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The response to the upcoming release of Blood’s Veil has, so far, been nothing short of overwhelming. You know that dream where you realise you’re stark naked in front of a room full of laughing and pointing strangers? No? Well, work with me here, and imagine it anyway, then multiply that feeling by six gazillion, and that’s about as naked as I feel having my words out there. It’s like I took off my clothes, my skin, and all that other crap, right down to the bare bone, and now my naked-ass skeleton is walking around town, petrified of every reaction. But… as terrifying as it was to put that first chapter out there in the big, bad void that is the Interweb, the near-seizure has been so worth it. You guys have been great. 🙂 Thank you all so much! 

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A huge thank you to Damien O’Bey and all at SAMS for the Q&A article on Blood’s Veil last week. Here it is below. You can also read it online at The Sentinel website

Blood’s Veil

Q & A with Damien O’Bey, The Sentinel, St Helena

Can you give us a brief description of the book, different to the synopsis?

Blood’s Veil is a story about two adoptive sisters, Ella and Brooke. They return home after a tragic death in the family, hoping to find closure. Instead, Ella finds her father in prison, and Brooke finds herself faced with her dark past. Brooke struggles to keep her grip on who she has tried to become, but the secret she keeps is threatening to unravel her identity, and her bond with Ella.

What inspired the novel?

The inspiration for writing comes, ultimately, from a love of books. I’m a book nerd. If I had to narrow it down, I guess the idea for this book comes from my fascination with that grey area between right and wrong, between truth and lies. Blood’s Veil is a story about how easy it can be to see only what we want to see, particularly when it comes to family, and how difficult it is to separate the truth from what we feel or believe.

How long did it take, from start to finish?

It feels like I started it back in the Ice Age! The idea of it first came to me way back in my teens, but life got in the way more times than I can count. In hindsight, this was a good thing, since by the time I sat down and started working in earnest, I realised I had a completely different story to tell. That restructure took me over a year. Here’s hoping the next book won’t take as long.

What challenges did you face along the way, and how did you overcome them?

The biggest challenge has always been myself. Writing the first draft of a book can be easy, but that draft should never see the light of day. Rewriting, editing, and polishing it to within an inch of its life is what makes any book worth reading, and it has been both a joy and a nightmare. Working hard at it every day seems like an obvious thing, but I made the early mistake of ‘waiting for inspiration’, and more often than not inspiration just doesn’t show up. When I allowed myself to take it seriously, to view it not as a hobby, but an actual job, I got more done.

The first chapter is available to read for free online at your website. Have you had any feedback from readers?

The interest in it so far has been overwhelmingly positive. Thank you to everyone for your support.

Does St Helena feature?

St Helena does feature, yes. Ella and Brooke, and all main characters within the book are [fictional] islanders—Saints—and the story is set primarily on the island.

How can people on St Helena purchase the novel?

Blood’s Veil will be available in paperback and e-book from March 15th. I am also hosting a giveaway for a signed copyEntries for the giveaway close at midnight on March 16th.*

*Giveaway now closed.

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The countdown to the release of Blood’s Veil on March 15th has truly begun. 

It’s all go here at the Moyce residence, by which I mean, I’m a raving mass of nerves and excitement, alternating between coffee IVs and chain-smoking, and poring over the laptop, muttering curse words. Today, though, I’m mostly excited. I finally get to reveal the cover of Blood’s Veil, my debut romantic suspense novel about Brooke and Ella—two adoptive sisters who return to their home island after the death of their mother. Brooke, the eldest, has a dark past, and it is about to reveal itself, threatening her relationship with Ella, and testing every bond they’ve ever made.

Find out more about Blood’s Veil, or jump right in and read the entire first chapter of this romantic suspense novel right now. For free!

In celebration of my frazzled nerves (it’s been worth it), I am also hosting a giveaway for a signed copy (yay!) of my new book. Keep reading below to find out how to enter.

First things first, though… I’ve got a cover ready and waiting to strip off and show you the goods. So without further rambling, I give you: Blood’s Veil

romantic suspense - blood's veil

 


Giveaway 

So, about that free signed book… there’s a copy up for grabs! One lucky winner will receive a brand new signed copy of Blood’sVeil. The giveaway is live right now, and it is open to any country. Yup, worldwide! Entries close just before midnight on March 16th, so get yours in now!

Here’s how:

A message will appear (like the one below) confirming your entry, along with a series of options. Doing any of these will add bonus entries, increasing your odds of winning! Or you can go ahead and do them all! Woot!

The bonus entries are:

  • Sharing the link with your friends
  • Reading chapter one of Blood’s Veil
  • Tweeting about it on Twitter
  • Pinning it on Pinterest

Simply click each button on the popup message to get your bonus entries in.

The winner will be chosen at random on (or shortly after) the closing date on March 16th, and will be contacted via the email you enter when you sign up for the giveaway.

Good luck, and happy reading!

Enter the giveaway!

 

**Giveaway now closed

Read Chapter One of Blood's Veil

With just under a month to go before the release date of my debut romantic suspense novel, you can now read Chapter One of Blood’s Veil online, for free.  Here’s a preview with the link to the rest below. Hope you enjoy it. *cue sweating, panicking, and chain-smoking*  

Happy reading!

 

Read Chapter One of Blood's Veil

 

 

 

 

 

Prologue

Every night she waited. Silent, still. The limbs of her twelve-year-old body ached with the effort. Her heart hammered in the quiet of the room—drumming, chanting; a cruel, betraying boom that gave her away. Every night she wished for morning, for the light. It always came too late. Sometimes, she wished instead for darkness, wished herself part of it—wisp and smoke and shadow, able to sink into the night and escape. When she held her breath and shut her eyes real tight, she could imagine that escape—imagine she was somewhere else entirely. If she kept still long enough she could pretend this night would be different; that maybe, this night, he wouldn’t come for her—

But he always did.

 

Seventeen years later…

 

One

Ella was rooted to the spot. A scream carved an icy path inside her, from her head through every limb, with no release. Three seconds passed, three minutes—it could have been three hours—an immeasurable streak of sheer panic and hysteria. Then, it was suddenly still, as though a giant hand had reached out and smothered the world in shadow. Her breath caught in her throat, thick and heavy, like smoke. Her hand, foreign and white-knuckled with tension, kept a tight fist on the cordless black phone—the one thing that kept her tied to the centre of it all, to the cataclysmic news from the other side of the equator.

‘Ella?’ It broke Ella’s trance. ‘You still there? Hello?’

Aunt Mandy. Her mama’s sister… her dead mama’s sister.

Ella stared ahead, unseeing. ‘I have to go,’ she said, the words spluttering from her, coarse and splintered. She barely registered her own voice and swallowed repeatedly to soothe the scratchy burn at the back of her throat. ‘I…’

She stopped.

She didn’t know how to end that sentence. It was like everything she was certain of up until this point had disintegrated into dust. She had never felt more unsure or alone than she did right now.

‘That’s okay, my darlin’, I understand. You take care. And let me know about the arrangements… Call me anytime, y’hear?’ Her aunt paused for a long moment, waiting. Eventually, she hung up.

Ella didn’t move. The phone clicked dead then onto dial-tone as she stood there, unwilling, refusing, to process what she’d learnt. Her mind raced. Threads of thought
chased themselves like dead leaves on the wind. Slowly, a single question began to form. It was both simple and complicated at once.

Why?

She slumped against the living room wall. It just couldn’t be true. She couldn’t believe it. She wouldn’t. There had to be some kind of a mistake—someone, somewhere, had gotten things horribly wrong.

The phone started to wail, and she hit the end-call button fiercely, returning to the suffocating silence.

Mama… she’s dead…

The three words jarred her. She seemed to fumble around them for a while, feeling her way, searching for a weakness, a gap, a hole in the truth. But there was none, and when her mind wrapped itself around the finality of fact, something inside her broke. Her head filled with pictures and memories, and the crushing torment of knowing it was all she had left.

She shoved the phone back on its cradle with such force it wobbled and fell off, and she stared at it, not daring to touch it; it was contaminated with truth. It had snatched the world from under her feet, and all that remained was a heavy, sickening ache, and yet she felt that somehow, it was the last tie to everything that came before it. Blinking back tears, she slowly picked it up, clutched it like a small child to her chest, and cried.

*

Lying motionless in the cramped bunk of her cabin, Ella dug deep for the motivation to move. The vessel’s engine grumbled steadily somewhere beneath her, and morning was only just beginning to seep into the room. She eased herself off the top bunk, careful not to step on her sister, Brooke, snoring gently in the bed below.

She parted the heavy curtains. The dawn cast itself over the Atlantic, impossibly beautiful set against the recent tragedy of her mother’s passing; it seemed wrong somehow, that these two extremes could co-exist. She took a deep breath, forcing the raw grief back inside its box, trying not to lose her grip; losing herself instead to the pink-tinted sky tilting and realigning with each dip of the vessel. She’d forgotten how breathtaking it was to watch the day break over the ocean.

There was a lot she’d forgotten, and in just a few hours, stepping back on homeland, she was going to have to face the fact that her voluntary memory lapse was bringing her home just a little too late. She was determined never to forgive herself for that.

Travelling to an island which claimed to be one of the remotest places in the world took time, and there was only one way to reach Saint Helena—by sea, on an old Royal Mail ship. It had cost them two full weeks. Two weeks was a long time to have to sit around and grieve from afar, helpless and isolated. Still, a shorter time would have made no real difference. It was useless to blame an age-old journey plan for her own selfish mistake of not visiting when she’d had the chance. If she’d have kept her word, she would have seen her mama at least one more time. Instead, she’d put it off, time after time, always coming up with a feeble excuse; always accepting her mama’s gentle understanding on the other end of the phone-line, accepting it as approval.

And now… it was too late.

The guilt had always tugged and niggled, although up until now it had been small enough to shrug off; now, it was a life-sized weight around her neck that she couldn’t cast aside even if she’d wanted to.

She’d been on auto-pilot for the last fortnight, busying herself with anything she could, simply to avoid having to think; it was a little less painful to deal with in robot-mode, even if it was a coward’s way forward. Unfortunately, three days on the ocean gave her plenty of time to correct that; boredom was no friend to grief, or guilt.

Brooke seemed to be coping. Then again, Brooke had never been in the habit of adorning anything with her heart, let alone her sleeve, so Ella’s guess was as good as any. You never could be sure what was there under the surface with Brooke. She was more subdued than usual, and seemed to have agreed to the trip only so Ella wouldn’t have to make it alone, but maybe she knew Ella needed this, and needed her, even if neither of them realised how much. This would be the closest thing to closure either of them could manage, if there was any such simple thing.

Ella jumped as Brooke shifted suddenly in her sleep.

Stuffing her head under one of the pillows, Brooke let out an overly loud groan, more agitated than a premenstrual dragon.

‘Why are you up so early?’ she grumbled, her voice muffled by the pillow. ‘Close the curtains, will you?’

Ella smiled in spite of herself. Her sister made it easier to function; easier to fake normality. If there was anyone in the world that could keep her anchored and sane in all of this, it would be Brooke. Whilst everyone else tiptoed around Ella, magnifying what had happened, treating her like a delicate crystal ornament—she could trust Brooke to be herself. And whether or not Brooke knew this, it was exactly what Ella needed.

*

Brooke stood at the stern of the vessel and studied the surf trail as the ship slowly cut its path. The ocean was a piercing mid-day-blue mirror to the cloudless sky above, the heat bouncing off the water in a rippled dance. The wooden rails separating her from the inviting depths below were sun-warm and comforting against her bare arms. If she craned her neck at just the right angle, she was able to catch her first glimpse of ‘home’.

At this distance the island was little more than jagged shadow and rock, jutting up out of the water—misshapen teeth in the mouth of a sleeping dragon. Soon, she’d have no choice but to climb into that mouth. For now, it was still shrouded in haze, shimmering against the horizon like a mirage, and Brooke found herself wishing that were all it was; a mirage would have been easier than reality.

Too soon though, the ship pulled into the harbour, and the horn reverberated with finality. The short boat-ride to shore from the larger vessel was a whole lot more fun than Brooke remembered it to be, perhaps because an actual moment of joy had been so unexpected this close to landing. Sea spray and salty air aside, the uneasiness inside her grew. It had been stirring since leaving the airport in England.

She should have stayed. She should have kept herself away from all of this, not agree to come back; should have made her excuses and left it at that. But how could she have done?

She didn’t see the point herself, in coming home this long after Addie’s funeral, but she knew Ella wanted to, maybe needed to. She knew if there was ever a time she needed to step up and be there for someone else, it was now, for Ella.

Now though, as the boatman steered them all toward the harbour, her selfless act was looking really stupid. She wanted to leap overboard and swim all the way back to safety.

‘This is it,’ Ella said suddenly.

She looked smaller and more vulnerable than Brooke had ever seen her. Brooke aborted her wild ideas of escape, and reached for Ella’s hand, squeezing it.

‘We’ll be alright, El.’

Ella nodded, and smiled a weak but obviously grateful smile, and Brooke hoped the simple lifelong mantra of all families everywhere would be enough to console Ella somehow.

We’ll be alright.

It sure as hell didn’t have Brooke convinced.

One of the boatmen at the pier offered a hand as she stepped out onto the wet landing step. She looked around her, waiting for Ella to follow. The wharf was teeming with men in yellow hard-hats and overalls, not hard at work but just as she’d left them—filling the position of laid-back onlookers. A few of them she recognised. Some of them smiled, some ogled, and some weren’t bothered either way. They merely looked glad for a timeout and a smoke.

Ella reached her side and began unzipping the bulky life jacket, following the first boatload of twenty-odd passengers up the wide harbour steps in the direction of transportation to Customs. Brooke followed suit, her fingers fumbling and catching in the zip. They boarded the bus in silence, spoke only when spoken to during the clearance procedure in Customs, and then ventured towards the exit of the building.

Brooke cast a side glance at Ella; she was pale. Facing the crowd at the seaside during passenger arrivals was never easy on the passengers. The other side of seven years, they had been a part of the waiting crowd. Brooke had been, at least. Ella never had time for ‘that sort of rubbish’—watching people return home just so you could scrutinise them; judging how much they’d changed during their time away, by the clothes they wore, or the way they greeted someone—that was not Ella’s idea of leisure. It was a bit of an island tradition though, and true to form, when they left the cool, safe darkness of the building, and the sunlight hit them once more, so did the gaping assembly of people.

There were so many of them. Some were caught up in their own reunions, oblivious to two more passengers arriving. The rest, they were all eyes.

Brooke’s gaze automatically swooped to the spot where she’d sat as a teenager: a ‘front-row’ spot near a large, out-of-use storage building. She half-expected the same group of people to be perched there, stuck in a time loop of some sort. Instead, there were nameless faces, all along the building front and the half-walls, all the way up toward a flight of stone steps leading to one of the many hillside paths in the valley capital. To the right, yet more bystanders, spanning the width of the street. They had, as had always been the practice, formed a semi-circle around the gate of the Customs building, dotting themselves between parked vehicles, eagerly waiting like paparazzi for celebrities, or wild animals with barely-curbed appetites.

 

Want more?

Click here  Read Chapter One of Blood’s Veil

 

  Where Can I Buy Blood’s Veil?

 

image - graffiti excerpt writing prompt - let me out - asylum

‘Imagine the crazies that lived in this place…’ Zach stepped over the debris, and into the abandoned 1920s asylum.

‘That’s fucked up, Zach – even for you,’ Hayley said, following him inside, scrunching her nose at the faint smell of rot.

‘Why? Cos it’s true?’

‘The stuff that went on in places like this was unreal – unjustified.’

‘Yeah, yeah,’ Zach said. ‘Hold this, would you?’ He handed her the backpack, taking a single aerosol can in his hand, and began tracing an elaborate tag in fresh red spray paint on the nearby wall – Z.H. – in a well-practised design of angles and flourishes.

‘Why do you do that?’

Zach shrugged, stepping back and admiring the handiwork in his initials. ‘It’s art.’

Hayley snorted. ‘Let’s look around.’

They made their way into a long corridor of empty doorways, peering in each one as they went, trying not to think too hard about the rooms’ former occupants. Over fifty years of desertion and yet Hayley could swear the smell of chemicals and despair still clung in the air.

‘Christ, look at this one!’ Zach had trudged ahead, and stood marvelling at the room at the far end of the building.

Hayley reached it, and blanched at the sight. Rusty equipment lined the back wall; a large dentist-like chair stood like a proud centrepiece, spewing stuffing from its filthy blue cover; an overturned stretcher, broken trolleys, and even yellowed paperwork littered the floor. Most disturbing of all were the chains – long, solid rusted links hung from wall-fixtures, shackles dangling, open and threatening, like hungry jaws.

‘Fuck…’ Hayley couldn’t move.

The room stank of decay and ruin; the layer of dust and debris on everything was so thick that she could have been looking at a sepia photograph; yet it chilled her. Her skin crawled, and the sudden gush of air that swept through the hall made the papers on the floor flutter and crackle like leaves.

‘It’s like Fifty Shades on crack, huh?’ Zach laughed.

‘Don’t!’ Hayley protested. ‘It’s not funny.’

Zach nudged past her and started shaking his spray can; the rattle and clang of the ball inside of it echoed through the hall.

‘Do you have to? Here?’ Hayley asked him, annoyed. ‘No one cares about your ‘art’.’ She made speech marks in the air with her fingers.

Zach shrugged again, and Hayley sighed, plucking up the courage to step in the room. She tread carefully towards the scattered papers – patient records, she realised – and picked a handful up. At the sound of the spray paint spurt in the hall, she looked up, watching as Zach’s quick hand formed mocking, shaky letters in shiny, wet crimson.

She gasped.

No sooner than the breath had passed her lips, did the rumbling start overhead. Hayley screamed. She threw the papers down, starting towards Zach, but she never reached him. The ceiling thundered down upon the two of them, a dust-cloud of rubble and ruin, the entire end of the building collapsing, folding in on itself and crumbling, like it was made of ash. When the air finally settled, only two walls were left standing; one with the shackles, swaying almost imperceptibly in the breeze; the other, joined only by the half collapsed door frame, bore the words:

LET ME OUT.

 


shonamoyce

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Shona Moyce is a self-proclaimed weirdo, proud bookworm, and author of Blood’s Veil and the fantasy series, Immisceo. Blogging here about books, writing, and occasionally, real life. Read more…

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