Free Prequel Short Story

Future woman concept, black latex with neon lights over city ​​destroyed

Dark Vengeance, the second book in my post apocalyptic urban fantasy series, The Last Ward, is edging ever closer to a release date.  Dark Justice is the first book in the series, and is set five hundred years after the cure for the common cold mutated and created freaks intent on killing the uninfected. Jackson Kyle, Captain of the Ward, had been bred to kill freaks, until he himself became infected.

Dark Sacrifice is the prequel short story that details how Jackson becomes one of the monsters he is trained to kill, and you can read it below.

Happy Reading

~~~

The double-bladed axe cut through the air, flying straight, gaining momentum with each foot it travelled toward its target. The freak was focused on the petite brunette cowering in front of him, her back pressed up against the pitted concrete wall protecting the town’s water reservoir.

Harsh light from the security lighting of a nearby building illuminated the axe for a brief moment as it reached the top of its arc and began to descend, causing the woman’s eyes to shift. The freak turned to see what had taken her attention away from him.

A wet thud sounded as the axe bit home in his throat, severing the balding head, blood gushing from the exposed neck. Toppling backwards, the head landed on the ground at the woman’s feet as the axe wedged itself into the wall beside her. The headless body wobbled, bereft of its direction, taking a slow and macabre step before it tumbled over. The woman scrambled sideways but was not fast enough to avoid being squashed up against the wall by the dead weight of the decapitated freak. Unable to stay upright, she slid to the ground with the chubby body on top of her.

Lieutenant Miranda Wilson moved forward to reclaim her weapon, features hidden behind a polished helmet with a dark tinted visor. She hoisted the bloodstained axe into the air with one hand and studied the two on the ground before using a booted foot to roll the body off the woman.

‘Are you hurt?’

The woman struggled to a sitting position.

Miranda made no effort to help, impatiently waiting for a response, grip tightening on the axe. ‘It’s a simple question. Did he hurt you or not? I’d hate to have to kill you after just saving your life.’

The woman still didn’t answer, sudden fear evident in her heavily made up face as she ran her hands over her body.

Miranda heard the heavy tramp of booted feet behind her, and turned to face five newcomers dressed in tight fitting black body armour identical to her own. She gestured at one of them. ‘Dale, check her for signs of infection. Stupid idiot should never have been out here.’

Propping the axe handle up against one leg, Miranda watched dispassionately as the woman was pulled to her feet and carefully inspected for wounds.

‘She’s clean, Lieutenant.’ Dale kept a firm grip on the woman’s arm as he made his prognosis.

‘What about his blood?’ Miranda indicated the dark smears down the front of the woman’s red dress, the clingy fabric fighting to contain her ample curves. ‘She could be infected if any got in her mouth or nose.’

‘It’s all concentrated around her mid-section. She’ll be okay.’

‘Good.’ Miranda turned to the men standing behind her. ‘Michaelson, take Petersen and get her out of here. Make it quick though. We have a patrol to finish.’

Miranda snorted in disgust when the woman took off down the street as soon as her arm was released. The fleeing woman moved quickly despite the sky high heels she was wearing. ‘I guess she didn’t want an escort home. Still, she could have at least thanked us for saving her life.’

‘Maybe she wouldn’t have been so quick to run away if you hadn’t mentioned killing her.’

Miranda spun around, eyes narrowing at the sight of the Captain of the Brimfield Ward, Jackson Kyle, walking up to her, dressed in the standard off-duty attire of jeans and a formfitting T-shirt.

‘You might consider switching to a gun,’ he said, deep voice pensive. ‘Makes less mess and doesn’t scare the natives quite so much.’ He gave her a quick smile designed to take the sting out of his words.

Miranda stepped back, axe falling to the ground with the sudden movement. ‘I’m supposed to coddle stupid creatures like her? Only an imbecile comes out at night alone. She was asking to die the minute she stepped out her door. Humans like her deserve to be bitten by a freak.’ She indicated the headless body at her feet.

Captain Kyle shook his head, the smile replaced by a frown. ‘No one deserves to be bitten by a freak.’

Miranda’s nostrils flared. Then she sighed. ‘I know. I know. But our job would be a whole lot easier if humans stayed inside at night, instead of wandering the streets.’

‘Sherry… Is that you?’

The whisper came from the alley beside the reservoir. A few seconds later, a bespectacled and slightly rumpled man stepped out of the alley and froze when he saw the group of wardens watching him. He made to scurry back into the alley.

‘Don’t even think about it.’ Miranda strode forward and grabbed him by the arm. ‘What the hell are you doing out here at night? There are freaks about, or haven’t you heard?’ She dragged him over to where the head lay on the ground, the whites of the freak’s eyes already clouding over as he stared sightlessly up at the night sky.

‘What…’ The man recoiled, turning away from the gruesome sight.

Miranda wasn’t finished with him. ‘You lot never learn. You meddle with a cure for the common cold and look where it left you, knee deep in freaks. Then your scientists had to get creative again, making us wardens to protect you and to blame.’ Miranda shook her head. ‘I don’t get how it’s our fault if you decide to go traipsing around at night and get bitten, when you should have had the sense to stay locked up in your house with all the lights blazing.’

‘I didn’t think… I’m sorry,’ he whispered, his eyes scanning the floor of the alley. ‘Did he… it… get Sherry?’

‘Would Sherry be a pretty little thing, about so high?’ Miranda held up a hand level with her shoulder and was rewarded with a furtive nod.

‘Let me guess, she was supposed to meet up with you but met up with this guy instead.’ Miranda kicked out at the head. ‘Lucky for you and your girlfriend, we got here before anyone got hurt or you’d be dating a freak.’

‘She’s not my girlfriend,’ he said almost inaudibly.

‘What?’

‘Sherry’s my secretary. That’s where we work.’ He used his free hand, the left, to point at the reservoir. ‘We were meeting to… uh… discuss… uh… work.’

Miranda noticed the glint of a gold ring on one finger and bent down to pick up her axe, shoving it in his face. ‘Next time you get the urge to meet with your secretary in a dark alley to discuss work I want you to remember what this axe looks like. While you’re at it, you can remember what this guy looks like too. Because that’s what happens to stupid humans who wander around at night.’ She pulled him down with her as she knelt beside the head, keeping him off balance.

‘They get turned into freaks and I come along and chop off their heads.’ A much more satisfying end for a freak than shooting them with a gun, despite the clean-up required.

Abruptly releasing the Brimfield Water Works employee, Miranda stood and watched him scramble to his feet, noting how careful he was to avoid touching the freak’s head. Once he was upright he straightened his tie and smoothed the front of his suit, clearly trying to regain a semblance of respectability while nodding in Miranda’s direction.

‘Yes, well, I’d best be getting back to work. It’s a big job keeping the town supplied with clean drinking water.’ He pushed his glasses farther up his nose while retreating to the relative security of the alley and shortly afterwards a door slammed shut.

Miranda turned and caught Captain Kyle shaking his head at her. ‘What?’

‘Are you trying to get yourself reported to the Brimfield Council? They’ll take a dim view of you harassing their citizens.’

Miranda grimaced, knowing he was right. Still, ‘That guy won’t say anything, not unless he wants to risk his wife finding out what he and his secretary have been up to.’

She turned away from the disappointment in his dark gaze and faced the members of her patrol. ‘I’ll see if I can catch up with the secretary, make sure she gets indoors before another freak finds her.’ She tightened her grip on her axe and strode off down the street before anyone could say a word.

It was bad form to leave her patrol to clean up her mess, but Miranda needed space. Ever since Kyle had been promoted to Captain, she’d felt pressured to outperform every other warden, to prove her worth to him.

She was a good warden, one of the best at Brimfield Ward. He’d promoted her to Lieutenant and put her in charge of his old patrol once he was made Captain, but she wanted more than that.

She wanted him to look at her as more than just one of his soldiers.

Now, with his rebuke of her methods, she wondered if he would ever be able to see past her armour to the woman underneath.

‘Wilson, wait.’

Miranda increased her speed, darting around the next corner, hoping he would think she hadn’t heard him. Not that he’d believe such a feeble excuse, given their enhanced hearing. She sped up, diving into the first alley on the right, hoping to lose herself in the dark shadows of its depths. Head turned to see if he was following, she retreated farther into the alley.

Harsh breathing sounded nearby.

She spun around, hand going to her axe as a freak launched himself at her from behind a stack of empty crates.

Before she could take aim, another freak slammed into her from the side, knocking her into the opposite wall. Her axe was knocked from her grasp, tumbling to the ground with a clang. Miranda twisted out of the way of both freaks, backing up as she put her hand to her holster, breath freezing in her lungs when she found it empty.

She scanned the area, seeing her stun gun on the ground behind the two freaks. She raised herself to the balls of her feet, ready to spin around and make for the alley entrance. A shower of timber rained down on her a split second before a freak jumped from the roof of the building to her left, knocking her to the ground.

She twisted and spun, as the other two freaks dived into the fray, fighting them off as best she could without any weapons, focusing on getting to either her axe or the gun.

One of the freaks got in a lucky blow, slamming his fist on the edge of her helmet. She reeled, dazed as he snarled, the whites of his eyes shining in the dim light coming in from the street, as he readied himself to pounce.

Miranda clenched her fists, preparing herself to fight until she could fight no more, determined to die rather than be infected.

A hard blow to her chin sent her flying backwards, smashing onto the crates and knocking them everywhere. A fourth freak barrelled in from the end of the alley and launched himself at her even as the others raced to join in.

Blow after blow rained down on her and her vision blurred. One of the freaks grabbed her ankles and began to drag her, her head bounced painfully on the hard ground. Then there was a sensation like free-fall and full darkness descended. They’d taken her underground.

This was it.

She was going to die.

Head pounding she gave in to unconsciousness as she felt their hands tearing at her body armour, fingers trying to peel off her helmet.

Sometime later, consciousness returned slowly. She knew she was being carried, cradled to a hard chest, and weakly fought to free herself.

‘Wilson, it’s okay. I’ve got you.’

The sound of Captain Kyle’s voice brought relief, and she sagged in his arms. Then she stiffened. ‘Am I infected?’ Her body hurt all over, too many aches and pains to enable her to distinguish whether any of the freaks had been able to penetrate her body armour.

‘No. You’re going to be okay.’

The words should have reassured her, but the tension she heard in his voice, and the stiff way he held her, set her on edge.

‘Captain, what happened?’

‘They took you underground. I had to enter the tunnels to get you back.’

Miranda’s breath stilled. The Brimfield Council denied the wardens access to the underground tunnels. If they found out Captain Kyle had disobeyed the Ward Charter which governed their dealings with humans, he could be severely punished. Reason enough for some tension, but the ball of dread in the pit of her stomach did not go away.

She lifted her head, dismayed by how much effort it took, and scanned her surroundings.

They were in the rabbit warren of streets that comprised the merchant district in the centre of town, heading toward Ward Headquarters. Streetlights blazed on most corners while even more lights beamed from the buildings themselves. Freaks couldn’t stand anything brighter than moonlight, so lights were the best deterrent.

The captain stumbled and then righted himself, his arms tightening around Miranda. Painfully so.

‘Put me down,’ she said. ‘I can walk from here.’

His arms tightened even more and she squirmed, only to freeze when he started to growl, his deep voice low and filled with menace.

Miranda struggled in earnest, wrenching herself out of his arms and tumbling to the ground at his feet. He loomed over her, hands curled into fists, and she scrambled backwards, horror robbing her of speech when she saw the faint shine in his eyes.

No.

He couldn’t be infected.

It wasn’t possible.

He was the best warden in Brimfield, maybe even in the country. But there, on his left forearm, was a bloody tear in his flesh. More blood covered his black T-shirt and jeans, and a dark bruise was spreading across his jaw. Unlike her, he hadn’t been wearing body armour or a helmet, leaving him vulnerable.

She got to her feet and took a step toward him, the hair on the back of her neck rising when he went into a crouch, eyes filled with menace as he watched her.

‘Don’t come any closer,’ he said, teeth gritted. ‘I’m not sure how much longer I can hold on. You need to kill me, now.’ He reached behind him and pulled out a stun gun, her stun gun, and tossed it at her feet.

‘Captain, no, we can fix this.’ She gulped down her fear. ‘We get you to the medics and they can cut away the infection.’ They would need to take his entire arm to have any chance of saving him.

He shook his head, eyes never leaving hers. ‘It’s too late. The infection has already taken hold, or I’d have killed myself already. You have to do it. Please, Wilson. I can’t live like this. You must kill me.’

Pain threaded his words, body rigid as he waited for her to end his misery.

Miranda leaned over and scooped up the stun gun, checking what setting it was on before taking aim.

The first shot took him in the chest, driving him to his knees.

His eyes went wide, shining even more brightly now.

‘Wilson, no.’

She ignored his plea, stunning him a second time and watching his unconscious body fall to the ground, conscious of the tramp of boots coming closer.

No warden shall suffer a freak to live.

The Ward Charter, created over five hundred years ago to govern their kind, demanded the death of all freaks, regardless of who they had been prior to infection.

But this was Jackson Kyle.

She couldn’t kill him, any more than she could stop herself from loving him.

As her patrol raced forward, calling out her name, Miranda calmly holstered her stun gun.

‘Careful, he’s infected,’ she called out to Dale and Michaelson. ‘Get him to the holding cell and make sure he is secured. I’m going to find Zarb.’

Dr Daniel Zarb, former Captain of the Brimfield Ward, had been working on a cure his entire career. He would find a way to bring Kyle back to her.

He had to.

As she strode through the streets of Brimfield, Miranda refused to let her welling tears fall. She could not appear weak. With Kyle out of action, someone needed to take charge. To keep him alive, against Ward law, she had to be named the next Captain.

It was the only way to ensure his sacrifice didn’t claim his life.

Freak or not, she would make sure he lived long enough to be cured.

~~~

If you enjoyed this story, find out what happens next in Dark Justice, The Last Ward Book 1.

 

The Year That Was

Well, 2017 is almost over and I figured it was time to look back on the year that was.

According to Goodreads, I read 80 books this year. Some of those were novellas, others were books on marketing and self-publishing, and one was a 23 book box set. I read in a wide range, from science fiction to historical romance and I even managed a few zombie apocalypse stories.

I wrote and published Silver Reaper, the third and final book in the Reaper Series. I also found a home for my post-apocalyptic style fantasy, Dark Justice, with Odyssey Books. I finished off the year by writing two novellas to follow on from my YA paranormal fantasy Angel Fire. Wild Lightning and Hidden Aftershock are with the editor so stay tuned for more on my novella series Arcane Awakenings.

In April I was lucky enough to attend two local popular culture conventions, PopCon in Gladstone, and CapriCon in Rockhampton. There were great turnouts at both events and so many amazing costumes on display, and I got to chat with readers and aspiring authors and had a great time.

In October I attended Writefest in Bundaberg, and followed that up with GenreCon in Brisbane in November. It is always fantastic to get together with other writers to workshop and develop our craft. The writing community is so welcoming and friendly, I highly recommend getting out there and meeting your tribe. You will have a ball.

So, where to from here?

Dark Justice will be released in June 2018, and I am currently working on the sequel. I would love to get a third book in the series written by the end of the year. I also plan to write three more novellas for Arcane Awakenings and hope to have the complete series published by the close of 2018. My new desk is going to get a workout.

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I will be attending CapriCon (April 2018) and PopCon (May 2018), and hope to make it to one or two writing festivals throughout the year as well. I will have to see how far my budget stretches to make that happen.

One thing I know I will be doing plenty of is reading. It was my love of reading that made me want to be an author, and I love nothing more than curling up with a good book.

How about you? What will you be doing in 2018?

Whatever your plans, I hope you have a fantastic New Year and all your dreams come true.

Death by Bicycle

Last month I took part in a Bewitching Blog Tour for Winged Reaper, the second book in my Reaper Series ,and I wrote a post for I Smell Sheep where I discussed my teenage fear that I would die while riding my bike. After it was posted that I realised I’d left out one major death defying occasions when I almost lost my life while on two wheels.

I was riding with a friend, heading for a fun filled day of window shopping and people watching. We were teenagers. We had no money to do real shopping and back then there were no such things as mobile phones to entertain us so people watching was it.

I was in the lead, on the edge of the road to keep out of the way of passing traffic, when a very very very large bag of something fell off the back of a truck and landed right in front of me. As uncoordinated as I am I have no idea how I avoided crashing into it, while my fiend was hyperventilating because of how close it had come to landing on top of me.

If you’d like to check out the blog post and read about other times when my bike was nearly the death of me you can check it out here  – http://www.ismellsheep.com/2016/10/shelley-russell-nolan-guest-post.html?m=0

Happy reading!

 

 

Awesome October

October is shaping up to be an awesome month. Winged Reaper, the second book in my Reaper series, was released on the 1st of October. Cue the happy dancing. I celebrated with a 20161002_202101family dinner and got to wear a new winged skull necklace made for me by a friend.

On the 8th of October I will be attending Writefest in Bundaberg, spending a whole day catching up with friends and talking writing with people who get that stories and characters are clamouring to be heard in my head. They have them in their heads too.

Then on the 17th of October 20161001_192128-2Winged Reaper and I will be heading out on a Bewitching Blog Tour. If you want to follow along, check out the dates and stops listed below. I’m really looking forward to catching up with readers and sharing Winged Reaper with the world.

Winged Reaper Blog Tour

October 17

Hart’s Romance Pulse

www.HartsRomancePulse.com

Feedmeinbooks

https://feedmeinbooks.wordpress.com/

Share My Destiny

http://sharemydestiny.blogspot.com

October 18

Books,Dreams,Life

https://staceyschneller06.wordpress.com/

The Silver Dagger Scriptorium

http://silver-dagger-scriptorium.weebly.com/

Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer

http://www.coffeeaddictedwriter.com

October 19

Mello and June, It’s a Book Thang!

http://mellojune.blogspot.com

Eskimo Princess Book Reviews

http://eskimoprincess.blogspot.com/

October 20

Butterfly-o-Meter Books

http://butterfly-o-meter.com/

Book Crazy Scrapbook Mama

https://bookcrazyscrapbookmama.blogspot.com/

Infinite House of Books

http://www.house-of-books.com

October 21

The Book Junkie Reads

http://mileythebookjunkie.blogspot.com/

Traci Douglass

http://www.tracidouglass.net

Sylv all about books and films

http://www.sylv.net

October 24

I Smell Sheep

http://www.ismellsheep.com/

A Night’s Dream of Books

http://anightsdreamofbooks.blogspot.com/

Sapphyria’s Book Reviews

http://saphsbookblog.blogspot.com/

 

The Re-Release of Lost Reaper

Today is release day for Lost Reaper with my wonderful new publisher, Atlas Productions, and I was interviewed by the local paper about being re-released and the impending release of the second book in my reaper series.

Here’s a link to the online version of the article if you would like to check it out – Interview

I’ve been happy dancing all day, and am really looking forward to the release of Winged Reaper on the 1st October. When not scaring the kitties with my crazy dance moves, I’ve been busy jotting down ideas for the third book in the series, Rogue Reaper.

Check out my events page for places I’ll be appearing with print copies of Lost Reaper and Winged Reaper all ready to sign. Can’t wait to share my reapers with you all.

Facebook LR WR now 2016

Kitten Tales

Life has been a roller-coaster the last month or so and it all started with the death of the Demon Cat.

As beautiful as he was cantankerous, Jackson was a cat to be reckoned with. Determined to live life on his terms, he made sure his human family knew he was boss. But a life lived on the edge had a time limit and unfortunately his had run out.

Then Little Miss Justice had a medical mishap and I was prepared to curl up in a ball and cry for a week at the thought of losing her too. But she pulled through and was soon back to her sweet cuddly self.

In the middle of these kitty cat catastrophes I was notified that my publisher was winding down operations and I had to find a new home for my Reaper series. This was a blow, but I picked myself up and decided it was time for some good news. So I adopted another kitten from the same animal aid group that I adopted Justice from.

Max joined the family and we all fell in love with him, especially Justice. Max wasn’t too keen on her at first, but after a couple of days the two of them were romping around the house together and then curling up for a nap.

With the arrival of Max my spirits were lifted and life got even better with the news that my original publisher had recommended my work to another publisher. Within days I was offered a contract with Atlas Productions for my Reaper books and we are in the process of getting Lost Reaper back out into the world, soon to be followed by the sequel Winged Reaper.

I’m sure life will continue to throw ups and downs at me, but with two gorgeous kitties to cuddle up to I’m ready for it.

20160705_104115

When a Kitten is Not the Perfect Gift

I recently celebrated a birthday and it got me thinking about what is the perfect gift to give a writer.

For a few years now my answer would have been a kitten, but as hubby finally gave in and got me Little Miss Justice as an early birthday present, bringing my cat total to two, I was left scrambling for ideas when people asked me what I wanted.

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Now the obvious choice might be books, as most writers are readers first, but that doesn’t always turn out so well. I love books, and read most genres, so picking a book that I would like is an easy task for many members of my family and close friends. Two friends did buy me books this birthday and they were great picks. The trouble is they were such great picks that I already have them. Unless you get the opportunity to stalk your writer’s bookshelves, both electronic and physical, you may find yourselves in the same situation.

So, if you can’t give a writer a kitten or books, what does that leave?

How about TIME?

Every writer I know would love more time. Time to write. Time to read. Time to perfect that manuscript before the deadline hits. Time to be Mum or Dad, catch up on chores, meet with friends. Time to take a nap, preferably with a cat or two.

One of my lovely sisters did in fact give me more time for my birthday. Not that it added any hours to my days, not even a minute. But as a writer who loves dragons, castles, reapers and anything fantastical, the time she did give me fits perfectly into my speculative fiction world.

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So next time you are looking to buy a gift for the writer in your life, don’t automatically reach for a kitten. Buy them some time instead. Who knows, it may help them stick to their deadlines.

 

Marching Along

We’ve hit March already and I’m still playing catch up from last year. But instead of panicking about how far behind I am, I’ve decided to reassess my goals. There are always so many projects I want to work on, but not enough time and energy to do so effectively. This means I’ve got half a dozen unfinished projects lurking in files and crying out for attention.

So I’ve decided to stop worrying about what I didn’t get to last year and will focus on more realistic goals and deadlines for 2016. That means taking it one day, one week and one month at a time, and giving myself some leeway for all the spanners that life likes to throw in every now and then.

For March that means doing a read through of Winged Reaper before I send it off to my beta readers. While I wait for their feedback I will finally be finishing a novella I started during NaNoWriMo a couple of years ago.

I’m also taking time out to attend a Queensland Writers’ Centre workshop in Gladstone. Not only is this a chance to learn something new, I get to spend time with a fabulous bunch of writers, meeting up with old friends and making new ones. I love being around people who don’t think it’s strange that I go weak at the knees in front of a stationery shop (love my notebooks) or that I carry on conversations with my characters in my head.

Well, that’s my plan for March. What is everyone else up to?20160302_075304

When wrangling the Muse is as dangerous as patting a cat?

I’m sure most people would not consider patting a cat to be a dangerous pastime, but then most people haven’t met my cat. Jackson didn’t earn his nickname of The Demon Cat for being cute and cuddly.

 

The trouble is that he looks cute and cuddly, with soft soft fur and the ability to make me forget that he is more likely to eat me than let me pat him. He likes to slink up to people, acting like he wants a pat, only to sink the teeth in when they try. He’s definitely the kind of cat who likes to be admired from afar. It’s okay for him to breech your personal space, but you risk life and limb if you attempt to breech his.

 

Honestly, considering he shares a name with one of my characters that is just as handsome yet dangerous, I shouldn’t be surprised when I wind up wounded. (More on the similarities between the cat Jackson and the character Jackson in a future post.)

 

Anyway, patting my cat is a dangerous prospect, not one to be undertaken lightly, and the same can be said for my muse on occasion.

 

Most of the time she behaves herself, finding inspiration wherever we go and making sure my creative well is filled with fresh and exciting story ideas, and letting me extract some on them without sinking her teeth into me. But sometimes she decides that the well is off limits and no amount of hair-pulling, begging or bribery gets her to change her mind. That is when it is time to back away from the muse and give her some space to work out her issues.

 

Sometimes those issues are resolved in the time it takes me to have a quick nap. Other times she needs longer and I read a book or two, or catch up on one of the television shows I have stockpiled on DVD. Then, once she is convinced the well is in no danger of being depleted of all precious resources, she lets me dip a hand in again and the words flow once more.

 

After having neglected my muse over the busy Christmas period she wasn’t inclined to let me near the well after I sent the kids off to school. But after much apologising on my part, a stint of catching up on season nine of Stargate SG1, binge watching seasons one and two of The 100, and a little light reading thrown in, she has forgiven me. The well is open, the muse is happy and it’s time to get back to writing.

 

Now, I wonder if the cat will let me pat him today?   20160128_115340

Could Your Book Obsession Be Lethal?

I’m quite comfortable with devising tortuous and deadly encounters for my heroines, I certainly put Tyler through the wringer in Lost Reaper, but it never occurred to me that reading books can be just as dangerous.

I mean, you would think reading is a fairly passive exercise. Then I thought about the reading habits I cultivated as a teenager (many years ago) and realised just how wrong I was.

Most book lovers would be familiar with the one-handed mode of operation. I could make a cup of tea, water the yard and complete most of the chores my mother set me with a book in one hand. I might have risked scalding myself with my tea, but at least my life wasn’t in danger.

At high school I would often walk from classroom to classroom while reading and I could not count the amount of times a teacher would confiscate my book because I’d been reading during class. Other than walking into a pole or winding up in detention, again, not so bad.

On sports days my friends and I would skip school to hang out at the library. We were such rebels. No smoking behind the toilets, skulking around the shopping centres or running wild in the streets for us. No, we rebelled by expanding our minds, escaping into other worlds and feeding our imaginations. It wouldn’t have been fun to get caught skipping school, but I could have lived with the punishment.

It was when I was on the way home from the library that I really put my life on the line. Unable to resist the lure of a new book, I would ride with one propped open on the handlebars of my bike. I have no idea how I did not have an accident whilst engaged in this most precarious of reading situations.

That gets me to wondering, how many other avid readers out there have risked their lives for the sake of a good book?

Does anyone else have a tale of death-defying book devotion to share?

How far would you go to read just one more chapter?