Friday, 17 May 2019

New Release Spotlight & Exclusive Excerpt: Cultivating A Fuji by Miriam Drori

Cultivating a Fuji by Miriam Drori

Convinced that his imperfect, solitary existence is the best it will ever be, Martin unexpectedly finds himself being sent to represent his company in Japan. His colleagues think it’s a joke; his bosses are certain he will fail. What does Martin think? He simply does what he’s told. That’s how he’s survived up to now – by hiding his feelings.
Amazingly, in the land of strange rituals, sweet and juicy apples, and too much sak√©, Martin flourishes and achieves the impossible. But that’s only the beginning. Keeping up the momentum for change proves futile. So, too, is a return to what he had before. Is there a way forward, or should he put an end to the search now?

Gradually, as you’ll see when Martin looks back from near the end of his journey, life improves. There’s even a woman, Fiona, who brings her own baggage to the relationship, but brightens Martin’s days. And just when you think there can be no more surprises, another one pops up.
Throughout his life, people have laughed at ‘weirdo’ Martin; and you, as you read, will have plenty of opportunity to laugh, too. Go ahead, laugh away, but you’ll find that there’s also a serious side to all this…

Bournemouth, 1977. We’ve heard about Martin, by being “flies on the wall” during private conversations, but this is our first encounter of him.
Sue tried not to look straight at the young man seated on the wooden chair beside her. Otherwise, he might start to read her thoughts, and that would be unfortunate. Because what she was thinking was: I’m talking to a complete and utter weirdo who doesn’t know how to behave in the simplest of situations, let alone on a business trip to a foreign land – a land where, she’d heard, protocol was given considerable attention. What she was supposed to be thinking was: this is an ordinary conversation with an ordinary employee who works in the same office as me, and who happens to be going on a work trip to Japan to demonstrate our product.
He was dressed in a suit and tie, like all the other men in the office, but the tie met the lapel of his jacket rather than going straight down to the join between the two parts, and the suit didn’t look right on him. Perhaps it was too tight for him. Or perhaps it was simply his posture on the chair – too rigid, too straight-backed, two feet on the floor. He stared down at the lino with those intense blue eyes, as if in horror at spotting a speck of dust. Of course, as soon as he opened his mouth to speak, the weirdness would become even more apparent. Come to think of it, why hadn’t he said anything yet? Sue had asked him a question. Hadn’t he heard?
“I said, do you have a passport?” Out of Martin’s view, Sue clenched her fists. She’d enunciated each word separately, as if she were talking to a young child, or to a retarded person. She must remember to talk normally.
“I… sorry… I have one but it’s not…”
“Is it out of date?”
“Yes, I think so.” Martin’s half-smile showed his relief at being helped out of a spot.
“When did you last use it?”
“When I was thirteen.”
“Then it must be out of date. So we have to get you an emergency passport. I’ll find out how, and I’ll get the form from the post office. Bring in your old passport tomorrow and get some passport photos taken, and I’ll help you fill in the form.”
“Thank you.”
“Do you know how to do passport photos?”
Typical. Why didn’t he explain how he was going to do it? Sue wanted to ask him, to make sure he knew what to do, but that wouldn’t go with pretending he was normal. Oh well. If he came tomorrow without the photos, she’d have to take him to the nearby photographer’s.
“I’ll also get plane tickets in your name, and change the hotel reservation. John will be in touch with the company in Japan to tell them about the change.”
Martin nodded. His eyes stared towards the general area of Sue but not directly at her. Since his head was pointing downwards slightly, this gave the impression that he was looking up at her, as a child would. His hands clutched the sides of the chair, raising his shoulders an inch or two. She was reminded of a smaller Sue facing the headmistress after a forgotten misdemeanour.
“Okay, you can go now.”
It was like releasing a catapult. Martin shot across the room and was gone in a second, despite needing three attempts to push down the door handle.
Sue’s eyes remained fixed on the closed door for a moment, at the spot where Martin had stood while tackling the handle. Slowly, she shook her head and sighed, and thought about popping into an employment agency that afternoon when she went to get the passport application form. There was one right next to the post office.

Miriam Drori has decided she’s in the fifth and best stage of her life, and she’s hoping it’ll last for ever. It’s the one in which she’s happiest and most settled and finally free to do what she wants. Miriam lives in a delightful house and garden in Jerusalem with her lovely husband and one of three children. She enjoys frequent trips around the world. She dances, hikes, reads and listens to music. And she’s realised that social anxiety is here to stay, so she might as well make friends with it. On top of that, she has moved away from computer programming and technical writing (although both of those provided interest in previous stages) and now spends her time editing and writing fiction. NEITHER HERE NOR THERE (currently unavailable), a romance with a difference set in Jerusalem, was published in 2014. THE WOMEN FRIENDS, co-written with Emma Rose Millar, is a series of novellas based on the famous painting by Gustav Klimt. SOCIAL ANXIETY REVEALED (non-fiction) provides a comprehensive description of social anxiety from many different viewpoints. CULTIVATING A FUJI takes the social anxiety theme into fiction, using humour to season a poignant story.
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