Archive for the ‘strong female protagonist’ Category

Excerpt from Dead Tropics 2

Leaving them, I moved down the hall towards the bathroom. From the bedroom on the right, I could hear steady thumping on the door and walls. It would was an unnerving feeling, knowing there were zombies in the house with us, but, for the moment at least, we were safe.

Rummaging through the bathroom cabinet, I found a bottle of strong pain killers, prescribed for someone with back pain. It should do the trick.

That was the moment when the heat radiating through my back registered with me. Jake’s body heat burned through the thin material of my shirt. “Jake? How are you going, buddy?”

The silence that greeted me was unnerving. Frowning, I unhooked the sling. “Jake?”
My first look at Jake sent a chill right through my body. Eyes bright with fever, he lay limp in my arms. His soft skin was flushed but his lips were tinged with blue.

He’s infected. Feeling suddenly faint, I lowered myself to the floor. My heart pounded in my chest. I stared down at the baby I was cradling. His plump flushed cheek rested trustingly on my chest.
It’s not possible, I rationalized desperately, he couldn’t possibly be infected! He wasn’t bitten. It’s just a normal bug. He’s a baby, babies get sick all the time.

Every word I told myself was true. Yet I was not comforted. My head said one thing but my gut said another. I had a flashback to the moment I’d rescued him, the image of his blood coated face lingering before my eyes. What if some of the infected blood had gotten in his eyes or in his mouth?

Rising to my feet again, I pulled open the medicine cabinet’s door, searching for the bottle of children’s paracetamol I’d seen earlier. If it was just a normal bug, paracetamol should bring down the fever. In about fifteen minutes, you’re going to feel really silly when the fever goes down.

“Mum?!” Michele stood in the doorway. “Can’t you find any painkillers? Gary hasn’t stopped complaining since you left.”
I tossed the pill bottle at her before grabbing the baby medicine. “Here. Take it. I won’t be long.”
Catching the bottle, Michele continued to hover in the doorway, watching me awkwardly unscrew the baby medicine bottle with the baby cradled in my arms. “Is everything alright?”
No. I really don’t think it is. I cleared my throat, avoiding her eyes. “Jake’s a bit sick so I’m giving him some medicine. I’ll be along soon.”

With a slow nod, Michele left. I knew she sensed my distress but I guess she also recognized my need to be alone. A terrible gnawing fear hovered just beneath my veneer of calm. The thought of losing someone else…no, I wouldn’t think about it.

Carefully, I dripped the medicine into Jake’s open mouth. Eyes half closed, he swallowed unresistingly.
“Good boy.” I murmured, sitting on the edge of the bath. “You’ll feel better in no time, you’ll see.”
Oh God, please let it be so. He had to be okay, he had to.

Jake whimpered. I tightened my hold on his hot body. “Hush, it’s going to be okay. Although I’ve got to say, your timing really sucks. I bet you used to wake up and cry every time your parents were about to get frisky, didn’t you? My daughter used to do the same thing.”

I was rambling, I knew, but the sound of my voice seemed to calm Jake so I kept talking. “Don’t worry, I’m sure they didn’t mind. They would have laughed about it, just like my husband and I used to. Michele’s timing was so good that it took us another twelve years to conceive the twins!” I smiled down at him, noting the way his too-bright eyes tracked my moving lips. “No, not really, but you should see her face when I tell people that.”

Waiting for the medicine to take effect, I rocked Jake and talked. I talked about the kids, and I talked about my husband. I talked about how nervous Charles had been about becoming a dad and how enamored he’d been with the kids from the moment he’d held them in his arms. “He could rock them for hours, you know, just like I’m doing.”
A memory of Charles with a baby in each arm, happily crooning an old Sinatra song, surfaced. The expression on his face had been so contented that it had stuck with me to this day.

At some point, I became aware of Michele standing in the doorway, listening to me with an unreadable expression on her face. I felt a pang of regret, knowing that my reminiscences were painful for her. But I couldn’t stop, because if I stopped, then I would have to face the truth.

A drop of water splashed on Jake’s bare chest. I realized, dully, that I was crying. The words faltered and dried up in my throat. A sob escaped my lips. Michele straightened, alarmed. “Mum?”

I could no longer deny the truth to myself. He was dying. The sweet little boy in my arms was dying. The scorching heat emanating from his dry skin made it almost unbearable to hold him. I closed my eyes but still the tears dripped down my cheeks. “He’s infected. Jake’s infected.”
“Oh, no.” I heard Michele’s horrified whisper. “Are you sure?”

Opening my eyes, I gazed at the beautiful boy, taking in the plump cheeks, the rosebud lips, the beautiful blue eyes. Eyelids fluttering shut, he nuzzled his face into my chest and I thought my heart just might break. “Yes. I’m sure.”
Everything I’d done to protect Jake had been in vain. He’d been doomed before we even left the highway.

My legs seemed to lose their strength. Slowly, I slid down until I was sitting on the floor with my back resting against the bath. “I’m so sorry, Jake. I’m so sorry I failed you.”
Knowing Michele was watching me, I struggled to hold back the sobs without success. The pain in my heart was too deep. Sobs began to rack my body as I cuddled the dying baby.

I grieved for all Jake had lost. Family. Love. The chance to grow up.

And, as if the tears had unleashed a dam of pain I had not known I was bottling up, I cried for all the companions I had watched die. My friend, Emma. Mike, the amazing man I’d known for too short a time. My sister’s neighbor, the sweet teenager, Skye. Brent and Megan. God, the list went on and on.
How many people would I have to watch die before this was over?
Silently, Michele sat down across from me. I drew a gasping breath, trying to regain control of my emotions. It wasn’t right to do this in front on her. But looking into her eyes, I saw nothing but compassion and understanding. Reaching across, she rested a hand on my leg.

I watched Jake die by slow degrees in my arms. The virus that had lurked quietly in Jake’s system for the last few hours was rapidly taking hold now. His eyes were closed but his hot body was now clammy and rapidly cooling.

There was so much his parents would have wanted to say to him if they were here. So I said it for them. I told him how much he was loved. I told him about the first moment his father held him in his arms and kissed his soft little cheek. I told him about how his mother used to sit by his bed and just watch him sleep, awed by the amazing gift she had been given.

I talked about the dreams they’d had for him. How they’d imagined what he would be like as a teenager, all gangly and voice breaking. I talked about the man he would have become if he’d had a chance, how decent and funny and kind he would have been and how proud his mother and father would have been.

Dimly, I was aware of Michele watching us with tears sliding down her cheek. I hadn’t realized she was that attached to the baby.

Jake’s breathing slowed until I could barely detect the movement of his chest. His body grew heavy in my arms.
Knowing it was time, I brought him up closer to my face and pressed a soft kiss on his cheek. “You can go now, Jake, go find your family.”

I sang him into his final sleep with a lullaby I used to sing to my babies, just as my mother had sung it to me. It was a haunting Mauritian tune that I had always loved and one I would now forever associate with this moment.
And then, with a last gasp, he was gone. I stared at his still body for a long moment before reaching down and pulling out my stake. Poising it above his face, I waited.

“Oh mum, you don’t have to do this.” Michele’s voice broke, thick with tears.
I didn’t look at her, keeping my eyes fixed on Jake’s angelic face. “I owe him this much.”

His body twitched. My hand tightened on the stake. After a moment, his eyes opened. I had planned to drive the stake through his eye but I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t let that image be my last memory of him. Instead, I slipped the stake into the soft spot beneath his chin and into his little brain.
We sat in a frozen tableau for a long moment. Numb, I gazed at the plump, limp body in my arms. Michele waited with me, her face wet with tears.

Finally, I was ready. With a sigh, I slowly laid Jake down on the cold floor. Pulling a towel down off the rack, I draped it over the small body. Michele reached out and clutched my hand. I gave her hand a reassuring squeeze and then pushed myself to my feet.

Every step away from Jake felt like a betrayal but I forced myself to walk out of the bathroom. I hadn’t been able to save him but I could still save my own babies. It was time to find the rest of my family.

Review of Dead Tropics Audio Book by The Guilded Earlobe

Dead Tropics by Sue Edge

Read by Cynthia Barrett

Published by Audible Frontiers/Permuted Press

Length: 9 Hrs

Genre: Zombie Outbreak

Quick Thoughts: While Dead Tropic has a pretty standard Zombie Outbreak plot, its unique setting and kick ass heroine gives it just enough edge to stand out in a crowded field.  Edge creates some incredibly cruel situations for her survivors, forcing her heroine to make decisions that will frustrate, thrill and shake the emotions of the readers. Sadly, the narrators inability to engage with the text blunted the visceral nature of some of the more graphic scenes of the novel.

Grade: B-

Read More at The Guilded Earlobe

 

Why Reading is so Freakin’ Awesome!

importance of reading

Why We Love the Sexy Heroes of Urban Fantasy

It is an interesting phenomenon.  The more civilized and sensitive the modern man has become, the more masculine, bold, assertive and challenging the heroes that populate our fantasy books have become.

Vampires, werewolves, genies and demons.  These are the kind of heroes that populate the urban fantasy and paranormal books we read today.  They are larger than life, opinionated, assertive and powerful creatures and about as far from the real men of today as you could get.

Maybe that’s the point.

Real life involves dishes, pot bellies, bad breath and the occasional unwanted odour.  That’s something you’ll never find in the pages of urban fantasy books.  Vampires do NOT break wind.  Werewolves would never choose a footy game over making mad, passionate love to you!

That’s not to say we don’t love the men in our real lives.  Of course we do.  But fantasies, in a way, are about the roads we have not taken, the lives we have not lived and the loves we have not experienced.

That is why the heroines of these books are always flawed but kickass types.  We need to be able to see ourselves in them.  If they were perfect, we would never buy into it because we are not perfect.   It is also why we require the men in these books to be extraordinary.  We want to be swept into the arms of an uber-male who must worship us, body and soul.  There is no room for dishes or taxes in the arms of a vampire or werewolf, thank you very much.  Reality must not intrude on the dream.

I would also argue, and no doubt there will be many women who disagree with me, that another reason for the appeal of supernatural men is that they are the ‘bad boys’ of the supernatural world.  They don’t follow human laws or moral codes.  They deliberately flout social convention.  They go after what they want (hopefully, you).  It appeals to the teen girl inside us who yearns to be the one who wins the local bad boy and makes him a good boy (not too good, though).

How many of us didn’t cheer when True Blood’s Sookie conquered the heart of the cold vampire Eric, just by being her sweet but spunky self?  Or hoped that Bitten’s Elena would forgive the werewolf who turned her into a werewolf?  It’s that bad boy thing, I tell you!

True Blood

the appeal of bad boys

 

Werewolves, vampires, demons – they all have a dark side which they either embrace or struggle with.  It makes them a little – or a lot – dangerous, unpredictable and exciting.  Along with that dark side, though, always comes incredible, untamed passion.  What woman doesn’t want to be the one who is the focus of all that?!

I asked some female friends why they loved supernatural heroes and got a variety of responses.  “because they love with an intensity no man can hope to match”, “they are hot!”, and “gee, what girl doesn’t want to be forced to choose between her hot vampire lover and her hot werewolf lover?”  It all boils down to the same thing – the desire for passion and excitement in our lives, real or imagined.

Some might think real men might as well give up now; how can they hope to compete the uber-men of fiction?  The truth is, there is no competition.  The uber-men of fiction cannot hope to compete with the reality of a man who laughs at your bad jokes, brings you a cup of tea steeped to perfection and always takes the kids to their sporting events because he knows how much you hate those cold winter mornings.  The men in our lives mightn’t sweep us off our feet with displays of passion every day but the reality is, and I hate to confess this, I wouldn’t be able to handle a man who was constantly passionate for me!  A girl needs her beauty sleep and time to read a good book!

I am happy with the reality of my life but – whatever you do – don’t interrupt if you see me reading a book with a kickass heroine on the cover and a gorgeous man beside her…

Guest Blog at Fang-tastic Books

I am often asked why I picked a zombie apocalypse as the background for my novel, Dead Tropics.  I can understand their confusion: I hate gore and I tend to write humorous stories, so zombies do seem an odd fit for me.

I have always loved zombies because a zombie apocalypse allows ordinary people to become heroes, to discover strengths they never dreamed they had, to evolve into leaders of men.  What has always annoyed me, though, was that the heroes in the books were always men , bristling with weaponry.  Where were the mothers?  Where were the families?  What about the people who weren’t fortunate enough to have a cupboard full of guns and flamethrowers?

It seemed to me that if anyone was likely to survive a azombie apocalypse, it would be the mothers of the world!  Sure, men have more practice being aggressive but mothers have the protective instincts of a tigress when it comes to their kids.  They would let nothing harm their kids, not even zombies.

Indeed, the idea for this novel first occurred to me after my own ‘tigress’  moment.  I was waiting outside the movies with my small children when a drug addict started harassing my little boy.  Instantly, I morphed from a amiable woman who had never said ‘boo’ to anyone in her life to a a Ellen Ripley ‘get away from her, you bitch’ type of woman.  The drug addict backed away so fast, he nearly tripped over his own feet.  My kids stared at me with open mouths.  They had never seen me act like that and I was the topic of conversation at home for the rest of the week.  It got me thinking, because I did not have a clue that I had it in me to react like that.

protective mother

 

The heroine of Dead Tropics, Lori Nelson, is also an ordinary mum living in a small tropical town in Australia.   She works, she loves her kids, she struggles to manage her busy schedule.  Pretty typical mum stuff.  But when a virus devastates her sleepy town, creating chaos and death on every corner, she discovers what she is truly capable of.

 

Lori battles zombies in hand to hand combat, scales buildings, rescues her children, plans an escape and still has time to find love!  She evolves from stressed out mum into a kickass, gutsy heroine we can all identify with and cheer for.  In the course of a couple of frantic, fast-paced days, Lori learns how to fight, she discovers how to lead others, how to make quick – and sometimes, painfully hard – decisions, how to conquer fear and, yes, how to appreciate the love of a good man when she finds it.

Hopefully, my readers will be able to enjoy the ride as Lori takes them on one breathless adventure after another in the battle to save her family.  Enjoy!