• Vol. 02
  • Chapter 08
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Increasingly Foster had found it hard to get going with his writing.
The images and sentences wouldn’t come together neatly, instead they formed a sticky mess of storylines half followed, of sub plots interweaving, of throw away sentences that confused the characters. He deleted the sixth attempt at his latest book, emptying the trashcan icon with a hot surge of rage.
He was a planner, normally, attacking each novel with post it notes and plans, diagrams of emotional arcs and climax points, a curious outcome for each character. A quest and mission for each one too. Nothing could be completed without a plan.
But his latest work had been a snake and ladder affair. Plot holes and tumbles, rising tension on the way to nowhere.
His agent was calling daily. She wanted a deadline. She needed a title.
“What’s the pitch Foster? Don’t let me down.”
But Foster was not sure of anything any more. Dry ideas came and went and couldn’t be committed to. His head was a patchwork of colours and voices, scenarios that were unbelievable, protagonists without passion, chapters that led to dead ends. Repetitive titles. Lack luster twists.
When had it all become so challenging?
Foster knew that Hadley had something to do with it. She had only been an over enthusiastic fan before, someone who he could teach things to, someone he could depend upon for praise. She had struggled to get an agent. Had always lacked confidence. And now her name was everywhere. On posters in the tube, on the front of literary reviews, in the weekend papers, interviewed on Radio 4, trending on Twitter. Hadley whose work he’d appraised and critiqued time and time again.
He wasn’t ready for her success. All the secrets and tips and suggestions he’d made to her on her first, second, third drafts had come back to haunt him. The sales from her debut novel dwarfed his entire career’s. That had never been his intention.



Years of mediocre sales and dependable historical crime fiction used to bring him satisfaction. A job he was proud of. A modest flat in Balham. The occasional talk at regional book fairs. But glory had never been forthcoming, he was his agent’s bread and butter writer. Nothing special. Predictable, formulaic and standardized. “Just give them what they want.”
But what about what he wanted? A flash of media attention? A film deal? A bit of jam on the bread. Some flavour, some fruit. Some juice. He typed more letters onto a new page. Angrily, flicking the keys.

A title would be a good place to start.

The End, he wrote. And snapped the lid of his laptop shut.