‘With the scandals surrounding public figures like Harvey Weinstein, this satirical take on the world of celebrity couldn’t be more timely. To add to the interest, it’s also hilariously and unremittingly NOT politically correct – at times it’s even offensive yet still manages to be very, very funny…and all that is wrapped around a hard-edged, dark thriller storyline…excellent!’
Also available from Amazon stores internationally.
‘Dying To Be Famous’ is the title of my outrageous, scandalous and controversial novel about the darker side of celebrity:
Fame. Glamour. Lies. Scandal. Drugs. Sex. MURDER. Celebrities have secrets to die for. Read the most controversial novel ever written about celebrity now!
Celebrities have secrets. Meet the man who knows them all and will do anything to keep them quiet. Even murder.
Andrew Manning has spent 20 years saving celebrities from the consequences of their own bad behavior and is known in the business as’ The King of Scandal’. But now some particularly difficult and demanding characters are about strain even his legendary abilities:
Shelley, model and fashion icon, who’s determined not just to blackmail her equally famous husband but also to utterly destroy him.
Joey, an insecure reality TV star, desperate to hang on to his celebrity, even if it means slowly poisoning himself to death.
The Producer, a king in the world of entertainment and a serial abuser of hopeful young wannabe’s. But this time he’s picked the wrong girl for his perverted pleasures.
Charlie, morbidly obese, murderous mafiosi adviser to…
Janey, pop music goddess, a celebrity with peculiarly sharp teeth and disturbing eating habits that are about to be revealed to the public by an ambitious young paparazzo.
And then there’s Johnny, Andrew’s partner, a psychopath with a heart of gold who’s on a mission to murder as many celebrities as possible.
Will Andrew be able to reconcile the demands of so many different and desperate characters, and who’s going to end up dead?
‘Dying To Be Famous’, four sample chapters
Please find to follow four sample chapters (taken, more or less, from the beginning and middle of the story) from Dying To Be Famous.
In this first extract from DTBF we meet Janey, international superstar; mad, bad, dangerous to know and possibly a vampire…
JANEY. MAKING AN ENTRANCE
As the limo speeds away from Heathrow, Janey is delighted with the way things went. What an entrance! The moment she stepped into the arrivals lounge it had been total chaos: screaming fans, paparazzi, cameramen, microphones, journalists, police, security. All there for her, Janey Jax. She is a star. No one comes close to her. Rivals come, rivals go and still she stays at the top, numero uno. Untouchable. Look at that Missy Go Go. Where is she now? Nowhere. Skank.
Of course, she could have flown over in the private jet, but with a world tour about to kick off and a new album coming up she needed an entrance with maximum impact, at least that’s what Charlie had advised and, as always, Charlie had been right.
The day’s events have left her tired, though. So tired. People forget that she’s not a young girl anymore. She may still look like she’s in her twenties but, in reality, she’s far removed from that happy decade. Nowadays, it takes hard work to keep looking as good as she does. Hard work and fresh, young flesh. Very young flesh. She hopes Charlie won’t have any problems sourcing what she needs here in England. But, no, she shouldn’t worry, Charlie is very capable. He knows what she wants, and he is bound to her. By blood. He is her creature.
In this second extract we meet foul-mouthed, homophobic Shelley. Shelley wants Andrew to blackmail her famous, gay husband into giving her a huge divorce settlement, but Shelley has her own dark secret…
SHELLEY. TIME FOR A QUICK SMOKE?
Finally, the slow and tedious drive through London’s crawling traffic is over and Shelley arrives at Anthea’s house in Holland Park, she always stays there when she’s in London. She and Anthea are Best Friends Forever. They’ve known each other since way back, from when they were in “Girls Gone Wild.” There were four girls in the (quite successful at the time) band but Shelley only ever really liked Anthea. Chardonnay and Alicia were bitches and cunts, and where they fuck are they now? Losers! They hadn’t been smart, but Anthea and Shelley had been. Shelley had used the band as a base from which to start her solo career, Anthea had exploited her celebrity and good looks to grab herself an extremely ugly but ridiculously rich banker. Christ, Shelley can feel nothing but admiration for the way she played that prick! Led him by the fucking nose, married him, stuck with him for a couple of years, then divorced him, taking almost everything he had. Honestly, men can be such gullible dickheads, show them a bit of tit and a glimpse of snatch and, in no time at all, you can have them behaving like well-trained dogs!
Once inside Anthea’s house (she has her own key, that’s how BFF she and Anthea are), she makes straight for the beautiful living room and throws herself into a gorgeous sofa, dropping her Prada bag onto a gorgeous coffee table, which rests on a gorgeous carpet. Shelley really likes Anthea’s place, she makes her mind up that she too will buy a home in Holland Park when the divorce money comes through from Jack faggotpants.
Yes, the divorce settlement, more money, more success…what a wonderful day it’s been! It’s going to be so great when Anthea gets back from her latest shopping trip. Shelley can’t wait to tell her what’s about to happen to Jack, how she’s about to blackmail him into a huge pay out. Hah, she is so going to screw him! Nobody fucks with Shelley!
Shelley muses happily for some minutes about her upcoming freedom from Jack and her fabulous future career in America, until her thoughts stray, unstoppably, to that package, nestled comfortably in the Prada bag. She takes it out, rolls it around in her hands, a greedy and needing expression on her face. Using her sharp finger nails, she quickly tears at and then unwraps the cellophane from the package, to reveal a substantial, round rock of crack cocaine. She places the rock of crack on Anthea’s gorgeous coffee table. Taking a nail file from her handbag she begins to chip away at the off-white coloured lump, which has a texture somewhere between wax and brittle plastic. Expertly she detaches smaller rocks from the main block, each new rock just the right size for a single good hit when smoked. There’s loads of crack here, enough to last her and Anthea a couple of nights, if they don’t go too mad! As well as BFFs, she and Anthea are also BDBs, Best Drug Buddies.
She loves her crack does Shelley, fantastic stuff. Okay, so maybe the next day you might feel a bit down, a bit paranoid, but nothing that can’t be smoothed out with a few drinks. Or some more crack. And the hit, Christ the hit! Once felt never forgotten! She knows of course that she shouldn’t really be smoking it, what with her being famous, rich and beautiful and in a responsible position due to her influence over the young people of the world, but the public just doesn’t realise that being famous, rich and beautiful is very hard work. Every day is filled with questions. What should I wear? Am I slim enough? How’s my make-up today? Have I got the right handbag for this or that occasion? Who should I be seen to be speaking to? Which party do I go to, and which should I snub? Where should I be this afternoon to stand the best chance of being papped? These are all difficult and complex questions. Being a celeb is a demanding business, not everybody can handle it. Her lifestyle involves a lot of a pressure, and the crack is Shelley’s way of relaxing, of dealing with the stress she endures every day. She deserves it. She is entitled to it.
Of course she has been in trouble with the crack before, resulting in some fairly unpleasant media coverage, but she had dealt with that, although it did involve some help from that hideous queer, Andrew. But that’s all in the past. She’s much more careful now, more discreet, she’ll never be caught again. “Never say never,” says a little voice somewhere in the back of Shelley’s head, but she chooses to ignore it.
Shelley wonders if she should smoke a quick rock before Anthea gets back? Why the hell not!
In this third extract we meet Joey, a handsome young reality TV star. Joey’s career has gone into freefall after launching an expletive laden attack against the Queen of England on live TV. In an effort to save Joey’s career, Andrew prescribes a convenient case of pretend ‘celebrity cancer’ but Joey has a plan of his own…
JOEY. “I LOVE THE VERY BONES OF YOU”
Joey is woken early that morning by the Philipina nurse, fussing around. Making sure all his wires and tubes are in the proper place, he presumes. Actually, is “woken” the right word? Does he really fall asleep and wake up nowadays, or does he just drift in and out of consciousness? Joey’s not sure but he thinks probably the latter.
Yesterday was a big day for Joey, he’s surprised that he got through it. Saying goodbye to his kids, Christ that was hard. He’d had pretty much a repeat conversation with his ma and da later on. He told them that he felt that he didn’t have long left (a message that Joey knew Andy’s dodgy doctor would reinforce to them). His mum kept saying “don’t be silly, Joey lad, you’ll get through this,” but he could see from her eyes that she didn’t believe it, and she could see from his that he didn’t believe it either.
As he explained his (recently made up) philosophy of time as great circle, with spirits racing around it and meeting again and again as different people, but always instinctively recognising each other, well, he could see it seemed odd to his parents. At times they looked at him as though he was delirious, but he got over his central message to them. Then he explained that the twins would be their responsibility, that there was plenty of money coming their way after he died and, most of all, that he loved them dearly and he was grateful beyond words for everything they had ever done for him, that he was immensely proud that they were his parents. He wonders what they’d think should they ever find out the reason for his illness, not cancer, but his own self-administered poison. They must never know that. Joey is grateful that only Andy knows the full story behind his condition. His secrets are safe with Andy.
Having checked all his various tubes and wires, the nurse helps Joey, on his request, to move position in his bed, from lain flat to sitting up. Joey has very little strength and the poor girl has to push and pull mostly on her own. Joey’s grateful that, though only a small woman, she seems to have surprising strength. Together, they get him into a sitting up in bed position. The nurse plumps up pillows behind his back, puts one behind his head. She asks him if he needs anything else, does he need the bedpan? No thanks (there’s nothing in him to shit out), but could she open the curtains and maybe get him a small glass of water? Thank you.
The nurse opens the curtains, and daylight streams in. Joey thinks it must be a beautiful day outside. The realisation hits him like a physical blow. Shit. This is it. It’s a beautiful day and it’s this day that I’ll leave this world. Today is the day I die. I’ll not see any more beautiful days. I’ll not see any more days, full stop. Joey is hit with a huge sense of loss. You know what, despite all the shit, all the grief and all the idiots and haters it really is a beautiful, beautiful world. His thoughts are interrupted as the nurse returns with his water. She holds the glass to his lips and helps him take a few small sips. He asks her to leave the glass by his bed.
Joey slips back into sleep/unconsciousness, he dreams. He dreams a gorgeous dream. If his dream were a film it would be in widescreen, Technicolor, 3D, high definition, the whole shooting match. He dreams he is with the twins, his ma and da are there, and Andy and three of his oldest friends from his Doncaster days: Liz, Helen and Susan. They’re all at Blackpool Pleasure Beach. There’s nobody else there, it’s empty, fantastic, the whole thing open just for them! And Joey’s body is well again, it’s young, healthy, vital, it is whole.
In the dream everybody is having a great time, they eat candyfloss and donuts, the twins go mad in the arcades, piling a stream of coins, that just keep spewing from the machines like magic, into the slotties and video games. Then they hit the rides. There are no queues, nothing to pay, they just walk on. They do the Dodgems, laughing hysterically as they bump into each other, they enjoy twirling on the Teacups ride, whizzing through the air in the old Hiram Maxim flying machines, thrilled as they take a ride through time in the River Caves, pretend to get scared on the ghost train. Then after more donuts and candyfloss it’s time for the grand finale: the Big Dipper. They all squeeze close up together in one giant dream-sized Big Dipper car and they’re off, racing along the track. Normally Joey hates this kind of thing, but this dream Big Dipper is special. It’s fast but smooth and, surrounded by such happy friends and family, Joey feels totally safe and secure. The Dipper speeds along, slows as it whizzes round a sharp bend, and then begins to climb a hill that seems to go on forever. It soars high up above the Pleasure Beach, then up above Blackpool, and looking to his left and right Joey can see way beyond the town and far out to sea. All the other rides become small, toy town in size and now the hill is so high that the view is like that from a plane. Joey is aware that the Dipper is pushing up higher and higher into the sky and he looks down and beneath him he can see big, fluffy pink clouds, like the candyfloss he has just eaten. Then huge objects appear above Joey’s head: vast, snowflake-like constructions made of sparkling, clear ice, desperately beautiful and delicate and filled with a brilliant and warming, white inner light and Joey knows that they are stars. He is amazed, fascinated. They are so beautiful that they move him almost to tears. Then, as if it had decided it could go no further up, the Big Dipper car begins to descend, travelling down a huge and straight slope that seems to go on and on and on. It charges down, faster and faster, the wind whistles through Joey’s hair, he feels an exhilarating freedom, everyone is loving it, Joey is loving it. But then he feels himself detach from the car, sucked out by the wind caused by its downward plunge. He’s not scared, though, not worried. This sudden detachment seems like the most natural thing in the world. He flaps his arms and, just he as knew would happen, he can fly. He flies after the Dipper car for a while, but he can’t keep up with its breakneck speed and he sees his family and friends are waving back at him from the car and shouting. They are smiling, they are saying “goodbye, Joey, we love you.” Joey calls after them “I love you too,” and stops trying to follow. He knows where he must go now, and feeling light and happy he begins to fly upward, back up to those beautiful, snowflake shaped stars.
Suddenly, Joey’s dream vanishes. He is awake, disturbed by some bizarre burning pain in his chest. He’s pissed off, that was a lovely dream. If only he could have stayed there! The ever present nurse has seen him stirring and ask if he’s alright, “I’m fine, love,” he says but grimaces in pain, the nurse notices and asks if he would like morphine. He thinks about accepting, but this is his last day, he doesn’t want to spend any more of it asleep or in that warm morphine haze, so he answers in the negative and asks the nurse if she has the time and she replies, “it’s just gone three o’clock , sir”
“Please, don’t call me “sir” anymore, it’s Joey, and you, what’s your name?”
“Amor, that’s a lovely name. Amor, I want to thank you for all the ‘elp you’ve given me, you’re a great nurse an’ you ‘ave a very sweet nature”
Amor beams from ear to ear and says “thank you, Joey, you’re a kind man, a good man.”
“Now then, enough of all this compliment swapping,” says Joey trying to set a light tone, “’elp me sit back up will you?”
After some mutual huffing, puffing, pulling and pushing, Joey is back in a more upright position. Shit, he thinks, Andy will be here anytime now. He checks the glass of water is still
by his bed. Yes, it is, good. So this it. The end. He has less than an hour to live. God! He’s not scared though, that dream he had has been strangely reassuring. He’s ready to go, happy to go, to be honest, glad to escape the pain and discomfit that’s been the main feature of his life for so long now. Sorry to leave everyone, of course, but, following his new philosophy of life and death, hopeful that it won’t be for ever. Joey is about as prepared to die as any man can be.
There’s a quiet knock at his bedroom door. Slowly it opens and first one head pops round, then another and another. Amazing! It’s just like his bloody dream! It’s Liz, Helen and Sue. “My girls!” cries Joey in delight, “come in, come in, it’s so good to see you!”
The girls move as one, they come to Joey in his bed, Liz sits one side, Helen and Sue sit on the other. They’re all touches and greetings, kissing Joey’s cheeks, holding his hands, running their hands through his once thick hair. “Your mam called us last night, Joey,” says Sue, “she told us you’d love to see us and so here we are.”
“You mean,” says Joey “that she told you you’d best get down ‘ere quick like, before I go.”
“Well, she said you weren’t good, but you’re going to pull through this, Joey,” says Liz.
“Liz, girls, its good of you to say that but truth is I’m dyin’, but I’m ready, I don’t want no tears or sympathy so you three pull ya selves together…anyway, tell me, you musta left Doncaster bloody early to get ‘ere for now, how’s things up there, then?”
And so it goes, Joey spends a delightful forty minutes chatting away to his three old friends. He’s always loved these girls, they were his best friends at school (he never really got on with other boys, he can see now that that wasn’t a failing on his part, he just pissed them off because he was too bloody good-looking). They remained friends after school, and when Joey became famous, they were always there for him, a shoulder to cry on when things were bad, a source of mostly good advice and someone to share his success with. They were never envious of that success, never asked for more than he could give, they were always true friends.
And then, sadly, this sweet little chat has to end, Andy has arrived. He’s standing in the open door of Joey’s bed room, looks very smart, thinks Joey. He likes Andy’s suit, Armani he guesses. Joey waves Andy forward, saying, “Andy, come in, these are friends of mine from Doncaster, Liz, Helen and Sue, girls, this is Andy. ‘e’s a friend an’ ‘e kinda ‘elps me out wi’ me, er, legal stuff.” Andy and the girls exchange handshakes and greetings, Joey can tell that Andy’s a bit stressed and seems a bit hurried, he’s moving a bit funny too, like somebody had kicked him in the balls. Joey senses Andy needs his attention so he says, “girls, Amor, can me an’ Andy ‘ave bit of privacy for a few minutes? There’s some stuff I’ave to talk about wi’ ‘im, business, that sorta nonsense.” Of course, nod the girls and the nurse and they make their way out of his room, Andy following and closing the door behind them.
“Joey,” says Andy looking nervous, rubbing his hands together and smiling rather fixedly as he does so, “how are you and are you ready for this? Christ, sorry, that’s a stupid question, I…I just don’t really know what to say, I’ve never helped anyone top themselves before!”
“That’s okay, Andy, it’s fine, don’t worry, I ain’t never topped meself before so I don’t know what to say either!”
“And you’re sure that this is what you want, that this is what you really, really want?”
“Absolutely sure, I’m exhausted, I just can’t fight to keep meself alive anymore…just one thing, though…it won’t ‘urt will it, Andy…?”
In this fourth extract we meet Carrie. Carrie works for Andrew but harbours her own secret desire for celebrity. We join Carrie after she’s had a bruising encounter with the sexually abusive entertainment mogul, The Producer. Ashamed and angry with herself for being so naïve, Carrie wonders what on earth she should do…until she encounters an Angel in a coffee-shop who has some good advice for her…
After running out of that man’s office, Carrie fled deeper into the anonymity of Soho, seeking shelter and safety in aloneness. She sits now in one of those soulless chain coffee shops, on her own, seat by the window, hunched over a large mug of the brown, bland muck that passes for coffee in these places, steaming like a warm cup of piss on the table in front of her.
She is appalled with herself. She is jittery. She is shaking with shame and anger. How could she have been so utterly stupid as to have her own secret dreams of stardom when she works in the world of celebrity? She knows, better than most, that it is a world of fakes and freaks, trickery, lies, abusers and cheats. But no, despite that fact, despite the fact that she’s got a great, well-paid, interesting job and has lovely workmates, despite all that she has her secret, stupid bloody dream of being a singer.
And because of that, she ends up in that office. With that man. That pig. Dirty, disgusting, pig. Invited in to “discuss her career.” For goodness sake, how stupidly naïve. She should have known something was wrong when he started going on about how she was older than his usual type of girl, but so pretty and so fresh-faced and reached under his desk and pressed something that closed the door and blinds of his office. Then he started coming out with all that crap about trust and commitment and he asked her to take her top off. When she wouldn’t do it the dirty old git became abusive, stood up, came up to her, put his face in hers, mouthing obscenities and stuck his hand between her legs.
That was her more than enough for Carrie. She kneed the scumbag in the balls. Hard. He fell to the floor, huffing and puffing in pain, and she aimed a quick kick to his face and was pleased to hear a satisfying crunch as his nose broke under the impact of her foot. From there she was right on her toes, round the back of the guy’s desk, found the cheeky little button he’d pressed to lock the office door, pushed it, door opens, she jumps over the prostate figure of the revolting piece of filth and she’s out of the office and out of the building.
Christ. What does she do now? She wants to punish the dirty, nasty pig: a knee in the balls and a busted nose isn’t enough. She wants to screw him over, see him broken, destroyed, maybe even dead, not just for her but for all the other people that she is absolutely sure he’s done this to before. But how? She knows the way fame and wealth work, knows there is no point going to the Old Bill or the media. Like that’ll get her anywhere, this guy is far too rich and influential to be troubled by minor nonsense like police and press.
What on earth is she going to do? She needs to talk to someone about this, if not to get revenge then at least for her own sanity. Carrie pauses in her thoughts and stares down at her rapidly cooling mug of coffee-type drink. She looks up, and catches sight of an old tramp shuffling around the coffee bar, he’s going from table to table, asking for money, getting nothing but refusals in the form of stunted shrugs and a half-mumbled “no, no.” The tramp looks up from his latest unsuccessful prospect and his and Carrie’s eyes meet. He is a ragged, dirty, rumpled man but, God, the eyes! To Carrie his eyes burn with an incredible intensity of intelligence and compassion. They are spellbinding. She can’t understand why no one else has noticed them, why they should dismiss so readily a man who so obviously shines from his soul. The tramp smiles at Carrie, looking at her as though she’s the exact person he’s just popped into the coffee shop to meet. He heads straight for her table and in seconds, he is standing by her. He smells bad, of sweat and dirty clothes, but Carrie hardly notices, she is entranced by those eyes, waves of understanding and love seem to flow from them and she feels warm and comforted, as if someone has woven a net beneath her to catch her should she fall. She is convinced that she is in the company of an angel. A dirty, smelly, ragged angel, but an angel nevertheless. The tramp/angel opens his mouth and says to her to tell Johnny, Johnny will know what to do. Johnny will make everything right. And with that he turns away, walks out of the coffee bar and vanishes instantly into the crowds of Soho.
As if he had never been there.
Carrie is confused. She’s calm and happy, her strange visitor has definitely improved her mood, but she’s confused. Why did she think that the tramp was angel? After all, the idea of an angel disguised as a tramp walking through the streets of Soho is just silly…isn’t it? But why did he know about Johnny? How did he know about Johnny? And why does she know as a matter of absolute certainty that she is going to tell Johnny exactly what that dirty, rich, famous, abusive piece of filth did to her?
‘Dying To Be Famous’ is available now as an ebook and paperback: