Blood on His Hands is one man’s tale of the inner struggles that we all deal with in our lives. Mike Renton struggles between doing the right thing or doing that which will benefit himself; taking the road to righteousness or the one the one leads to deceit.
His life seems to end the moment he pulled the trigger sending his unfaithful wife and her lover into oblivion.
On the lam, his journey takes him from rural Oklahoma to the glitz of Las Vegas. He had not however, anticipated the determined tenacity of private investigator Ian Walker, who tracks him down to northern Georgia on to the Appalachian Trail just outside of the sleepy hamlet of Helen. Was the path chosen by both men the trail to redemption, forgiveness and repentance, or was it one that will eventually pull them into tempest and despair; a black hole into oblivion?
Nine months later, in the spring of the following year human remains are discovered by a hiker just off the Appalachian Trail. How willthe decisions made by the White County coroner’s office affect the final outcome of the journey Mike Renton started when he killed his wife and will he be able to deal with the repercussions that come along with the choices he made? Blood on His Hands leads us from wanton despair to the promise of a new life no matter the cost.
Please welcome Mark Sadler, a fellow Brit from Wolverhampton now living in Arizona.
“I have always been a writer. I studied journalism in college back in the mid ’70’s but took a different line of work, debt collector! The urge to write however continued to boil and bubble and eventually I worked for a small magazine in Oklahoma City, the OKC Sports Fan Forum where I had a editorial column based around soccer.
When I moved to Tucson I continued to free-lance and got the occasional article in local magazines and newspaper. It was not however until completing a 30-day solo hike of the Appalachian Trail that inspiration hit. I wanted to write about the wonderful experience I has while hiking the AT but to my chagrin discovered that just about anyone who had stepped on the AT wrote a book, journal, essay or blog. I decided to make mine a suspense thriller and made a novel out of the journey, hence Blood on His Hands.”
I asked Mark a few questions:
Tell us more about your book:
Blood on His Hands is a racy thriller born from the imagination of a nasty divorce. Allowing my character to murder his wife was a little therapy for me and the story envelopes the chase that ensues after the dastardly deed is performed. The experience I got while hiking the Appalachian Trail in a effort to clear my head gave the inspiration for the happenings once the murderer reaches northern Georgia.
What is one of your all-time favourite Books?
The one I go back to year after year is Sons and Lovers by D.H. Lawrence. I love the way he weaves the intricate relationships and uses the local dialects so effectively.. I love to read it aloud for that reason alone.
What gives you the motivation to write a particular genre?
I have always been a huge fan of mysteries, thrillers and suspense novels from Agatha Christie to James Patterson and my calling seems to stem from the enjoyment I get from reading that genre.
Has your characters or writing been inspired by friends/family?
This first book yes, for sure. From the physical descriptions and characteristics, you tend to write what you know closely so it was a large part of the inspiration.
Did you experience writers block?
No I don’t believe I did though the inspiration for the writing did seem to come at odd times; usually one in the morning! I think I was on a mission to get this written and allowed nothing to get in the way. Recently, with my next project, I have not had as much luck. Although I still don’t think it is writers block per se I have had a harder time formulating the best way to put the words on paper.
What are you working on now?
I have developed a Tucson detective, Nate Duarte, who will be the star in at least five of a series. It is a contemporary police procedural/ thriller. Duarte is a sex crimes detective but has a past that will bring in all kind of border issues that America and Mexico are facing right now.
What is the favourite scene in your book?
Well without giving too much of the story away it has to be the chapter after the bear attack. I wrote it first. It was originally meant to be the prologue but got swallowed into the story eventually. I wrote it after reading ‘Being Dead’ by British author Jim Crace, and he was quite inspirational in this particular situation.
Had you previously written anything?
Not of this magnitude. I had been published in a couple of small magazines and papers in an editorial style of article but this is my first novel.
How long does it take you to write a book?
So far I would say between two to three years. I don’t have the privilege to be able to write full-time and so I have to fit it in as I can. I try daily but that is a hardship sometimes. With a full time job and a wife who tends to like to see me once in a while I have to juggle my time a lot.
What comes first for you characters or plot?
It is the story line. Once I have a general picture shaping up as to where and what I start knocking on doors and let characters come out to play.
How did you get into writing? Did you always want to be a writer?
It was in grade school. My mother was a pre-school teacher who saw to it that I could read before I turned four. By the time we had to write essays I was turning in four or five page short stories. I have several ideas floating around in different genres, and I might even tackle some autobiographical stuff too. I was always a bit of a geek, but not handy with tools o computers still boggle the mind but I could always write; it was my escape outside of reading.
What are you reading now?
Currently Norman Mailers Tough Guys Don’t Dance. I love to read the masters. Since having written a book I find my reading has taken on new life; I read with a different view point. It is now more than just enjoying the story. I enjoy Elmore Leonard, Jack Higgins, John LeCarre, Frederick Forsyth, Herman Wouk and newer writers such as Jim Crace, Charlie Huston, Jennifer McMahon, Lisa Gardner.
Which author has inspired you most and why?
Has to be Jim Crace. The style of his work , the various genre he dabbles in shows an extraordinary talent that helps me focus.
What advice would you give aspiring authors?
Read Anne Lamott, then write and write. Take workshops and then write some more. Build a trusted group of readers to bring you down to earth and for goodness sake before you submit anything get a good editor.
If you were stranded on a desert island what three material things could you not be without?
Defoe’s ‘Robinson Crusoe’ (I am not a McGuyer so I would need instructions) a flint and an axe.
To finish off, do you have a quote or a poem that has stuck with you over the years and what is the story behind it?
Marriott Edgar’s ‘Albert and the Lion’ was a poem that my mother recited to me so many times that I know it by heart. I used it in speech class while in college. While everyone else was reciting monologues about life, death and love I had the professor rolling out of his chair in the back aisles.
Mark has very kindly provided an except of Blood on his Hands. Enjoy:
The truck seemed to feel its way over the red dirt road. Although he had not returned home in the past twelve years Mike navigated each crook and gully as if he had been here just yesterday. A barbed wire fence still separated the ranch from the road, but when he came to the gate, it was off its hinges, rusting in the tall weeds. The branded wood sign that read Circle Y was swinging by its chain from one end of the frame work that he passed under. He drove slowly over the cattle grid, bumping and swaying.
The bank had never been able to sell the foreclosed land and it had sat, deteriorating slowly. With each gust of wind that blew across it, the dirt shifted, helping the ranch seem more desolate. Tumbleweeds danced, twirled and weaved in the wind, like straw ballerinas who finally sacrificed themselves on the barbed wire.
The house was silhouetted with the moon in back, but still he could see that the windows were boarded up. For a moment, in his mind’s eye, he saw his folks; Dad sitting out on the front stoop, in his rocking chair, corn cob pipe in his hand, and a hound dog or two at his feet. Mom, out in back, in her white linen apron, hanging freshly laundered sheets on the line, and himself as a toddler stumbling and bumbling along chasing horny toads and getting under her feet at every opportunity.
Shaking his head, to clear the memory, he drove forward, picking out the remains of the old barn just down a way. It was barely standing; just a skeleton of planks held together with rusty nails, chicken wire and cobwebs. A few old rusting tractor parts and tools still clung to the work bench and walls, a vice stood open, probably rusted solid. He pulled in and shut off the engine.
Here will be a good place to die. Popping the lid off the aspirins he palmed a handful of little white pills into his mouth and chased them down with a swig of liquor from the whiskey bottle. Tears ran down his face as he stared at the photograph of Caleb and Seth, still in their pajamas, sitting around the Christmas tree a few months ago. My boys, oh my boys. Slowly but surely his eyes closed. He sunk sideways into the passenger seat. The ball cap slipped from his head and the bottle fell from his grasp.
He opened his eyes. If this was hell it smelled an awful lot like vomit. Choking, coughing he sat upright. The spew was dried and stuck to his face and t-shirt. Wet hair was plastered to the side of his head from the cold sweat he had been in all night. Outside the wind continued to howl and light flickered in through the broken slats of the barn. Another day. Still alive. What a fucking failure.
Getting out of the truck he walked around to the passenger side and opened the door. Bending over he picked up the puke covered ball cap, and used the bill to scrape the chunks off the seat. He flung the floor mat into the dirt, followed by the ruined cap. The remaining aspirin rattled around and the whiskey bottle rolled under the seat. They could be left there; a reminder of his botched attempt. After removing as much of the dried vomit as possible he rolled the window down.
He unzipped and peed over behind the tailgate of the truck. His kidneys ached. Climbing back into the cab he turned the engine over, and put the truck into first gear. Edging forward he pulled out of the old ramshackle lean-to barn, and headed back out past the house without even a sideways glance. This place had killed his parents but rejected him. He needed to be on the road. Down the highway was Albuquerque and beyond that Phoenix. It had been a mistake to come back here; too many ghosts and memories. Without a backward glance in the mirror he peeled out off the cattle grid, leaving behind the desolate shadows of the ranch in a cloud of dry dust.
Marriott Edgar’s ‘Albert and the Lion’
There’s a famous seaside place called Blackpool
That’s noted for fresh air and fun,
And Mr and Mrs Ramsbottom
Went there with young Albert, their son.
BLOOD ON HIS HANDS – The debut novel from Mark P Sadler