Wednesday, October 23, 2013
Ian Kingsley - Flying a Kite is featured in the HBS Mystery Reader's Circle today.
Author Genre: Mystery & Thrillers, Religion & Spirituality
Author's Blog: Ian Kingsley - Author Blog
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'Ian Kingsley' is a fiction pseudonym I now use because most people misspell my real surname – a distinct disadvantage when ordering a book!
I was born in Peterborough but have lived most of my life on the south coast of Dorset. I have written a number of non-fiction works on science and technology and have worked in research and development, as an analogue and digital design engineer, and then as a technical author and technical publications manager involved in numerous military and commercial projects. So writing has been the focus for most of my career. I am married with two children and four grandchildren.
Publishing fiction has always been my real ambition. Finally I got around to it with my debut novel: SANDMAN. I have to say that, for someone who has spent a whole lot of time writing and editing non-fiction, writing fiction is far more challenging. I hope you enjoy the results.
My latest publication is 'Flying a Kite'. This has to be the most challenging work I have ever written. Getting the balance right in what amounts to a novel working at both a fictional level and a non-fiction level was quite tricky.
Flying a Kite
Author: Ian Kingsley
Book Trailer: Flying a Kite
Barnes and Noble
Money always solved everything for multi-millionaire Aldo Galliano. So when faced with imminent death and the need to decide between cryonic preservation or faith in God and an afterlife, he offers a £1m prize for the most convincing argument ‘for’ or ‘against’ God. Enter Bruce Kramer, a dropout theology graduate, who strives to consolidate religion and science by revealing links between creation and evolution, and explaining mysteries as diverse as the Garden of Eden and the wise men's guiding star. But dangerous rivals aim to prevent his success. With locations including Bath, Rome, Lake Garda, Tenerife, Los Angeles and Santa Barbara, this fascinating novel draws the reader deeply into the excitement of Bruce's squabbling research team, his untimely romantic entanglements, and the compelling theories pursued by a cast of engaging but eccentric characters. Subtly combining the spiritual discernment of C. S. Lewis, the humour and rich characterisation of Peter Carey, and all the twists and turns of a mystery thriller, the author brings us an entertaining and unforgettable tale. But beware. Like one of Galliano’s favourite lattes, while it might appear frothy on the surface, a high caffeine brew lurks deep below that may keep you awake at night... thinking.
'Ian Kingsley's Flying A Kite clearly documents the literary talent of its author. Deftly written, original, genuinely entertaining, iconoclastic, Flying A Kite is a rewarding and entertaining read from beginning to end and highly recommended for personal and community library Contemporary Fiction collections. Of special note is the author's own web site at iankingsley.com that is packed with helpful information for aspiring writers seeking to create their own memorable literary works.
—Jack Mason (Midwest Book Review - Sept 2013)
'Fluid, smooth and flows at a lovely pace. Really engaging from the start. Like The Shack, there is a niche for this kind of book.'
—Gillian McDade (journalist and author of Standing Man)
'Addresses a universal question in a much better way than Dan Brown in Angels & Demons where the God versus science debate is just another subplot in another ciphering book; in Flying a Kite it's the main plot thread, convincingly dealt with, and riveting.'
—Richard Pierce (author of Dead Men)
'Characters are direct and effective. I enjoyed how the pace allowed the reader to think about important concepts by himself.'
—Heikki Hietala (author of Tulagi Hotel)
'Fluent, graphic writing and excellent use of description. Characters come alive through captivating dialogue.'
—Elijah Iwuji (author of Praying in the Will of God)
v 'I love the characters. Ada is superbly done.'
—Anne Lyken-Garner (author of Sunday’s Child)
'Up there with some of the best published work around.'
—Walter Robson (author of Access to History: Medieval Britain)
'Sick with septicemia, Aldo Galliano, a rich Italian businessman, is faced with his own mortality and wants to find out if there is really life after death. This is the premise of Flying a Kite by Ian Kingsley. One of the main protagonists, Bruce Kramer, a disillusioned theology graduate, is hired to organize and head a team of researchers. The group only has six months to prove if God really exists or not. Other groups of experts are also working on this and at stake is a one million pound prize for the most convincing argument of God’s existence or non-existence. Will Bruce and his eccentric crew find the meaning of life in a world that is swamped by the latest in scientific technology?
Flying a Kite is a novel that attempts to answer philosophical questions that have baffled philosophers and scientists all over the world since time immemorial. Indeed, these are questions that confront all of us. Does God really exist? What is the meaning of life? Dialogue driven and fast paced, the reader will be entertained by Bruce Kramer and his team as they try to solve life’s mystery itself. Ian Kingsley’s novel reminds me of Jostein Gaarder’s work in Sophie’s World. Whereas Kramer relied heavily on philosophy to prove his point, Kingsley consolidates science and religion in putting forth his novel’s intention [Ed. Through the End Notes]. I think one of the greatest achievements of this book is that the author is very successful in creating an entertaining book that deals with a subject as complicated as finding God and the meaning of life.'
—Maria Beltran (for Readers' Favorite)
Excerpt from Chapter 1
As Bruce struggled to scoop ice into drinks using his free hand, two frozen cubes escaped and bounced on the floor beneath the optics. They skittered in a hollow dance across the tiles, much to the amusement of one of the barmaids who kicked them to the far end of the bar. Bruce ignored her noisy giggles and concentrated on the phone held in his other hand.
‘I’m sorry, but it’s hard to hear you, Mr. Galliano. There’s a lot of background noise here.’ He grimaced at the barmaid, laid down the scoop and replaced the ice bucket lid. ‘All I really wanted to know was the job title. I hoped your secretary could tell me without troubling you, sir.’
‘Is no trouble, Mr. Kramer. She thought I explain better.’ The thick accent confirmed Bruce’s suspicion his potential employer was almost certainly Italian. ‘Sometimes we hire good people and then tailor best possible job for them afterwards. I have many companies, you see. Many possibilities. This way we can match person perfectly to role.’ Galliano paused for a moment. ‘After three-month trial to assess their skills. During which time I like to stretch them a little. You think this a good way, no?’
‘I suppose it is,’ said Bruce. ‘It’s an interesting approach.’
‘I find this work very well. I set them a little challenge. Maybe difficult goal to achieve. Test their… mettle. Is that right, Mr. Kramer? I am not very good at English, you see. I am Italian. Is right: mettle?’
‘Yes, that’s right.’
‘But not metal like iron or steel, I think.’ Galliano chuckled briefly and then paused, perhaps to allow his message to sink in. ‘So, can you rise to a challenge, Mr. Kramer? Does this thought put you off, maybe?’
‘No, no, not at all. I like a challenge.’ Bruce grimaced to himself and then edged through the door at the back of the bar to get out of the sight of a gesticulating customer. This job opportunity sounded scary and promising in equal measures, but his heart leapt at the chance of finally getting proper employment. Perhaps he might now gain a sense of direction. Nothing he’d done since graduating from Cambridge had really appealed so far. He could hardly believe his luck that a general CV on an online recruitment database had opened up such a promising job prospect right there in Bath. Even better, this job now sounded lucrative.
For who would take such an unusual approach to recruiting and then pay peanuts? He now felt convinced it was a senior position that would put bar work into its true perspective. His only concern was the fact he’d concealed his present job by making it look as if his previous position in finance was still ongoing. But he would cross that bridge when he came to it. ‘I’m very much looking forward to discussing this further next week, Mr. Galliano.’
‘I, too, Mr. Kramer. I am very interested in your background. I have a proposal I think might excite you. So have a nice weekend in the meantime.’
Bruce looked up nervously when the booming voice of the bar manager assailed him as he came through from the kitchen. ‘You know the rules, Bruce. No calls on duty.’ The manager’s bony finger and cocked thumb resembled a revolver; this gesture, combined with the other’s heavily-gelled black hair and beady eyes, conjured up the mental picture of an assassin. The manager then jerked both his head and thumb towards the bar.
‘Come on, move it, Bruce. There are customers waiting out there. No time for chit-chat.’
Bruce covered the mouthpiece and wished he could call his manager a prat. ‘I’m sorry, Jake. I’ll be right there.’ He spoke into the phone again.
‘Thank you very much, Mr. Galliano. Sorry to have troubled you. I’ll see you next week.’ He ended the call and slid the mobile phone into his pocket. With the manager leering at him, and the tantalising prospect of a more promising job in his heart, Bruce bit back resignation from his lips and breezed into the bar. There he gathered up the drinks he’d already prepared and delivered them to his impatient customer with a flourish.
‘Your drinks, sir. Sorry about the delay.’ He put on what he hoped was a disarming smile. ‘I was looking for more ice. I’m afraid we’re a bit short. But they’re not too bad, are they? Have a nice day.’
It was hard not to laugh when Jake skidded several inches on an ice cube.
Author: Ian Kingsley
Book Trailer: Sandman
Barnes and Noble
Lazing through hot summer days at their beach hut, life seems just about perfect for the Vincent family - until their peace is shattered by murder. An incident between Paul Vincent and Stevie Clarke - an unbalanced beachcomber known by some as 'The Sandman' - leads Paul to inform the police he believes Clarke is the murderer. This provokes frightening and prolonged reprisals against the family from Clarke. Matters deteriorate further when Leah, Paul's teenage daughter, unwittingly reveals evidence to the police which implicates her own father. This gripping psychological thriller places turbulent emotions in stark contrast to beautiful surroundings, testimony to the fragile nature of tranquility.
'Sandman' is a psychological thriller. I believe characterisation is the most important aspect of an entertaining and memorable novel, and getting into the psychology of your characters seems the best way to achieve this. I also believe in the importance of a solid plot, for it is plot that maintains direction and pace. Given these two ingredients, I think everything should move the novel forward by either deepening character or developing the plot. Another thing I believe in is using real settings in order to make it easier to create that feeling of 'place'. In the case of 'Sandman', the 'place' is in and around Christchurch Harbour in Dorset, England, especially the well-known areas of Hengistbury Head and Mudeford Sandbank (whereon lie some of the most expensive beach huts in the world).
I have now also published a non-fiction work called 'Reality Check: Science Meets Religion'. As the title suggests, the aim is to bring compatibility between science and religion. Please check this out via my author website.
My author website, iankingsley.com, has been introduced to complement my books with background information. It also contains articles on books, publishing, writing, and on various writing techniques and tools I have used or developed over the years.
I love to get feedback from readers and my author website provides contact information. If you read my book, please let me know if you enjoyed it. It would also be great if you published a reader review on Amazon!
The crouching figure stared across the narrow strip of beach. Bright moonlight was forcing him to take cover in the shallow dunes. Although fierce flurries of sand occasionally stung his face, he considered conditions to be perfect, for the blustery wind would mask any inadvertent sound he might make. He was quite happy to wait for suitable cloud-cover. As always, the sea was his constant companion as it hissed and sighed in restless sleep.
Totally focused, he was ready to move. He knew his dark jacket and jeans made him practically invisible at night: ideal for a mission. Tonight he needed to gather information and then get out by boat.
When a cloud finally obscured the moon, he slipped across the sand to the long line of beach huts. He knew he could now move down their entire length without being seen, just like the most highly trained member of the SAS. Time for an update on the hut-dwellers. At last, the mission was on.
Paul Vincent was well aware his wife’s tight little smile was the result of feasting her eyes on the sleek, wet-suited contours of Russell Gartland. Were it not for this, he could have relaxed and perhaps even been amused by the overpowering enthusiasm of the man with the spiky, gelled-up hair. Unfortunately, he knew Sasha’s weakness only too well. Gartland was showing them his windsurfing training rig on the harbour shoreline. Paul felt almost under-dressed in his baggy red trunks.
‘So remember the sport’s called windsurfing, not sailboarding, and you’re called sailors, not surfers,’ said Gartland.
‘Confusing,’ muttered Leah, shaking her head. Paul watched his daughter with some amusement. He knew she would want to get all the details like this correct. Dressed in a yellow bikini, she brushed long hair from her face. At only fourteen, she was not quite as tall as her mother and did not have the same toned body, but they were otherwise strikingly alike, except for her being a shade too skinny in his opinion.
Gartland grinned and shrugged. ‘That’s life, Leah. But windsurfing’s a world away from board surfing, believe me. When you start out with displacement sailing, you’re boarding through the water like a surfer, but when you’re proficient and have learned to hydroplane in stronger winds, you’ll be skimming across the surface of the water.’ He winked at Leah.
‘That’s a whole new scene. It’s fast.’
‘Really?’ Paul Vincent was impressed by this new piece of information; he also wanted to draw Gartland’s lingering gaze away from his daughter. ‘What speed can you get up to when you’re hydroplaning, Russell?’
Gartland turned to face him. ‘You can plane at around eight to ten knots, Paul, and you can even get to over fifteen knots with recreational equipment.’
‘So can you do more with special equipment, Russell?’ asked Sasha. Her black bikini revealed a figure almost as athletic as Gartland’s, courtesy of her work as a physical education teacher. Paul noticed she moved a little closer to Gartland while enveloping him in one of her broadest smiles.
‘Oh yes,’ Gartland grinned. ‘There’s no holding back what you can achieve with special equipment, Sasha.’ As they exchanged amused grins, Paul was sure of it. He reckoned he’d noticed their mutual admiration during the theory training Gartland had given them a week earlier, but now this seemed patently obvious as the man continued to hold his wife’s gaze. ‘It’s possible to go right up to fifty knots, Sasha, but ideal conditions for recreational sailors are about fifteen to twenty-five knots.’ He pulled up the sail of the training rig. ‘So, we’ve done the theory. Now you need to develop balance and core stability. Stand up on the board, Sasha, and let’s get some wind in your sails. You look up for it.’
Sasha stood on the training board but wobbled off when she was distracted for a moment while smiling at Paul.
‘Try again,’ said Gartland. ‘You can’t walk on water, Sasha.’
Paul thought Gartland probably imagined that particular skill was restricted to him. As Sasha stepped back onto the board, a light gust of wind unexpectedly filled the sail, taking her by surprise. When she wobbled towards Gartland, he reached out to support her, one hand resting on her back and the other on her buttocks. Both were laughing uproariously as he pushed her upright again, with his left hand remaining far too long on his wife’s bottom for Paul’s liking.
‘Steady on. Don’t handle the goods.’ Paul tried to make light of it, but annoyance was clear in his tone.
Still with one hand supporting the small of Sasha’s back, Gartland grinned round at him. ‘Why do you think I do this job, Paul? Wait till it’s your turn, sailor.’ He jokingly twitched one eyebrow, causing Sasha and Leah to dissolve into hysterics.
‘Just don’t push it, Russell, that’s all,’ said Paul. ‘Especially with my daughter.’
Gartland’s face now lost its humour and his tone became icy. ‘I was only helping with Sasha’s core stability, Paul.’ He took his hand away from her.
‘I’d just concentrate on your own core stability, Russell.’ Paul held the other’s gaze during an uncomfortable silence. No one was smiling now.
Sasha stepped back off the board, let the sail flop down onto the damp sand, and turned deliberately towards him, with hands on her hips and an exasperated expression on her face. ‘Look. Cool it, Paul.’ She glared at him. ‘Russell only stopped me falling. That’s all.’
‘Okay, okay. I’m sorry.’ Paul was annoyed with himself. He knew he’d over-reacted—and not for the first time—but it was tough being married to a woman who loved to flirt. It wasn’t that he didn’t trust her—he did—but he hated imagining what other men were thinking when she led them on.
Paul broke the impasse by stepping forward and pulling up the rig’s sail himself. He turned to Russell. ‘Try it with me, Russell. I’ll not fall on you.’
Gartland managed to give Paul a weak smile. ‘I think I could take it, even if you did. Anyway, start out by taking a firm grip, Paul.’ He indicated the bar, but by their subsequent exchange of looks, both knew what he really meant.
Afterwards, Gartland was more circumspect. He quickly regained his confidence and, by the time the family lesson had ended, they were all in good spirits again.
After saying their farewells to Gartland, Leah peeled off to the café shop for an ice cream while Paul and Sasha wandered back along the harbourside towards their beach hut. As they walked, Sasha slipped an arm around his waist. A few moments later she shook him playfully. ‘You mustn’t be so sensitive, Paul. You went way overboard with Russell.’ She caught his eye. ‘You’ve got to learn to cool it. He didn’t mean anything. He wasn’t exactly assaulting me, you know.’ She grinned.
Paul put his arm around her, hugging her for a moment. ‘Maybe not. But putting down a marker didn’t do any harm, did it?’ He smiled. ‘I’m the only one licenced to correct your core stability, remember.’
Sasha laughed. ‘Any time, sailor. I’ll try anything once.’
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Ian Kingsley is in the HBS Mystery Book Reader's Circle.
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