Beyond the pale of my senses, my way to the page.

Beyond the pale of my senses, my way to the page.

I remember sitting on a window ledge three stories up, looking down and thinking, ‘what difference will it make to anyone if I jump?’ I was ten years old.  It might sound contradictory but things weren’t going particularly bad for me at that time. I was reasonably happy but it stayed with me that moment, it clung to me like a smell.  The day was glorious, I remember it because there was not a breath of wind and save a couple of puffy clouds, the sky was a perfect summer blue.  The window ledge belonged to a stranger, that story is too boring to tell, but it was part of a fantasy house, Georgian, covered in ivy that shone in the sunlight. The paint was peeling from the ledge on which I was perched and I rested my neck back against the open sash window as my little legs dangled in the nothingness.

Looking down I could see a gravel drive that stretched out along a tree lined avenue, surrounded by green in all directions as far as I could see.  It was so different from the council house concrete path and small grass patch that I called a garden back home and the quiet was beautiful.  My senses were overloaded. I could smell the colour, feel the sound of the wood pigeons in the trees and I could taste the damp from the walls of the old house whose window ledge I had borrowed.

There was no real sense to my desire to jump, to die on that day.  It was an illogical, seemingly random desire, except that it was far from those things.  There was a place beyond the pale of my senses, a wild and rugged dimension of my mind that I was too young to comprehend.

If I just leaned forward I thought, I could fall in that perfect moment and I would never have to ever think again. I have no idea how long I indulged that thought.  It certainly seemed a lifetime but of course I leaned back eventually, stepped inside and walked away as though nothing had happened, except of course it had.

The key to understanding the thought, to assessing the risk and evaluating the danger that I placed myself in, was to try to get back to what was going through my head at the time.   If in a moment of relative calm, I could so easily consider what is in many ways the ultimate act of selfishness, what would happen to me when tragedy struck or when the normal stresses of life enveloped me. The scent of that fear didn’t just cling to me; it embedded itself in my brain.  I knew I would smell it again and I wanted to recognise it for what it was.

That dying could be so easy and that it would stop the thoughts, these were the abiding memories that I retained from that defining moment in my life.  The most salient thought was the origin of the desire to die that day and that it was summed up, in how I recalled that ledge moment as being a way to stop the thoughts. My head is filled always. I believed everyone’s head worked like mine and as such it was normal. But on the edge of my mind there is a swirl of thought.  It kicks up like a dust bowl twister and beats against the quiet.  Locked inside away from the brouhaha, there are other thoughts trying to steady the ship.  Between the shelter and the storm, is a noise like you wouldn’t believe. Every precious second, every calming moment belies the race of feet through my head.  There is a stampede of thought, a veritable cavalcade of whispers and shouts, each thought competing for space, every single thought compounded by other irrelevant considerations and they stick like Velcro to each other.

Sometimes I sit quietly still and those thoughts work away in the background.  At least that is how I have made it seem for those who sit by and fail to notice.  I cannot adequately explain the barrage of thought that never ceases, for along that path madness lies.  And yet I function.   I cope.  I fundamentally act no different to anyone else.  I am not crazy.  I am calm, coping and confident.  So why then do those thoughts appear, those darker ones?  How do they get past the scent guard and consider the peace that would ensue if I could only make it stop? How have I kept them at bay? Are they ever that far away?

Like many I have suffered anxiety and depression at different times in my life, but I am neither anxious nor depressed. I have not been overwhelmed, though sometimes my defences creak and the walls around my mind are almost breeched. Importantly they are not or at least have not yet been.

When I write, I let loose the beast.  The inner wild being that creates the vortex of thought is set free to do as it will. More often than not, I can’t keep up.  I am constantly writing across multiple projects, a release valve for my mind.  So many writers suffer from the thing they call ‘writer’s block.’  I cannot imagine such a thing might ever befall me. As I write this, I am working on multiple projects simultaneously in my head.  I see Wormhold, a wonderful new character that I adore and who has become central to my next book The woman who never wore shoes, and he has taken a final turn for me in this moment that will change the final chapters of this unfolding story.

I am working out my finances, planning a house move, going through an e mail I have to write to my solicitor or maybe not, debating that question, adding in potential conversations with my auctioneer, worrying about things I have to do in work, trying to work out all the things I have to get done in the garden before we move, planning the garden in the next house, worrying about how things will pan out, working through a million other things and all in this very precise, exact moment. As each new moment arrives, these thoughts evolve, continue grow and are added to. Each thought process moves at an incredible speed. It sounds impossible I know, but it is true.  All this and more all at once all the time and no way to stop it, to silence it. This is a relentless violent storm that intrudes my every waking moment without exception or relief.

It is in there that I began to unravel the mystery of it all.   I am all of this and more.  I am all of this and no more.  Somehow, the noise has become normal.  In all of my life, it has never abated, never let go of me, never allowed me peace.  Yet I am at peace and there is the secret.  Somewhere between that window ledge all those years ago and now, I have come to accept that I cannot change the way I am and what goes on beneath the fabric of my mind. Instead I have learned, through trial and error I guess to accept my fate, to embrace the challenge it presents and thankfully, through my writing, I have discovered a channel to give this potentially debilitating pressure release. It turns out even in this as I believe with most things, there is an upside. 

Because of the relentlessness of my thoughts, the volume of them and the speed at which they have to be processed, I have always been quick witted and sharp of tongue but in a nice way.  I never think later, ‘ I wish I had thought to say that’  because I generally have done.  My speed with a quip and answer or solution to a problem, is almost uncanny and I take it for granted. I know how much it costs me, but at least it helps me write and despite the challenge that accompanies the din, it often makes me smile.

This is not a treatise on mental health or my own peculiar malaise. I daren’t presume to have an answer for anyone else. All I can do is share my experience my odd solution based on an unspoken personal compromise of acceptance  and stubborn refusal to be overwhelmed. I know we each of us carry a very personal load in life and at different times it can become too much.  What I also know is that for me, here and now, I am fulfilled and happy, but I know also that I was thus on the day I leaned back with my head against the sash window, with the sky so blue and the light just right. I can never be complacent as I find my way, always smiling, to the next page.


Max Power’s books include, Darkly Wood, Larry Flynn Bad Blood and Little Big Boy

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

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Indecent proposal

Indecent proposal




My first husband was no good for me. My second did no good for me. My third husband wasn’t much better and by the time I came to my fourth, I began to believe that what my mama had always said was right, men were just no good.
Maybe it was partly my fault for giving away that special part of me, that I should have kept for at least a little while longer when I was just sixteen years old. That foolish and freely given gift, was presented to my first husband Gerome four months before we were married. He was a handsome man, but beneath his initial charm lay a black heart. He was far too old for me.  I was just a foolish child but my daddy made sure he did the right thing, which of course was the wrong thing and he married me before the rest of the family’s reputation was dragged through the mud. I didn’t even shed a tear when he died eighteen months after we were wed. He fell from his horse and was so inebriated that he probably never even felt a thing.

While I say I had four husbands, in truth Gerome was the only man I was actually bound to in wedlock. The others that I refer to as ‘husbands’ served the purpose for the outside world only. There were many others that did not stay long enough to be considered as such.  I was always moving, whether it was from place to place or man to man, either way it was a shameful enough existence for a woman of my time. My only saving grace was that I could reinvent myself with a new husband in a new town, free from the truth of my past, gifted with a clean slate, at least for a while. The truth has a way to find the surface, no matter how deep you like to drown it. It was a near impossible task, moving all the time, hoping to stay one step ahead of my past, trying desperately not to put the other foot into the wrong future.

Gabriel my number two, took on the role of husband with gusto, but he used me more than I used him. Like I said he did no good for me. My desire was to be protected, to be taken care of, to have my needs catered for and to be managed, for I did need managing back then even though I didn’t quite know it. Sadly, Gabriel preferred the company of young men. I provided him with an alibi and he gave me financial security and a hint of respectability. But a girl has needs and it wasn’t long before those needs were looking to be satisfied elsewhere.

I fell pregnant for the second time in my young life at the age of twenty. My first pregnancy, the one that tied me to my vile, self-loathing first husband never made it to full term. Folks offered me sympathy but I was glad. Had they known the reality of my true feelings I would have been considered a monster, so I kept those feelings to myself. Gerome was not so pleased. It wasn’t that he felt sorry for the loss of his unborn child because he was unfeeling. The problem was that he had only married me in the first place because I was pregnant, so he felt cheated. He took to drinking and hating the two of us more than was healthy. Gerome despised me for trapping him into a loveless marriage and himself for being a fool. It was the drink that finally helped him from his horse and set me free of his loathing. It took a while after I was rid of his baby, but eventually I was rid of him too and I was twice glad. My second pregnancy did not end so well.

While Gabriel played with his young men, I found distraction with a coloured labourer, a liaison of such impropriety it only served to peak my interest. By the time I got bored of him it was too late. I was pregnant.  I didn’t realise until I was six months gone and though I half-heartedly tried some home remedies to end my potential shame, I think in hindsight I had a desire to get back at poor old Gabriel for loving his boys more than he loved me. He knew the child couldn’t be his, but feigned delight to the outside world, until that poor little child was born with a black face that told the world exactly who and what I was. I moved on to number three and that he accepted me with so little objection with my coloured, bastard child in tow, should have been a signal to tell me he was not the man for me….

Darkly Wood II is coming. Read the original Darkly Wood first – featured book of the week on Digital Book Today.

Want to find out more? Discover Max Power books on amazon… Darkly Wood II is coming…


Max Power’s books include, Darkly Wood, Larry Flynn Bad Blood and Little Big Boy

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

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Impromptu, inappropriate interference

Impromptu, inappropriate interference

Honest to Jaysus, how I ever managed to survive puberty with all my faculties intact is more by luck than chance. The mechanics were a complete mystery to me and to be perfectly honest I wasn’t one hundred percent sure that I really wanted to know anyway. But then the cavalry arrived. We were ‘invited’ to attend sex education lessons, on a one to one basis with a Christian Brother in the monastery.

Now hang on, before you get any ideas, it was a genuine bona fide set up and this is not a euphemism for some impromptu, inappropriate interference. ‘Interfere’ was a word used in relation to sexual relations of an unholy nature back in the day in Dublin for some reason. It had many connotations.  If someone was suspected of being the victim of sexual abuse, it would be whispered,

“Was she interfered with?” It is a horrible term. I remember coming out of the bathroom in my uncle’s house and he saying, “Jaysus you were a long time in there…I hope you weren’t interfering with yourself?” Still haven’t got over the embarrassment of that one.

But I digress, back to the birds and the bees. I turned up to meet my appointment to be educated in the ways of the world by a Christian Brother, whose name has left me through the passing of time, but whose lesson has stayed with me. I was left waiting in a big old dining room in the monastery for about ten minutes, bathed in the scent of furniture polish and incense. I remember the only sound was a big clock, ticking loudly on the mantelpiece and I sweated buckets at the thought of discussing anything sexual with the Brother.

When he finally arrived he plonked a big encyclopaedia in front of me and opened it up at a bookmarked page. He then walked to the far end of the table, all the time silent and sat down. After an age he simply went,

“Well go on boy, read the page I’ve opened for you.”

He had a thick Cork accent and a head on him like a potato. The clock ticked and I looked at a page that had outline drawings of a penis and testicles, with all the functioning innards labelled. On the opposite page I saw the word vagina with similar drawings and I gulped and turned red. It was the most bizarre few minutes of my life. I was actually embarrassed by the words on the page and the eyes that glared at the top of my head as I read. I took nothing in, learned less and wrenched my hands beneath the table.

When I eventually looked up, the Brother asked simply if I had read it all and when I acknowledged that I had he stood up, walked across to me, closed the book and took it with him as he returned to the far end of the table. He remained standing this time and then he began.

“When a man and a woman get married…” I could feel a drop of sweat roll along my temple as he began to pace the room looking from ceiling to floor, at all times ensuring we never once made eye contact. “… The main purpose of their union is to create a family, to procreate and add to God’s loving family.” I had no idea what he was talking about. “To do this they must have intercourse.”

He flashed a rare look in my direction which he immediately withdrew and I began rocking my right knee up and down as a sense of terror took over. I didn’t really know how it all worked, but I had heard that word before so I knew we were getting to the heart of the subject. I was terrified.

“On the night of the wedding, they join in union for the first time; both of course must be virgin, free from sin and having ensured they remained undefiled by ungodly acts before that sacred day.” Once again he had lost me, but there was no way I was going to ask him any questions.

“The wife will take herself to the bedroom, put on her nightgown, kneel before her bed and say a prayer that the act that she is about to engage in will bring forth a child, the sole purpose of the act of intercourse. She will then turn out the light and get into bed, a signal for her husband to enter, prepare himself for bed before kneeling in the dark to offer up his prayers for the same result.”

I wasn’t sure where he was going but I was already considering celibacy. I remember he had his back to me as he continued.

“They then quickly complete the sacred act in the hope and prayer that they will have God’s blessing and their union will result in pregnancy and a child.” He turned to face me and looked at me for the first time with any serious interest. In his slowest, clearest, finest Cork accent he asked,

“Do you have any questions?”

I actually didn’t. I had only skimmed the words on the page of the book because most of the words filled me with a dire mortification. We never said ‘penis’ or ‘vagina.’ Dear God the very notion that they were printed in a book that was in the possession of a holy man was enough to send me sideways. Questions?   Nothing I read clarified a single thing and nothing he said made sense. All I wanted to do was get the hell out of there.

“No Brother.”

“Good… and you’ve read the pages in the book?” I acknowledged that I had indeed and he smiled and told me that in that case we were done. He showed me out and I ran out across the playing fields to clear my head. Such trauma.

I knew girls had breasts which we all called ‘diddies’ and that we had mickeys, flutes or willies depending on your colloquial preference, but we never ever said breast or penis and to be perfectly honest, while we did have a word for girl downstairs bits, it was generally a bit too rude to use and if you were overheard using it by an adult, they would larrup the arse off you. There was some form of exchange that involved nudity, that much I knew, that was enough.

Between my mother, the priests and the Brothers, I was so petrified to consider investigating any further at that stage that I was happy enough in my ignorance. It was out of that world of naivety, ignorance and innocence that I somehow managed to find my way to adulthood. It is a world far removed from this one, but a world on which I draw for inspiration when I write.

It was never more so than when I wrote Little Big Boy. When people ask me if it is autobiographical, I find it complimentary because I know I’ve hit the mark when they do. I suppose it is to some extent, in that it is drawn from that time and place where my memories are still so vivid. I tend to draw on my own experiences and emotions as much as possible when I write. Because I switch genre and theme so much, it is important to hear my voice as a connection for the reader from book to book. Now you’ve heard my voice in my blog and if you like what you’ve heard, you can always dip your toe into the world of my books…


Max Power’s books include, Darkly Wood, Larry Flynn Bad Blood and Little Big Boy

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

twitter @maxpowerbooks1

Bras don’t work in the dark … or do they?

Bras don’t work in the dark. That’s a fact. Well it is from the perspective of a very particular if not peculiar, male demographic. Lingerie is designed with multi-purpose; to I assume offer some comfort and support, as well as offering the wearer a certain sense of self-confidence and thus creating a positive self-image. In addition to this there is the effect it can have on the male of the species, in that it can arouse the ardour in a man, hence my opening statement that a bra doesn’t work in the dark, at least from one perspective.

It’s a simple, perhaps uniquely male perspective I suppose, but let me elaborate. Imagine if you will that you are a man, (unless you are, then just put yourself into the scene- or indeed if you are a woman attracted to women – same applies) you have arrived at that point in the proceedings, where your lover has reached that stage of undress and she presents you with her near naked form, save for some expensive, perhaps highly suggestive and attractive, undergarments.

If the lady in question has chosen wisely, the revelation of her beautiful form in pretty lingerie, will only add fuel to the fire, at which stage we can safely assume the brassiere is working.  Even in its removal, there is a sensual, indeed sexual development to the plot of your night, again a good indication that the item in question has function and value.

Now roll back the clock, turn out the light and all we are left with is the rustle of undress and a clumsy fumble in the dark, while you try to locate the unyielding clasp. You see nothing that adds to the moment, indeed all you have is an awkward obstacle to negotiate. You see from that particular perspective it’s true, bras don’t work in the dark.

Now hold on you might be thinking or less polite words to that effect, that’s a pile of something unpleasant. Of course you may well be right but that depends on who you are, what sex you are, what your sexual orientation is, if you in fact even find lingerie attractive, from which side of the interaction you find yourself and what your history, morals and experience tells you.

Think back to the opening line. If you understood what I meant immediately and whether you agree or disagree, all help categorise you to some degree in terms of that I have just said. From a writer’s perspective, that very thing ‘perspective’ is all important.

In a recent review for Little Big Boy, the reviewer mentioned how difficult it can be for a writer to put themselves into the shoes of someone of the opposite sex or in the case of Little Big Boy, to write from a child’s perspective. It is so true and it is the hurdle that trips up many a writer. There is no magic button that puts you into the head of someone of the opposite sex for example. Men and women despite assertions made by some, are very different in how they think and feel.


I have read some awful tripe, only recently in fact from a book I planned to review but simply couldn’t, where the so called erotic scenes were farcical because the writer who was a woman, really had no clue what goes on in a man’s mind and clearly made assumptions, based either on porn or some half-arsed creation from what she assumed might go on in the heads of men.  That is not a pop at female writers and I have equally read male authors guilty of the same crime.

It should leave me with a dilemma, because I write from some peculiar points of view.   Little Big Boy is a first person perspective of a very small boy and while I was one once, it was a long time ago. Larry Flynn tells the story of an old vengeful man and one of the main characters is a young American woman with whom I have little in common. In Bad Blood I have created some terrible monsters of men and switch between two countries, Ireland and the USA for significant portions of the story. There are a multitude of diverse characters, an angry young black man from the ghetto, a disillusioned somewhat messed up Irish priest, a female lawyer struggling with a glass ceiling and the misogyny that surrounds her, as well as a racist family from Alabama and the central serial killing, Death Row inmate, James Delaney.


Of course, every writer faces the same challenge as every character in fiction is just that fictional. However, when I write I can’t make it seem like I think that bras don’t work in the dark.   On its own it can sound crass or stupid. It is used here as an analogy for this problem. When I write from a different perspective, it needs to feel right from the reader’s point of view.

I am in the late stage of my first draft for Darkly Wood II The woman who never wore shoes and in writing this and its predecessor Darkly Wood, I was never more confronted with the problem of writing from a different perspective. Both books have female protagonists at their heart, indeed in Daisy May, I have written about a young girl falling in love for the first time, faced with a frightening dilemma and a crisis of sanity to some degree.


I could have tried in all cases mentioned here, to imagine what it is like to be a teenage girl in love for the first time, a murdering, racist Alabama psychopath, an abused 8 year old boy, a country girl in 1940’s Ireland being forced to deal with her neighbour raping her, or a perverted, vile, angry old man dying of cancer, still trying to get revenge on a family he holds responsible for the death of his brother when he was still a young man. It would never have worked for me. I chose another path.

In previous blogs, I have explained that I am an emotional writer and that is the key for me. You must I believe, get to the truth of the moment, immerse yourself and exist in that moment, to make it work. Nothing else matters.  I don’t pretend. I never try to be that which I am not. Instead I look to the story for guidance.

One of my favourite passages or scenes is the opening of Larry Flynn.   He mounts the step of a bus, clearly old, weak, ill and wet from a shower of rain, not circumstances that would put anyone in a good mood. I needed to feel Larry, to make what happens next on the bus feel real. I made him cough, I allowed him to be pissed off, I stepped up the steps of the bus, feeling his every ache and when I knew I would have to sit on the bench seat behind the driver, because I wouldn’t make it down to the back of the bus where the seats were more comfortable, I shuffled in his shoes.  I had to commit to the moment as I wrote. We have little in common Larry and I, but that’s the point.  I cant pretend to be something I am not but by giving myself to the story, allowing Larry in and leaving my moral compass and logical thinking aside, I was able to be someone else for a while, albeit a sometimes unpleasant place to be.

I was Larry in that moment and when the driver annoyed me and I sat down opposite the two young ‘slappers’ across the way from me, I knew what Larry was thinking. I felt his contempt for them. I understood his resentment for his own impotence in that moment and I was able to write a scene that I couldn’t have written, if I simply imagined what it might be like to be an old man in those circumstances.  To imagine what he might think would make him wooden. To think like him makes him real. I was Larry when he wet himself later in the book. I was sitting in his chair, feeling as miserable as he was and I felt his shame and his anger.  His self-loathing sometimes overwhelmed me but in committing to Larry every so briefly every day, he leapt of the page for me.


The problem of course is that this style of writing takes a lot out of me, it truly does. Little Big Boy took more than most because I put him through so much. It is not for everyone but if as a writer, you can at the very least draw on some emotion from your own life to spark off the fire in the belly of your character, then you can avoid the pitfall of dodgy perspective.

When I write from Daisy May’s perspective I am not trying to be a girl in my head, I am just dealing with what’s in front of me or the consequences of what I have just done. I live in the moment for each character and let the moment carry me. She holds a special place in my heart because we shared some special moments as I drew her out in the story, and I am so glad that those feelings returned to me in writing the sequel.

As I wrap up Darkly Wood II The woman who never wore shoes I realise that in the world of Darkly Wood, I have been a hooker, a vicar, a swashbuckler, soldier, lover, policeman, father, mother, daughter and son. I have been more than one monster of differing kinds, and I have killed and felt the hand of death. I have climbed trees, fought battles, wined and dined, been a lesbian pained by unrequited love, a farmer, a doctor, a rich man, a poor man, a family man and a loner. That is just the half of it and in truth nothing invigorates me more than writing this series.

All through it and in every case, I have been me looking through their eyes, feeling their joy, their pain and their sorrow, and it has been a most marvellous adventure.   I am still on first draft stage of Darkly Wood II, but already I have sneaked into the head of the characters in my next two books, excited and filled by the trepidation of what has yet to come.   That’s what I want the reader of a Max Power book to feel.  That’s what I feel and I hope that in my books, readers get to see even just a little of what I see and feel some of what touches me, as I put pen to paper.

That’s my perspective. Bras do work in the dark but only depending on whose point of view you take. I always remember that readers like to inhabit the world of my characters and regardless of whether they think the underwear is working or not, I want them to feel that the protagonist thinks that they do, or indeed that they don’t and for it all to make perfect sense. Making sense is good. I hope I made some here. A final random aside… someone I know well always refers to lingerie as undercrackers … great word … had to share.

Now what are you waiting for? Go find your first or your next Max Power book.


Max Power’s books include, Darkly Wood, Larry Flynn Bad Blood and Little Big Boy

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

twitter @maxpowerbooks1