A COVENTRY journalist is hoping his first book of fiction will provide an alternative to Christmas TV over-indulgence.
Steve Chilton’s paperback, ‘Walking Keef’s Dog and Other Short Stories,’ takes a tongue-in-cheek romp around Coventry and Warwickshire for inspiration.
“The 10 stories are all fiction, but I couldn’t resist at least starting some off with a foothold in fact before wandering off into fantasy,” he said.
“For example, in 1971 Keith Richards, then the bad boy of rock, bar none, arrived at Coventry Theatre gig cuddling his pet puppy, Boogie.
“That much is true, but then I hijack Boogie on a rock and stroll adventure while a bogus Boogie tries to take his place on stage.”
Steve’s new venture comes after a reporting career that spanned more than 25 years, mainly in regional newspapers.
“It’s a complete reversal for me,” said Steve.
“As a reporter you sometimes get accused of making up a story, although it is factually correct, because people just don’t like what’s being said.
“Now, I am making it up, in stories of complete fiction – well, mostly – and hoping people do like it.’
Steve’s local targets for parody include Queen Elizabeth 1’s romantic break in Kenilworth, under-performing folk festival fans, star-struck local politicians and a hard-drinking jazz-loving gumshoe cop…from Leamington.
“I thought QE1 deserved another option from the accepted tragedy-romance tale of a royal who was denied marriage to her lifelong suitor because of public opinion,” he said.
“Public opinion never bothered her dad much, did it? I just throw it out there that with Henry Vlll for an example of the male of the species, should we be surprised if she didn’t want to share her bed or throne with any bloke, even if he did have a fancy castle and put on a spread for her?”
It’s not all played for laughs, though. There are a satirical barbs aimed at PFI hospitals and post-war planners of Coventry city centre, a celebrity ghost story in a Paris cemetery and an account of men behaving badly on a football trip paying the ultimate penalty.
Steve, a former Midlands Feature Writer of the Year, has worked in the regional press as a news and features editor, and has been a freelance contributor for several national titles including the Mail on Sunday.
The father-of-two who lives in Cannon Hill, Coventry, said the region has been a treasure trove of unlikely stories.
“I was around for some of them, although not – as some may believe – for Queen Elizabeth’s visit to Kenilworth.”
He is hoping that the book will appeal to people looking for a light-hearted break from Christmas over- indulgence.
“After all that stodge and TV, it could provide a dash of escapism and some gentle exercise, page turning. If you don’t like it, wrap it up and hand it over as a Boxing Day present to that relative who keeps giving you socks every year.”
* Walking Keef’s Dog and other short stories is published by Takahe, RRP £9.95, and is available from most local bookshops and online bookstores.
The author’s website – www.redbutton2.com – has free extracts from three of the stories.
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