Revolution Day on Sale!

I’m very excited to welcome back author Tim Taylor. Some of you may remember him from last year when he visited my blog in October. Well, now he’s back again to talk to us about a new scene from his book, Revolution Day.

Over to you, Tim.

T E Taylor (2)Hi Claire! Many thanks for hosting me! My novel Revolution Day is one of our publisher, Crooked Cat’s featured books this week, and available at only 99p/99c (as is my other novel, Zeus of Ithome). In honour of that, I thought I would share a scene from the novel with you today.

First, a bit of background. The novel follows a year in the life of ageing Latin American dictator, Carlos Almanzor, who is feeling increasingly insecure and paranoid as he clings on to power. His estranged and imprisoned wife, Juanita, is writing a memoir in which she recalls the history of their marriage and Carlos’s regime, charting its long descent from idealism into repression.

Meanwhile, the vice-President, Manuel, is burning with frustration at his subordinate role. When his attempts to increase his profile are met with humiliating rejection, he resolves to take action. But lacking a military power base, he must make pursue power not by force but through intrigue, exploiting his role as Minister of Information to manipulate the perceptions of Carlos and those around him and drive a wedge between the President and the army. As Manuel makes his move, Juanita will find herself unwittingly drawn into his plans. So will others close to Carlos, including his young mistress, Corazon, who maintains a discreet social life of her own while the President is asleep. In this excerpt, she receives an unpleasant surprise ….

“Leaving so soon? It’s only one thirty.”

Corazon faked a yawn. “I’m feeling a bit tired. And it would be bad to fall asleep in the fancy banquet that Carlos is laying on for the Chinese ambassador tomorrow.”

“Would be funny, though,” said Carmelita, laughing. The two women embraced, and Corazon walked languidly towards the bar, catching the attention of the barman as she did so. Many other eyes followed her progress, and the slight swaying of her hips that emphasised each step. Her skirt was a little shorter, her lipstick a little redder than usual this evening, and her face bore an expression not of weariness but of expectation.

“Tell Ramon I am ready to leave,” she told the barman, but he shook his head.

“Ramon has left us. We have not had time to find a replacement, I’m afraid. I will drive you myself this evening.” He gestured to one of the other bar staff to take charge in his absence.

“This is very sudden. He did not tell me he was planning to leave.”

The barman shrugged. “He didn’t tell us either, till I got an e-mail about three o’clock this afternoon saying he had quit. Didn’t figure him for a fly by night type, but a good looking boy like him is always likely to get a better offer.”

Revolution Day (2)On the journey home the barman talked constantly, but Corazon, unusually for her, said very little in response. Instead, she seemed preoccupied with her mobile phone, constantly tapping with her long fingernails upon its plastic screen, sometimes holding it to her ear before cursing silently in frustration. So preoccupied, indeed, that she almost forgot to give the barman his tip, remembering only at the last minute when he pointedly asked, “Will there be anything else, lady?” Apologising, she gave him both the roll of notes she had prepared for him and the one that had been reserved for Ramon.

The following afternoon, when she returned to her locker at the exclusive downtown gym that she visited twice a week, she found inside it an envelope that had not been there before. At first puzzled, then worried, and progressively overwhelmed by a tide of panic, she took it with her to a changing cubicle and tore open the seal. The first thing she saw was a photograph of herself in the toilet of the nightclub, snorting a line of coke. And for good measure, a second photo, a second line. Then there was a picture of her meeting Ramon at the bar, another of the two of them walking down the steps towards the car park, holding hands, yet another of him opening the door of the shiny Mercedes for her. Then, at last, came the money shots. Her kissing Ramon passionately, his back arched against the body of the car. The two of them in transitional pose, her blouse unbuttoned and breasts exposed. Then finally, Ramon from behind, his white buttocks framed between black trousers and black jacket. Either side of him, two stockinged legs, two arms, braced against the car door, and just visible to his left, a waterfall of straight blonde hair.

After the eight photographs, there was a single sheet of paper, bearing a typewritten message:

This indiscretion will have no repercussions, provided that you comply with a simple request …

 

If your readers are intrigued, they can find more information and excerpts on the Revolution Day page on my website

Thanks again for hosting me today, Claire!

You’re always welcome, Tim!

For Tim Taylor’s Links:

Why not visit his Facebook author page: https://www.facebook.com/timtaylornovels

Website: http://www.tetaylor.co.uk/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/timetaylor1

Revolution Day on Amazon.co.uk

on Amazon.com

Blog: https://timwordsblog.wordpress.com/

Author Bio

Tim was born in 1960 in Stoke-on-Trent. He studied Classics at Pembroke College, Oxford (and later Philosophy at Birkbeck, University of London). After a couple of years playing in a rock band, he joined the Civil Service, eventually leaving in 2011 to spend more time writing.

Tim now lives in Yorkshire with his wife Rosa and divides his time between creative writing, academic research and part-time teaching and other work for Leeds and Huddersfield Universities.

Tim’s first novel, Zeus of Ithome, a historical novel about the struggle of the ancient Messenians to free themselves from Sparta, was published by Crooked Cat in November 2013; his second, Revolution Day in June 2015. Tim also writes poetry and the occasional short story, plays guitar, and likes to walk up hills.

 

 

Welcome back T. E. Taylor

T E Taylor (2)We are delighted to welcome back Tim Taylor. He is with us today to discuss his book, Revolution Day, which is currently on special offer for 99c/99p on both Amazon.com and Amazon.UK. Links provided below.

Bio: Tim was born in 1960 in Stoke-on-Trent. He studied Classics at Pembroke College, Oxford (and later Philosophy at Birkbeck, University of London). After a couple of years playing in a rock band, he joined the Civil Service, eventually leaving in 2011 to spend more time writing.

Tim now lives in Yorkshire with his wife and daughter and divides his time between creative writing, academic research and part-time teaching and other work for Leeds and Huddersfield Universities.

Tim’s first novel, Zeus of Ithome, a historical novel about the struggle of the ancient Messenians to free themselves from Sparta, was published by Crooked Cat in November 2013; his second, Revolution Day in June 2015. Tim also writes poetry and the occasional short story, plays guitar, and likes to walk up hills.

Dictators in history: Augusto Pinochet

Hello, Claire. Many thanks for inviting me over today.

Revolution Day (2)My novel Revolution Day (currently on special offer for Christmas at 99p/$0.99!) follows a year in the life of Latin American dictator Carlos Almanzor, as his vice-president plots against him and his estranged wife writes a memoir of their marriage and his regime. Carlos is a fictional figure and is not based upon any particular individual. Nevertheless, his life and career share many elements with those of real dictators and in some cases I consciously drew on historical events in writing the novel. I thought it would be interesting to explore, in a series of blog posts, the lives of some real-life dictators, and to look for similarities and differences between their careers and characters and those of my own fictional dictator. Today I am looking at Augusto Pinochet of Chile.

Born in Valparaiso in 1915, Augusto Jose Ramon Pinochet Ugarte went to the Military School in Santiago, graduating in 1936 as a junior Army officer. He rose steadily through a range of command, staff and training posts, to become a brigadier-general in 1968. Thereafter, he quickly progressed to become Chief of Staff of the Army in 1972 and on 23 August 1973 was appointed its Commander-in-Chief by the then President Salvador Allende.

At this time, a political and economic crisis was developing in Chile, as Allende’s socialist government, elected in 1970, implemented a programme of nationalisation (including of US-owned businesses) and redistribution of wealth – to the dismay of right-leaning parties, much of the Chilean military and the United States. There had already been a failed coup attempt in June 1973. On 22 August, the Chilean Chamber of Deputies passed a resolution accusing the government of violating the constitution. After a defiant response by Allende, on 11 September a group of senior military officers including Pinochet perpetrated a coup d’etat. During an attack by land and air upon the presidential palace Allende died, apparently by suicide. Following the coup, a military Junta was formed, comprising the heads of the three armed services plus the national police. Pinochet established himself as the leader of the Junta and became the President of Chile in June 1974.

The new regime was – and remained – ruthless in eliminating opposition, dissolving Congress, suspending the constitution and arresting many thousands of people. Estimates of how many people were killed, tortured and imprisoned vary: the Chilean government has recognised some 40,000 victims of the dictatorship, of whom over 3,000 were killed or ‘disappeared’. Others fled into exile.

 

Augusto_Pinochet (2)

Augusto Pinochet

Pinochet implemented free-market economic policies influenced by the neo-liberal Chicago School, achieving success in controlling inflation and restoring economic growth, though critics argue that this this was at the cost of deepening inequality, pushing many into poverty. He also amassed a considerable personal fortune, much of it almost certainly by illegal means.

 

In 1980 Pinochet held a plebiscite on a new constitution that, inter alia, gave him considerable powers and an eight year term as President. The constitution was approved, though there were were allegations of electoral fraud. In 1988 a further referendum rejected Pinochet’s continuing as President for a further term. He complied with the result and allowed democratic elections the following year. He remained Commander in Chief of the Army for another 10 years and under the constitution became a senator for life, enjoying immunity from persecution as a result.

Nevertheless, Pinochet was arrested in 1998 in Britain for human rights violations, on an international warrant issued in Spain. Though the House of Lords ruled that he could be extradited, he was eventually released on health grounds in 2000 and allowed to return to Chile. Further legal battles ensued in Chile, where he was eventually stripped of his immunity and charged with a number of offences including torture and illegal financial dealings. However, he died on 10 December 2006 without having been convicted of any crimes committed during his dictatorship.

Carlos and Pinochet

Pinochet’s look in his later years, with his greying hair and flamboyant military uniform (see pic) is as close as any historical figure comes to how I imagined Carlos’s appearance (though Carlos has a beard). Unlike Pinochet (but in common with many other dictators who affected military uniform) Carlos has had no military career, though he is nominally head of the Navy.

In his early career Carlos was very different from Pinochet: politically on the left and initially reluctant to adopt authoritarian measures, whereas Pinochet was emphatically on the right and dealt brutally with potential opponents from the very outset of his regime. In time, though, as Carlos abandons state-controlled socialism for a more pragmatic economic policy and comes to see himself as the only person who can be trusted with the running of the state – embracing autocracy and repression as necessary means of preserving his power – he comes to preside over a regime which is in some ways not dissimilar to Pinochet’s Chile. Another similarity between the two is in their uneasy relationship with democracy – anxious to be seen as legitimate rulers but reluctant to gamble their future on an election. Pinochet did eventually stand down in response to a popular vote (having taken steps to protect his personal position first). As to whether Carlos goes the same way – you’ll have to read the novel to find out!

Thanks again for hosting me, Claire!

Thank you Tim for being with us today. All the best with your fascinating book. As promised, here are Tim’s links:

Revolution Day page: http://www.tetaylor.co.uk/#!revday/cwpf.

Facebook author page: https://www.facebook.com/timtaylornovels

Website: http://www.tetaylor.co.uk/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/timetaylor1

Revolution Day on Amazon.co.uk: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Revolution-Day-T-E-Taylor-ebook/dp/B0106GALR4/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1435449288&sr=1-1&keywords=Revolution+Day

on Amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/Revolution-Day-T-E-Taylor-ebook/dp/B0106GALR4/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1435512473&sr=1-1&keywords=Revolution+Day&pebp=1435512460458&perid=1CCVM4BE2J6WKH55WM9Y

 

A Warm Welcome to Tim Taylor

T E Taylor (2)I am delighted to welcome fellow Crooked Cat author, Tim Taylor. Tim spent a number of years in the civil service, where he did a wide range of jobs, before leaving in 2011 to spend more time writing.  He writes fiction, under the name T. E. Taylor, academic non-fiction and poetry. Tim’s first novel, Zeus of Ithome, is set in Ancient Greece and follows the real-life struggle of the Messenian people to free themselves from Sparta. His second, Revolution Day, published by Crooked Cat Publishing in June 2015, is about an ageing Latin American dictator who is losing his grip on power.

Below, Tim has provided us with a description of his novel, Revolution Day and an excerpt which I know you will enjoy.

Book Description: Carlos Almanzor has been the ruler of his country for 37 years. Now in his seventies, he is feeling his age and seeing enemies around every corner. And with good reason: his Vice-President, Manuel Jimenez, though outwardly loyal, is burning with frustration at his subordinate position.

Augusto_Pinochet

“(c) Biblioteca del Congreso Nacional. This image of Augusto Pinochet of Chile gives a rough idea of how President Almanzor would look.”

Meanwhile, Carlos’ estranged and imprisoned wife Juanita recalls the revolution that brought him to power and how, once a liberal idealist, he changed over time into an autocrat and embraced repression as the means of sustaining his position.

In time, as Manuel makes his own bid for power, Juanita will find herself an unwitting participant in his plans.

Excerpt:

At six minutes past ten, the sun climbed above the Government buildings on the east side of the square. As the shadows lifted, the large number of people gathered there started to become uncomfortably hot. With the sunlight came a change in tone of the hubbub of the crowd, as the mood of thousands of individual conversations turned from anticipation to irritation. Like some great beast disturbed in its repose, the crowd ceased to purr and began to growl. Around the edges of the square, men in uniforms sensed the change and gripped their guns a little more tightly. As minutes passed and the crowd grew ever more restive, the men began to pace nervously up and down. Then, suddenly, at a sign from one of their number, they stood to attention. A door opened onto the balcony of the presidential palace, and a cheer arose from the back of the crowd, flowing like a wave through the square to engulf even those at the front who could not yet see, their view obstructed by the tall facade of the building.

Yet the balcony remained empty, and the cheer began to falter as people wondered whether anything was going to happen. At last, the figure of an old man stumbled onto the balcony. He appeared lost, confused, as if, in the grip of senile delirium, he had wandered onto the balcony by mistake. His body was so frail, so insubstantial, that it seemed to be held upright only by the starched creases of his elaborate uniform. But the cheer grew in intensity till it was almost deafening, and the old man drew energy from it, straightening his hunched back and stepping forward with new confidence to the lectern at the front of the balcony. With broad sweeps of his arms he first acknowledged and then stilled the cheers to complete silence. His face was now displayed upon large screens on either side of the balcony, revealing wisps of white hair beneath his peaked admiral’s cap, and folds of skin beneath his sad grey eyes. He took a deep breath, and from his mouth issued a voice of unexpected strength and sonority.

“My friends,” it said, prompting a fresh cheer which he allowed to bloom for a few seconds before silencing it with his open hand, “We are here today to celebrate the liberation of our great nation from despotism. Thirty-seven years ago today, people came to this square to express their anger at fifteen years of repression, of corruption, of injustice. They presented their grievances peacefully, but were met by vicious force.” At this point he paused, as had become his habit, to allow the crowd to boo at the atrocities of the long-dead dictator. He had often thought to himself that these events had more in common with pantomime than with politics. “But this time the people did not run away. This time a new spirit stirred in them, a spirit that would not be broken…”

Revolution Day (2)The story was familiar to everyone in the square. Even the words used to convey it varied little from one year to the next. Yet the President seemed to have control of the crowd as if it were an extension of his own body. His large, pale hands conducted the response to every time-honoured phrase, beckoning a cheer at one moment, imposing abrupt silence the next. Where there was content that differed from previous years: a denouncement of some foreign power’s machinations, perhaps, or the promotion of a government initiative, the hands made clear what noise was expected, and the crowd produced it without error or delay. With each cheer, they waved the flags and photographs of the President that had been provided for them as they arrived at the square.

Or most of them did. A small knot of people near the front of the crowd carried pictures not of President Almanzor, but of a prominent campaigner against his regime who had recently been imprisoned. Their chants were markedly less complimentary than those of their neighbours – not that anyone else could hear them above the prevailing noise of the crowd. But their placards did not go unnoticed. One of the policemen pointed them out to a colleague, and soon several of the uniformed men could be seen speaking into their walkie-talkies.

The end of the speech was always the same, and had been the same for so long that the older people in the crowd found themselves mumbling along with the words as the climax approached. They knew without prompting that towards the end a reverent hush was required, so the President’s closing words would ring out clearly around the square and on state television.

“…I say now once again the words we first uttered on that glorious day…” His right hand now rose in triumph and shook its clenched fist at the sky, and the voices of the crowd joined him in the final phrase. “Long live the revolution!”

After the speech had finished, there were a few minutes of chants and cheers, which the President acknowledged with yet more theatrical waves of his arms. Then a few fireworks streaked into the air from behind the palace, allowing the old man to take his leave and signalling to the crowd that the proceedings were over. They left the square quietly and quickly through its three broad exits, and in a remarkably short time it became once again a broad, empty space. Last to leave were the policemen, filing one by one into an inconspicuous grey door at the left-hand side of the palace. They all saluted the balcony as they passed, though there was no longer anybody there to see or return the courtesy. An observer with sharp eyes and a good memory might have noticed that, while forty-five officers had been stationed around the square when the event began, only thirty-three were now leaving it. The others had already departed, in the company of the people who had been carrying pictures of the dissident politician, as well as certain other members of the crowd whose faces were known to them, or who had behaved suspiciously, or shouted things that were not appropriate to the occasion. These people would have ample time to explain themselves, in the seclusion of the police station, during the afternoon and the next few days.

Once the people were gone, the pigeons began to arrive, quickly falling upon the fine coating of sandwich crumbs and sweet wrappers the crowd had left behind. They were joined after a while by a dozen or so cleaners with buckets and trolleys, who patiently cleared away whatever the pigeons did not want. Thus, as the sun began to set on the square a few hours later, its appearance had been restored miraculously to what it was before. The only remaining sign that today had been Revolution Day was on the two giant screens, from which the face of the President himself, subtly younger and more handsome than before, still smiled down benevolently upon the square that bore his name.

revolution-pre2 (2)

Tim ‘T.E.’ Taylor was born in Stoke-on-Trent in 1960 and now lives in Meltham, near Huddersfield, with his wife Rosa and daughter Helen. As well as fiction, Tim writes poetry and plays electric and acoustic guitar, performing in public from time to time. He is chairperson of Holmfirth Writers’ Group and a member of Colne Valley Writers’ Group. He also likes walking up hills.

To find out more about Tim Taylor, please visit his popular website at: http://www.tetaylor.co.uk/#!revday/cwpf

Why not check out his Facebook author page: https://www.facebook.com/timtaylornovels

Website: http://www.tetaylor.co.uk/

Blog http://www.tetaylor.co.uk/#!blog/c1pz

Twitter: https://twitter.com/timetaylor1

Crooked Cat Author page: http://crookedcatpublishing.com/item/tim-e-taylor/

Revolution Day on Amazon.co.uk: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Revolution-Day-T-E-Taylor-ebook/dp/B0106GALR4/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1435449288&sr=1-1&keywords=Revolution+Day

RD on Amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/Revolution-Day-T-E-Taylor-ebook/dp/B0106GALR4/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1435512473&sr=1-1&keywords=Revolution+Day&pebp=1435512460458&perid=1CCVM4BE2J6WKH55WM9Y