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.
“(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.
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…”
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.
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
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