It’s odd. Originally, High Moon Rising was intended to be more of a horror story – especially the first one. In it’s very first iteration, Blood and Fang was going to be a short horror story with very definitive ending, but as I wrote it, the universe it took place in started to grow, and tie in to other ideas I was working on.
Slowly, it went from being a Horror story to being the starting point of a fantasy series – indeed, one of the first books weaknesses is that it’s never quite outgrown it’s short story origins. Hungry Mountains is definitely more of a fantasy story, and The Serpents Fangs is an out and out fantasy story.
So it’s a bit weird to me that the first of my stories I’d class as being closer to the horror genre is one of the Order of Britain books. By all rights, the Order books should be out and out fantasy, but this second book…
I grew up reading the novels of James Herbert, possibly one of the best horror writers Britain has ever produced. His books always had that very distinctive British style and language, but also enthralled through their no-holds-barred violence. I’m channeling that a bit at the moment with some of the cutaway scenes in the current story.
Anyways, it’s just about two weeks to the release date of the third High Moon Rising book – I#m pulling the date forward to the 25th, for a Friday launch. I suppose it’s time for my now traditional sample!
The streets of Washington were soaked in rain, drenched in water that washed away the accumulated filth that millions of people and horses left on the streets on a daily basis.
Those few souls still out in the storm had their own lives, and their own concerns. They certainly didn’t have time to pay attention to the tired man on an equally tired horse that plodded through the streets towards an nondescript building several miles from the white house.
Jim reined his mount in, and stepped down from the saddle. He looked up and down the building, glanced at the card in his hand, and sighed. He pushed open the door.
“Mr Ashwood?” The woman behind the desk said.
“The commander is expecting you. Please, have a seat.”
The lycanthropic sheriff of prospect cocked an eyebrow, and slumped into one of the chairs, ignoring the receptionist’s glare as his damp duster dripped onto the floor.
The letter had arrived at his doorstep a few weeks before, as he’d been watching Cara and Samuel playing in the grass that fronted the street. Davis, the town postman, had come strolling up the street to hand the Sheriff the letter.
“Message for ya, Sheriff.”
“I can see that, Davis. Where’s it from?”
“Washington, looks like. Musta come a fair distance.”
Jim grunted, and broke the seal on the envelope. He unfolded the letter, and read the first few lines. Then he began to swear.
“Jim!” Cara snapped, standing and brushing the dust off her dress. The alpha male of Prospect’s pack subsided, powerless in the face of his annoyed wife. She picked up young Samuel, and walked over to take the letter from her angry husband. She’d always been a faster reader than Jim, and her eyes scanned through the contents of the letter, growing colder as she read.
“Commander Parker, huh?” She said finally.
“Huh. Guess he got a promotion.” Jim said.
“Well, you’re gonna have to go, Jim.”
He took Samuel from her arms, and looked into the boy’s blue eyes.
“You’re gonna have to look after your mama for a little while young’un. Daddy’s gotta go on a trip.”
His attention snapped back to the present as the office door opened to reveal Parker, his right sleeve pinned up the the shoulder.
“Jim! Good to see you, my friend!”
The tall lawman levered himself out of the chair, and glared across the room at Parker. The Commander ignored his gaze, and turned to the receptionist.
“Mary, can you…”
“Already done, sir.”
“Many thanks. Follow me, Jim.”
The werewolf stalked after the officer, down a long corridor and into a secluded office. Jim slumped into a chair in front of the desk as Parker closed the door behind him. The commander seated himself, and picked up a pen from the desk holder.
“Damned good of you to come, Sheriff.”
“You didn’t offer me much of a choice, Parker.” Jim removed the letter from his pocket and tossed it onto the commanders desk. Parker ignored it, and merely looked at him.
“A warrant, Parker? A fucking warrant?”
“Well, we never did recover all those silver dollars you and your cronies stole from that convoy.”
“They weren’t my cronies. They were my partners. And they’re dead, Parker – show a little respect.”
“Respect is the only reason I haven’t thrown you in jail, Ashwood.” Parker snapped. “The United States government doesn’t take lightly to it’s property being stolen by noted outlaws. However, I was able to convince the people in charge that we’d be better off allowing you to pay the debt in service to your country than in prison. Thankfully, we’re never short of work for a man of your… unique talents.”
“You mean like being able to smell that Baines is hiding behind that mirror on the left with a loaded .45?”
Parker stared at him for a moment, then burst out laughing. The mirror slid back, and Baines stepped through, uncocking the revolver as he came. The former Lieutenant grinned at Jim, and leaned back against a wall.
The sheriff sighed, and crossed his arms.
“What do you want, Parker? I got better things to do than trade witty barbs all day.”
Parker and Baines shared a look, and the younger man pulled a file down from a shelf.
“Do you believe in miracles, Sheriff Ashwood?” Baines asked.
“No.” Jim said flatly.
Parker raised an eyebrow.
“That’s a pity, seems we’ve got someone who can perform them.”
Under the brim of his hat, Jim’s eyes sparkled.
“Tell me more.”
The Book releases on the 25th – and if you want to catch up on Jim’s adventures before then, click on the book covers at the top left of the page!