Andy hit backspace a couple of times and removed the extra exclamation marks, hit Save and exported the whole project to a manuscript format. Within a few minutes, it was on the way to the publisher.
A twenty book contract had seemed like a good idea at the time.
Seven books in, he was more or less convinced he’d signed up for slow mental suicide and the worst of it was, the bloody books were flying off the shelves. Volume 7, “Peril at Perihelion”, was already being pre-ordered on Amazon. Accordingt to the publisher, there were legions of pre-and teenage girls out there who wanted more than anything to be Space Witches (and series heroine Nikolaze in particular). He wondered sometimes why he’d bothered with the degree and Masters in Literature. He wondered why he allowed himself to be entranced by the great Romances. So did his wife, usually becauise he was having a Monday and bemoaning his fate.
He stood, ignoring the creaks in his knees, and stretched. His workspace was wallpapered in books, edge to edge battered paperback spines with titles from the classical to the lurid, wombing him in his own reading history from the year before college to now.
There wasn’t a book in the rest of the house. The madness had to be contained somehow.
He shuffled into the kitchen and put the kettle on, blinking at the bright lighting and enjoying the silence. He checked the calender. He checked it again. Early. He’d finished a week early.
As the kettle rattled and bubbled, Andy walked slowly around the kitchen and ticked off tasks on his fingers. Peril at Perihelion revised, corrected and off to the publisher. Sarah was at her parents for another three days, the dog was with her and he had no pressing or urgent reasons to be anywhere. He smiled, and made himself a cup of tea.
The Book was always waiting. He’d been writing it since the last year of college, the fictionalised life of Nicola de la Haye, and in that time it had gone through many incarnations. Currently, it was a romance. A love story. Andy was pleased with it, because it had themes – the first time he’d ever written something with a theme (although there was some danger that the “On Solar Winds” series featuring the heroic Space Witches might end up with theme music, if his agent was to be beleived).
He could spend time on The Book.
He would spend time on The Book.
He turned on his phone, cleared out the invitations to buy two pizzas for the price of one on any given Tuesday, and sent Sarah a quick text celebrating the release of the latest magnum opus. Then he shuffled back to the office and opened up The Book.
He found himself scrolling through pages, impatient and irritated. Where normally he’d slipped into the book’s narrative like a weary man into a warm bath, every line of dialogue he’d given Nicola seemed to simper like the imperilled heroine of a penny dreadful instead of the powerful and charismatic castellan of Lincoln Castle.
Andy sat back, sipped tea and imagined her during the last siege in 1217. Nicola had been master of Loncoln and loyal to the King during an invasion by the French. Surrounded and besieged, she would have taken her turn on the walls, looking for signs of enemy activity, taking her chances with the ordinary troops, her ebon plasmatic battle armour reflecting nothing by the actinic glare of her plasmaglaive…
He stopped and put the tea down. Arch-Emperor Zatagong had no place behind the walls at Lincoln Fair. For one thing, he’d have sided with the French (only to betray them at the last moment, naturally…Zatagong would have held back his forces until the arrival of William Marshall and then either committed them to join in Marshall’s infantry charge or withdrawn completely leaving de Gant’s forces to be crushed, and then claimed it was his plan all along).
No, Nicola de la Haye was clearly more Space Witch material. She was intelligent, firece in a fight, loyal and brave.
He saved The Book and opened a blank project.
After a few minutes, he titled it “Vengeance on Venus” and started typing.
“So, Arch Emporer Zatagong! We meet again! Did you really think we’d let your latest scheme progress unchallenged?”
Yeah. That was more like it.
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