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.
Riley Spender is a Madame to the global elite – counting princes, presidents and pontiffs as her friends, her parties are international, infamous and invitation only. She’s rich, she’s successful and she has a black book the size of a medieval ledger. The press call her Spenderella – the poor girl who caught the heart of many, many princes, and has the jewellery, the lavish lifestyle and the tabloid profile to prove it.
And now she wants out.
She calls on Mark Barrett, an old friend, and her first love, to aid her escape – together they’ll cause the glamorous Spenderella to disappear and, in the reverse of the Cinderella fairy-tale, a thirty-something, single-mother will emerge to live quietly and anonymously in New England.
But what will this meeting of old flames mean for Mark’s self-image as a modern day Sir Galahad, and will past loves and old scars bear scrutiny?
Free Kindle download: 5-9 December. Click image for link.
.50 Cal, the second of the action-thriller novels featuring Mark Barrett, the disgraced-Army-pilot-turned-courier who works in “that grey area between almost and legal” is on free Kindle download from 7-11 July.