Paul Lahert started writing at the tender age of seven ripping off Indiana Jones movies over two sides of A4. A hiatus of some years followed before he rediscovered his old passion. He has worked as a grave digger, a goatherd, a construction labourer, a chauffeur, as a member demolition crew and even once had a job in an office. His stories tend to deal with the conflicts and dark edges of ordinary lives.
Paul Lahert in 60 seconds
When did you start writing?Once upon a time while I was supposed to be doing something else.
What do you love about Short Stories?To steal from and paraphrase Raymond Carver, the fact that when done well they can lower (or indeed raise) the reader’s body temperature a degree or two. No mean feat for eight pages or so.
Do you write in other forms?Not as yet but the night is still young.
What distracts you from writing?Working for coin and mess. The kitchen is always very clean when I sit down to write. My teenage self would be appalled. The internet is also often a devil on the shoulder, though I guess that's a given.
Outside of writing, what are your other passions?Fixing stuff. Visiting countries with better weather. Crystal Palace FC. Boxing. Songs about "trouble". And digging...I really like digging.
What is your favourite book?“Cutter and Bone” by Newton Thornberg is a book I force on friends and they tend to be very grateful for the imposition.
Who are your favourite writers?Graham Greene, Newton Thornberg and W Somerset Maugham
Where is your dream location?A particular riverside in Asturias, Spain always lingers happily in the room in the back of my mind.
What one item would you put into Room 101?Yeah... gonna need more room for this.
Do you have any advice for new writers?All things are difficult until they are easy. Apologies to whoever I've nicked that off. I might add that the easy part is probably a fleeting sensation.
Work by Paul Lahert:
More Than Cold
Some things are better left unfound. "Mark yawned, sipped his fourth cup of coffee of the night and found that familiarity was breeding contempt. This instant shit was just about tolerable out on the rigs, but he’d hoped for more from his first night of leave in over six weeks. Some company would have been a start. Kate was supposed to have been there well before him, making the place homely, stocking the cupboards with fresh food, good wine, good beer and he had hoped, good coffee. Not that he gave a shit about groceries at the moment. She was late. Really late. The supposedly cosy interior of their rented cottage was seeming lonelier by the minute and the empty chair on the other side of the kitchen table just amplified the effect. The nature of his work meant they had to deal with long periods of separation at times but it was an agreed rule that neither of them would ever lengthen that absence if it could be avoided. More than that, the thing that was really nagging at him was that generally Kate, like many so others he supposed, was barely able to let a minute pass without checking for or sending a text, yet she was now some ten hours late and he still hadn’t heard a thing. He glanced at his phone again, just in case, and tried not to notice that the clock on his phone read a little past four am. There was currently no signal. Not even the single rogue bar that had been teasing him throughout the night. A flash of thigh here, the promise of mobile coverage there. He traced the grain of the table with his finger and once again tried to run through the list of benign yet logical reasons as to why his darling wife was almost half a day late. Traffic was an obvious possibility or perhaps she’d got lost and decided to stop off somewhere for the night. Maybe the car had broken down and a kindly AA employee was at this very moment organising a replacement so that this lovers’ reunion wouldn’t be ruined. And then came the drunk drivers, faulty brakes, crazed hitchhikers and multiple car pile ups..."
When a bank forecloses on a company it's a case of numbers of a spreadsheet, but for those giving and receiving the news... things are more immediate. Bad news travels fast, so we had to travel faster. This, in essence, was the notion that guided us. You get it, you give it, you move on. Do it right and you’re away before things get messy, before the condemned have had time to let the reality of their new circumstances sink in, before that hollow look they get in their eyes has had a chance to take root in your memory. Do it that way and it’s smooth and efficient. Do it that way and it’s as close as something like this gets to being a job well done. And that’s generally how it went. Most of the time. This particular call came in late morning one Christmas Eve and swiftly killed off any hopes I’d had of any early finish. That disappointment was then exacerbated by the fact my car wouldn’t start, having been left parked up with the lights on for a few days. I’d been drinking most nights, medicating a malaise that often reared its head around that time of year. Happily, my thirst meshed well with the festive season. Our office’s underlying culture of functional alcoholism always received a shot in the arm that time of year. Yet, that morning as I sat in the car park turning the key in hope and then without, I wasn’t feeling all that functional. Jump leads and attempted push starts proved useless. The battery didn’t need so much a mechanic as a coroner. I was calling a taxi to take me to the train station when Russell Boyd sauntered over, all three-piece suit and Italian loafers. He sparked up ceremoniously and took a long pull before acknowledging me. It never did to be too cosy with the underlings. “Shouldn’t you be out bringing comfort and joy to the masses?” he asked. I explained the situation. Russell’s smoke curled in my direction. “Where to?” “Grantham, Lincolnshire.” “Sounds a shithole.” He paused a moment, as if sounding out a thought and finding that it pleased him, “I’ll drive you.” I laughed and waited for the punchline. It came in the form of the central locking system of his gleaming, bottle-green Jaguar yipping eagerly to attention..."
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