rob burton

An Excerpt from Rob Burton

I wanted to get back to Annie, back to my cottage in Mount’s Bay, back to my books and leisurely coffees at Myghal’s place, although now his cover had been blown, maybe that was a thing of the past too.

My phone buzzed under the table. I pulled it out of my pocket and swiped it on. I noticed there was no signal. I checked my watch. Time had stopped too. So why did the phone buzz? There was no obvious announcement on the screen. I scrolled through looking at the apps seeing if they had an indication of a message. My Nye app was glowing green.

Nye, the ghost from 12th century Scotland who had haunted me in London when all I wanted to do was kill my girlfriend who had run off with my best mate. Nye, who had given me the hypersphere so we could do away with the ghastly red caps and lead me into a murderer’s den so we could save Annie from a gruesome death at his hands.

Was she here? Arriving like the 7th Cavalry to save the day? I took in a big sniff hoping to smell the familiar tarry smell of a good malt whisky that usually indicated she was around.

Nothing.

I pressed the app. This usually meant that she would appear in person, as it were, or at least show up on the screen for some face time.

Nothing.

Modred was watching me carefully.

“Hey, Chas.”

“Charlie.” I countered.

“How’s the food daddy o, bust a gut yet?”

“Fine, fine.” I pushed the plates away from me. “Lets get down to business. But first,” I pointed at the speakers “can you turn that shite off.”

Modred scowled a little but clapped his hands. Immediately the music stopped, and the flailing watusi zombie dancers skipped out of sight.

Sitting back, he clasped his arms behind his head in another macho manspreading cliché bullshit position. He smirked and nodded his head.

“The situation Charlie, my boy, is you have something that I want. And in return, I can give you something that you want.”

“What’s that?” I countered.

“Your life dude.” He clicked his fingers.

“But you don’t have it yet so how can you return it?

“Are you so sure? You are currently in the company of the dead. Death is all around you.”

“Death is a fact of life” I shot back nonchalantly, but not feeling at all nonchalant. We seemed to have entered into some sort of Socratic argument.

“Do you not fear death?”

“Why should I fear death? I do not know enough about death to fear it.”

“And yet you are here in the presence of death.” He gestured with his hands at himself and then to Tregeagle who gave his gravedigger smile.

“Maybe,” I argued, “that it is you who knows little enough about death because here you are still wandering the mortal plane.”

“’Tis the vindictiveness of thy miserable priests for causing I such pain and toil.” Tregeagle spat across the table.

“Ye mortals fear death as the raindrop fears the sun. ‘Tis but a moments work for both to be gone. Damn your priests and damn this game.” He rose from his seat like a pocketknife unfolding, all sharp angles and blades. His shirtfront flounced in an act of mutiny against the jagged movements of his body.

“Hold, Jan. Hold,” Modred stared down the table at me. His eyes returned to the golden glow of the beast that was surely within. “Let us play longer.”

There, I was being toyed with.

My hand was in my pocket holding my phone. I was willing it to buzz so the green light would envelop me for all to be well. I wanted to rest my brow once again against the pillow of Nye’s breasts as she hummed a simple tune.

“Tell me mortal.” Modred’s voice had hardened. “Why you are so sure about not fearing death?”

I turned so I could look Modred straight into his golden eyes.

“I know I shall die, maybe today at your hand, perhaps not. Maybe I will live until the Crown is forced to acknowledge my singular existence through the medium of a congratulatory telegram upon reaching my centenary, who knows? But you, and you.” I pointed my finger at Tregeagle. “You, the dead, know nothing. What have you got in your death? What rewards have you accrued? Nothing. You are barely remembered, and for the most part, you are forgotten.”

Modred stood, eyes blazing, fists clenched, and knuckles down on the table.

“Human, you are finished; you will give me what I seek. You will kneel at my feet and give up the stone.”

It was my turn to grin.

“Such is death, and you live in this hell or some other hell like place where your immortality is an unhappy, endless, striving for what? You know what?” I stood, and ripped my shirt open. I bared my sagging chest at him.

“Do your worst you evil cunt, because no evil can happen to a good man, either in life or after death.”

In my pocket, my phone burped.

In the hall, the stereo switched on.

Yeaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!

Meet the new boss

Same as the old boss

On a loop, around, and around, and around…

 

About Rob Burton

Dr. Rob Burton was a professional sociologist for over 25 years at the University of Exeter, the Open University and the University of Plymouth. Now semi-retired Rob works in Nanjing, China teaching English and writing novels.  He has authored many academic articles and recently published, with a Chinese co-author, a crammer for Chinese students who wish to succeed with their IELTS speaking test. His first novel Meditations on Murder is available now on Amazon as an ebook or paperback.

His novels are firmly set in the Urban Fantasy genre where he brings his experiences of traveling the world and his academic interest in Cornwall, the Cornish, and the Celtic world to the fore.

Rob has an 18-year-old daughter back in the UK. Snook Doggy Dog, a female Jack Russell that he took with him to China and features in his books.

BOOKS BY THIS AUTHOR: 

Meditation on Murder
Dr. Burton Unlocks the Secrets of the IELTS Speaking Test
The Castle of the Red-Haired Maidens
The Twelfth Rune
A Taste of English

The Twelfth Rune is his WIP (Work in Progress). He has also written a memoir under a pen name.

Connect with Rob Burton on his website, https://www.rob-burton.co.uk, and on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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A Writing Prompt from Rob Burton

Dr. Rob Burton was a professional sociologist for over 25 years at the University of Exeter, the Open University and the University of Plymouth. Now semi-retired Rob works in Nanjing, China teaching English and writing novels.  He has authored many academic articles and recently published, with a Chinese co-author, a crammer for Chinese students who wish to succeed with their IELTS speaking test. His first novel ‘Meditations on Murder’ is available now on Amazon as an ebook or paperback.

His novels are firmly set in the Urban Fantasy genre where he brings his experiences of traveling the world and his academic interest in Cornwall, the Cornish and the Celtic world to the fore.

Rob has an 18-year-old daughter back in the UK. Snook Doggy Dog, a female Jack Russell that he took with him to China and features in his books.

Burton provided a fun writing prompt for those of you searching for your next project, looking to get in some writing exercise, or need to take a break from a project you are experiencing some writer’s block with. Off we go! Remember, give yourself at least 30 minutes to write after reading a prompt. If it goes longers, hooray! If not, you’ve at least given your brain a challenging break.

Is the Monkey King the world’s most popular superhero?

“Cloud-leaping, shape-shifting, demon-killing and magic staff-wielding, the Monkey King is perhaps the most enduring figure in Chinese literature and folklore. He is the ultimate bad-boy made good – he causes havoc in heaven, uproar under the sea, returns from the dead to continue his mischief, and even survives the fires of heaven. He is so powerful, only the Buddha can subdue him, but in the end, he finds redemption as the faithful servant and protector of the saintly monk Xuanzang, who is on a pilgrimage to collect scriptures.” (from the British Council Website courtesy of Rob Burton.)

 

Thank-you to Ink Smith Publishing for introducing us to this new author! You can check out an excerpt of Rob Burton’s work tomorrow. It will be posted on this blog!

Dr. Rob Burton

Dr. Rob Burton was a professional sociologist for over 25 years at the University of Exeter, the Open University and the University of Plymouth. Now semi-retired Rob works in Nanjing, China teaching English and writing novels.  He has authored many academic articles and recently published, with a Chinese co-author, a crammer for Chinese students who wish to succeed with their IELTS speaking test. His first novel Meditations on Murder is available now on Amazon as an ebook or paperback.

His novels are firmly set in the Urban Fantasy genre where he brings his experiences of traveling the world and his academic interest in Cornwall, the Cornish, and the Celtic world to the fore.

Rob has an 18-year-old daughter back in the UK. Snook Doggy Dog, a female Jack Russell that he took with him to China and features in his books.

 

BOOKS BY THIS AUTHOR: 

Meditation on Murder
Dr. Burton Unlocks the Secrets of the IELTS Speaking Test
The Castle of the Red-Haired Maidens
The Twelfth Rune
A Taste of English

The Twelfth Rune is his WIP (Work in Progress). He has also written a memoir under a pen name.

Connect with Rob Burton on his website, https://www.rob-burton.co.uk, and on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

An Interview with Rob Burton

Ink Smith: Let’s get some basics out of the way! What is your favorite food?
Rob: I live in China at the moment so the opportunity for favorite food is limited. But I’m British so a curry would be top of the list, and surprisingly there are good curry houses here in China with authentic Indian cooks. Cheese is hard to get here in China, when I do manage to buy it from the local French supermarket (Auchan) I tend to eat it all in one go. Fish and Chips from a takeaway from my home city of Plymouth, UK is also something I miss big time.

Ink Smith: What is your favorite color?
Rob: Blue – and in particular the blue/turquoise of the sea. Any sea. I have always lived by the sea apart for the last six years living inland in Nanjing, China. I miss the sea, miss surfing in the sea, I miss just looking at the sea as the sun sinks into the horizon.

Ink Smith: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Rob: My writing goes in fits and starts – so I can spend a lot of time writing and then have a bunch of time off writing. I don’t get het up about it. I know that my unconscious brain is working it all out. I’m not a plotter and a planner. I don’t have an office with a big white-board covered in timelines and plots. Nor walls covered in post-it notes. I’m a pantser – my characters drag me through the story. I have the small corner of a two seater sofa of which the dog and the girlfriend have the majority of the space. I also get to write in my office at the school here in China where I teach English in the two office hours I have to do every day as part of my contract.

Ink Smith: What inspired you to write your first book?
Rob Burton: Discounting my PhD and the Chinese book, my first book started, as opposed to published, was Meditations on Murder. I worked in a British University that was trying to make me redundant and the relationship I had with my daughter’s mum was down the tubes so I wasn’t in the best of moods. So a lot of the dark stuff in the book is semi-autobiographical – I was getting my angst out there.

These are the first lines I wrote
Chapter 1.
I wanted to kill someone.
It could be anyone.
I wasn’t holding a grudge.
I just felt like it.
Why not?

Ink Smith: What is your favorite book?
Rob: Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig (who has recently passed away). I first bought this book in Holland where I was living and working. It was probably around the mid 70’s so the book had just come out. I cannot count how many times I have passed this book on never to get it back. Fortunately, it can often be found in Charity Shops, car boot sales and secondhand bookstores which are all my favorite shopping places.

Ink Smith: Did you learn anything from writing your book(s) and what was it?
Rob Burton: Writing about 12th century Scotland for The Castle of the Red-Haired Maidens was interesting. I wanted to get the period details right. For instance in common parlance, we would call the Norsemen that colonized northern Scotland and its islands ‘Viking’s when in fact they were called Lochlannach – which effectively means ‘Scandinavian’. Viking is a verb – ‘They went Viking.’

I also learned about weapons and stuff like that – for instance, chopping off a head with a single sword swipe would be very difficult despite the movies. As I am in China my main research sources are Google and Wikipedia, but also posting questions on the FB writer pages I am on.

Ink Smith: Do you have a specific writing style?
Rob Burton: I have no idea – I do write with my tongue firmly in my cheek and hope that people find the humor in my work, which does also have its darker side. I am not trying to be out and out funny but sometimes even the darkest things can give us a little chuckle.

Ink Smith: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Rob Burton: No messages. I have tried to add subliminal BUY MY NEXT NOVEL messages into the text but that doesn’t work. Nor does writing sentences backward so they read like a satanic chant – that didn’t work for The Beatles either.

Ink Smith: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
Rob Burton: Reading, reading and more reading. I was one of those kids that dodged school and hid in the City Library reading all day. I failed at school and didn’t get to University until my mid 30’s getting my PhD in my 40’s. I do recall being asked once to join an A Level English Course at a college once on the basis of one of my stories but my parents said no as I was doing an engineering apprenticeship at the time.

Ink Smith: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
Rob Burton: My favorite author is James Lee Burke. And in particular his detective series featuring Dave Robicheaux. I find Burke to be a very atmospheric writer. His stories do not seem to be hurried; they are well paced and draw the reader in. Also he answers his fan emails *blush*

Ink Smith: What is your favorite mythical creature?
Rob Burton: 
Although not mythical but revered by millions, Ganesha is my choice. Ganesh is the remover of obstacles, the patron of arts and sciences and the deva of intellect and wisdom. As the god of beginnings, he is honored at the start of rites and ceremonies. Ganesha is also invoked as patron of letters and learning during writing sessions. Ganesha writing.

Ink Smith: What are your current projects?
Rob Burton: 

  1. At the moment my novella The Castle of the Red-Haired Maidens is out with the editor. This is the back-story to Nye the 12th Century Scottish ghost who is a main character in my novel Meditations on Murder. In that book, she tells us she was horribly murdered – the novella covers that incident.
  2. I am also writing the second novel of the series with Charlie Simpson. (I wanted him to be a pretty ordinary man facing extraordinary circumstances – hence the boring name) I am about 50% through it at the moment. The Twelfth Rune is set in Cornwall and uses Cornish myths and legends to drive the story as Charlie has to pit his wits against Modred the arch Arthurian villain to rescue some lost religious artifacts and, of course, save the world again. (Is that too much of a spoiler?)
  3. I also earn some spare cash doing some writing and proofreading for Nanjing University and an English Training school. The translation department sends me English translations of works and I have to check the English. Recently, I proofed a book about Karl Marx (still popular here of course) and am working on a book about the various translations of the Chinese classic Dao De Jing by Laozi . (I am hopeless at proofreading my own stuff of course.)

Ink Smith: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Rob Burton: Write Like A Bastard Everyday – if I am not working on the novel, I am either blogging, writing on Facebook, or doing paid writing for other people. It’s not my main source of income but provides some extra cash.

Ink Smith: If you had to do it all over again, what would you change in your latest book?
Rob Burton: I would probably pay for a developmental editor to have a look at it. I made the mistake, being a proofreader myself, I doing my own editing and then publishing on KDP. A few mistakes were mentioned to me. Then I looked at it again after a few months and it was blindingly obvious it needed to be looked at professionally. Also, I was personally uncomfortable with having a substandard work out with my name across it – so it was also a matter of pride. So it’s now been edited and I have re-published it and I am happy now. But maybe a developmental edit could have made it even stronger than it is (currently it does have 5-star reviews on Amazon)

Ink Smith: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers
Rob Burton: Readers if you enjoy indie writers who offer their work at good prices and you enjoy what you read, please remember to go back and give the author a review – good or bad – reviews are the indie authors lifeblood and they help new readers find the new writers.

If this article has peaked your interest like it has ours, stop by Rob’s social media pages (https://www.rob-burton.co.ukFacebook, Twitter, and Instagram. ), or better yet, stop by his Amazon (Amazon UK) pages and pick up a copy or two of his books!

In addition, if anyone happens to be passing through Nanjing, China they can have a free audience with Rob over a beer and if they have a paper copy of his book he’ll even sign it.


A note to readers from Rob Burton:

Many young writers ask on the Facebook writer’s page that they want to start writing but they don’t know how or what to write. My advice is travel. See the world, have some adventures. Live life.

“You look at where you’re going and where you are and it never makes sense, but then you look back at where you’ve been and a pattern seems to emerge.”
― Robert M. PirsigZen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values