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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Wednesday Spotlight: AC Katt

The Hero in Waiting...

In vaudeville they called him the Second Banana, in Hollywood--the supporting actor, on Broadway--the understudy. Who is he? In romance, he is the hero's best friend, or the guy he just met who helps him out of a tight spot, in reality -- this is the guy hanging out for a book of his own.

When you write a novel it naturally flows that the hero(s) and the heroine are the stars of the show. Yet, when you least expect it, the demon plot bunny hops onto your computer and you're stuck. You have a secondary character so intelligent, good looking, such an all around bad ass, that he keeps sticking up his head and having his say in the story, making himself second only to the hero(s)/heroine in importance. You know his takeover is complete when you find you have no story without his inclusion.

My computer and I met Mr. Plot Bunny early in my soon to be released novel The Sarran Plague. He came in the form of Dr. Mark Stern, Chief of Staff at Manhattan General Medical Center.

Originally his part in the novel was as witness to what happened to Anya and to tell the hero about the cat. (If you want to know more you'll have to read the book. Daddy told me never give it all up for free!) Bunny struck -- I looked up and read what I wrote about four hours later and lo and behold, Mark Stern is on the Brightstar heading for Sarran. 

What follows is an unedited ARC excerpt from The Sarran Plague featuring Mark Stern who refused to be a second banana. 
Although devastating, the Plague had been his first challenge in years. Now that his part was over, he didn't want to go back to what was before. He sensed that there was more to this scenario than what appeared on the surface. This was no vanilla government organization. Curiosity won over caution. He had already made up his mind. Mark was just waiting for one of them to ask.
“Dr. Bane has indicated that you are an excellent physician. He suggested that you would make an outstanding addition to our medical staff. Of course, compensation would be equal to or greater than you currently receive. You would be given the opportunity to study the Plague and its effects at close range. There is also a chance for research into medical techniques, anatomy and physiology that few physicians… The opportunity is very rare, let us leave it at that.”
“I accept,” Mark answered immediately. This was the reason he had studied medicine. And he knew deep in his gut that this was no position with Homeland Security or CDC.
“Do you have anything personal you absolutely must have accompany you? Most of what you need or want can be provided,” Jonal said.
“I do not. However, one of the patients is also a pediatric resident at this hospital, Dr. Anya Forrest.”
Jonal’s eyes lit up, shooting silver sparks. “Really…” Jonal answered.
Mark watched the beginning of a facial tic that intersected the thin scar along Jonal's jaw.
"Do you know her well, Mark?" Jonal asked.
His tone lowered and went flat. He unconsciously took a step toward Mark with his upper body pitched forward.
This is one guy I don't think I want to engage in a pissing match, Mark thought. With a more conciliatory tone Mark said, “Yes, I do. She is on the hospital staff. Once recovered, she would also make an excellent addition to any medical organization. Even though her specialty is children, I found her throughout her residency to be adaptable to most circumstances. This hospital participated in many clinical trials where her input was invaluable. She is on the list, so I know she will be accompanying us…but there might be a problem with Tigger.”
A tight, hard expression crossed Jonal’s stone-like countenance.Anger, jealousy, both. The words just popped into his mind. The music from the Twilight Zone played in Mark’s head. Tonas crossed the room to join them.
“Jonal?” he asked.
“Dr. Stern, Mark, said we have the honor of another physician in our ranks, Dr. Anya Forrest.” Jonal said as his eyes flashed with anger. Dr. Forrest has an impediment.” Mark was astonished to hear the barely leashed temper in Jonal’s tone. Tonas’s presence seemed to soothe, but he also seemed a bit perturbed.
“What impediment, Dr. Stern?” Tonas snapped. “We were assured that all of these cases were priority one, no family, no ties.” Mark looked at him strangely. It was almost as if Anya’s case affected him directly. Tonas, unlike Jonal, did not give the impression of a man who wore his emotions on his face often. Mark looked from Tonas to Jonal and back. These guys were tense.
Mark laughed. The looks he received in turn would have frozen Brazil. “Tigger is Anya’s cat. She goes nowhere without him. She has been very anxious about him since she became ill, so anxious that it seemed to make her sicker. I asked one of the orderlies to check on him from time to time. He is healthy, but yowling his head off for his mommy.”
“A cat, you say.” Jonal looked confused.
“Yes,” Mark answered, “a cat, her pet cat.”
“I see, Mark, it is Mark?” said Tonas, exchanging a long glance with Jonal. “May I take the liberty of using your given name?”
“Yes, Tonas, you may.”
“I trust you can arrange for your orderly to accompany one of my men to fetch the cat, Tigger, with such supplies as he/she would need for say…a six-month stay. Of course, we will pay for the supplies.” Tonas turned slightly to the right. Dr. Flagen was just outside Mark’s peripheral vision, leaning on a column, listening to Jonal and Stern.
“Actually, Tigger is an it,” Mark enjoined.
“An it?” Jonal asked. Tonas turned his head with a jerk.
“Oh, yes,” said Mark, enjoying himself. Somehow or another, these gentlemen were not conversant with politically correct house pets. “Tigger has been fixed, castrated so as not to reproduce.”
Both men’s hands twitched. Mark was impressed that they had the discipline not to grab their balls. He continued, “We have an animal control problem here in the U.S. and both male and female pets must be neutered if obtained from a shelter.”
Both Tonas and Jonal grimaced. “I’ll send one of my men with your orderly,” Tonas replied. He turned his head. “Flagen, come forward.”
“Yes, sir,” Flagen replied issuing a strange kind of salute.
Mark thought his voice sounded rusty, almost unused.
These guys are so not with CDC, Mark thought. If he was correct, and his inner radar was rarely wrong, the two in charge were lovers. The intimate glances and unspoken communication suggested more than friendship.

The Sarran Plague will be rereleased by Captiva Press in the Spring of 2011. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Loved the excerpt. Congratulations on your new release!

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