GUEST POST and GIVEAWAY
by M. Jonathan Lee
The Page is currently on tour with Goddess Fish Promotions. The tour stops here today for a guest post by the author, an excerpt, and a giveaway. Please be sure to visit the other tour stops as well.
Following a tragic car accident, Michael Sewell is alone for the first time. The loss of his wife, Margaret after thirty years of marriage has left a hole far greater than Michael could have imagined.
Persuaded to go on holiday, by his daughter Jane, a page blown from a book crosses the pool and sticks to his chest. The words from the page resonate with Michael, describing in detail the exact events leading up to the accident.
Now, Michael must delve into his past and face his future, taking him and his family on a horrifying and tragic journey toward the truth.
“Right. I see no reason to stay here any longer.”
Michael stood. He looped his navy woollen scarf around his neck, put on his grey waterproof walking jacket and slowly and precisely zipped it to just below his chin. He then turned and left.
Margaret fluffed her hair, fruitlessly trying to restore it to how it looked before her journey to the car. It wasn’t working; her previously neat salon-set hair sat like a sodden dark-grey dishcloth. The wipers continued their metronomic dance across the windscreen, trying to keep up with the demands of the heavy rain. The car was still and silent aside from the ticking of the engine. Michael appeared to be in no rush to move it forwards; instead he chose to continue to stare at his wife.
Margaret felt uncomfortable; she hadn’t considered this stage in her overall plan. She slid the door back across the mirror of the sun-visor, switching off the light it provided, which made the car slightly darker.
She looked straight ahead and noted there was nobody around. Nobody outside in the dark, slightly foggy evening. The woodland that surrounded the car park from every side gave her the sense that she was in the centre of some bleak amphitheatre. To her left were the lights which shone through the half-closed curtains in the windows of the pub. But the lights were becoming blurred from the condensation which was building on the inside of the car windows. For a moment, she considered going back into the pub and making alternative arrangements to get home.
Michael seemed to sense this fleeting thought and all of a sudden, from the corner of her eye, she saw his hand move, pushing the gear stick into first. The car crept slowly forwards. A slight ripple of relief passed through her as Michael’s head turned away from her. She returned the sun-visor to the roof of the car and stared directly ahead, their vision now focused in the same direction.
The car moved slowly towards the edge of the oval car park, following the perimeter instead of the more direct route across the almost empty space. It approached the area furthest from the pub, furthest from the exit, creeping slowly into the darkest area of the car park. Then Michael reached down very precisely and put the car into neutral. His head turned and again his eyes narrowed.
Margaret looked at him directly. She could just make out his eyes in the near-darkness, the moon reflecting the shine from his pupils. She could see enough to deduce that they had changed. The shine was simply a creation of the moon. They looked empty, vacant. The stare lasted only a couple of seconds, until Michael snapped back into reality, put the car back into gear and headed towards the exit.
They reached the junction with the main road and paused alongside the tall wooden sign which invited people to the warmth of the Ring O’Bells. The wind outside had increased and the hand-painted silver bell on the sign swung violently. Silently tolling in the black night. The silence was broken momentarily by the click-click of the indicator signalling that they were turning right, away from the direction of home.
Michael turned out of the car park and joined the unlit main road, at which point he quickly accelerated. Margaret wasn’t sure where they were heading but knew that Michael was familiar with this sparsely populated but affluent area of the Oxfordshire countryside. She was aware that, sporadically, at the roadside were entrances to long, sweeping drives winding their way up to mansion-like farmhouses set in acres of land. She was aware of this because Michael would proudly tell her of the latest new client he had obtained in small villages around the area. And, of course, he would tell her of the money these clients would bring to his firm of solicitors.
The car continued to gather speed, accelerating at pace before slowing abruptly to safely navigate the tight, twisting bends. Inside the car it remained deathly silent. The Eagles (which had accompanied them on the outward journey) no longer played. To Margaret, the choice of silence indicated Michael now had control, and today she would simply not relinquish it.
They sped along the country roads, the rain continuing to smash relentlessly against the windscreen, making visibility ever more difficult. The tall hedgerows on each side of the vehicle made Margaret feel increasingly entombed. From time to time they would approach a small hamlet and Michael would slow the car right down before accelerating quickly, rendering the ‘Thank You for Driving Carefully’ road sign a blur.
Margaret reached down into her bag and retrieved her mobile phone. She clicked the button on the top and the screen lit brightly. She awaited the bars to indicate that if she needed to make a call, she could. The phone would take her attention away from the weight of the silence in the car. It would also give the impression that this journey was not affecting her and that she had other things to do.
The car continued at pace through the darkness.
She was used to Michael driving at speed; ‘using the power of the vehicle’ he called it. She had lost count of the times over the years that she had asked him to slow down. The times that she had told him she was scared. But at those times, he would simply accelerate. Enjoying her fear. Enjoying his utter domination of the situation. But today things seemed different. His hands gripped the steering wheel ferociously. His face, lit by her phone, was contorted. His eyes had definitely changed. Now he didn’t seem to be driving the car. Rather, he was trying to tame it, to keep it under control. His face reminded her of a rodeo cowboy as the horse kicked and jarred beneath him. Total focus, total concentration. This scared her.
And now they were on a straight road. Ever quicker. Ever faster.
Swing to the left.
Swing back to the right.
And accelerate again.
Wet twigs discarded by trees cracked under the tyres. Water splashed up from the road, coating the windscreen before the wipers sent it back to earth. Faster. Ever faster.
Margaret gripped the handle on the passenger door tightly with her left hand. The palm of her right was beginning to hurt as it encased her mobile phone. She glanced down. Still no signal. This was too fast. Much too fast. Her entire body clenched so tightly that her muscles hurt.
Swing left again.
It was time to speak, time to say something. Time to relinquish control.
“Michael!” she shouted. “Slow down.”
Michael pushed his foot toward the floor.
The wipers struggled to cope with the rain.
“Michael, for God’s sake, slow down. Please.”
The ‘please’ was an open admission that signified to them both that her control was now lost. But now Margaret didn’t care. She was scared. So many times throughout her marriage she had felt afraid, but never like this.
The car swung again, gathering pace.
“Michael, this is ridiculous. It’s not safe!” she screamed. Tears welled and then exited her eyes.
“It’s not safe!”
“Michael, what are you doing? What do you want?”
Michael slowly turned toward her.
“Margaret,” he said calmly and deliberately, “I never want to hear your voice again.”
Praise for the Book
"Well shaped narrative with a dark edge; I was absorbed and read it in three sittings on holiday. Must read." ~ Big Matty
"A very enjoyable read. The main character Michael is a strange character, on the outside professional, courteous and successful, but on the inside both mean and calculating with a 'dark side'. The author builds up the characters profile throughout the book to its eventual conclusion. The author has the 'canny' knack of being able to let us inside all of the books main characters and strangely for us to 'relate' to them in some way, whilst letting the storyline run. I will be looking out for more books from this author." ~ D. G. Knight
"It is a good book, I enjoyed reading it." ~ Anita
"I was drawn to this book by the intriguing premise and it did not disappoint. The writing is first-class and although the author plays a dangerous game in making his protagonist so objectionable, I think he pulls it off. The story moves along at a swift pace and is not bogged down with unnecessary and over-written prose. I have to say though that the clues were a bit too well hidden for me and I'm not sure I even know what I was meant to be looking for. However, this did not spoil my enjoyment of this excellent book." ~ Kathryn Hughes
"The main characters, especially Michael are not particularly endearing, but they are so well drawn that you are drawn in and you simply have to know how things turn out for them. The plot initially develops slowly, but all the time you get the feeling that there's a big body of water building up and that dam must soon burst! However, no more, dear review reader, for fear of spoiling the plot. I shall just say to you that this isn't the usual thriller where there's a murder or two and the rest of the book is concerned with catching a killer. Or is it? Read it and see, say I. I think you'll enjoy it." ~ Mr. Peter Franklin
Guest Post by the Author
Wow! First and foremost, thank you so much to Lynda for putting up this post on her excellent website. I'm based in the UK so to be able to reach out many thousands of miles to Australia is mind-blowing.
I thought I'd take this opportunity to perhaps send a message of hope to all those would-be writers who perhaps want to get 'that book' out there but just haven't yet got 'round to it.
I was a victim of circumstance when I finally sat down to writer my first novel, The Radio. Family life had hit a low and I was separated from my three children for the first ever. Being the eternal optimist I am, I decided that I must have found myself in this situation for some reason. It took me about three weeks to decide that reason was to write. I had banged on endlessly for the last 20 years about one day writing books for a living and as my friends had long-since lost interest listening to my dream I began to make it a reality.
I booked time into my social diary and began to write. And write. And write. It certainly filled the hole I had in my life and furthermore I gained addictive pleasure from escaping to create characters, scenes and plotlines. Two years after it began, and when life was becoming more stable, I was finally finished. The Radio was born.
It took me another two years to get noticed and I was fortunate enough to make the national shortlist of The Novel Prize 2012.
From there on, the publishing deal fell into place and I've not looked back. My second novel, The Page was released last month and for a moment, at least, made it to #5 in the Amazon thriller chart.
I came into writing by circumstance. I've always loved writing but never knew if I was any good at it. It is all about effort. Taking the time to do something you love and persevering.
If you really want to write. Write.
If it's in your heart you'll put other things aside for a short while to achieve it. Start with an hour a week. Hit that target, then bit by bit build it up.
Soon, you'll never want to stop.
You can find out more about me and my books on my website or by following me on Twitter and Facebook.
About the Author
M. Jonathan Lee was born in a small mining town somewhere in the north of England. His first novel, The Radio, was nationally shortlisted in The Novel Prize 2012 for new authors, coming second from over 4,000 entries. The Radio was published in April 2013 and has received critical acclaim and sold more than 5,000 copies. His second novel, The Page was published in January 2015.
Enter the tour-wide giveaway for a chance to win some great prizes (open internationally).
A Special Contest from the Author
The Page has 15 clues which to a lesser or greater extent give away the twist in the final chapter. The clues are inserted into the text and hopefully are well-hidden. To celebrate the release of The Page, a competition will be run. We will invite people to identify the clues and enter (when they have ten or more - as some may be so well hidden they are never found) through my website.
The competition will close 163 days after the release of The Page, and the winner (i.e. the one who identified the most clues - in the event of a tie - at random) will win:
1) One month's royalties earned from The Page;
2) The original manuscript (of which there is only one);
3) A numbered and signed copy of The Page - review copy - there are only 20 of these worldwide;
4) A signed copy of my back catalogue in paperback or kindle version;
5) The Page promotional mug;
6) A free signed copy of all future novels released by me for life.
The overall winner will win 1-6 above. 2nd/3rd will received 4-6 only.
There will be five further prizes of The Page promotional mug, these will be given at random regardless of how many clues have been identified. Indeed you can still win a promotional mug regardless of whether you have identified any clues, or even read the book. Simply, fill in the form with your details and leave the clues section blank! Entry to the competition is free. The competition closes on 17 July 2015 at midday (UK time).