Tag Archives: The Man in the Gray Tie and Other Crimes

“The Last Page of Friendship” – why is friendship a combat sport?

friend-best-friendEveryone knows the scenario. You make a new friend, or you have an old friend you want to hold onto, but how to keep in touch? What happens when someone drops the ball? Is it your turn to make contact, or theirs? Who’s the bad person?

Friendship is one of the greatest loves, Platonic. It’s free of the often volatility of romantic love, whose intensity that can breed suspicion. Friendship is known as a calmer, more rewarding, often more long-term affair. Your best friends can be with you for life, longer than many relationships, even longer than your family. The demands are few, the support long-term; plus you picked your friends, so presumably you enjoy their personality, their humor, their giving emotional support. They’re just fun to be around.

But throw in a little business, a little competitive spirit, and what have you got? Yup, a mixed metaphor, a ticking time bomb and recipe for absolute disaster. Such is it in the third story of my first collection of three stories, Trio 1, The Man in the Gray Tie and Other Crimes.

In “The Last Page of Friendship,” Judy and Soo are successful middle-aged women living the American Dream (big homes, families, money to spare). They live on the beautiful Bainbridge Island near Seattle. But they have reached a level where dissatisfaction creeps in, with only coffee mornings to complain how drab and predictable their lives have become. To gain attention, meaning, maybe a little fame, why not become writers?

Aside from the incredible difficulty of this pursuit, of making the world sit up and care, they don’t dwell too long on how it might affect their being pals. But it does…and badly. Check out my website to read the first page of “The Last Page of Friendship,” a horror story to put you off being a writer for life (and that’s a good thing).

Judy and Soo made the mistake of picking the same dream. That’s what makes friendship a combat sport — it works best when your circles intersect, but don’t completely overlap. Instead, their friendship turns inward, self-consuming, nasty. Toxic, as the Americans say. Who will get the upper hand? Write the best story? Resist not plagiarizing her friend’s story? Try and be the one to stay above ground a little longer? BFNs: best friends for never.

Who needs friends when you have best friends?

“(He) Said, (She) Said” – why is getting the last word so important?

he-said-she-saidWhat is it about getting the last word? Sometimes people don’t care if they are right or wrong, or how much they hurt each other or themselves. Ending a conversation, or hurtful action, on a dismissive note  is all they need. That’s why getting the last word is so important: it reinforces who you are, that you matter, and that your vision of the world is the true one. (To hell with someone else!)

Such is the case with the two characters, young professionals Danny and Meredith, in the second story of my first collection of three stories, Trio 1, The Man in the Gray Tie and Other Crimes. As the title suggests, who do you believe? It’s a ‘he said, she said’ situation. But doesn’t the person with the last word often get to re-write what happened? Isn’t history written by the victors, and the quieter, smaller voice, gets erased?

Danny and Meredith, old school fiends who lost touch during ‘the university years,’ meet up for a drink in a London pub. They were never romantically linked, but outside of the friendship circles of their younger days, dressed formally and working, and with a little alcohol in their bellies, perhaps now is good as time as ever. But do sparks fly, or signals get misread? Are they being friendly, too friendly, or just plain abusive?

And who do you trust? Who encourages whom? Who gets seduced, and who goes along for the ride? Everything looks so much worse in the morning, when explanations are needed, and self-justifications. Social shame can be a powerful force, not to mention having to text with the same person the morning after about the night before. Who wants that?

To see how far Danny and Meredith go in the battle of the sexes (and of whose story is to be believed), my website has the first page of “(He) Said, (She) Said.”

More importantly, will they talk again after the fact?

“The Man in the Gray Tie” – what’s behind the tie?

auction-houseWhat is it about a man in a gray tie? The blandness, the dullness, the downright boring person behind the clothing item? Well, yes, but also the mystery, the possibility that they are not who they seem.

Such is it with the title story of my first collection of three stories, Trio 1, The Man in the Gray Tie and Other Crimes. The man in question is Dr. Sidney Holton, a chiropractor with a peculiar hobby behind his demure dress sense…he likes to provoke people. But not directly. He likes to visit auction houses and push up the prices, for fun, to make people buy things at elevated prices. It gives him a devious thrill.

There are consequences, of course, and escalation. First he meets a mysterious woman, Valerie Eden. She chats to him at the drinks table during a break in the bidding. She’s seductive, middle-aged like him, and very soon she’s sitting near to him as the auction restarts. Except she’s a distraction. What will happen to his hobby? Will he buy her something he can’t afford? Will he get stung by the auction house? Will she seduce him? To check out how deep Sidney gets into hot water, the first page of “The Man in the Gray Tie” is available on my website.

I see Sidney as one of life’s daredevils who has no conception that there are professional fraudsters and conmen out there, hiding in plain sight. He thinks he can roll up to any business or individual and have his fun, a selfish thrill that actually causes a little harm: that’s how he gets his pleasure.

But when the tables are turned, it’s not quite so much fun, is it?

Check out what happens to Sidney when he gets ‘backroomed.’ The boss of an auction house can be worse than the boss of a casino!

Press Release, The Man in the Gray Tie and Other Crimes (publishing November 5, 2015)

The Man in the Gray Tie and Other Crimes (cover)FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Matt Fullerty’s ‘Trio 1’ of criminally-minded short stories is publishing on Bonfire Night!

ISBN 978-1-937056-55-1

THE MAN IN THE GRAY TIE AND OTHER CRIMES

BY MATT FULLERTY

The Brits and Americans are as crazy as each other!

In three stories about fraud, sexual indecency and, of all things, plagiarism, Matt Fullerty has crafted three modern tales of danger, duplicity and escalating violence.

Will Doctor Sidney Holton escape a criminal gang running a secluded auction house in the English countryside? Will young city professionals Danny and Meredith agree to disagree about what happened on a fateful London night after drinking too many in the pub? Will middle-aged Seattle best buds Judy and Soo help each other get into print with the Great American Short Story—or will they just rip their typing nails into each other’s throats?

You guessed it. Sometimes, in British lives too, there are no second acts.

Matt Fullerty’s story collection The Man in the Gray Tie and Other Crimes (144 pp, $5.95/£3.95/€4.95) is released on November 5, 2015 by Parkgate Press / Dionysus Books. It forms Trio 1 of his nine story collection, Rising Apes, Falling Angels.

Patrick Willers, University of Michigan and Maxwell School, Syracuse University, says:

“‘The Man in the Gray Tie’ captures the anxiety of losing everything for a thrill. The whole premise is discomforting: the doctor despises his wife and gets his sensual thrills from bidding-up at random auctions, but just can’t curb his cunning fun. Story two, ‘(He) Said, (She) Said,’ conveys the awkwardly optimistic anticipation between two friends who meet for a drink—that game of Red-Light/Green-Light, that discomfort of ‘not knowing’ and being trapped in the ‘friend-zone.’ Finally, in a nod to Hitchcock’s Vertigo and Rope, ‘The Last Page of Friendship’ explores betrayal between best ‘frenemies,’ wannabe writers who try to control each other’s story, with horrific consequences.”

Dr. Dean Lawson, East Carolina University and the University of Alabama, says:

“The title story is reminiscent of an O. Henry story with the unexpected twists, also of the Roger Moore Bond movie Octopussy where Bond bumped up the price of a bogus Fabergé egg. The second story is a human sexual roller-coaster exploring the paradoxes of missed social cues, the characters hitting all the wrong notes in a story of guilt and shame. The third is my favorite, setting up a poisonous literary rivalry between old West Coast friends, and should be read with the lights off.”

Matt Fullerty lives in Falls Church, Virginia with his wife and expanding family. The Man in the Gray Tie and Other Crimes is Trio 1 of the criminally-minded short story collection Rising Apes, Falling Angels. Matt’s novels include The Knight of New Orleans about American chess prodigy Paul Morphy and The Murderess and the Hangman about hard-drinking Kate Webster who murdered her London landlady. His website is mattfullerty.com.

The Man in the Gray Tie and Other Crimes is available to purchase at Buy Books.

ISBN 978-1-937056-55-1

To place orders for The Man in the Gray Tie and Other Crimes, contact:

Editor, Parkgate Press / Dionysus Books                                                               7796 Marshall Heights Court
Falls Church, Virginia 22043
Email: editor@parkgatepress.com                                                                                             Website: www.parkgatepress.com

To arrange a book signing or interview, contact  editor@parkgatepress.com.

# # #

Trio 1 publishing on November 5, 2015 (Stories 1-3)

The Man in the Gray Tie and Other Crimes (cover)I can now confirm that the first three stories of Rising Apes, Falling Angels will publish on November 5, 2015. They will form a standalone trio (Trio 1) called The Man in the Gray Tie and Other Crimes.

Each story focuses on a particular theme: fraud in “The Man in Gray Tie,” consent in “(He) Said, (She) Said” and plagiarism in “The Last Page of Friendship.” Well, plus a little cheating, lust and murder!

The Man in the Gray Tie and Other Crimes will be available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.com (in Kindle, nook and iBook formats).

Roll on November 5, 2015!

Videos live on YouTube (Stories 1-3)

Parkgate Press You Tube ChannelThe videos for Stories 1-3 are now live on YouTube. All three are viewable here on the Parkgate Press YouTube Channel. They are narrated by my slightly mad brother, Frankie. He’s even created his own corner for reviewing my stories, and called it, well, Frankie’s Corner.

Each video corresponds to the story from The Man in the Gray Tie and Other Crimes, with a tag line that reflects that story’s theme. For example, Video 1 is titled “Have You Ever Gambled and Won Something You Couldn’t Afford?” since Story 1, “The Man in Gray Tie,” is about a man who fraudulently pushes the prices up at auctions. He gets what he deserves, but not before he wins something he couldn’t pay for….

Video 2 is titled “Have You Ever Crossed a Line of Decency You Shouldn’t Have?” and reflects the theme of consent in Story 2, “(He) Said, (She) Said.” It’s a story about consent, set on a London college campus close to Tottenham Court Road. Do you believe what he said, or she said? Who drank too much, but who slipped away in the morning?

Finally, Video 3 is titled “Would You Go Into Business With Your Best Friend?” and reflects the theme of plagiarism in “The Last Page of Friendship.” Two Seattle women want to write the Great American Short Story. Have they got what it takes? Who is prepared to go further than her best frenemy?

Should I Write in British or American English?

British and American EnglishIt’s not an easy decision: which version of English to use (and lose)? George Bernard Shaw famously referenced Britain and America as “divided by a common language.” The question is where to put the stress, on ‘common’ or ‘divided?’ Ultimately for consistency, a choice is needed.

This would be easy if readers contained their reading habits within national boundariesnot so today. I struggled with this decision while writing my first two novels, The Knight of New Orleans and The Murderess and the Hangman. To avoid any compromise, I actually produced two versions, one with British English and one with American. I now see this as impractical. What do do in the future?

I was born and brought up in England, but left for the US twelve years ago at the age of twenty-six, so I feel pretty healthily split between the two ‘languages,’ healthy enough to feel that my decision isn’t rejecting one side of the Atlantic. Yes, British chums, I’ve decided to write entirely in US English for The Man in the Gray Tie and Other Crimes onward, namely for all my short stories. Plus for my novel American Con Artist.

The reason? First, I live in America, and second, most of my readers by consequence know me as based in America. That’s pretty much the top and bottom of it. Approximately half my stories are set in America, half in Britain, and I will always return to both countries in person and in my fiction. My first novel was set in New Orleans, but also took place in New York, London and Paris; my second novel was set mostly in London, but my third will be split between the US and the island of Ibiza. So arguably I retain a European-American balancing act in terms of location.  But I had to make a decision about the language, and while I’m not at all comfortable leaving British English behind in my fiction, it’s an exciting challenge to write in American English correctly.

At the same time, I cannot help but use British-isms as they get called here: the phrases, the lingo, the slang, and the sayings will always be with me. So this is the compromise: while I write technically in US English, I think and express the style of my writing in both British and American English. I just can’t help the British voice sneaking in, even while I focus on the American precision at the same time. While one loses the ancient idiosyncrasies of British Englisha strange kind of comfortone gains the precision and directness of American English.

My advice to writers is to make a choice, and write solely in that kind of English, and there are countless versions of English around the world. You will end up with the regional and local inflections of your writing voice, reflected in the voices of your characters. One rule that hasn’t changed is that characters and their backgrounds are more important than the pedantry of linguistic accuracy: there is no absolute 100% accurate version of English. It remains an evolving beast, a living animal at any point in time. So embrace the multiplicity of English! Try and unify your chosen ‘normalized’ version to within one national boundary, for the sake of consistency alone, but don’t expect your readers to see your style as anything but multiple. How else would you be an individual writer?

Happy deliberating over local, regional and national languages(s). The question never quite goes away!

Meet Frankie…my brother…the video narrator

frankie1.2Meet my brother Frankie! He’s done me some really big favors in my life, not least agreeing to read my stories (after much cajoling on my part, and the agreement I’d buy him an all-expenses paid trip to America). Watch this space, Frankie!

Frankie is a video commentator on my stories, which he delivers with astute honesty, sometimes a little too much honesty. I value his opinion, even if it’s negative and cynical. The boy speaks from the heart. If he doesn’t like a story he doesn’t just say so, he tells you why. Now that’s feedback.

So far, Frankie has appeared in four videos for Rising Apes, Falling Angels, my first collection of nine stories. No doubt he’ll also appear in the remaining five videos.

Voila Frankie’s videos and links to the associated stories:

Trio 1, The Man in the Gray Tie and Other Crimes:

Trio 2, A Slice of the Adirondacks and Other Capers:

Trio 3, Driving the Bully Home and Other Dreams: