Nicola Monaghan won a Betty Trask Award, the Authors’ Club Best First Novel Award and the Waverton Good Read for her first novel, The Killing Jar. She also wrote The Troll, The Night Lingers and other stories, Starfishing and The Okinawa Dragon and has been published widely in newspapers, magazines and anthologies. Her short films have starred household names like Steven Arnold and Brendan Coyle. She teaches Creative Writing at De Montfort University.

As a Story Terrace writer, Nicola interviews customers and turns their life stories into books. Get to know her better: you can read an autobiographical story of her own below. Get in touch today to work with her!

It was a lovely August evening in 2001 and I was walking home in Evanston, Illinois. I’d been drinking with friends, and decided that I would leave my job in a round of redundancies that were being negotiated. I was mildly tipsy and, as I walked through an alleyway not far from my apartment, I saw my colleague, friend and president of the company, Andreas, coming towards me. We stopped to chat.

“They’re trying to demote me,” he said. “They’ve offered me the role of managing the New York office.”

I shook my head. I liked the New York Office but it was really clear to me. “You can’t take it,” I said. “Don’t let them do that to you.”

Andreas nodded, a grave look on his face. He walked to the office and wrote his resignation there and then.

A few weeks later, I woke up in a hotel room in Chicago, having left my job and the apartment that went with it. I was part way through preparations to move back to London.

I turned on the TV as I got dressed. This wasn’t usual for me and I still don’t know why I did it. Every channel was tuned to the news. And there it was. Our New York office, with a plane sticking out of the side of the building. I stared at the television screen. Our office was on the 86th floor. This did not look good.

I paced the room and tried to call people. I couldn’t reach anyone. I left the hotel and made my way towards my old workplace. There were very few people out and about and they were all heading home, their faces drawn and pale. No one was in our tower block when I got there; it had been evacuated. I finally got in touch with my friend Rebekah. Most of my New York colleagues had been accounted for, but there were two people they were still trying to reach. A little later, I heard they’d found those two, safe and well.

If Andreas had moved there, he’d have been in that building. If he’d been there as manager, all of the staff would have been there in plenty of time for the 9 a.m. start of the day. But he hadn’t. And they weren’t. None of my colleagues died that day. I had accidentally saved them.


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