I’m still a little giddy after having gotten the initial reaction to Finch from my editor, Victoria Blake, earlier this week. She really really likes it–“remarkable”–and her initial notes for revision are spot-on and extremely insightful, so I feel blessed to be in great hands. There’s no better feeling than knowing you have a partner on a book–and an editor is a partner–who you can trust and who will help you make your book reach its full potential.
Here’s a brief description of the novel: A noir-thriller and visionary fantasy set in the failed state of Ambergris. The gray caps, mysterious underground inhabitants, have re-conquered the city and put the human inhabitants in camps. Remnants of the Resistance are scattered, most resigned, after six years, to a diminished, subservient life. Against this backdrop, detective John Finch and his partner Wyte must solve an impossible double murder. Trapped by his job and the city, Finch is about to come face to face with a series of mysteries that will change him and Ambergris forever.
In celebration, find below a little teaser excerpt, out of context. It’s not the final version, as I’ll be getting Victoria’s full list of line edits and structural edits in a couple of days. It contains no real spoilers, either. But it does give you a taste.
Tracking down Bliss took three tries. Wyte had an address for a townhouse Bliss sometimes used for meetings, in an old Hoegbotton stronghold southeast of Albumuth. Could still see the faded chalk marks that groups of irregulars had used to communicate. Gray cap passed by here Tuesday…Food and ammo in the second house on the left…Stay clear of this intersection after dark.
Found the house on a street that had once been part of a wealthy district. Trees lined the sidewalk, but not a leaf on them. Gravel where grass had been. Silence all around. The houses to either side derelict husks. A burned corpse with no arms right on the steps. Which shouldâ€™ve told them Bliss wasnâ€™t there. Flies had settled on the torn-up face like a congregation. A slender whiteness had begun to push up through the black. Stalks of fruiting bodies. Rising. Another twenty hours, nothing would be left.
â€œNothing inside,â€ Finch said, coming back out.
â€œLetâ€™s visit Stanton,â€ Wyte said.
Stanton, one of Wyteâ€™s druggie snitches, lived a few blocks down. Wyte always kept a few extra purple mushrooms in his overcoat pockets. Stanton, in a kind of makeshift robe, clung to Wyte like Wyte was the drug, or a plank of wood in an endless sea. Behind him, a tarp draped over a soot-gray alley mouth. A little bundle of Stanton’s possessions to one side. A crumbling brick he used to protect himself at night.
Before the Rising, Stanton had been a banker. Or, at least, thatâ€™s what heâ€™d told Wyte. Heâ€™d probably been an addict then, too.
â€œWhereâ€™d Bliss go,â€ Wyte asked Stanton.
The thirty-year-old Stanton lifted his gaunt, balding head. Red-eyed, wrinkled face. Said, â€œDown by the abandoned train station. Four streets over. Corner of Sporn and Trillian. He was just there yesterday.â€
Wyte put three purple mushrooms in Stantonâ€™s hand. Stanton received them like they were worth more than one dayâ€™s relief. The huge red mushrooms that dispensed the drugs stuck to a strict schedule. Monday and Friday. Stanton had already gone through what heâ€™d gathered the day before. Finch didnâ€™t think heâ€™d last another month.
When they left Stanton, he was trembling under his pathetic shelter. Eyes wide open and dilated. Gone someplace better. Someplace temporary.
At the train station, they didnâ€™t find Bliss. But way in the back, under the shadowed arches, populated by pigeons and bats alike, they found a gambling pit. Almost a grotto, for all the fungus surrounding it. Fuzzy clumps of muted gold and green that hid the entrance. Cock fighting. Card games. Betting black market goods.
Not much of a conversation. Wyte stuck his gun up against the lookoutâ€™s cheek. Convinced her it would be better just to lead them in The hardened men and women they surprisedâ€”the ones lantern-lit and reaching for knives or gunsâ€”they thought better of it, too. But had a hard time restraining the roosters. One fire-red, the other a muted orange. Razor talons moving like pistons.
A heavily muscled man in his twenties who had done some piecework for Bliss gave him up. Quick. Called Bliss a slang word for foreign. Even though he looked foreign himself. Seemed to dare any of the others to argue with him about that decision. They didnâ€™t.
Wyte and Finch receded into the gloom. Shoved the look-out inside. Barricaded the door from the outside with a couple of heavy rusted barrels. Hoped there wasnâ€™t a second entrance. Knew there always was. Got the hell out of there before anyone could start thinking about an ambush.
â€œFuck, but I hate this job!â€ Wyte exclaimed as their boots kicked up water pooling between rows of bolted-down chairs alongside the abandoned track.
Said he hated it, but looked happier than at the station.