October 8, 2013

What's New in the Studio - Writing

        As I reach the final stages of my current book, here's a preview of The Extraordinary Book of Doors (still subject to change, but I don't anticipate any big overhauls here.)

Chapter I.  Three Important Events

On the morning of Tuesday, July 8 three important things happened, although no one was to realize their importance until later.  This is often the way with Important Things.  Some arrive with trumpet fanfares or ceremonial hats, but many Important Things are small and don't reveal their importance right away.  That was how it was on this particular Tuesday.

1.  At 9:46 AM a nondescript man in a grey suit and fedora paused in a park in Cleveland, Ohio, and glanced over his shoulder.  This in itself is not unusual, of course, as men in suits hurry through parks in every major city in the world, even in July, and fedoras are not especially ceremonial.  But this particular man did something that was to prove Important.  After looking around hurriedly, he reached inside his suit jacket, pulled out a flat rectangular package wrapped in a plastic bag, and thrust it beneath a bench.  Straightening up quickly, he was already walking away when, moments later, a policeman dashed into view.  The first officer was followed by three more, all shouting, "Stop!  Police!"
The man in the grey suit fixed a polite smile onto his nondescript face, turned around casually, and said in his most innocent voice, "Oh, did you mean me?  What can I do for you, officers?"

2.  At 10:02 a large moving van pulled up at the delivery dock of Goggin Antiques, Appraisals, and Auctioneers, bearing assorted valuable bits and pieces belonging to Ambrose P. Hinkelman III.  Ambrose III was the great-grandson of Rutherford J. Hinkelman who had been one of the ten richest men in America when the railroads were king, and who had countless libraries, museums, and universities named after him.  But Ambrose III, who had inherited everything, wasn't a big fan of of art and books, or of giving his money and things away to museums or libraries.  He'd had all those useless antiques packed up and sent off to Goggin Antiques to make as much cash as they could on the auction block.  He had no interest in any of that old junk.
        The Hinkelman collection was of much more interest to the three people who watched the van drive up.  One was Ms Miranda Goggin, who would receive a very nice commission for appraising and auctioning off these assorted old and dusty objects.  The second was Mr Raphael Green, Ms Goggin’s assistant, who would help with everything from unloading the van to displaying the art for wealthy buyers.  The third was Ms Goggin's thirteen-year-old daughter Polly, who was sitting on the edge of the loading dock, swinging her feet in their polka-dotted sneakers, and humming a rather tuneless tune under her breath.
Polly always enjoyed watching the unpacking of a new load.  Who knew what odd or beautiful treasure might emerge from the back of a delivery truck?  Once when she was little there had been a dramatic painting of a sailing ship at sea, a stormy black sky behind it, rough waves smoothing themselves beneath its hull, and ahead of it a glowing red sunset over a peaceful harbor.  She had stood in front of that painting every night for months, until it had eventually been sold to a Japanese collector.  Another time a van driver had unloaded a magnificent collection of twenty-three taxidermy crocodilians of all different sizes and species.  And yet another time there was a huge gilt clock with a picture of a stark naked Apollo driving the sun-chariot across the face, and a fantastic secret cubby on the left side.
This time, although Polly didn't know it yet, of course, the most Important thing on the delivery van was to be a certain old book, leather-bound, a little crumbly, and altogether extraordinary.

  3.  At 11:54 a boy sat on a park bench with a sandwich in one hand and a library book in the other.  He closed the book with an involuntary grin and turned his attention to the sandwich, which had only two bites out of it because it hadn’t been nearly as exciting as the book.  Chen looked around, his mind still on the story he had just read and the ingenious way in which the wizard’s apprentice had outwitted the evil emperor and, with the help of the clever scullery maid and the friendly flying laundry basket, reversed the spell that would have destroyed them all…  But the grin faded from his face as he remembered that he wouldn't be able to sit down with his best friend to savor this latest development in their favorite series.  Because his parents had made him move to this stupid new city.
Here it was, not even the middle of July, and he wouldn't meet anyone until seventh grade began at the very end of August, and probably even then he wouldn't like any of them, or none of them would like him, and he’d be a miserable social outcast forever, and all his mother could say about it was, “Remember, Chen, when one door closes, another opens.”  As if that was any consolation.
        He scowled at the scene around him with something approaching loathing… the gently curved shore of the artificial lagoon, the fountain sparkling in the sunlight, the broad line of marble steps rising to a building like a splendid Greek temple beneath a pure blue sky…  Actually, Chen quite liked the Cleveland Museum of Art where his parents were now the curators of the Department of Prints and Rare Books, but now that he'd finished reading his book, he felt bored and lonely again.
He stooped to pull a carrot stick from the lunch bag at his feet and suddenly noticed something odd about the plastic bag lodged under the bench.  It was taped - taped up neatly like a package, not like some random scrap of litter blown there by the wind.  For lack of anything better to do, Chen reached for the plastic bag.
It was a package all right, but without any name or address.  He turned it over in his hands.  A book, definitely.  You couldn't mistake that shape.  After a moment's hesitation, he tentatively ripped open a corner of the bag and was surprised to see that the book was bound in leather.  Old leather.  This was a book that would interest his parents.  He shoved the last bite of his sandwich into his mouth, gathered his lunch bag and library book, and headed up the marble steps to the museum, with the mysterious plastic-wrapped book under his arm.
He was gone just as a nondescript man in a grey suit came strolling casually across the street moments later, heading for a bench that no longer had a very Important Book beneath it.

[Pictures: Three magical keys, rubber block print and photoshop by AEGN, 2013.]
I anticipate that The Extraordinary Book of Doors will be released in early March 2014.


Pax said...

Oh boy, when do I get to read more? This is a very intriguing beginning.

Anne E.G. Nydam said...

March 2014, if all goes as planned! =)