It should have been a quiet  journey for Jak, but his peace and quiet was soon interrupted as the train pulled out of Antibes. A woman joined him and seemed very keen to make conversation. Jak ignored her for a while but was intrigued by her similar interests. She soon came around to the topic of his visit…

[Novel Extract: “So what is ‘just a scientist’ like you doing in Antibes?” she asked. “After all, the town has been more popular with artists than scientists.”

“Really? I didn’t know that.”

“Oh, yes,” she replied, with an air of confidence. “Antibes has been the social whirlpool for many famous writers, including Hemingway and Fitzgerald. They often gathered at the popular Hotel Eden Roc – its perfect location seemed to give them literary inspiration. I stayed there once, along with a group of friends. We had a wild party and I remember its beautifully manicured gardens, and diving off the rocks into crystal clear ocean below the huge infinity pool.”

Jak had noticed Sasha’s fine athletic figure and could imagine her making graceful dives into the sea. “I didn’t know that Antibes was so popular,” he said. “But, who is this woman?” he wondered. “If she can afford to move in high society, why is she on this train? By the way she is dressed she could afford a private taxi all the way to Milan!”]

The most agonizing part of writing is the first paragraph

A search of a hundred websites, or a quick read of a Hemingway novel, will inform you that the first few lines in a book are the most important. But how do you gauge that? Easily. Just work out how many times you needed to edit/change the opening lines in Chapter One and there it is all before you – the most critical part of your novel. In 3 WISE MEN, the initial Chapter One quickly got discarded and replaced with new text that helped inform readers of “Character, Location and Conflict.” After several re-writes (including a drastic change in the order of events), 3 WISE MEN finally started like this:

[ Novel Extract from Chapter One:

“Jak hesitated, his heart still thumping. A few passengers noticed his tortured expression before he slinked low into seat 21 and the train doors finally closed.

As they gathered speed out of Antibes, he wiped perspiration from his face – taking care to avoid the purple-red wound over his right eye. With a shaking hand he sipped some water and shaded his face from the outside glare to search a vignette of fleeting images – the crowded car park merging into splotches of grass and graffiti, and the rustic walls of old Fort Carré towering proudly above the headland.

“Where is my wife?” he wondered.

The train gently swayed along parallel to the coast, its rhythmical ‘cli-clack’ … ‘cli-clack’ calming his frayed nerves. At last, the numbing fear that had been rising to choke him began to subside. The sun’s rays gathered into a fiery orb and, as he watched spellbound, they were swallowed abruptly into the tranquil Mediterranean.” ]

So, what do we have? Well, we have our protagonist, “Jak,” on a train and rather uncomfortable about it too. There is something going on here that needs further reading to find out exactly what happened earlier – which is always a good thing in a novel! So, a train is leaving from Antibes and, for the observant reader, they will know that it is traveling east, simply because of the order of images that Jak sees from his window. For readers unfamiliar with this part of the French Riviera, they will be relieved to learn soon enough that the train is heading towards Milan. Why a train you might ask? Perhaps more explanation in the next post … But, first, a question about Jak – he “slinked low.” Why? Why not “sit low” or “slump low” or …? I really struggled with this adjective for some time. I think the reasoning I finally made was that Jak was being hunted like an animal and animals are the best ones at “slinking” are they not?

Yes, the train from Antibes does indeed make a “cli-clack” sound as it tracks towards Nice. My wife and I caught 14 trains in total during our trip to the main locations found in 3 WISE MEN. Each train  and each track makes a slightly different sound, but “cli-clack” seemed the most common, especially when leaving a station at lower speed.

To sum up – Jak is in trouble, scared and cowering in a train that is making a leisurely (cli-clak) journey along the French Riviera. Let’s hope it all works out OK for Jak but, I am not too sure!

3 WISE MEN – A New Thriller!

3 WISE MENA New Thriller!

Jak Colins flies to Milan to share his priceless discovery – a powerful formula with the potential to disrupt a multi-billion dollar industry that has attracted men and woman since ancient times. But, he soon becomes the object of unscrupulous rivals who take drastic measures to unlock his secret. Will the modern-day 3 Wise Men be able to ensure that Jak’s formula – based on a genuine 4,000 year old manuscript – remains in safe hands?

3 WISE MEN weaves an intellectual thread into the cloak of intrigue and danger that envelops Jak. 3 WISE MEN is a contemporary thriller at just over 82,000 words. It is set mainly in Milan, Tel Aviv, the French Riviera and on the Italian coast.

Author insights for 3 WISE MEN, plus novel extracts, will be posted here. Subscribe for updates on this blog or use LEAVE A COMMENT below to ask any question directly to author James Hayden about 3 WISE MEN!