Ah! The heat! Temperatures soared into the 90s at the start of the week, which I know is low for some of you, but for the UK, it’s roasting. The guinea pigs and I put a lot of effort into staying cool, which for them involved a lot of sleeping in their runs until it was cool enough to go out in the evening and eat grass in the shade.
I had a busy few days of golfing and visiting family for a baby naming party, so I didn’t get back to writing until a few days ago. I wasn’t worried because I had got well ahead. I find when I’m writing that I start off writing steadily, then it gets more difficult and the thoughts don’t run so smoothly, then you have to twist the plot a bit, until it’s all running full speed to the end. And once it reaches that last part it’s irritating to have to spend time on anything else. So I’d done that on Willoughby’s story (book 7) to get ahead on the word count, got well into Book 8, and this week I’ve got to the bit where I have to push on through mud, just putting one word after another, to get to the place the story needs to go.
But I’m just about on schedule, and I’m wondering whether I can include a short story in my Nano word count, since there’s a ‘500 word crime story set in Norwich’ competition that closes 1st August, part of the Noirwich Festival of Crime Writing, which takes place this year September 15-18. You probably remember how much I enjoyed that – and my rapture at meeting Elly Griffiths last year!
So, now it’s Saturday, and the weather’s back to normal for July, and I’ve got Dylan, Dougall and Kevin travelling south to wreak havoc on the Realms. I hope you enjoyed the interview with Willoughby on Friday; he gave away some of the plot which precedes what I’m writing now!
Hope your July is going well
Excerpt from Book 8, The Princelings of the North
This is the Prologue
In the far south of the Realms, Lord Colman is preparing to leave Castle Deeping for good. It is a reluctant decision, but the prospect of a new castle in the east of the continent, where he can do exactly as he pleases, is attractive. The problem, as it has often been, is Prince Kevin.
He could just leave Kevin to take up his birthright, although having prevented him from doing so for the last four years, since he came of age, Colman feels justified in putting a stop to him for good. He could just kill him; after all he managed to get rid of his neighbouring kings without too much suspicion falling on him. No, he has other plans for Kevin.
“We’re going on holiday, my lad. Just pack a shoulder bag with a few essentials; we’ll get anything else when we arrive.”
“That sounds fun, uncle. Where are we going?” Kevin is as mild and friendly as ever.
He’s an idiot, thinks Colman. “Up north for the spring and maybe the summer, too. You’ve never been up north, have you?”
“No, uncle. Well, no further than Castle Forest.” Castle Forest is less than ten miles north of Deeping.
“A friend of mine is going to fly us there. You remember the guy that used to bring the drinks to us?”
“Yes, that’s the one. Shame we couldn’t continue. You did a good job with the label for that.”
“Thank you, uncle.”
“Are you ready to leave, then?”
“Oh, you mean right now?” Kevin scurries around putting some things in his bag. Colman watches with irritation as he throws in a small drawing pad and coloured pencils, a whistle, and a couple of other items, plus a scarf. “All done!”
“Good. Let’s go then.”
He leads Kevin out to a small flying machine. The pilot starts his motor as they approach and gives Colman a thumbs up sign.
“You’d better sit in the warm cabin below,” Colman says, helping Kevin climb in to the passenger compartment.
“It’s big enough for two,” says Kevin, moving over to give him room.
“No, I’ll sit behind the pilot, I’ll be able to chat to him on the way.”
It’s a long journey, and despite his fascination for the sight of the ground rushing beneath him, and the occasional cloud they fly through, Kevin soon falls asleep in the warm cabin. In the passenger seat behind the driver, Colman tugs the blanket closer around his body and wishes he had a leather flying helmet like the pilot. He hunkers down and keeps out of the wind.
After four hours, the flying machine banks to circle a small castle on a rock at the mouth of a river, craggy high hills and forest on either side. The pilot taps Colman on the shoulder, and he looks up. The pilot points and gives a thumbs up again, and Colman looks at the castle and smiles. Yes, that will do nicely.
The pilot lands on some rough ground between a river and a rough track. He helps Colman out, leaves him stretching and stamping his feet to restore his circulation, and then gets Kevin out of the cabin. He points down the track.
“Come on, Kevin, let’s see what the castle’s like.”
“Is that where we’re staying, uncle? I should have brought my spyglass to watch the birds.”
“Mmm. Never mind. You can see whether there’s one at the castle.”
It is only a few minutes till they arrive, crossing a muddy causeway and slipping over a seaweeded drawbridge into the castle. “Ah, good,” says Colman.
“What’s good, uncle?”
“The locals have left some food, drinks, and water as I asked. They’ll bring it once a week while you’re here. You go off and explore now. I’ll see you later.”
“Where are you going, uncle?”
“I’m going to check the outside of the castle. I’ll see you later.”
As Kevin blithely runs up the stairs to explore the castle, his uncle locks and bars the main gates behind him, unlatching the turning window that will take in the provisions that the locals might or might not leave for Kevin, depending how honest they are, and how much they have to spare. Then he jogs back up the path to climb back into the flying machine, which the pilot has turned, ready for their flight south.
As they fly off, Colman watches Kevin’s castle disappear behind the crags, idly noting another small castle further along the coast, separated by several wide bays and high hills, and wonders how long it will take Kevin to realise what a fool he is.
© J M Pett 2016