Sunday, 5 May 2019

Keeping track of your novel's characters

Writing a novel series is a balancing act

One of the most important and time consuming parts of writing a series of books based on one character can be keeping track of the continuity. I discovered that to my cost when writing my Detective In A Coma series of books featuring Detective Inspector Duncan Waddell and his comatose sidekick DC Stevie Campbell. 

Unfortunately I hadn't prepared myself for making sure I maintained contiuity in my characters, which often led to me having to trudge through hundreds of pages of text to make sure everything I'd written was consistent. 

I've just finished writing book 4 Vigilante City and with the weird way that publishing works book 2 in the series Cannibal City will be published soon.
Keeping track of the characters and what's happened to then in previous books is tricky when you don't have a system in place.  

That's why I have my trusty notebook - an old fashioned one you write in - with pages devoted to every one of my main characters and plenty of space left to add in new details.

I'm using a notebook because I can carry it around with me, but I also back up the details online using file storage service Dropbox, my email and I have it in a Word document. 

Hey, as writers we can never back up too much, can we?

What should be in your notebook

1. Name and brief outline of the character.
Include full name of your characters including middle names and nicknames if any, age, general appearance.

2. Personality - What are they like as a person?
What do they like, what interests them, how do they treat others, what makes them laugh, have they any phobias/hang ups, are they dour or do that have a good sense of humour etc...

3. Personal details - are they married, divorced or single, do they have kids (if so what ages are they?), do they cheat on their partner, do they have any health problems etc...

4. Major events they've gone through. This would usually be things that happened to them in your books or that you've referenced in your books. 
For example, my sidekick detective DI Waddell has been able to have two-way conversations with his best pal and colleague Stevie Campbell, but nobody else can hear him. I had to establish in my notes when Stevie first spoke to him.

It might seem like you're spending too much time doing this, but trust me, it will turn out to be a major timesaver later on when you're not having to trawl through hundreds of pages of text just to find out what colour of hair a character has.

Tip - Have a photo of each character - some writers find it easier if they have a photograph of how their characters look pasted into a notebook, or pinned to a noticeboard on the wall or on their computer desktop. 

It can be a picture of anyone including of a celebrity or a generic photo cut out of a magazine.

If you find yourself losing your character you can look at it and it might put you back on track.

Thursday, 7 March 2019

Was my house built on an ancient burial site?

I'm starting to think the flat I moved to over three years ago must have been built on the site an ancient burial ground like on those horror movies. Since we moved for family reasons, we've had nothing but a litany of bad luck.

Week one, I fell down the outside stairs and my foot looked like it'd been used as a baseball bat by the New York Yankees.

Just as that'd healed I ended up with a ligament injury that had me hobbling around like Long John Silver minus the parrot.

Okay, those things don't bode well but it happens. Surely our luck would change?

Next came the flasher 

Within a week of moving in the police were at our door asking if we'd seen a flasher. Apparently he'd exposed himself to some poor woman.

More horrendous luck followed.

Injured at Tesco

My OH was injured sitting on a bench outside Tesco and he needed stitches. Then he was the victim of an attempted mugging by two yobs who punched him on the face and spat on him. Incredibly it happened on a busy road and people would have seen it, but nobody even bothered to so much toot their horn. Welcome to the world of couldn't care less.

Even the driving is like something out of a horror movie.

Most of the drivers on the road next to us that's as busy as any motorway, drive like Wacky Races. They race each other, don't know what a zebra crossing is (Hoi, you're not meant to see people walking across one and try and mow them down) and stoping at red lights seem to be optional.

The end result - some near death experiences like the time the driver thought he'd save himself a bit of time by driving straight across the road island from one side of the road to another just as we were trying to cross.

My mobile phone was pickpocketed/stolen during the World Cup. Thankfully I managed to lock the thief out but not before he took photos of himself at a sectarian match. Not that it helped when I went to the police.

Happy New Year Death 

I celebrated the New Year by coming within a whisper of getting hit by a 4 by 4 that was doing about 50mph as it deliberately drove onto the pavement I was recklessly walking on with my dog because pavements are just another type of road to speed along. Again the police were as useful as a chocolate t-shirt. Welcome to 2019.

Time for an exorcism?

What should I do now? I'm thinking of having an exorcism performed to drive away the demons that clearly reside within our house and nearby. Yep, our neighbour is one of the nightmare ones who should be in a documentary.

Or maybe I should try Feng Shui.

At the moment I'm willing to give anything a try.

Monday, 14 January 2019

Who should I dedicate my book to?

Writing a book is tough work, so why shouldn't you get the finishing touches right? Finishing touches like the dedication?

I'm sure I'm not the only one whose mind goes blank when it comes to dedications, so I'm writing this post as much for myself as to help anyone else.

So, who do you dedicate your book to?
Ask yourself these questions -

Who inspired you to write?

A teacher at school?

A friend?

Your parents?

A relative?

Did someone go beyond the call of duty to help you write the book?

Do you have children and they babysat for you?

Did someone encourage you to write when you were about to give up?

For instance, Stephen King threw his manuscript for Carrie in the trash. His wife rescued it.
Dean R Koontz dedicated one of his books to his dog who had passed away.

I dedicated Hell To Pay to my mum Rosemary and Aunt Isobel, as well as two of my best friends who sadly died young. They are the two strongest women I know and Nancy Kerr is a strong female protagonist and the star of the the Die Hard for Girls series of books.

Tip: I dedicated the book to them, but could just have easily have named my main character after them. Instead I named Nancy Kerr after two of my best friends at school.

Remember, dedicating your book to someone makes a wonderful gift. Don't waste the opportunity your hard work's brought about by not using it.

Note - the Die Hard for Girls books were relaunched as the Crime Files by Limitless Publishing in April and May 2015. 

Saturday, 22 December 2018

Don't Come For Me (Nancy Kerr book 3) What would you do if you were charged with your boyfriend's murder, but you knew he wasn't dead?

That's the situation Nancy Kerr finds herself in in Don't Come for Me. 

Here's an extract -

You're in the bathroom late at night when you hear a noise coming from outside the door, and there's this tiny part of you, the product of centuries of genetic programming designed to make you fight or flee, that thinks there's someone inside your house. 
Somebody waiting for you outside that door.
Panic sucks the air out of your lungs.
Your dread of what's outside that door places an icy hand on your shoulder.
All kinds of scary thoughts are going through your mind. Different permutations of what's outside the door.
Has someone broken in and they're going through your stuff?
Is someone there determined to do you harm as they have in the past?
There's this tiny voice inside your head telling you not to be so silly. You're imagining things. After what happened before that's understandable, but you can't let fear rule your life. Be the boss of you.
When you open that door, you'll feel ridiculous when you see that nobody's there.
There is no bogeyman waiting.
You open the bathroom door, confidently to prove you don't care; that you've mastered your irrational fear. Not tentatively like you want to, so you can turn on your heels and slam the door shut. Just an inch so you can get a peek at what's out there.
In a few seconds, you're going to be laughing about this. To feel a fool.
With your heart beating in your ears, the door swings open and right away, you see that you were right to be worried.
Both chairs are upturned in the living room and the TVs been pulled out of its brackets. Your boyfriend's nowhere to be seen.
You go into the kitchen and there's a knife on the floor and a pool of blood. You're trying to take all this in as your heart thumps against your breastbone on stereo.
That's when the police turn up, threatening to break down the door if you don't open up.
Surveying the scene you know that they're gonna think you killed him...
My name is Nancy Kerr and I'm not a murderer. Since my parents were murdered I've come close a few times, but I've never done the deed.
I did tattoo the world RAPIST across the stomach of one of my parents' killers. But to me that was justified, righteous revenge because when I walked in on those monsters that’d killed my parents, they raped me and left me bleeding to death on the kitchen floor of my childhood home. What happened caused me to have a breakdown and I ended up in a psychiatric hospital where I was in the land of the zombies for fourteen months. I have no memory of most of what happened there. When I was released, I tracked down the men responsible for my parents’ deaths and discovered I had an aptitude for detective work. Since then, I’ve helped track down the madman responsible for abducting sex workers from Glasgow’s streets.
But, hey, that's another story.
Accused of my boyfriend Tommy's murder, I need to prove my innocence. It won't be easy. Confronted by the same scene as the police, I would think I was guilty too. And, Tommy's still missing, presumed dead; murdered by me.
The clock's ticking.

Chapter 1
Detective McAskill pounded a meaty fist into the table, but I barely blinked. He'd done it so many times before it’d lost its dramatic effect. He was a short, dough ball of a man with ruddy cheeks that looked like a kid had scribbled them on with a colored pencil. His shirt sleeves were rolled up to his elbows, revealing pasty, podgy arms more used to lifting pints than weights. Sweat came down in rivulets from his brow and his nostrils flared like a racehorse’s every time he hit the table. Apparently, the police aren't allowed to beat confessions out of suspects these days, but I can tell McAskill hankers for the good old days.
I was seriously worried about his state of health, and I was the one accused of murder.
”We will find him, you know that, Kerr. No matter where you've put his body."
This time it was Detective Cullen who up until now had been playing the good cop, who spoke.
Cullen was a tall man with a fine head of lustrous black hair and steady eyes. He was the one I needed to watch because everything he did or said was measured unlike Cullen who was one step away from being a knuckle dragger.
Not for the first time, I gave them my spiel. "I didn't put his body anywhere, because he's not dead and I certainly didn't kill him. And while you're wasting time with me you could be out looking for him."
Convinced I'd killed him, they were doing nothing to find Tommy. Instead, they were checking out possible burial sites, including my parents’ garden and allotment. I still hadn't been able to sell the house I grew up in. Nobody wanted to buy a house where two people were murdered. Or maybe the rose bushes in the garden put them off, as mum always said they took a lot of looking after all. Whatever the reason, in a way I was glad: all I had left of my family were memories and most of them were in that house. Sell the house and I would be giving away another part of them and I didn’t have enough parts of them left. They say you’ll always have your memories as if that should console you, but it doesn’t. All you want is the impossible – you want your loved ones back.
The police were wasting time; precious time that could be the difference between finding Tommy alive or chopped up into pieces and packed into a suitcase, then dumped in the River Clyde.
The last time I'd seen him he'd been in the living room watching TV and I'd gone to get a shower, expecting him to come in and join me. I heard banging and when I came out there was a puddle of blood and a knife and he was gone. Then the police showed up.
Of course I'd told them my story many times, but they weren't buying it. The police thought they'd met a killer dumb enough to kill someone, hide their body and then lay in wait for them with the murder weapon. If this wasn't such a nightmare I'd have been insulted.
Even when my lawyer Drew Bennett put it in the same terms, the line of questioning hadn't wavered. This wasn't so much a whodunit as a shedunit. My reaction strayed between astonishment and bewilderment. Part of me wanted to cackle at the absurdity of it all, whilst the other half wanted to demand to see the hidden cameras. Well, this had to be some fly on the wall TV show where any minute now an over made up host would jump out and say "Gotcha" and everybody would laugh, except me.
Detective McAskill shoved his gargoyle face within inches of mine. "You do know we can charge you with murder even without a body?"
Rather than move away, I moved my face closer to his. I was tired and scared, but I refused to be intimidated. "I told you, Tommy's not dead. I didn't kill him. He's missing. And we're wasting time here. You need to find him."
I couldn’t hide the desperation from my voice.
McAskill scrunched up his face. "Not the same old story. It's getting boring. Go on, hen, tell us the truth. Get it off your chest."
He lowered his eyes when he said chest. His colleague gave him a nod and he sat down.
"Look, Nancy," said Cullen, clasping his long, slim hands together the same way a bank manager does before he turns you down for a loan. "We know you and your boyfriend argued. He lied to you about his past. It's understandable you'd be upset. That you'd want to give him a piece of your mind, but things got out of hand. Hey, it happens. We've all been there. Haven't we Pete?" He glanced over at McAskill who smirked.
"You were in the kitchen chopping up some carrots, or maybe you were using the knife to clean the food from the plug hole. My wife makes me do that." He made a face. "Damn annoying I can tell you. Maybe he made a sudden movement and you put out your hand, forgetting the knife was in it. Accidents happen, don't they, Nancy?" His gaze was steady. "And that's what happened. Isn't it? You didn't mean to do it. A court will understand. They'll be on your side, especially considering what happened to you in the past."
He sounded so convincing he almost had me believing what he said was true.
"Now's the time to speak up, Nancy. Continue to deny it and you could get 20 years when you’re convicted. Tell us everything and we'll put in a good word with the judge. You could get less than 10 years. Be out in less than five." His voice was low, seductive. “Get on with your life.”
I took a deep breath, something I'd been doing a lot since they'd arrested me. Losing my cool wasn't going to help me or Tommy, but we were wasting time here. "I told you what happened. Someone took him. They must have because he was gone when I came out of the shower. He wouldn't leave me; not without telling me where he was going."
I gave Cullen a despairing glance. "It's just as I told you. When I came out of the bathroom, there was blood on the floor and the knife. He was nowhere to be seen."
My heart was thundering against my chest. They had to listen to me. He needed their help. The longer they took to start looking for him, the more chance he'd end up dead. If he wasn't already. But one thing gave me hope that he was alive: surely if killing him was the intention of whoever took him, they'd have killed him in the flat and left his body, not set it up to make it look like I'd killed him.
Eyeing each man imploringly, I said, "You've got to try and find him. Please." Maybe I could appeal to their compassion.
While they were wasting time with me anything could be happening to him, especially if his past had come back to haunt him. Tommy had been part of a four-man Special Forces team given the top secret mission of assassinating an Iraqi politician who'd been helping terrorists. The mission failed when they were betrayed by a colleague and Tommy and his remaining comrade, Eric were faced to fake their own deaths after a bounty was put on their heads. Now it looked like they'd found him. Not even being given a new identity had saved him.
McAskill sneered. "We'll find him alright. Wherever you've put him. We'll find the poor bastard and nail you. So, you can cut out the little miss innocent act. Better folk than you have lied to us and been found out."
My hackles weren't so much as raised as standing to attention. I'd had enough of this bullshit. "You can't seriously think that I killed him?"
The way Cullen and McAskill exchanged bemused glances, you'd have thought we were standing as the rain bounced off the sidewalk and I'd insisted it was clear blue sky.
"How could I get the better of someone like him? You must have read his file? He's a highly trained, Special Forces soldier. He's 6ft 2 and even if you stuck Naomi Campbell's legs on me I'm titchy. And I'm not a crack soldier. I design the crappy inserts that fall out of newspapers and magazines when you're trying to read them." I paused, not wanting them to catch them on a lie. "Well, did until they fired me. But, back to Tommy, the guy who's missing, the man you should be searching for because some mad bastards have taken him. They must have because when I went for a shower he was there. When I came out he was gone."
McAskill got up and walked around the small, airless room. There wasn't a bare light bulb swinging from the ceiling but there might as well have been because the heat was oppressive. On one of the hottest summers on record, I'd worked in a hospital laundry and unluckily for me I'd been lumbered with operating the steam press. It was that type of oppressive heat in this room.
McAskill gave me a dirty big grin as he produced an evidence bag. An object I knew very well was inside.
"For the purpose of the transcript, I'm showing Miss Kerr a Taser," said McAskill.
Shit. I'd forgotten all about that.
Since I’d been raped I'd been carrying it for protection.
Cullen eyed me intently, his watery eyes gleaming. "Have you seen this before, Nancy? Answer yes or no."
Damn, what could I say now? Deny it and they'd find my prints all over the thing. Admit it was mine and I was screwed. They'd think I'd used it to subdue Tommy. And, it was an illegal weapon. But denying it was mine might make me look even guiltier.
I turned to my lawyer for guidance. He was too busy examining his expensive manicure. He'd been lumbered with me because I didn't have a lawyer and he was visiting a client at the time and he despised me for it. Apart from one interjection, he'd sat there impersonating a stuffed dog.
I was about to tell him I'd be better off with a stuffed toy as my legal representative, when he finally deigned to speak.
His voice was as smooth as chocolate. "Go on, Nancy; tell these nice gentlemen what you told me. Some kind, considerate individual got you that as a present. You'd no idea it was real and you certainly have never used it, nor would you know how to." He stopped talking and gazed over at each detective in turn, grinning broadly. "Christ, guys. My client's an office worker, not Steven Seagal."
McAskill glowered. "Let your client answer the question, Mr. Bennett. This isn't some tacky TV cop show where you get to butt in and show how smart you are. Save your showboating for the jury."
Throughout this exchange, Detective Cullen sat there with a neutral expression on his face. He'd probably realized a long time ago that his colleague was an idiot and easily riled.
McAskill turned to me, face as red as a Glasgow tourist coming off a flight from Malaga. "Miss Kerr, does this Taser belong to you?"
My throat was so dry I had to sip some water from the paper cup in front of me. The water was lukewarm and tasted like it’d come from a puddle. I genuinely had no idea what I was going to say before the words tripped out. "Yes, it's mine."
McAskill made an hmm noise and I wished I could grab the Taser and make him dance. "I bought it to protect myself after my parents were murdered and I was left dying on the kitchen floor. I was terrified the men who'd attacked me would come back and finish what they started." Then I added to rile McAskill. "Your lot never caught them, you know. They're still out there."
I couldn't hide the venom in my voice. Nor did I want to. I was seething that after all I'd been through, I was the one being treated like I was some kind of lowlife when I'd done nothing wrong. Why couldn't they see that I'd been set up?
Cullen's neutral gaze shifted to something approaching sympathy, whilst McAskill eyed me wearily.
"I'm sorry for what happened to you, Nancy," said Cullen. "I genuinely am. And my condolences for your loss." He sounded genuine. "But Tasers are illegal in this country. We'll have to add possession of an illegal weapon to the list of charges, although I'm sure in your case, a jury will be sympathetic. But, then with a murder charge, that’s the least of your worries.”
That's what I was worried about.

Copyright Jennifer Lee Thomson, 2018 

To buy Don't Come for Me 

An extract from Throwaways (Nancy Kerr book 2)

Throwaways is the second Nancy Kerr book to feature crime-fighting duo Nancy Kerr and Tommy McIntyre.*****Out Now****

Traci just wanted to go home to her daughter.

As the ball gag cut off her cries for help, Diane tried to steady her breathing. If she didn’t, she’d suffocate. She sang Somewhere Over the Rainbow in her head and imagined she was in the kitchen singing along with Kyra as they washed the dishes; little Kyra standing on a stool so she could reach the sink, her wee sleeves rolled up so her top didn’t get wet. But, no matter how hard she tried to tune everything out one thought was trapped in her head: she’d never see her daughter again.

“It’s good money,” Traci had chirped as she’d flicked a strand of hair behind her ear. She was platinum blonde today. “All we need to do is put on a girl on girl show, lez it up a bit and we’re onto a big score. It’ll be fun.”

She made a gesture with her hand as though she was counting money. “From what I’ve heard this punter is seriously loaded, and not shy about throwing his cash around either.”

The prospect of a big pay day was tempting, but Diane had never done anything like that before. With her, a blowy down a dark lane and a wee car ride to the back of a disused warehouse was more her usual. She’d never done any lezzy stuff, but she couldn’t afford to turn this job down. Not with her Kyra needing some shoes.

Despite the protests in her head, she said, “Okay, sounds good. But, how did you find out about this gig? Do you know the guy?” She’d long since learnt that if something sounded too good to be true, it always was.

Traci shook her head. “Nah, but a friend of mine vouched for him.”

“Who’s your friend?”

Her question made Traci smile, but it wasn’t a friendly smile. “If I told you that, doll, what’s to stop you cutting me out and doing the gig yourself?”

There was an implied threat in her words. Diane knew she’d get rag dolled if she crossed Traci. She’d seen her in action enough times; once she’d dragged another girl along the pavement by the hair because she accused her of stealing one of her punters. The other girl had screamed like a banshee, but nobody had gone to help her. You looked after yourself on the streets and never got involved unless you wanted your face rearranged. That was rule number one.


Traci hadn't been capable of battering anyone the last time she'd seen her. Her ginger hair (he must have ripped off her wig) had been hacked off. Tufts of it stuck out, reminding Diane of one of the hairdressing dolls Kyra was always playing with. She called it Angel, but it was the ugliest thing she'd ever seen, especially after Kyra had cut off its hair with nail scissors when she’d been out of the room.

What Diane wouldn't give right now to have the doll on her lap whilst Kyra used her best lipstick as blusher.

A tear trundled down her cheek. Nobody was ever going to find her. She'd die here, alone in this damp, dark room, with rats that were as big as cats scuttling around. She’d starve to death and then they’d eat her, gnawing on her face first; sharp, jagged teeth tearing into skin and bone. She’d seen that in a movie once. All she'd been given to eat was bread that was only fit for the birds and milk that smelled funny. She’d thought about not drinking it, but with nothing else to drink she was always glad when she saw the plastic cup.

When he brought the food, it was the only time he removed her gag. He'd leave her for five minutes then return to replace the gag. If she resisted he'd inject her with one of those needles he always carried. Pain would scream through her veins and then she’d be out of it. She’d wake up with a raging thirst and tendrils of hair sticking to the sweat on her face. But then there were worse things than being injected…

Chapter 1

As a division of labour, it didn't come more unfair than this. As Tommy sat in a comfy car, heater up full bung, sipping a Starbucks and leisurely munching on a cheese and onion bagel (with extra fried onions), I was standing outside, shivering my barely covered butt off, as the wind whooshed up my skirt and the rain came down like nails.

This was summer, in Scotland.

Huddled in a doorway, in a scraggy blonde wig, and my best Pretty Woman outfit, I'm already soaked to the skin. And, I know it won’t get any better because there are men who will pull over in their cars and ask how much I charge for a blow job or full sex.

As downward spirals go, this was bad. At least it would have been if I hadn’t been out here to catch a killer and not because I was reduced to turning tricks for a living.

You can get Throwaways from Amazon

I know I don't have to say it, but all text is © Copyright Jennifer Lee Thomson 2018
Any breach of copyright and I'll send Nancy round.
Be warned: she carries a Taser and has a seriously bad attitude:)

WHAT WOULD YOU DO TO GET REVENGE? Hell To Pay (Nancy Kerr Book 1) is out NOW

An extract from Hell To Pay (Nancy Kerr book 1)

She took a few more steps into the living room and walked straight into hell…

Chapter 1

I’m cold, colder than I’ve ever been in my entire life and I don’t know why. Slowly, I open my eyes, tentatively at first because even opening them a fraction feels like someone's shoving red-hot pins into them. The light is so bright.

What’s with the light anyway?

Has Michael wandered in, blootered on some poncy new beer and left the light on, after collapsing in a heap onto the bed?  I’ll brain him if he has. I’m no good to anyone when I don’t get my eight hours.

Pulling myself up in bed, I reach out my arm to nudge him awake so I can give him a right mouthful. My hand finds empty space.

Where is he?

My eyes sting as I prise them open – it’s as though there's been an accident with false lashes and I've glued my eyelashes together - and that’s when I realise I’m not in our flat. The reason I’m freezing is because I’m wearing a tracing paper thin hospital gown: the kind that shows off your backside when you’re being whisked off to x-ray.

A tidal wave of panic hits me and I jerk into full consciousness.

What’s happened to me?

I try to remember, but my brain’s all bunged up as if the top of my head's been removed and the cavity filled with cotton wool.

My arms are bandaged up. Have I been in an accident?  If I have, I don’t remember. Maybe I hit my head.

I take in my surroundings. If I’m in hospital, it’s no ordinary one. For one thing, my room’s more like a cell. There’s a bed and a table bolted to the floor, but no personal stuff: photos, or cards, or stuffed animals from people wishing me well. Does anyone even know I’m here?

I grope for a call button to get a nurse, but there isn’t one. What the hell? This place is a prison.

Staggering out of bed, I fight the wave of nausea and dizziness that make me want to yell at the world to stop moving because I want to get off the carousel. The tile floor is stone cold and there are no slippers by the bed. My feet are ice blocks. Why don’t I have any socks or tights on? 

Before I reach the door, there's a jingle of keys, then a key scrapes in the lock. Holding my breath, I brace myself for what’s coming.

A woman I don’t recognize with brown hair tied back in a ponytail appears. She’s dressed in a nurse’s uniform and there’s a small smile playing on the edge of her lips.

"Good, you’re awake, Nancy."

She sounds pleased, as if we’re bosom buddies, when I’ve never seen her before in my life.

"Where am I?"

My voice comes out as a rasp as though my throat’s been sandpapered down.

The nurse puts a hand on my shoulder. "Let’s get you back into bed, Nancy."

I do as she says. I’m worried if I don’t lie back, I’ll faint.

"You’re in Parkview Hospital," she says, as she fixes the pillows so I can sit upright.

I know all the hospitals in Glasgow, but I haven’t heard of that one. I ask her what kind of hospital it is and she tells me it’s a psychiatric facility. The reason I haven’t heard of it, is because they don’t publicize it. Perhaps because it’s full of nutters they want to keep away from society. The prospect terrifies me because that would mean they must think I’m cuckoo. Why else would I be here? 

I suck in my breath. When I ask her if this is a nut house, she presses her lips tightly together as she tells me no one refers to psychiatric hospitals in that way any more. Suitably chastised, I mumble an apology not because I think one’s needed, but because she’s the one with the keys.

"Why am I here?"

I’m dreading the answer, but I need to know. I don’t feel any different. Surely if I’d lost my mind, I'd know.

"You had a breakdown."

The way she says it, she could be talking about the weather.

She asks me if I want anything and I tell her a pair of proper pyamas, a dressing gown and slippers would be nice because I’m an ice block. If she gets in touch with Mum, she’ll bring me in some stuff.

Her smile’s still there, but breaks down around the corners of her mouth. There’s something she’s not telling me, because she’s worried how I’ll react. There’s fear in her eyes. I notice she’s wearing a lucky heather brooch, the same one I got for Mum. I’m staring at it as she tells me she’s going to fetch a doctor, when a memory stirs inside me and no matter how hard I try to push it away, someone’s taken their finger out the dyke and the water’s rushing in.

Blood, blood everywhere. Dad’s slumped in his favourite armchair, head bent forward as if in prayer (he never prayed a day in his life); a single bullet hole in his head. 

I know it’s him, even although his face has been beaten to a pulp: his blood staining the fireside rug my mum was so fond of. 

Even in death, my dad has a presence. He fills a room with the sheer weight of his personality. 

Discarded nearby is the baseball bat they used on him. It’s covered in blood and something sticky and dark brown, resembling raw mince.

All material is copyright of the author Jenny Thomson (C) 2018

*****For a limited time Hell To Pay will be 0.99*****

You can buy it here 

DI Duncan Waddell - Detective in a Coma Book 2

Keeping track of your novel's characters

Writing a novel series is a balancing act One of the most important and time consuming parts of writing a series of books based on o...