The Ditch… An extract from the forthcoming Little Big Boy

The Ditch… An extract from the forthcoming Little Big Boy

From Little Big Boy by max Power

…….When darkness started to creep across the sky, I began to worry that my father had abandoned me to something far more important once again.  I knew he was in a pub somewhere, lighting up the room with his wit and charm.  He would be too busy to remember that I was alone.  It had happened before, but usually he would appear at some point later than expected, but always just about in time for me not to totally panic.  This time it was different and I don’t know why but I sensed it and I was more frightened than usual.

I was eight, so the name of the town we had spent the day in was unimportant to me.  It wouldn’t have mattered if I had known the place name anyway.  We were parked at the end of a country lane away from prying eyes, for it was sure the car had neither tax nor insurance.

I could see the spire of the church so the town was close, but I knew better than to follow my father to the pub so I waited.  There was a big field beside the lane surrounded by hawthorn, blackberry and hazel, but it was too early for fruit and the bright evening dragged on for ever.  By the time the sun finally dipped below the tops of the hedgerows, I knew I would have to find somewhere to sleep.  At first it wasn’t so bad. I wasted a few hours literally running around, picking up stones to see what might be underneath, catching spiders and letting them walk around my hand, but there was only so much of that I could do.   The car was locked so I couldn’t get inside and with the creeping darkness came a chill.

The day had been bright and sunny, so all I wore was my grey short trousers and a white, long sleeved shirt.  I pulled my socks up but that was little help.  Without a watch I had no notion of time, but I knew my father and I knew that once he went to the pub, time would be the last thing on his mind.  Well the second last thing maybe, for I knew I was the last thing he was thinking about.

It was important to stay close to the car, just in case he returned no matter how unlikely that might be in the short term.  I considered crawling underneath the car where no one would see me and I might be safe, but the gravel beneath was very rough and I was afraid I might be crushed if my dad returned and drove off without looking for me.

With each passing minute, the light drained from the orangey sky and I became more fearful.  What if someone came along?  That wasn’t really my greatest fear.  I was eight after all.  My fears were irrational and I considered monsters and Bogey-men, witches and Ghouls, all of which surely patrolled the countryside in the dark.  I knew of Banshees from the tales my brother told and in every hoot and howl, they became more real than I had ever really considered.  I had to find a safe place.

I looked at the hedgerows, but the few hazel trees that blended in with the denser brush were not suitable to climb, nor hold me safe off the ground.  I picked up a fallen branch and peeled away the leaves and sprouts to form a weapon.  It was rough but if anything attacked me, at least I could defend myself.  I practiced my swing and danced around a little, feigning an attack by some invisible beast.  It gave me only a sliver of confidence.

In the end I side-stepped into the ditch beside the car, to see if I could make something of the space beneath the hedges.  It wasn’t very deep or wide, but the ground was smooth and its sides and the overhanging scrub formed a sort of protective nest.  I had to use my stick to beat back some nettles and in the end, I hunkered down to survey my hidey-hole.  It wasn’t too bad.  I was more or less protected on all sides bar where I had beat my way in and all I needed was something to keep me warm.

I clambered out from my den and walked back along the lane.  All the while I was becoming more and more nervous.  There were no lights and no moon and I was soon going to lose what natural light there was left.  At the end of the lane, someone had dumped a load of rubbish.  I found an old mat.  It was filthy, with muck on one side but the other side was dry and I dragged it back to use as my mattress, before returning to the mini-dump to look for anything else I could use.  There was very little and eventually, I settled on two hessian sacks filled with what looked like damp sand.  It took me forever to empty it out.  It was very heavy, but I finally managed and quickly returned to my safe spot.

I didn’t want to lie in there, but I couldn’t stand in the laneway.  It was too exposed and I thought it was safer to be nestled away in a little burrow, than to be standing out in the open.  At least when I was in the ditch, no one or thing would see me.  The car was just beside my little hideout and if dad came back, I would hear him call me.

The barest hint of daylight clung on for quite some time and as my eyes became accustomed to it, there seemed to be an unending feint glow in the sky.  I gathered the sacks about me and half sat, half lay in the small bare ditch space, surrounded by the tangle of hedgerow.  I curled up in a ball and it was freezing.  The cold was really terrible.  My skinny, bare legs had no meat to keep them warm and the sacks barely kept the cold away.  I was lucky it was summer, but unlucky that it was an Irish one.

When the full touch of blackness enveloped me, all I could do was curl up into the smallest ball that I could manage.  My tummy rumbled with the hunger and I was so thirsty.  But hunger was not something new to me.  I could cope with hunger. Then I heard a thump in the distance and my heart leapt.  It could have been anything.  My tiny ears strained, to see if I could make it out should it come again.  It did, but at exactly the moment I relaxed and as the sound was unfamiliar to my city ears, I had no way of knowing what that country sound was.

The country sounds began to gang up on me.  There were hoots and howls, Fox shrieks and rustles in the undergrowth.  Something scuttled across my legs and I shrivelled back in the ditch.  Some of the sounds came from the fields in the distance.  Some sounds were emanating from the field beside me, or out on the road by the car.  The worst ones whispered in the undergrowth to my right and to my left.  They murmured behind me and crept along the ground right in front of me.

I began to shiver and the only consolation was that the sound of my shivering, drowned out some of the smaller scary sounds about me.   I wanted my Mam.  The worst thing was that the night seemed like the longest road ahead of me.  I had no way of knowing the time, or counting it and it felt like an impossibly long time to stay where I was.

I considered getting up and going back out onto the laneway to stand beside the car.  The problem was, that I had finally found a crevice of comfort in that cold hard ditch.  It was cold, but I had wrapped the bags tightly around me and they gave me more warmth than if I took them off.  If I moved, I would risk losing that tiny comfort.  I would risk being exposed again.  Maybe I would even give my position away to whatever creature stalked me in the night.

Something was stalking me I was sure.  The longer I lay there, the more sure I became and it made moving impossible.   I heard it breathing.  There was no doubt in my mind, that there were breathing noises.  When I listened really carefully, they would stop as though that thing watching me knew that I was trying to hear it.  The moment I relaxed, I would catch the sound but only briefly as hearing it, made me listen intently again and then, it would stop once more.

I heard distant voices and strained my ears to listen.  Again I considered leaving my den and stepping onto the lane.  Maybe it was my father at last.  I listened even more intently.  For a moment the stalking beast no longer existed, I heard a voice and I gambled on hope to save me…..

Little Big Boy by Max Power. Coming soon…

Max Power’s other books include, Darkly Wood, Larry Flynn and Bad Blood, all available on amazon to download or in paperback.

You can find more details about Max Power’s other books here : –

twitter @maxpowerbooks1

The Happy Melancholic

The Happy Melancholic

Some people die in my books.  That’s a fact.  The minute Larry Flynn gets onto the bus in the opening pages of my book whose title bears his name; you can almost smell it on him.  That’s not to give away anything, it’s just clear that he doesn’t have long to live.  If you want to know more, you will have to read it for yourself but death is all about him.  Add in the back story of Nazi Germany and modern day Dublin gangland and you can pretty much see there will be loss of life somewhere or other.

Bad Blood opens with a killing.  The plot centres on a man on death row and a series of killings, so no surprises that you will find some death along the way here.

Darkly Wood has death a plenty as the history of that wonderfully ghastly place is revealed through the book that Daisy May discovers.  Of course there is her own voyage of discovery, where danger lurks and death is always on her shoulder as the story progresses.

I am editing my latest book in preparation for its publishing date and yet again I find there is death about the place.  I write across genre and this tragic tale is all about a small boy growing up in Dublin.  I say growing up, but in truth it is more a story of survival as his life is filled with sadness and tragedy and not inconsiderable danger.

So am I macabre?  Do I have a fascination with mortality or is there something else?  Writers love to write this much is certain.  Some like to imagine they are perhaps more than the sum of their parts.  I am not so complicated.  When you read a Max Power book, what you are getting is way less than the sum of my parts.

I give bits of me away for sure.  I quite like using my own experiences to evoke an emotion for example.  Who can write about love that has not experienced it?  Fundamentally I draw on my rich history of reading.  When I was a small boy I discovered books and was an enthusiastic reader.  I used to go the library every day and quite literally, would read one book cover to cover in the space of 24 hours.  I devoured books and I read everything.  I read science books, Enid Blyton, Alfred Hitchcock, The Hardy Boys, I even recall reading Douglas Bader’s ‘Reach for the Sky’ when the book was bigger than my tiny little head.

I dipped my toe into books that were beyond me.  Bram Stoker’s Dracula was a nightmare when I was eight years old but I finished it without fully understanding half of what I read.  Of course I went back to it and I read it again, when I was old enough to understand words that I had only struggled to pronounce the first time around.

In the mix I discovered the beauty of variety.  I even secretly read some of my sister’s books, because I wanted to know if they were different somehow.  My curiosity knew no bounds and because of my early passion for reading, I always wanted to become a writer.

When I began to write, I knew without question what type of writer I wanted to be.  I wanted my readers to get what I get so I wrote books for me.   I wanted excitement, danger, mystery, uncertainty; I wanted to be a great story teller.  So I approach each story that I create in the same way.  I am surrounded by inspiration and doubt I will ever get writer’s block for I see a story in everything.

How I transform a word or a sentence into a book is much easier than you might think. I begin at the beginning.  I start with a simple central character.  Daisy is just a normal teenage girl in Darkly Wood.  Larry Flynn is a grumpy old man.  While James Delaney’s actions make him stand out a little more in bad Blood, he is really just a man like the rest of us, tired of a journey, hoping to find closure.  The central character in Little Big Boy above all is just an ordinary little boy.

Then my job is to make something happen to create the story.  My way is to inject a little fear, offer up some hope, take it away and conjure up tragedy.  You see, for me it is all about putting ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances.   Darkly Wood is in many ways other worldly, yet I wanted it to be familiar at the same time.  My desire is to present the ordinary, to touch a reader’s heart with a sentence or word, to evoke a particular emotion that allows them to bond with a character through their own experience.   I like to offer up kindness and then snatch it away to shock or to frighten, only to give comfort.  Death much like love, both of which are abundant in my books, are just some of the devices I use to achieve my desired result.

There is no secret to what I do; you only have to read one of my books.  Someone recently asked an interesting question.  How and why do I write across such different genres?   My next book will be as different to Bad Blood as Larry Flynn was to Darkly Wood.  The answer to the question is really quite simple.

Writing to tell a story for myself is the key.  Like I said at the beginning, my influences were so varied that I have no preference for genre.  I just love a good tale.  Starting with the Character or event at the heart of my story, I allow myself to be led by the choices they make.   Importantly, it is always my voice that you hear in the telling, because I love to tell stories in my own peculiar way.

I am writing the sequel to Darkly Wood and all I can say, is that once again I have been surprised by the path this story has taken.  It is the perfect example of what happens to me in the writing process.   I am not trying to fit my story into box to please an anonymous reader.  I have become completely engrossed in the tale.  It is like I am reading a book written by someone else.  I know where the book should finish up for sure, but every page sends me down an untrodden path and I am dying to find out where it will lead me.

So the secret of where a Max Power book comes from?  I write as me and for me and I am contrary sod. I am the ultimate contradiction in life. I am a happy, melancholic.   Confused?  Don’t worry, all the answers are between the covers of my books, all you have to do is peek inside.

Little Big Boy by Max Power. Coming soon…

Max Power’s other books include, Darkly Wood, Larry Flynn and Bad Blood, all available on amazon to download or in paperback.

You can find more details about Max Power’s other books here : –

twitter @maxpowerbooks1



Little Big Boy coming soon from Max Power Just a teaser

…. It was Eamonn’s rebellion that allowed me to see just how far my father could go and I began to fear him even more.  Dad came home from an early shift one afternoon to discover Eamonn drinking milk from the bottle.  That was a cardinal sin in his book and he immediately began a tirade, lashing into Eamonn, berating my brother for every minor thing he ever did.  He had been drinking and Eamonn chose not to rise to the verbal attack, instead remaining silent, no matter what Dad threw at him.

Unfortunately, it was clear that Dad must have had a bad day at work and he was determined to take it out on Eamonn.  Eventually he settled on the one subject that came up time and time again, Eamonn’s hair.   Dad always insisted that the boys got our hair cut in the same barber shop that he did.  Eamonn and I hated going there.  He used to joke that they only knew how to do three styles, short, back…and sides.  He had let his hair grow out and while my father constantly complained and told him to go and get it cut, somehow Eamonn had dodged the bullet for a couple of months and his hair was by Dad’s standards, verging on being Hippy hair. Dad hated hippies.

Eamonn was a big fan of Marc Boland and Brian Connolly from the band Sweet and wanted his hair to grow past his shoulders.  It was inevitable that there was going to be a clash. “Here!” Dad eventually shouted at Eamonn, throwing change on the table.

“Go now and get that…Mop… cut off.”

“I’m not getting it cut Da.”

The defiance was unbelievable.  It was one thing to argue with Dad, but to outright defy a direct order was another thing and I flinched, watching as my father lunged forward and raised his fist, making as if to strike Eamonn.  For his part, Eamonn backed away a little and half ducked, but Dad pulled out of the blow at the last second.  When Eamonn looked at him, Dad feigned another strike and Eamonn raised his arm to protect himself.  But Dad was just imposing his will.  He knew that Eamonn was afraid and he would do as he was told.  We both knew that Dad didn’t bluff and that if he didn’t accede to the demand to have his hair cut, then Dad really would land the next blow.


Eamonn was furious.  He had no choice and his dreams of long hair were destroyed.  Nothing else was said.  He scooped up the change from the table and stormed out of the front door, slamming it shut behind him.  Normally that would have had Dad rushing out after him to berate him for slamming the door, but he was content in his victory.  He looked at me with a snarl on his lips.

“What are you looking at?”

I didn’t answer, I just shimmied past him and ran upstairs to read a book and keep out of his way until Mam came home from the shops.  I wished she would hurry up.  Sometimes she would be gone for hours.  A simple shopping trip for Mam could be interrupted a half dozen times or more, as she encountered other women on her trip to the shops.  She bought everything fresh.  We had no refrigerators back then.  Milk was delivered to the door; bread was purchased in the baker’s, meat from the butcher’s and so on.  On her rounds of the shops, all it took was a casual meeting with another mother from our street, or one of my aunties, or a casual acquaintance to extend her simple shopping run.

I hated being with her if she met a neighbour.  It was so boring to stand there quietly while they talked endlessly about things that didn’t matter to me.

“How are you Maggie?”  Mam might say to a familiar passer-by and they would stop dead in their tracks to chat.

“Grand.” Would be the reply but that was just the beginning.

“Did you hear about so and so or such and such?”

That was the typical start to a gossiping spree that kept the boredom at bay under the guise of concern for friends and neighbours.  Mam was kind hearted and would always stand up for anyone being maligned in a gossip. But it was a circle of talk that saved many of the women from loneliness and depression, in a society that kept married women at home, powerless without their husband’s consent, penniless without their generosity.  I didn’t understand those things, but my mother was as prone to such feelings as anyone would be in the circumstances and it was a vital part of her daily routine.  It was some such chit chat that kept Mam away too long that day, long enough for her not to witness Eamonn return home from the Barber’s, with a defiant look in his eyes and a subtle smirk on his lips.

I heard the shouting from my room.  Dad exploded and fearful as I was, it was impossible for me to ignore the sound and I skip-jumped my way down the stairs in record time, to see Eamonn standing tall to face the full force of my father’s rage. My jaw dropped.  Eamonn had done as he was asked; there could be no denying that he had complied with Dad’s instruction to get his hair cut.  What I hadn’t expected, what my father clearly hadn’t anticipated and Eamonn had deliberately done to drive Dad across the edge, momentarily made me smile before the explosion of rage that snapped my jaw shut and sent me scurrying underneath the sofa for cover.  Eamonn had short hair, very short hair.  He had offered up the best insult he could to Dad in revenge for my father forcing him to cut his hair.   He had asked for and received a skinhead.  The only thing worse than hippy hair to Dad was a skinhead.  But as if that wasn’t enough, Eamonn had sprayed the stubble green.  He looked ridiculous, but that was the whole point.   If anyone saw him and recognised him as Dad’s son, my father would be humiliated and ashamed.  What happened next was horrifying….

Little Big Boy by Max Power. Coming soon…

Max Power’s other books include, Darkly Wood, Larry Flynn and Bad Blood, all available on amazon to download or in paperback. You can find more details about Max Power’s other books here : –

twitter @maxpowerbooks1