THE VILLAGE IN THE WOODS is my fifth novel, and has also been the monkey on my back for the past 18 months; the deceiver of hope, the denier of sleep, the jester of false fortune, the tester of patience. You get the idea. It’s been a difficult novel to write.
This novel has seen me move away from the paranormal aspects of my writing, found in my previous four novels, and into more mainstream literature, something intended for the masses, whilst all the time retaining the darkness that drives my pen and my inspiration.
Alan Carter returns home to the village he grew up in after seven years away. On the very same day, his mother drops down dead from a brain haemorrhage, but not before she admits to him that she’s made a terrible mistake. As the locals swoop in to attempt to save her, a dog wanders onto the scene, with the severed hand of a woman in its jaws.
And nothing is the same again.
Publication date will be 2021, as long as my agent and publisher likes it! I hope you enjoy this sample chapter.
I never met my grandfather and people rarely spoke of him whilst he was alive, and never after he died. But I felt that I knew him better than I’d known anyone my entire life. The letter he wrote to me on my thirteenth birthday told me everything I needed to know, about him, about life, and sometimes I wondered about me too.
He was dead by the time I read the letter, dead the same day he sent it.
According to my mother, the one and only time she relented and answered my questions about him, my grandfather was a drifter of no fixed abode, in and out of prisons and odd jobs. But I knew in fact he was a used car sales man, selling write-off vehicles patched up with paint jobs and falsified documents and doing very nicely until the HMRC caught up with him one particularly cold Halloween, when the kids were high jinxing around his lockup and the man in the long coat who came knocking he supposed was one of them.
The hiding he inadvertently gave the man from customs and excise did nothing to help his appeal against the thousands he owed in unpaid tax.
Some years before he had married his perfectly nice, but woefully dull, second wife after his first wife, my grandmother, had divorced him in an acrimonious spilt that took everything from him but his dignity. He gave his new wife everything she wanted; a reliable car and sensible home, a thick girth around her middle and a small lap dog called Chowie, who ate the furniture and holidayed with them at the coast two times a year.
That Christmas, the one after he beat the taxman senseless and before he wrote me his letter, he stopped off at an off-licence on the way home after working a late one at his garage, picking up a bottle of Johnnie Walker and drinking half of it from the front seat of his car, whilst watching each of the houses in the road slowly shut down for the night, till the only lights he could see were the street lamps and the sickly looking moon above, half shrouded in the grey slush of winter sky.
Checking his wife and Chowie were snuggly tucked up in bed, he doused everything with petrol, before returning to his car and enjoying the fire show of devil reds and twisting plumes of hell black, long enough until the fire brigade and police turned up. He then drove away, as far as the tank in his car would allow, leaving just enough within it to get to a post box to send me his letter and then gas himself on the last of its fumes.
I suppose that was why we never spoke of him as a family afterwards, but why I’ve always kept his letter and his memory with me ever since.