Demon Jesus—a collage I made when I was five years old. Note the very careful nail holes. I’m not sure why the observer has only one leg; perhaps it fell off.

Kelley and I recently went through the house clearing out the accumulated clutter of 17 years. We found all sorts of interesting stuff1—including a stash of my limited edition, signed and numbered, memoir-in-a-box, And Now We Are Going to Have a Party: Liner notes to a writer’s early life. I’m delighted—I thought they were all truly, finally gone apart from my one working copy. I’m nor sure how many of them there are, maybe a dozen—Kelley opened the box long enough to see what it contained, then left it in the attic—but I’m going to part with a handful. The box is a lovely thing, a collector’s item, and there’s nothing I’d like more than to hoard them, gloat over them like a dragon with her gold, but I wrote it to be read.

This book is unique; there isn’t another like it in the world. And there were only 450 copies made. It is my early life in a box: the story of growing up queer, gender nonconforming, hungry (in all the ways) in a super-Catholic family in the north of England, from 1960 until I left for America in 1989. Stories of batty nuns and queer priests; sex and drugs and music; psychopathy and arson and nascent criminal master-mindery; desire, delinquency, and delight; violence, joy, and coalition-building. But above all it’s a love story: how my love of life led to love of words which led to meeting and falling in love with Kelley. Which changed everything—the story ends with me leaving the UK to come to the US to start our life together as writers.

In terms of original word count, Party is short—no more than 45,000 words—mostly short essays with titles such as “Limb of Satan” to “No-Pants Griffith” to “Whole Psychopath.” These are all true stories; some are funny, some are not. But words are only part of the story. Included in the box are scratch-n-sniff cards; a fold-out poster of one of my first artworks (a collage crucifixion of Jesus with demon-red eyes; I was four); a facsimile of my first book—written and drawn at age four with crayon; a CD of me performing with my band; a signed baby photo; diary excerpts; excerpts from my first handwritten novel; old poetry; a recipe for plastic omelette (I’m lucky no one died); quotes from my very first editorial letters (for that same unpublished handwritten novel), and lots and lots of stories, all true—building my first still (again, I’m lucky no one died); the grief of trying to save a sister who did not want to be saved; tales of loneliness and unexpected alliances; and always—always—being different. It’s the story of, well, the early life that made me me—a writer.

For a taste, here are two short readings from the book, stories of me at age four (No-Pants Griffith) and sixteen (Bird of the Fragile Spirit).2 Then tune in tomorrow for how to get hold of one of these beautiful objects.

No-Pants Griffith
Bird of the Fragile Spirit

1 Seriously. All kinds of stuff. So much cool stuff that I’m thinking of starting a Patreon next year and using some of it for Reward tiers.

2 The recording is not great quality—and weirdly I sound as though I have a lisp; I don’t. Also, the title of this piece if that of a poem I wrote at 17 that I later turned into a song.