Author: Colin Webster
Page count: 280
Genre: Thriller Spy Story
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.