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Saturday, 25 August 2012

Extract from chapter 39 of Mine to Avenge

Taking a deep breath she got out of the car and walked slowly back along the footpath, her heels making a light rhythmic tapping on the concrete. Wild pigeons cooed softly from somewhere nearby. She could taste the salty tang of the sea on the breeze. Everything was so normal and suburban.
Now that she was here, she had no idea what she would say. Would the gatekeeper let her in? Was Linus even here? Would he want to see her if he was? Would she have the courage to go in if she was admitted?
It was still early in the afternoon, and the sun was high enough in the sky not to hinder her view into the gatehouse booth. She could see a man in uniform, his face framed by a mop of rust-coloured hair. As she got closer, she saw that his face was barely visible under all the hair. His uniform cap was pulled down tightly, forcing the hair at the front to fall over his eyes.
Alethea knew the man was watching her as she approached, but as she drew nearer, he lowered his head and turned away, picking up a magazine as he did so.
She tapped on the gatehouse window. The man slowly raised his eyes from the magazine. Alethea did her best to look directly at him, but was unable to see his eyes clearly at all.
After a lengthy pause the man reached forward to open a sliding glass window.
‘Yes, miss. Can I help you?’
 ‘Thank you, I’m looking for Linus Vasilakis. Does he live here?’
The man hesitated and appeared to be uncomfortable. He looked down again, avoiding her gaze. Alethea thought it strange that someone employed in the security industry should be so timid.
‘Does Linus Vasilakis live here?’ she asked again.
‘He does, miss.’
‘Can I see him, please? Can you please let him know I’m here?’
‘I’m sorry, miss. The master and the young master aren’t seeing anyone at this time. My instructions are that no visitors are allowed at all.’
Alethea was emboldened by the man’s refusal to let her in. The idea that she wasn’t likely to be admitted made her feel safer. This timid man didn’t frighten her either, so she attempted to engage him in conversation.
‘So he does live here, then?’
The man looked up at her again. ‘Yes, miss.’
‘Do you know when he’ll be able to see me?’
‘No, miss.’ The man was clutching his magazine tightly and was obviously unwilling to converse.
‘Can you at least tell him that I called and would like to visit him when he’s able to have visitors?’
‘Certainly, miss.’ The man looked down at his magazine again, obviously hoping that this was the end of the matter, but Alethea continued to stand there, waiting. Reluctantly he raised his head again. She could barely see the man’s eyes but she thought that he was looking straight past her, rather than directly at her.
‘Is there anything else, miss?’
‘Aren’t you going to ask my name so that you can let Linus know who called?’
‘Oh, yes, certainly. My apologies, miss. I’ll just get some paper.’
He stretched his arm towards the end of the bench, and picked up a notepad and a pen.
‘Your name?’ he asked without looking up at her.
‘Alethea … Alethea Galanos.’
‘Thank you, miss.’
‘Thank you,’ she replied brusquely, mildly offended by his rudeness and apparent unwillingness to help. She turned away and returned to the car, slamming the car door with frustration as she climbed in. She drove away again slowly and looked at the man as she passed, but he wasn’t watching her at all. His nose was firmly planted in his magazine. She turned left into the traffic of Brighton Road and began the drive home. 

Friday, 17 August 2012

Second extract from chapter 36 of Mine to Avenge

Only four chapters to go and I will have finished reading through the proofs. What has surprised me is that I am still finding mistakes, even at this stage of the production process. I have found over 50 things that need fixing, but the encouraging thing is that only 12 of these are things I overlooked, while the others are problems that occurred at the publisher’s end during the internal layout process.
Being a first time author I am surprised at how long things can take from the completion of writing to final publication. I finished writing Mine to Avenge at the beginning of the year, then researched publishing options, went through a first and second edit process and am now at the proof stage. From completion of writing to this point has taken approximately 8 months, and I am guessing I will still need to read the second proofs through when the publishers have tidied up the mistakes found this first time around.
Things would be different of course if writers had the luxury of writing full time. I am sure that is the lot of only a fortunate few, who by sheer hard work and perseverance are able to do that. It’s something the rest of us can only dream about as we seek to fit in doing what we love around the responsibilities of such things as regular day jobs. So I will plod away at getting Mine to Avenge ready after hours and on the weekends, and hope it will be ready for launch before the end of the year!

Please enjoy another excerpt from chapter 36:
‘Linus arrived at his grandfather’s house at 10.30 a.m. the same morning. He got off the bus, slung his backpack onto his shoulders, and walked towards his grandfather’s house with rising trepidation.
As he approached the gates, Linus felt the usual, familiar sickness in the pit of his stomach, but something was different and not quite right. As he came up to the window of the gatehouse booth, he realised what it was. The booth was unattended. Puzzled, he called out to Parker, the gatekeeper, but there was no response. He walked over to the centre of the large wrought iron gates and stared into the gardens, looking and listening for the gardener, but there was no sign of him either. Then he remembered it was Wednesday and that the staff, except for Parker, usually had Wednesdays off. Parker should have been there, or a relief gatekeeper at the very least. Linus had never known a time when the gate was left unattended. He had his own keys to unlock the smaller side gate, so he rummaged in the bottom of his bag to find them.
It was bad enough to be returning to his grandfather’s house to live, without something out of the ordinary compounding his unease. He found his keys and fumbled with the lock, let himself in and locked the gate securely behind him.
He wondered if Parker was ill and went around to the cottage entrance on the garden side, wishing his feet didn’t make so much noise on the gravel. He rang the doorbell and waited patiently, but there was no answer.
He had one last thought, and peered through a gap into the gatekeeper’s garage, but Parker’s car wasn’t there. Where could Parker be? Linus was confused, not knowing whether it was Parker who was absent from his post or whether it was a relief gatekeeper who was absent.
Either way, Linus was ill at ease with no one on the gate at all. Something was going on, and he began to have second thoughts about his plans. He wondered if he still had time to change his mind. Once his grandfather knew he was there, there would be no backing out.
He hesitated, unsure if he wanted to go into the house, knowing that he would be alone there with his grandfather all day. He made up his mind, took a deep breath and walked back to the main driveway, continuing on towards the house.’

Saturday, 11 August 2012

Extract from Chapter 36 of Mine to Avenge

I have just completed my first week at my new job and my head is spinning with all the new information and procedures I need to learn to do the job well. Fortunately everyone has been wonderfully helpful and encouraging so I don’t feel too daunted by the task ahead.
My new town is large by country standards (population a little more than 23,000) but the pace of living here is slower and more relaxed. I am really enjoying it. I have been here nearly a fortnight now, and have slept brilliantly for the entire time - a feat in itself for a chronic insomniac going through a period of massive change. It is said that moving house and starting a new job are two of the most stressful things a person will deal with in their lifetime. It’s a big step to leave family, friends and everything familiar behind to take up a new job in a new town, only knowing two people here, but I have found I have been quite relaxed and haven’t had any doubts at all about the move. And now I have met my nice new neighbour and am part of a team of new work colleagues, so the contacts are gradually increasing.
In terms of where I am with Mine to Avenge, I am unable to devote the time I want to read through the proofs as quickly as I would like, because learning the new job and the territory I will be working in as a Housing Officer is taking up all my time, and I’m still not quite half way through, but I hope to be finished within a fortnight. Then I will begin making plans for promotion and the book launch, and put my mind to the sequel. I wrote the first chapter of the sequel in June and it’s been beckoning for me to get back to it!

Please enjoy the following extract from chapter 36 of Mine to Avenge:

‘Spyridon was no longer feeling the exhilaration of freedom, but something else he hadn’t anticipated. His bones and muscles ached from the bike ride, and he remembered that he wasn’t a young man anymore. This was the first time he had ridden a bike for many years. He was foolish riding a bike so far at his age when he was so unfit, and was glad that the ride was mostly flat. He was sweating profusely and needed a drink.
Suddenly, he saw what he had come all this way to find and looked for somewhere to stop and take stock. A sign loomed ahead of him, about forty metres away on the other side of a small patch of parkland—Galanos Travel Agents. He stood under the shade of the crisp, spring foliage of a lime-green plane tree, and saw red umbrellas and tables nearby. An enticing coffee aroma drifted from an open doorway behind him.
He remembered how he was dressed, and saw that other people were a lot smarter and neater than he was. He had intended to be inconspicuous, but worried now that his shabbiness might have the opposite effect. He observed the passers by, some of them casually dressed, but no one took any particular notice of him, so he relaxed. He just wished his clothes didn’t smell so much of stale beer. He locked the bike to a nearby fence post and ambled casually to the coffee shop, doing his best not to limp and hobble from bicycle-induced stiffness.
He ordered a coffee, bought the morning paper and sat down at a table on the footpath under the shelter of an umbrella, where he had a clear view of the travel agency. He looked around again, feeling uncomfortable. He was here to watch Theodore Galanos, but had the feeling that he was the one under observation.’

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Extract from Chapter 35 of Mine to Avenge

 Having moved house only four days ago, I am planning to have a break from unpacking boxes tomorrow - at least until I have read through several chapters of Mine to Avenge. The publishers are patiently waiting on me to go through the proofs and then return the manuscript to them ready for publishing. I hope that now I am living only 3 ks from my new job (no more than 5-10 minutes travel time) that I will have a lot more time in the evening after work to fine-tune the manuscript. Living in the city I used to leave home at 7am for a 9am start and arrive home at 6.30pm after finishing at 5pm. It’s going to be wonderful leaving for work at 8.45 and arriving home before 5.30!

Please enjoy the following extract from chapter 35 of Mine to Avenge:

Spyridon took a deep breath. It was time, time to leave his house and venture into the outside world—the first occasion in eight years. He pressed the intercom button by the door.
‘Yes, sir?’ came the voice of the relief gatekeeper.
‘I’m about to head out for the day,’ Spyridon answered. ‘Can you open the side gate ready for me when I come out? No one is to be admitted at all until I return. Is that clear?’
‘Yes, sir.’
‘But I only want you to open the gate when the street is totally clear,’ Spyridon said. ‘There’s to be no one out there when I leave … no cars, no people … nothing. Understand?’
‘Yes, sir.’
‘I plan to be back around five o’clock this afternoon, so watch out for me.’
‘Yes, sir.’
Spyridon switched off the intercom, and stepped out of his front door. He walked over to the dusty bike leaning against the wall, and wheeled it around to face the gravel driveway. He cautiously lifted his leg over the bar, as he hadn’t ridden a bike for many years. He pushed his weight into the pedals and found himself balancing shakily. He rode carefully around to the far side of the house out of view of the gatehouse, and felt his confidence rise as he realised he hadn’t lost the skill. He had thought about practising on the bike over the past few weeks but hadn’t wanted to be seen by anyone. He turned the bike towards the front of the house again, heading towards the driveway and the gatehouse.
He stopped suddenly, skidding in the gravel of the driveway as he saw that the side gate was still closed. He couldn’t see the relief gatekeeper inside the booth, but he saw that the street door was open. He realised then that the man was outside surveying the street as he had been directed, to make sure that all was clear.
As he watched and waited by the edge of the driveway, two cars drove by. He heard voices, and a woman and child walked past the gate. He heard them as they greeted the gatekeeper in passing. Then he heard and saw another car. Then nothing.
The gatekeeper returned to the booth and closed the door, and Spyridon saw the small side gate begin to open. He looked to see if the man was watching him at all. ‘It doesn’t matter if he’s watching anyway,’ Spyridon reassured himself, ‘He doesn’t know me. I might do this every day of the week.’
Spyridon pedalled towards the gate, keeping his head down. He didn’t look at the gatekeeper as he rode past, but waved his arm in a casual greeting. He pedalled up to the gate, looked quickly to the right and the left and rode out into the street. Exhilarated by the sudden freedom, he headed towards the inner western suburbs, and his spirits began to soar as he contemplated the true freedom that would come when his father’s enemies were dead.