An excerpt from The Last Life…

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Kate Devereau wakes up in a hospital, unable to speak or move. Her brain has shut down, refusing to acknowledge her dark and disturbing past, concealing a web of painful secrets.

Michael Barratt brought her to the hospital, insisting that her ex-husband had tried to kill her. And from the state of him, had tried to kill him too. He had been searching for Kate for years, ever since their doomed love affair, only to discover someone else had been hunting her too.

With the help of the DI David Snow, Kate will gradually piece her life back together, only to discover the nightmare is far from over.

Her first instinct is to run, but David Snow convinces her to stay and help him put an end to the nightmare. A nightmare that will get progressively worse before it gets better.

Haunted by his own demons, will the Snowman manage to catch the twisted killer?

Evil lurks in this story and people die, but amidst the tears and heartache, a lost love struggles to survive…

 

Excerpt from The Last Life

 Detective Inspector David Snow looked down at the unconscious woman on the hospital bed in front of him, remembering the state of her when she had arrived, a few hours ago. They had done a good job of cleaning her up. She lay still, like a religious statue in a church, her pale skin the colour of finest marble. The gentle rise and fall of her breasts the only indication life still clung to her body.

So different to the wrinkled, dirt-ingrained body he had looked at earlier, of an old tramp, found dead in the hospital car park, bundled into a moth-eaten army coat and wedged under a car. What was originally thought to be a simple case of neglect, had taken on a more sinister tone when they discovered the tramps head had been cut off and shoved down the back of the old boy’s trousers.

Snow wondered what an old tramp could possibly have done to warrant such treatment, being well known around the hospital and described as a harmless old soul. The tenuous link to the woman in front of him indicated she might not be safe and would need his protection.

They knew very little about her, and he wondered again what kind of woman she was.  Now the dirt had been removed, she looked healthy and well cared for, which ruled out homelessness. A reasonably attractive, middle-aged woman, bordering on the ordinary, apart from her curly hair which would appear to have a life of its own, as even now it crept across the pillow like the roots of a willow.

 

Alone with the unconscious woman, Snow had an excellent opportunity to study her without feeling self-conscious about doing it. In all the years since his wife’s death, he missed looking intimately at a woman. He usually tried to do it surreptitiously to avoid the risk of being branded a pervert, or worse. He liked to imagine what kind of person they were, if they were kind or cruel, bossy or timid, but for once, there were no clues on this woman’s face. A slight determination in the set of her jaw gave him pause for thought.

According to Michael Barratt, the man who brought her here, her name was Kate Devereau, an artist, none of which gave him any clues as to her character. In the beginning, Snow had instinctively thought she might be the murderer in this case, due to the amount of blood found in the cottage.  Michael Barratt had found her unconscious in this cottage on the outskirts of Guildford. He said he knew her, but had no idea why she had found it necessary to be there. As an estate agent, he had been arranging to have the cottage ready for Miss Devereau to rent.

It was all a little mysterious, compounded by the fact Michael Barratt looked as if he had been barbecued. His clothes were burned black in places, apart from his jacket, which was clean and several sizes too small and obviously didn’t belong to him. The back of his head and hands were raw and blistered, suggesting there were probably more extensive burns to his body.

The estate agent had offered no explanation for his own condition but stubbornly kept asking after Kate, which might possibly indicate an emotional involvement. He had no answer for what had happened to her, except to say her health had not been good for a while. If it hadn’t been for all the blood, it would have seemed innocent enough.

So why didn’t Snow believe him?

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Amazon Link for The Ninth Life  myBook.to/TheNinthLife

Amazon Link for The Last Life  myBook.to/TheLastLife

 

 

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The Time of My Life…

 

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Why has no one ever mentioned how much fun writing a series can be?

I am having the time of my life, and I think my characters are too. I knew they were not ready to leave; they kept nagging at me to let them continue their journey.

And to be honest, there were more than a few things in The Ninth Life and The Last Life that were not completely resolved.

Now, most of them have the chance to put in their two pennyworths all over again, and meet a couple of new arrivals, and I think it is going extremely well. 60.000 words already, and for me, it was pretty effortless.

Finding the Happy Balance

You see, I found writing my first book quite hard, as I mistakenly thought it would be easy, only to discover it was really quite hard work. This surprised me, for in my youth I was always scribbling away, no trouble at all. What made the difference this time I think, is the amount of other things you have to do as well. It was beginning to get me down, all the worrying about whether I was keeping up, or even doing it right in the first place. (another post on all of this soon) but I have come to terms with a lot of things lately, and I’m a much happier bunny these days.

The Importance of Planning

I think having an established story line helped a lot, and this time I started with a fully-fledged storyboard, so it was relatively easy to plot where I wanted the story to continue. I even have an ending mapped out, but that I know, is in the lap of the Gods.

My mind has also started thinking about what might be next. How is that for determination?

I love writing mystery/crime thrillers, but not sure if the next one will be the same as it has presented itself to me a little differently. I will have to see what happens.

Onwards and Upwards

This is all being quite a revelation to me, coming to writing as I do at the ripe old age of 70. I always wanted to write, of course, and did a bit now and then, but somehow life kept getting in the way, forcing me to do so many other things instead. Some of these things were quite rewarding, but think where I could be now, if I had started sooner?

 

Now for a spot of promotion. The Wrong Life, book three of the series, is scheduled to be finished and published later this year. On the run up, I thought I would post more info as we go… so watch this space…

Detective Inspector Snow…

trilogy

Continuing our series of posts featuring some of the memorable characters from our books, today we welcome Detective Inspector David Snow, the man responsible for saving Kate Devereau in The Last Life. Not that the book had a particularly successful conclusion, hopefully he will be in a talkative mood today.

As he walks into my office, I am struck again, by how much he reminds me of Tom Selleck. The same smile and boyish demeanour, but starting to show the signs of wear around the edges.

“Take a pew and thank you so much for agreeing to talk to us today, David. The first thing I have to ask, is how is Kate these days? We haven’t heard anything since we saw you last.”

He lowers his long frame into one of my office chairs, sadly inadequate for someone his size. It looks like dolls furniture, and reminds me to see about getting something a tad more comfortable for any future interviews.

“Glad to be here, actually Anita. I needed a break and taking time out from my latest case is more than welcome. Last time I saw Kate, she was much the same as before. They say there is still hope of a full recovery, but I’m not so sure…”

“You mentioned a new case, anything we will get to hear about?”

“At this stage, anything is possible. It all depends on whether I successfully solve the problems or not, I suppose.”

“I heard the sad news about your sergeant Jim Harris. Does this have anything to do with the case?”

David hesitates, and I wonder if I have just pushed my luck. He is a detective after all, and not known for his small talk as a rule.

“Unfortunately, I am unable to comment directly at this stage. So much is still speculation. My writer Jaye Marie is pushing me to make sure I leave no stone unturned, and I owe it to her to try my best.”

Changing the subject, I ask him about the serial killer in his last case. Should be on safe ground as the case is probably closed. “Have you finally closed the case on Jack Holland yet?”

Was it my imagination, or did a cloud just pass over his face?

“The forensic evidence was pretty conclusive, so I am reasonably satisfied we will not be seeing him again.”

“I heard a rumour that you might be contemplating retirement in the near future, is this true?”

He looked at me without speaking for what seemed like ages. I knew he did this sometimes when he didn’t want to talk. Then a slow smile lifted the corners of his mouth and creased the skin around his eyes. He was gorgeous when he did that, and I can quite understand the effect he has on women.

“I was thinking about it. Getting a bit long in the tooth now and the idea of moving away from it all was very appealing. But I am needed now, so what I want will have to wait.”

My next question was worrying me. Just how would this important man, senior Detective Inspector Snow react to my probing into his business? I decided to take the chance anyway. “I understand there is a new female presence in your office these days. What is she like?”

He looked at me, a stunned expression on his face as if surprised I knew about her.

“How on earth do you know about Detective Winton? I only met her two days ago…and before you ask, it is too soon for me to have any opinions.”

“Is she pretty?”

For the first time in the interview, he didn’t look at me. He seemed embarrassed, which was strange, unless he had made up his mind. “Come on David, you can at least tell me if she is pretty…”

“Okay, if it will shut you up, I will admit to feeling uncomfortable in her presence. She makes me feel awkward, as if she knows something I don’t… and on that note, I really should be getting back to work… I have enjoyed meeting you, Anita.”

“Perhaps we can talk again, after this case is solved maybe?”

He slowly pulled himself out of the uncomfortably small chair and I was surprised yet again by how tall he was. As he shook my hand, I caught another glimpse of the rare smile, the way he must have looked as a young man. I wondered where his story would end, and if Kate Devereau would be there when it did.

© Anita Dawes 2016

 

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Another day, another determination…

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When I finished writing The Last Life, the sequel to my first ever novel last year, I mistakenly thought the hard work was over.

Stupid thing to think, for I have spent the last ten years or so editing other people’s books and should have known better. Editing/proofing is something I have always enjoyed doing, and never considered it hard work.

Apparently, the fact that these books were mine has turned everything on its head. I don’t understand why editing my own work has suddenly become so hard, and can only assume that I must have come up with a lesser quality of book than I am used to working on. In other words, it might be a pile of rubbish.

I can’t really think otherwise, or is there another reason?

In the past, I have written short stories and poetry, but reading has always been my favourite pastime. The thought of writing my own book always appealed to me, just never seemed to get around to it.  Life has a way of getting in the way, doesn’t it?

Then I started to be plagued by all these characters. First one, then another and more of them talked to me (and each other) and I became fascinated and involved all at the same time. When I decided to write some of it down, these same characters went into overdrive. What I thought they should be doing was blatantly ignored, to be replaced with their own agenda. In the end, it was as if they were writing the story and not I.

The ending was a bit tricky, as they wouldn’t let on what was going to happen and I worried constantly that it would all go pear shaped. Maybe they didn’t know, and then what was I supposed to do?

I didn’t think this was how you were supposed to write a book. Surely, you were supposed to have far more control than that?

The oddest thing happened to the plot as it went along, involving one of the cast, the ex-husband of Kate, the main character. He started out as an ordinarily bitter man with a small axe to grind, suddenly turned into a vicious serial killer right before my eyes, taking me completely by surprise!

The other thing that surprised me was how hard it seemed to be, even with a very cooperative cast. Writing anything (other than a book) has always come easily to me, but creating a novel turned out to be so complicated. Continuity was a constant problem, as was remembering all of the characters history, their likes, dislikes and foibles. I learnt to keep a running timeline and a storyboard for the plot. This was necessary after the characters kept changing their minds about what they would do next, and was one of the ways I managed to keep up with them.

In addition, I am ever thankful for all the attributes of Microsoft Word. Without their Search and Find, Select and grammar checking facilities and all the other helpful tricks, I think I might have gone completely mad a long time ago.

Editing has always been something I love to do, so is it different because these books are mine, or because I am a lot older now?

Maybe my brain has had enough and is starting to slow down and miss things all together? For instance, I don’t recall having this much trouble with ‘Passive sentences’ before. And the over use of certain words, like ‘that’.

All joking aside, I am having the best retirement ever. Free to do whatever I want is absolute bliss, the only downside being, my old brain is not as agile as it once was.

But will that matter?  Not in a million years…

Both of my books are on Amazon, for just 99p each…(and I would love some feedback!)

Universal Amazon Links    myBook.to/ninthL      myBook.to/lastL

 

Detective Inspector Snow…

 

Fresh Japanese maple leaves

Continuing our series of posts featuring some of the memorable characters from our books, today we welcome Detective Inspector David Snow, the man responsible for saving Kate Devereau in The Last Life. Not that the book had a particularly successful conclusion, hopefully he will be in a talkative mood today.

As he walks into my office, I am struck again, by how much he reminds me of Tom Selleck. The same smile and boyish demeanour, but starting to show the signs of wear around the edges.
“Take a pew and thank you so much for agreeing to talk to us today, David. The first thing I have to ask, is how is Kate these days? We haven’t heard anything since we saw you last.”

He lowers his long frame into one of my office chairs, sadly inadequate for someone his size. It looks like dolls furniture, and reminds me to see about getting something a tad more comfortable for any future interviews.

“Glad to be here, actually Anita. I needed a break and taking time out from my latest case is more than welcome. Last time I saw Kate, she was much the same as before. They say there is still hope of a full recovery, but I’m not so sure…”

“You mentioned a new case, anything we will get to hear about?”

“At this stage, anything is possible. It all depends on whether I successfully solve the problems or not, I suppose.”

“I heard the sad news about your sergeant Jim Harris. Does this have anything to do with the case?”

David hesitates, and I wonder if I have just pushed my luck. He is a detective after all, and not known for his small talk as a rule.

“Unfortunately, I am unable to comment directly at this stage. So much is still speculation. My writer Jaye Marie is pushing me to make sure I leave no stone unturned, and I owe it to her to try my best.”

Changing the subject, I ask him about the serial killer in his last case. Should be on safe ground as the case is probably closed. “Have you finally closed the case on Jack Holland yet?”
Was it my imagination, or did a cloud just pass over his face?

“The forensic evidence was pretty conclusive, so I am reasonably satisfied we will not be seeing him again.”

“I heard a rumour that you might be contemplating retirement in the near future, is this true?”

He looked at me without speaking for what seemed like ages. I knew he did this sometimes when he didn’t want to talk. Then a slow smile lifted the corners of his mouth and creased the skin around his eyes. He was gorgeous when he did that, and I can quite understand the effect he has on women.

“I was thinking about it. Getting a bit long in the tooth now and the idea of moving away from it all was very appealing. But I am needed now, so what I want will have to wait.”

My next question was worrying me. Just how would this important man, senior Detective Inspector Snow react to my probing into his business? I decided to take the chance anyway. “I understand there is a new female presence in your office these days. What is she like?”

He looked at me, a stunned expression on his face as if surprised I knew about her.

“How on earth do you know about Detective Winton? I only met her two days ago…and before you ask, it is too soon for me to have any opinions.”

“Is she pretty?”

For the first time in the interview, he didn’t look at me. He seemed embarrassed, which was strange, unless he had made up his mind. “Come on David, you can at least tell me if she is pretty…”

“Okay, if it will shut you up, I will admit to feeling uncomfortable in her presence. She makes me feel awkward, as if she knows something I don’t… and on that note, I really should be getting back to work… I have enjoyed meeting you, Anita.”

“Perhaps we can talk again, after this case is solved maybe?”

He slowly pulled himself out of the uncomfortably small chair and I was surprised yet again by how tall he was. As he shook my hand, I caught another glimpse of the rare smile, the way he must have looked as a young man. I wondered where his story would end, and if Kate Devereau would be there when it did.

© Anita Dawes 2016

Where does all the doom and gloom come from?

I found myself nearly at the end of my tether a few months ago. Depression had taken a few days off, but now it was back with a vengeance.
My back seemed to have finally forgiven me and my knee still had an axe to grind, but that should not account for my frequent impersonation of a blubbering wreck. I had the unshakeable feeling that just one more disaster would break someone’s back, probably mine.

Then, just as I was doing my best to pull myself together, the worst flu in history struck and the depression found a few more notches to climb…

Didn’t think the week could get any worse and was not prepared for it getting any better, but the following day it did. I was woken up at four o’clock in the morning by the characters from my recently finished (soon to be launched) book banging on and on in my head about needing another chance to sort their lives out. To be fair, they were coming up with some good ideas as to how this could be managed. Significantly, the only one who wasn’t nagging me, was the annoying voice that only Kate can hear. And before you could blink, I was building the storyline and plotting my head off.
Apparently, they wanted a new playmate and were being very insistent. I couldn’t argue with them, as they have more than proved their worth. And they should get the credit, for most of the time all I did was follow their orders!
I had never realised how much fun writing a book could be, and was more than delighted that the next one seems to be waiting in the wings.

I still don’t understand why is it that some mornings you wake up feeling as though you spent the night with Doom and Gloom, and others have you springing out of bed full of optimism?
All I can say is that I am grateful for it, as life is proving to be so very short without it…

 

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Book Blurb

Kate Devereau wakes up in a hospital, unable to speak or move. Her brain has shut down, refusing to acknowledge her dark and disturbing past, concealing a web of painful secrets.

Michael Barratt brought her to the hospital, insisting that her ex-husband had tried to kill her. And from the state of him, had tried to kill him too. He had been searching for Kate for years, ever since their doomed love affair, only to discover someone else had been hunting her too.

With the help of the DI David Snow, Kate will gradually piece her life back together, only to discover the nightmare is far from over.
Her first instinct is to run, but David Snow convinces her to stay and help him put an end to the nightmare. A nightmare that will get progressively worse before it gets better.

Haunted by his own demons, will the Snowman manage to catch the twisted killer?

Evil lurks in this story and people die, but amidst the tears and heartache, a lost love struggles to survive…

Excerpt from The Last Life…

Detective Inspector David Snow looked down at the unconscious woman on the hospital bed in front of him, remembering the state of her when she had arrived, a few hours ago. They had done a good job of cleaning her up. She lay still, like a religious statue in a church, her pale skin the colour of finest marble. The gentle rise and fall of her breasts the only indication life still clung to her body.
So different to the wrinkled, dirt-ingrained body he had looked at earlier, of an old tramp found dead in the hospital car park, bundled into a moth-eaten army coat and wedged under a car. What was originally thought to be a simple case of neglect, had taken on a more sinister tone when they discovered the tramps head had been cut off and shoved down the back of the old boy’s trousers.
Snow wondered what an old tramp could possibly have done to warrant such treatment, being well known around the hospital and described as a harmless old soul. The tenuous link to the woman in front of him indicated she might not be safe and would need his protection.
They knew very little about her, and he wondered again what kind of woman she was. Now the dirt had been removed, she looked healthy and well cared for, which ruled out homelessness. A reasonably attractive, middle-aged woman, bordering on the ordinary, apart from her curly hair which would appear to have a life of its own, as even now it crept across the pillow like the roots of a willow.

Alone with the unconscious woman, Snow had an excellent opportunity to study her without feeling self-conscious about doing it. In all the years since his wife’s death, he missed looking intimately at a woman. He usually tried to do it surreptitiously to avoid the risk of being branded a pervert, or worse. He liked to imagine what kind of person they were, if they were kind or cruel, bossy or timid, but for once, there were no clues on this woman’s face. A slight determination in the set of her jaw gave him pause for thought.
According to Michael Barratt, the man who brought her here, her name was Kate Devereau, an artist, none of which gave him any clues as to her character. In the beginning, Snow had instinctively thought she might be the murderer in this case, due to the amount of blood found in the cottage. Michael Barratt had found her unconscious in this cottage on the outskirts of Guildford. He said he knew her, but had no idea why she had found it necessary to be there. As an estate agent, he had been arranging to have the cottage ready for Miss Devereau to rent.
It was all a little mysterious, compounded by the fact Michael Barratt looked as if he had been barbecued. His clothes were burned black in places, apart from his jacket, which was clean and several sizes too small and obviously didn’t belong to him. The back of his head and hands were raw and blistered, suggesting there were probably more extensive burns to his body.
The estate agent had offered no explanation for his own condition, but stubbornly kept asking after Kate, which might possibly indicate an emotional involvement. He had no answer for what had happened to her, except to say her health had not been good for a while. If it hadn’t been for all the blood, it would have seemed innocent enough.
So why didn’t Snow believe him?

Given the state of him, Michael Barratt was in no position to convince David Snow of anything. Naturally suspicious of everyone involved in any of his cases, Snow couldn’t help but suspect Michael Barratt. The man was obviously hiding something, for despite his obvious devotion to the unconscious woman, something didn’t feel right. He must know more than he said.
There had to be more to this case than these two people. The macabre and similar death of Miss Devereau’s brother Danny had opened this case several weeks ago, a clear indication someone they all knew had an axe to grind. Someone cruel and malicious, hell bent on exacting some kind of revenge?

Snow walked over to the window, more for a change of scenery than to escape from the body of Kate Devereau. It was getting dark outside, and the lights in the car park were coming on, one by one. With visiting time approaching, more cars were arriving and he prayed nothing else would happen. He was tired, but not looking forward to his retirement next year. His life seemed empty now, what would it be like then? He didn’t want to retire, he liked his job. It gave him a reason to get up every morning.
He found the idea that this woman may never regain consciousness unsettling, as he wanted this case solved and put away as soon as possible. The doctors could find no medical reason for the coma, or so they said. They had found sedatives in her system, but they should have worn off by now. Her heart was fine and no sign of a stroke. Either she didn’t want to wake up, or she was faking.
Maybe if he pinched or touched her, took her by surprise, would she open her eyes? For whatever reason, and he couldn’t think of one, he couldn’t do it. He could hardly blame her for faking. Why weren’t there more people in her life?
He remembered one of his earlier cases, involving one Gillian Anderton. How she had completely fooled them into believing her story. If it hadn’t been for his sergeant, Jim Harris, she would still be free. Snow tended to suspect women a lot more these days, just in case.

An agent, Samantha Cameron, managed all of Miss Devereau’s art, but was probably only a business contact. Judging by the barbecued boyfriend, someone thought well of her, but how did she feel about him? So many questions which would never be answered if she didn’t wake up.
He looked back to the bed, hoping to see her open her eyes, but nothing had changed, she hadn’t moved at all.

What kind of woman are you, Kate Devereau?

The Last Life is now just .99p in Amazon…you can find it here

We Welcome Kate Devereau…

Today, we welcome a guest to our blog and if you think she looks a bit like Meryl Streep, don’t worry about it.

merylstreep

This is our very first character guest post, introducing Kate Devereau; the unlucky artist from Jaye’s books The Ninth Life and The Last Life.
Still recovering from her latest trauma, she seems frail yet fiercely determined to be here. Something we have come to expect from her.

Shove that pile of books out of the way, and make yourself comfortable…so good to finally meet you in person, Kate.

“Thanks Jaye, it’s lovely to be here, anywhere actually…”

How exactly are you these days? I understand you ran afoul of Jack Holland, your murdering ex-husband again?

“Unfortunately I have, but I have a new protector now, so I am confident everything will be fine…”

Does this protector have a name, and when do we meet him?

“The book will be available from Friday 6th November, and then everyone can meet my Snowman and discover what happened in my latest adventure.”

Er… who or what is this Snowman, Kate?

“The new man in my life, Detective Inspector David Snow. He is so kind and helpful. He saved my life, and sent Jack packing…”

Good news indeed. But what about Michael Barratt, your loyal old flame. Is he still carrying a torch for you?

“Sadly not. I don’t think it would have worked out anyway, it had been far too long and we had changed too much.”

The arrival of this snowman wouldn’t have anything to do with it?
(Kate starts to look uncomfortable, and I wonder if I have touched an exposed nerve. Or is something else going on here?)

“I’m sorry, but I am still a little raw around the edges. What happened to Michael was awful…”

What did happen to him, can you tell us?” (I notice she is wringing her hands together, each one trying to make the other be still. Maybe this visit was too soon…)

“No, I cannot tell you what happened to him at the church. All I keep seeing is the bloody roses on the altar. They wouldn’t let me see him…”

I am sorry, Kate. I didn’t realise it would still be this raw.” (Changing the subject fast, I ask about her painting. The change in her face is remarkable, and as the tension eases, a small smile appears at the corners of her mouth.)

“I haven’t been able to paint since… but thanks to the Snowman I have my favourite seascape back. I live in that painting. Maybe one day soon I can start to paint again.”

In the first book, I loved reading about your paintings and how each one was created. It would be a shame if the world was deprived of any more of your work.
Kate smiles, the first real smile of the day. “I can feel it building inside of me, this overwhelming need to smell the linseed oil again. Hopefully, it won’t be long…”
(I sense the interview is over, but I make her promise to come back when her life is back on track.

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