Marc Crepeaux’s Video Review of Mervyn vs. Dennis

Video Review of Mervyn vs. Dennis by Niels Saunders

I’ve been a been a bad father lately. I’ve neglected my firstborn in favour of my latest offspring. Before you call child services, hear me out a second. I’m not talking about my daughters, but the other children in my life: my books, of course. I published my debut novel Mervyn vs. Dennis in 2016. Since then, a sapient talking Wotsit has moved into the White House and the United Kingdom has had a nervous breakdown. Undeterred by the apparent unravelling of civilised life as we know it, earlier this year I published my second novel, a satire about the world’s most unusual businessman entitled Grand Theft Octo. It’s already getting some great reviews and people seem to enjoy the mix of satire, surreal professions and invertebrate-based violence.

I’ve been busy promoting Grand Theft Octo, editing my upcoming thriller The Papyrus Empire and also writing a dark fantasy about a macaque in mythological Japan. As such, Mervyn vs. Dennis has been feeling rather neglected lately. His new siblings are getting all the limelight, and he’s wondering why he’s not the apple of my eye anymore. That’s one of the many reasons why Marc D. Crepeaux‘s hilarious video review of Mervyn vs. Dennis is so utterly delightful. Inspired by a mysterious subplot in the novel, it starts with him fleeing for his life with a pineapple under his arm. From there, he gives his witty and insightful views on the book itself along with an uproarious discussion on the alleged differences between British and American refrigerators.  Here it is, in all it’s glory:

Rather delightfully, he applauds the covers of my books and says I should pay my designer more. As they’re all designed by me, I guess I’ll have to treat myself to a nice bottle of pinot noir for breakfast. When I first wrote Mervyn vs. Dennis, I always hoped it might inspire reactions and interpretations such as Marc’s, so this video review means a lot to me. Seeing him summarise the plot while chuckling about the moments he found particularly amusing is truly delightful. Please be sure to like his video and subscribe to his YouTube channel for lots of other great reviews.

Marc has also taken the time to pen an excellent accompanying written review which you can read here.  His books are available to buy on Amazon and be sure to check out and follow his blog.

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Video Review of Mervyn vs. Dennis

I’m still at the stage in my writing career where every review is special to me. I’ve recently had a couple of great ones from talented bloggers Shaun Green and Sadie Forsythe , who both wrote insightful and witty critiques of Mervyn vs. Dennis. Alongside these, something new and exciting has just happened: my first ever video review. It’s by J. Cassidy (or perhaps Faye Kename) who runs a great blog called 6twistedbiscuits specialising in comedy and book reviews. She’s also a talented writer and game developer herself, so be sure to check out her site and work too. Here it is:

Don’t forget to like and subscribe to her channel!

Interview: A Friend We Later Regretted

Here’s a quick interview with me about Mervyn vs. Dennis:

LITERARY TITAN

Niels Saunders Author Interview Niels Saunders Author Interview

Mervyn vs. Dennis is one of the funnest books I’ve read this year. Mervyn struggles with keeping his strange and intrusive boss out of his personal life. What was the inspiration for the relationship between Mervyn and Dennis?

Most of us have made a friend that we later regretted. I wanted to take that idea to its furthest extreme. Likewise, unless you’ve never worked or been extremely lucky, you’ve probably had a boss who made your life a living hell. Both of these situations are familiar comedy tropes but I wanted to combine them into something fresh. In both personality and outlook, Mervyn and Dennis couldn’t be more different. Mervyn is liberal and open-minded whereas Dennis is bigoted and mean-spirited. I wanted to explore whether two such disparate men could ever reconcile their differences or if they’d clash until the bitter end. During the writing process…

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Mervyn Vs Dennis – Books

Here’s quite possibly the most heart-warming review of Mervyn vs. Dennis so far.

6twistedbiscuits

* * * * * * * * * * 10/10

Niels Saunders

I have no idea how to begin this review. I can say that it became one of my new favourites. Like, ever. It’s going on the Top Shelf. Only three other authors have a place on the Top Shelf.

There’s a lot of humour, and a lot of darkness hiding away under it. It’s like a person. A charming, funny person that you love to be around but spend a lot of time thinking about because there’s something about them that isn’t quite sunshine.

Mervyn is in need of a job so he pretends to be racist. So his tale of woe begins, brought entirely on himself. His ultra-racist and super-allergic new boss is a grade-A tosspot who somehow manages to wriggle his way into Mervyn’s life deeper and deeper like the slimy worm that he is.

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Read a Funny Scene from My Book for Free

Funny scene from Mervyn vs Dennis

Despairing about Brexit? Homework ate your dog? Liven up your morning with a funny scene from my novel Mervyn vs. Dennis:

When I was fourteen, I came out to my dad as a joke. I was testing his love, I suppose, to see his reaction, whether he’d hug me or throw me out. He did neither, in fact. Life is rarely dramatic. One evening after dinner, he was sitting in the kitchen with his biscuits and his paper. The Daily Mail and custard creams: middle-market bigotry and hydrogenated fats. I sat opposite him and pretended to fidget. Without looking up, he dunked a biscuit in his tea, engrossed by an article.

“Dad?”

Still reading, he reached out, offering the soggy custard cream.

“Dad, I’m gay.”

He finally looked up, biscuit still extended. “As in happy?”

I sighed. “As in gay. As in I don’t like girls. I always have been gay, I always will be gay. I hope you don’t mind.”

The biscuit fell in half and splatted on the table. “I knew it.”

“You what?”

“Is this why you’re so mad about Schwarzenegger? I thought you were into explosions, not muscles.” He leaned to whisper. “They do it up the bum, you know.”

My mum wandered in, wrapped in her nightie.

“Mervyn’s a bender,” he said.

She frowned. “Like Uri Geller?”

“Not spoons, you bint. He just told me he’s a fudge packer.”

“Oh.” She grabbed some kitchen roll and cleaned up the biscuit. “Is that why he’s so into baking?”

“That’s all you’ve got to say?”

“Well Freddie Mercury was a poofter, and you’ve got all his albums. That’s why I call you Mr Fahrenheit.” She put her hand on my shoulder. “Are you sure about this, Mervyn?” She leaned to whisper. “They do it up the bum, you know.”

“Enough with the bums.”

“Maybe it’s a phase. Have you found a boyfriend? Don’t date a Frenchman, whatever you do.”

“Well if you have,” Dad said, “don’t bring him here. There’ll be no bumming in my house.”

Mum went bright red. “No. Absolutely not.”

“Do you really call him Mr Fahrenheit?” I asked.

My younger brother Cecil strode in. “What’s going on?”

I put my head in my hands. “I’m gay.”

He burst out laughing. “You wish.”

Dad over-dunked a biscuit and it plopped into his tea. “For crying out loud.”

“He’s only saying that because he can’t get a girlfriend.” Ever precocious, my twelve year old brother had already dated half the girls in his class. “Go look at the jazz mags under his bed. There’s not a single todger in them.”

“He’s right,” Dad said. “They’re filthy.”

“I thought I threw those out,” Mum said.

I slammed my fist on the table. “What are you all doing looking under my bed?”

“Does this mean you’re not gay?” Mum said. “I was just warming to the idea.”

“I’m gay,” I said. “I like baking muffins and watching Terminator 2.”

“Nobody’s gay,” Dad said. “I’ve decided. There’s enough going round as it is.”

And that was the day I was forced to come out, by my own family, as a heterosexual.

(Mervyn vs. Dennis is available to buy on Amazon for only £1.99)

Self-Publishing First Steps

Peanut Butter Label for Mervyn vs. Dennis by Niels Saunders

I have no idea what I’m doing. If I wanted to be portentous, I’d write, ‘And so it begins…’ I’ve just released my comic novel, Mervyn vs. Dennis, as an e-book on Amazon. This isn’t what I’d planned. I doubt if self-publishing is the first choice of any serious writer. Even so, I’m trying to make the most of what I’ve got. So what exactly do I have? A book. Actually, I’ve got three, but Mervyn vs. Dennis is my most recent one. It’s a fun and enthralling story with a dark, satirical edge. And it only costs £1.99!

Getting Started With Self Publishing

I always believe what the internet tells me. The other day, it said the most important thing about self-publishing is promotion. As I won’t have an amazing literary agent or a great big strapping publisher to shout my name from the rooftops, I’ll have to make myself heard amid the clamour of the internet through this humble blog. Harassing random people on Twitter doesn’t really appeal so I’m hoping passers-by will stumble upon these very words you’re reading and learn a little bit about me and my novel. If you’re not a friend or a member of my family, then hello! Thanks for stopping by!

So what am I confused about? As a man who’s been good with computers throughout most of his life, I’m finally feeling technology catch up with me. I can (just about) handle WordPress but I’ve never been a massive fan of social media. I barely use Facebook anymore (too much humblebragging) and only check Twitter when I’m bored. Faced with the prospect of promoting myself through social media channels, I feel utterly geriatric. I’ve read all the usual dos and don’ts and tried not to ignore the ones that seem like too much hard work.

What to expect from this blog? It won’t all be about me. As someone who’s been writing seriously for two decades, I’ve got a lot to say about the craft of writing itself. As I’ve never managed to get a novel published, I’m not the most qualified man in the world to be imparting wisdom, but all my hard-earned knowledge is bound to help somebody. The internet, it seems, is full of struggling writers. There’s listicles all over the shop about common writing mistakes. While most of them are informative and doubtlessly helpful, they do all tend to cover the same ground as each other, and I’m looking forward to contributing my own.

So why am I doing this now? Self-publishing’s always been my last resort. After twenty years of slogging, I feel I’ve exhausted every possibility. I could write another book (I’ve got plenty of ideas) and try literary agents again, but after my lack of success with Mervyn vs. Dennis, I’m convinced that I’ll be wasting my time. Even if I sell a hundred books on Amazon, that’s a hundred more than I would’ve sold with my novel squatting mournfully in my hard drive. I’d always been determined to get an agent and a publisher but now I’ve finally accepted that’s never going to happen.

Is There a Market for Comic Fiction?

My book is great. I know that. I love it with all my heart. So why hasn’t an agent snatched me up? Who’s deluded–me or them? All I know is what they’ve told me: comic fiction doesn’t sell. Unless you’re an established comedian, your chances are slim to none. I’m sure they’re correct in mass market terms but I know there’s a readership for books that make you laugh. Not that I’m conceited enough to rank myself among them, but some of the most beloved authors of all time wrote hilarious novels: Kingsley Amis, Evelyn Waugh, Jerome K Jerome, Douglas Adams, PG Wodehouse, John Kennedy Toole, Oscar Wilde, Hunter S Thompson…

Typing out that list, I realised: everybody’s dead. The greatest comic novels of all time were written by a bunch of stiffs. And in this way, I suppose, the agents are right. There isn’t the same audience for humorous books as there is for high-concept thrillers. But why not? Everybody likes to laugh. Just look at how successful stand-up comedy is right now. A book that makes you laugh is rare, and something to be treasured. Having said that, a good comic novel isn’t just about the comedy. There’s nothing worse than something relentlessly whacky and glib. Comic novels can be sad, dark, exciting and mysterious. The greatest thing about them is that they can be anything. And that’s one of the many reasons why you’ll absolutely love my book.

Comic novels can flit between genres. Comic novels can shock and surprise you. As long as they keep making you laugh, they can do whatever they want. Mervyn vs. Dennis is a comic novel but it also tackles grim and serious issues such as racism, homophobia, mental illness and abuse. It’s even rather timely in our post-Brexit Britain. Sometimes the story is lighthearted, sometimes it’s disturbing. Sometimes the humour is slapstick and fun, sometimes it’s bleak and awkward. The central narrative is a conflict with a clear protagonist and antagonist. Organically around that conflict, mystery and suspense emerge, and some sections of the climax could be lifted from a psychological thriller. By self-publishing my book, I’m not setting out to prove the agents wrong, but to prove myself right. There might not be a mass market for my novel at the moment, but who knows? There might be soon. And you could be one of the first!