This is the section that is currently embarrassingly short of content – but it’s also the one I’m keenest to expand, with my brain currently fit to burst with the explosion of ideas, partly thanks to years of gestation, and partly due to the huge wave of inspiration from other writers I have been getting to know recently. I have found the writing community to be incredibly generous when sharing ideas and experiences and quick to offer encouragement, and I have been especially impressed with the courageous author-entrepreneurs who are fellow members of The Alliance of Independent Authors.
I’ll be announcing posts here via the usual channels, but let me open with a short story written for the one and only Joanna Penn of The Creative Penn. She sets such a wonderful example for author-entrepreneurs, as well as being a best-selling fiction writer in her own right with her ARKANE Series and London Psychic series written as J.F.Penn.
I’ve always been impressed by Joanna’s professionalism, and something I’ve noticed is how she only occasionally mentions her private life and the existence of her (never named) husband. But what she has often described on her blog and in her podcasts is that she is, in essence, an introvert who has learned to cope with having to be an extrovert in her career. Well, in a mad moment, this triggered an idea for a short story – very short, in fact, pretty much flash fiction, as you’ll see. I hope you like it. (P.S. I sent this to Joanna to see for herself before posting it here. I think she’s recovered.)
by Henry Hyde, © October 2014
Joanna looked at her husband and smiled. What would she do without him? He’d hardly changed over the years. A little frost grey had appeared at the temples, perhaps, but other than that, very little. The same eyes, the same smile, the same lovely white teeth and strong jaw.
And he was such a good listener. Nobody understood her like him. She’d managed to maintain their privacy despite the prying eyes of the press and her many thousands of fans. It was important for her to protect him. After all, he’d been so understanding when her career had suddenly taken off, never complaining, always there, cool, calm and quiet in the background, patiently supportive. A rock for her to lean on in troubled times or when the publicity got just too much.
That was a real struggle for her. An introvert by nature, she’d had to work so hard at creating a public façade, an extrovert mask that she could slip into when her stomach churned, the host’s voice rose in introduction, the crowd roared and she stepped onto the platform and into the circle of hot, white light. She’d force a smile and, battling her paper-dry mouth, begin: “Hello, my name’s Joanna and I’m here to tell you how to break the rules.”
It was like dying, over and over again, the one thing that was difficult for Jonathan to understand, difficult for any normal person to understand who only had to die once, quietly and away from the public gaze.
After a public performance, she would often be physically sick, reduced to a hunched figure in a toilet cubicle in some hotel or conference centre washroom, praying that no one from her audience would happen upon her, retching into the porcelain void.
But she knew that once she’d tidied herself up, she could retreat to her private sanctum, and he would be there, waiting, smiling, and she would wrap herself in his embrace.
“I must fix that button for you,” she said, noticing the loose thread on his shirt. “I’ll pop out and get some blue cotton later.” She patted his hand.
Noticing the time, she stood up. “Time for my podcast, darling. I’m interviewing Joel again, and he’s on West Coast time, so I’d better get ready.”
She kissed him gently on the forehead, brushed the sparkling droplets from her blouse, and closed the lid of the chest freezer.
I am now able to reveal that I am working on an epic fantasy fiction series in the mould of David Gemmell, with a touch of Bernard Cornwell thrown in.
The first novel in the series is called Barik’s Blades and the first page was recently shortlisted in the Triskele Books Words With Jam First Page Competition. You can read more about this and, indeed, the first page itself here.