Friday, December 21, 2018

#009 Inside the Emotion of Fiction - Robert Craven's THE ROAD OF A THOUSAND TIGERS . . .

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**Robert Craven’s The Road of a Thousand Tigers is the eighth in a never-ending series called INSIDE THE EMOTION OF FICTION where the Chris Rice Cooper Blog (CRC) focuses on one specific excerpt from a fiction genre and how that fiction writer wrote that specific excerpt.  All INSIDE THE EMOTION OF FICTION links are at the end of this piece. 

Name of fiction work? And were there other names you considered that you would like to share with us?   The Road of a Thousand Tigers is the title. It started out as Ghost of a Chance, The Andaman Affair, and, The Holt Memorandum, but they all sounded a bit dated and clunky. About half-way through draft #3, this title seemed to fit the plot.

Fiction genre?  Ex science fiction, short story, fantasy novella, romance, drama, crime, plays, flash fiction, historical, comedy, movie script, screenplay, etc.  And how many pages long?   Its hard-boiled, noir, spy, very much a short read in the Elmore Leonard, Mickey Spillane mode

Has this been published? And it is totally fine if the answer is no.   If yes, what publisher and what publication date? December 1, 2018 launch on Amazon Digital Services LLC.

What is the date you began writing this piece of fiction and the date when you completely finished the piece of fiction?   This took about 4 months flat-out. I started first week of May 2018, final draft last week of September 2018.  
Where did you do most of your writing for this fiction work?  And please describe in detail.  And can you please include a photo?   I have a corner of a sofa in the living room of my house. (Below Right) From this I have a view of our beautiful garden. I live by the sea, so there’s no built-up areas. On a sunny day the sky goes on forever. I work on a lap-top that sits on my knee.

What were your writing habits while writing this work- did you drink something as you wrote, listen to music, write in pen and paper, directly on laptop; specific time of day?   The Road of a Thousand Tigers started while I’m waiting for edits on another novel I plan to bring out in the middle of next year. I had a few ‘Deleted scenes’ that I wanted to use (like a baker uses a starter for a loaf) but couldn’t get them to fit and it became obvious that a new story and character could make it work rather than force them back into the book. I started then on 
The Road of a Thousand Tigers.
I get up a 5am every day, weekends too; my mind is much sharper at this time. On a new project I purchase a high-quality note book (Left)– this will be my laboratory, my gymnasium. I draft in long hand a 100-word, 500-word and finally a 1000-word synopsis. Once this ‘Tree’ is outlined, I draft Chapter synopses; these will be the branches. Only then, do I then start typing. 
I drink heroic amounts of coffee. As The Road of a Thousand Tigers is set in 1958, I found playlists from that year and play them in the background on youtube – I love Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis and Chuck Berry, so it was a really wonderful soundtrack to write to.

I hit the library and read a few novels from that era by Graham Greene, Ian Fleming and Alastair Maclean to try to get a ‘feel’ for the language of that time. I wear comfortable, loose clothing and generally write for approximately two hours. I then edit and send the drafts out to two trusted readers to review. On weekends I pull together their feedback and begin the re-writes. Finally, I recently discovered padlet – which was a huge help. It can be viewed here as its public:

What is the summary of this specific fiction work?   Set in the era of Bond and for fans of Lee Child, meet Sebastian Holt. Holt is a troubled man. Adrift after a mission in Egypt that didn’t go according to plan he’s returned to London. Enter Case Officer Petrie with an offer: travel to France and locate a missing CIA asset named ‘Cochise’. Sounds easy?  
Holt agrees and flies into Paris only to collide with a beautiful French journalist who isn’t all she seems to be and the KGB hunting ‘Cochise’ down. From London, Paris to Tel Aviv, Holt finds himself running out of options and out of time on the road of a thousand tigers.

Can you give the reader just enough information for them to understand what is going on in the excerpt?   This scene introduces the reader to Sebastian Holt. He’s a young intelligence operative in Egypt during The Suez Crisis in 1956. He’s involved in a covert mission for British Intelligence.  

Please include the excerpt and include page numbers as reference.  The excerpt can be as short or as long as you prefer.   The Road of a Thousand Tigers – Pages 7, 8 & 9
Holt pulled up to an old style French colonial house. It was a broad belle epoch mansion with ornate Rocco-style pillars fronted by a large smooth lawn. The sun cast a long streak of sunlight cast a red beam across the doorway. Holt and McGowan got out, went to the boot and took out two Thompson machine guns. They walked up the gravel drive. The Thompsons hung from their sides. They looked up and down the street.
“Turned out nice again Chaiwallah,” said McGowan.
“Just like New Delhi,”
McGowan stopped on the pathway.
       “Yes, just like New Delhi,” he said.
Holt wished he’d kept the engine running. He checked his Rolex Tudor Gold, a gift from his mother; it was 6.30am
The door opened.
The girl standing there was breath-taking.  A thick blonde plait fell from under a broad brimmed summer hat. Her capri pants and ballet pumps made her look like a blonde Audrey Hepburn, but taller.
“It’s inside,” she said.
Holt and McGowan went inside the house and found a huge metal-plated strongbox. They wrestled the box into the boot of the car. The girl slipped into the back seat, tossed her hat aside. Her legs were long and shapely.
The boot clunked shut and Holt jumped in and started the engine. Holt handed his machine gun to McGowan who sat beside the girl. McGowan slid the Thompsons across the floor.
A gloved hand appeared at Holt’s shoulder. He shook the hand but stared ahead.
       “They call me Sam,” said Samantha,
“They call me, Chaiwallah,” said Holt.
        “I recognise you,” she said.
Holt waited.

Why is this excerpt so emotional for you?  And can you describe your own emotional experience of writing this specific excerpt?   This piece isn’t emotional, but it was a good way to ‘mine’ into my memories. When I wanted Samantha Barnes to appear at the door, I thought about calling for a girl in my teens who I had a crush on and wanted to ask out for a date. When you’re a 16 or 17-year-old, any girl opening a door is a memorable event! I remember this girl and her impact on me; her name was Martina.
I wanted Holt to be taken aback by her. Samantha Barnes is the catalyst in Holt’s life that sets him on the path he is to take.

Were there any deletions from this excerpt that you can share with us? And can you please include a photo of your marked up rough drafts of this excerpt.   
This passage remained virtually intact – I worked and reworked it out on the lap-top, so it almost became the center-piece on which the chapter revolved. Here’s a small early passage
Holt navigated the early morning city streets smoothly and pulled up to an old style French colonial house. It was an early Edwardian pile with ornate Rocco-style pillars framing a linear façade fronted by a large, well-manicured lawn. The sun was beginning its burning orbit above the city and a long streak of sunlight cast a red beam across the doorway. McGowan and Rooke alighted, went to the boot and took out two Thompson machine guns. They walked up the gravel drive. The Thompsons hung from their sides. Holt angled the rear-view mirror to take in the street. No doubt, the Egyptian secret police, the Ismalia, wouldn’t be far behind.
He checked his Rolex Tudor Gold, a gift from his mother before she died; it was 6.30am
He glanced back at the house.
The girl who stepped out was breath-taking.  A thick blonde plait fell over her shoulder from under a broad brimmed summer hat. Her capri pants and ballet pumps coupled with large sunglasses made her look like a blonde Audrey Hepburn, but taller. Her legs were long and shapely. As McGowan and Rooke wrestled the huge metal-plated strong box into the boot, the girl slipped into the back seat, tossing the hat aside.         
“Samantha Barnes,”
Other works you have published?   The Eva Series:
Get Lenin
A Finger of Night
Hollow Point
The Mandarin Cipher

Anything you would like to add?   The Road of a Thousand Tigers is my best novel to date; it’s a distillation of 12 years writing and publishing both as a small-press author and indie. Though a short read, it’s the one I feel that has all the elements coming together. It was a very happy and fulfilling process and Serendipity is often thrown about as cliché, this project was utterly fulfilling.
It doesn’t get better than that!
I was born in 1966 in Swinton, Manchester, England. In 1977, we emigrated to Sydney, Australia and then returned to live in Dublin, Ireland in 1979. I have lived there since. I now live in Rush, Co. Dublin. I’m married and have a family.
I have a full-time job.
My first taste of writing was in 1992, when I submitted a short horror story to a speculative fiction magazine, FTL. Titled ‘The Chase’, it was accepted and published.
I had spent nearly a decade playing bass in bands around Dublin and kept tour diaries. From this I made my first attempt at a novel titled ‘Vocals preferred / own transport essential.’ I finished it in 2003 & sent it out. I received many positive suggestions, but nothing else.
In 2006 I started writing Get Lenin, after finding a few notes in a diary from 1997. It took 5 years to finish and was published first by Night Publishing, in Hull with Tim Roux, who then relocated to San Francisco becoming Taylor Street Publsihing. Get Lenin received very positive reviews and the sequel ‘Zinnman’ was subsequently published by them. I was released from Taylor Street and was signed to MasterKoda and Blue Hour Publishing.
In January 2017, I took control of all my titles – Get Lenin; Zinnman; A Finger of Night; and Hollow Point – releasing them on Amazon & Kobo.
 I have had short stories published in three anthologies:
·   ‘A communion of blood’ a vampire short published in ‘Broken Mirrors Fractured minds’ – Vamptasy Press.
·   ‘Vodou’ in Red Rattle Book’s ‘Zombie Bites’.
·   & ‘The Properties of Mercury’ in ‘Cogs in Time’ a Steampunk Anthology, by Crushing Hearts Black Butterfly Publishing.
I have had two articles published in The Oslo times last year:
I also regularly review CDs for Irish Independent Review Ireland.

Twitter @cravenrobert. PM there
This is my author page on Amazon

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