Monthly Archives: June 2014

Pamplona: with or without Hemingway

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Pamplona is gearing up for the Fiesta, the annual festival of “the running of the bulls,” made internationally famous when Ernest Hemingway set his 1926 novel, The Sun Also Rises – also called Fiesta – there. The 8 day homage to San Fermin kicks off on the 6th, and the city is preparing for the influx of tourists from every other corner of Spain and the earth. The giant big wheel is in place, the funfair setting up, temporary bathrooms have been trucked in, the carpenters are fixing the barriers along the streets in preparation for the stampede, fences are being placed around decorative park gardens and potentially dangerous city walls, bars and shops are stocking up on booze and grub, as are citizens, and, most importantly, the access permit for my car to drive through the pedestrianised old town has arrived!

As a writer, writing in the English language, and living in Pamplona, – probably the only one (and if there are more, hit me up and lets start a group!), I suppose I am to a certain extent expected, if not actually obliged, to mention the festival that is about to kick off here, which Papa made so famous all those years ago.

As a fan of Hemingway, I am delighted to live here, and to be able to experience the festivals each year, and in perfect comfort, too – anyone who’s been here will have seen the extremes that some visitors go to, sleeping rough in the parks, if they sleep at all. While I don’t have views of the Encierro route, I have friends who do and usually get an invite once a year, and I live just a hundred yards from the Hotel Perla where he used to stay, and I’m sure he strolled past my door back in the day, when there were horses stabled downstairs from my apartment. I have written I’ve written poems and parts of my novels in the cafe Iruña, where he wrote himself, and I am actually writing this post sitting in the Hemingway corner of said café, though I usually write at home nowadays.

I was a fan of Hemingway even before ever visiting Pamplona, and it was exciting to follow in his footsteps. He did a lot of things that I like to do, too. I am not a good angler, I must confess, and war holds no attraction to me in any way shape or form, nor do I wish to have more than one wife, and of course I hope to be in control of my suicidal tendencies as a pensioner. But I like to fish, to hunt, to travel. I had read most of his novels and stories before moving to Madrid years ago, and Death in the Afternoon helped me understand the reason why I was fascinated by the bullfights. I also love to write, of course, though I have long since stopped trying to write a sentence like him. I have my style and it’s basically splurting words and hoping the editor doesn’t want to cut too many. One of these extra bits that will probably get cut, is a tangential short story I invented as part of a novel, Five Days on Ballyboy Beach, which will be published later this year. It concerns the hero, who had come to the festivals with a friend to run in front of the bulls, finding the experience both frightening and exciting – a ludicrous enterprise to be taking part in yet at the same time impossible to pass up, or leave once entered upon.

But of course, most people who go to Pamplona and even those who run the bulls don’t feel such sensations because they are too drunk to realise the danger they are in (and the drunks still get in among the throngs of runners despite the efforts of the police to prevent them – they might not be falling down, but they wouldn’t get into the driver’s seat of a car…) or just too ignorant to know that is going on. I could tell stories of the idiocy I’ve seen, but there will only be more this year.

There are two things that are clear to me living here year round, and having attended more fiestas than Hemingway ever got to. One is that if Hemingway never came here, he’d still have written the Sun also Rises. It would have had some other festival as the setting – but Pamplona is, at the end, fairly incidental to the story; he could have set it in any other festival in Spain or stayed in Paris just as easily, and it would have been just as good a novel.

And if Hemingway never came here I’d still be living here. I’d still be a great fan, still love the bullfights, but my wife would still be from here, and I’d still have fallen in love with her, and our life’s journey would still have pointed us back here to settle our family. I’d just enjoying more locally -focused festivals every July.

Don’t get me wrong: Pamplona is a lovely town, and San Fermin is the best party on the planet. I encourage everyone to come at least once. But if it wasn’t so famous the locals might be able to actually run with the bulls instead of battle with the throngs of tourists on a one-day trip to stand like sheep on the street dressed in a stupid t-shirt the tour company game them while the bulls go by… (Full disclosure: I only ran once and don’t intend to run again, and you can enjoy the festivals immensely without ever even smelling a bull never mind seeing one.)

And if you are coming to town this summer – whether for San Fermin or on your way along the Camino de Santiago – then let me know and look me up. I’m the guy who cycles round town (seemingly too fast, but it’s all under control, folks) with the WWF (don’t forget they get 10% of my royalties!) stickers on the back of the child seat! I won’t be cycling much during the fiesta (when you see the crowds you’ll see why), but there’s a black and white cover of Leaving the Pack on my building… If you have Leaving the Pack on your ipad or whatever, I’ll give you a signed cover (3×5″)postcard, and you can buy me a beer!

Feliz Fiestas!

 

Spainish Wolves Increasing (and the sky isn’t falling on anyone’s head)

this is a newspaper article about the increase in population of Iberian wolves in the a region of the north of Spain, where wolves had never been exterminated and slowly recovered since protection was given (though the packs are hunted where densities are highest. The latest comprehensive census shows wolves are spreading out through other areas and where they are in low density are protected.

The regional wildlife authority suggests that the population south of the River Duero has increased enough to allow hunting and says that since population has increased where wolves are already hunted it shows that the permitted hunts are not limiting the population.

There are some areas where wolves have not increased despite the potential for it – good food sources etc.- and that needs to be investigated. The laws against leaving out dead livestock for scavengers (a big source of food for protected vultures here) has also slowed down the population increase.

So where wolves are left alone, or even hunted at low levels in a ecologically responsible manner, they can increase 20% over 13 years, and few problems between wolves and humans have been recorded (the only ones being between some farmers who have had to change some of their livestock management practices).

Parental advice sought – to a certain extent…

 

This is straight up, in that it concerns a real kid, my kid. I’m not worried about anything she’s doing, nor do I need Supernanny to come rescue me from my own idiocy as my three-year-old destroys my house and life. I’m pretty ok as a parent, but I do have a small concern, about the topic of religion. There lies the “certain extent” – I’m not sure to what extent I’m going to follow any suggestions.

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My daughter has just learnt about Jesus (the Christ one – since we live in Spain you have to qualify). This was inevitable. Two of her great uncles are priests and they live with her grandparents. I’ve no big problem with the idea. She’s been baptised and we go to the mass presided over by one of the uncles in the small village church when we’re there for Sunday lunch. She knows enough to be fairly quiet while in mass, too. I lost my own faith a long time ago now. I’m still spiritual but the church – especially the Irish church, but this isn’t the time to talk about mass “graves” and manslaughter charges – makes me mad.

Unlike Richard Dawkins, who seems to have his knickers in a twist about even reading fairy tales to kids, I have no major problem with having kids believe in magical beings. Their lives are filled with imaginary beings, from the Easter Bunny, to the Tooth Fairy, to the Three Magic Kings and Santa Claus. When a child straddles cultures, like my daughter, they’re nearly doubled. What’s another one going to do? While Dawkins claims to never have believed in Santa – which might be a reason he’s such a dour sonofabitch – my daughter does, and furthermore believes that he comes when she goes to Ireland, where he’s called Santy.

Looking at it scientifically, I can’t see any difference between having her believe in a big magical old guy with a beard who brings gifts to good kids and lumps of coal to the bold, and another magical old guy with a beard who rewards the good with a nice afterlife and makes the bold burn in fiery coals of hell. (Hell, a place that the pope doesn’t even believe in any more, making it worthless even as a children’s swear.) I’ve said that before. The advantage of God, is that the threat of his displeasure works all year round, not just before Christmas.

While Dawkins is against all magic, the extremists on the other side of the divide would, ironically, probably agree with him about fairytales – they were the wankers who said reading Harry Potter would make kids want to practice magic etc. at the same time failing to see that religion is nothing other than a belief in magic – though our parish priest (the one informing my daughter about her friend Jesus) has basically admitted in mass that the miracle of the loaves and the fishes was at best a bit of hand-quicker-than-the-eye trickery if not just a show of solidarity that got the crowd moving: the old, you show yours first and then I’ll show mine after routine with the grub.

Getting back to God and Santy, we don’t need the threat of divine displeasure of anyone (or the threat of displeasure of the teacher at the crèche, which I’ve heard some parents do). If she’s bold (Irish for naughty in case you haven’t copped), then I am sad, and that should be enough. And it usually is, so far (touch wood). She’s a sensitive child. She worries about people littering, and has a hard time comprehending that people do what she’s been told is wrong, and would not now do herself. I’ve had to explain that there are bold and even bad people in the world – she’s had belongings stolen already, and she kinda gets it. I have explained that the big bad wolf is only doing what wolves do and that we eat little piggies too, and she gets that – though she did think I was only messing at first, like I do when I say the bird she’s pointing to is an elephant and she replies with an exaggerated “Nooo! It’s a magpie! (or whatever it actually is). She understands that animals die and we eat them, and to be honest, when she sees fish swimming in a pond or tank she rubs her belly and says “yummy yummy.” She has yet to differentiate between the two Spanish words for fish: one for swimming the other for fridge. She knows that if you don’t water plants “they get very dead,” and she understands that people die and we’re sad and though it makes her sad when she thinks about it, she already gets sad at the airport, and says out loud that she’s sad because so-and-so have to go home or she can’t stay with them, so it’s something she’ll have to get used to along with the other minor melancholia of life. She’s a sensitive child, as I said, but I haven’t held back on the truth of life and death (and though she’s seen lots of real-life storks, nobody’s ever suggested that they have anything to do with sprogs).

But my question is, does she have to know all about Jesus Christ right now, straight away? She has been informed that to be a friend of Jesus she has to go to catechism class (yea, here in Spain the schools don’t prepare kids for their first communion: separation of church and state and all that). But she’s telling me how “Jesus was taken by some bad people and put up on some sticks and killed.” I mean, WTF? I’ve yet to talk to talk to the priest about this, but I reckon three years old has to be a bit young for that. It definitely seems to be for her. I turn off the news nearly every night here so she doesn’t keep asking why the police are beating the shit out of people protesting an eviction, or just going ballistic on some demonstrators because they can get away with it. It’s hard to tell kids to go running to a cop instead of away (like the police say asking parents not to threaten their kids with “telling a policeman” when they’re naughty – better to say you’ll tell Santy, I reckon) when the cops are gleefully baton charging innocent commuters and popping off plastic rounds down the platform of a railway station, hundreds of yards from the building (full of corrupt fuckers, but that’s another day’s discussion) they’re supposedly protecting. I’m not saying I’ll tell her to run away, but drop into a foetal position is probably good parental advice. I don’t think she needs to know about Jesus Christ’s torture and crucifixion to “be his friend.” Am I being too sensitive?

While I know that some sound humanistic behaviours were advocated by JC back in the day, and I hope he’d be on my side of the police barricade in an eviction situation, I wish we could just skip him altogether and go straight to Ghandi. After all, it’s basically the same message (commits huge error and offends Hindus the world over, but blunders on regardless) but Ghandi has the advantage that he actually achieved something in his lifetime and was so old when he was assassinated (and a few bullets is not quite as gruesome as crucifixion) that we can basically gloss over that bit when we’re talking to preschoolers.

And when do the good people of the world – you and me – think the day will come when we won’t have to hold back any of the truth to young kids, because we won’t have situations where the police are beating protesters (or innocent bystanders), or the army are shooting rubber bullets at drowning migrants to keep them off the beach? When will be not have to turn off the news showing old and infirm pensioners being forcibly evicted from their paid-up house because they signed as guarantor for a son or daughter who bought a shitty flat for an exorbitant price and then lost their job, and the government only gives 400 euro dole, from which they’ve to pay a 400 euro mortgage and keep four kids alive and clothed? My only consolation is that some of it is just news that can be actually turned off the television – that at least she’s not going to school in the US and so she doesn’t need to be trained for the possible event of a “bad person” coming in her school to shoot her and her friends – and I say that as a hunter and gun owner: I’d rather earn a privilege than share a right with a load of fuckwads, especially fuckwads with high powered weapons.

If you can’t answer the question with anything other than my own response: “never, and it’s best to just toughen her up to get prepared for the shit that she’ll have to deal with, which will make our petty problems look, well, petty, if not simply quaint and laughable,” well, then, perhaps I don’t need any advice after all.

 

Interview on Across the Plains of Shining Books Blog

An interview on Pat McDermott’s blog, Across the Plains of Shining Books today. (What a great name for a blog! and great questions)

Guest Blog, David O’Brien

Hello folks! Today I am guest blogging about how Leaving the Pack is quite romantic, despite those disconcerting eyes staring out of the night sky on the cover.
Don’t forget that 10% of all royalties goes to the WWF, those nice people trying to make sure we have world worth looking at after the bankers realise that they can’t eat money, or we realise that there’s more important things than football…
The other 90%, incidentally, is going to my dentist, it seems… So I might not be smiling for a while.
And if any of you good people has read the book and would like to write a review, message or mail me and I’ll give you an article about to go about it, and links to where people read reviews…
Thanks!

Charlotte Howard - Romance Author

David O'Brien HS

First of all, thanks a million to Charlotte for letting me hog her blog for the day! I’ve written before about how people ask me what my just published book Leaving the Packis about, and how werewolves are the literary equivalent of the denim jacket – a staple that never goes out of fashion for very long – and that I didn’t think of bandwagons when I started it, way back in 1990. Then, werewolves were the American one terrorising London, or were the wolf-like beings of Whitley Strieber’s Wolfen, from nearly a decade before (we’re ignoring Teen Wolf). I reasoned that if a species of intelligent wolves could exist, there was no reason why a race of men who were like wild beasts inside, whose hormone and pheromone production was affected by the moon, could not also exist. I wrote a “scientifically feasible” novella, and slowly…

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No country for young women: Honour crimes and infanticide in Ireland

No country for young women: Honour crimes and infanticide in Ireland.

Interview with Kate Robbins

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Today I have the great pleasure of interviewing Kate Robbins, author of the Highland Chiefs series of historical romance novels. I have to admit I am very jealous of Kate – not because her books are flying off the shelves, which they are, – and a read of the excerpt below will let you see why – but because she lives in Newfoundland: a place I’ve always wanted to visit. I know, I live in Spain and many might think I’m barmy for wishing to go somewhere cold instead, but different strokes for different folks!

 

David O’Brien: First off, welcome Kate! This is my first author interview of a person from anywhere in Canada, much less from your neck of the continent, and it’s a pleasure to have you here. To start off, can you tell us a little about yourself: where are you from, do you still live there?

Kate Robbins: Hey! Thanks for having me! I’m from St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada where I work as a public servant, live with my man beast and two man cubs and write in my spare time. J

 

DOB: Why do you write? What would you do if you didn’t write?

KR: I write because I feel compelled to express stories that well up inside me in a written form. I’ve explored filmmaking and have written and directed stageplays as well, so I guess I’m a storyteller and writing novels is my current medium.

 

 

DOB: Tell us a little about your latest work.

KR: Promised to the Highlander (PTTH) released on May 30th and is the second book in my Highland Chiefs series. It’s set during the reign of James Stewart, first of his name in 15th century Scotland.

 

PTTH is a love triangle between Fergus MacKay, his brother, William, and William’s intended, Nessia Stephenson. The political backdrop introduced in book one, Bound to the Highlander (BTTH), threads through this one as well as the others in the series.

 

DOB: Why do you set some of you novels in Scotland?

KR: I love Scottish culture and history. Fascinates me, especially the plight of the clans during the middle ages.

 

DOB: Would you like to, or have you already, set a story in Newfoundland?

KR: Writing is an escape for me from daily life. As much as I love the province I live in, writing a novel set here would be a challenge because it is my every day. I can’t escape in it and so am not quite sure I’m the right one to tell stories set here. Plus there’s far better writers setting stories here than me. I don’t think I could do it justice.

 

DOB: What is your workspace like? Do you have a view, or does everyone have a view there?

KR: I am a nomadic writer, like an old cat pawing her way around looking for a spot to curl up most days. I keep everything portable and at the ready so I can write wherever the mood strikes me.

 

DOB: To make everyone (read: me) jealous, can you tell us what wildlife we could see if we visited?

KR: On the island of Newfoundland you can see moose, rabbit, fox, lynx, black bears, perhaps caribou (though there’s a much larger population up in Labrador). If you like fish then you can get just about anything here including lobster, snowcrab, scallops, mussels, cod, halibut, mackerel, herring…and now I’m getting really hungry.

 

This spring if you visited you would also be treated to many icebergs. Will make for a cold summer, but they sure are beautiful. Oh and don’t forget to do some whale watching while you dream-visit. 😉 Am I evil or what?

 

DOB: Yes, but we forgive you. Finally Kate, where can we buy/see your work?

KR: BTTH is available on most online ebook sites. There’s a list of them on Tirgearr’s book page here.

 

PTTH will be available at first on Amazon and will gradually populate to the other sites as well. Check out that book page too. J

 

 

DOB: Thanks a million for stopping by!

 

KR: Oh hey, thanks so much for having me!!! Cheers!

 

 

 

Nessia Stephenson’s world was safe until a threat from a neighbouring clan forces her to accept a betrothal to a man whose family can offer her the protection she needs. The real threat lies in her intense attraction to the man who arranged the match—the clan’s chief and her intended’s brother, Fergus MacKay.

When powerful warlord Fergus MacKay arranges a marriage for his younger brother, William, he has no idea the price will be his own heart. Fergus is captivated by the wildly beautiful Nessia, a woman he can never have.

When the feud between the MacKay and Sutherland clans escalates, Nessia, William, and Fergus all must make sacrifices for their future. Longing and loss, honour and duty. How can love triumph under such desperate circumstances?

 

 

 

Excerpt

 

William paced while Fergus leaned back in his chair with his long legs stretched out and his arms crossed over his chest. Stephenson was late, not by much, but enough to make William fidget and Fergus take notice. Their three younger siblings, Freya who was in her sixteenth year, John who was fourteen, and eleven-year-old Stephen, waited as well, all in various states of impatience.

The great hall was large and welcoming with dark wooden beams framing the ceiling and walls. Fergus had counted the eighteen beams along the length of the room about a hundred times. William had worn a permanent path on the wide plank floor in front of the red sandstone hearth beneath the many MacKay hunting trophies. Young John sighed again.

“You know, for a man who isn’t eager to meet his future wife, you’ve got quite a set of nerves there lad,” Fergus said to William.

William straightened his linen shirt and smoothed his tunic as he glared at Fergus. Yet, the comment was absorbed and William ceased his pacing to sit on a chair near the fire. Fergus watched his brother adjust his belt again. The young man wore his usual dress, but had taken greater pains today to perfect his appearance. Fergus glanced down at his linen shirt and leather sleeveless tunic. William’s long hair was tied at his nape while Fergus’s was left hanging loose. Fergus recalled having to take extra pains upon his betrothal. Thankfully, those days had passed and he needn’t overly worry anymore. A young lass would surely find William’s neat, respectable appearance appealing. He hoped so, but before he could dwell on it further a servant entered, announcing the arrival of Thomas Stephenson, his daughter Nessia and several of their clansmen.

William sprang to his feet and crossed the floor in a few quick strides to greet them. He continued to fidget as Fergus sauntered up from behind.

“Thomas! Welcome. We thought we’d have to send out a search party soon.” Fergus led the stout man into the great hall.

“Aye, the road was a bit rough with a wagon in tow.”The man’s brow was streaked with sweat and he looked weary from his travels.

“We’ve had a lot of rains this harvest, there’s no doubting that.” In truth he would have gone searching himself had another hour passed. Earlier that day he’d heard more rumours about Ronan Sutherland. Apparently, the lad had agreed to his father’s suggestion and would commence his campaign in the coming days.

Fergus sensed William stiffen beside him as Thomas began the introductions.

“Fergus, William, this is my brother Neville and these three are my sons, Colin, Robert, and Camden my youngest. And this is my daughter, Nessia.”

Fergus acknowledged each man in turn. When the introduction came to the girl and his gaze fell on her, his breath caught in his throat. With black hair and bright blue eyes, she stood proudly before him with her chin lifted and all the regal confidence of a noblewoman. She displayed no fear or reservation at all, something which was unusual in most men he met, but was more so in a woman. The gentler sex usually cowered before him—not this lass.

Fergus stared at her, his heart drumming hard inside his chest. His guts clenched as if he’d been punched. He had to force himself from moving toward her to touch her hair, which looked like spun silk, for surely it could not be real.

Fergus remembered his brother then, and tore his gaze from her to find William’s eyes wide and his jaw slacked. An unexpected pang ran through him. When he

turned back it was to find her still staring at him, seemingly unabashed for staring openly at a man. A bold one, then. Fergus drew his brows together. What did she want?

 

Ebook available at these links.

 

Author Bio

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Kate Robbins writes historical romance novels out of pure escapism and a love for all things Scottish, not to mention a life-long enjoyment of reading romance.

Kate loves the research process and delving into secondary sources in order to blend authentic historical fact into her stories. She has travelled to Scotland twice and visited the sites described in her Highland Chiefs series.

Her Highland Chiefs series is set in the early fifteenth century during the reign of James Stewart, first of his name.

Kate is the pen name of Debbie Robbins who lives in St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada with her man-beast and two man-cubs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Summer for Love Blog-Hop

Welcome to “A Summer for Love Blog-Hop!”

 First of all, I need to let you know that there are….

 GRAND PRIZES

(6) $50 Amazon or B&N Gift Cards

Comment with your name and email to be entered into the Grand Prize drawing. Comments without name and email will not be counted. Commenting on each and every stop will increase your chances of winning.

Winners for the (6) Grand Prizes will be drawn and announced on THE ROMANCE TROUPE blog by June 10th.

Find a list of all stops here!

http://www.theromancetroupe.com/p/a-summer-for-love-blog-hop.html
And, if you comment below on this post, you will be in a draw to with a copy of my own latest paranormal romance, Leaving the Pack!

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 “Summer love” seems like a phrase so well joined it’s a sin to separate them: like “ice cold”; “lightening fast”; “white hot;” yet with a hint, perhaps, of transience.

In the three novels I’ve written so far where characters fall in love, all have fallen during summer. My next novel, Five Days on Ballyboy Beach (just accepted for publication with Tirgearr Publishing!), is basically the story of a young man realizing he’s falling in love with his best friend over the course of a summer camping holiday.

The heat and sunshine, the cool drinks, the scant clothing and tanned skin (unless you’re Irish!) all make for thoughts of love and lust to come bubbling up from within one’s body.

Sometimes summer is wet, though, with thunderstorms and downpours. The following scene takes place during one such downpour, and afterwards, when the evening sun makes the puddles steam. It’s an excerpt from the recently published Leaving the Pack, when the two main characters are still getting to know one another and have arranged to meet by the beach:

 

The rain started as Susan made her way to the coast that evening. The clouds, building up all day and brooding darkly above the mountains, swept over the city and sea on a fierce, sudden wind out of the north, bringing the night with them. A number of enormous bolts, shooting down out of the black mass to the buildings and into the boiling water, followed by thunder to make men flinch and dogs cower, were the prelude to a downpour of seemingly biblical proportions. The water gullied down the streets, bringing the traffic to an almost complete halt. The bus crawled along for another half an hour, the driver’s foot forever on the brake as the cars in front continually stopped. Susan felt herself get irritated. She was going to be very late meeting Paul. It would have been quicker to walk, but the rain outside would have drenched her instantly. The very force of the drops would have plastered her light jacket to her skin and the water rebounding off the ground and puddles would have saturated the rest of her body. In some places, where the accumulated litter and rubbish of the city had clogged the drains, there were veritable ponds to cross and even the cars had to take runs at them. She took deep breaths and told herself it was fashionable for a lady to be late.

Visiting her mother had been good. She had recognized Susan and they’d had a pleasant conversation. The lights in the elder woman’s eyes appeared distant however, as if she were talking from a different epoch, but nevertheless, just as she was going, Susan told her about Paul. Her mother had seemed pleased, but told her she was a bit young to be going out with boys, she’d plenty of time for that and should be studying hard. Susan had smiled and agreed, wondering at the same time if the relationship was really serious and deciding that it was too early to know.

The bar – a wide, low-roofed room with some tables around the edges and a view out over the water – was heaving. The rain had driven the masses from the beach and half of them seemed to have taken refuge here. They would be trapped there in their shorts and t-shirts, miniskirts and beach tops until the rain ceased or at least eased and the floods abated. When she walked into the bar, however, she saw Paul immediately. He didn’t notice her arrive, and for a few seconds she just watched him from the doorway: standing quite alone in the centre of the room where there were fewer people. It didn’t seem to bother him at all. He didn’t look out of place, like you sometimes see people and would have said to your friends: ‘Hey, look at the loner,’ if you’d been back in your teens. It was as if nobody knew he was really there: a mere observer, a step back from the rest of the bar; just standing there watching everyone with an enigmatic smile on his face, as if he’d seen all this before, was appreciating a play for the second time.

To her, however, it was impossible not to notice him. She would have been less surprised to see him in same spot telling jokes or relating a story to an enraptured audience. His aura seemed to fill the air around him, swelling his being until it was the kernel of the room, the core around which everything else revolved.

As she looked at him, she felt that this was a man who could do anything he had a mind to do, who was strong enough to make a decision and stick to it in the face of any opposition. He knew his mind and was not afraid to go with how he saw things, despite what others might think, could take seemingly impossible things and make them his own. It had been a long time since she had known a man like that, and she had often wondered if she would ever encounter another.

Paul turned suddenly towards her and caught her eye smiling broadly. It almost seemed as if he had known she was there all the time, and she was a little taken aback; her gut clenched the way it had when they had first met. She grinned back, then went over and embraced him.

“Sorry I’m so late. What a nightmare!”

“No problem. I was just doing a little people-watching.”

“So I see – you look quite the anthropologist watching a tribal dance.”

He laughed and nodded. “Not far off, not far off.”

They got some drinks and sat down in a quiet corner where a young couple had just left to brave the rain, bored and whining kids in tow. Susan noticed that Paul was carrying a small rucksack. She wondered what he had it for, but decided to wait and find out rather than ask directly. A part of her hoped it was an overnight bag, for she longed to spend the night with him again. The tiny piece or her which took offence at his presumptuousness was silenced by the rest, remembering that she had invited him into her house, and had done it just once.

“How was your mother?” asked Paul.

Susan shrugged slightly before nodding. “Good. She recognized me, and we had a good chat.”

“That sounds great. Did you tell her you met the man of your dreams?”

Susan smiled softly. She was not sure why, but she decided to lie, not really ready to reveal how much she believed that herself. “I didn’t. I’m not sure how old she thought I was, so I didn’t want to upset her.”

Paul didn’t reply, but took her hand and squeezed it softly.

She felt bad then. A panicked thought shot through her mind that he could see through her childish deception, but there was nothing in his expression to suggest that. She smiled more brightly at him, brushing his face with her hand. “I told the nurse, though, and she was delighted.”

Paul laughed and moved his hand to her knee, which he squeezed harder. “Was she now?” he asked as he kissed her on the lips.

They had some more drinks, while outside the torrent subsided. The clouds dispersed, quickly whipped south by the strong wind and the last rays of the day broke through. Once the rain ceased, the bar emptied as the tourists made for their hotels to change and spend the hours of darkness in the restaurants and clubs nearer the city centre. Susan and Paul also left, walking the promenade that separated the beach from the coast road. It was a balmy evening, the dying sun making an effort to evaporate the puddles of standing water, raising the humidity again. They strolled towards Chawni Point, jutting into the sea between them and the river, just another couple among many others doing likewise. The clouds had retreated to the horizon where they hung red across the sky as the glowing sun set, like galloping horses on the edge of a plain, circling some compelling predator. Soon after, the lamps along the sea wall came on and they kept walking as the moon rose above the clouds and poured its argent life across the ocean.

When they reached the Point, they continued walking around it and stopped at a pub that faced the sea on the eastern tip. The bar was a favorite of both strollers and bikers, which made a strange but agreeable blend. Susan came here now and then herself, and it was as full as it always was. They took their drinks outside and sat on the sea wall in the mild evening breeze, gazing at the waning silver disc reflected across the oily water. The satellite seemed to seep life directly into Paul’s eyes, so brightly did they glow in the gloom. The hot passion of before had not returned, and she wondered if it would disappear with the moon each month. However, it was replaced with something else, something more precious to her for being less tangible. She felt that her life would be like the night sky without the resplendence of that satellite, should Paul retreat his presence. She would be without meaning, without life, were he to suddenly disappear. The thought gave her a slight surge of fear, but that fear gave way to something else as she recognized it for what it was: love; the worry that someone she needed would not need her in return. Her heart soared tentatively in this private revelation, glad it had at last encountered this mysterious sensation, but amazed at its abruptness, its sudden evolution. She felt an urge to reveal it then and there, to make her declaration of love in the pearly luminescence, above the vermeil waves, but quelled it cruelly. Reluctant to show her vulnerability, despite its potential luxury, she had not gotten to this pearl-drenched headland by falling at anyone’s feet and would walk away from it as proud as she had arrived, arm in arm with the man whose very skin seeped steel. She would carry her concern untended until ready to tell him the true depth of her feelings and presumed it was an anxiety shared by all, a trepidation that never quite left. Susan wondered if the moon depended upon the night as much as the night depended on the moon, in the infinite dance of the earth and its satellite, and she felt the silver light fill her own being, not directly, but through his luminous eyes. After midnight, they continued westwards past the southern part of the harbor, in which most of the smaller private crafts were moored, and back into the city, where they caught a taxi back to her flat once more.

 

There is another excerpt of this novel on my author page at Tirgearr Publishing and you can find others dotted around the blog tour I did in May, the links to which are down below on this website.

Don’t forget to leave a quick comment (with your name and email included) to be in the draw for a free copy…(you have to scroll right down to the bottom of this page.)

 

Awesome Gang Interview