Roll camera, mark it…
(Above image via Pinterest from Arenaillustration.com)
It would be normal to then shout ‘Action’, but I’m not quite there yet. ‘Action!’ will be when Michael is available on Amazon, sometime next week. And it’s not unlike making a movie – telling a creative and unique storyline, revealing stunning settings, capturing nuances. Then editing, editing, editing…
Ah, having a book almost ready to deliver to readers is … a blessing. For me, eighteen months of hard yakka has culminated in a story to entertain.
‘Prue Batten uses words with precision to immerse the reader in an historical setting, peopled with perceptively-drawn characters to keep you there long after the final page has turned.’ Annie Whitehead, historian and historical fiction author and winner of the 2017 Dorothy Dunnett Short Story Competition
So what happens now?
A big breath, that’s what!
Because there’s the all-important marketing.
Tying the story in with its award-winning partners, Tobias and Guillaume, to make a trilogy called The Triptych Chronicle. Offering deals to encourage readers to take a leap of faith.
Simon Turney, wildly popular author of Caligula, Praetorian and Marius’ Mules says of Michael: ‘An excellent book that flows nicely with the prose that one expects from her and turns I didn’t see coming. The attention to detail and the portrayal of Constantinople are amazing.’
But in its own way, there’s also less pressure now because sometimes I think a good book needs to sell itself. The market will respond if the book is good enough.
So in the meantime, and after eighteen months of reading mostly research and absolutely no historical fiction remotely close to the twelfth century, I get to read what I want for awhile.
Research books for another fantasy I want to write.
I get to pick the white daphne flowering in the garden – the fragrance fills the bedroom.
I get to think about my gardens, buy plants, dig in the dirt. To dream and plan by reading gardening magazines. I also get to catch up on two issues of Whispering Gallery.
I have a chance to think about cakes I want to make. A ricotta and chocolate berry brownie. Delish!
Maybe I now have time to clean the oven, to go to the cinema with my oldest friend. Even have a hair appointment. Maybe buy some comfy walking shoes for my decrepit feet.
The last few weeks have been filled with playing carer to a banged-up husband as well, whilst simultaneously editing, proof-reading and then more proof-reading of the final pass. It’s good to have the proofs currently being formatted and husband now able to take up more of his own life.
And so, in light of the fact that you will be able to buy Michael on Amazon within days, I leave you with a small extract from the novel:
(Image from Arenaillustration.com)
Pavlos raised a piece of wood and Toby ducked under again, the wood coming down hard with all the strength Pavlos had. As it cleaved into the water, splashes shooting into the air, the ferryman screamed with the effort, his teeth bared in a grimace. Michael swam fast toward them, knife held tight, coming up behind Pavlos, ready to stab. But too late, as the man floated in a stain of red, the offending wood drifting from his grasp.
Michael grabbed him from behind and turned the limp form round. Pavlos’ eyes were wide and empty, water splashing into and out of his open mouth. Michael pushed him away and he floated aimlessly, lifelessly.
‘God, Toby! Toby!’ Michael dived, saw the little man drifting below the surface and grabbed his hair. He pulled him up, rolled him onto his back, holding his head clear of the water, thumping his chest, seeing a lump the size of an egg on his head and blood oozing. Toby’s eyes were closed and Michael needed all his strength and concentration to keep both their heads clear of the water. ‘Tobias! Damn you! Breathe!’
He glanced around, saw the caique closing in and prayed like he had never prayed before. ‘Here! Come here!’ And in moments, hands reached down and grabbed Tobias, hauling him over the wale. Crew members’ hands then reached for him but he pointed them toward Hilarius and Christo. ‘No, pick them up. I can wait! One man can’t swim!’
As the crew rowed the caique toward Hilarius, Michael heard a wet cough come from the decks of the vessel. ‘Toby, breathe,’ he called out. ‘Breathe, you little bastard!’
He lay on his back, letting the water cushion him until the caique returned. Holding his arms up to the crew they pulled at him, and he flopped onto the decks. But he needed to see…
‘Tobias!’ he called, then coughed, realising he was bitterly cold and that his skin was blue and white. Someone kindly wrapped a cloak around his shoulders and said, ‘Your little friend breathes but he sleeps long. We can’t wake him.’
‘Iisoús Christós!’ He tried to push onto his knees but Hilarius, who was sitting beside him and also wrapped in a cloak, held him back with icy hands.
‘Leave it, Michael. There is nothing to be done. When we get to shore, we will call for a litter and send for your physician. You need to breathe and warm yourself in between times.’
‘I’m warm,’ Michael replied bitterly. ‘I’m burning with hate as we speak, Hilarius. Izzo tried to kill Tobias.’
‘Of course. We know this and we knew he would try. Tobias fought the felon well. We can only pray now.’
How phlegmatic was the guard, Michael thought. His own emotions ran hard and hot and it was all he could do not to spew venom. His instinct was to send word to Branco Izzo, to call him out somewhere discrete, to make him pay. Vaguely he heard a harmony on the air from the basilicas of the city and a thought pierced the anger. ‘Is that Sixth Hour?’
‘It is.’ Hilarius rubbed his scarred hands together, pushing body warmth into them as if he were lighting the fire of life. ‘You worry about going to Xylinites by Ninth Hour, do you not?’