I don’t like labels – LGBTQ+, my sexuality/gender and J Rowling.

Hello my little demons,

I’ve recently been thinking a lot about the LGBTQ+ community and my own sexuality/gender , I have always had a “it’s your life, your business” kind of attitude towards everyone.

If you want kids. If you don’t want kids. If you don’t want to get married. If you’re happy being single. You like to watch cartoons. If you’re a model. If you’re a stripper. Have a weird fettish. If you’re a stay at home mum. If you like to collect Pokemon cards (ahem). Want to live on a boat. Want to move country. If you are gay. If you were born in the wrong body/gender. If you prefer the pronouns ‘they/them’.

I have no say over how someone wants to live their lives. I have no say over someone’s gender or sexual orientation. I have no say over the individual’s struggles. I personally do not understand why there is such a big deal over it (and that wasn’t an open invitation to tell me, so please, keep your negative comments to yourselves!). As far as I am concerned, if you are happy – then I am happy. As long as you’re not being violent, racist, sexist or otherwise shaming someone else, for what EVER reason. And, yes, I also am aware of the biological side of things, but this isn’t a post about explaining how it IS possible! I just want everyone to live their most authentic/true/happy life!

Okay, I will admit, there was a time when I was a teen that I hated gay people. Mostly gay men. Why? I have no idea. It was a social norm, I guess. Everyone else around me either hated, disliked or would avoid gay men, so I learnt to do the same, I looked up to the adults in my life and learnt it from them. It was expected of me to be a woman, get married, get a house, have kids (I want to point out my mum was never like that, this is more of a ‘community’ or social norm – my mum has always been interested in me just being happy and healthy). Until, one day, I found out a very good friend of mine at college was gay. I was immediately ashamed. Not because he was gay. But I was ashamed that I had EVER hated gay men. This guy was the NICEST person you would ever meet, he was funny, smart, and was an absolutely joy to be around.

It got me thinking about gay men and lesbians, and I realise now that I had never had an issue with lesbians (I have heard they don’t like being called gay, as the word ‘lesbian’ was shunned in media/films and they’d be referred to as ‘gay’ instead – so, if I ever say ‘gay’ and refer to a lesbian, I apologise!) and I realise how bad that was. I hated gay men, but never thought negatively towards lesbians. Why? Media. Gay men were always seen as ‘wrong’ yet lesbians were okay because they were seen as a sexual item, for men’s entertainment. And, don’t get me started on my thoughts on how women are perceived as objects! That’s a rant for another day!

My own sexuality/gender

Fast forward a few years and I started to question my own sexuality. Not because I knew something was wrong, not in the conventional “having to hide in the closet” sort of deal that most people have had to go through. But I started to realise that I wasn’t just attracted to men, I was also attracted to women. And started to think I was bisexual. I have never really felt the need to officially come out though (hi, mum and dad!)

Now, over the years I have had this in mind and started to educate myself in the LGBTQ+ community, watching as the letters in the acronym grew (I will refer to it as LGBT+ or LGBTQ+ periodically in my blogs, posts and other ramblings, but please be aware that I mean no disrespect if I miss a letter!) and attempting to learn along the way. Not only learn about the community, but also question my own sexuality and gender.

I then started to educate myself in what ‘demisexual’ and ‘pansexual’ was. If you don’t know, demisexuality is a branch of asexuality where a person only feels sexually attracted to a person when they have a deep connection with them on an emotional/intelligent level. Pansexuality is basically similar to bisexuality but openly agrees that there are more than two genders (hi, to my gender-fluid and non-binary friends!) And, when I heard someone refer to themselves as demi-pansexual, and learnt what it meant… I immediately went… THAT’S ME! (I never understood why people can have one-night stands).

Recently, however, I had to further educate myself in what it means to be pansexual. I have in the past told people that I am pansexual (or part of my sexuality) because I openly didn’t mind if I became involved with someone in the trans community. BUT, I recently found out that THAT isn’t what it means to be pan, in fact, that is extremely offensive to a trans person because that is implying that they are NOT that gender. For example, if I were to meet a trans man and say to him I would date him because I am pansexual, I am implying they are NOT a man. Because, whether they have transitioned or not THEY ARE A MAN. For me, my pansexuality means that I recognise there are more than two genders; that I also include gender-fluid and non-binary people.

On top of that, I also started to think about my own gender. Mostly after coming across a few videos about non-binary and gender-fluid. I have always been referred to as ‘she/her’. A woman. Or a girl (although I hate that as it implies I am a child) – I also recently started to refer to myself as ‘Ms’ instead of ‘Miss’. But, most people will know that I have never been girly. I hate having my hair done. I hate wearing dresses. I’ve never been into the same things that girls my age (when I was a child) was into. Everyone called me ‘a tomboy’. That’s still true. I am. But, it’s led me to realise that what does that mean about my gender? Am I female? Who just likes cars, bikes and drinks whisky? Or am I actually a man? Or am I non-binary? Or gender-fluid? I told someone at university once that I was more ‘gender-fluid’ than a woman, and it fits more, so I consider myself that more than anything. I cannot detach myself from womanhood completely, but I also cannot personally identify as a woman as it doesn’t quite ‘feel right’.

HOWEVER, I also recently had a think about all these labels; demi-pansexual, bisexuality, gender-fluid and I’ve come to the realisation that labels are for other people, not for me. I only really worry about these labels because it’s a way of explaining to others who I am. When the conversation of sexuality comes up and people wrongly assume “when you get a boyfriend” I feel the need to explain. When someone wrongly assumes that I must like girly things because I was born female, I feel the need to explain. These labels aren’t for me, they’re for others, because others cannot understand who I am outside of what the stereotypical majority are. And, because the majority of the world doesn’t actually understand what demisexuality or pansexuality is, I am also having to explain what they are, and I don’t really have a connection to the words, only the meaning behind them.

So, for clarification; I am Penny. I go by the pronouns ‘she/her/they/them’, and unless I openly say I am attracted to you, my sexuality isn’t any of your business.

I don’t like labels.

Being an Ally & adding in the LGBTQ+ community into my writing

Supporting the LGBT+ (and yes, that also includes transmen/transwomen too!), doesn’t mean you have to be LGBT+ yourself. You can be an LGBT+ ally! I’m looking at you straight cis men/women!

And, they also need you! Regardless of your gender identity or sexual orientation! We need to add to the discourse to educate ourselves and end the stigma. Although, I consider myself part of the LGBTQ+ community, I try to stand up for people, I actively engage in educating myself and I am open to understanding different view-points. I am not going to say that I am 100% right, there is still a lot I need to learn, and there is a lot that I will probably get wrong. Just like my previous view on gay men and what it means to be pansexual, and there are a lot of people out there that have a viewpoint and openly express that opinion. I just want to say to those people; it’s okay having an opinion, but it’s not okay spouting off hate and misinformed ideas at people trying to shove this opinion on them when it can be damaging. Not only is it damaging to those you are talking about (trans, gay, lesbian, etc), but it can enforce ideas in the general public and you are indirectly causing damage. Let’s learn to have healthy conversations, ask questions, don’t enforce your ideas, look up research (real peer-reviewed research, not news reports!) and question your ideologies. Just because the majority of the people, the ‘social norm’, thinks it’s one thing, doesn’t mean it’s true. Heck, the whole world thought everything revolved around the Earth and when Galileo suggested everything revolved around the sun, he was sentenced to life imprisonment! I will just leave that thought with you.

Alongside my self-discovery of both my own gender/sexuality and educating myself on LGBTQ+ topics, I also try to add these elements into my writing. I mean, yes, I try to add topics that revolve around certain issues – such as my book ‘I Fell In Love with a Psychopath’ which talks about psychopathy and trying to bring about the idea that psychopathy as not overtly bad (because not all psychopaths are mass-murders, they can be model citizens and a part of the community!), as well as the idea of adding in topics about being gay, lesbian, trans, gender-fluid, mental health issues, and many more.

I recently decided to write a story about a girl with Selective Mustism, it’s a true story, in a way, although the characters are made up, the experiences in it are very true and what I have both experienced and still experience, it’s going to be called ‘The Girl Who Whispered’.

I also will be adding in MANY topics into my book Rose Garden Sanatorium, which, I cannot say too much as I do not want to give anything away just yet – and also because I haven’t finished writing it, so things might change (again!).

But I don’t want to just add in a character just to make them ‘fit’ in the story to keep everyone happy. I don’t want a story that is supposed to be about demons, supernatural, the underworld, and randomly add in a new character that is a lesbian and she have no real point to the story. I will add in a few, because of course, the real world obviously have them, but not MAKE them fit just because. The story will have gender-fluid, gay, and demi-sexual characters because it fits with the story – with the plot… I feel like I am both contradicting myself and not making sense… Read the book/s (when it’s finally done) and it’ll make sense.

The J Rowling Fiasco

I feel the need to add a small section about this, as this is probably where my recent interest in educating myself in the trans community was really sparked. J Rowling. And, you’ll notice that I say “J Rowling” here and not “J. K. Rowling” because the “K” was added onto her books to make it “look better” – she doesn’t actually have a middle name!

Recently, say in the last year or so, J Rowling has done and said a lot of things that publicly shuns the trans community. I won’t go into detail, as again, it is very long and not the point of this post. If you want to know more, I encourage you to research it and form your own opinion. This section is merely to tell you why I no longer can support J Rowling and the Harry Potter franchise – and believe me… it’s been a VERY difficult decision for me!

You might have come across that I would mention that a lot of my writing work has stemmed from Harry Potter. I have always been interested in reading and writing my own stories, from the age of about eight. But my interest in books came back when I was in my teens and I came across Harry Potter. I had a troubled childhood, as I had Selective Mutism (read more about this here) and Harry Potter was one of my ‘escapisms’ (along with Dragon Ball Z). So, after my mum gave me that first book, I was hooked. I would wait eagerly for the next book to come out. I would wait eagerly for them to come out on film (although, I wasn’t as interested in the films as I was the books). I would write fan-fiction. I would day-dream about being in the world of Harry Potter and away from my horrific life. I went to the Harry Potter studios in London. Dreamed of going to the studios in Orlando, Florida. Collected different editions of the books. Even collected different languages. Got loads of clothes, trinkets, notepads. I even got a damn tattoo of the Hogwarts castle on my left arm!

But when I heard that J Rowling has been publicly supporting transphobes and making her own comments on the community… I was torn. At first I believed that she was just misinformed, that she isn’t educating herself and being as someone with such a public following and power in the community, should. She made some comments that made sense about looking after children’s welfare, but as many in the trans community have explained, are just not accurate. I was torn because I felt like J Rowling was just speaking out wrongly, she wasn’t actively being transphobic, just voicing her (inaccurate and very wrong) opinion, and although she was going about it the wrong way, there wasn’t really much wrong with having an opinion and starting a discourse (although, her ‘research’ was very inaccurate and not actually sourcing credible, reliable and peer-reviewed sources!)

UNTIL I heard that she was writing a story about a ‘man in a dress’ that goes around killing people. And THAT was when I put my foot down and said ‘NOPE!’ to J Rowling and the Harry Potter franchise. I looked this up and true enough, her newest book is based around a ‘man in a dress’, who kills people: here’s the wiki page for it (bare in mind, this book was done under her alias Robert Galbraith). And yes, there is a small bit on the wiki page that says “the transphobia accusations were baseless and slanderous, noting that Dennis Creed is investigated along with a dozen other suspects” and “people who have not read the book were making wrong assumptions based on a single review.” A small bit of research also found her other book ‘The Silkworm’ (under the same alias) also has a transgender character ‘Pippa Midgley’ who tries to attack a character with a knife (here’s the wiki page). And okay, I will have to admit, I haven’t read either of these books, so I cannot comment on the context or the full story on these characters, nor will I be interested in buying these books and letting any more of my money go to support a transphobe, so there may be something I am missing here. I also will note that Wikipedia isn’t the best source, but without actually plagiarizing the books, it was my way of showing you some truth about these books at least. But, add this with everything else she has done to build a picture.

Yes, there have been more incidents too, which a few men and women in the trans community (and allies) have explained. But, forgive me for not going into detail about everything! This post isn’t to discuss everything surrounding J Rowling’s transphobia, it’s about why I currently cannot support the woman and the Harry Potter franchise. Like I said, I encourage you to go out there, do your own research on both sides, speak to people, and form your own opinion, but be willing to be open.

Either way, I was hurt. Upset. And extremely disgusted that not only the woman I looked up to, a writer myself wanting to be LIKE HER, but my whole childhood now feels like it has been a lie. My writing has been influenced by her; the realism in my books is taken from Harry Potter. Even the book sizes are deliberately EXACTLY the same size as hers.

Now, the reason why I am writing this, is because I feel the need to OPENLY disagree with her PUBLICALLY. I need to OPENLY support the trans community PUBLICALLY. And I hope this encourages others to do the same! Now you know where I stand. Let’s stand up together for trans rights and LGBTQ+!

Like I said before, this is my own opinion, and just my way to explain why I cannot support J Rowling and the Harry Potter franchise. I haven’t gone into detail about other research I have done – including watching videos of trans YouTubers (I recommend checking Samantha Lux and Jammi Dodger) – and I still have a lot of research to do too. My opinion may change slightly – but either way, I support the trans community!

NB: I have purposefully removed the ability to comment on this blog post to avoid any negative, hateful, hurtful and violent comments.

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I’ve included a few links for help with LGBT+ and mental health and people you should check out:

Mindline Trans+ (part of Mind, the mental health charity) is an emotional and mental health support helpline in the UK for anyone identifying as transgender, non-binary, genderfluid…
mindlinetrans.org.uk

Scottish Trans is an Equality Network project to improve gender identify and gender reassignment equality, rights and inclusion in Scotland:
www.scottishtrans.org

Samantha Lux’s YouTube Channel – an (absolutely beautiful) transwoman who talks about her struggles with her transition, being trans and other transgender issues:
www.youtube.com/user/samproductions516

Jammi Dodger’s (Jamie Raines) YouTube Channel – a (yes, he’s pretty handsome too!) transman who talks about his struggles with his transition, being trans and transgender issues: www.youtube.com/user/MrPinocchio17

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thegirlwhowhispered.com

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Author Interview – Raymond G. Newsome

Hello, my little demons,

Here’s the sixth installment of author interviews. Today I am sharing an interview I had with a friend of mine. I can’t even remember where I met him (might have been on WattPad?), but we jelled pretty quickly, not only because we both write, but because we both like the same sorts of things – the weird and wonderful.

Say hello to my little friend… I mean… say hello to Raymond Newsome!

About Raymond

Raymond lives in Eastern Kentucky with his girlfriend and five children (reading and creativity are always encouraged!) When he’s not writing and spending time with his family, he works as a nursing aid for a local nursing home.

Raymond has a few books out, ‘I am Brian’, ‘Rise of the Fallen’, and a children’s book called ‘The Adventures of Pipsqueak and Bob’. Read below for a sneak peak into my favourite; ‘I am Brian’.

I am Brian

I remember reading the first few chapters of ‘I am Brian’ before Raymond finished and published it and it had me hooked. It’s written in the view of the murderer; Brian Leroy Lewis, and you think; okay, so not a typical ‘who done it‘ because you already know who done it. But the guy sends you on a ride anyway!

Synopsis:

After arriving at a grisly murder scene, Detective Jackson finds the killer waiting on the porch.

During the police interview, the murderer introduces himself as none other than Brian Leroy Lewis – a younger man full of mental issues and a sinister history.

He promised a written confession on the terms he can leave a taped record of his life and the people he’s murdered. If Detective Jackson refuses, a new victim will die.

But what exactly are the motives of Brian Leroy Lewis?

Above is a link to the book sold on Amazon in both paperback and e-book format. I can’t wait to get my hands on a real physical, and hopefully signed, paperback copy!

Interview

Now, let’s try and decode what’s inside Raymond’s mind…

What inspired you to start writing?

I started reading at an early age and loved it before school forces you to dissect every word. In elementary school in Ohio, they took us to different schools to listen to children’s authors who would visit. That was the beginning.

How long does it take you to write a book?

I used to limit the first draft to a few months, however, the last year has done a number on my writing time and forced me to accept to just focus on the end without a timeline in mind.

Which one of your works is your favourite?

‘I am Brian’ currently holds that position, but one of my current projects may lay claim soon.

What’s your current book about?

I don’t have a current, finished book, but I do have one that I am over halfway finished with the first draft. It’s about a handful of citizens in the fictional city of Pangaea. They experienced the corruption of the city first-hand and began to do something about it. While attempting to help their separate city districts, they discovered each other and the common goal of the man responsible for everything.

What, to you, are the most important elements of good writing?

Flow. If a story doesn’t have a steady flow, you can lose a reader fast. I’ve put down multiple books for this reason. Characters. My characters are everything to me. They are the drive behind every action and reaction. Finally, keeping the grammar proficient enough not to discourage the readers. Just like flow, too many typos can lead to someone not wanting to finish the story.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I love to read and watch whatever movie or show has caught my attention. I love to go on trips with my family. Last summer, I ventured into kayaking, which is amazing.

How much research did you need to do for your books?

A lot of the subjects I touch on in my books (the occult, supernatural, serial killers) I have studied and researched for years before ever deciding to incorporate them into my writing. However, there are those little details that add the zing to a scene that can require multiple Google searches to your writing time.

Do you have any projects you’re working on at the moment?

I have four active projects, including the one I mentioned earlier. I have close to fifty others in the early stages of my process.

What advise would you give to someone thinking about writing?

Write about something you want to read. If you love the book, your passion is there on the pages. Your readers will feel that. Practice your craft. I started with short stories and poetry which eventually evolved to books. Maybe those are what you love, so pour your soul into them. The goal is to write and keep writing. No matter what the first draft looks like, it can be fixed in editing.

Anything else you’d like to add?

We all have a story to tell. One day you’ll be ready to tell it, and it will change the lives of others. That is the power of your words. Thank you.

If you would like to learn more about Raymond and his books or follow him on social media.
Here are a few links:

raymondgnewsome.com
facebook.com/rgnewsomeauthor
instagram.com/raymond.newsome
twitter.com/rgnewsomeauthor

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As always, don’t forget to like, reblog, share, comment and/or follow!

thegirlwhowhispered.com

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Author Interview – Jethro Weyman

Here’s another installment of author interviews, and this week is slightly different as today it’s a short story author.

I’ve been meaning to interview Jethro for a while now (sorry for the delay, Jethro!) and I’m glad I finally got around to doing it. Although, I hate to admit I haven’t read his books, after interviewing him and reading the reviews on Amazon – they’re both going straight onto my wish list! Seriously, you guys have to check them out!

About Jethro Weyman

Jethro is a fellow Brit, born in Buckinghamshire and raised in Hertfordshire, not only does he write mind-boggling short stories, he works for the NHS as a physiotherapist in Birmingham. He manages a small team of five (including himself) on a specialist stroke and neurology rehabilitation ward. He also recently snagged some work as a supporting artist working on a film – which he can’t name yet!

As well as writing (and acting, so it seems), he enjoys cycling, bouldering, and as many forms of media he can cram in. He’s a big fan of nature, so tries to surround himself with that as often as possible. He loves animals, although doesn’t currently own any, and in his own words he “also loves not having fur or vomit or the outdoors all over the house!”

Bang to Begin

One of Jethro’s books; Bang to Begin, is a series of short stories, although a mix of genres, they are all linked and, by the end, become one. It’s designed to be a bit of a “head messer”, but also one that grows with a second read through. Read the synopsis below.

(It’s already on my wish-list, Jethro, will be purchasing it as soon as I move into my new apartment!)

Here it is on Amazon

Synopsis:

Reality is Relative.
There is no such thing as universal truth.
But lies are always lies.
From auctions to assassinations, from cosmos to subconscious mind, the roots feeding into these short stories start fine, but thicken and tangle as they grow deeper.
Follow these wayward souls through their darkest moments, each beginning with a bang and each trying desperately to avoid ending with the same.
A metaphysical, visionary exploration of the human psyche and all that it means to be real – discussed via an anthology with a difference.

Interview with Jethro

Now, let’s get into the interview and learn more about the inner workings of Jethro’s mind and these books of his…

What got you into writing?

I actually got into it a little by accident. I had an idea for a scene stuck in my head for a few momths and just felt I needed to get it down on paper for it to stop irritating me. Fortunately, that didn’t work… and I was irrirated all the way to writing a full novel. It definitely wasn’t expertly written, but it was something I could work with. I recently edited that scene out, which was a bit of a blow, but I’ve got it stored on my hard drive for reminiscence purposes.

What is your most unusual writing quirk?

I’ve got no idea if I have any quirks, let alone unusual ones. I guess I’ll need to set up a camera and keen an eye on myself… although, I probably wouldn’t like what I find!

Do you write every single day?

I wish I had the discipline and the energy, but sometimes I get home from work and jus tneed to sit down and watch something mindless for a while. I do go through periods of daily writing, but it’s rare these days. If Twitter stories count, then I do write most days, but substantial writing probably comes about twice a week right now, at best. There’s a lot of life happening at the moment and that’s not necessarily a good thing!

What is the most difficult part of your writing process?

That definitely has to be the editing side of things. I can quite easily have the enthusiasm sucked out of me by a long editing stint, especially when I’ve had some brutal feedback calling for a big rewrite. I’ve had to kill a lot of darlings… I’ve had to kill a lot of things I wouldn’t call darlings too, but I’m a bit of a perfectionist as I write too… so having to go back and realising how imperfect it all is after a first draft can be quite dishearening. But such is the life of a writer!

What, to you, are the most important elements of good writing?

For me, as a reader, it’s all about the flow. If a writer can entice me with their premise and make me look forward to reading what sounds like it will be right up my street, only to write in a clunky and fluentless way, that’s really disappointing. It also shows when someone has a handle on their genre or their style as well… it probably shows even more when they don’t. Since starting to write myself, I feel like I’ve become a lot more critical over these aspects as well. I’ll notice and get annoyed by a lot more than I used to, but I think that’s probably true of all of us.

How do you use social media as an author?

I am definitely guilty of a shameless self promo or several, and I think social media is a fantastic marketing tool, at least in the early days of a writer’s career (which is my only experience). I also use it to connect with other writers, to practice my craft with short stories using many word prompt games and also, to a certain extend, to feel part of a wider community, especially in times like these where it’s more difficult to have a social life. I’ve made a lot of friends via social media, primarily Twitter, and if you ignore as much of the toxicity as possible, it can be a very rewarding place to be.

What’s your favourite and least favourite part of publishing?

Self-publishing is definitely a pain – My least favourite part of it (or most hated) was formatting. Especially in the first book I published, which is made up primarily of Twitter stories. The formatting took forever and it drove me a little insane for a while… in fact, the remnants are probably still rattling around in there somewhere. My favourite part was definitely the satisfaction of being a published author, although I do still feel I need to get traditionally published before I can truly accept that. Anyone can publish a book these days, but not anyone can nab an agent and get a publishing deal.

How much research did you need to do for your books?

I must admit… I’m a bit of a write now, research later kind of chap. If I stop too much to focus on the details, I lost that all important flow and that’s something I really try to avoid. However, there are certain things I had to look up beforeI wrote for example: the geography of where I used to live in Buckinghamshire for my first novel – I needed travel times and names of nearby places and I even did a bit of google map street viewing to make sure it was accurate. For my fantasy novel, I did very little research other than finding names and designs of weapons which could be used or modified for use in the story. And with Bang to Begin, the only thing I can remember fully researching was what happens to someone when they hang themselves for one of the horror elements… so my search history is probably not as bad as Stephen King’s, but there’s a few dodgy key words on there.

What do you need in your writing space to keep you focused?

I wish I’d found it!… probably an EMP device which stops all electronic devices apart from my laptop from working… and will only let me use the internet for research purposes. I basically need a parental lock on my writing space.

Have you ever Googled yourself?

Of course… there’s nothing particularly interesting on there, but it does come up with the awful photos that are on the profile I have with an Extras casting agency. Twitter and my books come up as well… but I’m yet to get the all important Wikipedia page… maye I should make one myself!

Do you play music while you write – and if so, what’s your favourite?

I used to be unable to write unless I was in total silence, even bird song would put me off. Nowadays, maybe I’ve mellowed a bit, but I put on instrumental music. This could be acoustic guiter or piano music, but my favourite music to write to is Neo-Soul or Chillstep – there are a good few playlists on Spotify which absolutely hit the spot for this, including one called Mellow Beats and another called Lo-Fi Beats. When I don’t need to think too much about how I’m working things, I often put on some Tom Misch or Jordan Rakei or their playlists. Whatever I have on… it has to be calm and rhythmic.

Can you tell me a little bit about your book “Bang to Begin”?

I can! The idea for the book came to me after the 6th chapter; a story called The Death of Fate. Originally I was just writing completely disparate episodes as a series for a reading subscription website called Channillo. After that 6th chapter, I thought it should be more than what I set out to create, especially as this chapter gave me the idea of how to link them all together. The concept of face (and other metaphysical concepts) are the cornerstone of the book. What if these concepts were personified? What if that personification were a construct of an individual’s perception or ego? So, I worked prospectively and retrospectively to fit all of the stories together… the original versions are still available on the website and are even harder to follow than the final.

It’s all quite dark and more than a bit twisted, but writing in this way gave me space to dabble in all of the genres I’ve had an interest in. There are stories primarily based in the thriller/suspense genre, in horror, in fantasy and sci-fi and, to begin with, it can definitely be quite confusing. I’ve written it in a way which, I hope, begs for a second read, because there are little callbacks and subtleties that won’t be noticeable at first. I don’t want to give anything away, but once you realise what this book really is… it should come as a bit of a revelation, if not a relief! Plus, it’s only short… which can only help.

Both of your published books are short stories, have you considered writing a novel?

I definitely have considered it and I’ve done it. I wrote a thriller called Kept in the Dark, which I’m currently querying – this was my first foray into proper writing and I’ve had some good feedback from readers, but I’m yet to land an agent. I’ve done some more revisions recently, and I hope that helps. It explores government and insitutional corruption and how the people who oppose this are viewed. It’s set in what I call a near-future dystopia – a little bit Black Mirror. I’ve also written an SFF novel called Craft (Working Title), which explores social, racial and gender inequality in a way I hope is unique. I try to incorporate more meaningful themes into my work when I can.

Do you have any projects you’re working on at the moment?

Too many, and I curse myself whenever I add another. I’m currently working on a short story (should end up about 5000 words) which is a YA (ish), supernatural thriller. I’m not too far off finishing the first draft of this, but I have no idea what I’m going to do with it. I’m also editing my first screenplay using the wise words of Syd Field and some beta readers as a basis. I would love to write for the screen, so I’m going to try and make a go of this. It’s a post-apocalyptic comedy. I should be editing my second novel, but it is hard to tear myself away from the new stuff (this is always a problem) and I did start writing the sequel to this as well when I was stuck in a Brazilian airport for about 8 hours. So, I’ll get back to that at some point as well.

If you’d like to contact Jethro, here’s a link to his Twitter page!

~~~

Don’t forget to like, reblog, share, comment and/or follow!

thegirlwhowhispered.com

facebook.com/TheGirlWhoWhispered
instagram.com/thegirlwhowhispered/
twitter.com/penny_hoops

My Podcast Interview – Breaking the silence and becoming an author & activist – It’s Never Too Late

Hello my little demons!

For those of you who follow me on social media (see the links below if you’d like to follow), you may have noticed that I did a podcast interview recently and was waiting for it to air.

Well, it all started when I was approached by Megha on Twitter, asking me to do a podcast interview and I jumped at the opportunity. Not necessarily because I love supporting fellow authors and creative minds (which I do), and it’ll be good publicity for me, but because I will be getting out of my comfort zone HUGELY.

If you don’t know, I had Selective Mutism as a child, you can read my previous post on ‘Why “The Girl Who Whispered“‘ here, which explains more about it, and as silly as it sounds, talking is something I have always struggled with.

When we scheduled to do it, I was very nervous, I could literally feel my heart beating in my chest. Megha was so lovely though, so understanding and I eventually felt myself calming (okay, a little).

I’ve been waiting for it to go live with baited breath, although the hard part was over, I was still really nervous about it going live. All those years worrying about speaking and I was going public on the internet. But the podcast went live today at 14:30 BST and I couldn’t be happier. It came out great!

If you’re interested in listening, here it is on spotify:

Huge thanks to Megha for the opportunity, it was great to make such a lovely connection too, and thanks everyone who has already listened to it – I was told Megha’s listeners love it (I think it’s my British accent!)

If you’d like to support Megha and her podcast, please check out her links:

website: meghaupadhyaya.com
facebook: facebook.com/itsnevertoolatepodcast
instagram: instagram.com/takeitsleeazy/
twitter: twitter.com/Young_blackbird

If you’d like to support Megha’s podcast, you can do so here!

Here was a little teaser trailer (I sound awful, but here it is for completeness anyway!):

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Don’t forget to like, reblog, share, comment and/or follow!
I also recently had my hair cut off for charity! Read about it here!

thegirlwhowhispered.com

facebook.com/TheGirlWhoWhispered
instagram.com/thegirlwhowhispered/
twitter.com/penny_hoops

Rose Garden Sanatorium – Chapter 5

Note: If you’re new to the story please read the Prologue here!

Chapter 5

Officer Jennifer Finley

Finley stared into the darkness of the van, trying to concentrate on the noises she could hear. She listened to the hum of the engine, the tires rolling along the tarmac, the occasional squeak from the van’s suspension, the traffic noise outside which she unfortunately couldn’t see and the sound of the pedestrian crossings after the van had come to a stop at a set of lights. It was an attempt to ground herself, to overcome her fears and to slow her beating heart, but it wasn’t really working. There might have been noises outside, even the occasional noise inside from one of her colleagues giving a cough, but they were unsettling her even more. The silence inside the van was eating away at the inside of her head, the world outside was going about its daily business not knowing the potential storm that may eventually hit them.

She had started to consider the option of bolting for the van door to her right, deciding that she wasn’t cut out for the job after all. But she had a feeling Director General Ryan wouldn’t even let her get that far. She wouldn’t put it past him shooting her right in the face to contain her.

“As you may already be aware by now,” started Captain Stroud, his accent a deep Scottish from within the dark confined space of the van. “This is not a drill.”

Finley could feel the ripple of silent panic within the metal cage. The van had come to a stop, possibly at a set of traffic lights, she wasn’t sure. She was glad for Captain Stroud to break the silence but was also dreading what would come.

“This is a Code 139,” he continued. Someone let out a small gasp somewhere in the van, she wasn’t sure who it was, and neither would Captain Stroud and the Director General, but she knew they wouldn’t be happy.

“This is indeed the real thing!” beamed a voice next to her; the Director General had started to take over, a hint of annoyance in his voice. “This is…” he paused as the van lurched forwards again, a rather unfortunate time to move. “This is what you are trained to do!” If it was even humanly possible for it get even more nervously silent in the van, it had. “We are headed to a site of a possible Code 139. We do not know how many we may face or what type. But this is why we have drills! Remember the Rules!”

There was silence in the van again, the silence that Finley now welcomed more than the Director General speaking.

“Is that clear!?” The Director General made Finley and the man sat next to her jump.

“Yes, sir!” everyone spoke in unison.

“Just like every Code 139 drill, the mission is to secure the site,” continued Director General Ryan. “The road has been cordoned off by police, both civilians and the police have been told it’s a gas leak. No one except us are allowed in or out. The shops and flats above have been evacuated. It is my responsibility and my responsibility alone to close it, you all will sweep the area. Is that clear?”

“Yes, sir!” everyone said with a little more confidence.

Finley wasn’t sure what she was expecting after that little speech, words of encouragement maybe, but the sudden silence afterwards felt even worse than before. She resisted the urge to speak out or hum to fill the silence. She instead went over the Rules in her head and mentally recalling every item that was on her person.

***

A black unmarked van stopped outside an old building. A building that appeared to have been boarded up and unused for years. The sign that ran the length of the front door read ‘Rose Garden Sanatorium’.

The group hidden inside filed out of the back of the van one by one. Director General Duncan Ryan was first out of the van, who looked up at the building while waiting for his team, followed by his Captain. Each of them dug into their utility pouches to dig out a small air-tight plastic box, took out a pair of two specially designed ear-plugs and put them in their ears.

The front of the Sanatorium sported a very Victorian style front; with its large front arched door and large arched windows boarded up, the exterior mainly a red mason brick, the window frames painted white, parts of them were falling apart due to the years of neglect, ivy climbed up the side of the building, right next to where there was a black mesh fence that hid the back garden from the street and snaked its way up until it hit the moss covered slate tiled roof.

Officer Finley had read about this Sanatorium in old secret government files. It was a typical Sanatorium really, but with a bit of a dark history. A dark history that resulted in its early demise. Most derelict buildings gave her the creeps, but this one in particular raised the hairs on the back of her neck. Standing in front of the Rose Garden Sanatorium now, seeing it in person, she felt an unusual disgust for the old abandoned building. It might just look like an ordinary building, with an unfortunate history, but it was the current situation that made her nervous.

She looked back at her superior and noticed he was just standing outside looking like he was composing and preparing himself for what may lie on the other side.

Or did he know something they didn’t?

Click here to read the next chapter!


If you liked this story, please check out my other works!

New Story Idea – “I fell in Love with a Psychopath”

It’s My Mistake – Chapter 1

Ender’s Love – Chapter 1

New Story idea! – Butterfly House

Check out these other posts about Rose Garden Sanatorium!

New Full Book Trailer! For Rose Garden Sanatorium

Rose Garden Sanatorium Top 10 in the Cryptic Awards 2018!

Ender’s Love – Chapter 2

Hello, my little Demons! I posted Chapter 1 to Ender’s Love a while ago now and I feel you’ve been waiting long enough for Chapter 2!

Click here to read Chapter 1 if you haven’t read it already

Note: May contain strong language!

~~~

Chapter 2

I sat trying to busy my hands and focus my attention on my laptop. That was most important to me. So what if I just royally embarrassed myself? It was a moment. It would pass. I’d walk out of this bar and that guy would never see me again. My laptop, however, had all of my university work on it and I had not yet had the chance to back it up.

But as soon as I took the laptop out of my bag, cursing slightly as I saw the wetness had unfortuantely seeped through slightly, a figure loomed over me. I jumped slightly and turned around. But my face went bright red as soon as I saw that handsome man was standing there waiting for me to see him.

“Why did you do that?” he asked, when I noticed him. His voice was deep, it matched his masculine features perfectly.

Panic swelled in my chest as I stared at his stupidly handsome face. I noticed for the first time he was actually wearing a suit. I hadn’t noticed before, mainly because I only noticed a white shirt. But now he was in front of me, I could see he was wearing suit trousers and a deep navy tie hung undone around his neck. I also noticed he was a little big around the arms. I gulped.

“Sorry?” I asked, having to put the laptop down as I hadn’t even put it on the table yet. It was a little too heavy in my hands, holding it up in the air.

“The drink. Why did you give me one?” he asked again, scanning my face. I noticed now that he had beautiful green eyes.

I shrugged. “I didn’t have any change and needed to boost up the bull to over five pounts so I could pay for it,” I explained.

He frowned at me and went to open his mouth to say something else when panic coursed through me and I cut across him.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to intrude! I just saw you drinking whisky or something and it was nearly empty, you looked like you needed one. You were frowning at your work laptop like someone had just given you bad news. I didn’t really want to drink another one. One is enough for me. I’m not a huge drinker. So, I figured you could do with it more than me. Don’t feel like you have to drink it, I won’t be offended,” I blurted.

As soon as I stopped talking, the guy rose his eyebrows at me. So much for approaching men first. I should have started with someone else, rather than a guy who looked busy. I had clearly jumped in the deep end without learning to swim first.

“I’m sorry, I don’t normally do that sort of thing!” I continued nervously. “Normally I’m quite considerate of people being busy and I leave them alone. Clearly I’m having an off day today!” I gave a small nervous laugh.

The guy suddenly snorted in amusement but then turned on his heel and walked off back to the bar.

I started at him in amazement, suddenly annoyed at his attitude. He just walked away? I shook my head and looked back at my laptop. He wasn’t worth getting annoyed about. I did a nice thing. Yeah, okay, it might not have been the best idea I’ve had. I wasn’t very good with this sort of thing. Guys like that were usually popular and I always imagined there was a way to speak to them; a code of conduct around the stupidly handsome men or something. Unlike me; there was no code to speak to me. I was usually friendly with anyone.

But as soon as I put my laptop on the table in front of me, a shadow loomed over me again. I looked up and the guy was back. But he was standing next to the seat in front of me, leaning on it slightly. Anger welled up inside me.

“Look, I said I’m sorry, I—”

“Oh no, you don’t need to apologise! I was just shocked, that’s all. I’ve never had some random chick buy me a drink before without actually wanting something in return.”

I felt my cheeks go warm at what he said, I had an image suddenly of a beautiful woman going up to him and wanting sexual favours from him after buying him a drink. I noticed at this point he had brought the glass of whisky with him and was holding it in his hand.

“I’m not after anything from you,” I said. I wanted to say I wasn’t like those women; trying to just sleep with the hottest guy at the bar.

“I figured,” he said, giving me a small nod and then taking a sip of the whisky. I noticed for the first time that his access wasn’t Scottish, he was English like me. “I also have to thank you for introducting me to Dalwhinnie, I’ve never tried it before. Good choice not to have ice too.”

I raised an eyebrow at him, curious to know why he was being so nice to me. Or was he just being polite?

He suddenly shifted his weight and I saw a small twinge of pain run through his face.

“Are you okay?” I asked. He frowned at me, so I added; “You look like you’re in pain or something.”

“Oh, yeah, it’s nothing, just a bit of a bad back.”

“Lower back?” I asked as I turned back around to my laptop bag and dug my hands into it.

“Yeah, how did you know?”

“You look like a business man, my guess is you sit around on a laptop or computer all day in an office and you probably sit in one of those cheap seats with poor lumbar support,” I said as I managed to find what I was looking for; a heat patch. “Here, take this.”

The guy looked at what was in my hands and then looked up at me curiously, before taking his left hand out of his poket and taking the clearly soggy box. I scanned his hand again out of habit, noticing there certainly was no wedding ring on his finger, not even a white mark where one might have been.

“Thanks,” he said, although sounding a little hesitant.

“Keep the box, there’s only one left.” I smiled. “Sorry it’s a little wet, my laptop bag clearly isn’t waterproof! But the heat patch will still work.”

I was expecting him to just wander off at this point, I didn’t expect him to stand around too long if he had a bad back. But to my shock, he sat down on the seat opposite me, placing the whisky on the table between us and looked right into my eyes. I gulped again.

“Is your laptop wet?” he asked and then looked down at my laptop in front of me.

“Err… yeah, a little.”

“Do you want me to have a look at it?”

“Oh, no, it’s fine. I’m just going to clean up most of the water and let it dry out. If it’s too wet I’ll just take it home and take it apart, make sure no water got onto the motherboard and hard-drive.”

His eyebrows rose again. I felt a small smile creep involuntarily on my face.

“You know computers?” he asked.

I nodded. “A little, dad was into his computers.”

I was suddenly aware of how warm I was, although I was sure it was because I was still sat in my leather jacket, but it could have also been the gorgeous man talking to me and looking quite at peace doing so. Either way, I decided to take off my jacket before I started to sweat and smell.

“You know you can void the warranty if you take it apart?” he asked as he took another sip of the Dalwhinnie and eyed me taking my jacket off.

I smiled, hoping he hadn’t noticed that I was extremely nervous raound him, especially after seeing him eye me curiously. “I think I voided the warranty a long time ago, after my hard-drive decided to fail on me and I had to replace it.”

“You are full of surprises.” He smiled at me and suddenly leaned his arms on the table.

I smiled back and nervously took the glass of whisky that was sitting next to my hand and took a large sip. I felt I needed to have a bit of alcohol in me to calm my nerves.

“So, do you know anything about these heat patches?” he asked, before I had a chance to say something myself.

“Sorry?” I asked, trying desperately not to cough as I had accidentally taken a large sip of the Dalwhinnie and it had decided to catch the back of my throat with its harshness.

“The heat patch,” he said, holding it up in his large bear-hand. “I’ve never used one before.”

“Oh!” I said and let out a small laugh. “It’s easy, the instructions are on the box, but you basically just strip back the plastic protection and place it on the area that’s sore. It should stick and peel off easily afterwards.”

“You say that, but knowing me, I’ll end up messing it up,” he said, leaning back as he pulled out the remainder heat patch from the soggy box and took it out.

I laughed. “You sound like me. Put m e in a room with a computer and tell me to get on with analysing data and I could do it with my eyes closed. But any simple instructions like that and I’m useless. If someone was to give me instructions on how to make porridge, I’d still find a way to fick it up.”

He laughed. “I’m curious to know how you can fuck up porridge?”

I felt the heat rise to my face when I heard him laugh and curse. “Where there’s a will, there’s a way, with me. Once I had the heat up too high and it burnt to the bottom of the pan, I had to throw it all away.”

“The porridge?”

“Well, obviously that, but I meant the pan too.”

He nodded and I felt like I was being studied. I was just concentrating on trynig to smile politely enough but not too much to look creepy, and act normal around him; say the right thing, do the right thing, sitting up without slouching… I didn’t understand how someone could have a conversation like this and be so calm. It was exhausing trying to look normal and confident.

“Did you want anything for it?” he said suddenly, breaking me out of my musings.

“Sorry?”

“You’ve given me your last heat patch, did you want me to give you some money for it, or maybe buy you another drink?”

“Oh, no.” I smiled and shook my head. “Don’t worry about it, I have more heat patches at home, and I shouldn’t really drink any more than the one glass of whisky.”

He nodded. “Well, I had better go put this on.”

“Did you, err… want a hand?”

He raised an eyebrow at me and smiled, it sent a shiver down my spine. “I think I’ll be okay.” He winked.

I inhaled suddenly and coughed as if trying to cover up the fact he had a strange impact on me. “Sure, just let me know if you change your mind, they’re a little tricky to put on your back.”

“Sure,” he said, and then stood up from the booth. “Thanks again.”

“It’s not a problem.”

He stood there for a few short seconds as if he had something else to say, but he clearly thought better of it. Instead, he turned around, walked back to the bar where his laptop was left forgotten, put down the glass of Dalwhinnie I had bought him and muttered something to the barman. The barman nodded while he was drying glasses and the handsome man vanished into the toilets. I sighed and looked back at my own laptop while trying to calm my shaking hands.

I did it; I had spoke to a guy first and managed to survive. I blew out my cheeks as I took out the paper towels and started to clean up my laptop. Although, absentmindedly, as all I could think about was that guy trying to apply that heat patch to his back, wondering what his body was like underneath that white shirt.

Click here to read the next chapter!

~~~

Don’t forget to like, reblog, share, comment and/or follow! 🙂

thegirlwhowhispered.com

facebook.com/TheGirlWhoWhispered
instagram.com/thegirlwhowhispered/
twitter.com/penny_hoops

Here are some links to my other works:

My Normal – A Short Story by Penny Hooper
Rose Garden Sanatorium – Prologue
No one likes you! – A short story.

Both my books are currently 99c!

Both of my books are currently 99c in e-book format on Smashwords!

The idea of putting them up for sale is to get more reviews and traffic through my sites. I don’t get a lot of profits from selling them so cheap, as Smashwords takes a good chunk, but it’s mostly to get my name out there.

And hopefully, when I finally get my other books finished (still waiting for free time around uni work and job searching!) I’ll have a fan-base already!

See below for links and synopsis for each e-book.I-Fell-in-love-with-a-psychopath-full30713453_2359540254272254_3615440063170609152_n

Here is I fell in Love with a Psychopath:

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/893044

Here is It’s My Mistake:

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/744287

Synopsis for I Fell in Love with a Psychopath:

What would you do if you realised the man you fell in love with had a psychopathic personality disorder?

After getting her degree in history, Jo took the plunge and moved to Chicago. But one day a guy changes her life completely. And not necessarily in a good way.

When she first moved to the city, Jo met Liam. She had a small crush on him from day one. Along with his good looks, he was funny and charming. Maybe a little immature, but he never failed to make her laugh. Finally, one day Liam asks Jo out on a date and she is stupidly nervous and surprised he even likes her!

Jo meets Xander in a bar. He is handsome and confident. He holds himself tall and constantly watches her reactions with mild curiosity. She keeps bumping into him, sometimes deliberately. He seems to say all the right things and do all the right things and she finds herself craving more of him.

The problem was, however, one of them is a psychopath and he now has an obsession with Jo…

Synopsis for It’s My Mistake:

Alice wants a career change, especially after a terrible incident at her last job. Her dream job has always been to work in a hotel, maybe even own one. But after messing up an interview very spectacularly for a vacancy at a well-known hotel chain in London, she wasn’t expecting to hold the attention of the Global Business Manager; Daniel Jeffries. And in more ways than one. Does Alice take the risk and accept Dan’s offer or does she play it safe?

Who knew that that interview day would be the day that changed Alice’s life? But is it for the better? Is this alluring Global Business Manager as amazing as he seems? And who is that mysterious yet amazingly handsome man at the hotel?

**Mature Content** Recommended for ages 18+ due to sexual situations and language.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

If you want to read a part of I Fell in Love with a Psychopath, read it here.

If you want to read a part of It’s My Mistake, read it here.

Here are some links to my other works you might like:

Ender’s Love – Chapter 1

Butterfly House – Chapter 1

Rose Garden Sanatorium – Prologue

My Normal – A Short Story by Penny Hooper

Other blog links:

Best places to visit in South Lanarkshire

The HALO Trust: Safe Steps – Challenge Complete!

I won! I came first in the Earnesty Writer’s Awards 2018 Paranormal Genre!

Paying for Reviews – BEWARE!

My Book ‘It’s My Mistake’ available in paperback!

Ender’s Love – Chapter 1

Warning: Strong language!

~~~

Chapter 1

“Oh, for fuck sake!” I grumbled, as a passing car drove through a puddle and splashed me. I looked down at myself, just as a fellow walker on the path shot me a disgusted look. Probably at my language. I didn’t care. I was instantly hurdled into a bad mood. But I was glad to see I wasn’t that wet; the water had mostly got my boots and—

“Shit!” I exclaimed. The reason I was mostly spared from the dirty puddle water was because the majority had splashed on my laptop bag. I had been carrying it in my hand as it had moments ago been hurting my shoulder. But I didn’t hold much hope that the bag was waterproof.

I wiped it down as much as I could with my bare hands and hoped and prayed to a God that I wasn’t even sure I believed in that the laptop tucked safely inside hadn’t gotten wet itself.

I sighed and looked up to see a bar just a few feet away, right next to a rather lovely Mediterranean restaurant with a few bamboo plants outside. I made a mental note to check it out one day. The bar itself was just as elegant—just lacking the plant-life—with a lovely bold black and red sign which read; Da Vinci’s, which looked quite new. I huffed and decided to go get a well-deserved drink and check my laptop was still working.

The door was a little too heavy, but I tried not to show how heavy I found it. I didn’t want any men to think I was weak and could take advantage. I then trudged up to the bar confidently. Fake it ‘til you make it, I had heard once. It was my new motto in life.

“Excuse me,” I said to the barman. He was quite a good-looking guy, with dark brown hair, a small stubble of a beard, and wearing a white shirt, black trousers with a black waist-coat. Although a little too young for me, so I tried my hardest not to smile or stare too much and give him the wrong impression. I had a habit of attracting men who got the wrong impression.

But just as he moved to wander over to me, I saw a guy behind him that instantly caught my attention. He was handsome. Very handsome. Much more my type. Although, he was undoubtedly way out of my league. His black raven hair short and slightly standing up, a little ruffled as if he’d run his hands through it in frustration, a strong masculine hand resting on his handsome clean-shaven jaw, propping himself up as his elbow rested on the bar top. He appeared to be frowning at the laptop in front of him.

It suddenly felt a lot warmer in this bar than the first two seconds of walking in.

My attention went straight to his hand. It was a habit I had started doing lately. I was looking for a wedding ring. Nothing. That didn’t mean he was single though. Not that he’d ever be interested in me.

“Hi doll,” replied the barman, breaking my attention away from the devilish handsome man behind him. I was trying to will him to look up at me; I hoped if he looked up, I’d might be able to find out if he found me even slightly attractive or not. Maybe find that strange spark I hear about in films and romance books. I had a short-lived dream that our eyes would meet across the bar and an instant spark come between us, my world slowing down as he came over to introduce himself. But he was too engrossed in his laptop to even notice me.

“Hi,” I said, smiling at the barman suddenly, feeling my voice getting a little louder as if I subconsciously wanted to attract the attention of the other guy, but being as nice as possible to the barman, so if he did look up, he’d see I was friendly at least. Although, deep down, I hoped the barman hadn’t caught me goggling at his only other customer in his bar.

“I, err—” I’d suddenly forgotten what I was going to ask for. My mind drew a blank.

Wet laptop, that was right!

“Do you have any paper towels? Some inconsiderate buggar just drove through a large puddle and got me wet.” I felt myself flush at my own comment. I had too many male friends who would have heard that comment and found a hidden sexual innuendo in it. I just hoped neither men at the bar; the one behind the bar and the stupidly handsome one still staring intently at his laptop with his frown creating a rather curious line on his forehead, would have noticed.

I had also noticed with a slight twinge of embarrassment that my voice not only was a little too loud, but my stupidly southern English accent had accentuated the way I said buggar.

“Oh, damn,” said the barman, looking genuinely remorseful. “Sure, let me get you some!” He suddenly took two steps away and drew out some green paper towels before he brought them over to me. I just tried to keep my eyes on him and not the guy behind him who was now typing away at something with an indifferent look on his face.

“You know, you can always use the hand-dryers in the ladies,” the barman continued, after passing me the towels, “my girlfriend is always spilling drinks on herself, she says using the hand-dryers is better.”

I mentally found myself sighing in relief at the thought of this guy already having a girlfriend—although hoping it wasn’t too evident on my face. An ex-boyfriend had once told me my face was expressive. He didn’t mean it in a nice way either. At least there was less chance of the barman trying to hit on me; the one man in the bar I didn’t want to hit on me.

Although, a small part of me wanted to challenge myself to that unspoken agreement I had with myself only a few days ago. I had told myself that it shouldn’t be up to the men to make the first move. Women should make the first move. More importantly, I should make the first move.

“Oh, thanks, but it’s for my laptop, not me.” I smiled, but I suddenly felt myself blush, as the handsome man staring at his laptop suddenly looked up. Our eyes met only briefly as he took a sip of a drink that looked a lot like whiskey. His eyes were back down on the laptop in mere milliseconds. It was over so quickly that I could have just imagined it. I didn’t even manage to get what colour they were.

I suddenly felt deflated. He didn’t even smile at me. His eyes didn’t even linger enough to suggest he was attracted. There was no Hollywood spark. Nothing. Well, there goes the idea that he might even be in to me.

“Oh, sure!” the barman smiled. I looked back at him, trying to keep my eyes fixed on this man instead, as well as trying to keep my face straight and not frown in my disappointment. He didn’t seem to have noticed, and he certainly didn’t seem interested in hearing my story about how my laptop got wet. “Do you want a drink?”

“Yeah, might as well!” I nodded and sighed, feeling tired and sore now that I thought about it. Well, I had just trudged from university with my laptop over my shoulder, heading towards my bus stop before I got splashed. “Do you have Dalwhinnie?” I asked, feeling a little defiant and wanting to drink something that might impress. I didn’t want either of the men thinking I was just a silly woman who also was a bit accident prone. Although, I didn’t really want a glass of Dalwhinnie, I actually just fancied a glass of coke. I felt a little thirsty after trudging out of my class and carrying around my laptop everywhere. A glass of whisky wasn’t going to quench that thirst. But I had somehow convinced myself whisky was the better choice in my situation.

I noticed the barman lifted a curious eyebrow at me and I felt a small inward triumph. Although for a split second, doubt creeped through me that that eyebrow signalled something other than being impressed. “Of course. You want a glass of that?”

“Please.” I nodded and smiled sweetly as I started to unzip my leather jacket and loosen my small black scarf around my neck. It wasn’t that cold outside. It was spring. Nearly summer. But it was the Scottish weather; it was a little cold for me. I preferred warmer weather.

“Ice?” the barman asked as he wandered over to the glasses and picked up a glass very similar to what the handsome man had. I noticed then that the handsome man was looking up at me again and I felt my cheeks flush again. My hopes skyrocketed, but my self-doubts kept them from going too high.

I just gave him a raised eyebrow and smiled at him before deliberately cutting off the eye contact myself this time and looked back at the barman, who I playfully frowned at and said, “And risk diluting it with water? No, thanks.”

The barman looked up at me curiously again but smiled when he noticed I was smiling at him. He nodded. “Good point. That’s three-ninety, please.”

After the barman placed the whisky on the bar top, I shifted my laptop shoulder strap over my shoulder and reached into my pocket of my leather jacket, bringing out my bank card to pay for it. “Thanks,” I muttered politely and was about to hand him my card when he spoke, and I stopped in my tracks.

“We only accept payments over five-pound, love, sorry.”

“Oh!” I felt panic rise in me. I felt instantly stupid. I should have asked that they take card first. As soon as my face fell into sheer shock, I noticed the handsome man was back to looking at me again, a small wicked smile on his face. I felt a little small compared to him as if he was mocking me. But I suddenly had a brilliant idea. “In that case, make it two Dalwhinnies.” I smiled triumphantly.

The barman raised his eyebrow at me again but held a strange frown on his face. This time I was sure he wasn’t impressed. Maybe he was worried I was going to get too drunk and needed to be escorted out of the bar. But I wasn’t going to explain and ruin the idea I had.

He seemed to reluctantly make me another Dalwhinnie and placed it on the bar top while watching my face curiously. It was as if he was waiting for the answer to appear on my forehead. But he finally passed me the card reader so I could pay for the drinks. I was grateful to pick up the two glasses, the paper towels shoved into my jacket pocket carelessly and walk passed the bar towards the back of the room.

I had deliberately aimed for the large booths at the back. There were three large booths with large built in seats. The deep red leather looked inviting and comfortable. Plus, more importantly, it meant having to walk passed that exceptionally handsome customer at the bar.

As I walked past him, smelling a wonderful masculine yet probably expensive fragrance, I stopped and placed one of the Dalwhinnies next to his hand. “That one’s for you,” I said, with the sweetest smile I could muster. He looked round at me in surprise, just as I caught a glimpse of an email account open on his laptop with what looked like a lot of unread business emails. But he frowned as if I had just invaded his personal space and I added quickly: “With that frown on your face earlier, you look like you need one just as much as me.”

I then wandered off while taking a sip of my own glass, without even waiting for him to say anything. I was sure I could feel his eyes staring at the back of my head in amazement. I didn’t want to give him chance to brush me off; I wanted him to know that I was just being polite and friendly, not coming onto him. I imagined a lot of women hitting on him, being as handsome as he was, and that was the last thing he wanted if he was busy with work stuff. But at the same time, I wanted him to take notice of me and not as the silly girl who didn’t carry change around with her.

It’s not like I was expecting him to be interested, I just wanted to feel a little in control. I knew a guy like that wouldn’t be interested in me. I was short, looked young for my age and always seemed to look like I was scowling at everyone. I didn’t even think I was that attractive. Not like most of the girls I’d seen in bars. Plus, guys seemed to like the girls with thick make-up and blonde hair. My hair was a dark shade of red—natural of course—one side would flick out while the other flicked in, and if it was too wet outside it would go frizzy. I had stopped dying or bleaching my hair a long time ago, realising that I should just love who I was, my unruly red hair, stupid button nose and all. I was a bit of a rocker-chick too, with my dark eye make-up and leather jacket, rather than a sweet girly-girl, and I was proud of that.

I had also made a promise to myself. After having terrible luck with men; having dated what seemed like only manipulative men or desperate men who just didn’t want to be alone. Then I had a deliberate two-year single spell. I realised that not only was I worth more than the low-life men I had dated in the past, but I wasn’t going to settle for a guy just for the hell of being in a relationship. I wanted a decent relationship. Hell, I wanted a best friend to spend my life with. If I couldn’t find that person, then I was happy enough just being single and making the most of life.

But in those two years, I had a lot of time to realise that I hadn’t really had chance to meet any decent men. I wasn’t sure why it was. Maybe it was because I was unattractive? Maybe it was because I looked too young? Maybe it was because I prefer to wear jeans and t-shirts instead of wearing a dress and getting uncomfortable and cold? I moved to Scotland, it was a little cooler than England. But I also thought that there was another possibility; after speaking to my male friends, a lot of them had admitted they don’t like to approach attractive women in fear of being rejected. So, somewhere in my head I decided that, why should it be men that approach women first? More importantly, why didn’t I approach men first? Rather than waiting for them to approach me? Not that I thought I was attractive! That was another problem; I was sure it was because I was unattractive that men didn’t approach me. But I was going to fake confidence and test it out.

That handsome guy at the bar; he was just a test to see if I could do it. Seems I could. Although, with a ridiculously fast beating heart, stupidly sweaty palms, the thoughts of doubt quickly creeped into my head as I settled into the seat.

Why did I just give a guy a glass of Dalwhinnie? What if he didn’t want it? What if he didn’t like Dalwhinnie? What if he thought I was stupid? Oh god!

Click here to read the next chapter!

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Don’t forget to check out my other works!

New Story idea! – Butterfly House

Rose Garden Sanatorium – Prologue

New Story Idea – “I fell in Love with a Psychopath”

Halloween Special – Rose Garden Sanatorium Sneak-Peek

Prologue

*
Sam Chaudhary

A large swarm of pigeons suddenly flew up in a panic, disturbing the long since settled dust. Their wings echoed as they clapped in the vastness as if they were applauding the perpetrator that spooked them. Most vanished out through the large hole in the roof. A few others nestled elsewhere; atop of an old door, or the other side of the room bobbing along the floor in fear.

They were originally hiding safely in a derelict building. A building that many years ago once held many people; doctors once walked around in white coats, holding patient records and stethoscopes hanging around their necks looking important. Nurses would have rushed around with bed pans and other equally rudimentary items, wearing aprons with large red crosses on them and with their hair pinned back into tight buns. Patients would be seen in straitjackets screaming at the top of their lungs when they were due for more sedatives.

The building now, however, was eerily silent—yet if you listened close enough you would swear you could hear a distance ghostly scream. There were scattered red bricks from the broken walls, broken windows boarded up from the outside and graffiti clinging helplessly on the peeling walls. It was obvious the building was no longer in use.

The pigeons made the boy jump as he walked into the open hall, he had accidentally spooked them while he side stepped past a weed, a bit of nature that had decided to reclaim the area, his foot knocked a loose brick which had caused a loud noise to echo. He stopped to regain his breath and slow his beating heart.

The boy was young, his round slightly tanned Asian face still had a hint of baby fat lingering in his cheeks and his short dark hair complimented his dark brown eyes. He stood holding the zipper on his jacket, close to where his beating heart sat pounding in his chest. His jacket was slightly dirty from months of use and not seeing the inside of a washing machine. It was his favourite and deemed lucky jacket, it was dark red with black trim around the collar and cuffs, contrasting with the blue in his jeans, which were slightly too long for his legs, evident from the fraying at the bottom, where his brand new Nike trainers would catch them when he walked.

It’s just an old building, he thought to himself, hoping to calm his nerves as he looked nervously around himself. There are no monsters! he added, sighing deeply.

He remembered what his mother would say to him every night when she would tuck him into bed. That was when he was younger, of course. He was far too big now to be tucked in at night. He was twelve and a half, thank you very much. But his mother’s sweet voice automatically filled his head; ‘Monsters aren’t real, beta,’ she would say. ‘Beta’ being the Hindi word for ‘son’. She would do that occasionally, adding in Hindi words into sentences, she didn’t want him to lose his Hindi roots.

After composing himself a little, feeling a little more confident no monsters were going to jump out and eat him, he decided to continue moving onwards and through the vastness of the open hall.

The quicker I get it, the quicker I can get out, he thought to himself as he climbed over a fallen wall, the broken red bricks threatening to pierce the skin on his legs.

He walked quietly and as quickly as possible to the other side of the hall to another corridor, the smell of urine potent in this part of the building. As he neared a door separating the hall from the corridor ahead, he also noticed another smell lingering in the air, yet he didn’t think much of it; he had a job to do.

The door, mould threatening to consume it from the bottom upwards, was leaning awkwardly against the corridor wall, one hinge still attached, the other not. Although he was sure his friend told him he’d have to open a door at the other end of the hall? Maybe it just fell down since his friend had been there?

The boy looked down the corridor to another door at the far end. The street light that was originally illuminating his way wasn’t reaching this far, but he could see the last door he needed to go through… he was nearly there.

He walked slowly, stepping over some broken glass and side-stepping past an old chair left discarded and lonely in the corridor, while feeling proud of himself for getting this far.

But something made him stop; a sound. He could hear someone muttering, and it was coming from that room beyond the door. He realised that strange smell was stronger here too. He certainly wasn’t imagining it. He couldn’t place what the smell was, but he knew it was some sort of incense, it reminded him of his Aunt Mysha.

He stood still for a few seconds, in panic. He knew if he ran away now, he’d have his friend telling him he was a wimp for not getting the item he was supposed to get; that damn brick. But if he stayed where he was, and whoever was on the other side of the door was a murderer or something, he’d be dead.

The muttering started to get louder as he stood there, the person was talking louder now, and the boy realised it was a woman’s voice. Spiked with curiosity, he couldn’t help but walk towards the door slowly and quietly. Maybe, if he got close enough, he could hear what she was saying.

The closer he got, the louder the voice got, but not just because he was getting nearer, she was getting louder. Now able to hear her, he started to realise that she was repeating something, although he could not work out what she was saying, she was speaking a foreign language. The only word he picked up was ‘mammon’ or something similar.

What is she doing? he thought. And what language is that?

He crept closer to the door, his curiosity getting the better of him. He was now right by the door, if he just peaked through the gap, he’d be able to see into the room. He could already see shadows dancing across the walls and floor, there was some kind of light and a waft of that strange incense smell too.

The boy shifted his weight slightly on one leg, so that he could peer round the corner of the door, the room slowly came into focus. There was indeed a woman; she was dressed in all black, had one hand up in the air as if she was waving to someone and the other held something burning. She was now shouting, which the boy was grateful for as he was worried she would have heard him by now otherwise.

He saw a brick laying in the middle of the room on the floor, it had a very delicate carving of a strange symbol on its side. It was the brick he was tasked to get. It was right next to strange criss-cross of white lines and circles markings on the floor, directly in front of the woman. He knew there was no chance he was going to be able to go in the room and get it without being noticed. But before he could turn around and leave the building empty-handed, a strange cloud like object started to form before the woman.

Transfixed on the sight, he watched as it swirled and swirled, getting bigger and bigger, until suddenly it somehow imploded and vanished. But it didn’t vanish into thin air, it vanished into a crack, a crack that had formed in thin air. The woman stopped shouting now, the room fell eerily silent. The boy found himself going rigid, not just out of terror, but worried about making a sound.

Suddenly, the crack started to open up from the other side, it was as if something was trying to come through, like a rip in fabric. But he could see the other side, where the room was beyond it, there was nothing there. The crack started to get wider and wider and a terrifying clawed red hand reached through. The boy’s eyes went wide and he held his breath as he saw the red hand tear the crack open up in one swift movement and the whole red body attached to the hand climbed through, horns, tail and black leathery wings included.

The boy let out a squeak of terror accidentally and covered his mouth with his hand, but it was too late, the monster and the woman turned round, both staring right at the boy, both with the same horrifying pitch black eyes.

Monsters were real.

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If you’d like to read some more, here is the link to WattPad: https://www.wattpad.com/…/124077410-rose-garden-sanatorium

P.S. This is the book that won the Earnesty Writer’s Awards Paranormal Genre.

1. Rose Garden Sanatorium NEW (2)

Halloween Special! 35% off my e-books!

Halloween Special!

Both my e-books are 35% off! For one day only! Sale ends tomorrow!

Happy Halloween / Happy Samhain!

I fell in Love with a Psychopath: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/893044
It’s My Mistake: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/744287

If you’d prefer the paperback, you can get them both here:
I fell in love with a psychopath: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1722710365/
It’s My Mistake: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Its-My-Mistake-Penny-Hooper/dp/1985376709/