The Long and the Short of Role Model

Hot Off The Press anthologyI have a new short story out now, in the Hot Off the Press anthology from Dreamspinner Press, which is themed around writer characters of various kinds. Mine, Role Model, features a journalist, Paul, and the heroic paramedic, Drew, he writes a story about, and falls in love with.

For a short story of twelve thousand words, Role Model has a very long history. Long. The story begins with paramedic Drew performing an act of heroism to save a child. That particular act has been in my mind for a long long time. It was part of the background story of a character in one of my albatross books. Not even in the book, just part of his background.

Stowaway Cover - art by Anne CainSince those books will never be written everything in them in fair game to salvage, and some already has been, including several characters, and some scenes, including Kit’s initial reckless-staircase-jumping capture in Stowaway. Proving that nothing is ever really wasted, and also that however long ago you thought of an idea that doesn’t mean it won’t come in useful one day. Consider it a kind of mental hoarding. Somewhere in my brain attic there will be something worth blowing the dust off and using.

Ganymede Tilt CoverNeither of the characters came from the albatross books, even if one of them got to be the one doing what a long ago character did. But the other character, Paul, is a journalist. I’ve written a couple of journalist characters before, like Heather Freeman in Ganymede Tilt, and Chervaz in The Battle of Hollow Jimmy. Chervaz was definitely rescued from the wreckage of those old projects, though he wasn’t a journalist in his original form. The Battle of Hollow JimmyAnd, by the way, Greg in Liar’s Waltz got the original Chervez’s family background… complicated much?

Right now, for NaNoWriMo I’m writing a journalist hero who I hope you’ll get to meet soon. Journalists don’t seem to get to be the heroes in stories much. It’s not a profession held in high regard these days, especially not in the UK after the Leveson enquiry. TheTruthBut journalists can be fascinating characters to write about, and to read about. One of my favourite of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld books is The Truth, starring William de Worde as Ankh Morpork’s first ever investigative journalist, negotiating the difficulties of telling people the truth that more powerful people would sooner have hidden. Alongside pictures of amusingly shaped vegetables. So yes, I think journalists deserve the chance to be the heroes of stories sometimes too.

The Drew character isn’t just a hero in this case, he’s a paramedic, a first responder, often portrayed as heroes in the media. So it was fun to put together a character in a well respected job like Drew’s, with one in a much-maligned one with Paul’s. But also for Paul’s job to be part of creating the image of heroic emergency services personnel. The theme of heroism and bravery and what qualifies as that runs through Role Model. It explores the idea that bravery isn’t just doing that one act one time on one terrible night.

Check the story out now along with lots of others themed around writers and wordsmiths of various kinds in the Hot Off the Press anthology from Dreamspinner Press.

Blurb for Role Model

rolemodel_FBprofile_smallA late-night call brings reporter Paul Bradley out to cover the scene of an accident, where he witnesses heroic paramedic Drew MacGregor save a young girl’s life. Paul knows it will make a great story. The fact Drew is openly gay adds another dimension to Paul’s story, and he presents Drew as a role model for other gay people. It doesn’t hurt that Drew’s attractive, but he won’t date closeted men, and Paul made the choice long ago to keep his sexuality secret in favor of his career.

See the Hot Off the Press book page for a list of all the authors, more details about the book and additional buy links.

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