Poetry in Fiction – The Abattoir of Dreams.

I used poetry in The Abattoir of Dreams to explore one of the character’s feelings about the situation he was in and the abusive experiences he’d been through. The poem is written by 14 year-old Liam, who shares it with the main character, Mikey, when they run away from Woodside Children’s Home. The poem was also the inspiration for the title of the book.

Here is the poem in full:

How I wish I could feel,
The hot sun on my back,
Fresh cut grass,
Beneath my feet,
My father’s hand,
Strong upon mine,
His aftershave,
Bottled nostalgia,
Promises of tomorrow,
Safe within his smile,
But the night stalker comes,
Cloaked in shadows,
The sound of his heels,
Marking time on the floor,
His stinking breath,
Whispering threats,
You’d better not tell,
You’d better not scream,
No one can hear you,
In the Abattoir of Dreams.

I felt the poem helped to explain exactly how Liam saw Woodside, and how it made him feel. His poetry also acted as inspiration for Mikey.

When used in the right way/place, poetry can work really well in fiction. Other novels that have used poetry successfully are: Continue reading

Interview with psychological thriller author, John Nicholl

John NichollToday I am really pleased to welcome psychological thriller author, John Nicholl, to the blog. John has previously worked in the police force and child protective social services. His debut novel, White is the Coldest Colour, has become an Amazon Top Ten bestseller. Whilst fictional, it is influenced by what John has witnessed during his work in child protection and features predatory pedophile Dr Galbraith.

Lets begin:

How do you start your writing day and motivate yourself?
It varies from day to day. Some days I feel driven to write for hours, while others are less productive. If I’m not in the mood to write then I do something else instead.

What is it about writing fiction that you enjoy the most?
I like the creative process. Being in control of events is also a positive. Real life is far less predictable as God laughs at our plans.

White

In a previous interview you say that thinking of the title ‘White is the Coldest Colour’ was almost as hard as writing the novel, and that a song helped you. How long were you working on the title and what was the song?
I came up with and rejected at least a dozen titles over an eighteen month period before stumbling upon one I liked enough to keep. ‘White is the Coldest Colour’ came to me when listening to ‘A Whiter Shade of Pale’ on Radio 2. I hope readers will agree that it’s a good fit. Continue reading

Why I Love The Fictional Bad Guy

Ebb-standing“Edward Ebb opened the door and walked a few feet into the Revelation Room. He put the petrol can on the floor and walked back outside and retrieved the shotgun. He aimed it in the general direction of the people cowering in the corner. ‘Good afternoon, bunnies.”

Welcome to Edward Ebb, the fictional bad guy in my first book, The Revelation Room. I love the baddies. They really seem to get my creative juices flowing. The bad guy prowls around in the back of my mind, demanding to be let out. He wants to cause mayhem, and he wants to cause it now! He’s been really patient, watching me plot all the nasty things that I have in store for him and now he can’t wait to get going. He even resents me for holding him back. Why create him, he argues, if he has to sit locked up inside my head like a prisoner on death row? He even accuses me of being no better than him, arguing that he is merely an extension of my own macabre nature. At this point, I generally laugh and try not to sound as nervous as I feel. Continue reading

Interview with mystery author Mike Billington

Mike Billington

 

Today I’d like to welcome mystery and historical fiction author Mike Billington to the blog. Mike is a Vietnam veteran and was a journalist for 50 years before writing fiction. He has 7 books published and is working on 2 more. Thank you Mike for taking part in this interview.

 

 

If you had to pick one, which event that you’ve reported on has been the most influential on your fiction?
That’s a hard question to answer because over the course of nearly 50 years as a reporter I covered a wide variety of stories and many of them had a real impact on me and my writing. I covered the Love Canal environmental disaster, for example, and learned a lot about how ordinary people can rise to great heights when their families are threatened. I spent time living undercover with white-power extremists and learned a lot about how irrational fear can drive people to commit outrageous acts. I think, however, that if I had to choose one event I’d say it was a series of stories that two other reporters and I did on police abuse of the Florida contraband forfeiture law. We started on the project one Sunday night when a guy walked into the newsroom and told us that the police had stolen his boat.

The contraband forfeiture law allows police to confiscate money, property, airplanes, boats, cars and personal possessions from people who are not charged with a crime. To get their stuff back they are forced to sue the police and to win their lawsuits they must prove they are innocent of wrongdoing. That’s a complete perversion of the American concept of justice; it’s also both expensive and time consuming. Over the course of our investigation we learned that cops were taking boats, for example, and using them to go fishing, hold parties, etc. They were taking classic cars and driving them for personal use and they confiscated billions of dollars which they used to buy new equipment and, in one case, to install lights at a church playground. The law was supposed to stop drug lords from using their wealth to hire slick lawyers to beat criminal charges but it was never really used to do that. What is was used for primarily was to, in essence, steal from the public with complete impunity. Of the hundreds of cases we reviewed, not a single “drug lord” had his house or other property confiscated. That project taught me a lot about how both the police bureaucracy and the political system really work and how innocent people can be severely impacted by bad laws. It also taught me how readily societies willingly surrender their rights in exchange for what they consider “security.” That series has had a big influence on the topics I pursue in my novels and how I write them. Continue reading

Free chapter from The Revelation Room

Man-tied-to-chair

I thought today I would give you a sneak-peek at a chapter from The Revelation Room. This is a proud moment for me, as the book is being published on Wednesday. The Revelation Room is the first in a new series of psychological mystery thrillers written with occasional flashes of humour.

Ben Whittle’s father is a private investigator. He’s been taken captive by a cult whilst investigating a missing girl. Close to death, he makes a desperate call to Ben for help. He tells Ben that he must not call the police because “everyone will die”. Ben retraces the last known steps of the missing girl with his friend Maddie. The only option left open to them is to join the cult and rescue Ben’s father from the inside.
But this is no band of hapless hippies worshipping the moon and drinking chicken blood. They are a group of dangerously brainwashed followers who are under the spell of psychopathic cult leader, Edward Ebb. When Ben and Maddie are initiated into the group, they pass into a world where only two choices exist: compliance or death.
Ben and Maddie must find Ben’s father and the missing girl, but the odds are impossibly stacked against them and time is fast running out. And they will soon discover the gruesome secret concealed in the Revelation Room.

In the following chapter, Ben’s father is being interrogated by cult leader Edward Ebb. I hope you enjoy it.

Edward Ebb looked at the Infiltrator and shook his head. The Infiltrator didn’t look in good shape, which wasn’t any wonder seeing as Brother Tweezer had shot him out of a tree overlooking the courtyard. The Infiltrator had sustained a broken wrist and a broken leg to go with the bullet wound in his left shoulder. He kept whinging and whining that he’d broken his spine, but Ebb doubted the validity of the claim. He’d kicked and thrashed well enough when Ebb had poked a hot needle into the wound in his shoulder.
Ebb conceded the Infiltrator may well have suffered internal injuries as well, but he didn’t care. He wasn’t a doctor. It was of no consequence. But he needed to tread carefully because Satan was at his most potent when lying dormant.
The Infiltrator looked in a pitiful state tied to a chair in the Revelation Room. Lumps of congealed vomit lodged in his beard. His bald head gleamed with sweat beneath the overhead lights.
Ebb unscrewed the cap of a bottle of Evian spring water. ‘Are you thirsty?’
The Infiltrator croaked something unintelligible.
‘What’s the matter? Afraid it might be holy water?’
‘No.’
‘Who are you?’
He looked at Ebb with devious eyes. Full of pity. Full of deceit. Full of hate. ‘I’m… a… bird-watcher…’
Ebb laughed. ‘A bird-watcher, huh? So how come you had a long-range camera in the tree with you?’
‘I was—’
Ebb shook his head. ‘We’ve had the film developed. Guess what?’
His nose started to bleed again. ‘What?’
Ebb resisted an urge to poke out an eye. ‘There wasn’t one picture of a bird on that film. Not one. But there were plenty of pictures of my courtyard.’
‘I—’
‘Who sent you?’
He looked away. The way liars did when backed into a corner.
‘Did a demon send you to spy on me?’
‘No.’ The word came out in a bubble of blood.
‘Would you like a drink?’
‘Yes.’
‘Then tell me who sent you to spy on me?’
‘No one. I—’
Ebb turned the bottle upside down and tipped half the contents onto the dusty concrete floor. He then righted the bottle and took a swig. He wiped his mouth. ‘That’s so good. Nice and cold. Straight from the fridge.’
The Infiltrator licked his cracked lips with a lizard tongue.
Ebb screwed the cap back on the bottle. ‘I’ll let you have some if you tell me who you are.’
The Infiltrator’s eyes narrowed. He looked like a fox with the scent of chicken in its snout.
Don’t trust him, Pixie-pea.
Ebb jumped. He turned around to face three skeletons secured to wooden crosses on the far wall. The middle skeleton had a pink wig lodged on its skull and sunglasses covering its eye sockets. Ebb addressed it cautiously. ‘Don’t you worry about that. I’ve got his cards marked.’
Never trust a man with a beard, Pixie-pea.
Ebb gawked at the skeleton. ‘Leave me alone. I’m busy.’
The skeleton seemed to grin at him, but that had to be a trick of the light. Skeletons didn’t grin. A one-eyed cat could tell you that much. He turned back to face the Infiltrator. ‘Tell me who you are and I’ll let you have a drink.’
‘A…bird-watcher…’
Ebb threw the bottle at him. It bounced off his forehead and landed on the floor next to his chair. The Infiltrator attempted to escape the ropes securing him to the chair. He wriggled like a maggot on a fishhook. At one point, he almost tipped himself over.
‘Sit still. I shan’t pick you up if you upend yourself.’
The Infiltrator stopped writhing and stared at Ebb with those deceitful eyes. ‘Please. I’m… in… agony.’
Ebb snorted. ‘And I’m a busy man. All you need to do is tell me who you are and who sent you, and this will be over and done with.’
Done and dusted, Pixie-pea.
Ebb ignored the voice. ‘Wouldn’t you like that?’
The Infiltrator nodded his head and winced. Ebb noticed that two of his front teeth were missing. ‘How would you like Sister Alice to splint that leg and wash your wounds?’
The Infiltrator nodded and snorkelled blood and snot back up his nose.
‘So tell me who you are?’
The Infiltrator exercised his right to remain silent.
Ebb reached into the pocket of his white ceremonial robe and pulled out a small glass vial. He held it up in front of his quarry. ‘Do you know what this is?’
‘No.’
‘It’s holy water. Do you know what holy water is?’
The Infiltrator nodded.
Ebb smiled. ‘Good. So you’ll understand it burns the skin of evildoers?’
The Infiltrator’s eyes widened. They looked to Ebb as if they were making a grand effort to launch from their sockets and fly to the moon. And well they might. If he was connected to a demon, he was in for a tough time. A very tough time indeed.
‘Please…don’t…do…this…’
Ebb uncapped the bottle. There was a tiny dropper attached to the lid. He drew some of the liquid into the dropper and stepped closer to the Infiltrator. Close enough to smell his rank body. The stench of bodily waste was almost too much to bear. God alone knew what diseases the Infiltrator harboured.
The Infiltrator wheezed and rasped like a knackered engine trying to whirr into life. ‘Geoff…my name’s…Geoff…’
Ebb stepped back and studied the weasel’s face for signs of deception. ‘Geoff? Geoff who?’
The Infiltrator sucked in air through clenched teeth. He gasped five or six times, as if he were about to deliver a baby demon, and then shook his head.
Ebb took a deep breath and tried to summon patience. It was wearing as thin as the Infiltrator’s hair. ‘Geoff who?’
The Infiltrator looked away.
The demon was toying with him. Teasing him. Trying to provoke him. Ebb refused to rise to it. ‘I don’t particularly care what your name is. I want you to tell me who sent you.’
The Infiltrator scraped his tongue over dry lips. ‘I’m a bird-watcher.’
Ebb shook his head. ‘Did Satan send you?’
‘No.’
‘Does Satan reside in you?’
A long drawn out wheeze, and then: ‘No.’
Ebb smiled. ‘I expect nothing other than denial from a terrorist.’
The Infiltrator shook his head. His eyes rolled back in his head. Further indication to Ebb that he was harbouring a demon. ‘I’m not—’
Ebb raised a hand and stepped back. ‘I fear no evil. I shall not stand in the shadow of evil. I am the light, and I am the resurrection.’
‘I’m…Geoff,’ the Infiltrator croaked.
The words sounded like they’d been raked over hot coals. The hot coals of Hell. ‘Show yourself, Satan.’
‘I’m…not…Satan….’
Ebb smiled. ‘Denial is always the first port of call for Satan’s seafarers.’ He stepped forward again and held out the dropper. ‘The holy water shall determine your validity.’
The Infiltrator stared at him with those treacherous eyes.
‘Do you fear the holy water, Satan?’
Satan did. He’d written it in a thousand lines upon the Infiltrator’s face. And well he might fear the holy water. Just as he’d been right to fear the hot needle that Ebb had thrust into his wounded shoulder. Like all cowards, Satan was not as good at taking pain as he was at dishing it out.
Ropes pinned The Infiltrator’s hands to his sides. Tweezer had secured him well. Tweezer seemed to enjoy tying people up, especially people who had betrayed The Sons and Daughters of Salvation. Ebb dripped a few drops of holy water onto the Infiltrator’s right hand.
The coward did not stand on ceremony. He bucked and writhed and tipped himself sideways onto the cold concrete floor. His head hit the ground with a nasty thud, reminiscent of when Ebb had hit his mother over the head with a shovel many years ago.
‘Come forth, Satan. Come forth and show yourself.’
Satan seemed content thrashing about on the floor inside the Infiltrator’s body. Ebb had intended to drop acid onto the weasel’s other hand, but he didn’t want to risk his own safety by getting too close. A wounded animal was a dangerous animal.
‘Come forth, Satan. Come into the light and face the truth.’
Satan’s rage frothed and bubbled on the Infiltrator’s lips. Ebb wouldn’t have been at all surprised to see ectoplasm forming a cocoon around that filthy, matted beard. He stepped back to a safer distance and screwed the cap back onto the bottle.
‘I shall send Sister Alice and Brother Tweezer to attend to you later.’
The Infiltrator didn’t look very grateful. He wriggled and moaned and scraped his head on the rough concrete floor as if trying to burrow his way out of the Revelation Room.
Ebb was in no mood to pander to whims. He left the Infiltrator to bask in self-pity and walked out of the Revelation Room. He locked the door behind him and rested his back against it. As soon as he understood Satan’s purpose here, the Infiltrator could go straight to Hell courtesy of death by a thousand cuts.

Thanks for reading. If you liked this chapter you can see what some readers thought of it here. It is available for kindle and in paperbook, and you can get a copy for FREE with Kindle Unlimited on Amazon.

All the best

Mark