Thursday, 13 March 2014

The Night Porter - An Extract

Dear Team,

I am sending you this memo in preparation for the arrival of the authors in November. I have allocated their rooms on the bookings computer. 

They are here for two weeks all expenses paid by the Arkwright Trust, whom some of you know. 

They are to be treated as VIP guests. Remember the time we had the Qatari royalty to stay? It is that level of service I expect here. I explained why in last week’s staff meeting. 

This is an honour for the hotel, and I would like the Arkwright Trust to return in two years’ time. I have researched the authors on the internet and have combined it with information I received from the Awards Committee to produce a factsheet on each. It is not exhaustive, but it will give you some idea of the people who are coming to stay with us.  Please do not leave this lying about. THIS INFORMATION IS CONFIDENTIAL. Please return to me after reading if in doubt.

1. Mrs Amy Cook

One of the biggest selling authors in the world. Lives in Egham in Surrey. Wife of Major Archie Benson of the Royal Marines. English. Age indeterminate (she hides it jealously, though 53 has been leaked online by school friends.) Bestselling romance novelist who writes under the name Madeline France. Published author of eighteen novels including the massive best sellers ‘Sisters’, ‘Behind the Lace’, ‘Blood Red Roses’ and ‘Love in Vegas’. The third of those was the biggest seller of 2004 and made her financially for life. 

Nine of her books have been turned into films – none especially successful. She’s a winner of nine literary awards, including the Golden Rose of Romance, American Romance Author’s Award, Romance Author’s Author of the Year, le Palme’d’Amour and is the current Arkwright holder for Best Romance. 

She is a leading contender for the Gold Award for Best Writer. Her book, Amelia is a radical departure from her usual romantic fare and has been applauded for its literary nature. 

Amy is a prodigious smoker and smokes in her room regardless of health and safety. I shall speak to you all about this. Writes a regular comment for The Guardian on feminism. Highly intelligent and charming, but can be extremely demanding. She has been known to walk out of hotels without paying because of poor customer service, leaving thousands of pounds of debt. 

2. Jo Marron-Saint 

Writes Young Adult and New Adult fiction. She is single, 21, and from Orange County in California. Popular in the US. Largely unknown in mainstream UK fiction, though this will change. Writes a series about a scatty Succubus who, despite her indoctrination, falls in love with the humans she meets rather than vacuuming their souls to hell. Along with a teenage Werebear, she fights supernatural villains and is wanted by both heaven and hell for many misdemeanours, both intended and unintended. 

The series – Heart and Soul – is a big seller in the US. Arkwright-nominated for Best YA novel for her latest segment, Bloodshot. She is known for writing in a “street” vernacular – with plenty of OMG’s and Stuffs and what are known as irrelevant connectors – e.g. er, like.  This has attracted attacks from critics who accuse her of being childish. This is her first award ceremony, and her visit will be the first time she has left the US. 

Not much else is known about her except she has the reputation for being very nice.

3. Frank Duke 

Is a 56 year old author of thrillers, pure and simple. His books sell by the truckload, and they involve lashings of sex, violence, murder, torture, gunplay, political intrigue, apocalyptic predictions and double crosses. What he lacks in writing ability, he makes up for in explosions. 

His hero, Mungo Hall, is a black ex-CIA agent whose mission is to fight corruption. Based heavily on James Bond, he travels the world, shoots people, cracks jokes, sleeps with beautiful women and escapes from seemingly impossible situations. He is from Chicago and is married (to Harty, who stays in the background). Came to prominence playing lead guitar in a late seventies jazz / funk / rock band who had one hit. He served briefly in Vietnam before that. 

Frank is tall; six foot seven. A diehard Republican, who distrusts foreigners (this is his first visit to England), and he can be unkind to staff. Like Jo, this is his first nomination for any award, Best Thriller, for the book Shakedown in Chicago.

4. Julian Green

Julian, 36, is the first self-published author to be nominated for an Arkwright. He has no established profile, no audience, no distribution deal or any reputation. You will not find his books in shops. Online only. 
The reason for the nomination – in the Best Contemporary Fiction category – is that he has written a book, which the critics have compared to the greats. A fan sent it to The Guardian, who loved it.

However, the independent community doesn’t like the book – one reader said his book is the most depressing book ever written.  He is thirty six and Notes and Fears of a Middle Aged Man is his sixth novel. Compared to the other authors staying here, he writes like Shakespeare, but their earnings dwarf his. 

It has been rumoured that he claims government benefits to enable him to write, though that has never been confirmed. Little else is known about him, except to say he argues with almost everyone he meets online. Rumoured to have drink and drugs issues and several gossip websites mention incidents involving the Police.

I will be on your backs about this. When the authors arrive, they are to be treated with the utmost courtesy. Whatever they want, they get. If in doubt, say yes and tell me later. You will not be disciplined if you act on an unusual request. We aim to make their stay – and the stay of the Arkwright Trust – a memorable and comfortable one. I know I can trust you. Thank you.

Cat xx

And that was the first time I came across the Arkwright awards and the four authors. 
I was excited already. 

I hadn’t read a book in fifteen years  – to be honest, I cannot remember the book, or whether the gap was in fact, longer than fifteen years; that’s just a convenient annuity I use – but still, I felt a charge. 

Authors. Artists. Creators. 

A bit different from the sales reps and travelling carpet fitters I was used to meeting. I was sure it was going to be a most interesting two weeks. 


  1. Congratulations, Mr Barry, on the release of The Night Porter - a book worth reading! n x

  2. This a not what I expected. I think I like it.

    1. It's my most accessible book, Toi. :-) At least I think it is...hehehehe.

  3. I never pictured TNP as Nicholas Cage. I'll have to think about that.

    1. Mary, he's not. My friend Brenda put this up last night - its brilliant - and I had to use it. TNP can be whoever you want him to be - he is the only undescribed character in the book. Deliberately so - I'll talk more about it when a few more people have read it. xx

  4. Excellent post! Haven't seen this before and as you already know I love the book - though definitely not with Cage as TNP.....nonononono... Hope it goes well on ENT on Saturday :-) Gx