12-17 May – Fifth Anniversary of Writing Buddies Southampton!
The Right Worshipful The Mayor of Southampton (Councillor Ivan White) opened the Writing Buddies 5th Anniversary Exhibition at 2pm on the 12th May 2014, at the Southampton Central Library in the Civic Centre.
For information on the Southampton Writing Buddies monthly meetings, contact Penny Legg on firstname.lastname@example.org
27-30 April – SciFi Weekender 5
Had a fantastic time at SFW5 after winning tickets for the weekend in Pwllheli, North Wales! Took a bunch of Zombie Adventures with me and met lots of authors including the multi-talented Robert Rankin.
Junior with Robert Rankin, who seem to have conspired on the wardrobe front.
You can help fund (and get yourself a walk-on part in) Robert’s film project Alice on Mars by visiting the IndieGoGo page here. He hosted many of the events at SFW5 and is a great entertainer. Hats off to you, Sir!
We also joined in the cosplay on both days by dressing up as characters from Sucker Punch, Doctor Who, Assassin’s Creed, Beetlejuice, and entered the official competition as Mey-Rin and Grell Sutcliffe from Black Butler:
In our ‘Black Butler’ cosplay attire
It’s a fantastic family event and I really do recommend it – you can book up to 8 people sharing a cabin, and the surrounding countryside of Snowdonia is also gorgeous. We were extremely lucky with the weather too!
Checkout SciFi Weekender for next year on http://www.scifiweekender.com/
October: Great news following a Writing Buddies group book signing at Southampton Marlands, 12th October –
— Lisa Scullard (@aka_VoodooSpice) October 13, 2013
April: At London Book Fair, Monday 15th April – met up with Kobo Writing Life and Jeffrey Archer, for the announcement of the three finalists in the Short Story Challenge Contest (see Related News).
The slightly scarier cover on the combined edition –
…Two Deathrunners, Lara Leatherstone and Connor Reeves, thrash out their personal issues over ‘a To Do list’ – of contract killers.
Age rating: Moderate – suitable for most readers. Some infrequent use of mild language, one or two uses of strong language, some adult humour. No graphic or explicit content.
Yes, the classics are still out there, just revamped since the original MS Paint comic-book style vector graphic covers! 🙂 In the literary genres Romance, Crime, and with a dash of humour, it’s now five years since I wrote this 250,000-word bad boy in 2008, and split it into two books for its first Kindle outing, after doing the rounds of agents, publishers and promotional sites like Authonomy.com, where I had some great comments and feedback.
And since publishing Death & The City in April 2011, it’s plodded along happily without much promotion effort from me, while I worked on other projects and helped other authors format their books to publish, including Sophie Neville, Freddie Omm, and Adam Sifre. I had readers tag it as ‘self-help fiction’, due to the main character’s internal point-of-view in psycho-analysing everything that crosses her path, for her own mental health’s sake.
There’s also been a true-life tale of intrigue added to the journey of my writing. These two books have been on a bit of an adventure since the London Book Fair in April 2012, when I was handed a free book from a trilogy by a major publisher – which turned out to contain a spooky amount of similarities to my own prose in Death & The City, and further snippets from my other published books.
To cut a long story short, the publishers of the other author very kindly looked into it, and denied the possibility that the author imitated, adapted or used any of my work.
So, besides escaping into parody-land for a while, and allowing my split personality to go away and rant about various issues on its own blog, I had to wonder how on Earth I’m supposed to promote my earlier books on their own *cough* merit, if others can also see those similarities and query them…?
Then I thought, sod it – let them wonder about it too. And enjoy the mystery 🙂
Here’s a scene from DEATH & THE CITY: BOOK ONE – Chapter 20: Normal Relations…
I get a text while I’m making my second cup of tea, caught up in reflection, and it’s Connor. Why aren’t you asleep yet?
I look at the clock on the microwave. It’s been an hour and a half since I got home already. Head office must have told him I’m still awake, by whatever surveillance is currently on my house, and told him to check up on me. Probably still worried I might decide to be a full-time psychopath, considering what toys they’ve allowed me now.
Thinking about it, the surveillance might BE one of my new toys. Could easily have a sensor in the car, telling them that the lights are on and I’m downstairs.
Breaking another rule, I pick up the phone for once, and ring him back.
“How did you know I’m awake?” I greet him, getting the milk out of the fridge.
“I’m outside,” he says simply.
“Oh.” Somehow, I wasn’t expecting that.
“You coming to the door or shall I let myself in?”
“I’m making a cup of tea right now,” I say, because for some reason that’s what my body is still preoccupied with, taking the lid off the milk.
“Never mind,” he says, and I look round to see him appearing in the kitchen doorway, putting his phone away with one hand and snapping a penknife shut with the other. “Can’t believe you’ve only got a Yale on the door. How many guns have you got in this place again?”
“Haven’t counted,” I admit, putting my phone down on the worktop. “Do you want a cup of tea?”
“Wouldn’t say no.” He leans on the door-frame and watches me as I get another mug down from the cupboard. “I was still thinking about you after you came home, I wanted to check you were okay.”
“I’m okay, I guess.” I haven’t really thought about it. Whether I’m okay or not. My work colleagues are getting their own death sentences off the internet in search of fun, money and notoriety. My brain’s off on some adventure of its own solving my life issues. My body’s making cups of tea. I have no idea how I’m supposed to feel about any of it, except maybe to take some notes when I get the chance. “Were you still going to break in if I was asleep?”
“Didn’t have to find out, did I?” he smiles. “Might have given my self-control a struggle. Can I take this off and put it somewhere?”
He tugs at his hi-vis jacket, and I nod and point to one of the chairs where my work blazer is hanging. He peels off the jacket and slings it over mine.
“Thanks,” he says, and takes the tea as I hold it out. He then reaches over and takes mine out of my hand, and puts them both on the table behind him.
“What?” I ask, as he turns back around to face me.
“Nothing,” he says. “Just come here.”
He pulls me into his arms. Everything my brain has been mulling over since I was driving home disintegrates like a sandcastle as the tide comes in. The only thing I think is to wonder how I survived for so long without a cuddle.
“I worry about you,” he murmurs into my hair.
“Don’t say that,” I reply. I don’t want to have to face whatever comes to mind if someone’s concerned about me at the best of times. I’m fine as long as they think I am. For some reason I don’t want Connor starting to think about me like that, of all people.
“It’s on my mind, I’m going to say it.” He holds me tighter and heaves a sigh as if resigning to something. “Get used to the idea.”
I can’t think of anything to say. One thing I could definitely get used to is being held like this.
“So why aren’t you asleep yet?” he asks, half-humorously.
“Just thinking about some stuff,” I admit. “Nothing important. Just noisy thoughts.”
“I was thinking about you a lot,” he says. “Thinking about how whenever I see you I still think of you as the girl falling down the stairs. Sometimes I dream about it and I miss catching you.”
I’m surprised. I always assumed Connor thought of me as the mental patient running around in my bare feet and pyjamas in broad daylight. I’d never thought of his longer term memories as being relevant until now.
“Is that what’s worrying you?” I ask. “I only fall down stairs if there’s beer spilt on them at work now. I’ve kind of got the hang of stairs.”
“It’s probably a subconscious thing,” Connor admits. “Concerns about what might happen if I’m not there when you need me.”
“But you are here,” I tell him, trying to be reassuring.
He looks at me.
“Do you know what you just said?” he asks me. “Are you sure you’re all right here on your own?”
“Do I have any choice?” I reply. “Just sounds like normal life to me. No point stressing about it.”
“You’re still awake more than an hour after getting home,” he points out again. “Looks like signs of stress to me.”
I don’t have a response, because by basic elementary logic he’s right.
“Do you know what I feel like doing now?” he asks quietly. It sounds a little bit like a threat. Maybe a threat of giving way to his self-control issues.
“Drinking your tea before it gets cold?” I suggest, partly out of avoidance, and partly out of OCD awareness of abandoned cups of tea nearby.
“Not yet,” he shakes his head. There’s quite a scary pause, but then he rubs my arms reassuringly. “But close. I feel like I should put you to bed and make sure you get some sleep. And stop worrying about whatever’s bothering you.”
“I was going to, seriously,” I say, relieved. “Soon as I drink that tea.”
“Good,” he nods. “I’ll just make sure you do.”
He turns away and picks up both mugs.
“Come on then.” He steps back and nods towards the stairs. “Up to bed.”
* * * * *
“Your house is too small,” he remarks. We’re both sitting on my bed where it fits sideways into the end of my room between the window and sliding wardrobe, leaning on the wall. “You and Junior need more space to think. I’d be mental living in a shoebox this size.”
“Yeah, I know.”
He’s browsing through my bedside reading.
“This is out of print now,” he says, turning one over and then picking up the next. “And SHE’S been struck off. Doctor Wang Doodle, Noodle Fraud.”
“Case of poor referencing,” I reply. “She was too busy posing for porn mags in Japanese bondage knots to do her own medical research, as it turned out. The research in her books is sound – it’s just not her own, and she doesn’t credit it to who it should be.”
“You would have thought as a self-proclaimed social psychology expert, she would have predicted people would guess that about her scientific career, as soon as she admitted to being a Manga Porn Star on the side. That one was manufactured self-help pulp for desperate people,” he adds, shuffling the next one to the top. “The kind that phone up Tarot lines all the time looking for answers to questions that don’t even have meaning in the real world.”
“Have you read it?”
“Sums it up.” I finish my tea, and put the mug on the windowsill, behind the curtain.
“Why do you read this stuff?” he asks.
“To remind myself how people coped before reality shows and Facebuddy. Where they looked to solve their relationship problems,” I tell him. “Part of social evolution. You may have noticed, I don’t have any relationships to have problems in. I probably thought, at the time, I was working on preparing myself for a good relationship strategy. Nowadays relationships don’t exist unless they’re online, it looks like. Counts me out. Why do you read them?”
“To find out what advice women are following that turns them into nutcases, or what they should be reading to stop being nutcases,” he says. He puts them down and pulls the bedcover across. “Right, get in, you’ve drunk your tea. Deal’s a deal.”
I get under the covers after kicking my shoes off, still in the rest of my work uniform, and pull the duvet up to my chin.
“You gonna take those things off?” he asks.
“You wish,” I reply. “No double glazing or gas central heating in this house.”
“Yeah, I noticed that too,” he smirks. He puts the books down, and his mug on the chest of drawers. Then he switches off the bedside lamp, and stretches out next to me, on top of the covers. “Right, I’m counting to ten, and you better be asleep.”
“Only if you’re a hypnotist or got an anaesthetic up your sleeve,” I retort.
“Could be arranged,” he yawns. “And I’m warning you, no sleep means forfeits, because I’ve got all night, but my self-control might not have.”
I think about the potential consequences of this. About how Connor’s personality seems to be split down the middle. Half of him wanting to prove he does the right thing. Half of him wanting to exercise getting his own way any other way.
And he’s still managing to hang out with me unofficially, potentially succeeding in brainwashing me. There’s no way this early on that he should even be in my house, let alone in my room. Or on my bed.
“Forfeits?” I repeat, wanting some clarification in case I’m assuming wrong.
“Well, for example, if you’re not asleep in five minutes, I get under the covers with you and then all bets are off.”
Nope. I assumed right for once.
“What do you mean, ‘for example’?” I ask.
“Well,” he says, propping himself up on his elbow next to me and looking at his watch. “I already counted to ten.”
He leans across and kisses me on the lips, gently. His hand barely brushes my cheek. I feel like a knife of sensation has pierced my solar plexus, through the mattress.
“Right, I’m counting again,” he says, lying back once more. “Go to sleep.”
Unfortunately, the feeling I had was adrenaline, and now I’m anything but asleep. I stare at the uneven Artex stippled onto the ceiling with the familiar hairline cracks in, wondering if this is the time when subsidence will finally claim my rented end-of-terrace and put a stop to whatever game has just started.
But Connor just reaches over with his hand and tousles my hair with it, stroking my forehead and temple.
“I’m teasing,” he whispers. “Go to sleep.”
His touch on my hair starts to relax me, and I gradually feel my panic de-escalate until I let my eyes close involuntarily.
I feel Connor move, and his arms slide around me carefully, and I react in a way I wasn’t expecting to, reaching up around his neck to snuggle closer. Just feeling him breathe against my hair suddenly feels like the safest place in the world instead of the scariest.
Usually I only have my own thoughts for company at night. For once I’m grateful for something else.
* * * * *
A mobile phone ringtone wakes me, but gives me a moment of confusion as it isn’t mine. I open my eyes, as Connor reaches over me to the drawer unit and picks up his phone, looking at the caller’s I.D.
“Head office,” he mutters, pressing Speakerphone before putting it down again. I start to sit up but he rests his forearm across my collarbone, pushing me back down on the bed with a grin. “Morning.”
“Morning, you two,” head office reply breezily. “Tomorrow evening, Half Moon Inn. Blues night, you’ll like it. Make it look like a date. We know you’re getting cosy already, shouldn’t be too hard. Target details to follow. As you were, ha ha.”
“Cheers,” says Connor, and presses Disconnect. “Bastards.”
“Can I get up now?” I ask, worrying that I haven’t practised restraint techniques for a while, and he seems to have the advantage at the moment.
“Sure,” he says. But I can see the conflict in his eyes, between the urge to tease, and the urge to get his own way. “Give me a second.”
He moves without letting me up, so that his arms are around me instead of pinning me down. I put my hands up against his shoulders, intending to keep a gap between us. Recalling him holding me last night, all my strength seems to betray me. And when he kisses me, resisting is the last thing on my mind.
It’s only when I feel his hand move down my back under the covers that I tense unwittingly, and he stops.
“Yeah, I know,” he sighs, and sits up, letting me up in turn. But as I move to slip out of bed he loops an arm around my waist, pulling me back against him, this time on top of the covers. “That’s a lot better.”
“Hey,” I protest. “You’re cheating.”
I squirm to try and escape, and end up lying sideways across his lap while he pins my arms down.
“Do you trust me?” he asks.
“Do I have any choice?” I ask.
“Yeah, it’s called free will,” he tells me. “It’s ALL about it being your choice.”
He lets go of my arms and helps me sit up, but stops me short of sliding off his lap with his arms gently around my waist. My own arm goes around his shoulders to steady myself. When our eyes meet, he kisses me again, and I suddenly feel like I’ve got all the power of jelly in my body.
“Okay,” he says at last. “I reckon you need to get out of that uniform. I mean changed. And a cup of tea.”
He lets me off his lap and grabs the two empty mugs from last night, getting to his feet.
“See you downstairs,” he says, and walks out.
Any normal self-respecting woman would call him a tease, or think HE was playing hard to get. But I’m not normal, so all I feel is relief.
DEATH & THE CITY © Lisa Scullard 2008
Yeah, I do the selfie thing too – checking out my pink dip dye (August 2015) 🙂
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