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Her Own Devices, a novel

Notes on Unfinished Business

Find here a novel that’s taken shifting shape over the past year or so that derives from Turkey Shoot and features some of its characters but takes quite a different tack.

Turkey Shoot‘s femme fatale takes the lead In a sequel that’s more women’s crime fiction than international conspiracy thriller. The harrowing events of four years ago left her feeling lucky to be alive but with a lot of new and unfinished business on her plate.

“Katrina” was the nom de guerre adopted by Anna Burmeister, a twenty-something Swiss miss who settled in Pireaus, Greece at a time of great economic privation and social unrest. Like other radicals on the scene, she encrypted her name to take part in anti-government actions and community organizing, but had to unencrypt it to avoid blowback from those days.

Had she been married to Mahmoud Al Ramadi, the main protagonist of Turkey Shoot, she would be a widow. As things are, she’s a single mom raising their son, and reconciling Mahmoud’s fate is unfinished business for her—and somewhat strangely, for him as well.

What makes it crime fiction is Anna’s obsession to bring certain child traffickers to justice in a legal system she doesn’t trust. To prove her case, she needs to catch them in the act, and to do that she recruits trusted allies and deploys certain devices, all while raising her son and working two jobs.

To appreciate Anna’s quixotic mission to protect children and the past that haunts her, you’ll need more data than the excerpts you see below, in various stages of imperfection, provide. But don’t feel you need to read Turkey Shoot before tackling Devices, even though it’s most definitely a sequel, and a rather intimate one to boot.

As I wrote Turkey Shoot I didn’t allow myself to think about a sequel (much less a series). But when I got to the last chapter I thought, “What if…” and so dropped in some breadcrumbs, just in case. The notion was entirely vague, just that my sequel would feature female lead Katrina, who would have a son conceived on her lover’s deathbed, and perhaps work in social media. At least I had a backstory, locale, and some ready-made characters to propel a story with no plot or even genre.

Even as I lurched into writing Devices in mid-2019, I still had no notion of what it was to come; I just started writing, focusing on character and setting. This is how we “pantsers”* work, one paragraph at a time. One consequence is that events unfold at a leisurely pace. Another is that the backstory unfolded intertwined with the plot. To this extent, the structure was deliberate; I wanted the text to have fractal qualities, as I said at the time, though you be the judge.

I decided that enjoying Devices should not require familiarity with Turkey Shoot. It shouldn’t matter because I would weave relevant details from Turkey Shoot into a running motif of Devices, while not giving everything away. (In fact, the sequel’s original working title was Recapitulation.) I hoped this approach would make readers wish to pick up Turkey Shoot. You can read that book now if you wish, but you needn’t to fully appreciate Devices.

The world may not be waiting for a book like this, but Mahmoud sure is. If you can’t wait for publication, read on. And if you do check out any of the chapters that follow, feel free to leave a public comment on this page or a private one using the form at the bottom.

You might start out with the sneak preview teaser before reading the chapter excerpts below (listed in order of publication). Enjoy.


* A Pantser writes novels by the seat of their pants, letting its events unfold the way life does, as opposed to a Plotter, who spells it out in an outline first and then fills in the details.

1. Her Own Devices, chapter 22 (second revision, February 2020) at The Write Launch

Her Own Devices

2. Her Own Devices, chapters 1 and 2 (third revision, August 2020) at The Write Launch (Note: since this was published, the ordering of the first three chapters changed; in the fourth revision, chapter one appears as chapter three.)

Her Own Devices

3. Her Own Devices, chapter 8, scene 2 (fourth revision, October 2020) on this site, in which Anna and her hacker friend Ottovio query pilfered criminal records as Ramadi and Mahmoud’s spirit look on.

Thanks for visiting!

Every so often,  material from other chapters will be posted here, so please come again. You can leave a public comment in the Comments section, but if you wish it to be private or have questions, please use this contact form. Either way, I greatly appreciate your feedback and will reply if you so indicate.

~ Geoff Dutton

    1: Forget it2: So-so3: Has promise4: Excellent5: Looks like a masterpiece

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