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Saturday, 12 September 2015

☀ Something Wiccan: Out of the Dark [2] - James Drummond

Thank you for joining us on the Virtual Book Tour for Something Wiccan, a Young Adult Supernatural Horror by (, 288 pages).

This is the second book in the Out of the Dark series.

PREVIEW: Read the first four chapters with Amazon Look Inside. Something Wiccan is FREE on Kindle Unlimited and Kindle Owner's Lending Library.

Check out the book's synopsis and the excerpt below, as well as details about the whole series, including the third book in the series: "The Agreement" which will be released on 18 September 2015!

Please do take part: comment on our post and follow the tour where you will be able to read other interviews (ℚ) and reviews (✍).


Synopsis | Teaser | The Series | Author Q&A | About the Author | Tour Stops

Synopsis

The Good, The Bad, and The Undead

"It's sometimes hard to know who to be the most afraid of!!"
- Kindle Review

After discovering a family secret in the attic, Natalie Sherwood also begins to discover some unsettling things about herself. As she starts experimenting with her newfound abilities, she accidentally summons beings who strive to kill her and steal her magical powers.

After saving his hometown from a pack of savage werewolves, Toby Hoffman is recruited by an elite group of international hunters to help confront supernatural creatures across the globe. Saving Natalie from the beings she's brought to her hometown will be his first mission.

Teaser: Excerpt

Chapter One: Jack’s Story

Find Jack Steele on a good day, and the forty-two-year-old hunter would at least appear confident and committed to his work. After adopting a “fake it ’til you make it” approach early on in his career, he’d become quite adept at pretending. Back then it had been his fear that he’d concealed behind a façade of self-assurance. And he’d done so very effectively. His employers never knew just how terrified he’d been as he completed the missions they’d assigned to him.

Now, after almost twenty years, Jack had overcome his fear by travelling the world and hunting down every lead he’d been provided. He’d developed an abundance of genuine courage and grown to accept the rather mundane reality that there was a whole host of “fairy-tale” creatures out there going bump— if not batty— in the night. He knew precisely what the monsters he hunted were, exactly what they were capable of, and the most efficient way to kill every last one.

But as the years added up, and the one monster he wanted to kill most continued to evade him, Jack became increasingly jaded, frustrated, and more than a little burned out. So he still found himself pretending from time to time. Only these days it was a mounting melancholia that the seasoned hunter faked his way through.

Dragging a hand over his eyes and stubble-covered jaw, Jack tried unsuccessfully to convince himself that he hadn’t hit yet another dead end. This made his sixth night in Monaghan, Ireland. That meant tomorrow would be the eighteenth of April, which meant he’d now been hunting Alister McKean for nineteen years, two months, and thirteen days. He’d lost track of how many of those days and nights bore resemblance to this one— sitting alone inside a dingy pub, a bit drunk, deeply dejected, and growing more and more detached.

Resting his elbows on the bar, Jack watched a group of chatting Monaghan girls who stood in the far corner of the wood-paneled room. He had committed all of their faces to memory over the past few days, but he knew the one he needed to worry about most was the twenty-two-year-old blonde.

She was clearly the center of her friends’ collective attention, and for good reason. Monaghan was a sparsely populated village, and this particular inhabitant— Carolyn was what Jack had thought he’d overheard someone call her— was easily the most attractive person he’d seen during his time there. She possessed a vibrant energy that seemed to warm the whole begrimed drinking establishment around her. One couldn’t help but notice her fresh, unblemished face, perky chest, and equally bouncy personality. And those were only a few of the qualities that set her apart from her entourage.

Jack had first noticed her at a café three days earlier, where she’d also stood out from the crowd. He knew right away that he’d found the perfect bait for hooking the creature he so badly wanted to catch. And just like any first-rate fisherman, he’d downed one too many brews while waiting for that first nibble. Jack signaled the bartender, a heavy-set man who he estimated was somewhere between forty-five and fifty.

“Another drink?” asked the portly barkeep as he tottered over. The guy was probably no more than three years away from his first heart attack.

“See that blonde over there?”

The man gave the girl a sideways glance. “Hard to miss that one.”

Jack pulled twenty euros from the pocket of his weathered canvas jacket and placed the money on the bar. “I’m gonna go use the head. If she starts to look like she’s considering leaving, I want you to set her up with another drink. On me.”

The bartender nodded his understanding, and Jack got up to use the facilities. The second he pushed open the restroom door, a rank stench hit him like a gale-force wind, almost pushing him back out into the saloon. As grubby as the pub was, the men’s lavatory made the rest of the establishment look pristine. Doing his best not to touch anything but his own equipment, he relieved himself of the last three pints he’d guzzled down. While zipping up, Jack scrutinized the puke-encrusted sink and quickly decided to forego washing his hands. What a shithole this place was.

Not just the bar, but the entire town.

Staring into his own weary cobalt eyes in the bathroom’s smudged and spattered mirror, he stopped trying to remember how many nights he’d had similar to this one and started wondering how many more he could take. The thought of another lead going cold released a deep depression that seeped all the way through him.

Immediately upon exiting the men’s room, he noticed that the girl, possibly named Carolyn, was no longer standing with her friends. A sickening wave, unrelated to the beers he’d consumed, swelled up inside Jack’s belly as he scanned the dank watering hole.

He once again waved over the bartender. “Where’d she go?” “Left with some

“Left with some sod,” answered the barkeep, setting the hunter’s money back on the bar.

“What?”

“Look, mate, you’ve been backward about coming forward all night. And she seemed pretty into the fellow— like maybe she knew him from somewhere.”

“What did he look like?” Jack asked, grabbing his euros off the chipped and scuffed mahogany.

“Just some bloke.”

“Dark hair? Black coat?”

The bartender shot him a puzzled expression. “Yeah. How did you—”

“Noticeably pale?” asked the hunter brusquely. “Even for around here?”

“I suppose.”

Jack scowled and hustled for the door. He’d received a tip about Lazlo Dahl resurfacing in Northern Ireland a little over a week ago. Monaghan had seemed like the most desperate of grasps at a straw, but apparently the bloodsucker with a penchant for bright, effervescent blondes was in town. Could the bartender have been right

that the girl already knew him? Had Lazlo made contact with her before Jack arrived? If so, why wait so long to make a move?

Had the vamp been waiting for the coast to clear?

Jack cursed himself as he exited the pub and stepped out into a cool, damp Ireland night. The girl definitely hadn’t been aware that he’d been tailing her, but Jack hadn’t been as careful when it came to making sure nobody else observed his not-so-covert operation. When one’s dedication falters, so does one’s discretion.

He cursed himself again as he anxiously searched the side streets and darkened doorways. Aside from an over-served pub patron dry heaving in a nearby alleyway, the hunter didn’t find a soul.

Just as he was about to give up looking, he heard a scream.

Jack spun toward the sound and spotted another alleyway one block over. Without a moment’s hesitation, he sprinted toward it, drawing a Beretta pistol from the leather holster tucked beneath his jacket. When he reached the alleyway, he found the girl, possibly named Carolyn, lying motionless on the glistening cobblestones. A slender man in a Stetson cap was kneeling beside her body.

“Son of a bitch,” Jack mumbled as he pulled a silencer from the largest of three pockets that lined the inside of his jacket. Quickly spinning it onto the end of his pistol, he let loose a sharp whistle. The girl’s assailant turned, and Jack instantly recognized him to be Lazlo Dahl. He stared directly into the vampire’s soulless gaze. Neither of the creature’s eyes showed a discernible iris, pupil, or sclera. There was nothing but crimson. Vampire facial features contorted in disturbing ways once the creatures were fully transformed. Their cheekbones protruded outward, their foreheads became knotted and creased, and their jaws unhinged almost like a snake’s. All plenty horrid to look at, but Jack had always found the eyes to be the most unsettling.

“I hope you enjoyed her,” he muttered, glancing down at the girl. Her neck was torn open, and Jack realized it was her spilt blood that was causing the cobblestones to shimmer in the moonlight. “Because you just sucked down your last supper.”

Lazlo smiled, revealing his bloodstained fangs. The vampire didn’t seem the least bit concerned about the weapon pointed directly at his chest.

“Where’s Alister?” Jack asked, shifting his gaze back to the brazen creature.

“I thought that was you in the pub,” hissed Lazlo, ignoring the question. “And at the café… and parked outside this sweet girl’s apartment for the past three nights… following her around like a lost puppy. You’re the obsessed hunter. Am I right?”

“Where is he?”

“If I answered that, I’d have to kill you,” teased the vampire, straightening up. “Of course, I suppose you could argue that I’m just going to kill you anyway.”

Jack pulled the Beretta’s trigger three times. Bullets spat out through the silencer, peppering the vampire’s chest and right shoulder with dull thuds. Lazlo fell next to his latest victim and emitted an anemic moan.

“Solid copper bullets,” Jack explained. “Not enough to kill you with, but I know how they sting your kind plenty.

” A soft sizzling sound emanated from the vampire’s wounds and thin wisps of smoke curled upward from each of the bullet holes. Convinced that Lazlo was sufficiently incapacitated, Jack re-holstered his pistol.

The creature did his best to speak through sputtering coughs. “I… I tell you where to find Alister… and he finds out it was me who told…”

“I’d be worrying more about the predicament you find yourself in presently,” said the hunter as he withdrew a wooden stake from a second concealed holster underneath his jacket.

“He’ll sic Gavin on me for sure,” Lazlo protested. “And there’s not a thing you can do to me that will compare to how that psychopath will make me suffer.”

“Gavin?” Jack heard the surprise in his voice as he repeated the name and angrily bit his lower lip. He prided himself in his ability to remain poker-faced while interacting with his targets, but he was legitimately thrown by the mention of another of the United Kingdom’s most-wanted creatures of the night.

Lazlo managed a smug grin. “Oh, I’m sure a hunter as knowledgeable as yourself has heard his name before?”

“Not in association with Alister.”

“In that case, I’ve already said too much.”

Jack marched toward the vampire. “I think you can spill a little more.”

Once Jack was within a few steps, the bloodsucker sprung. The hunter thrust his stake downward in self-defense, caught off guard by how quickly the wounded creature could still move. Lazlo raised his left forearm as protection, and Jack drove the wooden spike straight through it. With an irritated growl, the vampire wheeled around.

Jack caught an elbow to the chin and went down. Wasting no time, Lazlo pulled out the stake and tossed it aside. The creature then leapt toward the alleyway entrance— apparently now more interested in escaping than putting up a fight.

Dazed, but still determined, the hunter drew his pistol again and fired. Lazlo crashed to the ground once more, his fresh bullet wounds sizzling. Getting to his feet, Jack holstered his gun, picked up the stake, and moved in to finish the job.

The weakened vampire rose to confront him.

They scuffled, each landing their fair share of impressive blows. Even in a weakened state, vampires were known to be quite strong, so Jack wasn’t surprised when he nearly saw stars after taking a punch to the nose. After narrowly avoiding the follow-up left cross, he got the opening he’d been waiting for. With the speed and precision that resulted from years of practice, the hunter plunged the stake into Lazlo’s heart.

The creature let out a horrific cry before stumbling into a trash bin and bursting into ash. Crestfallen, Jack stared at the vampire’s remains as they fluttered to the cobblestones. As he’d originally feared, he was going to leave Monaghan empty-handed. The news of Alister and Gavin joining up was significant, but he’d failed to garner any additional information on how to locate either one of them. There was no longer any point in faking it. No reason to pretend he was making progress.

He’d officially hit another dead end.

Two days later, Jack had jumped countries from Ireland to Germany, all the while replaying the alleyway encounter in his head, word for word and blow by blow. He also mulled over all the ways he could have been more cautious about tailing the now-dead Monaghan girl— whatever her name was.

A three-hour drive through the Bavarian countryside provided even more time to reflect on his failed mission. So when he arrived at the impressive wrought iron gates of his destination, Jack wasn’t even remotely concerned about what his employer’s reaction would be to this latest setback. Frederick couldn’t make him feel any more frustrated or regretful than he already felt.

Continuing up a winding driveway, lined on either side by towering pine trees, Jack drove until he came upon the imposing Vandenberg mansion— the home of his employer and savior, Frederick Vandenberg. The stone-and-brick structure featured an arched entrance, large courtyard, and seventy-foot tower keep. It was really more of a modest castle than oversized home.

Jack took his time parking the car and walking up to the manor’s front entryway. As he neared the entrance, he spotted the fifty-three-year-old Henry Graves striding through the courtyard to greet him. The man who had served as the hunter’s educator and trainer wore his usual well-tailored suit and reserved expression.

He welcomed Jack with a slight nod. “Good afternoon, Master Steele. How was your trip?”

“It’s been a while since I’ve asked you this, Henry, but you know I’m going to keep asking for as long as it takes. Could you please just call me Jack?”

“It’s not in my makeup to do so, Master Steele,” Henry replied as he took the hunter’s bag.

Jack sighed and nodded, letting the undesired formalities go for the umpteenth time. “Is he around?”

“In his study, as always.”

Gravel crunched underfoot as Jack followed Henry along the courtyard’s walking path. It ended at the large oak doors that served as the residence’s main entrance. The weary hunter stepped into the marble-tiled entryway and continued down two of the structure’s lengthy first-floor hallways, eventually entering an enormous home office.

Towering bookcases, all about twelve shelves high, lined the room’s two sidewalls. They contained tomes penned by Shakespeare, Sagan, Darwin, C.S. Lewis… and everyone in between. Frederick claimed to have read every last book, at least twice. Jack had doubted that claim upon first meeting the man, but before long he came to believe him. There seemed to be very little his employer didn’t know, or at least have an opinion on, when it came to literature, legends, science, and religion.

At the opposite end of the room was an immense oval window that looked out onto the gardens blanketing the mansion’s grounds. In front of this massive, multi-paned porthole sat sixty-six-year-old Frederick Vandenberg, stubbly and thin and hunched over his large mahogany desk.

The estate’s owner, and leader of the European Huntsman’s Network, waved Jack over. “Successful trip?” he asked without looking up from the stack of papers he was leafing through.

Jack collapsed into a plush leather chair opposite his employer. “It started off okay. I guessed right as far as which one he’d pick. She was blonde, of course, and pretty darn beautiful. I was keeping an eye on her in this pub, and then…”

Frederick peered over the top of his glasses as Jack trailed off.

“And then?” “And then I had to take a piss.”

Frederick shook his head, returning his attention to the papers he had spread out in front of him.

“See, unlike the things you’ve got me out there chasing, I’m still only human,” Jack protested, sensing his employer’s disappointment.

“And a bit too fond of lagers, apparently.”

Jack stood and walked away from the desk, bothered. He’d failed— there was no disputing that— but lately it seemed more and more as though he was being set up to fail. Things didn’t work the way they used to. The element of surprise they once enjoyed was long gone. After a few paces, he turned back to face Frederick.

“More of them are becoming aware that we’re out there, and they’re becoming more cautious,” he said angrily. “That undead asshole spotted me in the pub and was waiting me out.”

“And so you lost him?”

“Momentarily,” Jack replied. “When I found him again I was just… a minute or two too late. The girl was already gone. Now he is too, only for good this time.”

Frederick shrugged off the news about the girl, almost seeming disinterested. “Did he know anything that might help us in our search?”

“Nothing he was going to share,” said Jack. “He seemed… scared.”

“Of you?”

“Hardly. But what had him so shook up was the one bit of information the bastard did let slip. Apparently, wherever Alister is, he’s crossed paths with Gavin.”

Frederick’s eyes widened. This news was apparently worth his interest. “The two most dangerous vampires we have on the books are now traveling together?”

“The way Lazlo put it, it sounded like maybe Gavin was acting as Alister’s muscle.”

“Angelina has been tracking Gavin, hasn’t she?”

“Already called her,” said Jack, returning to the chair in front of his employer’s desk. “She said the trail went cold for her in Peterborough, but she’s been trying to pick it back up.”

“It’ll be suicide if she finds them while they’re still together.”

“If she runs into them alone,” Jack fired back. “I keep telling you we need more hunters. Hell, we need partners. I have someone with me in Monaghan and maybe that whole situation plays out differently.”

“We’re continuing to build the network.”

“Not fast enough,” Jack snapped. Then, realizing he was about to make a request of his employer, he took a moment to ease his tone. “Assuming you don’t have anything else for me, I’d like to head up to Scotland and help her out. We should also consider bringing in hunters from other networks. It’s long past time we track these bloodsuckers down.”

“None of the other networks are willing to part with their people for an extended period of time. Not the States, not Asia, not even Australia. And given how difficult this job has been, we would need them for an extended time frame.” Frederick shuffled together the small pile of papers he’d been studying and offered them to Jack. “However, that doesn’t mean we can’t step up our recruiting efforts and find some prospective hunters who aren’t yet in the system.”

The hunter gave the papers a quizzical look before snatching them from his employer’s hand. They were printouts. On the top sheet was a picture of an animal paw print, likely pulled off the Internet.

“From out of the States,” said Frederick. “It was taken at a campsite in the Pacific Northwest. Local law enforcement snapped it near a spot where a family was attacked.”

Jack glanced up from the picture, unnerved. He didn’t need to read the other sheets in the stack to know what type of beast the paw print belonged to. “We haven’t seen one of these in—”

“Almost a decade,” said Frederick. “And from what I’ve been able to gather, there was more than just the one.”

“Was?”

“Before you join Angelina, I’d like you to go on a little recruiting mission. We may have found you a potential partner.”

Jack leaned back into the lumpy cushions of the Hoffmans’ easy chair, taking in the stunned faces of his audience. Sixteen-year-old Toby Hoffman, his Native American classmate Rachel Chochopi, and the boy’s father, Walter, all sat on a plaid couch facing him. Each wore the same dumbfounded expression.

“And so that’s the short version of who I am and why I’m here,” he said, his eyes dropping to the pistols Walter and Toby had resting on their thighs.

There was of course a longer version. It included Toby appearing in one of Henry’s prognosticating visions two months ago, and Frederick uncovering the fact that the boy’s mother had died in an auto accident in which Toby had been driving. Jack’s employer had also informed him of how the werewolves Toby helped kill weren’t just his classmates, but also some of his closest friends. It all figured into their verdict that the kid was almost certainly damaged goods— and therefore an ideal recruit.

The hunter noticed Walter glance toward the window. It had grown dark enough outside that the reflection of the home’s interior lights was clearer than anything past the glass.

“The sun went down about twenty minutes ago,” said Jack, holding out his arms. “No fur. No fangs. Like I said, I’m here to recruit, not for revenge.”

The sheriff warily holstered his pistol. Following his father’s lead, Toby placed his gun on the coffee table. Jack couldn’t blame them for being cautious. It was, after all, the last night of the full illumination cycle. Who was to say more werewolves wouldn’t show up to avenge the deaths of their fellow lupine?

Well, Jack could say that. He knew werewolves, and he knew they didn’t operate that way. Those who formed packs typically only did so to protect those they turned. Outsiders were viewed as nuisances at best, enemies at worst. The creatures were, by and large, a very territorial lot.

“That was a pretty insane story,” said Rachel, breaking the silence.

“Especially the part about you wanting my son as your partner,” Walter quickly added.

“We’re still a ways away from that,” Jack reassured them. “I’m just here to sort of… test the waters.”

Walter patted Toby on the knee. “Why don’t you and Rachel give Mr. Steele and me a minute?”

Jack had expected to have to sell the father before really gaining access to the son. Even if the kid decided he wanted to go, he wasn’t leaving Silver Falls without his dad’s approval. As he watched Toby and Rachel slowly leave the room, the hunter started to mentally prepare his argument. His first impression of the sheriff was that the guy seemed rational, especially considering all he’d been through. If that impression was correct, Jack felt confident he knew the best approach to take.

Something Wiccan - available NOW!

UK: purchase from Amazon.co.uk US: purchase from Amazon.com find on Goodreads

The Series: Out of the Dark

All books in the series are FREE with Kindle Unlimited and Kindle Owner Lending Library.

Click on the book cover to Look Inside the book on Amazon and read an excerpt.

The One You Feed [1]

"A fun novel that was reminiscent of an 80's horror film." - Kindle Review

Like most kids who grew up in the small town of Silver Falls, Toby Hoffman heard all the scary stories about monsters living in the neighboring woods of the Umatilla Indian Reservation. Now a teenager, he knows the tales are made up to keep the town’s children from wandering where they aren’t wanted.

Then his best friend, Nate, wakes up covered in blood in the reservation woods, with no recollection of whose blood it is or where it came from. When even more brutal attacks follow, Toby can’t help but wonder if one of the fables he was told as a child might be true. [Published 29 November 2013, 296 pages]

The Agreement [3]

"What we call reality is an agreement that people have arrived at to make life more livable." - Louise Berliawsky Nevelson

Returning home after a rough first mission, Toby Hoffman settles back into life as a normal teenager with surprising ease. He enjoys his days in Silver Falls, but knows deep down that his true calling is to hunt monsters and help those in need.

He gets the opportunity to do both when a fellow hunter in the European Huntsman’s Network goes missing. Toby returns to Europe to rejoin his former colleagues and help track down the vanished hunter.

Veteran hunter Jack Steele leads the search-and-rescue mission, happy to have Toby’s recently inherited warlock powers at his disposal. They come in especially useful when the hunters cross paths with Jack’s lifelong nemesis in a small Scotland town.

While fighting for survival, Jack and Toby come to truly appreciate the horrific agreement the wicked vampire has forged with the town’s residents. Needing reinforcements, they call on familiar friends who quickly come to their aid as the hunters face their most formidable threat yet. [COMING 18 September 2015, 277 pages]

About the Author

James Drummond was born in Arlington Heights, IL and graduated from DePauw University with a bachelor's degree in English writing.

A lifelong horror fan, he's attempting to put a new spin on familiar folklore with his Out of the Dark series.

Today James lives in Chicago with his wife Angela and two cats named Tim and Ruby. During the day he is a Senior Instructional Designer for an e-learning development company.

Wojtek Batko designs the covers for James' books.

Follow James Drummond:

Visit the author on Facebook Visit the author on Twitter Visit the author on their Amazon page Visit the author on GoodReads

Tour Stops

Follow Something Wiccan's tour at:

Sep 11 - Texas Book Nook
Sep 12 - BooksChatter
Sep 14 - Us Girls and a Book
Sep 15 - J Bronder Book Reviews
Sep 16 - Bookie Monster
Sep 17 - Paranormal Romance and Authors That Rock
Sep 18 - RABT Reviews

2 comments:

  1. Thanks, Auden! I'll be sure to pass along the compliment to my designer.

    ReplyDelete