Mike Stanhope had high hopes for his self-published thriller, but life intervened and he neglected it. Frustrated with his day job, he decides to give it a new push. Who knows? It might change his life for the better. He picks an expensive, high-profile book promotion web site, pays his money, and waits for something to happen.
There’s little sign of the hoped-for breakthrough, but the swirling events that follow soon threaten to engulf every other aspect of his life. Before he knows it he’s in the frame for murder – and that’s just the beginning.
Looming in the midst of Mike’s troubles is the enigmatic Nick Hathaway. He seems to ooze good will, but does he have a hidden agenda? Mike tries to take him at face value, yet can’t resist digging into his background. But will his efforts bring him closer to Samantha, the woman he’s fallen for in spite of himself, or merely alienate her? And what of Mike’s faltering relationship with his girlfriend Ashley? Can it ever be repaired?
Ranging from London to Los Angeles and back, ‘The Concrete Ceiling’ is an engrossing, event-packed mystery with surprises at every turn.
Targeted Age Group:: Any
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
Like many aspiring authors, I have been frustrated by the difficulty of making an impact in an immensely crowded and competitive market. I have never read any novels focusing on this issue, and thought it would make a compelling subject for a thriller. In 'The Concrete Ceiling', the leading character is spectacularly unlucky in his selection of book promotion company, and all kinds of misfortune follow from his choice, but the book also gave me the opportunity to throw in some wry comment on the real-world trials of the self-published writer.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
Mike Stanhope, the main character in 'The Concrete Ceiling', is a bit like an extension of myself. We're both journalists and writers. However, he's much more resourceful than I am, and more willing to take risks. All the same, he's a bit of an anti-hero. He has no special abilities or knowledge. He's an everyman, contending with constantly challenging circumstances. His main adversary, Nick, combines the worst aspects of people I've met in life: plausible but manipulative, charming but ultimately self-centred. And the two women in Mike's life are composites of people I've met or would like to meet!
I walked up the steps and pressed the bell push, and heard a buzzer sounding somewhere in the depths of the house. Nothing happened. After a long pause I buzzed again. Still nothing.
I now noticed that the door was slightly open. I rapped firmly on it, calling round it, “Hello? Is anyone around?” Still nothing.
Had Openshaw gone out on an errand? I turned round to face the square, but there was no sign of him. After casting another quick glance at the door, I concluded that there was nothing for it but to go home. I was about to leave when I became aware of a figure approaching from the street: Openshaw’s teenage daughter Ellie, dressed this time in black leggings and a white puffer jacket. I attempted a smile and said, “Hello again.”
Glancing from me to the house and back, she said, “Never heard of closing the door behind you?”
I looked over my shoulder, then back at her. “Someone must have left it open, but there’s no one in.”
“Oh yeah?” She pushed past me, thrust the door fully open and disappeared inside, slamming it emphatically behind her.
So much for that. I stepped down to the pavement. I was taking a final glance at the house when I heard a muffled shout from inside, followed by a piercing scream. Then another.
Should I go back? I had no desire to confront Ellie again, but the anguish of those cries was hard to dismiss. As I hovered indecisively, I noticed that the front door had swung slightly open again. Either it had been left on the latch or the ferocity of Ellie’s slam had damaged the lock.
Cautiously I climbed the short flight of steps again and pushed at the door.
“Ellie? Is everything OK?”
I waited. No sound now. No more screams. I was ready to turn round and leave her to her own devices when she appeared at the far end of the hall, looking aghast. She rasped out, “What the HELL have you done? You must be a raving lunatic!”
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