The man in black cracks his knuckles before adjusting the light, focusing its beam on today’s hot seat occupant, Linda Hawley, author of the Prophecies series. Could the man in black a government operative set on learning about the inner-workings of GOG? Read on, and discover the answer for yourself! Join me and welcoming Linda, who has graciously agreed to be drug away from her family this Thanksgiving. JAZ) Linda, do you feel it’s important to focus on one genre or do you like to journey across boundaries?
LH)I think it’s important to stick to a genre if you want to make a living as a writer. Once an author develops a fan base, those readers will be loyal and buy other books you write in that same genre. If you change genre’s, you risk alienating the fan base you’ve already got. It’s also important to publish regularly in that genre, to keep feeding your fan base with new material.
JAZ) Lots of people enjoy well-crafted first sentences, others enjoy last sentences. Do you give any extra attention to either?
LH) It was my 12 year old daughter who taught me a lesson about the first sentence in a novel. I was with her in a library, and we were searching for some new books. I saw her looking at book after book rapidly, opening the cover. I asked her what she was doing. She replied that she was reading the first line of the first chapter; if it wasn’t any good, she wasn’t going to read the book. At the time, that was new behavior to me. After that, I made sure that every one of my books started off with something intriguing. As a matter of fact, I really work hard to make the first chapter of my books grabs the reader and won’t let them go. Similarly, I make sure my last sentence will make the reader want to buy the next book in my series.
JAZ) It is said writing is a courageous act. Have you ever written anything that has tested your intestinal fortitude?
LH) My series, The Prophecies, is original material that many book reviewers are saying, “I’ve never read anything like this before in my life.” It’s politically incorrect. It touches on many hot issues that writers steer clear of, for fear of controversy. (It’s still a ‘clean read.’) Writing this series took courage, and once you read it, you’ll know what I mean. The series has been rewarded with primarily five-stars, which is a testimony that original work is still well-received.
JAZ) Stephen King said he writes for a particular person, in his case his wife Tabitha; do you write for a particular reader?
LH) I write for the world–not for just an audience in the USA. I write so that people in the world will ask themselves, “Are you kidding? Is this really going on right now?” Once they ask themselves the question, I hope they will do one thing differently in their lives. Movement…change in another direction…is why I’m writing my series.
JAZ) Post a snippet or first chapter of any of your works. Brownie points for including the first and last sentences. LH) Here is the first chapter of Dreams Unleashed, book one of The Prophecies series (including the first sentence):
I hurried off the metro at the Union Station stop, looking around to see if anyone followed.
Okay so far, I silently encouraged myself.
After quickly negotiating the crowd, I approached the escalator. Taking the steps two by two, I tried to make my body move as smoothly as possible, so that I wouldn’t attract attention. I kept touching the moving handrail, trying to ground myself, though my heart was nearly beating out of my chest.
How could they have known?
After climbing halfway up the escalator, I was blocked by an elderly couple.
Move…move…move, please. I wanted to shout.
But they didn’t move.
Looking up to the turn-of-the-century arched ceiling far above me, I tried to relieve my anxiety. With a jerk, the escalator reached the top and dumped me out. I moved around the couple and began to walk as fast as I could, passing through the eighteenth century columns, walking evenly on the marble floor. The main hall was filled with people, all of them busy, seeming to move in every direction at once. I could smell the grease from the food court and felt bile rise up in my throat.
Focus on the light…focus on the light…you can make it. I coached myself.
I could see the exits under the three archways directly in front of me. Weaving through the masses, I tried to make my way to the doors. Reaching them, I passed under the centurion statues and pushed past a rush of people going the opposite direction. I collided with a man but pressed forward, still trying to get away.
After passing through the door, I looked behind me, half expecting to see pursuers. I ran across the loading and unloading lane and was nearly hit by an eager driver. Grateful to reach the brick walkway that surrounded the Christopher Columbus fountain, I stood behind it, breathing deeply. This would block me from the view of anyone in the station.
I had hastily gotten off the metro at Union Station, thinking that it would be easier to lose myself in the middle of D.C. than in Pentagon City, where the FBI had chased me. After meeting my contact there, we saw almost too late that we’d been shadowed. We then split up using the standard protocol.
Think quickly, I urged myself.
From behind the fountain, I carefully glanced to the entrance of the station, but my wrist was painfully grabbed from the other side by the crew-cut twenty-something I had bumped into earlier.
If he’s here—that means there’s more.
I whipped around and, with my free hand, shoved my Taser into his groin, delivering 2.7 million volts of resistance, while simultaneously yanking my other wrist away as hard as I could. Almost instantly, the man crumpled at my feet, and I sprinted away.
My mind raced. Where can I go? Panic gripped me, but I tried to think clearly. Kelly’s restaurant, I thought. It was only a couple of blocks away, and I could call from there.
Scrambling across Columbus Circle, I ran west on Massachusetts Avenue.
It should only take me a couple of minutes… F-street…it’s on F…I think. I knew Brian Kelly, the owner, and a couple of the waiters at Kelly’s Irish Times from my time as a journalist in D.C. If one of them was there getting ready to open for dinner, they would let me in.
When I saw a break in traffic, I ran across Massachusetts Avenue and glanced to my left to see if anyone was pursuing me.
After high-tailing it up F-street, I finally reached the green awning marking Kelly’s. I knocked on the door, slowing my breathing, and hoped there was someone there that I knew.
If I can just get inside, they’ll never think to look for me here with the restaurant closed.
I knocked for about fifteen seconds, seeming like an eternity, and then saw Brian approach the door wearing a stained white cook’s apron.
“You know we’re not open for another hour or…Ann, lass. It’s been a while now, hasn’t it? Come on in then,” he said eagerly, opening the door.
I stepped in and turned once more to see if I was followed. It looked safe.
Brian closed the door and reached down to hug me with his stocky frame. I could feel his bristly beard on my neck as he briefly squeezed me. He put his pudgy hands on both of my shoulders and peered down to me with his dark eyes.
“To what do I owe this pleasure?” he asked. His deep, smooth voice held a note of concern.
“I’m working on something that’s gotten a little tricky. Do you think I could use your bathroom and make a call?” I asked.
“Of course. You take all the time you need,” he said.
“Thank you,” I said gratefully.
“If you need anything, you come get me,” he said, patting my shoulder, then looking out the window before he locked the front door and walked back toward the kitchen.
I had known Brian for many years. While I was a reporter, he occasionally gave me insider tips on stories I was working on. I knew I could rely on his discretion. After making my way to the back of the restaurant, I pulled open the green wooden door of the women’s bathroom. The door looked like it had been painted one too many times.
Inside, every available space of the light brown bathroom walls bore plaques bearing Irish platitudes. I set my messenger bag in one of the two vintage sinks and plugged my used Taser into an outlet near the floor. Then I pulled my second Taser from the bag and put it in my coat pocket.
Standing there at the sink, looking at my reflection in the mirror, I prepared myself to make the call. I needed help.
I dialed and waited as the cell phone rang three times, “Hi…leave me a….”
I tried to consider my options. I could call the clandestine switchboard, but they might already have me flagged. That wouldn’t work.
I’m a fugitive now. They’re hunting me. They think of me as a weapon. Plus, I just Tasered crew-cut boy. I’m gonna have to go underground now, I thought grimly.
Reaching into the bag, I pulled out the Ziploc bag containing the last secure cell phone I had. I quickly assembled it, then pressed the timer of my watch.
I called the local phone number I had memorized.
“B40 for extraction, code red,” I said urgently upon hearing the beep.
I hung up and watched my timer. I had four minutes before I had to destroy the phone. I looked up and noticed one of the wall plaques, “May the bearer of the news be safe.”
No kidding, I thought ironically.
Thirty seconds later, the call came.
“Yes,” I answered.
“Code?” he asked.
“Cherry blossoms,” I replied, using the memorized code.
“D.C.” he confirmed. We’ve got your location. Seven minutes—we’re en route—back alley. Injuries?”
“Stay safe,” he said, crisp but cautious.
Hanging up, I looked at my watch to see how long the phone had been traceable.
Three minutes—maybe they didn’t locate me.
After pulling the phone apart, I stomped on it, then threw all the pieces in the sink, turning on the faucet. The soft sound of the running water would have been calming in any other situation.
I restarted my stopwatch. They’ll be here in seven minutes. Grabbing the pieces of the cell phone from the sink, I tossed them back into the Ziploc and threw the bag in the empty trashcan, covering it with some clean paper towels.
I have to stay here…they won’t be able to find me if I leave, since that was my last safe phone.
Pounding on the front door of the restaurant sent a buzz of adrenaline through me. They found me.
I quickly grabbed the recharging Taser from the wall and tossed it into my messenger bag, which I draped across my body, freeing my hands. Slowly opening the bathroom door, I slipped into the dark back hall. I could hear Brian’s deep, full voice from the next room.
“Can I help you?” he asked coldly.
“FBI,” said a male voice. “We’re looking for a woman that’s in this area, about 5’9″, Caucasian, mid-forties. Seen her?”
Brian didn’t hesitate. “We’re closed, haven’t opened for dinner yet.”
Silently thanking Brian, I moved down the narrow hall toward the battered, brown service door. Touching the button for light on my watch, I checked the time. Less than two minutes. I tried not to panic, though adrenaline was tingling through me in rushing bolts.
The conversation between them was so distant that I couldn’t hear it. Preparing myself to open the door, I pulled the second Taser from my pocket, looped the strap around my wrist, and instinctively pushed the button to turn it on. If anyone tried to grab it from me, the loop would pull out the arming pin, disabling it.
Turning the dented brass knob, I pushed open the back door slightly, peering out into the alley. My eyes fell upon an overflowing dumpster for a brief second, then the door was yanked open from the outside. I turned to run, but a crew-cut clone grabbed me by the hair. I twisted around and was able to jam the Taser into his exposed armpit, and he fell to the ground, convulsing with a heavy thud. As my hair was released, the SUV rounded the corner of the alley, and I ran for it, hoping I was running toward friends.
Linda, continued good luck with The Prophecies series and thanks for stopping by.