Like past Special Features page, this is all really very easy - and doesn't require a password or anything lame like that. Just clink on the links to whisk you off to a world of confusion and wonder, or just read from top to bottom - it's all on one page.
Here's an artist's impression of a smiting. That's Swindon on the right. Or might be.
Warning: Potential Spoilers!
The 'Making Of' Wordamentary
The Lost Line Club
24th April 2012
The 'Making of' Wordamentary
First sketch of the frontipiece, Mudron/Meconis
Hatchett: I was lucky enough to catch Mr Fforde at home in his rambling 27-bedroom mansionette in Radnorshire, where surrounded by dogs, children and unsold copies of Shades of Grey, he told me all about his latest book, the seventh in the Thursday Next series, The Woman Who Died a Lot. Good afternoon Mr Fforde.
Fforde: Hello Josh. Have a seat.
Hatchett: Here on the floor?
Fforde: Is that a problem?
Hatchett: No, not at all. I like the title, Mr Fforde, 'The Woman Who Died a Lot'. Where does it come from?
Fforde: I'm not sure. It's been on my list of titles for a while, along with 'Seven Things to do before you Die in Talgarth', my faux misery memoir 'A Fork of my Own' and 'The Life Debt of Phoebe Smalls'. The title just seemed so perfect for the book. Not only does it conjure up the notion of a noir thriller, but also a, well, rubbish noir thriller. The sort of title an idiot who can't write to save his life would come up with. Hmm. Worrying. I wonder if it's an ironic thing?
Hatchett: Yes, Mr Fforde, I'm sure that's the case.
Fforde: Best of all, it actually relates to something going on in the book - something that might be considered a rarity among my book titles.
Hatchett: Yes, I always wondered what 'Lost in a Good Book' is referring to. No-one gets lost in a book, either good or bad. So, what was the title of TN7 before it was Died a Lot?
Fforde: Dark Reading Matter. If the Thursday books from number five onwards DO have a direction (which I'm beginning to doubt) then finding a way into the Dark Reading Matter - the place where forgotten and erased ideas all end up - is probably it. But since there isn't much about the DRM in this book, I looked around for a new title. I knew it was a good one when my publishers agreed to change it really late in the day, without so much as a flicker.
Hatchett: So there's nothing about the DRM in the book?
Fforde: Well, there is, in two ways: Firstly, Wing-Commander Scampton Tappet, a sort of fictional assistant is living in Thursday's house and trying to find a way into the DRM. He solves it with the aid of a dodo cerebral buffer, technology, and luck. This is the link that is going to take us into TN8. Secondly, and more relevant to how the book turned out, there are some elements within Died a Lot that are of a somewhat darker tone - a little more gory, perhaps? And this relates to the original title - That the book was called, and featured, Dark Reading Matter. I toned it down a bit, but not all.
Hatchett: Let's just go back a moment. You said one of your titles of a potential book was 'The Life Debt of Phoebe Smalls' - yet there is a Phoebe Smalls in this book. Are they the same person?
Fforde: I think they are. 'The Life Debt of Phoebe Smalls' has a nice ring to it, and involves a woman dealing with the fallout of not actually killing someone, but through a stupid error, allowing someone to die. It was always going to be a story about how you try and work off that debt to the family. I didn't know when I was going to use this idea, or even write a book about it - I have far more ideas than time to write them, to be honest - but it seemed too good a name to waste. So yes, Phoebe Smalls does appear, as a sort of younger Thursday, who wants to be like her, only better. As you might imagine, they don't see eye to eye to begin with, and yes, Phoebe does do something dumb and someone dies because of it.
Hatchett: Okay, so let's look at the book in general. A fast write?
Fforde: Only 110 days to accepted draft, including rewrites. I usually take about 130 days. This was over about five months, and I think it rattled it out so fast because I had a pressing deadline, having already written a Dragonslayer book that year. The experience was a positive one in that it is by far and away the easiest way to write. No time for the dangling plot threads to go cold, to forget who does what to who and where - just writing from start to stop - immersive, if you like. If I could free up the spare time, I'd write all books like this.
Hatchett: Okay, so what form does the book take, and how did you begin to construct it? Did you have any plans, for instance?
Fforde: No - I seldom write with any plans. Just notions, ideas, broad brushstrokes and a few narrative dares that I like to chuck in. The speed at which I had to complete the book left me little time for even the scantest preparation so I just thought: 'Right, Thursday's back in Swindon, she's recovering from the accident in 'One of Our Thursdays is Missing' and the Bookworld, so obvious in the last book, won't appear at all. This is about Thursday dealing with being at home, damaged, and the problems most mothers have with their children, husband, family pet - plus rekindling a career with a company you once left. All pretty straightforward, really."
Hatchett: Straightforward? Would that really be your word?
Fforde: Okay, for Thursday it's straightforward. I started the book with them heading off into Swindon, ostensibly to set up Plot Thread One: Dealing With Aornis. Whilst there, I thought it might be a good idea to have Thursday undertake a psychological evaluation to allow us a glimpse of some much needed backstory and series revision. The question was, why? And then I got to thinking the SO-27 was being reinstated, and we were off. We could introduce Phoebe Smalls, have a meal at Yo! Toast and learn about Plot Thread Two: That Swindon was going to evaporated in a pillar of cleansing fire during a smiting from on high, four days in the future.
Hatchett: ...as I said, not really straightforward, is it?
Fforde: I see what you mean. And this is really only for starters. Things get weirder from here on in, but the thing I like about TN7 is that it is a true series book in the best possible way. I've picked out characters, ideas, tropes, memes and recurring gags to try and make something that is familiar, logical, and hopefully, with the continuity correct and in place. Series books can be a double-edged sword. When there is a lot of backstory to play with, it is a great deal of fun - a great deal of fun, and TN7 was a riot to work on. Oddly enough, getting away from the magical fantasy of the Bookworld and back to the surreal off-kilter reality of Swindon's Thursday is hugely relaxing - hardly like writing fantasy at all.
Hatchett: You don't mean that, surely?
Fforde: Well yes, I do. The interesting part about writing this book was that there was a lot to work with. Ideas which already have a familiarity in the reader's heads, and when I bring them back out of retirement, they're not just another bizarre plot idea that needs to be explained, but something that is cosy and normal - and I think what any fantasy writer should be doing is dressing up the very, very bizarre and fantastical to be utterly normal.
Hatchett: An example?
Fforde: Okay, when we hear that Specops 27, the literary detectives is about to be reinstated, we learn that the reason for this is that the stupidity crisis is still on, and that the expensive reinstatement of a service banned thirteen years before is just the sort of misguided nonsense that the Commonsense party are trying to do, in order to discharge the dangerous stupidity surplus. The point is that all this, while odd in the extreme, is totally normal in Thursday's world. The more complete and real the world becomes, the easier it is for me to have Thursday and her family live in it, and the more real they become - unencumbered, if you like, by the oddness, and not tripped up by any unnecessary exposition.
Hatchett: Does it make it easier to write?
Fforde: Certainly! Thursday's Swindon is very real to me, and so long as I can remember pretty much what is going on, I can work with the canvas to full advantage.
Hatchett: Okay. So I notice that you have quite a few separate story lines going on, and although you like multiple threads, this I think is probably your most obvious example - and perhaps unique in that not all of them merge together at the end.
Fforde: I do like multiple stories, as you say. I think there are about four majors and two minors sloshing around in this book, all of which have to be juggled together so we know what is going on with each - I can't leave one for too long because readers might forget what's going on, and it's lucky that most of the characters have already been introduced, so little needs to be said to set them up or explain their motivations.
I'll go through them, if I may, and explain a little about each.
Hatchett: Please do.
Plot Thread One
The Aornis Situation
This is a problem that's been hanging around for a while - ever since TN2, in fact, and it seemed like a good time to deal with Aornis and that pesky mindworm. This was a plot thread that just slow-burned throughout the book. We the audience know that something's going on as the mindworm seems to be flitting from one person to the next, and there are odd goings-on in the house.
It's not often I can put the action ahead of the protagonist in such a big way, but I could here - after Thursday's fifth of sixth convenient forgetting to go to the tattoo parlour to figure out why she has a tattoo on the back of her hand, there can't be many readers out there not realising that she goes there every time - but then can't remember anything about it. With a bit of luck, we might share some of Thursday's frustration. Dealing with Aornis was quite easy, but for a daughter who doesn't exists, Jenny does seem to be able to generate quite a lot of emotion, and she does here again.
Hatchett: Yes, I was quite touched by the Jenny resolution.
Fforde: I thought so too. A tragedy ... without a tragedy, which is kind of what I was hunting for. The loss of someone who doesn't actually exist. That's fantasy for you. I think this was a nod towards the power of memory and emotion, and also the potential for a loss. No-one likes to lose someone, so Jenny's strange end as a fond memory and nothing more I thought had a poignancy about it. I liked the Cleaning Woman, too.
Plot Thread Two
The Smoting Problem
Again, the anti-smote strategic defence shield has also been a plot thread lying around for a while - I foreshadowed that Tuesday had something to do with it in TN6, I think - and it was time to do something about this, too. Deities have always been around in Thursday's world, so it wasn't a huge leap.
Given Hades' diabolical machinations and the visit to the underworld to rescue President Formby in TN4, it would seem logical that if there were someone downstairs, then there has to be someone upstairs, too. But this being fiction I could use whatever deity I wanted (the choice is large, after all) and I kind of liked the idea that an Almighty of some sort would start chucking thunderbolts about and generally punishing mankind for his many transgressions - yet stoically remaining silent on the more pressing questions demanded by the members of the GSD, such as why we are all here, something in which He might have an answer.
Collective bargaining power was something I quite liked, too. as it's always struck me a little odd that if there is a big plan on Someone's agenda, religious unity sure isn't it - so postulating a theory as to why this might be so made kind of sense - sort of punk theology, if you like.
John Martin's View of a Smiting
In any event, the thread I thought worked quite well, and linked across to Friday's thread, and made a few stabs at esoteric particle physics, too - the illusive 'Madeupion'. Mind you, as I write this there has been some news about the Higgs field, so perhaps not so hilarious and satirical as I thought.
Anyways, the 'Righteous Man' part of the thread is (very) loosely based on the smiting that was very fashionable in the Old Testament, when God was a little more fire and brimstone than he is in later iterations. Around Genesis 18, in fact (Think Sodom and Gomorah, especially in the painting above by John Martin, who must have been great fun to have to a party). I was kind of basing it on the circular logic of Abraham's, about the fact that if there were righteous men about, then He couldn't punish the city. First arguing fifty, then twenty, then only ten - I thought you could take this argument down to one, hence the importance of the Righteous Man. I did say loosely based.
Some cracking stories in the Old Testament, to be honest, even if some of them have some oddly pernicious outcomes due to narrow agenda-led interpretations. I like to think Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed for not so much morality issues, but an over-aggressive parking fine levy and the poor service in the restaurants.
Plot Thread Three
Friday and his lack of function
The notion of function and purpose is one that has recurred several times in my books - it was one of the many questions that puzzles Thursday's clockwork butler Sprockett in One of Our Thursdays is Missing, and has also beset Friday since knowing that the important future he would have had is now now no longer going to happen.
I like the theoretical idea of a notional function, too, and the possibility that one should try and find it - always supposing there is some overarching plan to life and existence, which is not on the face of it that likely.
There was also an issue here of trying to kill a plot thread that fails to die - the Time Travel thread seems to rise zombie-like from the grave despite my best efforts to get rid of it. In First Among Sequels we lose Time Travel since it is deemed impossible, but despite this, there are echoes of the industry still about, alive in one of several potential futures, and sending confusing echoes out into the Now.
It also has a bizarre sense of attempting to deal with something that might have happened once but now won't - it has a nice and very Nextian twisted logic about it - and logic, I feel, needs challenging.
Plot Thread Four
Again, one of the interesting things about series books is that you can exploit unused ideas and dangling plot threads from previous books. I write without a clear idea of what I am doing or where I am going, but know this, so write with what I call my: 'no plan plan'. That is to say, I know that I have no plan - and plan accordingly. The 'multiple Thursdays' plot device has actually been going for a long time - what with Granny Next, the two written Thursdays, and odd mentions of Goliath Synthetic Thursdays in TN6.
To be honest, it even goes back to TN1, where she sees herself coming out of a motorway services during a timeslip. So the question was, what do I do with it? The answer was to simply play with the idea and see where it took us - and it went quite a way, in that she is replaced by copies so good she can't even tell when she has been replaced. From here it was a short leap to having a body and mind that is better than the one you've got - but only for 24 hours.
This was fun to write, especially when she and Jack Schitt, both as Day Players, compare what it is like to be one. Quite why she is being replaced is not wholly revealed until the end, but I think it works quite well, and manages to give a human dimension to strong Science Fiction themes, which is always gratifying.
Plot Thread Four and a half
Dark Reading Matter
This was indeed the original title of the book, and is now the title of TN8, which takes place in the Dark Reading Matter, presumably now populated by Jenny and Pickwick. The thread was originally going to be a major part in the book, but after more domestic-based plots took precedent, the search for a way into the Dark Reading Matter became the only part of the original book still in evidence, although it does link into several of the other plot threads.
Book Eight will presumably take place within the Dark Reading Mater, or, at the very least, in 24 hour blocks for Thursday, who only has a day pass to get there. Quite what the Dark Reading Matter will contain, I'm not sure. Not just deleted books and poems and ideas that were left orphaned when writers died, but anything else created by mankind, and no longer used.
Notions, thoughts, and memories. In fact, I think the Dark Reading Matter is composed almost entirely of redundant human memories. "All those memories..." It will be a fun book - and a challenging one.
Hatchett: Interesting. In closing, we know you're a big fan of librarians and libraries, so tell us about the Librarians in the book.
Fforde: Oh yes - the Wessex All you can eat at Fatso's drinks not included Library Service. Well, this was a plot thread that I kind of drifted into as I didn't want Thursday to go back to SpecOps as we've already been there, and I wanted to write about something new. I also liked the idea about making a library budget meeting a turning point in the story, as few if any, budget meetings make it into print. There was room for a few librarian gags, too, a reference to the dewey-decimal system, and a satirical jab in that libraries in Thursday's world are hideously overfunded. We have an SLS, too, which is kind of like the SAS, and a mad Colonel who is keen to undertake dawn raids to retrieve overdue library books. I think it's a terrific idea - and librarians do too.
Hatchett: Mr Fforde, it's been a pleasure talking to me.
Fforde: Thank you, I've been tremendously good company to myself.
The 'Making Of' Wordamentary
The Lost Line Club
Approved layout of the frontipiece, Mudron/Meconis
I delete a lot from my books because I write a lot into them at first draft. Often I work hard to write 140,000 words, then work equally hard trying to lose 40,000 of them. These are a few deleted scenes that didn't make the grade, and - far more interesting - the reason for their demise:
Why delete reason one.
Because it's not going anywhere.
Much of my writing seems to be going off on small excursions, seeing where it leads, then either developing it or not. This process can take several months, sometimes, but is mostly on the five-minute scale as I search for the story and the plot-points. This small section about the gravitube was written in a few minutes as I wondered if a trip to Seattle on board the Gravitube to attend MADCON '04 was worthwhile.
Since it involved inevitable narrative shoeleather, ideas like this, while fun, can slow the pace. So in the end, it didn't happen - MADCON stayed in Swindon. This is unedited, complete with spelling errors, as I write very fast, and much of it is 'dirty and quick' when it goes down. You can see what I was thinking, too, taking the existing idea, and then merging it with budget airlines. It would have made for an amusing couple of paragraphs, but ultimately it had to go.
Our trip to Seattle was uneventful, and due t a fortitous connection with the Overmantle from LA to Seattle, completed in four hours with the minium of fuss and bother. Tuesday actually counted our steps, in order to disprove the Gravitube's famous boast of 'the globe in five hundred paces' In fact, she counted only four hundred and sixty two from stepping onto the Skyrail at Aldbourne, transferring to the subsonic bullet at Clary-Lamarr, and making our way to Tube 7 at Saknussen International.
Passenger numbers had increased greatly since I fest took the Tube, and Saknussen now boasted no less than twenty-six tubes, nine pairs of them Deep Drop, with the capsules dropping every ten minutes down dedicated oneoway travel pipes. There used to be a mandated ten minute gap between drops, but since accidents on the gravitube were never about collisons and always about some failure of the vacumn system or tube strnegth, the regulations were relaxed. Once the capsules were preboarded with 400 passengers, we were simply manouvered into place and then dropped down the hole to fall the 8000 oor so miles to the other side of the planet.
'2400 passengers an hour,' said Tuesday, who was kind of big on the Gravitube, as any genius was.
'57,600 a day'
'Saknussen has now got two Tubes to New York,' said Landen, 'and New York has six pairs of Overmantles to LA.'
No matter how many times you took the Deep Drop, it never failed ti impress, and we appreciated it more than most as we had Alltime Anytime tickets, as my Aunt April had been instrumental in its designa and construction. We didn't see much of her these days, but then again no-one did, to be honest - the season tickets were helpful, too, as the Gravitube was expensive, and we'd all not like to travel 'No Frills' Gravitube like 'Easydrop' and the even cheaper 'Ryantube'. Although Budget Gravitube was still as comfortabel - and all Gravitube trips took a little over forty minutes regardless of distance, so comfort wasn't a big issue anyway, 'Easydrop'
Why delete reason two
Because sometimes a chapter is just too long.
During rewrites I start at looking at ways to pick up the pace. This often means deleting sections that are perfectly sound, but just slow things down. This was a section that I removed from the first meeting with Stig. It works, but wasn't necessary in the grand scheme of things. It would have come straight after Thursday asks: "How are Felicity and the boys?" when they meet for the first time in this book.
Stig's kids were special. Up until we found a copy of the manuals that Goliath used to engineer Stig and the rest of the Neanderthals, the males were infertile. Stig volunteered to be modified using an experimental procedure which to the Neanderthal's great relief was successful. Others followed, and from a dying population of nine hundred and twenty, they had now added another sixty-six, thirty-four of them boys, and all fertile. Not large enough for a breeding population, but heading that way. There had been talk of species cross-breeding to boost numbers to ensure survival, but the Human Genetics Unit of the Medical Research Council were mumbling about the ethical issues, as usual - while their opposite number within the Neanderthal community simply considered the idea of sex with Homo Sapiens abhorrent - about as appealing as sex with farm animals.
Why delete reason three
Because there's nowhere it can be fitted in.
I always try and fandangle a reference to reading and the Bookworld somewhere, about what reading means and how important it is, but try as I might, this small orphaned section couldn't find a home. It was originally said to the duty officer in the SpecOps building, but it didn't work.
"Can I ask a question?" said Officer Wilks.
"Is it true bout the Bookworld?"
"Is what true about the Bookworld?"
"That you've been there. That's it's real. That there's a policing agency on the other side of the printed page?"
I stared at him for a moment. My trips to the other side of the written word were a matter of fevered speculation in the department. Some said it was true, and others said it was merely a delusion. I showed him my stick.
"It's real enough to do this to me."
He leaned closer.
"Can I get there?"
I leaned in closer as well and lowered my voice to a whisper.
"Ever been lost in a good book?"
"Of course! Who doesn't read?"
"No, I mean really lost in a good book. Where you immerse yourself so completely in the narrative that you become emotionally attached to the characters, and can sense the scenery described - the smell of furniture polish, and taste the sea-spray on your lips?"
"Kind of," he shrugged, "but I know deep down it's only fiction."
"Then you'll never get there. If you can make fiction real in your mind, the Bookworld will be there waiting for you. Celebrate it's twists and turns, laugh and cry with anguish along with the protagonist and feel the sinking feeling in your stomach at a good betrayal. If you can read like that, like it's the last book you'll ever read, then maybe, just maybe you can get there."
"Oh," he said, realising perhaps for the first time that reading well was like writing, riding or juggling well - a skill that enhances what it is that you are doing, and what you want to get out of it. He had gone silent.
And here's another section, which I also couldn't squeak in. It was originally from the Manchild, explaining about how we are travelling the wrong way through time:
"It's all about the direction of time, and the direction of us as we move through it."
"I don't follow."
"It's this: We're walking backwards through time."
He pause to let us think about this.
"Most of us can see everything that has happened but nothing that will happen," he explained with dazzling directness, "like walking backwards. You wouldn't think to drive a car forwards while facing backwards, so it would make more sense to walk forwards through time, don't you think?"
It was an interesting point.
"But then our past would be unknown to us," I pointed out.
"Is that so bad? To remember everything that is going to happen is better than remembering everything that has."
I must have looked doubtful, for he added:
"Okay, which is better: The anticipation of a really good time or the memory of it?"
"The anticipation, I guess."
"I think so too," he said sadly, "we're travelling through time facing the wrong direction. If we could only turn around and look occasionally where we were going, things would be a lot simpler."
Why delete reason four
Because it changes the overall tone.
Thursday realising that she isn't real is something that I've toyed with for a while, but have always rejected, despite dropping in a few broad hints along the way. I tried again here, but soon took it out. This is a deleted exchange between Thursday and Dr Chumley (who speaks first)
"About the notion of you having a written version who exists independently of you."
"It's worse that that. I'm beginning to think that I am, too."
"You are what too?"
"Fictional. That you, me and everything that happens to me are not real at all."
"Then the written you is a meta-Thursday - a character in a book within a book?"
"That's very astute of you. Ask me how I know."
"How do you know, Thursday?"
Well, the books about me are living on a large land mass within the Bookworld called Fiction Island - all the different genres are laid out in a geographic fashion."
"My books rest on the edge of Speculative Fantasy." I waved my arms around to encompass everything about us. "If all this were real, my books would surely be placed in 'Contemporary Drama' or something. Do you understand? It's like going to a party as a guest and being handed a serving dish and an apron."
"What are you saying?"
"I'm not sure any of this is real at all. It could all be made up. I could all be made up. My exsistence as fleeting as the reading public give me, a brief breath of life until the next time."
"It's an interesting theory," said Dr Chumley, "how does it make you feel?"
"I thought for a moment.
"I'm not sure. I always did things because I felt it was right, but now that I think I might actually be fictional myself, I'm wondering what the point of it all is - to entertain readers? To make money for an author and a publisher?"
"belive me," said Dr Royce, "you seem real to me. I seem real. I have a family, a house, and ifty-eaight years of memories.
Why delete reason four
Because it's no bloody good.
This section was of an abandoned plot thread that added nothing. Although Pagerunners loose in the real world could work very well, it's a proper thread, and not a sub one. The parallels with Bladerunner are obvious, I agree, and intentional, but this explanation just drags on and on and on and on...
Commander Bradshaw was pacing the room when we walked in, and it wasn't just his presence that made me nervous, but his countenance. Usually a cheery fellow, he was pacing and scowling, either of which on their own might have been worrying enough, but together it gave me grave cause for concern.
"Wingco," said Bradshaw, saluting neatly, "how are you liking it out here?"
"Confusing sir," he replied, "reality is overlong, full of multiple plot-lines and with no clearly discernible thread or, as far as I can see, resolution."
"Random takes a lot of getting used to," said Bradshaw, How are you, Thursday?"
"I'm standing up," I replied, as it would be pointless to lie to him.
He stared at me for a moment. There were no other Jurisfiction operatives working out here - just a network of informers who kept tabs on the few fictional people who had so inveigled their way into public life that to remove them now would cause irreparable harm. If he wanted help, he had to come to me.
"We've got three Pagerunners loose in the Realworld," he said, placing a file on the desk, "and they're not just tourists or the curious. We caught them sniffing around the classics without proper papers and took them in for questioning. While on the way to the Jurisfiction offices they killed two cops, commandeered the vehicle and made their way to the Juristech Laboratories where they forced Professor Plum to send them into the Realworld. We caught up with them as the last was being transported across. He wouldn't surrender and took an agent down before we got him."
"That's another reason I want these bastards found and erased," he added, "no-one takes out a Jurisfiction agent and gets away with it."
"Where did they end up?" asked the Wingco, "The Realworld is a big place."
"By studying the Textual Sieve Data we know that they made landfall in Southern England. We don't know what they are doing here, but it seems they have a plan - and I hate Pagerunners with plans."
He was right - tourists and the curious were soon rooted out and returned, as they generally ended up standing around and looking lost. They were, for the most part, harmless.
"Which book are they from?" asked the Wingco.
"We found them in Vanity Publishing, but with a difference - they exist only in original manuscript form."
"How is that possible?" I asked, "Vanity only takes books that are published."
"We relaxed the rules to allow for self-published eBooks which might have no print run, and technically speaking, only one single copy is sold to multiple readers. They slipped through under the same legislation. But the point is, whoever these Pagerunners are, there's only one copy of them. Erase them and they've gone for ever. End of problem."
I exchanged looks with the Wingco. He was Critically Endangered, too.
"Who wrote them?" I asked.
"We don't know. We checked their book, but found little to go on. They had used a clumsily altered ISBN pinched from On Chesil Beach, and the front matter was forged. There were no margin notes, no exposition, no settings and no exterior description. The paper proved negative when tested for traces of Dramatic Irony, and we had the CSI guys swab it for traces for plot and punctuation splatter patterns - and found nothing. It had been well written, contained four characters with no dialogue, plot or exposition - and only one copy. It doesn't make sense."
"Lots out here doesn't make sense," said the Wingco.
"Agreed," replied Bradshaw, "but even the nuttiest of authors make copies. No-one has lost a completed manuscript since photocopiers came in."
"More importantly," I said, "Who would write a book with only four characters in it and no plot? Even Hemingway at least connected the characters with a fish or something. Standalone character studies make no sense at all - unless it was simply someone doing preparatory notes for an as-yet unrealised novel."
"Then why go through all that effort to have it published under the radar?" asked Bradshaw, "No, there's something bigger going on. I just have no idea what it might be."
We all nodded and looked at one another. We had no idea, either.
"Do you have anything we can go on?"
"We have some descriptions of the Pagerunners," he said, passing us copies. Photographs didn't work in Bookworld unless you explained what was in them, which made descriptions equally as good. I studied them carefully, hoping to recognise them. It was always tricky unless the description was very detailed as most humans looked pretty much the same, but I stopped when I got to the third.
"I think I know this person," I said slowly, knowing full well that descriptions were not that reliable. Jurisfiction wouldn't accept anything under two hundred words to even issue a warrant, and the one I was looking at had less than fifty. The arresting officer who jotted it down was like most cops - hated paperwork.
"...'He wore a porkpie hat balanced on top of a rounded head that had been crew-cut like a tennis ball..'," read the Wingco, "..'His features were sharp, his lips thin, and he sported heavy gold jewellery and a diamond tiepin that twinkled like a star...'."
"That could be Jack Schitt, of the The Goliath Corporation."
"Okay," said Bradshaw, "if these clowns are working for Goliath I want to raise their status to 'Erasure on sight'."
"We might not find out what they are up to."
"If there's a choice between deleting them and never knowing, I'm on for never knowing," replied Bradshaw. I'll leave it with you. If anything else comes up in our inquiries I'll contact you by Notepad."
He stared at me for a moment.
"I'm sorry to ask you to do this in your current state, Thursday, but we need some of the Thursday Magic."
"Don't worry sir," I told him, indicating the Wingco, "I have someone who can be my arms and legs."
"Jolly good," said Bradshaw, managing a faint smile, "appreciate a girl who knows when to use someone else's arms and legs. Cheerio."
And he vanished, leaving the pair of us standing there. I limped to the my desk and sat down.
"Goliath," I muttered, taking a seat, "I should have known we'd not hear the last of them."
"Three Pagerunners somewhere in Southern England," said the Wingco, taking off his officer's cap and loosening his tie, "and all of them identical to real people. How will we find them?"
"We don't," I replied, "knowing Goliath, they'll probably find me first. And I'm easy to find."
The 'Making Of' Wordamentary
The Lost Line Club
The Lost Line Club
Final rendering of the TN7 frontispiece, Mudron/Meconis. Note sonic screwdriver sneaked into Tuesday's pocket. This was pointed out later to me as I have not followed Dr Who since the late seventies.
The Lost Line Club is an exclusive little club that belongs to lines without a home. I liked them too much to be deleted outright, so they get lodged on my 'ideas' page for possible expansion or inclusion elsewhere. Most of them are self-explanatory, and are simply swept into this file because I couldn't use them - some of them are ideas, snatches of dialogues, or simply sentences I like. The detritus of writing is littered with these.
"They also cited the Timeline Extraterritorially Precedent that stated that a legal decision made in one time stream was true of all others."
They were termed 'Random Temporal Backflashes' and struck occasionally, briefly opening a window to something that might once have happened but now wouldn't. We hoped for something like this to save us during the upcoming extinction, but weren't hopeful - no Backflashes had ever been dated beyond 2091.
"One from Orville. He wanted to know if you thought 'Chattanougat Chew-Chew' was a good trade name for a sweet he's trying to market."
"my father died six times in the service of SO-12, which was not fun for him, but good news for Mum - the multiple pensions help a lot - although finding something new to say in each of the seven memorial services was tricky. What do you say at a service for someone who might die again the following week?"
Cognitive Dissonance - 'Car pooling is an excellent idea - just not for me'
Imagine a world where there were no hypothetical situations
Okay, they were by three different ghost-writers but let's not get judgemental -
nounS which have had their poles reversed: thursdaY
Sarcasm speech markers *Sure*.
It's a device that instils a sense of purpose in teenagers
It's called 'Watered Downship', a book about a Civil Servant written by rabbits.
Indoor fireworks; little flashes of black in the light.
Grapheme is a single, small unit of typography - the letter. (Ligature is two together)
If you don't put enough commas in, you won't know where to breathe and will die of asphyxiation
The anti-smote shield has to be done to deplete the stupidity so they can get to grips with an even bigger problem. "Something to do with Polar Bears."
The shattered wreckage of the book lay strewn along the coast, with abandoned chauffeurs and right-wing aristocrats all the way to the far end of the bay. I gazed mournfully upon the The remains of The Remains of the Day
The 'Plot-Pace-Atmos-Prose-Character' Pentagon - all generally keep each one apart; if one is trifled with the imbalance can set up a chain reaction.
'Everything aberrant or strange that can't be explained in the real world is mostly due to Pagerunners; ghost, boguls, will of the wisps and game show hosts. Terry Wogan? Entirely fictional. Do you think anyone would really have hair like that?"
I wonder if Jurisfiction has test audiences like the big film companies. And that is why they sometimes choose to change the endings.
The truth about other life on other planets - there isn't any. That's the frightening truth.
Life is never as good as the picture on the box
The ability to choke to death is the price we pay for the ability to speak
Dying - it's better than the alternative
Well, that's the end of the special features. Hope you enjoyed it.
Until the next time..