugget of nonsense was followed by the belated awareness that Dylan was standing like a lemon, dumbstruck. Ensnared in the dark spotlight of a gaze akin to a steel-jaw trap…
About Zakarrie Clarke
After moving to London at eighteen and flitting about for far too long, Zakarrie settled, as blissy as can be, by the sea. ’Twas here that her castaway dreams re-surfaced and she began to write; stories that are, in truth, better at being her than she’s ever been. Her one hope now is that someone, somewhere, will enjoy the misadventures of her miscreants as much as she adores writing them.
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