The Wheels of Cady Grey Cady Grey Mysteries Book 1 by Paul L. Arvidson
Print Length: 358 pages Publication Date: August 21, 2019
Get in the way of ruthless people and it's gonna get you killed.
"Forget all you know about disabled people. This novel will blow everything you knew out of the window. A story of strength, intelligence, love and disability".
Cady Grey is invisible. One of the 'perks' of being in a wheelchair. Sometimes it's better that way, 'specially when you're a sweary, spitty teenage girl who's main aim is getting through high-school in one piece.
But then a sinister shell company wants to knock their school down and is prepared to stop at nothing. She and her friends are the only ones invested enough to care and smart enough to investigate.
Regardless of the danger, Cady finally gives up being invisible to fight. And she discovers that getting in the way of politicians and their schemes might just get her killed.
"Cady, with spark, snark and enthusiasm will capture your heart in such a way you will want her to be your best friend. She is a voice, hero and visibility for a young disabled generation, a guide for us all and a mystery to solve".
Cady Grey lay nose down in the soil, the wheels of her chair spun above her, the weight of the chassis pinned her down. Rain fell in great big drops all around her. She couldn't move her legs at the best of times, but she was sure her right shin was broken. She was too stunned to feel much of it yet. Everything was one great bruise. Her head felt muzzy, she must have banged it. Along with everything else.
Petrichor: the smell of rain after a dry spell.
WTF, Cady. Where did that come from?
The subconscious can properly fuck with your head sometimes.
She opened her eyes. Eye. Grass and soil close up. Some kind of edging stone, with a smear on it. Something trickling from her fringe down her nose on the right-hand side. For a moment, it felt comfortable. Like being held down by a massive duvet or hugged tight in a huge embrace. She could just go to sleep.
And… BAM, here came the pain.
Cady clenched her jaw, at least that wasn't broken. Her lips were sticky, she could taste metal and salt. The right shin: definitely broken. But good news, she could feel her toes: they hurt like hell too. Head. She couldn't pull her focus to that yet, all too stabby. Somehow she knew if she let herself focus on that too much, she'd pass out again. And that would be bad. Really, really bad.
Shit. Shit. SHIT. Focus on something Cady.
Noise. What was that noise? Straining, laboring. Something's gonna break. Mechanical? Not exactly, electro-mechanical. Chair wheels, running full tilt, with nothing to grab on. Flailing like a beetle on its back. The chair must’ve been sat on its arm, with its controller bent backward. Well, that was going to burn the motor out and no mistake. She spread her awareness out, slowly. It wasn't far from the controller and it wasn't broken. She shifted her weight from her hips to her right arm.
Too much weight on her to get free, but she could move her hand. The whole chair arm was twisted out of shape. She could see along the profile of the chair that plastic engine cover had snapped loose, spilling its wiry intestines onto the grass. Man, this chair was fucked up. Dad was going to be so pissed at her. She felt for the chair controller joystick. The golf ball she always had on the top of it had gone. Lost in the crash. Just a metal stick left. She pushed the metal stick into the soil, back to its neutral position. The skree-ing noise stopped. Good. Quiet now. Not quiet. Ringing in her ears and rain sploshing. She must’ve been lying where a puddle was gathering, because her legs felt wet.
Tic… tac… tic…
Was that in her head? She'd dreamed about that before. Was she concussed? Another part of her brain was waking up. Her hind brain, home of warnings, of fear, of fight or flight. But she couldn't fly. Her wheels were broken.
Now she knew. That noise. Bad brain, slow brain, now it was catching up. TicTac. A noise and a person. Bad. Bad person. It spooled out of her like an old broken film reel, images yammering from her brain on fast forward.
Flash—the glint of a gold ring on someone's little finger. Insincere smile. Not him.
Flash—the joy of the chair lights springing into life when she’d flicked the new switch, Dad was the best. Not Dad.
Flash—bright flash, muzzle flash, ringing noise. There, that was it.
Flash—flash—flash, but only one bang? Ears overloaded in a confined space. Certainly a bang first time. Ears still ringing now. A short time ago, then.
What was that noise? Getting slowly louder, slowly closer, that was important. It was an odd noise, a stupid noise. A WTF noise. A lazy noise, a rhythm noise, like a metronome.
Like blues. A walking blues. That was it. Everything. Tic… the noise was walking. Tac… the sound of those stupid segs on the man's shoes. Tic… the man: greasy hair and arrogance. Tall, Thames estuary accent. Tac… dots tattooed on his knuckles. Something black, metal held firm in his hand. The smell of oil. Tic he was coming. For her. Tac… and he was going to kill her. Tic… tac… Bill had called him TicTac.
Shit Bill. Where's Bill? Something made her not want to think of that. The rear brain. Fight or flight. No flight. There was another one. What was it? Fight, flight and-- Tic… tac… Freeze. That was it. Fight, flight or freeze.
The air filled with noise. Her chair back jerked. That noise. Bang never quite seemed to describe that noise. It filled her ears with loud. Even out here, face down in the grass. And an echo, off every hard surface of the building behind them. The town hall. No flash this time, with her face in the grass, but at least that meant she couldn't see what was coming. No wait, it also meant the chair body was between him and her. Something from deep inside her chair was fizzing.
"Oh, there you are," the voice dripped arrogance. She hated that voice, "don't go anywhere, will you? Oh, wait, you can't!"
"Fucker," was all she could manage in return, but with her face in the grass, she could hardly hear herself.
Tic. Tac. Tic. Tac.
"I don't really want to do this, you know?" he said. God, he loved the sound of his own voice.
He laughed—harsh, echoing. It rang off the walls. Harsher somehow than the shock of the gun. The gun. He really was going to kill her. How many rounds had he fired? Could she remember? There was something stopping her recall. Flash, flash, flash… What was it? Flash, flash, flash… Bill. Bill falling, falling, shouting out.
Shit. Bill. How many rounds? One just now, three at… Three from before. One before that? So… one left? Did guns even have six rounds in them these days? How did she need to know this? But one. One was plenty.
Tic. Tac. Tic.
Fight, flight or freeze. Her Dad always said, ‘you never really know which you're going to do until something bad enough happens.’ Something so bad that your insides have already turned to water and your brain is racing in six different directions at once. And you're going nowhere.
"Here I come, Cady! Time to pray."
He couldn't be serious? Pray? No, this cocky shit-bag would be all about that, wouldn't he? Bang, bang. Oops, sorry I killed somebody. That's okay though, right God? Bit of absolution 101 and off we go again. Tough job being a killer, but someone's got to do it. God says it's okay.
Tic. Tac. Tic. Tac.
"Nothing come to mind? Let me choose then. Seems fitting."
Cady struggled under the chair. Her arm flailed, she couldn't move it too far, besides, the chair in the way was the only thing saving her. Even if all he saw was her hand, if he shot it off that would kill her plenty quick enough.
"Bastard," she growled into the soil.
"Oh, now. Do you want your last words on this earth to be a curse?" But before she could answer, "I've thought of one, how about this?"
Good God this guy could talk. At least being shot would be a relief from his voice.
"As I lay me down to sleep… do you know that one Cady?"
"Oh, yeah, that's great." Keep him talking, probably too late now anyway. No-one here, he could talk all he liked. She was delaying the inevitable.
"I pray the Lord my soul to keep."
She heard the metallic chick-chak of the gun being cocked.
"If I should die before I wake.”
Cady got a whiff of excited sweat and gun, oil. She wriggled, her left arm was free. That was both arms now, maybe…
"I pray the Lord, my soul—" He leaned over and stood on her left arm at the wrist. "A- ah, stay still."
She felt the metal of the gun rustle in against the base of her skull and press there.
"I pray the Lord, my soul to take…"
But no one's year began that badly, right?
PAUL ARVIDSON is a forty-something ex lighting designer who lives in rural Somerset. He juggles his non-author time bringing up his children and fighting against being sucked into his wife’s chicken breeding business.
The Dark Trilogy is his first series. He is also working on a thriller.
Can you, for those who don't know you already, tell something about yourself and how you became an author?
I started writing in between our two kids. I had loads of thinking time in the long dark hours of the night. When we found out our second kid had special needs, I needed to give up my job as a theatre lighting guy. At that point, I had to take up writing seriously to avoid cracking up.
What is something unique/quirky about you?
I have a strawberry birthmark on the middle finger on my left hand (I always tell people, it goes with the 666 one on my head.)
Tell us something really interesting that's happened to you!
In my previous job as a lighting guy, I once lit the Queen (of England). She’s much smaller and much funnier than you think.
What are some of your pet peeves?
“-isms”. Racism, sexism. Prejudice in general. Why?
Where were you born/grew up at?
Liverpool (yes, where the Beatles came from, no I’ve never met them, though I did sit behind Paul McCartney’s brother in a theatre once)
If you knew you'd die tomorrow, how would you spend your last day?
Hanging out with family and friends. That’s the clean answer. You wanted the clean answer, right?
Who is your hero and why?
My daughters, for all they go through and how tough they are.
What kind of world ruler would you be?
One that got people to organize themselves.
What are you passionate about these days?
Writing, reading, making the world a tiny bit better for the kids. The NHS. (Uk health service)
What do you do to unwind and relax?
Role-playing games (D&D that kind of thing, it’s cool to say that now since, Stranger Things, right?)
How to find time to write as a parent?
My partner and I do swapsies.
Describe yourself in 5 words or less!
Patient, Tired, Creative, Ditzy, Caring
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Do you have a favorite movie?
When Harry Met Sally
Which of your novels can you imagine made into a movie?
Wheels of Cady Grey is begging to be turned into a film!
What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?
British Library, Chained Library of Wells, Bronte Parsonage (Charlotte Bronte…), Porlock (Coleridge stayed there)
As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
Monkey (pretty much how my characters behave)
What inspired you to write this book?
Funny story, I was supposed to be writing the last book in my science fiction trilogy but instead I got the image of a teenaged girl, underneath an overturned powered wheelchair, with a guy with a gun closing in on her to kill her.
Once that got stuck in my head, I couldn’t write anything else until I’d worked out, who she was, how she got there and why the guy wanted her dead. The result was the Wheels of Cady Grey. Book 3 of my trilogy currently remains unwritten.
What can we expect from you in the future?
Alternate thrillers and SFF, Iain M Banks style.
Do you have any “side stories” about the characters?
No, but I do have a novella, which you get for free for joining the lovely mailing list.
Can you tell us a little bit about the characters in The Wheels of Cady Grey?
Cady Grey – 17 year old girl who smokes too much, swears too much and can’t leave well alone.
Daisy ******* - 16 year old girl, Cady’s best friend, cheery in the face of adversity, tidy, everyone’s Mum (has Down’s Syndrome)
Ed ***** - Cady’s closest male friend. Computer genius. Very focused. Has a long standing, unrequited crush on Cady.
Dave Le Bus – Special School Bus driver and ex-roadie.
Charlie Whizz – The new kid in school. He’s a wheelchair racer and downtrodden by his mother.
How did you come up with the concept and characters for the book?
My youngest daughter goes to a Special Ed School. I felt that people either ignored everyone there or treated them like porcelain dolls. What if the kids there were just normal (spoiler: they are)? What if the thriller came and found them and they were the only ones who knew or cared enough about what was going on to do anything about it? What if that became really dangerous, really quickly?
Where did you come up with the names in the story?
Cadence Grey just leapt into my head. The rest I had to work at!
What did you enjoy most about writing this book?
Revenge. I have many friends and a daughter in the special needs community. Most wheelchair users get treated like crap at some point. I liked being able to get some kind of payback for them, at least in Cady’s one liners!
How did you come up with the title of your first novel?
Just like Cady’s name, it leapt into my head fully formed. It meant I had to get going and write it (no excuses!)
Who designed your book covers?
@betibup33 Also responsible for my SFF Dark Series covers. Totally awesome talent.
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
How long a fire alarm takes to go off. How Un-silent a ‘silencer’ really is.
If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
Someone who’s nobody’s heard of, who’s awesome, dryly funny and a real wheelchair user.
Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
Half of the proceeds go to my daughters two favourite charities. (Childrens Hospice South West, and SWAN_UK)
How did you come up with name of this book?
Cady’s name came to me fully formed, so that was half of it. The rest needed to have the feel it was going to be a series (it is!) and that it would have more episodes. I wanted to get the chair out of the way early, because though it’s only a tool to Cady, to most of the people she meets
What is your favorite part of this book and why?
If you could spend time with a character from your book whom would it be? And what would you do during that day?
Daisy – shopping.
Are your characters based off real people or did they all come entirely from your imagination?
In this story they’re based composites of aspects from other people. Dave le Bus is based on a few traits from a few people I know, not all of whom drive buses.
Do your characters seem to hijack the story or do you feel like you have the reigns of the story?
I think if you create a realistic character, they’re always going to have a life of their own!
Have you written any other books that are not published?
No, but I’ve written some others that have been? My other books are about hobbits in space (The Dark Trilogy) expect some kind of blog tour on here about that next year, if that’s your bag.
If your book had a candle, what scent would it be?
Book pages smell.
What did you edit out of this book?
Not masses actually, for me I made this one quite tightly plotted.
Is there an writer which brain you would love to pick for advice? Who would that be and why?
Would love to meet Neil Gaiman. I’ve always loved his work and how he writes a story. Constantly surprising and constantly rewarding.
Fun Facts/Behind the Scenes/Did You Know?'
The fictional town of Absdowne, is loosely based on Taunton, in Somerset in the UK.
My inspiration for Charlie Whizz is a kid called Jamie Edwards. He’s training for the Paralympics GB Squad as a T34 wheelchair racer and hell he’s fast.
Daisy is inspired by a load of different people, model Kate Grant from Ireland and Ellie Simmonds the medal winning swimmer.
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