I’ve taken much longer over writing this novel than I have most of the others… there have been genuine reasons why it’s taken longer but I feel as if I’m on the home straight now. The first draft is done and I’m doing the first edit, going through and doing the ordinary sorts of corrections – spellings, grammar, typos, repeats, muddled names etc and cutting out swathes of ramblings… I’ve got rid of nearly 8,000 words and I reckon that much again will have to go! I know I over-write, that’s just the way I do it and then pare it down again and again until it’s ship-shape!
I had a working title, but I’ve abandoned that as it gave away one of the plot lines so it is at present without a name… it will come, and the name I did have will be used for a later volume – if I ever write one! This first edit is wearisome because of my overwriting, but it’s valuable because it allows me to see the thing as a whole.
Tonight I’m sharing a little episode from the last third of the book. Thomas Radwinter is investigating various puzzles, including who kidnapped a young woman and who the young woman actually is – she was found suffering from amnesia… In this extract Thomas isn’t where he thought he was! it does have a few naughty words in it:
It took a few moments to work out what had happened… like waking up in a strange place and not quite knowing where you are or how you got there… usually you realise, oh yes I’m at Paul’s house, or oh we’re in the little bed and breakfast on the Isle of Wight… but the realisation which came wasn’t nearly as pleasant or reassuring…
I was face down on a hard floor, it was dark… because I was blind? The lights were off? No there was something over my head and something on my shoulders, something pressing down hard and heavy … and knobbly… knees someone was kneeling on me!
What? What the fuck? What the fuck had happened? I hadn’t been knocked out or anything because the events tumbled back into my mind, it was the shock of being slammed onto the floor, totally winded…
My first instinct was to heave off whoever was on me, my second was just to lie still and wait to see what happened… I wasn’t in a good situation, I didn’t know how many people there were, I could hear the mutter of voices, I was face down… No, lying still was the best option… especially as I was also very frightened and I’m not much of a fighter, in fact I’m not a fighter at all.
I didn’t move, just tried to work out what was going on… there seemed to be some sort of conversation going on, two voices, probably male, but mumbling or whispering….
I had popped into the little pub in Strand; after meeting Mohin I’d gone for a consultation with a client which had gone on longer than I expected. Kylie was home early so she was looking after the gang, it was her turn she said, so I’d bobbed into the little Pole Star for a swift half, and treated myself to a sandwich,
All had seemed as normal; Inspector Graham was sitting at the bar, but he finished his beer as I came in. We exchanged greetings but nothing more and he tucked his newspaper under his arm and off he went. I sat in his place and chatted on and off to the landlord, finished my beer and sarnie and went out the back way, I’d discovered that going out through the yard and tiny carpark at the back took me into a little street which led down to the carpark I was in today… usually I’m in the one near the Orange Tree and go there… but not today.
You go down the street then cut down an alley then go through a covered passageway and it was here I had suddenly found myself face down.
I moved my head slowly as if I was just coming round and managed by shrugging my shoulders slightly at the same time to dislodge a bit of the… coat it was a coat, I could feel the shiny lining, and smell leather… a leather coat… Someone was going through my pockets… not much in there, and my phone was in my inside pocket which I was lying on…
“Fucking ridiculous!” somebody hissed and I had to agree… “What did you bloody do that for?”
“We don’t know what he knows, always snooping about…”
There was a muffled interchange and then suddenly the knees were off my back the coat dragged off my head and as I tried to roll over there was the sound of running footsteps, and struggling to sit up, I found I was alone.
What the hell was that about? I got up, aches and pains making themselves known and gathered the contents of my pockets which were scattered about… loose change, hankies, I always have several cotton handkerchiefs useful for all sorts of things, phone charging cable, keys… everything was there – what had they been looking for… it sounded as if someone had pounced on me unexpectedly – unexpected by me and by his companion – a pointless and spontaneous action, and maybe not only not caring whether he injured me but maybe actually semi-hoping me might hurt me… he was angry with me, me personally that was for sure…
I was thinking these things as I returned to my car, constantly looking over my shoulder alert for the sound of someone behind me.
I told the family I’d slipped on a banana skin… I had the remains of a dropped ice lolly staining my shirt (not my dropped ice lolly) grazes on my hands and a swollen cheek… actually lucky I hadn’t broken my nose. Kylie gave me one of her looks but Kenneil made everyone laugh by going through a slipping on a banana skin routine and soon everyone was shouting ‘whoops, ‘ave a banana’ and falling over…
© Lois Elsden
Here’s a link to the other books in my Radwinter series: