I wasn’t supposed to be writing this till later in the year, but I suddenly had it in my head, the start of it, anyway. It may be that Willoughby had been doing the Narrathon over Christmas, so I was not ready to let go of the character. Or it may have been one of those weird things as, sad to say, the real Willoughby – a guinea pig in New York – died suddenly on January 8th. I’d been writing the second chapter that morning, and I haven’t been able to put it away since. I’ve got a widget on the sidebar of my blog which tells you how I’m getting on with it.
Its working title is The Chronicles of Willoughby the Narrator (which is too long), and it stars Willoughby from his arrival in the realms to… well, some time in the future from where we are now. And that now is after Bravo Victor, after Fred’s Yuletide Escape and after Dylan’s Yuletide Journey (those two might be in the other order, anyway). At present I’m dividing it into three sections: I may stop after Part 1, which brings us to the end of The Talent Seekers, which is where you will find Willoughby for the first time in the published series. Part 2 will follow him through his career until he solves the problem that he and King Fred were talking about as he left Castle Marsh after the Yuletide Narrathon! and Part 3… well I’m not sure where that will end. I may need to write book 8 before I can decide that.
I was going to give you the first few paragraphs (as they are at present) as a taster, but I’m not sure… does it give too much away? I’ll give you a bit of the next section instead – there are plenty of clues to where and when we are if you’ve read the books!
“You will never be an effective ninja, Willoughby, until you learn to focus.”
It was fine for my teacher to tell me that, again, but if he was tickling my nose of course I would be distracted. I frowned and tried again, but he sighed, stood up and waited for me to copy him. We bowed. That was the signal for the end of the lesson.
I went out into the afternoon sun, pausing for a moment to look out from the sky courtyard onto the towers that grew up from the murk below me, fingers against the shimmering ribbons of the rivers joining together in the distance. It was a great view, and it always calmed my mind. Yes, I needed to focus more, but I was making progress in my training, and my teacher knew it. My hearing was coming on exceptionally well, mainly because I got in a lot of practice listening to my uncle and the Professor Saku wrangling about the time tunnel. All sorts of theories about it: concerns about its side-effects, plans to meet the cola orders that came through, and whether to train up a new travelling salesman as a replacement for Hugo. I had not so far discovered who Hugo was. We didn‘t have a Hugo at Hattan, so it must be someone at the far side of the tunnel, the place they called the Realms. The guys who looked after the deliveries down there did so in shifts, and were shipped off for a break as soon as they came back, so I never managed to find out what they did. I was planning to slip down there myself, just working out when and how.
I waved at my cousin Raisin, who was lounging about on sentry duty. We had a sentry in the sky courtyard just because it was an easy job for one of us juniors, and it gave us basic training before we got into serious work. I heard him make out he was accosting someone as I left the yard to nip down to see Saku.
“Stay where you are! You are completely surrounded!”
Yeah Raisin, I thought. It does get boring, doesn’t it?
(c) J M Pett 2015