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Those Jeffries Boys is a 'character special', and it follows chronologically from Two By Two (Season Six), but as always, I'm trying to write in enough back story for the novel to stand alone (as far as is possible with a series), whilst at the same time not including so much back story as to set existing readers' eyes rolling.
Who are Those Jeffries Boys?
Readers of HBTC will already know Andy and Dan Jeffries very well. Tall, dark and handsome (of course), they're the younger two of three brothers. Prior to Season Six, their older brother Mike only appears occasionally - usually not on page, and rarely in a good light, because, as his brothers would tell you, he is a knob.
OK, so here's the deal.
I write 'British' stories with 'British' characters (or 'painfully British', as a recent reviewer put it). Let me clarify this - again. I am English. That's different to British, and, in fact, most of what is touted as 'Britishness' makes me feel ashamed of the cultural heritage you wrongly attempt to impose, so if you're trying to cause offence, keep on calling me 'British'. I guarantee it's far more painful to me than the presence of radio plays and other cultural artefacts in my writing appear to be to some readers. If you want to show some respect for my identity, then get it right. I'm English. Specifically, Northern English. Does that matter? By heck, it does.
|Fish and Chips by George Hodan|
That said, I do write about characters from other parts of the United Kingdom of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and no, thank you, I don't wish to get into a debate about the (un)happiness of that union. (See previous concerns regarding 'Britishness'.)
The Jeffries brothers are Northern English, too, hence, Mike is...a knob. See 'UK - offensive' on this page if you don't know what that means: http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/knob
Now, the thing is, one might read the story of these three men and see elements of that 'Britishness' I maligned above and think I've been and gone and contradicted myself. No doubt at times, Mike, Andy and Dan portray aspects of our culture that I utterly despise (well, perhaps, not Andy...). They are, when all is said and done, white, English, upper-working-class, heterosexual men who enjoy a game of footy and a pint with the lads. They're materialistic and not the kind to take offence at being (wrongly) referred to as British. They may even be proud of it. They may also, at times, say or do things that would be considered -ist (sexist being the most notable), and it would be unrealistic for me to write them in any other way.
|English Soccer by Dawn Hudson|
That's enough preamble.
Three brothers: doting dads, dealing with the everyday challenges of fatherhood.
Following the imprisonment of his ex-girlfriend, Mike Jeffries has one priority: his six-month-old daughter, Bethan. Between caring for her and being a self-employed painter and decorator, he's already got enough on his plate, without his sisters-in-law insisting he's ready to date again. Now Bethan's grandmother intends to fight him for custody, and Mike's not sure he can rise to it.
Always up for an adventure, Andy Jeffries has finally found the perfect challenge: keeping the woman he loves satisfied and raising their twin daughters, Rosie and Sorsha. The problem is everyone else thinks he needs more, and dealing with his brothers' trials and tribulations means he's getting it, whether he wants it or not.
Dan Jeffries is about to become a father for the second time, and he's terrified, not that he's the kind of man to admit it. But after the premature birth of his daughter, Shu, he's taking no chances until his son is safely delivered into this world, which means putting a hold on his hunt for the perfect family home. However, the house he wants comes with a very big price tag, and not of the monetary kind.
Those Jeffries Boys is a novel-length character special. Part of Hiding Behind The Couch series.
Bethan was three days old when Rachel walked out on them, and Mike had panicked. He could barely look after himself, never mind a newborn baby. He'd focused on what he could do - get them both away from the flat, to somewhere safe - but he'd caused so much trouble that Len - his mum's fourth husband - had threatened to do him over if he came anywhere near them again. In desperation, he'd turned up on his brother's doorstep - not Dan's, but Andy's. He'd begged for asylum, and Andy had granted it without question.
Even now, Mike was amazed - and profoundly grateful - that Andy had taken them in. They'd never got on. Back when they were kids, their mum used to say 'two's company, three's a crowd' to explain why one of them was always left out, and the one that was left out was usually Mike. But then, there was only a year between Andy and Dan; they were more than brothers, they were friends, whereas Mike was just the loser who couldn't keep a job or a relationship. He might've been the eldest, but it didn't guarantee their respect, because respect was earned. He knew that now. And he'd done nothing to earn theirs.
With Rosie on one hip and Sorsha lying on the changing mat and kicking her legs in the air, Andy attempted to keep his phone gripped between his chin and shoulder. Nappyless Sorsha gurgled and started to pee. Andy grabbed a wad of tissues to soak it up. His phone slipped and fell with a thunk and a splash, right into the puddle.
"Crap," he said, hoping his cursing wasn't a prediction of what was coming next. He retrieved his phone and set it to one side. "Dropped my phone," he said loudly by way of explaining to Shaunna on the other end of the line. "Give me a sec."
Andy grabbed a cushion off the couch, put it on the floor next to the changing mat and laid Rosie on it. Both sisters turned to look at each other and made cooing noises. Andy sighed contentedly - being a real dad had well and truly done for his pretentions of wanting to be free and independent forever - and gave his phone a quick once-over with a baby wipe. He put it to his ear again and felt a dribble run down his cheek. Could be pee, could be baby-wipe juice, he didn't care.
If Dan had one great regret, it was letting Tom go through with the wedding, because he'd honestly thought Adele would back out of it before the big day. As was to be expected, Adele's dad had paid for everything, and she'd handed over the planning to Eleanor, so Dan had successfully avoided contact with Adele for months. But as the day drew closer, their paths had crossed more and more frequently, and there was still such animosity between them that Adele had suggested they go out for dinner together, or whatever would give them an opportunity to escape everyone else for an evening so they could clear the air. The result of that evening was sitting in the back seat.
It was all in the past, and they were happy. They had a healthy almost-four-year-old daughter; in four days' time, they'd have a son, and it sounded as if Tom was finally moving on, too. But for all of that, Dan wished he'd stopped the wedding. If he had, then Adele might just have considered marrying him.
Those Jeffries Boys will be out at some point this year. I'll keep you posted!
Thanks for reading.
N.B. This post is intentionally brought to you in Northern English dialect. Why? Horses for courses, and all that. Be assured, however, that as a first-class social science graduate with a sound command of the English language, I can also write in Standard English, should the occasion suit.