I’m thinking of moving over from a lengthy Saturday post, which is the method I’ve been using thus far on this blog, to shorter and more frequent posts. In that spirit, here are some snippets of news.

Book review

My review of Mil Millington’s Love and Other Near-Death Experiences has appeared on Spike Magazine.

Scott Pack Interview

Chris Mitchell over at Spike Magazine has run this interview with Scott. It’s very interesting, particularly if you’re a new writer who wonders how on earth you’re meant to get your book into Waterstone’s. Scott provides an address.

Progress on ‘Flashback’

Not as much as I’d like – as usual. This week I have been mostly joining a new gym, discovering what it’s like to have a sauna (it’s frickin’ hot), but the primary reason for slow progress is the research-heavy portion of the book. A character is about to board the ill-fate airliner Star Dust, and it’s important to get the detail right. The details surrounding the aircraft has been quite straightforward. The difficulty is in breathing life into the people who were really there; which languages did they speak? how would they have acted? in which cultural milieux (or whatever the plural of that word is) did they swim?

Since I had some nice responses from the last snippet I published, here’s another, with the usual caveats associated with a first draft:

“I don’t understand.”

Kirby lifted the cradle and let the waitress wipe the bar top. He set the phone down and said, in the overcooked Spanish of a German native, “I will spell it.” He checked his pocket watch. “S. T. E. N. L. O. C. Did you hear me? Repeat it, please.”

“S. T. E. N. L. O. C.”

“That is correct. It must run in the evening edition, with the exact form I have given you. Do you understand?”

“I’ve written down, ‘To J. Stenloc. From K.’”

Kirby popped the watch clasp with his thumb, press it shut, and opened it again. “I will send a boy with money.”

“Let me calculate the cost.”

“No need. The boy will have enough.”

“Sir, I should –”

Kirby hung up. He multiplied the cost of the call by ten and slipped a bank note under the black foot of the telephone. Then he nodded to the waitress, pictured the dead Clarisse, and left. He hesitated at the porch and dropped a trilby over his hair, oily with brilliantine, before the fair winds could disturb it. A wintry Saturday in Buenos Aires. The grass of the Plaza de Mayo was marked by blotches of shade, but the sun was dull. Well-to-do families took airs alongside hardy Argentineans whose countrymen had, not long ago, demonstrated on this plaza to secure the release of a certain Juan Domingo Perón, who now sat in the Casa Rosada as president. Kirby was sick of hearing about Peron; the president was debated in the cafés and revered in the homes, where his subjects strained hear speeches on his ‘third way’. Kirby turned to the Casa Rosada. A decrepit porteño once told Kirby that the casa was pink because it represented a fusion of the red and white of the opposing political parties that flavoured the reign of the nineteenth-century president, Sarmiento. This explanation was countered by a guffaw from the man’s female companion, who went on to give hers: gouts of cow blood mixed into the paint helped protect the palace from humidity.

Kirby nodded at the idea of a government that painted the house of its executive in blood. His correspondent’s shoes swished at the tough grass as he crossed the edge of the plaza. He entered the Avenida de Mayo and found the gates of el subte, the underground. His cane clicked on the hard stairs.

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Ian Hocking

Writer and psychologist.

3 thoughts on “Miscellanea”

  1. Great fun! and crammed with splendid detail and atmosphere.
    (I’ve got a gripe with ‘guffaw’, that’s all – think the word should
    be outlawed. It doesn’t work the way it’s meant to, imo. Otherwise, I think this is all SPOT ON.)

    sort of signed: That person who can’t stand rambling, or self conscious ‘funny’, and finds your recent FLASHBACK excerpts rich with convincing detail, engaging and gripping.

  2. Thanks for the comment. You’ve got me interested in your identity – of course! So far, I’ve crossed ‘Ghandi’, ‘Beau Brummel’, ‘The Milky Bar Kid’ and ‘Franka Potente’ off my list of possibilities. Want to give me a clue?

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