Oh, Caroline, no!

I’ve just uploaded a new file for GHOST IN THE MACHINE to Amazon, mainly to try and convert some of the colossal downloads I’ve had into sales of the sequels, and to standardise the format.  Part of me is tempted to give it another draft – my style moved on quite a lot in DEVIL IN THE DETAIL – but I’m conscious of too much revisionism.  I wrote the first two books in Word and then moved to Scrivener – Word produces pretty poor eBook files, well actually it doesn’t produce any.  Scrivener outputs them directly and they look really pro.

Anyway, one thing that I couldn’t help was restoring the original intro from way back in 2009.  Actually, I may have written in December 2007.  Looking back at it, I’m not sure why I removed it.  I lost a lot of the book between the third and fourth drafts, so it must have been around about then.  Shame, it reads pretty well to me and gives a bit more to Caroline’s character which maybe makes her subsequent disappearance more poignant.  Quite a lot of pop culture references in there – that soundtrack is amazing, by the way, check it out on Spotify or something because it’s got so many good tunes on it.

Rather than you lot having to scour Amazon for it, here it is –

Caroline Adamson tugged the brush through her hair, her nerves jangling.  She stared at her face in the mirror, frowned at her hair.  She still had no idea what to do with it.

So much rested on tonight.

She took another sip from the glass of white wine on the dresser.  The CD switched track, and Caroline started swaying to the opening bars of the next track.  She pouted in time with the hi-hat, and tugged the brush ever harder, desperately trying to get her hair perfect.

“Make him magnificent,” she sang, out of time and out of tune.

She laughed to herself at the lyric; so much hope placed in such a throwaway line, but every word resonated.

She had bought the CD – the Trainspotting soundtrack – two days after her eighteenth birthday.  This was easily her favourite track, the Sleeper version of Blondie’s Atomic.  She thought back to herself at eighteen, going through the same ritual to the same songs before going out; brushing her hair, singing along.  In those days, of course, she didn’t have to hope it was true; at that time, she still thought that Rob was magnificent.  She grimaced at the thought, reflected on how little had outwardly changed in her – she was still reasonably thin, hadn’t aged noticeably, hadn’t put on weight after having Jack.

The divorce, though, had added rings around her eyes that she couldn’t get rid of.

She caught herself in the mirror from an unusual angle – her hair would do.

Tonight, though, she hoped against hope that Martin would be magnificent.

Her mobile, a cheap Samsung clamshell, lit up on the dresser and chirruped – a new text message.  Amy telling that Jack was safe asleep.  She picked up her land line and called Amy.

“How’s he doing?” asked Caroline, before Amy could even answer the call.

“He’s fine, Caz, he’s fine,” said Amy, amusement in her voice.  “Out like a light.  Not even you ringing four times in the last hour could wake him.”

“I worry about him, that’s all.”

“Don’t!” said Amy.  “He’s in good hands.”

“Fine.  Okay.  But let me know if he’s up in the night.”

“Caroline, stop thinking about Jack for one minute, okay?” said Amy.  “Think about yourself.  You’ve got a date with this secret man, try and concentrate on that, alright?”

“I suppose you’re right.”

“You know I am.  Now get yourself ready and get gone, okay?”

“Okay.”

She sighed, and put the phone down.

She moved away from the dressing table and sat down on the bed, waking the sleeping MacBook up.  She logged into Schoolbook, and read through the last few messages that Martin had sent: sorting out arrangements for tonight; confirmation of her confirmation; a message about some film he’d just seen, Code 46; a reply she’d sent about the book she was reading, a crumpled copy of On Beauty that had languished in her handbag, still unfinished despite months of chipping away at it on the bus home from work.

The CD switched track again.  Caroline started humming along.  New Order, Temptation.

She flicked back to her home page.  She had a message from Steve Allen, one of her oldest friends, going back to school.  He wished her luck for tonight.  She didn’t reply.

She went into Martin’s profile, looked at the baby blue eyes in the photograph, the wide smile, the perfect teeth.  The only messages on his Profile were hers; Caroline wondered if she would look like some mad stalker woman.  She took another sip of wine.  She saw her grinning face in Martin’s friends list, and clicked through to her own profile.

It always sent a shiver down her spine that he was one of the few of her friends displayed; her ex-husband Rob Adamson.  Steve had explained to her that it was to do with them both being in the Edinburgh group, and that was how it prioritised friends.  Steve was in the Glasgow group and wasn’t even shown on her profile – she even had to click through to the main list to see Steve holding a pint of lager with a Celtic shirt on.  She was tempted to delete Rob from her friends there and then.  She should never have accepted the invite in the first place, but she had been trying to rise above it all, at the time, trying to be friends for Jack’s sake.

Martin’s face was adjacent to Rob’s, another member of the Edinburgh network.  It was where they’d met, if you could call it meeting.  Caroline had been on a Schoolbook message forum she regularly frequented, discussing the best film as voted by the group – Martin had said Pulp Fiction, she’d said Trainspotting, though could just as easily have said Pulp Fiction; the vote went to Anchorman, something neither had even seen.  They’d shared some conversations on the forum about their choices, and then Martin had sent her a private message…

She started singing again.  “Oh, you’ve got green eyes, oh, you’ve got blue eyes, oh, you’ve got grey eyes.”

She looked back at the message chain between her and Martin, stretching back almost two months, the flirtatious subtext getting ever stronger as the chain kept on towards the seeming inevitability of their meeting.  She’d not felt that level of connection with anyone for a long time.  It was like he was in her head.

Caroline tried to read between the lines, tried to work out if he would be magnificent.

God, did she need him to be.

 

… it then goes into the previous intro – her sitting in the bar.

If I can find the time, a revised file of DEVIL IN THE DETAIL will wing its way out soon.  Oh, and the paperback of FIRE IN THE BLOOD should be out tomorrow…

— Ed


GHOST IN THE MACHINE (Scott Cullen book one) is FREE –

UK Kindle – http://amzn.to/Ih2ros

US Kindle – http://amzn.to/IzknfQ


 

Author: edjamesauthor

East Lothian-based writer of crime fiction novels. Published by Amazon Publishing's Thomas & Mercer imprint and self-published on Kindle.

2 thoughts

  1. Just finished your first novel and I would like to say please don’t change it. The only thing that made me overlook it initially was the cover. I thought it looked a bit like a video game manuel. The reviews (and price) was right and after reading the first novel I am on my way to purchase the next two. Awesome book.

    1. Hey Tracie Ann –

      Just doing some reformatting more than anything. Think of it as a digital remaster of a classic LP (not that my book is classic)… My style had moved on a LOT in DEVIL IN THE DETAIL and it’s quite inconsistent. I’ve just been tightening up the sentence structure –

      Before –

      “As I expected,” said McNeill. “The only thing I got out of it was a form to claim back half a tank of petrol.”
      “Keep an eye on your expenses, you’re not an MP,” said Bain. “Anything to nail Rob Thomson with?”
      “Were you expecting anything?”
      “Not really,” he said, with a grunt.
      “Have you got anything to charge him with yet?” asked McNeill.
      “Not yet.”
      “What’s been happening here?”

      After –

      “As I expected,” said McNeill. “The only thing I got out of it was a form to claim back half a tank of petrol.”
      “Keep an eye on your expenses, you’re not an MP,” said Bain. “Anything to nail Rob Thomson with?”
      “Were you expecting anything?” asked McNeill.
      “Not really,” said Bain, with a grunt.
      “Have you got anything to charge him with yet?” asked McNeill.
      Bain looked away. “Not yet,” he said.
      “What’s been happening here?” asked Cullen.

      Minor edits.

      Glad you enjoyed it and I hope you enjoy the next two. Book four not long…

      — Ed

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