Somebody’s Hero (sequel to Naebody’s Hero) Excerpt

I’m currently hard at work on my fourth fiction novel, The man Who Sold His Son and will follow with a horror trilogy named dEaDINBURGH. after that the sequel to Naebody’s Hero is up. Here’s a cast list and a wee taster from Somebody’s Hero:
Copyright Mark Wilson 2013

Dramatis Personae:

Frank McCallum Jr (49 years old) – Former Royal Marine. MI5 agent, currently on loan to SvetlaTorrossian-Vasquez at the American National Security Unit (NSU).

Arif Ali (18 years old) – Former al-Qaeda recruit; currently of interest to British Intelligence.

Svetla Torrossian-Vasquez (45 years old) – Head of NSU, an American Intelligence agency which oversees all others.

Robert Hamilton (28 years old) – Hero.

Frank McCallum Sr (71 years old) – Retired Royal Marine Commando and British Intelligence legend. Born in 1930, joined Marines at 17 in 1947; joined MI5 at 21.

Mike O’Donnell (39 years old) – Joined the CIA at 25, joined Homeland Security at 30.

Kim Baker (57 years old) – Retired head of CTA. Rob’s Mentor.

Jack Foley (50 years old) – Head of CTA, Kim’s Successor in the position.

Chapter 1

Arif

The man was in his forties, wearing a suit, a nice pair of shoes and a small button on his lapel that said “Happy birthday, Daddy.” Arif couldn’t read the last three letters of ‘Daddy’ because the man’s suit had burned to the badge, obscuring the letters. Closing the man’s eyelids over his accusing eyes, Arif accidentally scraped some burnt flesh from the man’s face. His badly burned cheeks wobbled a little as Arif pulled his hands away.
Arif wiped tears from his face. He wasn’t crying, his eyes were reacting to the toxic fumes from the burning fuel. Scanning around, he saw body after body. Crushed, burned, maimed, decapitated, even bodies without a scratch on them, but dead all the same. Ruins of buildings and planes were almost indistinguishable. Fragile-looking and hideously twisted metal with splashes of American Airlines colour poked through and draped across rocks and bodies alike. The metal looked like Play-Doh. Arif never knew that metal could take such beautiful and horrific shapes.
He continued through the debris of masonry, and corpses, choking back his panic, forcing memories of blank eyed corpses from the pit away. It had been years since Rob Hamilton had saved him from the pits horrors but he could still see every detail, every face and twisted corpse when he closed his eyes. The horrors here and now were too much to bear as it was without conjuring up the decomposed face of his cousin Latif and all the other discarded people from that particular hell.
Arif heard a woman scream and ran at full sprint over dozens of burnt and crushed bodies to reach her. It was the first sign of life he’d come across. She was entirely engulfed in flame; like a living animal, clawing at her, savaging her, it consumed the desperate woman. Arif frantically searched around for something to use to put out the flames. There was only dust, rubble and death all around. He launched himself at her, taking her to the ground. Using his body to smother the flames he ignored the searing pain in the flesh of his chest, arms and hand and continued patting her until the last of the flames died. Turning her over, Arif found an eighteen year old face staring blankly at him. “Why do you hate us so much?” she asked him and then died in his arms.
Closing her eyes, Arif let his hands move gently to her shoulders, something in him didn’t want to let her go.
As his hands moved away, he saw that she had a new-born baby strapped to her chest in a harness and screamed. “I’m sorry.”

Arif jerked up from his bed and was on his feet and out of his bedroom door in seconds. Soaked in sweat he ran to the living room window and pulled back the curtains to scan the Battersea streets outside, verifying that his nightmare was just that. He heard his father come in behind him and felt the older man hook an arm around from behind to pull him close.
“Same dream again, son?” Azam asked.
Arif nodded.
It’d been six weeks since he’d helped prevent a massive terrorist attack by al-Qaeda on American soil, an attack that he’d been part of at every stage; until the final stages. He’d been home with his parents in London for two weeks and the dreams, the nightmares just kept coming to torment him. It didn’t seem to matter to his subconscious that he’d been a double-agent all along, that he had no intention of allowing his brothers to complete their mission; every time he closed his eyes to sleep he saw the buildings fall, the planes crash and the thousands upon thousands die. He could smell them burn, hear their screams and witness their disbelief. He could also see the accusation on their faces. You did this. It was torture, but maybe he’d earned it.
Azam turned his son to look in his eyes. “You stopped it son, you did the right thing…”
“Eventually.” Arif finished the sentence.
“Eventually or not, you saved lives in the end.” Azam gave his sons’ shoulder a little squeeze to reassure him.
“Yeah, I know, Abu.” Arif released himself from his fathers’ hold and stared back out the window.
“Have you spoken to Robert about your dreams, Arif?”
“Rob wouldn’t understand, Abu. He’s always so certain all of the time; I don’t think he ever doubts anything he does.”
“What about Kim, then? She’s been part of that world for almost her whole adult life.”
Arif nodded. “Yeah, maybe. Dad, I’m going for a walk, ok?”
“Ok, son. Bring some bread rolls home; I’ve some bacon in the fridge. Azam grinned at his son. They’d shared bacon rolls on a Sunday since Arif could chew. It was their thing and their one little rebellion.
“I will, Abu.”
“Son, you’ll get through this, you know.” Arif left without replying.

Arif left his childhood home, a little ground floor flat in Battersea, which still lacked a bath with running water and still had an ancient GLC oven next to the metal bathtub in the kitchen. The flat was small, cramped and hopelessly outdated, but it was the only place he and his parents had ever lived together and its’ smallness made him fell safe. Walking through Battersea Park, Arif passed a clump of bushes in which he and his childhood best friend, Billy McCall, had hidden in from a family of bullies. The memory made him smile, though it hadn’t seemed so funny at the time. Billy had left London to go to University up in Newcastle a few months before Arif had returned.
Arif had left Battersea to live in Pakistan with his cousin Latif when he was barely in his teens. After a short, happy few months, he’d been swept up in a series of horrific events which led him to meet Robert Hamilton and Baker and saw him recruited into al-Qaeda, then placed at the centre of the 911 plot. He was lucky to be alive and even luckier to have his soul intact after the horrors he’d been part of, mostly due to the presence of Rob Hamilton in his life.
Whilst most of the local community had been delighted to learn that Arif was alive and well, Billy, however, hadn’t been in touch despite Arif paying a visit to his parents’ home to ask after him. Billy’s mum had told Arif that she’d get her son to call him, but he hadn’t.
After an hour or so strolling around the park and people-watching, Arif took a seat on a faded green wooden bench and sighed heavily. He hated lying to his dad, but as much as he’d told his parents about his time away, he’d hidden twice as much from them. He’d never discussed Rob’s abilities, or Kim’s betrayal in using him to infiltrate al-Qaeda. Despite witnessing them first hand many times, half the time he wasn’t sure himself that Rob’s gifts were real. How do you describe a man who can fly, loft anything and never be harmed? Besides, Rob’s secrets weren’t his to tell to anyone.
He’d gotten over Kim’s manipulation and forgiven her for it. If he was being honest with himself, Arif knew at the time that he was being used and was more than happy to go along with it for the possibility of finding the man who’d massacred his family in Pakistan in an attempt to recruit Arif. Sitting watching the people and the world pass him by Arif felt like an old man inside, rather than the eighteen year old he was. The days when he and Billy ran and played and fought with the Sullivans in this park seemed so long ago.
His father had always told him that he had wise eyes. Even as a new-born I saw an old, wise man looking at me.” Azam had told him many times. Old, he could agree with, but wise? Not even close. The choices Arif had made, even the good ones, weighed so heavily on them that they threatened to crush him like one of the victims of his nightmares. He had to do something.
Arif had lied to his dad, when he’d asked about speaking to Kim. Arif had spoken to Kim on the phone many times in the few weeks since he’d returned to London. She did understand how he felt, better than anyone; and she knew how to help him do what he had to do. The decision had been made and all that remained was to tell his parents that he’d be leaving them once again and putting himself in harm’s way. This time, for the right cause, he hoped.

Chapter 2

Frank Jr

Frank left the sparsely furnished office and Svetla Torrossian-Vasquez behind as he passed through the heavy, oak double doors into the vast apartment beyond. Svetla’s headquarters took up the entire top floor of the Empire State Building and the immediate ten floors beneath. Those floors, unlike the one he was on at present, were mostly offices and storage. This floor, however, Svetla’s floor, was pure luxury.
Roman level luxury. Huge chez lounge, chairs, deep bathtubs, pristine kitchens, servants scurrying around and in and out of the rooms. Every wall was held original works of art by Michaelangelo, Botticelli, Da Vinci and a hundred other masters. Aged-looking vases, jewels and holy relics were displayed in opulent cases and racks around the vast rooms of the apartment. Glass cases and racks of weapons, both modern and ancient stood proudly in rows along the floor. Futuristic technology was everywhere, striking a stark contrast side by side with the array of historical items.
The apartment was an almost perfect physical representation of Svetla Torrssian-Vasques. It screamed look how powerful I am. Look how beautiful I am. Look how deadly I am. Frank noted every detail and laughed at how typically American the ostentatious luxury was. He hadn’t expected that of a woman like Svetla, but despite her European name and heritage, she was disappointingly American in her attitude after all. Change my suit? Okay then, but you won’t like what I choose, Boss.

Frank rode the…..floors down to ground level, fidgeting with the large manila envelope that Svetla had given him, and exited the building onto ….street. Lighting a menthol chesterfield, he made his way on foot back to the little apartment he’d been assigned on the upper West side. Frank hated New York, but the assignment to Svetla’s organisation had been just too tempting to refuse, despite several important things that he’d almost stayed in Britain for. The National Security Unit was the Intelligence agency established to rule all others. Homelands Security, CIA, CTA, all of them fed through and exited at the pleasure of the NSU. Svetla Torrossian-Vasquez oversaw the whole lot of it. In all honesty, after years of unchallenging off-the-books Ops with MI5, Frank had become bored with the predictability of British Intelligence and had jumped at the chance to take the secondment to the NSU.

End of Excerpt

Somebody’s Hero, the sequel to Naebody’s Hero will be published in late 2014 by Paddy’s Daddy Publishing.

Naebody’s Hero is FREE until October 5th and available now from Amazon UK and US

20131003-154854.jpg

Somebody’s Hero – Writing process and Cast List

I began work on the follow-up to Naebody’s Hero a few weeks ago.

Having now completed the planning and research phase of the new book, Somebody’s Hero, I’m moving into the writing phase. This normally lasts around 90 days for me. 90 days of writing when everyone’s asleep, during spare moments on the train, in coffee shops, during my lunch break or in the early hours.

I’ve learned to be very productive in very little time (1000 words a day is my target. I never fall below this and frequently exceed it) and to write by instinct. There’s always time to rewrite later.

I’m not the sort of writer who plans out every chapter. I have a beginning, middle and end (sort of) in mind and I take the book a chapter at a time and see where the characters go. This is the only way that I can write and helps put an unpredictability into the story as I don’t know what’s going to happen until it does.

Plenty of writers have much more detailed plans for writing their novels, using percentages and mechanisms etc, but this is the most natural way for me to write.

Here’s to 90 days of torment and fun.

Here’s an early cast list from Somebody’s Hero:

Somebody’s Hero (SH)

Dramatis Personae:

Frank McCallum Jr – Born in 1952, joined the Marines at 18 and MI5 at 21. Currently on loan to SvetlaTorrossian-Vasquez, at the American National Security Unit (NSU). In SH Frank Jr is 49 years old.

Arif Ali – Former al-Qaeda recruit, current British Intelligence asset. Born in 1983; In SH Arif is 18 years old.

Svetla Torrossian-Vasquez
– Head of NSU, an American Intelligence agency which oversees all others. In SH, Svetla is 49 years old.

Robert Hamilton – Hero. Born in 1973. In SH Rob is 28.

Frank McCallum Sr – Retired Marine and British Intelligence legend. Born in 1930, joined Marines at 17 in 1947, joined MI5 at 20. In SH Frank is 71.

Mike O’Donnell
– Born 1962, Joined the CIA at 25, joined Homeland Security at 30. In SH Mike is 39 years old.

Kim Baker – Retired head of CTA. Born 1944; In SH Kim is 57 years old.

Jack Foley – Head of CTA, Kim’s Successor in the position. In SH, Foley is 50 years old.

Naebody’s Hero is on special offer at 77p in the UK and 99c in the US until the end of April 2013.

20130322-113130.jpg

A Scotsman, An English Muslim and an American Counter-terrorist Agent walk into a bar….

At first glance my cast list looks like the setup to a bad (and potentially racist joke), but that’s what happens when you set out to write a novel featuring a gifted Scotsman, a disillusioned Englishman, who becomes a prized asset of al-Qaeda and a revenge-obsessed mother who happens to be America’s most lethal terrorist-hunter.

The original idea for Naebody’s Hero came in the middle of the night as I lay happily in a wee farmhouse in a valley in the mountains of Barga, Italy. I got half-dreaming about a damaged wee foster kid, yet to be named, who had Superman’s powers. Not actually Superman, but real powers just like his, here in the real world in the possession of a very damaged but very likeable wee guy from a mining town in North Lanarkshire. What would a person with those abilities think? Easy, they’d think that they were insane.

I’d been caught out in the past, drifting off to sleep, thinking that I’d remember these type of ideas in the morning, so I got out of bed and typed down a rough outline of the book for an hour. I entertained all manner of ideas that night and typed them down, almost none of which appeared in the final book, then forgot about it for eighteen months.

During that time I wrote my debut novel, Bobby’s Boy and published a short story collection as Paddy’s Daddy. Writing these two projects gave me the skills and confidence to tackle a book like Naebody’s Hero.

The book evolved into a global thriller. My little Bellshill lad had to leave his hometown and become a part of a larger would. Pakistan, Afghanistan, France, America and many other nations became his stomping ground and home for a short time.

He also needed two other main characters to travel on parallel paths which would ultimately converge and diverge with and from each other. I gave him Arif Ali, my favourite character in the book. Sick of the stereotypical Jihadist-type of Muslim that we are presented with endlessly in print and on screen, I wanted to show another side to a Muslim character. With the pressure of his dual-nationality, his courage, basic human decency and humour, Arif is the ultimate hero of the novel but most readers will give Rob that role. I also gave him, Kim Baker. Kim’s a bad-as. Kim’s the female lead character I always wanted to see in a novel; disciplined, in charge, deadly, grief-stricken, kind, cruel and above all complex.

The three collide and carry along on their shoulders the very best book that I could write fort you…to date.

Naebody’s Hero is free on Kindle from Tuesday 29th January until Saturday 2nd February. Click on the links below to download your copy.

UK:
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Naebodys-Hero-ebook/dp/B00B54EGPA/ref=pd_sim_kinc_1

US:
http://www.amazon.com/Naebodys-Hero-ebook/dp/B00B54EGPA/ref=ntt_at_ep_dpt_2

20130129-122738.jpg

Haggis Cures Depression?

It’s felt like depression’s reared its ugly head once more this last couple Of weeks. Wanting to cry, knackered all the time and feeling like nothing’s being accomplished. Futility with no exit.

On this occasion, though it’s just the all consuming, in a bubble, exhaustion of having a newborn at home.

Add in work being particularly hard at the moment and publishing a book this week, and you have a perfect storm of fatigue that makes you nod off mid-conversation.

Being a new parent again is not unlike deepest depression but one big gummy smile lifts your heart more than a good dose of citalopram ever could.

Tonight a wee haggis, neeps and tatties dinner on Burn’s Night made me feel very happy, warm and happy with my lot in life.

Happy Burns Night.

you can buy my new novel Naebody’s Hero here

20130125-195356.jpg