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I'm a business journalist and a fiction author. My novel Mute is available now from Silver Leaf Books.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

My new novel is in my publisher’s inbox

I’ve been over every word at least five times, more than 130,000 of them. I’ve reviewed over 150 writing samples from other authors in exchange for feedback. I’ve walked around my neighborhood imaging a creature mutated by aliens that lurks in Florida’s underground waterways.

And still, I needed a deep breath before I hit “send.”

A few days ago, I sent my new novel “Silence the Living” to my publisher Silver Leaf Books. This will be my third published book.

This is a science fiction thriller, and the sequel to “Mute.” I’ve written it in a way where you don’t have to read the first novel to understand “Silence the Living”, but the plot of the second book will of course be a spoiler to the first book. So if you have not yet experienced “Mute”, now is a good time.

“Mute” started as a murder mystery and became more scifi as the story went on while a relationship between Monique “Moni” Williams and Aaron Hughes developed. In “Silence the Living”, the mystery has been unlocked and the characters must deal with moral dilemmas and grave danger.

The last active trace of the alien microorganisms that invaded Earth lives within Moni’s body. A drop of her bodily fluid will contaminate any human or animal, turning it into an alien-controlled beast with the goal of transforming part of our planet into an alien habitat. The aliens in her bloodstream are rapidly altering Moni’s body. She’s lost her voice, but gained telepathic powers to overhear thoughts from nearby minds and to plant her thoughts into the heads of both humans and animals.

The changes are also physical. She chugs gasoline like beer. Her saliva is so acid that she can suck a bar of iron like a popsicle.

Despite the obvious dangers of Moni staying near people with such a highly infectious condition, Aaron refuses to leave her side. The marine science student wants to help her evade the government’s efforts to capture her and he’s looking for some way to restore her humanity so they can be together. Moni and Aaron’s love grows stronger, but he risks his life every time he touches her.

Moni and Aaron flee their native Florida for the southern New Mexico desert because there’s few people and virtually no water. Yet, they can’t run forever.

A pivotal scene in "Silence the Living" is set in the Kilbourne Hole volcanic maar in New Mexico. Credit: Dicklyon
Brevard County Sheriff Officer Nina Skillings was just discharged from the hospital after suffering facial injures she blames on Moni. She teams up with FBI Agent Cam Carter to chase Moni across the country, and she won’t bother for a pair of handcuffs.

Meanwhile in Florida, a sadistic mutant lurks in the underground waterways hunting people. Offbeat environmental scientist Harry “Lagoon Watcher” Trainer believes it’s connected to the alien invasion and he’s determined to pursue it through the watery depths beneath the state’s limestone surface. In this dark maze of underwater caves, the air is far away, but terror is always near.

The pursuit of the mutant in "Silence the Living" takes place in North Florida's Peacock Springs. Credit: Barbara am Ende.

“Silence the Living” is a creature thriller wrapped around a tortured romance.

Side note: I drew inspiration for this novel from the metal band In This Moment, in particular, the album “A Star-Crossed Wasteland.”

Silver Leaf Books should publish “Silence the Living” sometime in 2018. My publisher is currently working to release over a dozen books this year, so that is why I need to wait.

In the meantime, I am considering book cover ideas - possibly involving snakes - and a marketing plan that doesn’t suck.

Oh, and I’m also working on yet another novel. I just can’t stop writing.