by Nancy Holder
I am one of HWA’s original members. I joined H.O.W.L. (the Horror and Occult Writers League.) I also served as a trustee in the early years, before we changed our name again to the Horror Writers Association. Here’s an excerpt from my new young adult werewolf novel, Unleashed. It will come out on November 22 from Delacorte. I hope you enjoy it!
This can’t be happening, Katelyn thought. Her grandfather handed her the keys to his front door then went to retrieve her suitcase. The sun had begun to set, and she barely took notice of the illuminated exterior of the rustic two-story log cabin as she dashed from the truck up a staircase made of planks, to a door with an oval of frosted glass. Her hands were shaking too badly to insert the key into the lock. She was blind with tears.
His footfalls echoed on the wood as he came up behind her, took the key ring from her, and opened the door. He stepped back to let her in first. Her throat was so tight she was afraid she was going to choke.
She crossed the threshold, and her lips parted in shock. Interspersed with oil paintings of mountain landscapes, animal heads hung on the varnished wood walls. Deer, elk. Stuffed ducks with green-and-chocolate-brown plumage, creatures that had been so beautiful in life, were displayed as trophies along the top of a polished wooden cabinet. Katelyn thought she might throw up. She was a vegetarian and she and Kimi had been active in animal rights causes. To her, her grandfather’s living room was a chamber of horrors. Why hadn’t she remembered it from when she was little?
“Let me show you around,” he said.
“My room,” she managed to say. “I just want to lie down.”
He shrugged. “Okay. Follow me.”
On the right side of the modestly-sized living area, a steep wooden staircase passed more heads, a rifle on a rack, and what appeared to be a stained glass window. Her grandfather carried her suitcase while she wrapped her arms around her stuffed bear and eased the purple overnight bag onto her shoulder again. She hated climbing the stairs so close to the blank, staring glass eyes and averted her gaze to the window. The stained glass window was a red and white shield with a yellow rose in the center of a trio of fish. Beneath it in black letters was their name, McBRIDE. Lightning flashed behind it, giving the red the appearance of blood.
He reached the landing and turned right, moving down a short corridor featuring one more deer head and small wall sconces that looked like old-fashioned gas lights. A wooden door to her left was ajar, and the light from the hall revealed a bathroom sink. Then he pushed on the door at the end of the hall, and it opened.
The wall sloped, and there was a small skylight positioned above a double bed covered with a burgundy and gray plaid blanket. A carved square headboard held two brass pots of ivy. On a nightstand was an antique lamp of cranberry-colored glass. There was a dresser with a circular mirror. On it was a bottle of furniture polish and a rag. She smelled the lemony odor of the polish and beneath that, dust. Maybe he’d spent the last several days cleaning, instead of coming to her mother’s funeral, to make her feel at home. But it wasn’t like her old room at all. The room that had been destroyed by fire.
Copyright 2011 by Nancy Holder and Debbie Viguié
Nancy Holder is giving away one paperback copy of Unleashed. To enter post a message in the comments section below or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Winners will be chosen at random. Contestants may enter once to be considered for all giveaways, but multiple entries are permitted.
Nancy Holder is a multiple Bram Stoker Award-winner as well as a New York Times bestselling author (the Wicked series), who, with her coauthor, Debbie Viguié, has sold two more young adult series, Crusade and Wolf Springs Chronicles. She lives in San Diego with her daughter, Belle, two corgis, and three cats. You can visit Nancy online at www.nancyholder.com.