The convenience of eavesdropping

‘Out of the Smoke’ Author’s Commentary Chapter 4: Aggie The shop was narrow, but deceptively deep; Aggie’s counter lay at the far end, through a dusty maze of ancient display cabinets. A gas-lamp burned in the depths, barely illuminating the cave. Aggie’s voice dropped low and continued speaking, picking up the conversation from which it had been interrupted.“What was it ye were sayin’? About…

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Creating a villain

‘Out of the Smoke’ Author’s Commentary Chapter 3: The Devil’s Lads Halfway across the river Tosher nudged Billy again.“Look out,” he muttered, and this time there was no humour in his voice. “Here comes trouble.”A rabble of boys and young men was striding along the pavement towards them, spread out from the parapet to the kerb. Billy recognised them instantly: a notorious gang who…

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A life of grime

‘Out of the Smoke’ Author’s Commentary Chapter 2: The Silver Spoon The journey down was, if anything, more dangerous than the journey up. Flues did not exist in isolation: they ran up the backbone of the house like a river with many tributaries, the flues from three or four different fireplaces all merging together as they rose towards the roof. The possibilities were ripe…

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