Thursday, 8 June 2017

The Extraordinarily Elusive Julia Kite

The Great Hunt

Sometimes, when the mood takes me, I enjoy hunting in the expansive grounds of Castle Holbrook.  Do not think however, that by suggesting that I love a good hunt, that I would cause harm on animals.  Of course not, I am not a complete monster.  No, normally I like to take a ‘volunteer’ from the nearby village of Nether Stinkhole to join in the fun.

I would always give them a sporting head start, before setting off into the woods, which cover the east side of the valley, armed with whatever tool I deemed suitable that day; sometimes it was a crossbow, sometimes a blow dart, on certain special occasions I launch myself into the trees armed with nothing more than my bare hands and a wicked eye.

On the morning in question, where I happened to meet the most beguiling Julia Kite, it was a cold damp day; there was a nip in the air which would steal your breath away and which, of course, would feel most uncomfortable were I dressed in my normal hunting gear of either a camouflaged loin cloth, or, on some occasions, entirely ‘au naturel’.  I had decided that the chill on the breeze would not be entirely either beneficial or complimentary to my bodily extremities.

And so, on this morning I had decided not to venture out, but instead to conduct my hunt within the many dark and forbidding corridors of The Castle of Despair.  My quarry for the day was also not ‘chosen’ from the local village.  My butler, Manson, had carelessly forgotten the precise required temperature of my coffee that morning and so, by way of recompense, had donned the obligatory rabbit costume and hurried off into the maze that made up my home, praying that the hunt this morning was short and only briefly painful.

The central heating was on throughout the castle and so it was a loin cloth day, although I did wear my most favourite Pith Helmet.  Armed with only a cricket bat I stalked the halls and corridors of my domain.  What a fine figure I must have been to any outside observer!

I was beginning to feel frustrated however.  Manson was proving to be better at hide and seek Han I had envisaged and had not turned up at all in any of the normal places, where I myself would have hidden.  I had just begun to wonder if I should ring one of the bells which I normally use to get his attention, to see if he would come running to me, when I heard a noise coming from the library.  The fool, there was no safe place to hide in there! I would make him suffer for his insolence!

I stormed down the corridor, all thought of creeping up on my prey forgotten now; Manson would not forget his meeting with the cricket bat today!  I threw open the door.

“You imbecile, Manson!”  I cried.  “Come over here and assume the position.  It’s cricket time!”

It was not my errant butler that I saw, however, not him at all.

“Hello.”  Came a voice from the top of the wooden ladder.  There, balancing carefully on the uppermost rung, was a young woman; book in hand and smile on face.  ‘You have a lovely library. Do you mind if I borrow a couple of books?”

“What?!.. How?!”   I was dumbfounded.  She did not seem perturbed that she happened to be trespassing in The Guardian’s second scariest house in Britain 2016.  Nor was she particularly scared by the fact that she was being confronted by the owner of said scary house, who was wearing nothing but a loin cloth and a Pith Helmet, and was wielding a cricket bat.

“Get down at once!”  I managed to blurt out.  “Explain yourself this instant!”

Our conversation, as all conversations within the castle are, is recorded as follows;

   Good Lord, what are you doing in my castle?  Can't you see I'm hunting?  Who are you?  What’s going on?

I was hoping you could tell me that yourself. I’ve been inhabiting fiction for so long that I’m not entirely sure.This is a bit embarrassingly, really: I never get lost. I have an uncanny ability to always know which way is north. Hell, I once got bored and wrote out all the London Tube station names connected to each other sort of crossword style. My day job is in transportation and if I can’t get from point A to point B in a relatively straightforward fashion then we have a bit of a problem. There are a few things I’m relatively sure of right now: I need a haircut. I need to buy more parrot food. I need to be able to quit renting at some point in my adult life. But for everything else, I’m willing to hear your suggestions.

Of course, if you want to believe I’m sipping coffee and watching Law & Order reruns in a hoodie while my parrot styles my hair, I’m entirely powerless to stop you doing that, and I won’t be terribly offended. Really.

Written a book?  What’s it all about then?  Can you sum it up in 50 words?  How about 10?  And then 5?

I have, actually. A novel. A decent one, if I may be so bold. The Hope and Anchor is a story about love and loss, but not only in the obvious sense of the wordsIn addition to the disappearance of a beloved person, it revolves around coming to terms with how your life isn’t going to turn out the way you had always planned, and the need to put old dreams, as lovely as they may have once been, to rest. Despite best-laid plans, our characters keep being drawn back into pasts they thought they’d put behind them, but history ends up being stronger than all their wills. At the center is a woman from whom nobody ever expected much, but her imprint is all over one corner of West London. Our protagonist, the over-educated and under-employed Neely Sharpe, has to get a grip, get a clue, and come to terms with how little she knows about life, love, and London to figure out what happened to her girlfriend and why.

50 words? OK, here we go: Local woman vanishes,throwing her girlfriend into spiral of self-doubt and bad decisions. Girlfriend discovers she didn’t know as much as she thought as she goes through London’s less glamorous enclaves piecing together what remains of a life. She might find answers if she abandons all her illusions. It’s tough.

10: Frustrated overachiever’s vulnerable girlfriend disappears in West London; worlds collide.

5: Please refer to up above.

    This book of yours, if it was an animal what would it be?  Could it be tamed, or would it. Need to be kept in a cage and only let out under close supervision?

I realise I’m not doing much to sell it with this, but…a pigeon. A feral pigeon, preferably one with all its toesintact. It sees everything. It’s watching you. It knows what you dropped down the streets, and it pecked at it.One tough dove.

    We’re going out for dinner.  Do you have anywhere special in mind?  Are you a lover of dessert or are you more of a savoury type?  Also, would you be prepared to cause a massive distraction so that we could avoid the bill?

First of all, I need to clarify one thing: I live in America. We turn everything into food. Pasteurised processed cheese product is A Thing. Potted meat food productis A Thing. It includes something called “Partially Defatted Pork Fatty Tissue,” which, contrary to all logic, is also A Thing. Frozen deep-fried Twinkies are not a joke – they’re in the freezer case. I Instagrammed them and got the glowing blue hue of the boxes just perfect.There’s this thing called a Twizzlers key lime pie twist, nothing to do with a turkey twizzler – it’s a green fruity liquorice rope and the centre is filled with stuff that tastes vaguely of a sweet pie crust. 

Unsurprisingly, it was made in honour of the state of Florida. Now you understand why whenever I’m back in England I hit the supermarket and go wild. My case comes back to New York stuffed with healthier things, like Walkers and Pot Noodle. Now, I know my book is fiction, and I insist it’s not autobiographical, BUT there’s one scene where I have a character wax rhapsodic about Pot Noodle and I swear that is 100% my real life. I’m not even ashamed.

    Poetry – Is it all just mindless brain waffle or does it have a place in the world?  If so give me a four line verse of your own creation which sums up your day so far.

Oh, it definitely has a place: up on placards on the train where I can read it during my commute to avoid making eye contact after my phone has died. Here’s my bit:

I worked on a bank holiday
Then the weather put the boot in
But I picked my bad self up
And had a lunch of fine braised gluten

(Yes, it’s true, there are still middle-class New York City women who eat gluten. Me and maybe three others.)

    Your book is called ‘The Hope and Anchor’.  If you owned a London pub what would it be called?  Would it be a lovely welcoming place or a sticky-carpeted hell hole?

It would be called the Death and Taxes, so that it’s always relevant. There would be Pot Noodle behind the bar. I’ve been on a few quiz shows, so I’d have to have a pub quiz: if you beat me, I have to bake for you, whether you want cake or not. (You know you want cake.)

    It’s the End of the world as we know it, and I feel fine.  How about you?  If the Trumpinator wakes up grumpy one morning and declares World War 3, what would you like to do in your last few hours?

Pro tip: The New York City subway will survive apocalypse. Sure, it’s falling apart as we speak, when it rains outside it rains inside too – but in its deepest recesses are places not even nuclear fallout dares to tread. That’s where I’m heading. In my book, our intrepid protagonist has a rough trip down the London sewers – that’s my second choice.

    I believe we are ethereal beings.  Our souls and essences able to leave our bodies.  This may be codswallop though.  However, if you could float free of your physical self and inhabit the body of another for a weekend who would it be?  What shenanigans would you get up to?

Ooh, this is a tough one. I think I might like to be a cop for a few days but I’d probably end up seeing things I wouldn’t be able to un-see back in my normal state. Either accidentally or intentionally, I’d probably cause the early stages of societal collapse. Or maybe a circus performer, solely to know what it’s like to be able to achieve physical feats that would kill regular me in one attempt, and which would inspire utter awe on a daily basis.

That, or I’d turn into the aforementioned pigeon so that I could fly to the top of the Empire State Building and not have the pay the admissions charge.

    Aliens have arrived on our planet (although some would say that they’ve been here for years), at first they came in peace, offering to be our friends and share their extraterrestrial knowledge with us.  However it soon turned out that they were malevolent reptiles, intent on enslaving and eating us.

What part would you want to play in the resistance?  Would you be a brave and reckless freedom fighter?  A wise leader?  Or would you sell out the human race in exchange for eternal life and wealth.

Oh dear. I could probably get away with something rather cowardly during a crisis because the people in charge would need me around to rebuild society afterward. I’d be in charge of maintaining all the archives, rebuilding the cities (I have an urban planning background), and generally helping to establish civilization 2.0. Yeah, I’ll be hiding down in the subway tunnels – come fetch me when the fighting’s done.

    Where in the World Wide Web can I find you?  Do you tweet? Insta? Blog?  Anywhere else I can find your lovely words?

I’m smudged all over the damn place. For professional greets, For pithy tweets, @juliakite. For longer feats, For all the pledge deets,

We were suddenly interrupted by a whining sound, which came from the direction of the window.  I looked at Julia.  Julia looked at me; we were both baffled.

“Do excuse me a moment.”  I said, standing slowly and retrieving my cricket bat from the table.  The whining continued; it was a sound that I had heard only once before, when I had once found a rabbit caught in one of the fences at the back of the castle.  Poor little rabbit; its frightened eyes widened and the whining grew louder as I wrestled it free from the chicken wire.

As I neared the curtains, the whining became more shrill.  I raised the bat above my head, as I reached for the deep velvet cloth.  I snatched back the curtain, to reveal Manson; his wide eyes, like a rabbit’s.

“Sir,” he muttered, “Please do not hit me, I am desperate for the toilet.  If you strike me I may have an accident.”

I had not wish to create a mess, not in front of visitors.  I waved him away, with a promise that he would receive his beating later, once he had relieved himself.

“I’m so sorry for that.”  I said, turning towards Julia once more.  She was not there however, she had taken her leave most silently.  I promised myself that I would support her very lovely book on the Unbound site, and looked forward to her visiting once more in the future.

I would encourage you to visit Unbound and support her too, do it now, before I invite you to the castle to join me in a hunt.

If you have enjoyed this blog interview, and the others which I am publishing on a weekly basis, then please visit my own Unbound page where my own book Domini Mortum, A Victorian Mystery novel is in much need of love, attention, and most importantly pledges.

If you wish to be a guest yourself at the 'Castle of Despair' for your very own author interview, then please email me at whereupon I will devise a visit of the most exquisite torture especially for you.

Thank you.


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