Skate punks, kleptomaniacs, clairvoyant visions and reincarnation...
...THE SHEPHERD is unlike any other Young Adult novel you have ever read.
Mike Evans here. Sixteen year old skate punk squatting in a white-trash trailer park with my loser drunk Dad. Seems I lost most of my friends when Dad lost our home in foreclosure. Only Anita stuck by me. Worse, I keep having strange clairvoyant visions of things that always come true.
Then I almost ran over Nadia in my Geo. A passing truck finished the job – left a crumpled heap of skin and bone on the road. I fixed her. Me.
Now this fourteen year old girl won’t leave me alone. I sorta let her sneak in my window when she needs a place to crash.
I have a double life: daytime at school, Anita, skating, and then my nights with Nadia. She's my secret friend, gives me money and listens to my problems when nobody else will.
My world is spinning out of control. Old friends have turned enemy, my grisly visions of death won’t quit, and Anita’s intentions make my head spin. Even with all that, I’ve got bigger stuff to worry about.
Nadia’s hiding something.
˃˃˃ "Amazing, I loved Mike and Anita. The characters that I didn't feel could redeem themselves did in ways I never thought possible. I loved the ending and so not what I thought would happen. I love the element of surprise."
Sharp, witty, dark and gritty, The Shepherd is the must read YA paranormal thriller of 2013. Get your copy now!
- Tell us 5 things that make you happy
Cocoa mixed with coffee, Paranormal/horror with a good splash of sex and violence, freshly diced salsa, roller coasters, and the smiles of my wife and children
- What makes your perfect man, perfect? What do you look for in a hero?
I don’t have any perfect men in my novels, because they don’t exist in reality. Fiction/art imitates life, and perfection is rarely if ever found in the real world.
My heroes are always flawed in one way or another, often reluctant, and usually remorseful of the violence that comes from being a hero. Occasionally they enjoy the violence a little too much, those characters that walk the line between heroism and villainy.
I find it all too easy to write villains, it’s the heroes I struggle with.
- What qualities make up your least favourite heroine?
It’s the self-righteous judgmental ladies who tend to be the most irritating. Those women who see everything as black and white drive me nuts. The world is mired in shades of grey and there is rarely anything or anyone who is all bad or all good.
- Do you have any quirks? When writing, or otherwise?
No matter what I do, I can’t seem to escape my tendency to write with intense violence and steamy sex. Even in Young Adult fiction, I had to struggle to tone down the intensity. I did eventually find a balance. My teens are gritty, true-to-life, the way teens really are, in all their obnoxious glory.
- Do you have any hobbies that you take part in when you aren’t writing?
Roller coasters, paranormal films, paranormal fiction novels, and I cook some of the best tacos and Spanish rice you ever tasted.
- What do you like to read?
My first love was horror, then I gravitated towards science fiction. As the years passed, I realized I had begun to focus on dark paranormal novels with supernatural creatures such as vampires and weres. Then I picked up a book by Laurell K. Hamilton, one of the Anita Baker Vampire Hunter series, and that blasted open a whole new world of sexy, steamy dark fiction. Now, it’s my guilty pleasure to both read and write these kinds of novels: dark, sexy, and violent, almost horror-thriller, but with heavy flavours of romance.
- If you had to pick one of your characters to survive a zombie apocalypse with, who would it be and why?
In the Nightlife Series (very adult fiction), I would choose Michelle de Mornac, a French vampire femme fatale. She survived the battlefields of WWII France, cutting through Germans like a starving woman at a banquet. In dealing with Michelle you’re never quite sure if she wants bite you, have sex with you, or tear out your entrails and play in them. She’s a dark, sensual creature that I find fascinating to write, and I truly enjoy exploring the depths of her depravity. Michelle is the ideal companion to take down a pack of zombies and then keep you warm through the rest of the night.
- Tell us a bit about how your book came about.
THE SHEPHERD was inspired by a number of events in my teenage years, and many of the vampire films and novels I have enjoyed through the years. You will find a touch of Fright Night, a bit of Let The Right One In, and a dash of True Blood. Writing this novel was like a trip down memory lane, reliving some of the less noble moments of my own teenage years. I was that kid you warned your daughters to stay away from. Would you believe I actually had a Joe Dirt mullet in high school?
- Which of the seven deadly sins are you most partial to? Which do you indulge in the most?
Without a shadow of doubt, I will roast in the Lake of Fire for Lust. On the scale of sins, Lust outweighs them all by several tons.
- Who is the person who most inspired you? Either in your life, or writing?
I take inspiration from so many places. But, to point out authors whose writings I feel directly inspired me, I have to say Stephen King, Robert R McCammon, Clive Barker, Robert Heinlein, Dean Koontz, and the wonderfully perverse Laurell K. Hamilton.
Though my own writing is far more perverse than the standard horror novels, I cut my teeth on horror, and it’s in my bloodstream, and in every book I write there will always be gritty moments of thriller intensity.
- Do you have a favourite quote?
I have many faves, but this is one of the best: “A man sees in the world what he carries in his heart.”
― Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Faust: First Part
- Can you tell us a little about your latest project?
I published THE SHEPHERD in October, and it’s actually a story whose timeline takes place in September and October, the perfect Halloween story.
This is a tale of a lost young man, Mike Evans, trying to find his way through high school and life. He’s a skater, antisocial, and not doing so hot with the opposite sex. He pines after the one that got away, an ex-girlfriend who wants nothing to do with him. He’s too young and dumb to see his best friend Anita is right there, waiting for him to notice her as a woman.
And then there’s Nadia, a girl who is so much more than she appears. Nadia brightens Mike’s nights and darkens his days with the dangers of her obsessive fixation on him.
Mike’s grisly clairvoyant visions of death and dismemberment are not helping the situation.
Since his alcoholic father is never there when he needs him, and his mother died at birth, Mike’s on his own.
Teens in THE SHEPHERD inhabit a dark, gritty nightlife that their parents are clueless to manage.
- Last but not least, if you could be anyone else in the world, who would it be, and why?
I would love to be that guy who won the 300 million dollar Powerball and disappeared to travel the world on a permanent vacation. But even so, I would still write and publish my macabre, perverse fiction. I enjoy it too much to ever quit.
Thank you for talking to me and letting us all know a bit more about you!
Thursday, September 9th, 5:15 p.m.
Shit happens, life happens, but for some reason it happens to me a lot.
Iwas kinda hoping life would give me a break – maybe crap on somebody else for a while.
I mean, look at Justin Shelby. I’m sitting here in my car, in the McDonald’s drive through, and what is he doing? He’s climbing up the side of the damn playcenter. Probably faded on prescription pills he stole from his mom. This guy is begging for life to hit him upside the head. But it never does.
And then there’s his buddy, Tommy Schroeder, goading him on.
“Do it man! You’re almost there!”
One of the wrestling elite of Moses Lake High School, Tommy’s mere presence inspired Justin to new heights of idiocy. Justin scaled the side of the outdoor playcenter like Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible.
Justin skated religiously, a regular at the downtown Moses Lake skatepark across from the Aquatic Center. Like most of us skaters, he was thin, moderately athletic, and had a strong sense of balance from endless hours busting his ass on the concrete. Climbing the playcenter wasn’t any more dangerous than the skate tricks we recorded and posted to YouTube.
He quickly reached the apex, damn spider monkey. He stood exalted atop the dome of the airplane-shaped plastic toy. An elementary kid inside gawked up at him from the Plexiglas window.
“This is classic!” Tommy whipped out his cell phone and started recording.
Looked like a good idea to me, so I did the same. You never know what folly you might catch on video. I mean, this was live action stuff. I could be ten seconds away from a viral Youtube video, Gangnam Style.
Tommy encouraged Justin’s antics with loud catcalls. Justin proclaimed his status as king of the hill, arms held high.
“Yeah bitches, hell yeah!” Justin yelled and hooted at the top of his lungs, pumping his fists in the air.
Inarrated to my potential audience of millions, “This is a flagrant violation of the rules.” I panned my cellphone camera over to the placard by the entry gate and zoomed in to catch a clear shot of the playcenter rules. “There it is folks, rule number three: No climbing outside the playcenter. And we can’t forget rule number four: No children over the age of fourteen allowed. For the record, Justin is sixteen.”
Returning to the action, I caught Tommy’s upturned face lit with excitement, and then slid the view up the playcenter to Justin. “There’s the big man, putting on a show for his new best friend.”
It kinda stung in a way I didn’t like to admit, that Justin was doing all this for Tommy. A couple months ago, Justin was my best friend, my idiot. Or so I had thought.
But Tommy was cool. Popular and wealthy, he also happened to be one of the biggest arrogant pricks in my class, and Justin’s ticket into the ‘cool crowd.’
“Always trying to prove something.” I shook my head.
Tommy and I don’t get along so well. It’s a Rachelle thing. One of those life things that happens to me so often.
Ishould just keep my mouth shut and catch some choice video, but you know what they say, the observer always affects the observed …
“Hey ass munch, get down before you break your neck!”
Justin’s head whipped around to the sound of my voice, causing his body to sway with the sudden movement. As soon as he spotted me parked in the drive-through a nasty smirk bloomed across his face. In a moment of sublime inspiration, Justin dropped his pants with a show of lily-white butt cheeks. He obviously hadn’t seen me recording with my cell phone.
Tommy noticed me too. “How about a double McAss burger Mikey?”
He loves to call me Mikey. He knows I hate it. No one but Tommy calls me Mikey.
The girl delivering my cheeseburger held her hand over her mouth to cover her braces as she giggled and snarfed at the sight of Justin’s naked rump shaking back and forth while he taunted, “It’s a full moon tonight Mikey. Hope you enjoy the view!”
Perfect. Now Justin’s calling me Mikey. God I hate that name.
“It’s Michael, asshole! And thanks for the killer video. Goin’ straight to Facebook.” I held my cell phone out the window for him.
Justin looked back over his shoulder in surprise, attempting to pull up his pants at the same time. The knee-jerk reaction caused him to lose his delicate balance atop the apex of the plastic airplane. He fell onto his right side, and slithered down the side of the playcenter. His hands shot out across the smooth surface, clawing, seeking a grip. There was nothing to grab.
I watched him slide inexorably down the outside of the playcenter, pants and underwear still down around his thighs. He tried rolling into position for a feet-first landing. The maneuver would’ve worked if not for the fence being so close to the playcenter. The bright yellow, powder-coated aluminum fence that had aided his climb to the top now blocked his landing on the way down.
Justin’s momentum came to an abrupt halt as he hit the top of the fence ass first.
Icringed and almost ruined the shot. “That’s gotta hurt.”
Justin’s blood-curdling scream of agony made my skin crawl. He sat there, squealing like a stuck pig. The top section of fence tubing had impaled him where the sun don’t shine. Pegged in the holiest of holies, he had two inches of aluminum post going in through the out door.
“Oh my god this is insane!”
I saved the ninety-three second video clip of Justin on my smart phone and posted it directly to my Facebook timeline. I had a momentary twinge of conscience. I mean, he was still crying, and Tommy was trying to climb the fence to help him. It looked really painful.
“I can always delete it later …”
I was gonna call for help, but Tommy already had his phone out as Justin yelled in his face, “Call 911!”
I only had a few minutes to get to work. As I drove off, I thought about taking that video down. I probably should have. But it only took fifteen minutes for my video clip to find its way to over 200 students at Moses Lake High School, shared over and over to dozens of Facebook profiles. My first ever viral video.
I guess life happens to Justin Shelby too.
* * * *
About the Author
Travis Luedke is a husband, father, and author of Urban Fantasy Thriller, Paranormal Romance, Contemporary Fantasy, Young Adult Fiction, and Sci-fi. He is currently catching a 3rd degree sunburn in San Antonio, Texas, and loving every minute of it.
As the author of the Nightlife Series novels, Travis lives very vicariously through his writings. He invites you to enjoy his macabre flights of fancy, but be warned: The Nightlife Series is violent, sexy, and occasionally violently sexy.
Email - firstname.lastname@example.org
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