Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Contrails by Robert Anderson

It’s always fun discovering new authors and intriguing new books. Today I’d like to spotlight 'new-to-me' author Robert Anderson’s latest contemporary/literary fiction novel, CONTRAILS.

Here’s a brief synopsis:
Sam Claymore works for Civil Airlines, sleepwalking through the79194_FrontCover_2 highs and lows, the ups and downs of being a pilot. He survives working alongside a wacky cast of captains, turbulence scares, even being estranged from his father. Nothing fazes him until one day he is unexpectedly furloughed. What Sam will do becomes the new route he must navigate.

Enter Nate McFadden, a childhood friend living in Miami. Nate contacts Sam at the right time, a time when his moral compass may be susceptible to manipulation. Nate moves Sam in, getting him a job where being furloughed is the least of his worries. Follow Sam as he descends deeper into a world he could’ve never imagined. CONTRAILS is a story of real people faced with extreme decisions, the consequences of which could mean their lives.

Here’s what one reviewer had to say about CONTRAILS:
In Anderson's debut thriller, a grounded pilot launches a new career as a drug runner. Civil Air pilot Sam Claymore can handle himself in the sky, but dealing with life on the ground is another story. Rushing to the gate for an early morning flight, the young airman can barely endure overzealous TSA agents, needy passengers and one unfortunate Starbucks barista. "This is what traveling has become: standing in line," he laments. One bright spot is flight attendant Victoria Knight, who draws Sam in with her exotic looks and "chameleon quality of being two people at once." While Sam skewers baggage fees and airport prices for bottled water, he also gives readers a convincing feel for the day-to-day life of an airline pilot. From the details of preflight inspection to FAA rules on alcohol consumption, the author shows an impressive knowledge of the job--and its potential for absurdity. Humorous episodes include a debate in the cockpit over whether aliens built the pyramids and a spot-on observation about airborne psychology: "Passengers listen to pilot announcements like religious fanatics listen to prophets, their collective fate dangling on the intrepid voice of the faceless air god."...This airline tell-all and comical crime tale is recommended in-flight reading. - Kirkus Review

Here’s an excerpt from the book to spark your interest:

“I don’t see Javier.”
“What do you mean you don’t see him?” I looked out the left side window. “Do you see the inflatable?”
“No.” Ten minutes had gone by on this last load alone.
“We can’t keep sitting here.” 

Soon as I said that, I heard the sound of an automatic weapon fired in our direction. Bullets instantly ripped through the side of the fuselage. Miguel hit the floor. I didn’t know if he was shot or not. He snapped back up, flames spewing out the tip of his AK. The sound waves shook the inside of the cabin.   

“Vamos! Vamos! Rapido!” he screamed. I jammed the throttle forward holding the yoke back, begging it to accelerate faster. Floats in water create severe drag. The cargo door was still open, Miguel spraying out the back. We finally reached a fast enough speed to rotate out of the water. It wasn’t more than a few seconds after lift-off when we heard the unholy sound of the fifty-caliber machine gun. It thundered over both the turbine engine at full power and Miguel’s AK-47. Bullets entered and exited both sides of the fuselage. The sound of Miguel’s AK quickly stopped. A series of red and yellow lights flashed through the cockpit, horns blaring, the stall warning screaming the loudest. Nothing in a sim could’ve prepared me for this. It was too much at once. Sensory overload. The plane banked hard right. I used full aileron deflection to the left. It yawed right. I stepped on the left rudder. Nothing. It was a banking stall at thirty feet, right wing catching first before cartwheeling into the water.

All was awhirl. The horizon, the skyline—completely inverted. Shoulder straps and a lap belt were still holding me in place. I ripped myself free. Gravity sent me crashing to the ceiling, splashing water and banging my head. Salt water stung the wounds on my face. Adrenaline masked any pain. The cabin looked like the inside of a sieve, murky liquid gushing through every hole. The water in the aft section had a deep maroon tint. Miguel's body floated nearby—unrecognizable. I crawled out the open cargo door, grabbing a life vest and his AK-47 along the way. The plane was almost submerged as I swam out. Motors from the cigs blazed away. They faded into the distance, slowly getting quieter. They were already miles from the scene, hauling at maximum speed. The vertical fin of the plane was all that remained above the surface, slowly sinking, swallowed by the abyss of endless water.

For more of Anderson’s work, check out his short story, ALTERNATE ENDING, that was published in the Ginosko Literary Journal (2012). Also check out Anderson’s website or follow him on Twitter @Intrepid_Writer

Thanks so much for stopping by.


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