The opportunity to feature this great debut novel, by a new name in the world of fiction writing, came to me direct from Philippa Cotton, Press Officer at publishing house Cornerstone, with a fantastic crisp new paperback copy arriving in the post within hours!
Philippa has arranged a very well supported blog tour for Falling, where there will be some excellent promotional posts and interviews published and you will be able to get a real flavour for the story, before hopefully reading it for yourself!
Just to get you started, Emma would like to share an extract from the book, with just a small caveat, that it does include some strong language! However, to avoid repeating the same lines when I include Falling as part of my ‘Book Beginnings’ meme, I have decided to share the extract from Chapter Two …
Introducing my debut novel – ‘FALLING’
A plane falls out of the sky.
A woman is murdered.
A town in mourning.
Four people all have something to hide.
Jim is a retired police officer, and worried father. His beloved daughter has disappeared and he knows something is wrong.
Tom has woken up to the news that his wife was on the plane and must break the news to their only son.
Cecilia had packed up and left her family. Now she has survived a tragedy, and sees no way out.
Freya is struggling to cope with the loss of her father. But as she delves into his past, she may not like what she finds.
Hi, I’m EMMA KAVANAGH
I was born and raised in Swansea, South Wales and, as my mother would tell you, I first announced that I wanted to be a writer at the grand old age of 5. I believe that I was dazzled by the riches that would fall to writers after being awarded a gold star and a lollipop for a 6 line short story. Ah, the ignorance of youth.
I took a somewhat circuitous route to authordom. Having decided that if I was going to write then I perhaps needed something to write about, I studied psychology in Cardiff University and then, for want of anything better to do (seriously!) I continued on into my PhD. The logical step, having achieved my much longed for doctorate, was to carry on into psychological research. So, obviously, I left academia as fast as my little legs could carry me, and instead started my own consultancy business, specialising in providing training to police officers and military personnel on the psychology of critical incidents.
I was 25 at the time and entering into a highly male dominated industry – my main area of focus was the use of firearms – so it shouldn’t have worked. But in defiance of all logic, it did, and I spent many fulfilling years travelling across the UK and Europe providing training and consultancy to police forces and NATO. I ran about fields taking part in tactical exercises, designed live fire training scenarios, played a VIP in bodyguard training events and fired my share of guns. It was, by anyone’s standards, an unusual life.
But still, it wasn’t writing. So, now that I had something to say, I faced the demon of the blank screen and started to write my first book. It was not good. It was, however, undeniably a book shaped creation and it gave me the courage to try again. This next book was better and got me my agent, the truly wonderful Camilla Wray at Darley Anderson. Still, the holy grail of the publisher’s deal remained just out of reach. I took some time off, had my first son, and then, when he was three months old began to write the book that would become Falling.
Fortunately, Falling turned out to be the one, and it was picked up by Jenny Geras at Arrow. I now get to officially call myself a full time author (alongside being a full time mother). My second book, Hidden, is due for release in April, 2015 and I type this with my 6 week old second son on my lap, still unable to believe that I got to be so lucky.
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I think the thing I love most about writing is that there is nothing that is beyond the scope of what I do. Anything that catches my interest – a crime, a personality trait, a large-scale catastrophe – can evolve and grow into a story. I also love how writing can be used to expose us to a world in which we would never normally find ourselves, and can give us the opportunity to imagine how we would react to it, how we would cope.
‘FALLING’ – Chapter Two
Tom: Thursday 15 March, 6.16 p.m.
Tom’s feet skated on black ice and for a moment he hung in the air, shoes scrabbling for purchase on the steep incline. He slid, past gluttonous wheelie bins, through the puddle of yellow light that spilled from the street lamp, back into the darkness of the alleyway, a narrow artery littered with used syringes and disco balls of silver foil, air choked with the spiky scent of urine and rot. Then ice gave way to glistening tarmac, feet settling on to solid ground again.
The heroin-thin figure was just ahead, plunging through banked-up snow, skin blue on drug-tracked arms. Callum Alun Jones had been out of prison for a little over a month. The iced wind pulled at his breath, throwing it back towards Tom, dousing him in sweet alcohol, the musk of cigarettes. This time Callum’s victim had been eighty-seven years old – a survivor of the Normandy campaign, an English teacher. A tremulously thin man with a shock of white hair who had buried his wife and his youngest daughter within a year of one another, and who had spent the last six months clinging grimly to a life that had all but defeated him. He’d been sleeping when Callum had broken into his tiny terraced house, had woken suddenly, roused by something that he couldn’t identify. Had found the drug addict in his kitchen, seen Callum’s rats-tail fingers closing around his dead wife’s wedding ring, and then the fists that rained down on him until everything turned red. The man had woken in the hospital two days later, face grey and eyes empty, finally defeated.
Tom had held the old man’s hand as he wept, and had thought that there were days when this was the worst job in the world. He had been in the force for fifteen years. Eight in uniform, pounding pavements in the lashing rain, drainpipe drizzles plopping from the rim of his helmet on to his fluorescent jacket. Then CID. A detective, just like his father. He tried not to think about that. His mother said that was why he had never gone for promotion, why sitting at detective constable was enough for him. Not because he didn’t think he was capable of reaching the dizzying heights of detective chief inspector, but because if he did then he would truly be his father’s son. And anything was better than that.
Fifteen years. Fifteen years in which Tom had seen more than a dozen dead bodies, smelled death more times than he would have thought possible. He remembered the last time he had arrested Callum Jones, spared a moment as he danced through patches of ice to wonder how long it would be until he was arresting him again. A never-ending carousel.
Tom breathed in the bitter cold air, skidding on ice-rink tarmac. Thought of his son that morning, eyes still heavy with sleep. No idea that his mother had gone.
‘You’re going to go to Grandma’s today. Okay, Ben?’ His son had studied him, the light from the rising sun throwing shadows on to a face creased into a little-boy frown. Then a smile that could break your heart. ‘’Kay, Daddy.’ Baby-fat fingers reaching up carefully, hovering over the slick aubergine skin. ‘Show Gaga my owie.’ Clumsy, the fingers brushed the bruise, and his rosebud lips pulled down, face creased. ‘Ow, Daddy.’
‘I know, bud. You’re okay. Gaga will kiss it better.’ And he’d tucked the toddler’s windmilling arms into thick padded sleeves, and tried not to think about what would come next. Watching his son’s chubby fingers spreading themselves wide, the frown as he examined them, like he’d never seen them before. Suddenly fascinating. Tried to ignore the words that circled his head, vultures above a carcass. Your mother has left us. She’s not coming back.
Callum was inches ahead now, running ragged on the steep incline. Tom dug his feet hard into the slush, gritting his teeth, the cold whipping at his lungs as he ran. He could see Callum’s arms, pumping back and forth beneath his T-shirt. Callum’s girlfriend had stood there on the doorstep of their council flat, biting her lower lip as she cradled her track-covered arms and tried to disappear into the flocked wallpaper. She had watched as her boyfriend – the one who loved her and who had beaten her hard enough to kill the drug-addled baby growing inside her – pushed past the arresting officers and into the snow-bound night.
They were plunging down the hill, the cold catching at Tom’s throat, running so fast it seemed that they were falling. Sound of cars, getting louder, and then the alleyway opened up, spitting them on to the curve of a main road, traffic thin and moving slowly in the slush. Past the skeleton of a phone box, all jagged glass edges, glittering in orange street lighting. The snow was thinner here, mounds thinning into furrows of slush. Callum raced onwards, not glancing left or right, past the wide-eyed shop windows where late shoppers peered over displays, out into the road, an almost terminal slip in the car-tracked snow, then regaining his balance and diving on past the Co-op. Tom veered around slush, breathing easy, compact body primed by years of running.
A beam of light and the slam of a car door.
Tom glanced sideways at his partner, Dan. ‘Took your time.’
‘Got fucking lost. Ended up in a bastard funeral procession.’
‘At least you’re clearly not the Grim Reaper. Not got the figure for it.’
‘Whatever, skinny arse. You going to catch this little shit, or what?’
Tom had woken that morning to the sound of the front door. It always stuck in the cold. It had pulled him from a dream into a moment of disorientation, and he lay blinking into the darkness. Then the growl of an engine, settling back into a steady grumble, swaddled in snow. He wondered distantly just where it was that Cecilia was going this early in the morning. She wasn’t due to fly until that night. The rhythm of the engine climbed, wheels crunching on the snow. But then did it really matter when you came right down to it? He listened to the car until he could hear it no more, then lay for a while in the silence. He didn’t know what made him get up. How it was that he just suddenly knew. He pushed back the duvet, bare feet on thick carpet, and padded down the hall, to the room that had become known as Cecilia’s room. He pushed the door, that feeling in his stomach of treading where he wasn’t supposed to go. Snapped on the light. The curtains were closed. The bed was made, duvet pulled tight across the box frame. He stood there for a moment. It looked like a guest room again. The book was gone. The one she had been reading, the one whose title he had never bothered to learn. And the picture of Ben in its knotted silver frame that had sat on the bedside table. That was gone too. He crossed the room, slowly pulled open the wardrobe door. Ran his fingers over the few clothes that remained. They smelled of his wife. He stood there, staring at the gaping hole, the naked metal hangers. And knew. His marriage was over.
He had gone back to bed, footsteps slow. She was supposed to watch Ben today. That was what she had said. But it was probably for the best, after yesterday. He hadn’t been able to sleep, though, had stared at the ceiling for an hour, maybe more. The bedroom door had creaked, a little after six, and Tom had listened to the tread of little-boy feet on carpet, hiding a smile as a soft voice whispered,
‘’Kay, Daddy. Back to sleep. I stay here now.’ The heart- stopping warmth of his son creeping under the duvet, huddling against him. Tom cuddled him in, painfully aware that it didn’t even occur to Ben to wonder where his mother was.
Callum turned sharply, into the road, past the primary school – closed, thank God – then a sharp left into the alleyway that snaked by the steepled building. Snow climbed into peaks, hiding the detritus that lay beneath. But it was dark. That was why he didn’t see the leaking downpipe and the lake of ice that had spread out across the narrow alleyway.
In fairness, Tom didn’t see it either. What he saw was Callum’s legs stretched in a giant leap over a protruding bank of snow, sailing through the air in a balletic moment of elegance that Tom doubted his sad little life had ever seen before. Then that moment when everything goes wrong, as his right foot made contact with the ground, expecting a solid surface, somewhere safe to land, arms windmilling as his body realised before his brain did that there was no safety here and that the solid ground had warped into a sheet of ice. Then his left foot, landing because it had no choice, desperately trying to make the situation better but only making it worse. And then both feet giving up the game, as they slid out from under him and he dropped like a stone, skinny arse landing on the frozen ground with a sickening thud.
Tom skidded to a halt, keeping his feet on firm ground, before reaching out, hands encompassing the bone-thin wrists. ‘Come on.’ He hoisted him up. ‘Callum Alun Jones, I am arresting you for assault and burglary . . .’
‘Little fucker, little fucker, little fucker . . .’ Tom didn’t look round, didn’t need to, to know that Dan was skidding, arms flailing wildly from a body more designed for rugby than slalom. ‘Stand still, you little shit. I swear to God, I’m going to . . .’ then a pause, as ice and breathlessness tore his partner’s words from his mouth.
Tom snapped handcuffs on to the addict’s wrists, the narrow figure writhing as Tom read him his rights, kicking out at Tom’s shins.
‘Fuck you, wanker.’ Callum’s voice sounded like sandpaper.
Tom wrapped him in a tight grasp. ‘Yeah, yeah.’
Callum twisted, pulling his head back. Tom should have seen it coming. He’d been here often enough. Shouldn’t have come as a surprise. But he was off his game today, not paying the attention he should, and the gob of murky fluid hit him square in the face.
‘Little shit.’ Dan grabbed hold of Callum, pushing his shoulder into the ground. ‘Fucking little shit.’
Tom wiped his face with his sleeve. ‘Forget it, mate. He’s a twat.’ Pulling him bodily to his feet. ‘Come on, wide boy. Walk.’
Snow had begun to fall again in thick flakes, and in spite of himself Tom wondered if Cecilia would be flying today. Took a second to reflect on the irony of running away from your husband and son only to be grounded by a late spring snowfall. The wind had whipped up, bitterly cold, swirling torrents of snow into miniature tornadoes. They walked slowly, heads down. Callum had stopped struggling, was trudging beside them now, cuffed hands folded behind his back as he muttered to himself about his human rights. It would be a tough night to fly.
They were in the car, Callum tucked into the back, shiv- ering wildly without the adrenalin to keep him warm.
Dan turned the key, the engine sparking to life. ‘Bloody weather.’
‘Supposed to be like this for a while.’
‘So they say.’
‘You, ah, you hear about Madeleine?’
Tom watched the snow tumbling by his window. ‘Yeah.’
‘May, the baby’s due.’
‘Said she’ll be sticking around in CID with us. They’ve got her doing light duties.’ Dan eased the car out on to the slick roadway. ‘You guys talk much now?’
Since he had told her he was leaving her. Since he had broken her heart and his own in the process.
‘A bit. Not much.’ Tom reached, twisting the volume button until another voice drowned out Dan and the memory of what could have been. The newsreader’s tone was serious. Tom was going to change the channel, his hand moving, but then something fluttered at his subconscious, so that his hand hung in mid-air, stayed by something that he didn’t recognise. Then the words.
Thanks for stopping by Emma, it has been great hosting you, here at Fiction Books and thank you for entering into the spirit of the blogging community.
I look forward to reading ‘Falling’ and wish you every success with future book sales.