These things always take me by surprise and, to my surprise, it’s done, in rough at least. I need to put it to one side for a month or two – two, if I intend to do it right.
So that’s mid July before I look at it again. Then I’ll do another structural edit. And then. And then. And then…
This might be the last Mark Barrett story. I have a vague idea for a novella that includes his pal Jacob Greener and subterranean London, but after that I think Mark needs to retire from his semi-legal world of kinetic adventures.
At times like this, writing stories, however much they mean to me, means nothing in the big scheme of things. The only positive slant I can take from this moment in history is that perhaps we’ll stop hating ourselves and despising our own values. And perhaps our leaders will stop surrendering to managed decline. Perhaps we’ll re-enter the real world. I’d like to think so.
I touch on this putative change to the world order from an English perspective in the fourth Mark Barrett story Gun Jesus (I’m busy editing the first draft). Mark has been offered a job flying the Regiment to trouble spots and he’s chatting with special forces officer Tom Jarvis about Britain’s role in the world.
‘It’s not all bad news; England was always better as a small, independent nation. The Empire was a mistake, the East India Company metastasized and we ended up owning half the fucking world, a role for which we were barely qualified. I doubt we’ll make that schoolboy error again. I’m hoping we’ll go back to doing what we do best.’ ‘Which is?’ ‘Drinking beer, taking the piss, and making a barely legal living as an international pirate state.’
I finally got my old hard drive from my drowned MacBook, and the documents it contained. I looked at Gun Jesus, a book I’d been working on but hadn’t gone as I’d liked. I read through it and two things became apparent.
It needs full rewrite.
But it’s complete. It’s done. The first draft is finished.
When did that happen? I really don’t know.
Writing, to me, seems to be a lot of standing about thinking, then a lot of writing that I can’t remember, then a finished product that surprises me.
It might be out in time for the originally planned date. Summer 2022.
Blurb for the next Mark Barrett action/adventure book – due out in 2022:
Some said he was a Georgian, others that he was Jewish, or Arab. They said he’d served in Seal Team Six, he was Spetsnaz, he was ex IDF, ex SBS, that he was a radical green activist, a former Jihadi gone global, a lone wolf, ex CIA.
No one knew for sure.
Whatever he was, they said, it was all bad, and everyone wanted him dead.
But Mark Barrett knew who he was and what he really looked like, and he wasn’t telling. Because he gave his word. Gave his word to a solitary man in an almost empty airport – a man he trusted; a man who, after one brief meeting, he actually liked. This was the man the slavers called Dracul; the man the sheiks believed was the ghost of Hassan al Sabbah returned to strike down the wicked; the man the Cartels called Gun Jesus.
And while Mark didn’t think the man was a dragon, the reincarnation of the first assassin, or the son of God, he recognised a saint when he saw one.
I’ve got a completed draft of my dystopian YA novel Jago ready for a final draft in 2020. Hope to have it in print by the Autumn. There’s an almost complete draft of Gun Jesus, the third Mark Barrett action/adventure book too.
And there are other completed drafts that I need to go back and work on at some time in the future, including The Portrait Artist, Sid Beckett’s War and the Mark Barrett novella, Spenderella.