Tag Archives: book

The Surrogates Release Day!

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Thank you to everyone who has pre-ordered this book and supported me so far on my author journey! Today is release day, and for anyone who pre-ordered, your copy should have arrived to you by now. To celebrate it being my release day, I would love to share chapter one with you all!

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Chapter 1

“Why do you look so glum? This is meant to be an exciting day for you.” My mother’s voice is far warmer than the cold morning air as we walk across town, our arms linked.

“I know, Mum, I’m just nervous.”

“About what?” She stops and takes my hands in hers, staring up at me. Even though I’m only fifteen, I’m already a whole head taller than her. “You know you can talk to me, right, Jeremy?” Her long, black hair is wrapped around her neck to protect her from the day’s chill, like some sort of silk scarf.

I nod. “I’m just not sure I’m ready for this.”

“I’m sure the others all felt like this too their first time. But remember, you’re doing this for our people. We rely on men like you to survive.”

We continue across the cobbled streets and stop once we reach a row of huts as small as sheds.

Mike steps out from under a gazebo with a checklist in hand when he sees us. “Ah, Jeremy, Lill, nice to see you both.” He turns to me. “Happy birthday, mate. Was going to say ‘young ‘un’, but guess you’re not so young anymore, are you?” He winks and ruffles my hair. “Got your eye on any woman in particular?”

I look at the pictures on each hut, each one showing a portrait of a woman, and I shake my head.

“That’s fine. Ummm… how about Gloria? She’s been at it for years now, proven herself reliable many times.” He licks his thumb and flicks through the pages of a document lying on the table next to him, until he finds a page with Gloria scrawled across the top in big letters. “Ah, wait, I forgot, she’s not taking on anyone new right now, plus she’s your… surrogate. Maybe not her then.”

My breath catches in my throat a little as I process what Mike just said. It’s not a shock or news to me that one of these women would have carried me for nine months, but I never knew or even thought of asking which one it was before now. Lill’s always been my mum. An amazing, loving one at that.

My eyes flit from picture to picture as I look for Gloria, and I find her, fifth hut from the right. Her picture shows that she has a cleft palate and for some reason—maybe her forward-facing angle—I can’t see any ears. But I quickly look away when I notice her slightly too-far-apart green eyes that look very similar to mine, before reality can hit me even harder than it already just has.

Mike bites the inside of his cheek and continues scanning his checklist. “Hmmm. How about Sandy? She’s new. You’d be her first. She’s been looked over by Fliss and we know she’s capable of carrying a child and has extremely healthy eggs, so there shouldn’t be any issues there.”

“Yeah, sure, Sandy will do.”

“Great.” Mike smiles and places his hand on my back, leading me over to a hut with Sandy written on the front in thick, black pen. There is no photo of her on the door yet. I wonder if we’ve finally run out of ink for our printers, or if she’s just so badly mutated that they don’t want to scare me off in advance.

But Mike soon confirms it’s not the second of the two when he leans over and whispers, “You’ve really got lucky with this one, and not even in a best of a bad bunch way. She’s beautiful, as in seriously beautiful, if you can overlook the no legs situation, of course… plus the fact she doesn’t talk. Or, at least, I haven’t heard a word from her yet.” He laughs before continuing, “You know, I don’t even think she’s mutated. More… disabled. But when you’ve got her brother wheeling her up to the front gate, wanting just some live chickens in exchange, you’re hardly going to decline, are you?” He winks at me as he opens the hut door. “Now just remember to enjoy yourself, you lucky boy.”

I walk into the hut and Mike immediately closes the door, locking it behind me. I wonder whether it’s to keep her from escaping, or to stop me from backing out of my duty. Probably the second one as straight away I’m feeling completely trapped and in over my head.

Sandy is sitting in a wheelchair, turned away from me, gazing out of the only window in here. It just so happens to face away from our town. I wonder what she’s thinking; if she’s missing her home. Her dark blonde hair that’s bordering brown is pulled into a neat French braid that finishes at her waist, hanging over the back of her wheelchair. She doesn’t greet me, or even acknowledge that I’ve entered.

I clear my throat. “Uh, hi there.”

I wait a while, but she doesn’t turn around, and I wonder if she’s deaf as well as mute.

“Soooo…” I bite my lip as I consider what to say next. No point asking her how she is—her brother just sold her to us for some chickens; she’s hardly going to be feeling pleased. Sandy’s bed creaks as I perch myself at the end of it. Her mattress is hard, unlike the one I’m used to at home. “Do you enjoy reading?” I ask, trying to break the ice. Once again, I wait for a response and receive no indication she’s even listening. “I know a lot of people think it’s boring, and books should belong in the past, but I rather like them. I think if I was born before the war, I would have been a writer.” I smile to myself, my head in a different era. “Sometimes I wish I had a time machine so I could travel back to when there were libraries. I heard some libraries even had cafes in them. My mum swaps some of our food for books every now and again when the traders come to visit; not that they often bring books. I could bring you something to read, if you’d like? I have horror books, picture books, fairy tales… well, I have a bit of everything to be honest.”

I’m still staring at Sandy, but she hasn’t even adjusted her sitting position since my arrival, and I know I’m overtalking to try and cover the awkwardness.

I sigh and lean back on her bed. I’m used to pillows that have been filled with chicken feathers, but her pillow clearly has been stuffed with rags and is lumpy and uncomfortable.

I look up at the ceiling, at the spiders that hang in most of the corners, and wonder how she can sleep with them just above her head each night. I’ve always had a fear that if a spider is above me, it will come down on its web once I’ve fallen asleep and crawl all over my face. I count the legs of each spider—some have three legs, others four, others six. I have a book at home from before that teaches you all about English insects and it says in there that all spiders have eight legs. I’ve seen spiders with any number of legs, but none with as many as eight. I can’t even begin to think about how much scarier the spiders must have been back then. Hopefully the spiders now have less eyes too, because I’ve seen close-ups of their eyes in that book and ended up with nightmares for weeks. There’s no way I could get close enough to a spider to count their eyes though.

Sighing, I turn my attention back to Sandy. I know I’m meant to have sex with this girl, but there’s no way I’m feeling up for it, especially after memorising each and every spider here. Or maybe, deep down, that’s just my excuse. Next time, I tell myself.

I get up from the bed and knock on the hut door to be let out.

Mike opens it. “That was quick.”

I don’t know what to say, so I just nod.

To read the rest, click here!

First Chapter of Contagion

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Much love to everyone who’s supported me on my writing journey so far, and as a thank you, I would like to share with you all the very first chapter of Contagion.

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My knuckles turn white as my fingers clutch the seat belt. What’s taking him so long? I continue to stare out the car window, past the shards of glass that lie glinting under the moonlight, into the dark warehouse.
Just as I consider picking up Dad’s car radio and ringing the station for backup, he steps out of the shadows, a handcuffed man in tow. I let out the deep breath I was holding upon sight of him. This isn’t the first time a meal out has ended in sirens and Dad rushing to the scene of a crime, and it never gets any easier for me, being stuck in the vehicle, having to watch and wait.
The window sticks as I hurry to wind it down, so I open the door a fraction instead. “Everything okay, Dad?” My voice echoes off the walls of the building, into the night air.
“Yeah, everything’s fine, Bryony.” He pants, dragging the handcuffed man over to the vehicle. “Could ya do me a favour and open the boot?”
I unclip my seatbelt and step out of the car to pop open the boot. I know immediately what Dad needs: antiseptic wipes and a medical facemask to prevent contamination. He should have put gloves on before going into the warehouse, but he was the first, and apparently only, officer on the scene and didn’t have time to spare.
He opens one of the backdoors and guides the man into the car with a harder than necessary shove.
“Sorry I took so long. I had to check the whole building for others,” he says as he opens the packet of antiseptic wipes and cleans his hands.
I hand a facemask over to him. “I was worried.”
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to scare you.”
“I know, it’s just… since Mum—”
“—Your mum’s death was a terrible accident, courtesy of one of these a-holes. If they think they’re going to get me too, they’ve got another thing coming.”
The man scowls at us through the glass. I unintentionally reel back at the sight of his face—half a bald head that’s been taken over by oozing scabs and two long slits for a nose. He’s also older than I assumed he would be. He sees me recoil and slowly turns away, unfazed.
“Anyway, I need to get this guy into a jail cell as soon as. You know I hate to ask, but are you okay to walk back? I mean, I would drop you off, but I don’t particularly want you anywhere near this freak.”
I roll my eyes dramatically, making sure he sees. Sometimes I think he forgets that I am nineteen, meaning that I am more than definitely capable of walking myself home.
“Okay, okay, I get it. I’m mollycoddling you again, aren’t I?” He squeezes my shoulder gently. “Just make sure to ring me once you’re home, okay? Remember to lock the door behind you—”
“—And check all the windows are locked too. I know, I know. You’ve told me a hundred times.”
“And I will continue telling you even when I’m old and grey and you’ve long moved out.”
“You’re already old and grey.” I smirk, knowing Dad will take it in good humour.
“Don’t be so cheeky,” I hear Dad say as I turn away and start the walk home. And only once I disappear around the corner do I hear Dad’s sirens growing fainter and fainter as he drives off in the opposite direction.

I walk along the outside of our town, looking at the trees that surround it with our ‘no mutants’ signs nailed to their trunks. We’ve never needed a fence to keep the mutants out. Our public executions of the ones kept in our underground prison every time it gets full usually gives them enough of a warning to stay away. We still get the odd few that don’t listen, such as the one from tonight, but it’s not a common occurrence.
“Just a couple more steps,” I tell myself out loud as our house comes into view at the end of the street. I rub at my arms for warmth as each breath leaves my mouth in a cloud of steam. The gate has been left open. I close it with a click behind me, wondering who might have visited while we were out.
The sensor lights turn on, as I walk up to the porch, fumbling around in my handbag. “Where are you, damn keys?” I look under the doormat for the spare, but it’s not there. Tutting, I kick the doormat back into place with frustration. The amount of times Dad hasn’t been able to find his keys and taken the spare one instead should be a world record. I just wish one of those times wasn’t today.
I sigh and use our wheelie bin as a step to climb unglamorously over the fence, before landing on my feet in the squelchy mud of our back garden.
I pull the handle of the back door down, hoping for some kind of miracle, but as expected, it’s locked. “Crap,” I say, turning around.
“Looking for these?” A man is standing there, dangling a single key in front of my face. I open my mouth to scream, but before any sound comes out I feel a hard thump to the back of my head.

If you’ve enjoyed what you’ve read so far, you can read chapter 2 for free as well by signing up to my mailing list!

Cover Reveal for A Flash Of Words

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Yes, I know I’ve been neglecting this blog a bit and to be honest I’ve been neglecting writing too, but I have been editing A LOT of novels for other people lately.

You may remember me saying that I have been accepted for publication in the anthology ‘A Flash Of Words’. Well, it’s hopefully coming out NEXT MONTH and I have also received an image of the cover that’s going to be used. Unfortunately my name didn’t make it onto the front, but I guess my story being inside is what matters most!

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A Flash of Words

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I submitted two stories to an anthology and received back this very exciting news! 1 stands for didn’t make it to the anthology, 2 stands for possibly make it to the anthology but currently unsure and 3 stands for definitely in the anthology!

I can’t wait to see my story in a proper published book!

Stop calling me lazy!!!

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So I guess as anyone would realise a massive part of taking a writing based university course is a heck of a lot of reading. Sat in bed this morning with a story I have to read up on my laptop and my mum comes into my room shouting about how I’m lazy and disgusting and spend all day lounging around. Shouting about how I’m just sat watching TV shows… Well I’m definitely reading a book and not listening to an audio book so there is no sound at all and I definitely watch TV shows with the volume ON. 

I told her, no, I’m reading for university and next I get a massive rant about how she bets I have the perfect life just sat on my ass all day, yet since I’ve been born I have never once seen a book in her hand and she always tells me she doesn’t enjoy reading, so how she thinks it’s the ‘perfect life’ I have no idea. 

I tell her maybe she should try it sometime if she thinks sitting down and reading set books for hours on end is any kind of fun at all. Thought that would shut her up but instead she tells me that I should quit university and get a ‘real job’ and stop complaining. Well, I wasn’t complaining until she came into my room and made it perfectly clear she had a problem!

I have now stopped doing any form of reading and tidied my whole room. I bet she still won’t be happy though. Next she will have a go at me for not focusing on my university course!