I’m delighted to feature an extract from a new release by M Jonathan Lee, who says of the book…
“The initial challenge to myself was whether I could write a novel where the entire story hinges on the last word, which changes your view about many of the characters you’ve travelled through the story with. Following that, I wanted to focus on how nothing is really ever as it seems. My own Nanna, Frances Joan died whilst I was writing the story and I remember feeling very panicked in her last few days that knowledge would disappear with her. This gave me the idea for a character disappearing without a trace, in just the same way as the knowledge. The human condition and what leads people to do the things they do to one another is of constant fascination to me – which means that my stories with mysterious twists should never dry up.”
Here’s the official synopsis
337 follows the life of Samuel Darte whose mother vanished when he was in his teens. It was his brother, Tom who found her wedding ring on the kitchen table along with the note. While their father pays the price of his mother’s disappearance, Sam learns that his long-estranged Gramma is living out her last days in a nursing home nearby. Keen to learn about what really happened that day and realising the importance of how little time there is, he visits her to finally get the truth. Soon it’ll be too late and the family secrets will be lost forever. Reduced to ashes. But in a story like this, nothing is as it seems.”
M Jonathan Lee’s new story is made even more exciting by how it is told. Not only do your opinions of the characters change on the very last word, but the book can also be read from both directions! It’s completely up to you to decide which way you’ll begin the novel – will you be a rebel and read from the back?
**Please note the double-ended upside-down opening for this book is available in books ordered in hard copy from UK booksellers only.**
“I suggest you do,” he says in a voice which suggests there may be ramifications if I choose not to.
My only remaining thread of control is severed when he hangs up the phone. I take a deep breath and wait for him to call back, which is something he does when he feels he may not have made his point as clearly as he might. I lay there staring at the dust that has collected in the corners of my phone. The screen stays black, and after a minute or two passes I feel safe again. I place the phone on the duvet and turn my face into the darkness of the pillow.
For a moment I am gripped by anger, a feeling that twists in my chest like a coiled rope. I have spent a good part of the last ten years trying to remove this feeling from my life. I have been told on a number of occasions that if I cannot leave it behind, it will eventually consume me. I’ll be tossed into the black hole of its throat like Jonah and his whale. Gobbled up in one. My final resting place will be the belly of the giant beast and, unlike Jonah, I’ll never be seen again.
The last person who told me this was Sara. In fact, she told me plenty of times that I needed to change aspects of myself. For some time I listened to her, convinced that my macabre back story was reason enough to be the person I’ve become. It was only latterly, when I had an awakening, that I realised that her criticisms of me were actually a product of her own insecurities. Her insecurities moulding me into an angry and self-pitying person. A person I never used to be, nor ever wanted to be. And so, over the last year or so, the words I had listened to so attentively were rubberised and deflected, unheard, back to where they came from.
And of course, as I am sure you can now guess, Sara is gone.
And I feel the real me returning.
About the Author
M Jonathan Lee is a nationally shortlisted author and mental health campaigner. His first novel The Radio was nationally shortlisted in the Novel Prize 2012. Since that time he has gone on to publish five further novels with 337 being his sixth novel. He is obsessed with stories with twists where nothing is exactly how it first appears. He was born in Yorkshire where he still lives to this day with his twins, James and Annabel.
Following two years at Barnsley College, he trained to be an accountant prior to leaving his job to travel extensively through North America, Oceania and Europe. He eventually studied business at the University of Central Lancashire. He continued to work as an accountant during the day, whilst writing in the evenings, until landing his first publishing deal in 2011.
A tireless campaigner for mental health awareness, Jonathan donated all profits from his third novel, A Tiny Feeling of Fear, to charity to raise awareness of mental health issues. He also writes a regular column for the Huffington Post and has recently written for the Big Issue and spoken at length about his own personal struggle on the BBC and Radio Talk Europe.