I wish that I could stick to writing one story at a time. I’m sure that most authors work on one project till it’s finished, then start on another. Not me, that would be far too simple.
I blame the voices in my head, the ones who pass this stuff over to me by showing me a film of the story that I copy down.
They’re a fickle bunch who like to hop from one subject to another at the drop of a hat. I liken them to a selection of unruly kids, all vying for my attention. One will control things for a while, the others then start to boo and say “boring,” or whatever kids say these days.
At that point, another one takes over, showing me their story. The first narrator either sulks and refuses to speak or heckles until thumped by the second, at which point a fight breaks out and nobody gets heard. The one who is the calm rational voice, or just the loudest, restores order and it all starts again. Needless to say, I have no control over which story I get.
This is great to listen to, worthy of a story of its own but it doesn’t actually result in any work getting done.
It can result in me not getting anything of a particular story for several months, or even longer. I just have to wait, until the narrator finally comes back and carries on.
I was getting on fabulously well with the latest Andorra Pett story when there was a break in transmission. Now, that narrator is off in a sulk and, instead of her adventures, I’m getting a story called My Sister Alex.
Which, although interesting, is not what I wanted to be working on just now. I could have coped if I had been getting The Safety of the Realm, as it’s just about finished and I’ve been waiting for the last bit for ages but no, goodness knows where she’s got to.
I’ve learned over the years that it’s pointless to argue or try to find out what’s going on. Even worse is to try and write it on my own, without the inspiration you can immediately tell the difference. I just have to hang on and hope that the group resolve their differences so that normal service can be resumed.
Anyhow, as I now seem to be writing My Sister Alex, I thought that you might like to have a glimpse of how it’s going.
Here’s the latest version of the cover. Below that, I’ve put the start of Chapter One.
I’d love to get your thoughts on how it’s shaping up, please leave a comment at the bottom of the post.
It all came down to this. The mad dash halfway across the inhabited Galaxy ended in this dingy corridor, under flickering fluorescent lights. There was a strange smell, not quite cleaning fluids, something else, a sweet and cloying odour that was only just on the bearable side of unpleasant. The walls were painted in faded institutional green with worn plastic tiles on the floor.
My companion, an overworked detective in a poorly fitting suit, was shuffling uncomfortably, as if eager to get this all over with. He had explained what would happen and I had just nodded, I was running on automatic pilot, unable to take in what he was telling me.
Even so, I had seen enough movies to know what to expect. I wasn’t space-lagged, we had sorted the time difference out on the way. Despite the length of my trip, I hadn’t really had time to process what had happened, my mind was still on Aspirion, in my manager’s office, at the precise moment when I had been given the news.
The door he knocked on was wooden, with a frosted glass panel, behind which bright light could be seen. Examination Room 2. It creaked open on dry hinges to reveal a white-coated figure.
“Come in,” he said, avoiding all eye contact, any trace of empathy. The walls were tiled and gleaming, as was the bright metal bench in the middle of the room. Racks of shiny tools caught the light from the rows of bright fluorescent tubes. Along one wall was a set of square doors, with black painted numbers above silver handles.
The man went to Number 15, which was ironic in the circumstances, considering it was the number of the house where Alex and I had grown up. He pulled on the handle and a trolley slid out, the unevenly ridged contents covered by a white sheet.
“If you’re ready, Mr Walters,” my companion said. “Can you formally identify the deceased as your sister, Ms Alexandra Walters?”
He nodded and the mortuary attendant pulled back the sheet. I looked at the face. There was a sudden rush of emotions.
“Please take your time,” he added, placing what he must have thought was a comforting hand on my shoulder.
How long did it take to recognise your twin sister?
It wasn’t her.
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