New Release – ‘Far Away in Time’ by Maria Savva

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on March 16, 2014 by Michael Radcliffe

 

 

My friend and fellow author, Maria Savva, has just released a new collection of short stories.    Following is a brief excerpt from one of my favorites:

 

Far Away In Time

Teaser from ‘Far Away In Time – Part I’

Angie meets Mr Silverfrost

‘Don’t be alarmed. I can explain. But you have to suspend belief first.’ His grey eyes stared into hers.

‘Suspend belief?’

‘Yes. It’s not going to be easy for you to accept what I’m telling you. You have been so brainwashed into believing so many things.’

‘I really have to go,’ said Angie, suddenly struggling for air. ‘I can’t—’

‘You’re hyperventilating, that’s all. Please breathe deeply and sit in my chair. I will try to explain.’

‘But I have to go and collect the children.’

‘They will be fine. Time is relative.’

Angie shook her head in confusion. ‘Relative to what?’

‘Let’s just say that a minute to me is an hour to you and vice versa.’

‘You’re not making any sense.’

He rubbed his chin. ‘See what I mean? It’s hard to explain anything to someone who has been so conditioned to accept one way of looking at things. At one time people also believed the earth was flat, you know.’

‘So you’re telling me this is some kind of parallel universe?’

‘If you want to think of it that way, yes. I exist and I don’t exist, in the same way as you, my dear.’

Available on Amazon:

Amazon US: http://www.amazon.com/Far-Away-Time-Maria-Savva-ebook/dp/B00J0G11S0/
Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Far-Away-Time-Maria-Savva-ebook/dp/B00J0G11S0/
Amazon FR: http://www.amazon.fr/Far-Away-Time-Maria-Savva-ebook/dp/B00J0G11S0/
Amazon DE: http://www.amazon.de/Far-Away-Time-Maria-Savva-ebook/dp/B00J0G11S0/
Amazon IN: http://www.amazon.in/Far-Away-Time-Maria-Savva-ebook/dp/B00J0G11S0/
Amazon AU: http://www.amazon.com.au/Far-Away-Time-Maria-Savva-ebook/dp/B00J0G11S0/
Amazon BR: http://www.amazon.com.br/Far-Away-Time-Maria-Savva-ebook/dp/B00J0G11S0/
Amazon IT: http://www.amazon.it/Far-Away-Time-Maria-Savva-ebook/dp/B00J0G11S0/
Amazon ES: http://www.amazon.es/Far-Away-Time-Maria-Savva-ebook/dp/B00J0G11S0
Amazon MX: http://www.amazon.com.mx/Far-Away-Time-Maria-Savva-ebook/dp/B00J0G11S0
Amazon JP: http://www.amazon.co.jp/Far-Away-Time-Maria-Savva-ebook/dp/B00J0G11S0/
Amazon CA: http://www.amazon.ca/Far-Away-Time-Maria-Savva-ebook/dp/B00J0G11S0/

Our lives are a series of stories, and we are the characters with the starring roles. The memories, regrets, secrets, and struggles that fill these pages are at once unique and relatable. These stories  belong to us all.  Eight unforgettable tales reaching out to a place Far Away In Time…

Book trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=46il_5i6lHk

Author bio:

Maria Savva lives and works in London. She studied Law at Middlesex University and The College of Law. She is a lawyer, although not currently practising law. She writes novels and short stories in different genres, including drama, psychological thriller, and family saga. Many of her books and stories are inspired by her years working as a lawyer, although she has not written a courtroom drama to date. Her most recent novel is Haunted, a crime fiction/psychological thriller.

You can connect with Maria online at:

Website: http://www.mariasavva.com
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Author-Maria-Savva/171466979781
Twitter: http://twitter.com/Maria_Savva

Maria

My Writing Process – Blog Tour

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on March 3, 2014 by Michael Radcliffe

I would like to thank fellow author Maria Savva for inviting me to take part in the ‘My Writing Process’ blog tour.  Maria is an exceptional author, and I would encourage you to check out her works available on Amazon here.

If you have a chance, stop by Maria’s blog here.  Or her website at www.mariasavva.com.

Now, as part of the blog tour, I have been asked to answer the following questions about my writing process (such as it is…) :)

1  What am I working on?

Touch of DarknessI have just released my fourth novel, ‘Touch of Darkness’ – the last book in the ‘Beyond the Veil’ series (or at least I think it is…).  ‘Touch of Darkness’ is the story of Rami, a teenage boy who is on the run from his past.  Having been possessed by a shadowwraith, he murdered two innocent people, one of whom was his best friend.  Now, with the spirit of the wraith trapped in a spiritstone, Rami struggles to come to terms with what happened.  He is desperate to find a way to control the spirit and unlock its secrets.  Travelling to the Orient, fate throws him into an unlikely partnership with Amirah, the alluring daughter of a caravan leader.  Fascinated by his dark and mysterious past, she is drawn to Rami like a moth to a flame, and fears for his soul as he slips further into darkness.

2  How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Most of my stories are shorter than contemporary fantasy novels, with my most recent work being about 42,000 words.  My longest novel, ‘The Guardian’s Apprentice’ is about 70,000.  My stories are character driven, and I always strive to create scenes in which the reader can become completely absorbed.

3  Why do I write what I do?

Simple.  I love fantasy.  Fantasy novels were my lifeline – they provided me with an escape from an abusive and unhappy childhood.  On those dark days, I could escape reality and join my friends, like Bilbo Baggins, and John Carter of Mars, who took me to a happier place.  I also love being able to create worlds of my own, where magic rules instead of science, and where anything is possible.

4  How does my writing process work?

I wish I knew.  No, really, I wish I could figure it out!  My muse is fickle, and I may go for weeks at a time without writing a single word.  Then, when I least expect it, inspiration will strike and I will struggle to write everything down before it vanishes from my mind.  Most of my short stories happened that way – an idea hit, and I would write the story in a single setting.  With my novels, I almost always write the last chapter first – or at least shortly after starting the book.  Finally, I do not use outlines very often.  Occasionally, if I have a complicated sub-plot, I will use an outline for the main points, but usually I write by the seat of my pants.  I simply sit at the computer, fire up the music, and let the characters tell their story.

tenderistheknight_02*snort* Dear readers, I can assure you that is NOT how he typically writes his stories.  He will sit and stare at the blank screen for days on end, whining about writer’s block.  If it were not for me, he would never have finished a single story.  While I will concede the man does have an active imagination, even for a human, he knows little about wizards and magic.  And I shudder to think what he would write about dragons if I were not here to guide his hand!

That’s enough, Idris.  You will have to pardon that small outburst – Idris is both my writing partner and muse.  He sits in a place of honor next to my computer, where he oversees my writing and criticizes my dialogue.

Now, if you will excuse me, I have a story to write.

Cover Reveal & Excerpt – ‘Touch of Darkness’

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on January 12, 2014 by Michael Radcliffe

Touch of Darkness

‘Touch of Darkness’ – the fourth book in the ‘Beyond the Veil’ world, is now complete and should be published by the end of the month, once final edits are complete.  Below is an excerpt – I hope you enjoy!

Touch of Darkness

The sun was starting to set beneath the horizon as they finally reached the base of the mountains, the tall sandstone cliffs stretching skyward.  The path ended as the ground sloped upward, strewn with large chunks of rock taller than Rami.

“We’ll have to go on foot from here,” said Rami as he dismounted.

The chaser was buzzing impatiently up ahead, near a small path that disappeared up the slope.  Rami knew they were getting close, as the chaser had changed to a dusky red.  When it turned black, like the seeker, they would find their target.  Rami helped Amirah down from the back of the camel, catching her about the waist as she dismounted.  As her feet touched the ground, their eyes locked and he was overcome by her beauty.

“Um… You can let go now, Rami,” she said softly with a smile.

“Oh, um, I…” he stammered as he felt the heat rising in his cheeks.  He quickly looked away and busied himself with untying their packs from the camel.

He was still struggling with a particularly tough knot on one of their packs when suddenly an ear-splitting shriek tore through the air and the ground shook.  The camel’s eyes grew wide with alarm and it bolted, most of their supplies still strapped to its back.

“What the hell was that?” shouted Amirah trying to keep her footing as the ground shook all around them.

Rami had heard that horrible shriek before, and knew it meant only one thing.

“Sandwyrm!” he yelled, grabbing her hand and pulling her towards the boulder strewn path.  “Hurry!  We have to reach the rocks before it surfaces!”

“But the camel – our supplies!”

“Leave it!” he yelled, pulling her after him as he ran towards the path.

The rumbling sound was deafening now, and suddenly the sand where they had been standing just moments before erupted violently.  With a horrendous shriek that sounded like tearing metal, a dark brown, scaly creature burst forth.  The beast had the head of a dragon, but where the eyes should be were grown over with scales, and large moveable folds covered the nostrils, flapping open and closed as it breathed.  The head was attached directly to the legless, snakelike body, which was covered in thick armored scales and disappeared into the sand.  Instead of horns or spikes, large fan-shaped scales swept up and back behind its head.  The head moved from side to side and the flaps on its snout moved quickly as if it was searching for a scent.

Amirah screamed as the massive, blind creature surged towards them, drawn to the vibrations from their running down the path.  Rami knew their only hope was to reach the boulder strewn path at the base of the mountain, as sandwyrms could only travel a small distance on hard ground – without legs to support their massive body, they normally ‘swam’ through sand like it was water – a prolonged period on a rocky surface would eventually cause an adult sandwyrm to suffocate under its own weight.  Rami heard a loud hissing sound and a boulder to his left suddenly dissolved into a bubbling mass of green slime as the beast spat a jet of acid.  Rami pulled Amirah ahead of him, pushing her towards the ever steepening path.

“Run!  Head for the boulders at the top of the ridge!” he shouted, pointing her towards safety.

“But…” she stammered, unwilling to leave him as she drew her sword.

“Now!” he yelled as they continued to run.  “Even if you could get close enough, your steel would never cut through its scales!”

With a final shove, he propelled her forward even as he rummaged in the pouch of the satchel slung over his shoulder.  Although sandwyrms where a very distant cousin of dragons, they lacked intelligence and could not use magic.  However their speed and ability to spit deadly jets of acid made them just as dangerous.  As a temple acolyte, he had been taught various charms, hexes and curses, but even the priests were never trained as full wizards, so he could never hope to kill the beast with magic.  His only hope was to distract it long enough to reach safety.   The beast roared again, shaking the ground beneath his feet as another boulder was dissolved by a stream of acid; tiny droplets of the toxic green liquid splashed across his tunic, stinging his skin and causing wisps of smoke to curl up from his clothes.  His hand finally clasped a small orb in his satchel and he pulled it out.  The shiny silver ball sparkled in the desert sunlight as Rami held it close to his mouth and whispered a hex.  As he completed the spell, he turned and hurled the sphere at their camel, which had stopped running once it was a safe distance away.  The silver orb arced through the air, emitting an ear-piercing shriek, causing the pursuing wyrm to stop and rear upward, tilting its scaly head to one side.  As the still whistling ball hit the ground near the camel, it exploded with a deep ‘thud,’ shaking the ground and enveloping the camel in a white fog.  Rami watched the spell took effect as the camel stretched and grew, more than tripling in size as its skin crackled and hardened.  It reared its head and grunted loudly as it took off, its now stone feet shaking the ground as it ran.  Attracted by the much stronger vibrations of the camel, the sandwyrm turned on its new quarry and slithered away, eager to pursue this much larger prey.

Rami sprinted towards the safety of the boulders, running as lightly as he could so as not to attract the sandwyrm.  He scrambled up the pile of loose stones and dove behind the largest rock, landing next to Amirah, who was crouched down watching the receding sandwyrm as it chased the stone camel across the path they had just traveled.

“By the gods, Rami, what did you do?” she asked, her eyes still wide with fear.

Gasping for breath, it took Rami several minutes before he could respond.

“Stonehex,” he panted, his chest hurting from running.

“But the poor camel,” she said as she sheathed her sword.  “It has no hope of outrunning that horrid creature!”

“It was either the camel or us,” snapped Rami, his head beginning to pound from using the curse.  The stonehex spell was a form of dark magic that drew upon the energy of the caster; the spell was one Rami had learned in the restricted section of Master Ammon’s personal library when he was supposed to be cleaning the shelves.  “Besides,” he said as he rubbed his temples, “the camel is now made of granite – it will take the sandwyrm a while to tear it apart.”

“Rami!” gasped Amirah.

“Come on,” he said, ignoring her expression as he adjusted his satchel and dusted off his tunic.  “We’re close now – the chaser is almost black.”

Amirah just stood near the boulder, staring at Rami in disbelief.  He was several steps away when he noticed she was not behind him.  He turned and looked at her, spreading his arms wide.

“What?” he asked angrily.  “We could never outrun a sandwyrm, Amirah.  I had no choice – it was either us or the camel!”

Sheathing her sword in a single, fluid motion, she scowled at him.

“It was a living creature, Rami!  At least show some compassion – or did they not teach you that at the temple?”

Rami sighed and shook his head as she angrily stomped past him up the path.  The priests certainly had not taught him anything about arguing with a female.

*END OF EXCERPT*

New Release Spotlight – “3” by Maria Savva

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on September 16, 2013 by Michael Radcliffe

Today I am highlighting a new release of short stories by my friend, London based author Maria Savva.

“3” contains a trio of short stories, with the theme of how memories from the past can haunt the present.  The stories include:

1. Never To Be Told – Tom and Amber are on a romantic date… but the past is always present.

2. The Bride – In this paranormal short, Olivia makes a chilling discovery.

3. What The Girl Heard – Victoria revisits a place that holds a dark reminder of an incident from her childhood. She had vowed she would never return.

File created with CoreGraphics

Book Trailer:  here 

About Maria:

MariaMaria is a writer of short stories and novels. She has always been a storyteller, and an avid reader, and is now having a lot of fun in her adventure with the creative art of writing. She has published 5 novels, including a psychological thriller, a family saga, and a fantasy/paranormal/time travel book. She also has 5 collections of short stories, the latest “3” has been described as an “Innovative showcase” of her short stories. If you like stories that will take you deep inside the characters’ hearts and minds, and you like twists in the tale, you will probably want to try these stories.

As well as writing, Maria is a lawyer (not currently practising law). During her career, she worked in family law, criminal law, immigration, residential property law, and wills & probate, among other things. Many of her stories are inspired from her own experiences and the experiences of those she knows or has known. Chances are, if you get to know this author it won’t be long before you are changed forever into a fictional character and appear in one of her books. If she likes you, you may become a romantic hero/heroine; if she doesn’t… well, she writes a good thriller I hear.

Maria currently divides her time between working as an administrator in a university, and writing/reading/editing/blogging. She maintains the BestsellerBound Recommends blog helping to promote fellow indie authors. She’s also a music blogger for UK Arts Directory where she helps promote independent musicians.

 

If you would like to connect with Maria online:

Official website: http:www.mariasavva.com

Goodreads Blog: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1418272.Maria_Savva/blog

BestsellerBound Recommends: http://quietfurybooks.com/bestsellerboundrecommends/

UK Arts Directory Blog: http://ukartsdirectory.com/category/blog/maria-savva/

Twitter: http://Twitter.com/Maria_Savva

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Author-Maria-Savva/171466979781

“3” is Currently available in Kindle format (Can be read on a Mac, PC, iPad, Smartphone etc., with the free downloadable apps from Amazon). Look out for the paperback coming soon.

Amazon US: http://www.amazon.com/3-ebook/dp/B00EUM59XM/

Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/3-ebook/dp/B00EUM59XM/

Amazon FR: http://www.amazon.fr/3-ebook/dp/B00EUM59XM/

Amazon ES: http://www.amazon.es/3-ebook/dp/B00EUM59XM/

Amazon CA: http://www.amazon.ca/3-ebook/dp/B00EUM59XM/

Amazon BR: http://www.amazon.com.br/3-ebook/dp/B00EUM59XM/

Amazon IT: http://www.amazon.it/3-ebook/dp/B00EUM59XM/

Amazon JP: http://www.amazon.co.jp/3-ebook/dp/B00EUM59XM/

 

New Release & Giveaway – Maria Savva’s Delusions & Dreams

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on June 1, 2013 by Michael Radcliffe

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My dear friend, London based author Maria Savva, has a newly released collection of short stories.  I had the privilege of  reading an advance copy, and absolutely loved the stories she has woven together.  There is a wonderful mix of genre’s in this collection, ranging from the light-hearted to the emotional.

To quote the official ‘blurb’ for the book:

“Twelve stories of betrayal, greed, revenge, deception, dreams, and courage.

We all struggle to find our way. What you see isn’t necessarily all there is. This collection takes you into the grey area, because the world is never just black and white.

Life is all about perspective. One person’s delusion is another person’s dream.

Includes five bonus stories.”

At the end of this post you will see a Rafflecopter link to the giveaway – 5 different ebooks and 1 signed paperback copy of  ‘Delusions & Dreams’ are up for grabs, so don’t forget to click to enter.

You can purchase her new release here:

Amazon UK
Amazon.com 

As part of the book’s release, Maria was kind enough to answer a few questions for me, so take it away, Maria! :)

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1. ‘Delusions & Dreams’ is an impressive collection of seventeen short stories!  Have you been collecting these over the years, or are they all recent?  Did you write any specifically for this collection?

Delusion and Dreams is a collection of new and old stories. Some of them I found on my computer; I wrote years ago. Some I found on a floppy disk, written in the ages when people still rode donkeys to work ;) I updated/edited the older stories. The title story, Delusion and Dreams, is a short story told in four parts. It’s new and I wrote parts II, III, and IV, specifically for this collection. Part I was written a few years ago. I found the handwritten version in a drawer at home, and decided that I liked it. When I typed it up I was inspired to continue the story. In fact, I could have probably written more parts… maybe even a whole novel. The characters in that story have lots to say, and I might revisit them sometime. A few of my beta readers commented that they’d like to read more about them. Similarly, part II of Friends and Neighbours, was written specifically for this collection, whereas the first part of the story was written at least ten years ago. The other new stories are Happy New Year, and Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow. The rest of the stories are old ones that I edited for the collection. The last 5 stories are bonus stories that have been published before, but as single stories, so I wanted to include them in a collection.

2. I really enjoyed the serialization of the ‘Delusions & Dreams’ parts I-IV.  Do you think the story will continue?

As mentioned above, yes, I do think I will revisit this story at some stage. I like the characters. Jessie and Jack are close to my heart. I’d like to tell more of their story in the future. I hope I’ll find some time to maybe continue the story or write a longer book about these characters.

3. ‘Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow’ was very enjoyable – I especially liked the humor involved with the wig.  What inspired you to write that story?

Thanks, Michael. This one started off as a challenge for me because I’d been invited to write a comedy story for a short story collection by a small press publisher. They wanted a story up to about 1,500 words. Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow, took on a life of its own once I started writing it, and although there are comedy aspects to it, it’s a bit deeper and some people have told me, also quite sad in parts. It was far too long, at about 5,000 words to be acceptable for the short story anthology that I’d been invited to submit to, so I decided to include it in Delusion and Dreams, and I think it fits in quite well.

4. I notice the collection had a wide variety of themes, ranging from light-hearted (Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow) to darker (Happy New Year).  Is there a theme you enjoy writing more than another?

My genre/theme for a story or novel is dictated by the character that I’m writing about.  For example, Haunted is a crime thriller because Nigel has a dark secret; A Time to Tell  is a family saga, because we are looking at the lives of more than one generation of the same family; Coincidences is more of a mystery because Alice is looking for her father and finding out truths about her past; and Second Chances is more of a romance because Pamela and James are facing up to a difficult time in their relationship.

I have always been a people watcher. I am fascinated by people and why the do what they do, human behaviour. My books and stories will always be character studies more than anything else, because that is the kind of person I am. I like to dig deep below the surface and find out what is really going on underneath. There is always a reason why people do things. Many of my stories developed through my need to know why a character has done something and how they feel, how it affects others around them. I don’t only write in one genre, because I write about life, and life is full of events and characters that don’t fit in to one genre.

5. Your recent novel, ‘Haunted,’ was definitely darker than your other works.  Did you find writing a darker story more difficult?

Emotionally, for me, it was the hardest book I have ever written. I really got into Nigel’s mind and it was dark in there! It took me to some very dark places personally, but I am very happy with how it turned out and how it’s being received by readers. All the sleepless nights were worth it. I didn’t intend to write a psychological thriller, but I ended up writing the darkest kind of psychological thriller possible. Some people have said it’s too dark, but I believe it had to be that dark, anything less would not have done the story justice… It’s a book that explores the mind of a murderer… not for the faint hearted. I don’t think I will be writing such a dark book again soon.

6. Do you think your writing has been influenced by your work as solicitor?

Most definitely. I worked as a solicitor for about 15 years and met hundreds of people from different backgrounds who were all going through different problems. I listened to their stories, some heartbreaking. In my role as a solicitor, I was in a position where people trusted me with their deepest secrets. It’s all eye-opening stuff. I draw from my experiences every time I pick up a pen, I’m sure, not necessarily consciously either. I mean, I’ve never sat down and thought, “why don’t I write a novel based on that client”. I would never do that. But I do find that when I read my books over, I notice tiny character traits that remind me of people I’ve met; maybe something they’ve said that had an impact on me.

In my novels, A Time to Tell and Second Chances, in particular, readers will be able to see where I may have been influenced by my work as a solicitor, but I think that experience touches all of my writing.

Anyone with a creative mind, who works in a customer service type job can leave the office/shop every day with heaps of ideas for stories and books. Meeting different types of people is so important for a writer. We need to create believable characters in our books, so the more people we come into contact with, the better.

7. Do you have a preference between writing short stories and writing full length novels?

I enjoy both. It’s a question of how much time I have available for writing. The thing is, I have a need to write, but I don’t always have enough time to concentrate on a novel-length work of fiction. At those times, short stories are an excellent way to keep the creativity alive. It takes a long time to write a novel and it’s important to be able to devote enough time each day to write when you are writing a novel. I work full time and find that at the moment, it’s easier to write short stories because I can write a short story in one sitting. It takes me maybe an hour to write one. The editing takes twice as long. With a novel it could take me six months when I am writing at least a chapter a day, and then the editing takes about another year.

8. What is your favorite time/place to write – do you need absolute quiet or can your write in the midst of chaos?

My favourite time is at night. I need it to be relatively quiet when I’m writing. I can have the usual buzz of London sounds in the background, but anything more and I lose concentration. I can write anywhere, though. I have been known to write a short story when there is chaos going on all around me.

9. Of all the stories in this collection, do you have a favorite?

They’re all my favourites. Chosen from about twenty stories that could have possibly gone into the collection. If I had to choose a favourite from this collection, I think it would be the Delusion and Dreams series of stories.

10. Do you have any works in process at the moment?

Yes. I have written three new short stories for a new collection which will be called ‘3’. I hope to publish that very soon. It’s just a matter if finding time to edit them. They are a bit creepy, which is nice.

I am also working on my next novel, working title, ‘Illusion’, but I think that may change. It’s a fantasy, but you’ll be sad to hear there aren’t any dragons in it… well not yet, anyway… maybe there will be?? But seriously, it would probably be classed as an urban fantasy. It’s very other-worldly and strange. I’ve written about ten chapters, but haven’t worked on it for a while (since about December), so will have to read over it before I write any more!

 Thank you so much for joining us today, Maria!  

Giveaway Links:
Rafflecopter giveaway

Maria’s Bio:
Maria Savva lives and works in London. She studied Law at Middlesex University and The College of Law. She is a lawyer, although not currently practising law. She writes novels and short stories in different genres, including drama, psychological thriller, and family saga. Many of her books and stories are inspired by her years working as a lawyer, although she has not written a courtroom drama to date. Her most recent novel is Haunted, a crime fiction/psychological thriller. You can find out more about her work at her official website: mariasavva.com

Touch of Darkness

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on May 8, 2013 by Michael Radcliffe

Following is an excerpt from my current work-in-process, a new novel tentatively titled ‘Touch of Darkness’.  My friend and fellow author, Maria Savva, encouraged me to tell the story of Rami, a character from my last novel, ‘Rise of the Shadow.’ Rami is an Egyptian boy of fifteen, who is struggling with his inner demons as he tries to resist the siren call of power.  I hope to have the novel published before the end of this year – I hope you enjoy!

Michael

**Spoiler Alert**  The following excerpt takes place after the events in ‘Rise of the Shadow’ and will give you clues to how that story ended – proceed at your own risk.

 

TOUCH OF DARKNESS

The voice whispered to Rami out of the darkness…

“You killed him…”

“No!” he shouted, trying to spot his accuser in the surrounding inky blackness.  He flailed blindly trying to find something, anything, to grab onto for support.

“He was your friend…”

“But, I couldn’t…” he stammered, tears streaming down his face.

“Murderer…”

“I had no choice!” he screamed, turning in every direction trying to find the voice that taunted him.

“They were innocent…”

“Leave me alone!”

“They died because of you …”

“Who are you?” he shouted.  No one knew he was the one who had murdered old Khafra, the priest, and only one other had seen him kill his best friend, Fer’al.  “It wasn’t me!  I was possessed!” he screamed at the faceless tormentor.  “IT’S NOT MY FAULT!”

He had been possessed by a shadowraith, and was powerless to stop the killings, but worse was the surge of emotion he felt when it happened.  He felt powerful, unstoppable, like he could command the world.  He actually saw the light ebb from his friend’s eyes, and sensed the energy of Fer’al’s spirit as it fled beyond… and he had savored the feeling.  He fled the tomb of Oriannus that night, frightened of what he felt and terrified of what he might become.

There was a sudden flash, and two large, yellow, cat-like eyes appeared before him in the darkness.  Rami stumbled backward, unable to see in the inky blackness.

“You killed them Rami, their blood is on your hands…”

Rami felt something warm and wet dripping from his hands, and he frantically wiped them on his tunic as he continued to stumble blindly, trying to escape the eyes.  He pitched backwards as he felt the stone give way beneath him, and he tumbled into the darkness.  As he fell, the voice dissolved into harsh laughter, echoing all around him.

Then he woke up, screaming.

***

The cool night air drifted in through the half-open flap of the tent, causing Rami to shiver.  He was sitting upright on the small cot, the thin cotton sheet twisted around his limbs from his nocturnal struggle.  Panting, he was bathed in a cold sweat of fear.  In the distance he could hear the bells on the camels clanking softly in the night.  He had been traveling East with the caravan for several weeks now, seeking to put as much distance between him and his past as he could. Not one to socialize, he pitched his tent at the fringe of camp, but he still would have occasional visitors as his traveling companions sought conversation and company.

But that was before the nightmares began.

Several days into the journey, he began having nightmares of being chased through the darkness by someone accusing him of murder.  Someone who knew his secret.  Although the dream always ended with him falling into darkness, he awoke in a greater panic each night.  At first the others had come running to check on him after hearing his screams, but now they stayed away, fearing he was cursed.

He untangled himself from the sheet and lay back down on the cot, breathing deeply and trying to slow his racing heartbeat.  His hand slipped down to his tunic pocket and he breathed a sigh of relief when he felt the smooth surface of the stone hidden there.  He had stolen the spiritstone from the tomb of Oriannus, after the wizard, Keegan Whitestone, had trapped a wraith inside of it.  The wraith had possessed Rami, forcing him to murder two innocent people in an attempt to unleash the malevolent spirit of the Shadow on the world.  A warmth emanated from the stone, pulsing with the energy of the spirit forever trapped within.  Rami focused on the stone, and thought he could hear a distant whisper speaking to him from across the depths.  He heard the sound from the first time he touched the stone, and every time since he thought the whispers grew louder until he could almost make out words.

“Power…”

Rami’s eyes snapped open as he realized the whisper was clearer now.  Had the spirit finally spoken to him?

He pulled the smooth, black stone from his pocket and looked at it closely.  “Who are you?” he asked it, his brow furrowed in concentration.  The stone did not respond, though he could still feel the warmth emanating from somewhere deep within.  For now at least, the wraith was still silent.

“Rami?” came a female voice from the entrance to his tent.

Startled, Rami quickly buried the spiritstone in his pocket.  “Yes?”

A slender arm reached through and parted the flaps to the tent, followed quickly by a young girl dressed in the robes and headdress of a nomad.  Her long, black hair was pulled back into a tight braid that snaked down her back to her waist.  She dressed simply, like the other travelers in the caravan, but the strands of gold thread weaved into her braided hair marked her rank.  Olive skinned, and eyes like the darkest of sapphires, Amirah was a beautiful young woman of sixteen, and she possessed every bit of her father’s head for business.  As the daughter of the caravan’s leader, it was her task to keep records for the trip, including sales and purchases of goods, and a final tally of the profit.  She also inherited her father’s fierce loyalty to family, as well as a fiery temper, though she was loathe to admit it.

She stepped into the tent, a look of concern on her face.  “Are you alright?  I thought I heard you scream.”

Rami swore under his breath.  “I’m fine, Amirah,” he said in an exasperated tone.

Since joining the caravan, Rami felt as if Amirah had adopted him like he was a lost puppy.  He had earned his place in the group when he inadvertently saved her father’s coin purse.  Rami saw the thief as he slipped his hand into the man’s pocket.  Acting on instinct, Rami had uttered a curse that paralyzed the thief and saved her father from losing several hundred gold coins.  In his gratitude, the man had allowed Rami to travel with them to the East.  It was rare for a magic user to travel the trade routes, and Amirah’s father thought Rami’s services might be useful.

“It was the night terrors again, wasn’t it?” she asked, her right hand resting on the hilt of an ornate shamshir.  The wide blade of the curved sword glinted in the light of the wisp overhead, and Rami knew she was not one to be trifled with.

Rami looked at the floor, unwilling to meet her gaze.  She had an effect on him like no other; he respected her strength and cunning as a warrior for her father, but the smell of exotic spices that wafted through the room when she entered made his head swim.  He felt weak when this happened, and vulnerable – two feelings he disliked immensely.  He struggled to focus his mind, choosing his words carefully.

“I will be just fine, Amirah, I just need to put as much distance between me and Sakkara as possible.  The nightmares are from my time at the Temple of Set,” he lied, finally meeting her gaze.

She moved closer and sat on a small stool near Rami’s cot.  At first Rami thought the look on her face was just concern for him, but there was more.  There was a burning curiosity behind those eyes – a yearning for knowledge and a thirst for the unknown.  A child of the caravan, she had grown up with merchants, and the sights of the road had become commonplace.  She killed her first raider when she was ten, and had mastered the sword by the time she was fourteen.

“What did you see there, Rami?  What was so terrible that it would haunt you so?” she asked, her brows furrowed.

“You would not understand,” he said sullenly.  “My parents sold me to the temple in exchange for the blessing of the dark deity, Set; since I was seven I have seen things that would cause the Pharos’s royal guard to flee in terror.”

Amirah frowned as she crossed her arms.  “I want to help, Rami,” she said.  “You’ve been having these nightmares more and more frequently,” she said in an annoyed tone.  “Everyone has heard your screams in the middle of the night.  The other merchants are beginning to think you are cursed.”

“Maybe I am,” he said, his eyes losing focus as his mind drifted back to thoughts of the spiritstone.

“Stop it!” she snapped angrily, rising to pace across the tent.  “Do you think you are the only one who has seen bad things in this life?  I killed a man when I was just ten; he was trying to capture me to sell to the slavers.  It was almost a year before the nightmares finally stopped; you just need a task to focus on,” she said, her index figure only a few inches from his nose.

Rami looked up at her, seeing the look of determination in those deep blue eyes.  “I’m sure you are right,” he said with a sigh, even though he knew she was not.  He had been inhabited by a dark spirit – something that would drive most grown men insane – yet somehow he survived.

Amirah folded her arms and looked down at him with an approving smile.  “Good!  Come to my father’s tent in the morning.  We need to organize and catalogue the last crate of scrolls my father traded for from the library in Sakkara.”

Rami nodded, knowing better than to argue with her.  She smiled and turned to go, stifling a yawn with her fist.

“Now try to get some sleep.  We break camp tomorrow to continue eastward,” she said as she bent down and stepped out of the tent and into the night.

Rami fell back onto his cot and snapped his fingers, extinguished the pale wisp hovering near the ceiling, and waited for the nightmares to return.

***

 

Never Argue with a Dragon

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on April 27, 2013 by Michael Radcliffe

I really thought I had ended the ‘Beyond the Veil’ series when I wrote book three, ‘Rise of the Shadow.’ 
Book Cover 2

Little did I know, however, that one of the characters in that book would demand to have his story told.  I resisted the idea at first, as I thought I had wrapped up the series – all loose ends nicely wrapped up, thank you very much.  But Rami, the fifteen year-old Egyptian boy serving as an acolyte in the Temple of Set had other plans.

You see, when I refused to listen to him rattling around in my head, he went behind my back.  That’s right, he started talking to Idris.  If you have visited my blog or website, you know that Idris is my writing partner.  I freed him from captivity at the Medieval Times gift shop and he now sits perched on my desk, overseeing my writing.

Tender is the KnightIdris, like most dragons, is extremely well-read and believes himself to be an authority on most topics – especially writing fantasy novels.  He frequently criticizes my dialogue, and when I try to ignore him I am rewarded with singed fingertips.  Mercurial on his best days, he is not always helpful.  One recent discussion went something like this:

“What do you think I should write next?” I asked.

“What do you want to write next?” was his caustic reply.

“You’re not helping, Idris,” I responded testily.  “I need an idea for a new story.

“Hmph,” he snorted, blowing smoke rings in my face.  “Think of your own ideas, human.

Realizing he was in a *mood* I dropped the subject and decided to await inspiration.  That is when Rami started whispering inside my imagination.  He thought the world should hear his story – about what happened after the events in ‘Rise of the Shadow.’

I wasn’t so sure.  So, I did what any good writer would do, and ignored him, hoping my rather fickle muse would find inspiration elsewhere.  The next time I sat down at the computer however, Idris decided to chime in.

“Your next story shall be about Rami,” he said in a matter of fact tone.

“What?”  I replied incredulously.  “No, absolutely not.  I want to write something… different.”

“His story needs to be told,” he responded icily.  “You have started him down a dark path, and it needs resolution.”

“But…”

“You heard me.”

*sigh*  “Fine.”

And so, not one to argue with one as wise as Idris [he made me write that...], I am now about 7,000 words into what is becoming a new novel focused on Rami.

Several new characters have been introduced, including Amirah, the sixteen year-old daughter of a caravan leader.  She is a fierce warrior with a head for business, having been raised by her father on the trade routes to the east.  She is accompanied by her bodyguard, a burly, foul-tempered hobgoblin named Halvar.  Readers will also get to see more of the dragon Shai’tan, or ‘Firestorm’ as he is known among humans, who was first introduced in the short story ‘The Amaranthine Flask.’

I’ve no idea how long it will be, or even how it will end.  I’m just letting the story take me along.

Michael

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