Live it Again – Geoff North

My friend Geoff North‘s debut novel is now available. I’ve been waiting for this one since last year, because the premise is genius. Bought my copy at the weekend and I look forward to diving into it this week. Congratulations, Geoff!

Knowing then what you know now…

Hugh Nance thought his wife whined too much and his three kids took everything for granted. Hugh Nance was ten years old.

When a bitter, unremarkable forty-seven-year old man’s life is cut short on an icy highway, he receives the opportunity to try again. Hugh is taken back to 1974–back to the body of his boyhood–with all the memories of his middle-aged life in tow. He must re-live the next three-and-a-half decades carefully, or he may never be reunited with his future wife, who he realizes means more to him than he thought. But the memories of his first family begin to fade as this second life proceeds; old habits kick in and unintended consequences make what seemed like every man’s dream into a nightmarish reality…

Read an excerpt and buy the book at Etopia Press.

Guest blog – Naomi Clark

I met Naomi’s PI Ethan Banning last week in her short story UNGRATEFUL DEAD. It’s an excellent introduction to a great character and the moment I finished reading I emailed to ask if she’d guest blog here today to celebrate the release of her Ethan Banning novel DEMONIZED. She said yes, and here she is!

Beware the Sidekick

I have to confess that I’m not a fan of sidekicks in books. Sure, they have their place in comics – what would Batman be without Robin? – but put a wacky sidekick in a novel, and I’m instantly turned off. Particularly if your wacky sidekick is an animal. And yet despite that … I wrote one into DEMONIZED.

You see, Ethan adopts a dog. Rescues him, really, from a life begging for scraps on the street. Rescues him, cleans him up, gets him de-wormed, and buys him doggy toys. Mutt accompanies Ethan on his adventures and, at one point, saves his life. Mutt is, undoubtedly, a sidekick. And when I realised this, I had to lay down some ground rules for myself.

1. No talking. Talking animals is a pet peeve of mine, so there was no way Mutt was ever going to speak or psychically commune with Ethan. He’s a dog. He barks and wags his tail, and that’s all you get.

2. Mutt is not Lassie. Oh, I mean, sure there’s the part where he saves Ethan’s life, but he’s not Wonder Dog. No super intelligence, no leading Ethan to Clues, no solving the mystery. Mutt generally just sits in the car and dreams about pork chops.

3. No wackiness. No comedy mishaps involving the poor dog. Being a PI is serious business, and Ethan’s luck is bad enough without Mutt peeing on his trousers or whatever.

So if I’m not going to have Mutt be a comedy sidekick, why bother, you may ask. What’s the point of a sidekick if they don’t bring comic relief? Well, here’s the thing. At heart, Ethan Banning is lonely. It’s something that became painfully clear to me as I was writing DEMONIZED. Even if he wasn’t possessed by a demon that threatens to destroy him and anyone who gets close, he’d be lonely. He’s terrible with women, estranged from his family, and his TV is the closest he has to a friend. Except for Mutt.

Mutt means Ethan has someone to talk to, someone to care for. He has a reason to keep working – someone has to pay for the pork chops, right? He has a reason to leave the house – got to walk off those pork chops, right? And most of all, with Mutt, Ethan has a friend. He may be mangy and have fleas (Mutt, not Ethan. Although…), but we all know a dog is man’s best friend. And that’s why I was willing to waive my no-sidekick rule, just this once. Well, and for the sequel…

Naomi Clark lives in Cambridge and is a mild-mannered office worker by day, but a slightly crazed writer by night. She has a perfectly healthy obsession with giant sea creatures and a preference for vodka-based cocktails. When she’s not writing, Naomi is probably either reading or watching 80s cartoon shows, and sometimes she manages to do all three at once.

She’s on Blogger, LiveJournal, Twitter and Facebook.

You can buy DEMONIZED at Damnation Books, or you can buy the Kindle edition at Amazon (or here for Amazon UK). The paperback version should be available in about a week.

So come on! Show a broke, borderline alcoholic PI and his rescue dog some love, and pick up a copy of DEMONIZED today!

But, but, I don’t like reading horror…

I stopped reading horror many years ago. After I gorged on it during my teens, exhausting everything Stephen King and James Herbert produced and ending up disappointed at King’s inconsistency and Herbert’s scare-by-numbers writing, I gave up on the genre. I remember saying quite recently in public that I just don’t do horror.

Of course, it has been pointed out to me that there are elements of horror in my Beauty and the Bastard. And now I come to think of it, there are more elements of it in both the novels I have coming out in the next few months. So obviously I didn’t really give up on it. I just gave up on a certain type of it, or maybe a certain era of it.

My conversion to this way of thinking was complete last week when I read two recently published horror books by my friends and Etopia stable mates, Steve Emmett and Julia Kavan.

Diavolino is a darkly delicious read. Steve Emmett takes a pleasant, innocent, happy family from their life of comfort and safety, promises them a wonderful journey, then throws them headlong into hell. The horror is relentless. The hairs on the back of my neck are still up! You can buy it here.

Dreaming, Not Sleeping is a gorgeous short story of erotic horror, sweet and sinful and breathtaking. You can buy it here.

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