Thursday, March 22, 2012

Hive by Griffin Hayes: Excerpt, Interview & Giveaway

Post-Apopolyptic  Zombies

Nearly two hundred years after the planet was ravaged by millions of undead Zees, the human race is still struggling to rebuild. The Zees may be long gone, but so too are centuries of scientific advancement.

A group calling themselves The Keepers of Knowledge have set out to retrieve and protect what little technology survived the fall. When four of their Prospectors go missing, the Keepers turn to a no-nonsense mercenary named Azina and her eclectic crew of hardened veterans to find them.

The search leads the group to a crumbling underground city. But what looks like just another ruin from a bygone era isn’t nearly as deserted as it appears. Soon, a simple rescue mission becomes a slippery descent into hell as Azina and her men unwittingly awaken a savage, bloodthirsty world. Who will stand and fight, and who will be lucky enough to stay dead?

80 pgs

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I plant my hand firmly on the curve of my waist and say, “Whoever sealed this opening did it in one hell of a hurry.” My repeater is slung over my right shoulder, its weight digging into my back. That's good, because I know it’s right where it should be. I can have it in my hands in well under a second if I need to.

Bron steps forward. Nearly three hundred pounds of raw muscle, but it's the robotic implants that usually draw most of the attention. Especially his arms, both polished chrome killing machines. “Looks more like a barricade to me.”

The others stir uncomfortably, and I know it doesn't have a damn thing to do with his thick Norse accent.

Pennies is fiddling with the cuff of his tunic. His eyes keep dropping to my breasts and I’m a second away from knocking his teeth straight into his nasal cavity. “What do you think they were trying to keep out?” he asks.

Ret, my second in command, is sitting on a nearby rock watching a dark patch of clouds roll in. He's wiry and handsome, and more than one fellow Mercenary has taken those traits as a sign of weakness. A mistake they’ll never have the chance of repeating.

“Have a look at the way those metal beams are welded together,” he says coolly, still watching those clouds low and heavy on the horizon. “They weren’t trying to keep anything out. Whoever did this wanted to keep something inside, and badly.”

There’s a narrow opening below the tangle of beams, no more than few feet high. Keeper Oleg braces a hand on his knee and bends down to study the hole. “This was where the Prospectors entered from,” he proclaims. “I'm sure of it.”

Yeah, no shit it is. That’s the thought running through my head, right along with a savage thirst that's been building from the moment we left Sotercity. But as long as The Keepers are footing the bill, I don't have much choice but to keep a lid on it.

Keepers of Knowledge. They’ve been around since long before I was born. Formed during the end times ― an era beyond memory now ― when an advanced civilization slowly self-destructed. They are tasked with gathering whatever scraps of knowledge and technology they can get their hands on.

As a child, I remember the Keepers telling stories about cities swarming with hordes of monsters. They’d swept across the planet like a plague of locusts with an insatiable appetite. A single bite was enough to kill you or turn you into one of them. The Keepers said it had been a chemical in the water that was supposed to calm the people down. But something had gone terribly wrong. It had taken years before the monsters had been destroyed, and by then there wasn’t much left to save.

Civilizations rose and fell, and great ones usually died by their own hands. That's about all I know of history. All that really matters, I suppose.

Oleg stands watching me then waves his hand dismissively at my men: Bron, Ret, Jinx ― my temperamental explosives expert ― and Sneak, my tunnel rat. “Hiring Mercenaries was Prior Skuld’s idea, not mine. Look around you. We’re surrounded by ruins just waiting to fall on people’s heads. A rescue mission requires the proper tools.”

Oleg’s name-dropping now. He thinks that because the Prior runs the Keepers and the Keepers run Sotercity, we’re supposed to be scared.

Bron clasps a massive beam in the jaws of one of his gleaming, metallic arms and lifts it with ease. “Is this tool good enough?”

I put a hand on Bron’s firm shoulder and he lowers the beam. Tact is in order, not quick tempers.

“Four Prospectors are missing,” I say, scanning the tiny hole that had been cut into the barricade, “and this is their last known location. Doesn’t look like much more than your run-of-the-mill, shake-and-bake operation. We do ‘em all the time. Head in, locate your boys and then hightail it out. One thousand USC each, ten for me since I’m leading this crew, and we all go our merry way.”

USC. Units of sodium chloride. Fancy talk for tiny pouches of salt. Just don’t get caught out in the rain with it or you’re liable to lose a fortune.

I pause to let this sink in, even though I’m sure he knows most of this already. “Besides,” I say. “Prior Skuld already signed the papers. If you think our fee is high now, just wait till you see what it costs to cancel. Now, as far as your partner goes, if you wanna bring Pennies along so he can keep an eye out for anything valuable, fine by me. But my team works fast and we work alone, so you all better keep up ‘cause Bron’s not gonna carry you.”

Bron flashes a mouthful of brown teeth.

Oleg is spearing me with his icy stare, and we hear a voice shouting in the distance.

“Wait for me! Please! Please, wait!”

Ret lifts a pair of binoculars. “Azina, we got company. Grinder from Sotercity by the looks of it.”

I grit my teeth. “Perfect.”

A Grinder is a term of endearment Ret coined for the hundreds of maintenance men laboring day in and day out to keep Sotercity from drowning in its own shit and dying of dehydration.

Apparently, since the world went sliding down the crapper, things have become much simpler. At least that’s what the billboards say.

Come to Sotercity for a Taste of the Good Old Days.

There’s something here for everyone. You got yourself a big brain? Join the Keepers of Knowledge. What’s that you say? You’re a greedy bastard? Become a Trader like Pennies. You got a fetish for squeezing into tiny holes looking for artifacts? I understand the Keepers are always looking for new Prospectors. Oh I get it. You like to work with your hands. Grunt work for little or no pay. Got it, not a problem, Public Works goes through Grinders like some people go through dirty tunics. But no, you want it all, don’t you? Then find yourself a trusty weapon ― they’re lying around all over the place ― and start freelancing as a hired gun.

Sounds like one of those damn brochures they’re handing out on every corner, I know. But it’s true.

Ret’s still got the binoculars to his eyes. “It’s Glave,” Ret says, snarling. “Rosaline’s husband.”

I snatch the binoculars, and watch the man stumble over a boulder and fall flat on his face. I turn to Oleg. “A panicked husband searching for his Prospector wife is the last thing we need. Send him home.”

Oleg chuckles. “Worry doesn’t suit you, Azina. You said so yourself this job is a cake walk. The Keepers are paying you a lot of money. I’m afraid you’ll just have to roll with the punches.”

I sigh. So much for tact. I wanna spit so bad, but my mouth is too dry.

What does your significant other and family think of your writing career?

My girlfriend is very supportive. She often refers to herself as my editor/agent/publicist. The rest of my family is also very supportive, thank god. Making a living as a novelist is a tough enough gig already. Even my father, who never quite understood my need to be a writer, was always encouraging. 

Tell us about the first novel you wrote.

The novel is called Malice. It's my first and if I had to slide it onto a bookstore shelf somewhere, I'd probably put it in the paranormal thriller section (assuming that even exists). If Stephen King, Alfred Hitchcock and Koji Suzuki (author of The Ring), collaborated, the result might look something like Malice. Part mystery, part horror thriller, Malice follows a 17-year-old named Lysander Shore as he begins to unravel a series of grisly murders made to look like suicides. Something is getting inside people and making them do unspeakable things. Lysander meets a girl named Samantha Crow, maybe the one person who believes he may be onto something. Together they peel away the layers to a mystery that leads all the way back to a Witch's harrowing execution in the 17th century.

Special Update:

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

That's hard to say. Most writer's I know talk about writing their first novel by age 3 and landing an agent by 5. I was a late bloomer. I do remember starting a novel when I was fifteen. I had an old typewriter that belonged to my parents and I'd taken it down off a dusty shelf and decided to see what I could do. Seemed easy enough. I got about a page in before I gave up and turned on my Sega Genesis.

When you write, how much planning do you do?

Not nearly enough. I'd love to plan, I just
don't have the patience. This whole business about writing pages of diary notes about the flavor ice cream your main character likes to eat. That never worked for me. I just need to know roughly where I'm headed and I climb on board. Now the 'climb on board' approach can be a pain when it comes time to editing. I often have to go back and set things up properly, but I love every part of creating stories, so in the end it's not a deal breaker for me.

What was the scariest moment of your life?

The first time I fell in love. Love can be a scary thing, but for me it was the first time I was afraid to die. I’d think about it all the time, what I would be leaving behind. I started obsessing. I feel much better now.

What is the hardest part of being a writer?

The world most writers live in is an incredibly lonely one and as a very social person who loves to share, I find that very difficult. If I nail a scene and I'm floating on cloud nine, there aren't a lot of people close to me I can share that with. I’ll usually get a, "oh, great honey." And it makes sense. I mean, I've been playing make-believe in my head all day. How can I expect anyone else to get excited about that. 

Do you prefer eBooks, paperbacks or hardcover?

I'm not a big fan of hardcover. They're bulky and awkward. Almost feels like curling up with a dresser in your lap. I much prefer paperbacks. EBooks are growing on me though.

Griffin Hayes spent most of his adolescence either watching grainy reruns of The Twilight Zone or rereading worn-out copies of Raymond Chandler novels. His taste for the unsettling and the inexplicable eventually found outlet in his short stories; four of which have been published to date: The Grip, The Second Coming, Bird Of Prey and Last Call. His first novel, Malice along with his other work is currently available on Amazon. When not talking about himself in the third person, Hayes can usually be found in front of a keyboard, working furiously to finish his next novel.

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Griffin Hayes said...

Hi Laurie,

Thanks for featuring Hive. I thought your readers might also like to know that my supernatural thriller Malice is FREE today (March 23rd) and tomorrow (March 24th). Here's the link:

Thanks again,

H.S. Stone said...

Love the covers for Hive and Malice!

PuttPutt1198Eve said...

I love paranormal fiction because it takes me completely away from everyday life, like cleaning and cooking. No other literary genre seems to do that for me. I think we all need that escape once in a while!

Carrie said...

I love reading paranormal because I like a little danger :)

k.a. said...

Paranormal literature is an opportunity to explore new or different possibilities