Hairy Squatter Update

Last update:

I’ve been working on Hairy Squatter the past couple days. I have a good sense of who the narrator is, as well as the protagonist. I also started drafting the first chapter. I’ve decided to take a different tack from the initial idea.

Here’s the old version of the beginning:

Mr. and Mrs. Worsely, of Postwar Suburbia, were proud to say that they weren’t poor nor posh, but middle-class, thanks for asking. They were the type of folks that snobby writers like to imagine hate exotic experiences.
Mr. Worsely was a middle manager at a company called Groanings, which made real products people might actually use to do things, as opposed to airy-fairy media like novels or movies. He was fat due to a diet consisting entirely of bangers and mash. He had a couple — but not too many, because that would confuse you, the reader — basic markers of late-twentieth-century masculinity, like a mustache and a stub for a neck, which, for some mysterious reason, symbolized lack of interest in people. Mrs. Worsely, by way of contrast, was nosy, gossipy, and envious — all very unattractive qualities. The Worselys had a toddler named Puddly. For some inexplicable reason, they, as parents of an only child, felt he was worth caring about.
The Worselys were smug about their comfortable middle-class lifestyle. I, the narrator, know this because I’m telling this part of the chapter from Mr. Worsely’s point-of-view. Even though it should be abundantly clear by now that I feel nothing but contempt for both him and his family.
Not being lazy caricatures, though, the Worselys had relatives. Everybody knows that relatives often don’t get along. So it was with them. They didn’t get along with Mrs. Worsely’s sister’s family, the Squatters.
As families who don’t get along often do, they avoided each other. This ill-will between the sisters was mostly due to the unfortunate fact that the Squatters were social climbers. They had ascended to the lower rungs of the upper classes. The middle-class Worselys found this to be embarrassingly rude. It would have been awkward to host the recently rich Squatters in their unglamorous neighborhood. What made matters worse was that the Squatters had a baby boy too. Babies are notorious for being oblivious to class distinctions. They were mortified by the prospect of either kid putting on the wrong airs.
When Mr. and Mrs. Worsely popped out of bed on yet another dull, gray Tuesday of their dull, gray lives, they had no idea weird stuff was about to happen. But now you do, reader. And soon they will too!
Mr. Worsely knotted what at least he thought was a fun tie — pink paisley (très fashionable in the 90s, by the way) — around his fat neck while humming along to a popular song stuck in his head. It was called, “If you wanna be my hoover” or some such.
Recall that Mrs. Worsely was a vile creature, so she was gossiping. Mind you, to no one in particular, since only she and her unlikeable child were in the kitchen. But she was being petty — and vile — nonetheless.
None of the three noticed a scrawny owl flutter past the window. But I did, since I’m an omniscient narrator. And so you did too!
At 8:23 am, Mr. Worsely scooped up his pleather briefcase and gave Mrs. Worsely a smooch. He tried to fist bump Puddly. But Puddly insisted on a kiss as well — the only kind toddlers know how to give — a wet, sloppy, open-mouth one. “My little man,” chuckled Mr. Worsely as he skipped out of the house, wiping away the slobber on his lips. He was on his way to his, um — no point being specific — generic car.
It was at the exit to the cul-de-sac that he noticed the first sign of weirdness — a fat black cat perched on a fence. It was pawing at a brick-sized GPS transponder. (That’s what gadget-junkies used before the invention of smartphones.)
For a nanosecond, Mr. Worsely bugged his eyes out like a cartoon villain. He refused to believe what he’d just seen. He did a double-take. He slapped himself silly just to make sure he wasn’t dreaming. A fat black cat was indeed lolling around on the fence ledge of Divot Hive. But there was no GPS transponder. “What’s happening to me!” he said out loud like a crazy person talking to himself. It must have been the sleeping pills he took last night. Every night, in fact, for severe anxiety. Mr. Worsley scowled at the cat. It winked back at him.
As Mr. Worsely swerved down the street, he kept his eyes locked on the creature in his rear-view mirror. One leg pointing straight up at the dull gray sky, the fat black cat was enthusiastically licking its own crotch. Mr. Worsely reminded himself that he had more important things to worry about. As the vehicles all around him honked angrily at his distracted driving, he thought about how his company’s moving all their factories to China was going to affect his job.
As he sat helpless in the usual morning traffic jam, the knock-on effects of globalization were chased from his mind by yet another distraction. A crowd of oddly dressed people was milling about a strip mall. All the men were wearing silk top hats and frock coats. The women had on frilly bonnets, tight bodices, and swishy hoop skirts. Mr. Worsely couldn’t stand folks like that. Why on earth did so many young people have this sickening nostalgia for the barbaric days of the Victorian era? He believed firmly in progress. He banged his head on the steering wheel.
A clique of these cosplay knuckleheads was huddled close by. They were yakking and guffawing. Mr. Worsely was annoyed to see that some of them were old enough to know better. Old enough to remember the war. One of them had to be of the same generation as his da, a veteran and proud union man. The geezer had the cheek to be wearing a scarlet fox-hunting coat with a black collar. The cluelessness about history! The insensitivity! But then it hit Mr. Worsely. They must be extras on a film set. Yes, that had to be it. The traffic inched forward. An hour later, Mr. Dursley pulled into the Groanings parking lot with his mind back on globalization.

And here’s the (very rough) new version:

Let me tell you a story. It’s a story you may be familiar with. But not really. You only know one side of the story. What I have to tell you here…let’s call it an alternative perspective. Or, if I may be so bold, I’ll call it the truth.
I’m suspicious of omniscient narrators. You should be too. How do they know what they know? Were they there? For all of it? Do they remember what they witnessed without any distortions? I doubt it. How do they know what others are feeling and thinking? Maybe they’re just making it up.
Omniscient. That’s a fancy word. It’s means “all-seeing.”
Another thing: the narrator of that other version of the story is very protective of their intellectual property. It’s worth a lot. So there’s an army of lawyers roaming around slapping down anyone who dares to violate the sanctity of the author’s supposed property. As you’ll see, I’m not a big fan of private property. But I’ll spare you the rant. For now. Suffice to say, I don’t want to get sued. I’m poor. So I’ve changed the names.
Actually, the names I use here are the real names. You may think this is a parody. But the so-called original is a parody of this, the true account of what happened.
Our story starts not in the cookie-cutter suburbs of Divot Hive, but in the heart of the tony capital at Codlick’s Shallow.
Codlick’s Shallow is a private club for Pigzits alum who visit London. Its gilded entrance is at the end of Grubb Street. On that fateful day, I followed Silly and Blames Squatter there. They were going to meet their mentor, the CEO of Pigzits Academy, Bulbous Stumblesnore.

In short, Moldywart is now the narrator. His goal is to get Hairy to help him take down Stumblesnore and Pigzits Academy.

Here’s the outline for Chapter 1:

  • Moldywart follows the Squatters to Codlick’s Shallow, confronts the Squatters about their baby
  • just as the Squatters are going to give Hairy over to Stumblesnore, Moldywart challenges Stumblesnore to a duel for the right to become Hairy’s guardian
  • after a series of draws, they agree to give him over to the Worselys until Hairy can decide for himself who to join
  • Moldywart is confident the Worselys will be a good influence on Hairy, given their plight

And tonight I wrote a teaser description:

Hairy Squatter has never played a sport where you pretend-ride a hoover as if it were a horse. He’s never felt ashamed, befriended a lummox from the working class with stinky pits and bad teeth, or helped launch a unicorn startup.

All Hairy knows is a cosseted existence with the Worselys — his middle-class aunt and uncle and their statistically average son, Pudley. Hairy’s room is a garret in the attic of their suburban tract home, jam-packed with fantasy novels that represent the sum total of his understanding of the whole wide world. Poor Hairy doesn’t even know that his obscenely rich, yet flaky parents…aren’t really dead.

But all that is about to change when an email arrives by carrier pigeon. It’s an official acceptance to a fancy boarding school where the technocratic elite reproduce their unfair advantages. There he finds not only oblivious privilege, obnoxious status games, and magical thinking around every corner, but a gobsmacking destiny, etched into his very genes, calling out to him.

But for Hairy to answer the call, he’ll first have to hack his way through all the bullshit.

A New Jerk Times Worstseller
A ‘Murca Yesterday Worstseller
A Gatekeepers Weakly Worst Book
Bookcyst Censors’ Choice
Loser of the Nationalist Propaganda Medal (UK)
An ALA (Affectacious Librarians Association) Detestable Book
Winner of the Fool’s Gold Star Dumbass Prize
A New Jerk Pubic Liars’ Lair Worst Book of the Century
Parental Abuse Ripoff of the Week Award

I’m toying with the idea of setting up an Amazon Kindle Pre-Order listing with a publication date of April 1, 2024. That would really be a kick in the pants to get the project done. To be honest, the prospect scares me a bit, given the tight deadline and all the other projects I’m working on concurrently.

And to really juice the motivation, I could run some ads on Facebook and Bookbub to drum up interest.

We’ll see.

Confessions of a Hallway Hustler cover

Confessions of a Hallway Hustler

Another Shameless Wimpy Kid Parody
By Jest Ninney

Confessions of a Hallway Hustler is the rollicking tale of Anton Altanero, a foreign transplant with delusions of grandeur, navigating the wilds of a typical American middle school. It's Diary of a Wimpy Kid meets Scarface, without the guns but with all the greed and ambition.

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