Saturday, 5 October 2013

Carla Second Edition Short:Extract and Background

Carla (Second Edition) is out...and it really is a beautiful looking book. 

I'll leave readers to comment on the writing and the story, but I'll shout how lovely looking this book is from atop the Walls of Jericho (...before they fall down, that is!)

I wish I could give it away free. Amazon won't let me!

People need to see this. It's a work of art. It's been reedited, reduced in size, given a new cover, a new font typeface and just generally tidied up. 

The cover features a friend of mine, trainee teacher Laura Jackson. I'll talk more about the aetiology of the cover next week. Except to say, I think it is Dawn Smith (0f Dark Dawn Creations), finest work so far.

It's beautiful. Seriously. I don't want to sound like a car dealer, but it is. It's a lovely looking book.

If I was a reader, I would be proud to give this book as a present to anyone who reads. Or has a bookshelf. 

Or has a coffee table they can plop it on and leave it there; (preferably one of those glass ones, with tubular chrome plated legs, like the one the doomed corporate schill chops lines of coke upon in "Robocop").

Here's the new blurb.

Cult novel, Carla is an introspective, moody and chilling romance novel with its roots firmly grounded in the work of the great pulp writers of the fifties, particularly Jim Thompson, to whom the book is dedicated. 

It is a book for adults and for those who have lived through the occasionally bloody battlefields that are the relationships between men and women.

The book may also interest those in mixed age relationships (in either role) or those who suffer (or is related to someone who suffers from) Borderline Personality Disorder. 

Paperback: The paperback in particular is striking looking and with Kindle Match, you can get a FREE e-copy so you never have to bend the cover.  It is perfect for coffee tables and bookshelves, with a glorious looking spine. The typeface is an easy reading font and there is plenty of clear cream space. It's an easy, fast paced page turner which doesn't overstay its welcome and leaves, according to reviewers, a lasting imprint on the consciousness.

So far, the book has gained 17 5* reviews and a cult following. Comments from people who have read the book appear all over the Net.

EVERY single review of Carla, whether the reader likes the theme or not, has commented on the  quality of the writing. This second edition has been even further improved by micro-editing and the book raises the Indie standard further.

The Carla paperback is an ideal present. Small, compact and able to fit in a clasp bag, it is ideal for Secret Santa, beach holidays, air travel and  christmas/birthday gifts. It is also cheap enough to buy as a spontaneous present for someone you like. (Or love).

It is suitable for men and women who enjoy good writing and a book which involves the senses. 

Buy if you like: strong writing, emotion, psychology, pulp fiction with amoral, ambivalent characters; reality fiction; quirky, innovative books; sad romance; black humour and stories within stories.

It is set in the beautiful middle English town of Southwell, UK, and interested readers can follow the trail of John and Carla to the footstep.

Back matter: Borderline Personality Disorder sufferer and released mental patient, John Dexter, falls in love with Carla, a fresh- faced environmental student and part-time barmaid, the first time he sees her. He should walk away, he knows he should, but he doesn’t. 

He can’t.

And by falling in love, he sets off a chain of events, which are at first, heart-warming and inspirational, and then bleak and horrifying.

The origins of Carla, complete with the original cover, may be found here:

I hope you enjoy the book. 

Mark Barry

You can buy the book by clicking the Carla cover to your top right. Or you can follow these links.

UK Readers:

US Readers:

There is a problem with the e-book at the moment. Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible.

Here's an extract from chapter three. Anyone who remembers the biblical flood from 2012 (which washed away Southwell Racecourse), will recognise the context.

For the next three days, it rained on Wheatley Fields. 
It rained the type of rain that soaks through clothes in seconds. It hadn’t rained like this here for twenty years, and in the middle of the weirdest, warmest winter in two hundred years, it seemed incongruous. 

Seventy two hours of black rain fell in heavy sheets and winds howled straight from the Urals. Cars aquaplaned through the pounding floods, sending waves onto the pavements. Streams poured into the grates. A skyscape of purest gunmetal grey stretched in an unbroken mass.

I was desperate to go back to the pub to see if Carla was on shift, but I literally couldn’t get out of the house. I tried the second day, but didn’t even make a hundred yards. 

Besides, the intensity of the emotions I experienced wasn’t recommended for me, and I was glad I couldn’t immediately act on my impulses. I tried to forget her…told myself it was like a serious cold, and it would go away if I worked on it.

But none of it worked. 

I went to bed that first night thinking about her, and it took me hours to get to sleep. I had to take Temazepam and a Tramadol, as well as my anti-psychotic, just to hasten the journey into darkness.

I woke up thinking about her. Her Little Fluffy Clouds voice in my ears.  I tried to bet on the computer, on racehorses, with limited success. The heavens had opened all over the country. Several race meetings were abandoned due to severe waterlogging. Even when they raced on the All Weather, I lost money because I couldn’t concentrate. All three days. Instead of focusing on the performance of my horses, I spent most of my time looking on the Internet for examples of older men and younger women getting spliced and living happily ever after.

I found plenty. Celebrities, politicians.
The French in particular. It didn’t seem a taboo there.
Not like over here.

In Blighty, fancy a twenty year old girl and in the eyes of the population you were one step away from Nonceville, Arizona.

I read about etiquette.

The French Equation.
Halve your age.
Add seven years.
That’s an acceptable age for a girlfriend.
I’m forty two. Half that. Makes twenty one.
Add seven.
Makes me too old for Carla.

I re-read Oliver Reed’s autobiography. Well, the later bit. The wild man actor famously married a sixteen year old girl. He even asked her father’s permission. She was happy with him, and she was at his side when he died. 

Irritated and confused, I alternated between reading about this stuff and turning it off.  For three days and nights, I was beset by an internal monologue, which was straight out of a Mills and Boons romance novel. 

I cursed myself for a fool, paced up and down, beset by images of domestic bliss between Carla and me. Miracle upon miracles, I fancied that she was in love with me also, love at first sight. I pictured the big house. A decent car. She wouldn’t have to work. I’d do all that for her. Maybe it was time to stop drinking and gambling. I’d tell her all this. Spend our nights watching TV on the sofa, hugging and cuddling. I’d listen carefully to tales of her day. I’d be the strong silent type. We’d always eat together. We’d go away for weekends. The Lake District. Paris. Sun-drenched Spain. Three holidays a year. Walk arm-in-arm along the promenade overlooking the Med. Watch the sun melt into the sea in the distance, the sound of gulls and the Mediterranean breeze on the shore our only companions. Eat fresh shellfish in some island grotto built into the rocks near where Perseus slew Medusa, the salt between our toes, holding hands forever…
…all this gruesome stuff.

I couldn’t stop thinking about us.
It was madness, and I knew it.
It was back.
I tried to focus on the horses, but it all seemed so irrelevant.  In three days, I lost five hundred pounds. At the end of the second day, I rationalised the shocking performance of my horses. 

I saw it as a sign: Unlucky at cards. Lucky in love.

On each of those three nights, I stared out of the window thinking about Carla for hours. I watched the rain tumble down, the resonant vibrations on the pavement below, the poet in his garret awaiting the return of his long lost love. 
I felt simultaneously lighter than air and heavier than lead.
Happier than I’d ever been and suicidal, despairing.
Love is a bit like madness, isn’t it?  Don’t worry. I’m not going to get all Love Is on you. Love is like the corner of a thick rug. Love is like a raindrop on the windowpane. Love is like…well…you’ve seen the cartoons.
But it is. Madness.
I went a bit mad when I met Carla.

A little bit insane.


  1. Carla is a great story, very well written. A must read, especially if you want to know if John Dexter gets the girl. Mr. Barry does not disappoint. And, yes, I own both editions, which are prominently displayed on my book shelf.

  2. Carla is a superb book. One of my favourites. Love the new jacket cover n x