Jill Hayes discovers that not all is as it seems in her new post as a college examinations administrator. When she turns whistle-blower and tries to report her findings to the authorities, she is horrified to discover that some people will stop at nothing to ensure her silence.
Starting a new job is always fraught with tension, you worry whether you will be liked, and more importantly, are you able to convince them of your competence?
Jill Hayes is met with total disdain from her new superior, so when she questions something that doesn’t seem right, she is met with hostility on many levels.
If you discover something is wrong, could you be a whistle-blower, or would you hope that someone else would do it instead?
This story has it all, corruption and greed, and an interesting cast of fascinating and true to life characters. Although Examining Kitchen Cupboards is a work of fiction at its finest, you could be forgiven for thinking it seems far too real to be comfortable, and I’m sure some of it must be based on fact, which of course, makes it all the more chilling…
About the Author
Stevie Turner is a British author of suspense, paranormal, women’s fiction family dramas, and darkly humorous novels. She has also branched out into the world of audio books, screenplays, and translations. Most of her novels are now available as audio books, and ‘A House Without Windows’ gained the attention of a New York media production company in December 2017. Some of Stevie’s books have been translated into German, Spanish, Italian and Portuguese.
I have been told that thinking is a dangerous thing to do at my age. It is possibly a dangerous thing to do at any age if you think about it, for who knows where it may lead?
I quite like thinking, and all the things that trigger it off. Like books and pictures for instance. What I could do with is a method of keeping said thoughts, as they usually evaporate like so much smoke, never to be seen again. I make notes on everything in a vain hope of remembering all the good stuff, and it works most of the time.
Then I am told ‘what do you expect, at your age?’
But this is the difficult part. My mind does not feel old, even though it seems to have more holes in it than my favourite cheese, and when I see or read something that stirs my imagination, I am back in my prime, having a sneaky feeling that this is not all there is for me.
Some of the time I must admit I really don’t want any more, I am too tired to even consider the possibility. Then there are the other days– when you forget just how old and how stiff you are. That you find it difficult just going to the shops and back.
Days when you choose to ignore the sands of time slipping through your fingers and find yourself considering the most amazing possibilities.
Of course, this may be what happens as you approach old age. I don’t know, I have no experience or knowledge of it, not having done it before.
But if you can think, you can dream. And if you can dream, I believe you can do anything… at any age!
I have been struggling to finish the fifth book in my crime/mystery series. Although I am three quarters finished, the sneaky feeling that there might be something wrong just won’t go away.
It gets worse.
I have been waking up in the early hours, thinking about the story. This has been going on for weeks now and last night I dreamed about it. In the dream, my hero and my villain changed places for some reason.
I wanted to know about temporary and easily changeable hair colourants. None of this made any sense to me, all my book needed, I think, is a substantial edit to tighten up the plot. But it did get me thinking.
Could my choice of villain be all wrong? This could be why my hero was a bit lack lustre too. The whole premise could be askew. Anita and I had a brainstorming session to try to make sense of it all, and although we came up with some interesting ideas, they all involved major rewriting. No mean feat when you are 60.000 words in already.
I should be feeling devastated, and not sure why I’m not. The problem may or not be sorted, but whatever happens, it is doable. So that old post was right after all. If you can dream, you can do anything…
My boss rang twice to remind me about Saturday. No surprise there, he knows how I feel. I worked until lunch. I took my bike out for a ride and stopped at a greasy spoon, had the most amazing lunch. Spent an hour talking with an elderly lady who sat herself at my table. I think the universe is trying to push my buttons.
I managed to put my laundry on the line before I left. Should be dry by now. Stupid thoughts keep entering my mind. I decide on faded jeans, blue and white striped shirt for Saturday’s lunch.
I bike home on a full stomach, slower than when I had arrived. Why am I thinking about Saturday?
By rights, I should ring and cancel. I was beginning to feel itchy all over. Something didn’t feel right. I hung my bike on the hook in the hall, deciding to iron the laundry, clean house. If I didn’t know better, you would think I’m pregnant. Don’t worry, I not. The pill is a great liberator.
My mother would never have approved. Sex before marriage is not on. She was wonderfully old fashioned, dad too. You could say they were cast from the same mould, made for each other. Mum died aged 63, dad went soon after, leaving me alone. There are distant cousins, aunts I never knew. Didn’t need them then, nor now.
There isn’t a spot left to clean. I showered, retired early and tried to read a few chapters. The book was on the floor when I woke.
I barely had time to shower, have breakfast. One last chance to think. Without realising it, I was pulling on my jeans, white sneakers, ready to go.
This time, he sent his driver to fetch me.
Before finishing lunch, he asked if I would mind coming to his home. I could feel the itch gathering strength, even so, I said yes. Lunch was great, he knew how to make me feel relaxed.
I had agreed. The drive took two and half hours to Hampshire and a small mansion. Derek, the driver opened the door. I tried not to let my mouth hang open. I couldn’t see any houses nearby. This put my itch into overdrive. Again, with the thoughts. The man could be a serial killer for all I knew. I could feel the virtual shaking of the head, don’t be daft.
We went through the large hall to his office, worked for three hours. So far so good.
‘Are you hungry?’ He said
I said yes, as I felt peckish. He sent Derek out for Kentucky chicken. This surprised me, as I thought he would have a cook hidden away below stairs. Over a large bucket of chicken, I asked if Derek lived there.
Two males, in such an isolated place was beginning to make me uncomfortable. I was told he lived over the garage, which was down the drive by the gatehouse.
Thanks, this didn’t help me much.
‘Would you like a tour of the house?’
I did. The tour ended in his bedroom. There was the biggest bed I had ever seen. Why would someone with no partner to speak of, need a queen-sized bed?
When Derek entered the room through an adjacent door, the panic struck. I ran and kept running until I reached the highway.
The first car to slow down, was Peter. ‘Get in, let me drive you home.’
Ignoring him, I climbed the embankment, intending to walk through the woods. Reaching the top, I turned to see the car drive away.
Climbing down, hoping to hitch a ride, I started walking.
I should have listened to my itch, my rule about weekends.
He turned out to be a good-looking fraud.
A lorry pulled over. I had to take a chance. I had no money. I needed to go home, take a shower, wash the bad feeling away. Soothe my thoughts with the idea that I had a near miss.
I didn’t read it wrong, did I?
I hoped he wouldn’t pull his work from us. The boss had threatened to sack me if I messed up. Fingers crossed; he would send the rest of his work in by courier as many of our clients do.
Sunday was all mine, time to shake it all off. Monday was a new day, hoping I still had a job.
No work was done that afternoon. Now I had sheets to clean, thoughts to reassemble. Would I repeat the experience was my first thought? That didn’t take too much consideration. Yes, yes, yes! Is he a keeper? I don’t think so. If he is a test drive; I need more lessons.
He left before I woke. The space beside me empty, his presence lingering. Rolling into that empty space, warmed the scent he had left behind. Bottled, it would sell well. I stripped the bed, leaving the sheets in the machine until later. A quick shower, skipping breakfast, I took the car, to work. I can’t afford to be knocked off my bike right now. That makes it sound like I am planning to in the future. I mean, I don’t want to play with that kind of danger right now.
My boss said I took a big risk telling a writer his idea stinks. ‘I didn’t say it quite like that. ‘
‘Lucky for you he didn’t mind. He said he would send in the locations as they arrive in the story.’
I managed to do some work. The rest of the crew were as pleased as the boss. He is a big name. His books are followed by young enthusiasts all over the world. I felt like I had landed a marlin after hours wrestling, much of which ended up between my sheets. A night to remember, yes. A night to repeat, yes please, and soon, I hope. That depends on his first draft when he sends it in. I cannot wait to start work on it. The sooner I give him something to look at, the sooner we might meet again to approve the work over lunch. I was hoping for a repeat of the last time.
The weeks passed, I was beginning to think he had changed his mind.
Turned out to be five weeks before I received a call for lunch. Same place, mid-day Saturday.
I don’t work weekends. For him I made an exception. I need to drop that into our next conversation. Don’t want him to make a habit of changing my life around. I know, I can hear women across the globe saying, if the sex was worth it, what do you care about weekends?
I do care. All week the boss calls the shots, the weekends I’m in charge.
Saturday is going to prove interesting. My back isn’t exactly up, it’s a bit prickly. It would be up to him to smooth it out.
By now, I had extra work on my desk. I try burying myself in it, not wanting to think about Peter Westwood and his edible eyes. The extra time will give me time to stop thinking about him as I’m sure he’s not the one. I haven’t taken him for a test drive yet. One encounter after a long dry spell doesn’t tell me much more than I was just horny. If there is to be a second time, it must match the first time or surpass it.
I will let you know when that happens. Needless to say, I haven’t had the time to read the book that I picked up…
I have been told over the years by many psychics, it’s a deliberate stabbing from a former life. Now, unless they are all reading from the same handbooks for psychics, I have to wonder.
I wish it wasn’t three in the morning, staring at a light spot on my ceiling where the curtains have been disturbed. The empty space beside me, a reminder of being alone. I turn 33 tomorrow. Colleagues at work tell me there is still time to find the one I am so fussy to find.
With luck I may get a few hours sleep. I turn over and try.
Nightmares bleed into morning, I know, because I am screaming.
The nightmare told me I had planted the seed of my own destruction, minutes before conception. I can only hope it’s a long way off.
Standing in front of my hall mirror, I can see I need a do over. My mousy brown hair turning grey, making my eyes look too dark, almost as if I am trying to haunt someone. The rest of me is not so bad. Five foot six, full lips, small nose. My figure is much the same as when I was in my twenties. I don’t tend to pile on the weight, nine stone is comfortable for me.
This morning I will cycle to work, as I feel the need for danger.
The ride to work went better than usual, only one angry driver with his hand on the horn, a face the colour of a beetroot. Poor man, I hope he calms down soon, I wouldn’t want him to blow a gasket.
Today, I cheated. I zipped down the bus lane getting into work ten minutes early in time for coffee. We are not a big publisher, I am an illustrator working until two in the afternoon, then I work from home if I feel like it.
Terence is in early, a good egg, does all the fetching and carrying. Wouldn’t think there is much of that would you, well there is always reams of paper that need cutting. Maggie takes care of the phone and Tom comes in two days a week. The boss sits behind his big glass door, the need to see him slim, as things don’t go wrong that often. Terry, our other illustrator comes in about ten, works until five and doesn’t like to work from home.
I remember to make an appointment for my hair, a birthday gift from me to me. I wonder if it will make me look and feel different, maybe the dream world won’t recognise me and give me better dreams and no nightmares.
My hair appointment all booked for 2.30 on Tuesday.
Waiting for me on my desk, I find the three children’s books which I knew about, plus a folder about a new client that wants to meet with me. “Wednesday lunch, bring your pad and pencil to the Silver Spoon on the corner of the street.” Peter Westwood, his name didn’t ring bells.
The rest of my day flew by. I decide to try not to upset any motorists on the way home. I stop off at a Spar to find something for my tea, where I also pick up a book. Pretty Baby, by Mary Kubica. I will let you know how that goes when I have read it.
Safe inside my home, I finish off the work I brought with me. Make tea, take a shower and settle down with the book…
SHADES OF DELIVERANCE MEETS THE WALTONS… Simple’s life is a painful nightmare. He is one huge bear of a man, but with the heart and mind of an innocent child. He suffers terrible abuse from his vicious and uncaring backwoods family. Together with his half-sister Leanne, they are hunted like wild animals and suffer the terror of nearly being burned alive as they try to escape. Will they ever discover the joy of freedom?
Walking towards Gran, I could feel the blood draining from my body, trying to find some place to hide. It felt as if it had all gathered in my feet, making each step I took the hardest thing I had ever done.
Gran got up from her rocker and I watched it continue to move, as if she had left some part of herself sitting in it. She walked inside the cabin and waited for me. She had never done more than cuff me across the back of the head, but I figured I had to be in for more than that this time. I was trying to think of the worst she could do.
It was cool inside the cabin. Gran was sitting at the big wooden table grandpa had made. She might as well have been the town judge, sitting behind the high bench. She didn’t move or look at me as I sat opposite, waiting for judgement. I knew better than speak first. I couldn’t have, even if I wanted to, my mouth had dried up. Gran finally spoke, her voice hard, as if she had eaten gravel. ‘You’ve done a bad thing, Leanne. Taken our trust and pissed it in the wind. Jimmy says he should be the one to punish you, says you had no right taking Simple anywhere near the Spiers. Reckon I should turn you over to him, save my words for someone who can hear them.’
I said, ‘I can hear real good,’ with more grit in my voice than I intended.
Gran fixed me with one of those looks that made me wish I could turn to stone. ‘Seems to me, young lady, if your ears still work, then your brain’s gone soft like Simple’s. Fancy interfering in business that aint yours. You know right enough, he needs telling more times than the sun wakes us and then some. You want him took off for takin’ town young’uns?’
‘Course not, Gran.’ My voice came out as a whisper.
‘Simple was hurt real bad. I couldn’t just leave him…’
This is a story about some very tough and mean people somewhere in the backwoods and mountains of America. It is told from the perspective of a young girl whose mission in life is to protect her big, but simple-minded brother from harm. The story is compelling, frightening and sometimes brutal in the manner of the film Deliverance, but it is also a heart-warming story of loyalty, love and deep affection. It was not what I was expecting, but I’m glad I read it. It has an unforgettable quality about it and the characters are complex but convincing. It really is a great story and unputdownable.
Looking back at the books I have written, it suddenly struck me just how powerful being a writer really is. Not only do we create complex characters and their lives, we control everything that happens to them. And we seem to do all of this without compulsion or regard for their feelings.
This is what I understood when I started out. The first time I had a stand-up fight with Kate Devereau, one of my characters, it literally blew me away. She had a valid argument too, and I was forced to listen and then to change my plans for her. This character continued to be demanding through two more books. Even now, she fully expects to be in my next book.
It is tempting too, but I think I have used up all her potential and have declined. It is quite special, I think, when a character does this, proof positive if you like, that you have successfully created a living, breathing and believable person.
The reverse of this coin is more complex. Antagonists, or the less than savoury characters, are harder to make real, mainly because you want them to be larger than life, worse than anyone you ever met. Keeping them believable isn’t easy at all. I always imagined they could cause me trouble if I made them too bad.
But so far, they have behaved themselves, so maybe I didn’t make them bad enough.
Right now, I am in the process of creating a new bunch of people, and I love every minute of it. The genre yet, is undecided. I like to find my people first, and then we learn what their story could be.
The people I create tend to be composites’ of people I know, and that goes for the bad as well as the good. It helps, I think, to know how a person behaved in certain circumstances, especially when you have personally witnessed all the mistakes they made!
I have always enjoyed reading books. Mostly for the sense of escapism involved. Somewhere you can forget all about your own life and live someone else’s, albeit vicariously.
It has been a blessing, sometimes more than at other times, depending on how my own life was going at that moment.
I honestly believe that reading books has kept me sane. They have taught me practically everything I know, for if I need or want to know how to do something, I turn to books to find out. Nowadays of course, we have the internet, but in my youth all we had were books.
These days, something else has been added to my enduring love affair with the printed word. Putting it quite simply, they have inspired me to write. You could say that the art of reading could do this anyway, to anyone. But up until recently, I was not aware of this. They were my retreat, my sanctuary. Nothing else.
But everything has changed.
I was a compulsive reader, consuming anything I could get my hands on. I didn’t discriminate and read everything. Asked to list my favourite authors, I would have been hard pushed, for I loved them all.
Somewhere along the way, I seem to have developed a ‘criterion’. I no longer just read a book. My brain seems intent on sifting the wheat from the chaff, so to speak. Who knew it could have that kind of opinion?
Two pages into a book, and if it is not talking to me by then, I discard it and try another. These days I love the kind of books that inspire me and make my fingers want to pick up a pen. Not to copy or emulate, but to write down the way the author has made me feel. Sometimes I find myself with a book in one hand and a notebook in the other.
It’s as if a doorway has been opened in my mind. Artists say colours work for them, for me it’s the power of the words and the way they are used.
Something else has changed in me. I have always considered myself reasonably adept with the English language. It was my favourite lesson at school and over the years as I have said before, it has saved my sanity on many an occasion.
For the first time in my life, I have doubts, and they are growing all the time. I have helped other people edit and proofread their books and been totally convinced I was good at it. Many people (including an agent) said that I was. I have also reviewed dozens of books along the way.
But then I picked up a pen and wrote a story of my own. I never expected it to be as hard as it turned out to be, as words usually came easily to me. But I discovered a very important fact about writing a book. Not only must it have a beginning, middle and end, it must flow, make perfect sense and be interesting to read.
It also had to have a structure and sub plots; the list was endless. I discovered to my horror that I was not as clever as I thought when the pen was in my own hand! Words tend to come at me in a rush, short spasms of prose that seem quite eloquent at the time but appear quite truncated when you attempt to join them all together. So much so, I nearly gave up on Nine Lives several times.
I began to seriously doubt I could ever be a writer, that this wasn’t something I could simply learn how to do.
But I persevered, did my absolute best, and after my edits and even more soul searching, I uploaded it onto Amazon, thinking my work was done.
But I was wrong.
In my haste to achieve something that will hopefully out last me, I forgot the most important step of all. Someone else should have read it first. Someone objective, who would come to it afresh, with no desire or agenda to bin it at the first error.
I learned that it is impossible for me to see my manuscript with a subjective eye. You cannot possibly hope to really because you have lived with it for so long. I wrongly assumed the reverse would be true, that the fact you created every word would make you more than qualified.
This was so long ago and I have learned so much more since then…
From the award-winning author of The Absence of Mercy, comes a gripping and darkly psychological novel about family, suspicion, and the price we are willing to pay to protect those we love the most.
It’s the summer of 1954, and the residents of Cottonwood, California, are dying. At the center of it all is six-year-old Danny McCray, a strange and silent child the townspeople regard with fear and superstition, and who appears to bring illness and ruin to those around him. Even his own mother is plagued by a disease that is slowly consuming her.
Sheriff Jim Kent, increasingly aware of the whispers and rumors surrounding the boy, has watched the people of his town suffer—and he worries someone might take drastic action to protect their loved ones. Then a stranger arrives, and Danny and his ten-year-old brother, Sean, go missing. In the search that follows, everyone is a suspect, and the consequences of finding the two brothers may be worse than not finding them at all.
Our Review of The Quiet Child
Described as both hauntingly tense and a gripping, dark psychological drama, I was hooked by the time I read the blurb on the back of the book.
At first, the main characters seem to be the two boys, Danny and Sean McCray, but when they go missing, their father Michael swings into the central role.
Danny is a strange child; he has never spoken a word and regarded by the superstitious townspeople as a broken child, somehow causing illness and death in the community. When the family car is stolen along with both boys inside, many said it might be better if they were never found.
I liked the slow, careful way the memories and backstory are woven into the story, as the father tries to cope with losing his family. It was painful to watch him hovering between defeat, suspicion and a weird kind of acceptance.
My favourite character was the sheriff, Jim Kent. Bravely doing his job despite being torn between doing his duty and his humanity.
On the surface, this story is about superstition and loss, but I was unprepared for the disturbing conclusion, the final shocking twist was absolutely unexpected…
John Burley grew in a small town in Maryland near the Chesapeake Bay. He worked as a paramedic and firefighter just north of Washington, D.C. before attending medical school in Chicago and completing an emergency medicine residency at University of Maryland Medical Center and the R. Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore. His debut novel, NO MERCY, received the National Black Ribbon Award in recognition of an author who brings a fresh, new voice to suspense writing. His second novel, THE HIDING PLACE, is available now.
John now lives in Northern California where he works full-time as an emergency department physician. He writes dark psychological suspense thrillers about murder and mayhem on his days off, tries to keep the nightmares at bay, and occasionally finds time to sleep.
Throughout the previous volumes the fantasy aspect of this epic has gradually built. In Journey 8, that fantastical element comes to the fore. . Emlyn and her companions search for the fabled Lost Library. The entire world is at risk, so they hope answers will be there. However, a new complication arises and the fate of one Deae Matres hangs in the balance. . Meanwhile Arawn, who tore the Veil between the worlds of the living and dead, tries to make an evil alliance with a long dead king who was known for his ruthlessness. . Remove the limits from your imagination and join Emlyn and company on this extraordinary adventure.
Dead of Winter Journey 8
This story moves on to another part of this intriguing world and opens with Emlyn and her companions Zasha and Hallgeir exploring the newly found Library, trying to find out why Osabide and two of members of the Deae Matre have disappeared. And as this magical Library seems enormous, not an easy task.
When Hallgeir reappears, he brings with him the ancient watcher, Haldis.
The one who has been watching their progress all this time. Was she the reason they were here? Or the reason the library had vanished all those years ago?
As Haldis recounts her story, Emlyn was reminded of the magic that linked them. But whose side was the magic on, and did it still have plans for them all?
Emlyn grows uneasy as she listens to their conversations and the decision that involves herself, realising that they are deciding her future and that of her own special gift.
Ripples of unease and mistrust begin to circulate, were they all being manipulated into making the biggest mistake of their lives?