25 May Updates

This Week’s Excerpt
This week’s excerpt is from Attack Hitler’s Bunker! which is due to be published on 29 June

Attack Hitler’s Bunker

Copyright © 2012 by Lazlo Ferran
All Rights Reserved.

Hugo Knopfl and Klaas Zapruder stepped onto the pavement. They had to move briskly to let the convoy of Wehrmacht vehicles pass. Half-tracks carrying troops and pulling 88 mm guns rumbled, creaking, over the cobbled stones. One of the camouflaged SS troops waved at them. Above, a cloud passed in front of the sun, casting the town square into dusk instantly. Sonnerberg was one of those pretty German towns, nestled in the fold of verdant hills, populated by slate-roofed houses with walls painted many colours. Ironically it was the home both of toy-making and the Dutch Waffen SS.
Klaas waved back at the soldier leaving.
Hugo threw the butt of his cigarette on the ground. “Don’t do that,” he said in quiet Dutch. “Why pretend when we don’t have to anymore?”
“You’re right. We won’t be coming back.”
“That’s not what I meant. Come on.”
They started walking up the hill in the cloud-formed dusk, towards the road that led out of the square. The barrel of a parked Tiger tank pointed directly at them but they ignored the implied threat.
Hugo tried to look relaxed as he passed other SS soldiers and officers – particularly the officers, but his nerves were stretched as tight as a bow string. He peered around every corner looking for somebody or something suspicious. Both he and Klass were veterans of the bitter siege of Leningrad and only in the spring of ’43 had they returned to Sonneburg, Germany. There, the SS Volunteer Panzer Grenadier Regiment de Ruyter was to recuperate and reform. As they walked, not speaking, Hugo saw the gruelling expanse of time he had served under cover in the SS contract to almost nothing. At last they had a mission he could believe in. He didn’t mind killing Russians, but killing Germans was his motivation for joining the volunteer Dutch SS unit. Within days he would probably be dead. However it would be a good death – something his dead parents would be proud of. He stifled a laugh at the naïvety of a political power that thought it could murder innocent civilians and yet recruit their children to fight for them.
“Almost there,” said Klaas, quietly. Hugo could hear the man who had become his friend breath out slowly, softly. When they entered the bar they would have to be good SS officers again. “What time do we have to leave?” “Ten. Maybe a bit before. Don’t drink more than three pints but make it look like five. Spill as much as you can.” Hugo often longed to walk up the hill, on through the village of Neufang to the Observatory he had seen once on manoeuvres. His student days studying physics had been left far behind in this war.
Looking up at the darkening sky, he mused that it was not just a quirk of the moody weather that diminished the glory of the mighty Reich. Only one red flag, with a black swastika, now fluttered indolently in the town square. No longer did every week feature a parade of soldiers and armour, cheered on by excited Germans. If they paraded now, a few hungry children would be their only audience.

Here is the provisional cover for the book, designed by Ashley Buttle. We are still looking for a really good high-resolution colour image of a Short Stirling we can use, so if you know where we can get one, please get in touch using the email address at the top of this blog.

Other News
I have spent the last week updating the Iron Series and Ordo Lupus Series: there were a few too many typos and other details that I wanted to change. I am also now able to see basic stats on how many people are viewing my amazon pages and how many. The trend is very interesting: both Vampire: Beneficence and Ordo Lupus and the Temple Gate get the lion’s share of the views, the other books hardly anything. I think this just goes to show that there is a hunger for books about lycanthope. It’s a good job I am planning to write a pure vampire book in the autumn. Most of my books are now in the KDP Lending programme so you can borrow them and I will get free promotion ( a period when you can get my book for FREE) for 5 days in the next three months. I will give plenty of warning when this is about to happen.

Elsewhere
MotoGP: Amazing to see Sete Gibernau supporing Rossi. Does anybody remember when they were the greatest rivals? I remember Gibernau blanking Ross completely when Rossi pushed him off the track (probably accidentally)on the last corner in Valentino’s first race on a Yamaha. He went on to win.
I watched Marco Marquez interviewed by MCN (I used to read their tabloid paper in the 70s when I rode a Kawasaki Z250 and dreamed of owning a Suzuki GSX1100) and he is very likable. I will have to support him because Rossi’s days are numbered. I would like to have seen him beat Agostini’s record but it looks unlikely now.

If you haven’t heard about it, there is a crowd-funding campaign to raise money for a biopic about the Hollywood actor (he would have hated me saying that) Cliff Robertson. You can find out more and donate some money here: http://www.thomcomm.net/cliffrobertsondoc.html

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18 May Updates

This Week’s Excerpt
Instead of a preview this week I have something different for you. For a long time I have been a fan of Russian literature. As a tribute I wrote Lacunashka some time ago but it has been languishing quietly on my computer. I think I may have published it briefly on Amazon or Smashwords but I withdrew it, probably because it is such a relentlessly dark tale. People who lived through the terror of Stalin’s reign must have experienced such darkness and a bleak existence, so as a tribute to them I have placed it inside Vampire: Beneficence (Short Stories Volume III). Here is an excerpt:

Lacunashka

Copyright © 2010 by Lazlo Ferran
All Rights Reserved.

Lacuna: a blank gap or missing part.
-shka: Russian diminutive ending for male names.

For Comrade Ilya it was like any other day in the Ministry. At 9.30, after already working for two hours, they broke for coffee or a shot of vodka. Volodya, as usual, was holding forth in his loud voice, leaning back against the edge of his desk.
“Ilya! Have a shot of vodka. Just once?”
“No, Misha,” he said placing his hand over the dirty porcelain cup. “I have to work anyway.” He walked the short distance, past dirty mullioned windows to his office and started to check through the list of mail for the day.
Fourteen pieces on arrival list. Good. Now let’s check yesterdays. Fifty-seven in, and now the receipts.. Fifty-six. Fifty-six Fifty-six! That’s not right. That hasn’t happened for years!
Ilya was proud of his system and for years now, it hadn’t let him down. The 1930s hadn’t been kind to Ilya Kuznetsov. Once considered a talented Clerk, one small mistake had mean that he was now just one of many thousands, and his ministry of Dudinka was in Siberia. It hadn’t escaped his notice that he was not far from Comrade Stalin’s gulags. Nevertheless Ilya hadn’t given up and when it became apparent a large amount of mail was not reaching its destination desk, once it arrived at the reception of the Ministry, he introduced a system of receipts, to be signed and returned on arrival, and thefts had decreased to zero. Ilya stroked his neat, brown moustache with his forefinger, relishing the hunt. Okay, I will find you whoever you are.
Patiently he went through the receipts in the Tuesday slot of the rack behind his desk and checked them against the arrivals list. The one missing was for Ivan Dimatov.
Third floor, Detainment and Punishment Department.
Ilya put on his jacket, to ward against the cold in the corridors, He pulled on the gloves of leather, lined with reindeer fur that his parents-in-law had given one Christmas and headed for the stairs, his breath forming little clouds for his face to pass into as he panted, after two flights of stairs.
“Hello Vanya. Are you … busy?”
“No Comrade! What can I do for you?”
“I am missing a receipt from you for a letter yesterday. Did you receive one? It was from the Ministry of Justice in Moscow. “No Comrade Kuznetsov. If I had I most definitely would have signed the receipt!” Vanya spoke loud enough for those around to hear.
“Hmm. Of course. Sorry to have bothered you. If you find one, let me know.” “Of course! Immediately!”
So it didn’t reach his desk. I know Vanya. Scare of his own shadow so even if it had something valuable inside like a pass or tokens for something, he wouldn’t have taken it and hidden it. Anyway he couldn’t because he would have to bribe whoever delivered it. I must find out who that was.
“Who delivered the mail to this department yesterday Vanya? Do you know?”
“No. I don’t think I had any mail yesterday.”
A lot of blank faces stared back as Ilya cast his probing eye around the large office. He had no real power. It was only the usual fear that pervaded all offices.
“Tch. Alright then.” He resigned himself to a slow search, and headed for the small reception office on the 3rd floor landing. Yrgi, the bearlike guard, sodden with cheap vodka, slouched on his stool in the bay next to the postal rack. His rifle was propped against the door-frame.
“Comrade Yrgi,” said Ilya quietly, not wanting to shock the guard, who was probably asleep.
“Huh?”
“Comrade, do you know who collected the mail for the Detainment and Punishment Department yesterday?”
“Whaddaya want to know for?”
“Mail has gone missing Comrade. It is most important that I find out who delivered the mail. Think hard. Can you remember?”
“Hm. No. I don’t remember. Wait! No, that was last week. I did remember Tomasov coming because he told me a joke about his wife. Haw! Haw! Very funny. Shall I tell you?”
“No Comrade. That will not be necessary. Please think one last time. It is very important. Who collected the mail yesterday?”
“Hm. No I don’t know. Sorry. My memory is not what it was. The drink you know?” he said patting his vast jacket-pocket that chinked slightly against the side of the stool.
“Please may I check the rack for misplaced mail?”
“Sure boss. Go ahead!”
Ilya checked every cubbyhole for the missing envelope. Most were empty but a few still had a neat row of envelopes waiting to be collected. It wasn’t there. He sighed.
“Thank you Yrgi. I will try the other floors.”
“Go ahead but you are wasting your time. Since your little revolution no mail ever goes missing.” “Even so…”
Ilya patiently climbed to the top floor, checked the mail cabinet there, and worked his way back down to the ground floor. He didn’t find the missing envelope. He returned to his office.
“Uncle Ilya. This letter needs your signature.” Sasha, his nephew, stuck his hand out from behind the desk outside Ilya’s office as he passed. “Where have you been?”
“Some mail has gone missing Sasha. Nothing to worry about,” he said through tight lips. Sasha was a good boy but he worried too much about his uncle. Ilya took the single sheet of type into his office, signed it and returned it to the waiting hand of his nephew.

Other News
I am working with Amit Bobrov on the final draft of his Second Edition of The Journals of Raymond Brooks. I am also near to completing a fair copy of Attack Hitler’s Bunker. I also had to contact Bombardier (who bought Short Brothers – manufacturers of the Short Stirling) and Michael J Bowyer, author of The Stirling Story for high-res images of the Stirling to be used on the cover of the book. So far I have not been able to find any. If anybody knows of any, please let me know.

Elsewhere
Good Luck to Valentino Rossi tomorrow. I really hope he can win a race or two: it would be a fitting tribute for Simoncelli. I missed the Formula 1 race last week because I was at the Punch & Judy Fair in Covent Garden (see my facebook page for pictures), but from what I have heard, I didn’t miss much! Bring on 2014 when we have turbo engines again. Who can forget the awesome power of the Renault turbos of the 80s producing up to 1400 bhp from 1.5 litres?

11 May Updates

Sneak Preview
This week’s is a unique (to date) look at a book I have been working on on and off for two years.It has no title as yet but for the purpose of this I will call it Escher’s Staircase It’s not easily categorized so I think I will just give you the excerpt and let it speak for itself.

Escher’s Staircase
Copyright © 2012 by Lazlo Ferran
All Rights Reserved.

“I’m not fucking going down that! You gotta be crazy!”
I pulled away from the open hatch. “Don’t anybody think about pushing me either! Six hundred and eighty bloody feet! That’s … that’s like as high as a bloody sky-scraper!”
“Well, if you don’t do it, you will never get beyond Cadet Helmsman. Up to you matey!”quipped Shorty, lifting the glass bottle’s open neck to his scowling lips. Everything about Shorty was a tattoo – gaudy, colourful and in bad taste.
“Give me that!” I shouted, swiping the old bottle from his ham fist.
“Oh-ho! Way-hey! He’s gonna do it lads!” said Shorty, before a noisome belch escaped from his gut.
“Now, you know what you gotta do,” said Gooch, directly into my left ear, clutching my bicep. “Drink some of that and then do exactly like I say. Like I told you before… Brace yourself against this side of the hatch, push off with your strongest leg here.” He tapped the lower right corner of the hatch – behind me, with the toe of his boot. “… Take a deep breath and go for it. As long as you make it to that panel there you’ll be fine. Gravity will do the rest! Loads have done it and survived!” “Yeah…. and a few have died!”
“Not for years!” He looked hurt. His pale blue eyes in that steely face that perched on his six-foot plus frame peered down at me and a look of sad affection seemed to ooze from them.
This was one tradition I had been dreading. The Leviathan Class of ore-carriers were the biggest moveable objects man had every built. Much bigger even than the super-tankers of the late 20th Century. On Earth the only place they could be at rest was floating on the oceans. Too heavy to support themselves on land, and too expensive, to keep aloft in Earth’s dense atmosphere, that was the only place they could be loaded. Measuring up to two miles long, and nearly one-thousand feet from the keel to the top of the bridge – or flight deck, depending on the mode at the time, they were awesome to behold, wherever they were. That’s why I enlisted in the Merchant Service. Mainly used on the iron-ore run from Io to the newly rejuvenated Earth, the three biggest were most Ensign’s dream assignment. And I had made it onto one! The Abraham Lincoln was about to leave, on my first voyage to Io, and the moment I had known would come, but had dreaded since the Academy First Year, had finally arrived. We had moored about twenty miles west of the Hawaian islands, an area that was popular with Laviathan crews for its seclusion and idyllic weather.
I pulled on the lip of the bottle, and a slug of the hot rice wine spurted down my dry throat. “Jeesh! Hate Saki! Why Saki anyway?”
“Kawasaki innit matey? Japanese ship – Japanese toast! Ha! Ha! Ha!” Go on Goochy. Get ‘im out there!”
“Okay MacIntyre! You can do it!”
“Thanks Gooch!” I said sarcastically.
I stared at the Holy Grail- the panel five feet or more from the rear edge of the hatch. It had black scuff marks on it where the rubber of countless heels had wiped off on its shiny surface. Like an altar, it had been maintained in exactly this condition for the whole of the Abraham Lincoln’s fifteen years in service. And I would be the thirty-ninth sacrifice. My heart was pounding so loud – now I had decided to do it, that I thought it might split open my ribs. If I wasn’t so young I would be worrying about a heart-attack.
Shit! Gotta do this and then the easy life of a Oresman will be mine! Easy money, even easier women, drink… I braced myself with one hand – my weaker left hand on the frame behind me, my right gripping the frame just inside the rear edge. I had rehearsed this in my mind a thousand times. I didn’t want to look down but I told myself one last time, “If you fall the curvature of the hull will take you to a vertical drop and you will fall to your death on the hull far below.” Panic crawled up my spine and I wanted to scream. I forced my eyes open and sought for the Holy Grail panel.
If I reach that, it will be a joy-ride! Like the biggest slide in the park! Or pool! But I never went on a slide in a pool! And what the hell is a slide in the park anyway!

Other news
I am well into the last act of Iron III but I think I need a break from it. I have now arranged all the pieces on the chess board and I will have to watch the game unfold in my head to the end before writing it down. Now all the characters are in play, and their options limited, I shouldn’t have to think anymore; it should just write itself. I will probably finish editing Attack Hitler’s Bunker!, which incidentally, we have been working on a cover for.

Elsewhere
The press agent for Cliff Robertson, with whom I had a brief correspondence just before his death, is working to raise funds for a biographical film (biopic) of Cliff. I must say, I was disappointed at the time that there was no tribute season of films on TV and so far I haven’t seen a biopic either. It will be nice if this can be completed. If you want to contribute, for as little as $25, you can get a t-shirt with a mention on the website, and if you have a spare couple of thousand dollars you can even be named as Executive Producer on the film! You can keep updated on it by following me on twitter or facebook. Details here: http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/cliff-robertson-documentary

4 May Updates

Sneak Preview
This week’s sneak preview is from the soon-to-be-published Attack Hitler’s Bunker! and features the gorgeous Anna meeting Richard, one of the two heroes she is having affairs with.

Attack Hitler’s Bunker!
Copyright © 2013 by Lazlo Ferran
All Rights Reserved

Archibald led Richard out into the corridor and to the door of the next room. He fought off the pilot’s questions.” But Archie, how can I plan this if I don’t know …”
At that moment he saw Anna for the first time, and was silenced. She smelled of Pears soap.
“Richard, this is Anna Styles. Anna, this is Richard Earlgood.”
“Hello,” she said, smiling, and holding out a well-manicured hand. The man opposite clearly appreciated of her looks. Unimpressed by this, she looked beyond his stare. He had the lived-in good looks of a square-jawed film star, but there was something coy about his gaze. ‘He slouches!’ she also noted to herself, scoffing. However, his smile, which broke out as soon as she spoke to him, made her want to smile back.
“Hello,” Richard finally replied. Er … pleased to meet you.”
Anna’s mood of confusion was momentarily lifted and she smiled, appreciatively. All three sat at a small table and Archibald outlined the situation.
“This must be difficult for you. Are you still in love with him?”
“Richard …? Archibald protested.
“Sorry … I always was too direct. Born in the country, you know,” he said to her.
“Oh, it’s quite alright. As a matter of fact, I prefer a little directness. Just lately things have got so complicated. No … I don’t think I am.”
“So what do you want me to do?” he asked.
“Well, actually this may be simpler than we all imagine. I think Michael wants to help. I don’t think he any more considers himself a Nazi. If it were possible to secure his release …”
“Yes?” asked Archibald.
“… I think he would tell you everything he knows about how the mission was planned and who was involved. In return for guaranteed safety of course – for him and me. That’s what he said in my second meeting with him this morning. You see, there are German spies here, who might have him killed …”
Richard looked at Archibald who replied, “Let’s start with some simple things. Richard, if you were working with this Oberleutnant Dorfmann, what would be the first thing you would want to know?”
“Well, what did they practice on? How long did they practice and how do these ejector-seats work?”
“That’s three. Let’s just start with one. The first one: what did they practice on? Miss Styles, if Michael is willing to give us that answer, we would consider that the first step to his rehabilitation and possible release. How does that sound?”
“I will try,” she replied.

Other News
I have almost finished editing The Journals of Raymond Brooks and have completed quite a lot more of the first draft of Iron III. I have also been making some final adjustments to Attack Hitler’s Bunker! ahead of another round of proof-reading and then I am on to copy-setting before publishing. I have just created a page for my biography to the right of this post.

Elsewhere
MotoGP: Valentino Rossi needs to deliver this weekend. If he doesn’t questions should be asked about his position in a top team like Yamaha.

I saw a lovely little film the other day: Season of the Witch with Nicolas Cage. It’s only 2 years old but must have gone straight to DVD because I had never heard of it. It’s a modest plot: two crusader deserters have to transport a young witch to a monastery where a demon is waiting. Good cgi and Cage managed passably to drop the US accent. Ron Perlman has proved himself an adequate actor over the years and now he has been in 2 of my favourite medieval films: this one and Name of the Rose. Anyway I liked it so don’t know why it went straight to DVD. I can’t even remember posters.