Book Jacket


rank 2865
word count 45619
date submitted 14.09.2009
date updated 20.10.2009
genres: Literary Fiction, Thriller
classification: universal

Inside Out

chris ricketts

As one life is ended through a series of injections so another one is released to begin; but can the past be buried?


The twist in this story changes perceptions.

Joe is killing off the woman in his life through a series of injections. For years he has felt imprisoned by her presence, misunderstanding that she is an integral part of his existence and that he really can’t live without her. As Rachel's final days are planned, can Joe create his new life or will his past come back to haunt him?
Rachel has tried for years to find a way of coping with her painful existence; but she can see no way out other than to give in to the needles.
Brian is trying to make it in the world of publishing but when he finds the book that could totally save his business the author has mysteriously disappeared. In his search for the author, Brian uncovers a story that if written would be better than any fictional plot.

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body image, murder mystery, releasing the true self, self-acceptance, spiritual, spiritual awakening

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zan wrote 1621 days ago

Inside Out
Chris Ricketts

This is by far one of the most intelligent, intriguing, intellectually stimulating pieces I have seen here. It makes a bold statement – “you have to read enough of this to understand what is going on or you would have wasted your time otherwise!” I want to have this in hand Chris, physically, to savour it. This is not simply rich in language, but in ideas, your brilliant storyline, the twists which make one want to reach out and shake your hand. I see some of my favourite authors reflected in a piece like this. What more can I say? Time will place it amongst the works of the masters – a symbolic novel enabling the conflicted Joe (or not so much as the story progresses?) to be himself, whether for perceived good or bad within the context of societal norms. Innovative writing exploring the complexities and tragedies of the human condition. Backed with pleasure,

Lee Shore wrote 1628 days ago

When I started reading through 'Inside Out' I thought it seemed straightforward. Then I started to think you were using flashback technique. Finally, having read all 26 available chapters, I think I've grasped what this novel is really about - a very complex, not at all straightforward exposition of one of the deepest and least explored aspects of the human psyche and behaviour. At least, I think it is. I can't get at the denouement - if there is one. You see how baffled I am. Is Rachel a figment of Joe's imagination? Is Joe a reliable narrator? Is Joe actually Rachel - are the injections of testosterone? Joanne symbolically killing JR and becoming Joe? Having personally had some experience of this phenomenon, I'm enthralled by your treatment of it. It would explain a lot. From the first I tuned in to Joe's 'feminine' side and then chapter 24 suddenly threw light on it all - why doesn't Joe make love to Sophia? Because she/he can't. Yet. Suddenly I saw too what devastation gender dysphoria would cause in a lower middle-class family in rural Catholic Ireland. It would be as though the 'offender' had died. But without the ending I'm only guessing, I can't know if this is the way you've gone with the story.
You twist two plots into one thread very cleverly. If I have a slight moan it's that Brian's not entirely convincing as a publisher - allowing for the fact that he's a minor one and unsuccessful. I think this is a case where a bit more back story would be helpful. Otherwise, his character is well-drawn and there's lots of depth there. your writing is beautiful. You've kept me reading on while giving nothing away. You told me in your comment on Nobody's Children that your story was rooted in fact. I can believe it. When you upload the rest, please send me a message. Mean while I'll w/l it.
Alan (aka Lee)

Anna Rossi wrote 1635 days ago

Wow! I have reached Chapter Eight and don't want to stop reading but time has run out and I must.

Chris, you have a winner here. I am full of admiration for the easy, flowing style in which you dip in and out of characters and present them in such a way we are immediately drawn to them . We know they are going to connect, although, at first, we can't see how. By chapter eight, though, they are coming together beautifully, They are so well drawn and their differences are compelling.

Your use of language is towering - wonderful description but not intrusive. The reader can smell the sea and the coffee, feel the quiet atmosphere in the church (I love the old lady). We have to have sympathy for Joe, while shuddring when he fancies another woman and, even worse, turns his thoughts from her to head home with 'There was a syringe waiting for me to plunge into Rachel '. You don't pull punches, do you?
You are a writer of immense power, and I take my hat off to you.

I will, as I said, be back for more. Backed with pleasure and can't wait to see it in the bookshops.

Anna (Black Damask)

Cader_Idris wrote 1674 days ago

Hi Chris,

Four chapters down and I had to remember to pause and comment. What a powerful, assured writing voice that sweeps the reader gently along with a contemplative, even sorrowful tone at times. In the prologue, I can see Joe's inner turmoil - guilt for what he's doing vs. the relief that it will bring for them both. With such a polar contrast of emotions, it compelled me to read on to discover why Rachel is in so much pain that she can't go on living. In the church scene, you hint at her pain and we know she is resolved to this end.

There is an admirable smoothness to your prose, as well: "She was beautiful, not in the dimensions of a model, not in the boring conformity of perfection..." The descriptions of the seaside weather and surrounds, the remoteness of Clochan, the familiarity of its villagers, the fisherman not knowing how to swim - all contribute to the somber tone of the story.

I was momentarily snatched out of the rhythm when it switched to third in Brian's POV, but quickly settled into it, as his thoughts about sifting through the manuscripts were so clear and distinct from Joe's voice.

Shelved with pleasure and admiration.

All the best,

Maria Luisa Lang wrote 1671 days ago

Dear Chris, This isn’t simply a read; it’s an intense, richly complex experience. To begin with, there’s more than one fascinating narrative here, though I’m beginning to see connections--Joe speaks of Rachel, and she appears in Chapter 3 thinking of Joe.

It also seems that chronology has been rearranged: past and present are interwoven instead of being sequential--feeling and psychological association dominate rather than time. My sense so far is that you’re asking your reader to be far more active, intellectually and emotionally, than any reader normally is: that connections and explanations traditionally made on the page must be made in her mind

I admire your both courage in demanding that she take such an active role and your amazing skill in creating settings, characters, and situations sufficiently intriguing and alluring to galvanize her to participate. Like the great literary works, your book harnesses the power of suggestion.

You allude to such works in the narratives to further enrich them, and they themselves recall others. The style of Joe’s monologue reminds me of Dostoevsky’s Notes from the Underground while its content is reminiscent of his masterpiece, Crime and Punishment. The bleakness of the Irish fishing village would have suited Beckett, and it may not be possible for a literate person to read the name Dublin without thinking of Joyce.

Not that you’re like any of them. Rather, you’re just as original: like them, you expand the boundaries of literature with a uniquely radical vision. On my shelf. Maria, The Pharaoh’s Cat

TMNAGARAJAN wrote 1345 days ago

Inside Out

The story begins with injected interest. The needle points to backing. Backed.


Wilma1 wrote 1348 days ago

The first chapter is quite chilling as he weighs up in his mind the reason for killing Rachel. It’s so calm so calculated it makes it all the more disturbing. There are almost two full chapters of narrative here and it does get a little weary, good as it is. Chapter three moves up a pace and we have finally some dialogue. This is a very good book it twinges at the psychi and affects the reader on so many different levels. It is exceptionally thought out concept and leaves the reader pondering even after the book is closed. Very clever


Knowing Liam Riley- I hope you have amoment to take a look

SammySutton wrote 1371 days ago


Incredibly somplex premise.
Well written.
The circumstance is riveting.
You take the reader into Joe's mind with skill and expertise.
The depths of which you have developed Joe is phenomenal.
Great Job!
Sammy Sutton
King Solomon's '13'

Jenny-B wrote 1373 days ago

Wow - you gave me shivers. Well done.


Natalie Jones wrote 1407 days ago

Your opening really pulled me in and I went on to read the next few chapters. This is well written and quite morbid, of course. But the inner workings of such a brain is always intriguing. This novel is perfect for the first person POV and you've done a nice job developing the psyche of your characters.

Backed and the best of luck


mvw888 wrote 1424 days ago

An interesting character to be sure, your introspective and thoughtful killer. He's sort of an anti-Hamlet, shunning passivity such as he does. Your writing is just beautiful, with the descriptions of the harbour and cafe and you have an easy rhythm and pace to your prose. I feel that you're working on different levels here--Joe feeling that his place is the last taste of civilization although what he's doing will bring many morality issues to bear, both in terms of personal choice and society. Very interesting storyline, intriguing POV.
The Qualities of Wood

yasmin esack wrote 1429 days ago

Awesome, vivid , intense are some of the words to describe your story. The feeling you express in the MC are chilling and as all murder stories this one has the goodies that readers want.

Great stuff

CraigD wrote 1436 days ago

You've got an interesting premise and it's intelligently addressed. The writing weaknesses you have here are 1) you begin a vast number of sentences with pronouns, and 2) you rely almost totally on passive verbs, particularly in the prologue. Now, it may be that you can't really get across the feel you want using active verbs there, but I don't know if a prospective publisher would be patient enough to let that go throughout the prologue. Of course, there's a lot I don't know about publishers, or I wouldn't be here, would I? In the end it's a judgment call for this kind of book. For the idea and seeing it through, though, you deserve backing.
The Job

Becca wrote 1438 days ago

WOW. I would definitely buy this. what a provocative opening. I wonder how he talked her into AGREEING to do this. It seems so warped, and I want to know more.

Backed. And if it get's published let me know. I'd purchase a copy.

The Forever Girl

Famlavan wrote 1481 days ago

Inside Out

This is a very intelligent and complexly convoluted piece. I like how the belief about right and wrong is just beliefs in different perspectives.
This is major deep freeze chilling!
Just thinking how many times I’ve heard eyebrows raise – This is very, very good

Burgio wrote 1484 days ago

This is a scary story. Scary because Joe believes what he is doing is right - but right or wrong, Rachael is going to die. Like your writing style a lot; it adds to the eerie feeling all through this. Backed. Burgio (Grain of Salt).

Hatts wrote 1485 days ago

Chillingly brilliant! Backed and good luck

A Knight wrote 1490 days ago

This is a compelling and chilling start, truly captivating. You drive your reader to want to know more, and that's a great talent.

Brilliantly done and backed with pleasure.
Abi xxx
"Everyone knows the rule: Stay inside the Wall, but Tisha believes rules were made to be broken." -Relic

lionel25 wrote 1490 days ago

Chris, I like your narrative style in the prologue and first chapter. The prologue was mysterious enough to hold my interest. Both sections are a smooth read. Good work.

Happy to back this.

Joffrey (The Silver Spoon Effect)

Burgio wrote 1490 days ago

This is a powerful story. Makes a reader ask, "What if this were me? Would I feel the same way?" I like the way you've written this in first person. Makes the story seem as if it's happening right in front of my eyes. A good read. Burgio (Grain of Salt).

Teric Darken wrote 1497 days ago

Greetings, Chris!

Inside Out is a very deep and rich manuscript. As the chapters ensue, one is ever curious as to know the "whats" and "whys" of Rachel's dilemma and Joe's decision making process. Very professional. In short, I would purchase this book. The cover also compliments the text within. Backed.

Teric Darken

(K - I - L - L FM 100 / U-Turn Killur)

Jon Doe wrote 1503 days ago

surely this deserves to be published?

Chris 1 wrote 1520 days ago

Hello Chris, this is a fine piece of writing that, for me, sheds light on the internal lives of its characters that collide or withdraw from the external life 'Inside Out'?
I think this is literary fiction at its best and it yields little nuggets of observation like: 'desire means a need and a need means a lacking' - how much truth is in that sentence? It questions the validity of relationships and of 'love' itself. There seems to be a tendency of your characters - Joe and Brian - who are drastically changing or in need of changing their lifestyles, taking stock of themselves and living with the impact that has on the people around them. The world has changed, no more now the large extended families, we're nucleared to the hilt and then some. Relationships come and go but the one with the self never ends. Superb and BACKED
Just one request: can Brian Matthews' name be rearranged to Matthew Bryan? Brian Matthews was a DJ in the 1960s and his face was very boring and I kept seeing it when I was reading your book. I'm mad, I know.
Could you take a look at mine? It's a world away from yours but, hell, why else are we on here but to dip in and take a taster? Cheers, Chris1

Esrevinu wrote 1529 days ago

I really enjoyed your manuscript; it is well written
Funny and endearing
The pacing is good and MC charming.
Best wishes,
I cannot wait to see this published
Best wishes
The Esrevinu Chronicles/Secrets of the Elephant Rocks

david brett wrote 1551 days ago

It took me some time to work out what was 'really' happening here! But that's okay. The most up-front stories are also the most shallow. What we have is a carfeully written and carefully plotted story that deals ( seems to deal with) change of gender.... or perhaps it is symbolic change of gender. Who is turning into who? The central clue is in the quote from Descartes with which it all begins, in effect, how do we know that we exist at all? The gender aspect may even by quite secondary....Hell! I don't know. But this is a serious attempt at a serious book which establishes it own world ( wherever or whatever that may be!) and holds our attention. It has layers! Backed DB ALL THESE ARE MEMORIES OF MY VOYAGE

cheimpo17 wrote 1555 days ago

Hi Chris,

I had your story on my WL for a while now and finally started reading it last night. Your storytelling had me so intrigued, I didn't want to stop, but did since it was three in the morning. I've now finished the rest of it and can't understand why no publisher has picked this up. Everything you've written flows so smoothly, it just becomes such an easy read. Shelved.


Philip Whiteland wrote 1555 days ago

Very interesting. Making the central character the villain of the piece but with his own carefully constructed, rather twisted, morality is very courageous. You don't need me to tell you that this is very well written indeed. I have followed my usual practice of reading the opening chapters, as if I were in a book shop browsing. My rule of thumb for backing is "would this book have me heading off to the cash register?" This most definitely would.

Philip (Steady Past Your Granny's)

AnnabelleP wrote 1556 days ago

Hey there :)
Not sure there's very much I can add to all your comments except to say that I found this a really good read. There are so many books of this type, but I feel that yours has something a little different, something that makes it stand out. I was drawn into the story and there are so many things to consider here, questions that you pose. It made me think and I like that. On my shelf. Good luck with it.
(Matty McDuff)

Shakespeare's Talking Head wrote 1557 days ago

Okay. After reading the first chapter, I walked upstairs and watched my wife for a full minute...
Kidding. This is a fabulously narrated piece, Chris. I'm commenting here after only one chapter, but am moving on to number two presently. That was a great first paragraph. Hell, you could use it for the hook in your query letter.
I feel that this is not about a marriage, though. A marriage would be too simple. Nicely done, making me wonder, all the while feeding me clues that send me on to the next chapter. I've read through the comments here and won't bother touching on a subject that has already been mentioned. Can't recall if anyone mentioned pace, but I will anyway--along with mood (which has been mentioned, but goes hand in hand with how you've paced this piece, imo). Each paragraph reads like a one-sided argument in favor of the injections, then lends itself to the following paragraph, and so on. As to mood, there is a splendid mixture of desperation, guilt, relief, and surety that come through within and as an underlying current of the narrative (at least to me).
Both sad and reassuring, this story floats along, convincing me (as they convince themselves) that this is the only option. I'm convinced. You've blurred the line between showing and telling and have come up with something far richer.
After reading a lower comment about this being a gender switch--a symbolic death of a "her" to make way for a "him"--I read back through this first chapter. I actually felt something similar myself during my first go through, but after rereading, I must say I agree. Now I HAVE to read on. Great story, great voice. On to chapter two.
Gerry (Shakespeare's Talking Head)
Dropcloth Angels

Sutekh wrote 1557 days ago

A very chilling read. The writer is brave to write in an over crowded genre, but the writing has a spark which does make you notice it.

Recommended and backed!

tecmic wrote 1558 days ago

Hi Chris,

Well written and an accomplished work, but I can't do it justice. The genre is not interesting to me. My apologies.


Eleanor Anne Dudley wrote 1560 days ago

Dear Chris, a thought provoking highly discriptive read. A chilling mystery.

Your book is joining the backing queue, backing soon.

Eleanor and Sharkey.

KirkH wrote 1562 days ago

Hello Chris,

Thank you for your warm welcoming message and feedback to my first story on authonomy, and my first ever.
Even though I am not a fan of psychological murder novels, the language strikes me similar to how I would have written it. At first I would think, why doesn't he just divorce her instead of using injections? I guess many men are chickens when it comes to needles, like me... (gack, gack, gack). I only finished the first chapter and still wanted to read on, but I had to stop since others wanted me to read their stuff too. But since I still want to keep reading it, I put it on my bookshelf.

Lorri wrote 1562 days ago



This is one I will be reading on my iPod in bed after I've finished Spoilt.



Lichen Burn wrote 1565 days ago

Inside Out is not of a genre I would normally choose to read. However, it is so beautifully written, and the story so extraordinarily complex and challenging, that I would expect this to find a publisher and do very well at the bookshop. Each scene unfolds at its own pace, when it is good and ready, and the reader is expected to use his/her intelligence in discovering and eventually unlayering the little twists and turns, the folds and rumples.

I have no hesitation in backing this.

sensual elle wrote 1565 days ago

YOU are a wonderful writer. Your work reminds me of a craftsman who's worked years carving the same objects until you can create them with a minimum of effort. You make it look dead simple, which belies the long effort you've vested.

Your sense of scene is awe-inspiring. You create superb analogies, such as bank balance and withdrawal, colourful prices and photos in black and white. Laura's verbal traps make me feel sad, knowing how often such weapons are used.

I read a lot of mysteries and the opening quietly astonished me, the internal monologue of Joe's mind. Three chapters isn't enough to tell me where this is going, but I'm hooked. Decidedly backed!

Henrik Harrysson wrote 1569 days ago

The first two chapters convince ne that you are a writer with considerable powers. I especially appreciated Ch 2 with its sense of place on the Connaught coast.

The prose is often wonderfully lyrical, as in the chapter beginning “I revelled in the bleakness that first winter…”
The opening also shows promise – I always was a sucker for Descartes. The aphorism “A life ceases to become (be?) important if it loses its spirit to love” could be an almost Audenesque sentiment. I like the way that you then twist it round to imply real expendability.

Your MC appears rather more confused than he acknowledged, recognising lack of empathy as the key to the psychopathic mind, but then denying that he suffers from any such trait. – Am intrigued as to why murder is called for as opposed to desertion with or without divirce. Perhaps the religion alluded to plays a role.

I did feel that the writing was let down a few (comparatively minor) slips.
“a brave new world” – calling up Huxley seems a bit of a cliché, especially so early on.

The MC “had found a strange curiosity in the minds of those capable of such a crime”.. Surely it was curiosity in HIS mind rather than theirs?

“another person walks through the door and changes your life for ever….” – far too pat Hollywood to stand alongside your generally much more subtle and nuanced prose.

In sum, a fascinating jumble of emotions and images which carries with it the promise of a very readable story.
Am happy to back it.

LauraDiane wrote 1571 days ago

You are a terrible person leaving everyone hanging like this. I must insist you finish what you have started.


Mark Reece wrote 1572 days ago

Chris, great story, thoroughly engaging and worringly vivid. Good luck, Mark
Another day inh Paradise

bonalibro wrote 1580 days ago


This is a very intelligent work that certainly deserves its shot at the desk, and I won't be one to deny you my support, but I also won't be giving it an unqualified backing. One of the books that made the desk a month or two ago was criticized for having the same problem this does, an unrelenting tone of voice. When every beat is a downbeat, it takes its toll on the reader. You'll probably need to do something about this before it makes the desk, relieving some of the gloom a little with some scenes of more upbeat dialogue.

I would be happy to back this for you but have given up on outright backings because the return on them is so poor. Instead, I offer a modified read swap, in which I read and comment first, but withhold backing until my book has been considered. Even if you don't care for it, I would still be interested in knowing why.

Tim Chambers
Chili con Carnality

Phyllis Burton wrote 1582 days ago

Hello Chris, This is a wonderfully, evocative, painful, lyrical piece of writing and something that I am glad I have read. Excellent characterisation throughout and your words simply fly off the page. I loved the analogy between Jo and the ant: good visual images and your story is full of them. 'A quiet place has no noise to hide within'. Your use of sound, smell and colour, creates memories which help people to remain glued to your story.
Your use of the English language is excellent. Painful words of love and dislike: how do the two things come together. Jo knows. I have no hesitation in backing this - can't see how I have missed it. SHELVED in the hope that it reaches the ed's desk soon.

Phyllis Burton
A Passing Storm (Perhaps you would care to look at this for me please).

just4kix wrote 1582 days ago

Inside out
Chris Rickets
An intriguing pitch with an interesting plot. Your scene-setting brings the story to life.
Watch out for missing commas.
... I was killing her(, )but it had ....
..spirit to love (,) and she had lost hers ...
In the prologue we learn that Joe is slowly killing his wife, but it is difficult for the reader to sympathise with him because we are not shown how his wife is destroying his life. Is this intended?
Chapter one takes us to the harbour cafe, and the setting is vividly portrayed.
Happy to back this one.

Callaghan Grant wrote 1584 days ago

Okay Chris, I am so caught up in wondering what's up with this that I couldn't go to bed without finishing what was available to read. You have a super talent here -- I think. You certainly make me want to get to the bottom of this but, I have to wonder, is there a bottom? If you can come up with a fab tie-up and ending, you've got a really promising project here. Glad I'm done though and that's not good. I am a little frustrated to have read so much and yet to know so little and that's why I am glad to be done. It doesn't do to frustrate/tease your readers too long. They can actually get so annoyed with your teasing them that they quit reading and swear off anything else you ever write. Happened to me with Leon Uris! Keep that in mind and pull this together for us. Appreciative regards! You're a real talent!

Callaghan Grant wrote 1584 days ago

You are slipping in your voice between 1st person and third omniscient. That's peculiar and not usually comfortable for folks. Doesn't bother me as I like your voice(s). Just thought I'd mention it. I'm enjoying this but must get to bed. More tomorrow!

Callaghan Grant wrote 1584 days ago

I am liking this very much. I love your voice, but I am hoping that all of these various shards will assemble themselves soon. Still, your style is enchanting and fresh even if a little bleak. Quite vivid.

Brittany Engstrand wrote 1584 days ago

truly an itellectual and somewhat chilling read. Definitely ready to read more!!!


My Last Notes

Annockonda wrote 1584 days ago

Where did you get these ideas from??? you're though, I like the way you started and I am at chapter five and I am caught up into the web already...sweet.

eamonn walls wrote 1585 days ago

This is rich and powerful writing, though I'm not sure if it has the lightness and bouyancy that can sometimes help the reader along. The critic zan wrote that this was one of the most intelligent and intellectually stimulating pieces that they had read. I wouldn't disagree with that statement. I think though that maybe in places the writing is a little bit too intelligent, a little bit too stimulating, if you know what I mean. The opening for example I thought was OK though maybe it could be a little easier to read if the pace was just that little bit quicker, or if there was a bit more third-party engagement perhaps. ANYway...just a thought :) I wish you the best of luck with everything and...merry christmas! :)

KW wrote 1585 days ago

"Will I light a candle for you too?" By the end of Chapter Four, there is so much mystery about where this story will go. Will Rachel actually die from the injections, what is the source of her pain exactly, what would make Joe agree to give the injections, what is the connection between the publisher, Joe and Rachel? Will Rachel end up being the writer the publisher is seeking? Probably not, but it's enjoyable to read a book that gets my mind worked up. I loved the feeling of the publisher who craves to find a book that breaks out of the mundane world of genre, written by an author who isn't frightened to go beyond the safe walls of publishing conformity. Your book does that, I think. I'm very intrigued and want to get back to this well-oiled novel. Your descriptive powers and turns of phrase are simply brilliant.

Gunslinger wrote 1585 days ago

Simple, elegant, and clear writing. Well whittled. Also, clever without being too clever. No real crits, which is not very usual with me. Nicely done.
Every Atom Belonging

Ginger wrote 1589 days ago

Hi Chris,
Wow. I’m wondering what to say here. The pitch outlines a plot that, if you pull it off, stands to be very deep, very intellectual. I thought perhaps the injections were to combat an illness, or a metaphor. But then I start reading, and realise he is literally, with her permission, killing her.
I’ve read a few chapters, this is a book I would love to hold in my hands, curl up on the sofa and read to the end. It is utterly engrossing, I am curious about how Brian fits in, but I’m sure if I kept reading, he’d walk into the café.
I like this very much, let me know when it’s published – I want a copy!
On the shelf for a while.

crystal girl wrote 1590 days ago

Hi Chris,
I loved it and I love the way you write. In this world that is increasingly all about short-hand communication for people with the attention span of a fly, it is a real pleasure to read something complex and interesting that makes me actually think and that stimulated my curiosity. Having lived in Ireland I can see the stuggle that Rachel and Joe are having. It's the kind of book I want to own. Keep going Chris - you have a real talent there.
Crystal Girl

maryinflorida wrote 1590 days ago

The pitch for your “Inside Out” has me a bit confused. Paragraphs about Joe and Rachel fit with short pitch, but then you introduce Brian without referencing his connection to Joe or Rachel or their situation. His story seems to be a completely different book. While I’m sure within your book these things become clear, your pitch is so vital that I recommend you either clarify or eliminate mention of Brian altogether.

A prologue, which is both the beginning and the end, begins with Joe White lamenting his loveless marriage and rationalizing his plan to murder his spouse as the only way out. (By the second paragraph, I hate this whining narcissist already. I hope that’s what you intend.) While Joe expresses his battle with morality, his anger at God, he hints that Rachel may have real physical problems as she “had fought her cause admirably,” but always his excuse for this plan returns to his own need to be loved. “She had suffered so much” and “within a year she would cease to exist.” (I’m wondering what he could be injecting that would take so long? This doesn’t seem plausible to me.) He’s so self-centered that the “injections were the easy part” compared to his own difficult future of the unknown without this familiar pain, of starting over. (Can I strangle this guy now?)

Chapter One shifts the scene to a gray day by the harbor in a small coffee shop that Joe owns. His patrons are disparate and desperate for some warmth in this cold rainy atmosphere, as young Fran takes their orders. He prefers to hide out in the kitchen, uncomfortable with people. (Clues are found that the murder has already been completed and these are his baby-steps at starting over.) He reminisces about a past job of office work that interfaced with others over the computer, and “looking back I wanted the isolation.” He thinks of his purchase of the shop, how he renovated from the previous owner but left one glaring trinket that demanded attention. (Is this what he does with his Rachel’s memory?) Oddly, he endeavors to be invisible in his new home, staying out of sight, relishing the damp dreariness “as if the landscape and I were stripping our lives for a new beginning.” (You introduce many interesting things in the environment that parallel his changing state of mind. Nicely done.) Suddenly, you reveal that Rachel might still be alive, unbeknownst to the locals, as she withers away in a cottage down the road. Finally, you say that the needle will relieve her from a living death that started four years earlier, and Joe is sure she feels the same way. Fran interrupts his reverie with her offer to stay and peel potatoes but he declines as the pouring rain has kept customers away. Come back at five, he says, as he’s sure that her widowed father will need her at home to help with siblings. Theirs was an interesting family, with many skeletons in the closet. He begrudges that he’s become the curiosity in town – they want to know everything about him but yield little about themselves. His thoughts constantly return to Rachel and the needle – he says he’s sorry, a part of him still loves her. As he works alone in the kitchen, a patron enters, but this is no ordinary girl. She grabs his heart with her perfect-girl look. She orders coffee and he rushes it, afraid of conversation. (Of course, I'm mentally screaming at this girl to get the hell out of there.)

This is certainly character-rich literary fiction, with wonderful attention to detail and texture. You’re nicely building up the tension with tiny clues about Rachel, forcing the reader to wait to see her side of the story, as you develop Joe’s character. Will we begin to sympathize with him before it’s over?
I’ll move this to my bookshelf.

J. Hamler wrote 1593 days ago

Chapter 2

Truly prose poetry. Almost every line carries a sense of poignancy. It speaks to the careful insight of the author. Alas, that is a double edged knife. Like me, you write in such a way that the reader is quite AWARE of the author. I happen to enjoy that sort of thing, but I think the vast majority of the public seeking entertainment wants plot and action over introspection. Pity. Really though, your kind of brilliance needs to be championed by the congnoscenti and what a long road that is to haul. In the meantime, be assured that your talent is substantial.



KostasAu wrote 1595 days ago

This is a cleverly written story that demands attention from the reader.

A couple of nits.
Chapters 1 and 2. A little slow.
Also some of the narratives are a little too long and some of the narratives break the natural flow of the dialogue.

Kostas "Hariklia's Icons"