Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Murder on the Beach - Blog Tour

Hello my lovelies,
 I have been lucky enough to take part in Murder on the Beach Blog Tour, an awesome event being organised by Fierce Fiction to celebrate the release of Kate Harrison’s Soul Storm and James Dawson’s Cruel Summer. In fact, I’m really pleased to announce that I have none other than Kim Harrison herself on the blog who will be sharing a deleted scene from Soul Fire. 

Yes, this exclusive scene never made it to Soul Fire. That’s what I love about deleted scenes, they may seem unnecessary from the editor/writer’s point of view but us readers love every morsel of the tale thrown at us. So here it goes.
Oh, before we get ahead of ourselves have a look at Soul Storm coming out soon.

Someone is stalking Alice Forster. She's sure it's her sister's murderer, but her parents think she's cracking under the stress of Meggie's death. Only in the virtual world of Soul Beach - an online paradise for the young, the beautiful and the dead - can Alice feel truly free. But there's trouble in paradise . . .

Clouds are gathering.

A storm is brewing.

The killer is about to strike.

The final gripping thriller in this paranormal romance trilogy

Soul Beach trilogy: deleted scene from Soul Fire

Who doesn’t love a deleted scene at the end of a DVD? Sometimes you can absolutely see why it was deleted (err, like the remake The Stepford Wives, which made no sense either with the deleted scene or the original ending!) – and it should have been left where it was on the cutting room floor.
And sometimes it’s a good scene, but there wasn’t enough time in the final cut, or the story was a sub-plot that distracted from the central story. 

That’s what I think this scene is. It comes from Soul Fire, the middle book of the trilogy, and it’s a very mild spoiler  but adds to the story of Gretchen, one of the characters Alice tries to help. Gretchen is a lovely girl in an impossible situation.

Like a DVD extra, it hasn’t been edited quite as carefully as the rest of the books, but I hope you enjoy it…

‘Please, Alice, let me talk to you.’

It isn’t Danny: it’s a girl, her English perfect, but heavily accented. Eastern European? German? Russian?

‘Seriously, whoever you are, go away.’

‘I need your help.’

I don’t turn round. ‘Yeah, well, join the queue. So does everyone else on the beach, but what’s in it for me, eh? Why do I have to be everyone’s fairy godmother?’

I stand by for sobbing or whimpering or some other form of emotional blackmail. 

Instead the girl steps in front of me. ‘That must really suck.’

I can’t tell for sure whether she’s mocking me, but she has a sincere face: slightly round, with large eyes and a heavy brow. Her long hair is dirty blonde and she’s smiling sympathetically.

I’ve definitely seen her before.  

‘I guess you feel almost as trapped as we are,’ she says, and she sits down on the sand at my feet. Part of me is irritated, but she’s the first person here to have understood that being alive has its downsides, too.
‘Except I can leave any time I like, and never come back.’

‘But you won’t leave your sister, however cruel she is. Because it would be impossible to enjoy living in your world knowing that’s what you have done.’

There’s no point in denying it. She’s spot on. ‘Who are you?’

‘Gretchen.’ She holds out her hand. ‘Nice to meet you, Alice.’

Shaking hands seems too formal for the Beach. OK, my dad insists that ‘good manners will take you further than you expect,’ but he wasn’t referring to the afterlife. Still, I do take her hand, and her handshake is surprisingly firm and warm. I ought to know by now that the Guests aren’t clammy or ghost-like at all, but even so...

‘What do you want from me, Gretchen?’ I know I shouldn’t ask. I have enough problems. But behind her bravado, I feel fear. No, complete terror.

‘The usual. A happy ever after that will help me to escape. But perhaps you should also be asking what I can offer you.’


‘We all know why you’re here, and it is not only about spending time in the company of your sister, or even a charming American.’

‘Why am I here, then? I keep wondering myself.’

‘To do the right thing by Megan, of course. It is admirable, Alice. One of the things that makes me sure you are a person of integrity. You wish to unlock the secret of the beach, to let your sister rest in peace. The trick for the rest of us is to enlist your help before you achieve your objective. In my case, I believe I can offer you something in return.’

‘Which is?’

‘Further clues. Because, you see, everything about my death appears to have been resolved. The people who caused it were brought to justice, right in front of me, before I lost my battle to stay alive. And yet ... ‘ she waves at the beach, ‘here I am. Confined. If you can facilitate my exit from here, then you will learn more about what this place really means, and how you might help Megan.’

I see a challenge in her grey-blue eyes. The dozens of Guests who’ve approached me since I became visible have all tried to win me over by the tragedies of their deaths, and sure enough, most have moved me almost to tears. Round these parts, injustice and cruelty goes with the territory. But I’m ashamed to admit that after a while a kind of compassion fatigue kicks in: the murders and rapes and savagery of the world blend into one, and a weary helplessness overcomes me. A need for self-preservation, to put family first.

Gretchen is the first person here to try to work out what makes me tick.  ‘Go on then.’ Tell me what I need to know.’

She smiles. ‘Like so many stories, mine begins and ends in Berlin. You couldn’t get a more ordinary girl than I was. It has been strange for me, being here and being beautiful. No spots! Lovely straight hair. Longer legs.’

And that’s when I remember: Gretchen was one of the first girls I thought I recognised on the Beach, until I dismissed the idea because she was prettier than the newspaper photographs. In those days I didn’t understand that the afterlife removed all flaws, restored the Guests to perfection, however awful or violent their deaths.

‘Before, the only extraordinary thing about me was my father, and even then in our family we did not realise how extraordinary he was. You don’t, as a child. They simply go to work and come home again, like everyone else’s father. What they do when they get there, well, it seems irrelevant to your own life.’ Gretchen laughs, but she doesn’t sound bitter.  ‘For me, it became more relevant.’

I remember, now, and I wish she wasn’t going to tell me the story, but there’s no way back. 

‘They took me when I was cycling home through the park. I always used to go to the pond. Well, it was more of a lake. I watched the birds. Amazing, to be right in the centre of the city, and to feel such peace .’ She smiles again. ‘The birds, here, now. They make this place so much more bearable. Thank you.’

‘I feel a fake taking credit for the changes on the Beach.’
‘But it was because of you, Alice. Anyway. The story. I didn’t hear them. Before I knew what was happening, the world went dark and my arms were behind my back and my forehead exploded with pain, like a lightning strike. Except the day was cloudless. Sunny. I think it must have been the butt of the handgun. It was the worst pain I had ever felt. Until later, of course. 

‘So, then I wake, not from sounds, but from smell. Not, as you might expect, of damp or decay, but paint. For a long while, I must only have been halfway conscious and I believe my brain would keep closing down as it tried to make sense of the pain in my head and the way my arms were paralysed and everything smelled of paint.’

Gretchen falls silent and I look up at her. Her lightly bronzed face has lost all its colour. It’s almost as though the sunshine is falling everywhere except on her skin: as though she’s in a cell with no windows  and no air.

 ‘I apologise,’ she says, blinking. ‘Sometimes it is like being back there. Even though, of course, here we are completely safe. So. The paint. The next time I woke, it was to a voice speaking correct, but accented German. Telling me not to panic, that I wasn’t to struggle, that after a little while, I’d be allowed to see where I was.

‘Still it made no sense but the voice calmed me a little. When eventually they took away the blindfold, my eyes couldn’t cope. It was so ... white in there. Like heaven, I thought. Before I knew that this is what heaven is like,’ she waves at the Beach. ‘Except, I realised as I regained my focus, that angels do not wear balaclavas, or use microphones to broadcast their heavily choruses to earth.’

‘Where were you?’
‘An old recording studio. Much smarter than a dirty, echoing warehouse, if you are a bright kidnapper. Absolutely sound-proofed. No clues from the outside world when you record your victim. And no risk of the screams penetrating the padded walls, or the freshly painted, soundproofed ceiling. Even the carpet was thick, all natural fibres, so there would be no static.’

She speaks calmly, and now her face is sunlit again, but the word screams reverberates in my brain.

‘Though, in fact, I believe that exactly the lack of noise might have tipped the police off in the end. It’s hard to know for certain, but ... In any case, you will be able to find more about that than me. There will be information about where I was found. How long I was there. I am ashamed to say I lost track, but I believe it was four or five days.’

I can’t tell her that I don’t want to hear any more. For all I know, this is the first, the only chance, she’s ever had to tell anyone what happened to her. But when Gretchen looks at me, I see her expression change.

‘Don’t worry, please, Alice. There is no need for you to know all that happened. They did what I suppose kidnappers do when they do not get what they wanted. Eventually, I gave up the luxury of hope and, do you know what, in a way it was easier. But then the police came, anyway, almost as though it was a game and they’d been waiting for me to give in, for the moment when they could jump out from their hiding place and shout Boo! Only kidding.’

‘But if the police came ...’ I leave the question unfinished, in case the authorities are listening.
 ‘I think the fever took me. An infection, from my injuries. I remember hospital smells, and my parents’ faces looking down at me, but I couldn’t do anything. Not even move.’ She can’t quite smile, now, though I can tell she’s trying.

‘What is it you want from me, Gretchen? Because I’m not sure I can solve a case of kidnapping.’
‘No. That’s what I said. It was solved. They apprehended the men that were there. I guess the gang have been brought to trial, sentenced.' 

'In which case, why are you on the beach?' 

She shrugged. ‘I guess if you can work that out, then you will know more about what this place is, and what you can do to send your sister to a better place.' 


Find Kate Harison on Twitter by @katewritesbooks 
Be part of all the action with #murderonthebeach on twitter.
Order your copy of Soul Storm from Amazon and add it on GoodReads.


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