As you will have noticed, recently I’ve been talking to you a bit (well, a lot) about my new novel. And I thought it was time to tell you a bit about my projects instead.
A couple of years ago (give or take) I wrote the first in what I planned to be a Young Adult series (at least a trilogy). Angelic Business. I decided to call the first novel Pink Matters. I spent some time trying to find an agent, with very little result (yes we like it but not enough, no, we don’t like it), and as a result of the research I did at the time I discovered the option of self-publishing, and as life is too short, I decided to give it a go. Instead of publishing that novel, I went for one I’d been working on for a long time an had also translated in Spanish and English (The Man Who Never Was). I carried on publishing other stories but never abandoned the thought of the series, to the point where a few months ago I wrote the second novel (Shapes of Greg).
Thinking about the third novel and looking for angelic inspiration, it occurred to me to create a board in Pinterest on the subject and of course I found many pins. I also realised cemeteries have plenty of sculpture of angels, and decided to go off taking as many pictures as possible.
Angel in the cemetery of Poble Nou in Barcelona.
Here is the link to my board about angels in Pinterest:
During my recent visit to Florence I also went chasing after angels (and cupids and Eros. Plenty of them).
I’m not sure if you remember that I’d shared a bit of the first novel already, but just in case, I leave you the first chapter (sorry, no angels yet):
Chapter 1. Petra (a.k.a. Pink)
It’s very true. Nobody can make you feel as humiliated as a really close friend can. Yes, we were close. But from that to assuming…Seth and I had known each other for years, lived next to each other, went to school together, shared things…And Seth was the most popular guy at our High School (and therefore the most popular guy in my universe), and had all the girls he wanted and all that. I know; you’ve watched the movie. And you know that everybody believed I was in love with him and wasn’t it a shame that I wasn’t “his type”, and was rather “plain” and… “plump”…But, OK, it was fine that everybody thought that and felt sorry for me. What wasn’t fine, not by a long stretch, what was really offensive was how “he” himself believed it. He had phoned me on the fatal evening (5th November if you must know), at around midnight, quite drunk, asking me to go and collect him from Chris’s party. They had invited me but I was busy writing and I knew how these things went. Because of course, I was also “boring”, “clever” and “studious”. I didn’t drink and I didn’t do “drugs”.
I went to pick him up (I had to borrow my parents’ car, but they liked Seth, and I was convinced that at least my mother thought that things would “develop” between us) and I found him necking a girl. I’d never seen her before, probably from a neighbouring town. Once he’d said his goodbyes (something on the line of ‘I’ll call you’ but very slurred) he followed me, or rather, I half-carried him to the car. I had to stop once so he could be sick. Then, when I stopped in front of his house to let him out, he turned to me, kissed me on the cheek (lovely experience still smelling of sick and all) and said the memorable:
“You know, Pink, if you ever…I know you don’t have a boyfriend, but…you know…If you can’t find …if you ever want a bit of a…cuddle and a kiss…or…anything else, ‘anything’ really…I’ll…I’ll do it for you.”
I just pushed him out of the car feeling sick myself. And I could not sleep after that.
Next day it only got worse, although I didn’t think that was possible. I hoped he would not remember the comment, and didn’t even expect or want an apology, but…Oh, no, that would have been too easy. I tried and avoid him during the day, even decided not to talk about it to my best friends, Lorna and Sylvia. You see? Maybe if I didn’t talk about it, it wouldn’t have really happened. I could just pretend it had been a nightmare and I had imagined it all.
I left School without meeting him and I thought I had succeeded and was home safe. But no, too much to ask. As soon as I got to my door I heard somebody running towards me. I didn’t even need to turn; I knew it would be him.
“Pink, Pink! Hey…I’ve been trying to catch up with you all day!”
“You finally have. What did you want?”
“I…Listen, about yesterday…”
I didn’t want to make him feel bad about it either. It was my maternal, mother-hen instinct towards him that had been developed over years (if not imprinted in my DNA) and I could not switch it off, even when he was vile. I decided to pretend I didn’t remember.
“The sex thing…I…”
“No, no. Don’t get me wrong. That’s not…I just wanted to say…I meant it. It wasn’t a drunken thing…Of course, you don’t need to worry about anything; I wouldn’t tell anybody about it.”
I was about to ask him if he was serious, but he was looking solemn and “sympathetic”. I couldn’t come up with anything to say, and he misinterpreted my silence.
“You’re all right. No need to say anything. I’ll see you around.” He said, patting me on the back. My only consolation was that he had not patted me on the head, like a good dog. It wasn’t much of a consolation, to be honest.
I could have screamed, and I actually did when I got into my house and locked myself in my bedroom. I wanted to kill him! Justified homicide, no doubt.
I was quite upset for a couple of weeks, trying to avoid Seth to little avail. He seemed completely unaware of my efforts or feelings.
I couldn’t keep it to myself any longer, and I finally told Lorna and Sylvia. We had also known each other for many years, and gone to the same school and class since we were little, even though Lorna and Sylvia lived in High Ridge, a neighbouring town. We had always had similar interests and hanged out together, as we didn’t seem to easily fit in with any of the usual groups. Studious and bookish, but not repellent (none of us even wore glasses), plain but not awfully ugly, not particularly sporty but not clumsy enough to become the butt of all jokes. And yes, we weren’t in the group of the fashionable “in” people, but we did not attract attention because of weird sense of dress, make-up or tattoos. If anything, we were grey and invisible. And so far that had been fine with us. It was also true that my friendship with Seth gave us some street-cred that probably avoided our fall into one of the officially despised groups.
I had been trying to exercise, eat healthily and lose weight, and I had succeeded somewhat, although I had enough insight to know I’d never be Barbie…Even if I were to starve to death, my body shape wouldn’t change to the point where I would have legs coming up to my armpits and although I still had some hopes for my breasts, so far they had refused to become anything that guys would bother to look at…
Lorna had done better with growing up, and although she would not accept it when Sylvia and I told her, she had become an attractive girl. It was evident when the three of us were together that guys were now looking at her, whilst in the past they normally scanned over us to look at somebody else. Her newly straightened long dark-brown hair, hazel eyes, faultless olive complexion and heart shaped mouth made her quite pretty, even without make-up. And she was petite and well proportioned. She’d even gone out on a few dates, although so far she had not found her prince charming.
On the other hand, adolescence hadn’t been quite so kind to Sylvia who had suddenly had a growth spurt that had made her taller than most of the boys of our age, very skinny, and flat as an iron board. Despite countless visits to orthodontists and a succession of devices worth of listing in any torture Wikipedia article her smile wasn’t made for toothpaste ads and she had become even shier than before. From my best friend perspective I must add I found them both beautiful and the best friends a girl could wish for.
When I told them about Seth’s behaviour their reaction was as I expected.
Lorna was indignant.
“Who does he think he is, now, eh? Gee… How can you be friends with him? You don’t need that idiot, Pink, you definitely don’t.”
Sylvia was always kind and forgiving. I also had my suspicions that she fancied Seth too…Well, OK, most girls did, but Sylvia was so shy she hardly ever allowed herself to think about boys, as it sent her into meltdown. But I’d seen how she blushed when Seth had looked in her direction or talked to her and…if not love…infatuation at least.
“He was probably just trying to be nice…He’s a bloke after all. He doesn’t understand how we feel about these things. I’m sure he didn’t intend to humiliate you.”
“Well, good job then, isn’t it? I don’t think he could have done it that much better if he had tried to humiliate you… A mercy fuck…Ughhhhh! It makes me sick!” Lorna said, still angry.
“Yes, I also felt very angry to begin with. But now…rather than just carrying on fuming, I think maybe I should be proactive and do something about it.”
“Yes, but what?” Sylvia asked.
“That’s what I wanted to talk to you about. “I have to get my own back on him.”
“How?” Lorna asked, interested.
“I have to prove him wrong.”
“You mean…finding a boyfriend? Isn’t that a bit too much?” Sylvia said, evidently appalled by the suggestion.
“I don’t think it needs to go quite as far as a boyfriend. I don’t really want a boyfriend. I’m far too young and have too many things to do…Anyway; you know what I think about all that.” In summary what I think about it is, nice in theory but in reality quite likely a big waste of time at an age when one doesn’t have that much time to waste. More important things to be getting on with. OK, I know you might think sour grapes and all that…But honestly…boys? Maybe when they grow up…if they ever do.
“I see. You just want him to see you going out with somebody…” Lorna said, appreciatively. “I approve.”
“Yes, but who?” I asked.
As usual when we had to take important decisions or discuss serious matters we went to the library café. With the popularity of e-readers, netbooks and tablets, android mobile phones and particularly Facebook, Twitter and other social networking sites, there was hardly anybody other than people of a certain age at the library. We always sat at the same table, at the back by the window, and we considered it “our table”.
Once settled there, with our diet-coke drinks, we started virtually looking around for candidates. Sylvia was very organised and stopped Lorna when she stated naming boys at random.
“It’s best if we look at the population of guys.”
“What?” I asked.
“Well, you know…Kind of an ethnographic/sociological-type study. What type of guy are you thinking about?”
“You want us to create a profile?” Lorna asked.
“Maybe. But I think that would be too ambitious, considering the raw material we have access to. It will be easier to look at what there is, in terms of groups of guys that might be available.”
“OK. A methodical and scientific approach. Why not?” Yes, it made sense. No need to be overly emotional and girly about this thing. If we were going to do it, we might as well do it well. And as it was a matter of guys, thinking like a bloke might help.
Sylvia got her i-pad out.
“Really?” Lorna asked. “Isn’t that going a bit too far?”
“Why? What is technology for if not these kinds of things?”
“Important things, maybe? How to solve the problem of providing energy and food to the population of the world, curing illnesses, providing education to the masses…” I said.
“Yes, OK. Maybe we’ll do that at some point, but what’s the harm in using a spread sheet to make a sensible decision about guys?”
I had to admit she had a point. Today, finding a possible candidate to boyfriend. Tomorrow, the Noble Prize.
Lorna, who’d evidently been giving boys some thought, took charge of naming the diverse groups of candidates, whilst all of us considered their pros and cons. Well, we couldn’t always find pros. When looked at in such a systematic manner, it appeared surprising that anybody would actually dare to go out with anybody else. Dating agencies definitely deserved their money and more for even attempting such a task.
“Let’s see, let’s see…What kind of guy would you want Seth to see you with, Pink?” Sylvia asked me.
“Well…evidently somebody reasonably attractive but with some brains…I mean, it would have to be somebody he’d believe I’d go out with…He knows me well enough to know I wouldn’t go out with just a pretty face…Not that “just a pretty face” would probably go out with me either.”
Lorna looked at me serious.
“Oh, Pink, don’t start like that. There’s nothing wrong with you…any guy…”
“Let’s leave it. That’s not what this is about…Let’s be methodical.” I said.
“OK, attractive but reasonably intelligent…”
We thought for a while. Not that many boys that would easily fit in such category…
“There’re always Seth’s friends…Adam isn’t bad looking…” Lorna said.
“No, he isn’t. Neither are Tony, or Chris, or Scott…Are you joking, Lorna? Haven’t you noticed the type of girls they go out with? Cheerleaders, trend setters…the beautiful or at least pretty girls…That would be mission impossible and you know they are hardly discreet…When they go out with a girl everybody knows all the details. Even we do!” I replied.
“Yes, Seth is the only one with a bit of class in his group of friends.” Yep, Sylvia. Didn’t I tell you she fancies him?
“I’m also not very convinced about any of them regarding the brains department. They are popular and good at sports and that gives them a lot of leeway, but with regards to merits…” I said.
“Seth is quite clever…I think.”
Lorna and I looked at Sylvia. I don’t know about me, but Lorna definitely rolled her eyes.
“Yes, and he has lovely sandy-coloured and wavy hair, green eyes, cute dimples and the rest. Stop talking about Seth, Sylvia. He’s the cause of all this trouble, and evidently Pink isn’t going to go out with him. No, you’re right, Pink, none of his friends are of any use. He knows them too well; he’d know that you wouldn’t really go out with any of them…It wouldn’t work.”
Most of the guys we considered clever were in one of two despised categories, either the brainy, studious group, mostly composed of extremely uncool characters, good for conversation and teaming up for school work but not datable material, or the geeks.
“Theo, Paul, Mark and Luke…” Sylvia said.
“The brains? Sure, they are clever, but…attractive? Have you ever looked at them?” I said.
“Well…OK, but Mark…has nice eyes…” Sylvia added.
“Yes, and Theo is very tall, and Luke has lovely dark curly hair, but, Mark has horrendous acne and is very short, Theo is really big and always sweaty, Luke wears really old-fashioned glasses and is so skinny that you can hardly see him in profile and Paul…” I added.
Yes, poor Paul was officially the ugliest guy in the school. He was a really nice guy but if I went out with any of them Seth was bound to think I was desperate or I had lost my marbles. He’d probably repeat his offer if he saw me with any of them. They wouldn’t work.
Lorna shook her head.
“No, none of them will do. Not only are they ugly but they also are very shy with girls and have no social graces. They’d probably have a heart attack if they as much as suspected you wanted to go out with one of them…And…”
“Yes, I know. They’re too nice and bound to get hurt if I just used them like that.” OK, I was trying to get my revenge on Seth, but it wasn’t fair to hurt others in the process. That would never do.
We refilled our diet-colas and looked at the document in Sylvia’s i-pad…So far only crosses…Sherlock Holmes used to classify the cases he was working on according to how many pipes he had to smoke to get to the answer. Smoking was no longer pc and women and pipes had never mixed up very well so…I guess in our case we would go by the number of diet-colas we drank whilst thinking about a problem, or producing a plan. This one might break our record of three.
“What about the geeks? They aren’t quite as sensitive as the brains.” Lorna asked.
Although the brains were fairly geeky, the geeks were a distinct category of boys who seemed to only have time for gadgets, games, and who most of the time seemed to live in an alternative reality that only crossed with ours very sporadically.
“And apart from Troy, all the rest are fairly normal looking.” Sylvia agreed.
We all paused at the mention of Troy. He was the son of the mayor and in contrast with his oldest brother, who had left school with a football scholarship and was now at Davis, the jewel of the family, he was really awkward looking and odd. He’d always reminded me of actors in horror movies. He didn’t seem to belong in our planet. He wasn’t ugly, but just like a Picasso his aesthetics and looks were extremely unconventional. It’s true that nobody could go unnoticed at his arm, but I wasn’t convinced that was the kind of attention I wanted.
“Have you ever tried to talk to Matt, Pete, Dean or Todd about anything that isn’t games, computers or comic books? I know you’ve tried. So have I. With no success. I want revenge but not at the cost of my sanity. I don’t want a real boyfriend but at least I’d appreciate somebody I could have a conversation with…”
More crosses. Still no ticks.
“What about the invisible guys?” Lorna asked. She meant, guys that like us didn’t seem to belong in any of the defined categories. Plain, non-offensive, not particularly sporty, not particularly clever, not particularly attractive…
“No good. Pink needs somebody Seth would notice. Somebody who’d force him to make a double-take when he sees her with him. An invisible…won’t work.”
I nodded. Yes, Sylvia was right.
“He’d notice it if you went out with one of the rebels.” Lorna said.
Yes, even Hope Springs, ‘the town where nothing ever happened’ (according to our rewriting of the official motto that was ‘where all dreams are possible’. I agree, sickeningly sweet, and not true to boot), had some bad guys. At our age we were not truly convinced they were genuinely bad, they really hadn’t had time for that, but they were rebellious, non-conformist, and more troublesome than the generality. Admittedly in a place like Hope Springs that wasn’t very difficult, but…they had a bit of a reputation.
“Clint has a girlfriend. And Jesse…” Sylvia said…
Jesse had pushed Sylvia last year and she’d fallen downstairs twisting her ankle. He’d denied it had been intentional, saying that he was just in a hurry and she had been on the way, but…we officially didn’t like him. We’d predicted he’d end up in prison some day. Jailbait was a bit too much for what I had in mind. No.
We were now on our third diet-cola and still no reasonable candidates.
“I can’t think any longer.” Lorna said. “I think we must have gone through all the class.”
We were quiet for a few seconds, and then Sylvia jumped up.
“You’re right! That’s it! We’ve gone through all the boys in our class. But that’s not all the boys. We need to look at other classes. We need to expand our age range.”
I closed my eyes. I knew where this was going now. I could see the name Sylvia would come up with flashing in neon lights. But I was still curious to know how she’d bring him up.
“I don’t think younger guys would be appropriate. First…Even guys our age are immature, can you imagine a younger guy? A year younger would already be too much. You don’t want to get a reputation for being a cradle-snatcher.” Lorna said, final. She had a way of summarising things and getting straight to the point that I’d always admired and thought would put her in good stead for a career in advertising or the movies.
“No, Seth would laugh at me if I went out with a younger guy. He’d tease him and me to death. That wouldn’t help.”
“Oh girls, come on. You know I didn’t mean you should go out with a younger guy. What I meant was you should look at older guys. It’s always a status thing for a girl to go out with an older guy. A man of the world, more mature…”
“Sure, but how old? What are we talking about? University guy?” Lorna asked, turning to me and winking. She’d evidently also worked out what Sylvia was trying to get at.
“We don’t want to go over the top either or make the guy look like a freak or a paedophile…No, maybe somebody a couple of years older…” Sylvia added, trying to sound casual, and failing.
“I don’t think we know a lot of guys that age, do we, Lorna?” I asked, looking at Lorna, trying to appear serious.
“No. I can’t think of any. Maybe guys from another town…” Lorna snapped her fingers. “I have an idea! Sylvia, why don’t you ask your brother Jackson if he has any friends that would be suitable? He’s two years older than us, isn’t he? I don’t know his friends, but it’s possible one of them could do. Maybe you should phone him.”
Lorna and I both looked at Sylvia with intent and a composed expression.
“Yes, that sounds like an idea. Why don’t you phone Jackson, Sylvia, and ask him?” I said.
Sylvia looked at both of us, red-faced, breathing fast and shallow, trying to think of something to say. We finally couldn’t keep it up and started laughing.
“You should see your face, Sylvia!” I told her.
“You were taking the mickey! You knew I meant my brother!”
Lorna squeezed her arm.
“Of course we knew you meant your brother. You’re always trying to fix him with Pink. You’ve always had this idea that the two of them will fall madly in love, will be happy ever after and you will be sisters and have lovely nieces and nephews.”
“But Jackson really likes you, Pink!”
“You know I think your brother is a nice guy and I quite like him, as a friend, but…”
Lorna again got to the point quickly.
“Jackson is clumsy, has the attention span of a fish and other than ball sports has very few interests. You are the brains in the family, dear Sylvia. Your brother, although not bad looking, is a bit of an…”
Sylvia didn’t let her finish.
“You’re right, this is all for revenge and it wouldn’t be fair to get my brother involved when he has feelings for you…”
Poor Jackson probably didn’t even know what he felt, but was happy to go along with his sisters’ assessment of his feelings and had always been extra-nice towards me, although I’d tried as much as I could, without hurting him, to make him understand that I didn’t see him as boyfriend material, and I didn’t really want a boyfriend anyway. Lorna was right though, he wasn’t bad looking. He had the perfect smile that his sister hadn’t managed yet despite her and the dentists’ efforts, and although very tall he was a good basketball player and his height suited him.
“Well, that’s it then. I think we’ll need to keep thinking.” Lorna said. “I can’t drink any more diet-cola or go on about guys any longer. We’ll have to leave it.”
“Maybe somebody new will come along.” Sylvia said, always optimistic. I didn’t think that was likely but nodded. No point in upsetting her further after our comments about her brother. Maybe all our dreams would come true anyway.
As an experiment, I decided to download the draft of the first novel to Wattpad, so if you fancy reading on, for the time being it’s available here:
What I decided was to finish writing (and then translating, editing, correcting…) the third novel in the series, and then publish them all in fairly quick succession, to try and build up interest and also to avoid leaving readers waiting for too long.
Here a not very happy angel, waiting for you to finish writing the next novel. Might feed you to the lion if you don’t get done soon!
A good friend and fellow author (Hi Teagan!) suggested I buddy up with her for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) that despite the name is international, where you can join, and challenge yourself to write a novel at least 50000 words long (if you do, you’ve won). You can take part in forums, encourage and support each other, and buddy up with other writers. I had been curious about it but never before managed to join at the right moment. And I thought…it would be an excellent opportunity to try and write the draft of part three. Still nameless, but…
If you want to check NaNoWriMo, here is the link:
And if you’re taking part, buddy up with me if you like! I’m OlgaNM7.
So now you know what I’m up to (apart from my translating business that keeps going and I’ll talk to you about that soon but, not until after November for sure), and don’t be surprised if you see me doing reblogs and refreshing some old material in the blog as I’ll be a bit busy next month, but I’ll try and keep up posting other authors’ new books.
And just for some inspiration, I leave you the Jacob Epstein’s angel in Oscar Wilde’s tomb at Père Lachaise cemetery in Paris. Now they’ve put a protective glass in front to avoid so many kisses and the cleaning bill that it said goes to the family. Oh well… (there’re still some kisses where the glass doesn’t reach!)
Jacob Epstein’s angel in Oscar Wilde’s tomb in Paris
Time to go but I couldn’t resist leaving you this angel again from Poble Nou in Barcelona. It needs a good clean (unfortunately there’s a gate in front and I couldn’t reach) but I thought it was so gorgeous…
Thanks for reading, and remember, if you’ve enjoyed it, like, share, comment and of course, CLICK! Ah, and if you see any interesting angels, think of me and share!