#0013 Harlan and I.

By Tom Gale Mar 2022

A screenshot of The Harlan Coben Collection from Netflix

The Harlan is of course the internationally known fiction writer Harlan Coben. An American writer of mysteries and thrillers with the theme of something from the past surfacing such as an unresolved murder or fatal accident. Each one full of so many delicious twists and turns. He is in fact the only Harlan with whom I am acquainted. I say acquainted it is more accurately an obsession. It all started with the adaptation of Mr Coben’s 2015 novel The Stranger. An eight part mini-series mostly accredited to Danny Brocklehurst. The writer of BAFTA nominated Clocking Off and BAFTA winner for Shameless back in early 2000s. I had a feeling a matured Danny Brocklehurst could bring something special. The Stranger aired on 30 Jan 2020 on Netflix. Apart from having a terrific cast including Richard Armitage, Siobhan Finneran, Dervla Kirwan and Hannah John-Kamen (the stranger) it was set in Manchester. A city I had called home since 2006 and with it streaming I didn’t have to dedicate a portion of my life spread over eight weeks to watch it. Totally binged it, and from then ‘til now have watched all the others in the collection. Indeed The Stranger was special but I have to say (for me) the standout series was Stay Close set in and around Lancashire with another brilliant cast. That story left me breathless on more than one occasion. As it twisted and turned to it’s jaw dropping ending. Gripping my head in my hands yelling “Oh My God” (as loudly as one whose partner has “high anxiety” can to avoid triggering). What I found very interesting was that even when the adaptation was set in Spain or Poland for example, with casts unknown and dubbed into English they were as captivating and exhilarating as those set in England. A tribute to the actors and production teams of each country. All the reading/ listening to the dialogue convinced me to buy his 2001 novel (considered his best) Tell No One on Kindle. (Other apps are available) which in 2006 was made into a French neo-noire film directed by Guillaume Canet. I remember Canet acting in the film The Beach in 2000. Tell No One won Canet the César award (the national film awards of France) for best director, and is also on my “yet to see” list. I can also reveal that my obsession has been fruitful in a way I hadn’t dreamt possible. I believe I have had inspiration for a new novel. I have to complete my memoir and two short stories before that though. So I won’t even start until possibly eighteen months from now.

Of course there have been other authors who have many more of their works adapted but those have been spread over decades. These are all (at least to me) occurring within a year or so. I’m not a huge TV watcher but these have had me gripped. Literally on the edge of my seat breathless as the final twists are revealed. I’ve read that he often writes at least one episode of each adaptation and has been heavily involved in each of the productions.

Ever since reading Agatha Christie novels in my teens I have loved the mystery/ thriller genre. I have a feeling it may become my genre too. I can’t say for certain as I haven’t tried them all on yet. It is what I am trying to discover through my short stories and Flash writings.

My first short story titled “Oh Mum” was published in Aug 2021 in a new online magazine http://www.shortsmagazine.com Summer Edition, began life as a self induced writing exercise. To see if I could find a new way of writing about death and grieving. Without descending into awful sadness and melancholy.

Angela the magazines literary editor commented: “I read it several times and very much liked his way around words___something touched me here.”

The day I read those words was the day I became a real writer and knew I would keep writing until was no longer able. Will I produce something on the same level as Mr Cobden? Maybe in ten years I could come close. (If close was either side of The Forth Rail Bridge that is) Or I may write and write and never have anything else published. I guess that’s the strange madness that creative people fall foul to. The agony and ecstasy that can rip your stomach out with doubt and inner demons and raise you up to the highest heights when a reader writes “something touched me

My blog is my way of making it possible for you to vicariously experience a small part of that. Thank you so much for your continued support and your terrific comments. I can’t wait to see what you make of my first memoir. About a young man in an Edinburgh slum in 1970s – 1990s fighting with all his might to protect himself, his mother and his siblings from the ravages of poverty and violent abuse. Finding inner strength to get away from home only to face more trials and tribulations like the Mormons, HM Armed Forces, psychiatry, extreme and perhaps unethical experiments. As well as falling in love, becoming a missionary, getting married, moving into a new home and having a child. However an economic storm causes homelessness, student loans, part-time work, as he studies for a B.Ed Degree in Primary School Teaching, struggling to understand his sexuality and inner spirituality his mental and physical health is in ruins. At only thirty years of age he has to make the most difficult decision of my life. One that could shatter his life and the lives of those he loves most, with consequences rippling through their lives for a long time to come. Will he rise and triumph, against all the odds. Or will the weight of his depression and suppression drag him down into the depths of despair and destitution?

Hi my name is Tom and I’m a survivor and storyteller. These are my stories or Tomalogues if you will.

More Tomalogues and Further Tomalogues I hope will make a memoir trilogy bringing you up to present day.

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