GUEST POST and GIVEAWAY
Body and Bone
by L. S. Hawker
Body and Bone by L. S. Hawker is currently on tour with Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours. 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.
L. S. Hawker returns with another atmospheric, twisting tale of suspense that questions the nature of identity and how far a young mother is willing to go to run from the mistakes of her past.
He wants to destroy her reputation.
He wants to destroy her life.
He wants to destroy … her.
He wants to destroy her life.
He wants to destroy … her.
Nessa Donati used to be a happily married mother with a successful music blog and satellite radio show. But that was before her husband John relapsed on drugs and went missing. That was before he was presumed dead. And before she was framed for his murder.
When a commenter on Nessa’s blog starts harassing her online, Nessa shrugs it off. Trolls are a part of internet life. But eventually the troll begins threatening her safety and releasing personal details … details only her husband would know.
As Nessa’s life is dismantled piece by piece, her only option is to find John and put a stop to the lies. But when their son becomes a pawn in his twisted game, she must face a disturbing truth: Maybe John isn’t tormenting her, after all. But if he’s not … who is? And how far will this monster go to exact revenge?
Tuesday, May 31
Nessa Donati was going to have to sell her brand spanking new car. And all because the rear-view mirror hung in the perfect position to display an accidental glimpse of her reflection whenever she reached into the back seat. Typically she prepared herself before facing a reflective surface. But when she was caught off guard, without fail, her mother’s disappointed, sour Resting Bitch Face stared back at her.
It wasn’t that her mother was unattractive. She was, in fact, far more beautiful than Nessa could ever hope to be. It was that her mother had always used Nessa as a mirror in which to see herself without ever truly seeing Nessa.
So the new black Chrysler Pacifica would have to go.
It was nearing sunset when Nessa parked it on Crestview Drive by the Randolph Bridge, which spanned not only the Big Blue River but the northern tip of Tuttle Creek Lake as well. This was the last stop on a four-day camping trip, just Nessa, her three-year-old son Daltrey, and their Wheaton Terrier, Declan MacManus.
She checked on Daltrey, asleep in his car seat, listing to starboard, mouth open. He’d be okay for a moment, and she was glad she wouldn’t have to explain what she was about to do. She felt silly enough about it already.
Nessa and Declan MacManus exited the Pacifica, the dog running ahead, while Nessa locked and shut the door.
She walked the eighth of a mile to the river’s edge beneath the bridge as sparse traffic droned by overhead, tires making that phut phut phut sound as they traversed the seams in the asphalt. Nessa stood and watched the water flow past, appearing deceptively tranquil until a tree branch rushed by at break-neck speed. Declan sniffed happily around, pausing to mark every object he encountered with a lifted leg.
Nessa looked around to make sure she was alone, then reached into her pocket and withdrew the six-inch-long braid of her husband John’s hair. He’d cut it before their wedding five years ago. She had kept it in a velvet box all this time, never dreaming this day would come. She looked at the sky and the water, remembering all their good times on the river. This was the right place to let John’s braid go.
The water lapped against her tennis shoes as she wound up and let the braid fly. She watched it arc through the air, hit the rushing water with an inconsequential splash, and disappear. She watched for a moment and let herself cry a little. She needed this sort of closure ritual to move on with her life, like spreading his ashes. Except he wasn’t dead. Yet.
Nessa trudged back to the car, Declan MacManus meandering behind her. She unlocked and opened her door, and the dog jumped in and settled in the passenger seat. Nessa noted that Daltrey hadn’t even changed position while she was gone.
Nessa started the car, put it in gear, and headed toward home.
Forty minutes later, she parked in the converted hay barn garage behind her house and decided she’d wait until morning to unload the camping gear.
Declan MacManus jumped from the car and ran, whining, toward the other outbuildings, hops vines, and woods beyond, as Nessa climbed into the back to struggle with Daltrey’s carseat restraints. She draped him over her shoulder, and took him inside and upstairs to his big-boy bed. There, she pulled off his sandals and kissed his fat little feet before slipping him between the sheets. Good. He was out for the night. She left his door ajar, and went downstairs and out the back door to get their suitcase from the Pacifica.
Outside it was full dark, and the woods buzzed with late-spring insects. When she hit the bottom step, she saw Declan MacManus curled up in front of the outbuilding they called the boathouse. He sprang to his feet as if he’d just noticed royalty entering the room. This slowed Nessa down—what was he doing?—but she continued on to the garage, where she retrieved their luggage. When she closed the garage door, the dog jumped to his feet again, in the exact spot she’d left him.
Nessa stood staring at him, and he gazed expectantly back at her.
And then she saw it. The wooden carriage-house door’s lock was gone. In its place was a jagged hole, as if God himself had punched a massive fist through it in a fit of righteous anger.
Nessa froze, her breath captive in her throat.
She set down the suitcase and, after a moment of indecision, pulled out her phone and dialed.
Marlon Webb didn’t say hello, just, “With a student.” This was his way of saying he could be interrupted only for a very specific kind of emergency.
“Call me back,” she whispered. “I’m rethinking that whole restraining order thing.”
[Want more? Click below to read a longer excerpt.]
Praise for the Book
"Body and Bone did not disappoint. She had me at page one, and I remained totally engrossed straight through to the end. [...] Body and Bone is a thrilling read with a double edged ending - you will need to know how things turn out, but you will be sad to have no more pages to read." ~ Carole Havelick
"This was hard to read, because it extremely close to home, but at the same time I couldn't put it down. Hawker's use of foreshadowing had me want to read on so I could find out what happened next! I ended up reading it in one day, which is unheard of for me. She draws you into the characters and their lives, which makes you cheer for the good guys or the supposed good guys, and want to destroy the bad ones, or supposed bad ones. You aren't sure which are which until the very end. Can't wait to read her next one!" ~ Dev Stormes
"This book is a roller coaster of emotional and psychological twists and turns. If you enjoy Gillian Flynn, you will love LS Hawker. You won't be disappointed with this book." ~ C. Fishback
"Love it! Hawker's writing is exemplary. [...] I am an avid reader and I demand excellent writing, great characters and a story that keeps me engaged. In my younger days I'd read a book to its conclusion no matter what. Today I have been known to toss a book in the trash just to prevent someone else from reading it. This one I wish I could lend to everyone I know." ~ jbrowne
"This story has more turns and flips than any roller coaster at Worlds of Fun! It tackles modern crime issues like trolls and cyber-bullying, while also dealing with addiction, rape, murder, identity theft, you name it! Suspects abound, but I never even began to imagine the incredible, final plot twist. You have to buckle in and hold on tight because this is one crazy train." ~ Bradley Heisler
Guest Post by the Author
The Music Behind the Book
I've been obsessed with music for most of my life. I bought my first single at age five, which was "I'm Not Your Stepping Stone" by the Monkees. Okay, so my taste was questionable, but my passion was true.
I went to my first live concert when I was fourteen (the Doobie Brothers. I also witnessed a hand job for the first time. I'm still traumatized.). I loved most genres of music, but by the age of sixteen, I was a Neil Young freak. I saw him and his various bands nearly thirty times live, and five shows in three different states one summer. In homage, I named every novel I wrote after his song titles. My debut thriller, The Drowning Game, was originally titled Deep Forbidden Lake.
My knack for creating playlists developed around this time. I learned to put together evocative cassettes of eras, moods, and states of mind. I even put together a tape with songs that started in the key on which the previous one ended. And these were true mix tapes - Billie Holiday would follow Deep Purple, the Ozark Mountain Daredevils were placed next to Funkadelic. So it was a natural progression to create playlists for the novels I wrote.
The first novel song list I put together was for an unpublished manuscript called Everybody Knows This is Nowhere (after - what else - a Neil Young song), and it was a happy accident. I recorded myself reading the text aloud so I could listen for mistakes. To make it more interesting, I edited in snippets of music that reflected the tone of each scene, which made an otherwise tedious task much more fun. Because the novel is set in the mid-80s, most of the music is from the 60s, 70s, and 80s, but I threw some appropriate 90s and 00s in there if the mood was right. I found that the music gave the action more heft, and I was able to write into that, to deepen the emotional content of scenes if they were lacking.
I also found theme songs for each character. For instance, in Everybody Knows This is Nowhere, Bill is a cynical, chemically dependent, suicidal mathematical physics professor. "Acute Schizophrenia Paranoia Blues" by the Kinks perfectly captures his personality, with its drowsy, comical Dixieland horns and lyrics like "They're watching my house and they're tapping my telephone / I don't trust nobody, but I'm much too scared to be on my own."
When it came time to design a playlist for my current release, Body and Bone, I had some real fun because part of the action takes place in a radio station. The main character, Nessa, is a late-night satellite radio host, playing deep cuts. I searched for songs that had to do with the story's themes - identity ("Skin Graph" by Silversun Pickups), addiction ("Rehab" by Amy Winehouse), and secrecy ("Private Life" by the Pretenders), as well as character songs. "Skin Graph" leads off the list, with a fade-in of jangly, slow-strum guitars overlaid with a menacing synth arrangement reminiscent of speeding motorcycles on the horizon, and lyrics like "'Cause all I think about is why the skin I'm in feels ordinary / The things that you might like don't grow inside of me."
The list is also loaded with songs that Nessa plays on the air, like "Starless" by King Crimson and "Smooth Sailing" by Queens of the Stone Age, as well as what she plays at home like "Ideal World" by Girlpool and "Good Lovin'" by the Grateful Dead. I also threw in "Bone Machine" by the Pixies just because it references the title of the book. Nessa's theme song is "Use Once and Destroy" by Hole, which tells part of her story in relation to her estranged husband, John: "I went down to rescue you / I went all the way down / Fill your hungry wretched life / Here they come, it's closing time."
Over time, these playlists have evolved from readers' companions to essential tools in my writer's kit. While I can't play them while I'm writing (anything with lyrics compels me to sing), I listen to them in between writing sessions because they anchor me in the fictional world I've created. My subconscious mind can continue working on the story while I'm driving or cleaning the house.
If you're a writer, I urge you to create playlists for your novels. You'd be amazed at the insight and dimension a thematic music list can add to your writing. As the musician and poet Leonard Cohen once said, "Music is the emotional life of most people." You'll discover that this is true of readers, and even the fictional people you create.
You can listen to my three novel playlists on my website at LSHawker.com/playlists.
About the Author
L. S. Hawker grew up in suburban Denver, indulging her worrisome obsession with true-crime books, and writing stories about anthropomorphic fruit and juvenile delinquents. She wrote her first novel at 14.
Armed with a B.S. in journalism from the University of Kansas, she had a radio show called "People Are So Stupid", edited a trade magazine and worked as a traveling Kmart portrait photographer, but never lost her passion for fiction writing.
She’s got a hilarious, supportive husband, two brilliant daughters and a massive music collection. She lives in Colorado but considers Kansas her spiritual homeland.
Enter the tour-wide giveaway for a chance to win one of three ebook copies of Body and Bone by L. S. Hawker (US only).