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Thursday, June 3, 2010

Ash Wednesday - Chapters 1 & 2

Hello dear readers,

Well, as mentioned yesterday, I have begun work on an apocalyptic genre novel (ala The Da Vinci Code) entitled Ash Wednesday.  I've decided to post the first two chapters in order to gauge reader interest and entice publishers. Like Dan Brown, I have decided to utilise short chapters with suspenseful endings to drive the narrative.

The novel features a British protagonist (former Beefeater turned MI5 operative Rudger Hewlitt) as well as several Americans, including Obama liaison Veronica Strong. As I am aiming for an international audience and film sales, casting a wide net of nationalities seems wise.

For fellow writers, note my use of subtle plot enhancers, such as Rudger's achilles heel (his nut allergy). Also, I've used the Hollywood trick of showing he's a good egg by giving him a pet dog. In the movies, having a dog means you can do no wrong.

Please have a read, tell all genre fans to take a look and post your feedback! Let's get the buzz and word of mouth rolling so that publishers fall over themselves in a bidding war!


Ash Wednesday copyright 2010 Nate Fitzgerald - all rights reserved. 

Chapter 1

Rudger Hewlitt took his black military-style satchel from the overhead compartment, his well-defined bicep bulging beneath the wool of his coal grey jumper. He always packed his own snacks for flights, the lifelong habit of a man cursed with a potentially lethal nut allergy. He noted the sleek woman in the beige business suit look up for a split second from her Time magazine. He removed a plain Yorkie bar and packet of Quavers from his satchel as if he didn’t see – as if he didn’t recognise her from the television as Veronica Strong, Obama’s tough and sharp-tongued liaison to Downing Street.

Rudger smiled and sat back down beside the snoring Asian man to his right. They had conducted a good chat upon take-off during which Rudger had shown him a photo of his trusted beagle Bernard, making the man snort with the classic line, “but he’s certainly no saint. Not after what he did to my tennis shoes.” Rudger had that effect on people, an easy charm to go with a physique that could have been chiselled by Michelangelo himself. Rudger had seen the master’s David outside Uffizi gallery in Florence and had feigned awe for the benefit of the tourists despite knowing that the statue was in fact a replica. Of course, he had been in Italy on business, not pleasure.

“So what do you do?”

Rudger looked up, startled. Not many people could sneak up on him. Veronica Strong’s face was angled on his, her body close enough that he could smell her Chanel perfume and feel the faintest touch of body heat.

“Pardon me?” he said.

“Consider yourself pardoned, buster. You do have a job, right?”

He both admired and loathed American abruptness.

“Care for a drink?” he replied.

“You expect me to stand here and drink alcohol with you?”

“No, I expect to convince your seat mate to exchange places so that we can have a civilised conversation.”

She sighed, but he could tell she liked his strategic mind.

“That seat mate happens to be my body guard,” Veronica said. “I doubt you can convince him to leave my side.”

Rudger undid his security belt and moved to get up. “You’d be very surprised at what I’m capable of, my dear lady.”

Chapter 2

Pilot Dirk Gilloly of the New Jersey Gillolys rubbed his raw eyes. He had been a professional pilot for a little over three years and had moved up the ranks through balls, bravado and the influence of certain members of his mafia family who wanted to see one of its own reach the starry heights of legitimate command. He wanted to think he had earned his stripes, but always had a seed of doubt in his mind. This was the cause of his constant shakes and extreme sweats. And his symptoms were getting worse, not what you wanted when flying with a green co-pilot and a navigator with a bad reputation.

And now he had these strange lights on the windscreen.

“I’m sure it’s simply the effect of Aurora Borealis,” his Welsh co-pilot Reg said again.

“It’s the wrong season,” Dirk snapped. “That there is a winter-based phenomenon.”

“We are flying near Iceland. Maybe their seasons are different.”

Dirk rolled his eyes and cursed BA’s cost cutting. When you paid peanuts, you got monkeys. They were flying the red-eye from New York to London Heathrow, the flight called thusly because of the false idea that rising early caused puffy, red eyes. In fact, the irritation of the eyes and sinuses had more to do with dryness than the time of morning. Often a poorly maintained air-conditioning unit was to blame – and since so many commuters stayed in inexpensive hotels…

“Anything on radar, buddy?” Dirk asked again.

His co-pilot Serge La Crisp blew air from his nostrils in the typical French style. “No, like I say to you before, it is nothing on the little mechanism for looking.”

So what was this mysterious full-spectrum light illuminating the windscreen? It looked like a prism and Dirk had to repeatedly push the ridiculous notion of extraterrestrial contact from his mind. The idea was preposterous. Yet there was nothing on the radar and no visible causes of the phenomenon. Could this be some new invention from the US military?

“Well, it doesn’t appear to be a matter of concern,” Reg chipped in.

Dirk frowned. He was a believer in luck, and knew you didn’t tempt fate. Oh how he wished he was in a sports bar in Manhattan watching his favourite professional basketball team, the New Jersey Nets, and eating a plate of Mexican-style nacho chips. 

As if on cue, a red button lit up and a pulsating alarm chimed. 

"Oh shit."

“What is dis dreadful noise?” Serge inquired.

Dirk frowned. “Engine One appears to be overheating.”

"Zut alors,” Serge replied. "Dis is bad news."

Even Dirk knew this was an understatement, though he conceded the comment could have been caused by the language barrier. He had told BA more than once that navigators with suspect English skills were potentially lethal. Now his theory would be put to the test.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

New book

Hello dear readers,

Interestingly enough, on occasion alcohol does nothing more than make me tired - no euphoria, idiocy or melancholy, just faint sleepiness. This is the typical midday effect, I suppose, which is why lunch pints have never been a habit. My resistance to alcohol's more profound effects must have something to do with my incredibly strong constitution and cast-iron stomach. Though I now suffer outrageous indigestion from hot curries, in my youth I really was able to eat anything and rarely suffered food poisoning, aside from the cockle nightmare of 1979.

Of course the three-day cockle wee/diarrhoea/vomit extravaganza could have been a psychosomatic illness in response to a forced seaside holiday in Blackpool. If the Catholics are right about this Purgatory business, I expect after being struck by a speeding bus to wake into a blinding white light only to find myself on the pier staring into that ghastly town's tacky illuminations. The fact that my father was forced to pay for a private cleaning company to service the room was clearly karma in action - though at the time I was not yet an aspiring Buddhist.*/**

*Granted, nor am I now, as that phase ended several years back
** Sorry, at this point I should probably mention that I have had a few tipples - it is 1:30pm - if you have an issue with this, perhaps we should have a bare knuckle fight on the pavement

I realise that I promised to narrate my night with Cousin Douglas and the Thais, but after noting the lack of hits on the blog at the weekend, I completely lost interest. No point slaving when half the nation is on holiday.

Despite my busy schedule, I have begun work on a new novel, this time opting for pure genre in an attempt to penetrate the trite consciousness of our superficial age. Frankly, I'm desperate for the money. It's an apocalyptic tale of society going tits up due to the spread and intensification of this year's ash cloud. Violence, pettiness, perhaps a bit of romance... I'm considering adding some vampires to the mix, but fear their appeal may dissipate before the long journey from writing to editing, finding a publisher to actually seeing the book in print. Mind you, this vampire trend has been going for quite a few years now and every second book on shop shelves seems to feature bloody fangs. We shall see.

Title: Ash Wednesday (spooky, pseudo-religious, ominous).

I had considered doing a travel journal, having already prepared some very thorough research for a trip around Britain. I thought perhaps I could mirror Bill Bryson, who made an absolute killing by conjuring up nostalgic half-truths about English society, like noting that we all like nothing more than sitting on benches for days at a time staring at nature. He neglected to point out that the people who do this are either homeless alcoholics or old people and that the elderly do this in virtually every nation on Earth because they a) can't move, and b) never have any money. I suppose the same goes for the alcoholics...

I notice Mr Bryson didn't go to the heart of, say, Newcastle and reminisce fondly about packs of football hooligans battering one another with pipe and steel-toed Doc Martens. Or touch on the gentle loveliness of the 1980s strikes. Or mention the quaintness of post-war ration cards and creeping demoralisation.

Mind you, I do very much enjoy Bill Bryson's books. Waxing lyrical about a mythical past simply isn't my shtick. I'd rather blow up half of Iceland and have frothy mouthed hooligans destroying a Marks and Sparks (planned for Chapter 8).

Oh, and for the reader who inquired via email asking if I am a recluse, I am a perfectly normal man who values his privacy and personal time in an age of mass communication. In other words, I'm a semi-recluse. I have issues in social situations and don't like being surprised (ie, having anyone phone, drop in, see me on the street and initiate conversation, or ask me to go out in public to a venue I'm not comfortable in). I do have friends and acquaintances and am selectively social. As Bill Bryson might tell you, this is how we all felt before the advent of the mobile telephone.

Stay well,