The Draftsman

By Laurel Lindström

A brilliant but damaged man – this is the story of his genius, his healing and a forgotten mystery

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Publication date: January 2021

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Martin Cox is an untrained draftsman of 24, accidentally rich, a heavy smoker, damaged, obsessive, binary. He agrees to buy a house in the country as an investment, and to get away from the squalor of his London flat. But Shadowhurst Hall is also a place to heal. The country landscape confuses and beguiles Martin, who obsesses with black and white contrasts and binary expression, facts, numbers, in a world of shades and shadows. The desolation and the twin lakes on his property exert a peculiar pull that he doesn’t understand but which attracts him. He decides not to smoke in his new house.

Shadowhurst Hall is desolate and forgotten, despite a gardener and his wife who have been part of Shadowhurst Hall all their lives. Simon and Sheila keep their distance, but they are the only link to the house’s past and they have a connection that intrigues Martin. He persuades his friend and business minder Joshua Fothergill to help him investigate the empty landscape with him. Together they make a discovery that leads them on an unexpected journey, towards long forgotten events in 1945 and slowly towards renewal.

In the course of this journey we learn how Martin became so rich, and about his parents, a London cabbie and a cleaner. We meet the man who helped Martin to become an ace draftsman, and who brokered his first contract which led to unexpected wealth. We also learn about a sister whose protection of her brother was an afterthought, but she is unware of this. And we learn more about Martin’s need for protection.

In part this story is also the story of the original Shadowhurst Hall and the part it played in two world wars. But it’s more about recollections and process. It’s about how memories and histories bound up in a landscape become their own story. And it’s about how that story might eventually be shared.

This book is about healing and renewal, about how an individual’s unrecognised and unacknowledged damage shapes them. And it is about how those scars undermines who they might have been, and the lasting footprint that they leave.

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  • Laurel Lindström avatar

    Laurel Lindström

    Laurel Lindström has had a long and rewarding career as a technical writer and journalist. Under the name of Laurel Brunner she specialises in digital prepress, printing and publishing technologies and her work has been published all over the world.

    Laurel’s career began in the 1980s when she got caught up in the digital publishing revolution in California, during her studies at UCLA. A degree in Linguistics & English has been largely useless in her career, however it has helped Laurel to develop writing and analytical skills that have assisted her in both technology analyses and a diverse range of consulting projects. Laurel is a regular speaker at industry events in North and South America, Europe and Asia, a Visiting Professor at Shenzen Technical University in China and one of a small cohort of Women of Distinction selected by US publishers Output Links. She works with the International Standards Organisation and convenes a group responsible for standards relating to the environmental impact of graphics technology, including print media. Agfa Graphics has awarded her its Sustainability Award for her work in sustainability and the Indonesian printing industry association, ATGMI, has also recognised her.

    Laurel is married to Paul and together they have three grown up children, Hannah, Morgan and Matilda. Laurel’s work as a novelist, put on hold during the UCLA years, has now begun.

  • Above the heavy wheeze of his battered lungs Martin was aware that ahead could hear someone talking loudly, a monologue with no other voices. Occasionally there was laugher and sudden bellowing shouts. As he walked slowly forward he was passing through less dense undergrowth and under a lighter canopy, and could see that he was coming in at an angle to the footpath. On his bottom sat a man dressed in smart tweeds, slightly dishevelled and decorated much as Martin was with mud splashes, dust, twigs, leaf and bramble fragments. His binoculars, festooned with members enclosures tags from multiple racecourses, hung from a strap around his neck and stood to attention on the curve of a round belly. The belly was upholstered with large checks, the waistcoat partly unbuttoned and stained with what might once have been red wine, or some anonymous gravy. The bowler hat that lay upside down on the ground beside him was slightly tattered at the rim, its grosgrain band faded and worn, the pale green satin lining creased and variously patterned with a miscellany of sweaty traces. A long history. He was drinking from a battered silver flask and eating crisps from a bag torn open on the ground, within easy reach of his slender long fingered right hand. He was smiling. His handsome face was pink and shining and lined with pleasures long since enjoyed. They were deeply etched around his eyes and mouth, from which a slow dribble of spit was slowly ebbing.

    Read more...
  • Laurel Lindström has written 2 private updates. You can pledge to get access to them all.

    29th September 2020 A structural edit? What? Thank you Helen Francis

    I have heard that when starting out as a novelist, getting your manuscript finished is the easy bit. I always thought that a little bit silly, because you’ve sweat blood over the thing, spent months or even years on it. But I’m beginning to see there is some sense to this. For a start there’s all the additional prep, the formating and understanding the process. Then there’s the cover design and blurb…

    21st September 2020 Keeping the passion alive? For anyone who’s feeling disheartened.

    Whether you’re a writer or not, sometimes doing the same old same old day after day can get a little dreary, tedious even. And you find the contact problem gets harder and harder to solve. Much as you want to, you just can’t seem to keep your bottom in contact with the chair. Any excuse will do: answering emails even the really uninteresting ones, checking to see if the postman’s been, having yet…

    14th September 2020 Book Review - Quichotte by Salman Rushdie

    Years ago I read pretty much all of Vladimir Nabokov’s novels and short stories. Stray words and phrases from his work have stayed with me and might be why reading Salman Rushdie’s Quichotte reminded me of those years. 

    There are plenty of references in Quichotte to chew on, from Nabokov, Shakespeare and Homer to US soap operats. It’s a multilayered story blurring various narrators’ identities…

    7th September 2020 What do you reckon? Write about Trump’s future? Why not.

     

    A Future for Trump

    There’s not much for me to add to the Biden-Trump conversations, because Trump leaves me speechless. But I have been pondering the things he can look forward to hopefully starting in November, worse case in four years time.

    Top of the list has to be another divorce. In her unapproved speech for the Republican National Convention, broadcast apparently illegally from the…

    2nd September 2020 Book Review - A Country to Call Home edited by Lucy Popescu

    Dear All,

    As you probably know, I’m not much in the habit of writing book reviews. There are so many people much better at it and far more committed to it than me. And anyway I am not really sure how to go about it. And I’m lazy too which doesn’t help. Most of the book reviews I read by online bloggers are summaries of the book in question, that they mostly like. When I read those books I mostly…

    24th August 2020 Another bee story for your entertainment and the closest I’ve come to writing about sex!

    Once more into the light

    Sisters were marshalling themselves and herding a group of young drones towards the hive entrance. Curly and Twirly, were still asleep and had somehow managed to avoid the bee dragnet closing in around the other drones. Burly, half awake and still too tired to argue, was on the wrong side of the line. Messages flooding his senses muddled and tangled as other drones, bumped…

    19th August 2020 Life As A Shortie

    Dear All,

    The world continues to gyrate ever more strangely, catching some of us more tightly than others so I hope you are well.

    No news on the Draftsman, except that it is in progress. Meanwhile here is a short piece to entertain you: 

    Life As A Shortie

    As a very small person (VSP) I have lived my life looking up to my peers, willingly or not. Throughout childhood I expected that would…

    2nd July 2020 Fourteen tips for getting the most out of your Zoom time (I can’t count)

    Fourteen tips for getting the most out of your Zoom time

    Now that we are all getting comfortable with using online video software, there are certain do’s and don’t’s that we really should all be following. 

    Online you can find dozens of Zoom etiquette guidelines. They’re couched in earnest helpful tones; they tell you stuff that’s basically obvious, common sense so they’re sort of useful. But…

    24th June 2020 Burning Red Hot Scotch Bonnets

    Actually they have nothing to do with this post. It’s to let you know that there are now twelve Sitting Comfortably Podcasts for you to listen to. 

    They seem to be getting looser and looser. But they give you a story to listen to while we wait for the publishing process to restart. Here’s the link: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCut0eahMbtiyPjH5R35Ga8A/videos?view=0&sort=dd&shelf_id=1

    Enjoy…

    18th May 2020 Sitting Comfortable Podcast The Draftsman Chapters 1 to 3

    Dear All,

    Do stay well. Do read. Do keep sight of the sunshine and not the clouds.

    I have now read chapters 1-3 of the Draftsman as part of the Sitting Comfortably podcasts. I hope you are enjoying them! If you haven’t listened yet, please go here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCut0eahMbtiyPjH5R35Ga8A

    Also, we had the Authors Club Litfest Online this past weekend and I was honoured to…

    30th April 2020 Sitting Comfortable Podcast The Draftsman Chapter 3 part 1

    Dear All,

    Reading the story aloud is weird. But it’s meant to be listened to so maybe it’s less weird to hear it than to speak it. 

    I hope it entertains you! Sorry for the long wait.

    Here is the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2KudPLkx1Dw

    Enjoy!

    xxx

    -Laurel.

    28th April 2020 Latest Reading from the Draftsman

    Dear All,

    I hope this finds you and yours well and not too bored. The next installment of the Draftsman is available for you to hear and hopefully enjoy.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BLHO41oqtdA&t=77s

    xxx

    -Laurel.

    24th April 2020 The latest Sitting Comfortably Podcast - Number 4

    Dear All,

    Keep your distance and keep your sanity. No need to listen to the news, it’s mostly reruns and repeats, except the astounding stuff from Numpty Trumpty. Latest is to drink disinfectant … 

    Instead listen to the podcast: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZjVZANNQhII and enjoy the calm.

    xxx

    -Laurel.

    20th April 2020 Sitting Comfortably Podcast Number 3

    … here it is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9aooSgBlc5c

    Enjoy and stay well!

    -Laurel.

    17th April 2020 The Draftsman Podcast Episode 2

    Dear All,

    Keep away from people, wash a lot, and enjoy the chance for quiet. Wine helps. Chocolate does too. And the occasional gin doesn’t go amiss.

    I have done a second podcast, reading from the book, and you can listen to it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9aC2NRlaYaw

    I’ll do more over the coming weeks. Let me know if they should be longer or shorter or if they should be videos instead…

    15th April 2020 The Thrill of a Cover Design

    Picture this

    It’s a peculiar sensation to see first cover visuals for your first novel. They’ve got the story’s title and your name – your name – writ large. And one of them is a perfect expression of what the book’s about. It jumps at your throat, it’s gorgeous, professional and an image that you couldn’t ever think of, not in a million years. 

    The sensation’s almost as good as the moment when…

    14th April 2020 Sitting Comfortably Podcast

    Dear All,

    I hope everyone is feeling alright and keeping distant. At the Clock Tower, cheese and yoghurt making have kept us busy and our bees are thriving. We have discovered we have masonary bees, which is wonderful. We’ve an immaculate veg garden and have cucumbers sprouting. Isn’t that exciting? Sorry. It really isn’t. I hope your life under lockdown is more interesting.

    I have started reading…

    2nd April 2020 Covid 19 News 1st April

    Global corona virus suspension order

    In light of the corona virus pandemic, governments around the world have got together and made an important declaration. The Coordinated Global Governmental Announcement (CGGA) is being made in response to the rapid spread of the virus. The devastating contagion has caused a variety of national lockdowns, forbidden civil sniffling and coughing in public, banned…

    11th March 2020 For fans of Hilary Mantel

    Dear All,

    If you’re keen to read the Mirror and the Light, the final part in the Wolf Hall trilogy about Thomas Cromwell’s life and times, it’s now out and already the UK’s number 1. Buy it! But maybe do a few bicep curls to warm up before you try to read it. It is 904 pages of dense beautifully composed text, in every sense.

    Last Friday at the Royal Festival Hall Hilary Mantel was in conversation…

    5th March 2020 Publication date has been set!

    Dear All,

     

    After much superfluous faffing I can report that the Draftsman is now in the hands of an editor, doing structural edits and then copy edits. It’s also undergoing some sort of design treatment. It all takes a while and in the meantime I am trying to learn more about how the distribution and marketing work.

    I have also started on the next book, The Ashes in the Boot. I’ll post excerpts…

    22nd January 2020 New website launched

    Thanks to Paul’s sterling efforts we now have a Laurel Lindstrom website: https://laurellindstrom.org

    I’ll be posting a regular blog keeping you informed of The Draftsman’s progress as it moves through the editing and production phases.

    I will also be posting new Three Bees stories and other writings there, plus excerpts from The Ashes in the Boot, a story of identity confusion, that is a light…

    17th January 2020 The Three Bees: When Mother Leaves Home

    When Mother Leaves Home

    It was hot and stuffy and Burly was squashing Curly uncomfortably into the side of the frame. Soft spring light washed gently over Curly’s enormous eyes and Twirly was twitching slowly coming out of sleep. He was anxious that Curly would be cross at the fidgety disturbance and at the squashing, but Curly’s mind was elsewhere. He shoved as best he could at his brother and…

    11th December 2019 Next chapter in the Three Bees stories -- Any feedback welcome!

    Three Bees and the Giant Grub

    The light was pushing in far too brightly thought Curly, as he turned away from the morning. Gentle murmuring sounds and tiny whistling snores told him that his brothers were still asleep. As he turned to shade his large eyes from the sunrise Curly was aware of a draft coming from the other side of the comb. They had settled down some hours before near to the uncapped…

    22nd October 2019 Next chapter

    Dear All, 

    Thanks so much for your support. I have now handed over the manuscript to the Unbound people who are taking things to the next stage. This means editing, design and production.

    I am working on another Three Bees story, but other work commitments are taking over. Ever was it thus. Once I get caught up I will be working on the Ashes in the Boot. 

    Also, I had hoped to set up a FaceBook…

    20th September 2019 Nearly there, can you help?

    Dear Everyone,

    I am thrilled that we are at 77% of target, and to tell you that for any additional pledges people would like to make, even tiny additions, that UNbound are offering a 10%.

    This means that if you add twenty pounds to what you’ve already pledged, it only costs you £18.

    Use this code: OVER75

    I know it is really very cheeky to ask you to add to the pot, but the sooner we make…

    28th August 2019 Invitation to Afternoon Tea at the National Liberal Club

    This is a blatant inducement to ask you to pledge more cash for the Draftsman. But I think it could be pretty cool for people who fancy a bit of old world traditional English hospitality. The National Liberal Club is one of London’s poshest, and the first such club to admit women. Check it out here http://www.nlc.org.uk

    Would you like to join me there for tea as my guest? It’s the full Monty of…

    27th August 2019 Three Bees Under Attack (Nothing to do with the Draftsman, but you might enjoy this little story.)

    Part two of many

    Three Bees Under Attack

    The comb was barely pressed soft and cosy to their shapes, before the boys woke to a terrific buzzing and the choking fug of bee commotion. A wild storm of pheromones clogged the air and all about them was frantic motion. A nanny bee bustled up, antennae akimbo and sticky with fresh nectar from a minor collision with an incoming worker. “Get out,…

    23rd August 2019 Thank you to you wonderful people for supporting the Draftsman

    Dear All,

    Just a quick note to say thank you to all the wonderful people who have pledged to support the Draftsman. I have been deeply touched by the contributions and especially from so many people I haven’t been in touch with in years.

    Having droodled about on holiday for three weeks, offline and spending much time in the sea training for the Hydra Swimrun (www.hydraswimrun.com and can now…

    9th July 2019 Thank you to everyone

    I cannot express (of course I can) how much I appreciate the support everyone has given for this project.

    A massive THANKYOU to everyone! I hope I don’t let you down.

    xxx

    -Laurel.

    PS Next episode of Three Bees on the way.

    8th July 2019 By way of a thank you to the people who have supported the Draftsman, here is something silly to enjoy.

    The first in a multipart series: Three Bees

    Burly, Curly & Twirly

    “It tastes like crap this wax. And just because they told me I have to eat my way out, doesn’t mean I have to.” An oversized drone honey bee spat out some half chewed wax, smearing it against the wall of his cell as he did so. He paused a moment, peering through the tiny hole in the hatch at the mass of bees crawling back and…

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