Not looking for inspiration

Everyone knows about the Iran and USA standoff, well, perhaps a reported standoff, the truth may never be known, because in situations like this both sides of a conflict are looking to gain brownie points with their people.

I’ve decided to look at this from a thriller writer’s perspective, so all or none of my thoughts are true or false.

So, Iran tried to mine and cripple oil tankers, and shot down a drone, a rather expensive drone at that.

The US wants to retaliate, but can’t prove conclusively that the Iranians are guilty of mining ships, and shooting down a drone in airspace it should not be in is hardly the reason to launch an offensive that could have catastrophic consequences.

Several things spring to mind from this doubtless misinformation on both sides:

150 innocent lives mean nothing in the greater scheme of things.  Thriller writers routinely kill off lots of people, innocent or otherwise, because the bad guys are really bad guys and couldn’t care less.  If this wasn’t the lead into another presidential election, that thought of the loss of life would not figure in any military or political thinking.

Innocent civilians in any war, real or otherwise are the last to be considered, and the first to die.

There is, of course, another more cynical perspective, one that was used in Iraq, and that’s to have human shields in places likely to attract precision bombing.  Yes, if the reports are correct, there is such a thing as pinpoint strikes using cruise missiles, though I suspect these types are now obsolete and the US arsenal has something far better.

Then there’s the possibility that whatever that replacement is it’s so new and untested in a live situation, that provoking another country might just give them a reason for doing so.  Or, a more simple explanation, the arsenal is full to overflowing and the US needs to offload some of its inventory.

Wars have been started with a lesser excuse.

Crippling oil tankers is an interesting tactic.  To me, destroying them would send a far more meaningful message to, well, whoever you like.

But, in destroying the ship, and have it sink in a place that would cause catastrophic consequences for all shipping in that region, would cause the Iranians far more problems than anyone else, which is why I suspect they didn’t, and I don’t think they will.   Like it or not they depend on the rest of the world, just as the rest of the world depends on that particular region.  Except for the US, the people they appear to be trying to antagonise simply because the US doesn’t need oil from that region.

So, not a good idea to isolate yourselves by having a complete ban on shipping to that corner of the world.  They’d have to suddenly become shipbuilders themselves, but in turn, no one would let their ships dock anywhere else in the world.

It seems to be posturing on both sides, and no doubt the propaganda machines on both sides are working overtime to convince not only their own people but the rest of the world, they are the injured party.  From what I’m reading, and I’m sure it has nothing to do with the truth, is that we are moments away from full-scale war.

And, not to throw a spanner in the works, it all depends on what the Russians will do.

The plot thickens!

Motive, means, and opportunity – Motive

I’m working on a novella which may boringly be called “Motive, Means and Opportunity” where I will present a chunk of information from which you if you want to, can become the armchair detective.

Here’s the first part, the so-called Motive


So, here’s the thing…

I said it.  Not once, in the heat of the moment, but more than once, to several different people.  I wanted James Burgman dead.


Because I knew he was the man sleeping with my wife, Wendy.

I’d long suspected she was having an affair, you know the signs, not where you expect her to be, making excuses where none were necessary if she was doing what she said she was, and disappearing for hours without an explanation.

And I knew James Burgman was an old boyfriend, a discovery that was made quite by accident.  In fact, I followed her one night, not because I was suspicious, but worried for her safety.

That was where I saw her meet him with more than just a friendly handshake.

I had to say it made me feel gutted.

But would I kill him?

It was not worth the problems it would cause me to do so, and, when push came to shove, neither of them were worth it.  I knew, even if he was out of the way, she would not stay with me. 

That train had left the station about a year ago when our only son had been killed in a senseless road accident.


© Charles Heath 2019

A progress report of sorts

This month is ticking by like all the months have this year, very rapidly and with little to show.

That, I’m guessing, has something to do with the fact I’m not satisfied with what I’ve written, probably the bane of every writer’s existence, but a line has to be drawn.

Of course, I’ve been saying that for years.

Perhaps the other problem, if it could be called that, of writer’s is their inability to admit their work is good enough and doesn’t require any more tinkering.

If only.

Right now I’m on the clock to finish off the final draft of “The Things We Do For Love”.  I have been saying, for almost a year now, that it is about to be published.  And yet, here I am, stuck at page 64, trying to get past a small bump in the road.

It is small.  Whether or not I need to provide background for one of the characters.  It comes out slowly over the course of the first two parts of the story which up until now I thought was fine.

The jury will not be out for much longer on that one.

The other book had had the final draft submitted to my editor who has it in hand.  That had several complete re-writes over the last two years and just needs to make sure the continuity is correct.  Sometimes, something is missed and when you get to a point you start scratching your head.

Hopefully, It won’t require surgery.

Then,. there’s another, a more light-hearted book of basically short stories inspired by photographs I have taken over the years.  It’s also currently at the editors, looking for a clean bill of health.

This month also saw the completion of Harry Walthenson, the private detective’s, first case, and that is going through the third draft, before also being sent to the editor for comments and suggestions.

I already have part of the plot worked out for his second case.

All in all, it’s busy, busy, busy.

Next cab off the rank, the second Zoe novel entitled, “First Dig Two Graves”, which is about two-thirds completed.

So much for taking a few days off.

X marks the spot

In the wake of watching too much television, and in particular Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, a very quaint but completely ambiguous statement was dismissed as something that would never happen in archeology, x marks the spot.

Of course, as we all know only too well, x really does mark the spot on treasure maps, and I’m sure there’s been quite a few of those over the last few centuries, what with the numbers of pirates on the high seas, well one known such as Blackbeard, and some not so well known.

And those treasure maps always seem to find their way into children’s stories for some reason, maybe because as children we were likely to believe it possible, whereas an adult, the only place we’re likely to find an x is where someone who can’t write signs their name.

That might also include a lot of press-ganged sailors, who were virtually kidnapped into British naval service to chase down those pirates, all of whom seemed to have that same ubiquitous signature.

And, by the way, that x marks the spot was in that Indiana Jones movie, a rather large x making up a part of the marble flooring.

X doesn’t often find it’s way into mainstream English, even as a prefix, except in the case of x-rays which is electromagnetic radiation.

And in science fiction, the most interesting use of x-ray is for using x-ray vision, starting with Superman, and ending with more sinister connotations.

Other than that the only word that I can remember that starts with an x is xenophobia, which seems to be raising its head around the world, the fear of people or objects from another country or culture

“The Things We Do For Love” – Coming soon

Is love the metaphorical equivalent to ‘walking the plank’; a dive into uncharted waters?

For Henry the only romance he was interested in was a life at sea, and when away from it, he strived to find sanctuary from his family and perhaps life itself.  It takes him to a small village by the sea, s place he never expected to find another just like him, Michelle, whom he soon discovers is as mysterious as she is beautiful.

Henry had long since given up the notion of finding romance, and Michelle couldn’t get involved for reasons she could never explain, but in the end both acknowledge that something happened the moment they first met.  

Plans were made, plans were revised, and hopes were shattered.

A chance encounter causes Michelle’s past to catch up with her, and whatever hope she had of having a normal life with Henry, or anyone else, is gone.  To keep him alive she has to destroy her blossoming relationship, an act that breaks her heart and shatters his.

But can love conquer all?

It takes a few words of encouragement from an unlikely source to send Henry and his friend Radly on an odyssey into the darkest corners of the red light district in a race against time to find and rescue the woman he finally realizes is the love of his life.

The cover, at the moment, looks like this:


In a word: Line

The English language has some marvelous words that can be used so as to have any number of meanings

For instance,

Draw a line in the sand

We would all like to do this with our children, our job, our relationships, but for some reason, the idea sounds really good in our heads, but it never quite works out in reality. What does it mean, whatever it is, this I’d where it ends or changes because it can’t keep going the way it is.

Inevitably it leads to,

You’ve crossed the line

Which at some point in our lives, and particularly when children, we all do a few times until, if we’re lucky we learn where that line is. It’s usually considered 8n tandem with pushing boundaries.

Of course, there is

A line you should never cross

And I like to think we all know where that is. Unfortunately, some do not and often find their seemingly idyllic life totally shattered beyond repair. An affair from either side of a marriage or relationship can do that.

You couldn’t walk a straight line if you tried

While we might debate what straight might mean in this context, for this adaptation it means staying on the right side of legality. Some people find a life of crime more appealing than doing honest days work.

This goes hand in hand with,

You’re spinning me a line

Which means you are being somewhat loose with the truth, perhaps in explaining where you’ve been and what you’ve been doing. I think sometimes liars forget they need to have good memories.

Then there are the more practical uses of the word, such as

I have a new line of products

Is that a new fishing line?

Those I think most of us get, but it’s the more ambiguous that we have trouble with. Still, ambiguity is a writer’s best friend and we can make up a lot of stuff from just using one word.

In a word: Anonymous

Which is how I feel sometimes.

It can be a paradox in that an ordinary man may strive to be recognized, that is, to rise above his inherent anonymity simply because he feels he has something more to offer mankind than just making up the numbers.

But sadly, that desire will often be met with staunch resistance, not because there’s an active campaign against him, it’s just the way of the world.

The fact is, most of us will always be anonymous to the rest of the world, but in being so in that respect it’s that anonymity we can live with.  However, it’s far more significant if we become anonymous to those around us.  And, sadly, it can happen.

It’s when we take someone for granted.

At the other end of the scale, there is the celebrity, who has finally found fame, discovers that fame is not all it’s cracked up to be.  You find that meteoric rise from obscurity an adrenalin rush, and you’re no longer anonymous.

But all that changes when you are constantly bailed up in the street by well-meaning but annoying fans when you are being chased by the paparazzi and magazine reporters who thrive not on the fact that you are famous but watching and waiting for you to stumble.

Some often forget that there’s always a camera on them, or there’s a reporter lurking in the shadows, looking for the next scoop, capturing that awkward inexplicable moment when the celebrity is seen with someone who’s not their spouse, or worse, if it could be that, they get drunk and make a fool of themselves.

Do I really want to lose that anonymity that I have?

Not really.  It seems to me like it might be the lesser of two evils.