Sunday, May 26, 2019

Book Blitz and Giveaway: Shantallow by Cara Martin

Title: Shantallow
Author: Cara Martin
Publisher: Cormorant Books
Publication Date: September 24th 2019
Genres: Horror, Young Adult
Tanvi isn’t the girl of Misha’s dreams; she’s the girl from his nightmares. She has appeared in his chilling dreams before he even meets her; when he DOES meet her, he falls for her.

Their relationship turns stormy, bordering on abusive, and takes a dramatic turn when they are held captive by a group hoping to extract money from Tanvi’s wealthy family.

But there is something more sinister at work, and the kidnappers and their victims find themselves struggling for survival as a supernatural force from Misha’s nightmares makes itself known in the real world.

When I come to, I’m lying face down on hard plastic, my eyes blinking back gritty tears and blood and stomach pain twisting me into a fetal position. My hands want to fly to my abdomen, to protect it from something that’s already happened, but they can’t. They’re frozen behind my back. I thrash around like a fish out of water, my mouth gone like a horror movie creature — solid flesh where the opening should be.

“Easy,” a male voice tells me. “You’re not going anywhere.”

“Maybe he can’t breathe with his nose f*cked up like that,” a second guy suggests.

My head flips frenziedly back and forth, my nostrils inhaling clots where oxygen should be and the world sliding away from me while I plummet toward something else.

“Hold still,” one of them growls, yanking the fleshy covering from my mouth. I splutter and cough, then gulp down air. I’ve barely filled my lungs when something smacks my lips. Wriggling and heaving I sit myself up like an old man, breathing raggedly against whatever they’ve used to reseal my mouth — layers of duct tape, probably. I can almost see its silver gleam, and I keep fluttering my eyelashes, fighting off the onslaught of wet, but it’s like driving through a monsoon without windshield wipers. Nearly impossible.

They’ve left a small hole in the center of the tape this time; a fine stream of air seeps in where my lips part. I’m not going to drown in my own blood in the back of a stranger’s van.

Shifting my weight, I accidentally knock against the figure next to me, who nearly topples me with a shove to the shoulder. I regain my balance before I hit the floor, knees forming a tent in front of me and my hands scraping against plastic behind them. My brain’s skipping double dutch, overclocking as my vision finally begins to clear.

White Kia. Utility van with whited-out rear windows. Men in ski masks.

They kidnapped Tanvi and whoever else was at the Mahajan house, including me. They thought I saw one of their faces. In truth I didn’t see anything, but being in the van is the better case scenario. Better than being left behind. But where are they taking us? The ski mask floating close to me is the first thing to come partially into focus. White skin around the eye and mouth holes. The guy’s gripping something in one of his hands, his posture tense. Tanvi’s furthest away from me, but she’s the one I see next. Sitting cross-legged, hazy brown legs disappearing into volleyball shoes. Hair hanging in her face, partially obscuring the slash of duct tape over her mouth, and her body swaying slightly from the movement of the van.

I count all the figures inside the vehicle. Two guys in the front seat, one of them at the wheel and the other in the passenger seat, both of them in baseball hats and all-black clothing. Another two are crouching among us in the back of the van, one with white skin under his mask and the other black, each of them cradling a gun. Four abductees total: a young white girl who can’t be much older than ten, Tanvi, me, and a black guy about our age with a grown-out buzz cut whose chin and neck are smeared with red. He must have tried to fight off the kidnappers too. His face is vaguely familiar, and when he stares pointedly back at me his eyes are beaming a message.

Cara Martin is the author of several acclaimed novels for young people published under the name C. K. Kelly Martin. Her most recent novel, Stricken, was released in 2017. A graduate of the Film Studies program at York University, Cara has lived in the Greater Toronto Area and Dublin, Ireland. Within the space of 3500 miles she’s worked a collection of quirky jobs at multiple pubs and video stores, an electricity company, a division of the Irish post office, a London toyshop, and an advertising analytics company. She’s also been an image editor for a dot-com startup that didn’t survive the 90s, and a credit note clerk for Canada's largest national distributor of General Merchandise. Cara currently resides in Ottawa, Ontario with her husband and is still afraid of the Child Catcher from the film adaptation of CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG.

Things that Scare Me or Us (but maybe shouldn’t) 
by Cara Martin
Writing a horror book you’re forced to think about things that people are afraid of, placing your mind in dark places on purpose. Like a lot of people, in terms of fiction and movies I’m often drawn to things that would scare me to death in real life. When I was beginning to write Shantallow I came up with a big master list of scary things. Some of them make good sense (spiders and snakes can be poisonous!) and others ranged from irrational to downright silly. Here are a few things that I personally find scary, but maybe shouldn’t be. Maybe some of you share a few of these with me?

1. Sharks. Yes, they’re a rational thing to worry about if you surf or swim in the ocean. But I grew up about thirty minutes from Lake Ontario (no sharks!) and as a young kid would even get nervous in the deep end of my neighbour’s swimming pool, imagining something was about to chomp at my legs. Much later, when I was fourteen, I watched a documentary on the making of Jaws 3 in 3D on a tiny TV screen while at the cottage and had a nightmare about that. Not any of the Jaws movie themselves, you understand. Just about the process of making the third movie! But I can’t pass off my shark phobia as merely a childhood fear. I’m still unable to watch any Jaws movies and was only able to get through The Shallows (Blake Lively has to outwit a Great White when she’s stranded 200 yards from shore) by watching it at home on a 32” TV with all the lights on. On honeymoon in the Bahamas years ago I managed to swim out to the hotel’s floating raft in the ocean, but I swear I was thinking of sharks the entire time.

2. Basements & attics. In horror movies these are generally very creepy places but does it make sense to be afraid of them? Ordinarily they’re dusty and probably filled with all your old junk that has nowhere else to go. Sometimes they’re renovated cool places to hang out, even. When I was a kid I used to have nightmares about my grandparent’s basement. It was large, with multiple rooms, and very attractive, somewhere I actually enjoyed playing.

3. Bees & wasps. They sting and no one wants that. Being highly allergic to countless things I could possibly be allergic to bees but I don’t really think that’s what I’m worried about. The fact is, I’ve never been stung and I really don’t want to be. Really. Don’t. If a bee or wasp shows up, I can’t just swat it away and forget about it. I either have to close my eyes and pretend it’s not there until it disappears for real, or I just run and run until the bee or wasp gives up and whizzes off to bother someone else. Once, on an airplane, a bee was buzzing around the window next to my seat and a flight attendant was forced to kill it because otherwise I wouldn’t stay seated. Bees are good. Better than good – vital to the survival of agriculture. In theory I appreciate them and their contribution to society, but in person they turn me into a sprinter.

4. The closet or the space under the bed. Again, the things you’ll find there are dust and clothes you bought at the mall. Nothing to angst over (although maybe you need to vacuum and aren’t looking forward to that). But in the movies these are always places where the most terrible things lurk.

5. Creepy children’s voices raised in song together. I’m talking Amityville 1 and 2 opening credits as prime examples. Clowns are definitely creepy, but kids are usually not. So why does this give me chills?

6. Holding your breath. Like in those movie scenes where you have to swim underwater to reach safety, holding your breath for longer than seems humanly possible. I sometimes used to hold my breath during such scenes to see if I’d survive in the same situation, but I’d never even come close to making it. Now I don’t hold my breath while watching holding-your-breath scenes but they still stress me out, although I’m fairly sure people rarely encounter these situations in real life!

7. When people are not themselves (zombies & possession). Culturally we seem especially obsessed with zombies. I guess it seems like a kind of betrayal, a cruel joke that someone could be wearing a loved one’s face but no longer actually *be* them. The same goes for possession but without the brain munching. Again, not something we’ll likely have to face in our lives, but if it happens we could probably work out a Shaun of the Dead type arrangement with our zombie pal. So why worry?

8. Multiple voices whispering hushed unknown things from the corner of the room when there’s no one else there. A bee can hurt you a little, but what does random whispering do to you? Nothing. If it should ever happen (and hopefully it won’t) I’m going to try to turn on some tunes, loud, and ignore the spooky voices.

9. Things you can’t quite see, because they whiz by unnaturally fast or aren’t actually there when you turn your head. The other day I was doing some exercises and a cardigan spread across a chair behind me kept catching my eye. For a second I thought there was someone there. The first time I jumped a little, then chortled to myself about how silly I was. After the third time within about ten minutes I had to put the cardigan away. Ridiculous! But those movie scenes where a ghost or supernatural creature appear in a flash and then vanish get me every time.
Win a $25 Amazon gift card and a signed copy of Shantallow by Cara Martin!
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  1. Thank you for the giveaway! Sounds like a pretty scary book. O.o

  2. Geez-this book sounds like it would be scary. I think it would make a great movie too.
    Flyergal82 (at /yahoo! -dot !com?

  3. Sounds very scary and the cover looks scary. Thank you for a great giveaway!

  4. This sounds very interesting, thanks for sharing

  5. Awesome cover can't wait to read this book.

  6. Exciting excerpt, thanks for sharing it.

  7. This sounds fascinating! Im really excited for this one!

  8. the book sounds interesting. thanks.

  9. I really enjoyed the exerpt and this sounds like a great horror read!

  10. The book sounds great, Love the cover

  11. This book sounds like a great read.

  12. This good sounds really good thank you for offering this contest

  13. Creepy Cover - nice. Thanks for this one author and host.

  14. Looks awesome! The cover is so intriguing!

  15. Love the fluorescent pink background. Great cover.

  16. I liked both the book excerpt, and the book cover.