Still alive; writing projects

This blog has been fairly silent due to a combination of real life and three long-form writing projects.

The first project, a quirky music-themed romance novel called “On Different Strings”, is currently being copy-edited, and should hit the Kindle Store sometime next month. I will post one or more teaser chapters later, or create a separate author blog for that purpose.

For the second project, an espionage thriller, I have laid down the “draft zero” (a.k.a. the ‘piano and vocal demo’). Individual chapters are being passed around to FB friends for critiquing.

The third project, currently half written, is a murder mystery involving the protagonists from On Different Strings as sleuths.

The kind of entertainment fiction I like best almost invariably entails some degree of genre crossover: my ambition is to ‘write the books I’d like to read’ in this regard. One recommendation to beginning fiction writers is “write what you know”, so one doesn’t either get mired down in research, or write howlers. Indeed, for my initial forays into fiction writing, I am sticking to settings and subject matter I am intimately familiar with.

This has been a great learning experience. I would not be able to pull this off without a little (more like: a lot) of help from my friends in cyberspace. The greatest challenge has been learning the rules of a game that is radically different from the type of technical nonfiction writing I do for work. There, one wants things to be as clear, unambiguous, and comprehensive as you can, yet also as concise as possible — everything else can be sacrificed to that. A storyteller’s goal is to entertain one’s readers: that often means deliberately leaving things open and ambiguous to the end (or leaving them to the reader’s imagination entirely) — and sacrificing everything for the sake of the story if need be. It also means leaving some things to the reader’s imagination — the very last thing I’d want to do in my day job.

Hidden musical gem: Exodus, “A good day to die”

Exodus were/are a band in the Bay Area thrash metal scene. Two former lead guitarists of the band moved on to greater things: Kirk Hammett of course joined Metallica, while Gary Holt recently replaced the late Jeff Hannemann (RIP) in Slayer.
I’m not a huge Exodus fan, but via Facebook, I found this hidden gem. It’s more melodic than their usual fare, and has a country tinge to it too. But aside from the splendid lead break, the lyrics will hit home to anybody who has ever seen depression and one of its classic symptoms, suicidal ideation, up close.

Without further ado:

Police: dozens of ISIS supporters working at Zaventem airport (no April Fools joke)

Would that this Daily Mail article were an April Fools joke. (The story was earlier reported by the Belgian press in French and in Dutch. I tweeted the coverage in Le Soir.)

Police at Brussels airport have claimed at least 50 Islamic State supporters are working there as baggage handlers, cleaners and catering staff.

In an astonishing open letter, the officers said they have warned about the terrorist sympathisers whose security badges give them access to planes, but they remain employed.

The airport police, who are threatening to go on strike because of security deficiencies, also said they have raised the issue of terrorists scouting the airport to plan possible attacks.

Police at Brussels airport have claimed at least 50 Islamic State supporters are working there as baggage handlers, cleaners and catering staff. […]

The extraordinary claims come after the Mail reported how the family of two of the bombers involved in the attacks last week said they had worked as cleaners at the airport.[…]

The officers said they had raised suspicions about certain staff members including those who apparently celebrated after the Paris attacks in November that killed 130 people.

‘When we checked these people, we were surprised more than once. It was men with a radical ideology and a long police history,’ the officers continued.

‘Even today, there are at least 50 supporters of the Islamic state who work at the airport. They have a security badge and have access to the cockpit of a plane.

And get this:

An uncle of Ibrahim and Khalid el-Bakraoui last week told how the brothers had been employed at the airport and would have gained intimate knowledge of the terminal destroyed in the carnage.

The man, who asked not to be named, told the Mail: ‘They worked cleaning at the airport and in a restaurant. They didn’t finish high school in the end. They cleaned the airport in the summer months.’

Read the whole thing and weep:

It is high time to bring back the “pole of shame” (schandpaal), the Belgian equivalent of the pillory. On second thought, perhaps the Schwedentrunk would be more fitting…