Because the end is sometimes the beginning: Wide Awake Asleep

Is she awake or is she dreaming? Reality or nightmare? Julie Compton can’t believe she’s escaped a terrible car crash… it’s impossible, in fact. A tree branch had impaled her to her seat, yet here she was, unharmed and looking … Continue reading

Human trafficking is the subject of this psychological thriller by @aallemanwrites

Currents of Sin by Arleen Alleman Homeless teens are disappearing off the streets in Las Vegas. Investigative reporter, Darcy Farthing, travels to Sin City to find a missing girl, Pammie Fleetfoot. Working with her friend and former LA cop, Tom Smythe, … Continue reading

Find Indie writers FAST on Amazon and

You’ll want to read them for life!
Find an Indie/self-pubbed works and find yourself a fresh new voice.

With kind permission from Michael James who has allowed me to copy and paste his grouped lists of Indie authors’ books, painstakingly put together, so readers don’t have to wade through book after book to find their desired read.


Add your book, find a book to read, write a review, blog/tweet about it and someone may do the same for you.

  


Action/Adventure @ http://www.amazon.com/forum/meet%20our%20authors/ref=cm_cd_tfp_ef_tft_tp?_encoding=UTF8&cdForum=Fx2UYC1FC06SU8S&cdThread=Tx38TES6Q3FJN5X

Apocalyptic @ http://www.amazon.com/forum/meet%20our%20authors/ref=cm_cd_tfp_ef_tft_tp?_encoding=UTF8&cdForum=Fx2UYC1FC06SU8S&cdThread=TxQ3RAMIYS1O9P

Autobiography/Memoir @ http://www.amazon.com/forum/meet%20our%20authors/ref=cm_cd_tfp_ef_tft_tp?_encoding=UTF8&cdForum=Fx2UYC1FC06SU8S&cdThread=Tx2UNIRDLX089JH

Children’s Books @ http://www.amazon.com/forum/meet%20our%20authors/ref=cm_cd_tfp_ef_tft_tp?_encoding=UTF8&cdForum=Fx2UYC1FC06SU8S&cdThread=TxK4GE3KYOC5DC

Christian @ http://www.amazon.com/forum/meet%20our%20authors/ref=cm_cd_tfp_ef_tft_tp?_encoding=UTF8&cdForum=Fx2UYC1FC06SU8S&cdThread=Tx3UDXHIZE1B8SG

Contemporary Romance @ http://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-forum/meet%20our%20authors/ref=cm_cd_search_res_ti?ie=UTF8&cdForum=Fx2UYC1FC06SU8S&cdMsgNo=1&cdPage=1&cdSort=oldest&cdThread=Tx2GWUTUJY3CAQS&cdMsgID=Mx7WJMT1W1GOXG#Mx7WJMT1W1GOXG

Cozy Mystery @ http://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-forum/meet%20our%20authors/ref=cm_cd_search_res_ti?ie=UTF8&cdForum=Fx2UYC1FC06SU8S&cdMsgNo=1&cdPage=1&cdSort=oldest&cdThread=Tx38WPN4Q8ALI0N&cdMsgID=Mx3440X2V7QG6TC#Mx3440X2V7QG6TC

Dystopia @ http://www.amazon.com/forum/meet%20our%20authors/ref=cm_cd_tfp_ef_tft_tp?_encoding=UTF8&cdForum=Fx2UYC1FC06SU8S&cdThread=Tx1OBC6KJZB0IIM

Fantasy @ http://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-forum/meet%20our%20authors/ref=cm_cd_search_res_ti?ie=UTF8&cdForum=Fx2UYC1FC06SU8S&cdMsgNo=1&cdPage=1&cdSort=oldest&cdThread=TxG0CTZ5QQDTF8&cdMsgID=Mx20WSMRHNOLLCF#Mx20WSMRHNOLLCF

Ghost @ http://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-forum/meet%20our%20authors/ref=cm_cd_search_res_ti?ie=UTF8&cdForum=Fx2UYC1FC06SU8S&cdMsgNo=1&cdPage=1&cdSort=oldest&cdThread=Tx1ATXBDLDLALZ3&cdMsgID=Mx9TR93HIVSDZI#Mx9TR93HIVSDZI

Graphic Novel/Comic @ http://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-forum/meet%20our%20authors/ref=cm_cd_search_res_ti?ie=UTF8&cdForum=Fx2UYC1FC06SU8S&cdMsgNo=1&cdPage=1&cdSort=oldest&cdThread=Tx14FSMWWO8QPNH&cdMsgID=Mx3FO2GF0N0W65G#Mx3FO2GF0N0W65G

Halloween @ http://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-forum/meet%20our%20authors/ref=cm_cd_search_res_ti?ie=UTF8&cdForum=Fx2UYC1FC06SU8S&cdMsgNo=1&cdPage=1&cdSort=oldest&cdThread=TxSHXA0PDT2PD3&cdMsgID=Mx1YNZ5VTRORCNG#Mx1YNZ5VTRORCNG

Historical Fiction @ http://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-forum/meet%20our%20authors/ref=cm_cd_search_res_ti?ie=UTF8&cdForum=Fx2UYC1FC06SU8S&cdMsgNo=1&cdPage=1&cdSort=oldest&cdThread=Tx3APP0UUA9Y96O&cdMsgID=Mx64G8PX55JRJ2#Mx64G8PX55JRJ2

Historical Romance @ http://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-forum/meet%20our%20authors/ref=cm_cd_search_res_ti?ie=UTF8&cdForum=Fx2UYC1FC06SU8S&cdMsgNo=1&cdPage=1&cdSort=oldest&cdThread=Tx2ALCG0W1XWBY2&cdMsgID=Mx32RC25WGW2QDK#Mx32RC25WGW2QDK

Horror @ http://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-forum/meet%20our%20authors/ref=cm_cd_search_res_ti?ie=UTF8&cdForum=Fx2UYC1FC06SU8S&cdMsgNo=1&cdPage=1&cdSort=oldest&cdThread=Tx3N5MWXQNLD8GI&cdMsgID=MxMEDBER2HWWSD#MxMEDBER2HWWSD

Humorous Fiction @ http://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-forum/meet%20our%20authors/ref=cm_cd_search_res_ti?ie=UTF8&cdForum=Fx2UYC1FC06SU8S&cdMsgNo=1&cdPage=1&cdSort=oldest&cdThread=TxY9YK1H4XDO5X&cdMsgID=Mx1C2B9VJISOJHB#Mx1C2B9VJISOJHB

Literary Fiction @ http://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-forum/meet%20our%20authors/ref=cm_cd_search_res_ti?ie=UTF8&cdForum=Fx2UYC1FC06SU8S&cdMsgNo=1&cdPage=1&cdSort=oldest&cdThread=Tx2QUPHM00ZN9NS&cdMsgID=MxG7RHX5XVHAKF#MxG7RHX5XVHAKF

Mystery/Hardboiled/Procedural @ http://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-forum/meet%20our%20authors/ref=cm_cd_search_res_ti?ie=UTF8&cdForum=Fx2UYC1FC06SU8S&cdMsgNo=1&cdPage=1&cdSort=oldest&cdThread=Tx32QOBHER7D0RX&cdMsgID=Mx1K73GYJYJ962Y#Mx1K73GYJYJ962Y

Paranormal Romance @ http://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-forum/meet%20our%20authors/ref=cm_cd_search_res_ti?ie=UTF8&cdForum=Fx2UYC1FC06SU8S&cdMsgNo=1&cdPage=1&cdSort=oldest&cdThread=Tx3OPNG2YFNLH4T&cdMsgID=MxSPSRTITZT594#MxSPSRTITZT594

Paranormal @ http://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-forum/meet%20our%20authors/ref=cm_cd_search_res_ti?ie=UTF8&cdForum=Fx2UYC1FC06SU8S&cdMsgNo=1&cdPage=1&cdSort=oldest&cdThread=Tx2LI6SSDHSSOX6&cdMsgID=Mx3LGLM8P8O1BPI#Mx3LGLM8P8O1BPI

Poetry @ http://www.amazon.com/forum/meet%20our%20authors/ref=cm_cd_tfp_ef_tft_tp?_encoding=UTF8&cdForum=Fx2UYC1FC06SU8S&cdThread=TxPEGXSRXSVYSH

Post-Apocalyptic @ http://www.amazon.com/forum/meet%20our%20authors/ref=cm_cd_tfp_ef_tft_tp?_encoding=UTF8&cdForum=Fx2UYC1FC06SU8S&cdThread=Tx36ESB1ZVMIZMN

Science Fiction @ http://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-forum/meet%20our%20authors/ref=cm_cd_search_res_ti?ie=UTF8&cdForum=Fx2UYC1FC06SU8S&cdMsgNo=1&cdPage=1&cdSort=oldest&cdThread=Tx1F00JO8AMTU25&cdMsgID=Mx106R0RMX1TXIL#Mx106R0RMX1TXIL

Short Stories @ http://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-forum/meet%20our%20authors/ref=cm_cd_search_res_ti?ie=UTF8&cdForum=Fx2UYC1FC06SU8S&cdMsgNo=1&cdPage=1&cdSort=oldest&cdThread=TxQ0G9EAI2KDGA&cdMsgID=Mx280BARWR84BO5#Mx280BARWR84BO5

Suspense @ http://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-forum/meet%20our%20authors/ref=cm_cd_search_res_ti?ie=UTF8&cdForum=Fx2UYC1FC06SU8S&cdMsgNo=1&cdPage=1&cdSort=oldest&cdThread=Tx21M4A40YT7GY6&cdMsgID=Mx39RCVGFFPQNG5#Mx39RCVGFFPQNG5

Thriller @ http://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-forum/meet%20our%20authors/ref=cm_cd_search_res_ti?ie=UTF8&cdForum=Fx2UYC1FC06SU8S&cdMsgNo=1&cdPage=1&cdSort=oldest&cdThread=Tx29NG9AICHZ0SU&cdMsgID=Mx2C4ISRFACLPFH#Mx2C4ISRFACLPFH

Time Travel @ http://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-forum/meet%20our%20authors/ref=cm_cd_search_res_ti?ie=UTF8&cdForum=Fx2UYC1FC06SU8S&cdMsgNo=1&cdPage=1&cdSort=oldest&cdThread=Tx2R5F3XZ3WLE4N&cdMsgID=Mx3D4YTF4FHNN7Y#Mx3D4YTF4FHNN7Y

Vampire Romance @ http://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-forum/meet%20our%20authors/ref=cm_cd_search_res_ti?ie=UTF8&cdForum=Fx2UYC1FC06SU8S&cdMsgNo=1&cdPage=1&cdSort=oldest&cdThread=Tx2R5F3XZ3WLE4N&cdMsgID=Mx3D4YTF4FHNN7Y#Mx3D4YTF4FHNN7Y

Western Romance @ http://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-forum/meet%20our%20authors/ref=cm_cd_search_res_ti?ie=UTF8&cdForum=Fx2UYC1FC06SU8S&cdMsgNo=1&cdPage=1&cdSort=oldest&cdThread=Tx2WP8RJIFC34TK&cdMsgID=Mx36LA6R9BEWMXT#Mx36LA6R9BEWMXT

Westerns @ http://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-forum/meet%20our%20authors/ref=cm_cd_search_res_ti?ie=UTF8&cdForum=Fx2UYC1FC06SU8S&cdMsgNo=1&cdPage=1&cdSort=oldest&cdThread=TxXO5XG8MR6GV7&cdMsgID=Mx1UY0L6XE6APP8#Mx1UY0L6XE6APP8

Young Adult @ http://www.amazon.com/forum/meet%20our%20authors/ref=cm_cd_tfp_ef_tft_tp?_encoding=UTF8&cdForum=Fx2UYC1FC06SU8S&cdThread=Tx31AV7IW1I8KHU

Trimming Down: to cut or not to cut?

One Author’s Experience

by 

Chris Lindberg 
Several years ago, I began writing the main
character for what is now my novel Code
of Darkness
: a mysterious loner-turned-vigilante known only by the name
Rage.  I had recently graduated from
college, was living in the suburbs with my parents, and commuting on a train to
downtown Chicago.  I decided the train
would be my “writing studio.” 


I remember coming up with that first line:
“Rage walked into the shadowy bar with one thing in mind: vengeance.”  The line contained a lot of angst, energy,
and foreshadowing for what would be the first chapter of my writing life.  I wrote the chapter in a few days, happy with
the result, and moved on to write other chapters, getting about a hundred pages
into it. 

About a year later I moved downtown, and
suddenly found a lot of other things to do with my time.  Without the long commute to give me a
“studio” in which to write, the book project was tabled for a long time. 

Five years ago, I moved back out to the
suburbs and started a family.  I was back
on the train, so I thought I’d try picking up where I’d left off.  I found the old manuscript and began to put
down new material.  But I decided to go
an entirely new direction.  I scrapped
old characters and storylines, and wove in new ones: a Chicago cop, a rogue NSA
agent, a government conspiracy.  My goal
was to make the story more of a page-turning thriller. 

But through all the changes, the chapters
that centered around Rage stayed mostly intact. 
That first chapter, the one in which I’d first introduced him, and most
importantly that first line, was always going to be my starting point, I’d
decided. 

I finished the novel at a whopping 198,000
words.  Yes – 198,000.  I was advised to get it down to about half
that.  Half my creation was going to be
on the chopping block?  No way was I
going to do that. 

But it quickly became clear that I was
going to have to.  So I began removing
chapters, storylines, characters.  In
some cases I was simply trimming fat.  Two
revisions later, at 123,000 words, I discovered an angle that would probably
cut another ten to fifteen thousand words easily: introduce the three main
characters together in the same chapter, putting them in a perilous situation
that would set the tone for the book. 
The problem with this was, what would this mean for my cherished
original starting point? 

I tried to find another home for it: the
second chapter, maybe later in the story, but nothing worked.  It just didn’t fit into the story
anymore.  And the problem was, the new
first chapter didn’t just cut the word count, it also gave the story a much
better starting point. 

So after much deliberation, I said goodbye
to that original first chapter, and my story became a thousand times better for
it.  It will always have a home in the
first draft of Code of Darkness, and
if enough people are interested, maybe I’ll post it on my blog someday. 

So now you now the rest of the story.  I’d be curious to know what all your experiences
were with your first novel: how long the first draft was, did you cut anything,
and if so how much … and most importantly, what was the biggest or most
difficult change you made? 
Chris Lindberg’s first novel, Code of Darkness, was released in
August.  You can find out more by
visiting www.codeofdarkness.com, or
visiting Facebook and searching on “code of darkness.”



Chris is also offering a FREE eBook version of Code of Darkness to the person with the best, funniest, cutest comment below. Leave your email and he’ll contact you.

To purchase Code of Darkness in paperback
or e-book edition, please check out: http://www.lulu.com/browse/search.php?fListingClass=0&fSearch=code+of+darkness
Or search “code of darkness” on Amazon or
BN.com. 

You can also email him at chris@codeofdarkness.com
– he’d love to hear from you. More about Chris:
Chris Lindberg was born and raised outside Chicago, Illinois.  After graduating from Northern Illinois University in the mid-1990s, he headed out to the west coast for a couple of years, where he began writing as a casual pastime.  



Some time after returning to Chicago he began attending writers workshops at StoryStudio Chicago, where he wrote two character studies, both of which have since been developed into key characters in Code of Darkness.

Chris now lives outside Chicago with his wife Jenny and their two children, Luke and Emma.  You might catch him working away on his second novel while commuting on his morning train into the city. 




Code of Darkness – When a routine bank robbery takes an unexpected turn, veteran Chicago police officer Larry Parker witnesses a heroic act by a mysterious intervener. But seconds later the Samaritan disappears, leaving Larry only with unanswered questions.


Suddenly, vigilante activity begins popping up all over the city – including several murders. Larry begins to gather the missing pieces of the puzzle, and finds evidence the Samaritan might be tied to them. When he learns the man’s identity – a loner known only by the name Rage – he prepares to move in for the arrest.

But there is much more to Rage than meets the eye: the case has also drawn the attention of a covert Black Ops division within the Pentagon. Their mission: find Rage, while keeping their operation out of the public eye. Seen as knowing too much, Larry suddenly finds himself in the crosshairs as well. After a deadly standoff, Rage is captured, forcing Larry to search for answers while on the run.

The deadly chase leads cross-country to a top-secret military facility in Virginia, where Rage and Larry uncover the greatest danger of all — and only they can stop the unthinkable from happening.

Purchase Links: 


Whatever you do begin writing your novel in the CORRECT place!

This week Jamie Magee is here to talk us about where to begin writing a novel. At the beginning? You think?


Take it away, Jamie…



Whatever you do begin writing your novel in the CORRECT place!
by 
Jamie Magee


I always thought that there was only one way to write a novel – from the beginning to the end – but that was before I was writer.

When I began writing the Insight series I was chasing a daydream. The image I had of my main character, Willow Haywood, was painful and full of raw emotion.


I knew I couldn’t start at that point so I thought backwards and tried to figure out how this scene would come to life then I started the Insight series at the wrong place – the beginning.

Once Insight was complete my scene saw was nowhere to be seen. It was an awkward moment in my life. One thought would tell me that I’d wasted three months writing a story that would never be read, the next that this was simply the beginning and that I needed to write deeper and find that lost scene.

As beta readers began to read Insight I felt unfulfilled. Even though I’d told Willow Haywood’s story I felt empty – after organizing every closet and drawer in my house my restlessness became too much for me to handle, and before I had the verdict from the beta readers I began to write again.

This time I started with my lost scene. At first it felt like I was writing outside of the series but I began to let my characters guide me. It was a turning point.

I’d wrote what is chapter twelve in Embody all the way to end before I had any feedback on Insight, at that point it didn’t matter if anyone else was in love with Willow and Landen – I was!


More scenes came – but this was a good thing if I wanted to keep writing! What was different with the these scenes is that I didn’t try and figure out what happened before that point, instead I just wrote them down and made room for the next ‘big idea’ to come.

Image will be launched Nov 8th 2011

My third novel, Image, was written differently. In that novel I wrote countless scenes then placed them in order and connected them together. Somehow it created a fast paced novel, and looking back now I know I would not have managed to come up with the same effect had I written the novel from the beginning to end.




Jamie Magee has always believed that each of us have a defining gift that sets us apart from the rest, she has always envied those who have known from their first breath what their gift was. Not knowing hers, she began a career in the fast paced world of business. Raising a young family, and competing to rise higher in that field would drive some to the point of insanity, but she always found a moment of escape in a passing daydream. Her imagination would take her to places she’d never been, introduce her to people she’s never known. Insight, her debuting novel, is a result of that powerful imagination. Today, she is grateful that not knowing what defined her led her on a path of discovery that would always be a part of her.



Not many Scorpio’s are known for their patience,
and Willow Haywood is no different. Her only desire is to love Landen Chambers
and redeem the lost souls of Esterious, but the path to that desire is long,
dark and dangerous…


Before Willow’s life had a chance to balance the sudden revelations and grief
she had to endure to get to Chara a disturbing discovery is made. A photo, one
that shows Willow blissfully embracing the flawless image of Drake Blakeshire;
giving her not only proof that she had lived before, but that she had loved
him.


Running away from the memory of Drake’s hypnotizing touch, and the prophecy set
before her seemed like the logical thing to do. That is, until a dark dream
reignites her passion to save the hopeless dimension of Esterious. Willow
struggles to find patience – to learn everything she needs to know before she
faces Drake again, but her eagerness is dangerous and one step in the wrong
direction takes everything and everyone away from her – the only way to survive
this trial is for Willow to remember who she is and what she really wants out
of this life.




Jamie Magee’s Blog: http://ourbooksourvoice.blogspot.com/
FB page: http://www.facebook.com/Insight.Jamie.Magee
and twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/insight117


She’d love to hear from you!



Stephanie Dray’s Song of the Nile – another book for your TBR list.

Way back in November 2010 Wise Words interviewed Stephanie Dray over her book Lily of the Nile. She is now BACK with the captivating sequel SONG OF THE NILE.

Song of the Nile

Sorceress. Seductress. Schemer. Cleopatra’s daughter has become the
emperor’s most unlikely apprentice and the one woman who can destroy his
empire…


Having survived her perilous childhood as a royal captive of Rome, Selene
pledged her loyalty to Augustus and swore she would become his very own
Cleopatra. Now the young queen faces an uncertain destiny in a foreign land.



Forced to marry a man of the emperor’s choosing, Selene will not allow her
new husband to rule in her name. She quickly establishes herself as a capable
leader in her own right and as a religious icon. Beginning the hard work of
building a new nation, she wins the love of her new subjects and makes herself
vital to Rome by bringing forth bountiful harvests.



But it’s the magic of Isis flowing through her veins that makes her
indispensable to the emperor. Against a backdrop of imperial politics and
religious persecution, Cleopatra’s daughter beguiles her way to the very
precipice of power. She has never forgotten her birthright, but will the price
of her mother’s throne be more than she’s willing to pay?



Purchase: 
Amazon
B&N

Stephanie graduated from Smith, a small women’s college in Massachusetts
where–to the consternation of her devoted professors–she was unable to master
Latin. However, her focus on Middle Eastern Studies gave her a deeper
understanding of the consequences of Egypt’s ancient clash with Rome, both in
terms of the still-extant tensions between East and West as well as the
worldwide decline of female-oriented religion.
Before she wrote novels, Stephanie was a lawyer, a game designer, and a
teacher. Now she uses the transformative power of magic realism to illuminate
the stories of women in history and inspire the young women of today. She
remains fascinated by all things Roman or Egyptian and has–to the consternation
of her devoted husband–collected a house full of cats and ancient artifacts.




Read Stephanie’s 2010 interview on Wise Words HERE



Life on the rough side of New Zealand – Marita Hansen

Marita A. Hansen


Author of Behind the Hood

Life on the rough side of New Zealand.


In this South Auckland neighbourhood where gang culture, drink, drugs, sex and
violence is already a way of life, a vicious attack on a teenage girl sparks a
ripple effect of revenge and fury. Live the carnage through multiple viewpoints
as the tale unfolds to a bloody climax.

Warning: NOT for the fainthearted.



Marita A. Hansen was born in New Zealand, where Behind
the Hood is based. Marita loves to write, compose compicturistic art, coach
youth football, and referee the occasional match.
 

What age group is you book geared towards?

Adults.


Into which genre would you say your book falls?


General Fiction.
Tell us a little about your book?

BEHIND THE HOOD is the first book in a series following the lives of a group of
people living in a rough New Zealand neighbourhood. 
Each chapter is titled according
to which character is followed.  Here is
part of an Amazon review:
INTENSE! I could probably leave my review at this one word and that
would say it all. What a nerve wracking read. At first I thought there were
going to be too many point of view characters for me to get involved
emotionally, but they all tied back to each other perfectly. I had no problem
keeping track of who was who and how they related back to each of the other
characters. By the last three-quarters of the book I had the phones turned off
and the Do Not Disturb sign hung on the door. I had to know what was going to
happen and I didn’t want any interruptions. Marita Hansen did not disappoint. I
can’t wait to read the sequel.

(Middle of the review cut due to spoilers)

This novel is brutal in its honesty, giving a true-to-life
picture of gang life and the destruction that goes along with it. If you’re at
all squeamish, this is probably not the book for you. Lives are destroyed,
whole families destroyed, in a matter of seconds because of selfish desires.
I’ll read just about anything I can get my hands on and it had me cringing in a
few places-—praying in others. I got attached to these characters in the short
time it took me to read it and it hurt me when they got hurt. At the same time
I’m being repulsed by what’s taking place, I’m also getting pulled in. It takes
real talent to pull off a story like this. I can’t wait to read the next one by
Marita Hansen. This story may take place in New Zealand, but the same story
could be told in any gang territory in the States. Definitely earned the five
stars I’m going to give Behind the Hood.



What is your favourite scene in your book? Can we have a snippet?

I have a few favourite scenes, but I can’t give snippets due to where they are placed
in the story.  But I can give you part of
the first chapter:

1

Maia Daniels knew she should just ignore the boys. Walk past, don’t listen, she told herself. Don’t talk back.
It was ten o’clock on a Saturday
night. The gang were sitting on a wall outside Claydon Pub, passing around a
smoke. She’d seen some of them at high school, when they decided to turn up
that is.
Whooping and yelling came from the
pub. A television blared loudly, no doubt replaying the All Blacks’ rugby match
against the Wallabies. Maia stopped at the driveway as a purple Holden drove
into the car park. Music blasted from inside the souped-up machine, the bass
pumping its steady beat out into the night.
“Maia, c’mere,” Tama Harris
yelled.
The gang leader was eighteen, tall
and solidly built, with a wide, flat nose. He’d shaved off his hair recently,
replacing it with a curved pattern called a moko.
Usually, the tattoo adorned the face, a sign of a Maori warrior—something to be
proud of. But Tama was no one to be proud of, nothing but a dreg who constantly
harassed her. Unlike the other boys, he wore his hoodie tied around his waist,
his ripped jeans and muscle shirt unsuitable for the cold autumn weather. Maia figured
he was probably high on something, either from the weed in his hand or the
empty bottles at his feet—or both.
“Hey, Maia! Are ya a double d?” a
podgy boy with spiky blond hair shouted.
“They sure felt like it,” Tama
replied, his hand actions eliciting laughter from the gang.
A blush ran across Maia’s cheeks.
Shit, she hated her breasts. Even in her oversized sweatshirt they still
grabbed attention. She pulled her hood further over her head, and rounded her
shoulders. After another car passed, she hitched up her track pants and walked
across the muddy driveway.
Tama hollered, “Oi! I told ja to
c’mere.”
She looked back, aching to give
him the finger, but instead jammed her hands into her pockets. God, she was a
moron for sneaking out, but … Ben’s raves were always awesome. Why couldn’t
her mum let her go? It wasn’t like she did drugs, and the boys at the party
were just mates.
Tama’s scowl changed into a grin.
He threw his joint onto the ground and jumped off the stone wall. With a jerk
of his head, he indicated for the gang to follow.
Maia’s heartbeat picked up. Still
concentrating on Tama, she stepped off the kerb and onto Waiata Crescent. The
blast of a horn made her leap back. The front passenger leaned out of a
battered sedan, and swore at her. Ignoring the pimply git, she scooted around
the car and across the side road.
A loud wolf-whistle made her jump.
She glanced over her shoulder. Tama’s eyes were fixated on her, promising
things she didn’t want.
He grabbed his crotch. “I like ya
from behind, Maia.”
All the boys, except for Mikey
Thomas, laughed. Tama’s cousin looked away as though uncomfortable with what
was happening. He was fourteen and in her class at school. She thought he liked
her; either that or he had a staring problem. Yeah, she’d only noticed because
she was usually checking him out too.
Maia wondered if she could lose
the gang by cutting across the highway. Traffic was heavy, making this option
just as dangerous as stopping for Tama. Further up the road, past the tyre
yard, the video and liquor stores’ lights were on. The neon sign of the happy
video man was a welcoming sight. It was maybe a hundred metres away. She
thought she had a chance of outrunning Tama. She was fast, damned fast. If she’d
showed up to school enough, she probably would’ve been on the track team.
“Maia, pretty Maia,” Tama taunted.
“I’ve got sumpthin’ to show you.”
Maia wasn’t sure whether it was a
knife—or something else in his pants. She knew he carried a switchblade. He’d
stabbed her brother in the arm once when Nike attacked him with a baseball bat.
She’d always wondered whether this was why Tama harassed her. But she couldn’t
blame Nike for it. Leila, his girlfriend at the time, had caused the fight. The
bitch had cheated on him with Tama, then cried rape after he found out.
“Leave me alone, Tama,” she said, remembering
the last time he’d approached her. She’d kicked him in the balls for grabbing
her breasts. “Nike said he’d beat the living snot outta you if you came near me
again.”
“I’d love to see him fuckin’ try.
Plus, you owe me, bitch.”
Maia knew she should keep her
mouth shut; that whenever she spoke it got her into trouble. Her mother had
told her countless times, “You speak too much, Maia, you should listen more.”
She grinned, unable to help
herself. “What do I owe you? More bruised balls?”
She heard a slicing noise behind
her, the sound of a switchblade being opened. Shit!
“Get her,” Tama yelled.


Have your characters or writing been inspired by friends/ family or by
real-life experiences?


The setting is my biggest inspiration, but the characters and some of the
things they say, think, and do have been inspired by certain people … but I
can’t tell you who.  But I can tell you
one thing, Maia’s grin comes from me.  I
have a bad habit of grinning at the wrong time, especially when I’m in trouble.

Can you sum the book up in one sentence?

An emotional roller-coaster that will both shock and enthral you — definitely not
for the fainthearted.

Who is your favourite character in your book and why?

Mikey Thomas, because he’s such a vulnerable character that you just want to
protect.  I think he had the most powerful
scenes.  Plus, a few readers told me that
I made them cry in relation to his character, which says a lot.


Which comes first for you – characters or plot?


Definitely the characters.  If the
readers aren’t fascinated with them then you might as well not have a
story.  Plus, it’s the characters’
actions that propel the plot. 

Who is your publisher and where are your books available? Are there e-books
and hard copies available?


BEHIND THE HOOD is available as an ebook through Amazon and Smashwords.  It will also be available via other ebook
distributors in the next week or so, such as Kobo, Barnes & Noble and so
forth.  The paperback version will be released
before Christmas.

LINKS TO BEHIND THE HOOD
Smashwords

Contacts:
maritaahansen.blogspot.com
Twitter: @MaritaAHansen