Archive for March, 2014

Forsyte sat in the driver’s seat of Hughes’ limousine gazing out at the rain-soaked streets of Rooks Port. He leaned back and listened to the rhythmic ping-ping of raindrops as they fell against the roof of the car, watched the water roll down the windshield like tears. He smiled.

Nearly an hour ago Hughes had ordered him to return to the manor with the limo. But Forsyte, whose name wasn’t really Alex Duffey, had prior orders that countermanded those issued by Hughes. So he’d waited until the limo had traveled three blocks and then he had made his move.

“Pull over, please,” Forsyte said. “I think I’m going to be ill.”

Forsyte had feigned sickliness for the past two years just for this moment. Troy, Hughes’ personal driver for the past five years, didn’t even hesitate. He directed the limousine to the curb and brought it to a stop. Huddled over, one arm across his stomach, Forsyte struggled with the door.

“I’ll get the door for you,” Troy said as he opened his own door and climbed from the driver’s seat.

Forsyte watched as Troy moved around the car. Then, the door opened and Forsyte stumbled out. Troy caught him under one arm and steadied him. Surreptitiously, Forsyte glanced around to be certain no one was out; the streets were deserted. He quickly took hold of Troy’s arm and pulled him roughly forward. Taken by surprise, Troy staggered, completely thrown off balance. Then Forsyte twisted Troy’s arm and spun him against the limo, the sudden impact forcing the air from his lungs. As Troy struggled to catch his breath, Forsyte pinned his arm behind him and slapped a cuff around his wrist. Then, in an instant, he had the other arm and cuffed that wrist as well.

Troy was still gasping for air as Forsyte yanked the chain between the cuffs with one hand and pulled backwards. His other hand firmly on the back of Troy’s head, Forsyte forced him over at the waist. Then, with a quick shove, sent him sprawling, face-first, into the passenger area of the limo. Forsyte climbed in behind him and pulled the door shut.

“Don’t worry. I’m not here for you,” Forsyte told Troy as he helped him to sit upright. “I just need a bit of information.”

Troy pulled away and moved across the seat to prop against the other door. He was still too disoriented to do any more than that. But, just in case Forsyte was reading the situation wrong, he drew a .45 from under his jacket, slid the safety off as he held it up for Troy’s benefit, then laid it across his lap. Troy’s eyes went wide; his body tensed as he pushed himself back harder against the door.

“What’s with the—“ 

“A precaution,” Forsyte cut in. “I just need you to answer one question for me.”

Troy relaxed a little, but his eyes remained fixed on the .45. “What do you want to know?”

“The truth,” Forsyte said, and then lashed out with a quick punch to Troy’s temple. Troy collapsed, unconscious.

Forsyte slid the gun back into its holster under his jacket. He reached over and pulled Troy down onto his back and then, leaning over Troy’s body, he placed his hands on either side of Troy’s head. He closed his eyes and concentrated.

Telepathy was sometimes a side effect of a cognitive ability, but in Forsyte’s case it was a very minor side effect; one that he’d kept hidden from his employer. With some effort and mental strain, his mind’s eye gazed into the dulled thoughts of the chauffeur. And there, in the psychic maelstrom of Troy’s mind, he found the information he needed: the location of the rendezvous point.

Forsyte released his hold on Troy’s head and moved to the other end of the seat. He dragged a sleeve across his wet brow, wiping the beads of sweat away. Then he pulled a cell phone from a pocket and dialed a number from memory. The line rang once, clicked, went silent for one brief second, and then beeped.

Quickly, but succinctly, he spoke into the phone. “Agent Bryce. Field designation: Forsyte. Operation Nineteen-A slash Zero Seven. Converge at Erin and Adams. ETA: forty minutes.”

He ended the call and slid the phone back into a pocket. Then, after attending to a few other small details, Forsyte had driven the limo to the rendezvous point where Hughes would be expecting Troy to be waiting.

Now he sat quietly in the limo and thought, finally. For the past two years he’d pretended to be someone he wasn’t; little more than a glorified bloodhound on Hughes’ payroll. As an undercover operative for HAVEN – the Homeland Agency for Vigilance and Engagement – Forsyte had infiltrated Hughes’ network, all in hopes of securing a book that was rumored to be a powerful artifact. And now it seemed that he was only minutes away from completing his assignment.

A knock against the tinted driver’s window brought Forsyte out of his reverie. He glanced over at the digital clock set in the dash of the limousine. Prompt, as always, he thought. Exactly thirty minutes ago Hughes’ concise message had come over the commlink.

Another knock, this one more urgent.

Forsyte checked to be certain of the contents of his jacket pocket, then took a deep breath to strengthen his resolve.

“Well, I suppose it’s time to formally tender my resignation,” he mumbled as he pulled gloves onto his hands. He flipped up the hood of his jacket, opened the door and stepped out to face Hughes.

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The second in my series of author introductions from the Freaks and Weeping Children Anthology Kickstarter.

Steve Weddle

What was the first work you sold? How did it happen?

I came to this life through literary magazines, where “selling” a story meant getting two copies of the magazine in your mailbox. I’ve had works in anthologies and received checks here and there since those earlier days, of course. The key to selling a work, it seems to me, is to write the best work you can first and then find the right market for it. That’s not what you asked, but there you go. The earliest thing I got paid money for writing was a college physics paper on black body radiation and how that led to a greater understanding of what we now call quantum physics. The guy paid me $100 and a fifth of vodka, which was kinda cool. Anyway, find your market. That’s key.

What’s the hardest thing about being a writer?

Working with the accountants to find tax shelters for all the money you make writing fiction.

Tell us about your favorite book.

I don’t know that I have a favorite book. It’s kinda like trying to pick your favorite child or your favorite cheese, isn’t it? I think Ben Whitmer’s Satan is Real is one of the most surprising books I’ve read in the past few years. The book is nearly an autobiography of musician Charlie Louvin, but Whitmer has really sculpted something special with this one, something that seems more true than standard non-fiction. Also, Chris Holm’sCOLLECTOR series is magnificent, a run of stories that gets labeled “urban fantasy” for some reason.

Who has been the biggest influence on your writing?

I pull from all over the place, honestly. I was just reading about some pre-Civil War politics this morning and followed that up with a revisit to my Fisher King folder. No one author has been a Great Influencer on me, though I’ve certainly stolen much from Ann Beattie, Steven Brust, and Raymond Carver and others.

Any ideas for your Freaks and Weeping Children story? If so, can you give us a blurb?

Yes. I’ve been working on pieces in the same rural setting as my book, Country Hardball, looking at the time around 1933. Should be fun.

Beyond those five things, where can people find you on the internet?

Website: Steveweddle.com

Twitter: @steveweddle

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3983306.Steve_Weddle

Thin clouds moved across the full moon, dimming the scattered light that found its way down between the densely packed buildings to the streets below. Deepening shadows crowded the edges of the narrow roadway. Silence hung heavy over this part of the city; no clamorous car horns, no people milling to and fro in the darkness. The only sound was the quiet tread of tires as the limousine made its way through the back streets of Rooks Port.

Thomas Hughes regarded the young man sitting at his side. Alex Duffey, or Forsyte, as he preferred to be called, wasn’t particularly impressive. He was short and slender, seemingly frail in his gray suit. His face was gaunt and unnaturally pale, and his eyes vague.

“You’re sure this is it?” Hughes asked.

Forsyte leaned against the tinted glass and gazed out into the night. Hughes watched as he raised his face to the sky and closed his eyes. Both sat silently until, finally, Forsyte opened his eyes.

“Just a little further,” he said, and then turned away from the window to look down at his feet.

Forsyte had come to Hughes two years ago looking for a job. He was a Metanorm, a child of the flux, born with abilities beyond those of a normal man. Forsyte’s particular gift was some sort of psychic cognition; a knack for just knowing things. Hughes had hired him on the spot, and then proceeded to take advantage of his special ability to seek the whereabouts of Hughes’ own personal “Holy Grail”, The Codex Penumbrae; a book rumored to contain the ancient arts of the shadows. Of course there had been false leads and erroneous information, but those had merely served as a process of elimination.

And tonight? Hughes wondered, as he turned to stare out the window.

The limousine had passed through University Square and now moved carefully down a litter-strewn alley somewhere in the vicinity of Winston Street.

“How much further?” Hughes asked his driver.

“We’re here,” came the reply. “The Aulberge Hotel.” (more…)

For those of you not following along with the Freaks and Weeping Children Kickstarter campaign I’d like to introduce one of the contributing authors appearing in the anthology.

Jamie Wyman

What was the first work you sold? How did it happen?

First work I sold was a short story for the anthology When the Hero Comes 2. I’d submitted my debut novel to Gabrielle Harbowy at Dragon Moon Press. Even though we ultimately didn’t publish that together, she contacted me a few months later with an invitation to be part of the anthology. I wrote “The Clever One” and sent it off. A month later, I had an acceptance in my inbox. (Consequently, I think I signed that contract the same week I signed the contract with Entangled Publishing for my debut novel Wild Card.)

What’s the hardest thing about being a writer?

It changes from day to day. Some days it’s staying focused. Other days it’s getting past the cycle of “this sucks! No, it’s the best thing in the world!” Most often, though, I think the hardest part is remembering that nothing happens overnight. I’m an impatient Aries and I may not always know what I want, but I know I want it *now*! Patience is not my virtue, but being a writer requires a zen-like calm sometimes. That’s hard for me.

Tell us about your favorite book.

Oh geeze…

Honestly, it’s a toss-up between two:

Fool by Christopher Moore and Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer-Bradley.

Fool is a re-telling of Shakespeare’s King Lear as told from the jester’s point of view. It’s not a departure from Moore’s other works, but rather seeing his trademark wit and color in Elizabethan garb. The characters are alive and the laughs don’t stop. It highlights Moore’s gift for using humor to tell a very deep, emotional story. One of his best.

Mists of Avalon is the Arthurian legend retold to focus on the women rather than the King and his Companions. I read this book every year and every time I come away with a new appreciation for something I hadn’t noticed on an earlier read. It’s timeless. It’s heartbreaking. It’s beautifully told.

Who has been the biggest influence on your writing?

Wow, again with trying to pick just one…Probably Christopher Moore, honestly. Again, I absolutely love the way he can write dick jokes and have you wetting yourself with laughter all while telling the story of the Crucifixion (Lamb). His use of humor, vulgarity and satire are masterful. Also, having met him, I have to say he’s just an awesome guy.

Any ideas for your Freaks and Weeping Children story? If so, can you give us a blurb?

So far, the piece is still hot, molten idea-slag waiting to coalesce into story.

Beyond those five things, where can people find you on the internet?

Website & Blog: www.jamiewyman.com

Twitter: @BeegirlBlue

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Jamie-Wyman/245049885569291

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7234286.Jamie_Wyman