An excerpt from the upcoming novel:
The first night, as I lay in my prison cot, I happen to look up at the planks supporting Bailey’s bunk; the words Northern Particle are stamped on the wood. Our prison beds have been made from particleboard, which is cheaper and denser than regular plywood, and the particleboard is manufactured by a company I used to own before its warehouse went up in flames. The fire dispensed clouds of toxic fumes into the British Columbia forest like a sprinkling of lurid holy water, and I lost a great deal of money.
I wanted to view the damage so I took a float plane up to Prince Rubert, the small coastal city where the factory was located. Pater came along because he hoped he could talk me into going back to university, and that day in Prince Rupert he realized I was never going to become a professor of history, which was what he had wanted to be before Mother’s father forced him to join the family furniture firm.
Humming to myself, I brought out some cheap lead pencils I found in our dorm and began to sketch the way Pater looked when I told him I was going into hedge funds: his long saturnine face tended to cloud over during our talks, and that afternoon his expression had turned murderous. What a good thing he was no longer with us—he would have shuddered at the idea of me bedding down with thugs.
I doodled in his angry face and added in a few boughs of pine, as if my parent’s shouts had singed the virginal timber.
I do my best to fringe their tips in a refined oriental sort of way, but a cook is only as good as his utensils. That is to say, there is only so much you can do with cheap tools even if the 4B pencil came in handy for darkening the outlines. If only I could put my hands on the brush pens I had left at home. You can fill out areas very quickly with that implement, which is ideal for shading in something like the branches of a pine tree.