A DREAM EXCERPT FROM PREFACE TO A SUICIDE BY STEPHEN MORAN
Sirens rip the afternoon sky, forcing me to cover my ears. The beautiful fall afternoon turns into a zoo of residents running and screaming, pushing and shoving each other to escape the detonation near the bus station. Smoke billows from a RIPTA bus and I watch the driver stagger from the door, falling into a bloody heap on the pavement. Rushing forward against the grain of seething humanity, I scan the twisted wreckage for sign of her, but can’t see anything in the black plumes.
A hand grips my arm, a policeman attempting to keep me from the scene. Fighting to pull my arm free, I scream her name.
“You mean, terrorist!” The cop responds, slapping cuffs on my wrists. “You have the right to remain silent and go to jail for the rest of your life.”
My brother exits the bus carrying a body and I can see the blood stains streaking blonde hair in the sunlight. Ryan approaches us and the cop laughs and laughs.
“You did this to her,” Ryan says.
The cop pulls me towards a cruiser and locks me in the back seat. When the door shuts, Ryan appears next to me, wounds covering his upper torso.
“What happened? How did the bomb detonate?” I ask, but I know before Ryan answers.
“I pushed the button, Ray. You always knew it would end this way.”
The cop presses the accelerator and careens out of Kennedy Plaza at breakneck speed, striking several screaming citizens attempting to escape the carnage.
“No!” I scream. “Stop the car. I didn’t do it.”
Looking from the cop to my side once more, Ryan is no longer beside me. I am alone and within moments the cop screeches the car to a stop outside police headquarters.
“No!” I scream again.
The Terrorist of Providence Street
Inside one writer's mind exists a hall of mirrors. Is he the creator-or a character? Is his work fiction-or a manifesto? And who set off the bomb in the middle of the city?
Take a journey into the thoughts of a madman that snaps on society.
A beautiful 20-year-old writer haunted by a traumatic past. Trapped in a small-town where everyone knows her secrets, she flees on a road-trip across America in search of adventure and to find the man that holds the key to understanding the violent days of her childhood.
Two mysterious men stalk Ella on the odyssey from Massachusetts to Las Vegas - an FBI agent named Marcus that suspects her of being a serial killer and an assassin called Mr. Brown with a familiar face she can't quite remember.
At the core of her journey of self-discovery is the search for Ray Holden. Everyone tells her he is dead, but she refuses to believe it and her insistence on finding him sets off a chain of events that culminates in a shocking final turn.
Follow her journey to learn the answers to the burning questions. Who is Ray Holden? And more importantly...
Is the FBI correct? Is Ella Thomas a serial killer?
One reader described Ella as "Dexter meets Lolita". Read this fast-paced thriller to discover the truth about Ella Thomas.
The Terrorist of Providence Street
”Scott Holden lives two lives. In one, he waits tables, enduring an unending siege of abuse from customers, co-workers, and bosses. Invisible to them, he also feels like there’s a target on his back.In the other, Scott is a writer during furloughs from his working-class nightmare. But the line between his work identity and his artistic one is blurring under the strain. Is his life filling his fiction with violent daydreams or is his writing fueling the real-life desperation and darkness in his soul?"
BLOOD CHILL Hits #3 McNally Robinson #Winnipeg Bestsellers List
Congrats to L. M. Bryski for hitting the Winnipeg bestsellers list with Blood Chill. And much thanks to the great folk at McNally Robinson for stocking the book! To all those in Canada, please grab a copy of Blood Chill or Book of Birds at McNally Robinson. For everyone else - click the cover image to purchase at Amazon.
THANK YOU FOR COMING TO BUY MY BOOK GUEST POST L. M. BRYSKI
I wanted readers at Moran Press to hear how the book launch events for Blood Chill went from L. M. Bryski and without further delay - here's a guest post from the author of Blood Chill, Book of Birds, and The Harmonica Tree (re-releasing soon).
'Thank you for coming to buy my book!'
That's not the typical greeting you get when you walk in a bookstore, but it's how I introduced myself at the door of a local bookstore this weekend as people walked in. It usually got a laugh and a pause to chat and often one of my books bought!
It was a busy book weekend for this Winnipeg author. First was Blood Chill's formal book launch on Friday night at the excellent McNally Robinson Grant location. The evening saw an audience of friends, family, and curious customers gather in the travel section to listen to me take the mic. I read chapter 6, if you're interested in following along belatedly from your own Blood Chill copy.
I did quite well, except for mispronouncing 'proprietary,' which led to a discussion of whether authors should write words they can't actually say properly. I more than made up for it with a self congratulatory speech on my excellent pronunciation of the word 'chair.' It was a fun hour and the aftermath of drinks at a local pub nearby added the perfect cap to the night.
Saturday saw me at the welcoming and cheery Chapters Indigo Kenaston location for an old fashioned book signing. My opener line thankfully didn't get old. And it was fun to meet people and hear what they have been reading lately. I picked up a few new author names to check out, and ran out of books at one point to sell.
Much gratitude in library loads to both my bookstore hosts this weekend. It was busy fun, and I highly recommend you visit both these fabulous locations.
INTERVIEW WITH L. M. BRYSKI AUTHOR OF BOOK OF BIRDS, BLOOD CHILL, AND THE HARMONICA TREE
This weekend is the launch of Blood Chill with two live events in Winnipeg, Canada. To mark the occasion, I asked L. M. Bryski ten questions. I hope you enjoy this short interview.
1) What's the inspiration for Blood Chill? Where did you get the idea and how did the writing process go?
Blood Chill's inspiration came from a mixture of events happening in my city followed by my mind saying "What if..."
What if the Virology Institute in my city was one of the places looking for answers to save a world decimated by a deadly virus? What sort of people might work there and what might some of their motivations be?
What if the missing people in that city were the most vulnerable people: homeless or impoverished? Who would they be, and how would they be related to a world searching for that deadly virus's cure? What if the detective searching for answers had a secret of his own? What would that secret be?
2) Describe Canada for your American readers without using the word Chill
Canada is a vast land of many environments and peoples. Its northern climate means shorter summers and colder winters in places. It has a strong history of multiculturalism, yet even within that mix of many cultures, we as a nation still need to come to terms with our painful past of outright discrimination. It is treaty land by grace of the first nations people, that we now acknowledge. Canadians are generally thought of as peaceful and progressive, and we try to honour and live up to that image the best we can. We also like inserting extra U's into words just because we can.
3) What are the best pancake toppings?
The best pancake toppings are those that you prefer. My own favourite is blueberry and banana, and of course maple syrup.
4) What character is your favorite book villain ever?
Hmmm... my favourite book villain ever is in the book Waggles and the Dog Catcher. The Dog Catcher is determined to catch a small white dog, who fools him by changing the colour of his coat over and over with either mud or paint. I read and reread that book many a time, just to see the dog catcher defeated. His malevolent visage and sneaky determination captured my imagination. Sure, he was doing his job in public service, but to my child mind he was unjust. Let the poor dog be free!
5) When Blood Chill lands on the bestsellers list and goes supernovaviralpopular, what will you do with your millions?
Firstly, thank you for that vote of confidence! I really hope Blood Chill makes the supernovaviralpopular list! with my millions and millions of royalties, I plan on travelling to all the places I would like to more fully explore, like Vietnam, Japan, Australia... and I would of course EXPAND MY BOOK COLLECTION!
6) Tell me about your next book project - what's it about?
My next book project has the working title of Anatomy Lessons. It's based in a medical school anatomy lab. The students are dissecting a corpse as part of their lessons, and the corpse is narrator for part of the story, telling the reader about its life before it came to be a slab of flesh in the lab. Overseeing the dissection is a disgraced surgeon who had lost his OR privileges due to addiction.
7) You're a doctor in 'real life', but inquiring minds want to know - could you play one on TV? if not - what about if you stayed at a Holiday Inn Express?
I could definitely play one on TV. I have always adored acting, but never pursued it past high school and the occasional skit production in medical school. I would be quite amateurish about it on TV, being unskilled, but would give it my best ER doc try. And I could definitely portray a doctor staying at a Holiday Inn Express. I'm very good at continental breakfasts.
8) What's one fact about you readers would be STUNNED to hear?
For no school marks but just because it was fun, I wrote a couple plays in middle school, one of which was staged just for my classmates, but the other ended up being staged for the whole school. I had a part in both plays, of course. It was the main reason I wrote them.
9) Do you judge books by their covers?
I do. I am very visual and am a sucker for a great cover illustration. However, I will break habit at times and pick up a great title too for perusal.
10) what authors were/are your biggest influences?
I am fond of Tad Williams. I loved the Dragon-bone chair series for its vastness built on small character that grows in strength. George RR Martin is fabulous for his eversweeping epic. In high school, I stumbled onto the world of Anne McCaffery, Dragon Drums being my first taste of fantasy novels.
Jane Austen. It's an odd choice for me as Im quite basic, yet I love her era and her turn of phrase.
CS Lewis's Narnia. Animals who talk. Aslan. Reepicheep. Need I say more.
The list is even longer, but maybe I'll stop there.
PURCHASE KINDLE EDITION BLOOD CHILL 99 CENTS THROUGH 3/8
L. M. Bryski has TWO book events for Blood Chill this weekend in Winnipeg and to celebrate, Moran Press is putting the ebook on sale for 99 cents from March 1st until March 8th. I'll be gifting copies all weekend long to Moran Press readers and invite all to grab a copy for your kindle.
For those that haven't read Blood Chill, here's the description and a review of the book.
BLOOD CHILL BOOK DESCRIPTION
In the blood chilling winter of 2046, the world has survived the Aging Virus epidemic although the threat of disease remains.
Top researchers at the Janus City Virology Institute are seeking a cure, but Dr. Karin Bhaima, a scientist given a second chance, wants to know—why is talentless hack Graham Mogden one of them?
A corpse has been found frozen under a bridge, another missing and murdered woman, and the people of Janus City are demanding answers. Detective Sonny Merrick wants in on the case and relief from his own guilty secret.
When teen orphan Marble Glass becomes the latest missing victim, can a detective with a painful past and a disgraced scientist find her alive and solve the mystery of the murdered women of Janus City?
REVIEW by Jason Denness CRUMBLING UTOPIAN PIPEDREAM
What da cover says: Crumbling Utopian Pipedream is a book of poems born of the streets. It unflinchingly celebrates gritty realism while detailing some of life’s hard won battles, and continually urges the reader to face the obstacles life puts in our way, and to realize that we have the strength to overcome any and all hardships. What I says: I was very impressed by this collection of poetry, the opening poems felt like this was a confession of sorts, violence, drugs and drink were the main topics, gradually things got bleaker from there. After a while I realised this wasn’t a confession, Wozniak is telling the reader what life is like for many people, and telling those sufferers that you can overcome these things, it will be tough but all these trials will only make you stronger. The final poem “My Brain off Drugs” felt incredibly honest and finished off the collection perfectly.
Other high points here were a possible poem for Brexit, “So Many Choices, So Little Time” calls for people to rise up from this catastrophe and create your own destiny. One of the best was “Crumbling Utopian Pipedream” the lines are short, so few words are used but somehow Wozniak manages to capture the readers imagination and you can instantly see what he is writing about. If you ever wandered what a poem would be like if it was written as society is ending then Crumbling Utopian Pipedream would be it. Wozniak has some very clever titles and my favourite poem has one of the best, “Depends on Which Side of the Flames You’re On”, that poem is so good, a contender for my favourite poem of 2019. You should grab a copy of this book even if it’s just for that one poem.
The taps of painted fingernails on a wooden counter top caught my attention a while ago. Every fifth run, she paused -- as if she had something better to do -- only to resume the clattering of cuticles. I sat in the waiting room, feeling safe in the knowledge that I was invisible to the other self-absorbed patients. No one took any notice of me. My brown hair and eyes blended in with the sterile polyester of the furniture.
The receptionist kept her eyes glued to the clock on the wall with her tapping still out of sync with the tick of the clock.
Of course, she didn’t recognise me, let alone acknowledge my existence. Why would she? She’s only seen me walk down the same corridor every day in the past year. She didn’t know who I was, and unlike those Disney clichés, there was no happy ending here.
The cool steel of the Walther P22 felt even colder now against my thigh. It wasn’t my first choice of gun, but the online sale had seemed like a good omen.
I didn’t want to kill her, only make her notice me.
I’ve been different for so long: too old, too smart, and too British. Now I was invisible? It couldn’t be true. I had to speak to her to let her know who I was and that I had a voice worth listening to.
When I ran out of ways and reasons to speak to her in our building, I settled on the building where she was seen all the time.
I’d asked why she left so early in the morning and came back so late. With a strange and startled expression, she told me that she was a receptionist at this clinic. That happened only once where I asked about her personal life, otherwise the stilted encounters revolved around the mail and the weather — so terribly British.
Once I found out where she worked, it wasn’t difficult to find her. Though when she didn’t even recognise me the first time I came here, it did hurt. Her eyes had a non-existent glaze as she handed me my paperwork without so much as a smile. It was a smile that reminded me of my mother. I should’ve probably given her a call, but the long-distance line was the perfect excuse — she was too old to figure out Skype.
Even if I did talk to her, what was I supposed to say? I’ve spent the last year stalking my neighbour because I can’t have her, can’t get enough of her, and loathe my desperate need to touch her?
The time has come. Not having her isn’t an option any more. I will be heard.
This is my third visit. And my last. I don’t want to kill her. But I want her to notice me — realise I will not be ignored any longer.
A single magazine will be more than enough for what I’m about to do…
Look at how she smiles at some random people next in line. Her auburn hair falls delicately over her shoulders, and I’m sure the perfect curve of her lips is as mesmerising for the new patients as it is for me. She never did grant me that courtesy. Every time I saw her, it was polite but distant.
Doesn't she know how I feel about her? She doesn’t make it easy for me.
We live on the same floor; we see each other every day. We’ve had seven conversations outside of this clinic over the last three years, but still, she will not give me the chance.
What’s a guy got to do to get noticed?
The finger tapping suddenly stops. She’s talking to a pair of men who just walked in. Oh God, they’re holding hands. An abomination. They’re probably getting their weekly AIDS check-up. At least in Britain, people like that have the sense to keep it private, bloody good, British stiff-upper-lip. The cool steel against my leg sparks an epiphany; I have enough ammunition to make the world a slightly better place.
I toy with the idea as I watch the tide of people wash up into America’s medical miracle. The gay couple keeps looking at their watches and muttering about something of little importance. She gives them a reassuring grin. That alone is enough to set off the trigger that’s leaving an imprint on my thigh.
How can she care when she doesn’t even know them? Unlike them, I’m not a complete stranger. She knows me! But she won’t even acknowledge my presence. Again, I’ve been ignored, forgotten, and unwanted. I’ve faded into the background as just another patient.
I’ve got to continue turning my life around: from bullied to bully, from an extra to the protagonist of my own story, and the villain in hers. What else is there for one to be noticed? Is there anything worse than being ignored, as if my mere presence isn’t enough, as if my existence is an inconvenience in someone else’s life?
Sweat trickles down my neck, darkening the blue of my collar. My eyes widen as the incomprehensible social situation unfolds in front of me. I don’t know how to react. I need privacy — possibly a bathroom — where I can pull the gun from my trousers, put it in my hand, and shoot until all the rage has left me. I need to…
‘Roger Thomas Stearns?’
The violent fantasy is cut short by the name she refuses to recognise. It takes me a second to realise that now is the perfect opportunity to leave the waiting room for somewhere more secluded. I stand up and raise my hand in acknowledgement of the doctor calling my name. It is the polite and right thing to do after all. My doctor is a female, which isn’t my personal preference, but they do let anyone practice medicine these days.
When I sit down on the bed as instructed, I hear the overly familiar words, ‘how can I help you today?’
I’m told to get undressed behind a curtain to hide my dignity. I strip, feeling degraded by the thin, flimsy barrier. I can almost imagine my female doctor looking through and secretly laughing at me. While my body becomes more exposed to the sterile air of the clinic, I allow myself a minute to close my eyes and think of caressing the firm lips of the receptionist. I taste her skin on my tongue as she pulls away from me in fear.
With the barrel of the gun, I stroke her auburn hair, and she begs for freedom. As the tears fall from her green eyes, she calls out my name, the name she’s ignored for years. And it becomes painfully obvious that every word out of her mouth is a lie. She has no idea who I am but only knows that I now wield power. Now I’m worth noticing. And I won’t let her forget it.
Still behind the flimsy curtain, I open my eyes and unstrap the Walther P22 from my thigh. The metal slides from my perspiration. Standing in nothing but my socks, I’m vaguely aware of my hard-on but won’t let it distract me. The shape of the doctor’s body can barely be seen through the curtain and her words are indiscernible. I take aim, fervently hoping I’ll be protected from the spray of blood.
I pull the trigger once.
The explosion fires from my hand towards the unsuspecting doctor. Not taking another shot, I walk to the door, which opens onto the waiting room. My ears are ringing, and I cannot hear the people scream. I can only make out their mouths opening in horror as they face my power.
Steadily, I take another aim to rid the world of the abhorrence still stupid enough to be holding hands.
The world is silent, and I can’t focus on a single sound. The only thing I feel is the heat of the gun in my hands. I used up three of my ten rounds. I have made my point; I have made myself noticeable. And as I stand in the waiting room, naked but for my socks and with the gun held high, I search for the receptionist who has pushed me to my limit.
The other patients move around me as I walk towards the counter, shrinking to become invisible. How the roles have reversed! It feels oddly peaceful to be the centre of attention. It’s true. Revenge is sweet.
I find her trembling beneath the desk. It’s difficult to fight the smile that’s overtaking my face, especially as I notice the blood dripping from my body for the first time. It’s the same colour as her hair, and I’m drawn to the similarities.
No, I can’t be distracted.
I do have something to say before I pull the trigger.
‘Goodbye Danielle,’ I snort.
Chunks of her brain splatter the wall behind where she’s been sitting. It sounds almost musical as each piece hits the wall. Maybe, I didn’t need her after all. Maybe, I just wanted her dead. Whatever will my mother say?