No rest for the wicked, though. As soon as all the release hoop-la was over, I did what any writer does. I went back to work. I've been working on my third novel since November 2014, and it's coming together beautifully. This is a big departure for me - genre, plot, even the way the story is told. It's undergone plot changes galore (which is why I removed the synopsis off my website and the Goodreads listing), but now the first draft is 70% complete, and I'm settled in both the plot and the characters. So, onward to the finish line!
My plan is to finish this first draft by mid-April, then to begin the revision process, getting it polished and ready for my editor and cover designer. I'm aiming for a July release, so I'll be keeping you posted both on my Facebook page, via my newsletter and here!
In the meantime, here's an unedited snippet from the beginning of the book, which is somewhat tentatively titled Into The Void.
I'd love some feedback, either on this post, back over on my Facebook page or via Twitter! Always love feedback, especially constructive feedback :-)
INTO THE VOID
by Amanda Dick
Unedited Teaser - All Rights Reserved
Release date: July 2015
The girl in the mirror stared back at me, taunting me. Am I really her? Is she really me? I was staring at the face of a stranger and I was scared to death. She looked like something out of a horror movie.
Pallid skin, lips almost blue, hollow eyes. Extensive bruising on her cheekbone, extending up one side of her forehead. Her hair was gone, shaved clean off, with a ragged scar cutting a raised, red path across her scalp.
The bright, white light above the bathroom mirror illuminated the head, but not the memory inside it.
Who am I?
Somewhere in the distance, there was crying. Someone rushed past my room, calling out instructions in a calm, measured voice. A meal would arrive soon, brought in on a spotless, white tray. Today, I would try my best to eat all of it, no matter how tasteless it was. At least that was something I could control.
I have no idea how long I’ve been here. The days and nights seemed to have blended into each other until time was immaterial. I was here. Whoever I was.
People came and went. I had learnt to be grateful for the simple things. A clean bed with crisp, white sheets. A kind word. A view over the car park from the window of my room. Three meals a day.
The one thing I wanted more than anything was to remember.
Instead, I was a question mark. A Jane Doe. A puzzle without all the pieces. A mystery no one had solved.
And the worst part was, I felt it.
I could feel the missing pieces, buzzing around just outside of my grasp. I reached for them but grabbed nothing but empty air. I floated on a sea of what’s and why’s, how’s and who’s. The questions were like post-it notes, pinned to a large, black pin-board that separated my past from my present. The frustration was beginning to get to me.
What’s my name? How old am I? Where do I live? How did I get that scar on my scalp?
The void was impenetrable. Insurmountable. Absolute.
The harder I tried to remember, the more it hurt. The pain was more than physical, it reached down deep into my soul, hollowing me out. They told me to relax, that the anxiety caused by trying to force myself to remember was counter-productive. But they didn’t know how it felt to have no sense of self.
I had to try, had to reach, had to pick away at the scab that had formed over my memory. How else would I get any answers? How could I not try to break down that wall in my mind that separated the self of before from the self of right now?
I stared harder at the face in the mirror, willing some ray of light to shine out of the darkness. Give me something, anything. A name. A place. A memory. Just a memory, even a small one.
But there was nothing.
Who the hell am I?
I was a case of suspended animation, caught between the past and the present, with no idea how I got here and no clue how to move forward. The fog in my brain had shut off the door to my past so completely, I thought I was going mad.
Why can’t I remember where I was born, yet I can remember how to use a knife and fork? How can I not remember my name, yet I can remember how to read? How can I not remember how old I am, yet I can remember I didn’t like cucumber? How was any of this possible?
I could feel myself tipping over the edge again. My head throbbed as I drew in a slow breath, exhaling through my teeth. What do I know about myself?
I studied my hands, front and back (short nails, long fingers). I was of average height, if comparisons were anything to go by. My eyes were hazel, but more green than brown. I had no tattoos. My ears had been pierced at some stage but the holes were closing up. I could roll my tongue to make an ‘o’ shape.
The list was pitifully short.
I turned off the light above the mirror and climbed back into bed, exhausted. Too much thinking. Too much effort for my fragile brain.
I sat upright in bed, pulling the sheet up taut under my breasts and folding my arms across it, as if barricading myself in. Rain battered against the window, soothing yet unsettling at the same time.
Why wasn’t anyone looking for me?
Who am I?