I am so happy to be participating in this blog tour. I love the cover of this book it's very creepy looking. On my stop we have an excerpt, giveaway,and guest post by the author Val herself. So let's get started and learn more about the book.
Misfit and struggling writer Lorei Franklin has always struggled in life. Juggling an ailing mother, busy-body friends, and dead-end jobs, Lorei finally catches a break: she has won the L. Cameron Faulkner fiction contest, earning a three-week stay with the reclusive and famous horror writer. But her time at Faulkner's mansion is not what she expected. She is plagued by a man in a fedora, two frightened assistants, and a series of strange visions--not to mention all the scratches on the walls. She also struggles with her feelings for Faulker--she's had a crush on him since his cameo appearance in his movie, but he's much more intimidating, and attractive, in person. The isolated mansion makes it difficult for Lorei to contact her dying mother, the only person who knows the identity of Lorei’s real father. As the novel progresses, Lorei learns that the creepy visions she’s experiencing are flash-forwards of her own future life in the mansion. As she discovers, the man in the fedora has a sinister purpose--as the devil, he has claimed Faulkner's soul but will relinquish it in exchange for Lorei's--as it turns out, she is his daughter, and he’s been out to possess her for years. Now desperate, the devil is pulling out all his cards. To beat him, Lorei will have to fight her growing lust for Faulkner, ignore her love for her mother, stifle her fear of the mansion and that which is hidden in the walls, and abandon her dreams of becoming an author. If she can only accomplish those things, perhaps she can escape the devil’s grasp and avoid becoming the tormented old woman in her visions...
But when she looked up to greet the last customer in line, Lorei's confidence shattered. The color on her cheeks drained with her adrenaline. It was a man in a worn, brown fedora and a weathered trench coat: it was the same man who had been creeping near her backyard.
This time, he was close enough for her to examine his face. The face was so gruesome that the man’s gaze terrified her, yet it was so horribly captivating that she could not look away. The face was wrinkled, leathery, and gaunt. Pouches of flesh sagged under his eyes, and when he smiled at her, the flabby flesh stretched tight against his lips. His gnarled and knobby nose reminded Lorei of a haunted old tree that grew outside her childhood bedroom window; it housed a spooky old owl that used to keep her awake with its ghostly hooting. He looked more like a scarecrow than a man. Lorei shuddered as the strange man stepped up to the table and cleared his throat. Other customers mingled around the store, each one clutching his newly-signed book like a precious treasure. They who had been so adamant to see her a moment ago seemed to have forgotten her existence. She was left horribly alone and had no choice but to confront the man with her gaze.
His countenance held all the properties of childhood nightmares—unexplainable and visceral and terribly real. His skin was weathered like the aging autumn; gnarled and twisted, it seemed to protest its own age. His bottom lip was swollen and split on one side with scarred-over stitches holding it together. Above the opposite eyebrow was a wide and leathery scar. Shadowed by a heavy brow sunk two piercing eyes, coal-black. The gaze that blazed from them pierced Lorei with shrillest of winter winds and yet burned through her core like fire.
“I—” was all she could mutter. She sat paralyzed. The man held no book for her to sign and said nothing. His hands he kept in his coat pockets, his gaze penetrating all the while. He seemed comfortable enough standing in silence.
Lorei looked again for the manager, but Diane stood absorbed in conversation on the other side of the store. Like the customers, she was oblivious to Lorei’s situation. Lorei and the stranger were enclosed in their own private sphere of existence. Even if she screamed, she knew that no one would hear. No one would look. There was something intangible that separated her from the rest of humanity just then.
She closed her eyes, hoping that it was all just her imagination. But when she opened them again, the man was still there. He had removed his hands from his pockets, and they were fondling the inside cover of Faulkner’s newest book. He ran his finger up and down the dust jacket, tracing the contours of Faulkner’s headshot. “Something sad about his face, don’t you think?” the man asked. His voice was at once wispy and gruff enough to match his appearance. It had the qualities of a lonely fall breeze rustling through the last of the dried leaves that were nature’s only stronghold against the death of winter.
By Val Muller
As the author of a light-hearted mystery series for kids, people have been asking me lately, “why horror?” Some seem surprised that mild-mannered Val would write about ghosts and murder and a bad man who seeks everyone’s demise.
The reason I like horror is the same reason I like 1984 by George Orwell. In 1984, Winston’s spirit is tested to its breaking point—and it breaks. The novel does not follow the typical formula of an archetypal tale. There is no return to home with a new mastery of the world—at least, not in the traditional sense. 1984 ends in what I consider the most despairing final scene in literature. Though the tone of the last chapter is calm and happy, the irony between tone and content is horrifying: Winston has been completely broken down by months (years?) of torture and brainwashing, and he is convinced that the enemy of all mankind’s freedoms, Big Brother, a being/idea he once detested, is there solely for his benefit. In the end, his spirit is completely broken. He loves Big Brother, and he cries tears of happiness that he has finally been saved from himself and his horrible thoughts of freedom.
For me, 1984 is a wake-up call. Sure, it’s a hyperbole (at least for now!), but each time I read it, which is at least once per year, I get chills. I imagine all the horrible things that might become of our society, and I appreciate what I have all the more. I take more deliberate steps to educate myself about things that could, at some point, turn our world into an Orwellian nightmare.
Horror has the same effect on me. When I read horror (and I prefer psychological, suspense horror—not hack-and-slash horror), I am awakened from the banality of life. In Faulkner’s Apprentice, Lorei is stuck in a rut, working dead-end jobs in hopes of making it big as a writer. She gets annoyed at her friends (whose lives seem to be coming together rather nicely), but she doesn’t quite appreciate all that she has going for her. When the bad man enters her life, Lorei is awakened. When the bad man threatens her mother’s ailing mind, Lorei realizes how much she has taken her mother for granted. When the bad man tempts Lorei with a taste of success, Lorei realizes just how much she wants to achieve success that she was previously unwilling to work for. Though it happens in a disturbing, sometimes gruesome, way, the horror in Faulkner’s Apprentice awakens Lorei.
I don’t like the Saw movies at all. I have never been able to get through an entire one (at least, not without looking away), and I never tried to make it past Saw II. But I completely “get” the premise (at least, as far as I understand it from the limited amount of screen-time I was able to see). The mastermind in Saw who tortures people has a somewhat admirable motive at its core: he wants his victims to truly appreciate life, and he believes that by pushing them to the brink of death, he will achieve his goal. Granted, the way he goes about teaching them to appreciate life is illegal, immoral, demented, despicable, and disgusting. Yes, so disturbing that I can’t even bear to watch. But the point of those films is a hyperbole of the point I am making here. Horror pushes us to the edges of our comfort zone with the goal of awakening us from the blending-together of days in our lives.
With so much technology and so many conveniences, it’s easy for the days to blend into each other, for years to happen without our consent. Horror, for me, is an alarm clock, a wake up that pushes us to—in the words of Thoreau—live deliberately.
You can find out more about my latest book, and stalk me, at:
Thanks for hosting me!
English teacher by day, writer by night, Val grew up in cold and haunted
New England, which seems to have
colored her works with a tinge of the macabre. She currently lives in Northern Virginia with her husband and two corgis, a
rambunctious and curious dog named Leia, and a kind and obedient (yet
terrified) dog named Yoda. Val writes for children and adults and, when not
performing her day job as an English teacher, attends book events and
elementary schools to conduct writing workshops.
I wanna Thank Yout to Val for being on my blog today and Thank You to Jaidis for letting me participate in this tour. Don't forget to enter the giveaway.