Colin Webster – The Mayakovski Assignment

Title: The Mayakovski Assignment

Author: Colin Webster

ISBN: 1477543597

Page count: 280

Genre: Thriller Spy Story

Price: US$3.99

 

Author Bio:

Colin Webster was born in the UK where he grew up in a steel-making town and began his working life in the steelworks.  He gained a degree in engineering before he emigrated with his family to Australia in 1991.  He continued to work as an engineer while writing in his spare time.  The Mayakovski Assignment is his debut novel.  He now lives with his wife in Queensland Australia.

 

Tell us about your book:

It is the height of the Cold War and the Russians are working on a secret new weapons system codenamed Project Helena.  When their top scientist Dr Andrei Mayakovski tries unsuccessfully to defect to the West to join his wife Anna, the Americans and the British hatch a plan to send one of their agents into Russia to help him escape.  British Agent Patrick Kane enlists the help of the Vasyuchenko’s, Dr Mayakovski’s closest friends, and together they begin a journey fraught with danger and with the KGB in hot pursuit. Will they manage to evade the KGB?

 

How long did it take to write the book?

Several Years part time

 

What inspired you to write the book?

Always enjoy writing creative fiction and have always wanted to be published.

 

Talk about the writing process. Did you have a writing routine? Did you do any research, and if so, what did that involve?

Working fulltime I had to write late in the evening when I got home, this has always made the writing process hard work but a determination to finish and succeed carried me through.  Research is an important part of any writing work and I did most of mine at libraries and any other source I could find relevant to the subject of the book.

 

What do you hope your readers come away with after reading your book?

I hope to take my readers on a journey, an escape from their normal routine lives.  My story is a thriller adventure set in the Cold War era and I hope this truly takes readers back into a different world and entertains them.

 

Where can we go to buy your book? 

The book is available on Amazon as an eBook

 

Excerpt from book:

As Andrei approached the last bend in the road before the border crossing, his nerves were taught.  The authorities’ refusal to grant him an exit visa had left him frustrated.  In a frantic effort to get papers, he had tried the black market.  Naive as he was in the seedier side of life, he trusted a stranger of dubious character who took his money willingly, only to disappear.  It was a bitter lesson he cared not to repeat.  And he was still without papers.  Desperation had brought him this far.

And now he was at the border, uncertain of what to do next.  The thought of dumping the car and trying to make it over the border on foot had crossed his mind, but that was for younger men.  Fighting his way through the dense tangle of bracken in the forest and dodging the regular patrols, were not appealing prospects.  Still, it might have to come to that if all else fails, but for now the checkpoint was an easier option but for the guards.

Approaching it was out of the question; he had no business to be there.  If questioned he could never explain what he was doing.  The idea of telling them he was lost plagued him but he doubted they would believe him.  He needed time to compose himself, to think what he was going to do.

A truck roared round the sharp bend, startling him.  The sharp honk of its horn echoed from the tall trees bordering both sides of the road.  Its faded brown paintwork convinced him it was an army truck and he froze at the spectre of authority.  Almost too late, Andrei realised the truck was on the wrong side of the narrow road, heading straight for him.

Instinctively, he jerked the steering wheel to swerve away from the on-coming truck.  The truck roared passed, its driver still sounding his horn.

Andrei fought to control the unstable car which slewed across the asphalt, made slippery by rain-sodden decaying leaves.  As he entered the curve, he stabbed at the brakes with his foot, his hands fought with the steering wheel until the car finally bounced to a stop on the rough gravel at the edge of the road.

Andrei remained still for several minutes, refusing to let go of the steering wheel.  His breathing was laboured and beads of sweat trickled down his temples, the palms of his hands were soaked.  He had almost crashed, almost ended it all there and then.  And so close to the border too…

The border!  He looked out through the dirt spattered windscreen.  It was straight ahead of him, less than half a kilometre away.  He could clearly see the red and white barrier across the road.  He had come to a stop in full view of the border.

Andrei’s temporarily forgotten panic began to rise once more.  He consciously tried to calm himself, to slow his racing heart pounding in his chest.  Pulling out his white linen handkerchief, a present from Anna, he wiped the sweat from his forehead and hands.  It wasn’t that he was hot – it was a nervous clammy kind of sweat.

Deep down he knew he was scared half to death.  He had never been this frightened in his life.  He had never been in a situation where so much depended on him personally.  His life was at stake.

Remembering the vodka, he took a big drink straight from the bottle.  The raw liquor made him cough and he wiped his mouth with the back of his trembling hand.

Directly ahead, the checkpoint barred his way to freedom.  Two border guards stood in front of the barrier.  The sight of their uniforms brought a sudden surge of panic.  Andrei fought against it – another drink helped quell it as quickly as it had arisen.

Freedom lay tantalisingly close.  The barrier didn’t look to be all that sturdy.  He could see Finland beyond.  The thought of breaking through seemed so simple.  It would be easy.  He would be in Finland before the guards knew what was happening.

The warmth from the alcohol inside him swelled his self-confidence.  He started the stalled engine and steered the Lada back onto the bitumen road.  Suddenly he was filled with determination, his gaze fixed beyond the barrier, on the trees that lay on the Finnish side of the border.

Quickly working his way through the gears, Andrei pressed down hard on the accelerator pedal, increasing speed steadily.  He gripped the steering wheel as if his hands were glued to it.

A few raindrops splattered on the windscreen, the sharp noise jolting Andrei back to reality.  There was no going back now.  After an eternity of waiting, this was the moment.

He forced the accelerator pedal hard down to the floor.  The engine misfired then screamed in mechanical protest as it responded to his command.

The insignia on the guard’s uniforms were plainly visible, as was the green band of the Border Guard Division around their peaked caps.  They started to move toward the Lada, waving to Andrei to slow down and stop.  They were shouting, but he could hear nothing above the noise of the engine.  Laughing triumphantly in the face of his own fear he was filled with a sense of excitement, heightened by the thrill of the speed with which he raced along the road.

The two guards stopped waving at him and moved quickly away to the side of the road, out of his path.  ‘You can’t stop me now,’ Andrei shouted with exhilaration.  ‘You can’t stop me!  I’m going to do it.’  Images of Anna flooded his conscious thoughts; their reunion, her happy expression lighting up her face, the tears of joy in her loving eyes.  He felt elated and happy; a free man.

The windscreen took the full force of the impact, cracking diagonally with a starburst pattern in the lower corner. The shattered wooden barrier fell into the Lada’s path and the car bounced eagerly over it, as if it too sensed freedom.

The sharp staccato noise of automatic gunfire pierced the air.  Muzzle flashes dazzled in the rear-view mirror.  Bullets thudded into the surface of the road alongside him, spurts of dust and water marked where they tore up the asphalt.

A burst of bullets slammed through the rear window, shattering the already weakened front windscreen.  A hammer-blow to his back pushed Andrei forward in his seat.  A searing pain stabbed like a hot knife into his right shoulder and he clutched at it with his left hand.  Another burst of gunfire – a muffled explosion as one of the front tyres blew.  The tyre, torn unceremoniously from the wheel rim, disintegrated in a cloud of blue smoke as the Lada lurched violently sideways.

Andrei’s shoulder burned as though it were on fire, yet he forced himself to let go and wrestle the steering – his bloodied hand slipped on the wheel.  His head spun, giddy from adrenalin and pain.  The screaming engine, the gunfire and the smell of burning rubber from the tyre, faded into the distance.

The cold wind tore through the gaping hole where the windscreen had been and slapped at Andrei’s face as if trying to wake him from his semi-conscious state.  It was too late.

The Lada veered off onto the grass at the side of the road and careered into one of the pine trees.  The impact threw him forward, smashing his head on the steering wheel.  Instantly, his world became black and silent.

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Matthew S Wilson – The Devil’s in the Detail

Title: The Devil’s in the Detail

Author: Matthew S Wilson

ISBN: 978-0-9873459-0-5

Page count: 292

Genre: Fiction – Humour / Satire

Price: $9.99 USD eBook | $15.99 USD paperback

 

Author Bio:

I grew up in Melbourne, Australia and was an avid reader as a kid. Coupled with a love of cinema, I’ve always enjoyed fast-paced, plot-driven stories. In my late teens I was determined to write a screenplay for a feature film. Unfortunately I seemed to specialise in half-finished screenplays, subconsciously based on Quentin Tarantino films. Perhaps I didn’t have anything of my own to say?

I graduated from the University of Melbourne and started a career in Technology. In desperate need of some life experience, I moved to London in 2003 on a whim. I travelled around Europe as much as I could, always carrying a notebook with me to capture new ideas wherever and whenever they appeared. I took some writing classes and in 2009 I proudly submitted my first screenplay. It was a tough, gritty television pilot called ‘Mayfair’. I knew it would be successful. Unfortunately, the BBC didn’t share my enthusiasm.

Undeterred, I returned to Melbourne in 2010 with the self-belief that I could succeed as a writer. I enrolled in a novel writing class at the Centre for Adult Education and spent 2011 pouring out my own thoughts and feelings into my work. The result is my first novel, ‘The Devil’s in the Detail’.

My second novel is currently underway.

 

Tell us about your book:

‘The Devil’s in the Detail’ tells the life (or more accurately, the death) of David Shepherd, a middle-aged London cab driver who finds himself in Purgatory after dying while trying to protect his female passenger from a gang of drunken youths. What follows is his trial in the Court of Saint Peter. A court presided over by Angels, prosecuted by Demons and ultimately judged by a soul’s adherence to the Ten Commandments.

The novel is a religious satire, for atheists, agnostics and believers alike. It poses questions that we will all one day ponder: How are the actions we take in this life, ultimately judged? What constitutes a good life? What does it really take to pass through the Pearly Gates? As our protagonist tries to answer these questions he will discover that sometimes… The Devil’s in the Detail.

 

How long did it take to write the book?

Overall the novel took about 2 years to write. After eight months, I’d completed a very rough first draft but soon hit a creative wall. I took some time out and decided to travel. After hiking across Spain on a pilgrimage called the Camino de Santiago, I returned home to Australia, determined to finish the novel. A year later it was done. I’m not entirely sure what was harder: hiking the 800 kilometres or surviving the editing process!

 

What inspired you to write the book?

I was travelling in the back of a cab to my apartment in London and I was thinking about the life I’d been leading and the decisions I’d been making (the sort of inner conversation that invariably occurs after too many drinks). I thought I’d lived my life in a fairly good way, but I’d made some mistakes too. People are always joking about whether they’d make it past Saint Peter and through the Pearly Gates to Heaven, but I’d never really given it any serious thought. That got me wondering: what happens to people when they die? Is there a trial? Who gives evidence? What rules are people judged against?

The next day, much of the previous night was somewhat patchy, but the idea of a novel remained: What would happen if a seemingly decent cab driver died and was to be judged by Saint Peter?

 

Talk about the writing process. Did you have a writing routine? Did you do any research, and if so, what did that involve?

I tried to follow the process that Stephen King describes in his book, ‘On Writing’, where he locks himself in his study and writes 2,000 words every day. But given my other work commitments, I tend to do an hour each evening and I spend a few hours of the weekend, tucked away in a local cafe.

Although I did extensive theological research, I generally did this in parallel with writing the novel as  I wanted to maintain some momentum. My fear was that if I did all of my research at the beginning, then I’d never actually write the novel!

My research ranged from pouring over bizarre websites dedicated to Angels (there are far more than I’d imagined), to leafing through my great grandfather’s bible. While the novel focuses on Catholicism I wanted to examine the afterlife in other religions and will confess that I bought a book called ‘Comparative Religion for Dummies’. This particular dummy found it extremely insightful.

 

What do you hope your readers come away with after reading your book?

I’d like the reader to consider how they’ve lived their own lives as compared to the Ten Commandments and see if they think those rules are still relevant today in judging between ‘good’ or ‘bad’. Besides that, I really hope that the book makes people laugh. Although there is a religious angle to the novel, this book primarily aims to point out all of those peculiar little things that we seem to do as humans.

 

Where can we go to buy your book?

‘The Devil’s in the Detail’ is currently available in paperback  from a number of retailers, including Amazon and Book Depository.

It will be available as an e-Book from Amazon and the Apple iBook Store in November.

A list of vendors can be found on my website, www.matthew-s-wilson.com.

 

Any other links or info you’d like to share?

Watch the trailer for The Devil’s in the Detail:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UFIspLGdUjE&feature=plcp

 

Excerpt from book:

The first chapter of the novel is available to be read from www.matthew-s-wilson.com.

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Will Hahn – The Plane of Dreams

Title: The Plane of Dreams

Author: Will Hahn

ISBN: 9781476457093

Page count: 332

Genre: Epic Fantasy

Price: $5.99

 

Author Bio:

Will Hahn has been in love with heroic tales since age four, when his father read him the Lays of Ancient Rome and the Tales of King Arthur. He taught Ancient-Medieval History for years, but the line between this world and others has always been thin; the far reaches of fantasy, like the distant past, still bring him face to face with people like us, who have choices to make.

Will didn’t always make the right choices when he was young. Any stick or vaguely-sticklike object became a sword in his hands, to the great dismay of his five sisters. Everyone survived, in part by virtue of a rule forbidding him from handling umbrellas, ski poles, curtain rods and more.

Will has written about the Lands of Hope since his college days (which by now are also part of ancient history).

 

Tell us about your book:

In the southern empire of Argens just roiled by the rebellion of Yula, a band of adventurers returns from the Shimmering Mindsea bearing enormous treasure and minus one of its members. The Tributarians, unaware of the growing threat to the waking world, embark on separate plans. But the spirit of the hero lives on in all of them, as their good deeds have consequences beyond their original intention. Will it be enough to avert the peril they have unwittingly brought about?

 

How long did it take to write the book?

I drafted about two-thirds of the story as my first foray into formal work, over the last six months of 2008. At the start of 2012 I realized that what I had written was actually only part of a larger story involving more heroes, so I finished it up just before Labor Day. In total then, about fifteen months.

 

What inspired you to write the book?

The heroes themselves did. Doubt me if you want to, but I know what they’re like. I’ve been thrilled at the deeds of folks like Qerlak, Cheriatte, Solo and Galethiel since my college days. And they kept urging me to write it down- for years I laughed and said no, but they are nothing if not determined. About four years ago they finally wore me down, and I started pushing the rough notes I had always kept into more finished shape.

 

Talk about the writing process. Did you have a writing routine? Did you do any research, and if so, what did that involve?

Now it’s true confessions time- I don’t really write anything. I’m just a chronicler. The events taking place in the Lands of Hope are not mine to decide- I simply watch and listen and then jot them down as best I can. As you can imagine, this is a rather haphazard process- I’ve been watching the Lands for over thirty years, but usually not as often or as steadily as I would like. With an active family life and a full-time job, finding the time to chronicle is an adventure in itself. I find the time spent, the process itself, brings me happiness, so that helps me form the habit of doing some chore nearly every day. And my education in Ancient-Medieval History made many things about the Lands much easier for me to understand.

 

What do you hope your readers come away with after reading your book?

In short, Hope. This is a story about the threat of evil men and the chaos of ancient Despair. The world is under threat and most people don’t even realize their peril. Only a few men and women, little known and even less well liked, are in a position to save the world. And they’re not perfect, they don’t know all the answers; they argue and get into scrapes and make mistakes. But when the moment comes they do not hesitate- each one gives the fullest measure of their energy, wit, and blood to save the world.

 

Where can we go to buy your book?

The Plane of Dreams is available at all major online retailers, linked right here:

Smashwords

Barnes and Noble

Amazon

 

Any other links or info you’d like to share?

Sure, you can view a trailer for the book at You Tube!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mECMipJxYtE&feature=plcp

 

Excerpt from book:

Chapter 4: Clear as Smoke

Cheriatte lay still, faking sleep like the others, and watched Aral setting to the south. Salinj’r was sure the Scarlet Contra would never attack with either moon up. On past nights, she was always amazed at how quickly the lower moon moved; Trilien told her that in Shilar her birthplace to the north, she once felt the breeze as it passed. Tonight, Aral looked stuck.

Nearby Cheriatte’s bedroll Trekelny lay stretched on his back, no blanket or shirt, hands behind his head, perfectly still- wearing a grin as if being sexually serviced. Cheriatte could tell, his frame held not an ounce of the tension she fought. The mad stealthic had listened to the plan, was convinced it could work. She thought it sounded more like an invitation to group suicide. Sometime after moonset, the Tributarians would be under assault by the most deadly bandits the Argensian Empire had ever known. Ex-Viper assassins, rogue garruk or Nubian warriors, trained monsters, gas bombs, magic spells; all the deadly power a wealthy nobleman could hire and hide.

Naturally, Trekelny was in his element, happy as a child.

Salinj’r, facing away from the fire, reached slowly behind his back to nudge another branch into the dying flames. Fire lapped up orange and crackling, comforting and warm. Make it seem they expected nothing untoward, not to bank the embers. And Cheriatte had agreed, better to ruin elvish night-sight, though the party had three.

Minutes passed more slowly than sweat down her face. Zoanstahr, Trilien and Engurra all lay still to various sides. The preacher ran through the sequence again in her mind; up, run left, scan, then invoke the miracle of group defence from her shield Friendfend. Mind Trilien’s left, be ready to Send Strength if- a buzzing noise kept breaking into her mind, and with a shock Cheriatte realized its source. Spitz, the warrior, was actually snoring!

Turning her head slowly as she imagined a sleeper would, she scanned the enormous silhouette. He did not seem to be faking; how could anyone sleep with- focus, Cheriatte told herself uselessly. The fear that had stalked her for hours now stomped right up and started rummaging in her spine. The preacher loved this adventurous life with all her heart; the calling of Aballe had brought her meaning. To risk her own life in a worthy cause lent her no misgiving. If the worst came, she would face the hereafter with a clean conscience. Besides, in the last extremity, there was always the shining knight she saw in her dream, the one she had not told anyone about. The mountain tower, the bridge of light; it all seemed so real. Perhaps that was Aballe’s kingdom itself, calling her.

But in a fight, she knew, others could be hurt; plans went awry, accidents more than likely. The thought that one of the others might- no, focus, pray for justice. Would this be the time she stood uselessly by as one of them died? Cheriatte lay in tense, frightened anguish, not knowing if moonset or waiting for it was worse.

With all that the moment still snuck upon her. She was starting to fear the quiet itself, then realized. The evening bird-calls had ceased. Glancing too quickly to the south, she saw; the moon sunk half-way down.

Spitz, incredibly, was no longer snoring.

A gentle tump, thumf sounded before and behind her, followed by billows of something smoky and green. Inhale, wait for the signal, then up, scan…

The twang of something larger than a bow, a blob arcing through the stars overhead, a pop, a net drifting above Zoanstahr’s sleeping form. He will be furious, Cheriatte thought. Stay still a moment longer.

The confident cry to attack. At last, even though death arrived, at least the waiting was over.

Cheriatte jumped up and scanned around, breath held. The fire still crackled- Trekelny and Spitz were running left, lips pursed with weapons out. A crackle from Zoanstahr’s bedroll and he disappeared as the net settled on empty space.

Don’t laugh, don’t talk.

Run left. Invoke the miracle.

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