During this insider interview on our literary agent blog, Jane Jago (author of the crime novel The Wrong Hand published by Penguin Books), shares tips for authors of all genres about how to write, publish, and/or promote a book. Jane also talks about how Mark Malatesta (a former literary agent and former AAR member turned author coach) helped her get a top literary agent… who then helped her get the book deal with Penguin.
Jane Jago was born in Sydney Australia in 1961. Originally trained as a Printmaker, she began writing whilst raising a family. She has a long standing interest in exploring the shadow aspect of human nature and in developmental psychology. Passionate about the protection of children and their right to a childhood, The Wrong Hand is her first novel.
Scroll below now to: 1) Listen to the audio interview, 2) Read Jane’s success story, 3) Read a description of Jane’s book, and 4) Read an excerpt of her book. Click here now to get a copy of The Wrong Hand and click here to see Jane’s profile at the Penguin Books website.
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Audio Interview with Jane Jago
Author of The Wrong Hand
Press the play button below now to listen or click here to download the file (left-click or right-click the link, then select “Save Link As”). This recording is 55 minutes.
“Mark helped me to get a top literary agent and now my novel, ‘The Wrong Hand’ (a psychological thriller), is published by an imprint/division of Penguin Books called Michael Joseph that is ‘principally interested in publishing Top Ten Bestsellers’. It’s hard not to be excited. It has been an awfully long bloody road towards publication but we are finally on our way. I have learned that hard work, struggle, disappointments and perseverance are all important, as is following the advice of industry experts like Mark.
My agent is fantastic, well respected in the industry and has proved to be very hands on with every stage of the project. From the moment I listened to the long exuberant message he left on my phone, expressing his excitement about the book, I knew that he was a perfect fit; that he understood the novel, believed in it and would be a champion for it. He also worked with me to improve the MS for submission to publishers. I was then assigned a wonderful editor at Penguin who raised the bar even higher and helped me to dig deeper and deliver an even a better book. Through the process I have come to like the quote ‘Writing is easy, all you have to do is look at a blank page until your forehead bleeds’.
After Mark helped me revise my query letter I got five requests to read my full manuscript. Several agents asked for it within the hour. When I received my first offer for representation, Mark encouraged me to go slow and make sure I considered all my options. He told me exactly which questions to ask the agent. Then he advised me what to say to the other agents who were still considering my work, as leverage, so they would read my book over the weekend. That way I was able to get more than one offer and choose the right agent for me.
I originally stumbled on Mark’s website whilst compiling a list of agents to target with my book submission. The site itself is full of REAL information and resources – not the usual hollow bait for an underlying sales pitch. With the Internet inundated with spruikers touting for business and offering all manner of promises – his authentic content immediately stands out. It was clear to me, when I heard Mark talking on his free mp3 that he was someone I could work with. His honesty, integrity and intelligence came through loud and clear.
I have to admit though, when I got to the visualization on the mp3 about sitting down with my dream agent to celebrate a lucrative publishing deal, I thought – here we go, he’s building this picture and then he’s going to burst the bubble and say ‘wake up and smell the roses’. I was waiting for the punch line. Instead, Mark affirmed that what I am driven to do is possible. He made me more determined not to give up. I then shared some of Mark’s tips with my son (also a writer) and he booked an introductory coaching call with Mark for me as a gift.
Filling out the questionnaire that Mark provides before the consult, in order to fully understand your writing project and your goals, is an invaluable process in itself. It allows Mark to know a great deal about you and your work before you speak with him. It also pulls out lots of things you’ll be able to use in your query letter. That’s a huge thing since, let’s face it, most people are writing under a rock. Obviously if you’ve already written a query letter, you’ve thought long and hard about it, but Mark’s questionnaire helps you realize things you left out. After the cramped discipline of the minimal word count required for submission materials to literary agents – how wonderful it is to expand upon and fully express that which propels and excites you as a writer and what drives your book. Just considering each question on the form is an exercise in clarity.
When I spoke with Mark, he had digested all the information I provided about my books and had read my submission materials. He was not only extremely positive about the work but immediately gave me suggestions for a couple of simple changes that I instantly recognized as being spot on, and in tune with the tone of the work. There was so much concrete stuff during that initial 1-hour consult it was fantastic. Mark was easy to talk to, totally on point and – this is rare – completely psychologically present throughout the call. He actually listens.
That’s a very rare quality, especially when there’s marketing involved. And he’s an expert in his field. Mark clearly understood exactly where I was coming from. He identified descriptors and information I had provided in the questionnaire that best represented the real power of the book so that I could use them in my query. He suggested things that needed omitting from my current query letter. And he advised me on how to restructure it. We discussed genre as well, and criteria for targeting the right agents who would resonate with my work and therefore be fired up with excitement to sell it to publishers.
Before my first phone call with Mark I didn’t know if there would be anything there… or if it would just be a sales pitch. There’s a lot of that out there. ‘Listen to my two hour talk about buying my 4-hour program.’ I didn’t approach it that cynically, but I’m not naïve either. Unfortunately there are a lot of people out there who have trashed the territory and left people skeptical and wary. After my call with Mark, I signed off energized and ready to embark on the next steps toward getting the best agent I could.
The discussion left me vindicated in my belief in myself as a writer and also encouraged me that I was well on the way to obtaining the representation I deserve. A little while later I decided to work more closely with Mark in one of his longer-term coaching programs where he leads you, hands-on, through the steps to securing an agent. During our time together Mark helped me figure out the best way to position my book. At first I didn’t know how to position it, but Mark helped me figure out the most important parts to emphasize. My book is highly commercial but it’s also meaningful with powerful themes and that wasn’t being communicated before.
Mark gave me feedback on my first 50 pages as well, and actually made some editorial suggestions on the first pages. Those comments were critical because I had something in the first few pages that described a delicate subject. It would have been confronting to many readers… and given them the wrong first impression about the book. The changes Mark recommended also added more mystery and suspense. When he did that, it created immediate trust for me. People can give you advice and that can be quite intrusive if it’s not right, but Mark’s suggestions made it clear that he’d read my material and understood it.
I found coaching with Mark very validating. The whole process was based on the fact that my book really was a credible piece of work with the merit to get a literary agent. Mark doesn’t take people on that he doesn’t believe in, or blow smoke… Perhaps I already knew that my work was worthy of publication, but it’s normal as a writer to always have some nagging doubts and insecurities – so much of the process is about rejection no matter who you are or what you have written. If I hadn’t found Mark, I don’t think I would have given up…ever… but I was wondering what to do next to get the work ‘out there’; so I might have dropped the ball for a long while.
When you’re alone as a writer it’s easy to lapse into a bit of disbelief about your ability and lose momentum. I’ve shouted Mark’s praises to people and continue to recommend him. In short, if you want a book deal with the top five in traditional publishing – and why wouldn’t you – you need a top agent and Mark is all about equipping you to get one. If your writing is important to you, consider working with him to help you market yourself to the people at the top who can best represent you.“
Author of the novel The Wrong Hand
Penguin Books/Michael Joseph
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Book Description – The Wrong Hand by Jane Jago
We all make mistakes. Moments that change us and the path we are on irrevocably. For Rachel Allen it was the moment that she let her son’s hand slip from hers. For Danny Simpson and Graham Harris it was the moment one of them took it.
Seven years ago Danny and Graham were just children themselves, angry, marginalized and unguided. That was, until they committed a crime so heinous that three families were left devastated. They were no longer just boys. They were monsters.
Released from juvenile detention, it is time for the boys, now men, to start again; new names, new people. But they can never escape who they are or what they did. And their own families, now notorious; the Allens, destroyed with grief; and the country at large have never been able to forget.
They will always be running. They will always be hiding. But are some mistakes too large, the ripples to far reaching, to outrun forever?
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The Wrong Hand Excerpt
It was a Sunday when they found him. Somewhere a truck’s brakes shuddered violently; a siren wailed. The woman moved her head instinctively in the direction of the sound, but her eyes registered nothing of the scene outside the window. In the street below, a marked van forged its way from the building’s car park across the crawling lanes of city-bound traffic and onto the motorway. Rain on the glass refracted the prisms of coloured light as they bled slowly away into the gathering evening.
The woman looked blankly at the uniformed officer who sat watchfully beside her. The constable’s face was white and pinched, but she attempted a weak smile and patted the woman’s hand. The woman pulled it away. She gripped her seat and began to rock slowly back and forth, back and forth, back and forth until approaching footsteps on the polished linoleum interrupted her rhythm. She stood up and looked towards the doorway.
Two men hesitated at the threshold, a detective with a bewildered man draped in a grey blanket, whom he gently ushered forward. The woman scanned his face. ‘It’s not Benjamin, is it?’ She grabbed the man’s wrists. ‘I know it’s not him.’ He was unable to speak.
‘Mathew! Say it’s not him! ’ She pressed her face against his chest, then slid slowly to her knees.
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Chapter 1: Choices
‘For what has been determined must take place.’
Danny, Holroyd House, Juvenile Corrections, 2001
‘Make a list of ten possible names you like.’
‘Why do you think, Danny?’
‘I dunno. Is it a game?’
‘No, it’s not a game. We’ve been talking about it for a long time now.’
‘A new name? You want me to choose it?’
‘We want your ideas.’
‘I don’t know ten names.’
Dr Harmina Lepik smiled tolerantly. Everyone knew ten names. She slid a slim volume across the desk. ‘Take this back with you to your room and have a look through it.’
‘A Thousand Names for Your Baby.’ Danny read the title aloud.
‘If you have a particular favourite, put it at the top of the list,’ said Dr Lepik. ‘You have the chance to reinvent yourself, Danny,’ she added, serious now. ‘Do you understand?’ He did.
Back in his room, after shutdown, he turned the pages of the little book incredulously. Aaron, Abbott, Abel, Abner, Abraham, Adam, Addison . . . What sort of names were these? Aaron – Hebrew, enlightened. Barry, Beau, Belarmino . . . Bloody hell. Benjamin, Bill, Bertrand, Bobby, Barendon, Bradley, Brigham, Byron . . . No way. Carl, Cameron, Casey, Chadwick . . . He was getting bored now. He bored easily. Dallas, Damon . . . He continued until his finger slid across the familiar Daniel – Judged by God. Darcy, David, Dean, Dexter, Dirk, Dudley . . .
‘Dudley Simpson,’ he said out loud. Edward . . . Frederick . . . Gabriel, Garth, Gavin, Gaylord – Gaylord! He almost wet himself laughing. George, Gerald, Glen . . .
He picked up a pen and began to scribble down names that either amused or interested him. He went through the entire alphabet, until his page was full of names. He tore it off. On the next page he wrote ‘Daniel Simpson’. He sorted the letters of his name alphabetically. He tried to come up with an anagram, finally settling on the improbable ‘Neil Dimsap’.
Unimpressed with his efforts, he allowed his eyes to wander around the familiar room. He’d only been in it for a week but it was identical to all the rooms he had been in over the last seven years. An unremarkable single bed under a permanently closed window, a built-in wardrobe, a bare desk with drawers and a shelf full of books. The walls were a sickly blue, decorated only with a few sagging football posters and one of a naked girl draped across a surfboard, which ‘they’ considered healthy – otherwise it wouldn’t have survived the move from the last room to this one.
The moves happened without warning, at any time in the daily routine. He might have just finished classes or duties when he was directed by a ward supervisor to a newly allocated room, either close by or in another wing. When he entered it, the new room would be exactly as he had left the other, with all his things in place. He had been told that the moves were a precaution designed to protect him from other boys, who might wish to harm him, but the unspoken reason was that the regular moves enabled his guards to search his room and ensure that he hadn’t secreted some means of harming himself. After all these years the silly bastards still thought he meant to do himself in. Suicide had never crossed his mind.
He had once hidden a pair of small blades he had taken out of a plastic pencil-sharpener (stolen from the Centre’s library) by unscrewing the wardrobe-door knob and sliding the blades behind the chrome collar. He’d done it just in case he wanted something small and sharp during the hours he spent in his room. A few weeks later he was moved again and wouldn’t have given the matter another thought, but for his weekly session with Dr Lepik.
From the moment he’d gone in he’d known something was wrong. Usually she was sitting at the table and waited for him to settle into his chair before she started the warm-up questions – ‘How are you, Danny? How has your week been?’ He would tell her what he had been studying, how he had been feeling, whom he had been interacting with and if he had had any problems. Often he was stirred up so much by the process of communicating that he told her much more than he had planned to. That day she was standing by the window, looking out, not acknowledging his arrival.
He pulled out his chair and sat down. The doctor remained silent, and Danny felt increasingly uncomfortable. In his world other people spoke first and then he could judge where the traps might lie. Harmina Lepik turned around and gazed at him for several seconds. If she didn’t greet him, he would sit there for a full hour without speaking. Silence was his one remaining weapon.
‘Danny,’ she said. ‘How are you feeling about things?’
‘Things?’ asked Danny, unwilling to depart from the routine.
‘Life, Danny, the future, what plans do you have?’
This was the stupidest question he’d heard for a while, even from her, so stupid it almost made him angry. Plans? Future? What future? What did she expect him to fucking say?
‘I haven’t got any plans. It wouldn’t matter if I did. I do what I’m told.’
‘We all have plans, Danny, no matter where we find ourselves . . . If we don’t like where we are, sometimes we plan how to get out.’
Get out? What was she on? Maybe she could get out and go home every night. ‘You think I’m going to try and escape from prison?’
‘This is not a prison, Danny.’
‘Whatever you call it then – juvenile detention centre, secure unit.’
‘There are, of course, many ways to escape.’ ‘Are there?’ I wish you’d tell me what they are.
‘Danny, you’re nearly eighteen. You won’t be here for ever. It’s very possible you’ll be released soon.’ He’d heard this line before and regarded it with suspicion. His mother, the lawyer and the doctor seemed to believe it but he wasn’t sure he wanted to let himself accept it, or even if he wanted it to happen. The thought of being released made him feel more afraid than he had felt for a long time.
‘You must not give up. You did a terrible thing, but you deserve another chance.’
‘Okay,’ he said, waiting for the punch line.
‘Remorse is useful . . .’
Remorse? Who mentioned remorse? He looked back blankly.
‘So many people have been hurt by what happened. Harming yourself wouldn’t change that, only add to it.’
He said nothing. He had no idea what to say – she was talking crap again.
‘Have you thought about harming yourself?’
‘Do you have hopes for the future? Dreams?’
‘What would be the point?’
‘Well, that’s what I want to talk about. Just imagine for a minute the future you would plan for yourself if there were no obstacles.’
‘A future I won’t get to have.’
‘Put the obstacles aside and just try to imagine . . .
Where would you go? What type of work would you do?’ ‘None.’
The doctor shrugged. ‘Keep going. What would you do with yourself?’
Another of her pointless exercises, he thought. ‘I’d get a Ferrari and a cool flat in the city, in one of those intercom buildings, or cruise around on a motorbike.’ She looked at him intently, waiting for more.
‘I’d go to football on the weekend and maybe do some work, like with computers or something, or be a chauffeur for someone, drive around in a hot car paid for by somebody else.’
‘What about other people?’
‘In your future do you have a girlfriend? Are you married?’
‘Might have a girlfriend – yeah, one with big tits who likes to fuck a lot.’ He wasn’t allowed to talk like that anywhere else but you could get away with it in your therapy.
Harmina Lepik barely registered the remark or that Danny was staring directly at her breasts as he spoke.
‘How does she feel about you?’ she asked.
‘Well, she might?’
‘Then I’d get a new one. I don’t know.’
‘What about friends?’
‘Yeah, until they find out about me.’
‘Does that depress you?’
‘No, they can get fucked.’
‘I’m glad to hear you at least have some thoughts on the future, thoughts not really so different from other teenagers, Danny. Other young people your age, with far fewer obstacles standing in their way, often suffer doubts about themselves, and many normal teenagers go
through periods of depression.’
‘Yeah? I’m glad I’m not normal, then.’
Harmina reached into her jacket pocket and pulled out something small. ‘I believe you were moved again,
‘They do it just to irritate me.’
‘You were upset?’
‘No. All the rooms are the same.’
‘You don’t mind your things being interfered with?’
‘They always put them back.’
Dr Lepik opened her hand ‘Danny, these were found hidden in your last room.’ Two small blades lay in the hand she held out to him.
He recognized them immediately and laughed.
‘What were you keeping them for?’
‘I don’t know.’
‘Did you intend to harm yourself?’ He looked at her with contempt.
‘Or to harm anyone else?
‘What – with those? They’re from a pencil sharpener.’ ‘Why did you take them?’
‘I don’t know. I get tired of having to ask for everything. I just hid them for a joke.’
‘You wanted us to think you were a danger to yourself.’
‘No, I just hid them, so I could sharpen a pencil or cut paper if I felt like it. Big deal! I didn’t have a plan.’
She put the objects back into her pocket and sat down. He thought he could tell from the changed expression on her face that she believed him. ‘I’m pleased we’ve had this discussion, Danny, and that we’ve focused on at least some possibilities for the future.’
Whatever advice Dr Lepik had offered the administrators, the moves had continued. His custodians could not afford to take chances. It was their mission to protect Danny Simpson from the many threats directed against him. Also, a dead juvenile wasn’t good for the records. A dead juvenile many wanted dead would create a very bad stink indeed.
Back in his room, Danny made his list. In a neat hand he printed a single column of names. He began to enjoy it, scribbling out some of his first selections, then replacing them with new ones until, finally, only ten remained.
Within a week his lawyer had come to the Centre with papers to sign about his release. Release: the very word made his palms sweat. The following Wednesday his mother arrived unexpectedly with a letter. Before she had even sat down in the visitors’ room, he knew that a day had been named. An ashen-faced Debbie Simpson, hands shaking, read the letter aloud. Gone was all the girlish bravado with which she had reassured him while he had been locked up. ‘The lawyers will work something out, Danny, they will, you’ll see. You’ll be out soon. You’ll be able to come home. They won’t send you to an adult prison when you turn eighteen. The lawyer’s sure of that. Don’t you worry, Danny.’
Don’t worry. Don’t worry because, beneath the surface, she wouldn’t. After seven years, he was lucky if she made the journey to visit him three times in a year. When the initial drama of the trial had subsided, and she had discovered the dangerous difference between infamy and fame, she had been horrified by the violence of the public reaction against her.
Sitting across from him, clutching the long-awaited letter, Danny could see she was afraid – afraid for herself. She was barely able to look at him.
Oh, it was all right for Danny! Safely tucked away in custody while she was spat on in the street. He’d ruined her life, might as well have put a knife straight through her heart – all the moves, the hate mail, his brother’s suicide . . . He’d fucked them all up. Sure she wasn’t a saint, she wasn’t the greatest mother in the world, but she’d done her best. It wasn’t her fault: he was sick, a psychopath. None of the others had done anything like this . . . barely eleven years old!
He’d never been normal: from the moment they’d given him to her, there had been something unnatural about him, something you couldn’t feel for. It wasn’t her fault! She hadn’t committed the crime! And now he was coming out and it would happen all over again – more moves, more hate mail.
Not this time, not now, not when she’d finally got it together. Not now she finally had a man worth more than a pinch of shit in her life. She couldn’t do it. Danny would have to make it alone.
When she said goodbye and kissed him feebly, guilty tears in her eyes, Danny guessed what his mother already knew for certain: he would never set eyes on her again.
Geoffrey, of course, had been their idea, like all the rest of it. Sure they had given him ‘choices’. No life or a life; choices between towns he had never heard of and towns he never wanted to see; choices between Duncan, Brendan and Geoffrey . . . After a while he realized that when they gave him any choice at all, it was because there really was none.
‘Geoffrey! Geoffrey wasn’t even on my list,’ he cried.
‘I don’t know about that, Danny.’
‘Dr Lepik got me to write a list of names.’
‘Probably to eliminate any that you might have chosen for yourself. Other people who know something about you might make the same associations as you did.’
Danny was seething. They’d done it to him again – lured him out from cover and ambushed him. Every fucking time. ‘Why didn’t they tell me that?’
‘Danny, I think the answer to that is pretty obvious.’
‘I don’t want to be called Geoffrey. What sort of a name is that?’
Jonathan Fisher’s smile vanished. He fixed Danny with a hard look. ‘I can assure you, Geoffrey, that there are a good many more important things for you to worry about than the flavour of your name. Get used to it. We still have to wade through all this,’ he said, tapping the substantial pile of documents on the desk between them.
Danny was starting to feel sick. He didn’t like the parole officer. So close to his release date, it distressed him to have to open up with someone new.
His nightmares were getting worse with each day that passed. When he woke up from one he wanted to go to Dr Lepik and beg her to stop his release. He wasn’t ready. He would never be ready. By the time dawn broke, he knew he wouldn’t. He couldn’t stay there. Stay inside and die. Leave and be killed.
The dream was always the same: him barely able to breathe, running from something, crashing through the bush, over brittle ferns, fallen limbs and tinder-dry leaves, the smell of hot eucalyptus in his nostrils. Picking his way across sharp stones in his bare feet, stepping into the green ooze of a dribbling creek, then leaping up onto the bank on the other side, not daring to glance behind him. Running along a parched trail between the mottled gumtrees towards the light, and there at the end of the track a little boy, a dark-haired angel, stood staring straight at him. Just as he was drawn to the child, an older boy, with the face of a devil, stepped out of the shadows. ‘Come on, baby,’ said the older boy, holding out his hand.
‘Noooo! ’ screamed Danny, but it was too late. The angel was already clasping the devil’s hand.
Night and day, Danny was terrified. Terrified of living, terrified of dying. Terrified of being found out all over again, and terrified most especially of him.
The parole officer had assured him it was unlikely their paths would ever cross. It was a condition of his parole that the two never made contact. He could live with that.
‘This is your new birth certificate, Geoffrey Roland Wickham.’ Danny clenched his jaw muscles. ‘Born on the eighteenth of January 1982.’
‘That makes me seventeen,’ said Danny, confused.
‘That’s right. We have to put your age back so we can place you in high school.’
‘High school.’ Danny thought he might vomit. ‘I’ve already finished my final exams.’
‘Attending a high school will give you a history, some legitimate records, a reference and school photographs.’
‘Who’s going to know?’
‘It’s okay, Danny. It’s been specially chosen because of its non-threatening environment – it’s a private school.’
‘A private school?’
‘If you’re to assimilate into life outside, you’ll need connections to survive. To anybody else you’ll be just another new kid.’
‘As far as the school is concerned, you’re transferring from another high school.’
‘Don’t panic, Danny. It’s all in the profile, which you’ll have plenty of time to read.’
‘Who’ll know about me?’
‘No one, Danny – as few people as possible, but no one at the school.’
Danny eyed him dubiously. How could he believe anything these people said?
‘Here’s your new Medicare card and social-security number. You’ll be entitled to a government allowance for at least two years and you’ll be boarding with a local family who run a guest house for university students . . . Less accidental crossover with students from the school.’
What family? Where? If he didn’t slow down, Danny was sure he would explode.
‘I know it’s a lot to take in, but we have to start somewhere. Here’s a credit card, and a statement with your banking details.’ Danny peered at the growing pile of paper in front of him. He picked up the plastic card embossed with his new name. ‘There’s a fifteen-hundreddollar limit. You’ll need to practise your signature and sign the back of it.’
Danny’s mouth hung open.
‘Every cent will need to be accounted for by the likes of me.’ He reached into his pocket and pulled out a mobile phone. ‘This is yours. You must keep it charged and switched on twenty-four hours a day. You’ll be monitored for the rest of your life.’
He scrolled through the numbers already stored in the phone’s memory until he came to ‘Code Blue’. Danny was starting to feel like a CIA agent being briefed for a special operation. ‘What’s that?’
‘You’ll need to change the name to disguise it. It’s a special phone-link that will connect you with the nearest police station. Should you ever need to use it, the police will treat your call as an emergency. Don’t look so scared – it’s just a precaution in case your identity is ever discovered.’
‘And what do I tell them? Do the police know about me? Do they know who Geoffrey Wickham is? Because that’s a joke – they hate me.’
‘They don’t know who you are. Geoffrey Wickham is just one name on a list of at-risk persons who may require police protection at any time. They don’t know the reasons.’
‘But they know how it works. Somebody will figure it out!’
‘They have a list of names. Some are witnesses, some are persons under threat. Not all the people on the list are convicted criminals. The police don’t know your details.’
‘Who does? Who makes the list? How many people know about me?’
‘All of the people involved in this entire process want to give you the best possible chance to make a life for yourself. The handful who know in any detail about your new identity are on your side.’
‘Five. I know everything, and the other four know enough to do their jobs.’
Danny didn’t speak. He couldn’t. He would be walking around calling himself Geoffrey Roland Wickham and at least five other people would know exactly who he was. Jonathan Fisher counted them off on his fingers: ‘Your new counsellor, who’ll know your name, your case history and what you choose to tell her about your new life.
A second parole officer . . .’
Danny slumped forward in his chair and rolled his eyes.
‘In case something happens to me and I can no longer be assigned to you, a second officer will be kept up to date with what’s going on, which gives me someone safe to discuss the matter with.’
Danny listened, his head in his hands. It was all beyond his control anyway. He’d probably be killed as soon as he left the Centre. In a way that might be easier. ‘That’s three,’ he observed baldly.
‘And someone in the Police Department will be briefed . . . someone higher up.’
That was that then. He might as well shoot himself on national television.
‘And the public servant who originated these documents and put all this together – but they don’t know any specifics or who it was for. The biggest threat to your identity is from past contacts, people who could expose you . . . like resuming contact with family, friends or former inmates, who knew you in here during the past seven years. Obviously we’ve taken all that into consideration in regard to your relocation.’ Addressing the disturbed expression on Danny’s face he added, ‘There isn’t any reason to think that the cover story you were given here was exposed, is there, Danny?’
‘I don’t know. Sometimes I felt like they all knew . . . and there was that kid who I . . . who kept at me, he knew something . . .’
‘You mean the boy you choked with a towel? The one who called you a pervert?’ Danny glared at him.
‘He didn’t know anything, Danny.’
‘No? My mother told me what that jerk supervisor said to the papers. The boy could have read that once he left here. If he didn’t know who I was then, he probably does now! And what if I run into any of the others on the outside as Geoffrey Wickham. Don’t you think they might put two and two together?’
‘Your release is not without risks, Danny. A lot of people have been working on it. This is your profile, the life story of Geoffrey Wickham.’ He slid a file across the desk. ‘Take it back to your room, read it, front to back, until you know it off by heart, until it becomes second nature. Okay, Geoffrey?’ Danny closed his eyes and nodded slowly. What other choice did he have?
Jane Jago was born in Sydney Australia in 1961. Originally trained as a Printmaker, she began writing whilst raising a family. She has a long standing interest in exploring the shadow aspect of human nature and in developmental psychology. Passionate about the protection of children and their right to a childhood, The Wrong Hand (Penguin Books / Michael Joseph) is her first novel. Click here now to get a copy of The Wrong Hand and click here to see Jane’s profile at the Penguin Books website.
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