7 June 2019

Novel Conversations with Kishan Paul's Character - Eddie

 In conjunction with Indie BRAG
posted on the first  Friday of the month

To be a little different from the usual 'meet the author' 
let's meet a character

Edil Ghani (Eddie)


Q: Hello, I’m Helen the host of Novel Conversations, please do make yourself comfortable. Would you like a drink? Tea, coffee, wine – something stronger? You’ll find a box of chocolates and a bowl of fruit on the table next to you, please do help yourself. I believe you are a character in Kishan Paul’s novel. Would you like to introduce yourself? Are you a lead character or a supporting role?  
A: Brandy would be great but if you don't have that then coffee will work. I'm Edil Ghani but you can call me Eddie. (He grabs an apple from the fruit bowl and takes a bite.) I'm a character in The Second Wife and I should be considered a lead in the story, seeing as how I'm the real hero and all, but Kishan keeps telling me I'm a supporting character. (He rolls his eyes.) I'm on the cover. (He shrugs and takes another bite of the apple.) Read the book and you decide who's the real star.

Q: (Helen nods and hands him a qality vintage brandy) What genre is the novel and what is it about?
A: (He rests the back of his feet on the coffee table and makes himself comfortable.) Do I look like the kind of person who'd be in anything but a suspense thriller? (He chuckles and shakes his head.) This one's all about the action. Don't get me wrong, there's love in there but there's also some dark twisted cr*p and some serious action too. How could there not? This is a story about survival. Alisha was kidnapped by her a$$hole client. (He scowls at the fruit in his hand and then tosses it into trash can.) While she tries to survive the hell he puts her through, her husband, David, is trying to find her. Which is where I come in. I'm the one who helps him do that.

Q: No spoilers, but are you a ‘goody’ or a ‘baddie’? (Or maybe you are both!)
A: (A lazy grin stretches across his face.) That depends on who you ask. How about this? I'm a good bada$$.

Q:  Tell me about another character in the novel – maybe your best friend, lover or partner … or maybe your arch enemy!
A: Well, there's David Dimarchi. He's not my best friend or lover or anything but is a pretty solid guy. The man practically begs me to help him find his wife. (Eddie drops his feet from the coffee table and leans forward.) He's a surgeon living a sweet life in Philadelphia. So using a gun much less flying down to Pakistan and going up against a terrorist organization aren't really things he'd been trained to do. As much of a pain as he was, (He raises a brow) and trust me he was a serious pain in mine, that man loved his wife and was willing to do anything to get her back. (Eddie shrugs.) How do you not feel for him?

Q: Is this the only novel you have appeared in, or are there others in a series?
A: I'm in all three books of the series. Like I said, I am the hero of that series. I think Kishan just doesn't want to admit she's wrong and I'm right.

Q: What is one of your least favourite scenes you appear in?
A: (He reaches for his glass and takes a long slow drink.) Sayeed is about as bad as they come. There's a scene in the book where David and I are watching him torment Alisha and we can't do anything to stop him. Not yet anyway. Sitting there seeing how he hurts her and seeing how it kills David to watch it happen, and not being able to stop it - that was a low point for me. (He takes another big swallow of his brandy.)

Q: And your favourite scene?
A: (He slides the now empty glass back on the table and shifts in his seat.) There are a couple. One, I can't say much about with out giving it away but I'll say this, there was a part of me that I thought I'd lost forever.  In that scene, I find it. Another favorite scene of mine is where Alisha goes all Vampira on me and bites me on the neck. (Eddie pulls the collar of his shirt and points at the spot). I still have a scar.

Q: Tell me a little about your author. Has she written any other books? 
A: Kishan is finishing up The Deadly Match the final book of The Second Wife Series. This one is my favorite of the three books because even Kishan admits I am the leading man of that story.  Aside from that series, she's written some other stories, Blind Love, Stolen Hearts, and Taking the Plunge.

Q: Is your author working on anything else at the moment?
A: She's been talking about a whole new series that she wants to start on. A new suspense.

Q: How do you think indie authors, such as your author, can be helped or supported by readers or groups? What does your author think is the most useful for her personally?
A: Post reviews and tell others about her work. When you post a review or tell your friends about how amazing a man I am, then other people are going to want to read the books so they can have a taste of me. And once they taste me, they'll want their friends to do the same. (He winks.) I don't mind being shared.

Q:  Finally, before we must bid adieu, the novel you appear in has been awarded a prestigious IndieBRAG Medallion, does your author find this helpful, and is there anything else he/she would like IndieBRAG to do to help indie authors receive the recognition they deserve?
A: Kishan's pretty proud of the IndiBRAG Medallion. She brags about it and puts it in all her ads. From what she told me, she likes it when you post about her books too. It's that whole sharing thing I mentioned. When we post reviews and share our favorite stories, other readers discover the stories too.

Thank you Eddie it was a pleasure talking to you. Would your author like to add a short excerpt?
And while she's sorting that out, would you like another brandy? (He slides over his empty glass and flashes Helen a smile when she refills it.)

Salute! Here’s to being a successful Brag Medallion Honouree!

(When David meets Eddie for the first time.)

Dave sized him up. With his black hair cut short and dark eyes, he looked very Middle Eastern. Maybe he could take me to Pakistan. And he was built as if he’d walked out of a men’s fitness magazine. Probably kick some serious ass.
    When Eddie scanned the room, his gaze fell squarely on Dave. He seemed intense, like someone who didn’t waste his time laughing or cracking a smile often. Intimidating. That could be a good thing too. Even the way he dressed in all gray from his long-sleeved shirt to his dark slacks, sent a don’t f*ck with me message. All of which would help find Ally, unless he was one of the people Sayeed was bribing, and then Dave was the one f*cked.
     Eddie flashed a smile and reached out his hand. “Dr. Dimarchi. I’m Eddie Ghani. I’m with the CIA.”
    Dave stood and accepted the outstretched palm. The man pulled out a white piece of paper from his pocket. “My card.”
    He took the card and, incapable of reading, stared at the letters. In the past few minutes, a thin bead of perspiration had developed across his forehead and now dripped down his temples. Dave swiped at the moisture and stuffed the paper and his fists into his pants pockets.
    “Dr. Dimarchi, I’d like to sit and chat with you for a bit.”
   Voices warred in his head. Who should he trust? How much should he share? When he rocked on his heels, the drive dug into his toe. He tried to concentrate on the pain instead of on the fear building inside him that he was screwing up.
   After dropping his messenger bag on the coffee table, Eddie sat on the sofa, leaned in, planted his elbows on his knees, and pointed at the armchair. “Please.”
    What if he was the one person who could bring her home? It wouldn’t hurt to hear what he had to say, would it?
    Dave positioned himself in the chair.
    An approving smile stretched across the agent’s tanned features. “Thank you. We need to  talk about the visit you had fifteen minutes ago. Tell me what you know about him.”
    What the hell was he supposed to say? The weight of his decision bore down on him, and the idea of running away seemed very appealing. “Nothing.”
    Eddie squinted and assessed him as he rubbed his hands together. “Nothing?”
    Dave kept his face as expressionless as possible and nodded.

Sign up for her newsletter at: http://subscribepage.com/kishanpaul
Website: http://kishanpaul.net
Twitter: https://twitter.com/@kishan_paul
Join her fan group Kish's Collective: 
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/kishanpaul 



Twitter: @IndieBrag

Subscribe to newsletter:  http://tinyletter.com/HelenHollick
Twitter: @HelenHollick


4 June 2019

Vellum - a magical material

A Guest Post by Nicky Galliers

Parchment, or vellum as I am going to refer to it, is an amazing material and one that is poorly understood. Yet few realise how little they understand it.

There have been many writing substrates through the millennia: stone, papyrus, wax, slate, vellum, paper and others besides. Paper is the most familiar, obviously, but that makes us think we also know about vellum. Vellum looks like paper, does the same job as paper, we think it does what paper does, only in a more old fashioned way.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

To assume vellum and paper are practically the same is to assume that a horse and a scooter are the same because they are both forms of transport. Few people truly understand the marvellous, almost magical, material that is vellum.

Vellum is a natural product, more natural than many a bleached, processed paper. Today it is the by-product of the food industry, from skins that would otherwise be disposed of by being burned, causing harm to the environment. In the past sourcing wouldn’t have been limited to the food industry.

Today, each carefully selected skin is cleaned, bleached if necessary - many skins are selected for the natural characteristics and colour - stretched on a frame called a herse, resulting in a 25% increase in surface area, and left to dry. Once dry, it is removed from the herse, smoothed and then trimmed into sheets.

Related image

There are many qualities that vellum possesses that makes it a rather astonishing material. Its very toughness has been exploited over the millennia for more than just writing on. It won’t tear, won’t break, snap or disintegrate like paper. It takes 500 years for it to discolour, if it is going to.

Another quality is its inflammability; you can’t set it alight. It doesn’t carry a flame. Hold a flame to it for long enough, yes, it will start to degrade, but it won’t catch, so when the flame is removed, the vellum stops burning. This means that to destroy a piece of vellum takes a bit longer than paper and a bit more effort. You can’t just shove the corner in a candle flame and leave it to it – as soon as you move the flame away, it all stops. To fully burn a sheet of vellum you have to apply the flame to the whole sheet. You can drop it in a fire, a piece I dropped on a barbecue charred and curled quickly but not as quickly or thoroughly as paper. I was able to remove it and it wasn’t hot to touch. It is medieval Nomex or Proban, the materials that race drivers and circuit marshal wear to protect them from flame. A word of warning for those who want a character in a book to get rid of some vellum in an underhand manner by burning – it stinks! 

one of my experiments, immersing vellum in water.
I cut this piece from the edge, you can see the corners.
Then I left it in water.
That’s around a 50% shrinkage. 
If fire is not the enemy it is to paper, what is? How else do you destroy vellum? Well, the short answer would be that you can’t, not easily, but it can be damaged, sometimes beyond repair, by water. Paper is damaged by water, the average piece of A4 white paper absorbs it and it warps and no amount of ironing will flatten it, hence papers for artists have to be prepared before they are used. Vellum also changes in water, but in a different way.

Related image

The production of vellum is all very natural. It is stretched on a herse and dried under tension and it then stays that way. It is not tanned like leather is, a process that alters the proteins in the skin permanently. Apply water and it will want to go back to how it was. A sheet of vellum immersed in a bucket of water will have reverted to its previous size and shape within fifteen minutes, a dramatic and violent change. However, if the vellum is still in the frame, or stretched tight over something else, and it is then moistened, it will again try to shrink and cockling (lumpiness) will appear where it is trying to shrink, but because it is under tension, it will dry back into its stretched form.

These two startling processes have different uses. The latter is perfect for drums. When consistently hit in the same place, a drum head will stretch and the drum will lose its resonance. To rectify this with a vellum drum head, one merely rubs the whole surface with a wet sponge and leaves it to dry. It will dry and tighten back to how it was when it was new.

The former process has several uses. For instance, furniture. Carlo Bugatti, father of Ettore Bugatti who made cars, used vellum extensively in his designs, decorative and practical. In the construction of furniture vellum is used to secure joints. Wrap the vellum around the joint and wet it. As it is not under tension, it shrinks and it will hold the joint securely.

Another little-known use is for bow strings. A piece of vellum long enough to create a string doesn’t exist, but flat, square sheets weren’t used. Instead, you cut a circle and then you cut around the circumference a millimetre from the edge, working your way inwards in a spiral, and like peeling an apple, you have a long strip. This was then affixed to either end of the bow. This in itself creates a very strong bowstring, but you wet it and it shrinks, giving that much more tension to the bow and a greater range. It dries, it returns to its former size, and you wet it and start again.

Vellum document 1802 
There are two historical events that I was always curious about and a chat with the general manager, Paul Wright, at William Cowley vellum manufacturer (the only vellum maker in the world that still makes vellum the same way as the Anglo-Saxons) helped to explain them. The first was the dreadful fire that destroyed swathes of the manuscript collection called the Cotton Collection at Ashburnham House, Westminster, London, in 1731. If vellum doesn’t burn, what happened? The vellum itself, the manuscript collection, wasn’t the accelerant that caused the fire to burn. Something else fed the fire - bookcases, carpets, curtains etc. - and the flames were applied to the vellum causing it to degrade. Then there was the water damage from the attempts to extinguish the fire.

Ash Burnham House 1880
The other was a new scenario for Paul Wright but he was able to explain how it was possible. In 1347 a letter was smuggled out of Calais which at the time had been besieged by the English for a year. The letter was a plea to the French king to relieve the town, else they’d be forced to surrender to King Edward III of England. When the English attacked the ship carrying the letter in Calais harbour, fearing the letter expressing the dire situation would fall into the hands of the English, it was attached to an axe and thrown into the sea. A English sailor jumped in after it and retrieved it, and it was taken to King Edward.

But how did a letter written on vellum that had been in the sea remain legible? Paul wanted details about how the letter was attached to the axe that I couldn’t supply but it sounded plausible for the letter to have been wrapped around the axe handle and secured with some twine before it was thrown into the water. In which case, Paul explained, as a roll, only two surfaces were exposed to the water (the outer and inner of the roll), and only those would have been subject to water damage, and these surfaces would have covered the rest and protected them, leaving them dry and undamaged. Had the writing only been in the centre of the sheet, it would all have remained perfectly legible. And it would have taken, he estimated, about a quarter of an hour for the exposed surfaces to be damaged, leaving the interior safe for longer than that, giving Edward’s sailor possibly as much as half an hour to fetch up the letter from the floor of the harbour.

Vellum is seen as archaic and irrelevant. Parliament decided in 2017 to stop recording public acts of parliament on vellum. And yet a few years ago the vice-president of Google referred to ‘bit rot’ where files are rendered unreadable through defunct software and called for ‘digital vellum’ to be created to preserve a generation of data from the digital age. Domesday Book is still as legible today was it was when it was written in 1086.

Magna Carta (British Library Cotton MS Augustus II.106).jpg
Magna Carta - again, written on vellum
(British Museum)
In this modern age of digital technology, of cloud storage and digitalisation, data is ephemeral. 

Vellum, however, is almost everlasting.

© Nicky Galliers