A New Year’s resolution has been to share more of the things I’ve been working on.

I tend to hold on to things with the hope of improving them over time, but of course this rarely happens as time is short. However, I have returned to the story of Eric Auton and his novel several times over the years, improving and tweaking and wondering when I’ll write the rest.

A brief synopsis of what I currently call Eric’s Novel:

Eric wakes from a hangover resolving to sort his life out, starting with the mysterious package that landed on his doormat two minutes ago.

Except he forgets.

Ignoring the endless missed call alerts (fearing debt collectors), Eric gets a job with a local radio station to avoid repossession. When a call finally comes through, it’s from a publisher, wanting to know why he hasn’t returned the contract.

Surprised, Eric opens the package. His novel “Another Way to Die” took three years to complete. With everything that had happened, Eric had largely forgotten about the book.

Yet when Eric reads the letter, there is no mention of his action thriller. Instead, a contract for a series of children’s books about a “Penny the Pirate” is staring back at him.

This isn’t Eric’s book. But the contract and £150,000 advance has Eric’s name on it.

Struggling with his conscience, Eric finally sees it as a solution to his problems, so decides to take the money, and present the work as his own.

Of course, his problems are only just beginning. After all, if Eric has the wrong book, so does someone else…

And just for you, a passage from the first chapter:

Rubbing his face with a sour flannel, Eric stared at his 35-year-old reflection. He couldn’t recall the last time he’d seen himself close up, able to inspect all of the lines, veins, and grey hairs.

The bags under his eyes told the full story.

After brushing his teeth until they bled, Eric sat down on the edge of the old green bath, still full from a soak several days ago. The urge for a cigarette was strong. His hands shook as he reached for a slip of toilet paper to catch the crap he was coughing up off his chest.

The coughing had almost subsided when Eric lost his balance, and fell into the bath. Cold, stagnant water cascaded down the sides as his clothes absorbed half of what was left. Rather than bothering to climb out under the weight of the water, Eric stripped, and wrapped himself in a towelled robe, and cursing endlessly.

This had to end.

Looking for heat, or something resembling warmth, Eric stumbled into his office, cleared the rejection letters and receipts from his desk, and pulled a notepad out of the main drawer. He was going to write a list, a set of targets to achieve, a new design for life. Tragedy might well visit him again, but he wasn’t going to let it rule him – Eric was putting in place a series of plans, contingencies and measures to retain control of events at all cost.

The first words of this were written in 2010, so as you can see I really know how to pump them out…