Guest Excerpt: Michelle Cook and her novel, Tipping Point
I am so very honored today to introduce Michelle Cook and her debut novel, Tipping Point. Michelle has graciously offered up an excerpt from her book. Thank you so much for the opportunity to see a bit of your work!
What would you risk to turn back the tide? Essie Glass might have been a typical eighteen-year-old – had life not dealt her an early blow. Struggling to come to terms with the loss of her family in a terrorist attack, and left with nothing, Essie’s not kidding herself about her world. She wants change, and she’ll be honest about it, whatever the cost. From behind her keyboard, that is… After all, this is England, 2035. Earth’s climate continues its accelerating collapse. A powerful elite controls the disaster-weary population with propaganda, intimidation, and constant surveillance. By all appearances, Alex Langford is a respected local businessman – until Essie discovers that he’s a murderous conspirator who’d see the planet die for his fortune. When their paths collide, Essie must decide: how much is she really willing to pay for her honesty? Her choices, and the events she sets in motion, pit her against both enemies and supposed friends as she risks more than just her life to thwart them.
Except from Tipping Point:
In this scene, the main character, Essie, has just arrived home from a real-life meeting with an older man called Jack, with whom she’s been chatting online for a while. During the evening, he asks her about her family, who were all killed in a terrorist attack two years before. After drinking too much tequila, Essie makes a pass at Jack and is rejected. The extract takes place in the aftermath of her embarrassment.
Jumpy and irritable, I pace round my flat. It’s after midnight. The sound of a crowd of kids laughing and shouting seeps through the window.
My humiliation hits me again and I pass my hand over my face. Kneeling at my trestle table, I pick up my charcoals and sketch whatever comes to me. There’s no discernible form, only lines and shading. Maybe shapes of windows.
I didn’t even tell Jack the worst of that day.
After they were all safely away to Manchester—Mum, Dad, Willow and Darya—Toby and his mates came over and had a party in the house. It was his idea, but I was up for it. I guess I wanted to please him. He was difficult to please, so I would go along with most things he wanted. What an idiot…
They arrive at the house, about twelve lads with cans of beer. I call Maya but she won’t come. She doesn’t like Toby or his mates. We exchange a few tense words about that, and I hang up. The lads get really drunk on beer, then vodka and gin from the drinks cabinet. Trash the place, eat all the food, smash up the kitchen, pee in the flower beds. I’m pretty drunk myself so I storm off upstairs in a temper.
None of them notice except Toby. He comes after me, and it starts off okay. He gives me a cuddle, kisses my forehead, tells me he’ll get rid of them and help me put the house back together. But I stay angry too long, and he’s livid with me. He hits me for the first time—a back-hander that makes my nose bleed.
He keeps his promise though—clears his mates out while I hide in the bedroom. It sounds like there’s a fight but don’t dare go down to find out. When Toby makes it upstairs maybe half an hour later the house is quiet again. He’s sobbing, saying sorry, saying he’s a drunken idiot, to forgive him. We both cry, and I do forgive him then. By the time we fall unconscious on my bed, it’s close to five in the morning, and grey light seeps through a gap in my curtains.
When we wake up later that day, it has already happened. But it isn’t until Toby turns on the TV that I realise anything is wrong. The newsreader is listing the locations of the bombs, precisely running south to north: Bristol Temple Meads... Cardiff Central... Birmingham New Street... Liverpool Lime Street... Manchester Piccadilly... Leeds... Newcastle. Thousands dead, probably tens of thousands injured. They keep saying how much worse it would be had it been a weekday, but it’s awful enough.
We watch the screen in remote shock as the pictures come in—shaky phone footage to begin with, then the camera crews arrive. Dazed and bloodied faces, people crying, flashing lights, warped iron, smoke everywhere. Toby and I sit there with our cups of tea and watch, still half-asleep and hung over. The whole rail network is suspended and here’s what’s in my head: ‘They’ll have to get a coach home now, and it’ll take them ages’. How stupid.
I want to ring Mum to see what their plan is, but can’t find my phone. Later it turns out one of Toby’s scabby mates has stolen it. We’ve just started clearing the bottles and food strewn everywhere when the doorbell rings.
There must be a nasty little kernel in the pit of my mind by now, because as soon as I see the cops on the doorstep, there’s no question. I slam the door closed then sit on the hall floor pushed up against it. No words or cries come out. Toby appears at the kitchen door just as one of the coppers peeps in through the letterbox.
“Estella? Estella Glass?”
There’s no avoiding it—I have to let them in.
Michelle lives in Worcestershire, UK, with her husband, their two young children, and a cat called Lyra. By day, she works for the NHS, a job which she has almost as much passion for as fiction. Tipping Point is her debut novel.
Order at: http://mybook.to/tippingpoint