Getting To Know The Woodcarver’s Model

It is now twenty-one days until The Woodcarver’s Model is released, and the preparations are underway for reviews, interviews and a host of other activities to connect the book to readers.

One of the most important tools to get fans interested is an excerpt from the book. Blogs and other publications like to share a little bit of the writing to get their readers excited, and also to give them a sense of the central character and their journey.

General excerpts are usually from near the beginning of the book to avoid spoilers. And then individual blogs get “exclusive” excerpts which might fall later in the book, but don’t spoil the plot.

So for those who are curious, here’s a few small excerpts from the opening of novel.

He closed the door behind him and leaned against it as if his weight would hold out the world. How many of them had there been? When was he going to learn to think before he acted? This time he could have died. His heart raced. Fucking idiot! Where the fuck had Yussuf gone?

Rob woke with a start. From the look on the face of the passenger in seat 2B, Rob must have gasped or yelled. He was breathing heavily. Rob pressed the call button for the flight attendant. There was time for one more gin and tonic before they landed.

Once in the airport, after passing through customs, he retrieved his luggage from the baggage carousel. One large green canvas duffle bag (which looked more like it had been dragged by the plane rather than stored in its cargo hold) was all he had, other than his beaten-up leather shoulder bag. He made it out to the cab stand and took the next available taxi.

“Queen’s Quay Terminal building, please,” he said to the driver, then closed his eyes. He didn’t want to appear to be rude by not talking. So Canadian, he thought. The oh-look-I’ve-fallen-asleep ruse usually fended off any attempt at mindless chatter from a driver. And he didn’t need to see the sights. The ride from Toronto’s Pearson International Airport to his home on the lake shore was nothing to see. It was all highway, industrial complexes, stubby office buildings and shopping malls. The trip showed Toronto as the ugly, unimaginative metropolis that it was, until they hit the expressway by the lake. Then it all changed—the lake, so big that it looked like a sea, the gaudy glamour of the Palais Royale dance hall, and the century-old buildings of the Canadian National Exhibition—they still made Rob smile. A quick left onto Queen’s Quay and he was almost home.

During the cab ride, he thought of his last night in Mogadishu. Of returning to his hotel room after dinner with his photographer.

The Hotel Mustaqbal on the traffic-jammed Wadada Uganda was one of the better accommodations in this war-torn country. Clean rooms with a fair certainty of hot and cold running water. What else could he have asked for in Somalia?

When he’d entered the room, he had sensed, without even turning on the lights, that everything had been tossed. He’d frozen, not wanting to make a sound in case the intruders were still there. Whoever had done this was probably looking for his computer, jewellery, identity papers—anything of value. The joke was on them. He’d learned years ago never to travel with electronics, other than his phone, and he kept that and his identification on him at all times. And he wrote everything in notebooks. He never had to worry about notebooks. No one wanted them, they didn’t break and they didn’t run out of power in a jungle. He’d once lost his pen in Tierra del Fuego but was still able to finish writing using a charred stick from the fire.

As he had surveyed the damage in his hotel room, he’d heard a noise. Out of the corner of his eye, he’d seen a figure make for the window. It was Abdi, his driver. Abdi had thrown himself out the window onto the fire escape. Rob had chased him. Why? He didn’t know.

They’d both hit the main street running. Rob had run right past a man leaning against a car talking to someone in front of the hotel. He’d kept going for another few hundred yards before realising it had been his guide, Yussuf. It was a few blocks later, on a small side street, that Abdi had yelled something in Somali to a few men. One had pulled out a gun and started firing at Rob. Rob had been pinned in a doorway, shards of concrete flying all around him, when he’d heard more shouting. More firing. Where the fuck was Yussuf? Then there was silence. Finally, a familiar head had poked around the corner.

“It’s safe now, boss. You come. Come!” Yussuf had waved him to follow. In his hand, he’d held an old CAR-15 automatic rifle. A body lay in the street. Rob hadn’t stopped to see who it was.

Life as an adventure travel writer was not what he thought it would be when he began this job. There was adventure, and there was this. One of these days, the adventure was going to win and all of the Yussufs in the world would not be able to save him.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a romance if the central character wasn’t lonely and in need of someone in their life. Here’s another excerpt from near the beginning of the book where Rob tries to convince himself (and a friend) that he’s just fine.

“…I hope the trip went without a hitch.”

He stopped smiling. “As hitchless as a trip can go.” Why worry her with the details?

“So…any hot guys there for you?”

Here it comes. The lecture. She did this every time.

“Well, there was Abdi, but I think he was just interested in my money.”

He heard her sigh on the other end of the line. “Is it too much to ask that you find someone and settle down? How long has it been?”

“We’re not going down that road. Not now.”

“I just want you to be happy.”

“I am happy,” he said. In my own little screwed-up way.

She wasn’t giving up. “You know what your problem is, don’t you? You’re terrified of commitment.”

“That’s not true.”

“You avoid any chance of it.”

“How do you figure that?” he said, a little too quickly.

“Well, for starters, your only close friend’s a girl, and we both know I don’t have a chance, but you don’t have any guy friends at all… I mean, to increase your odds of a successful relationship, you have to start somewhere.”

“Don’t be silly. I have plenty of guy friends.”

“Name one.”

He struggled for a moment before coming up with, “Carl at the gym.

“The towel guy? Do you even know his last name, or maybe where he lives, or whether he’s a dog or a cat person?”

“Last names among gay men are not necessarily…necessary.”

“Do you have any guys you’re close to?”

“Why would I need to? I have you.”

She shot back, “I think you’re using me as a shield so you don’t leave yourself open to meeting a guy you could fall in love with.”

“Wha… That’s crazy talk.”

Rob wasn’t ready for this conversation. Why did everyone assume that he needed a relationship? He didn’t need anyone to get in the way. And as for any physical needs… Well, if he couldn’t handle them himself, he could easily find someone who could. Like Carl from the gym. Whatever his last name was.

“Sorry, hun. I’ve got a call coming in that I have to take,” he lied. “Dinner later this week?”

“Of course. Love ya.”

“Love you too.”

“Now, if only you could learn to say that to a guy.”

“Gotta go.”

He disconnected from the call. Rob took a deep breath, then took a long draw on the bottle of Wheel Rat beer in his hand and stared out into the harbour. I’m fine with things just the way they are.

The Woodcarver’s Model will be released by Pride Publishing on April 19th

Published by peterefenton

Peter Fenton is a playwright and author living in Toronto, Canada.

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