anthony dobranski online


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Asking my readers – “The Briefing” as prologue / teaser?

Yesterday I posted an excerpt from late in the novel, in part to entertain, but as I mentioned I also had another reason. I’m wondering if that passage should become the prologue for the novel. I’d like your opinion. Now to explain —

Not all novels start with a bang. Until the 20th century, most of them didn’t. The characters were introduced, sometimes at the end of a long parentage, and the action followed. A little foreshadowing, perhaps; a choice phrase to let people know what the stakes are, as in Pride and Prejudice‘s famous opening line; maybe a small gesture, like the bishop giving Jean Valjean his candlesticks or Pip helping Fagin go free, but one that will grow. Even in slender The Great Gatsby Nick Carraway gets a couple of pages to complain about his job before the bad parties start.  Continue reading


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Fiction: The briefing (from The Demon in Business Class)

WordPress doesn’t let me tag non-blog posts (the links in the header row), so I post excerpts from my novel to let potential readers find me by searching. Today’s excerpt gives Zarabeth her chance at revenge on the man who woke her heart, then broke it. I also have another reason for posting this particular scene, that you will read in my next post. ‘Til then, enjoy!

Straightforward’s Hong Kong office was in one of Central’s sleek skyscrapers, two MTR stops and a century west of Wan Chai. At seven in the evening, the office was quiet. A staffer led Zarabeth to a bamboo hallway and offered her tea. People passed her, heading out. Everyone ignored her. Her feet pulsed from the heat.

At seven-thirty her telepresence session started, in a half-oval walnut-brown room with only a table and chair. On the wide screen, her boss Magda, pale-white pie-crust face as big as Oz. The staffer resized the image. Now Magda sat in gray clothes at a similar table in a similar room. Except for the floating time code window, the illusion of one place was convincing.

The staffer presented Zarabeth with a thumb-scanner wired to a secure interoffice pouch. She scanned. The security lock snapped off. The staffer left and locked the door.

“That’s to take with you,” Magda said, once they were alone. “Sit down, stranger. Flight ok? Settled in?”

“Fine thanks,” Zarabeth said. “This is spendy.”

“Corporate telepresence comes with hourly bug sweeps and physical soundproofing. Why reinvent the wheel? Now listen. Continue reading


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Old Fart, of my Time

So, I am an old fart. I have always been one. By feel and intuition I cobbled myself a classical education in high school, reading Shakespeare long before it was assigned, learning mythology from academic dictionaries and old minor epics, studying Latin, using French. My love of punk music (old fart chronologically, too) and my knack for the tech and culture of computer networking (which got me hired at AOL way back before a phone could go in a pocket, much less go online) hid my mustiness pretty well, so long as I kept my vocabulary in check. But my way of being has a sense of the past about it. I live larger by living across time.

This is not the most comfortable perch when one has a new book to sell, when one tries on glittering adjectives to catch the eyes of agents.

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