Beginnings and Endings 4

Footprints (Breakwater/Jesperson 2008) is a thriller that poses the moral question of how far you should pursue a cause in which you truly believe when no-one will listen to you – and how extreme the action you should take in pursuit of that cause.

It’s one of those stories that, as I finished writing, I really liked – for both its characters and its plot – and that I thought was really strong, and that got good reviews (“… astute, contemporary and engaging …”, “… excellent, character-driven … relevant and contemporary …”)

And that had absolutely pitiful sales.

I’m conceited enough (or stupid enough – take your choice) to still believe in it, and every time I use it in readings the audience response confirms that belief. Especially I like both beginning and ending. Here’s the preamble.

She glides from the shelter of the trees, clutching the device carefully in one hand, and is across the road, pressed against the wall of the cottage grounds, before the boys have time to worry about someone seeing her. Keeping low, she peers around the stone gatepost. No sign of Anderson’s men. She eases herself up until she can reach the security panel, and presses in the code. She flattens herself back against the wall as the tall wrought-iron gates swing silently open. She has ten seconds before they close of their own accord. She peers around the gatepost again. Still no sign of life. With a glance back to where the boys wait in the woods, she sprints to the barn and slides into the space between it and the high garden wall. As she lowers the device towards the hole under the barn, the timer already set, she reflects: How did a walk on the beach lead to this?




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