David Gaffney launches his third novel, Out Of The Dark, published by Manchester’s independent press Confingo, with a reading, chat and guest appearance by short story writer Melissa Wan. What’s more, even if books are not your bag (to coin a phrase), there’s something of a music and film crossover going on here too, so do read on…
In a flat at the top of a high rise block in Birmingham, a young man watches the same video over and over again; an old British film noir called Out Of The Dark. The black and white B flick holds a secret, something that might help him deal with recent tragic events in his life. Out Of The Dark – the book – is an unsettling story of grief, obsession and duplicity told using a puzzle box of stories within stories, and seeing life and fiction blur as the protagonist dissects the recurring motifs of his favourite cinema genre to reveal more about himself than he does about the movie.
‘A twisted and darkly funny neo-noir that somehow channels the restless spirits of both David Lynch and Shane Meadows while remaining intensely literary. In Out Of The Dark David Gaffney has produced a book with real propulsive energy, one that produces surprises on nearly every page.’
David Gaffney’s Out Of The Dark is published on the same day as this event at Central Library, introduced by Creative Tourist‘s very own Literature Editor, Sarah-Clare Conlon. It’s described by the Centre for New Writing’s Luke Brown – editor, critic and author of novels My Biggest Lie (2014) and Theft (2020) – as ‘an ingenious, idiosyncratic and unnerving noir, in which Ballard meets Jim Thompson meets Mike Leigh in a high rise block next to a motorway in the Black Country’, while Costa Prize-shortlisted author of Life! Death! Prizes! Stephen May, Bookseller Book Of The Month March 2022 for Sell Us The Rope, calls it: ‘A twisted and darkly funny neo-noir that somehow channels the restless spirits of both David Lynch and Shane Meadows while remaining intensely literary. In Out Of The Dark David Gaffney has produced a book with real propulsive energy, one that produces surprises on nearly every page.’
Out Of The Dark was developed from David’s short story, ‘Insight’, commissioned for the 2018 Confingo anthology We Were Strangers: Stories Inspired by Unknown Pleasures, taking the Joy Division album track listing as its starting point. This spring, Confingo are doing a similar thing with David Bowie’s seminal 11th studio album, Low, that’s celebrating 45 years. Compiled by Richard V Hirst, who edited We Were Strangers, Waiting For The Gift: Stories inspired by Low is out in May and features 11 original pieces of fiction by the likes of Ruby Cowling and Adam Marek plus a bonus track, Low (A Graphic Interlude), created by artist and the book’s designer Zoë McLean using text written by the musician Keeley Forsyth.
The Out Of The Dark launch event sees Waiting For The Gift contributor Melissa Wan reading her story ‘Art Decade’, from Side Two, as it were, so giving you a sneak peek into that tome (currently available for pre-order) for extra value for money. Melissa Wan is a writer from Manchester by way of Holland and Hong Kong. Her story ‘The Husband And The Wife Go To The Seaside’ was published in Bluemoose Books’ 2018 anthology Seaside Special: Postcards From The Edge, edited by Jenn Ashworth, and appeared in Salt’s Best British Stories 2019, edited by Manchester Writing School’s Nicholas Royle, who also published her chapbook This Must Be Earth through Nightjar Press. Her work is often concerned with the life not lived, the uncanny and feeling alone in relationships, and most recently appeared in last year’s Test Signal, an anthology of the best contemporary Northern writing, out with Liverpool-based Dead Ink Books in collaboration with Bloomsbury. She was awarded the inaugural Crowdfunded BAME Writers’ Scholarship to study Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia in 2018/19, was an Elizabeth Kostova Foundation Writing Fellow in 2019 and, the same year, was a Northern Word Factory Apprentice, supported by New Writing North and mentored by Carys Davies. She is currently working on her first collection of stories and making a start in literary translation, translating from Dutch, her native tongue.
David Gaffney was born and brought up in Cleator Moor, West Cumbria and now lives in Manchester. He is the author of the novels Never Never (2008) and All The Places I’ve Ever Lived (2017), plus the flash fiction and short story collections Sawn-Off Tales (2006), Aromabingo (2007), The Half-Life of Songs (2010) and More Sawn-Off Tales (2013). He has written articles for The Guardian, Sunday Times, Financial Times and Prospect magazine, and has been a judge for the Bridport Prize, among others. His first graphic novel with Dan Berry, The Three Rooms In Valerie’s Head, was published in 2018 on Top Shelf, and their second collaborative graphic novel, Rivers, was released last year, also on Top Shelf. They are currently working on a third.
If you can’t make it to this event, fear not – David has a whole book tour scheduled, starting with Salford’s Verbose on Monday 31 January. After that, you can catch him reading (and also running a creative writing workshop) as part of Wolverhampton Literature Festival on Saturday 5 February, then he’ll be at Standish Library on 12 February, Lancaster Library on 19 February, Kendal Library on 24 February and Kirkgate Arts centre in Cockermouth on Saturday 26 February.