The moment of genesis was strong, a cell of creativity that divided and multiplied until there was life. He had barely any substance at all. Just a space in the narrative for a protagonist of some sort.
She began writing then and there, raising her head occasionally to nod so her colleagues would think she was taking notes about the meeting itself. Every now and then she would arch a brow and shake her head or rub her chin while frowning, or tap the table with her lips pressed tightly together. She called it her boardroom technique: the kind of lawyerly intimations of consideration that made people feel better regardless. It was Madeleine's conviction that her clients demanded the presence of their lawyers at these meetings not because they needed them, or even planned to listen to them, but because the legal profession was a kind of security blanket. She was paid for what she called corporate hand-holding, and the nature of Madeleine was such that she was not too proud to admit it.
In that meeting she discovered just one thing about him, but, oh, what a thing! What a perfect link! He was a writer. It was their connection. He would see the world as she did: in stories, or potential stories, in vignettes and themes. He would judge people as characters, each with their own story. They would look upon his world together.
She called him Edward McGinnity. His friends would call him Ned.
He was twenty-eight when she found him, a young man with the world at his feet and no idea of how he should step into it.
Edward McGinnity had always known he would write. It was as natural to him as breathing, and he suspected the consequences of stopping would be as dire. In his mind there had always been epics, tales that carried on the books he could not bear to end, and new stories with conglomerate characters and modified plots. Eventually he'd picked up a pen.
At first he'd written poetry, as adolescents do. Learned to weave words with angst and defiance and heartbreak. Those old verses embarrassed him now—melodramatic, flowery, pretentious—but every so often there was one line, one phrase that was clear and strong and perfect. As he grew into a man, Edward McGinnity learned to pull back, to leave the louder things unsaid, to call out to the whispers once drowned in waves of passionate literary excess. And he found new stories and a desire to be read.
Maintained by an inheritance, an income born of tragedy, Edward lived well. He did so quietly, aware that the ability to write unencumbered from the first was too enviable to be broadcast, too likely to invite failure as a karmic balancing of luck.
He was sitting on his deck with a notebook and a glass of red when her story first struck him. He knocked over the glass in his haste to grab the pen beside it, allowing the wine to soak and stain the decking timbers as he tried to pin the thought onto his page with ink. In time he stood and paced as he wrote, stopping occasionally to laugh, so giddy was he with the discovery of her. He knew she was a writer before he knew her name.
Madeleine called Hugh that evening, as she did every evening that work took her away. The custom was more utilitarian than romantic—should she pick up milk in Ashwood?—that sort of thing. But this night she was exhilarated, and she loved Hugh Lamond more for the fact that she could share it with him. She knew she was babbling, but the idea was powerful now. It pulled new ideas towards it, building a world of characters and themes and events around itself. Hugh seemed a little bewildered at first, but perhaps whatever it was that possessed Madeleine was infectious, for soon he had suggestions and thoughts. She told him about Edward McGinnity, her well-heeled writer.
"But this is going to be a murder mystery, isn't it?" Hugh asked.
"So he's a crime writer?"
"No. Edward writes literary novels...the kind of worthy, incomprehensible stuff that wins awards." Madeleine paced with the phone, unable to physically contain her excitement. "That's the irony, you see. The hero of my crime fiction wouldn't lower himself to read—let alone write—the stuff himself. He's a serious artist."
"But if he were a crime writer, he'd know what to do to solve the crime."
"That's too predictable, Hugh. The fact that he is so out of place in crime fiction will make it interesting."
"Fair enough. Perhaps his family shouldn't approve of his writing?" Hugh ventured.
Madeleine smiled, touched that he was so interested. "But why wouldn't they approve?"
"They might want him to be a doctor. You know, there aren't enough books about doctors."