JOBS FOR THE BOYS - My first novel

This is my first novel, published on Amazon for readers of Kindle and Kindle reader apps on PCs and tablets and as of February 2015 available as a paperback too. As you can see, in order to preserve a little bit of anonymity I have adopted the name of Herbie Neil. 

Here you can read about what is in the book, what readers thought of it, and how I came to write it.

The story:

Eric is not your average Careers Officer. Not for him the discussions on the relative merits of a life in architecture versus civil engineering or ophthalmology versus physiotherapy . Quite a few of his clients have already made a start on their careers – in crime. As to the others, they range from boys who failed the selection test to be milkmen, to a girl who wants to embalm corpses. Eric loves it. 

If only he could manage his own life better. The only career that Eric would swap for would be that of an old blues guitarist, but not being old or black or blind or from the Mississippi delta he is unqualified. Nevertheless he plays his guitar when and where he can in the hope of attracting women. He is marginally more adept at guitar than he is at women, which is to say, not very. 

Dealing with women is his weakest point. While he struggles to avoid the advances of a predatory older woman, the girl he really wants keeps catching him in embarrassing situations. Worse still, Eric does nothing to encourage her when he stumbles upon a criminal conspiracy and foolishly decides to do the police’s job for them. Lurching from one disaster to another in his battered old motor, he digs himself deeper and deeper in trouble with the police, the criminals, and most of all his would be girlfriend. 

When he finally does dig himself out of trouble, help comes from the most unlikely quarters. 

Reviewer comment (complete and unexpurgated, not just the best) :

clever and very funny!

Quite simply superb!.....Witty,clever and very funny!


This book is excellent. It's a very good read. It evokes the time and culture in which it is set extremely well - characters such as Charlie Tanner remind one of many teachers in the 70's with leather elbow patches and faded academic gowns; the descriptions of the firm 'Spray Industries' which our hero Eric visits; the wonderful 'old banger' Eric drives are all examples of this. Eric's love of folk singing provides Herbie Neil the opportunity to inform readers about various singers, their songs and their backgrounds - all interwoven into the story that helps to make it so good. And there's a delicious sense of humour running through the whole book. I hope Herbie Neil intends to write another 'Eric the Unfortunate' story....


Engaging story, well written and kept me turning the pages..... Or swiping the screen. Good characters always make for a good book and left me wanting to know what ' Eric did next'
A great read

This novel just grew on me, a seemingly mundane story which then added several layers of complexity until I just had to keep turning the pages to find what happened next! The side passages on the early bluesmen introduced me to few artists I hadn't heard before, I'm glad they were there but not certain that all of them added to the narrative.

A very good sign is that when you finish a book and you're disappointed there isn't more.

Highly recommended.

I keenly await the further adventures of the unfortunate Eric!,

A funny, fast moving and enjoyable story. It is well written, cleverly plotted and the pacy action and the main characters keep the reader involved throughout. It recreates a version of the 1970s which is instantly recognisable to those who lived and worked through them and the interjection of the various vignettes of blues artists is both clever and informative. I keenly await the further adventures of the unfortunate Eric!


Good read

Raised the odd giggle, thank you very much I enjoyed it. I'm guessing Eric's life is boring and uneventful for evermore

A blast from the past

A thoroughly enjoyable read set in the era of my formative years. Although the careers service & blues scene are outside of my experience they were clearly part of the author's and lend an authoritative edge to the writing.

On the other hand clapped out motors and dodgy garages rang bells with me, the characters of the 'yoofs' resonated with my more recent work-life in education and the main character's discomforting adventures with the opposite sex really hilarious.

All in all a couldn't-put-it-down book which I devoured in just a couple of days. Full marks!

A gripping, humorous tale from a first time author

I wasn't expecting much from a first time author with no training as a writer. But was pleasantly surprised. Herbie Neil has crafted an exciting story from a mixture of true life anecdotes from his early life as a careers officer and his wild and humorous imagination mixed in with some interesting factual information on his favourite blues musicians! The story hangs together cleverly resulting in a production of a "don't want to stop reading" book. Worth every penny. Give it a try.
great read

Great story I did not want to put it down until I finished it. When is the next book being published?

Read this in one day, because it was so good :)

Well written Neil, words flow easily and plot line was enjoyable. For your first publication a great work, when's the next one out?
I'll help with the proof reading if you need me


Possibly my favourite book of 2014
This was a straightforward tale, but gripped me from the start. I hardly put it down until I had finished it, I so wanted to find out the next twist in the plot. It also gave me a go an insight into the work of a Careers Officer. I especially enjoyed the frequent diversions into the musical styles of various legendary folk singers, their lives and ultimate fate.

Very enjoyable read

Thoroughly enjoyed it. I kept having to read on to find out what happened next and when I finished I wanted to know what happened to Eric in the future. I hope there is going to be a follow up.

Enjoyable and easy to read
This book was an easy read - easy to keep track of the characters and the story line. I'm guessing that the author may have insights into the worlds of 'careers' and 'jazz' - some knowledge of both is evident.

Entertaining and enjoyable,
I finished reading Jobs for the Boys last night. It's taken me a while, but I enjoyed it all the more as I got into the story. I especially liked the inserts about blues singers and guitarists, while the added elements of the music and real knowledge about what a careers officer does made the both the story and Eric's character much richer. The plot was fun and I liked the characters too. Herbie Neil is a good story teller, so it would be good to see something else from him in future. Light hearted and entertaining, this was an easy and enjoyable read.

A jolly good read  

For a first novel, I think this e - book is first class so far as I have read. The story is building gradually, as it should and the characters are introduced at a pace the reader can cope with, rather than in a confusing rush. It would appear that the author has some experience in the world of careers for teenagers which has been of interest to me in the past. I imagine there is going to be a twist in the plot very shortly. Unfortunately, my reading time has been severely curtailed over the past few weeks and I am hoping to bet back to the book shortly.
I am learning quite a bit about those folk singers of a bygone era too.

 Looking forward to next book 

A very good read. Thoroughly enjoyed the book. Only slight issue was it was a bit predictable towards the end, but nevertheless still a very good first novel. I hope the author can follow it up with an equally entertaining sequel.


A good read

Very readable, rather in the style of Nick Hornby. Neil uses personal experience to add both reality and humour to what otherwise might have been a rather improbable tale.

Very enjoyable 

Always a tricky one, reading - and then reviewing - a self published book by a friend (there, that's my interest declared), but rest assured, if it had been rubbish I would have just kept my thoughts to myself. It's not though, far from it; it's a lot better than many commercially published books I've read. In genre it's reminiscent of Val McDermid's Kate Brannigan, or Kate Ellis's Joe Plantagenet - reluctant hero gets in out of his depth whilst also juggling a variety of misfortunes worthy of a Whitehall farce (or perhaps more of an Ealing comedy). The period detail is well observed (i.e. no women attempt to buy a pint, let alone succeed) and the characters are all engaging. The plot, whilst having a couple of apparent loose ends, was enough of a page turner that I finished reading it under the lecturn whilst my students completed their groupwork.

A thoroughly enjoyable read, 

I loved it; amusing, entertaining and just right level of light hearted misfortune! This story also took me back to my folk club days in the early 70's and brought back musicians and music that I had long since forgotten about. Thoroughly recommended.

 The boy done a good job,

Enjoyed the plot and the humour. Couldn't help laughing out loud at times. Hope it's the first of a series

and a couple more from the US  site

A fun read!
This was a fun book. It has simple characters that at times make you laugh. If you are looking for some light reading but with a good plot and laugh out loud humour, then this is a book for you. Don't expect in depth, complicated plots but just open a bottle, sit back and enjoy some fun time. Well worth the price!
His Blues Will Give You Laughs
A wonderful book; with an endearing protagonist. I loved every word of it!

--------------------- How I came to write it

In the winter of 2013/14 I made up my mind to do something I have wanted to do for a long time. I decided it was time to write my book.  Just to see if I could.

It started off as a series of anecdotes based on experiences in the 1970s when I was working as a Careers Officer.  Believe you me, most Careers Officers have plenty of tales to tell.  All human life is there.  At the same time I was spending most of my spare time going to folk clubs, which were thriving at that point, and looking for girlfriends.

So a lot of that found its way into the start of the book, with the central character Eric being not unlike the twenty five year old me.  But then a strange thing began to happen.  Characters began to take on a life of their own and did things I didn't expect them to.  It was all I could do at times to keep up the typing with their actions.  Some days I couldn't wait to get started to find out what would happen next.

So to my surprise I actually finished a complete novel, nearly all hacked out on an ipad mini!  This has its disadvantages because the Apple spellcheck  thingy had different ideas of what words I was wanting to type than I did, so Kath did a mammoth job of finding the hundreds of  strange errors in the text.

Well after all that work I thought I ought to see if anyone else thought it readable, so drafts went out to a few good friends to get their opinions.  Some had in fact seen earlier unfinished drafts and contributed, sometimes unwittingly, to plot ideas.

Eventually I felt it time to unleash my literary masterpiece on the wider world and in the spring I self published it on Kindle.

Well here I am in October 2014 and nearly 500 people have downloaded Jobs for the Boys although 90% of them have done so on the occasional "get it for free" weeks.  Cash wise I doubt if I have collected more than a tenner in royalties BUT I get far more pleasure from the twenty good reviews the book has received.

 If you would like to read it for yourself, then look it up on your kindle, or follow this link to the amazon site.  At only £1.15 or the overseas equivalent it's a snip!  The paperback is currently £5.99, reflecting printing costs.

If you have read it and liked it, then it would be great if you could add a short review on the Amazon / Kindle site.

1 comment:

Carol said...

Great book Neil, thoroughly enjoyed it! Laughed out loud many times at Eric’s antics. A good light read that had me turning the pages for his next escapade. Looking forward to another episode. Well done!