Author Interview: J.E. Reed #fantasy #newrelease #runningwiththewolves @J_E_Reed_author @bhcpressbooks

Today I’m fortunate to present J.E. Reed author of Running with the Wolves.

Question 1) What part of the world do you come from? 

JE_ReedI live on the outskirts of Cincinnati, OH.

Question 2) What do you think makes a good story? 

Character. I love it when a story develops a character through adversity. Watching as someone grows up or grows stronger and gets through whatever they are facing is inspiring and I never get tired of it.

Question 3) What inspired you to write your first book? 

I’ve always had a passion for writing, but oddly enough it was gaming that inspired my first published work. The new craze is virtual reality and we’ve seen movies/books that depict people in that environment, but the technology is always involved. I wanted to create a story where people are trapped in a sort of gaming world, but without technology’s interference. Kind of ironic, I know.

Question 4) What is your work schedule like when you’re writing? 

Messily organized. I’m a pantzer, which means I don’t outline and just write on the fly. My characters determine the direction of the story. Naturally, this has its draw backs as I’m forced to write more drafts to get everything right, but I feel like the story has better flow when I just let my imagination take over. I strive to write 3000 words a day when I’m working through a draft.

Question 5) What would you say is your interesting writing quirk? 

Sticky notes, they’re everywhere.

Question 6) Give us the title and genre of your latest book. 

Running with the Wolves is the title of my fantasy debut novel and I’m very excited to share it with the world.

Question 7) What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your book? 

Running with the Wolves has a medieval setting. Due to this I’ve done research on that era, but I’ve also done a lot of research on various survival methods and tools. One of the more interesting things I learned was how to pick up someone who is dead weight. Have you ever tried to pick someone up from the ground? It’s hard and if you’re in a situation where you have to move fast, it creates a problem. There is a roll technique that enables you to grab the hurt/unconscious individual and stand with them on your shoulders. Yes, I’ve practiced this haha. You can check it out here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KPrATJ-u5Rg

Question 8) Do you have an excerpt from your current work you’d like to share? 

Chapter 1

Unknown

Realm: 1

Day: 1

Running_With_the_Wolves_JE_Reed.jpg

Lying in bed, the chatter caused her mind to stir from that blissful place that lingers on the edge of dreams. It was too loud, too early. She rolled over, the fog slowly clearing as voices turned to song, birds greeting the morning sun. Strange how they’d never woken her before.

She groaned, reaching for a pillow, but something stung her fingertip, and she jolted. A small droplet of blood formed on the tip of her index finger. Her heart thundered as she looked at the culprit and then her surroundings.

This wasn’t her room.

Instead of cool sheets and a soft bed, she lay on dead leaves and grass, the musty forest scent filling her nostrils. White walls were replaced by an endless array of trees that blotted out the sun, save for a few rays that fought their way through.

 

 

She blinked, pushing herself up.

Am I still dreaming?

Her finger pulsed as she scanned the vicinity, and fear crawled into her mind.

Nothing.

No fire, no tent or tracks. Nothing that indicated civilization existed.

Surely someone had to be here, someone could explain—wait, had she been abducted?

Who would want to kidnap her? Why wasn’t she bound if that were the case? The list of reasons for waking in the middle of a forest were slim. Abduction, a lapse in memory, a vacation gone horribly wrong.

She stood, using a tree for support, but dizziness rocked her back. She leaned her head against the trunk, waiting for the spell to pass.

Small specks flew across her vision. Abduction seemed the most likely of scenarios, but where were her captors? Could a drug explain her lapse in memory?

The last thing she could recall was dressing for bed. The girl examined herself, pleased to find shorts and a tee-shirt rather than pajamas. Brown hair hung loose around tan shoulders, and nothing around her wrists indicated she’d been bound. The only odd possession she carried was a little bracelet with leather threaded around a small blue stone. White veins traced a sky-colored surface like cracks of lightning.

Unease settled in her gut at the name etched on its surface.

Kiuno

It was a surrogate name. Something she used for gaming and online activities. Few knew her—

She paused. Her name. She couldn’t remember her name…

What’s going on?

Her throat tightened as she slumped against the tree again, fighting back tears. She was alone and didn’t know her own name. What were the odds?

She took a deep breath, trying to steady her racing heart.

Stay calm.

A forest in mid-summer wasn’t so bad.

Summer? Wasn’t it only January?

Her heart pounded faster as she realized one of two possibilities. Either time had passed without her knowledge, or she was further from home than she imagined.

Calm down. Think.

Summer, okay. Food would be easy. She’d a spent a lot of time camping and experimented with a few survival techniques. That would help as long as she could remember them.

She glanced back at the name on her wrist. She tried to picture her husband calling when dinner was ready or when he needed her to fetch something from the house, but every time the recollection came close it eased away again. Like a cloud hanging over her mind. Maybe she’d recall it later. For now, Kiuno would have to do.

Knee-high foliage surrounded large trees, and fur covered vines snaked their way up the trunks. Thick air caused sweat to roll down her neck. She needed to find water.

Kiuno made her way through the foreign forest and allowed herself to become lost in its beauty. Heavy, snarled roots spread across the ground, connecting each tree in an endless network. Small animals eyed her with curiosity before scurrying beneath the brush.

It would have been the perfect painting.

Hours passed, and the temperature continued to rise as mosquitoes and other insects nipped at her skin. Beauty was turning to nightmare.

Kiuno stopped to catch her breath and plopped on a fallen log. Sweat rolled down her face as she tried to lift her hair for some relief. She was no stranger to the outdoors, but didn’t remember camping ever being so miserable.

She looked at the sun. Had someone noticed her missing yet? Surely her boss would call home regarding her absence. Her husband would know something was up.

Standing, she took another breath, wiped the sweat from her brow and started walking again, the dry patch in her throat a nagging reminder. Using the tree roots, Kiuno slid down a small hill and finally heard the sound she’d been searching for. Running water.

She made her way around a few more trees to find clear water cascading down a rocky cliff that stood twice the size of any person. The river stretched twenty feet across and flowed with a steady pace. Thick brush and cattail lined the bank, and a large piece of rock lay just below the falls, its previous fixture visible above.

Rushing to the water’s edge, Kiuno cupped her hands, the cool liquid easing her scratchy throat. She splashed more on her legs to ease the itchy bites.

Deep colored pebbles lined the river bank with small water plants growing between them. Little fish played among the foliage and larger stones. If she could catch one that would resolve her growling stomach.

Before worrying too much about food, Kiuno hoisted herself onto the fallen rock, slipping a few times on the green moss. She looked down river, hoping for some sign of civilization, but it only renewed her sense of dread. Forest extended for miles.

Her stomach flipped, and she sank down, drawing her knees into her chest.

Trapped. Alone.

Kiuno stayed there for some time wrestling with ideas. She had water, first priority taken care of. The river would provide food, and it wasn’t as though she’d be there forever.

Despite some optimism, her nervousness grew with the looming shadows. Beings seemed to form and vanish as evening played on her fears. It was too late to build a fire, but at least a tree would be safer than the ground.

Glancing between branches, Kiuno found one that split, creating a nook just big enough for her to squeeze in. She rested her back against the biggest branch and watched the orange glow dip below the horizon. Her stomach growled, her skin itched, and every sound made her jump and recheck her surroundings. She curled into herself, trying to reason the shadows were nothing more than the reflections of trees.

Question 9) What can we expect from you in the future?   

Currently, I’m working on the sequel to Running with the Wolves and I hope to finish it as a trilogy. Beyond that I have ideas for dragons, kitsune and pirates. It’s just a matter of picking which one to work on first.

Question 10) What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?  

A developmental editor. There is literally no better money spent. They’re not your friends and they know what to look for. A good editor will tell you what needs to be fixed and they aren’t afraid to hurt your feelings. You might think your book is good enough, but give it to a good developmental editor and they’ll make it shine.

Question 11) How can we contact you or find out more about your books? 

Visit my publisher’s website www.bhcpress.com to learn more about me http://www.bhcpress.com/Author_J_E_Reed.html and Running with the Wolves http://www.bhcpress.com/Books_Reed_Running_With_the_Wolves.html

Love social media?

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/J.E.Reed.author/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/J_E_Reed_author

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jereed_kiuno/

 

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Author Interview with J.W. Garrett, author of Remeon’s Destiny @garrettjlw @bhcpressbooks #ya #fantasy #scifi

Today I’m fortunate to present  J.W. Garrett, author of Remeon’s Destiny.

Question 1) What part of the world do you come from?

DjMPNbfU8AIIWgtI live in the Jacksonville, FL area, but I’m originally from Lexington, VA.

Question 2) What do you think makes a good story?

There are so many elements that need to be blended together to create a great story: fully developed characters with needs and desires, lots of conflict, and a strong emotional connection throughout the story especially.

Question 3) What inspired you to write your first book?

For as long as I can remember I’ve written, at first, poetry and short stories. Thomas, the main character in Remeon’s Destiny was inspired by my father, who also wrote poetry throughout his lifetime.

Question 4) What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?

I set a writing goal for each day and write six days a week.

Question 5) What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

My characters routinely wake me up during the night, so when that happens I write, often late into the early morning. It can make for some really long days!

Question 6) Give us the title and genre of your latest book.

Remeons_Destiny_JW_Garrett_FC_WebRemeon’s Destiny; YA Fantasy / Sci fi. It’s the first in a series titled, Realms of Chaos.

Question 7) What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your book?

I would say how emotionally attached you become to your characters and world. It’s a little disconcerting, especially to those around you, so I’ve been told…

Question 8) Do you have an excerpt from your current work you’d like to share?

Link to blog post: https://bhcpresspublishing.com/2018/06/19/read-an-excerpt-remeons-destiny-by-j-w-garrett/

Question 9) What can we expect from you in the future?

Well, Book 2 in my YA fantasy series is in the editing process. I’ll begin plotting book 3 in the very near future.

Question 10) What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?

Editing for sure! That extra set of eyes from a different perspective is a true gift!

Question 11) How can we contact you or find out more about your books?

Visit me at my publisher’s website – link below to my author page

https://bit.do/Garrett-RemeonsDestiny-order

Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/garrettjlw

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17913503.J_W_Garrett

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jennifergarrettwriter

Website: https://www.jwgarrett.com

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jlwgarrett

Best and Worst Things About Being a Writer, and Ten Things I Wish Every Aspiring Writer Knew by @Laire_McKinney @XpressoTours @BHCPressBooks #Tuesdaybookblog #bookblitz #newrelease #fantasy #destinyfulfilled #womensfiction #romance #faeries #druids #writingadvice

Destiny Fulfilled
Laire McKinney
Publication date: August 7th 2018
Genres: Adult, Fantasy, Romance

Only love can save them…

Wren O’Hara is waiting for the day she succumbs to mental illness like her mother. When she is attacked by a psychotic client at work, and saved by what must be an angel, she fears the time for insanity has come.

Little does she know, her savior is an immortal warrior druid named Riagan Tenman, and that he will challenge everything she ever thought she knew about reality.

Now Wren must decide if the fantasy unfolding before her is true, or if she has finally lost her mind.

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / iBooks / Kobo

Guest Post by Laire McKinney:

Best and Worst Things About Being a Writer, and Ten Things I Wish Every Aspiring Writer Knew

The best things about being a writer are seeing my name in print, fulfilling a childhood fantasy, and letting my mind run wild, knowing it will only make a story better.

The worst things about being a writer are the slow pace of publishing, the uncertainty of any outcome, and the at-times debilitating self-doubt.

Ten Things I Wish Every Aspiring Writer Knew:

1. Your first attempt at a novel will not likely be the one. (There are always exceptions, but I know several authors who did not snag the publishing contract until book #2…or #3…or #4…). As for me, I was offered a contract on the second full-length novel I wrote, but that was already two years into the writing experience. One year was spent writing the novel that will never been seen. The second year was writing the one that got published. It is not a quick-turnaround business so reevaluate if that’s what you seek.

2. Community matters. I am as introverted and socially-awkward as they come, but I do venture out to writers’ groups and conferences, and am active on online forums. Having a peer group is essential to survival. I use them to bounce off plot ideas, to beta read, to cheer me on when I’ve been given good news, to cheer me up when I’ve been given bad news.

3. And there is a lot of bad news, so thicken that skin. Rejections. Rejections. Rejections. Then if you do land the contract and sail your way (via tumultuous seas) to the published novel, then there are the reviews—hopefully good, sometimes bad, occasionally downright mean. Then, if you’re one of the few, you’ll sell a lot of copies and make a lot of money. Most of us are somewhere in the middle, and this can vary month to month. Sometimes you might very well find yourself at the bottom and that sucks but it’s reality.

4. Do not be competitive with your peers. My writer friends have been some of the most supportive and encouraging and non-competitive people I could hope to know. A perfect example: I was at a workshop and the speaker wanted those in attendance to create a story together. Her disclaimer: do not worry that someone will steal the idea you’ve thrown out. Even if they started with that idea, their story will be vastly different from yours. Not to say there isn’t plagiarism and piracy, but among the writers you choose to call friends, be supportive and encouraging. You’ll appreciate that when it’s reflected back to you.

5. Be fearless. There is something to be said for writing for the masses. Agents and publishers know what’s trending, what has sold in the past, what is expected to sale in the future. But there is always the break-out novel that’s just different. In a cookie-cutter world, be a free-styling carver and you’ll land on your mark. (I hope that last statement makes sense!)

6. Enjoy the writing. I know from personal experience if I get bogged down in the business of writing (which you must learn), then I lose the creativity. It’s a balance. You can’t have one without the other, and if you no longer find you enjoy it, take a step back and write something for your pleasure only. There is a chance it might very well be your best yet.

7. You will have to spend money marketing, even if you have a publishing contract with a big agency. You need a website, social media, head shot, etc. It helps to join one or more organizations. I’m a member of Romance Writers of America (an excellent place to begin), as well as Women’s Fiction Writers. If you write YA, there is Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.

8. If you want to write a genre but are embarrassed or afraid of how it’ll impact your day job or your image, use a pen name. It’s all good, but it’s best to decide that before you get published. If you want to write erotica, it’ll be hard to turn around and write YA under the same name. Not impossible, but tricky.

9. Understand there will be times when the words do not flow, the mind will not concentrate, and the writing timeline falls by the wayside. This happens to me all the time. I have three children, a dog, a hubs, a job, and sometimes it’s just not happening. What do I do? I don’t stress about it. It could be a day, a week, sometimes a month. That recharging period will help you come back renewed.

10. Writers are often introverts. I know I am, and I love to live in my head, to watch tv alone. I love to be in my house when it’s as quiet as an early morning in snowy December. But living your life is essential to good writing. We need experiences to draw from, ideas that simmer and stew and eventually become plot…we need to live life so we can retreat and create.

If you’ve already stepped onto the writerly path, what suggestions would you give to a new writer?

Many thanks for hosting me today. Cheers, Laire.

 

Author Bio:

Laire McKinney is the author of contemporary and fantasy women’s fiction. She believes in a hard-earned happily-ever-after, with nothing more satisfying than passionate kisses and sexy love scenes, endearing characters and complex conflict. When not writing, she can be found traipsing among the wildflowers, reading under a willow tree, or gazing at the moon while pondering the meaning of it all. She lives in Virginia with her family and beloved rescue pup, Lila da Bean.

Website / Facebook / Twitter

 

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Author Interview with @BenjamHope! #gothic #steampunk #Victorian #alchemy

Today I’m excited to present Benjamin Hope, author of The Procurement of Souls. As a fan of alchemy, the premise of his novel intrigued me, and after reading the first chapter, it’s definitely on my to-be-read list!

Benjamin HopeQuestion 1) What part of the world do you come from?

I’m from Hertfordshire, just north of London, in the UK.

Question 2) What do you think makes a good story?

Good stories immerse the reader in their world. In order to do this most effectively, I think narratives need to have strongly imagined characters through which the reader can understand and experience this world. By strongly imagined, I mean characters who develop and grow through the arc of the story; who are fallible in one way or another; and who have a strong sense of purpose, a goal to achieve (and even better if this shifts or changes along the way!), and problems to overcome. In this way, characters not only allow the reader to connect more personally to the story but also drive the pace forward and craft the shape of the plot.

Question 3) What inspired you to write your first book?

I’ve always been inspired to write, even as a very young boy. Although, my first attempt at a full-length novel came when I was about 18 – it was a disaster! I was trying to write with somebody else’s voice; to emulate an author rather than allowing my own natural style develop. It wasn’t until later on, after I truly felt that I had found my voice that I came up with a seed of an idea for The Procurement of Souls. It kept on resurfacing, like an itch that wouldn’t be scratched until I finally put fingers to the keyboard and started getting it down. I can’t say what the inspiration was exactly, only that I have always loved history and fantasy-sci-fi and I suppose those loves combined into an initial idea kept growing until I had the bones of my first novel!

Question 4) What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?

Well, I have a full-time job and an 8-month-old baby, so more recently I’ve been fitting it in as and when I can – lunchtimes, weekends, evenings, etc. I’ve also been on shared parental leave in Berlin for the last couple of months (with my wife’s work) and I’ve been very fortunate to have my mother-in-law with us too, which has enabled me to get cracking with my sequel in between changing nappies!

Question 5) What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

It’s not so much a quirk as an interesting circumstance, but my wife is an opera singer and so travels a lot with her profession. This means that I’m quite often a mobile writer! The Procurement of Souls was written in London, Madrid, Paris, Vienna, and Berlin! In fact, I finished my first draft of PoS in a smoky café in Vienna – I felt like Hemmingway!

Question 6) Give us the title and genre of your latest book.

My debut, The Procurement of Souls, had its official launch on 1stJuly. It’s a Victorian-gothic-steampunk crossover about the exploits of two opposing bio-alchemists.

Question 7) What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your book?

The fact that finishing a complete first draft of a novel is only the beginning of the journey! When you get there, it’s an amazing feeling and one that every writer should be proud of, but then comes the re-writes, the overhauls, the re-jigs, the additions, the exclusions, the copy-editing etc. As an indie author, you are reliant on a huge amount of self-discipline and of course it’s exceptionally hard to be objective with your work – you quickly become ‘snow-blind’ to the words on the page – both in terms of content and technical accuracy and without access to, or the means to employ, a professional editor, the ability to ensure all aspects of the narrative is a good as it can be, is a real challenge. I am a self-confessed perfectionist and to ensure that The Procurement of Soulsreflected the very best of me, I turned to a number of people I knew who could objectify my work, provide that much needed brutally honest feedback and eliminate any technical errors too. 

Question 8) Do you have an excerpt from your current work you’d like to share?

Procurement of Souls Benjamin Hope Cover Art slim.jpgI think it’s best to start at the beginning, so here’s chapter 1!

*CONTAINS EXPLETIVES*

The whites of two wide eyes were all that could be seen in the splinter of light that passed through the crack in the swollen doorjamb. Dr Weimer observed in silence the blind panic that radiated from them as they darted one way and then another, desperately trying to place themselves. The fear was pungent. Smells like he’s soiled himself, he thought with distastebefore throwing open the door and illuminating the room with such a contrasting brightness that the man in the chair audibly gasped.

‘Mr Wade,’ Dr Weimer began as he stepped inside, ‘you must forgive the enforced and abrupt manner in which we make one another’s acquaintance. I dare say that having a bag thrust upon one’s head unexpectedly is most unpleasant and disconcerting.’ His tone was saccharine; sugared with false sincerity. ‘But unfortunately, you hold in your possession something I require. Something important. Something personal.’ He smiled at him, his fat lips parting obtusely and revealing a row of white but stubby teeth, spread with almost uniform gapping in a blood-red gum, before pushing his circular glass frames further up the bridge of his nose with deliberate precision. ‘Nevertheless, this is the situation we find ourselves in.’ He moved a little closer towards him and noticed with curiosity and self-acknowledged satisfaction how the man visibly shrank at his advance.

Wade felt his throat constrict at this sudden and disturbing entrance. Panic took a slightly firmer grip and he tried pressing with all his strength against the back of the chair, to no avail.

His mind clutched at words to try to rescue himself from the situation. ‘Alright, alright, I’ll do whatever you want. Just untie me and I’ll promise to –’ but he felt his voice catch, his mouth dry to gravel. He simply couldn’t seem to keep his sense of dread in check. He’d been in precarious situations before but this whole scenario seemed different. The moment he’d been taken and heard the purr of that woman’s accented voice in his ear, it was clear this was out of the ordinary. This man too; the smell of the place – acrid and chemical – was all wrong. He cursed inwardly for not keeping his cool. It was normally him doing the intimidating, yet his pulse continued to spiral higher as sweat pooled at the nape of his neck and thoughts of what this could be about flickered across his mind’s-eye like a flip-book. ‘Listen,’ he implored, ‘listen. I don’t know what it is you think I have but if you untie me, I promise to help you. I have connections. You just need to untie me first and –’

He was cut off with a single word. ‘No,’ the man said, savouring the roundness of the vowel before continuing. ‘That won’t be possible, I’m afraid. After I explain our situation further, I happen to know you’ll be rather less obliging of my needs. Untying you would be entirely counter-productive.’

Wade snorted a number of times in quick succession. Why him? Why now? It had occurred to him that this could be some vengeful intimidation strategy being exacted upon him by some enemy or other. God knows there were plenty of those. Somebody he’d cheated maybe? Perhaps a harbour-master from one of the dock sites he’d failed a run for? But although a good number of possibilities came to mind, not one seemed to fit this particular glove and looking up at this piggy-eyed psychopath in his pristine white apron, illicit goods and aggrieved dockers appeared to be the least of his worries. No, this was something different and strange: it sickened him to the gut. And as he looked wildly around for some hope of an escape, he thought he began to connect a number of the dots.

A surgeon’s operating table stood in the middle of the room with a tray of instruments waiting next to it. Beside that, a tangle of transparent tubes articulated with rubber joints led to a brass-coloured sphere the size of a carriage with a dozen or so pistons sticking out at a diagonal on either side. Bile rose in his throat.

‘What is this? What are you – a doctor? A surgeon? What do you want from me?’ Anxiety had forced his larynx so far up that the words barely squeaked out. He pulled upwards desperately with his wrists to try and loosen his manacles. ‘I… I really have nothing… nothing worth taking.’

‘That you know of, Mr Wade, that you know of. We all have something worth giving. You need to calm down or you’ll cut your hands to shreds. It’s surgical wire, not yarn; I don’t want you bleeding out.’

‘But… but what could you possibly need me for? I’ve told you, I have nothing to my name, I’m just a… a… nobody.’ He frothed at the mouth a little.

The doctor’s eyes narrowed tightly to slits. ‘That’s precisely why you’re here. You’ve no family either from what I’m told?’

‘Wha-what? No! I don’t – I – fuck! Please! Don’t cut me open! Don’t take my organs, I –’

‘Mr Wade, nobody is going to cut anybody open. What possible use could I have with your organs? I’m not some vulgar anatomist looking to advance his expertise. We shan’t be on the table today. What I want is much more valuable than that.’ He walked abruptly behind his chair and unlocked the wheels. ‘And it’s time to start the preparations.’

Wade’s chair took a sudden jerk backwards and he came face-to-face with his tormenter. He felt the floor slip away beneath him and heard the grumble and squeak of the casters as he was wheeled beside the bed.

‘Now, I should warn you that you may feel a certain degree of discomfort, Mr Wade. It’s perfectly normal. I just need to support your neck a little.’

Mr Wade screamed. Something was clamped suddenly about his thick neck, rigid and tall, pulling his vertebrae fully erect. Cold steel pressed against his skin and held him there unnaturally straight. His hands squirmed despite himself, the wire cutting into more flesh. He had been rendered absolutely useless, and despite his muscular, bullish frame, he was quite at this malefactor’s mercy: a pathetic fly wound tight in the spider’s web.

‘Forgive me,’ continued the doctor, ‘just a precautionary measure to ensure the tubing doesn’t shatter mid-journey. It’s imperative your oesophagus remains in one piece.’ He unhooked a length of tubing from the stand and held one end up to the bare light. An evil metal barb, like the tail of a stingray, flashed as he turned it slowly in his gloved hand. ‘Now listen, you’re an exceedingly large man and I would suggest that the stiller you are, the easier this will all be and the fewer accidents we are likely to have. Open your mouth please, wide.’

Wade’s eyes took on the appearance of twin new moons crossing each other’s orbits as the metal end came towards him.

‘Your mouth, Mr Wade.’

A spike of pain burned unexpectedly at his side forcing him into an involuntary gasp and in that instant the end of the tube found itself secreted at the back of his mouth. He tasted the cold tang of metal briefly on his tongue before it passed back and slipped down into his throat and further still. He gagged to no relief. His tongue lolled inadequately to one side.

The doctor put the scalpel he’d been holding back on the table. ‘Now take slow steady breaths. You will manage that if you remain calm.’

Down the tubing went, like some uninvited serpent, all the way until he felt it in the pit of his belly. The doctor held the other end up vertically above him and with a curt nod looped it through a fine wire coil dangling from the ceiling.

‘Well, we’re in place and anchored at your core. So, let’s begin.’

The syringe was not like anything Wade had ever seen before. For one thing, the needle was curved, and flexed at the touch.

‘We need to introduce the antithesis of what we require in order to act as a lure. It is the simplicity of opposite attraction.’ The doctor held the syringe a little higher and squirted a touch of the scum-coloured fluid into a kidney-shaped tray. ‘Human brain to be precise, mixed with a unique compound of my own design – the cerebrum is quite dead you see and just what we need to draw our target out.’ He depressed the plunger, introducing the liquid steadily into the tubing. This he unlatched from the wire loop and secured the opposite end to a panel at the bottom of the brass sphere behind them. Mr Wade blinked violently in protest, his teeth vibrating against the glass. His mind swam. What was he talking about? What did he mean? Surely, he would realise he had the wrong man.

Suddenly a terrible cramp grasped at him somewhere near the pit of his stomach. For a second, he had the notion that he might soil himself. The cramp grew. He felt an excruciating wrenching of something pulling apart; could actually feel involuntary movement in his abdomen. A tearing was faintly audible. ‘Sthh-sthh’ he hissed with his tongue on the tubing.

He could feel the doctor’s eyes upon him, observing. His apparent composure was chilling, as he stood, hands formed into a cage at his chest, simply watching. And then a peculiar stillness came over him too: an emptiness and sensation of release, much like the feeling after vomiting. Was this it? Would he let him go now? His eyes searched sideways for an answer.

‘The calm before the storm,’ noted the doctor.

A crippling, violent spasm shot through Wade’s body, radiating from his centre so that, despite the length of glass-tubing inside him, he stretched out awkwardly against his wire restraints, his frame rigid as steel. He couldn’t breathe, not at all. He tried to suck in air. His lungs burned. Blood rose to the surface, covering his skin in raised veins and capillaries: worms of red, threatening to burst at any moment. I’m dying, he thought. This is it.

An audible popsounded from within him, the noise making even the doctor jump slightly. Wade’s body slumped as far as it could in the chair and then movement shook the tubing. Something viscous issued from his mouth along the length of glass. Pink, yellow, plum, red, green: its colour seemed to morph as it moved rapidly towards the brass sphere, like light refracted through water. It gave off a haze or glow that bathed the room in a peculiar tint before disappearing again inside the machine.

Question 9) What can we expect from you in the future?  

Benjamin Hope midshotI’m currently busy writing the sequel to The Procurement of Souls. It’s called A New Religion and I won’t give too much away about the plot except to say it features more steampunkesque inventions, a host of new characters, and a few familiar faces along the way! I also have plans for a collection of gothic-influenced cautionary fairy-tales. I released one for World Book Night this year, The Rookery at Smeaton Abbey, which you can read on my website here. I have also sketched out the bare bones of a full-length cautionary fairy tale. So, with the addition of my regular blogging and book recommendations, there’s lots going on but I am focusing my energies on A New Religion at the moment, which should be set for publication in 2019.

Question 10) What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?

Well, The Procurement of Soulsis my debut so I’m yet to experience that joyous moment but I did treat myself to a new laptop a few months ago. As I said earlier, as I travel a lot, it’s important that I have something reliable and portable, so that I can write wherever I am.

Question 11) How can we contact you or find out more about your books?

You can check out my website, www.benjamin-hope.com where you can find out about my latest work and read my regular blogs about the writing process. You can sign-up to my mailing list there, follow me if you’re a WordPress user, or follow me on Twitter or Instagram @BenjamHope.

The Procurement of Souls is available as a paperback or eBook (in most formats) from your local Amazon and most online bookstores.

Quick links:

USA Amazon

UK Amazon

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Author Interview: Caytlyn Brooke @caytlyn_brooke #ya #interview #scifi #contemporary

To celebrate the recent release of her new book, Wired, I’m sitting down with award-winning author, Caytlyn Brooke.

Welcome!

Question 1) What part of the world do you come from?

Caytlyn_BHC_WebHello! My family is from English decent and I have the freckles and pale skin to prove it. I have lived in six states, but currently reside in the Southern Tier of New York where camouflage is the epitome of fashion and everyone drives a Ford F150.  I’m working on convincing my husband to move south to the beach, but for right now I’m enjoying rolling hills and cornfields.

 

Question 2) What do you think makes a good story? 

It’s amazing how much thought and planning goes into creating a story. My favorites, in both what I read and write, are stories that make you feel as if you’re right there running alongside the characters. Description is the biggest thing for me. I want to be able to picture everything and everyone as if I’m watching a movie. I enjoy books with a fast-paced plot that make it impossible to put down. I especially love cliff hanger endings! I know many readers who like deep, complicated plots that make you think and analyze, however that’s not me. I don’t have a lot of time to read, so I prefer exciting stories with an immediate hook that aren’t afraid to jump right in.

Question 3) What inspired you to write your first book? 

Dark_Flowers_C_Brooke_FCI’ve wanted to be a writer since third grade. I loved when my teachers would assign a prompt and let our imaginations go wild for half an hour. My friends would barely craft a paragraph and I’d be on my fifth piece of paper. Growing up, I was obsessed with fairies, goblins, nymphs, you name it. If it involved any mythical creature I was hooked. It was out of that love that I created my first novel, Dark Flowers. Every little girl dreams that she finds fairies in the woods, dreams that she dances with them and is invited to be one. I took that idea and layered it with a touch of darkness. I’m a big fan of the Grimm Brothers and enjoy taking innocent stories and twisting them to keep my readers on their toes. Not every story has a happy ending and in Dark Flowers I changed the beautiful fairies everyone is familiar with, to sinister creatures that will make you rethink walking alone in the woods.

Question 4) What is your work schedule like when you’re writing? 

Trying to find time to write is a job in itself! I have two small children and a full time job so most of my writing gets done on my lunch break and at ten o’clock at night after I get everyone to bed. As you can imagine with that schedule it’s pretty slow going so I taught myself how to type pretty fast. Most nights I’m up past midnight writing, but I love it. I feel bad for my husband because he waits up for me and my, “I’ll be done in ten minutes” always turns into another hour and a half.

Question 5) What would you say is your interesting writing quirk? 

Hmm an interesting writing quirk. I guess that all my novels originate from my notebook, old school pen and paper. I always keep a notebook by my bed because most of my story ideas come from my dreams. As soon as I wake up I jot down the idea or image and then expand upon it from there until I have a solid concept. Then, I just start writing. Rather than create an outline and detail step by step what will happen, I just sit down and let my mind wander and craft the story as I go.

Question 6) Tell me about your latest book. 

Wired is a mix of YA contemporary/scifi.

Question 7) What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your book? 

Wired_Caytlyn_BrookeOne of the most surprising things I learned after writing Wired was how spot on my imagined world was! I started writing this novel three years ago and back then cell phone usage and dependency was annoying, but nothing to the degree it has reached today. In the slightly futuristic world I created, people have iJewels which are essentially Smart Watches. I remember last year hearing my co-workers talk about how they had to have the new Apple Smart Watch and my eyes bulged. It was exactly like the technology from my book! Wired focuses on cellular device addiction and when Maggie isn’t “connected” she experiences the same withdrawl symptoms as a drug addict. Come to find out, people are actually going to rehab for cell phone addiction and there is even a term called Nomophobia that explains the intense fear and anxiety people have if they become separated from their phones. I wrote this book because I noticed an unhealthy dependency people were forming with their phones and now it’s actually coming true. Maybe this means I’ve predicted the future?

Question 8) Do you have an excerpt from your current work you’d like to share?

wiredfeedback.png

I look around at everyone seated. All of them are staring at me blankly, colorful Vertix H2’s all implanted successfully on their necks. It’s like they’ve been brainwashed. My heart rate speeds up as fear grips my stomach. “I want to leave,” I whisper, pushing back further in my chair, but the feet are stopped and when I turn around, another rep is staring down at me.

“It’s an incredible experience,” Brad says, his smile growing wider. “And you’ve already paid for it. Just try it. If you still don’t like it, we will give you a twenty-five percent refund.”

I can feel the rep behind me grip the back of my chair and I realize he’s sliding me forward, back to the table. The copper device still whirs in my hands, the green light seeming to grow brighter and brighter. A cool breeze grazes my neck and I stiffen as the rep pulls my hair away from my neck, depositing the heavy bulk onto my chest.

“Have fun,” he whispers in my ear before stepping back.

Brad is still staring at me, waiting for me to follow his instructions. With shaking hands I lift the copper Vertix to the back of my neck, wincing as the searching sensors brush my fingers. It’s going to be fine, you’re going to be fine, I tell myself over and over again as I breathe steadily through gritted teeth. Just do it for a minute, then they’ll let you go.

The device slips from my sweating fingers and lands with a solid thud onto the back of my neck. Involuntarily, my hands grip the smooth edge of the table and I close my eyes, anticipating the sharp pain I witnessed everyone else endure to make the connection. The bug-like legs dance atop my skin, settling into place. Then, without a sound, the sensors still and then plunge into the soft skin on either side of my spinal cord.

My eyes flash open and my fingers stiffen into claws as a burst of pain washes over me. I can feel the sensors inside my body, reaching, reaching for some unknown destination. A moment later, all four seize upon my brain stem and the Vertix H2 deepens its hold. My vision blurs and the eerie blue up lighting spins and swirls as the Vertix infiltrates my brain.

The connection has begun.

Question 9) What can we expect from you in the future? 

More books! I have several in the works, including a YA fantasy trilogy that I’m super excited to release next year. My other novels revolve mostly within the fantasy realm with mermaids, trolls, and witches and all border on the darker side. You can also check out Dark Flowers, if you’re into creepy fairies and muggy swamps. 

Question 10) What was the best money you ever spent as a writer? 

DI4oQC2VAAEfEEpThe best money I ever spent as a writer was when I went out to South Dakota last year for the Literary Classic Book Awards. Dark Flowers won the silver medal in the YA Horror category and I was invited to attend the awards ceremony. I didn’t win a cash prize, but I was able to tour the Black Hills of South Dakota, wear a pretty gown, and meet a fantastic group of authors from all over the country. That was such a fun experience and I’m hoping I get the chance to go out there again.

Question 11) How can we contact you or find out more about your books?

You can find me on Facebook and Twitter at the links below. Some days I have some fun things to say:

https://www.facebook.com/Caytlyn-Brooke-659444394222760/

https://twitter.com/caytlyn_brooke

You can also find me at my publisher’s website www.bhcpress.com to learn more about me http://www.bhcpress.com/Author_Caytlyn_Brooke.html and http://www.bhcpress.com/Books_Brooke_Wired.html

Thanks for having me!

 

#Interview with #author, @bawrites! #MattSmith #MG #steampunk #dystopian #DoctorWho #DrWho #doctorwhoislife

dwbannersmaller

Next up is author B.A. Williamson with an exciting middle grade book that is on my to-be-read list. He’ll be talking about how #DoctorWho and #MattSmith inspired his book — The Marvelous Adventures of Gwendolyn Gray!

Question 1) What part of the world do you come from?

interview1.pngI hail from a quaint little neighborhood on the east side of Indianapolis.

Question 2) When did you become a fan of Doctor Who?

I became a fan in college, when I went home on spring break and my Dad was watching this strange show. Some fat green Vogon-like aliens had just destroyed Big Ben, and they farted a lot, and came from a planet with a funny name. When he told me what it was, I remembered seeing a whole shelf of classic Doctor Who tapes at the local library while I was growing up, but I never touched them, a decision I now painfully regret. Tom Baker would have vastly improved my childhood. As it was, I watched a little with my Dad while I was home, but I didn’t become a fan in my own right until I saw David Tennant’s first episode with the Sycorax.

Question 3) What do you think makes a good story?

Desire+Obstacle. Your character has to want something, and want it badly, no matter how small it is. There needs to be things standing in the way, obstacles that match the character’s level of desire. If your character doesn’t have a clear driving goal, we lose interest. I also think a story should have something to say, beyond just beating the bad guys. Doctor Who has infinite storytelling possibility, but it touches on some of the deepest topics that any form of literature can approach, which is something science-fiction has always been particularly suited to.

Question 4) Congratulations on the publication of The Marvelous Adventures of Gwendolyn Gray! Tell me a little bit about your book.

interview5.pngGwendolyn Gray faces an overwhelming battle every day: keeping her imagination under control. It’s a struggle for a dreamer like Gwendolyn, in a city of identical gray skyscrapers, clouds that never clear, and grown-ups who never understand. She’s a plucky little redheaded outcast that would be perfectly at home in the TARDIS.

But when her daydreams come alive and run amok in The City, the struggle to control them becomes as real as the furry creatures infesting her bedroom. Worse yet, she’s drawn the attention of the Faceless Gentlemen, who want to preserve order in The City by erasing Gwendolyn and her troublesome creations.

With the help of two explorers from another world, Gwendolyn escapes and finds herself in a land of clockwork inventions and colorful creations. Now Gwendolyn must harness her powers and, with a gang of airship pirates, stop the Faceless Gentlemen from destroying the new world she loves and the home that never wanted her—before every world becomes gray and dull.

If that sounds like the plot of a Doctor Who episode, well, you wouldn’t be far off the mark.

Question 5) What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating this book? 

interview6Seeing how your own characters can take on a life of your own, and do things that surprise you. When you’re writing, and you get really in the zone, stuff comes out that feels completely independent, and I have no idea where it comes from. Which then became a theme of the book in and of itself, and I spend a lot of time exploring the nature of imagination and creation, and how it can be a type of magic on its own.

Question 6) I understand that Doctor Who has played a significant role in your writing. Can you elaborate on that?

It tremendously influences the type of story I want to tell. Those are the stories I love, and I wanted to emulate those somehow, I wanted to tell a world-hopping portal fantasy. When I was looking at how to craft a tale of an imaginative kid bouncing between worlds and solving her problems with wits, not weapons, I went and studied some of the best Who episodes. I looked at their structure, how the Doctor eventually prevailed in spite of overwhelming obstacles. I looked at how the best episodes deliver a strong message, not in a preachy way, but one that was at the center of a fantastic adventure story and compelling characters. And of course, every adventure involves a lot of running.

Question 7) Turns out, our books both have something in common — Matt Smith! Any specific characteristics of him can be found in your characters?

Matt-Smith-and-David-Tennant.png

His short attention span and tendency to babble. His childishness comes through in Gwendolyn, because Gwendolyn is herself a child. But there’s also a weight of sadness there: these actions have consequences, and the characters have to feel those deeply, but always choose to go on.

Question 8) Who is your Doctor?

David Tennant, always and forever. Particularly, The Christmas Invasion, Blink, The Shakespeare Code, Gridlock, The Beast, Tooth and Claw, the Cybermen invasion, and the Master’s Return. I don’t think the show has ever been better than his first two seasons.

Question 9) What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?

The beginning. Figuring out what the story is and where it’s going. And every time you start, you never completely know what’s going to happen or how it’s going to turn out. Starting a new story is like taking a leap off a cliff, and it’s just as terrifying. I always have an ending in mind, but parts of the journey are still huge blanks. You just have to trust yourself, your skills, your voice, and let it go where it will. But it’s never an easy step for me.

Question 10) What would you say is your interesting quirk?

I like to dress in costume for my book events. The narrator in the book is a bit of a character in and of itself, and I like to become something like that character. It comes from my theatre background, I suppose.

Question 11) Do you have an excerpt from the book you’d like to share?

Sure! Here’s one that’s particularly Who-vian. Gwendolyn lives in the City, a dystopian place where creativity and ideas simply don’t exist. It’s not “the way things are done.” Picture a mid-century modern future straight out of Mad Men with the social structure and values of Mr. Banks from Mary Poppins. Gwendolyn’s imagination just made one of her classmates grow actual rabbit ears, and while running from the consequences of that, she has just discovered a major secret and some strange artifacts on the Edge of the City, a place no one knew existed. Now she has her first run-in with the villains of our story. It’s a very Who sort of scene- creepy baddies, sudden rescues by mysterious new friends from other worlds, and plenty of running.

interview2.pngGwendolyn sprawled on the sidewalk, nose to toe with four polished black shoes. Above the shoes were crisp grey pants, and above that were twice-buttoned jackets with black ties pinned smartly to white shirts. The men both wore black bowler hats, and they had no faces.

Let me be clear: they had noses, yes, and mouths as well. Likewise eyes and ears, all in the right place and amount.

But Gwendolyn could not have told you what they looked like.

Looking at them was like trying to picture the face of a friend you haven’t seen in years. The men stood plain as day in front of her, but the faces underneath those bowler hats slipped from her mind like eels, as though her eyes saw something terrible, and refused to tell her brain what they had seen. Most people have never seen a man with no face, but let me assure you that it is a sight so unsettling that it puts goosebumps on your eyeballs.

A white-gloved hand reached down. Gwendolyn thought it meant to help her up, but it picked up the book instead. The man’s eyes examined the gleaming title, and the gloved hands flipped through the colorful illustrations.

Gwendolyn snatched up the gem and snuck it in her pocket.

The man turned to his comrade. “This is a very interesting book, Mister Five.” he said. His voice was a high-pitched whining monotone, crisp and proper. The voice she’d heard in the Headmaster’s office.

“Very interesting indeed, Mister Six,” replied the other, his voice identical to the first. He leaned in slightly, ever so slightly, to examine the book.

Gwendolyn got to her feet and put on her precious-little-girl voice, all sweetness and light, the kind you use when you want a second helping of dessert. “I’m terribly sorry, sirs. I wasn’t watching my way.”

Slowly, ever so slowly, the two men’s eyes turned from the book toward Gwendolyn. Their heads cocked to the side and stared at her, faces instantly dissolving in her memory.

Gwendolyn shuddered. “If you will accept my polite apologies, I will take my book and be on my way. Mother will be quite cross if I am late.”

The men ignored her. Carefully, ever so carefully, their hands flipped through the book as though the pages were covered in muck, and they didn’t wish to dirty their white gloves.

“Where did you get this book, my dear?” said Mister Five.

“Uhh…” Gwendolyn stammered, “it’s mine, and I would like it back now, please.”

“This is a very unique book, little girl. And my partner and I… collect… things such as this,” said one of the men.

Gwendolyn again felt the gut-wrenching sensation of being caught, as she felt earlier with the Centrals, but these gentlemen made Cecilia and her gang seem positively fluffy. “I’m sorry sir, but it is mine, and it is not for sale. I must insist that you give it back. Please?”

“What do you think, Mister Five?” one of the men whined eerily.

“She has seen the book, Mister Six, and would appear to have been reading it quite intently,” said the other, examining the edges of the pages. “And unless I’m very much mistaken, and I seldom am, Mister Six—”

“-No, indeed, Mister Five—”

“-this girl is not where she should be.”

“Most assuredly not, Mister Five. The Edge is not permissible to the citizenry; particularly children. Most particularly not to children so particularly… strange.” Gently, ever so gently, his gloved hand reached out and caressed a lock of Gwendolyn’s fiery hair.

Gwendolyn flinched. The man’s brief touch made her skin want to crawl off her bones, into bed, and under the blankets. She slapped his hand away, but Mister Six didn’t react.

“You are correct, Mister Six,” said Mister Five. “She has seen The Wall, and this book, and who knows what else. She is also certainly the one causing these unacceptable… changes. No, no, no, I’m afraid we really have no choice,” droned Mister Five.

Mister Six’s hand reached up slowly, ever so slowly, to his black bowler hat. “I agree completely, Mister Five. These changes simply must be dealt with.” His tone turned sweet, dripping more venom than honey: “Girl. Might I draw your attention here, to my lovely hat?”

He took off the hat and turned it toward her, like a magician showing that his hat is indeed empty. But instead of a rabbit, a pinpoint of light came out of the hat’s black interior. Gwendolyn’s gaze was locked in place.

Cold light poured out of the hat. It was just like a Lambent; but one more potent than any she had ever encountered. Her eyes burned but she could not look away. With an awful shock, she found she could no longer move. Any thoughts of running or escaping faded. She could feel her mind slipping away, drawn toward the light, drowning in it.

“Perfectly done, little girl. It doesn’t hurt.”

He was wrong. It did hurt. Her head felt like it would split in two. The searing pain brought her back to her senses. “No!” she shouted, and reached forward to knock the hat away.

Mister Six stepped easily out of reach. “The girl resists, Mister Five.”

“Indeed she does, Mister Six. She is stronger than anticipated. Increase the power.” The light doubled in brightness. She held up her hand to block it, but it didn’t help.

Her hand… she could see right through it. It was vanishing before her eyes, disappearing like a puddle on a hot day. She felt disconnected from her body, her arms and legs as far away as yesterday’s dream. She felt like a glass of water being poured into a swirling drain. Her thoughts, normally so fast she couldn’t control them, began to slow. She felt… less.

Mister Six’s mouth curved upward slightly, ever so slightly. “Yes, this will only take a mo—”

“Look out!”

Someone collided with the faceless man, and hard. Mister Six was knocked to the street, his hat rolling away, and the book skidded down the sidewalk. Senseless Gwendolyn was grabbed by a pair of rough hands and pulled down the street like a rag doll.

“Move your feet, or I’m leaving you!” came another voice, a girl’s. Gwendolyn shook her head as the volume on her senses was turned back up.

And for the third time that day, Gwendolyn Gray was running away.

She noticed several things all at once. She noticed a very peculiar looking boy, about her own age, running beside her. She noticed a bright red jacket and a long yellow scarf that fluttered behind him. He grinned recklessly, holding his flat and checkered newsboy cap. He held up a red book. “Here! You dropped this. Clumsy.”

Gwendolyn took it, noticing that her hand was solid and whole again. She noticed the girl pulling her other hand wore a complicated-looking set of goggles on her head, all dials and lenses. Her shimmering blouse was not quite green, not quite blue, but was somehow both at once underneath a coppery-orange vest. She looked back at Gwendolyn and gave her arm a fierce tug. “Quit staring at me and run!”

She did, pushing her feet as fast as they would go. They sprinted through the deserted streets. The Mister Men followed effortlessly, seeming almost to float over the ground.

Suddenly, Gwendolyn noticed some scattered pedestrians in shabby clothes. Gwendolyn must have run all the way to the beginning of the Outskirts. People gaped at the wild children who would dare run through The City’s streets, but the Mister Men passed by without so much as a glance from the Cityzens, and the sparse crowds moved mindlessly aside to let them through.

Gwendolyn turned to look behind, but the Mister Men never grew any closer or farther away. “I can’t… keep running… like this!” she gasped, her satchel banging against her side with every step.

“Quick! This way!” The boy shouted.

“Sparrow, wait!” the girl said, but the boy ducked into an alleyway. The girl groaned and pulled Gwendolyn in after him.

It was a dead end.

The boy spun around. “Oh. Never mind. What now, Starling?”

“What? Not again! This was your idea!” She groaned. “Fine. Take her! I’ll catch up.” She pointed at something down the alley, then pushed Gwendolyn at the boy and started patting the pockets of her pants. The girl was nothing but pockets from the waist down. Her black trousers were covered in them, and she wore crisscrossing belts full of dangling tools and gadgets. Gwendolyn wondered if she needed all those belts to hold up such heavily laden pants.

The older girl pulled a copper sphere from a pocket on her thigh and twisted the two halves, winding it up. She leaned out of the alleyway and tossed it into the air just as the Mister Men came around the corner. The sphere whirred, clicked, and then exploded with a loud SNAP!

The alley entrance was instantly filled with orange smoke. One of the men stumbled out of the cloud, but the girl shoved him back in. She pulled her goggles down over her eyes and flipped a lens into place. “Go! I’ll lead them away and circle back!” Then she plunged into the fog.

“Come on!” the boy said. He pulled Gwendolyn down the alleyway and studied the wall at the end. “Now, what was Starling pointing at?”

Gwendolyn noticed a fire escape above them, old iron ladders and walkways bolted to the side of the building. “Do you think she meant that?”

“Oh, yeah. Good call.” The boy shot her a toothy grin, one that was altogether too cocky for their present situation. He jumped up and pulled the ladder down. “Ladies first.”

Gwendolyn hesitated. “Uh… I’m not climbing over you in this skirt. I’ll thank the gentleman to go first.” It was a good excuse, but truthfully she just wanted to see if it would hold his weight.

The boy’s jaw dropped, taken aback. “I didn’t… That’s not… I would never…”

A loud crash came from the smoke behind them.

“Just climb!” Gwendolyn shouted, though she was glad to wipe that smug smile from his face. She had the presence of mind to stick the book in her bag.

He scrambled up the ladder, but was already grinning again, and gave her a wink. “Be careful, girlie. Wouldn’t want to tear that precious skirt of yours.”

“Just worry about yourself, little boy, and when you fall, try and avoid my head.” Teasing him was an easy way to hide how terrified she was.

The fire escape held, and they reached the roof. They crossed to the other side and looked down. The sheer drop to the street below made her eyes swirl. A twelve-story fall is not the sort of story you’ll ever get to tell.

“What now? There’s nowhere to go!” Gwendolyn said.

“Nowhere to go? Please. I have a plan. Well, we have a plan. Um . . . Starling will have a plan. Any trouble down there?” he asked the goggled girl, who was clambering over the edge of the roof.

“Yes. And all of it is your fault. But I bought us a few moments. Now take one of these.” The girl produced a collection of objects from another one of her pockets and tossed something to each of them.

Gwendolyn caught it. It was a miniature umbrella, bright pink with purple spirals on it, not much larger than her hand. It was the same sort of umbrella your parents might put into a tropical drink on the beach when they’ve left you and your sister at home with relatives. Gwendolyn frowned at it, but she opened it with a crinkly pop.

“When I say so, jump,” said the older girl, approaching the edge of the roof.

This was too much, even for Gwendolyn. “Jump? We’ll be smushed!” She glanced at the pitifully small umbrella in her hand.

The boy rolled his eyes. “You wanted a plan. Maybe you should ask them about it,” he cocked a thumb at the Faceless Gentlemen, who had just appeared on the roof.

“This is a most inappropriate way for young children to act, Mister Five.” said the man on the left, his face slipping from Gwendolyn’s mind like water through her fingers.

“Most inappropriate indeed, Mister Six. They will have to be dealt with immediately. These sorts of… intrusions… cannot be tolerated,” the other replied. They strode across the roof toward the children, each step in perfect unison.

Gwendolyn looked down at the punishingly solid sidewalk. She glanced at the boy, and got another infuriating wink. For someone saving her life, he was certainly not impressing her. “Isn’t there another way?”

“Of course there is another way…” droned Mister Five. His hand reached toward her in a gesture that absolutely failed to be comforting. “Come with us.” His voice took on the sickly sweetness of cough syrup. “Your parents must be worried sick about you. No little girl should be out this far. Just what would your mother think?”

“What indeed, Mister Five. We will take care of you, girl, and see you home safe. We will explain everything to your parents, make all your problems… disappear. We might even allow you to keep that little book. The Status Quo will be preserved. All will be well. After all, you cannot trust such dreadful children as these.” His white gloved hand waved toward her brightly colored companions.

You and I might be able to spot the lie these men told, but we are not the one’s teetering over the edge of a fatal fall. Gwendolyn hesitated. What would Mother think? She would certainly not approve of any of this dashing about, nor of her two rescuers. But her parents had also never seen anything like these men, and she wasn’t certain they’d approve of them, either.

The boy put a hand on her shoulder. “It’s us or them. Now or never.”

She took a deep breath and looked over the side. She had to do it. She couldn’t turn back now. She would imagine she was brave, even if she felt like throwing up.

“Then I guess it’s now,” she whispered. She squeezed her eyes shut, gripped the umbrella, bent her knees-

“Sorry, girlie, time’s up!” The boy gave her a shove, and Gwendolyn fell with a shriek. The older girl followed, leaping from the roof.

“So long, chaps!” The boy tipped his cap to the Mister Men, showed them a very impolite finger, and jumped.

Question 12) What can we expect from you in the future?

More Gwendolyn! I’m currently working on The Fantastical Exploits of Gwendolyn Gray, and where the first one features a trip to a Steampunk world, this time she’ll find herself trapped in the land of the Fae.

Question 13) How can others find out more about you and your work?

The book itself is on Amazon and Goodreads. The website is gwendolyngray.com, but I’m probably most active on the Facebook page, facebook.com/gwendolyngraybook. Twitter is my social of choice, but you can find me pretty much anywhere @bawrites. I’m always happy to chat, particularly about the book!

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Book Spotlight: SILENTLY IN THE NIGHT by Clayton Graham #anthology #mystery #thriller #paranormal

SILENTLY IN THE NIGHT

silently the night

A collection of tantalizing tales with more twists than braided hair:

Here you will find mystery, murder and mayhem – plus a moment of romance. All the stories will make you stop and think, even question your role in the world and the universe. Just what are we doing here, and where are we going? Easy questions with problematic answers.

This anthology of sixteen short and thrilling tales of unusual, extraterrestrial and conspiratorial stories is the latest compilation from Clayton Graham, the author of science fiction novels Milijun and the soon to come Saving Paludis. The characters in this eclectic collection are mostly ordinary people whose reactions to their fears and to unexpected events will have you guessing at every turn of the page.

This collection is intriguing reading which, among many other things, encourages the reader to:

Sympathize with a doomed husband and connect with an altruistic robot. Explore an isolated Scottish isle and touch down on a far-flung asteroid.

From the light-hearted to the darkest depths of the human psyche you would be hard-pressed not to find something to like about Silently in the Night.

Many different visions of the future are within these pages. And as a bonus, there is an excerpt from the soon to be published Saving Paludis, which introduces the reader to two of the principal protagonists in this tale from the edge of mankind’s known universe in the year 3898AD.

If you love mystery with a hint of the paranormal, and the interplay of human foibles, grab this smorgasbord of short stories then get yourself a copy of Milijun, the mind-bending sci-fi novel by Clayton Graham.