The Music Box – Part 1

I’ve been wanting to get back into writing short stories again for a while. Let me know your thoughts.

The rain pelts against the office window and I can see the trees outside on the piazza swaying in the wind. I take my glasses off and rub the bridge of my nose, I was used to last minute deadlines and working odd hours, but looking at the clock in the corner of the computer screen I can see that it’s almost midnight.

I stretch my arms above my head and reach for my cup to find that the coffee inside has gone cold, a regular occurrence when I find myself getting absorbed in my research. This is, hopefully, going to be one of my first major articles for the website. It isn’t often junior writers get this opportunity but I think my editor Joanna could hear my passion for the subject matter and the rough bit of research I’d found had piqued her interest enough that she was allowing me to dig into it more and write a piece.

I look at the microform print outs scattered next to me on my desk, and pull one towards me. It shows the picture of Elizabeth Brown with her mother Anna Brown. Anna has her hand on her daughters shoulder, her face warm, the girl is smiling and holds a doll in one hand, the white dress she is wearing making her look even more angelic. I put my glasses on and read.


“Police were alerted to the house after an elderly widower who lives nearby heard “blood-curdling” screams coming from the property. Police had to break the door and soon located the screams coming from upstairs. They found Mrs Elizabeth Brown in a state of hysteria, hands covered in blood, pointing at the open door of her daughters’ bed chamber. When entering the room Officer Cook claims he heard the sound of a music box but the sight that awaited him made him feel nauseous. Eight year old Elizabeth Brown was on the floor her legs were twisted at an odd angle, clearly broken in several places and her throat had been cut, her left hand was reaching towards the music box. Police are investigating the case but as Mrs Brown, the only witness and suspect, is currently in hospital in a state of shock, they are unable to carry out any further questioning at this time.”

It’s the earliest dated reference to the music box I have managed to find, the 20th September 1885. Most people would wonder what the music box has to do with, what is very clearly, an open and closed case of a mother murdering her child. But what if I was to tell you that my research shows that this same music box has been found at the scene of numerous tragedies over the years? What if I was to tell you that my research has led me to transcripts between a psychologist and Anna Brown where she claims to be innocent of her daughter’s death? A death she claims came about because of the music box? A statement she maintained was fact till the day she was hung almost a year later.

I rub the back of my neck and reach for my cup, before making my way through the quiet office to the kitchen.  I wait for the kettle to boil and get lost in thought, about all the things I have learnt so far, and all of the things I am yet to learn, yet to expose. There’s so much to this story that needs to be told. My reverie is broken by Patrick, the night shift security guard making his rounds.

“Working late again Ms. Brown?”

I nod my head and smile at him tiredly, thinking how I will work as late as many times as I need to, till the truth is found.

Would you like to read more of this? If so comment below. Thanks for reading.


An Evening with Joseph Knox

I’m fairly new to the work of Joseph Knox, my ex purchased me a copy of his debut novel ‘Sirens’ back in March (which is the nicest thing my ex ever did but I digress) The main thing that pulled me in was the fact that it was set in Manchester, my birthplace and home. Being able to perfectly visualise the surroundings made it easier to read, combine this with the fact all the chapters were named after Joy Division songs, albums or EP’s and instantly I was hooked.

Joseph wove a story full of complex characters, drama and dark imagery. At the centre of the story is Aidan Waits, perhaps one of the most intriguing characters I have come across in literature in recent years. I tore through Siren’s pretty quickly and moved onto his next book ‘The Smiling Man’ which pulled me in from the blurb on the back alone. So to have the opportunity to hear the man himself discuss his new release ‘The Sleepwalker’ wasn’t something I wanted to miss.

On a rainy evening in Manchester I sat and watched the unassuming Joseph Knox talk about his latest novel and the way he struggled with getting it out there. He spoke about how at times he felt like walking away from it. It’s commendable the dedication he shows to his craft, it took him 10 years to get ‘Sirens’ finished and published. He was working full time and only had time to write the book in the evening and weekends. Many people would have given up, he didn’t and thank goodness he didn’t!

Joseph Knoxx.jpg

It was clear to see when he was talking the amount of thought and passion he puts into his work, proclaiming that he has a fear of repeating himself or churning out something with a constantly familiar story line. He refuses to do it. He talked about how with other detective books, you usually learn so much about the main protagonist within the first few chapters, but with Aidan Waits you don’t and that is part of the intrigue and my love for the character. Two books in and I still only know a few details about him, he’s a character that leaves you wondering. As Joseph said Aidan “plays his cards very close to his chest” which is an incredible skill for a writer to have, to be able to lure people in without giving away too much. It’s no mean feat, but Joseph manages it. I could be ignorant and say he does it with ease, but that would be an insult to the apparent hard work and planning he puts into his novels.

Joseph quashed the rumour that he’s a Mancunian; he was born in Staffordshire but always had a romantic relationship with Manchester, moving and working here when he was a little older. This is something that, for me, comes across in his second book ‘The Smiling Man’ the way Aidan views the city in the hot summer months through almost romantic lenses. I was born and bred in Manchester but it made me feel moved to hear the love and respect that Joseph has for this city, and the way he felt that it was the perfect setting for his crime noir books and the even more complex character of Aidan Waits.

But it is when Joseph talked about the way the City has changed in the past ten years and the spice epidemic amongst the homeless and the people in Strangeways and the way it’s impacted upon the most vulnerable of people in our society that I was truly moved. Joseph talked about how when doing research for ‘The Sleepwalker’ he came across a Government website that was faulty, he saw the amount of mothers/fathers emailing Strangeways expressing concern about their sons who are currently incarcerated seeming suicidal or becoming addicted to spice. They were reaching out asking for help or an explanation and were given none. The very people becoming addicted to the drug seen more as an unseemly thing that should be overlooked as opposed to helped. He talked about how spice is taken because for people living on the street or in prison it passes 8 hours as quick as the click of a finger. Admittedly very tempting for those people and not something others should be so quick to judge. Joseph physically teared up at this and said he was hoping that his new book could give those people an answer they deserve. It’s refreshing to hear someone in Joseph’s position using his skills to highlight and shine a light onto something so prevalent in our society and is seemingly going ignored by the powers that be.

Joseph talked about a 4th novel, but one that is not necessarily crime fiction and not part of the Aidan Waits series. Joseph said with Aidan being so complex and having a dark past, it was important for him to have a break from the character and I’m inclined to agree. I am yet to read ‘The Sleepwalker’ but the early reviews I have read have talked about how this book is his best one yet with some unbelievable moments. As much as I love Aidan Waits, I feel that Joseph has enough skill to pen something other than crime fiction, and know it would still be an equally compelling read.

Signed Copy of Sirens.jpg

It was a fantastic evening, from a very humble, wonderful and talented author. I cannot wait to read ‘The Sleepwalker’ and cannot wait to see what else Joseph has in store with his writing career. This guy’s going places and I implore you to check out his work. You will not be disappointed.  I will be posting a review of his new book on the blog once I’ve read it.

Happy reading folks.


It’s Been a While…

Sorry it’s been a while since I’ve posted much, I am reading a few things at the moment and hope to have reviews up for them soon.

It’s been a weird few months with lots going on but I feel much more clear headed and I’m looking back at how far I’ve come and feel proud. I’m going to be sharing some pieces of writing with you…They’re not ground breaking or earth shattering but things I wrote when I was working through some stuff. And who knows? Perhaps it might help someone out there going through something similar.

Thanks for the continued love and support on here.