We Go Around in the Night and Are Consumed by Fire

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Shortlisted   —The Polari First Book Prize

Shortlisted   —CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger

'A brilliant and gritty contemporary gangster lesbian revenge thriller.'—Gay’s The Word

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Voiced by Donna and her streetwise god-daughter Aurora, this thrillingly original crime novel unfolds at breakneck speed—at once furious, tender and heartbreaking.

Lesbian gangster and street poet Donna runs the all-female Bronte Close Gang. Carla, single parent and part-time MC, is her closest friend and trusted second-in-command. Together they carve out an empire in the toughest streets of Manchester. Unlike the city’s other gangs, run by men caught up in violent turf warfare, the women keep their heads down, doing business their way: partying on Canal Street, selling drugs in perfume atomisers in club toilets, and working as cleaners to account for their illegal income.

But when Carla is gunned down everything changes.

A gripping crime novel by Jules Grant.

Booklist Online

2 December 2016

Patience and diligence pay off in Grant’s tale of love, loss, and retribution in seedy Manchester, England. Readers may initially feel plunged into the rough underbelly of Midlands life, plus into a stream of dialogue bereft of quotation marks and filled with British slang not always easily understood, even in context. Universals, however, like love’s various mutations, remain accessible as Donna and her preteen goddaughter, Aurora, guide readers through neighborhoods and life defined by street gangs. Donna runs the Bronte Close gang with loving friend Carla, partying, selling drugs in perfume atomizers, and providing cleaning services as legit cover. Tough-ass Donna is devastated when Carla is gunned down by rival gang members—‘The thought of her makes my head open and the edges go ’; ‘Who’s gonna have my back now, who’s gonna make me laugh?’ Yet she copes by taking in motherless Aurora, and plotting revenge. Moments almost breathlessly tender mix with hard resolve, making for a strong, satisfying read.

Pam McIlroy

30 August 2016

I was reminded of The Killing Jar by Nicola Monaghan as I read We Go Around In The Unknown (8)Night And Are Consumed by Fire by Jules Grant, as she has a similar ability to authentically capture the voice of those caught up in a culture of drugs and violence.

Donna is the lesbian leader of the all-female Bronte Close Gang in Manchester, and Carla, single parent of Aurora and part-time MC, is her best friend and second-in-command.

The reader is thrown straight into the action from the start as Donna describes everything she sees, hears and feels in blunt brutal terms. She is aggressively sexual, taking what she wants when she wants it, mainly because she can’t have the love that she truly desires.

The Bronte Street Gang has organised a unique operation that works well for them in a male dominated world. However, should a male gang member make the mistake of entering their territory without permission Carla soon teaches them a lesson they will never forget, as she has a violent streak that leans towards maximum humiliation of her victims. As long as each gang respects their mutual boundaries they generally rub along but beneath the surface resentments are bubbling, and when Carla is suddenly gunned down everything changes.

The novel alternates between the present to the past, where the complex reasons for Donna’s attitude to life are revealed and you begin to appreciate that this young woman has never really had a chance in life. Reasons that go a long way towards explaining why Donna is determined to avenge Carla’s murder and break the behavioural pattern that has haunted her life in order to save her god-daughter, Aurora, from the same fate, no matter what it costs her personally.

We also see the story unfold from Aurora’s perspective, a street-wise child who has learned how to pipe up and when to shut up due to what she has witnessed so far in her short complicated life.

The voice created for Donna is powerful, authentic and full of the rage that comes from profound grief, it leaps off the page. There is a core of truth in her edgy expressive descriptions of emotional suffering within the grim gang culture and what it takes to survive. Honest, heart-breaking and violently raw Donna’s story is not one that will be easily forgotten, and nor should it be.

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Northern Soul

30 July 2016

We Go Around in the Night packs an emotive punch, and it’s the emotional exploration of the female psyche which shines through the novel. Gangster thrillers have been done time and time again – but played out through the eyes of fierce, complex women adds a welcome level of depth. This is particularly true of the exploration of intricate lesbian friendships, which can frequently become blurred. With such poor visibility of LGBT women in literature, it’s wonderful to venture into a world of female LGBT characters who drive the action. Indeed, the fact they’re lesbians is refreshingly incidental.

Manchester dwellers will revel in following the drama through the name-checked roads, landmarks and familiar haunts, brought to life through street-poet Donna’s narrative. However, the dark gangland underworld will prove far removed from the average reader’s experience of the fair city. It would be interesting to know how much of author Jules Grant’s experience as a barrister fed into this debut novel. Do lesbian gangs like this really exist? I’ve no idea but it’s a great thrill-ride with authentic and exceptionally written characters.

Perhaps it’s because I’m a writer, but throughout this novel I couldn’t help but think what a good screenplay it would make. Lesbian gangster thriller on BBC anyone? I’d watch.

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Turnaround blog

19 May 2016

We Go Around in the Night is a crime novel, a literary thriller with a difference. Instead of that tired old narrative where something dreadful happens to a woman and a man saves the day, the heroes here are a gang of lesbians. Headed by best friends Donna and Carla, the Bronte Close gang sell drugs in night club toilets, working as cleaners to account for their income. When Carla is gunned down one night for sleeping with the wife of a local gangster, it becomes a revenge novel that has you rooting for the women till the very end.

Fast-paced and gripping, We Go Around in the Night subverts the genre and gives a voice to working-class queer women who rarely appear in fiction.The story is fast-paced and addictive. At points there is hardly time to breathe. It’s narrated in dialect which adds to the momentum; the plot flashes between the present day and past memories, (many of which are unexpectedly funny), giving the story time to catch its breath. One of the more original touches is that the book has two narrators. The main one is Donna, but there are also chapters from Carla’s gutsy ten-year-old daughter, Aurora. Aurora’s voice is tragic at times, badass at others. Sometimes it’s hilarious. It gives another dimension to the novel, and makes Donna’s revenge even more intense.

I’m pretty thrilled this book landed on my 2016 reading pile. It subverts so many things about crime fiction; there are no naked female bodies washing up in rivers, no flawed-but-lovable brutes saving the day. The heroes of this book are all women, and they’re lesbians to boot. This isn’t want makes the book great, but it’s something we absolutely definitely should be celebrating. Diversity in publishing is a pretty shouty topic in the book industry right now, and it's novels like this that help bridge the gap.

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Yorkshire Post

9 May 2016

Stylistically similar to Irvine Welsh’s Trainspotting, the characters in Jules Grant’s debut novel do not only speak in dialect, they narrate in it too. Set in Manchester’s seedy crime underworld, it follows the story of lesbian criminal Donna and her goddaughter Aurora. It’s a world of warring gangs, drugs, gun crime and murder, but uniquely it’s presented from a distinctly female gaze. The author has created brilliantly layered characters, especially in Donna, the hard-bitten head of the Bronte Close Gang. Grant’s book has its fair share of violence and vengeance, but it’s also a heartbreaking and tender read about the relationships that tie us together.

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