Mandy Eve-Barnett's Blog for Readers & Writers

My Book News & Advocate for the Writing Community ©

Bibliophile’s Collective Tuesday – Sharing A Story & a Book Review

January 26, 2021
mandyevebarnett


As I continue my six week writing course, I am sharing my third submission with you. This week is the sense of TOUCH

VERONIQUE’S WORLD

Veronique relished the feel of the pale champagne coloured silk sheets as she woke up and stretched. The smooth fabric gliding over her golden skin, silky, fine and decadent. A reflection of the way Veronique demanded to live. Hers was a life of luxury, of the finer things and endless opulence. Every fabric she wore was chosen for its texture and appearance. Silks, Indian cottons, furs, cashmere, leather and high tread count linens. She reveled in the sensation of these fabrics on her skin, the way they flowed around her slender body and complimented her long tresses of burnished copper hair. Her body was smooth, tanned and hydrated, constantly pampered and devoid of blemishes or marks. Veronique stood up, her feet sinking into the deep wool carpet, like a soft hug. She gazed at her naked body in the wall length mirrors of her boudoir, the polished glass surfaces cool to the touch – she was perfect.

The heavy plush velvet drapes were drawn apart by the slimmest of gaps, allowing a microcosm of particles to dance in a thin ray of sunlight. Veronique pressed a remote on her bedside table, the button giving a small hesitant resistance before it clicked into place. The curtains began their slow mechanical glide apart caressing the sumptuous fabric across the deep piled and soft carpet, moving fibers like a wave. The window revealed the Champs-Élysées Avenue and the Arc de Triomphe. This was her city, her home and she ruled it and its upper echelons like no other. Her limited-edition clothing designs were fought over, surging the prices to unbelievable heights. The reason she could live in such luxury and indulge in an endless life of grandeur.

She clicked the light switch to her vast en suite bathroom, pushing the dimmer lower to give the room a soft glow. She entered the shower, with its multitude of jets, sprays and waterfall feature showerhead allowing her to clean, massage and invigorate her body as her mood decided. This morning, she began with a soft spray to waken her senses, and then gradually increased the pulse and power to knead her back, her legs, her breasts, and her stomach. She applied scented gels and lotions, smoothing and stroking her skin. When she felt cleansed and invigorated, Veronique stepped out of the shower to wrap herself in a large white fluffy towel of long-staple cotton and linen fabric the best available. She dabbed her skin letting the towel absorb the wetness before applying a rich creamy body lotion and slipping into a silk kimono.

A barrage of noise interrupted her calm morning routine, shouting, banging and clattering came through the open window. Veronique walked to the window and peered out, her agitation obvious. On the pavement, she saw men and women, stomping and jeering with placards and signs, their footwear grating and scraping on the concrete. Veronique picked up the telephone beside her and call down to the concierge.

            “What is going on outside, Michael? What is that awful gathering about?”

            “Madame, it is an anti-fur protest. I believe your latest autumn coats have caused concerns.”

            “Well, how ridiculous. Send them away, Michael. I have to go to the design studio in less than an hour.”

            “I have called the Gendarmerie, they assured me they will send men over shortly.”

            “Well, see that they do, I need them gone…and soon.”

An hour later, the protesters and the Gendarmerie were still outside the building. Veronique had no choice but to call her car around to the rear entrance. She was not going to push her way through, sweating, shouting and vile people. The car sat idling as she exited the building, her cashmere wrap caressing her bare shoulders and her high heels pushing her calves upwards. She looked at her pocket watch, a memento of her late husband. A hard, callused hand shoved her back and she fell to the dirty, gritty concrete. A cry of hurt and shock uttered from her throat – a raw, rasping feeling in her throat. Pinpricks of tiny stones pierced her knees and hands. She felt blood ooze and flow. The pocket watch smashed into the ground, shattering and issuing shards of glass and cogs of shiny, cold metal. A man is screaming at her, vile things, obscene things. Her head swims, her eyes unfocused, the hard surface assaulting her skin, breaking her skin. Brash, solid, hard, unyielding surfaces inflicting pain.

A gloved hand took her upper arm, the leather smooth and stitched. A commanding voice issued orders, as she was guided to the back seat of the vehicle. She felt more leather, soft with use under her as she collapsed on her side. Pain radiated from all over her assaulted body, her mind too confused to make sense of what was happening. The door slammed shut, hands and feet thudding on the sides of the car. Gendarmerie vehicle lights and sirens adding to the cacophony of sound as her car inched forward. Veronique looked down at her legs and palms, where pain radiated. Filaments of skin hung from numerous cuts, gashes oozed, bruises formed, and grime soiled and spoiled her body. Tears traced tracks through her makeup leaving salty deposits. Veronique’s body vibrated with shock an anger. That man would pay for his attack and the damage he caused to her body.

How did the character of Veronique make you feel? Did you like or dislike her?

What are you currently reading?

Book Review:

I just finished Seven Lies by Elizabeth Kay and enjoy her style and method of writing. It is a clever vehicle to have the lies contribute to the momentum of the story. Beautifully crafted narrative that carried you along. Moments of tense, fear and sadness coupled with heights of joy.
Highly recommended.

Currently reading: Misconduct of the Heart by Cordelia Strube

Author Interview – Susie Moloney

June 18, 2019
mandyevebarnett


AuthorInterview

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What inspired your latest novel?

I haven’t written a novel in quite some time, but I’ll tell you about my favourite novel, The Dwelling. It was my third book, and was published around 2006 by Simon & Schuster in the US, and by Random House Canada here in Canada. It was also published in the UK and Germany. It’s a classic haunted house novel, and I actually wrote it just after moving into my own little house, the first house I owned all on my own. The process of house hunting got me to thinking about all the lives that pass through a single house, and how pieces of those lives are likely left behind. I was also going through a divorce at the time, and the whole thing was very challenging–haunting, you could say. These things combined and before I knew it, I was telling the story of a house through the eyes of four very different people.              

dwelling                           

How did you come up with the title?

I didn’t! You know, I have never titled a book. Someone always changes my title at the level above me, ha ha. The Dwelling, for instance, was called The Dwellan by me. Dwellen is an old English word that means “to refuse to leave,” which I thought was appropriate. Simon & Schuster felt that it would be too oblique for readers and so altered it to be called The Dwelling. I was sad about that title change … “dwellan” seemed so appropriate.                                                                           

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

We’re all haunted by something.  

How much of the book is realistic?

All the human emotion in the book is real. The whole thing is real, if you believe in ghosts!  

Are your characters based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

That’s a mix. I think the writer always leaves something of themselves on the page at the end of the day, and certainly the middle story about the Mother and Son has shades of my own struggles during my divorce. The character of Ritchie is a writer. The Realtor, Glenn Darnley has just been widowed–she “lost” her husband–and certainly a divorce leaves you grieving. The character of the wife, Becca, in the first story is a very ambitious woman trying to be successful in a man’s world, and her troubled husband Dan is an artist. All of these people have shades of me in their characterizations. However, all of those characters are their own people, too, made up out of all the people I have ever interacted with, throughout my whole life.

Where can readers find you on social media and do you have a blog?

I’m fairly active on social media! I’m Susie Moloney on Facebook, @Susiemoloney on Twitter, and @susie.moloney on Instagram … please friend, follow, and like!

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Do you have plans or ideas for your next book? Is it a sequel or a stand alone?

All my books have been “one-offs” as they say. As far as a new book goes … never say never. I have moved almost entirely on to film and television these days, however. In fact my very first full-length feature has recently been shot, Bright Hill Road. You can look for that sometime in the next year or so, and of course if you do follow me on social media, I give shamelessly regularly updates!

Of the characters you have created or envisioned, which is your favorite & why?

I’ve always had–and always will have–a special place in my heart for Glenn Darnley, the widow realtor in that novel, The Dwelling. She was born at a time when there was a deep sadness in me, and she took that on like a champ. Writing her story helped me to get passed that sadness. Go, Glenn!

Do you favor one type of genre or do you dabble in more than one?

I’m a horror writer through and through! Although I do occasionally write straight short fiction, and for many years I wrote a humour column. I also write funny essays. A laugh and a shriek are not far apart!

dry

Do you plan your stories, or are you a seat of the pants style writer?

I’m a planner. But I do allow a story to take me somewhere else if it seems like it needs to. I’m flexible, but I always know the ending of my story.

What is your best marketing tip?

Stay in touch with people! Social media is great for that.

Do you find social media a great tool or a hindrance?

It’s a great tool. You can reach so many people! But it’s a lot of work to build a platform, and if you’re going to use social media as a promotional tool, you have to do that work, whether you want to or not!

things.jpeg

OPTIONAL QUESTIONS

What do you enjoy most about writing?

There is something absolutely magical about being able to absorb yourself entirely in the life of another human being–real or made up. To design their world, their thoughts, their relationships, is total trip! You’re literally making up a life and making it true! The idea that a well-told story can absorb someone else is a gift, too, this realization that someone who isn’t me can pick up my story or book and devote hours of their time to reading it because they are absorbed is probably the greatest honour I’ve ever had.

Bio:

Susie Moloney is the author of Bastion Falls, A Dry Spell, The Dwelling, The Thirteen, and Things Withered, stories, a collection of short fiction. Published all over the world, in multiple languages, she continues to write, although these days, she writes horror film and television. Watch for the upcoming Bright Hill Road!

 

Writing Prompt Wednesday

October 31, 2018
mandyevebarnett


espresso

When I began writing, I used to spend a lot of time using a site called, Espresso Story, where the stories were 25 words or less. It helped me define a story in a few words until I felt able to increase my word count and descriptions.

Here are a few examples.

The stick flew
My dog pounced
And collided with him
That’s how we met
My love and I

Trapped but guilty to move on
Loving but alone in a crowd
Sleeping but horror in her dreams
Smiling but crying within

Free of her kidnapper
She fled the horrific basement
Running along a darkened road
Through torrential rain
The driver never saw her

Tantrum:  But I want it!!!!  You’ll get it alright

Karma: We knew each other from before, Have loved in the present, Now to guarantee our future.

Boat Trip: The boat tips, Water seeps in, No land in sight, Help!

Why not have a go?

 

Writing Prompt Contest – Toadstool Path…

August 20, 2016
mandyevebarnett


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Taking your inspiration from this image, write the story of where the toadstools lead.

Enjoy this prompt and leave your response in the comments. 1000 words maximum for a short story. Poems can be any length.

A quarterly prize will be given for the most voted for response.

Derelict Building..An Inspiration…

April 24, 2013
mandyevebarnett


Derelict – definition: 1) abandoned by the owner or occupant; 2) failing to take proper or normal care, neglectful; 3) a homeless and destitute person : vagrant.

Today’s word reminded me of a photograph a friend sent me of a small building in Italy. Inspired I wrote the following. Will it inspire you too? What did you think of my story?

Italian Dream

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“Oh, what a delightful little building, David, we must get a photo of it. I’ll show Christine when we get home.”

“It’s certainly interesting, Sally, and I’m sure Christine will get a kick out of it. I wonder what the wooden frame is for.”

The forever curious, David, circulated the building happily taking numerous shots from every angle. Meanwhile, Sally opened their picnic basket, spread out the blanket and began placing cheeses, fresh rolls and olives onto plates.

“You must have enough photos now, David, come and uncork this wine.”

While relishing the fresh rolls and tangy olives, the couple enjoyed the Tuscany countryside surrounding them.  The sparse shade eased the heat of the sun but still little beads of sweat glistened on their brows.

“Why did we leave this trip so long, Sally? Even the kids would have loved it here.”

“There was so much to organize around, my dear, with Michael’s sports and Christine’s horse trials the summers just flew by. But you are right they would have loved it.”

“We’ll just have to make the most of our free time then. Maybe we can persuade them to come with us next year – what do you think?”

“A really lovely idea, David, but Michael has his tournaments in the summer and Chrissie has her company – I’m not sure they would be able to come.”

“Surely, Chrissie could manage time away she has three staff to man the building projects now and I know for a fact Michael has another coach to substitute for him. I’m going to ask them when we get back.”

Sally breathed in deeply to calm herself. Once David got an idea there was no dissuading him and trying to reason with him just made him even more bull headed. She took a large gulp of wine and shook her long blonde hair wishing for a slight breeze to cool her body. Without looking she knew David would be frowning at her for not sipping the wine but they were on holiday and she wanted to stay relaxed.

“I’m going to take a few photos of the valley, there’s a vineyard along it. I’ll be back soon.”

Sally tried to stop her petty thought before it began but there it was – he never helps clean up. After twenty five years of marriage the little things niggled the most. Now stop it, enjoy the view and the rest of the wine – tell him it toppled over when he comes back.

                She watched her husband walk over a slight crest and vanish out of sight then lay back to watch the clouds float past, wondering where they had come from and where they were going. It was the ultimate freedom floating on the breeze. Sally enjoyed another gulp of the dark red liquid savoring the taste on her tongue. It was so peaceful she wished it was always so.

A creaking sound drew her attention to the little building, the doors had wooden planks that nailed them shut so what could creak? Maybe time and weather had worn it down enough that it would collapse. As Sally watched the plank fell away and the nearest door opened to reveal a strikingly handsome man with dark hair and eyes. I must be dreaming – too much wine in the heat.

“Sofia, come to me, my love, our time has come.”

His voice was deep and husky, mesmerizing her for that moment.

“My name is Sally you have me confused with someone else. How did you get out of that little shack?”

“Do not trouble yourself with the appearance of the portal, my love, take my hand and we will return home together.”

“A portal, now really what game are you playing? This is such a weird dream.”

“How can you question a dream while you are still dreaming it?”

“I have no idea but I think I may have sunstroke. I’m sorry I can’t help you. Now if you’ll excuse me I have to find my husband.”

“Husband…but here I am in front of you, my darling, Sofia. Let me show you our path home.”

With a slight shake of her head Sally decided to see where the dream would take her so took the man’s hand and walked beside him toward the building. His hand felt so real, its texture and heat – she had never had such a vivid dream.  As they approached the doorway he stood to one side to let her enter. The interior was not that of a weather beaten shack but a lavish entrance hall with a tiled floor and beautiful curved staircase.

“Now I know I’m dreaming this is impossible.”

“You have returned to me and our home, my love. I have waited so long.”

Maybe David was right about gulping the wine after all.

“Sally? Sally, where are you? Come on honey we need to get back to the hotel.”

David had returned to find the picnic tidied away but the rug still spread on the grass and the empty wine bottle laying on its side. Initially he thought Sally had gone to find a sheltered spot to relieve herself, but when she didn’t return after five minutes he began calling out. Now twenty minutes had past and still no sign of her.  Where could that damn woman be?  An hour later with the sun setting and his voice hoarse from shouting, David picked up their picnic things and returned to the hotel.

His frantic shouts of help had the staff rushing to his side as he entered the foyer.

“Please calm yourself, Signore, what has happened?”

“My wife…she’s disappeared, we have to call the police, get them back there.”

“Where exactly were you, signore?”

“Up on a hill overlooking the vineyard to the west of here, we set out a picnic next to a shack with a frame above it. Please hurry we need to find her.”

In his panic David did not notice the glances between the hotel manager and several of the staff.

“This shack you speak of, were the doors boarded up?”

“Well…yes, how would you know that? Have you been there?”

“Yes, Signore, there are many stories of strange things happening around it. Some say it is a portal to another world, others that it is haunted.”

“Don’t be ridiculous, this is serious my wife is missing, I don’t have time for games. Get the police on the phone now.”

The manager dialed a number and spoke quickly. David couldn’t stay still so paced back and forth across the tiled foyer. Once the manager had finished speaking he looked up expectantly.

“Well, are they on their way? Should we go to the shack and wait for them there?”

“Signore, it is best you travel with them.”

David commenced his pacing until the sound of sirens could be heard. He ran to the front of the hotel to meet the policemen. He was shocked to see a white van instead of police vehicles and two men in white coats.

“What is this? What’s going on? Didn’t you understand me? We have to find my wife.”

“Please, signore, go with these men, they can help you.”

The two men stood to each side of David and firmly took hold of his arms. He began struggling but a sharp prick from a syringe had him calm in no time. The manager shook his head slowly, glad that the incident had not become violent.

“You are home, my love and everything is perfect again.”

“I have to go back to my real life you must understand that, this isn’t real.”

“Oh but it is real, my darling Sofia, that other world can no longer hold you. I have ensured your absence is explained.”

“What are you saying? What did you do?”

“You are no longer alive in that world, your over bearing husband resides in a mental institution and the children you bore are here with us but young again. We will enjoy our children the way a husband and wife should.”

“Are you saying I died?”

“That world was the unreal one, my love; you were stuck there for such a long time.”

Sally…Sofia shook her head, everything felt so familiar in this grand house. Gradually her memories came back and she led the life she had always dreamed of.

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