Brogan Keyes: Journalist or Grifter?

After learning something about the ‘murder suspect’ Twyla Locke, and about Sparkle Anwyl, one of the detectives, it’s time to meet another character in “Fates Maelstrom”, my 2015 NaNoWriMo novel.

Not all the characters in this opener to the North Wales-based series, “Snowdon Shadows”, are native to the area. So meet the mysterious Brogan Keyes, an American photo-journalist that finds himself in Craig-o-Niwl, for some reason.

Do you know this man? Or the photographer?

Do you know this man? Or the photographer?

Why are you here in this small Welsh village? It isn’t a normal tourist destination.

Photographing the follies built on the moors by Geffron Locke in the early 19th century. That’s for pleasure. My job is writing articles on Welsh Cheese for the Green Bay Press Gazette. But I’ve covered things from fashion to world hunger to riots.

Why should we care about you?

There is no reason not to like me. I’m great company, with great stories, not to mention looks. As anyone in the village.

Some of them say that you are, “too charming to be trusted”.

Can’t think who. I haven’t been here long enough to attract any unwelcome attention. The patrons at the Hare and Cave have been welcoming, even though I find Welsh very difficult. No way can I give the pub its proper name – something like Yr Ysgyfarnog a’r Ogof.

Sounds good to me, but then I know almost no Welsh. Anyway, how would you describe your looks?

Tall with a black curly hair, short close-trimmed beard and a smile. Usually got this camera somewhere. And if I’m maintaining eye contact, that because I like to note everything about people. You never know when they might let on something in their gestures.

Is that why you move slowly and take your time?

Why hurry – unless I’ve got a deadline? When something is done well, then it takes time – like the best cheese. And before you say the best is Welsh, or English, I have to disagree. The best cheese come from Wisconsin, U S of A.

So you’re a ‘cheesehead’?

Not just because of my home state but I’m also as a Green Bay Packers fan that wears a ‘cheesehead’ hat with pride.

You don’t say much. How would you describe your personality?

Why should I? As long as you get your interview, and I get my story. I’m someone who gets what he wants as I never give up… until I have the scoop.

What’s your greatest ability?

Finding the best picture for a story that gets to the truth. The perfect photo tells a story and makes people think.

What’s the story around the Geffron Follies?

I’m still looking for one. The Locke family history is complex, but fascinating. I suspect that a lot of the facts have been buried.

Sounds like a murder mystery. Do you solve those as well? Do you see yourself as heroic?

I’ve rescued women in distress, if that’s what you mean. Of course, if I can help, then I will. I’ll even give someone an alibi, if they need one – and if they’re pretty.

A genuine alibi or concocted? Are you more likely to play a prank or commit a crime?

If the alibi has the right effect, and resolves the situation, I’d supply one. I’ve played plenty of pranks, but my only crimes are two speeding tickets. And the rumour that I’m a grifter, have no basis. Just don’t believe the FBI records. They originated with people harassing my family.

Do people understand you? If not, what do they get wrong?

Most people know why I behave the way I do. It’s a retarded minority that thinks I’m a nuisance. Crazy thing is that some of them still behave as if they want me on their side. Maybe that’s why they say ‘too charming’.

What sort of people like you?

Women of course. They seem to recognise all my best qualities. But that includes my mother and my sister – they know what I’m trying to do. So don’t make me the heartless seducer in this story. I want to be the hero, please.

That presumes that there is a hero. Maybe that role goes to a heroine.

Sounds cool. Just as long as I can help her. Is she the one needing the alibi? I get to see a lot of things through this camera lens – not just Follies. People can make interesting subjects as well. And sometimes that’s the perfect way to meet them too.

You mean the perfect pick-up technique?

That’s happened – like the awesome English girl that I photographed water skiing in Jamaica. She got distracted by the camera and fell – but I was there to rescue her. Definitely time to rekindle that relationship, while I’m over here. As long as it doesn’t distract from my real work.

Don’t want that. It might have the wrong consequences. What are your worst fears?

Forgetting about a deadline of course. As I said, work comes first. And getting slapped because I underestimated a woman. But in both cases, I ensure that never happens.

What were you doing before this story started?

Besides my Welsh cheese research and photographing Follies? Working out what I really need to be writing about to win the Pulitzer Prize. And that’s a serious ambition. In fact, that’s the main reason I was in Jamaica – researching an article about the effects of Hurricane Sandy across the Greater Antilles in October 2012. Somehow the article was dismissed in the wake of other stories. But my scoop will come.

Before the novel began, what were your hopes for the future?

Well, other than the Pulitzer Prize, I was planning on meeting the woman of my dreams. Or maybe I’ve already done that. Some days, I wonder about my ancestors. How did they get to Wisconsin? Why did they go there?

What do you think is going to happen next?

Well from what you’ve hinted at, I’m going to produce the alibi that stops someone getting convicted. From the talk in the pub that would have to be Twyla Locke – the girl that murdered her grandfather. Is she’s as cute as they say, then I will get to seduce her – but then I might have some explaining to do to my friend from Jamaica, when we meet up.

Are you going to die in this story?

I will if Yazzi Locke catches me seducing her cousin Twyla.

The lover as the killer. Great plot twist. Thank you.

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Sparkle Anwyl: Sleuth or Sidekick?

After learning something about the ‘murder suspect’ Twyla Locke, it’s now time to meet the second character in “Fates Maelstrom”, my 2015 NaNoWriMo novel.

As this is the opening mystery in the North Wales-based series, “Snowdon Shadows”, the interviewee has to be a reoccurring character.

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Noomi Rapace – Photo by Emma Hardy for British Vogue ~ Sparkle look-alike

So meet Meinwen Sparkle Anwyl, a twenty-four year-old Welsh detective constable with Pwllheli CID, part of the North Wales Police or Heddlu Gogledd Cymru.

If you are with Pwllheli CID, aren’t you outside your patch here in Craig-o-Niwl?

Technically yes, but I got assigned to help Detective Sergeant Mal Sumnor. He’s the officer investigating the suspected murder of Aubrey Locke.

I know the area well as I have family here – my mother’s parents have a sheep farm that borders with Hawktrewen Estate. This is my chance to help the community by solving an unresolved case. D.S Sumnor also needs my language skills.

Because you’re Welsh? Don’t all Heddlu have to be bilingual?

Yes, he needed that qualification to join the force, just like me. He speaks good Welsh for an Englishman, but he needed someone that spoke Romani. His Detective Inspector insisted that we talk to the suspect Twyla Locke in her own language, although she speaks Welsh and English.

Growing up, I visited my grandparents often. So I came into contact with Twyla’s people, and picked up Romani. Maybe that could become my third language, if I used it enough.

But they’re proud people that don’t suffer outsider fools well. DS Sumnor needs to tread carefully, if he wants to solve this case.

Are you concerned about the case? What do you think is going to happen next?

People will take sides, I fear. It won’t be easy remaining objective in my dealings with people I know. But that is a key part of the job. Hopefully, I can ensure that the victim gets justice, and the guilty are found. But I might have my hands tied by a senior officer that judges me by my appearance.

Do fellow officers judge you? What’s so strange about your looks?

My D.I, Fay Baines, doesn’t judge. She’s always been supportive. But there are others that have an attitude. I try to play down my image, especially when on duty. Off-duty, I’m probably more relaxed and unwilling to mention my job – and that can be useful if I’m undercover. What do you expect from a Goth policewoman?

Goth might explain your appearance. How would you describe your looks?

Dark and elusive. My looks are deceptive as I have dyed my dark brown hair to black. Before I changed my looks, some would say I was a typical Welsh girl. I’ve still got the heart-shaped face and pale white skin, but I’ve added strong black eyeliner, green eye-shadow and deep red lipstick.

The look seems subdued at the moment. Is that because you are on duty?

I sometimes wear this black trouser suit when I’m visiting families or for some interviews, like today’s. But, even on-duty, the norm is my black leather biker jacket, black T-shirt, black jeans, and my black Doctor Marten Dalton boots. Usually I add a studded black choker, black belt with studs and silver buckles, and black leather studded wrist.

Is there something that makes you a good detective?

Thinking outside the box? I never like to jump to the first conclusion, and try to find that hidden truth. A weird sort of deduction, some might say, especially when I use the studs on my bracers to work through the key points. If there’s no notepad to hand, then I can remember the points by letters that become a mnemonic. I also get what I call “a tingle in my tattoos” when something is wrong.

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2013 Kawasaki Ninja 250r

You have tattoos? They aren’t obvious.

Well the Police rules are specific, and say things like, “You should not have tattoos which could cause offence”

I was aware of the rules when I first thought about joining the force. Then I remembered that when I got my first tattoo at sixteen. I chose angel wings joined by a white rose on my shoulders. My second tattoo was stylized rose with thorns, on my lower back. The final tattoo is a small one on my hip of a thorny rose.

Hopefully the thorns are symbolic. What is your worst fear?

Swimming pools send shivers up my spine. All because I was nearly drowned at school by a bully trying to repeatedly duck me underwater. I now find that chlorinated water triggers the memory of swallowing foul-tasting water. But in the line of duty, I can handle pools. However, I’m still an avid swimmer, but that has to be wild swimming, in the sea off the Llyn Peninsula, or in suitable lakes or rivers in the area.

That would keep you fit and healthy, crucial for overpowering some criminals. Do you see yourself as heroic?

Well I’m a kookie crime buster that helps her community, but doesn’t conform, and doesn’t have a cape – just a super bike. But heroic is too emotive. I do my job, and although I suspect that some see me as an intense weirdo that is incapable of doing a normal policing job, I get results, even if the approach can seem offbeat.

Do you actually have a super bike?

It’s more of a sport bike, although it’s powerful enough for me. It’s a black Kawasaki Ninja 250r. When I bought it, second-hand for £3,500, with my mechanic brother Owen’s help, some of the family said I should have bought a second-hand car. Why? I get to drive enough squad cars at work, and leaning a bike into bends is much more fun. It was neon green, but, because that wasn’t my colour, my brother re-sprayed it for me, I dream of a black 2015 Indian Scout – but that would be outside my means.

Are you going to die in this story? Should you?

I don’t intend to give up that easily. I always say, “Failure is not an option,” so that has to be the same for ‘death’. I don’t even think my most negative colleagues would want that. However, if my death helped in some way then it might be acceptable. But then I can’t be in a sequel.

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Twyla Locke: Murderess or Scapegoat?

Time to meet the first character in “Fates Maelstrom”, my 2015 NaNoWriMo novel. And the opening mystery in the North Wales-based series, “Snowdon Shadows”. As some of the characters appear in the sequels, the key question is, “Who survives to tell the tale?”

Twyla Anemone Locke?

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In the opening scene, this nineteen year-old Welsh gypsy girl, is the main suspect in a murder, and being grilled by the police.

So Twyla, why should we care about you?

I want the chance to help my family and my community in Craig-o-Niwl, and I need someone to listen to my side of things before the mouthy men – the police or Heddlu – jump to conclusions because of my gypsy blood.

I just want to continue studying for my Diploma in Horticulture at Northop College. But all that changed when I got arrested for my English grandfather’s murder. Why me? I loved my Pappus, so I must be innocent. I spent time with him at his home, Hawktrewen Park, because I adored him.

My apologies. It’s hard not to pry. Is there a reason for their suspicion?

Other than the evidence they claim to have? I’m not good at being accused of something. All my guilt turns on me. The voices come back. The past mistakes. My blood.

What voices? What mistakes? Are these important to your character?

The voice feels like a shadow haunting me. It has lurked throughout my life – in my memories, experiences, and nightmares. I can hear her voice. Yes, she’s a girl like me. I’ve always been aware of her shadow, ever since my first bad dream. My earliest memory is a nightmare of a boat on a lake and clinging onto someone for life. It was explained as a genetic memory of my parents – of my dad Alex saving my mum Jewell and their unborn child from drowning – the night that I was born.

When I was a kid, the shadow became my invisible friend, called Midge.  I talked to her and even blamed her – she was the sister I never had. She was my confidante when hiding in bushes or trees away from other kids. And when I was sick, then so was Midge.

Now I’ve been arrested for a murder that I can’t remember commiting. When I was younger, I could have blamed Midge. If the shadow is real could it steal my ID, my memories, and my life? Because some people feel that my madness and amnesia is a means to hide from my guilt.

They say that I’m a serial offender and a juvenile delinquent. But the crimes were real petty – not even bad ones…all misunderstandings. It’s just prejudice because I’m a gypsy. Okay there were four charges but I can explain them all, if anyone gives me the chance – which they don’t.

Are we talking about prejudice because of race?  

My dark, foreign looks make me stand out. Some might be kind and say they’re exotic. My skin might be olive, and could be called Mediterranean. But there’s more Eastern blood in me – mixed with the gaje from my dad. The dark brown eyes and black hair must be from my gypsy mother. Maybe the strong bones and muscles are my father, but they make me like a tomboy, when I dress in jeans.

How would you describe your personality?

I lack self-confidence and will often question myself. But that’s better than acting too quick. When compared with friends, I’m an overweight underachiever. I’ve yet to do what my parents dreamt of doing. They died before they could make the community better. On good days I am determined. But more often it’s better to close the world off, and deal with things in my head. 

Do people understand you? Or do they all shun you?

People close to me, like my fellow gypsies at Horn’s Rhych, they understand me. However, I often wonder if other people understand me. Even friends at college can act weird towards me – asking ‘is that what Gypsies think/do/like?’, or even expecting me to read their hands or cards. One even produced a crystal ball. I’m just a gardening student not a fortune teller.

But some folks are antagonistic. ‘You’re different’, ‘you smell’, ‘my phone got stolen… by her.’ The mouthy men think that about not just me. I’m an outsider and so are my people.

Yet the locals come to the Rhych and buy plants and food from us. Most of them don’t stare or act rude. The Welsh have been treated badly themselves, so understand about prejudice. You could say that the English are the outsiders, or invaders, that took the land and the prime jobs. But then I’m part Locke, and they’re the local English landowners.

What is your worst fear?

I’m terrified of dying young like my parents – at 19 like my mother. That’s why I’m afraid of lakes – they died on Lake Como. Drowned. Well, my father did, having saved my mum. But then she died a few hours later giving birth… to me. And I’m now nineteen and it will be months before my twentieth birthday, so it could still happen.

What do you think is going to happen next?

The mouthy men will find me guilty of murdering my Pappus. That will cause trouble between my two families, and mean the end of Horn’s Rhych. And the end of my parents dreams for Craig-o-Niwl and Hawktrewen estate.

What are you going to achieve in this story?

I need to prove my innocence, or someone else has too. And find the real killer. If not then I must ensure that the two communities don’t blame each other for my failure. My ancestors will not forgive me, even if they can torment the murderer. They are talking to me already. Their eyes see everything.

Are you going to die in this story?

I hope that I live. Unless my death helps solve the crime. Or is my health going to kill me? What would be the point of that? I need to die achieving something.

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