Do you remember all the times in film and television that you’ve seen a novelist madly slaving away on a vintage typewriter as he finishes a book with a flourish? As the camera pans over his shoulder, you see that he’s typed The End. He rips the paper from the typewriter carriage (in the days of eld, he’d stub a cigarette out first), stuffs it along with a massive stack of similar pages into a manila envelope and that’s that. He is incredibly accomplished and doesn’t re-read or edit one damn thing and, Voila!, a bestseller is on its way to his publisher. Writing a book isn’t that easy. Finishing a book with confidence isn’t that easy. Finishing a book with that much confidence is, well, insane. But the hardest part of finishing any novel is saying goodbye to the characters
Saying goodbye to characters is a lot tougher than movies and television make it seem. You’re a reader, so I know you understand. You’ve said goodbye to many characters in The Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter—76 deaths in HP!—at least as you once knew them. You know how hard it is. Not that I type The End at the end of my books, because I don’t. I type The Beginning because the books I write for youth constitute the beginning of the remainder of the characters’ lives. Nonetheless, you get the point
Here I am, completing the edits for Elpída, the third and final book in the Elpída series. Christy’s story is largely told, he’ll only grow in life from where we leave off, and Michael and Jake will remain bros forever. The bad guy is in prison for life, Christy and Sophia are reconciled as brother and sister, and the unresolved issues in Ómorphi and Thárros have been brought to a close. This series stands alone, and should stay that way, and I am valiantly portending that I am pleased with the series wrap-up. The truth is, I’m struggling
Leaving characters behind is worse than a break-up or divorce. As authors, we often mourn the loss of a character or characters as if we’ve suffered a death in the family, and all that entails. We endure the five stages of loss—denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and finally—No! Don’t make me!—I will not acquiesce to acceptance! I refuse! What about Noah and Gavin? What about Stephen and Jerry? What about Jorge and Malvolio? What about Lisa and George? What about Jake and Sophia? WHAT ABOUT ZERO AND THIMI? What about Nicos and—oh, wait, that’s an adult story for Lis—but you get me. I’m not ready! This is why sequels are born. But I have no plans for one. None. Zip. Nada. What to do? What to do?
For now, I’ll leave you with yassou, a common Greek greeting for both goodbye and hello, and truly meaning “to your health,” and we’ll see what happens next. In the meantime, here’s an excerpt from Elpída, out in June, 2017 from Harmony Ink Press! Thank you for reading my books!
Hippokration Hospital, Friday
GLYFADA, SOUTH ATHENS, GREECE
Sotíras strode down the long corridor to the security wing of the hospital. He reached the double doors and peered through the small glass window. All looked quiet within. He reached to the wall and pressed the stainless steel wall plate with a hand, and a discordant buzz sounded. Within seconds, the pneumatic locks rotated with a rude click. The quiet of the hospital only served to enhance the echo and made it sound louder and more annoying than it already was. He pulled the door open and entered the deathly quiet area. It was almost too quiet.
He walked down the hall, rounded the corner to the nurses’ station, and was surprised to find it empty. Who let me in? He turned and looked down the opposing hallway toward Thimi’s room, and the hair on the back of his neck stood on end. The guards weren’t at the door. He moved his hand to his belt, unsnapped the holster, and wrapped his hand around the pistol grip. His senses on high alert, he made his way down the hall to the door, his footsteps stealthy in the quiet of the wing.
When he reached the door, he listened intently. Nothing. With his gun at the ready, he tried to shove the door open. It wouldn’t budge. He pushed on the door harder, to no avail. He took two steps back and kicked the door in. Splinters flew as the doorjamb shattered, and he swept the room with the gun.
The room was empty.
What the devil is going on?
He withdrew his cell phone and dialed the station.
“General, thank God you called!” Colonel Apostolos, his second in command, shouted. “They’re on the roof! Thimi saw the news about Christy and is threatening to jump!”
Sotíras turned and ran for the stairwell. “Why didn’t someone tell him Christy is all right?”
“Dr. Jordanou did but he doesn’t believe it. FCFC is on the way, ETA three minutes.”
“They better be here before I get there or losing jobs will be the least of their problems!”
Sotíras was a big man and took the stairs two at a time, using the railing to catapult himself around each turn. At the fifth floor roof door, he made to barrel through it but decided against it. He didn’t want to startle anyone, most particularly Thimi. He opened the door slowly and was nearly blinded by the late evening sunset. A fiery splash across the horizon, it shone with crimson, a neon bloodred, threaded with streaks of red-orange and yellow—as if a giant, ethereal hand had crushed and smeared the sun across the sky. He cursed the few seconds it took his eyes to adjust and looked around. There was Thimi. Standing on the damn parapet!
Dr. Jordanou spoke softly at Thimi’s back while the hospital staff waited in abeyance, terror evident on their faces. Sotíras approached slowly, and the sound of Thimi’s near-silent weeping drifted to him on the evening breeze. Sotíras quickly withdrew his notepad from his breast pocket, scribbled a note on it, and held it so Dr. Jordanou could read it.
Dr. Jordanou nodded and gestured for Sotíras to stand to the right of Thimi. Dr. Jordanou crept forward to Thimi’s left. “Thimi? General Sotíras is here. He says you can speak with Christy.”
Thimi turned fast, tottered, his arms spinning like the blades of a windmill, and he began to fall.
They lunged. It was all Dr. Jordanou could do to catch Thimi’s hospital gown in a hand. Sotíras caught his wrist with one hand, the gown with the other. Thimi cried out as he hit the side of the building with a dull thud and hung there, suspended six stories above the ground. Dr. Jordanou stretched over the side of the parapet and grabbed the other arm as he gripped the gown with all his might. They heaved and had Thimi back over the parapet in seconds, landing hard with Thimi on top of them. As the hospital staff advanced to help them, Thimi scrambled away at the speed of light.
“Don’t!” Dr. Jordanou ordered as he got to his feet.
The staff froze.
Taking in Thimi’s heaving chest and hands that trembled violently, Sotíras’s heart ached. He remembered when he’d first spoken with Christy after he’d saved him. He’d been no different. Terrified of the world, distrusting of everyone, simply waiting for the next form of torture, the next humiliation, and the pain to come.
Sotíras slowly got to his feet. “Thimi,” he said softly. “Christy is alive.”
Thimi’s chest heaved as he spat venomous words. “Y-you lie! Y-you are like them!”
Sotíras knew there was no use in arguing with him. He held his hands at his sides, his palms open. “I’m going to get my phone out of my coat and call Christy.”
He slowly reached into his breast pocket, and Thimi bolted. Sotíras motioned to Dr. Jordanou to head around the other side of the roof exit as he raced after Thimi. He rounded the small roof building as Dr. Jordanou came around the other side of it, but Thimi was gone. It was as if he’d vanished into thin air.
Sotíras looked around, and then he saw it. He glanced at Dr. Jordanou and gestured toward the storage shed. They approached, and Sotíras motioned for Dr. Jordanou to wait as he dialed Christy. There was no answer. He rubbed his forehead in frustration. There wouldn’t be. Christy was in the hospital. He dialed Nero Santini. No answer. No surprise. He was in court. He dialed Rob Villarreal, Christy’s psychiatrist. Thank God, he picked up on the first ring.
“Nicos Sotíras,” he said without preamble. “I have a problem.” He quickly explained the situation, and Rob was quick with a solution.
“Michael has his phone with him, but let me also give you the number to the nurses’ station.” He rattled it off.
Ash is an author who lives, most of the time, on the West Coast of the United States. Ash writes adult fantasy, science fiction, mystery thrillers, romance, and fiction for gay young adults as C. Kennedy.
Raised on the mean streets and back lots of Hollywood by a Yoda-look-alike grandfather, Ash doesn’t conform, doesn’t fit in, is epic awkward, and lives to perfect a deep-seated oppositional defiance disorder. In a constant state of fascination with the trivial, Ash contemplates such weighty questions as If time and space are curved, then where do all the straight people come from? When not writing, Ash can be found taming waves on western shores, pondering the nutritional value of sunsets, appreciating the much-maligned dandelion, unhooking guide ropes from stanchions, and marveling at all things ordinary.
Pssst. Click on the captioned title of each book to read the first chapter!