Chapter One – Excerpt From ‘A Game For The Young’

Hawking

It was late January and the seasonal weather had brought with it a cold and bitter winter. By 3.00AM the soft wind had become a freezing chill and the windows of the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford were showing the first signs of frost.

This was one of the bases of operations for the Biomedical Research Centre, a defining partnership between the University of Oxford and its surrounding Hospitals.

Throughout the empty corridors and closed reception areas an eerie stillness hung in the air, like a school playground with all the children missing. Only the Accident and Emergency Department remained open, responding to the infrequent patients arriving throughout the night for treatment.

In the west wing of the Hospital, in a laboratory, sub-basement level to the Medical Sciences Office, a young postgraduate student sat alone in the darkness, slumped over his desk, a solitary desk lamp offering the only light in the room.

James McCarthy sat in his wheelchair, arms crossed out in front of him and head rested. He had one half of a pair of headphones plugged in to his right ear and was listening while an mp3 player slowly made its way through his eclectic music collection. His left ear was free to listen to the instruments on his desk purr and click with another kind of repetitive rhythm.

In front of him, his laptop ran a search program connected to a frequency emitter. The program was rotating through EM waves, continually modifying the emitter with new frequencies, oscillating at varying units of gigahertz and terahertz.

A digital microscope observing a small glass slate of cells sat linked up to a desktop computer running continual scans, poised to record the imagery based on movement.

A seismometer, commonly known for its use in recording earthquakes and other seismic shifts, read the activity fed back through the CPU whilst drawing a continuous and uneventful straight line down the middle of its digital display panel.

Alone in the dark, James remembered the sense of pride he had felt when this first started. When he was enlisted to be part of a project that could one day change the world, something that would triumph over every scientific accomplishment achieved in the past century.

His disability had made him accustomed to sitting and observing for great lengths of time. Composure was everything, but overnight research was taking its toll, overpowering any enjoyment he could get from the covert nature of his work.

He had been at this for weeks now, weeks of nothing. It had seemed inevitable at first, simply a matter of time. Every hour lost was an investment. But as the days and weeks rolled by his patience had begun to fade. Someone else needs to take over, it’s only fair.

James hated this laboratory. During the first few nights of the experiment his fear of the dark that he had suppressed as a child had almost resurfaced. The silence of the laboratory at night offered a chilling atmosphere, like a morgue under a full moon. But he understood why it had to be this way; the access to the equipment, the isolation, the necessity of secrecy. It was all essential.

James slowly raised his head and rubbed his eyes, jaded and semi-conscious. He couldn’t hold out much longer. He squinted, barely making out the time on the monitor; it was 3.04AM. His eyelids were heavy and his head was cloudy. This had become an all too familiar feeling. His secret second bedroom was beginning to feel comfortable again, a home away from home. He had two more hours before he needed to clean up and get out. There was time to rest.
His thoughts became more and more distant. He closed his eyes and breathed deeply to relax his upper body, letting the white noise from the equipment fade away whilst the glow from the desk lamp kept his face warm. Slowly darkening, he soon passed, accepting the eventual drift into a peaceful sleep.

Within minutes James was resting comfortably. The laptop on his desk clicked as the program switched to the next frequency. The repetitive purr and ticks soon followed.

It was faint at first. The seismometer offered a minor ripple, but another soon followed, then another and another.

With a sudden twitch the lines grew thicker, darker and wider in succession. The PC responded with an alarming ping, recording the cellular reaction being sent through the microscope.

James heard the beeps as if from a distance. He was slower to react. Gradually opening his eyes, he stared with a narrow gaze at the monitor. The alert sounded for a second time. A message was now displaying on the screen in front of him. ‘Processing…’

He froze, disorientated, so used to the rhythm and ticks. Seconds passed before a third alert sounded with another message. Frequency Registered. James could feel himself waking up, his head beginning to focus. Registered?
His head rose from the desk as he rubbed his eyes, yawning, stretching. He stared again at the message. Has it just? No… Yes, yes! The realisation snapped him into action.

Peering through the microscope, his face lit up with excitement.

‘Oh my god,’ he whispered, scanning through the readings.

He took a breath and reached out to snatch his mobile from the desk, pausing for a moment before selecting a contact and dialling. His pulse raced as he lifted the phone to his ear.

‘Please be awake,’ he pleaded as the dialling tone began to ring out. ‘Pick up, pick up!’

* * *

A mile away, in a small one-bedroom flat off St Clements Street, Ellie Swanson lay sound asleep in her bed.
A copy of The Power of Your Subconscious Mind by Joseph Murphy lay open face down on her bedside table.
In the darkness, her studio room was lit up only by the light blue glow that came from her alarm clock. You could barely make out the stacks of books and research material laid out over her desk and floor.

Her TV sat in the far right corner of the room, disused, collecting dust on a wooden stand that cased equally neglected DVDs and music CDs. Her laptop rested on the floor in the opposite corner, charging from an electrical point.

Her mobile was next to the book on her bedside table. The display lit up and a soft ringtone began to play out across the room.

It rang for several seconds before Ellie stirred, giving out a slight groan. She peered at the clock making out the time. It was later than usual but she knew what had woken her; this wasn’t her first late night phone call. She’d stopped counting the false alarms weeks ago.

With her eyes still half closed she instinctively reached out, pressing the phone to her ear as she answered the call.

‘Hello,’ Ellie whispered. It was her first word of the day and her throat was dry.

‘Ellie, I think we’ve done it. I think we’ve found Hawking.’

She lay motionless on her bed.

‘Are you sure?’ Her tone was doubtful.

‘Pretty sure, this isn’t like anything we’ve seen before. You need to see this.’

Ellie leaned forward to turn on her bed-side lamp and gather herself.

‘What are the readings?’

‘The program is at full alert, we’ve never had a probability rating this high before. Cellular response is at fifteen percent.’

‘Fifteen?! Are you sure?’

‘Fifteen point six.’

‘Who have you rung?’

‘Just you, I figured you were the most likely to answer this time of night.’

Ellie smiled, appreciating that her commitment was acknowledged.

‘What’s the metabolic activity?’ she asked, now getting out of bed.

‘Hold on.’ James swung round and stared briefly at the monitor before putting the phone back to his ear, smiling uncontrollably. ‘Cellular growth. There’s been an increase in cytoplasmic and organelle volumes. It’s taking.’

‘You’re sure?’ Ellie reached for her clothes.

‘We’re at sixteen point seven.’ James glanced back at the monitor. ‘Seventeen percent, Ellie, she’s climbing.’

‘OK, OK. Call the professor, I’m on my way.’ She hung up her phone and tied back her long brown hair into a pony tail. It was 3.12AM; if she hurried she could be there in twenty minutes…




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Chapter Nineteen – Excerpt from ‘A Game For The Young’

Page 122-123.

As she said it Conor suddenly leaned forward, breathing heavy and erratic. Ellie could see his expression change, noting it with a smile.

‘Let it grow in your mind. Believe you know.’

He gripped the bench and flinched, briefly closing his eyes only to open them wide. Staring intensely at the ground, he gasped for air.

‘Don’t hold your breath,’ Ellie said, leaning forward.

Like a childhood memory, at first it had felt distant. A feeling he couldn’t explain. A burning muse of fulfilment and yet it was building to pure elation. Something was rising to the surface, a recollection. And then it happened.

An explosion of memories broke through the wall in his mind, pouring through into his conscious, a rush of hormones. Conor’s eyes began to water as he felt his senses increase ten levels, a desire overcoming him to cry out, whether it was to laugh or scream he couldn’t understand. He was suddenly everywhere and anything. The world was limitless.

Ellie could see it in his eyes.

‘The first time is always special.’


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A Game For The Young

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THE STORY

For the past two years Ellie Swanson and a team of scientists have devoted their lives to a project. An experiment destined to change the course of history.

When their funding is pulled on the eve of their biggest discovery, the team are left with a choice; abandon everything they have worked towards or continue on in secret.

Conor Martin is a young man, full of hope, beginning his journey at St John’s College, Oxford. With a curious nature and a point to prove, he becomes caught up in an interviewing process like no other.

As paths collide and the true potential of the project is revealed, the impact of their creation is suddenly shaken, concluding in a chilling discovery that will change their lives forever.

 

Available Now On Paperback

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Available Now On EBook

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fourandahalfstars
“Curious insight into a topical mind. A little chilling in places. Fascinating!”

fivestars
“I love this book! It’s thought provoking and packed full of twists and turns. A great read.”

fourstars
“Packed full of thought-provoking ideas, daring night-time information raids and enough secrets to fill a dozen spy novels, A Game for the Young is deep, insightful and incredibly clever. Science enthusiasts will enjoy its focus on research and experimentation, but there is something for all readers in this novel. The twists and turns are sharp, unexpected and thrilling and will draw the reader in until the final, gripping line.”

fourandahalfstars
“A brilliantly written book that grips you right from the start. The fascinating and ethically challenging plot makes it very hard to put down. A fabulous first novel and looking forward to the next one.”

fivestars
“One of those books you look forward to picking up all the time… Looking forward to book number two as the first book was brilliant!”

fivestars
“I could not put this book down. The author has clearly done a considerable amount of research and made a compelling, worrying and fascinating read.”

fivestars
“Excellent first book from this author. Tempo builds to a real page turner, with twists and turns right up to the last chapter. It will give you a detailed insight into the lives of Oxford students trying to cope with the pressures and moral dilemmas brought on by a truly life changing discovery. I strongly recommend this as a must read and look forward to the next book.”

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Prologue – Excerpt From ‘A Game For The Young’

‘You know this can’t go on,’ the detective warned, offering a lukewarm cup of tea from across the table. A gesture of kindness under the guise of friendship. But they weren’t friends.

To Ellie’s left, a mirror she presumed to be two-way spread over one third of the wall. To her right, a door securely bolted from the outside served as a reminder that there was little choice to her scenery. The walls around her were a dull beige.

‘Your silence implies guilt, Miss Swanson,’ the detective said, turning over another page from his case file. The noisy bustle from the corridors outside had reduced to a distant mumble.

‘Are you charging me?’ she asked.

‘I’m questioning you.’

‘Then when can I leave?’

‘You are entitled to legal counsel if it would make you more comfortable.’

‘It would make me more comfortable to leave.’

The detective remained cold, holding a long and intrusive gaze before slowly selecting four photos from his folder. He placed them evenly spaced apart in front of her.

‘Please look at them,’ he said, speaking softly.

Seeing their faces Ellie gave a faint smile. Her mouth contorted to a grimace as she held back the tears.

‘You remember your friends, don’t you?’

She took a sip of her tea to control her quivering chin, her eyes resting on the pictures before glancing to the mirror.

‘We’re alone,’ he assured her.

In her dreams she could still feel them. Remember their touch, their smell. Her focus was drifting.

‘Will you tell me what happened to them?’ the detective asked, pulling her attention back into the room.

‘They’re not my friends,’ she whispered. ‘They’re my family.’

* * *

Feeling young, he walked as though floating through Oxford’s Botanic Gardens. The sun was warm and glowed in a way he’d never seen before. The water was cool, the fruit was ripe and the grass shone with beautiful shades of green.

Finally all scores were settled, and never before had he felt so content.

He took in the arrangements of flowering plant life; they were breathtaking this time of year. The gardens were laid out in an array of elegant flower beds linked together under a soft carpet of grass lawns and pebbled footpaths – the polished result of four centuries of lavish attention.

A small flock of hummingbirds sang whilst nesting in the branches of an old English Yew tree. They held his gaze for a moment before it passed above the tree line to take in the famed Magdalen Bell Tower, watching over the gardens as if it were keeping them safe.

Pausing next to the rose garden, he took a deep and full breath. It had been years since he last came here and he’d chosen the perfect day to enjoy the gardens in April’s spring.

It was a moment to savour and yet somehow the smile on his face began to fade. His expression changed from contentment to a pensive fear; something troubling grew inside of him. Something dormant and elusive but he could feel it building in the back of his mind, an inner pain rising to the surface.

He lifted his right hand to his temple, wincing as the pain gradually grew with intensity.

With a jolt he began to shake uncontrollably, a look of uncertainty and panic washing over his face. He reached into his jacket pocket and pulled out a mobile phone, but it was too late, his hands had begun to spasm and he dropped the phone onto the gravelled footpath beneath him.

A young couple holding hands by the water fountain watched in disbelief as they saw a man suddenly cry out in pain and fall to his knees. The scream echoed through the gardens, freezing its visitors like statues.

For a brief second there was only silence, but it soon broke, followed by the shouts of concern and the crunching sound of running feet on gravel.

He lay down on his back, staring up at the clear blue sky as the heads of strangers circled above him, their voices muted under the throbbing agony.

His eyesight was beginning to blur, the feeling in his legs had left him. As he felt his body slowly turning numb he closed his eyes in acceptance of his fate. There were no regrets, for he knew now that this was how it had to be.

Everything was as he had dreamed.


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My Top Five (Six) Favourite Books

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OK, I really struggled to narrow this down to five… So here are my top six favourite books (at least so far!):

jaws

marchingpowder

peacefulwarrior

thebeach

angelsanddemons

fearindex

What’s your top five? Any suggestions?

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How To Write A Book Review

Readers will always be interested in the opinions of other readers.

Whether you’ve loved a book or not, provided you give an honest account of your experience, the reading community will benefit from your review.

Here are five recommended points to writing a ‘complete’ book review.

Start with a couple of sentences describing what the book is about – avoid spoilers!

As a general rule, try to avoid writing in detail about anything that happens from around the middle part of the book onwards. If the book is part of a series, it might be useful to mention this, along with your thoughts on whether they should read the other books in the series to enjoy this one.

Discuss what you particularly liked about the book

Focus on how you felt about the story and the way it was told. You could try answering a couple of the following questions:

  • Who was your favourite character, and why?
  • Did the characters feel real to you?
  • Did the story keep you guessing?
  • What was your favourite part of the book, and why?
  • Did the book make you think, laugh or cry?

Mention anything you disliked about the book

Talk about why you think it didn’t work for you:

  • Were any parts of the story unclear or feel rushed?
  • Were the themes of the story understandable?
  • Do you have any ideas on how the book could of been made better?

Round up your review

Summarise your thoughts on the book by suggesting the type of reader you’d recommend it to. Are there any books or series you would compare it to?

Give the book a rating

A mark out of five is preferable and will offer the every day skim reader an easily digestible snap shot on your opinion of the story.





Thank you to Author Luisa Playa, who largely inspired this blog entry.

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David P. Philip


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Book Launch Photos – A Game For The Young

Thank you to everyone that could make the book launch. A Great Day!

I really appreciate your support.


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Frequently Asked Questions – A Game For The Young

What inspired you to write a novel?

About five years ago I sat down and wrote a bucket list.
The list included things like learning to play piano, learning to speak french, become a father, run a marathon and a load of other cliché experiences, but the one that immediately stuck out to me was to ‘write a novel’. I already had a few ideas, so I did a bit of research and it just went from there.

What inspired you to write A Game For The Young in particular?

I think I was watching ‘Minority Report’. I realised that (at least for the stories that I’d seen or read) whenever science fiction depicted the ability to transfer data to or from the brain it was always being done in a slick, well established manner.
The technology is always being used as more of a vehicle to support the main plot rather than given its own due credit.
I always thought it would be interesting to tell a gritty realistic account of this technology being invented and explore all the dangers that would entail.

How long did it take you to write?

Four years (on and off). I researched for several months, I edited the novel with Rowanvale Books for almost a year. But in total, start to finish – 4 years.

Why Is It Based In Oxford?

Initially when I began my research, the articles I was reading directed me towards Oxford. I also wanted the characters in my story to be young, slightly reckless, but well educated and focused. Over time they became students at Oxford University.
I also wanted to take of advantage of a city with lots of history and culture. Oxford was great for that.

Will your next story be a sequel to A Game For The Young?

No, I’ve done all I wanted to do with this story and it’s characters.

How was A Game For The Young published?

I used the paperback and ebook publication service provided by Rowanvale Books. They managed the proofreading, helped with editing, designed the front cover, reformatted the text. They also oversee the printing and distribution.

How did you do your research?

The Internet! Google Maps, YouTube, Wikipedia, The Oxford Uni website and a collection of other useful sites. I was also fortunate enough to have a friend who’s sister is a scientist. She was able to make suggestions that helped ensure the novel was kept as realistic as possible.



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Publication Day – Thank you!

So today’s the day. ‘A Game For The Young’ is finally available to purchase and read from a multitude of online retailers including Amazon, Waterstones, Tesco and WHSmith. What a feeling!

With four years of research, writing and editing behind me; I’m feeling confident that the novel is in good shape and am looking forward to hearing what other readers make of it.

It’s a huge relief to get to this point but I’m mindful of all the help I’ve received along the way, so it feels right to say a few thank yous:

Firstly a big thank you to Tessa, Aimee, Nia, Bethan, Cat and all of the team at Rowanvale Books. A truly fantastic service I’d recommend to any aspiring author.

I also want to say a huge thank you to Camilla Hill for helping me ensure that some of the more scientific elements of the novel were as close to fact as possible. This was really important to keep the story grounded in reality.

Thank you to Ryan Mustchin for taking the time to read a particularly early draft of the novel, and to my friends and family – who have been nothing but supportive from the moment I ‘came out’ as a writer.

And of course, thank you to my wife Caroline; who edited, made suggestions, argued her points and supported me throughout the whole process.

Though the book is published and the write a novel ‘to do’ item on my bucket list has a healthy tick next to it, I’ve most definitely caught the bug and am now writing my second novel. Let’s hope this one doesn’t take me another four years!

All the best and thank you once again.

David.



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David P. Philip


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The ‘Unofficial’ Soundtrack to A Game For The Young

The ‘Unofficial’ Soundtrack

Like many I’m sure, I’m often listening to music whilst I read/write.

Not long ago I was looking for the perfect compilation of background music and it got me thinking about the songs I was listening to whilst writing ‘A Game For The Young’.

Judging by the number of plays, these are some of the highest ranking tunes from my iTunes account. So I guess I should consider this my unofficial soundtrack to ‘A Game For The Young’:

1. Intro – M83

2. Take A Breath – Etherwood

3. Teardrop – Massive Attack

4. Porcelain – Moby

5. Archangel – Burial

6. Into Dust – Mazzy Star

7. Heaven – Emeli Sandé

8. You Got The Love – The Source (Feat. Candi Station)

9. Insomnia – Faithless

10. Midnight – Coldplay

11. An Ending (Ascent) – Brian Eno

12. Outro – M83

What music helps you focus?

Any recommendations with a similiar sound to the above?



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David P. Philip


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