First Kiss, Last Breath: About the Book

firstkisslastbreathendorse1My novella, First Kiss, Last Breath, a young adult urban fantasy with some elements of horror, was released in October of this year from Lyrical Press.

It centres on a teenager, Andrew Rowly, who believes he may have brought a demon to life through a mural he has painted. Andy's sanity is stretched to its limits as he is forced to confront his fears. Then he meets Nor, a girl who might be "the one." To be with her, to share their first kiss, he must overcome his demon, lest the demon overcomes him first.

Andy caught up with Nor as they rounded the corner to the central thoroughfare of Dickinson Road where a mile or so of closed flea markets adorned one of the main streets linking Stockport and Manchester. They stuttered to a stop, sucker-punched by the sprawling madness that unraveled before them.

It was a war zone.

A writhing mass of bodies clashed in the rain. Protestors, police, concert goers. Missiles soared across the sky, interrupting the downpour. Cars were overturned, shop windows were smashed and yellow flames licked the wooden frames and canvas canopies where market stalls had been set ablaze. The cries of those involved were drowned out by a dozen wailing alarms. More lightning cut across the sky and the street, packed with fighting men, lit up. Glib was in the center, the eye of this storm, the demon screaming and flailing its arms like a demented conductor. It had either caused the chaos or was feeding from it, but Andy knew the monster was stronger still, engorged by the violence. The demon saw him then. It started to move through the chaos in their direction. Andy drew in breath, instinctively wanted to flee. He didn’t. Something hardened inside him.

Glib hesitated. It was as if the demon sensed the change.

“Andy, we need to get out of here!” Nor said. This time she tugged at his arm.

Andy studied the fighting. This was where Glib lived, in madness and depravity. The demon would always stalk him, and even if it wasn’t today, it would one day come for Nor.

Andy looked at her and didn’t see terror, but saw beauty and strength, something worth fighting for.

He returned his stare to the waiting demon.

It was time to make a stand.

I started the book on my honeymoon of all places, back in February 2011. The publishing rights were acquired in August of the same year but a delay in publication resulted in the finished work being released in October 2012.

There were two stories I wanted to write, the first being a coming of age story, and the second something with an "is it really happening?" vibe. I came up with a way to merge the two main themes and scripted the first ten or so pages while at the Shangri La resort in Penang, Malaysia. By then I had a pretty good idea of where the story would go, although no outline.

Back in the UK, I used March, April and May to write, re-write and edit the next 90 pages or so before approaching then Lyrical Press editor, Nerine Dorman, with the pitch.

I set First Kiss, Last Breath in Stockport in 1996 (most, but not all, of my stories are set around the Greater Manchester area). The reason for setting it in the nineties was that I knew what it was like to be a teenager back in 1996! This was partly to give some authenticity to the writing (I'm not down with the kids these days) but also I felt that my readership is of a similar age to me so this setting could bring in some elements of nostalgia that would elevate it above a standard YA release for my readers.

Did I succeed? It's always hard to tell, and I'm still in the process of publicising the work but reviews to date have pointed to a gripping, fast paced story, which is obviously music to my ears.

I hit a few blogs on the release trail of First Kiss, Last Breath.

The first was a "heart on sleeve" reveal about why I write and how writing and the notion of writing developed throughout my life. It was called "She Mostly Cries at Night" and it featured on the blog of SL Schmitz.

The next was more fun. In the lead up to Halloween I posted about my favourite Halloween memory over at Brynna Curry's blog. It's pretty much about how my parents scared the living shit out of this cocky youngster.

On Sara Jayne Townsend's blog, I focussed specifically on First Kiss, Last Breath. As the novella is based around a teenager, I figured that music would play a part in Andy's relationships, and again for credibility, I chose artists and songs that I loved back in 1996 (and still do today).

Then there were the interviews. First Kiss, Last Breath came up in my discussion with Ryan Lawler at Fantasy Book Review.

The novella was also a hot topic in my "Seven Questions" with Jake Elliot.

Post blogging, Karina Fabian was the first to read the story after I touted her for an endorsement. Karina very kindly agreed to read the book but also very honestly told me she would not put her name to it if she did not like it.

Fortunately for me she said: "Fans of Stephen King are going to love First Kiss, Last Breath. You won't sleep until you know how it ends."

Further to this, I've had the following editorial reviews:

"A gruesome and fantastic read. Mather sucks in readers and keeps them guessing from one page to the next." Nocturnreads.com

"Aimed at the YA market I think it fills a niche perfectly." Darkissreads.com

"Reminiscent of Conrad Aitken's Silent Snow, Secret Snow. It's an enthralling story with mounting tension and plenty of suspense." www.tony-paul.com

"This is a great story, superbly written…brimming with gripping characters…and beautifully laid out scenes of hope and despair." Troubledscribe.blogspot.com

So if you feel motivated to read First Kiss, Last Breath, or even better, read then post a review, the links are below.

First Kiss, Last Breath on Goodreads

First Kiss, Last Breath on Amazon.com

First Kiss, Last Breath on Barnes and Noble.com

First Kiss, Last Breath on Amazon.uk

First Kiss, Last Breath on Itunes

Publisher: Lyrical Press

Number of Pages: 101 pages

ISBN: 9781616504120





Crossing Mother's Grave: Jake Elliot interview

crossingmothersgrave_200x300_dpi72Jake Elliot is the US author of fantasy novels The Wrong Way Down, and its sequel, Crossing Mother's Grave. Both are available from Damnation Books. He is also a co-contributor to the anthology of the monstrous, Fading Light. I recently nominated him as an author to look out for as part of the Next Big Thing and you can read his link here.

So, on to the interview!

LM: Hi Jake, welcome to my blog.

We'll start with Fading Light and your excellent contribution, Rurik's Frozen Bones. The story features Vikings and a nasty surprise at sea. Tell us about the story I think the anthology neatly divides into two camps, apocalypse tale and monster tale. What inspired you to go for the latter?

JE: Thanks Lee for having me here.

When I had read the prompt, the first line was “The era of man is at an end” and I’d thought of the line as being speculative and not literal. It never dawned on me that the prompt implied writing a story of the end of everything. I was very hung up on the word “Monstrous” and since I write fantasy with an enjoyable dose of darkness, I figured a story of “the end” for five men via mythological monster would be enjoyable for people to read.

LM: Your first novel was the Wrong Way Down. Tell us about it.

JE: The Wrong Way Down is a fantasy fiction roller-coaster. The story is on par with many fantasy stories but moves a lot faster. It begins with two thieves breaking into a remote monastery to steal a priceless treasure. One thief murders a priest and the other thief is caught.

The treasure is a sacred sceptre of renowned holy power. Desiring to reclaim the sceptre while the trail is still warm, the elder priest sends a strong-willed yet impetuous young healer to escort the captured thief to the nearest military garrison. The thief escapes along the way. Healer Popalia and her elven guide stand at a fateful crossroad––either accept their failure, or take pursuit while they still can.

Time to tighten your lap-strap––it begins to roll faster from this point.

LM: What can we expect from the sequel, Crossing Mother's Grave?

JE: By the end of The Wrong Way Down, a gang of thieves sabotage Popalia’s group so that they are now fugitives. While in the big city, Popalia bolstered her group’s strength by hiring two capable mercenaries. Now their heads are on the chopping block too.

In Crossing Mother’s Grave, as they are closing in on the thief, several angry soldiers have taken pursuit. Ahead of them, the thief is hiding in a merchant’s caravan traveling a dangerous road between two cities. Popalia desperately tries to convince her group that by re-capturing the burglar, they could bargain an exchange for their lives.

Soon, they come upon the merchant’s caravan––abandoned, stripped and bloodied in the middle of the road. Crossing Mother’s Grave is about a rescue mission that goes horribly awry.

LM: Did your approach change from one book to the next?

JE: Not really. Crossing Mother’s Grave is a true continuation of The Wrong Way Down. However, the second book shows great improvements in my writing style. Readers have been very kind to The Wrong Way Down, all the feedback I’ve received from professionals and fans has helped me hone my skills a fair bit tighter in Mother’s Grave. My approach is relatively close to what The Wrong Way Down began.

The third book is halfway drafted and hopefully number three will be recognizably different in its approach. It has been giving me one hell of a fight, but I am excited to see it finished. I’m hopeful it’ll be ready for a publisher’s review by late March, 2013.

LM: Why did you choose to write a series rather than a standalone novel?

JE: I wish I’d done a standalone first. Say the word ‘series’ and most agents and publishers will avoid you like an Ebola outbreak. I got lucky when Damnation Books gave me a chance. Slowly––and oh-so-horribly slowly––this series is catching on.

A few weeks ago I started writing a fantasy fiction adventure based on the game Skyrim. It is an opportunity to see my fiction without needing to buy any. It can be found at skyrimprodigy@wordpress.com . I must remind you though, this is the raw stuff––my books are edited by professionals. Still, it isn’t bad for the high price of free.

Most people I’ve convinced to read The Wrong Way Down were eager to read Mother’s Grave. Getting people to read the first one is the hardest thing, after that they are hooked like a junkie on heroin. This was the biggest reason I chose series instead of a single story.

I do feel a bit dirty, like I’ve become a drug-dealer.

LM: Why fantasy? What attracts you to the genre?

JE: Monsters, magic and heroics, but mostly because I didn’t like how my contemporaries were doing it. It isn’t that I think other fantasy writers aren’t good, it is that some of them sell a generous share of ‘campy.’ There is some great fantasy writing in the world, Robert E. Howard and J.R.R. Tolkien being the most common names. I wanted to see how mine would compare.

Conan is my favourite literary hero, and another favourite from the opposite spectrum of the fantasy realm is Gandalf. It seemed natural to write in the genre of fantasy. Popalia is an outstanding character and she has an honest chance to stand beside these two heroes. I’m betting my future on it.

Other reasons that I would include are my own under sights.  I’m not techy enough to write sci-fi. Romance and military Bromances weren’t going to satisfy my hungry imagination. (For the record, I’m 25-books into Don Pendleton’s awesome Executioner series. It is the military Bromance books that inspired the Punisher comic-book hero. Both are like an American version of Judge Dread.) I do appreciate reading some horror, and there are clear elements of it in my stories.

LM: What is the best piece of advice you could give another writer?

JE: DON’T DO IT!! Put the keyboard away and buy a guitar. Women dig musicians––even when they suck at playing. You can grow your hair long and use the F-word all day long without being judged as crass. Plus, if you do get talented playing your guitar, it is possible to actually make money.

Write for fun, write because you love it. I’ve concluded that I hate the ‘business’ of writing. Perhaps I just hate working my ass off and still being poor. Of course, I’d feel a lot different if I were JK Rowling.

LM: In general, as a reader what do you think good writing is?

JE: What a difficult question to answer. Let’s use an example we should all familiar with––take Wrath by Lee Mather. The tale was intended to generate spooky sensations in the reader, and upon finishing that story, I felt amply disturbed on deep levels. Mission accomplished––that story defines gook writing.

I don’t read self-published books because in general the writing is sloppy. Even if it is potentially good writing, most self-published authors don’t pay for editing. An editor might not have the same talent as a creative writer, but they sure make the story better. As good a story as Mother’s Grave is, it would have looked like smeared crap on paper without the help of my editor.

If I had an editor look over my answers to your questions, I’d look golden.

LM: Your Kindle (or generic non-branded e-reader) is broken and you can only have one book (not your own!) on there. What would it be and why?

JE: This is another tough question, but in the end it would be The Complete Chronicles of Conan by Robert E. Howard. It is almost as big as the bible, but far more inspiring. (I’m kidding, Conan isn’t really that big.)

Thanks, Jake!

The writing of Jake Elliot can be found at http://jakeelliotfiction.com/.

You can follow Jake on Twitter, here.


25% off The Green Man and Corrupts Absolutely?

Damnation Books are offering a 25% discount of all e books purchased from their website from now until the end of December.

If you fancy stocking up on your reading material for the Holidays then all you need to do is enter the following code at the checkout:


A whole host of electronic formats are catered for including both Kindle and Nook.

The Green Man AdvertThe Green Man, my first professional sale, published back in December 2010, is included in the offer. The story reflects on one man's journey to affirm his faith. If you don't like flying you might want to give this one a miss.

Also, 2012 has seen my stories published in three anthologies to date, with one more penciled in before year end.

CorruptsAbsolutely coverThe first of these anthologies was the Damnation Books collection, Corrupts Absolutely? which also qualifies for the discount. Corrupts has made it on to the Bram Stoker Award reading list for the year and it features a hole host of talent spinning yarns about flawed superheroes. Somehow I managed to sneak in there too… 


The Next Big Thing

firebookWhat will be the next big thing in the world of fiction? Every so often a book, or a series of books, will come along and knock our collective socks off, be it Harry Potter or the Da Vinci Code or even Fifty Shades of Grey.

The Next Big Thing sets out to give writers an opportunity to nominate peers they think are worthy of your attention.

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Fake Reviews: My Thoughts on the RJ Ellory Scandal

So fake reviews are the hot topic of the day after million selling crime writer RJ Ellory issued an apology for posting fake reviews on Amazon in an attempt to increase his sales.

Under an alias, Jelly Bean, Ellory not only described his book "A Quiet Belief In Angels" as a "modern masterpiece" but he also took the time to take out his competition and bastardise the work of other writers in a series of negative reviews.


As a writer published in the small presses, reviews in general and Amazon reviews in particular are essential for me in attracting new readers. Without the marketing budget of a major publisher behind me or any significant monies generated independently for marketing or mass distribution, I rely on word of mouth as the most effective way of getting people to buy my books.

I'm not naïve enough to believe that faking positive reviews or similar behaviour isn't commonplace amongst some authors but nonetheless I think posting fabricated reviews about your books and hammering the writing of others is thoroughly despicable.

This isn't entrepreneurial, or mischievous, this is fraudulently misleading people to part with their money to buy something from you.

What Ellory risks, and the subsequent furore his actions generate, is damage to the credibility of Amazon posted reviews – something that will hurt the small presses and the self published more than it will hurt larger publishers or million selling writers.

Every good review I have on both Amazon and similar sites such as Goodreads is the genuine opinion of someone who has read that book. I've earned those positive thoughts. But how do you know that? After the outing of RJ Ellory, why should you trust in the authenticity of any of these recommendations?

I don't want to be hypocritical here. Plenty of writers I respect manipulate the Amazon system. They network and review each others books or 'like' or 'tag' these books to help search engine results – but most people will chose not to post a review if they don't enjoy the book in the first place. Very few people would put their name and reputation to something they did not like. This is markedly different to glorifying your own work or assaulting someone else's.

Networking is massively important for writers as a way of both developing their writing skills and also getting word out there about their books. To think that an unscrupulous few are deliberately throwing people under buses to further themselves is sickening, but unfortunately the way of the world. What makes this worse is that RJ Ellory was once a board member of The Crime Writer's Association, an organisation that exists to support its members – not to attack them.

I'll be interested to see if Amazon reacts to the media storm regarding fake reviews. It's in their interests to get reviews on their site in the first place to help sales but if consumers lose faith in the process and vote with their wallets then Amazon would need to consider tightening up how the review system works. After all, it's much harder to buy a book under a fake identity on Amazon than it is to post a review of that same book because of the need for an authenticated online payment.

Having said that, should it be down to Amazon and such sites to have to police us?

RJ Ellory clearly isn't a bad writer. A few fake reviews don't get ten books published or over a million books sold. In 2010 he also won the Crime Novel of the Year award.

Two years later and he's headline news for a different reason, his reputation flushed down the crapper.

In short, as writers, we need to manage our own conduct. Fake reviews help none of us.


Find out more about Lee and his writing at www.leemather.org.uk

Or follow Lee on Twitter

"Bloody Parchment", featuring Lee's story, "Masks", is available now from Amazon.

"Fading Light", featuring Lee's story, "Wrath", is available now from Angelic Knight Press.

"First Kiss, Last Breath" is available from October 8th from Lyrical Press.


Be Afraid Of The Dark – An Interview With Tim Marquitz

Today's guest is Tim Marquitz, author of both the Demon Squad series and The Blood War trilogy. Tim recently sat at number one in the Amazon download chart with the first book of the Blood War trilogy: Dawn of War.

Tim is also the brains behind Fading Light, 'an anthology of the monstrous' released this weekend by Angelic Knight Press. Fading Light features a stellar line up including William Meikle, Gene O'Neil and Mark Lawrence amongst others.

LM: Hi Tim, welcome to my blog!

TM: Thanks, Lee. Appreciate you having me.

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Fading Light - out now!

The wait is over. Fading Light is here…

Brought to you by Angelic Knight Press, Fading Light, a collection of horror, dark fantasy and science fiction stories from a host of authors, is available to buy from Amazon from September 2012.

Edited by Tim Marquitz, writer of the "Demon Squad" series, Fading Light concentrates on what lurks out there in the dark.

The light has failed: the era of man is at its end.

Born of darkness, the creatures of myth, legend, and nightmare have long called the shadows home. Now, with the cruel touch of the sun fading into memory, they've returned to claim their rightful place amidst humanity; as its masters.

Fading Light collects 30 monstrous stories by authors new and experienced, in the genres of horror, science fiction, and fantasy, each bringing their own interpretation of what lurks in the dark.

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