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PW #126: Adult Upmarket Women's Fiction: 101 NORTH

Wednesday, 2 November 2016  |  Posted by Brenda Drake


Mentor: Laura Heffernan
Mentee: Tabitha Forney
Title: 101 NORTH
Category/Genre: Adult upmarket women’s fiction
Word Count: 82,000 


On September 11, Erin sips cocktails on a Spanish beach while her husband, who didn’t want her to go on this girls’ trip, is at work on the 101st floor, North Tower. When she makes it home and Daniel doesn’t, guilt pushes Erin into a dark fog of pills and booze. After a downward spiral sends her plunging off the cliffs of coastal highway 101 North, she must decide whether to accept her new fate or give up on life.

First page:

The top of the plane glints in the morning sun. A silver bullet with red, white and blue stripes. He’s seen a lot of things up here — lightning storms, bird fly-bys, hovering helicopters. But never planes at eye level.

Coming so fast.

Flying too low. It won’t clear the building.

Adrenaline rushes his veins and takes his breath. Time slows. In that space where an entire life should flash by, just one moment, frozen in time. Her skin soft and sweet. Half-lidded eyes, contented smile. Making love in the innocent slant of morning sun. At the time he had felt it viscerally, this ephemeral life. Moments slipping past and evaporating like raindrops.

The plane banks up. A glimpse of the pilot’s dark hair, coming for him.

He dives under his desk and curls into a fetal position. The building explodes.

Full-bodied maelstrom.

Skin, bones, skull reverberate under a shock wave of pressure.

Metal screeching on metal ripping into concrete.

The heavy tang of jet fuel and burning steel throttles his senses.

The building lurches, a roller coaster going over the precipice. His desk pitches over him. Keyboards and monitors and chairs fly past. Something bangs into his shins, his back, his head. The floor buckles beneath him. Debris rains down.

He curls up tighter. Eyes pinned shut, jaw clenched.

He waits to die.



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