Interview with T.L. Bodine and Tagestraum!

Today I’m interviewing author T.L. Bodine. First let’s take a look at her latest book: Tagestraum.

Working as a child welfare agent, Adrian has seen a lot of disturbing things. Nathaniel Weaver isn’t the first kid in the city who’s ever gone missing, but his disappearance haunts Adrian in a way he cannot entirely explain. Maybe it’s because the child looks so eerily similar to himself. Maybe it’s the drawing that Nathaniel gave to him the last time they met: a cloaked nightmarish figure that Adrian recognizes from his own dreams.

When Adrian returns once more to the scene of the disappearance, he finds a doorway leading to another world: Tagestraum, a bizarre and often treacherous faerie realm powered by human dreams. The world itself threatens the safety and sanity of any human that crosses into it, and several of its denizens are eager to harvest errant humans for a little raw energy.

Adrian knows that he’s the only person who can find Nathaniel – but to do it, he must battle both dangerous inhabitants and his own worst nightmares, and each night that passes brings Adrian closer to losing himself completely.

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1.     So much of your writing has a fairy-tale element. What fairy tales captivated you as a child, and now?

When I was maybe six or seven, my grandmother gave me a book of fairytales that were broken out into days — 365 sections, each one meant to be read at bedtime throughout the year.  These were the original Grimm’s stories, and I was completely fascinated by the violence and death in them compared to the Disney movies I’d seen.  The one that really stuck with me was Cinderella, when the step sisters are cutting off parts of their foot to fit in the slipper.  I just remember reading it and thinking, “Wow, they definitely left that part out of the movie.  This is so much cooler!” (I was kind of a weird kid lol)

In college, I read The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter, and it was kind of a transformative experience.  I knew right then that I wanted to revisit some of those stories from my childhood and try seeing them in a new way.

2.     What do you find the biggest differences are between writing fiction and web content?

They’re almost like apples and oranges.  When you’re writing for the web, you’re giving somebody exactly what they want.  Your number one job is figuring exactly what they’re looking for and delivering it to them.  You spend a lot of time researching and creatively reorganizing information into an effective or accessible format, but everything you need already exists — you’re just packaging it differently.   With fiction, you’re creating things as you go, and you have to go slowly enough to figure out what you’re trying to say.  I can write 10k a day easy for my “day job”, but if I get a thousand words out on a novel it’s a very good day.

3.     If one song out there could define your book, what would it be?

Is it cheating to use a poem?  Because I’d totally say “The Stolen Child” by W.B. Yeats.  Some people have done musical arrangements of it, so it totally counts right?

4.     If you met your main character at a bar, how would you interact?

Well first off I’d be pretty concerned because he’s not a drinker.  He watched both of his parents drink entirely too much and ruin a large chunk of his childhood because of it.  He toyed with drinking socially in college and realized he couldn’t control himself around it, so he’s never been back since.

But I’d buy him a Shirley Temple or something — dude’s earned it– and try to get him to open up.   Sure, I have the unfair advantage of knowing him better than he knows me, but I’m sure there’s things he hasn’t told me yet and I’d love to know them.

5.     If you could live in any literary universe, which would it be?

I’d be perfectly content with a Hogwarts acceptance letter 🙂

6.     Are you a plotter or a pantser?

A bit of both.  Writing for me is kind of like driving on the highway at night.  You know pretty much where you’re going and how you’re going to get there, but at any given time all you can see is what’s right in front of you, and sometimes things jump out at you from nowhere.  Only difference is that writing, the unexpected bits are usually good.

7.     How has writing changed your life?

I’ve been making up stories since I can remember, and writing them down since I was about 8, so it’s been a huge part of making me who I am now.  There’s kind of an old cliche about writing as therapy, but I think there’s a lot of truth to it.  Obviously the number one thing you want to do when you write a book is to try and tell a good story.  But underneath that, you’re also working out problems — trying to figure out how the world works, and why, and whether that’s a good thing.  So I think writing can give you a lot of self-awareness in that respect, and it’s something I turn to for comfort in those situations where answers aren’t always easy to find.

8.     What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

Read widely.  Write all the time.  But don’t forget to go outside and live, too.  Every experience you have will enrich your writing, and you owe it to yourself to gather as many of those experiences as you possibly can.  Sitting alone in front of a typewriter is a romantic image, maybe, but it’s not what’s going to make you a better writer.
About the Author
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T.L. Bodine is a fantasy author, web content writer and fly-by-night video game writer.  Most recently, she’s collaborated with Ginger Goat on the anthology “Trust Me,” about dolls who sometimes tell lies, and her work can be seen in the newly released Holdfast gamebook from Black Chicken Studios.  She has three books in print: Tagestraum, Nezumi’s Children, and The Beast in the Bedchamber.

Interview with @jamie_grey and The Star Thief!

Today I get to interview author Jamie Grey. First let’s check out her book, The Star Thief. Does this not look SO awesome?

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She might only be twenty-three, but Renna Carrizal is the most notorious thief in the galaxy. There’s just one problem – all she wants is to get the frak out of the business.  But when Renna rescues an injured boy from the warehouse she’s casing, she finds herself on the run from the mob instead of enjoying retirement on a garden world. Turns out, the kid was a plant to lead her to MYTH, a top-secret galactic protection agency. MYTH needs Renna’s special skills, and they make her an offer she can’t refuse – unless she’d like to spend the rest of her life on a prison ship. To make sure she does her job they shackle her with a MYTH watchdog, the handsome but arrogant Captain Finn. A former mercenary-turned-galactic-hero, Finn happens to have his own dirty secrets. Secrets that Renna wouldn’t mind uncovering for herself. Together, they discover an experiment to develop illegal cybernetics that will create an unstoppable army. The intended target? The human star fleet. Now Renna must use her skills as the Star Thief to pull off the biggest job of her career – saving the galaxy. And herself.

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The Interview

1.    The Star Thief is about the biggest of Cons—Galactic sized. What inspired you to write about it?

I’d been looking for a good sci-fi romance and I’d read quite a few that I liked but none of them were exactly what I was looking for. I wanted a female Han Solo type, with ambiguous morals and a hear of gold. And a steamy romance. So, I wrote one!

2.     The cover is GORGEOUS. What was your process in obtaining it?

I actually don’t remember how I found my artist’s site – I think I might have been trolling forums looking for cover designers. When I saw her site, I just knew she’d come up with something perfect for me! I didn’t exactly know what I wanted to begin with, so we went back and forth on a few concepts until we found the perfect art. She blew me away with her final design! I’m working on the sequel’s cover now with her, and SO excited for everyone to see it! (Her name is Christa at paperandsage.com)

3.     If one song out there could define your book, what would it be?

Ohhh. Tough question! There are quite a few that would work. I basically wrote the entire book to the soundtrack to the Mass Effect video games. But I think if I had to pick one, I’d probably say All Along the Watchtower, by Jimi Hendrix. The lyrics themselves are perfect -“There must be some kind of way out of here, said the joker to the thief” and it was part of one of my favorite sci-fi TV series – Battlestar Galactica!

4.     If you met your main character at a bar, how would you interact?

I think I’d be totally intimidated by Renna. She’s gorgeous, charming, and self confident. But I think once we started talking, we’d get along pretty well. I think we both have a sarcastic sense of humor and similar outlook on life. (Which may or may not be a good thing LOL)

5.     If you could live in any literary universe, which would it be?

How to choose just one!? I think i’d have to go with Narnia. The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe series was my favorite growing up, and they’re still comfort reads today, so getting to live in Narnia would be amazing!

6.     Are you a plotter or a pantser?

A little bit of both? I have to have a plot/outline to frame up my book, otherwise I get completely stuck when I’m drafting. But I totally pants when I’m filling in the details. As long as I have the outer structure built, I can go in pretty much any direction with the rest of the story.

7.     How has writing changed your life?

I’ve always written, so it’s just become an essential part of who I am and my identity. I think being a writer lets me look at things a little differently than from non-writers – I sometimes watch real life events like they’re happening in a story, analyzing them for plot and drama, or if it would make an interesting scene. Not always a good thing when something horrible is going on, but it’s definitely an interesting way to look at the world.

8.     What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

Most of it’s tried and true – Write what you love and would like to read. Write what interests you. Don’t edit until you have a complete draft (tho I know people who can work this way, I can’t!). Find a good support system – writing friends, critique partners, etc and let them help you grow as a writer, but stay true to your story and vision. Most of all, have fun with it. The moment you stop having fun, is the moment you should stop writing.

Thanks so much for having me on! This was such fun 🙂

 

Find out more about Jamie Grey:

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FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/jamiegreybooks?ref=hl

TWITTER: https://twitter.com/Jamie_Grey

BLOG: http://www.jamiegreybooks.com/

GOODREADS: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/19146092-the-star-thief

Get The Star Thief:

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Interview with @ELAdams12 Emma Adams and Darkness Watching

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About the Book

ighteen-year-old Ashlyn is one interview away from her future when she first sees the demons. She thinks she’s losing her mind, but the truth is far more frightening: she can see into the Darkworld, the home of spirits– and the darkness is staring back.

Desperate to escape the demons, Ash accepts a place at a university in the small town of Blackstone, in the middle of nowhere – little knowing that it isn’t coincidence that led her there but the pull of the Venantium, the sorcerers who maintain the barrier keeping demons from crossing from the Darkworld into our own world.

All-night parties, new friendships and a life without rules or limits are all part of the package of student life – but demons never give up, and their focus on Ash has attracted the attention of every sorcerer in the area. Ash is soon caught between her new life and a group of other students with a connection to the Darkworld, who could offer the answers she’s looking for. The demons want something from her, and someone is determined to kill her before she can find out what it is.

In a world where darkness lurks beneath the surface, not everyone is what they appear to be…

Interview

 Where did you get the first idea for the Darkworld?

I actually made up the demons first, about 7 years ago, and used them in another series which never got picked up. Several years later, I decided to re-use the idea and update it for an upper-YA audience with a university setting. I love writing about alternative universes and invisible worlds, but the Darkworld’s something different because it’s not a place in a physical sense. I had  a lot of fun defining the boundaries of this non-physical world that infiltrates our own.

 Have you had any spooky experiences?

I haven’t, but think it would be fun to spend the night in a haunted house. 🙂

If one song out there could define your book, what would it be?

I listened to a lot of Within Temptation while I was writing the first draft, and I think the one song that really fits well with the series is Frozen.

If you met your main character at a bar, how would you interact?

Hmm…we’d probably both be incredibly awkward to begin with, but then our mutual love of books would hopefully make up for it!

If you could live in any literary universe, which would it be?

I would say Hogwarts, but everyone says Hogwarts. 😉 So, I’d have to go with one of Diana Wynne Jones’s magical alternative universes.

Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Mainly a plotter, but I do sometimes deviate from my outline if my story is pulling me in another direction. I write the story’s blurb and plot out the background first, but leave room to maneuver if the characters decide to be awkward. 🙂

How has writing changed your life?

I can’t imagine ever not writing. It’s something I’ve done all my life, telling stories and creating characters, and I just can’t think of any way that it wouldn’t be a part of my life, published or not. 

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

Write every day. I think when it comes to something like this, you have to really want to do it, enough to make it a habit. Definitely research the industry, get to know other writers. Network on social media. But the most important thing is to keep writing, and constantly work on your craft.

About Emma Adams

Emma spent her childhood creating imaginary worlds to compensate for a disappointingly average reality, so it was probably inevitable that she ended up writing fantasy and paranormal for young adults. She was born in Birmingham, UK, which she fled at the first opportunity to study English Literature at Lancaster University. In her three years at Lancaster, she hiked up mountains, skydived in Australia, and endured a traumatic episode involving a swarm of bees in the Costa Rican jungle. She also wrote various novels and short stories. These included her first publication, a rather bleak dystopian piece, and a disturbing story about a homicidal duck (which she hopes will never see the light of day).

Now a reluctant graduate, Emma can usually be found in front of her writing desk. Her debut novel The Puppet Spell, published by Rowanvale Books, is a fantasy tale for young adults and the young at heart, inspired by her lifelong love of the fantastical, mythology, and video games. Emma also writes urban fantasy novels for older teens and adults. She is currently working on several projects, including the planned 5-book upper-YA/New Adult Darkworld series. The first novel, Darkness Watching, was published in 2013 by Curiosity Quills Press, and the second, Walking Shadow, will follow in 2014.

Website

Twitter: @EMAdams12

BUY DARKNESS WATCHING 

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Review Forthcoming

Interview with D.S. Cahr and The Secret Root

 

 

About the Book

Sometimes time is not on your side, and 15 year-old Jared Garber is about to find that out the hard way. Without warning, the entire Garber family is ripped from their Kansas home, separated, and transported into a distant and perplexing future. Disconnected from everything he understands, Jared must quickly learn how and why he was taken from his prior life.

Back in Kansas, news of the Garber family disappearance has spread like wildfire. When Edie Boyd receives ominous notes in her school locker that ask difficult questions about the nature of time, she just knows they have to be about the Garbers. But when she and her friend Meg investigate they are sent to a time when their own families believe them dead, their friends are all adults, and the world has been radically transformed.

Stuck in a time that is most definitely not their own, they can’t just click their heels three times to return home. Instead, Edie and Meg are forced to make a dangerous journey across the country to confront the man who sent them into the future. Meanwhile, Jared must help Edie learn the truth about their world and come to terms with the frightening reality of who they really are.

With action in cyberspace and reality colliding through parallel worlds full of vibrant characters and thrilling suspense, The Secret Root by D.S. Cahr is a dramatic ride through mind-bending dimensions, wild technology and unfamiliar territory that stretches to the ends of time…and beyond.

Interview

What books/authors have inspired your choice to write Science Fiction?

That’s always a tough question – I’ve been a maniacal reader for as long as I can remember, and so many books and authors inspired me that you always worry that you’ll forget to mention one.  But I’m probably safe on the science fiction front if I mention some combination of Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials series, Frank Herbert’s Dune, Neal Stephenson, Frederick Pohl and William Gibson.

 Explain the plot of your book in ten words or less.

Teens get lost in time, must find their way home. (Wow – that was hard!)

 If one song out there could define your book, what would it be?

I’ve played in bands since I was a teenager, so I love this question!  I don’t know if I could do one song, but I can probably narrow it down to three: “Dorothy at 40” by Cursive, “She Divines Water” by Camper Van Beethoven, and (to go back even further), “Home at Last” by Steely Dan.

 If you met your main character at a bar, how would you interact?

I would probably want to see her ID, since she’s not old enough to drink! But seriously, I’d want to give her a hand – it can’t be easy finding yourself in a future you didn’t earn, surrounded by friends that have grown into adults.  Like the rest of us, she needs to figure out her destiny; unlike the rest of us, she doesn’t have much time to do it.

If you could live in any literary universe, which would it be?

Like any rational person I would probably choose Harry Potter’s world, but only if I could avoid being a muggle.

 Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Totally a pantser! I’m always surprised when I see where the story takes me.  I try to outline, but the characters generally disagree with my plans.  I do know where the series is going, but the journey is always shifting (just like those staircases at Hogwarts!)

How has writing changed your life?

It’s funny, writing hasn’t changed my life because I’ve always been writing, and it’s difficult to imagine life without it.  I remember writing my first stories in 6th grade (which were comically terrible) and the feelings I had back then are still the ones I have today – that getting words on paper is necessary, important and personally fulfilling.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

Keep trying, and don’t get discouraged.  Even something “fun” such as writing is actually a lot of work – and like anything worthwhile you need to practice, persevere and then practice some more.  The stories of rejection that every author experiences are all potential learning experiences, so don’t let that stop you.  If you create something that even one person enjoys it was all worth it.

 

About the Author

 D.S. Cahr has been a bass player, a music journalist, an intellectual property attorney, a blogger, a literature major, and the type of person who dresses up in movie accurate costumes for Star Wars conventions.  More importantly, he is currently hard at work on the next book in the Mesh Chronicles.

Website: http://www.thesecretroot.com

Blog: http://thesecretroot.tumblr.com

Buy the book HERE

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Review to Come

Interview with @kristenstrassel and Because the Night

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About the Book

Sex, Blood And Rock n’ Roll

Immortal Dilemma is the hottest band in the Las Vegas vampire rock scene. They draw insatiable fans from around the globe, thanks to a supernatural attraction called Bloodlust. Tristan craved such an opportunity to fill his empty mortal life, and now he has eternity to earn his place along the legends of rock n roll debauchery.

Callie always feared that Tristan’s excesses would get him into trouble, but she never thought they’d lead him to immortality. To reconnect with him, she must weave her way through a world not only she had no idea existed, but does not welcome her.

Blade turned down a spot in Immortal Dilemma after learning what he must sacrifice for that lifestyle. He finds Callie a refreshing change from the girls in the vampire rock scene. When Callie drags Blade back into the world of Immortal Dilemma, his resistance drives her into the waiting arms of Tristan, who shows her the true meaning of Bloodlust.

But the very things that Callie fights so hard to save are the very things that fight to destroy her.

Interview with Kristen Strassel

 Vampires are a big part of the book. How are your vampires different from the status quo?

The vampires in Because the Night don’t need blood, but they like it.  The blood is erotic for them. They feed off of energy, which can be good and bad, depending on the energy.  To offset this, some of them turn to drugs and alcohol, which effects them in a human way.

What was your first inspiration for writing Because the Night?

I had a dream! I dreamed about a girl trying to make her way in Las Vegas. The dream left such an impression on me I moved to Las Vegas to research the book. It didn’t get written right away, but my experiences there helped shape the book. Music has always been a big part of my life, and Las Vegas has a great music scene. The more I thought about vampires and rockstars, I realized they had a lot in common.  Sexy, mysterious creatures that play by their own rules.

If one song out there could define your book, what would it be?

WASP–Wild Child It’s an old song that I always loved, but one day I realized the lyrics were basically the plot of Because the Night. Because the Night is a song, too. All the books in the series share their titles with songs, hence The Night Songs Collection.

If you met your main character at a bar, how would you interact?

Callie isn’t technically old enough to go to a bar, but she does have a fake ID. We’d probably wind up sitting at the bar and talking about musicians until they kicked us out.

If you could live in any literary universe, which would it be?

Stephanie Plum’s world! Just so I could crash funerals with Grandma Mazur.

Are you a plotter or a pantser?

A little bit of both. I make lists of things that need to be addressed, but they are flexible because I let the characters take charge. They surprise me a lot.

How has writing changed your life?

Writing is the hardest job I’ve ever had.  It’s also the most rewarding.  I’ve learned a lot about myself, and learned to take chances that I probably wouldn’t have before.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

Write what you love.

 

About the Author

 Kristen shares a birthday with Steven Tyler and Diana Ross.  She spends each day striving to be half as fabulous as they are.  She’s worn many hats, none as flattering as her cowboy hat: banker, retail manager, fledgling web designer, world’s worst cocktail waitress, panty slinger, now makeup artist and aspiring author.  She loves sunshine, live music, the middle of nowhere, and finding new things to put in her house.  Kristen is represented by Pam van Hylckama Vlieg of Foreword Literary.

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Twitter: @kristenstrassel
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Review to Come

Interview with Louise D Gornall @rock_andor_roll & In Stone

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About The Book

Beau Bailey is suffering from a post-break-up meltdown when she happens across a knife in her local park and takes it home. Less than a week later, the new boy in school has her trapped in an alley; he’s sprouted horns and is going to kill Beau unless she hands over the knife.

Until Eighteenth-century gargoyle, Jack, shows up to save her.

Jack has woken from a century-long slumber to tell Beau that she’s unwittingly been drafted into a power struggle between two immortal races: Demons and Gargoyles. The knife is the only one in existence capable of killing immortals and they’ll tear the world apart to get it back. To draw the warring immortals away from her home, Beau goes with Jack in search of the mind-bending realm known as the Underworld, a place where they’ll hopefully be able to destroy the knife and prevent all hell from breaking loose. That is, provided they can outrun the demons chasing them

The Interview

1. I LOVE the gargoyle aspect. When did this idea pop into your mind?

Thank you! The gargoyle idea was a combined effort. I was stuck in a paranormal vortex of creatures that nobody wanted to read about anymore. My
critique partner and my sister spent several hours brainstorming reasonably unexplored beasties with me. Before I knew what was going on I had a gargoyle
bouncing around my book.

2. What kind of research did you do for your mythology?

I read some articles about the demon and gargoyle feud online, but to be honest with you I wanted to keep it fluid and not get too caught up in someone else’s stories. I knew some stuff about gargoyles from being a kid. My Nanna was actually the one who taught me about how they were meant to frighten away demons with their grotesque faces. I kind of just built my own version of the ‘whys’ and ‘wheres’ and ‘hows’ around that.

3. If one song out there could define your book, what would it be?

This one is tricky….I guess Demons by Imagine Dragons would be at the top of the list…although my playlist is insane. Beau’s soundtrack is definitely The Magic by Joan as Policewoman.

4. If you met your main character at a bar, how would you interact?

If I met Jack I think we’d laugh a lot. At some point I’d no doubt fall in love because he’s a charmer. If I met Beau we’d talk about music and art, and then we’d probably go
back to her gaff to watch a scary movie.

5. If you could live in any literary universe, which would it be?

I want to live in Middle-Earth. I know that’s crazy because Sauron is a jerk, but Legolass would be there and that cancels out all the bad.

6. Are you a plotter or a pantser?

I’m a panster. Absolutely cannot plot to save my life. I might be the most unorganized person on the planet. I’m gonna have ‘Liked To Wing It’ written on my epitaph.

7. How has writing changed your life?

I was pretty poorly a few years back. Writing gave me focus and a new direction. Even before being published, I needed it. That sounds super cheesy, doesn’t it? But it really did!

8. What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

Keep going. I know it’s cliche, but it’s the truth. I think perseverance is key in this profession.

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Find Louise’s novel IN STONE:

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Book Trailer:

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About The Author

Look at that badass hair!

Look at that badass hair!

Louise is a graduate of Garstang Community Academy. She is currently studying for a BA (Hons) in English language and literature with special emphasis on creative writing. YA aficionado. Brit bird. Film nerd. Identical twin. Junk food enthusiast. Rumored pink Power Ranger. Zombie apocalypse 2012 survivor. She is also an avid collector of book boyfriends.

 

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Excerpt (Review to Follow)

I recently read this article in Cosmopoli-teen Magazine that gave tips on how to handle a break-up. Basically, the article said: go out; get yourself a new hair cut; buy yourself a shiny new lip gloss, and you’ll no longer feel the pain of being chucked away like yesterday’s trash.

Lies. Being dumped still hurts like a baseball bat to the pancreas. Only now my hair is slightly shorter and my lips taste of Strawberry Sunrise.

In real life, being dumped has me curled up on a bed of frozen grass, trying to soften the sound of a bark-cry with the snot-soaked sleeve of my jacket. I think maybe I will never love anyone ever again. Deciding on a life of celibacy at seventeen may seem a little extreme, but right now I couldn’t give a crap. My insides are bleeding.

A sudden gust of wind charges through the park. It makes the leaves of the Holly trees whisper to one another. The temperature is creeping into subzero territory. Any minute now, I’m going to pick my broken self up off the floor, head back home and probably, maybe, definitely listen to indie bands sing songs about bleeding love.

Any minute now.

I’m telepathically trying to send Mark take-me-back messages when a man’s cry echoes around the park. My eyes pop open. At first I think it’s him, that somehow my mind has found him across miles of landscape, and he’s here to scoop me up off the ground and tell me he’s made a huge mistake. But then I hear it again, louder, urgent, a strangled yelp. It’s a sharp slap back to reality, and I can’t stand up quick enough.

My house is right across the street, barely a two minute walk away, but before I can take a single step the earth beneath my feet begins to tremble. Earthquakes in Plumbridge are as rare as the Dodo bird, so heaven knows why I brace myself for the concrete to split open and swallow me. But I do. And it doesn’t. Instead there’s a dull thud. The shaking ground stills; the wind dies. My sobs cease, and silence, the sort that makes you think the whole world stopped and took a breath all at once, smothers me. Like if I move, the atmosphere might shatter into a million tiny pieces. Slowly, I turn my head toward where the thud came from.

Across the stone path, not three feet away, the full moon sheds silver streams of light onto a motionless man, limbs twisted up all over the place, sort of like a bug smashed up against a windshield.

This is a dream. Got to be a dream. I pinch my arm. I’m not really sure how the concept of pinching yourself during a dream works. Something about only being able to feel the pain when you’re awake? The nip stings all the way down to my elbow, so I guess, according to the rules of dream-science, I’m awake.

Crap.

I look up at the sky, scan the vast, navy-blue blanket for signs of more free-falling men. I laugh, just once, because this is absurd with a big ole side of crazy. I’m spotting for men in the sky as casually as if I were counting clouds.

Minutes tick by before it occurs to me that I have to do something, something that isn’t wishing myself away from this situation. A lump that tastes like Penicillin rises in my throat and sticks there as I find my feet and edge closer to him. I kneel at his side, folding myself slowly, as if I’m about to curtsey. My mind is working at the speed of light, sifting through memories of health class, of one hour sessions trying to breathe life back into a plastic doll, while class clown, Ralph Frasier, pretends to pork his doll at the back of the room.

I push my trembling fingers against the man’s neck. There’s not a wisp of heat rising from his skin. He’s cold and clammy like the corpses at the funeral parlor where mom works. He has no pulse, and there’s no sign of a swell in his chest. He’s dead. He’s as dead as a Resusci-Annie doll.

My left eye breaks out into a twitching frenzy. I push it to a standstill because winking at a dead body is weird, even for me. In the last couple of years I’ve seen my fair share of cadavers, but never one that wasn’t wrapped in a green cloth, tagged around the big toe, and carrying its very own police report. I need to go home, call the cops, get mom.

Mom. Double crap.

She is going to kill me for being out here in the middle of the night. Screwing up a clump of hair in my hand, I slump back on my heels and take in a lungful of icy air. My pajama pants pull tight against my knees, and a cold, sticky sensation blossoms against my skin. My pants are sticking to me. My eye twitch is back with a vengeance, and it brought a dagger to jam into my eyeball. Fighting the hesitation in my fingers, I dab the damp patch. Please let it be dew from the midnight air.

Midnight dewdrops are not bright red.

“Oh god.” I choke at the smudges of blood streaked across my palm. The moonlight makes the deep-red stains glisten like rubies. A scream tears its way up from my chest, only to die in a whimper when I see something poking out of the side of the body.

A handle.

I thought the fall had killed him. Now, I’m not so sure.

I back away, pushed by the idea that this poor victim of a freak falling accident might not be a victim at all. He has a knife sticking out of him. Thoughts of who put it there and why are assaulting me when the body expels a low groan. The sound wraps around my bones like a blanket of ice. Colder than death. Without thinking, I slap my hand over my mouth to stifle a second scream. Huge mistake.

The smell of iron dances under my nose as the moist stamp of almost-corpse blood bonds to my skin. I start spitting, scrubbing at my lips with the sleeve of my jacket. I can taste it. Him. Sharp, sour. I’m so wrapped up in the horror of my macabre facial, I almost forget he’s awake. Almost. I tiptoe back over. I don’t know why I tiptoe. It’s not like the sound of my steps are going to finish him off.

His eyes are wide open. Shining pale-blue with a soft, light behind them. They’re the strangest things. My breath catches, and for a second I know what it’s like to be a moth infatuated by a flame. Then the light goes out, and the color of his eyes dulls to grey. He stares vacantly at the empty space overhead. His lips twitch and slurp at the air, trying to quell a thirst for oxygen.

I can’t decide if he has the felon look. You know the felon look. It’s not down to any single feature, but when you see a photo-fit on the news, those dark circles around tiny eyes, mussed hair and crooked grin just seem to scream the guy is a serial killer. The almost-corpse has a pointy chin, a jaw and cheeks that I think if I ran my finger over I’d give myself a paper cut. His hair is long, dark. It’s pushed back from his face and splayed out around his head like a burnt-out halo. Quite beautiful, in a fragrance commercial kind of way.

My artistic eyes — the ones that I hope will get me into college so I don’t have to follow mom into the business of dressing up the dead — are roaming over his features when I spot something crawling around his cheek. I hone in for a closer look. Not crawling, cracking. Something I can’t see is sucking the moisture right out of him. As if he were clay being overcooked, his skin is splitting. My jaw drops as I watch the tiny lines tear up his face. His lips start moving, slower and more defined. I tip my ear toward him.

Another mistake.

He snatches hold of my hand. His grip is vise-like. I try to pull away, but he’s strong, adamant. My fingers slip because they’re slick with blood. He gives my arm a yank, and I fall forward, stopping inches above his face. He smells like the pages of an old book.

“What’s your name?” he asks. My nails cut through his skin as I try to peel his fingers away, but he doesn’t flinch. “Your name, God damn it.” Boom. He has the voice of a giant.

“Beau. My name is Beau. Let go of me.”

“I found you.” I think he sighs.

“Yeah, you found me,” I say. My ears are flooded with the sound of my heart hammering.

“You see the blade? Beau, you must take it and run with it,” he croaks through labored pants.

“I’m not touching anything. We need to get you to a doctor. Let go of me, and I’ll go get help.” He ignores my request and starts leading my hand toward the knife handle.

“Please, you’re hurting me,” I say as he unhooks my fingers from his and wraps my hand tightly around the handle. He places his hand on top of mine. My knuckles turn white under his squeeze.

“You must do this,” he urges. His giant voice is dead. His words are now limping past his lips. “Take it.”

“My mom’s a doctor,” I lie. Not that it matters. I’m pretty certain this guy is beyond saving. “We live just across the street. She can help you.”

“No! No one else. Just you.” The blade starts to rise. It’s like watching the approaching fin of a Great White. Coincidentally, my heart is hammering out the opening of the Jaws theme tune. The further out the knife comes the more stained with crimson it is. It doesn’t look like any blade I’ve ever seen before. Not that I’m blade savvy or anything, but to me it looks more like I’m pulling bone.

“This is nuts. We need to stop.”

“My time is up,” he says. I’m grimacing, making squeaky sounds and tearless whimpers, as the knife slurps its way back through tough flesh and contracting muscle. It slips all the way out amidst a trickle of blood. The Lasagna I’d had for dinner sloshes about in my stomach.

“Listen to me. Listen,” he chokes. “You must do this. You have to take the blade and hide it where no one will ever find it. You have to do this.” He gasps. “Before he comes.”

“He?” I ask. I can’t pull my eyes away from the knife. An onslaught of drool is collecting inside my bottom lip. Wonderment. Can I say wonderment when I’m not a kid dreaming of sugarplums and warm, woolen mittens? I don’t care; wonderment is what’s got me when I look at the knife.

“He wants the blade, but you can’t let him have it, understand? If he has it the Gargoyle will become the hunted.” The almost-corpse exhales a long sigh, and his hand falls from around mine. The knife is in my hand now, only my hand.

I’m holding it.

It looks old. There are several lines of inscription carved into the handle. I can’t read it;  I can barely see it through the blood, but I can feel the swirling, intricate lines like brail under my thumb.

“I don’t understand. I don’t understand at all. This is insane,” I exhale. “Who are you? What is this?”

“I am one of the Gargoyle. At least, that is what I was,” he replies.

“A Gargoyle? Is that some sort of gang?”

“It’s my job to protect you,” he says. He’s delusional, exhausted, sucking on his bottom lip in search of some moisture. I’m not sure he knows what he’s saying anymore. “But alas, my life has become a lie.” He groans. Then his cracking face starts to dissipate and blow away in the wind. I think some of it gets in my eyes because they start to sting. When I blink, the world is dressed in a fuzzy black haze. I try to rub my vision clear, but am unsuccessful.

“You must go now,” the man exclaims in a sharp breath. I quit rubbing my eyes and look back down on him. His stare swells. Something about my face makes his lower lip quiver. The way he’s glaring has me craving a bath of boiling water and some antiseptic scrub.

“What? Why are you looking at me like that?”

“What…what have I done?”

“I don’t know. What have you done?”

He doesn’t answer. I know it’s time to run when the atmosphere starts to shake again, and the almost-corpse flicks his eyes toward a thick congregation of trees.