A Life Of Fiction CLXXXVIII

For those of you new to this WordPress site, this site is about me and my writing – and a little about my role-playing, as well. It gives readers a chance to sample my work; and gives me the chance to say a little about the genesis of each novel, or about the process of writing in general.

Actually Finishing Something: Recently (although months ago as you read this) I actually finished one of my projects, The Misadventures of Edwyn le Fay. That is a collection of short stories featuring an elderly Edwyn le Fay. You can find some of his adventures elsewhere on this WordPress site.
The collection of short stories is fewer than sixty thousand words, so it is not very long. But it was one of those things which I put aside for months, wondering if I would ever complete it. In the end I had a desire to return to it, and finish off those stories which I had not completed. I felt a slight buzz on finishing it, although I think that part of the buzz may have been relief at getting it out of the way. I have a few other short story collections which are unfinished. Maybe I will be able to complete them now. I want to finish off all of the short stories which featured Briggs and Prenderghast, for example. I have a few horror collections which are not finished. And I have a great number of novels which are not complete.
This collection may not be the last stories to appear featuring Edwyn le Fay, despite the way that the final story of the collection ends. For some reason le Fay has become one of my favourite characters.

Here is the first story from The Misadventures of Edwyn le Fay.

In The Footsteps Of Schliemann

“I thought that, as part of your tuition, that we would have a little trip.” Edwyn le Fay said, to his student.
Yes, that was correct: student. After years of not having had any real friends or contacts, Edwyn le Fay had decided to take on a student. Perhaps, before his teaching was complete, he might even pass on the secrets of Shadow Magick. It would be a shame if Shadow Magick died with him.
He had paid for a small advert (he had not been able to afford a large one) saying that an experienced wizard was available to give mystical tuition. Perhaps he was charging too much money, but he had only had one person answer the advertisement: Bridget Jacobson.
At first le Fay had almost turned her down. Then he had thought why not? Lady Blackhaven, after all, had been one of the greatest of Court Magicians. Why shouldn’t he teach Magick to a young woman if she had the ability to pay? He needed the money, after all.
Le Fay had been looking for a student who was a teenager. But Bridget Jacobson was already in her twenties. That was more than a little old to begin learning Magick. But when he had begun tutoring her he had discovered that Bridget Jacobson already knew some of the basics of Magick. Apparently her late grandfather had been a wizard, and he had taught her some of his Magick. Now she wanted to learn some more.
Bridget Jacobson certainly did not look like most people’s idea of a wizard. She was probably the most fashionable person who le Fay had ever met, what with her bobbed hair and her silk dresses, and the beret which she sometimes liked to wear. if somebody had had to guess what she was, then they might have said that she was an actress.
“A trip?”
“Consider it educational.”
“Where are we going?”
“I though that we might go to Turkey.”
Turkey was a relatively new country. It had been founded by Kemal Ataturk only a few years ago, carved out of the ruins of the crumbling Ottoman Empire.
“Why? What is there in Turkey which might add to my mystical knowledge?”
“I thought that we might go and see Troy. Not every person realises that Troy is real, and that there actually was a Trojan War. Some people still seem to think that it is nothing but a myth. But it is real, and was excavated by Heinrich Schliemann decades ago. I don’t think that he completed the work. So I thought that we would go along to the sire and, er… have a look at it.”

They left a few days later. They travelled by ferry to Calais, and from Calais they travelled by train of the way down to Istanbul. The train journey was long, but was without event. Le Fay wished that he could have got instantly to his destination, rather than catch the train. Sometimes travelling around the world could seem so slow. Not that he had actually done all that much travelling in the past. He had caught a steamship to the Americas, when he had investigated Roanoke; and he had gone to Switzerland on an adventure which he had done his best to forget. This was only the third time in his life that he had left the United Kingdom, as far as he could recall.
He and Bridget Jacobson crossed the Bosphorus by boat. They travelled by train as close as they could to Hisarlik; and then by a rickety omnibus which kept threatening to break down, but somehow managed to keep rolling along. They reached the little Turkish village which was the closest to the site which Schliemann had excavated. Due to problems with communications le Fay did not even know what the village was called. Le Fay did not speak any Turkish; and the locals’ English was very poor.
They walked from the nearest village to Troy – to the mound which had been called Hisarlik until it had been excavated.. Le Fay had considered buying mules. But he was a little short of funds. Besides, he was not sure that he trusted mules. Knowing his luck any mules would disobey him, and just stand there, no matter what he did. He did not know any spells to control the minds of mules. So he and Jacobson had walked to the site, with backpacks, containing everything which they might need, weighing them down. le Fay, for one, was exhausted by the time that they got to Troy, despite the fact that Jacobson was carrying fractionally more equipment than he was. But he had never really been a physical person.

“So this was Troy?” Bridget Jacobson asked, as she looked around the place excavated by the German. She was dressed for the country: she was not in her fine dresses and cloche hats, but in tan-coloured jodhpurs and boots. The fact that the jodhpurs were a bit tight was a little distracting, as far as le Fay was concerned. But le Fay did not seem to notice. She was far more interested in the site.
The site did not look like it had been touched since Schliemann had been there. It probably had not been – none of the locals had seemed bothered when le Fay had mentioned Troy to them.
The ruins were not as big as Jacobson had thought that they would be. She had thought that it had once been a massive settlement. But, unless some of it still lay beneath the ground, it was a lot smaller then that.
The top of the mound of Hisarlik had been taken away by Schliemann and, later, in 1893 and 1894, by Wilhelm Dörpfeld, who had been a colleague of Schliemann. But it had not been touched for the past thirty years or so. The Turks had certainly not done anything.
The ruins were only some three hundred feet in radius. Jacobson could see bits of the walls which had once enclosed the citadel. Foundations of some of the houses which the walls had enclosed were visible on the open ground in front of her. There were a few trees encircling the site.
“Yes, hundreds and hundreds of years ago.” le Fay said. He had some idea of the Classics. But his knowledge was far from perfect. “This was where warriors like Achilles and Ajax fought.”
“How did Heinrich Schliemann know that this was the site of Troy?” Bridget asked.
“Er…” That was something which Edwyn could not recall. “I think that he must have done lots of research. Anyway, I want to see if there are any mystical items in the area.”
“Such as?”
“Didn’t Ajax have a spear? That must have been Magickal.”
“Hm.” Jacobson was not sure about that. She did not know how good they had been at Magick. She could not recall any mention of mystical weapons when she had read the Iliad and the Odyssey. Those who had used Magick had been feared in the Greek myths: ones like Circe, who had turned Odysseus’s men into swine (something which was supposed to be impossible); and Medea, who had helped Jason obtain the Golden Fleece.
“We had better start looking for stuff.” le Fay said. “It’s the reason why we’ve come here, after all.”

Edwyn le Fay got out his mythometer. He should really have set up the tents first. But he was too eager to look for Magickal stuff. They could always put the tents up later. It was not like it was time to go to bed.
Edwyn le Fay did not know that he and Bridget were being watched through a pair of powerful binoculars. After a while the binoculars were lowered. The man who had been watching Edwyn le Fay was in his late forties. He had short, tidy grey hair, and a postage stamp moustache. He was wearing what he imagined to be the sort of clothes some worker might wear. His overalls were brand new, and he seemed to be uncomfortable wearing them. He would rather have been wearing a smart suit. His face twitched, a little involuntary tic. He did not like being out of doors in the wilds of Anatolia.
“What are they doing?” somebody else asked, in French. This other person was in his thirties. He was tall, and had lank black hair. He was smoking a Gauloise. He was wearing workman’s jeans, black boots, and a brown leather jacket. His clothes looked worn, especially the jacket. He was as comfortable out of doors as his colleague was uncomfortable.
“The man is holding a mythometer in his left hand.”
“So he is a wizard. We should have brought a wizard.”
“It was you who insisted that only the two of us come here. You did not want to involve anybody else. What do you want to do?”
“I know that Schliemann missed things. I think that he got some of the layers mixed up. He was digging up a time prior to the Trojan War but thought that it was the time of the conflict. Anyway, if they are going to dig things up why not let them do our work for us? It is only a small alteration to the plan. We let them find things, then we go and take them from them. Then we sell them on the black market, just as we had intended.”
“What if they won’t give us what they find?”
“I have a gun.”
“A gun? You did not say anything about a gun. I do not want any violence.”
“There won’t be any violence. We threaten them with the gun, take anything valuable, and leave. It is easy.”
The other man did not look convinced. But he didn’t say anything. It was, perhaps, wise not to argue with somebody who had just admitted to the fact that he was carrying a gun.

“Anything?” Bridget asked. She was sitting on part of a wall which was three thousand years old.
“I’m not sure.” Edwyn said. The needle of the mythometer had twitched, rather than moved. Did that mean that Magick was nearby, or not? “Maybe if the Magick items are buried they are hard to detect. Dense material could block Magickal radiations. He had only cast a simple spell of Magickal detection. He had thought that if he cast a really powerful spell of detection then the needle would have been jumping all over the place, with multiple sources of Magick. Perhaps he would cast another spell of detection a bit later.
“Do you actually know anything about archaeology?” Bridget asked. “If this is Troy then this is an important site, isn’t it?”
“Yes.” Edwyn wasn’t sure where this was going. He wasn’t sure that he was going to like the destination.
“We don’t want to do anything to lose knowledge, do we?”
“No, of course not.”
“Then we should conduct this like a proper archaeological dig and record everything that we find.”
“I suppose so.” Edwyn sighed. He had been intending to grab any mystical artefacts and get out of there. “Do you actually know anything about archaeology?”
“When I was seventeen I spent one summer assisting archaeologists on a dig on the outskirts of Roxeter. They were investigating Roman remains. The Romans used to call Roxeter Viroconium.”
“Oh.” le Fay had not realised that his student actually knew anything about archaeology. That instantly made her more qualified than he was. “I suppose that these archaeological dig things take a lot of time.”
“The one in Roxeter went on for several weeks.”

“Good. Well, let’s get our tents set up. We had better do that. But I hoped that we weren’t going to be hear for weeks, anyway.” he said. He tried not to be annoyed by the fact that, as far as his student was concerned, she probably knew more about archaeology than he did.
They set up their tents. Well, tried to. Edwyn took two attempts to get his tent erected. He had never really been that good at practical things. It was clear that he had never set up a tent before. Jacobson had to help him sort it out.
“What are they doing now?”
“They are setting up tents – badly. Here, look for yourself.”
The binoculars were handed over.
“It is the woman who is erecting it. She is wearing jodhpurs.” The binoculars were kept on her all of the time that she was bent over erecting le Fay’s tent. In the end they were snatched away by the other Frenchman.

When the tents were up le Fay and Jacobson began to prepare for the dig. Le Fay let Jacobson order him about, at least to a certain extent. But he did not want to open his mouth and reveal that he did not know what he was doing.
Edwyn watched as Bridget set up a tripod.
“I don’t see why you brought a Magickal Oscillator with you.” he said. He had let her carry the tripod all of the way to the campsite. He had had enough to carry with the two tents.
“It’s not an oscillator.” Bridget said, as she attached a box-like device to the top of the tripod. Edwyn had presumed that the box-like device was just some new-fangled design of a Magickal Oscillator.
“What is it, then?”
“It is a theodolite.”
“You do know what a theodolite is, don’t you?”
“Of course.” Le Fay was not about to say that he had no idea. He hoped that Bridget was not going to question him any further, so that he would be forced to reveal his ignorance concerning the theodolite.
Le Fay considered telling his student that he wasn’t really that interested in ‘real’ archaeology, and that he had hoped to come in and use his Magick to find items of interest. But he did not want her to think that he was only some sort of thief. Besides, if his Magick was not going to reveal anything, then perhaps he would have to use archaeology to recover them.
“I will try again to detect items of Magick.” le Fay said. “This is a more powerful spell. It will leave me somewhat tired.”
Bridget Jacobson watched as le Fay cast the spell. The needle on the mythometer moved as he concentrated. Le Fay followed the needle, hoping that he had not detected some minor mystical charm in some nearby village.
Le Fay found himself standing hear the remains of an ancient wall. The needle began to spin.
“Below here, somewhere.” le Fay said. “Place some sort of marker here.”
Le Fay was still concentrating on the spell. This was Troy, after all. There was the possibility that there were a lot more than just one more item hidden in the dirt of Troy.
Schliemann had not had a wizard with him, of course, when his dig had taken place in the eighteen seventies. That excavation had been under the auspices of the Ottoman Empire. Apparently some Moslems did not like the use of Magick. They considered it to be evil, or something stupid. Le Fay did not understand such views at all.
There was another mental buzz; another flick of the needle. It pointed in another direction. Something else was here.
Le Fay followed the needle. It led over to the other side of the site. There was nothing special about where he found himself standing. It was just dirt and weeds.
“Mark this place, as well.” he called out.

“What are they doing now?”
“The young woman is hammering some sort of tent peg into the ground.”
“I presume that the wizard has detected something of value and that he wanted the area marked.”
The two Frenchman had no idea that Bridget Johnson was a wizard, as well, albeit only a trainee one. What they thought of her is not known. Maybe they thought she was his daughter. Or perhaps they thought that he Fay had decided, under the excuse of archaeology, to go away for a dirty weekend at Troy.

The makeshift archaeological dig began, with Bridget telling Edwyn what to do. In matters of archaeology it was he who was the trainee, and she who was the tutor.
The first thing that Bridget did was to insist that they mapped out the whole area, dividing it into squares, using the theodolite. On the maps which she produced she marked down the numbers 1 and 2. Those were where she had hammered spare tent pegs into the ground, to mark where Edwyn had detected Magick. Those were the points where they would be digging. She also got her camera out and took a photograph of each point.
Edwyn just wanted to get on with it. He was impatient. But Bridget told him that archaeological digs took time. They didn’t want to destroy any historical knowledge through their dig. Edwyn felt that he had to agree with her.
He was handed a trowel.
“A trowel? Shouldn’t we be using something like a spade?”
“No, we will be using trowels and brushes.” Bridget said. “Besides, we don’t have a spade with us.”
That was true. It was something which Edwyn had forgotten to bring when they had set out for Turkey. They had been carrying enough stuff, anyway. He had thought that any other stuff which they needed they could always pick up in Turkey.
“Do we have a trowel and a brush?” he asked.
“You brought some with you?”
“One of each?”
“Alright. Give me a trowel and a brush.”
Edwyn le Fay dug down at where there was supposed to be the first Magickal item. He unearthed something. He brushed the dirt away from his discovery.
It was a gold ring. Le Fay went to pick it up.
“Wait!” Bridget Jacobson shouted.
“Wait? Why? Do you think that it might be cursed?”
“No, that’s not it. I want to take a photograph of it lying where you discovered it.”
Le Fay sighed. But he let Jacobson use her camera to take a picture of the ring lying in the dirt.
“Can I pick it up now?” he asked.
“Yes, of course.”
Le Fay picked the ring up. He knew that it was Magickal. But he did not know what the ring did. He decided not to put the ring on his finger just in case it was a cursed ring. Although such items were rare, le Fay knew that they existed. He would have to try to analyse the Magick of the ring.
There was still the other item to unearth, first, before he tried to work out just what he had discovered.

“He’s holding something small. I can’t tell what it is.”
“Hopefully it is a gem. Gems are easy to smuggle out, and go for a good price, depending on what they are. If we can prove that it comes from Troy than it will be even more valuable to certain collectors.”
“Whatever it is, he is putting it down. He’s getting his trowel out again. But he’s going to a different part of the site.”

Edwyn le Fay began digging for the second item. He was hoping that it would be more recognisably Trojan. A Magick ring could have come from anywhere. Not that he was disappointed. He could use a ring, especially if it had some protective values. But he wanted to find something like the Spear of Ajax or the Armour of Achilles.
As he dug down to the next level he wondered if Achilles had actually bothered to wear any armour. According to the legends of the Trojan War Achilles had been invulnerable to harm, apart from one of his heels, where he had been held by his mother when she had dipped him in the Styx. Edwyn le Fay did not believe in the River Styx, despite of all of the strange places he had visited in his life. But that did not mean that Achilles had not been resistant to harm. There had to be protective spells that could protect you from swords and spears. Perhaps Achilles had been covered with all manner of enchantments instead. If he had been, then would he really have worn any armour? Why weigh himself down with something made out of bronze?
What Edwyn le Fay would really have liked to have discovered, though, was some of the Magick which the Ancient Greeks and Trojans had used. A lot of the Magick had survived, passed down through the centuries, from wizard to wizard. But a lot of it must have been lost. Le Fay understood that they had not really had spellbooks in those times. Spells had been memorised, or occasionally written down on scrolls. Few of those scrolls, though, had survived to the modern day. Most of them had been lost.
Edwyn le Fay had read, once, that the Great Library at Alexandria had tried to get a copy of every known spell. How many spells had been lost forever when it had burned down?
Le Fay would have loved to have discovered some scroll with an otherwise unknown spell on it. It would not even have to be a powerful spell. He was more interested in discovering the lost knowledge. But he didn’t suppose that it was about to happen. He would have to look somewhere else for long lost spells. Maybe that could be some other, future expedition.
Le Fay dug down, but he did not discover the other item before it began to get dark. That was a little disappointing. If he had got the other item then he could have got ready to go back to Britain. He was not sure that he liked being in Turkey.
Bridget Jacobson built a small campfire, close to where they had erected their tents. It was she who had collected the wood, of course. She got the fire burning with a simple pyromantic spell.
“I suppose that I will be cooking.” she said.
“I am nor a very good cook.” le Fay admitted. Jacobson sighed, and opened one of the tins of food which they had brought with them. She was not a particularly wonderful cook, either. But she suspected that she was bound to be better than her tutor.

There was another campsite, half a mile away. It was there that the two French rogues sat down to their evening repast. It was a repast. It was not a snack, or anything as mundane as a meal. They were not about to open some tin of beans.
No, they dined on pâté de foie gras, coq au vin, and a bottle of the best Burgundy. They savoured their food. But their discussions, of course, still focused on what the other two people might have uncovered in the ground. All manner of possibilities were discussed. But it did not matter what the other two had found, because the two Frenchmen intended to take it away from those who were actually doing all the hard work.

The next morning le Fay lay in his tent. It was already light. But he did not want to get up just yet. Despite the fact that he had not yet looked out of the tent it felt early to him.
It was only when le Fay heard Jacobson get up to prepare breakfast that he decided that he had better get up as well. It would not look good to spend too long in his tent.
Breakfast was simple but better than anything which le Fay could have done. Jacobson, by not being incompetent in preparing food, had made sure that she had got the position of the camp cook, whether she wanted it or not. And she would be the camp cook at any expeditions in the future.
After breakfast Le Fay carried on with the trowel, digging down. Was he at the same level as the Troy of the Trojan War? Or had he gone down below that level? He wanted something which was recognisably Ancient Greek or Trojan. That Magick ring could have come from anywhere.
Then his trowel hit something which was not dirt. There was the sound of metal on metal. Le Fay raised his trowel, like some weapon, about to furiously dig away, as though he was some sort of mad thing. But Jacobson was watching him.
“Use the brush as well.” she said. “Be careful. If you have discovered something then we want to be able to record the way that it is lying in the ground.”
Le Fay managed not to curse his supposed student. He removed the dirt from his discovery as slowly as he could.
He had found some sort of dagger. The blade had been forged out of bronze. The hilt appeared to be ivory.
He held it up to the light. The dagger was Magickal, of course, because it was its Magick nature which had led le Fay to discover it. Without its Magick nature it would have carried on lying in the dirt. Le Fay wondered exactly what it was, and who had used it. But if there were spells which could find out that sort of information he did not know them.
“Well, we’ve got them.” le Fay said. “Time to go.”
“Is that it?” Jacobson asked. She sounded surprised.
“I think that we can leave other items for any future archaeological digs.” le Fay said. He had only come for the Magick items, after all. He was not interested in any normal daggers. He was not interested in pottery shards. “I mean, we don’t want to disturb it too much.”
“I see.” Jacobson said. She glanced at le Fay. But he had turned away from her. She should have guessed that he had only come here to help himself to any Magick items which might be here. Even in the short time that Jacobson had known le Fay she had come to the conclusion that he was absolutely obsessed with Magick.
She sighed, and went to take her tent down.

“I think that they are packing their things up.” one of the Frenchmen said, as he gazed on the site through the binoculars
“Then it is time to relieve them of what they have found. We must move, now, before it is too late. Come, we will soon be very wealthy.”
The two men advanced on le Fay and Jacobson through the bushes. It was le Fay who saw them first. He turned and stared at them, and asked what they were doing here. But he did not notice that one of the men had a revolver in his hand.
“Look down, English person.”
“He says to look down at the gun.” she said. She was a little bit more observant.
“I saw it.” le Fay claimed. “I was hoping that it was an illusion.” He raised his hands above his head. “What is it that you want?”
“I want zose two zings you ‘ave found.” said the younger Frenchman, in very accented English. “’And them over.”
The man with the moustache looked smug. Le Fay looked down at the gun. It looked very deadly.
“We had better do what they want.” Jacobson said. She, too, raised her hands above her head.
Le Fay, though, rebelled at the idea of having to hand over what they had found. They were his finds, not theirs.
The younger Frenchman levelled his gun at le Fay. “Tell you girlfriend to bring ze zings to me.”
Le Fay put his hands behind his head. Bridget Jacobson could see his fingers forming mystic symbols. She didn’t know what spell he was about to cast. But she got ready to act.
“ELECTRIFY!” le Fay shouted, bringing one hand down to point at the man holding the gun. A bolt of blue lightning struck his hand as the gun went off. A bullet clipped le Fay’s shoulder as the gun went flying off into some bushes.
“You missed!” the elder Frenchman shouted. “Fool! Get the gun.”
“I’m hit!” le Fay shrieked. He grabbed his shoulder, saw his hand covered in blood, and threw himself to the ground.
Jacobson, meanwhile, had dived into the bushes to look for the gun – as had the younger of the two French men (and, rudely, these two men still had not introduced themselves to le Fay and Jacobson).
Jacobson saw the gun; but the Frenchman saw it at the same time. He grabbed it, stood up, and pointed it at le Fay.
“Now you die!” he shouted.
“No, don’t.” le Fay shouted back. The Frenchman pulled the trigger, not noticing that the barrel had been deformed by the electricity. The gun exploded in his hand, taking some of the hand with it.
“I tried to warn you.” le Fay said.
The older Frenchman, the one with the little moustache, had been looking on at this chaos, all of which had unfolded in only a few seconds.
He decided that things were not going his way. He turned to run out of there. But Jacobson had found a rock in the bushes. It was a pretty hefty one, which she had had to pick up with both hands. She ran after Mr Moustache and brought the rock down on his head. He fell unconscious to the ground.
“My hand!” the other Frenchman gasped. He was in danger of going into shock.
“Look what you’ve done to my hand!” he shouted. “I’m going to kill you for this!”
It would have had a greater impact if le Fay had understood what the thug was saying. The man advanced a step towards le Fay. The wizard was still on the ground, holding his shoulder.
Bridget Jacobson brought the rock down on the Frenchman’s head. He slumped down to the ground, in the way that sacks of potatoes are known to slump.
“I’ve been shot.” le Fay complained, now that it was safe to start complaining.
“Take off your shirt.” Jacobson said.
“I need to look at the wound. Unless you would prefer me to cut your shirt open.
He didn’t prefer that. With some difficulty he took his shirt off. He felt very self-conscious, especially of the fact that he really did not have any muscles.
“It’s only a flesh wound. The bullet only clipped it. You’ll live.” she said. She found a roll of bandage out of the things she had brought with her (le Fay had not thought to bring anything like that) and bound his shoulder. Le Fay quickly put his shirt back on, despite the blood staining the shoulder of the shirt. He had not brought a spare one with him.
“It still hurts.” le Fay complained.
“Electrify? I do not know that Word of Command.” Jacobson said, changing the subject.
“It is rare, and powerful, even though the electricity is really only a shock. It is nothing compared to a real bolt of lightning. But I did not have the time for any Fulgomantic Magick. I was only trying to get him to drop the gun. I was aiming at his hand.”
“It was effective. Especially when he didn’t notice that his gun had been damaged. I don’t think that he is actually going to lose any of his fingers. But he is not going to be using that hand any time soon.”
“We should tie them up before they wake up. Ow, my shoulder.”
Bridget Jacobson sighed. She supposed that she would have to tie up the two Frenchmen. She and le Fay, though, did not have any rope.
“I’m going to see if I can find their camp.” she said to le Fay. “I doubt if it can be that far away.

Bridget Jacobson found the Frenchmen’s camp a little way off. They had some rope – enough to tie up the two men. She tended to the younger Frenchman’s wounds, first, so that his hand would not get infected. She made sure that both men were securely tied up (she did not trust le Fay’s facility with knots). Then she brought the two Frenchmen back to consciousness.
“I want to know who you are.” le Fay said.
“Why should we tell you?” the elder of the two Frenchmen answered him. He spoke excellent English, with only a faint accent.
“Because, if you don’t, I won’t tell the authorities where you are, and you will probably die here. Unless you know the spell to get out of your bonds. No, I didn’t think that the two of you were wizards.”
The older Frenchman, the one with the moustache, had had enough of Turkey. This attempt to steal artefacts from Troy had been a disaster.
“I am Auguste Dubois.” he said. “I didn’t know that he had a gun.” A lie, of sorts; Dubois hadn’t known at the start of the venture that his companion was carrying a gun.
“What’s your name?” le Fay asked the other one. He received a string of abuse in French for his trouble. And threats of death, of course.
“You may as well tell him.” Auguste Dubois said. There was no response. “Very well. His name is Pierre Clébert.”
More voluble swearing in French.
So, what are you going to do with us?” Dubois asked.
“Nothing. We’re going to tell the Turks about you and let them pick you up.”
“We will tell them that you’re stealing from the site when they come. You won’t get anything from here either. Give us one of the items and we won’t say anything either.”
Le Fay shook his head. The items were his. He was not going to give them up.
“Keep a watch on them, ah, Miss Blackman.” le Fay said. He had been going to say Jacobson. But he was hoping that these two Frenchmen did not know the names Jacobson or le Fay. The wizard did not want to have to worry about the two men seeking revenge at some later date. “There is something which I must do.”
Jacobson jumped, then smiled.
“If they do anything I’ll hit them with the rock again, Mr Green.” she said. She cottoned on quick.
Le Fay ran back to his finds. The finds were his. Nobody was going to take them away from him.
He took the bronze dagger and the ring. He ran to the one shadow in the area that was dark enough, and jumped into the world of shadows.
Once he had explored an entire world from inside the shadow world. So he knew that distance was not an option. The only factors were time and tiredness.
He thought his way past the shadows, hundreds of different doors back to the real world, as he sped back to his rooms in London. After a long trip he stepped back out into the solid world of reality. He hid his finds. Then he went back into the Shadow World.
By the time that he finally got back to Turkey he was exhausted. Those had been two of his longer trips through that strange world of shadows.
It was night by the time that he got back.
“Where have you been?” Jacobson asked. “I was looking for you. I thought that you had wandered off.”
“Sending the finds back to Britain.” le Fay said. “I, ah, posted them.” He was a terrible liar. Jacobson frowned, but did not say anything. She could not think of anything else which he might have done.

Jacobson and le Fay put their tents back up. They were not going to go back now, but set off in the morning. The Frenchmen did not get to sleep in a tent, but out of doors, although Jacobson did make up a campfire so that they would not suffer from exposure.
The next morning le Fay and Jacobson frogmarched the two criminal Frenchmen to the nearest village and handed them in, trying their best to explain what had happened. Le Fay gave a brief explanation to the authorities, and left the Frenchmen to discover what Turkish justice was like. Then he and Jacobson began the long journey back to London. Le Fay did not really care what happened to the two men, as long as he never got to see them again (which he never did). Still, though, he did not relax until he and Jacobson were on a train, and the train had gone over the Turkish border into Bulgaria.
He relaxed back into his seat, and smiled, thinking of those two Magickal items, already back in London, just waiting for him to return. It had proved to be a rather successful adventure, after all.


A Life Of Fiction CLXXXVII

For those of you new to this WordPress site, this site is about me and my writing – and a little about my role-playing, as well. It gives readers a chance to sample my work; and gives me the chance to say a little about the genesis of each novel, or about the process of writing in general.

Introductions: Most books have an introduction (or is that only most books which I read?). It is often the first thing which people read, upon opening the book, unless they are the sort of person who skips over the introduction and goes straight to the text (and I must admit that I have done that, in the past). But it is an area which is often neglected. A bad introduction can put a person off; while a great introduction, while setting the mood, is still not always remembered by the constant reader.
I think that my favourite introductions are the ones written by the author, rather than having somebody else write for him. I like those introductions which Stephen King has written – but, then again, I have always been a big fan of his work. You want the author to introduce his own work. Sometimes he may even say something revealing about his book. Or her book, as the case may be. I’m not going to reproduce any Stephen King introductions here, as I have no desire to be sued by his publishers. But you should definitely check them out. While you’re at it, check out Stephen King On Writing.
I only began writing introductions after I began putting books on the Kindle store. Most of my early books do not have an introduction at all. I could always go back and write introductions for my early stuff. But I consider them to now be complete. Perhaps some other person can write introductions for them, after I am dead. I would probably disagree with the intro, anyway. Who knows the material better than the author himself?
Anyway, I think that it is time to give an example.
This is my introduction to the horror novel The Black Museum.

This novel is my attempt to do a long horror novel, one with a fair amount of detail; and set in New England. The novelist freely admits that he is a fan of Stephen King. But this novel is intended to be more than some mere pastiche. There is no point in trying to rip off your favourite author.
This is, rather, something which is inspired by my love of creepy stories set in New England – not just by King, but by a lot of other writers: H P Lovecraft, August Derleth, and many more.
I have been influenced by everything which I have ever seen and read. I’m not sure whether it’s possible not to be. And when I was a kid I was a fan of some of the old Hammer Horror movies, especially some of those which told several different tales in the film. Some of those tales featured cursed or haunted items, such as mirrors or dolls or the like. I like the idea of the McGuffins, and I have long wanted to do a novel featuring not one, but many such items. Is this that novel? Well, read on, dear reader, and find out.
PS: If you are reading this and your name is King, Stephen, or any combination thereof, this is intended as a tribute, and not some rip off or some creepy fan thing. And, yes, I have read Misery…

The above is, I admit, hardly the best introduction in the world. But it does tell the reader what to expect, without giving away too much of the plot.

I write a lot of introductions to my collections of poetry. Sometimes I almost feel that I write more words on the introduction than on the poetry. To give an example, here is the introduction from Songs of Bliss and Despair.

Another month, another collection of what passes for my verse, another search for a vaguely interesting title. The one which suggested itself to me was Songs of Bliss and Despair. I considered doing two collections – one called Songs of Bliss and the other called Songs of Despair. But, with the black cloud of depression which circles forever above me, I feared that Songs of Despair would fill up long before Songs of Bliss.
The title is supposed to echo William Blake’s Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience. I am a big fan of the poetry of Blake, and consider him to be one of the greatest Britons who ever lived. His artwork is interesting, as well. Check out his stuff, if you have not already done so.
Tobogganing is quite an old poem. It is from an old notebook. But, for some reason, I never included it in any of my other collections. I like it, even if it is a bit simple. It can be considered to be a song of bliss. All of the others are more recent. The vast majority have been written specifically for this collection of verse.
Anyway, lets get on with the show.

That was the intro. I think that we have had enough of my introductions for a month. go and write some of your own.

A Life Of Fiction CLXXXVI

For those of you new to this WordPress site, this site is about me and my writing – and a little about my role-playing, as well. It gives readers a chance to sample my work; and gives me the chance to say a little about the genesis of each novel, or about the process of writing in general.

Like A Phoenix From The Ashes: Permission To Speak, the spoken word night which I used to attend once a months, has returned to its spiritual home after but a few short months. By which I mean that it has returned to Claptrap, which was once Scary Canary. Apparently the spoken word night, which had only ever been once a month, had decamped to the pub Katey Fitgerald’s. But I did not go there, down to Katey’s, because I was totally unaware that the spoken word night had survived. I thought that it had shuffled off this mortal coil, as things are wont to shuffle.
I noticed, one day, on the door of Claptrap, the events which were coming up. These events included Permission To Speak, of course. I was both surprised and happy to see it return, like a phoenix from the ashes. I saw the that Permission To Speak was to be on the Wednesday, just two days into what was then my future.
Of course I went along that Wednesday evening in September. Two of my TV programmes, Bones and Criminal Minds, had to be unwatched by me that evening. But what is television compared to a live event? I may not like leaving the house, due to my low level agoraphobia, but give me a poetry evening any time.
I saw many of the same people there. But there were a few new people who had come along. That was good. Permission To Speak was still growing in popularity under the stewardship of Rob Francis.
What to read out, though? That was the thing. I had considered the poems At Last, Skedaddle, The Flow, and This Is Modern Life. I had even taken Viking Saga Holiday with me, as it had gone down well the first time. But, in the end, I read out The Walled Garden, The Beer Drinker’s Rhyme and Ripper, Sickert (although not necessarily in that order). They seemed to go down well enough. Or maybe people were just being polite. I can never tell, and I know that my poetry is not the best in the world, even though it is the best that I can produce.
I think that I was one of the last people out of Claptrap that night, as I had a final beer at the end to celebrate the return of Permission To Speak. A kebab on the way home, and that was it, until the 11th of October. Permission To Speak plans to meet (usually) the second Wednesday of each month, although it may be different in December / Christmastime.
Here are the three poems I read out. I think that you can get all of the collections on Kindle for a pittance. The Walled Garden is from Gazing Into The Abyss. Ripper, Sickert and The Beer Drinker’s Rhyme are both from Dead Bird Song.

The Walled Garden

The garden walls have tumbled down,
The stones are lost among the weeds,
This garden has now gone to seed,
Pretty flowers have withered brown,
The fountains blocked by fallen leaves;
No hand remains to cut the grass,
Or clear the weeds from unwalked paths,
Or pick fresh fruit from off the trees,
Or drink the water of the streams.

This realm that’s steeped in age and myth,
Two trees it keeps; though old, they live.
One hand could pick the fruit they give,
But no one reaches for their gift;
For they have gone, the birds have flown,
The animals no longer play,
No one tends the garden today,
Its first stewards have been disowned,
So long has passed since they were there,
So long a garden without care.

Ripper, Sickert

I saw you standing by her bed,
Her eyes were vacant in her head,
Was she alive or was she dead?
In sick sick Sickert’s paintings.

Were you Walter or were you Jack?
Was there some facet that you lacked?
Did some warmth leave and not come back?
In sick sick Sickert’s paintings.

You loved the murders, loved them all,
There was no crime that could appal,
Were you feeding a savage call?
In sick sick Sickert’s paintings.

Dull browns, dark hues, they were your choice,
They told a tale with silenced voice,
Darkness pregnant that did rejoice,
In sick sick Sickert’s paintings.

Or was it nothing but oil paint?
These images of pain and taint?
Pretty pictures – well, they sure ain’t,
In Jack the Ripper’s paintings?

The Beer Drinker’s Rhyme

Twinkle, twinkle, little bar,
I see your lights on, from afar,
As I stumble down the road,
Looking for a beer to hold,
An ale to wash the world away,
If only for another day.

Next time I will be attempting to write about book introductions.

A Life Of Fiction CLXXXV

For those of you new to this WordPress site, this site is about me and my writing – and a little about my role-playing, as well. It gives readers a chance to sample my work; and gives me the chance to say a little about the genesis of each novel, or about the process of writing in general.

Yet More On Writing: I’m sure that some of these observations I have made before, but writers do tend to repeat themselves, after all. So forgive me if you have heard this one before. I do need to write about something, after all, or see this WordPress blog dwindle away to nothing, as it has been threatening to do. So, words on screen.
On Adverbs: Adverbs are unpopular at the time. Agents and editors do not like writing with too many adverbs. For example, a sentence such as “He walked stealthily along the darkened corridor” is not the done thing, at least at the moment. Most editors would prefer a writer to lose the adverb, and come up with some verb which describes the action without the need for an adverb. You could write, for example, “He sneaked along the darkened corridor.”
Personally my view of this is entirely at odds with the current trend to attack adverbs. I think that they have their place in writing, and that it is illogical to attack something which is basically a tool. But, before following my views on this, perhaps you should reflect on the fact that I am still an unpublished writer, a situation which is unlikely to change in the near future. So, perhaps, you should still endeavour to excise adverbs for your magnum opus. You have been warned. I just hope that they do not have a similar attack on adjectives.
What else? I have heard say that it is wrong to split the infinitive, as in To boldly go where no man has gone before. But, after reading books by David Crystal, I discovered that the infinitive has been split long before Star Trek came along. There are those who will look snootily down their noses at you if you do it. But not splitting the infinitive was fashion as much as anything else (or perhaps fascism, in the literary sense). What matters is whether your sentences are comprehensible or not. Read them out to yourself and see if they make sense, or whether they could be misconstrued by the reader. It really does help to read out aloud what you have written. If it does not sound write; if the word structure is ugly, then change it, until you are happy with the end result.
Even better, read them out to somebody else, as long as you don’t mind a bit of criticism (and the occasional bit of laughter). But don’t read your writing out loud if you are in a crowded public house and what you are writing is erotica. That, though, should really be obvious.
I think that words are meant to be heard, and not just read.
The next time I will be writing about the return of Permission to Speak.

A Life of Fiction CLXXXIV

For those of you new to this WordPress site, this site is about me and my writing – and a little about my role-playing, as well. It gives readers a chance to sample my work; and gives me the chance to say a little about the genesis of each novel, or about the process of writing in general.

I have been away: I have been away. Not literally, only figuratively speaking. But, of late, my mind has not really been on my writing, not for the past year or so. During that period I have completed only two novels, and those were only for the last year’s NaNoWriMo. That might sound like a lit of writing, considering that both novels were written during the month of November. But it’s not: not really, if you put your mind to it, you could do many more words than that while, hopefully, not having a drop off in quality. And it is that last bit of the equation which is the most important. There is no point ion writing a novel if you know that it is not going to be any good. Quality over quantity, says the writer with the literary diarrhoea. Always strive to make sure that what you do is the best of which you are capable.
Since NaNoWriMo I have started two long novels, and not completed either. Both novels reached a stage where I was not sure what came next. I know how both novels are going to end. But the correct words are not yet there in my mind. They remain half-formed.
I had an idea for a third novel. But I was not going to try and write it in one go, just in case I failed again. No, I decided to try a slightly different approach. What would otherwise have been failure number three is to be written as a series of five short novellas, with each of the five novellas planned to between twenty thousand to forty thousand words. By the time that you read these words the first of those five novellas should be completed, although I intend to write all five before putting them on Kindle. All five are fully planned out, right up to those words The End, so beloved of editors and wordsmiths.
I’m not sure if, after completing volume one, I shall go straight to volume two of what is tentatively titled The Cocteau Bomb. Perhaps I will. But I am hoping that the buzz which I still get for completing stuff will be so inspiring that I will return to those two unfinished novels – Psionex 328 and The Sound of Falling Dust – and plough on with them. I have only completed around thirteen thousand words on the first novel, but The Sound of Falling Dust is about half-completed. And I hate leaving something half-completed. I guess that only time will tell if those two novels get completed, or if they continue to hang around on my computer’s hard drive, mocking me for my inability to finish them.
In the next post I will discuss writing, in general, yet again.


Sorry for the gap between posts, have been ill.

A Life Of fiction CLXXXIII

For those of you new to this WordPress site, this site is about me and my writing – and a little about my role-playing, as well. It gives readers a chance to sample my work; and gives me the chance to say a little about the genesis of each novel, or about the process of writing in general.

The Call of Cthulhu: Recently I have been writing some Cthulhu Mythos short stories, at the same time as writing scenarios for the Call of Cthulhu RPG. For those unfamiliar with the term Cthulhu Mythos it was a term coined to describe the horror stories of H P Lovecraft and others. Lovecraft was a horror writer of the early twentieth century, active as a writer from 1917 until his death in 1937. His stories were tales of dark, alien gods who had ruled Earth back before mankind gad evolved, and which one day might rule again. Cthulhu himself was a great, tentacled squid thing, with a massive, humanoid body, but others were so strange and alien in form that they could not be conceived by our minds without us going insane. Insanity features heavily in Lovecraftian fiction, with many protagonists losing it once they finally realise the true nature of reality.
I read a lot of Cthulhu Mythos short stories when I was a teenager, short stories not just by H P Lovecraft but also the mythos tales of Robert E Howard, Brian Lumley, Clark Ashton Smith and others. Some aspects of the Cthulhu Mythos have become almost ubiquitous in horror, with the book the Necronomicon, invented by H P Lovecraft, being used in many books and horror films, such as the Evil Dead movies.

Anyway, I had written a couple of Cthulhu Mythos short stories in the past, ones which I have already self-published. But it was when I decided to run the Call of Cthulhu role-playing game for my friends that I decided to write more Cthulhu mythos fiction – but not just short stories, but also short scenarios for the game. I wanted the sort of scenarios which could easily be played through in a single evening, as we don’t get to roleplay every week. The published scenarios are great. But a lot of them are campaigns, rather than something brief.

I find that by writing Cthulhu horror short stories that I get ideas for the scenarios, and vice versa. One feeds the other. As my writing had been feeling particularly uninspired of late I am happy to find anything which might bring ideas into my mind, and get the joy of writing back into my veins.

Will I finish a collection of Cthulhu Mythos short stories which is long enough to self-publish? Ah, there’s the rub. I don’t know. Perhaps I will run out of steam before it is complete. But maybe not, if the RPG sessions go well. As it is the incomplete collection of tales, so far, is up to twenty-five thousand words. But I would want it to be about three times as long before sticking it on Kindle.

Here follows a Call of Cthulhu scenario idea. It is very short, probably © Chaosium, and intended to be played through in a single evening. It is based on a short story which I published a few years ago. The adventure is based in Arkham in the 1920s, but the time period or the location could easily be changed by the Keeper.

The Wasps In The Walls

In this scenario the adventurers investigate after a person is stung to death; and then the exterminator is killed, as well. Thus the adventurers will know that they are dealing with wasps, and can take actions to protect themselves. But these wasps no longer act like normal wasps. They have developed an occult intelligence, due to having munched on some Cthulhu Mythos tomes.

Read to the players: There has been a somewhat strange event in Arkham, in East Church Street, at the private address of one David Plummer. One of the neighbours, after hearing a scream, investigated, to find Plummer dead on the floor. It appeared that he had been stung to death by wasps. But there was no sign of the creatures. Fearing that there was some wasp infestation in the place the Arkham authorities called in an exterminator. But, following another scream, it was discovered that the exterminator was dead, as well. Again there was not any sign of any wasps. Since then, the house has been boarded up. But it is clear that the danger cannot be over.

David Plummer lived at 193 East Church Street, next to a gift shop. His death was reported in the Arkham advertiser, one of two local Arkham newspapers.
The characters can try researching Plummer, to see if there was anything strange about him.

The neighbours (after a Fast Talk roll or equivalent) will tell the characters that Plummer was a quite, unassuming person. He worked as an actuary. As far as they knew there was nothing odd about him. He did not work in Arkham.

The characters can travel to the insurance company where he worked, if they so desire, but they will not discover anything odd about Plummer. They will be told that that he was a quiet, unassuming person, who simply got on with his job.

The neighbour who found Plummer was his next door neighbour, Wilfred Stannart, from number 191 East Church Street. Stannart will have the additional information that he saw a hammer beside Plummer’s dead body. It looked like he was doing some work, or had just done some work, when he was killed.

The police will not know anything about him (Fast Talk or Law to speak to them). He has never been in trouble with the law.

If the characters research 193 East Church Street they will have more success. Going back in the city records (Library Use) they will discover that before David Plummer the inhabitant of the house was a man by the name of Stanley Kramer.

Asking around (Fast Talk) with Plummer’s neighbours will get the old Mrs Edith Winkler, the owner of the gift shop, to say that Kramer was a very strange individual. He claimed to be an anthropologist. But he never seemed to leave the house. She saw strange people call in on him, though, often late at night. One time one of the people entering his house was wearing black robes with funny symbols on it. Another time she heard chanting, in an unknown language, coming from his rooms.

If the characters make an Occult roll they will have heard the name of Stanley Kramer as somebody who was interested in the occult. But they will not know anything more than that.

If the characters want to get in his house then they will have to remove the boards which have been put up at the door of the abode.

If the characters show no interest in the house then have local people in a position of authority ask for their assistance. Eventually, though, the characters should go inside number 193 East Church Street.

It takes only a STR x 5 roll to get the boards off the front of the house.

Read to the players: Inside the house is dark [due to the boards up at the windows] and quiet. There is no buzzing. There is no sign of any wasps, living or dead.

David Plummer had been putting up a picture when he was killed. A Search roll will uncover the fact that, behind one of the pictures on the wall (a picture of a country scene), the wallpaper is the same colour as the rest of the wall. Had the picture been up for any length of time you would have expected the coloration to be different. (INT x 5 to work it out, if they can’t work it pit for themselves0.

The characters, as they search the place, will be observed. A wasp will keep watch on them. It will not attack them. But it will report back to the others if it looks like the other wasps might be endangered. It will take a very low Spot roll to notice the wasp.
Initially, at least, the player characters will find nothing amiss, as the two dead bodies were removed, before boarding up the house. As long as the wasps are not disturbed they will not bother the characters, but attempt to stay hidden.

Inside one of the walls of the house (the one with the picture) there are the remains of three old books. The pages of the books have been eaten away by the wasps. The wasps have chewed on the pages, and used them to build their nest inside the walls. Only the covers of the books remain. Eating the books has infected the wasps with an unholy intelligence.

The wasps took the nail coming through the walls as an attack on them by Plummer. They decided to defend themselves. the wasps are now intelligent enough to have known that the exterminator was trying to kill them.

The first of the books hidden inside the wall is called Unaussprechlichen Kulten. There is just about enough of the pages inside to confirm the fact that the book had been written in German.

The second book is called Ponape Scripture. The book was written by Captain Abner Ezekiel Hoag.

The last book was The King in Yellow.

None of the details are given on the books as the books are unreadable, having been eaten away by the wasps.

The wasps can make sounds approaching human speech. If the characters Listen to the correct wall (the one with the wasp nest, and the hidden remains of the books) they might hear strange noises, unlike the buzzing of wasps.

Read to the players: Putting your ear to the wall you can hear something. It is not the buzzing which you had expected to hear. It sounds more like Cth… ch’t… ch’t… c’tah or C’tul hu ch’t c’tah.

It might be around now that the characters either retreat, to consider what to do next, or to try to break through the lathe and plaster to get at the wasp nest.

If the characters do try to break through the wall a swarm of wasps will come out into the room. This will take one round. Anybody in the room will have that round in which to retreat, or face the fury of the wasps.

The wasps attack as a single swarm. Do enough damage to the swarm and it will lose its unholy intelligence, and any surviving wasps will simply become wasps again. Normal attacks have very little effect on the swarm, though: hitting the swarm with a hand weapon, or trying to shoot it with a bullet, will not do any damage at all.

If a person is attacked by the swarm they will be reduced to half speed, as they try to fight off the swarm.

A person with a phobia of wasps will automatically panic if attacked by the wasps. Other characters directly attacked (i.e. being stung that round) can roll their POW x 5 not to panic. They may check each round that they are attacked. Once they stop panicking they will be able to run out of there.

The swarm of wasps will not pursue the characters outside of the house. They consider it to be their castle.

Wasp Swarm
STR: 1
CON: 10
SIZ: 10
INT: 7
POW: 10
HP: 10
Damage bonus: None (would be -1d6)
Weapons: Sting, 80% no damage but delivers venom. 2 points of poison damage (CON roll for half). This warm can attack over and over again.
Armour: None. But normal attacks do not affect the wasps, because of the nature of the swarm. Bullets and melee attacks will go straight through. Shotgun bursts will hit the swarm, but will do minimum damage. Fire, magic spells, and poisonous aerosols will do full damage.
Spells: The wasps have learned spells through ingesting the books in the walls. The only useful spell which they know is Create Barrier of Naach-Tith. But, because it is hard for them to speak, they only have a 30% chance of successfully casting the spell. Thus they will only try to use the spell if the characters retreat, and then try to return to the house.

The characters, at some stage (whether before or after being attacked by the wasps) should go and equip themselves with the sort of weapons necessary for dealing with a swarm. Once the swarm has been dispersed the characters will be able to safely break through the wall of the house, discover the covers of the mythos books, and destroy the wasp nest. That is all that they have to do.

If the characters take their time in coming back (should they take two attempts to get rid of the wasps) they might discover a mystical barrier around the wasp nest, though.

Rewards: if the characters defeat the wasps in the walls they should each get a sanity point. They get nothing else other than the satisfaction of dealing with the wasps.

What happens next is up to the characters. It depends on whether they have encountered any Cthulhu Mythos books before. If they have, then they might think it interesting that the wasp behaviour was changed after eating Cthulhu Mythos books. Perhaps one of the characters might write a monograph on that fact.

A Life Of fiction CLXXXII

For those of you new to this WordPress site, this site is about me and my writing – and a little about my role-playing, as well. It gives readers a chance to sample my work; and gives me the chance to say a little about the genesis of each novel, or about the process of writing in general.

How To Avoid Writing A Novel: If you want to get finished don’t do this…

Go for a long walk in the countryside, allegedly looking for that Wordsworth moment.

Take short coffee breaks which end up being half an hour long.

Put on something like Final Fantasy VII ‘just for a few minutes’ even though you know that it is never just for a few minutes.

Set yourself a set number of words a day and then not stick to your own schedule.

Spend all morning reading the newspaper, no matter how interesting the articles might be.

Claim that you are feeling too ill to write, due to the hangover from going out into the pub the night before and getting absolutely tanked. It’s only a headache, take some Paracetomol.

Forever edit and re-edit what little you have written, rather than getting more words down on paper.

Convince yourself that you are suffering from writer’s block when the truth is that you are only lazy.

Go to Comicon, instead, to talk about your work.

Begin working on some side project, instead, and claim that it is the greatest thing that you have ever done.

Say that the time is not right for the new novel.

Go on tours around the world promoting your early, better work.

Write blogs on the internet about writing, and put your ill-formed and ill-informed ideas towards your daily word count.

Have some sort of mental breakdown, but not the sort where you have to go away to some medical facility.

Tell everybody that your main job simply takes up too much time for you to get that unfinished novel out of the sock drawer, even though you know that that is not true.
Combinations of the above.

I do not, of course, suggest that any prospective writers out there follow any of the ‘advice’ listed above. But, at some time in your literary career, you may find yourself doing some of the above. I am not the only one who has had problems in finishing novels. There are a lot of people waiting for George R R Martin to write the next book in the A Song of Fire and Ice series, more commonly known as Game of Thrones. Will that novel ever appear? I suspect that not even George R R Martin knows that at the moment, although, of course, he would never admit that.