“Writing: A Marriage of Head-Monsters” by S.M. Freedman

I got S.M. Freedman’s first book, The Faithful, through Netgalley and I absolutely loved it (see my review here). When I re-read it recently to refresh my memory before I read the second book in the series, Impact Winter, it held up well. So, obviously, when she agreed to write a guest post, I just about bounced through the roof in happiness, and am pleased to show it you now.

Writing: A Marriage of Head-Monsters

by S.M Freedman

Twenty-five years ago, Bruce and Crystal Dunahee brought their four-year-old son Michael to watch a flag football practice on the field adjoining the Blanchard Elementary School in the idyllic town of Victoria, B.C. Next to the field was a playground, and Michael asked if he could go play. It was a windy March day, and the sweet tang of new spring growth was in the air. While tightening the straps of his hooded blue jacket, Crystal reminded him to stay within sight. Then—for less than a minute—she turned her back. When she looked again, the playground was empty. Michael was gone.

I was a teenager when he disappeared, old enough to feel the community’s despair as hours became days and days months—but too young to feel that bone-deep empathy of parents superimposing their own child’s image over that blond, blue-eyed, forever-lost little boy. Nevertheless, the mystery of his disappearance haunted the future mother in me, laying its own perfect ribbon of asphalt on the freeway between my adrenal glands and my heart—where it waited, black and unused, for the birth of my first child.

Fear is a powerful equalizer. It doesn’t discriminate based on age, race, or social status. It’s also a time machine, reducing our intellect to that of our ancestors, when top priority was getting away from that mountain lion trying to have our guts for dinner. We become primordial creatures: heart thundering, scalp prickling, skin slicked with sweat, and tongue desert-dry. In childhood, fear is pure, simple, and easily tapped: a clown with dripping red face paint, a bathroom mirror in the dark, that scratching noise at the window. As we grow, our fears become more complex, though no less potent: a cancer diagnosis, a terrorist attack, a beloved child lost in the abyss. These are the thoughts that haunt me at three in the morning, when nothing stirs but the monsters in my head.

In February 2013, a meteorite exploded over Russia and unleashed a whole new fear-monster. But it also gave birth to Ryanne: a smartass, junk food eating, meteorite hunter haunted by a past she can’t remember and programmed to destroy humanity. This unlocked a story that, with time, gallons of tears, and exactly one bazillion re-writes, became my debut novel, The Faithful.

I escaped from my crash course in writing bruised, stunned, somehow miraculously still alive—and with one golden nugget of truth: The advice I’d been given about writing what I know? Well, it was complete and utter hogwash. I didn’t know a bloody thing about meteorite hunting, FBI agents, or cults—but I wrote about them anyway. It’s called research and, as a bonus, it expands your gray matter. I decided I would no longer allow my own ignorance to clog up my writing. Instead, I played matchmaker with my head-monsters and forced a couple of those lucky fiends to tie the knot. And then I wrote about them.

Author Contact: S.M. Freedman’s Site

The Faithful

For Agent Josh Metcalf, memories are ghosts. They are blood-soaked backpacks and the smell of strawberry Chap Stick. Josh is haunted by a little girl who went missing his first summer on the force. Decades later his search has become an obsession, and he’s pinned the photos of hundreds of missing children to his wall of tears. All the children had psychic abilities. All the cases went cold — with no witnesses, no useful tips, and no children ever recovered. Until a woman gets injured trying to stop an abduction, and Josh comes face to face with his personal ghost.

For Rowan Wilson, a meteorite hunter for NASA’s Spaceguard program, memories are lies. The childhood she thought she knew has been erased, leaving a black hole in its place. New recollections are flaring to life: men dressed like priests, a ranch in the mountains, mind control, and rape. Each new memory draws her closer to one of the other missing children, Sumner Macey; and to I Fidele, the underground organization for whom kidnapping is just the beginning.

For Sumner, memories have become weapons. He’s sharpened each of his with surgical precision: the ranch, the doctrine, the mind-wash, and the murders. He’s eager to slice at the black sludge pumping through I Fidele’s heart, desperate to cripple those who stole his childhood.

To I Fidele, non-psychics are cockroaches in need of extermination, an inferior species destroying the earth. They’re ready to enforce eugenics on a global scale. If they succeed, only those faithful to their doctrine will survive.

Check out The Faithful now on Amazon.

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