Death Of 1000 Cuts is a podcast for anyone who wants to know how to write a novel. Each episode we look at a listener’s first page and suggest ways of making it better.

But you know all that, right? This week I’m joined by author Nikesh Shukla, writer of Coconut Unlimited and Meatspace. Yes, those are Amazon links; no, you shouldn’t buy his novels from the flesh-eating elder god, but you can read what they’re about there then get them from a retailer who doesn’t lie in dreamless slumber beneath the ocean, absorbing the planet’s vital force and sowing the seeds of discord until one day it bursts forth and consumes the sun. Go into your local bricks-and-mortar. Or get them from Hive.

I’m sorry that I’m such a waffling discursive boor on this episode. Apparently I’d made a pledge to match every salient, helpful point made by Nikesh with a honking laugh or a comment of ‘yes, that’s interesting’. That’s why the conversation runs long. But he gives a bunch of great advice that I don’t completely ruin. So please persevere.

If you’d like to submit to the show, please read the submission guidelines. The ‘Contact Me’ link through which you can email me is on the right of this page.

Below is the text of the extract we – eventually – discuss in this week’s episode. I hope you enjoy it!

Untitled (by Kamil)

On a cloud overlooking Seattle, Malachi, the avenging angel, smoked a cigarette in peace. The lights below twinkled patterns. Cars, with their headlights blaring, struck across the I-90  like shooting stars.

Malachi chuckled. In God’s Infinite Wisdom, he taught his children to ape the majesty of his host. What a pretentious asshole.

Malachi had with him a patio sling lawn chair he’d stolen from a Wal-Mart. The wind pulled at Malachi’s long, wavy mohawk and clinked the buttons on his bomber jacket. It was perfect except Malachi could faintly hear distant hymns and the twang of angelic harps. The chorus was constant up in Heaven.

He heard the shuffling of feet behind him and turned to see Maroel, the compliant. Maroel was short for an angel. His voice was high-pitched and reedy which disqualified him from the angelic chorus. He’d never had much of a handle on wielding divine wrath. The fires of creation, in his hands, were more the warmish embers of impotence. His total lack of skill relegated him to the position of God’s Messenger, which meant Malachi only saw him when God wanted something.

“Where have you been?” shrilled Maroel, walking around to look his target in the face. “We’ve been looking all over for you.” Maroel glared at the space above Malachi’s head. “Where’s your halo?”

Malachi took another drag on his cigarette, “I tossed it into a crater on Ganymede. Why? Is it harder for the Almighty’s hunting dogs to track me if I haven’t got it on?”

Maroel began to hyperventilate. “God has an important message for you.”

“Tell him I said ‘no.’”