Tuesday, 24 May 2011

The Fitzwarren Inheritance

I think it's about time I did some promotion for The Fitzwarren Inheritance, a trilogy written by Chris Quinton, R.J Scott and myself, published by Silver.

I am going to start with The Psychic's Tale, written by Chris Quinton which comes out on 4th June 2011. If you ever need a curse, Chris is your woman. She is scarily good at curses which chill your bones.


Buy link is here

Blurb



"I curse you and your children's children, that you shall all live out your allotted years, and that those years shall be filled with grief and loss and betrayal, even as you have betrayed and bereaved me."
 
Four hundred years ago in rural England, a mob burned two men to death, but not before one of them, Jonathan Curtess, hurled a dreadful curse at the mob's leader, Sir Belvedere Fitzwarren. The curse has followed the family through the centuries, bringing grief and loss to each generation.
 
Mark  Renfrew is a closeted psychic and openly gay. When his grandmother discovers a family link to a 17th century feud and a still-potent curse, she insists he investigates and do his best to end it. When he travels to the village of Steeple Westford, he meets and falls for Jack Faulkner, an archaeologist. He also meets the Fitzwarrens, who are facing yet another tragedy.
 
Then Mark learns that the man who cursed them had twisted the knife by leaving three cryptic conditions that would lift the curse, and he knows he has to try to break the curse his ancestor had set.

Excerpt

Mark finished reading the page, then closed the small leather-bound book and pushed it away from him. "Where did you find this?" he asked, interested despite the unease in his gut.

"I found it in the Records and Resources section of Branches. It's an online genealogy site," his grandmother added helpfully. "It's amazing what you can find on the Web."

"No argument there. Okay, so we're descended from this Curtess bloke," he said, taking off his glasses and dropping them into his shirt pocket. "But I don't see what it's supposed to do with us." Alice didn't say anything. Just pursed her lips and glared, a surprisingly effective tactic despite her round cheerful features framed by untidy curls of thick white hair. "I wish you'd never started this genealogy craze. Just let it go."

"I can't. We can't." Her green eyes blazed with crusading zeal, and Mark groaned quietly to himself. "An injustice was done," she continued, "and nothing can repair the damage it's already caused. But it has to end. If I could walk farther than the end of the street, I'd do it myself. I can't, so it's up to you."

"Don't be ridiculous." Even as he said it, Mark knew he was wasting his breath. Once his grandmother got the bit between her teeth, she took off like a metaphorical racehorse--or in this case, a warhorse--and it would take an Act of God to deflect her. Sometimes he regretted introducing her to the Internet, especially when she started hunting down records of ancestors and discovering some interesting characters. The Renfrews, it seemed, were descended from an infamous warlock. Or witch. Or sorcerer...

"I looked them up in the phone book. The Fitzwarrens still live in Steeple Westford, and the curse is still working. I found the archive site of the local paper, and Sir Charles Fitzwarren and his eldest son were killed in a car crash ten years ago. A tree fell on them in that terrible storm. No one found them until the next day. Poor souls."

"Gran, accidents happen. Uncle Harry died falling off a ladder. Dad was pissed as a newt and drove his car into a tree. No one had cursed them as far as I know."

She took no notice, just carried on over him. "Sir Charles left a wife, three sons and a daughter. Since then, the next eldest boy has died of leukaemia, and soon after that, their mother took an overdose. You have to do something, Mark." Two pairs of green eyes locked gazes and glowered at each other. Mark looked away first, a wry amusement twitching his lips.

"Yes, Gran," he sighed, humouring her. "What, exactly? How am I supposed to break a centuries old curse that's probably made up out of whole cloth by an enterprising yokel to impress the tourists?"

"How would I know?" Alice snapped. "All I can do is interpret dreams and field the occasional premonition. You're the high-powered psychic. You work it out!" She never referred to him as a medium, preferring the more general term for some reason she didn't seem to feel obliged to properly explain. "Pass me my knitting and make me a cup of tea, there's a dear. And help yourself to the fruit cake. You're too skinny! Even your boyfriends say so."

That complaint reared its head every time he visited. "They do not!" Mark protested. "Paddy said I had interesting bones, that's all, and I haven't been with him for over a year."

"Exactly!" she said triumphantly.

"He was talking about my face," he reminded her. "He's a professional photographer, so I'll take it as a compliment."

"Too skinny," Alice insisted. "If you ever relaxed and stayed still long enough to sunbathe, they could use your ribs as a xylophone, and I'm still waiting for that tea."

Muttering under his breath, Mark retreated to the small kitchen and busied himself with kettle and teapot. No teabags for Alice Renfrew. Oh, no. Had to be Twinings Darjeeling loose-leaf tea brewed in her Royal Doulton teapot and drunk from a mismatched Royal Doulton cup and saucer. He smiled affectionately as he waited for the kettle to boil. At eighty-six, Alice lived in a warden-assisted ground floor flat in Wilton and, on good days, tottered with her walker frame as far as the nearby post office. On bad days she used her Broomstick, the scarlet mobility scooter that had inspired the local kids to grant her the nickname of Hell's Granny. But, frail though her plump body might often be, her mind and her wit were still sharp. Most of the time. He visited Alice once a month, staying for a few days to do any odd jobs she needed and driving her out to her favourite haunts. It was no hardship.

Alice had been an anchor and safe harbour most of Mark's life. For as far back as he could remember, his father had spent most of his waking hours in a whisky bottle. Edward Renfrew had died when Mark was ten, when Mark's own psychic ability had begun to show up with unsettling frequency. His mother couldn't cope with either event. By the time Mark reached fourteen, he'd become pretty sure he was gay, and that proved the final straw for Sally. She could not, would not, accept it. She had simply walked out of his life, married her long-term boy toy and moved to Spain. Twelve years on, the only times he had any contact from her were cards every Christmas. Saccharinely pious, religious cards.

"I'm serious, you know," Alice called, jolting him out of his reverie. "You have the Renfrew Talent, even stronger than your dad--"

"And he drank himself to death because of it," Mark interrupted.

"Only because he wouldn't use it! Poor Ed..." She heaved a sigh loud enough to be audible even in the kitchen. "He fought it. You don't."

He didn't respond to that. He used the uncomfortable gift, yes, but from deep cover. He was a research assistant for the Bristol-based Goldstream Media and its main product, the highly successful and critically slated, The Dominic Waldron Experience. The paranormal reality show would descend on a given setting with phenomena-detecting gizmos and cameras, and Waldron would reveal the ghostly apparitions and their stories to an awestruck audience. Contrary to his publicity, Waldron was about as psychic as a wet paper bag. Mark wasn't. He found the sites, found the names and dates from the restless dead, did the conventional research and passed it on to his immediate boss, who presented it to the star and got together with the script writers to produce the scripts for him. And none of them knew why or how Mark was so very good at rooting out all the obscure information. Exactly the way Mark liked it.

The kettle whistled, and he warmed the pot before spooning in the leaves and filling it up. Letting it stand for the requisite four minutes, he thought about the Reverend Simpkins' old book. Steeple Westford was about fifty-five miles away from his home-base in Bristol, and a ten-minute drive from here in Wilton. If the story had some basis in fact, it might make a good venue for a future show. He could kill two birds with one stone. So to speak. It wouldn't be that far out of his way to do an initial reconnaissance while heading back home tomorrow, and it wasn't as if he had anyone to go home to these days. Mark pushed his fingers through hair as thick and untidily curling as his grandmother's. He had inherited the Renfrew mane, that wouldn't answer to styling, and the chestnut colour, more than brown and not quite auburn. He probably wouldn't go bald with age, but he would almost certainly be prematurely grey. Just like Alice.

"So this is one of your premonitions?" he asked.

"Yes. A strong one."

Mark gave in to the inevitable. "Okay, Gran, I'll look into it," he said. "But I'm promising nothing."



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