No Way Home

Out now in paperback!!

Featuring the novellas
No Way Home Paperback and eBook by L. A. Davenport available now on Amazon, Kindle, Apple Books, Google Play, and Kobo
Collection / Book

No Way Home

Love, loss, and the eternal quest for acceptance

A teenage girl desperate for reconciliation with her absent father. A woman manipulated into thinking she is insane. A dystopian future where unhealthiness is punishable by death. The unrequited love of a young shop assistant. An intimate journey into London's kaleidoscope heart. The wedding dream of a dying solider far from home.

Meet lives thrown against each other by chance, with potentially devastating consequences, resistance fighters battling against a brutal state that uses Wellness as a means of oppression, pretentious designers, lazy office workers and drunken bar flies as they spiral into the twilight hours of city life, and many more.

No Way Home is a new collection of thought-provoking, poignant and thrilling stories by L. A. Davenport, featuring Screen Grab, Deathcast, Stations of the Soul, and three other brand-new stories.
Out now on: Amazon | Apple Books | Google Play | Kobo

About

It was while choosing the pieces for my collection Dear Lucifer and Other Stories that I became interested in trawling through the rest of my work to put together another collection, although this time with fewer but much more substantial and developed stories.

The natural starting point was the years in between creating The Marching Band Emporium blog and starting on my novel Escape, during which I worked on lots of scripts with a close friend, writing everything from short films to TV dramas to features, and covering a whole range of genres and styles.

Of course, none of them got made, or even picked up. The over-caution and conservatism of the studios and the current realities of distribution mean that the chances of having someone green light a script, no matter how strong the idea, is next to zero if you don’t have a proven track record. Actually, it’s just zero. The problem of course is that you can’t get that precious proven track record until you’ve had something made. Chicken or egg, anyone?

I digress.

During this period of ultimately fruitless but extremely enjoyable, instructive and very hard work, I learned the disciplines of plotting, structure, and character and scene building. It was a crash course in story telling, and the scripts that we worked on together were, by and large, pretty good, if I say so myself. But if they weren’t to be picked up and made, what was I to do with them?

After some soul searching, and then experiencing the pleasure of putting together Dear Lucifer and Other Stories, I decided that would use some of these scripts to form the basis of a new collection: No Way Home.

I explain the genesis of Screen Grab, Deathcast, and Stations of the Soul below, but here I take you through the other stories in the book.

The White Room initially started out as a script for a short film that my friend and I entered into a competition for South London filmmakers. For that, we had to write the script, work out how it would be filmed, come up with locations, budget the whole thing and identify a producer and convince them to work on it with us.

We didn’t win, but it was a brilliant exercise in understanding the possibilities and limitations of filmmaking, as well as how to develop what had been a brief story satirising modern advertising to a fully developed piece exploring sanity and identity in the modern world.

Turning it into a story for No Way Home was a pleasure, and allowed me to expand on the themes, as well as make the story more focused.

Cut Out and Keep came out of a conversation I had with two other friends, during which we decided that we wanted to make a short film together. We bounced around some ideas and I came up with the basics of the scenario, in which we saw the germ of something potentially interesting.

I quickly wrote it up into a script and started to think about locations, but life events intervened, as they so often do, and our trio was reduced by a third when one of us moved away. The impetus was lost, but when I returned to it for No Way Home, I still loved the idea and immediately wanted to include it.

The Lake is one the only times that I have been directly inspired by music. I am, and shall always be, a huge fan of The Cure, and The Same Deep Water As You from the album Disintegration is, for me, a masterpiece. At some point while listening to the song, I did a search online and found a debate about it. One user wrote that they associate the song with the 1975 Soviet film The Cranes Are Flying.

They write: “The film starts with a young love between boris and veronika. eventually, boris is sent off to the front and is eventually killed. the moment when he's killed, he is thinking about veronika and even imagines a wedding. the location of his death involves a forest and a makeshift lake formed by the rain. those images and that moment made me think of ‘the same deep water as you’ instantly.”

I haven’t seen the film, but I found it such a powerful image that I wanted to write about it.

And why call the collection No Way Home? For me, each of the stories is a journey, both towards something but also away from a place, a feeling or a state of mind. Each of the characters is challenged, and they rise to it or are subsumed by it. Either way, they are changed irrevocably. It is during such a process that we realise that we can never get back to how we were before, whether we want to or not. There is no way back, no way home.
Novella / eBook

Screen Grab

The more you want something, the less you can tell if it’s real

A teenage girl desperate for reconciliation with her absent father; a homeless man building a home in an abandoned cottage; a brutal sexual predator grooming victims in online chat rooms.

Three worlds on a collision course, with potentially devastating consequences. But will the truth about Lauren’s father come out before it’s too late?

Screen Grab is a disturbing and thought-provoking short story from the collection No Way Home by L. A. Davenport.
Screen Grab eBook by L. A. Davenport available now on Amazon, Kindle, Apple Books, Google Play, and Kobo
Screen Grab eBook by L. A. Davenport available now on Amazon, Kindle, Apple Books, Google Play, and Kobo
Novella / eBook

Screen Grab

The more you want something, the less you can tell if it’s real

A teenage girl desperate for reconciliation with her absent father; a homeless man building a home in an abandoned cottage; a brutal sexual predator grooming victims in online chat rooms.

Three worlds on a collision course, with potentially devastating consequences. But will the truth about Lauren’s father come out before it’s too late?

Screen Grab is a disturbing and thought-provoking short story from the collection No Way Home by L. A. Davenport.

About

I don’t remember how this story began to develop in my mind. What I do know is that it started as a script for a short film while writing with my friend, and it stuck with me, even though the first versions were poorly structured and the characters lacked development. But I persisted, and took a lot of advice, as well as the title, from many friends who were very generous with their time. It was slow and painful to write, but I wanted so much to do the idea justice.

I have always struggled with how people lacking in confidence and love are preyed upon by weak people seeking to crush others to make up for their own inadequacies. Here the intended victim is a teenage girl unhappy at home and being groomed online by a sex offender, and the collision course is with a vagrant who moves into an abandoned cottage. But there are many different ways that this story could have been told – there are so many ways in which people are victimised and marginalised, and they often end up online, lost, afraid, and ready to believe anyone.

To help me with my research, I read Online Predation: A Linguistic Analysis of Online Predator Grooming, which is a Research Honors Thesis by Melissa A. Wollis, published in 2011.
Deathcast eBook by L. A. Davenport available now on Amazon, Kindle, Apple Books, Google Play, and Kobo
Novella / eBook

Deathcast

The sanctity of human life means nothing when that life is not serving society

When a man visits an illegal pub in a dead zone of the city, it triggers a chain of events that forces a band of resistance fighters to rise up against a brutal state that uses Wellness as a means of oppression, punishing those who do not look after their health with death.

With the man’s young daughter brainwashed into believing her father must die to protect society, can the fighters use the state’s weapons against them to infiltrate a heavily guarded ministry building in time to save him?

Deathcast is a dark and thrilling journey into a dystopian future from the collection No Way Home by L. A. Davenport.

About

This started out as three entries on my blog, then became the script for an hour-long drama, before finally ended up as a novella. All the way along, it was a cautionary tale.

There is something disturbingly evangelical about the modern Wellness movement. One is seen as morally reprehensible, fundamentally wrong even, if one does not ensure that one’s health is maximised and one’s burden on society is minimised. One has to follow a strict diet, ideally involving nothing dying in the process (although with no thought to the environmental cost), and to do nothing that might be thought counter to ideal health. It is religion (faith in the purity of the advocated products) and extremism (against naysayers and ‘law’ breakers) rolled into one.

Do you think I’m exaggerating? Just look at how first smokers, then obese people and now anyone who consumes sugar are vilified and shamed online and in the media. It is a series of modern witch hunts that seem always to be pointing to the same conclusion: ‘offenders’, as in smokers, overeaters, sugar addicts, are not only harming themselves but are harming all of us, and therefore need to be stopped and punished.

The arguments run like this: a smoker is both disgusting and killing those around them; an obese person is both disgusting and abusing the health system; someone who ‘pushes’ sugar on their children is both disgusting and committing child abuse. Faced with that sort of damning, black-and-white thinking, how can you argue otherwise that they are not only wrong but next to evil and need to be punished?

To reiterate, I haven’t made these things up. That is what people say, in print and online, apparently happy to stand by their beliefs enough to see them go on record.

Where will it all end? Hopefully not in the dystopian future I depict in Deathcast, in which Wellness has been elevated to a state-level religion and any contraventions are punishable by death, but it could if we’re not careful.

As a society, we need to remember that collective responsibility should always be finely balanced with personal choice and freedom. If someone wishes to smoke, that is their issue. Yes, I agree with banning smoking in workplaces because of the effect on non-smokers, but only that. Obesity is an issue for the person themselves, as is eating sugar. We can and should advise people the best way to live, so that they can live a happy, healthy and productive life, but if they chose another path, we have to respect them and not condemn them.
Novella / eBook

Stations of the Soul

There can be no rest on the voyage of life

Come on an intimate journey into the dark heart of pre-millennium London as we follow an eclectic cast of characters from all walks of life, linked only by coincidence and crossed paths, who shine a kaleidoscope light onto this truly global city.

Meet awkward flatmates, pretentious designers, drunken bar flies, stiff executives, lazy office workers, struggling jewellery designers, ageing musicians and arguing couples; and fall into the twilight hours of the city as the ripples of drunken excess spread out until morning.

Stations of the Soul is a love letter to London and a breathtaking sweep across a day in the life of the city, from the collection No Way Home by L. A. Davenport.
Stations of the Soul eBook by L. A. Davenport available now on Amazon, Kindle, Apple Books, Google Play, and Kobo
Novella / eBook

Stations of the Soul

There can be no rest on the voyage of life

Come on an intimate journey into the dark heart of pre-millennium London as we follow an eclectic cast of characters from all walks of life, linked only by coincidence and crossed paths, who shine a kaleidoscope light onto this truly global city.

Meet awkward flatmates, pretentious designers, drunken bar flies, stiff executives, lazy office workers, struggling jewellery designers, ageing musicians and arguing couples; and fall into the twilight hours of the city as the ripples of drunken excess spread out until morning.

Stations of the Soul is a love letter to London and a breathtaking sweep across a day in the life of the city, from the collection No Way Home by L. A. Davenport.

About

I was partially inspired to write Stations of the Soul by Carrie Bradshaw in Sexy and the City.

In the first episode of season five, Anchors Away, she says:

“If Louis was right, and you only get one great love, New York may just be mine.”


This episode is, on the surface, about Fleet Week, when US Navy ships deployed in overseas operations dock in New York, among other cities, for a week, and the girls having their usual fun as a result. Underneath, however, it was the first episode to tacitly address 911 and the falling of the Twin Towers.

For me, it sparked an idea. I had been living in London for six years and my on—off relationship with the city was settling into something more stable. I was beginning to develop my own understanding of the place and how different lives interconnected.

Less prosaically than Sex and the City, I had also been mulling the idea of writing about the life of a city ever since I finished reading Ulysses and Under Milk Wood and watched Vertov's Man with a Movie Camera. The more I started to think about it, the more I realised it had to be about London.

The first notes I made on the idea were in 2008, when I wrote that the story should “cover all parts of town I know, split into different times of the day with each section covering different areas. Starts with a man leaving a train.”

The idea was that the reader would follow a character until they crossed paths with the next one on the journey and then follow that one until the next one, etc. They would consequently be taken on a 24-hour journey across the city, from person to person and from place to place, each episode revealing a new pattern in the endlessly turning kaleidoscope that is London.

That was in 2008. I wrote eight of the 14 ‘stations’ in that year, and then nothing. I was too young, too immature, had too little understanding of life and the sheer expanse and depth of a place so great and historic as London to be able to write any more.

It was only when I left London, after 18 years living in almost as many flats and areas, that I started feeling capable of returning to Stations of the Soul. Leaving was what made me realise how much I loved the city, and it was then that Carrie’s quote came back to me.

Tentatively at first and then in a great burst, I completed the 14 stations, electing to break down the structure and form of the story as day became night and the characters became swept up in drunken revelry.

The result is my love letter to London, in all its complicated glory. It is also a highly fictionalised personal history of a period in my life just before the end of the 20th century, when I was at a crossroads, hesitating between settling for what I knew and stepping out into the great unknown.

I think I made the right choice.
© L. A. Davenport 2019.