Guest Post: Inspirational Characters by K J Waters

Inspiration is something that fascinates me. I love how my mind can imagine different places, characters, and creatures totally unbidden and then give me the words to create stories. I often wonder where other authors get their inspiration from and how they craft their characters.

I asked K J Waters, author of the debut novel, Stealing Time, and who I’ve been featuring on here over the last week, what her inspiration is and whether she’d be interested in writing a post on it for me. I won’t say she ripped my arm off, but she was very excited about it. So without further rambling from me, here’s K J’s post on inspiration:

Inspirational Characters

Thank you so much Carlie for letting me pen a guest post for your blog. Carlie asked me to talk about what inspires me to write and how I develop my characters. It’s funny because when I think of my characters I get all warm and fuzzy. They are part of me of course, but so much more than that, they’ve become my dear friends as well.

Let me start with what inspires me to write. I was born with a very creative brain and have used those skills in various ways to bring me joy. As a kid I’d play for hours with my brother and our stuffed animals. He is my Irish twin, only 11 months older than me (well yes, I was a mistake). In high school and college I set aside my animals to pursue art classes and filled my creative brain with water colors, pen and ink, and acrylics. I didn’t ever consider being an author until I decided to quit my job to stay home with my children well after college.

Without the constant demands of my job, I had time to be very creative with the kids, with constant art projects, day trips to fun museums and loads of imaginary play. But at a certain point, my mind started craving more creativity, more of a challenge than finger paints and zoos. The idea for a novel began brewing after the hurricanes hit Florida in August of 2004 and the following summer we were on a road trip driving up the coast from Florida to Maine.

The idea sparked a wild adventure that has come to fruition with my first novel, just released this past December, called Stealing Time. I’m so thrilled to be back writing again after the months of editing and promoting, and I’m working on book two in the Stealing Time trilogy. My inspiration now comes from wanting to spend time with my beloved characters. I’m falling in love with Mike Walsh, and can’t wait to get back to some of the interesting characters that are in this second book. The time travel elements are so much fun to explore and I’ve delved into it a lot more than I had time for in the first book.

Characters

Carlie asked me how I develop my characters. Ronnie is the main character in Stealing Time and I’d have to say she is about 80% me, with a dash of … hmmmm, not really sure, but there has to be someone else in there. It was easy to make her love the water, because it is something I’m passionate about, and I can say she reacts the way I would in many of her situations, at least as far as I can imagine being back in time and in trouble.

Steph, the second main character in my trilogy, is another story. She is based on one of my best friends who moved away from me years ago. It is my way of spending time with her now that she is gone. I don’t think she is exactly like my friend, because we’ve grown apart somewhat, but it is how I think of her and how she would act in similar situations.

When I developed Jeffrey, Ronnie’s boyfriend, I had to go with what I knew about men. He is a mixture of the good and bad of a few people in my life. It really surprised me that I would enjoy writing from the male perspective so much. Some of my best friends are men, and I love seeing the world through their eyes. Writing from Jeffrey’s perspective has given me a new window into their minds, and from what male readers have told me they really identify with how I’ve written them. Which is a huge relief!

In book two I began writing Mike Walsh, Ronnie’s boss, as the good parts of the same person that Jeffrey is based on but had to diverge enough to make the two characters very different. They have completely different motivations and views in their roles in my book. The other way are very different is that Jeffrey pretty much listens to me and does as he’s told. Mike has his own ideas. He’s hijacked my story on numerous occasions and it has shocked me as some of the twists and turns that have spiced up the story. I gotta say, he’s really grown on me and if I could make him into a real person my husband would be in big trouble. I guess that’s a writer for you, always making up stuff and often glad it’s not real.

As for Mathias in the first book, an Austrian man from the 18 century, I pretty much had to go on a big fat guess on how he would act. You don’t really run into many men from that time period these days. I have a friend who read the book and reported, much to my surprise, that he had a really good friend from Germany who was so much like Mathias in how he acted and thought. Maybe, just maybe, I tapped into some special time travel skill to mind meld with these characters in a different realm. Hey, I’m a writer I can think outside of the box on anything if I want.

The side characters are a mish mash of people I run into in my real life – a waitress, a PTA mom, an old boss. On several occasions I’ve created a character not really knowing him well, but as he develops into a full blown personality I meet someone who is ridiculously like that person I crafted. It has definitely freaked me out. This happened with Nick in the first book.  

I’m really curious to learn how other authors create their characters and see if my approach is standard operating procedure, or if, as I often do, I’ve created something completely different.

Thank you again Carlie for allowing me to spew on and on about my inspirations and character development. I’d love to talk to you about how you created your well-loved characters in the Heart Search series.

I’d be only too happy to talk about my characters with you, K J!.

It was a real pleasure for me to feature K J on my blog during this last week and I hope you’ve enjoyed it as much as I have. Don’t forget, if you’d like a copy of Stealing Time, click here for all the buy links from the Book Launch post!

KJWaters-Front Cover for blogkj pic

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Book launch: Forbidden Road by Connie J Jasperson

Every so often I come across a book that resonates deep in my soul – I’m sure that’s happened to you too! One of those books was Tower of Bones by Connie J Jasperson. Most of you know I love fantasy books more than any other genre and this book certainly didn’t disappoint!

I started getting to know Connie through a mutual friend and was delighted when she asked me to edit book two in the series, Forbidden Road. This was truly a labour of love for me; having enjoyed Tower of Bones so much I read it twice back-to-back, it gave me enormous joy to be able to read and work on the follow up. This has been the most comprehensive editing job I’ve had and it took a while to reach the finish line, but what made it all the more enjoyable was working with a consummate professional who I have come to respect and consider a dear friend.

Tomorrow this fabulous book is being launched and I can honestly say I’m almost as excited as Connie! Of course, being the editor has a few perks, one of which is being able to give you, my wonderful followers, an exclusive cover and trailer reveal PLUS an interview with the lovely lady! I’ve also managed to twist her arm to allow me to share an excerpt from Forbidden Road with you. So without further rambling from me . . . here is the amazing cover, which was designed by Ceri Clark.

FR Cover bigger

Now for the trailer:

Intrigued yet??? Here’s the blurb:

A ray of light shone on Edwin. Of its own volition the sword Leviathan raised itself aloft to the Goddess. A bell tolled deep and clear, ringing through Edwin’s bones, ringing to his heels and resonating to his very soul, sealing him, binding him. Fervently he swore to wield Leviathan in service to the Goddess and Neveyah.  He was alive with the sound of the bell. The beauty of it was almost unbearable.

As every fiber of his being resonated, a voice proclaimed “Now begins the quest in earnest. Send now the heroes four to the Shadowed Land. Beware! Beloved, the true task for which you were born begins.  The storm rages, the door opens upon the field of battle. In grief recall the Forbidden Road. The Beloved Hero will rise on the day of redemption. Mist and shadows shroud the truth, but the Hero Foretold shall one day set them free.”

Tears coursed down his cheeks and falling to his knees, Edwin’s eyes were blinded by the radiance of the bell’s tolling through his heart, mind and soul. The knowledge he was loved, overwhelming in its intensity, flooded his being.

Thus begins the Quest of a lifetime. Sorrow, peril and magic await in the Valley of Mal Evol.

I’m going to keep you waiting a bit for the excerpt and tease you with the interview – especially as it talks a little more about Forbidden Road!

Me: Hi and welcome, Connie. Congratulations on the launch of Forbidden Road – are you as excited as I am?

CJJ: Yes, it’s been a long time coming and I’m glad the day is finally here.

Me: So am I!! Can you tell us a little about your new book?

CJJ: Forbidden Road takes up six years after the end of Tower of Bones, and continues Edwin’s story. Many changes have occurred and many more loom on the horizon. They are all family men, and they have careers—things that are all affected by this quest. Joining Edwin, Friedr and Christoph on their quest to shield the heart of Neveyah and heal the land is Zan, Christoph’s adopted son.

Me:  Do you have a favourite character? If so, who and why?

CJJ: I’m in love with all four of them, especially now they are settled men.  They each have their own strengths and that is what makes this series so much fun to write.

Me: I know what you mean – I love all of them too! How many more books are you planning for this series?

CJJ: One more in the Tower of Bones Series, working title is ‘Valley of Sorrows’. There is a prequel in the works currently about 75% done. Once all of these are complete I will begin working on the ‘Hero’ series, of which the final book is outlined.

Me: Ooo, exciting! How did writing Forbidden Road compare with writing Tower of Bones, the first book in the series?

CJJ: Both books fell out of my head faster than I could write them down.  With Forbidden Road I had an editor as soon as the first draft was finished (gosh, you may know her!) and that made the whole process so much easier.

Me: I can’t think who you’re referring to, *tries to look innocent*. Are any of the characters based, however loosely, on anyone you know?

CJJ: I doubt it—so far as I know they are based on people I would LIKE to know, and began life as characters for a an old-school computer game that was planned to proceed along the lines of the early Final Fantasy games, and like the modern Aveyond games. That fell through, but I had fallen in love with the story and it became Tower of Bones.

Me: It’s a shame the game fell through, but think what we would have missed if the book had never been written . . .  Anyway, what are you working on at the moment?

CJJ: I am working on Mountains of the Moon. This is Edwin’s grandfather’s story and is a bit of a comedy; it’s being written as a stand-alone novel, as Tower of Bones was. I am trying to get that one finished, because John Farmer’s flashbacks in Valley of Sorrows concern events surrounding the fates of several characters from that book. I have the basic story of Valley of Sorrows all done, but in order to flesh it out I need to finish Mountains of the Moon.

Me: I can’t wait to get my hands on these two! I know you’re a big music lover; who are your favourite artists to have playing when you write?

CJJ: In truth, I am obsessed with Ritchie Blackmore in all his incarnations, such as Rainbow and Deep Purple.  I love his current band Blackmore’s Night. My other obsession is Robert Plant in all his various incarnations too! But besides Ritchie and Robert, my iPod has everything from Adele to the Zombies in it, and I have seventeen days’ worth of music, which if I began playing it end to end would never repeat itself.  My daughter, Meg Clear’s music is very high on my faves list!

Me: I love Meg’s music too! Is there any one author who has influenced your writing?

CJJ: I think the late Anne McCaffrey has had the greatest influence on me, but all the great fantasy and early sci-fi writers are alive and well in my subconscious mind.

Me: What made you pick fantasy as your genre to write?

CJJ: I’ve never been fond of reality, truthfully. I guess that since I live in the real world, I don’t need to vacation here!

Me: I can SO relate to that and what a great way to explain it! What is the most important thing you’ve learned in the last 12 months?

CJJ: You may laugh, but I finally figured out how to make the brushes rotate on my carpet shampooer, and that has helped me immensely!  I clean house when I hit the wall on my writing and need to organize my thoughts. I’ve always found cleaning to be conducive to daydreaming, and all my books begin as daydreams.  SO—having the shampooer that’s working properly has been awesome for my creative genius!

Me: May laugh? Only a huge amount of side-splitting guffaws echoing around the room right now! That’s certainly not what I was expecting, but I think it’s brilliant. Anything which helps the creative juices to flow is a good thing, right? Okay, a couple of fun ones to finish off . . .

You’re throwing a dinner party and can invite any three people, living, dead or fictional to join you and your guests. Who would they be and why?

CJJ: Roger Zelazney, L.E. Modesitt Jr. and Fritz Lieber.  Three great fantasy authors, all of whom have awesome male heroes. Only Modesitt is still alive, and of the three, only his characters are not misogynists. Nevertheless, I would love to hear them discuss the craft of writing from their viewpoints. Can you imagine the dinner conversation?

Me: OMG it would be awesome! Finally, if you could be a fictional character for a day, who would you be and why?

CJJ: I would be Uhura from the original Star Trek, because she got to play with the boys and she could talk to every species they met.

Me: Thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to visit me today. I’ve loved having you here! I wish you every success with your wonderful new book!

CJJ: Thank you for inviting me!

Okay, okay, I’ve teased you long enough and can’t hold it back any longer. Here is the EXCLUSIVE excerpt from Forbidden Road, just for you:

“Why does the land change so radically here?” Zan finally asked Edwin. “This is the worst road I’ve ever seen!”

“Tauron’s poison is nearly at the door,” replied Edwin, wondering what was bothering Zan. “It’s a mere fifty leagues away from the gap now. I thought you understood. We’ll be in Tauron’s Mal Evol in three days.”

“I knew it on one level, but I guess I didn’t understand what it meant,” replied Zan, feeling temporarily dismayed by the grim reality of the landscape. “I guess I was thinking of the adventure, not the reality. I was thinking it’d be like Aelfrid Firesword, all fun and adventure, with no worry.”

 “Actually, Aelfrid Firesword’s life must’ve been terribly difficult,” said Edwin, walking next to Zan. “Think about it. He was forced to kill his closest friend who’d become a rogue mage and gone over to Tauron. Can you imagine how you’d feel if, say, I went over to Tauron? How would you protect the people of Neveyah from me? What would you do?”

“I never thought about that aspect of the story,” Zan admitted. “Making those sorts of decisions, having to kill someone you love in order to protect others you love, I can’t imagine what that was like for Aelfrid.” He sighed. “But I’d do it, if I was forced to. I think it’d kill me, though.”

“I know.” Edwin clasped Zan’s shoulder. “Daryk was the most famous of the Dark-Mages, but most people don’t know he fought desperately against Tauron’s minions at Aelfrid’s side when the two of them first came into their powers. He worshipped Aeos, and loved Neveyah with all his heart. It never occurred to either Aelfrid or Daryk he would ever fall to Tauron, but there was no Temple, and no vows to protect him from Tauron’s blandishments. There was no college to teach young mages how to use their magic, so they had to learn how to control the build-up of chi and avoid the madness by gaining apprenticeships to older mages. Daryk was lured away from their kind master by a mindbender who was under Tauron’s spell. It was because of Aelfrid’s grief over the loss of the man who’d been closer than a brother, and his struggle to save the other mages still loyal to Aeos that Aeoven and the Temple exist today. Without Aelfrid we wouldn’t have the augmentations allowing us access to greater chi reserves, nor would we bind ourselves to the Goddess with the vows. It must’ve been a terribly hard time to live through.”

“I see what you mean,” admitted Zan. “As a kid I read all the stories, and just thought it was all good against evil, romance and happy endings. But maybe it’s just the way the bards tell it.”

Edwin laughed. “It wouldn’t be a good story if it was all dirt, bug bites and poor sanitary conditions now, would it?”

Forbidden Road will be available on Kindle from Amazon tomorrow (on both sides of the pond), with the paperback following soon.

Connie J JaspersonConnie J Jasperson lives and writes in Olympia, Washington.  Somewhat like the ‘Brady Bunch’, she and her husband share five children, eleven grandchildren and a love of good food and great music.

Tower of Bones Series – Planned for release in February 2013 is the second book in the series, Forbidden Road, the sequel to the best-selling epic-fantasy, Tower of Bones.

Billy’s Revenge SeriesBook 1 The Last Good Knight is a medieval fantasy. Book 2, Huw, the Bard is planned for release in 2013.

A collection of fairy tales and short-stories, Tales from the Dreamtime is also scheduled to be released in 2013.

Catch Connie on her blog at http://conniejjasperson.wordpress.com

 

 

Special Guest – Maria V A Johnson

Today I have a real treat for you! My special guest is none other than my wonderful editor, who is a published author and poet in her own right – Maria V A Johnson. Now I’m going to make her blush before I begin the interview – I happen to know Maria was nominated for International Young Poet of the Year in her second year of University! What an amazing achievement! Is that cool or what??

Anyway, I managed to twist Maria’s arm to take time off from editing Heart Search book two, to talk to us about her emotive poetry book, Hearts & Minds, writing and editing. And, as a special treat, Maria has agreed to me sharing one of the poems from Hearts & Minds here for your enjoyment.

Maria

C: Welcome, Maria. It’s great to have you here today.

M: Thanks so much for inviting me, Carlie, and for the wonderful cup of tea!

C: Congratulations on publishing Hearts & Minds, Maria. Tell us, how did you feel seeing it up on Amazon for the first time?

M: I guess I was numb. You know how you get when the unachievable startles you? That’s how I was! I’m rather a pessimist and just seeing it up on Amazon wasn’t enough to make me truly happy; and I didn’t start believing in my work until I got my first good review.

C: I can relate to that. So, how long have you been writing and what got you started?

M: I guess I was a bit of a late starter. I did the odd poem or story in school for assignments, but I didn’t really start writing per se until 2004 during my A Levels. It was at that time my grandmother passed away, and I wanted something personal to read at the funeral. Good student as I was, I researched heavily into funereal poetry before attempting to write my own; and I haven’t looked back since.

C: I don’t think that’s particularly late – some people don’t start writing until they retire! Anyway, I noticed on your bio you have a Bachelor of Arts Honours Degree in English and Creative Writing. What aspects of your Creative Writing degree did you love? What did you hate?

M: Well I loved most of it, but the fiction writing course was my favourite. I have the beginnings of about 10 stories – because each submission had to be a different story – and the hardest part is going back and picking which one to finish. I would have to say the screenwriting course was the hardest for me; I really struggled. Believe it or not though, poetry wasn’t one of my favourites. My teacher was constantly on my back saying it wasn’t modern enough, that it had too much story to it. I read some of his, and honestly I have no idea how he managed to get it published!

C: Where do you get the inspiration from for your beautiful poetry?

M: A lot of my inspiration comes from my experiences. When I first started it was a very emotional time for me, and there was something so cathartic about pouring my emotion onto paper that I’ve kept going in that vein. Some of my inspiration actually came about as assignments. I had to write about a certain subject, and something worthwhile came out.

C: Everyone needs an emotional outlet and I think it’s wonderful how you channel yours into your poetry. How much of yourself do you actually pour onto the pages?

M: A lot! I’m one of those people that tend to bottle up their emotions until they make themselves ill. Writing poetry has helped me release some of that tension. To be honest, I believe poetry is a way to share yourself and your views with the world. If you don’t pour yourself in, then what is your poetry?

C: Good point! Do you write stories as well? If so, what genre and age group?

M: Well, the genre is easy – Fantasy. I fell in love with it as a kid, and haven’t looked back since. My favourite age group to read is teenage/YA, and that’s the genre I aim to write for, but most of my ideas tend to be younger than that!

C: You are also a professional editor. What is it about editing you enjoy? Is there any part of it you hate?

M: The most rewarding part is getting to turn a raw manuscript into something people would buy and read. The part I love most however, is getting to read the stories first! I guess the only real downside is being unable to switch off the editor. Now, whenever I read, I constantly notice mistakes and it sort of spoils the enjoyment. Even big authors like Charlaine Harris (who wrote the True Blood books) aren’t free of mistakes.

C: Damn! You were supposed to say your favourite part of editing was working on my books!! [Laughs]. So, what’s next for Maria V A Johnson? Are you working on anything at the moment?

M: Right now my writing group, Writebulb, is just starting work on a second charity anthology. We released one towards the end of last year raising money for Farleigh Hospice, and we have decided to do another. We haven’t quite chosen a charity yet, but Little Havens Children’s Hospice is the logical choice since we are attempting to write for 6-10 year olds.

As far as my individual work goes, I’ve been playing about with a space story for young children. I haven’t quite figured out which age group it’s going to be for – I’ll wait and see once the story is written. The idea actually started as a writing challenge in my group; take a song title out of the hat, and write for 30 minutes. I got the title Supermassive Black Hole! I might even use that as the title for the book…hmmm.

C: Five fun ones to finish off:

Favourite food?

M: Now that’s an easy one! I’m quarter Italian, and I love pasta in any form.

C: Favourite book/series?

M: Another easy one! Are you planning to ask me anything that’ll make me think? It has to be the Otherworld Series by Yasmine Galenorn (over 16’s only readers!), but with The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien running a close second.

C: Uh-oh! Now she’s getting sassy! [Laughs] Ok, try this one! If you could be a supernatural being, what would you be and why?

M: Ok, now you’re upping your game! I love vampires, but I’m not sure I’d want to be one. A steady diet of blood would get really boring after a few hundred years. So in that case I think I would have to pick two: Fae (because they can live for ages – even half-fae can live to a thousand), and a Were. Even though Weres have to change form on the full moon, they can change whenever they want. I’m not sure which species of Were I would prefer, maybe seal because I love to swim, or maybe one of the big cats. Though I love wolves, the Weres have a bad rep as being too aggressive.

C: Hmmm. I can see the attraction of Fae, but not sure about Weres. Let’s see if I can really get you with this one. If you could pick one place in the world to go, where would it be and why?

M: Now this is a hard one. There are so many places I would love to go, how do you just pick one? I have already been to Paris and Rome, so I think I would have to go for either Milan or Venice. Milan, if I’m being reflective – my paternal grandmother came from a little village on the outskirts, but Venice is one of the most romantic cities in the world, and I would love to experience it.

C: Yay! That one made you think. Finally, if you could have dinner with any one person, living or dead, who would it be and why?

M: Prince Charming! Oh, did you mean a REAL person? [Chuckles]

C: Thanks for taking time off from editing to let me interview you, Maria.

M: Thank you for asking me here. Now, how about another cuppa?

Cheeky, isn’t she?! Lol. Now I happen to know Maria’s book cover was designed by the wonderfully talented, Ceri Clark; I think it’s fabulous, what about you?

Hearts & Minds

Here is the blurb:

The most important human experiences of love and death are beautifully explored in this anthology. With carefully selected and themed sections: Loss; Love; Lyrical; and Life, the emotions invoked by the words as they flow over the page will touch your heart.

And now, as promised, here is one of the poems from the book:

The Chair

The chair sits stark and silent,

its occupant gone.

A mass of letters

stacked nearby, no one

there to open them.

A brown patch stains

the ceiling, a stale

smell clings to the fabric –

old smoke.

A spaniel casts its lonely eyes

approaches, sniffs

and slinks away.

Reading glasses discarded

on its arm, blank screen before it,

no haunting strains

of Emmerdale make us

yell for quiet; no better tune

than the one we lost.

Hearts & Minds is available from Amazon UK, and Amazon.com for Kindle or paperback.

Check out Maria’s website here: http://mariavajohnson.com

The Hunger – Flash Fiction by Shaun Allan

I’m so chuffed to welcome by friend and ‘stable mate’ Shaun Allan to the blog today. He’s written a fabulous flash fiction piece and although it’s the last day of the Heart Search Blog Tour, it’s also All Hallow’s Eve. So what better way to celebrate than by having a scary story to sink your teeth into?

The Hunger

I heard the sound, loud in the still of the night.

Well, it wasn’t exactly still…  Cars went by, people huddled down against the cold, lights were on in houses and shops were closing up for the day.  Shutters were pulling down, the windows’ eyelids closing for their night-time slumber.

In winter, when your breath takes form and your hands battle your money for dominion in your pockets, the night takes over from the day at a time just when everyone actually needs it.  To walk from work or school.  To drive home.  To feel safe.

But, though that world was spinning down to rest, the cold made the air crisp and clear.

And sound travelled on it like a surfer on a wave.

It was… odd.

You know when you recognise a voice, but can’t place whose it is?  It was like that, except no-one spoke.  It was more than simply a random noise, slipped from the dark.  It had substance.  Ownership.

But… I couldn’t place it.  It was, in fact, out of place.  Unusual in that you wouldn’t and shouldn’t hear it whilst walking down a street in the evening.

It was… eating.  Crunching with a side order of slurping.

I stopped.  I was the only one.  Other pedestrians went on the way, some alone, some in couples or groups.  One or two looked at me as if I was a mad for stopping so randomly.  As if I’d insulted them by daring to waver in my walking.  They continued on their way, however.  Unheeding and unhearing.

The alleyway sucked the light from the atmosphere, hungrily devouring it, seemingly gaining sustenance from the illumination – a deeper darkness in contrast to the glow of the streetlights.  It felt heavy.  It felt, somehow, material.

The sounds of hunger were not coming from the night, however.  Thankfully.  Well, I suppose ‘thankfully’.  They were coming from further in.  Further back.

They would be, naturally.

I should leave it.  It’s a dog.  A cat.  Maybe a lion, for all I knew, escaped from a travelling circus.

No, it was none of these.  Not even the lion.  It wasn’t so random.  It didn’t feel like an animal.

Perhaps some homeless man huddled in the shadows, hiding from the cold and the world.  If so, I’d offer a few coins and be on my way.  The mist of our combined breaths would mingle, akin to a shake of the hand as I did my good deed and felt a little saintlier.

In for a few coins, in for a pound of flesh…

I pulled my hands from my pockets, where they’d been duelling with a couple of fifty pence pieces, with a two pound coin being the referee.  All the better to defend myself, my dear.  Just in case, you know?

The cold air nibbled at my fingers like tiny Piranhas and I wanted to shove them back into my jeans.  I didn’t, though.  Nor did I carry on walking.  I was being drawn in, my curiosity overpowering my reason with a face-hugging pillow.

I waded through the cloying darkness, the sounds of feasting making my own stomach grumble in sympathy.  My eyes adjusted quickly as I walked, enough that I could avoid the empty beer cans and puddles of what I assumed wasn’t simply water.

There was a big bin.  A general waste container for the businesses around.  Practically the size of a skip, with bulging black bags piled around it, the bin watched me as I approached.  I felt it judging me.

“Idiot,” it was thinking.

I tended to agree, but I couldn’t stop my feet as their steps carried me on.

Then, I saw.

On the floor, a woman.  Or what was left of one.  The darkness deemed the scene worthy of allowing some moonlight in.  I could see her long hair.  I could see the swell of a breast beneath her coat and a heel, snapped from the sole of the shoe she was wearing, hanging loosely.

I could see a pool of blood spreading, reaching towards me, beseeching me to save her.  Too late.  I could tell.  The gaping hole at her waist was proof enough.

That was the sound.  That was what was being eaten.

The figure bent over her, crouching, heard my gasp before I’d realised I’d uttered one.  It stood quickly and turned to me, blood smeared across its face.

I always thought they were just in the movies.  Along with vampires and werewolves and witches.  I always thought they were something to shoot in the games on my phone.

They’re not.

I always thought they’d have dead eyes, too.  Their brain would have rotted away taking all but the need to eat the living along with it.

That’s what I thought.

I was wrong.

They’re not just in the movies.

And their eyes aren’t dead.  They have a fire in them.  An intent.  A hunger.

The zombie lunged.

I don’t know about any of you, but I’m going to steer well clear of alleys today! Thank you so much for sharing that with us today, Shaun.

Stay safe during Samhain and don’t become monster chow or vampire fodder!

* * *

Shaun Allan

A creator of many prize winning short stories and poems, Shaun Allan has written for more years than he would perhaps care to remember. Having once run an online poetry and prose magazine, he has appeared on Sky television to debate, against a major literary agent, the pros and cons of internet publishing as opposed to the more traditional method. Many of his personal experiences and memories are woven into the point of view and sense of humour of Sin, the main character in his best-selling novel of the same name, although he can’t, at this point, teleport.

A writer of multiple genres, including horror, humour and children’s fiction, Shaun goes where the Muse takes him – even if that is kicking and screaming.

Shaun lives with his wife, daughters, cats and fish. Oh and a manic dog. Though his life might, at times, seem crazy, he is not.

Honest.

Sin is now published by Fantasy Island Book Publishing and is available in print and as an ebook!Dark Places is now published under Myrddin Publishing Group and is available as an ebook. Print version coming soon!

Guest Post from Mia Hoddell

I’ve got a treat for you today! I’m delighted to introduce a very talented author who has two books published and has kindly written a post for us about her writing and influences.

Drumroll please, for the lovely Mia Hoddell . . .

Mia Hoddell

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hi everyone! Here’s a little about me, my writing and influences.

During high school English lessons my teacher used to make us review a different book we had read every month. However because I was never interested in reading/writing until 2009, I used to make up my own books, which I got away with for a while (probably should have followed the hint then). Up until this point I was more interested in sports and art, and originally wanted to be an artist. Later on though, I discovered some books by Julia Golding which really interested me so from then on I have developed a love of both reading and writing.

I began writing short stories that all included paranormal aspects. My first one was about a WW1 soldiers who died in battle then returned as a lost soul and was forced to walk the battlefield for eternity. I love anything paranormal so my ideas and writing generally includes some aspects of this or fit into the paranormal genre. This may change in the future, but for now the ideas in my head (about nine of them) are all paranormal.

The short story I had written about the WW1 soldier helped me to develop the main theme of The Wanderers Trilogy. Also a song on youtube (SomewhereNowhere – Cinephile) helped generate the images for the first scene in The Sheol. I started writing about the clear image I had in my head of a woman wearing black and standing on the edge of a cliff while the sun set. And from there the story slowly developed. I hadn’t really thought it through up until that point though; all I knew was I wanted a strong female lead and something to do with lost souls.

Once I had finally planned the whole trilogy, I had no trouble finding suitable names for most of my characters. For Kala, I looked up names with the meaning “darkness,” to fit in with the dark paranormal romance theme, and after looking at a few websites, Kala seemed perfect. After that most of the other names seemed to fall in place; all but Nachtmahr’s anyway. I had written the whole book before finding him a name, just using a few dashes instead (something I later regretted when I had to go back and edit it all). I spent three days trying to find a suitable name for him before finally settling on Nachtmahr – meaning nightmare in German. I’m very picky with names and if I have the slightest doubt, I will not use it, even if it does take me days to find a replacement.

I wrote during my summer holidays and would stay up until 4am writing, just losing myself in the story. However, by the time I reached chapter 6, I had run out of holiday and was stuck with a heavy work load so my writing was put on hold for two years. I was finally able to get back to my novel though as I was desperate to finish it and made my writing my priority. I spent 4hours minimum writing everyday and within two weeks I had finished The Sheol.

For me the task of writing the book seemed easier than inventing a title at this point; and there was also the editing. I originally settled on ‘Earthbound’ but it didn’t seem right so I decided to keep it simple and use the main dark supernatural force ‘The Sheol’ (meaning a place where the dead congregate) as the title. After this, three painful months were spent editing before I shot photos for the cover and uploaded my first book to Amazon. From there on the sequels to The Wanderer Trilogy have been created and I have more ideas I am working on, all from different influences; some real life and some from dreams.

Thank you, Mia, for sharing this with us.

For more information about Mia and her books, keep scrolling down!

The Sheol – the first book in The Wanderer Trilogy.

Being a trained killer, Kala can handle most things the world throws at her. However, when she murders her fiancé, Kala’s life is thrown into chaos. Forced to leave everything behind, she runs from city to city, in fear of her psychotic boss who is seeking her death. If that wasn’t enough, she also has to cope with the re-appearance of her dead fiancé who is struggling to keep a hold on his sanity as he strives for revenge.

Book trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ROCvv4FqfCQ

The Flawless – the second book in The Wanderer Trilogy.

A battle is going to arise soon; The Sheol and The Flawless will come together but only one can survive to continue their manipulation of humankind. The Wanderers have to decide whether to summon the courage to fight so they can save themselves from eternal unrest or whether they like being lost, immortal souls. Nachtmahr is upgrading his Sturmmen to create more ruthless and efficient killers due to interference from The Sheol, while Kala is becoming darker; her rage consuming her as she strives to fulfill her own personal mission…Kill Nachtmahr.

LINKS:

Website/blog: http://miahoddell.blogspot.co.uk

Facebook page:  http://www.facebook.com/pages/Mia-Hoddell-Author/421368247889610?ref=hl

Twitter: @MiaHoddell – https://twitter.com/MiaHoddell

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Ddigital-text&field-keywords=mia+hoddell

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/search?query=mia+hoddell

Also available at Barnes & Nobel and iBooks

Print Books available at Lulu: http://www.lulu.com/shop/mia-hoddell/the-sheol-the-wanderer-trilogy-1/paperback/product-20365466.html