Earlier I wrote an article about how I received a 'you are a winner' e-mail and nearly binned it. Yes, for once it was a real win, and my Hot Air won the Silver Award (second prize) for best unpublished novel at the World & Universal Academy in Groningen, Netherlands. Even so, I traveled there with low expectations, and told my accompanying daughter that I was more than likely to find a draughty school hall and a cardboard box to find my certificate. No! There was an ebullient audience of 100+ music, dancing and readings! Yes, I was given a 15 minutes slot to read an extract from my thriller, Hot Air. Aaaarrrrggggh. I didn't have a copy with me - it is unpublished.
So I talked instead about how sitting on a grassy hill in England and admiring a hot air balloon drift over the quintessentially English city of Bath, set the horror writer in me thinking: 'How do you shoot a hot air balloon down?'
I also told them how I was arrested for trespassing on Claudia Schiffer's private hill (who wouldn't want to do that?) in order to investigate a medieval watch tower on Mallorca in the Mediterranean.
Even though I was the only speaker in English among a continental audience of mainly Dutch, with German, French and Flemish speakers, they laughed in the right places and I collected two glossy certificates! The Arts foundation, Wuacademia is going to publish Hot Air as part of the award and I'll let folks know when it is available.
Hot Air, in a nutshell.
Erica, enjoying a birthday hot air balloon ride over Bath, witnesses a gangland torture scene in a suburban garden. The gunmen chase from their BMW while shooting at the balloon. After landing just ahead of the gangsters, Erica escapes with her boyfriend to Spain to lie low while British police investigate at home. Alas she is abducted and taken to Mallorca, imprisoned in a medieval watch tower, used ironically in the past by the authorities to look out for bandits. After another escape, chase and complications in France, Erica ends up on top of a building in London where another balloon neatly finishes the novel.