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A note about Badly Cut Up

The author lives in London, UK

This book has been a number of things in its writing. The first draft of the first 10,000 of its roughly 50,000 words was written a long time ago – the early 1990s in fact. That’s part of the reason the book is set in 1996. At the time I’d recently been bereaved and, strange as it might seem, the early chapters are not that far off autobiography. I was not in a good state. In my mind I was writing like Andrew Vachss. I was not. A great many florid constructions were edited out when I found that old manuscript and decided to see if there was more to the story. It’s still a weird thing: a young man’s book, finished by a not so young man. It felt a little bit like collaborating with myself. I think I brought some interesting things to the party. Vye was in the picture even in that early draft, but she became far more interesting over the years. I wasn’t sure about the violence she’s subjected too; there’s rightly a debate about the portrayal of such violence in fiction and there were several drafts before I thought the tone worked. But the hardest part was taking a character I loved so much to such a dark place. In the end it felt wrong for Ash to suffer and Vye to just be tied to a chair someplace in a corner. This, for better or worse, is the story of them both. It is, let’s be frank, a trashy little story. I threw in every dodgy place I’d been; Seattle strip joints; the gay bars of San Francisco; biker parties in Orange County; bad neighborhoods I’d lived in; and wrapped them all up in a fictional geography somewhere between Seattle and Portland, but definitely not Tacoma. Old me had read a lot more than just a few Vachss novels and part of the reason to finish this story was the passing of the greats: James Ellroy (represented here by the cops looking over Ash’s handiwork behind the Co-Ed Club); Elmore Leonard; Jim Thompson; Richard Stark (Donald E. Westlake); Tom Piccirilli. I wanted to write something in tribute to them, and in an idiom not much like my native voice (I am neither American, nor especially hard-boiled in person). I rather like what I ended up with, so rather than pop it in a drawer I’ve set it loose on the world. It’s fast, a bit dirty, drugged up and quick to violence. Please, don’t let it offend you; it belongs in a life it was born too late to enjoy, priced at 25¢ on a drugstore rack, something and nothing to while away an hour or two on the bus to work while you dream of guns, car crashes, tough guys and tougher women, and somehow, finally, getting out from under even though it barely seems possible.

Until later, David

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