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Playing Out by Paul Douglas Lovell: a boisterous memoir of growing up in the 70s

paulyblueThis is a very lively memoir of the author’s younger years growing up with his three older brothers, his one older sister and his dad during the 1970s. Money is tight and times are hard but Paul not only survives but thrives, thanks to his eternal optimism and his ability to make the best of every situation. No new toys? Make up a game with smelly socks. Having to do the food shopping with his sister? Play bowling with tins of beans down the store’s aisles.

He inherits from his father a strong sense of right and wrong. It may not always tally exactly with everyone else’s but young Paul has strong principles and sticks to them. Whilst he does try to play by the rules, he decides that only God has the right to pass judgement. He therefore regularly wheels and deals with his Maker over “minor transgressions such as scrumping, thumping and the occasional fib” and firmly believes in a banana-filled heaven. This is just one example of how the irrepressible youngster navigates his way through his noisy, boisterous, deprived childhood.

Paul doesn’t dwell on the hardships in his life. They’re simply there and he has to carry on regardless. For example, when he and his brothers and sister suddenly find themselves in a children’s home, when their father temporarily can’t cope, there’s no upset, merely a quick adaptation to this new life. And when the children are returned home, then they all just pick up from where they left off with no questioning. It’s this pervasive inspiring, non-resentful attitude that makes this book such a gem.

Nostalgia publishing is currently hugely popular. (For example, there are lots of biographies of erstwhile stars about to hit the bookshops for this Christmas, and Ladybird books and Enid Blyton have been revamped for a new audience.) Books like Playing Out show why this is the case. When done well, as here, this genre evokes a past era that those who’ve lived through can recognise and enjoy reliving, and those who haven’t can get a real sense of what it was like to be there. It would do the Millennials and later generations good to read this book and see that you really can be happy with no phone, hardly any telly and a handful of simple toys and some oranges and chocolate biscuits in your Christmas stocking!

This is a truly enjoyable book written with a sharp eye for detail, lots of humour and an infectious happy-go-lucky zest for life. An absolute must-read.

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Cover Reveal for Paulyanna: International Rent-Boy by Paul Douglas Lovell

Today, my first ever cover reveal on Books Are Cool. And I’m starting with a real bang. Here’s a fantastic cover for a book that you must read when it’s published. It’s honest, gritty, funny, startling, moving… but I’m jumping the gun. For now we focus on the cover.

 

paulygreen

I talked to Paul about his cover.

OK, so why this cover for Paulyanna: International Rent-boy?

I chose this cover firstly because out of all my attempts it really was my personal favourite. I simply liked the colours. It was also created organically and without much outside influence, meaning I didn’t blatantly copy any other book.

I allowed the layout, colour scheme and font to develop as I went along. Trial and error and this was made up of many errors. A bit like myself and therefore a very apt choice.

 

What does the cover tell us about your book?

I am not glossy or over produced, I’m simple,perhaps a touch plain, therefore so is my story. I think it truthfully reflects the content.

Symbolically I am one among many and ALMOST like every other rent-boy, only red.

 

What were you trying to achieve with this cover? 

I wanted to grab attention, draw the eye to my book. I think it is also more special if the author creates their own cover – it inserts an additional personal touch, a nice completion to the whole creative process.  I am no designer and these things are taste preference anyway. I am aware that some people simply don’t like green.

 

Was is it easy to design?

To design, yes to lay-out and implement my ideas, no. But that turned out to be a good thing. As I said this cover developed more out of the things I couldn’t do, Mistakes I thought looked OK and then played around with.

I used a basic drawing program that was very limited, sometimes insufficient. I searched online and used another program when mine fell short.

 

How many other cover designs did you discard on the way?

Nine, I got right into the designing process and could have continued on and on. My first was terrible and I got a bit better along the way. The only image I kept throughout was the royalty free clip art of the lone figure.

I’m not even entirely sure if I did get better. I enthused about all of my covers. But seemed to like the latest one more than the previous. I get bored easily so perhaps it was the new and the different I liked.

 

Did you ask for other people’s opinions and was that helpful – or confusing?

I did ask for opinions which was VERY confusing. Online you don’t know if the person you’re asking is colour blind, abstract minded or a top notch graphic designer.

Working for two hours on a design to get the response “I don’t like green” is not helpful, especially when another comes back saying, “Oh green, how lovely”.

I found it better to create a straight-forward photo poll with my shortlist. A poll with the simple option to click your favourite leaving no room for discussion.

 

Having been through the process, what tips can you pass on about designing a cover?

Scroll a book site, see what sticks out or appeals to you and start from there. Chances are your product with morph into one of your own making and not particularly like anything you initially spied. Keep it simple whenever possible and try to consider the content at all times, it is amazing how quickly you can get carried away.

 

pauly photoFinally, tell us about Paulyanna: International Rent-boy in 100 words.

A quick decision that steered me down a rather dodgy path.

Without added glamour and grit this is the tale of a 1990s British rent-boy. Risk and danger mixes with fun and thrills in my twelve-year career as a male prostitute.

A precarious existence on the streets of London and Los Angeles boulevards.

May not have been pretty but I had the audacity to succeed. This is not an erotic tale, more an intimate portrayal of day-to-day life as viewed from my quirky perspective. What goes on behind a glassy-eyed smile.

A road-book adventure in search of happiness.

 

Thanks Paul!