#WEP – Write…Edit…Publish AUGUST Challenge

a wep change of heart final
This month, I am taking part in the #WEP August Challenge, part of WEP’s 2018 Challenges which the IWSG (Insecure Writers Support Group) have joined.

The WEP team had a GUEST POST on the IWSG website on August 6. Here is the link http://www.insecurewriterssupportgroup.com/2018/08/writing-together-with-wep-and-iswg.html

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So, it’s now the correct day for the AUGUST challenge, CHANGE OF HEART. I confess that I posted nine days early – https://rolandclarke.com/2018/08/06/wep-change-of-heart/ – but I have since made a few minor edits so I’m re-posting.

I was also reminded to add some background to the piece. I’m attempting to avoid deadly spoilers here as, in a way, this piece must stand-alone – for instance, the identity of ‘I’ is gradually revealed in the piece.

However, this is an incident in the backstory of a central character in my WIP – SPOILER ahead. This is when my MC in the Snowdon Shadows series of police procedurals was a teenager. I am currently using this as a flashback within a framing story (‘Fevered’) set a year before the WIP entitled ‘Fates Maelstrom’.

Change of Heart

Copyright © Roland Clarke

Shadows in the moonlight flicker like my mind churning with every bleating sheep. What does Taid want? Does he know our secret?

My morning swim in our lake was invigorating, but after breakfast, he triggered the thoughts.

“We need to talk, Meinwen – this evening when your chores are done.”

I daren’t ask Mam what he wants – even if he’s her tad. Patience would be her answer. My siblings don’t act suspicious, but Taid has rules.

Where have I strayed?

My love is forbidden in his chapel eyes. But we kept it secret. Six weeks of passion on the beach had to end. But not with punishment.

He doesn’t know. We were careful – once the school buried the incident. Tad never dug – believed we were bullied for being different – two Goths.

It’s my parents – Tad and Mam. Their time apart, after the arguments about his work, has been hard. I chose to be with him. No, by the sea in Porthmadog – to be near Esyllt. My brothers came with mam and our sister, up here to the farm.

Is there a distance in their eyes? Am I the betrayer who stood with Tad? Am I being sent away?

I love them all. I can’t choose. But my family comes before Esyllt – it must. Or can our affair become more? Or are we doomed?

What does Taid want? A grandchild that lives by the rules. I don’t.

Are my tad and mam following his advice? Have they changed their minds? Are they getting back together – as we all want?

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Cregennen Lakes © Ian King – http://snowdonia.info/

The porch door opens and Nain Gwyneth and Taid Hywel walk out, smiling as they hand me a cup of hot chocolate.

“Another beautiful evening,” says Nain as she sits on the couch and gestures for Taid to join her. “It’s good to have you home, cariad. How was your stay with your tad?”

“Awesome – well good.” I mustn’t be too happy as I want to be at their farm now. Well, I want everyone together. “I enjoy being here at Tyn-y-llyn – in the mountains…swimming in the lake—”

Taid takes my hands in his gnarled ones. “Your mam, our Glenys wants this to be your home. You want that?”

Leave my tad. Leave the sea…my friends – Esyllt. For a new life?

“If you want me here. But school? I was changing, though—”

Taid nods at Nain and smiles. “Your mam says that you’re going to sixth-form college – in Pwllheli. Why? We’d hoped you’d do agriculture at Glynllifon – then help your Ewythr Ivor here on the farm.”

I stare across the yard at the farmhouse where my mam’s brother is sleeping with his family. Do I want that life? I love it up here – but something is missing.

Esyllt? No, she is not my future – even if I feel the passion and the excitement…and the guilt.

“I need to keep my options open. I’m sixteen and I want to do AS and A levels in different subjects. I’m not ready to commit.”

They watch me…study me. What do they see? The guilt or vague potential?

“You’ve no idea what you want to do? You can’t be like your tad – look what he’s put our Glenys through?”

The cop-option. The one that tackling the bullies triggered – Esyllt’s suggestion. My tad’s secret desire. Or did he say it was too dangerous? I must evade this.

“I like swimming—” I stare into their eyes then glance towards the land. “And running across the fields. Okay, I can do that as a farmer. But I’d like to learn about the sport and leisure industries, whilst learning more skills – like more Welsh. It’s our language.”

They smile, and Nain reaches over and pats my knee. She takes my hands.

“If you go to Coleg Meirion-Dwyfor how will you get there – you can’t live there?”

I let the conversation move on – hoping that we are past the tough grilling.

“I’ve passed my moped test and it will only take an hour – better than cycling and quicker. That means I can stay here – please.”

They embrace me, and I think they are leaving as Nain goes inside. But Taid sits back down.

“There’s something else. We’ve heard disturbing rumours from your school…” He looks up, and I shiver. “About an incident, you were involved in. What is the truth?”

As I dread. The whispers have spread into Snowdonia. It’s over. First Tad – but he didn’t tan my ass, just lectured me about vigilantes. Seems my school didn’t like the Goth Patrol standing up against bullies.

“It was a buddy system to protect kids needing friends.”

I listen to the hunting owls and Taid’s breathing. Did the family hear more? Or just about the assault in the swimming pool? I could have been drowned, but my friends rescued me – with Esyllt.

“In the eyes of the Lord,” he says, staring up into the night sky. “We can’t be the judges. But our friends talk – about our reputation in the community, and yours. Is there someone else?”

Here it is – the sin is exposed. Unless I lie.

“Not that I know – just friends.”

Lies are hard, but so is facing the truth. It won’t just be Taid and Nain. What will the family do next?

“Who is Esyllt Jernigan?”

I close my eyes and pray for guidance.

“One of my friends – another Goth like me.”

He frowns, and I realise my mistake – my other rebellion.

“Goth is darkness, isn’t it? A sin, in some eyes. You…like this other girl?”

Do I confess my sin – that I’ve slept with another woman? Or do I deny our love and perjure myself in the eyes of God? Three denials like Saint Peter is a sin.

But I want a future. Esyllt was the future but so are my family. Are the chapel rules just? Are Taid and Nain correct?

Must I change what my heart feels?

“There’s this guy – Bran. He likes me.”

Scooter

***

Comments are welcome as usual, but for the WEP Challenge, the following applies:

Word Count 991: MPA

(FCA welcome – if you want to send one, just let me know in the comments.)

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READ MORE ENTRIES BY FOLLOWING THE WEP – Write…Edit…Publish URL:

http://writeeditpublishnow.blogspot.com/

 

 

Exploration or taster?

Scooter

As my regular followers might know, I’m exploring my Fates Maelstrom main protagonist’s backstory by writing short stories that are also a means to try a different POV.

After writing the first story about Sparkle Anwyl, Goth Patrol, in first-person present POV, I’ve stayed with that for three more shorts – two set some years earlier, when Sparkle was sixteen, and one set a year later when she is 23. (She’s 25 in the novel.)

I like the first-person present POV and I’ve even attempted a version of her first POV scene written in the first-person present – it seems to read okay. As for the backstory developed in these stories, the key incidents are already referenced in the main novel, Fates Maelstrom.

Now, I have two questions:

(1) Can I have other POVs in third for some scenes and Sparkle’s in the first-person present?

(2) The crucial question is – What do I do with the short stories?

I have been working on a framing story, ever since I read Andrzej Sapkowski’s The Last Wish – http://witcher.wikia.com/wiki/The_Last_Wish – in which the Polish writer cleverly uses one for his first shorts collection. However, the norm seems to be to release shorts totally independently, or as free rewards for followers/subscribers.

I decided to research this, and on the internet, I found this interesting article at Writer’s Digest – http://www.writersdigest.com/writing-articles/by-writing-goal/improve-my-writing/writing-short-stories-novel-writing – that included this interesting point:

“Short fiction can be a toy box for your novel’s secondary characters, “offstage” action and locations. Outside the realm of your larger manuscript, you can do things like mine the protagonist’s past to find the source of her inner struggle, then use what you’ve learned to add a richness to your novel. (As a side benefit, these stories, if you’re pleased with the results, can later become great marketing tools: Sell them first, to prove the related novel has a receptive audience, or use them as a “bonus” read for novel fans who join your mailing list.)”

I seem to be trying to see if there is a side benefit or whether I remain in the toy box.

For ongoing research, I asked the Insecure Writer’s Support Group on Facebook, “I’ve taken a diversion to explore the backstory of my WIP’s main protagonist. I’ve ended up with some draft short stories that are all pre-WIP and I have a linking/book-ending story. Should they stay as backstory experiments, or should I release them first singly or as an anthology, OR release as a bonus/taster when WIP published …IF published.”

I got some great answers, most notably: Heather M. Gardner. “It really depends on how short and/or how interesting the stories are. I would recommend leaving them just for you, but you could always include them as a free story at the end of your book WHEN its published.”

Nick Wilford “I think you could offer them separately for either free or a low price – it might help build interest in the “main event”. Either as individual stories or a collection.”

Now, I like the idea of a low-price collection to build interest in the ‘main event’, as Nick Wilford calls it, but then the WHEN of Heather M Gardner’s answer troubles me.

Will the novel get published?

Is that important or only the writing experience?

Am I wasting time on social media if I never release anything more into the world? (My tweets get ignored most days.)

Should I just share one short? (In fact, another as I used one in my premature ‘Change of Heart’ post.)

Have you ever written shorts linked to your novels? What did you do with them?

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Photo of Dolbadarn Castle, Snowdonia by Etrusia UK on Flickr

 

#TheIWSG Ultimate Writing Goals

Insecure Writers Support Group Badge

Is it really July already? Where did June go? Is it time for another Insecure Writer’s Support Group monthly blog post? In fact, this post is a day early due to the US Fourth of July Holiday. Does that mean we all get to celebrate? Oh wait, I’m a Brit living in the US, so I must acknowledge this celebration of when the US got rid of the British Empire. Or did we Brits get rid of the damn tea-dumping, pesky colonists?

On to the IWSG brain-teaser:

July 3 question – What are your ultimate writing goals, and how have they changed over time (if at all)?

Those ‘ultimate writing goals’ are still moveable feasts.

First off, my goals are not what they were when I was in my teens, churning out scrappy shorts and dreaming of publishing multiple novels. When I was a working journalist, I had scaled back to one equestrian mystery with possibly two sequels.

Now I’m coping with health issues that make my goals move each day/month/year. OK – July 2018…goals = continue blogging for IWSG once-per-month, my Thursday Review every week – plus the odd blog hop/article/interview. And as for the fiction writing, attempt to write the three short stories linked to my Snowdon Shadows series. Perhaps I can dream of publishing one more novel – even if the first was a damp squid.

Is it wise to retire after one published opus?

Despite the brain fogs and jumbled thoughts, I still have urges to write – just not with any real hope of publishing anything else.

As I asked last month, is it time to just read and dream? (And become a ‘reviewer’.)

**

The awesome co-hosts for this July 3 posting of the IWSG are Nicki Elson, Juneta Key, Tamara Narayan, and Patricia Lynne!

Purpose of IWSG: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

Every month, we announce a question that members can answer in their IWSG post. These questions may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. Include your answer to the question in your IWSG post or let it inspire your post if you are struggling with something to say.

Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer – aim for a dozen new people each time – and return comments. This group is all about connecting! 

Let’s rock the neurotic writing world!

Our Twitter handle is @TheIWSG and hashtag is #IWSG

#IWSG – Spring Inspiration

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Another month and another IWSG post. Well, not just any month but the Blogging from A to Z Challenge month, so I managed to write 26 posts and got them scheduled on the correct days. But enough of that – I’ll post my reflections on the Challenge next week – this is an IWSG monthly past.

May 2 question – It’s spring!

Does this season inspire you to write more than others, or not?

Of course, Spring inspires me – to get outside and soak up the sunshine. And yes, Spring is here, and the little grey cells are sparking – despite the MS. Okay, I have my struggles with the misfiring nervous system, and my brain loses direction and thoughts. I forget what I am doing, my fingers hit too many wrong keys, and my body must sleep sporadically or suffer the painful body-wrenching attacks.

Officially, according to The Old Farmer’s Almanac, Spring arrived on March 20, 2018. That means that the Spring Equinox must have set all those A-to-Z posts in motion.

I’ve even used the last few days to devise a cunning plan. Did Baldrick help with that?

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The cunning plan: to write a review once a week of one of the books I’ve read and failed to review here. Those reviews will be scheduled for every Thursday.

However, I reserve the right to write other posts – if motivated.

What about the deviously cunning Fates Maelstrom plans? Not abandoned or shelved but extended.

I wrote draft one of Book 3 in the Snowdon Shadows series for NaNoWriMo last November. Then I started editing Fates Maelstrom in December, developing all the ideas needed for the final draft prior to beta-reading.

That has led to Goth Patrol, a short story about the main protagonist, policewoman Sparkle Anwyl and how she lost her first love and joined the CID. I’m starting on another short, Face Trash, her first case as a detective, fresh from police college. Call these stories ‘character research’.

Or should I publish those stories first?

That’s what Spring does for my devious brain – seeds seeking fertile soil.

[One problem: I need a friend to sit with and chat, face-to-face over a pint or a meal. I lost that when I moved four years ago.]

**

The awesome co-hosts for the May 2 posting of the IWSG are E.M.A. Timar, J. Q. Rose, C.Lee McKenzie, and Raimey Gallant!

Purpose of IWSG: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

Every month, we announce a question that members can answer in their IWSG post. These questions may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. Include your answer to the question in your IWSG post or let it inspire your post if you are struggling with something to say.

Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer – aim for a dozen new people each time – and return comments. This group is all about connecting! 

Let’s rock the neurotic writing world!

Our Twitter handle is @TheIWSG and hashtag is #IWSG

 

 

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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