Noelle’s Diary

I thought I’d share this with you. It’s Noelle’s diary of every hotel she’s worked in up
until Hotel 21, The Magnolia. I needed to write this, it was a working document,  for continuity and also to keep track of where the various stories in her journey took place.

1. Hotel – 3 star – 3 weeks – Feb 2011 Hastings (brooch)
2. Hotel – 3 star – 3 months – March – June 2011 Reading (glasses case)
3. Hotel – 5 star – I month – July – Sept 2011 Bristol (silk scarf)
4. Hotel – 4 star – 4 months – Oct – Jan 2012 Brighton. Bully. (passport cover)
5. Hotel – 5 star – 3 weeks – Jan – Feb 2012 (finance book) Birmingham
6. Hotel – 4 star – 5 months – Feb – July 2012 (large gold button) Dorset
7. Hotel – 3 star – 8 m – Aug-Mar 2013 – hairpiece/wonky trolley. Notts
8. Hotel – 3 star – 2 months – April – June 2013 Jersey (tin of fruity lip gloss)
9. Hotel – 3 star – 7 mnths – July – Feb 2014 (B’que, silk belt Manchester CWells)
*10. Hotel – 3 star – 7 months – March – Oct 2014 Leeds
*11. Hotel – 4 star – 3 months – Nov – Feb 2015 Lake District (Red cups)
*12. Hotel – 4 star – 6 months – March – Sept 2015 Coventry
13. Hotel – 4 star – 10 mins – September 2015 (going home check out)Oxford
14. Hotel – 3 star – 6 months – Sept – Mar 2016 Liverpool
15. Hotel – 4 star – 7 months Apr – Nov 2016 Cornwall (Mrs. G, pinknail varnish)
16. Hotel – 3 star – 5 months – Nov 2016 – April 2017 Bath
17. Hotel – 3 star – 3 months – May – November 2017 Cardiff (bottle opener)
18. Hotel – 4 star – 5 months – Dec 2017 – May 2018 Eastbourne
19. Hotel – 4 star – 6 months – June – December 2018 Sheffield
20. Hotel – 3 star – 4 weeks – January 2019 Fernsby Manor, Worcester
21. Hotel – 5 star – – Feb 2019 – (The Magnolia, London)

Pitch to Agent Hotel 21

 For anyone who might find this useful or interesting, this is the original pitch I sent to my agent for consideration. She first requested the first 25,000 words, then six weeks later she requested the full manuscript.

Hotel 21

Today is Noelle’s 21 st first day working as a hotel cleaner. But she has a secret. She’s also a kleptomaniac. And in a career spanning nine years, she’s proud to say she has never been caught. She doesn’t see it as stealing as more a “taking of things” that guests won’t notice are missing. Her clearly defined systems and routines and intricate ways of endearing her supervisors and colleagues to her has been perfected over the years into an art form, as she manipulates and plays those around her to facilitate her needs. The five star Magnolia Hotel in London is bursting with wonderful opportunities for the taking of things, and Noelle can’t wait to get her hands on her skeleton key and get access to the lush rooms. That is until she meets the enigmatic Phil who appears to see right through her fake persona, jeopardising Noelle’s ability and fundamental need to carry on with life
the way it was, and the only way she knows how to survive.

As we follow Noelle through her first day at The Magnolia, we journey back through her childhood in South East London to discover how she became a highly skilled kleptomaniac and reader of people’s emotions.

Will Hotel 21 be the start of a new way of life for Noelle?

A deleted scene from Hotel 21

This deleted section was taken from the original opening of chapter 18. During the editing process, as I added extra scenes, I also needed to take away and this section was an easy decision for me.

While I like the heavy, claustrophobic atmosphere of the taxi and Noelle’s panic about what kind of person the taxi driver is, as well as Noelle’s continuing confusion about how to behave around Phil, it’s not essential for moving the story forward, so I cut it.

Instead, we pick up directly outside the Magnolia service entrance as they get out of the taxi. And I probably would have cut it regardless of needing to. Sometimes when I’m writing, I’m finding the emotion, the tone, the next beat in the story. This was one of those times.So while it was necessary for me to write, it was not necessary to include in the final manuscript.

It’s pouring rain and dense, dark clouds hang low and heavy overhead as we run and jump into a taxi outside my flat. The inside of the taxi smells of pine trees. I see the little green tree hanging from the rear view mirror.

“You alright, girls? It’s biblical out there,” says the driver. He has thick curly hair and wears a black T-shirt and has a tattoo on his left lower arm of a majestic lion’s head. We tell him we’re fine and that we’re going to the Magnolia, service entrance, but we’re stopping by Phil’s apartment on the way.

Phil’s make up is smudged under her eyes and her hair is unruly. It’s not the way she normally looks, but I like it. I like any way Phil looks.

The taxi driver pulls up to the top of the road where the traffic is bumper to bumper. I squint out of the rainy window at people stuck in their cars, wiping the inside of their windscreens trying to see where they’re going.

“Shit,” says Phil.

“Don’t panic,” says the driver. “I’ll get you there.” He takes a quick left and then swings right, plunging us into the labyrinth of back streets, one way streets and narrow residential roads with cars parked on both sides. Phil and I face front. I glance at her. She’s staring ahead, eyes on the road and her hand on the seat beside me. I want to reach out and touch her hand, but I’m not sure how she’d react. What if she took her hand away? I bet she holds hands with Freddy. Freddy’s face flashes into my mind.

We’re soul mates, his voice echoes in my head. Bile rises in the back of my throat. I swallow and wish I could open the window a little for fresh air but the rain is still torrential.

The taxi wheels grind over the gravel as we pull into the car park outside Phil’s apartment building. I’ll only be a minute, she says, and climbs out, key at the ready and dashes inside. I stay in the taxi.

Phil was right, in the grey light of day, her apartment complex does look like a hospital with its smooth white facades and small windows. It feels clinical and sterile.

The taxi driver’s phone rings and he pops his earphones in to take the call. I guess straight away he’s on the phone to his wife or girlfriend. I can just about hear a female voice through the speakers. They’re discussing tiles for their bathroom. She wants black but he wants to stick with the dark blue ones they already agreed on.

“We don’t want it to look like a funeral home,” he says. She must have disagreed because he has to qualify his statement.

“I just mean it’s too black.” She’s supposed to be buying the tiles they agreed on but now that she’s actually in the shop, she prefers the black. He wants to know what the sales guy thinks. The taxi driver shakes his head. The sales guy obviously thinks black are better too. He drums his fingers on the steering wheel and tries again to persuade her to stick with the blue tiles.

He’s aware of me sitting in the back, so he’s controlling himself. I shift in my seat, feeling hot. I’m worried things might kick off between them. What if he’s a violent man? What if he threatens her on the phone? What will I do? Maybe she’ll hang up on him. Maybe it’s him that’ll get it later from her.

He goes quiet and stops drumming his fingers. He takes a deep breath. I take one too. “You know what, babe? Get the black, yeah?” Now she’s worried he won’t like them but from the intonation in his voice I know he’s being genuine.

“I mean it. Let’s go for it. You like them, which means I probably will. I’ll see you later. Love ya too.” He hangs up, looks at me in the rear view mirror and smiles.

“Sorry ‘bout that. Bathroom tiles. Can’t let something like that ruin your marriage.” I return the smile, relieved to have been wrong about him.

The rain has eased in the last few minutes and the sky is brightening up a little. Phil gets back in the taxi, holding her bag and jacket in one hand and a piece of buttered bread in the other.

“Thanks for waiting.”

“No worries, love,” says the driver. “It’s clearing up now.”

We pull out of the car park and onto the road. Phil was gone no more than seven minutes but the transformation is spectacular. She’s changed into a crisp white shirt and a tight black skirt. Her inky, silky hair is twisted into a messy roll at the back of her head and two strands fall either side of her face, caressing her smooth cheeks. She has black button earrings in her delicate lobes and a thick, dark pink gloss on her lips.

“You look beautiful,” I whisper, in awe of her effortless elegance. She offers me a bite of her bread and butter. I shake my head and remove a loose hair from her shoulder as she puts the last bit of crust in her mouth. She throws me a cheeky grin. It’s enough to keep me going for now.

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