Sunday, March 2, 2014
Blue 52 is going on tour in March. Be sure to join us for your chance to win a $50 Amazon or B&N gift card. One final except, and I hope to see you on March 11. In this excerpt my heroine is having a little trouble.
With no warning, three shadowy figures melted out of the shrubbery around the porch and surrounded her. They seized her under her arms and propelled her backwards toward the house before she had time to call out. She hit her head against the wall, and for a moment she saw stars. A hand sheathed in a thick, leather glove roughly covered her mouth and nose as she drew a breath to scream. One of the attackers slapped a length of duct tape across her mouth.
The two largest men crushed her against the house while the third man casually slipped a knife from his pocket. Kathryn struggled with all her strength, but she might as well have tried to move the house itself. She was no match for two strong men.
“Be still, Dr. Sinclair,” the third man ordered. He held the knife in front of Kathryn’s terrified eyes for her inspection. “We want you to give your boyfriend a message. We think he should forget about the past. No good can come of upsetting things now. If he doesn’t stop nosing around, we’ll have to pay you another visit. I promise that you won’t like it we have to come here again.”
He placed the glistening, sharp edge of the knife against Kathryn’s throat, which started to sting as the blade bit in. She held her breath as the man slowly cut from one side of her throat to the other. When she felt warm blood drizzle down her neck, her ears roared, and she saw spots in front of her eyes.
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Hank shrugged. “Grandpa loves me, I know that, but I also know he thinks I’ve never measured up to Dad. God knows I’ve tried, but how can you compete with a dead hero? He was the damn president for crying out loud! Nothing I ever do can top my father, because he’s dead.”
“I understand.” Just look at his mouth. His lips were exactly the right shape for kissing. How was she supposed to think of a dead president when a living, breathing, sexy man sat beside her in the bed?
“I’ve never compared you to your father,” she whispered. “I’ve never even met your father, but I know you, Hank, and I like what I’ve found out about you.” Her eyes locked with his as she slid across the bed to within a hair’s breadth of him.
“You smell faintly of lilac,” he muttered.
Kathryn ran her hand through her hair, releasing the lilac fragrance into the air. “That’s the shampoo I used on my hair. Do you like it?”
“Uh huh. I like that clingy little robe too. I’m trying not to stare, but those curves of yours are getting to me.”
Kathryn’s heart took off in a mad gallop. “I tried not to think of those kisses we shared at the party, but I thought of them anyway.”
Oh, glory be! Look how his eyes were smoldering. “They made my stomach feel fluttery,” she said.
“My knees got weak.”
A demure little smile curved Kathryn’s lips as she melted against him. “So, kiss me again, and let’s see what happens.”
Hank’s eyes closed as he gently kissed her. “Well?”
“My stomach got fluttery again.” Kathryn sighed.
Hank gently tucked a lock of hair behind her ear. “My knees might be weak, but I can’t tell because I’m lying down.”
Kathryn frowned. “Oh, I don’t like that. If you don’t know for sure, I must be doing something wrong. Let’s try that kiss again.”
Hank seemed agreeable. He took her in his arms, but this time he kissed her the way a man kisses his true love, as if she was his greatest treasure in the world. Kathryn shivered against his chest as fire raced through her veins. “How are you knees?”
“Weak as water.”
“You haven’t seen anything yet.”
She replies, “I don’t want to hear it. Listen to this idea!” She begins to jump up and down. “Listen, listen, LISTEN!”
"If you want a good post-apocalyptic story, you're gonna want some zombies in there."
I don't know who said this quote...probably nobody, since I just pulled it out of thin air...but that doesn't make it any less true. What's a story about the apocalypse without a rabid zombie horde terrorizing the countryside?
Why, that's hardly a story about the apocalypse at all.
But there's a problem when it comes to writing zombies. Which brand of zombie do you use? Do you go for classic zombie, the mindless, shambling dead prototype? Or the 28 Days Later zombie, the fast, rabid, infected-with-rage type? Or maybe you give your zombies some humanity, a la Warm Bodies? Or do you try to stand out from the rest and give zombies your own little spin?
I opted for the latter in Apocalypticon, my extremely-soon-to-be-released post-apocalyptic novel. In my book, the "zombies" aren't really zombies at all, but something more akin to shockingly severe drug addicts. (It makes sense in the story, I promise.) But here's what I'm learning; I have no idea how to describe them.
Are they zombies? Well, no, not really. They're not dead, and besides, they're fast. And when most people think of zombies, they think the slow, ambling type. Also, they're terrifically hard to kill. Historically, zombies are pretty simple to destroy, what with their soft, decaying skin and all. My zombies have the exact opposite of soft, decaying skin. They ain't pushovers. So my zombies aren't really zombies. But they're not really not zombies, either. They're emaciated, hollow creatures with a taste for human flesh (or any flesh, really. They're equal opportunity monsters). They travel in hordes, and their bites are infectious. So when people ask me if there are zombies in my book, I don't really know what to say.
For a long time, that really bothered me. I'd tell people, "Yes and no, sort of, I don't know, it's hard to explain," and they'd get this confused, disinterested squint working across their eyes, and they'd just leave. They want zombies or no zombies. They don't want maybe-zombies.
But here's what I finally decided. It doesn't matter if they're zombies or not. Because whatever they are, they're mine. I created a brand new kind of monster that I think is horrifying in all the right, giddy kind of ways, and I think you'll like them too.
So now when people ask me if there are zombies in my book, I tell them, "Nope. There's something better." And I honestly think it's true.
I hope you'll read and decide for yourself! Apocalypticon will be available for paperback and Kindle on Amazon this week! Follow me on Twitter (@Claytonsaurus) for more details! And thanks for reading!
“I see that Richard’s son has a way with women just like his father before him,” said the older of the two men. He actually smirked when he said it.
Hank felt his face turn a fiery red. Everyone who was watching me kiss Kathryn just remembered that Mother probably shot Dad because he had an affair with his secretary.
And look at his grandfather. The senator’s eyes blazed, but his face had no expression whatsoever. Goose bumps rose on Hank’s arms. Uh oh. That usually means trouble for someone.
“This must be the first time you’ve been invited to one of Millicent’s parties, Josh,” Senator Lovinggood commented. “If you’d been here before, you’d know about her fund-raising stunts.”
It had taken Hank a moment to recognize Josh Stanton. God, what an unpleasant little shit. That comment about his father was uncalled for. “I guess that’s yet another way you’re different from my father,” he observed.
“What’s that supposed to mean?” the second man, Stanton’s son Rob, stridently demanded.
Hank smiled. “Why, I thought it was obvious.”
“Don’t talk about my father that way!”
Hank shrugged. “Then show a little respect for your betters.”
Kathryn gasped, but Senator Lovinggood and Elaine both howled as Stanton’s face turned as red as Rudolph’s nose. “Why, you…”
“What’s the matter, Mr. Vice President? Can’t think of a snappy comeback?” Hank retorted.
“You address my father with respect!” Rob Stanton shouted. Hank flicked spittle from his arm as every head in the room turned their way.
He coolly stuffed the red ribbon in his pocket. “He doesn’t deserve my respect, and he really should learn some manners. This is a party to raise money for charity, not a forum to insult my father.”
“You Lovinggoods!” Josh Stanton’s face was dark with loathing. “You always thought you were better than anyone else. Ha! Look at what happened to Richard. His own wife murdered him.”
Hank laughed. “I doubt it, but either way Dad’s still a hero thirty years after his death. Not too many people call you a hero, do they? If I remember correctly, you finished Dad’s term of office but didn’t win a term on your own, right?”
My mind drifted. Instead of mentally listing the things I needed to accomplish at work that day, I dwelt on how I should have chosen a different path for my life and what that path would have been. Had everything I suffered to work my way through college and then law school really been for nothing?