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Painting Her Nails

We’re just a week away from the release of Mandarins, and an excerpt from the novella is now online. On the eve of a dangerous mission to Hong Kong, we join our indefatigable hero Stephanie Shylock as she prepares for battle… by painting her nails.

No, seriously. Nails are important. She moisturizes too.

At last, after thirty-something novels of military science fiction and alternate history, I’ve finally built up enough confidence to tackle the serious issue of hand care. What is it the kids say… achievement unlocked? Here’s a tease of my searingly good insight into manicurism:

So just like most other girls her age, she was sitting at the table, listening to the radio and painting her nails. It could have been a scene from any home in fashionable St. John’s…

“Your nail polish smells like gun oil,” Alex was passing the dining table, and she dropped that remark as she headed to the kitchen for a snack. It had been nearly an hour since lunch, so she was overdue.

“No, my gun oil smells like gun oil,” Stephanie corrected helpfully, nodding towards the Hi-Power that was sitting on the table just beyond the nail polish.

It had already been stripped, cleaned, oiled and reassembled, because as much as she wanted her hands to get equal favor, Stephanie always put the needs of her pistol first. Her nail polish wouldn’t have stood a chance if she reversed the order, anyway.

Check out the full excerpt here.

Admittedly, this sequence might have less to do with hand care, and more to do with insights from world champion Julie Golob about the impact of regular pistol-shooting on one’s digits… but let’s not spoil my supposed triumph with such practicalities.

You can look for more beautification tips in Mandarins, which launches next Tuesday, July 30, 2013. You won’t find any, but you can look.