Saturday, April 26, 2014

"Phantom Dreams" by T. K. Harris

Phantom Dreams
by T. K. Harris

Phantom Dreams is currently on tour with GMTA Publishing. The tour stops here today for my interview with the author and a giveaway. Please be sure to visit the other tour stops as well.

A scorned serial killer on an old vendetta.
An FBI agent who has been chasing monsters for too long.
A woman whose nightmares start invading her waking life.
FBI Special Agent Jack Matthews finds himself on yet another serial killer case, having barely recovered from the last disastrous hunt. Still stiff from a gunshot wound in his leg, under investigation for a botched job, and having lost his fiancĂ©e when she walked out on him, Jack is beginning to wonder if it isn’t time to move on to something new. But, for Jack, these cases are personal and he can’t say no.
Marketing specialist Kathy Gilliam leads a fairly boring life. If she’s not working or caring for her ailing father, then she is doing whatever it takes to avoid going anywhere near crowds of people. Her few distractions include her friend Margo Longfellow, occasional hiking trips, and her increasingly alarming dreams of women dying.
As her nightmares cause her to begin to doubt her sanity, the media releases news of the “Coast-to-Coast Killer” and Kathy discovers her dreams may be related. In a moment of panic, Kathy does something that places her on the FBI’s “persons of interest” list. Suddenly, her life is set on a collision course with Jack who must decide if Kathy is the killer or destined to become a victim.

The dim light of the fading sun filtered through the dense pine trees, making it difficult to tell which of the four was the one he sought. Anger surged through him and he worked to control it. He was close. He closed his eyes, raising his head slightly as he drew in the strong, decaying scent of the forest. He could smell her. So close. So very close. But, which one?
Can't we just kill her and go home?
He gritted his teeth, ignoring the whining voice in his head.
One of the women rose and started toward where he lay hidden. Silently he backed up as she found a bush and squatted. Moments later the air filled with the sharp scent of ammonia. He moved as close as he dared, ignoring the rocks and branches biting into his hands. When she was close enough for him to touch, he peered into her face. But it wasn't her. He watched the woman return, waiting for the group to set up and go to sleep. Then he would move closer.
A loud crashing sound to his left alerted him to the approach of other people. As he watched, the small group of women was joined by three other hikers, all male.
The whore!
He wasn't sure if it had been the voice or him that thought it, but he agreed.
Just like Mama. Kill her now!
His teeth ground painfully together against the urge to confront her.  But he had to wait. He could not screw this up like he had with the last woman. That imposter had deceived him into thinking that she was the one.
The men introduced themselves and asked if they could join the group. The women seemed happy, even eager to have them there.
No doubt the whole meeting had been planned in advance by her. The adulterous tramp!
The amiable group chatted about the mundane details of the trail and weather before moving on to other topics.
Kill her so we can go home! I wanna go home.
God he hated that voice. Shut up!
He waited until he was sure the voice would remain silent. Then continued to wait and watch.
Hours more passed as the night darkened to pitch black beneath the canopy of trees. One of the men reached for the kindling pile and began to feed the fire. Sparks flew as the flames fed greedily on the dry twigs and brush. For an instant the fire flared to life and, in that moment, he saw her.
His breath quickened. He wanted her. Even as his rage burned him, he wanted her. The voice screamed, but he would not answer. He had to be patient.
The fire died back down, casting only red and black shadows. Occasionally the night was punctured by the group's laughter as the hikers continued to talk, showing no signs of sleeping anytime soon. Angry and tired, he slowly turned and headed back to his own camp. He would follow the women in the morning.
That night, his dreams were filled with fleeting images of her. Flashes of bare olive-skinned arms and white linen taunted him. He reached up a hand to free her long, thick brown hair from its confining pins, reveling in its glory as it spilled across her shoulders. He looked into her eyes...her laughing, deceitful eyes...laughing at him even as she reached for another man.
He jerked awake, his breath heavy and white in the murky, February morning air. The bitch! How could she have done it?
You always ask that question. Because she's a woman. It's cold, can we go now?
As the sky began to brighten, he rose, shrugging off the cold and ignoring the whining. Quickly he rolled his sleeping bag, placing it in his pack and grabbed his walking stick, heading down the blue-marked path that would cross the women's a few miles up. He knew from conversation where they planned on hiking and was confident that he would beat them to the intersection. That would give him enough time to find a good vantage point to watch from until he found a way to lure her away from the others.
The quick two mile hike cleared his mind of the images from the night before and he soon found himself at the intersection. As the sun brightened he waited just a little back from the trail, his pack hidden several yards away. An hour passed and then two as the sun rose, sending damp waves of cold from the moist ground. He began to shiver uncontrollably, but he remained still. They would be here soon, he thought. If they had left earlier he would have heard them rise.
Another hour passed and still no sign of them. Trying to contain his mounting panic, he turned back toward their campsite. Along the way he kept an eye open for them, but the trail remained silent. Within half a mile of the camp site he was running. He couldn't have missed them! He would have heard them if they had woken early. He turned into the woods, carefully taking the route he had used the night before. But when he got to the site it was empty.
Only numb shock kept him from screaming. How could he have missed them? How? He sat down, rocking back and forth as he tried to calm the now almost incoherent voice in his head. He was unaware of the hours that passed until he heard what sounded like someone jogging on the trail heading his way.
Quickly he dove behind the trees as a woman came into sight. Her face was obscured in the shadow of dusk, but he saw her long brown hair swinging from a pony tail as she ran. It was her! He sprung from the trees as she passed.
The woman faltered at the sight of him, her eyes widened before she stopped, turning to run back the way she had come. He ran after her, following the white puffs of her breath. She continued to pull ahead and he ran faster, not wanting to let her get away again.  But the distance between them increased. The voice screamed at him, Faster!
He saw her turn her head to look back and then go down hard as her foot caught on something. She was struggling to extract her foot and ankle from a tree root, when he caught up. Raising her hands she looked at him with tear-filled eyes. "Please. Don't-"
He felt his face twist. How dare she? Snarling he asked, "Why did you do it?"
Not waiting for an answer, he raised his weapon and lunged watching as her perplexed, fearful gaze changed to reflect her pain. His pain. He heard her gasp, still pleading, until she finally fell forward into a pool of her own dark blood.
The night deepened and quieted until he could hear only the sounds of his beating heart and the noise of the wildlife around him. Breathing deeply, he closed his eyes reveling in the sharp smells of pine and blood. He listened a moment longer, but when no other sounds emerged, he smiled.

Phantom Dreams is a chilling tale of a vicious killer and a woman whose dreams are haunted by the cruel murders of beautiful young woman. Will she be next?
Kathy is a busy executive experiencing mounting stress, no personal life, and her father's ill healthy only compounds her struggles. If that wasn't enough for one person to deal with, Kathy has been having violent dreams that always result in the death of a woman. When Kathy recognizes the women from her dreams on the news she tries to help the police, but then she becomes a suspect. Can the FBI catch the real killer before it's too late?
Phantom Dreams is an eerily captivating thriller that will have you on the edge of your seat, yet keep you yearning for more. T. K. Harris is a talented writer and her ability to hook and reel in readers is evident from the chilling opening scene. The story is filled with many twists and leaves readers unsure of what's coming next. The surprising outcome is perfect for this supernatural mystery.
I highly recommend picking up a copy of Phantom Dreams.

Interview With the Author
Hi T.K. Harris, thanks for joining me today to discuss your book, Phantom Dreams.
For what age group do you recommend your book?
What sparked the idea for this book?
A dream! Really. I had a dream that I was walking through a large crowd of people, surrounded by white canvas tents. I am moving quickly but don't know why, when suddenly the crowd parts and there is a man in front of me, carrying a sword and it is aimed right at me. Then, just as quickly, the woman is no longer me and I am now watching. I woke up before the sword drove home. And that's how Phantom Dreams was born.
So, which comes first? The character's story or the idea for the novel? 
In the case of Phantom Dreams, the idea.
What was the hardest part to write in this book? 
The middle!
How do you hope this book affects its readers? 
A nice escape.
How long did it take you to write this book? 
If you put it all together, about 2 years. 
What is your writing routine? 
Light a candle, put on some music like Skrillex, AWOL Nation, Five Finger Death Punch, Breaking Benjamin, etc, and write.
How did you get your book published? 
Initially, I self-published and then got picked up by GMTA Publishing.
What advice do you have for someone who would like to become a published writer? 
Just. Do. It.
What do you like to do when you're not writing? 
I work a day job, raise two kids as a single mom, trying to work on getting my own business going, read, hike, travel.
What does your family think of your writing? 
They encourage it but I'm not too sure they get it.
Please tell us a bit about your childhood. 
I was raised a gypsy. My dad was in the military and we moved a lot – starting with Holland and Germany. When I got older, I traveled a lot with work, living in a variety of countries for a month or more at a time.
Did you like reading when you were a child?
Yes! I learned to read with books and accompanying tapes from the Alice in Wonderland series. I read every Nancy Drew book in the library before I discovered fantasy – via The Hobbit – in sixth grade. Later I tried classics, suspense, then got into books by Laurell K. Hamilton, Kim Harrison, Ilona Andrews, etc.
I don't even think I could tell you the number of books I've read!
Fantastic! When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer? 
My mom says I was telling stories before I could write and writing before I could spell. I day dream, night dream stories. I guess you could say I was just born that way.
Did your childhood experiences influence your writing?
Some of it. Mostly I wrote to escape it.
Which writers have influenced you the most?
Depending on the genre I'm writing at the time, quite a number of them. Dan Brown, Tom Clancy, Kim Harrison, Charlaine Harris, Jane Austen, Laurell K. Hamilton. A lot.
Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
I wish! I'd Love to hear more of anything. I'd love for people to stop by either my Facebook page or my website (or BOTH) and leave comments, ask questions, etc.
What can we look forward to from you in the future?
I am currently working on the first of a two part series called The Gillespie Five. It’s a conspiracy, hacker, ambitious, greed-filled suspense novel.
Sounds great! Thank you for taking the time to stop by today. Best of luck with your future projects.

About the Author
T. K. Harris was born in California and lived a gypsy sort of life traveling the world as a military brat. She has been writing since she was a child and as had several short stories published by various magazines, including one in Woman's World. She currently lives and works in Colorado as a Senior Solutions Architect and IT Instructor and has recently had her first novel, Phantom Dreams, published. She is looking forward to her next two books, already outlined and partially written.

Enter the giveaway for a chance to win an ebook copy of Phantom Dreams by T. K. Harris.