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Last Updated: Monday, 23 April 2007, 15:57 GMT 16:57 UK
Novel excerpt: Snowflakes in Summer
As part of our feature on novel-writing we bring you an excerpt from the unpublished novel Snowflakes in Summer, by Michael Byrne.

Jim McCarthy, magazine designer and debauchee, gets into a whole load of trouble when the past catches up with him.

Problem is, it's not his past. He must deal with a deranged boss, a celebrity girlfriend and strange text messages on his phone from God knows who as he is nudged towards the unearthing of an dark secret and a horrific discovery.

Along the way, he breaks hearts, helps shape the Britpop scene, infuriates the wrong man to a terrifying degree, frees a restless spirit and eventually realises that he's not the wonderful person he once thought he was.

Jim and his colleague Jennie are at an art gallery opening, when a brief acquaintance of his, an up-and-coming actress, appears.

He walked over to the table where glasses were being topped up.

'Ah, Mister Mysterious Irishman. What brings you here?'

Jim turned to locate a deliciously purring voice.

'Is one of those for me?' Laura Chalke pointed to the wine in his hands.

She draped her cool fingers on his arm, making the hairs spring up like unleashed coils

Jim looked over to where Jennie was waiting for him, saw her smile and roll her eyes up to heaven, saw her grab a glass from a passing waiter and salute him.

'It could be,' Jim said with an excited smile. 'That all depends on how much you want it.'

He watched Laura's eyes sparkle as she smiled and shook her head at his cheesy line.

'Ah yes,' she said, 'but then again it could be for your colleague over there. Are you two an item, if you don't mind me asking? The only time I've ever seen you has been by her side.'

Jim watched Jennie talking to some random stranger.

'What if I were to say we are an item? Would you believe that?'

'I could believe whatever you want me to believe. Or not.'

'So we're not an item. Does that satisfy you?'

'It's not a matter of satisfaction,' Laura said.

'Everything's a matter of satisfaction.'

'I guess you have a point.'

He raised his eyebrows as he sipped some wine.

'I never got your name,' she said. She draped her cool fingers on his arm, making the hairs spring up like unleashed coils.

'I never gave it.'

'Do you give your name out or do you prefer to be a man of mystery, aloof and up yourself?'

'Both. It's Jim. Jim McCarthy.'

'Laura. Laura Chalke.'

She offered her hand up to be kissed. Jim took it softly and placed his lips lightly on her soft skin.

'You kiss like a gentleman,' Laura said.

'I do now, don't I?' he said, laying on the brogue heavily. 'I'm working on you at the moment, you know.'

'I dare say you are.'

'On the magazine, that is. You'd be amazed at how much of you I see during the day.'

'You'd be amazed at how much more there is to see.' Jim could not help but drink a little wine to settle his flow.

Below is a selection of your comments.

This is just a bit of dialogue though. Surely the BBC could have chosen a nice chunk of prose to give this guy a fair shot? Any chance of a bit more so we can really judge whether this guy can write and deserves my hard-earned 7.99?
John, London

There's a whiff of sour grapes in the comments. "Paragraph about Jennie watching Jim from the other side of the room is very wrong grammatically." That's not exactly the best grammar I've ever come across...
Jo, Cardiff

You're all meanies! Who could resist this professional Irish schmoozer? The corny, smooth-as-Guinness chat-up lines are surely the point. I love it!
Rosy, Cambridgeshire

Utter rubbish... more please
Luke, Kent

Wow - take it easy guys (I'm talking about those that have commented so far). This is someone's hard work here, perhaps even a dream, and deserves far more constructive critism than your nasty put downs (I'd like to see you miserable lot toil over something as hard as writing a novel). Michael - as mentioned it is a little cliched, but don't let that stop you. It just needs a little more work put into it. Keep going, mate!
a fellow unpublished author, chepstow

Very amateurish and cliche ridden - 'That all depends on how much you want it'? Please!
Diane, Knaresborough

Dialogue is thoroughly unconvincing, stilted and lacking in humanity. Paragraph about Jennie watching Jim from the other side of the room is very wrong grammatically. Sorry!
Laura, London

I've just got into the world of magazine design, so would be very interested to read the rest of this novel.
Ruth, Bath

It doesn't seem like it would be my sort of thing. Presumably, this is meant to be one of those cheesy 'romance' novels that you can buy for 1.99 in chemists. It's cliched and awkward, and the dialogue reads like a made-for-TV movie. Don't meant to sound harsh, but surely you can do better than this?
imogen, london

A bit cliched - nearly as bad as my own efforts. The crowd turned as one and gasped! The thumb - the all-telling thumb - was turned down. As so should this book be!
simon, bradford, england

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