Book Launch: The Papyrus Empire by Niels Saunders

A global secret society with its own currency.

A mysterious murder with no witnesses.

How far will one man go to learn the truth?

Click to buy

A dark mystery thriller

The Papyrus Empire is now available to buy in paperback and ebook from Amazon. Here’s the blurb:

When Tommy Duchesne takes out fifty perks from a cash machine, he thinks he’s been conned. It’s actually the currency of the Papyrus Empire, a secret society founded in the forties by Sigmund Papyrus, a Swiss entrepreneur with a splendid moustache.

Tommy tries spending the perks around town, and realises he wasn’t conned at all. If he uses it in shops, he gets special service. If he uses it on slot machines, he wins every spin. At first he has the time of his life, but a sinister side soon emerges.

A close friend is found dead, and he believes the Empire is to blame. To discover the truth, he joins their ranks himself. Allied with his enemies, the weight of that truth, and the price he pays to unearth it, will make him question everything he’s ever known.

The Papyrus Empire is a dark and complex thriller unlike anything you’ve read before.

The Papyrus Empire is the culmination of ten years of planning, writing and editing. It’s been through countless versions, but it’s finally ready. As you may have noticed from the Amazon listing, it’s the first instalment of The Empire Saga. Thankfully, my writing speed has increased dramatically over the years, so it hopefully won’t take another decade until its sequel, The Ivory Tower, is ready. The story is set in an English city named Vestibue, which some of you may recognise from my previous novel, Grand Theft Octo. You don’t have to have read any of my previous books to fully enjoy The Papyrus Empire, but there are some Easter eggs and character references to Grand Theft Octo sprinkled throughout.

In the days leading up to this launch, I’ve been making promotional posters inspired by events from the story:

Come to Rosenthal Manor Tonight

The Papyrus Empire is Recruiting

Warning to Usurpers

Information About Vestibue Zoo

If you’re not in the mood for buying an ebook or paperback, The Papyrus Empire is also available to read for free on Kindle Unlimited.  Alternatively, you can check out the first few chapters on Amazon for free.  Please do leave me a comment if you decide to read my book. Finally, if you enjoyed the posters I made, you can follow me on Facebook for more regular updates.

The book is dedicated to the memory of Arif Khan, whose death inspired much of the story. As such, there are no acknowledgements within the pages, but I’d like to thank the following people who’ve read the book in its various versions over the years and passed on their helpful comments: Nao Saunders, Susan Saunders, Gail Grantham, Preston Parris, Elina Zachariadi, Jerry Devenish, Robin Woodward, Paul Clark and Kiera Buckley-Jones.

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Grand Theft Octo – Promo Gallery

Promo images of Grand Theft Octo

To promote the release of my latest novel Grand Theft Octo, I’ve been sharing promotional images on my Facebook and Twitter accounts. Here they all are, along with their quotes, in one handy place:

Jonathan Doe - Professional Octopus Teaser

“Octopus owners until now have been thinking, ‘My octopus is sluggish, sure, but they’re docile creatures.’ Bullshit, I’m saying, you’ve just got a boring octopus in need of a good teasing. Listen, don’t expect it to turn into the sea life of the party. It won’t somersault from the tank like a dolphin or do a flawless impression of Sir Michael Caine, but after I’m done you’ll own a livelier, friendlier and more interesting invertebrate. And you’ll notice the difference within twenty-four hours.” – Jonathan Doe, Professional Octopus Teaser

Herbert Malt from Grand Theft Octo

“Teasing an octopus is nothing so vulgar as a bullfight. It’s an act of precision, the threading of a needle. I began my training by convincing cats to climb down trees just by frowning at them.” – Herbert Malt, Apprentice Octopus Teaser

Holly Sarashina from Grand Theft Octo

“I’ve rather wear a mask than live in a hall of mirrors.” – Holly Sarashina, Lady of the Dead

Hank Butterfield from Grand Theft Octo

“Hank Butterfield is smiling right at me. Against my own wishes, my heart skips a beat. I’d always assumed I was immune to being star-struck but all I want to do is giggle like a teenage girl and throw my knickers at him. He bids his crowd farewell and strolls toward us while sniffing his martini. I’m so excited about him coming over that I feel weirdly violated.” – Jonathan Doe, Reluctant Hank Butterfield Fan

Harry Jenkins from Grand Theft Octo

“I try to remember the Harry I knew, the man who met insults with wounded smiles, so terrified of treading on toes that he ended up sidling through life. Who are we, truly, deep down? The child we outgrow or the shell we become?” – Jonathan Doe, Professional Plant Killer

Rupert Whistler from Grand Theft Octo

“That’s it. Down the steps, one at a time. Not too slowly, not too snappy. If you get too snappy, I might snap, and I can be a very scary gator.” – Rupert Whistler, Man of Leisure

Lewis Caputo from Grand Theft Octo

“The only way to never get whiplash is to never slow down.” – Lewis Caputo, Hotdog in the Centre

Gertrude Pot Plant from Grand Theft Octo

“Caring for plants is a delicate form of starvation. Of water, food and affection. You can’t give one species too much attention. It’s a process of balance. You shall be Libra, holding the scales.” – Harry Jenkins, Lord of the Plants

Green Man from Grand Theft Octo

“You know when you wait at the side of the road for the little green man to appear? Well today we are the green man. Nothing is going to stop us. Beep beep.” – Jonathan Doe, Professional Octopus Kidnapper

If those pictures and quotes have piqued your curiosity, Grand Theft Octo is available in ebook ($2.99) and paperback ($7.99) from Amazon right now. You can also read the first couple of chapters for free there too. Do you have a favourite image or quote from the gallery? Are you even more baffled about what the book’s actually about? Here’s a brief synopsis, to help you find your way:

When Jonathan Doe is fired from his office job for stealing too much stationery, he becomes an entrepreneur of businesses the world has never seen. After a disastrous start at freelance taxidermy, he moves onto professional octopus teasing. Will he fail again or make his fortune? Is he really a professional or just a con artist? Desperate to succeed, his plans become more outlandish, from stealing theme park mascots at gunpoint to fighting deranged restaurant tycoons. As the enemies he makes seek revenge, both his life and business are threatened, until his world spirals into mayhem and violence. Set in the fictional city of Vestibue, England, Grand Theft Octo is a wild and hilarious ride that strikes at the heart of aspirational culture.

Grand Theft Octo – What is Octopus Teasing?

Jonathan Doe - Professional Octopus Teaser

Meet Jonathan Doe

I’ve just released my latest novel, Grand Theft Octo. It’s available in paperback and ebook from Amazon worldwide. The narrator, Jonathan Doe, becomes the world’s most unusual businessman after being fired from his mundane office job for stealing too much stationery. First off, he tries his hand at professional plant-watering. This is soon followed by freelance taxidermy. Due to his irrational hatred of plants, and total lack of experience at taxidermy, neither go well. That’s when he has a brainwave: professional octopus teasing. Doe believes this unconventional (and some might say utterly insane) business idea will earn him a fortune from the affluent and gullible. To find out if he succeeds, you’ll have to read the book, but let’s hear from Doe himself about his business plan.

Professional Octopus Teaser

I’m opening gaps in markets that don’t even exist. When someone reads my advert, the gap opens up. They think: Perhaps my octopus needs to be teased. It floats in its tank forlornly, and maybe it needs pizzazz.

Clear the stage, enter Jonathan Doe.

People never stay happy for long. If someone’s dream is owning a pet octopus, they’ll feel like a king on the day they bring their own home. But soon they get peckish. They browse catalogues for nifty treats to buy their beloved invertebrate: a bigger tank, a fifty-kilo Tufa rock with artificial corals, a little waterproof tuxedo to wear for Sunday best.

Octopus teasing costs a premium. It’s deluxe, a luxury. No one else provides it, so I’ve already got the monopoly. I’m going at 360 different angles. It’s therapeutic for the octopus, a treat, a way to say sorry. I need to get word on the octopus circuit, work an interview into Regional Aquatic and come out with this sort of stuff: “It’s like a massage for your octopus, based on scientific research and new understanding of their anatomy.”

Everything’s on its mark. I’m going to make a fortune. According to my research, octopi are rather dull. Many only sneak out of their corners for meals while others get scared at the drop of a hat and fart out a payload of ink. Octopus owners until now have been thinking: My octopus is sluggish, sure, but they’re docile creatures. Bullshit, I’m saying, you’ve just got a boring octopus in need of a good teasing. Listen, don’t expect it to turn into the sea life of the party. It won’t somersault from the tank like a dolphin or do a flawless impression of Sir Michael Caine, but after I’m done you’ll own a livelier, friendlier and more interesting invertebrate. And you’ll notice the difference within twenty-four hours.

I’m not planning to scam anyone. If you look for a difference, you see a difference. It’s tabloid astrology. You see what you want and ignore the rest. “Wow!” people gasp after reading their star sign. “I do have money trouble!” Let’s get it straight, nobody’s a prophet. You’re not the only chump who’s short on cash and matters of the heart are always convoluted. So let Jonathan Doe read your sign. You’ve got a boring octopus and I’m here to jazz it up. “I’ve just had my octopus teased,” you explain, “and this morning it span like a top while changing colour.” All octopi do that, you fool. It’s nothing to do with me. Coincidence, people. There’s gold in them hills.

Michael Caine With Octopus

Is Octopus Teasing Right for You?

Clearly, Doe talks the talk. Whether octopus teasing is a worthwhile service or it’s simply his eloquence and verve that attracts customers is one of the main questions posed by the book. Doe is a showman as much as a salesman. He sells things to people they never knew they needed. Some are delighted by this, others furious. As you can see from the above extract, octopus teasing itself is a satire of aspirational culture. It mocks both the consumers who are so easily duped and the cynical advertisers who make us want their products. Throughout the story, the reader wonders whether Doe is really just in it for the money or if he’s a misunderstood artist hiding behind the posture of a conman.

If you enjoyed this edited extract of Grand Theft Octo and would like to see Jonathan Doe in action, I hope you’ll consider buying the book or reading the sample chapters which are available at Amazon.

To keep up with my regular writing news, please follow me on Facebook.

 

Book Launch – Grand Theft Octo by Niels Saunders

Niels Saunders - Grand Theft Octo Cover
Hello everyone. Yes, I am still alive. Sorry it’s been so long since my last post. As you can probably tell from the fact that I’m launching a book, I’ve been extremely busy, well, writing a book.

It’s called Grand Theft Octo and is now available to buy in paperback and ebook from Amazon. Here’s the synopsis:

When Jonathan Doe is fired from his office job for stealing too much stationery, he becomes an entrepreneur of businesses the world has never seen. After a disastrous start at freelance taxidermy, he moves onto professional octopus teasing. Will he fail again or make his fortune? Is he really a professional or just a con artist? Desperate to succeed, his plans become more outlandish, from stealing theme park mascots at gunpoint to fighting deranged restaurant tycoons. As the enemies he makes seek revenge, both his life and business are threatened, until his world spirals into mayhem and violence. Set in the fictional city of Vestibue, England, Grand Theft Octo is a wild and hilarious ride that strikes at the heart of aspirational culture.

For those of you who read my last book, Mervyn vs. Dennis, you’ll either be delighted or despondent to hear there are no pineapples in this one and almost no toilet humour at all.

Here are the links, for your purchasing pleasure:

UK ebook £1.99:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Grand-Theft-Octo-Niel…/…/B071V8XRQC

UK paperback £5.99:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Grand-Theft-Octo-Niel…/…/1521121516

US ebook $2.99:

https://www.amazon.com/Grand-Theft-Octo-Niels-…/…/B071V8XRQC

US paperback $7.99:

https://www.amazon.com/Grand-Theft-Octo-Niels-…/…/1521121516

It’s also available on Kindle Unlimited, if you’re a subscriber.

I hope you’ll check it out. Thanks everyone!

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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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)