Revolution Reborn

I am delighted to announce that my second novel, Revolution Day, hitherto published only as an e-book, is now available to buy in paperback!  It’s priced at £6.99 in the UK, $9.99 in the US and €9.46 in the Eurozone.  Here’s an all-purpose Amazon link http://authl.it/4yo

I’ll be looking to arrange a launch event for the paperback edition some time soon, so watch this space for further news!

In the meantime, I guess a short excerpt is in order.  President Carlos Almanzor has ruled his country for 37 years after seizing power in a revolution. His estranged wife Juanita is writing a memoir in which she charts his regime’s descent from idealism into autocracy and repression. Here, she looks out of the house where she has been a prisoner for sixteen years…

 

It is just a line on the ground, a slight change in colour between the asphalt on one side and the gravel on the other, a few metres away from the door of my house. The same weeds grow on both sides of the line. After rain, part of it is concealed by a puddle. When I was free, I crossed this line hundreds of times without noticing it, except when the wrought iron gate lay closed above it. But even the gate had little significance. It was never locked in those days; its opening and closing were the task of a couple of seconds. Walking over the line made no impact upon my consciousness other than a rather pleasant, fleeting sense of entering a place of peace, of refuge from the demands of public life. Or – when I was going the other way – an odd mix of apprehension and excitement as I prepared to get back to work.

The line has not changed in any way since then. It, and the gate itself – still the same gate, after all these years – continue to be ignored by all other forms of life but me. The birds fly over it. Snails and lizards move unhindered beneath it. My cat – how I envy her this – passes between the bars as if they were not there when she begins and ends her nightly prowlings. The gate is locked now, of course, but for the various men and occasional woman who come here for one purpose or another, that fact is of no consequence. They all have keys, and the act of unlocking it hardly delays their progress at all.

But for me, the line, and the gate above it, are now an impermeable barrier. I have crossed it no more than four times in sixteen years, under armed guard. The trees on the other side of the road beyond the gate do not look any different from the ones I remember, the ones I could have walked among and touched if I had wanted to. They are no further away, in space. But I no longer see them as real trees. To me, they are like a picture of trees or, when the wind blows, a movie of trees swaying to and fro. They are beyond the line, and all that is outside it has for years been slowly fading out of reality.

 

Juanita is not the only one disillusioned with Carlos’ Presidency.  As vice-president Manuel uses intrigue, manipulation and blackmail to make his own bid for power, Juanita will find herself an unwilling participant in his plans.

You can find out more about Revolution Day here:  http://www.tetaylor.co.uk/revday

 

 

 

 

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Mexico: the final solution

Here’s a bit of fun from Holmfirth Writer’s Group yesterday evening.  The starting point for our writing was a piece of paper on which were posted a selection of twenty-odd newspaper headlines.  One of these was “Mexico. The nightmare has begun.”  This felt like a bit of a gift, in the aftermath of the Trump inauguration.  So fast forward a few years, to a time when a new Mexican president is having to deal with the fallout of Mr Trump’s obsession with their mutual border ….

The President could tell from the look on her private secretary’s face that it was not good news.

“What is it this time, Gomez?  Let me guess. Now, it wouldn’t happen to be President Trump, by any chance, would it?”

The private secretary nodded. “We have new information from our intelligence services about his latest plans for the border.”

“Oh for God’s sake. Isn’t he satisfied with his bloody wall by now?”  After three years and eight trillion dollars, the border wall was now 2000 miles long and 400 feet high, and was patrolled by three quarters of the US Army. It was equipped every 200 yards with machine guns, artillery and PA speakers playing country and western music, to deter new immigrants; and large catapults for repatriating old ones.  It could be seen from Mars and had a permanent effect on global weather.

“It’s not the wall this time, Presidente. Apparently, he’s no longer satisfied that a wall is adequate to keep us Mexicans out. No, he’s decided to dig a ditch.”

“A ditch, eh?  Well, that doesn’t sound too bad. Though I don’t see what difference it’s going to make. I mean, if someone is prepared to climb over 400 feet of concrete and face the guns of the US Army, I don’t see how a ditch is going to put them off.

“Well, Presidente, ‘ditch’ may be something of an understatement.”

“So. A trench, then?  A moat?”

“More of a man-made geological fault.  As I understand it, the intention is to fracture the North American tectonic plate at the line of the border, so that continental drift will cause Mexico to move one way and the USA and Canada the other.”

“The man is insane! Quite apart from the absurdity of it, how is it even possible?  Making a humungous great crack in the earth’s crust is a bit beyond the average bulldozer.”

“Ah, but Mr Trump thinks he has a solution. Our intelligence sources tell us that Mr Putin has told him he has to get rid of his nuclear weapons, or else certain compromising images will turn up on Instagram. So Trump has decided to dig deep holes for them along the line of the border and set them all off, killing two birds with one stone, as it were.  Look on the bright side, Presidente. At least he’s not asking us to pay for it this time.”

“I don’t believe it. It’s just another one of his megalomaniac fantasies. I’m surprised at you, Gomez.  You can’t take this stuff seriously.”

But a few weeks later, residents of the Mexican city of Tijuana awoke to a loud bang and an earthquake. They scrambled from the ruins of their houses to find that a finger of sea had appeared between their city and San Diego, California. As a series of similar bangs unzipped the continent, the Trump Sea came into existence, the wall suddenly became redundant and the US Army went home.  And as the Panama Canal went out of business, the residents of that newly impoverished country set out in boats in their tens of thousands, seeking a new life in the country that was the source of their misery.

 

 

The End … but not quite the end.

Tim's Blog

Since the spring, I’ve been writing a novel about a woman’s relationship with her elderly father as he loses his memory (there have been various blog posts about it during the year, most recently Prisoner of Memory, in November).

The good news as we begin the new year is that I have now reached the end of the book. I’ve written the final scene, the final sentence. I have a draft of my novel. That feels good, but not quite as good as you might think. You see, I’ve always enjoyed writing, but now begins the process of editing – and editing is something I don’t enjoy at all, however necessary it might be.  And one thing that is already clear from reading it through is that there is quite a lot of work still to be done.  Actually, there’s even a fair bit of writing still to be done: certain events that hitherto have been glossed over quite briefly…

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The End … but not quite the end.

Since the spring, I’ve been writing a novel about a woman’s relationship with her elderly father as he loses his memory (there have been various blog posts about it during the year, most recently Prisoner of Memory, in November).

The good news as we begin the new year is that I have now reached the end of the book. I’ve written the final scene, the final sentence. I have a draft of my novel. That feels good, but not quite as good as you might think. You see, I’ve always enjoyed writing, but now begins the process of editing – and editing is something I don’t enjoy at all, however necessary it might be.  And one thing that is already clear from reading it through is that there is quite a lot of work still to be done.  Actually, there’s even a fair bit of writing still to be done: certain events that hitherto have been glossed over quite briefly need to receive a fuller dramatic treatment.  But that’s not such a bad thing – like I said, writing is a lot more fun than editing (not that there isn’t a lot of that to do as well!)

So, to quote Churchill (appropriately enough for a novel that is partly about the second world war), this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.

I should end with a little excerpt, shouldn’t I?  Herbert has never talked to his daughter about his war service in the RAF.  As his memory goes and he starts to live further and further back in the past, she enlists the help of his old friend Dennis to encourage him to open up ….

 

Dennis starts talking explicitly about his own role in the war, putting bullets and bombs into planes. He’s been playing this cautiously too. I think he wants to take Dad to the next step as much as I do. This has to be the moment …

“You must both be very proud. I mean, of the part you played in defeating Hitler. Not many people these days can say they contributed to something like that. I think it’s a great thing that you did.”

“Well, I don’t know about proud,” says Dennis. “You wanted to do your bit, like, and you were glad that you were doing something useful, not just sitting at home twiddling your thumbs. But I never thought what I did was anything special. I was just a glorified labourer in a uniform, really. It’s the ones who went over and risked their lives night after night. The ones like Herbert here, them are the ones what can really be proud.” He turns to Dad. “We’d never say it to your face, like, but we looked up to you.”

“He’s right, Herbert. You should be proud of what you did.”

I’d hoped that this might be the key that unlocked him. But he didn’t respond straight away, instead staring down at his feet for a few seconds before looking me straight in the eye.

“I thought I’d be proud of meself an’all, when I joined up. Sticking it up to Adolf, and all that. And maybe what we did had to be done. But I ain’t proud of it. Oh, I was for a while, after the first few trips, when we still thought we was dropping bombs on factories. That was until the word got out that at night – and it almost always was at night – we couldn’t hit a barn door with a shotgun. Turns out you were lucky if you even got to hit the right town.

“I thought, well, surely they’re going to have to do something now, to give us some hope of actually hitting the bloody target. I don’t know, some special bombsight or something. And I suppose they did give us the H2S radar and that. But Bomber Harris, he just turns round and says, ‘nope, as long as you hit the town somewhere or other, that’s just fine by me.’

“I tell you what did for me. That night over Hamburg in forty-three. There had already been several raids before us and the place was just a mass of flame. There wasn’t much opposition that night – we just flew in, dropped our bombs and flew out again. The rest of the crew were chuffed to have an easy night of it. But I was sat in the turret looking back at it. I’ve never seen so much fire in my life – there was a tornado of it eating up the city like some kind of monster. And I thought, there are people down there, there are children down there. Is this what I joined up to do then? Drop bombs on people and burn them to death.

“Bomber Harris was pleased as punch with that night’s work. ‘Butch’, we used to call him. Short for ‘butcher’. He thought the more people we killed, the better it was. He didn’t bother much about killing his crews neither. It was all about tonnage of bombs, for him. Couldn’t care less about how many children they killed, or how many men got killed dropping ‘em.

“Maybe we had to do what we did. Maybe it helped win the war. I don’t know. But don’t tell me I should be proud of it.”