Extract from You Belong To Me – part one

 

Today I’d like to share an extract from You Belong to Me. The book is being published by Bloodhound Books on 4th February and will be available to pre order from 28th January.

 

Cassie usually walked home through town and along St George’s Road. It was a practice born of her mother’s frequent warnings not to go anywhere isolated on her own. But the track was familiar. The school used it as a route for cross-country runs, and it didn’t seem very threatening in daylight.

With the rain driving into her face and rendering her glasses useless, she didn’t notice the man standing under the back porch of the pub watching her. There was little point removing her spectacles because the world just existed in a series of fuzzy ill-defined blobs without them.

Cassie’s mind hopped from wanting to kill herself to wanting to kill Darren. How could he even consider going near a slag like Hailey Connor? And she was a year older than him. Not to mention ugly as sin beneath that barrier of war paint she always slapped on her face. Why were boys such weak pathetic creatures? One smile and they were anyone’s.

How could she have been stupid enough to think Darren loved her for who she was? Didn’t care about the bump in her nose, or the gap in her front teeth. Didn’t give a hoot she had a slight lisp when she talked too fast. Darren had seemed like a breath of fresh air compared to most boys. Now, it turned out he was worse than all of them. He’d taken her heart and thrown it in a muddy ditch.

So, you’re just going to throw your whole life away over one stupid boy? A voice whispered in her head. He’s the one who ought to jump off the water tower.

Cassie stared at her trainers. White Nikes with a pink trim. The muddy lane had turned them as black as her mood. She wasn’t aware of the man stepping out of the porch and onto the track. He was maybe twenty yards behind her, dressed in a dark-blue hoodie, combat trousers and black trainers. Hands thrust in his jacket pockets. Face like a slice of moon beneath the dark hood.

The track was about a mile long. It was a dried up brook, but heavy rainfall could rapidly restore it to its former glory. It ran from the river to the back of the park, and from there it was just a short walk along St George’s Road to her house.

The rain had slowed to little more than a light drizzle by the time she was halfway along the track. She stopped and swatted at something buzzing around her head. The man stopped and stood as still as the trees lining the trail.

Cassie checked her airspace for more invaders. Birds and butterflies aside, she hated anything that flew. A wasp had stung her in the garden when she was twelve, and the experience had left her with a pathological hatred of airborne invaders.

As her tears subsided to an occasional sniffle, she opened her bag and took out a packet of tissues. She plucked three from the plastic wrapper, blew her nose and wiped her face. She dropped the tissues back in her bag and snapped it shut. She threw the strap over her shoulder and started walking again.

Why did her mother have to choose this week of all weeks to take a holiday? Now, she would face a salvo of questions the minute she stepped through the door. And it was no good thinking she could make it upstairs without being spotted; her mother had an inbuilt radar fine-tuned to Cassie. Both emotional and physical.

What does it matter what she says if you’re going to kill yourself?

Cassie ignored the voice. She would have a shower and change her clothes before she did anything else–including leaping off the water tower.

The man gained a few yards on her. He kept his head down, as if fascinated by his trainers. He wiped his nose with the back of his hand and then rubbed it on his trousers.

Cassie stopped to negotiate a fallen tree blocking her path. It wasn’t too big to clamber over, but awkward, greased with rainwater and moss. She noticed brambles had scrawled a bloody signature on her bare legs.

The man took his chance. He closed the gap in a matter of seconds like a lion moving in for the kill. Cassie had just got her leg over the trunk when he told her to keep still.

At first, she thought he was going to warn her that there was something dangerous lurking on the tree. A scorpion. Maybe even a rat. She turned her head round to see him standing a few feet away. She couldn’t make out his features beneath the hoodie. He was wearing mirrored sunglasses, and a beard obscured the bottom half of his face.

Cassie felt her stomach tighten. ‘What is it?’

He didn’t answer. He pulled a gun from the waistband of his combat trousers and pointed it at her chest. ‘I want you to come with me.’

Cassie legs lost all their strength. She thought about trying to scramble over the tree. Make a run for it. Only a few hundred yards to the park. If she wailed like a siren all the way, perhaps he would back off and give up.

Or shoot you.

‘Turn around slowly and face me.’

‘Why?’

‘Just do as I say.’

Cassie turned around, barely able to stand. A tear slipped from the corner of her eye. ‘Please don’t hurt me.’

‘I won’t–as long as you do as you’re told.’

‘My mum’s expecting me home.’

‘If you tell me where she lives, I’ll go round later and pay her visit. Tell her you’ve been held up.’

Why was this happening to her? She’d already had the shittiest day imaginable. ‘Please, I just want to go home.’

The man shook his head. ‘You can’t always get what you want. They ought to teach that in school to stop all that disappointment later. Now, walk past me and head off back towards the river. And don’t think about legging it. I ain’t seen no one outrun a bullet yet.’

‘My feet hurt.’

‘And so does my head. Now move!’

Cassie took a wide berth around him, eyes trained on the gun. He wasn’t as tall as Darren, and thin enough to suggest she might have stood a small chance of fighting him off under normal circumstances. But these were not normal circumstances. The gun seemed to wink at her in a shaft of emerging sunlight.

Cassie shuffled forward. There was a nightclub just before the bridge. The Millhouse. It boasted a beautiful riverside terrace. Maybe she could get someone’s attention if she screamed loud enough.

You might as well run, a voice whispered in her head. You’ve got nothing to lose. Better to get shot than to end up somewhere with him.

She could hear him behind her, breathing heavy, sniffing.

‘Where are we going?’ She asked again. ‘Please tell me?’

‘Home.’

‘I don’t understand.’

‘You will.’

Cassie walked past her own footprints as she headed back towards the river. The ones made before the man had appeared out of nowhere and turned her heart to dust.

He told her to stop at a wooden gate leading to the pub garden.

Cassie glanced behind her. Stared at the gun.

‘Go through the gate.’

‘Why?’

‘You ask me one more question, and you won’t see tomorrow. You’re mine now. That’s all you need to know.’

She could see huge banners on the wall outside the Millhouse declaring the latest offering from Sky Sports. Someone walking along the wooden terrace which wrapped itself around the building to the riverside view at the front.

Do it, Cassie’s mind screamed. Run. For Christ’s  sake, run

But she could barely move. She stifled a sob as she walked into the overgrown garden. The place resembled a cross between a jungle and a tip. Overturned tables, two fridges and a sofa bleeding its stuffing nestled among the tall grass and brambles. Most of the fence surrounding the garden was leaning over and broken.

‘See that door over there?’

Cassie nodded. She felt as if she would throw up any minute.

He threw a bunch of keys at the door. ‘The silver one’s for the padlock. Open it.’

 

 

I hope you enjoyed reading the first part of the extract. The second will follow on from here next week. If you did enjoy it and would like to add the book to your Goodreads TBR list, you can find You Belong To Me here.

Thank you for your continued support.

Best wishes,

Mark.

 

Author Spotlight – Simon Farrant and Death Dolls

Today I’m delighted to welcome Simon Farrant to the blog. Please would you introduce yourself Simon, and then we’ll find out more about your most recent book, Death Dolls?

Hello Mark! I’m Simon, and I live in Corby. It’s a town an hour or so north of London by train and one of the fastest growing towns in the country. A bit of trivia, it’s the only town in the country with extensive ancient woodlands in the town.

I’ve been writing for just over a year. A friend of mine asked for short stories to submit to an anthology. That was it – I was hooked! At home I live with my wife, Louise, our three children, our Bengal cat, Missy and Skeddie the pink tongued skink.

So far I have co-authored a anthology of short horror stories, with Mark Nye, and three hard-boiled (gory!) crime stories. There’s a fourth one called Driven to Murder on the horizon.

Next year, I have a trilogy coming out in a much different genre; the limbo island books are low fantasy mixed with a bit of mystery. No dragons, sorry,

In the past I’ve gained a degree, driven 18 wheel trucks and been a special constable. In 2011 I became ill with the swine flu and this developed into fibromyalgia, and I also suffer with psoriatic arthritis. It eventually meant losing the jobs, and I now use a mobility scooter to help with getting around. Writing has given me a great new outlook on life, and I love it.

 

Death Dolls book description:

Will your skin become a handbag after you die?

Benjamin sees himself as a great guy who employs various misfits at his remote family farm, but when his mother dies during a house fire, grief takes its toll on his mind. Strapped for cash, Benjamin starts a new, gruesomely profitable leather business with Tilly, an expert craft worker.  The only hitch – where will they get the bodies from? Can they find people willing to sell their dead relatives’ skin or will they need to take matters into their own hands?

If you like fantastic, gritty, dark crime that’s not for the faint of heart then you will love Death Dolls. It is the third book in the hard boiled crime series, Newdon Killers, by Simon Farrant.

‘Absolutely fabulous story, Simon Farrant is an excellent author who keeps you pinned to the edge of your seat.’ – 5* Amazon Review.

Pick up Death Dolls to discover this exciting new book today!

You can find Death Dolls on Amazon by clicking on the book cover.

 

 

Did something you heard/saw inspire the plot for the book, or did the idea appear in your imagination out of the blue?
Last year I had a tattoo done, and I started to outline a story called Dr Tattoo. I wasn’t sure how it was going to pan out, but it had the scene of Benjamin McGuinness building up his tattoo business in the countryside. I for some reason wondered if it was possible to make leather goods from human skin, and looked it up on the internet. To my surprise, it is possible and you can buy it. So, this was in the back of my mind, and the story came together. After introducing the next tattooist, the idea of a community of misfits seemed like a great plot.

The story started life as a short story in the book I mentioned earlier, the anthology, called Anathema. I was very pleased with the short story but knew that there was a much longer book bursting to be born. The ending is a little different too, which is fun as I wanted people who may have read the short to be surprised by the change.

 

Why did you decide to set the series in the same town, and do any characters feature in more than one book?
It feels right to have a fictional town, as it gives me a lot of scope to drop ‘Easter Eggs’ in stories that people who have read different books would notice. For example, in my upcoming book Driven to Murder, one character buys a pregnancy kit from a shop that features in the first book of the trilogy. Although they are quite different genres, it helps me to build a more multi dimensional world.

Sgt Laura Love features in Famously Ordinary, Death Dolls and much more so in Driven to Murder. She become DS Love in that book, and I plan to write some more mainstream crime books next year with Laura as the main police officer. The readers will have seen her try to tackle James Dean in Famously Ordinary, and then Benjamin McGuinness and his crew in Death Dolls and on to the murders in DtM, so I feel that readers will be rooting for her.

In Driven to Murder, a couple of high profile characters come back to the pages. I can’t reveal who yet, but I think that readers who have been fans of Newdon Killers will be happy….

 

Which character was the most fun to write – good or bad, and why?
This is a joint one, between the brother and sister Benjamin and Lisa McGuinness. Seeing the moral dilemma that Lisa feels along with her boss at the undertakers was interesting to write. Without giving away too much, it seems like a perfect money making opportunity for them. Benjamin was really fun to write, the cringe was strong writing the murder scene when Benjamin had to dispose of one of his original employees who was intent on blowing the whistle to the authorities.

I very much enjoyed writing the comic scenes of him flying a small aircraft with customers to dispose of their loved one’s ashes over the sea. I imagine that some readers will laugh at this, and it might be a bit more emotional to other readers.

 

In a few words could you tell us why we would enjoy reading Death Dolls?
Yes! Death Dolls is a short novel, so a fairly easy book to read in one great reading sitting if you have the time to do so. It’s been called unique, as in a bit of horror a bit of crime and a bit of suspense. One reviewer went so far as to call it ‘Brilliant’, although I am far too modest to say that myself! The characters are mis-fits, and the setting is quite unusual too.

 

Do you have a favourite part of the story? Would you like to share an extract?That’s a tough question, Mark!

I really like how Benjamin wants to provide a secure home for his employees; I wouldn’t be surprised if some readers could see themselves living there too.

The extract that I have chosen is from Chapter Five. I have picked this as it is a pivotal moment in the book. Earlier in the story, Tilly asked if she could fulfil an ambition of running a leather works business. Benjamin said yes, on the condition that she and her two sisters first made a success of an organic piggery that he had established…

 

Nine months to the day after the piggery came under the stewardship of the triplets, Skunkworks Leather opened for business.

Tilly stood with great pride when Benjamin gathered the workers in the yard and placed the ribbon that he had affixed across the door to celebrate his new business opening between the blades of a pair of scissors. He said, ‘Thank you all for coming.’ That generated some laughter from the crowd, all of who lived in the accommodation on site, so it wasn’t hard for them to be there.

He grinned and continued, ‘I am honoured Zack brought you women into my life. The business couldn’t have prospered without you. I declare the Skunkworks… open!’

A round of applause rippled around the workers, and a real ambiance of celebration settled over the group. Tilly hugged Benjamin tightly and whispered into his ear, ‘Thanks a million, you won’t regret this. I promise.’

‘You’re welcome, you three have been a total pleasure to have on board,’ said Benjamin.

Tilly tucked a strand of hair behind her ear and looked up at Benjamin, ‘You know, it has been so hard in the past. No-one has wanted to give all three of us a chance together in a job, but we can’t cope with being apart. This is so great, and I have more plans for the business.’

‘Oh, what’s that?’ Benjamin said, an eyebrow lifted in surprise.

Tilly looked over his shoulder into the distance and said, ‘Oh never mind for now, we’ll talk about it another time. Let’s not run before we can walk.’

Benjamin shrugged, ‘No worries, you can talk to me at any time you know.’

Tilly hugged him again and kissed him on the cheek, ‘You’re the best boss ever. Benjamin McGuiness.’

He blushed a deep shade of red, which was something that he never normally did. Zack and the other two sisters smirked.

Tilly laughed the awful laugh that the trio seemed to enjoy as if they knew they sounded like a coven of witches. Zack lit up a cigarette and puffed out a huge plume of smoke into the sky. Tilly pointed at him, ‘Don’t even think of smoking anywhere near this place Zack. There’s loads of chemicals and I don’t wish to risk a fire, mate! Anyway, see you lot in a bit, I have work to do.’ She went into her new workshops and got on with preparing ready for hides to arrive. Zack and Benjamin returned to the tattoo studio, and the two remaining women made their way back to the Piggery.

 

Thank you Mark for inviting me on to your blog, I very much appreciate the opportunity!
Best wishes and happy reading.

You can find and follow Simon on Amazon and across social media:
Simon’s Amazon author page.
Facebook: SimonFarrantOfficial.
Twitter: @asfarrant.

 

Thank you for your continued support,

Best wishes,

Mark.

 

Near-Death Experiences – Fact or Fiction?

Near-death experiences (NDEs) are profound psychic experiences commonly occurring in life-threatening conditions. They include feeling a sense of peace, of seeing a bright light, encountering deceased relatives or religious figures, and of transcending space and time. NDEs may occur in adults or children, have been reported from the time of Plato, and in a variety of cultures around the world. They are one part of a spectrum of significant human spiritual experiences.  An experience can be deeply significant and meaningful to the person going through it, without meeting the strict definition of NDE.  Such experiences may be referred to as “NDE-like experiences”.

In my fifth novel, The Key to Death’s Door, 14 year old Lee Hunter drowns and has a NDE. Here’s a small extract:

I tried to call out to Charlie. Tell him what was happening, but the words were washed down my throat with another mouthful of the river. Then I sank. No more sky. No more riverbank. No more Charlie. Just greenish-brown slimy water everywhere. My mind screamed at my legs to work, demanded one last push, but all my legs delivered was an excruciating pain that reached right up into my groin and squeezed my balls.

       Fuck it. Fuck it. Fuck it, my mind chanted. I tried to use my hands to pull upwards, but you can’t grip water, even when your life depends on it. My heart thumped in my throat. Continue reading

Interview with paranormal suspense author, Shani Struthers

shaniToday I’m really pleased to be able to welcome paranormal suspense author Shani Struthers to the Blog. Shani is a Brighton based author who has set her Psychic Surveys series in the city, and is working on a new series based in the most haunted cities around the world. Thank you for taking part today Shani, lets begin:

 

You set some of your books in and around Brighton. What makes the city such a great location for fiction?
Well first of all I live in Brighton so I know it very well and secondly, it’s just a great city! It’s diverse, it’s cosmopolitan and it’s very tolerant. Seriously, all of life is in Brighton, the normal, the not so normal, the weird and the wonderful. It’s a great place to base a Psychic Surveys high street consultancy. I actually think if there was such a business in real life it’d be embraced by the locals! Now… there’s a thought…

You go into a lot of detail for the paranormal investigations that Ruby and her team conduct in the Psychic Surveys series. Is the paranormal of interest to you outside of writing about it?
Definitely, my mum had a life-long intellectual interest in it and so paranormal matters would often be discussed in out house. I grew up with it and developed an interest myself. Also, I’ve veered towards that genre in film and literature but I’m not into gore or gratuitous stuff, like the less is more angle and stuff that’s been well researched too.

What is the one thing you wish someone had told you about being an author before you started to write?
So many things but certainly that you’ve got to have a thick skin, not everyone will  like what you are doing and not everyone is afraid to say so! Also, that it’s a marathon not a sprint and to take time delivering a quality product that you can be proud of.

Continue reading

Interview with mystery author and blogger, Anne R Allen

ARA rose

Today I’m pleased to be able to welcome mystery author Anne R Allen to the blog. Anne is the author of ten books, including the bestselling CAMILLA RANDALL MYSTERIES and HOW TO BE A WRITER IN THE E-AGE, co-written with NYT bestseller Catherine Ryan Hyde. Her latest is SO MUCH FOR BUCKINGHAM, a humorous mystery about Internet trolls.

Lets begin.

Did you always want to write? Were you inspired from an early age from the books you read as a child?
I’ve been a writer pretty much since I could hold a crayon. I used to write stories in the margins of my coloring books to go with the pictures. My parents were both PhDs who taught literature at the university level, so I was born into a house full of books. My parents read to me every night. Books were always part of my life. I was especially inspired by the Wizard of Oz series. I think because the hero was an independent little girl.

How quickly did you become involved in the ‘Kindle Revolution’? Could you see the potential from the beginning?
I wasn’t one of the first to join the Kindle crowd. I’ve always been with small presses and let my publishers make decisions about format. But as soon as they put my work on Amazon as ebooks in 2011, I saw my sales soar, so I knew they were onto something. I already had a blog, and it was easy to see how my online presence could influence online sales, so I made a point of learning to use social media.

I think I learned the most about online marketing from the fantastic women of the Indie Chicks Anthology. They invited me to join because I was with an “indie” micropress, even though the rest were self-published. They taught me the ropes.

You write both fiction and non-fiction. Do you enjoy writing one more than the other?
I probably write a lot more non-fiction than fiction—if you consider the amount of time I spend writing blog posts—but my heart is still with my fiction. Writing fiction is hard, but I love it. Writing non-fiction is easier, but it doesn’t give me the same sense of joy.

Continue reading