#Writer’s Wednesday… #Simple by Anita Dawes #Mystery #PsychologicalSuspense

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Chapter One

Gran stormed across the clearing, bending to pick up a stick from the ground without breaking her stride.  Simple, sitting against the woodpile, was in for another of her beatings.  I yelled for him to run, but he didn’t hear me.  Lost in one of his daydreams I guessed.

I watched in silence as Gran repeatedly swung the stick hard against the side of her son’s head.  There were no words to describe Simple’s pain or the pain of watching.  He probably didn’t even know what it was for and I hated her for making me feel all the things he couldn’t say. He didn’t move or look her in the face, not until she let the stick drop from her bony fingers did he feel safe enough to close his eyes.  He slowly put his hands to his battered head, blood pushing its way through the gaps in his dirty fingers.

 

Jack was Gran’s firstborn, a mean son of a bitch.  Then came Simple who was soft in the head and lived in a dream world.  Tommy, my favourite, was the youngest and nowhere near as bad as Jack.  They were supposed to make sure Simple stayed away from town.  Gran never could bear the thought of Simple going anywhere near there, but never let on why.  The beatings came when he forgot, and somehow Gran always found out.  I figured she should give up on the beatings; it wasn’t helping him to remember to stay away.

I knew why the others went to town so often.  The girls there let them do whatever they had a mind to.  I couldn’t figure why Simple sneaked off; not for girls, I knew that much.  Tommy and Jack had teased him enough about Lizzie, the day they caught him spying on her as she washed in the river.

Watching Gran beat Simple made me think back to the day I lay by the river. I was trying to catch hold of the whispers in my head while looking at the reflection of the clouds in the water.  It was something I liked to do and usually had the place to myself.

That particular day, I had company.  Lizzie was taking a bath and Simple was watching from the bushes.  Without warning, the boys appeared and dragged Simple out of the bushes he thought hid him from sight.  Jack grabbed Simple viciously between the legs, saying it was time he knew how to use it.  They called for Lizzie to come out of the water.

I hid behind a rock, too scared to run back to the cabins.  It wouldn’t matter if I told Gran anyway, she’d say they needed their fun and to let them be.

Tommy helped Lizzie up onto the bank.  She stood there naked, her dark hair dripping.  The water running down her skinny legs made muddy pools at her feet.  Jack stopped her from picking up her clothes.  ‘You won’t be needin’ them just yet, Lizzie.  We’re goin’ to have us a little fun.  It’s Simple’s birthday.’

‘No it ain’t, and I ain’t doing what you have a mind to.  Not with Simple.’

Jack took hold of her arms and roughly pulled her close to him.  ‘You’re mine and you’ll do like I say, missy.  You’re his birthday present.’

Simple tried to move away but Jack held him back; telling him he didn’t want to miss out on such a fine gift.  He threw Lizzie to the ground like a rag doll.  I watched, too afraid to move.  Jack had ears like a bat if I moved an inch he would hear me.  Fear and fascination swam together in my head; knitting an invisible chain that held me fast behind the rock.

Jack stood between her legs and unfastened his belt.  He undid his belt, pushed his pants down and fell on Lizzie, pumping his body up and down.  Tommy pulled Simple down on the ground beside them, slapping Jack’s bare behind.  ‘See, Simple, this is how you please the girls.’

There was much grunting and groaning before Jack let out an even bigger groan and rolled away from Lizzie, his thing still dripping as he pulled up his pants. Tommy pushed Simple down on top of Lizzie and he lay there like a big lump.  As Jack pulled him to his knees, a clump of Simple’s dark brown hair came away in his hand.

‘You see how I did it, now set to, before I tell Gran what we saw you tryin’ to do in town again.’

I wish I knew what Simple did that got Gran so mad, so fired up about him being in town.  He was crying like a baby, tears and snot sliding down his face.  Jack kicked him viciously and he fell forward, stopping himself from flattening Lizzie by putting his hands out, hitting the ground so hard the dry dirt sprung up between his fingers.

I wished there was something I could do to help Simple, but Tommy and Jack had been at Gran’s grog again and I knew if I showed my face, they would do the same to me.  Lizzie seemed to have gotten over the idea of Simple getting at her, giggling as Tommy pulled Simple’s pants off.  I couldn’t bear to watch anymore and turned my face away, but I heard every sound that escaped from Simple’s lips.  I wondered what thoughts were running through his head if any.

For days after, I couldn’t bear to look at Simple or talk to him and knew how much he missed that.  I was the only one who spent the time of day with him.  The others always teased him, saying words over and over before moving on to the next the way Simple did.  I spent hours getting him to speak slowly, and with me, his stammer wasn’t so bad. When Simple got worked up his words stuck, stretched out like an echo rebounding around the woods before finding the end of it.  Most times he gave up trying to say what was in his head.

The back of Gran’s cabin was the only place to find any shade unless you took off into the woods, which wasn’t always a good idea.  Folk around here tend to look out for their own and looking out for the neighbours wasn’t their way of doing things, especially the Spiers.  We’d been having trouble with them for as long as I could remember.

I sat with my back against rough, weathered timber that had been cut from the woods, grateful to be alone to hear the wind rush through the trees, whispering my name.  Emily, the name my heart recognised. Not Leanne, the one they called me.  I got to thinking that Gran would have renamed me, not wanting anything to do with town folk or the names they called their children.  Seeing as how Uncle Jimmy had let slip that my folks had come from the town, I got to thinking how on earth Gran could be mine.  I figured the only way was one of my parents must have been kin to my grandpa.  That could account for the way she looked at me sometimes as if I didn’t really belong.  Part outsider; which is how I felt most of the time.

This got me looking closer at Gran’s boys.  They didn’t look like they come from the same seed either.  Jack, mean and dark, had the best looks. Tommy was the just the opposite.  Fair and plain, as if they forgot to give him character.  I’d been told that Simple was soft in the head because Gran had been too old for birthing. That couldn’t be the true reason, for Tommy was all right. Didn’t matter to me though, I liked him the way he was; all soft and gentle, yet big enough to make me feel safe.  Big enough to squash the rest of them flat should he take a mind to.  Reckon that’s why Uncle Jimmy keeps clear of Simple.  I heard him tell Jack one day that Simple would snap soon enough with all the teasing he gets.

I told Gran once that sometimes I thought I could hear my Ma calling me by another name, could feel her reaching for me and almost make out her face.  Gran said I must be getting soft in the head like Simple and warned me not to talk rubbish again.  I knew better than try.  She would whop me like she always did when something didn’t please her.  It didn’t pay to have an opinion or argue with Gran about anything.

Lizzie said it was just my imagination playing tricks on me, but I didn’t believe any of it.  I felt it in my heart, not my head, and it wasn’t the summer heat frying my brains as Tommy suggested.

Gran said she would be making one of her rare trips to town soon.  I would be twelve next month and according to her, a young woman needs new clothes.  This meant material for Gran to make a new dress, two if I was lucky.  Gran hated going to town, but she knew you couldn’t trust men folk to choose anything.  I knew how hard this would be for her and my heart reached out to hug her, my body slow to follow.

Gran waved the air in front of her to keep me away.  ‘No need to thank me, girl.’

I wished what I felt inside didn’t always show so quick on my face.  My life would be a mite happier if it didn’t.

Lizzie had told Gran about the young’un she was expecting and Gran wasn’t best pleased.  Didn’t matter who the pa was, she didn’t ask.  All she said was, it had better be stronger than the last one. ‘You ain’t made for young’uns, Lizzie. Age has taken your best chances. This has to be the last one, that’s if you can keep it from falling away before its time.’

In the past, Lizzie had managed to keep one until it was three months old.  It was sick from the start, Gran said.  And Lizzie too foolish to give it the right kind of care.  No milk to speak of and she forgot about it for days on end.  Took off with Jack and left it crying.  I asked Gran why she didn’t take care of it, seeing as how she knew better.  It was a stupid question and I almost felt the heat from her eyes singe the hair on my arms.

‘The brat’s Lizzie’s, not mine,’ she snapped.

I couldn’t understand Gran’s way of thinking or feeling.  All hard and shrivelled, weren’t any softness about her, not even around the eyes.  Something bad must have happened to make her so hard.  There wasn’t anything I could do, no way for me to change her.  The child Lizzie lost had been buried just outside the clearing by a big old redwood.  I would sit there sometimes and lay a few wildflowers on the makeshift grave.  All Lizzie said was I was too soft to live in the woods. She didn’t seem to care about the loss.

‘Gran should’ve taken you to town years ago, left you outside the church.’  She often said that when feeling particularly mean.

When Gran didn’t ask who the pa might be, I wondered if she might have something to say if she knew it might be Simple.  I found myself hoping this one would be strong.  Having a baby around would be real nice.  I could help Lizzie take care of it.

Just then, Jack stormed into the cabin behind me, yelling about the Spiers’ messing with his traps again, taking his kills.  That I knew to be one mistake they would pay for.  Gran told him to hush up and let Jimmy take care of it when he got home.  Jack went on and on about the Spiers, he had a thing about them. Every time anything went wrong or the still broke, he would say they had been at it.

Gran told him he was too thick to take care of any one of them.

‘It’s no wonder you lost your kill, shouting your mouth off in town. Makin’ out like a big man, letting’ on where you left the traps.’

I heard Tommy ask how she knew.

‘It ain’t hard to figure, when she knows you couldn’t keep your mouth shut if she was to stitch it.’

Jack must have lost his temper and thrown a chair across the cabin, because something hit the side where I sat, listening.  The thought of Uncle Jimmy coming made the cool spot behind the cabin too cold and I moved off into the sun.

I wondered what he wanted, what brought him down from the mountains.  Jimmy was a mean one, even meaner than Jack was.  Tall and quiet, he liked killing, hunting things.  Animals, men, even bugs weren’t safe.  He would flatten anything that crossed his path, his hands quick as lightning, grabbing winged creatures from the air.  Didn’t seem to matter some of them might sting.

I saw him swallow a wasp once after teasing Simple with it.  Mostly he liked pulling the heads off his kills.  Said even a man ain’t nothing without it, get rid of the head, you get rid of trouble.  That’s what he believed.

His visits were always too long.  Tommy hated him and swore he would take off one day and never come back.  Gran laughed.  She’d heard him say it so often; she didn’t believe he had a mind to do it.  I could see in his eyes that one day he would, he was tired of living in fear of Jimmy and being in Jack’s shadow.

I thought about taking off some days.  Thing was, where to?  I guess Tommy had the same trouble.  Town was good for letting off steam, but the woods were home.  Clarksville was growing speedily, too fast for Gran’s liking. She said it was getting closer to the woods each year.  Full of outsiders thinking they can wander where they please and look down their noses at the way we live.  The sheriff was up here just last week, telling Gran I should be attending school.  She sent him off, saying I knew all I needed to.  School didn’t have anything she couldn’t put in my head.

There were times when I wondered if she was right.  Maybe I would have liked school, made friends of my own age.  Throwing the idea at Gran did no good at all; she had a thing about town folk.  Strange, when I’d heard Jimmy say that grandpa had been from Clarksville.

‘Your Gran liked town folk fine back then.  Never did say what changed her mind.’

Jimmy said grandpa died one winter, caught by one of his own traps. Wolves ate most of his body.  I could understand how this would make Gran sad, but I couldn’t make sense of the way she spoke about town and the folk that lived there. Outsiders, she called them.  There had to be a reason for the way she hated them.  I knew better than to ask, but by keeping my ears open, I would hear most things soon enough.

Jimmy had brought down two headless deer for Gran’s larder.  I wondered what he did with the heads.  Tommy said he ate them, but I figured he buried them, although I half wondered if Tommy was right.

Uncle Jimmy hadn’t been with us for more than a week, when the sheriff turned up again, warning Gran to have a word with her boys.

‘Ned Harrison’s been shooting’ his mouth off about Tommy, if he sets eyes on him again he’s gonna kill him. Says he’s been messing’ around with his wife.’

Jimmy stood there the whole time, his rifle cracked open across his arm.  The sun lighting up the fact the barrel weren’t empty.  It didn’t seem to worry the sheriff, he had his hand on the butt of his own gun, looking Gran in the eyes.  I could see Tommy hiding behind the water barrels while the sheriff tried explaining to Gran that he couldn’t keep an eye on Ned all the time.

‘Wouldn’t want your boy to lose his head over a piece of pussy.  Have a word with him, Ma’am.’  Touching the rim of his hat, he bid Gran good day.

I reckon he saw Tommy because he doffed his hat again as he passed the water barrels.

Tommy tried to get out of a beating by telling Gran the sheriff wanted to get it on with Ned’s wife himself.

‘Jealousy is all, Gran.  Ned ain’t gonna shoot no one, too full of grog mostly. When he ain’t drinking’ he’s sleeping’. ‘Lizabeth’s real nice Gran, I like her and old Ned ain’t gonna last forever the way he’s carrying’ on. I figured on movin’ in when he passes.’

‘Is that so?’  Gran said.  ‘Got a mind to help him on his way, bring more trouble that ain’t my doing’?’

‘No Ma.’  Tommy said, his eyes and voice pleading for her not to reach for the stick by her feet.  I could see in her eyes it was no good, she needed to whop him for reasons of her own…

Simple is just 99p this week… just saying!

Not So Simple?

Draft2Digital Link: https://books2read.com/u/3nYYQB     FREE this week!

Excerpt from Simple…

Walking towards Gran, I could feel the blood draining from my body, trying to find some place to hide.  It felt as if it had all gathered in my feet, making each step I took the hardest thing I had ever done.

Gran got up from her rocker and I watched it continue to move, as if she had left some part of herself sitting in it.  She walked inside the cabin and waited for me. She had never done more than cuff me across the back of the head, but I figured I had to be in for more than that this time.  I was trying to think of the worst she could do.

It was cool inside the cabin.  Gran was sitting at the big wooden table grandpa had made.  She might as well have been the town judge, sitting behind the high bench.  She didn’t move or look at me as I sat opposite, waiting for judgement.  I knew better than speak first.  I couldn’t have, even if I wanted to, my mouth had dried up.  Gran finally spoke, her voice hard, as if she had eaten gravel.  ‘You’ve done a bad thing, Leanne. Taken our trust and pissed it in the wind.  Jimmy says he should be the one to punish you, says you had no right taking Simple anywhere near the Spiers. Reckon I should turn you over to him, save my words for someone who can hear them.’

I said, ‘I can hear real good,’ with more grit in my voice than I intended.

Gran fixed me with one of those looks that made me wish I could turn to stone. ‘Seems to me, young lady,  if your ears still work, then your brain’s gone soft like Simple’s. Fancy interfering in business that aint yours. You know right enough, he needs telling more times than the sun wakes us and then some. You want him took off for takin’ town young’uns?’

‘Course not, Gran.’  My voice came out as a whisper. ‘Simple was hurt real bad.  I couldn’t just leave him . . .’

Amazon Review

Disturbing, but compelling and heartwarming

By Rivergirl

5.0 out of 5 stars

This is a story about some very tough and mean people somewhere in the backwoods and mountains of America. It is told from the perspective of a young girl whose mission in life is to protect her big, but simple-minded brother from harm. The story is compelling, frightening and sometimes brutal in the manner of the film Deliverance, but it is also a heartwarming story of loyalty, love and deep affection. It was not what I was expecting, but I’m glad I read it. It has an unforgettable quality about it and the characters are complex but convincing. It really is a great story and unputdownable.

 

 

Not So Simple?

Draft2Digital Link: https://books2read.com/u/3nYYQB     FREE this week!

Excerpt from Simple…

Walking towards Gran, I could feel the blood draining from my body, trying to find some place to hide.  It felt as if it had all gathered in my feet, making each step I took the hardest thing I had ever done.

Gran got up from her rocker and I watched it continue to move, as if she had left some part of herself sitting in it.  She walked inside the cabin and waited for me. She had never done more than cuff me across the back of the head, but I figured I had to be in for more than that this time.  I was trying to think of the worst she could do.

It was cool inside the cabin.  Gran was sitting at the big wooden table grandpa had made.  She might as well have been the town judge, sitting behind the high bench.  She didn’t move or look at me as I sat opposite, waiting for judgement.  I knew better than speak first.  I couldn’t have, even if I wanted to, my mouth had dried up.  Gran finally spoke, her voice hard, as if she had eaten gravel.  ‘You’ve done a bad thing, Leanne. Taken our trust and pissed it in the wind.  Jimmy says he should be the one to punish you, says you had no right taking Simple anywhere near the Spiers. Reckon I should turn you over to him, save my words for someone who can hear them.’

I said, ‘I can hear real good,’ with more grit in my voice than I intended.

Gran fixed me with one of those looks that made me wish I could turn to stone. ‘Seems to me, young lady,  if your ears still work, then your brain’s gone soft like Simple’s. Fancy interfering in business that aint yours. You know right enough, he needs telling more times than the sun wakes us and then some. You want him took off for takin’ town young’uns?’

‘Course not, Gran.’  My voice came out as a whisper. ‘Simple was hurt real bad.  I couldn’t just leave him . . .’

 

Amazon Review

 

Disturbing, but compelling and heartwarming

By Rivergirl

5.0 out of 5 stars

This is a story about some very tough and mean people somewhere in the backwoods and mountains of America. It is told from the perspective of a young girl whose mission in life is to protect her big, but simple-minded brother from harm. The story is compelling, frightening and sometimes brutal in the manner of the film Deliverance, but it is also a heartwarming story of loyalty, love and deep affection. It was not what I was expecting, but I’m glad I read it. It has an unforgettable quality about it and the characters are complex but convincing. It really is a great story and unputdownable.

 

A Magical Reminder of Simple…#Fiction #FamilyHorror

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Image by Pixabay.com

 

Saw this picture this morning and it really fascinated me. I know it’s probably not real, there is some jiggery pokey going on, but as I get older I like the unreal, or at least, what seems to be, so I will keep on looking for new and amazing things…

Anyway, back to what I wanted to talk about today.
I have been thinking about one of Anita’s books, Simple …

It has long been one of my favourites and the picture at the top reminds me of the central character, a huge bear of a man called Simple. He loves to be in the forest and seems to be at home among all the towering trees, away from all the people who torment him because of his size, his slowness, and his stutter.

I thought I would print an excerpt to introduce him to you  properly…

       Gran stormed across the clearing, bending to pick up a stick from the ground without breaking her stride.  Simple, sitting against the wood pile, was in for another of her beatings.  I yelled for him to run, but he didn’t hear me.  Lost in one of his daydreams I guessed.

I watched in silence as Gran repeatedly swung the stick hard against the side of her son’s head.  There were no words to describe Simple’s pain, or the pain of watching.  He probably didn’t even know what it was for and I hated her for making me feel all the things he couldn’t say. He didn’t move or look her in the face, not until she let the stick drop from her bony fingers did he feel safe enough to close his eyes.  He slowly put his hands to his battered head, blood pushing its way through the gaps in his dirty fingers…

I know I edited this book so you could say I am a bit biased, but I don’t think so. I really love the story, even though it has savagely cruel elements, involving hatred and violence. But all of these elements are finely balanced with so much emotional determination and caring by Simple’s sister, Leanne that you get torn every which way as you read it.

This book is a roller coaster of a read but one that has been very hard to categorise. Mainstream publishers really couldn’t figure out what to do with it. They loved it but…

There always seems to be a but, doesn’t there? Well, we always seem to find one. But if anybody wants to see if they would like to read Simple , it’s on Amazon, and at the moment just 0.99p!

I would love to hear if you love it as much as I do…

Here is the latest review for Simple…

AEM
5.0 out of 5 starsLife’s Choices
20 October 2018Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase

 

Breaking News! 5* review: Simple by Anita Dawes #FamilyHorror

Look what I found this morning….

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Image created by AEM

A wonderful poster, created by Amy Elisabeth Miller (AEM) @magicalworldweb to celebrate the arrival of her incredible review for Anita’s second book, Simple…

AEM
5.0 out of 5 starsLife’s Choices
20 October 2018Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase

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Comparing works of Literature…

 

The other evening, for the want of anything more dramatically interesting, we were about to watch a comedy film on tv, Raising Arizona with Nicholas Cage and Holly Hunter, about a couple who steal a baby, when Anita asked me what it was about.

I said it sounded as if it would be very similar to Simple. one of her books.

She looked puzzled, so I rattled off the plot of the book. When I had finished, her jaw was hanging open. ‘How on earth do you remember all of that? I wrote it so many years ago and don’t remember it that well.’

As Anita’s editor, it was no surprise to me that it was still in my head. I had read, edited and formatted that book extensively, as I have with all of her books and can practically recite them all verbatim.

Raising Arizona was meant to be a comedy, but was disapointing. I thought I could watch anything that starred Nicholas Cage, but I was wrong and it got me thinking. By comparison, Anita’s book Simple couldn’t be more different if it tried. Dramatic, sad and full of the nastiness that human beings inflict on one another, especially a mentally challenged man/child like Simple. Not quite as violent and brutal as its forerunner, Bad Moon, but if it was a film, I would wear out the tape in no time!

 

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Excerpt from Simple

I had been walking for so long my legs were slowing down, beginning to stiffen.  It would be light in a few hours and still no sign of Simple.  I saw the ridge up ahead in silhouette against the night sky and made myself walk a bit further.

Looking down from the top of the ridge, I could see a few lights twinkling on the outskirts of town and the faint gleam of the river that ran down the mountain.  I sat and rested my legs, enjoying the cool night air on my damp skin. Then I heard a sound, something was moving about in the darkness behind me.  I hid behind a rock, hoping whatever it was wasn’t bigger than me, wishing I had brought Jack’s rifle along.

My heart didn’t slow down, even when I saw it was Simple coming out from wherever he had been hiding.  He was carrying something wrapped in a blanket, holding it close to his chest, tight, like he was afraid he would drop it.  I stepped out from behind the rock and startled him.  At the sight of me, he froze, only his eyes moving frantically from side to side.

‘Leanne shouldn’t be here, Gran be m-mad.’

‘Not as mad as she’s gonna be with you. Where you been?’

He didn’t answer me and sat down on a fallen tree.  It was my turn to be startled when the blanket he held moved all by itself.  Knowing him as I did, I expected a wounded animal, but I was wrong. He unwrapped the blanket and held up a baby, not a year old.  Its white skin gleamed luminous in the pale moonlight and I could see it was a little boy. I didn’t know what to think.  Simple had been gone for weeks and I had missed him so much.  What on earth did he think he was doing?

I sat staring at the baby, its tiny head swallowed up in his huge hand, so filthy against the clean skin.  He couldn’t have had him for long.

Finally, I found my tongue.  ‘Where did you get the baby, Simple?’

He looked at me, his big dark eyes swimming with tears, and said, ‘For Lizzie, s-stop her crying’.’

‘Where did you get it?  Tell me, we have to take it back!’

‘No, for Lizzie.  A b-boy like Simple.  Stronger than Lizzie’s.’

This was going to take the rest of the night.  I had to make him see, to understand we had to take it back before half the town came looking for it.

‘Everyone’s been looking for you, Simple. I missed you.’

‘M-me too, m-missed Leanne.  Then I come back, bring baby for Lizzie.’

I tried to tell him Lizzie couldn’t have this baby, that he had taken it from its Ma and was a bad thing he had done.  ‘We must take him back before the sheriff comes looking. Before Jimmy finds us.’

He kept trying to say they had plenty of babies in town.  ‘Lizzie’s die. Lizzie can’t make a g-good baby.’  He wrapped the blanket around the baby, holding him so tight I feared he might crush the life out of him.  I suddenly realised that the baby hadn’t made a sound, so I looked closer to see if he was still alive.  Seeming to sense my presence, his eyes flicked open, a gleaming deep blue in the pale moonlight.

I asked Simple if he remembered where he took the baby from.

‘Town,’ he said.  ‘Like b-baby long time.’ He looked funny as if he was trying to remember something.  I couldn’t understand what he meant.

‘Like you, long t-time . . . Ma wanted b-baby . . . Simple g-got . . .’

I still didn’t understand, but I couldn’t think about Simple’s words, I needed to get this baby back where it belonged, and quick.  I would ask Gran later what Simple was on about.  I told him I knew the baby came from town.

‘Do you remember which house, please say you can?  Show me where the baby belongs, Simple?  Jimmy’s out looking’ for you, you know what will happen if he finds us with this baby.’

Simple looked shocked, as only he could.  Eyes wide, mouth open, head shaking, words failing him. The thought of Jimmy touching the baby did the trick though, rather than see the baby hurt, he said, ‘We take it b-back.’

I followed him to the edge of the woods, close to town.  Dawn was starting to break in the east, a gradual reminder that daylight would soon give us away.  Creeping behind a row of whitewashed houses, Simple stopped beside an open window.  I held my breath as I watched him climb in and put the baby back from where he had taken it.

 

BLURB

Simple is the follow-up book to Bad Moon, Anita’s first book and is another story about the backwoods people of West Virginia. At the time of writing, some 25 years ago, it seemed as though Anita was channelling actual people, the stories so disturbingly real. Neither Simple or Bad Moon are pleasant stories by any means, being full of raw, powerful emotions and unbelievable cruelty.

They were written long before the world of Indie publishing, so we approached traditional publishers with the help of a well-known literary agent. They all said the same thing, that they were impressed with the strong powerful writing, and that they were well written, but they wouldn’t fit with all the other books on their list. I can appreciate this now, as finding the right category has been hard. If only those publishers had the courage of their convictions and made room for us!

Simple is a nickname his cruel family have given him, due to him being mentally challenged and cursed with a terrible stutter. His real name is Ethan, and although a giant of a man, he has the heart and mind of a child. He spends his time in the woods, tending to wounded wild birds and animals.

His grandmother and brothers beat him for everything he forgets to do, and many things he shouldn’t have done. When his half-sister Leanne cannot bear to watch any more cruelty, they make a plan to escape. But when they try to run, they bring the wrath of their vicious family down on their heads, and the results are terrifying…

 

New Cover Release of Simple by Anita Dawes #FamilyHorror

Simple, the second book in Anita’s stable, has been re- edited and supplied with a brand new cover!  We would love to raise the profile of this book, finding new readers and hopefully new reviews.

To this end, free PDF copies are available! 

 

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SIMPLE’S LIFE is a painful nightmare.

A huge bear of a man, but with the heart and mind of an innocent child, he suffers terrible abuse from his vicious and uncaring backwoods family.

Together with his half-sister Leanne, they are hunted like wild animals and suffer the terror of nearly being burned alive as they try to escape.

 

SHADES OF THE WALTON’S MEET DELIVERANCE!

Universal Amazon Link:  http://myBook.to/mySimple

Simple is the follow-up book to Bad Moon, Anita’s first book and is another story about the backwoods people of West Virginia. At the time of writing, some 25 years ago, it seemed as though Anita was channelling actual people, the stories so disturbingly real. Neither Simple or Bad Moon are pleasant stories by any means, being full of raw, powerful emotions and unbelievable cruelty.

This was long before the world of Indie publishing, so we approached traditional publishers with the help of a well-known literary agent. They all said the same thing, that they were impressed with the strong powerful writing, and that it was well written. But it wouldn’t fit with all the other books on their list. I can appreciate this now, as finding the right category has been hard. If only those publishers had the courage of their convictions and made room for Simple!

Simple is a nickname his cruel family have given him, due to him being mentally challenged and cursed with a terrible stutter. His real name is Ethan, and although a giant of a man, he has the heart and mind of a child. He spends his time in the woods, tending to wounded wild birds and animals.

His grandmother and brothers beat him for everything he forgets to do, and many things he shouldn’t have done. When his half-sister Leanne cannot bear to watch any more cruelty, they make a plan to escape. But when they try to run, they bring the wrath of their vicious family down on their heads, and the results are terrifying…

Extract from Simple

I couldn’t be sure I was heading in the right direction, I had no choice but to follow where my feet led me, hoping my instincts were right.

I walked for hours, and just when I thought I would never find them, I smelled wood burning and there was a hint of voices carried on the wind.  Why had no one grabbed me?  Jack would never have let an outsider close enough to smell our fires burning.  Closer, I could hear a fiddle and someone singing a song, not something I heard too often at Gran’s.

They let me walk right into their camp.  It had been built among the trees and the land hadn’t been cleared much at all.  The cabins were much the same as ours, made with logs cut from the forest. The only thing different was the moss growing on the outsides where not much light could reach. The cabins looked green, almost as though they were still growing.  It felt a lot colder up here, even though I knew the sun was still up. It should be setting soon, and Simple would be lying where I had left him, in the dark.

The sound of the fiddle stopped and a woman about Gran’s age stood up.  My feet suddenly felt about three sizes too big.  I stumbled, and then came to a standstill, unable to move.  What was I thinking of, coming here?  Going to town would have been better, would have changed my life, Simple’s too, possibly for the better.

The woman spoke, her voice deep yet softer than Gran’s.

‘What ye be wanting’ so far from home, young’un?’

I must have looked half beaten.  My dress was torn and bloody, filthy arms and legs, scratched and bleeding.  I hoped they didn’t think I was one of the crazy stories come to life. My thoughts finally slipped into my mouth and my words sounded like the damp dirt I stood upon.  The woman picked up a cup of water from the table, stepped forward and offered it to me.  She said, ‘They call me Belle Spiers hereabouts.’

The cool water tasted good.  Then all my words came out in a rush. 

‘I need help. Simple’s hurt, please you have to help me.’

‘Slow down girl, your words are running’ together like my boy’s heads when I need to put them in their place.’

I took another mouthful of water. ‘It’s Simple, his leg’s broke.  Uncle Jimmy left him back there in the caves.’

She interrupted me and called out for someone called Jimmy.  I felt my heart freeze, turn to ice, expecting Uncle Jimmy to appear.  The frozen waste where my heart sat, slowly melted when the older Man who had been playing the fiddle limped to her side, along with another Man who looked nothing like Uncle Jimmy.

‘Go see what this young’un has got herself into.’

Suddenly I had the strangest feeling she knew right off who I was and where I came from.  Even the name Simple didn’t move her any.  A few other faces came to see what all the fuss was about.  One of them was a boy called Zach with yellow hair like the sun, older than me but not by much. The one called Jimmy told him to come with them.

‘Gonna need more than old pa here to bring a log like Simple back up from the caves.’

It took a while, but his words sunk deep like the roots of a tree sucking at my brain.  He knew Simple!

Then the woman was speaking to me again. ‘Come in girl, we’ll get you cleaned up while waiting’ for the menfolk.  Hungry too, I’ll be thinking’.’

Orders slipped from her lips much the same as Gran; save no one seemed to mind.  Least of all the young woman called Jolene with a baby on her hip, who had been told to fetch food while I waited for a tub to be filled with water, warmed over an open fire.

Belle carried the last of the hot water in a much-used pot to her cabin, where she poured it into an old tin bath and told me to get in. ‘I ain’t carrying’ this water for you to let it grow cold.’

There wasn’t anyone in the cabin but Belle and me, so turning my back I took off my dress.  The hot water felt like a blanket, one I knew Simple could be doing with right about now.  I asked Belle, ‘How come you know Simple?’

‘He’s a soft soul, wanders up here sometimes.  I reckon he needs time away from your Gran.’

I was going to say she wasn’t my Gran but decided to let it lay.  I needed them to help make Simple well and I wanted to see the boy with yellow hair bringing him back. Something about him had made my heart skip a little, even though it was frozen at the time.

Jolene brought a clean dress along with the food, and Belle held out a large cloth I knew to be bought from town.  Must have been the way I looked at it made her say, ‘I don’t mind using’ what feels good, makes life pleasing’.

Jolene said, ‘Belle don’t usually let anyone use them.  Old pa traded his best fiddle for two the same last Christmas.  Good to see them out of the paper they came in.’

Seems Jolene belonged to Jimmy, and the baby was his too. It seemed funny to be able to hear that name without shrinking inside.  What would they do now, if they could see me here in the Spiers camp, with Simple being carried here for fixing? 

 

Simple…

Anita thought our books needed a bit of an airing!

Simple is another one of Anita’s books, written in the same West Virginian theme as Bad Moon. The story of a backwoods family and the way they treat their mentally challenged son, Ethan. Or Simple, as he is called. A story of love and caring, of living with fear and brutality; and how the love of one person can make a difference.

excerpt from Simple…

Gran stormed across the clearing, bending to pick up a stick from the ground without breaking her stride.  Simple, sitting against the wood pile, was in for another of her beatings.  I yelled for him to run, but he didn’t hear me.  Lost in one of his daydreams I guessed.

I watched in silence as Gran repeatedly swung the stick hard against the side of her son’s head.  There were no words to describe Simple’s pain, or the pain of watching.  He probably didn’t even know what it was for and I hated her for making me feel all the things he couldn’t say. He didn’t move or look her in the face, not until she let the stick drop from her bony fingers did he feel safe enough to close his eyes.  He slowly put his hands to his battered head, blood pushing its way through the gaps in his dirty fingers…

simple

Universal Amazon Link:  myBook.to/SimpleS

 

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Promotion & Interview . . .

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Yes,BAD MOON, another one of our books is FREE this week, as part of a kindle book promotion on Amazon. From now until Friday, the kindle copy costs absolutely nothing!

Of course, we have an ulterior motive. We would love a few more reviews for this book, as it would make promoting it just a little bit easier. Nothing too difficult, just a few words on Amazon. Really easy to do and would mean so much to us both.

So click on this universal Amazon link   myBook.to/badmoon and help yourself (and us)!

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Seeing as this week is all about BAD MOON, I thought it would be a great time to post this interview with Anita herself. She hates anything to do with computers, so this is a milestone AND proof of my persuasive powers, so enjoy!

“Now Anita, do stop glaring at me, relax, and let’s get on with it. Bad Moon was your first book, what made you write it?

“Okay, I give in. At the time, I was a fan of Credence Clearwater Revival and loved their rendition of “Bad Moon Rising”   It wouldn’t leave my head, and before I knew what was happening, characters had climbed on board and I was off and running.”

“When I first read it, I thought it was an incredible mix of the film Deliverance and The Walton’s. How would you describe it?”

“Beneath this savage family saga, the desire for normality and kinship shines through, despite some appalling odds. I loved the idea that you can find love and caring in the strangest of situations.”

BAD MOON has an amazing bunch of characters, who is your particular favourite?”

“I’m never sure if we should have favourites. It’s a bit like being a mother, you’re supposed to love them all equally. However, having said that, Annie, the teenager rebelling against tradition, will always have a special place in my heart. So young and determined to change her families way of life. The lengths she goes to still amazes me, and I wrote it!”

“It is a bit brutal in places, not a gentle family story by anyone’s standards. Is this something you think could exist in an ordinary family?” Anita is glaring at me again; maybe I shouldn’t have asked that question?

“Not so much the brutality, although it does happen. But a close family can go to extraordinary lengths to protect and defend each other. Are we done yet?”

“Just one more question. Was SIMPLE, your next book, ever intended to be a sequel, as it is very similar?”

“I’ll let you into a secret. I have this strange affinity with West Virginia in America. I love the way the people talk and there is something strangely familiar about the country. It is possible, I think, that I may have lived there in a previous life or something.”

“Yes, it certainly reads as if you feel at home there. I loved both books, and always imagined them good enough to be made as films. Thank you for talking to us about your books, Anita. I’ll let you go back to your writing . . .”

( phew… got away with that, I think!)

Hope the Youtube video link works, as this was the music that started it all!

 

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