Friday, 13 July 2018

'Floored'; a collaborative blogging adventure!

Not too long ago an email landed in my inbox, its subject line simply saying: 'FLOORED! Stop! Collaborate and listen!' 
Well, obviously I was intrigued. Before I knew it, I'd excitedly signed up to do a collaborative blog tour to celebrate this excellent new YA in the weeks leading up to its official publication date. 

The idea is that all the blog posts link somehow, each one starting with the opening line from different chapters of the book, and of course they should run in the same order the chapters of the book do. 

We didn't have to just do creative pieces, either. The options were wide open; fiction, non-fiction, poetry, recipes, mood boards...! I thought I'd try doing poetry, but in the end this funny little story came out. 
I've met some wonderful bloggers through this; they're all listed at the bottom of this post! 

*

'Velvet?'

'Huh?'

'Velvet,' I offer again, pressing the magic button that helps him hear me through the glass.

'Velvet.' He says it so gently. I bite down on my tongue as I watch him consider the word, roll it around in his head; his eyes close and brows pull together as he leans into the mic and adjusts his headphones. 'Okay, I’m ready.'

I nudge the sound guy beside me, slumped in his chair scrolling on his phone. He leans forward ever so slightly, eyes still glued to Reddit, and flicks a switch. A red light comes on and glares quietly at me. KEEP QUIET – RECORDING! flashes above the glass panel that separates us from him.

Him being Will – the poet, everyone's obsession in the spoken word scene right now, and my good friend. That’s it. Just a friend.

'Yours are the softest fingers, they quickly lock into mine,
we're playing on the street – not much older than nine,
I knew then I needed you, but you never felt the same.
our stars didn’t align, you weren’t calling my name.'

He takes a deep breath, licking his lips before continuing. I love watching words form in his mouth. Then I feel guilty, because I see the pain in him as they do.

'We’re not meant to be, don’t let your time go to waste,
I’m rough, salty and too sharp to taste.
You’re softer than me, I knew it when we first met –
Tall flowers, cool moonlight, smooth stones – velvet.'

I get goosebumps as he says the word – my word. I turn to the sound guy, waiting for him to clap his hands together and yell 'BRAVO!!' or something. But he just nods, presses the magic button and says 'yeah, good stuff, mate. All done.'

'How was that, really?' Will asks me quietly as we pack up our bags.

'I loved it,' I say, then blush when I realise how excitedly and passionately it came out.

His face brightens. 'Well, that’s all that matters then.'

I roll my eyes and shove him gently, as I pull my bag over one shoulder. 'I'm sure your thousands of followers will like it, too.'

He grins, but doesn’t reply. He never seems that fussed that he has over 30K followers on Instagram – and nearly twice as many Facebook page likes.

Will went viral about a year ago; an audience member at the local poetry slam recorded his piece about Brexit, and it blew up. He suddenly had more likes, comments and follows than anyone on that circuit could dream of. Within days, he was being booked to headline every event in Brighton and even had agents in London come knocking; brands were emailing and labels wanted to work with his voice – all because of that one 6-minute video. 

'Thanks for your help, by the way,' he says, smiling down at his feet as we walk along the seafront.

'Any time,' I reply, and I’m absolutely serious. I would help him any time.

'So,' he looks out at the sea, to our left. 'Wanna walk along the pier?'

'That...' I stumble slightly. 'That sounds cute.'

'Yeah? Cute?' Will laughs a little as we head for the pier. The golden hour light hits his face perfectly, and as he turns to look at me there's that pinch in his nose that I kinda love…

Okay, fine. Maybe I do fancy him.

(Alyce/Will mood board made by the excellent Lois @loisreadsbooks / loisreadsbooks.com - her post in this collab tour goes live on Sunday!)


It's so inconvenient, though. I've been his friend since school, then throughout sixth form, just friends. No problems. But then one day, I came into one of our last English lessons and BAM, there he was. Suddenly he wasn't just my good friend Will; he was this gorgeous, sweet and sexy guy I had a mega major whopping great crush on. I didn’t know how to deal with it at first, I just carried on as normal – although throughout that particular English lesson I hid behind my notebooks, avoided direct eye contact, and oh god I swear I could feel every hair stand on end when he leaned in to read a work sheet over my shoulder. I blamed a surge in PMS hormones, or my brain getting muddled because I was stressing about A Levels...but it's now been six months or so, and this mysterious mess of feelings isn’t going anywhere.

It's extra inconvenient – in fact, quite painful – being his #1 pal while his spoken word career is growing at a crazy speed. Because while he loves getting topical and political in his art, he's equally well-known for his poetry about his ex-girlfriend. The ex-girlfriend he clearly still loves and wants desperately.

Also the way he says his words onstage...ugghhh. The hissing esss sounds, the thudding D's and the popping P-p-p's. He properly plays with words. It's so tasty. I wish I could do that.

'Alyce?' Will's now waving a hand in front of my face. 'You alright?'

I wasn't even aware I'd been daydreaming. About him. The guy standing right next to me. God, I'm weird. 'Sorry. I’m fine.'

'Okay.'

We walk onto the pier. I instinctively look down to see the greenish-blue sea glinting at me from between the wooden boards. It's so freaky. I look up and see his face about a foot from mine, looking out to the horizon. Then he turns to me. I'm thrown completely by how close we are.

'So...have you heard from Yasmin?' Why did I say that!? It just came out! Ughh, I'm so stupid. A flicker of pain crosses his face at my mention of the name he is so familiar with, but now barely hears – but then it's gone. He steps back from me, shifts his gaze to something just past my head. 

'No, not for ages. Don’t really want to actually,' he adds, suddenly coming over all awkward. 'I want to move on now.'

'Oh,' I say simply. I'm not sure what he means. Move on from her? Move on, like, move away? I know he was tempted to try out London recently, after all the interest from agents and huge venues...or does he mean…?

'Do you like someone new, then?' I find myself asking, like I just can't help it. I really can't.

He meets my eyes again, and I can almost detect a hopeful smile. 'Yeah. Have for a while.'

'Cool.' I have no idea what to say. Like, I'm glad he’s happy, but I'm obviously a bit put out to know he's into someone else. Partly because he didn't tell me, his good friend, and also that it isn't me – because I'm his good friend. 

I tilt my face up to watch the seagulls flying overhead, trying to seem nonchalant while really hoping they don't swoop down on me suddenly. 

'I wrote something about it, actually,' Will's now smiling a bit more, but it's still tentative. 'I'm a bit nervous to read it to her, though,' 

'I didn’t think you got nervous,' I say, hoping I don't sound too shocked. 'You're always so cool.'

'When I'm performing, yeah, I try to be. The rush and the crowd help. But when it's a personal thing I don't want to share with anyone else – I get crazy nerves.'

'Well don't worry, I'm sure it will go well. She'll love it,' I try and reassure him as we reach the arcades. I'm feeling in my pocket for my purse – I'll have to change my tenner into pennies. Then I realise he's stopped just behind me, and isn't following me in.

'What--?'

He comes closer, and looks at me seriously. I lose my breath for just a second, almost falling into his deep brown eyes. 

'What was us once, was good then,
you were always my closest friend.
Now I’m wondering – could it be more?
Or am I knocking too hard on a closed door…?'

It takes a second. Then I realise. And I surprise myself by laughing, as my heart fills up, and I say 'that was cheesy as fuck.' 

*

Thanks so much for reading my scribbles.
Now, here are the other bloggers who have already posted their parts of this collab tour:


Keep an eye out for tomorrow’s post by Ross, @ The Royal Bookshelf!


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