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First Kill – P.J Callaghan

Writing.ie | Magazine | Writing & Me

P. J. Callaghan

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When I was in my early teens and could afford to so, I would take ten-shilling joy flights in a light aircraft at a flying school in Essex. I must have been noticed as a frequent flyer because one of the instructors persuaded me to join the flying club (five shillings for life) and take a flying lesson instead. “Better value for you money and you’ll be learning to fly as well,” I was told.

I was easily convinced and there was method in the instructor’s madness. By humouring me then, there was the good chance for serious future business and he was right. In the meantime, as a member of the school I had a right to be on the other side of the public enclosure. I could now hang around the flying club rubbing shoulders with the professionals of aviation and scrounging rides with some of the other members when they went flying.

Soon I had gone as far as I could. My first solo flight bared my way; thirteen year olds are not trusted to fly around in an aircraft by themselves. How unreasonable?

Like my lead character Linda Garcia I had learned much just being exposed to an aviation environment and flying as a passenger in a light aircraft. I wondered at the time did I know enough to fly the aircraft by myself if I absolutely had to. This led to a young fertile mind inventing a life and death scenario from which I could only escape in one of these aircraft; had I learned enough to succeed? This was almost certainly when the seeds of my novel, First Kill, were sown and was the nucleus of the story, the rest had to evolve.

First Kill then, is the story of seventeen year old Linda Garcia who, instead of being at home in Miami qualifying for her private pilots licence – her grandfather’s birthday present to her – is instead sent to Highlands, a remote summer activities camp in Scotland.  She is bitterly disappointed and resentful but things become much worse when, one night, she is abducted by armed men.

When Linda’s disappearance is noticed, only one other person believes something sinister is underway. 20 year old, Amy MacDonald, a feisty junior instructor at the camp, refuses to believe Linda has simply run away. Nobody will listen to her and she is accused of wasting police time. She realises powerful and influential forces are at work, but won’t give up.

After their own separate and terrifying ordeals, fate finally brings the two girls together, but they are stranded in a mysterious government restricted area, where they are in grave danger.  Stealing a light aircraft offers the only possibility of escape, but even if they survive the flight, will it all be over? Where can they go and who can they trust?

Writing this story was an amazing experience as it evolved through the pages, watching the characters and story develop. Amy in particular almost wrote her own role decided on her age and providing a very necessary back up for Linda, who although had to be very courageous herself, could have become too much. Throughout I strove to keep the story plausible and of course had a sound knowledge of my subject.

I was brought up in Essex England, went to sea at 17, but soon swapped a life at sea for one in aviation. I flew types as diverse as the tiger moth to the Boeing 707 in a career spanning 45 years, in which I also instructed. Finally flying for Aer Arran as a captain, before retiring, I now live in North Co. Dublin.

About the author

(c) P.J. Callaghan

Originally from Essex were his parents ran a boarding house, P.J. Callaghan lived there until he went to sea at seventeen, but after a short period, swapped the sea for a career flying aircraft. As a result of both his time at sea and flying he has travelled extensively and lived in several places around the world, such as Christchurch New Zealand, Malta, the Dominican Republic, and Miami Florida. He had always dabbled in writing, but became more serious about it in recent years starting with short stories. When one of them won first place in a competition held by a Dublin library and another was short listed in an international event; he decided it was time to start work on his first novel.

He has retired from flying now and lives in North County Dublin.

First Kill is being launched in Ardgillan Castle, Balbriggan, Saturday 19th November a 2pm. Published by Choice Publishing, available at www.choicepublishing.ie book store

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