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The Glass Diplomat by S.R. Wilsher - Book Tour + Giveaway

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The Glass Diplomat

In 1973 Chile, as General Augusto Pinochet seizes power, thirteen-year-old English schoolboy Charlie Norton watches his father walk into the night and never return. Taken in by diplomat, Tomas Abrego, his life becomes intricately linked to the family.

Despite his love for the Abrego sisters, he’s unable to prevent Maria falling under the spell of a left-wing revolutionary, or Sophia from marrying the right-wing Minister of Justice.

His connection to the family is complicated by the growing impression that Tomas Abrego was somehow involved in his father’s disappearance.

As the conflict of a family divided by politics comes to a head on the night of the 1989 student riots, Charlie has to act to save the sisters from an enemy they cannot see.

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 After the night of the riots, Charlie is forced to return to England and leave Sophia behind. This is the first time they have spoken since the trauma of that night and becomes pivotal to Charlie returning to Chile, where he’s a wanted man.

His mother summoned him for Friday night dinner. Neither of the girls apparently able to make it, and he sensed the deliberateness. Oddly, she kicked off the conversation by asking him about Fiona. Despite what she’d discovered, she still harboured hopes for him of a less fanciful nature. And Sophia Abrego was much too intangible and distant to offer her son a happy future.
Coincidentally, he’d seen Fiona the day before. They’d attended a Metropolitan Police briefing concerning the unlawful killing of a duty police officer. He acknowledged her without speaking as she waited with her crew, and joined the press journalists. He’d presumed that would be her preference. Instead, she’d come to him, standing awkwardly at the end of a row of chairs.
“How did Chile go?” She studied his damaged face and waited for an explanation.
“Fine.” He sounded terse and distant even to himself. He didn’t want a conversation about Chile, or about them. Yet she didn’t deserve a rebuff.  “Traumatic,” he added, with even less enlightenment.
“Did you find what you went for?”
“In a way.”
“And yet you’re here.” She didn’t really expect an account, it wasn’t that kind of encounter, although his cryptic response infuriated her. “It’s a shame whatever you found out has still left you closed off.”
He hadn’t gone looking for contentment, or happiness, only for an answer. He hadn’t expected it to change him, and wondered why she thought it might. But then, he hadn’t explained why he’d sacrificed her to go.
“You’re looking well, Fiona.” A less socially adept person might have imagined a flirting, step-one compliment on the path to rebuilding what they’d once had. The flat tone turned it into a pleasantry to end a conversation.
She had glared at him in the hope some clarification might present itself. When it hadn’t, she’d walked away.
The telephone rang. Louise glanced at the clock. She moved slowly to answer it, as if she knew the caller had all the patience in the world.
“Charlie, the phone, for you,” she said, coming back into the kitchen.
He could count on one hand the number of times he and Sophia had spoken on the phone, and he lifted it with clammy hands. Sweat formed in his hairline despite the cool hallway.
“He told me you were dead.”
“He did try.”
“I’m pleased you’re not.”
“Me too.”
“I’ve been thinking about you, since we last saw each other.”
He waited for the conjunction. When it didn’t arrive, he felt the need to find it for her.
“No and. I’ve been thinking about you, that’s all.”
This Sophia, the playful one, unnerved him. He recalled the day at the Gallery. She’d laughed a lot that day. The face and the mouth and the eyes from then were those he saw in his dreams.
“How did you get out of Chile? He was furious you did.”
“Did he take it out on you?”
He tried to discern the lie, but she didn’t give herself away with extra words.
“I drove to the British Embassy, and they flew me out to Quito the same night.”
“Good, that’s good.” She spoke as if she’d been distracted.
“I couldn’t come for you. I wanted to, but I couldn’t.”
“I understand.”
“I’m not sure you do. I couldn’t, because he threatened to kill you and Caroline, your mother as well. If I took you, he vowed to follow us anywhere and kill you. And I believed him. I couldn’t let that happen. The only way would have been for me to kill him, and I couldn’t. I didn’t want you to sleep beside a killer every night.”
“I do understand, Charlie, because he told me what he would do.”
“Are you going to tell me never to come back to Chile?” He had to ask, the underlying motive for her call suffocating him.
“No, Charlie. No, I wanted to hear your voice again, and to disprove his lies.”
“Thank you.” It doubled as an apology. Guilt grounded him, made him see the logic. “How are the children?” He hadn’t wanted to single out one from among two, even though he was more interested in one.
“They’re fine. I thank God Caroline is a happy child. She reminds me of Maria, how I might have been if I hadn’t been the eldest. And she reminds me of you. Every day she reminds me of you, and I’m grateful every time. She’s a thinker, Charlie, and she comes out with such wonderful questions. She’s a problem solver. It makes me feel secure for her future.”
“What about your future?”
He could sense her choosing the right words, the ones to reassure.
“It will be what it will be. We can’t know. It’s the one thing we can be thankful for.”
“You could come here.”
“It’s a nice dream, Charlie. It’s the one I cherish. Only Arturo will never allow it. He would do as he promised, he would kill me and Caroline rather than let us leave Chile.”
The consideration of those deaths silenced them. He expected her to wish him well next, waited for the encouragement to live and love without her as she had before.
“I wish you’d killed him, Charlie. It wouldn’t have made me love you less. I’ll always love you, Charlie. Goodbye.”
She’d gone before he could reply. The words he’d expected, those to set him free hadn’t come. Instead she’d claimed him. The generosity of before, when she’d implored him to start a new life, had vanished. She didn’t want to set him free. She’d tied him to her and, in doing so, she’d given him what he’d always wanted.

Author Bio
It didn’t occur to me to write until I was twenty-two, prompted by reading a disappointing book by an author I’d previously liked. I wrote thirty pages of a story I abandoned because it didn’t work on any level. I moved on to a thriller about lost treasure in Central America; which I finished, but never showed to anyone. Two more went the way of the first, and I forgave the author.
After that I became more interested in people-centric stories. I also decided I needed to get some help with my writing, and studied for a degree with the OU. I chose Psychology partly because it was an easier sell to my family than Creative Writing. But mainly because it suited the changing tastes of my writing. When I look back, so many of my choices have been about my writing.
I’ve been writing all my adult life, but nine years ago I had a kidney transplant which interrupted my career, to everyone’s relief. It did mean my output increased, and I developed a work plan that sees me with two projects on the go at any one time. Although that has taken a hit in recent months as I’m currently renovating a house and getting to know my very new granddaughter.
I write for no other reason than I enjoy it deeply. I like the challenge of making a story work. I get a thrill from tinkering with the structure, of creating characters that I care about, and of manipulating a plot that unravels unpredictably, yet logically. I like to write myself into a corner and then see how I can escape. To me, writing is a puzzle I like to spend my time trying to solve. 

Social Media Links –
Twitter: @srwilsher

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