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Chapter 1

Someone shouted in the kitchen. Tess Greenwood sat right up in the blackness. “Dad?” she gasped.

Someone screamed.

“Mom!” cried Tess as she stumbled onto the floor in a panic of pillow and sheets, in time for her door to fling wide with blinding light and a bang that shattered things on her dresser.

“Hey!” barked the silhouette in the doorway. “No way you’re running by me!” And with that, he tramped right in, jabbing her in the throat with the end of his e- truncheon.

“Aah!” she wailed with the throb of its electric jolt as she sat down hard on the floor.

“Like that, little witch?” he hissed through the mask of his plastic helm. “Now you’re going into the kitchen on your hands and knees, real careful or I’ll hold my stick against your stinking throat ’til y’ pass out. Move!”

As Tess rolled onto her knees, she could hear her sister’s squeals of defiance as she kicked at the pair of cops who had hold of her in the kitchen.

“Nia!” shouted her mother before crying out in pain.

“You vile bastards!” roared her father.

Tess leaped through the doorway in time to see two of the police from Children and Family Assistance squirt his mouth full of thick polymer from their gob stopper gun, as he gagged, bouncing and jerking against his restraints in red-faced fury.

“I told you!” bellowed Silhouette, grabbing Tess by the arm and yanking her onto the floor.

“Tess!” cried her mother. “Stop! They’ll kill you if y’ don’t quit!”

“That’s right!” shouted Silhouette.

“Nia!” cried Tess at the sight of the police kicking her.

“Hey!” shouted Silhouette. “That little whore’s going to the capitol. And they won’t take her all beat up! But this one,” he grunted, giving Tess a furious kick, “has earned it!”

“Tess!” screamed her mother in time to be silenced with a kick in the head.

Her father sprang from the floor in spite of his restraints, slamming into Silhouette in a rage that knocked over the refrigerator behind them. Suddenly police were everywhere, beating him senseless, dragging him and his dear wife out the door into the early light of dawn.

“Mom! Dad!” screamed Tess as car doors slammed outside.

Now they had Nia by the arms. “I’ll love Drake forever!” she wailed as they forced her outside.

Tess bit the hand that grabbed her mouth and dashed outside to leap down the steps as two of the police cars lurched into the roadway with a chirp of tires.

“Bite me again, little witch!” roared Silhouette as his truncheon came down behind her ear.

***

Beyond the front steps, the sun rose well into the morning, glinting on a green bottle in the bare red dirt of the yard. Sparrows cheeped everywhere in the noise of the traffic from the roadway. Tess sat up just long enough to see that she was in her room, caught herself on her elbow to keep from toppling out of bed and lay right back down with a groan.

At the bounce of her bed springs, an elderly woman pushed back a chair and stood up in the kitchen. “Whoa there, deary-do!” she called, stumping right in to look at her this way and that. “That might be a bit quick. You got two black eyes. And the nurse said the copper only whacked y’ one good one on the back of the head. And what I want to know is, can y’ even see out of either one?”

“Kind of…”

“I’m Maud, sweetheart,” she said, giving Tess’s hand a squeeze. “Maud Baxter. How ’bout some tea? So far, the only pot I’ve found has half the spout gone…”

“It pours. We’ve been using it… Please!” she said with a scald of fear as she sat right up. “Where’s Mom and Dad? And Nia?”

Maud stopped short with wide eyes. “Why Children and Family Assistance,” she said, scarcely shaking her head. “And I’m to be in here for a few days to help y’ adjust…”

“When are they coming back?”

Maud shook her head as if she were about to cry.

“No!” shouted Tess in a great wail of despair.

Old Maud had her in her arms at once, rocking her and smoothing her hair for a good long time. At last, she gave her a pat and sat up. “I’m going to go fix that tea,” she said.

Tess lay back with shooting pains in her head, in spite of the sedatives given to her by the nurse.

Maud was back in short order, finding a chair for the tea. “I hope you’re not too old for animal crackers,” she said. “I found this nice box. And it only had one teensy little maggot and some web. All I had to do was shake it out and put the crackers back in.”

Tess drew in a deep, shuddery breath. “Where do you live, Maud?”

“Up at the north end with Mort and Bart. That’s my husband and m’ crow…”

“I don’t feel so good,” said Tess handing back her half full cup.

“I should say! You’re white as a sheet. The nurse said that you’re to be sleeping. Just lie back and I’ll be right out here in the kitchen.”

Tess lay back more quickly than she had meant to. “Your husband and who did y’ say?” she said, wincing at the whirling ceiling. “I swore you said Crow somebody…”

“My pet bird is a crow…” said Maud from the doorway.

“And Mom and Dad really, really aren’t coming back?”

Maud shook her head and was back at Tess’s bedside at once, smoothing her hair away from the tears she was squeezing from her swollen eyes. It was not long until Maud could see that she was sound asleep. She stood, propping her hands on her knees for a moment before straightening up the rest of the way and shuffled quietly into the kitchen.

Beside the toaster under the cupboards rested a polished stone ball. The moment Maud stepped in, it gave a faint flash. “Yeh?” she said, looking right at the face which was appearing in it. “I know my place well enough not to discuss her family. I’m professional. Besides, I know very well that you saw the whole thing. Now, I want to talk to Mort.” She picked up the ball and sat with it at the table. “Mort?”

Mort was already peering out of the “skinny,” as everyone called these things. “I’ve got the rest of the day, Maudy,” he said. “They don’t have me spraying until tomorrow, first thing.”

“As you might’ve overheard before I left, I’m at the south end of the far south barrack, facing the road. I’ve got to scratch around before I know what I’m fixing, but I’m starting on dinner, right now.” And with that, she parked the skinny in a storage jar lid, so that it wouldn’t roll off the table, and set about to see what might be fixed to eat. There certainly was no meat of any sort. “I don’t know why I’m even bothering to look,” she was careful not to say aloud. It was rare for anyone to get his hands on meat except for the day before one of the world holidays. All of the world holidays were mandatory to observe. Disarmament Day commemorated the destruction of the last private firearm. Emancipation Day marked the outlawing of all religions. And Unity Day was the day when the World Alliance began its tyrannical rule everywhere. She found a few pounds of limp carrots in the bottom of the refrigerator which she and the nurses had managed to set upright, some black pepper and a box of very old-smelling milk powder.

While she was searching for a kettle without a hole in it, Mort was up at the north end, wheeling his bicycle out the door. He fiddled with the cuff of his breeches as the breezy whistles of the starling overhead gave way to a bubbling chatter. After a couple of tries, he was mounted. With Bart digging in his toenails and swaying ponderously on his shoulder, he gave a wild swing to the left, an immediate weave to the right, and with a rattle of fenders was underway with all the aplomb of a cyclist in his prime.

“We’re going to have carrots,” said Maud as Mort hauled his watermelon of a belly up the last step. “I just now put them on.”

“Smells like old refrigerator,” he said, backing stiffly up to a chair by the table, “but I expect it will be good…” He sat down with a sudden plump and let Bart shuffle down his arm to the back of the nearby chair to begin at once, sorting through his feathers.

“Maud?” called Tess from the bedroom. “Are you still here?”

“I’m on my way with just a cup this time, dearie-do.”

“I don’t think I can,” said Tess. “I feel like vomiting.”

“I hope y’ get over that. I’ve got carrots starting to boil.”

“I’m ‘way too sick. Is someone here?”

“Mort and Bart.”

“Well please go on and eat without me. I’ll just puke. But Maud, please stay.”

Maud gave Tess’s hand a squeeze. “I’ll be right here as long as y’ need me, sweetheart,” she said. And with that she returned to the kitchen.

“Just the girl?” said Mort, looking up.

Maud nodded.

“Well how is she?”

Maud went straight to the cupboards as if she had not heard him, unplugged the toaster and parked it directly in front of the skinny as she took a chair at the table.

“I said how is the young lady?”

“Oh she’s doing just fine. A nice long nap and she’ll be right as rain,” she said as she leant across the table with a roll of her eyes and an ear-to-ear shake of her head. “I think she’ll be ready to start her new life in no time.” She was still shaking her head as she glanced at the toaster to make sure that no one on the skinny had seen.

“And she understands what happened?” he said, ignoring the stone ball, since he had no toaster to hide behind.

“I think she’s anxious enough to get going in her new direction,” she said, closing her eyes with an even bigger shake of her head. “But I’d not know for sure, since it’s never our place to discuss such things. That’s for the councilors at Children and Family Assistance. But I think most young clients are quite ready for a change, long before it comes.”

Bart ruffled up his feathers and gave himself a thorough shake.

“Maud!” wailed Tess from the bedroom. “The wash basin! Got ‘o puke!”

“Oh my stars!” said Maud. “Where do you reckon they keep it?”

Tess thumped across her bedroom floor to the toilet in the bathroom with an explosive cough of yellow fluid.

“Oh deary-do!” said Maud as she stumped in. “I’m so sorry I couldn’t find the pan. Why you don’t have a thing in your stomach to throw up, do you…?”

“Gawf…angk…awmff…!” hooted Tess, nodding her dribbling chin over the iron stained porcelain of the toilet bowl.

Maud saw at once that there was no skinny in the bathroom and pushed the door to. “Those rotten coppers!” she said in a low voice as she daubed at Tess with a towel.

“I’ve cleaned up their work every blooming day now, for years. And I swear. I just don’t begin to know how they can do that to families.”

“I thought you worked for…” moaned Tess.

“For Children and Family Assistance? I do, but my job’s cleaning up after them.

And you didn’t hear one word I said, either. Now. If I help y’ up, can you make it back to bed, or do you need to steady y’ self a bit longer?”

“Unng…!” said Tess, leaning back over the water.

“Seems y’ do…” said Maud, looking up at the sudden pounding on the kitchen door. “Mort!” she hollered “Let me get it!”

Tess had a look of blanched terror as Maud got to her feet. “Oh deary-do,” she said, “that can’t be the coppers, unless you’ve had a skinny ball in here with us. You don’t, eh?”

Tess gave a rigid shake of her head, and Maud stumped right out past Mort and Bart. She hooked the chain and opened the kitchen door against it to peer out at two teenagers. She closed the door, undid the chain and opened it wide. “Yeh?” she said with her fists on her hips.

The young man dug the gum out of his cheek with his tongue and looked her up and down from under the tattoos of his shaved head. “You’re not Tess, lady,” he said, as his sister craned this way and that in her nose rings and Mohawk hair-do, trying to peer inside.

“Took y’ long enough to figure it out, but I’m glad y’ finally managed,” said Maud. “Now. Tess isn’t up to company, so you two are going to have to leave.” And with that, she closed the door and turned the lock.

“Hey!” shouted the pair outside as they pounded on the door. “You can’t do that! Children and Family Assistance sent us! We’re Trent and Jasmine Warren, her new roomies!”

Maud hooked the chain and turned away. She found Tess still kneeling by the toilet. “What’s wrong, dearie-do?” she said, when she saw that her nausea had been replaced by a look of dread.

“That was the Warrens?” said Tess. “They hate me.”

“Why on earth?”

“Well…they made me take my shots at school,” she said, frowning at her thumbnails. “But I’m just not at all ready for that. Trent knew about my shots and was after me all the time. Everybody always knows when a girl gets her shots. And I wouldn’t have anything to do with him, in spite of how pushy he got. And Jasmine? She calls me ‘earhole’ all the time and makes ugly faces, but I think she hates everyone at school.”

“Aw dearie-do,” said Maud with a grunt, as she strained to kneel beside her with a brush. “I hate what’s become of the schools. Y’ know, they actually taught me to read, when I was in school.”

“Mom and Dad taught me,” said Tess, stifling a sob.

“You didn’t let the school find out, did you? Something like that could very well have been what brought in the Children and Family Assistance.”

“Oh, they always told me that I had to keep my reading a secret.”

Maud nodded. “Well back to those two, I locked the door,” she said. “But if they do have orders, they’ll be back and we’ll have no choice but to let them in. Meanwhile, I can at least get a delay order in place until you’ve recovered enough to deal with them. Now if I can just get back on my feet, I’ll help y’ back to bed if you’re ready.”

Once Tess was back in bed, she closed her eyes and wondered if there was any way to flee. “But where would I ever flee to?” she thought as she drifted into a deep sleep.

She had not been asleep very long when Maud opened the kitchen door against the chain and peered out the crack at a blond young man in denim, whom she recognized at once to be Drake Evans, but knowing better than to give him away to the stone ball on the table, merely said: “Yes?”

“Maud Baxter!” he said in wide-eyed alarm. “Why are you…? Nia! She’s here, isn’t she?”

Maud closed her eyes with a quiet shake of her head.

“No!” cried Drake.

Maud immediately closed the door. She would not have him overheard, blurting out something that would bring the police. There was not another sound from outside the door. She squeezed shut her eyes for a moment, and with a totter, shuffled to the table to sit with a tired sigh across from Mort and Bart.

***

Tess awoke to the smell of bread toasting on the griddle and talking in the kitchen.

“Would you mind if I waited until she’s awake? I promise I won’t stay too long or upset her.”

“That depends on how she wakes up,” said Maud. “She’s been having quite a time with her medicine…”

“Maud!” cried Tess as she sat up. “I’ve got to puke and I’ve got the whirlies bad! Could Drake help me to the toilet?”

Drake was at her bedside at once, helping her to her feet. The moment he had her kneeling by the toilet, he let the door swing quietly to. He had long known that the bathroom had no skinny, but he waited for Tess to speak in case that they had just been forced by the authorities to add one.

“I heard one of the cops say that Nia was going to the capitol,” said Tess with an unexpected sob. “And the last thing she said was, she’ll always love you. And poor Mom and Dad! It doesn’t look like I’ll ever, ever know…” And with that, she threw back her head and wailed with despair.

Drake had her in his arms at once, tears streaming down his cheeks. He looked away, struggling to hide a sob of his own. After a time, he turned to study her. “What on earth did they do to you?” he said. “You’ve got two black eyes that I can see…”

“Oh, one of the coppers whacked me on the back of the head with his e-stick…”

“The back of your head! Not your eyes? He must’ve damned near killed you…”

“I don’t know,” she said, closing the lid and sitting on the toilet. “But they’ve got my middle all wrapped up tight. Do you suppose they broke a rib or two? That same cop was kicking me. Nobody’s said a thing.”

“Do you know where the capitol is?”

“I don’t think anyone knows,” she said, feeling of her middle. “Well, I reckon the coppers would have to know, wouldn’t they?”

“Yeh, but they aren’t people. Nobody ever talks to them, especially not the ones working for Children and Family Assistance. No one ever talks to any of those things…”

“And what I can’t figure out is why that old lady out there in the kitchen is so nice. She’s working for them. She said so.”

“I know why,” said Drake. “She and old Mort out there lost a daughter who’d be our age, had she lived. And they’ve not been able to have any more. They’re ‘way younger than they look, but they were living out in the country with all the spray for quite a while after the World Alliance took over.”

“How do you know all this?”

“Maud and Mort knew us. When Children and Family Assistance took Mom and Dad, Maud got assigned to me, so they helped me through my transition, just like they’re doing for you. And I don’t understand them taking Nia. Children and Family issued the license for us to be married in two more months and everything…” he said, coughing out a great sob in spite of himself.

He was dragging an eye down his sleeve when Maud pushed open the door. “If Tess is over being sick, it’s time we got her back to bed,” she said as she shuffled in with a towel.

When they had gotten Tess settled in bed, Maud saw Drake to the door and stepped outside with him. “I’m afraid Children and Family Assistance is only giving her a week before she has to let those Warren kids move in,” she said as she pulled the door to behind her. “And if I read her right, I can’t picture her managing with a pair like them, particularly not with the boy after her skirt.”

“That wouldn’t be Jasmine and Trent Warren, would it?” said Drake, turning about on the bottom step and looking up at her.

“It was Jasmine. I wasn’t sure about his name.”

“Oh I’ve got medicine for them,” he said. “Just a chat if you need me to.”

“Right away would be good.”

Drake gave a nod, came back up the steps, pecked her on the cheek and hurried on his way to supper, unaware that Trent and Jasmine were right above them in the spreading branches of the great burr oak by the steps.

As Tess got settled, the skinny on her dresser turned bright blue. “Tess?” it said.wham-glass-ball_gyotkfb__edited-2-_edited-1-a-lg

“Give me a moment,” she said as she labored to sit up and throw aside her covers.

She rose and came back to bed with the glowing stone ball. It took a bit of uncomfortable shifting about, but soon she was sitting with it between her knees as its swirling colors gave way to a dour bald man in hospital garb.

“How are you Tess?” said the man.

“I’m not sure I feel like talking…” she said.

“You were well enough for time with Drake.”

“So he could help me in to puke. It’s a lot of fun, vomiting for company…”

“Tess,” said the man. “Have you any idea why it was necessary to resettle your parents?”

“I can’t imagine how anything like that could ever be necessary…”

“They’ve allowed you to become sarcastic and defiant when you should be expressing your respect and gratitude. The teachers and counselors at your school have been concerned. Your parents weren’t managing…”

“No!” she cried out in hoarse anguish, “No! No! No!”

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Tandem Bicycle as a Writing Tool

When I was really little, my mom told me that somewhere there was a little girl who was going to be my wife. When I was fifteen, I got carried away and drew her. Years later when I met Carol, I had this eerie feeling that I already knew her.

We were married at once. When I was helping her move her things in, I was stopped short by the sight of a photograph. “Who on earth is that?” I said.

“Why that’s me, when I was a senior in high school,” she said, looking puzzled.

“Well, the reason for my stupid remark is that the picture happens to be the very drawing I made once of the girl of my dreams, only it’s a photograph!”

We commemorated our wedding by buying the tandem bicycle which we still ride in the morning on the days when we do our best writing. Some things do indeed work better together than separate, don’t you think?

 Tom Phipps

Spotlight Author Blog Tour for Peggy Hattendorf

PH - Author Photo

Developing Good Dialogue

Developing good dialogue should be easy since it’s basically a conversation with two or more people. We talk and converse with people everyday.  However, we’ve all experienced times in discourse when we take pause – not really sure what to say or how to say it.

For the writer this is magnified as crisp and precise sentences must be developed not just for one but for a host of characters. Then the wording must appear authentic and thread seamlessly in communications between and among characters.

Dialogue is paramount and can make or break a story. Every word must be pondered, every word the proper fit and every descriptive term or adverb cautiously applied.

It’s the essential ingredient that progresses the movement and adds the dramatic touch and overtones to the narration.

Good dialogue commands the writer have an awareness and understanding of the differences in the way people speak and the length of their sentences. Consideration must be given to the use of inflections, slang terms, swear words and colloquialisms. An understanding of socio-economic status and circumstances, geographic locations, accents and regional dialects are also fundamentals in developing appropriate dialogue.

The process of writing dialogue must be viewed from several perspectives. There’s dialogue that requires us to get into the minds of our characters to understand their feelings, thoughts and motivations. Then there’s the scenes where we deliberately keep the character in the dark and don’t permit him/her to act or speak as if he/she has the knowledge of what’s about to happen.

Dialogue must be credible and believable. Dialogue must be meaningful, appropriate and at times dramatic. Dialogue must have rising conflict. Dialogue must be properly placed to interrupt and transition narration.

Dialogue that delivers on all these points will make the book vibrant and come alive in the mind of the reader.

I welcome your comments or questions and am reachable at:

Peggy@peggyhattendorf.com

Author – Son of My Father – A Family Dynasty Travel Editor – hers Magazine

Son of My Father

Author Bio:

Peggy’s earlier careers helped cultivate and enrich her interest in writing. In her executive positions in the non-profit field, she had the opportunity to compose technical and operational handbooks for staff and volunteers for a number of name recognized organizations. Her management experience guided her to a multi-decade second career in the travel industry highlighted with the co-founding of a nationwide marketing consortium and independent contractor network. With over 5000 members, generating $180 million in annual sales, she wrote daily travel updates and news briefs distributed electronically to the membership.  Today, she maintains an ambitious travel schedule and is the Travel Editor for hers Magazine where she writes travel feature articles and Hotel Review blog posts. In addition, she still serves on a number on non-profit boards.  Her background with upscale and luxury travel products served as cornerstones in the character development and storyline of her first novel – “Son of My Father – A Family Dynasty.” She is currently working on her second book.

 

 

Author Contact:
Twitter: @peggyhattendorf
Facebook: www.facebook.com/peggy.hattendorf
Website: www.peggyhattendorf.com

 

My Most Important Writing Lesson

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Back in the monkey days, when Fs were real and our local university was still respected as a school, I took what may have been called English 101, a writing class with a widely dreaded three hour written composition for a final. Since I had long been praised for my writing, I was looking forward to it.

A Mr. Parks walked in with his greasy blond hair, crooked horn rimmed glasses, sandals and miss-matched socks, and announced that they couldn’t find a PhD., so he was teaching for the quarter.

A wave of groans passed through the class.

“Too bad,” he said. “See this book? Turn to page thirty-six.” We read a short story to ourselves and then discussed it as he paced about, white froth gathering at the corners of his mouth.

The next day we had an essay to write before we left.images

On the following day, he handed out a fistful of F papers and two Ds. There were no higher grades. I had one of the D papers. The kids from ‘way up in Chicago howled with indignation. Their daddies would see that he was fired.

“I got a D,” I said.

“Too bad.”

“But I don’t ever get grades like that…”

“Time you did,” he said.

“But most of my paper’s marked out with red ink…”

Ivy“That’s because it stinks,” he said. “Look. If you want to fix it, come to my office before the day’s over.”

I showed up and stood in line with the rest of the class.

When I stepped into his office, he had his feet on his desk, watching me have a seat.

“So what’s wrong with it?” I said as I read aloud a few lines.

“I already told you. It stinks.”

“But doesn’t this sound…?”

“Do you think anyone gives a shit about your choice of words or your specially chosen 2730510797_1a5b5af433_zphrases?” he said, tossing the paper back at me. “Look. The first paragraph. What are you trying to say?”

I started to read the first line.

“No! Just look at me and tell me about what’s in the first paragraph.”

“Well…” I said, “Nancy was in a state of bliss because she was naive?”

“Good!” he said. “That’s exactly what you should have written. “Now I’ve got Miss What’s Her Face standing in the doorway all anxious, with a slew of people behind her.”

TomI ended up with an A for the quarter, and came away knowing that it’s not the words you like which makes your writing good, but the words you have no problem throwing away.

 

Tom Phipps

Live What You Write

Back when I was an aspiring botany major, a heavyweight English student I knew showed up at my flat with a fifth of Jack Daniels to live the life of a writer, as he put it. He mentioned Faulkner. He made Hemingway watching a bullfight in Spain or sitting outdoors in a cafe along the Seine River, sipping wine with a crowd timthumbof angry young writers sound like a good thing. I don’t know what became of him. I turned out to be a writer. Maybe he’s counting tree rings.

If he understood what he was telling me, he did have a point. You do need to be familiar enough with what you are discussing in order to do a good job of writing about it. One would think that paris4your words will be best chosen when you are discussing elephants if you have ridden one. And it is much easier to make walking across freshly ploughed ground in your bare feet amongst the scattered blackbirds come to life for your readers if you’ve actually done it.

So how do you do such a thing if you are writing fantasy? How do you make unicorns, Elves and dragons come to life? Well, unicorns are very much like horses, except for the narwhal-like horn, so we can talk about them in terms of the horses which we’ve ridden. We can talk about their horn waving about above their feed boxes as they nibble up the last of their oats. We can talk about the Elf with his insides shaken to a jelly of soreness, from an afternoon’s frantic ride. And we can talk about a mob of dragons settling onto a sandbar in the dusk, as each one pauses to sort through the feathers of his wings before giving himself a thorough shake, if we have walked along a river’s sands at sunset and have indeed spent an afternoon in the desert mountains, watching a flock of buzzards come circling in to land on their customary rocks.

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Just how would you make an imaginary creature come to life for the readers you are trying to engage and entertain? Wouldn’t you need to draw upon similar things which you’ve actually seen? What do you think? We’d like to know.

 

Tom Phipps  

 

Review: A Born Victim

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If you crave heart-pounding, realistic thrillers with believable characters, A Born Victim by rprRP Rochford, may be just what you’re looking for.

Gill Brogan is an unremarkable 27 year-old divorced mother of two who works hard to pay her bills and care for her children, but she has the unfortunate history of being fired from one job after another. She also has a history of being targeted for bullying and mistreatment by her peers, co-workers and her ex-husband, all of which, understandably, make her timid and insecure.

It seems that nothing in Gill’s life ever turns out well, even though she is sure she is not at fault. Perhaps she has just been born to be a victim of everyone else’s abuse.

Meanwhile, someone has been torturing and murdering young women in Britain and posting the sadistic crimes on the Internet for the viewing pleasure of whoever will pay for the opportunity to watch.

Cyber Crime Investigator, Mike Watson, and Police Investigator, DS Lucy Taylor, are determined to discover who and put an end to the heinous crimes before any more young victims meet the same fate.

But the perpetrators prove to be incredibly illusive incredibly clever at covering their tracks,  leaving not even the tiniest  piece of traceable evidence as to their identities at either the crime scenes or online. As the investigation wears on it seems more and more that someone has finally A.Born.Victim.Coverfound a way to pull off the perfect crimes while rubbing it in the faces of the authorities who seek them. But who? Can Watson and Taylor even realistically hope to track down the perpetrators who have thus far eluded an entire police force? And can they do it before Gill Brogan or any other young woman is tortured and murdered to gratify the perverted appetites of the sick lowlifes who enjoy watching?

A Born Victim is a roller-coaster ride of chills and appalling revelations that will keep you holding your breath and turning pages into the wee hours that you’ll not want to miss…but be warned, it is not for the faint of heart.

Carol Marrs Phipps

Interview with UK Author of A BORN VICTIM, RP Rochford

rpr

What is your name, where were you born and where do you live now?

My name is Richard Rochford and I was born in Essex in southern England though I now live in a tiny village in the West Midlands (UK).

Please tell us a little about yourself (something different not contained in your bio).

Possibly the most unlikely thing about me is that I keep bees. I have several hives in various locations and find them absolutely fascinating creatures.

How long have you been writing?

I’ve been writing academic material for some time but really started with fiction in early 2010 initially writing short stories then beginning work on A Born Victim.

What do you believe is the most difficult thing about becoming an author?

I guess the biggest challenge is getting published or, if you self-publish, in getting your book noticed among literally tens of thousands of others.

What do you like to do when you are not writing?

Besides bee keeping and walking in the country with my dog I like to travel and I’ve been privileged to spend time in many European countries.

What is the name of your latest book, and if you had to summarize it in less than 20 words what would you say?

My latest book is A Born Victim. It’s the story of a woman who might be the perfect victim except for her own tenacity, the love of one man and the determination of a young detective.

A.Born.Victim.Cover

Was there any particular thing that inspired you to write A Born Victim?

Believe it or not this book grew entirely from a character sketch of the woman who is the key character – Gill Brogan. I’d written a series of short stories about a young woman who has all sorts of things go wrong in her life but who nevertheless manages to always come out on top of her circumstances. I started wondering what she might be like if she lacked the confidence to overcome in that way and Gill Brogan was the result.

Is this book part of a series?

Yes, the intention is for it be part of an ongoing series. I’m working on the second book right now which features several of the characters from the first.

Would you share a blurb with us?

‘A Born Victim’ is the story of Gill Brogan, a young single mother who is pushed deep into despair by workplace bullying. Just when she thinks nothing could get any worse she finds herself narrowly escaping an attempt on her life.

Set against this troubled life is the story of Lucy Taylor, an ambitious young detective who has dedicated herself to investigating violent crimes against women which all too often go unsolved. As she investigates case after case, each one more disturbing than the last, Taylor begins to see common threads which she hopes she can unravel to find the villains and bring them to justice.

The book reaches a climax as a determined, well organised criminal group emerges from the shadowy world of cyber-space to carry out one last crime in the real world. Lucy Taylor and her geeky side-kick, Mike Watson, are all that stand between the criminals and their victims.

Throughout the book, psychological themes are analysed lending a deeper, more serious note to the fast paced thriller as the author explores the factors which have formed our attitudes toward women and the acceptability of violence against them.

Would you share a short excerpt?

In the darkness between sunset and moon rise they brought her to the beach, dropping her, half dead with pain and exhaustion, onto the firm sand just above the waterline. She lay as she fell, on her back, legs slightly apart, blonde hair tangled about her shoulders, one arm across her breasts. Her face stared up at the star pierced blackness but her eyes were closed, shutting her soul away into some private place where the pain could not penetrate.

The men, relieved of their burden, stood around in silence, alert, waiting, very aware of the eerie glow of the night vision camera being used to record the drama. No one spoke and in the stillness the susurration of sea on sand was mesmerising, almost overpowering. The girl lay motionless as though already dead.

High up on the cliff top a car passed, lights sweeping out to sea at the bend in the road, and the men glanced up, suddenly tense, concerned perhaps that they might be discovered with the evidence of their crime still living, lying on the sand at their feet. The car rushed on, its exhaust note echoing suddenly against cliffs on the other side of the road, then it was gone, swallowed up in the night. The girl heard nothing.

A gentle breeze stirred stems of rough grass on a narrow strip of land below the cliff, whispered through the rocks and tugged at a few strands of blonde hair that had fallen, dry across the girl’s face but she did not feel it.

Then the moon rose, light breaking over the cliff top with almost startling suddenness and illuminating the beach. Wavelets were capped with silvery moon reflecting bubbles and rushed, dancing onto the white sand where moonlight kissed pale skin and fair hair throwing the curve of hip and breast into sharp contrast against darker shadow.

The last member of the group slid down the path, his boots loud against the loose rock to join them on the beach uncoiling rope from over his shoulder and pulling a hammer and a steel spike from a small bag. The others gathered round as the last man made his preparations, pulling the girl’s arms up and binding her wrists together then dragging her unresisting body around so her hands were toward the low surf. He drove the spike deep into the sand swinging the hammer down in chiming blows that quickly sank the length of the steel immovably into the wet sand. Then he tied her hands to the spike.

The men moved up the beach, watching, waiting as the tide moved in. One lit a cigarette, the flame flaring brightly against the velvet sky. Another did the same and the darkness was punctuated by red sparks as they inhaled. The girl died with very little drama, her broken spirit and battered body only capable of token resistance to her fate. A weak cough, a short spasm, a few tremors of effort running through her body and then the incoming waves claimed her, covering her face and floating her blonde hair around her head like the halo of a martyred saint.

Do you have plans for a new book? Would you tell us a little about it?

I’m currently working on a second book called ‘A Born Survivor’ which develops the life of several characters from ‘A Born Victim’ but also introduces some fascinating new characters. I love the idea of keeping several characters and sharing with readers how their lives develop and the adventures they have but one of the key characters in this story is a young disabled woman who finds herself abducted by a gang whose motives are far too complex for her to understand. While the first book has a theme of victim psychology running throughout it this second book examines what I think of as the ‘Shackleton factor’ – the thing which allows an ordinary person to overcome the odds and survive despite their circumstances.

How long have you been writing? And who or what inspired you to write?

I’ve written academic articles for many years but really started writing fiction only in 2010. I don’t know that there was any specific inspiration besides the fact that I felt I had a story to tell.

Do you gift books to readers to do reviews?

Yes. I’m happy to do this.

How do you come up with the Title and Cover Designs for your book/books? Who designed the Cover of your books?

The title of the book is something of an oxymoron in that the ‘victim’ is not born but made by her circumstances and background. My original cover was the outcome of a concept idea I had which was drawn by an artist friend. However, more recently I updated the cover design with work from:

http://fiverr.com/idrewdesign/design-a-professional-and-eye-catching-ebook-or-kindle-cover

Have you ever based characters on people you know or based events on things that have happened to you?

No! Well, sort of. I would be very wary of basing a character on anyone I knew but of course, my own life experience is represented to some extent in my characters.

Is there a certain Author who influenced you in writing?

I read widely so it’s very difficult to pinpoint one single author but the Stieg Larson trilogy has been a powerful, recent influence on my writing and thinking about just how far an author can push his characters within a fiction genre.

Which format of book do you prefer, eBook, hardback, or paperback?

I believe you simply cannot beat the experience of holding a paperback book in your hands. It’s not just the words on the page it’s the texture of the page, the smell of paper and ink, the weight of the book in your hand. Having said that, I read widely and like to dip in and out of several books at one time so carrying around a library of paperbacks would not be terribly convenient. Ebook wins for convenience!

What is your favorite book and Why?  Have you read it more than once?

This has to be a toss up between The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and Lord of the Rings. It’s very difficult to choose really and yes, I’ve read both of those books several times over the years.

Do you think books transfer to movies well? Why or why not?

Obviously some books transfer better than others but, on the whole I think not because the power of a book is that it is the reader whose imagination fills in the blanks fitting faces to characters and filling in the gaps with their own experience and emotion. With a movie all of that is explicitly provided for the viewer which can go disastrously wrong. Having said that, A Born Victim would, I think, make an excellent movie script.

What are you currently reading? Are you enjoying it? What format is it? (eBook, hardback or paperback)

I’m currently getting on toward the end of ‘Dead Simple’ by Peter James. I love the way he builds excellent research and meticulous levels of detail into a complex and sometimes unexpected storyline. I have to confess that ‘reading’ is not entirely true – this one is on audio book.

Is there a book you know you will never read? Or one you tried to read but just couldn’t finish?

The only book that falls into this category is something called ‘Cybertext: Perspectives on Ergodic Literature’ by Espen Aarseth. It was a very useful book but not easy reading so I just picked through it for the information I wanted.

What do you think about book trailers?

In theory it’s a great idea to use blended media linking the written word with movie type trailers. However, sadly, most book trailers seem to be quite poorly done so I’m not sure how successful the end result might be.

What piece of advice would you give to a new writer?

I guess the most important is to be true to yourself and write for whatever motivates you to write rather than setting out trying to be commercially successful.

Do you or would you ever use a pen name?

OK – Confession – I do. Because I write in various fields I feel it’s better to have one name associated with each so readers identify one name with one aspect of my work.

If you could be any character in your book, who would it be and why?

Greg Parker. He’s a military man who has made his fortune in the business of private security. He also gets the girl at the end of the story so that makes him an obvious choice. However, in reality, I actually have more in common with Mike Watson who is a bit of a computer geek.

If your book was ever made into a movie, what actor/actress would you like to see play the main character(s)?

Gill Brogan would be the most difficult to cast but I think Australian actress, Rose Byrne would be a good choice.

I‘d like to see Claire Forlani as Lucy Taylor mainly because she fits the bill as a simply stunning woman but also because she can express so much with her face.

Casting the male roles is more difficult because Greg Parker would need to be Jason Statham with the rough edge knocked off and Danny, his sidekick, would best be played by a younger version of Bruce Willis.

Steve Carrell would be good as the actor to play Mike Watson because he does ‘geek’ well but also plays well the deeper, more in touch side of the character.

Have you ever considered writing in a completely different genre? If so, what would it be and why.

I already write both academic and fictional material but if I wanted to branch out in the area of fiction I’d like to explore fantasy. Creating whole worlds, cultures, characters and adventures seems like a huge challenge but a lot of fun. I guess it just appeals to me to be able to write my own rules from the ground up.

Do you think the current popularity of eBooks will last or do you believe it is just another passing trend?

I suspect that, like most technologies, things will move on and some new format or device will arise. However, I don’t know that society will ever want to go back to paper based books. I suspect what might come next will be some format of interactive books which allow a richer experience for the reader in the same way Blu-ray disks provide a more encompassing experience than DVDs.

Considering Traditional Publishing vs. Indie Publishing, do you think one has a clear advantage over the other? If so, please elaborate.

Indie publishing is the purest form of capitalism within the author/reader relationship because it is entirely driven by the merit of the author. If the book is no good it won’t sell and the author will sink without trace. Since there are no multi-million pound marketing budgets to convince readers to buy a certain book it is more or less a level playing field upon which authors can demonstrate their talent and ability.

Have you ever had writer’s block? If so, what did you do about it?

Yes! For a host of reasons I found myself quite depressed for a while and could not write a thing during that time. To some extent getting out of that was just a case of letting time run its course but one thing that actually really helped me was that I wrote a story about an author who found he could no longer write and used that vehicle to really explore my feelings and emotions at the time.

Where can readers follow you?

Your Facebook page?

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Richard-P-Rochford/263101677168540

Your Goodreads author page?

http://www.goodreads.com/user/show/20949992-richard-rochford

Your Twitter details?

 https://twitter.com/R_P_Rochford

Linkedin?

http://fola.me/p7KZc

Youtube?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WabJkFRBCP0

Ask David:

http://askdavid.com/reviews/book/crime-thriller/5544

Bookpromo:

http://www.bookpromo.in/2013/06/amazon-bestseller-born-victim.html

Buy Links for A Born Victim:

Amazon

http://fola.me/He4z5 – UK

http://fola.me/Yy2a4 – World

Kobo

http://www.kobobooks.com/search/search.html?q=a+born+victim

Lulu

http://www.lulu.com/shop/r-p-rochford/a-born-victim/ebook/product-20927772.html

Feed a Read – paperbacks

http://www.feedaread.com/books/A-Born-Victim-9781782992844.aspx

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Tom and I would like to thank you for taking time out from your busy schedule to share with us today. It has been a real pleasure having you here on our blog. I hope you will visit again in the future.

Author Publicity Pack: Resources to Take Your Book Marketing to the Next Level

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By: Carol Marrs Phipps