My 2017: November

November for me over the past five years has meant one thing… the National Novel Writing Month challenge – 50,000 words to be written during the month of November. I chronicled this pretty fully as I was writing, sharing my story, my anxiety about getting behind, my thoughts that this year I might fail, the growing sense that maybe I could push on and do it and then hurrah! 50,053 words!!

So how did that compare to previous years:

  • 2013: ‘Radwinter’  genealogical mystery. 73026 words
  • 2014: ‘Raddy and Syl’ – genealogical mystery: Thomas has traced his paternal ancestors to 1830’s war-torn Europe; he has followed his maternal line and found murder and betrayal. Now he needs to look closer to home, to discover the truth about the people who brought him up, Edward and Sylvia Radwinter, Raddy and Syl, in order to find out who he really is. 50,092 words
  • 2015: ‘Earthquake’  – genealogical mystery:  stalker stalked… maybe… 53030 words
  • 2016: ‘And the river’ – memoir: This is a meander, not sure where it is going or what will be seen, from it or in it… This began as a story of my life and that of my family, told through the rivers I have been connected with… as with real rivers, it went its own way and covered a lot of ground… and it hasn’t yet reached its end! 51282 words

And this is what I wrote on day 1 this year:

It’s November, and for some writers the  first day of the month is greeted with a mixture of excitement, dread and a sort of paralysing creative nervousness. This is the month that many of us challenge ourselves to write fifty thousand words, yes, 50,000 words in the thirty days of November.

It sounds at the outset as impossible… 1,667 words a day? Is anyone able to do that? Yes, yes they are, and yes, yes they do.  It is an on-line challenge, there are no prizes, only the satisfaction of knowing you’ve completed it – and if you don’t manage, well at least you tried, and if you don’t manage to write a single word, well at least you thought about it and probably ran through a few ideas in your head before dismissing them all. Those ideas might come back to you one day!

The challenge is called The National Novel Writing Month – the original idea was to write the first fifty thousand words of a new novel; however because there are so many different forms of writing, and the whole point is to inspire people to write and not put them off, it has been somewhat relaxed, and now it is fifty thousand new words.

The idea is that once you start writing,. Like in a timed exam, you just don’t have the time to worry about detail, you just have to get those words on the age – so if the main character’s eyes are blue or brown, or the farm is called Greenvale or High Trees it really doesn’t matter, all those little things can be sorted later, and with the challenge completed the decision-making may have been made without you noticing.

I have taken the challenge four times, plus a ‘Camp Nano’ and I am going to try again… I don’t know if I will make it this time… but I am going to try!

I really recommend it as an exciting challenge – have a go, you might surprise yourself – I certainly surprised myself!

 

My 2017: March

After the travels and excitement of January and February, March was a quieter month – although we did travel to Portsmouth for a college reunion which was great fun. On that weekend we took several taxis, and each driver was an interesting person with great stories to tell, a Syrian who seemed to make it rain wherever he went on holiday, an Albanian who was passionate about Charles Dickens, a bloke who had a great interest in the art and life of L.S.Lowery and another who told us about the history of Gosport. We had our usual classes (creative writing, family history writing, French, modern art, ukulele, rock band, book clubs etc) and our usual little trips out and about to different places, including National Trust properties.

From a writing point of view, March was when I finished my latest Radwinter novel, and although I didn’t publish it until April, I wrote this about the series:

I’m not sure when I first thought I might write about a family of brothers, but I know why I did. I’m forever saying about strangers in the pub, people in the street, faces on the TV, ‘gosh doesn’t s/he look just like so-and-so‘; I thought I identified a similarity in the faces of a TV baker, a famous chef, and a bloke who works in our local bookshop; mostly it was something about the eyes, and the unnerving stare (although bookshop bloke has a friendly stare) The thought of writing about them came and went until I was out with my cousin and we were driving through Essex, not far from the pretty town of Saffron Walden when we saw a sign to the village of Radwinter – and I had my name!

This was some time ago, and over several years I played about with ideas and thoughts and then in 2013 began to write what became the first book in an unexpected series, about the Radwinter family. The narrator was a new arrival, a fourth brother who looked nothing like them, When I started writing, I little knew that there would be a whole series of books, and now I’m just doing the final editing of number 5!

  1. Radwinter – Thomas Radwinter goes in search of his family roots; using the internet he traces his family back to war-torn eastern Europe, and follows their journey from arriving in England in the 1830’s, across southern England. However, the more he finds out about his family’s past, the more he sees his own family, his brothers and his wife differently. His relationship with them changes… and he begins to understand his own character, and to find out as much about his present life as his family’s history. https://www.amazon.co.uk/RADWINTER-Lois-Elsden-ebook/dp/B00IFG1SNO/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1490867200&sr=8-2&keywords=lois+elsden
  2. Magick – Encouraged by his success in discovering his Radwinter ancestors, Thomas Radwinter sets out to investigate his maternal line, starting with the mysterious and alcoholic Sylvia. His life has been somewhat dysfunctional, but now, gaining confidence through his new loving relationship with a beautiful young woman and her son, he is able to confront his own past.
    His genealogical searches take him into the tragic histories of his family and other ordinary people who lived and worked under the appalling conditions of the Victorian age. His skills in finding people from the past encourage a friend to beg him to try and trace her long-lost daughter, a woman, who, it seems does not want to be found. He accepts her request, little realising this will lead him into danger.
    Then the father of his partner’s son arrives; he’s come for his boy…       https://www.amazon.co.uk/MAGICK-RADWINTER-Book-LOIS-ELSDEN-ebook/dp/B00OHV4MR0/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1490867200&sr=8-3&keywords=lois+elsden
  3. Raddy and Syl – Thomas Radwinter continues his journey into his ancestor’s history; he has followed his paternal line of the Radwinters, “and what an interesting journey that was. I mean journey for me in a non-literal way, but it was an interesting journey for the Radwinters, literally”.
    He traced his maternal ancestry, the Magicks, “I followed that side of our family… and it led me to some very dark places I can tell you”.
    Now he has to find the history of those closest to him, “in my Radwinter story I found some amazing truths about myself. My childhood was difficult to say the least, and when I started to follow the Magick story, I had to begin to face my past, and confront some of my fears and nightmares. To finish my story I have to look at Sylvia Magick and her husband Edward Radwinter, the people who brought me up… sort of… I think of them now as Syl and Raddy, because it’s easier and less painful.”
    During his search Thomas also seeks a woman who vanished seemingly into thin air from a car stopped at a road junction, and he tries to solve the mystery of Badruddin, the Moroccan an elderly female client brought back from a cruise…
    Thomas little thinks that he may be risking his life to find these different truths.   https://www.amazon.co.uk/RADDY-SYL-RADWINTER-Book-3-ebook/dp/B00WAN0YD8/ref=sr_1_6?ie=UTF8&qid=1490867200&sr=8-6&keywords=lois+elsden
  4. Beyond Hope – Beyond Hope is the fourth in the series of books following the life and genealogical investigations of Thomas Radwinter; in previous stories he has followed family’s history back several centuries and also found some uncomfortable and very painful truths in more recent times.
    In ‘Beyond Hope’, Thomas decides to share with his three brothers what he has learned about their mother and father… but telling the truth can be damaging, the truth can hurt, and as Thomas later reflects, “I know at first hand, a very, very painful first hand, how old secrets have the power to wound and how sometimes those dogs snoozing away should be left doing exactly that, sleeping dogs should sometimes just be let lie.”
    His revelations cause the close family ties to be tested which doesn’t help Thomas as he struggles with the other commissions he is being paid to undertake; he has been asked by a very elderly lady to find out who leaves lilies on a grave she visits, he has undertaken to investigate a mysterious lama who has a dangerous power over a hard-working teacher and devoted father, and he continues his search for the daughter of a friend who has become involved with a very dangerous man… And all the while his own little family has to face difficult decisions. The fall-out between Thomas and his brothers may only be healed if he can find out what happened to their father who disappeared thirty years ago. https://www.amazon.co.uk/Beyond-Hope-Radwinter-Book-4-ebook/dp/B01AKU9XMK/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1490867200&sr=8-4&keywords=lois+elsden
  5. Earthquake – (published April 2017) Thomas Radwinter’s life seems settled and content as he juggles working as a free-lance solicitor, genealogist and house husband. However a new arrival in the family puts extra pressure on him as he has to balance looking after them and earning some money. A commission from an elderly gentleman to investigate a mysterious death at a little boarding school in 1931 seems intriguing and harmless; a haunted hotel he’s asked to visit seems just to be over-imaginative guests and maybe a less than honest manager. However, during his investigations he has to confront a violent verger, an unbalanced conchologist and a very strange friend from the past… Thomas took on his commissions, little realising when he began his investigation that he would be putting his life and that of a friend in serious danger… “I tried to work out what was going on, and what to do, and what might happen to us – trying my hardest to keep my thoughts well away from a terminal conclusion to events… ” https://www.amazon.co.uk/EARTHQUAKE-RADWINTER-Book-LOIS-ELSDEN-ebook/dp/B06Y18H8JR/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1514650978&sr=8-3&keywords=lois+elsden

…and here is a link to my other books, Farholm, Flipside, Loving Judah, Lucky Portbraddon, Night Vision, The Double Act and The Stalking of Rosa Czekov

https://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=lois+elsdenkov:

 

A writing list

A writing chum told me has made a 2018 writing list – things he intends to tackle next year… I’ve got some priorities in my head, but as for a list, well, I hadn’t thought of it… so what would be on my list should I make one?

I think it goes without saying that I will continue to write here, sharing my thoughts, ideas, memories and my writing. I must also get back seriously or seriously get back to finishing my next Radwinter novel, which has been marooned three-quarter way through since the beginning of November when I tackled the national Novel Writing challenge of completing 50,000 words in a month. So finish Thomas Radwinter’s next story provisionally entitled ‘Saltpans‘, and I have an idea for another for later on in the year probably called ‘Alone‘. On the Radwinter front, I also want to publish as paperbacks at least two of my e-books, ‘Magick’ and ‘Raddy and Syl‘, and if all goes extremely well, then also ‘Beyond Hope‘.

In January and February I must prepare for a talk and two workshops I’m giving in February; the talk is on writing about family history, as I mentioned yesterday, and the workshops are on the process of writing and blogging.

I also have my unfinished stories – ‘Gus’, ‘Dancing in the Road’, ‘And the River…’, ‘Hamazasb and the Missing Shoe‘, and a couple of other bits of writing I started. There is also the story I began this year for NaNoWriMo, about Milla. Of those, I think there’s only a couple which I might actually tackle, others are very much on the back burner, as well as some I wrote many years ago which would need a total re-write.

I have completed five NaNoWriMo challenges, every year since 2013; they have been a great way to really get to grips with a new story, but they are also a great drain on time… the idea is also quite additive, though, will I be able to resist the challenge? Or maybe should I use it to get to grips with ‘Alone’? That actually is a good idea!!

I mentioned at the start my commitment to writing here; I also share another blog with two writing friends (which is actually open to anyone to contribute to!) From that we published an anthology last year and are hoping to publish a second next year. That is more a case of pulling together already written pieces rather than creating anything new but it still involves work. On our other blog we have challenged ourselves to write about subjects from a list we discovered with seventy-three suggestions of topics. We are doing really well with it, and have had a thought that maybe they could be edited and published – in three volumes!! There would just be too many words for one book!

So that I guess is my writing list… but then of course, something new, a whole new story might bob into my mind!! Inspiration happens in the most unlikely places and with the most unexpected ideas!

So, maybe like my friend I should write a list… should it be a calendar/diary/timetable?

  1. January – finish first draft of ‘Saltpans‘, prepare for family history talk and writing workshops. Begin to edit ‘Magic’ for paperback publication
  2. February – deliver family history talk and writing workshops, work on editing ‘Saltpans‘, also continue to edit ‘Magick‘ as a paperback – this takes much longer than you might think!
  3. March – prepare and publish ‘Saltpans‘, prepare first draft of seventy-three blog anthology, book I.
  4. April – work on ‘seventy-three’ maybe start thinking about next story for me – perhaps ‘Dancing in the Road’, but maybe something new will spring into my mind! Publish ‘Magick’ as a paperback’ and start of paperback editing of ‘Raddy and Syl’.
  5. May – publish ’73’, continue work on whatever new/old thing I’m writing
  6. June – writing, writing, writing, publish ‘Raddy and Syl‘ paperback, start preparing ‘Beyond Hope’ as a paperback
  7. July – more writing, writing, writing, continue with ‘Beyond Hope‘ paperback
  8. August – as for July but publish new paperback
  9. September – complete whatever I started new in April (maybe it will have got to the editing stage by now) Begin to look at second anthology with my two writing friends, to publish November/December
  10. October  – ditto September
  11. November – new Nano challenge, but also some light editing and pulling together of the April book, publish anthology II with friends
  12. December – maybe publish new book? Maybe continue what I started as Nano?

Writing it down like this makes 2018 look a massive challenge – however, a lot of it is editing and working on old things. This year I have felt that creativity has been pushed into the corner by other stuff I’ve been doing; I really want to make sure it isn’t the same in 2018. It’s all about balance.

2017 has been a great year, and I’ll write about in the next few days, but if I have any resolution for next year, it is what I mentioned above – find balance!

The handsome vicar and the runaway child

I didn’t realise four years ago when I took on the National Novel Writing Challenge that the 50,000 words i was attempting to write would become the start of the next six books… I began to tell the story of Thomas Radwinter and his three brothers, Marcus, Paul and John, of the ups and the down of their lives and their families. As well as their own lives, the stories also include ‘investigations’ which Thomas undertakes, seemingly harmless research into genealogical mysteries which lead him into all sorts of difficulties.

This is the beginning of the third novel, and here it seems as i the family are united and happy and all will go well for them… However, Thomas’s investigations into his own history cause upset, and his investigations into a woman who just disappeared from a busy street lead him into danger…

But this is the start – a very happy day for Thomas:

I looked up at the vicar standing on the steps of the nave, and he smiled down at me. He’s very handsome this vicar, and in fact he’s my brother. All my brothers are handsome men, and Marcus, the Reverend Marcus Edward Radwinter, is no exception; he has a strong angular face, and today his wild eyebrows and bushy beard and flowing grey mane of hair have been neatly trimmed. The most arresting thing about him is his eyes, his piercing blue Radwinter eyes, and as I looked up at him, they crinkled in a smile.

He glanced down the aisle and I looked at my other brother John, standing beside me; he was beaming too, and well he might. He is engaged to the most beautiful woman, Justyna, and they were expecting their baby in three weeks’ time. We’d had a few jokes about maybe it would come early and arrive today, and then there could be a christening as well as a wedding here in my brother’s church.

As well as a wedding… not John’s wedding, but mine. Yes, today I was marrying Kylie…

A little brown face peeped at me round John’s shoulder, my little man Kenneil. He was very excited, I can tell you, but being very good… so far. He looked so cute in his little kilt; my nephew Tom was holding him in his arms. John was my best man and Tom and Kenneil were my groomsmen…

“Ahem,” Marcus nodded towards the church doors and I realised that my other nephew, Django, was playing the bridal march; he and his band had been vamping some incidental music while we waited.

“Can I look?” I whispered.

“Of course you can,” Marcus replied, he looked so happy.

I turned and there, there was my beautiful bride.

Kylie was wearing a white and gold dress and she looked like an Aztec goddess… well, actually I don’t know if the Aztecs had goddesses, but she looked exotic and wonderful and she shimmered as she walked towards me, her arm resting lightly on that of my brother Paul who was escorting her. He looked very handsome, I thought once that he looks like a silver lion; he has that strength, that confidence and pride in his family.

Kylie’s hair was drawn back from her face and had been woven into plaits with golden ribbons and jewelled beads threaded through… She had feathers in her hair, gold feathers, and her veil came down just to her nose, and there were little sparkly stars on it. Behind her I could see her three bridesmaids, my nieces Paula and Sarah, and Kylie’s sister Reneasha.

Kylie’s dress was short at the front, not too short, and her long elegant legs strode out… in a way she looked quite fearsome… but these days I think she looks magnificent with that determined expression, not terrifying as I used to think…

There was fumble beside me, and I heard Tom say, “Kenneil, come back! Oh, sorry Thomas!”

Kenneil had somehow escaped and was running down the aisle to his Mama. We‘d gone to the suit shop to hire suits for John and Tom and he‘d spotted a kilt and although he has no known connection to anything Scottish, he is in fact three-quarters Tobagoan, he insisted…and he is so adorable, I just gave way. I could hear the congregation all go ‘aah’ as he sped towards Kylie.

Her face broke into the widest smile and she bent to him, and Paul leant over and picked him up and carried him on his arm as they continued to process down the aisle, Kylie and me grinning at each other…

I had never felt so confident and sure of myself in all my life; this really was the start of a new and wonderful adventure with my family beside me!

Here is a link so you can find out more, what family secrets Thomas uncovered and whether he found teh vanished woman:

http://amzn.eu/dgMp8bx

Thomas’s cup of tea – an interview

As part of the ’73 challenge’ my fellow blogger on our Moving Dragons blog has set us, we have conducting an interview on the list; I decided that I would really challenge myself by doing an actual spoken interview, recording it, and sharing it here… Well, technical problems have arisen and so although it will be attempted, for the moment I am going to do a written interview. Just to make it a bit different, and maybe it will seem a bit strange, I am going to interview a character I have written about.

I don’t know if it is the same for other writers, but some characters I write about almost seem to become separate from my imagination, and when I am writing they do unpredictable and sometimes foolish things. This doesn’t mean that when I am editing and working on my complete novels I don’t try to eliminate inconsistencies and things done and said which don’t seem true to the imaginary individual I have created. Nor do I have any illusion that they are actually real and living in a different dimension!!

The ideas for the questions I’m posing are taken from a food magazine but with a lot of tweaking…

So here is Thomas Radwinter explaining what is ‘his cup of tea‘:

My Cup of Tea

Q: What dish reminds you of your childhood?

Thomas: Um… well… I actually didn’t have an exactly brilliant childhood… things all went a bit wrong… but I do remember one happy time… which will probably seem a bit strange… anyway… I remember once it was at night and we were in the kitchen and it was dark and the oven was on and John my brother and I were sitting in front of the open oven and it was really warm, and we were eating baked beans out of bowls with a spoon.  John was telling me a story – we were cowboys out on the lonesome range and we were sitting round our campfire…
Whenever we have baked beans, I always think of that, and think of how we were lovely and warm and John was making me laugh with his story

Q: Do you cook any of the things you ate as a child?

Thomas: I have had a go at making baked beans myself… My boy liked them, but none of the rest of the family did, so I guess I won’t be doing that again! These days what I cook depends on what  is in season on my brother’s allotment, what is going cheap at the veg shop, and any offers on at the butcher’s or supermarkets! I guess this means we eat quite healthily – and it also means I do cook some strange stuff according to what I’ve bought! I’m not bad at cakes, the kids’ favourite is my orange surprise cake – it was supposed to be lemon drizzle but we didn’t have any lemons so it was a surprise because it was oranges! (They were going cheap at Val’s,  the veg shop)

Q: What’s for breakfast?

Thomas: Breakfast is supposed to be really important isn’t it? My wife likes a cooked breakfast and because I’m a bit more flexible in my work (being a stay-at-home dad and part-time solicitor) I make sure she has something cooked – even if it’s only beans on toast (beans again!) or a scrambled egg before she flies out of the door. The two oldest are at school so they usually have porridge and then maybe an egg (we eat a lot of eggs but we get most of them from the old bloke who has an allotment next to my brother’s) The three littlies (yes we have five children) have porridge or cereal and fruit or toast, or an egg… kids’ breakfast stuff…  I know it’s bad for me but quite often I sort of forget breakfast for me – and then have elevenses later when everyone is where they should be!

Q: What food do you never run out of?

Thomas: um… well, veg – because of the allotment! And there’s usually cake.

Q: Which chef would you love to have cook for you?

Thomas: Crikey! That’s a tricky question!! We love going to my friend Leo’s Italian restaurant; his family come from Apulia so most of what he cooks  is traditional from there… I have another friend who is Armenian and we love going to his restaurant too! So I guess Leo or Vekan…. as for a famous chef… um… I’m a bit out of touch these days… I do use Claudia Roden’s recipes a lot so that would be amazing if she cooked a meal for us!!!

Q: What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever eaten?

Thomas: This probably isn’t very strange in the top ten of really weird and peculiar things that people eat like unusual parts of an animal or insects or bird spit… but when I found a recipe which involved frying sprouts with black pudding, that actually did seem might odd… especially as you make a sort of sauce with blue cheese… Actually it tasted jolly good, and everyone who said sprouts were disgusting tucked into it and I had to make some more… so that was jolly strange… except it isn’t any more as we quite often have it when we get given sprouts by Val from the veg shop.

Q: where in the world would you like to go and try the local food?

Thomas: Anywhere!!!! I just love food!!! I guess I would like to go to Apulia and Armenia, but most I would like to go to Tobago. My wife’s father is from Tobago, and two of my children are… so a family holiday to Tobago would be great!

Q: best biscuits for dunking?

Thomas: I don’t dunk! I think it’s horrible!

Q: how do you take your tea?

Thomas: usually as quickly as possible because I’m always in a tearing hurry! Actually I like it strong with not too much milk – and just ordinary, I’m not keen on fancy stuff like Earl Gray or fruit teas…

If you want to find out more about Thomas, you can read his stories here:

 

Case study… but not quite

I haven’t given much thought to the list of 73  recently… In case you’ve missed me chuntering on about it, the 73 is a list of suggestions of different sorts of blogs which can be written. A friend found it shared it, and it became a sort of challenge between us to try and write one of each of the suggestions.

I am on number 7 – ‘Case Studies‘… hmmm… what or who can I wrote about… a case study…

  • a process or record of research into the development of a particular person, group, or situation over a period of time
  • a particular instance of something used or analysed in order to illustrate a thesis or principle

I suppose I could write a case-study of my fictional Radwinter family, but I have written so much about them here already – and also to describe the process which created them would take far long – and the end product would be far too long!! I could write a case-study of how I came to create my books for reluctant readers – but I’ve been writing about them and how they came to be over the last few days.

My working life before my writing life was teaching, but it all seems a rather long time ago – in fact it wasn’t, but things have changed so significantly (for me – and probably for teaching too!) that I’m not sure I could write very much of interest.

In my latest novel I have been doing a lot of research on two very different subjects, the salt industry – focusing on sea salt rather than rock salt, and the zeppelin raids of the first world war. However, my research is very superficial as I just want to include a few details into a couple of the narrative threads.  The salt making is part of a story-line about the history of my fictional town of Easthope and how the archaeology of the nineteenth century salt works has a bearing on a one character. The zeppelins is part of a family history which is being traced… and here is an extract – Thomas Radwinter is telling the story:

I looked through the collection of news reports I had about the zeppelin attack. There were quite a few in the local newspapers, but one I’d not properly looked at, told me very much more than I already knew, about Anatole saving the young sisters from the burning hotel. It seemed that it wasn’t a bomb which had been dropped but a tracking flare.

Rescue from burning building

A sensational rescue from a burning hotel was effected in Great Yarmouth last evening, when two young girls, who were half choked with smoke, were led down a back stairs from the top story of Gentzer’s Hotel near Blacksmith’s Lane. The empty hotel had received a direct hit from an incendiary device and the flames spread rapidly. When the firemen arrived the old building was well alight. It took until morning before the flames were all extinguished.

I was intrigued that the writer used the word ‘sensational’ – I would have thought that was a more modern expression… anyway…

Plucky Rescue From Burning Building
by the gallant act of Anthony Finch

Two young sisters were rescued from death by burning near Yarmouth, early yesterday evening.
Finch was on his way from work, when he saw the zeppelin above but had no notion of what it was. Although filled with terror as fire rained down, when he noticed Gentaer’s old hotel was ablaze, he rushed in. The older girl, Irene had called from the window and Finch found her and the little girl, Mary. The bedroom furniture was on fire but he smothered the flames with an old curtain and despite only having one arm, carried little Mary out of the burning building.
Then, the child having been taken by Mrs Dotes a farmer’s wife, Finch ran back into the house, where he found Irene collapsed on a landing. He succeeded in carrying her down the stairs where the fire men met him.
Both sisters are in hospital unharmed but suffering from the inhalation of smoke.

So that was it, that was why Anatole was not a soldier – he only had one arm!

So this is research, but it’s not a case study! I must think some more about how to do number 7 of the list of 73!

Here is a link to my Radwinter stories:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/RADWINTER-5-Book-Series/dp/B072HTG366/ref=sr_1_16?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1508971464&sr=1-16&keywords=lois+elsden

 

 

The old lady was hitting me with a saucepan!

When I first wrote about Thomas Radwinter  he led a very quiet, very boring, and actually a very unhappy life. Things changed for him in the course of the events described in ‘Radwinter‘, and they changed some more in the sequel, ‘Magick‘. He had begun to explore his family tree, and had uncovered a lot of other stories too in the first novel; in the second he was asked by a friend to investigate a little mystery she had, and in the third story in the series, ‘Raddy and Syl‘, he is commissioned to find a missing woman – a missing woman the police don’t believe ever existed.

The extent to which Thomas’s life has changed is demonstrated in the following extract. He has discovered Kashmira imprisoned by her own father Adnan; he isn’t able to break the chain holding her to her bed, but he is able to break the bed – but not completely… He, Kashmira and the bedhead hurry out of the room where she has been kept and down the stairs, to meet her father coming up armed with a meat cleaver:

As my foot connected with Adnan and he fell, tumbling  backwards down the stairs, there was a terrific whack on my shoulder … the old lady was hitting me with a saucepan. Kashmira was screaming at her, I grabbed the bedhead, grabbed Kashmira and dragged her down the stairs. Adnan was lying stunned in the passage, the cleaver in the doorway to the kitchen. I hadn’t time or a free hand to pick it up, so I kicked it and it spun away with a clatter.

I almost dragged Kashmira outside and she collapsed holding her hands over her eyes. I picked up a bit of brick and smashed the bedstead so although she still had the chain round her wrist at least we didn’t have the bedhead as well. I chucked the brick away and saw my phone… I’d dropped it when I slipped on the oil.

I snatched it up but I wasn’t going to waste time – I had to get us away from this horror. Kashmira was just weeping, heart-breaking sobs, collapsed as the rain came down on her.  I pulled her to her feet just as a figure appeared in the door… Adnan and this time he had what looked like a big chopper… I screamed at Kashmira to run and I picked up a brick and chucked it at him, it missed but he had to duck as he came down the steps.

I threw a coping stone which struck him on the shoulder and I rushed after Kashmira. She had got out of the gate, but disoriented had run the wrong way, away from the bridge. I shouted at her and ran after her as she hobbled ahead. I glanced back and Adnan was after us, no time to phone…

Kashmira had reached the lock and to my amazement she began to walk across the top of the lock gate, balancing like a wobbly tight rope walker. She was so desperate to escape, so brave…

There was a pole with a hooked end on the ground and I snatched it up, hoping I could keep her insane father at bay. He was shouting at me, raving… and then, oh thank god, I heard the blues and twos… Maybe Rashid had phoned the police…

Adnan swung his axe towards me and I poked at him with the pole. He took a swing at it and cut the end right off!

I poked at him again, backing away. I daren’t see where Kashmira was, I didn’t know what was on the other side of the lock – I’d never been here before… it must be near the station car park…maybe someone had found her…

I shouted for help, bellowed as loudly as I could ‘Help! Help!! Help!!!’

He suddenly raised the axe and ran at me, fuck! I held out the pole and he ran right into the chopped off end and suddenly I was falling sideways and so was he and I slammed onto the concrete edge of the lock and he tumbled in…

I lay winded, looking down at him as he splashed about in the filthy water about six foot below..

“I hope you drown you mad bastard!” I shouted, except it wasn’t a shout it was more of a wheeze… and then I realised he was drowning and shouting ‘help

I staggered to my feet and looked round for one of those ring things… there was a sort of cabinet with ‘use in case of emergency’ stencilled on it… but it was empty… I looked down at Adnan, paddling about, going under, drowning… where were the police? Where the hell were the police?

I took off my coat, emptied my trouser pockets, took off my shoes, sat on the edge of the lock and then reluctantly launched myself into the water… Shit it was cold… shit it was freezing… It was a terrible, terrible shock, that freezing water…

 I swam over to him and damn me, he lashed out at me! I swam away – the bastard, the mad bastard – I’d jumped in to save him and now he was trying to drown me!

Suddenly something clumped into the water in front of me… a ring, one of those lifebuoys… I grasped it, realising there was shouting above and looking up I have never in all my life been so grateful to see a policewoman looking down at me…

You can find all my Radwinter stories, and my other novels and paperbacks here:

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