Friday, May 23, 2014

The Unofficial Book Blitz: Mary Hades (Mary Hades #1) by Sarah Dalton

Mary Hades (Mary Hades #1)
by Sarah Dalton
Publisher: Createspace
Release Date: May 4th 2014
Genres: Horror, Young Adult
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Not many seventeen year old girls have a best friend who’s a ghost, but then Mary Hades isn’t your average teenager. 

Scarred physically and mentally from a fire, her parents decide a holiday to an idyllic village in North Yorkshire will help her recover. Nestled in the middle of five moors, Mary expects to have a boring week stuck in a caravan with her parents. Little does she know, evil lurks in the campsite… 

Seth Lockwood—a local fairground worker with a dark secret—might be the key to uncovering the murky history that has blighted Nettleby. But Mary is drawn to him in a way that has her questioning her judgement. 

Helped by her dead best friend and a quirky gay Goth couple, Mary must stop the unusual deaths occurring in Nettleby. But can she prevent her heart from being broken?

The first in a series of dark YA novels, Mary Hades follows on from the bestselling Kindle Single My Daylight Monsters. A spine-tingling tale with romance, readers will be shocked and entertained in equal measure.

Mary Hades
by Sarah Dalton

- Excerpt from Chapter 3 -

“Hey,” Olivia says, and I know it’s her because I would know her voice anywhere. We’ve been friends since fifth grade, and we’ve been through period trauma, boy crap, bad hair, her parents and their ways. And now Dan and his baby.
“Hey,” I say. I wipe my eyes and look at her. “How’s the car?”
Olivia makes a face at me but also wraps an arm around my shoulders, steering me toward our lockers. Her parents gave her a fully loaded convertible when she got her license, one with a built-in music player, phone, navigation system—you name it, the car had it. Could do it, and all at the touch of a button.
Olivia sold the car—through the one newspaper left in the area, which is basically just ads—and bought a used car. It’s so old all it has is a CD player and a radio. We bought CDs at yard sales for a while, but all we could get was old music, which we both hate, and the radio is just people telling you that what they think is what you should think, so we mostly just drive around in silence.
It used to bother me sometimes but now I like it. The inside of my head is so full now that silence is…I don’t know. There’s just something about knowing Olivia is there, and that we don’t have to talk. That she gets it. Gets me and what’s going on.
Her parents were unhappy about the car, though. Really unhappy, actually, but then there was a big crisis with one of their server farms at work and by the time they surfaced for air they hadn’t slept in four days. And when they said, “Olivia, that car was a gift,” she said, “Yes, it was. A gift, meaning something freely given, for the recipient to use as she wanted to, right?”
As we hit her locker, we pass Anthony, and he says, “Ladies,” bowing in my direction. A real bow too, like it’s the nineteenth century or something.
“Ass,” Olivia says.
“A donkey is actually not as stupid as people believe. However, you are entitled to your own beliefs about asses. And me.” He looks at me. “Hello, Emma.”
I sigh. “Hi, Anthony.”
“If you ever want to talk about your grades, do know that I’m here.”
I can’t believe I ever thought the way he talked was interesting. It’s just stupid, like he’s too good to speak like a normal person. “I know, Anthony.”
“I really would like to be of assistance to you. I believe in helping everyone. I’m talking to Zara Johns later. I think she feels threatened by the fact that I’ve been asked to help her organize the next school blood drive.” Translation: he’s butted in, and Zara’s furious.
“Either that or she just doesn’t like you. Emma, let’s go,” Olivia says, slamming her locker shut, and we head for mine.
“You okay?” she says, and I nod. Anthony doesn’t bother me at all anymore, just like Mom said would happen. I look at him and feel nothing. Well, some annoyance, but then, who wouldn’t after listening to him talk?
Of course, I didn’t always think that he was annoying. I open my locker, deciding not to go down the Anthony road, and hear the guy next to me say, “No way! I mean, everyone knows what’ll happen to Caleb if he steals another car.”
Olivia and I glance at each other. If Anthony is the ass end of the smart part of the school, Caleb Harrison is the ass end of the stupid part. He’s a total druggie and three years ago, when we were freshmen, he came to school so high he couldn’t even talk. I heard that stopped last year, but then, as soon as school got out, his parents sent him off to some “tough love camp,” which is rich-people code for boot-camp rehab.
He came back seemingly off drugs but newly into stealing cars. He started by grabbing them at the mall and parking them in a different spot, but then he stole a teacher’s car.
And then he graduated to a school bus. It was empty at the time, but still, I heard that got him a couple of weeks in juvie, or would have except for his parents, who intervened. I guess now he’s taken yet another step forward and by lunchtime, I know what Caleb stole.
His father’s brand-new, limited-edition Porsche. And he didn’t just steal it. He drove it into the lake over by the park, drove right off the highway and into the water. The police found him sitting on the lake’s edge, watching the car sink. They were able to pull it out, but water apparently isn’t good for the inside of a Porsche.
“You think he’ll go to jail this time?” Olivia asks as we sit picking at our lunches. I love that we have lunch together this semester, but it’s the first lunch block, and it’s hard to face food—especially cafeteria food—at 10:20 in the morning.
“I guess it depends on his parents,” I say. “Last time they talked to the judge or whatever. They’ll probably just ship him off again. He must hate them, though.”
“Yeah. To sit by the lake and watch the car sink like that—”
“Even when my parents are sucking their lives away with all their computer crap, I’d never do anything like mess with their stuff,” she says. “How can you hate someone who raised you, who loves you so—” She breaks off.
“Dan didn’t raise me,” I say tightly. “And he doesn’t love me. Or Mom.”

Olivia nods and I think about hate. I understand what can make someone do what Caleb did, although I don’t think a bored, rich druggie really gets hate. Not real hate.

by Sarah Dalton

I'm pretty excited about this project. I find Mary the easiest character to write because she is such a free spirit. However, there's a part of me that's nervous about this series. I've mixed things up. Mary Hades doesn't follow a formula. 

Here are five things you can expect, and five examples that are a little different to most YA books.

1) It’s not a trilogy

At the moment, the series is open ended, which means I’m planning to keep it going for as long as I enjoy writing it. To me, this is almost like a long-running television series, where each book will focus on a specific challenge. I will be bringing in long-arc storylines at some point, but the first few books are almost standalones.

2) Each novel is a snapshot

Like the novella that started it all—My Daylight Monsters—each novel, and each story, is a snapshot into Mary’s life. That means that not all the books will link on from each other. The first book has a resolution and no cliff-hanger, but it sets up the rest of the series, because it shows Mary what she wants to achieve with her life. This is going to continue throughout the series. Think of them as brief instalments into her very interesting life. Characters will come and go. Not all of the novels will be set in the same place. There is a lot of scope for the series. It could go on as Mary goes to University, or a spin off with different characters could occur. There are no set rules here. Think of it as an urban fantasy series, but more contemporary.

3) The novels are short

The main reason I write Mary Hades at a shorter length is because the tone is very deep first person POV present tense. The books are meant to be all-encompassing. I want the reader to be drawn into Mary’s world, and that is an intense ride. These sorts of novels are almost always short. Think of the wonderful How I live Now, or the engrossing Never Let Me Go—they are both short novels and that suits them very well. The first instalment of Mary Hades will be about 280 pages. On the plus side, shorter novels means I can write the instalments quicker, so you won’t have to wait long for the next book. And, as the books are shorter, I’ve decided to charge less for them, so you won’t be paying more for a shorter novel. However, quality almost always beats quantity. ;)

4) This is dark fiction

When I started writing My Daylight Monsters, I was very influenced by Gothic literature. That’s a very broad brush. I always loved Victorian Gothics, like Dracula and The Picture of Dorian Grey. These novels always have a supernatural element and always have some sort of dark, looming presence. In My Daylight Monsters, that presence is the hospital, and the deepest fears we harbour there. In Mary Hades, that looming presence is the Yorkshire moors—of course, inspired by Wuthering Heights. Other influences could include Daphne Du Maurier. I had a few scenes from Jamaica Inn playing in my mind as I wrote this book. Mary Hades is much more grown up than my other novels. In the past, my books like The Blemished and White Hart have been more suited to younger YA. Mary Hades is best for older teens and adults.

5) Horror AND Romance?

Yup, you better believe it. In the midst of fighting a really scary ghost, Mary manages a holiday romance. Hey, call me a romantic, but I think a girl needs to take some time off from her ghost hunting once in a while.

In all seriousness, I want the books to be scary AND uplifting. There’s a definite contemporary feel to the writing, and hopefully that ties in with the romance.

Sarah grew up in the middle of nowhere in the countryside of Derbyshire and as a result has an over-active imagination. She has been an avid reader for most of her life, taking inspiration from the stories she read as a child, and the novels she devoured as an adult.

Sarah mainly writes speculative fiction for a Young Adult audience and has had pieces of short fiction published in the Medulla Literary Review, PANK magazine and the British Fantasy Society publication Dark Horizons. Her short story 'Vampires Wear Chanel' is featured in the Wyvern Publication Fangtales available here:

Sarah's debut novel The Blemished is a fast paced young adult dystopia set in a fractured Britain. It follows the events of Mina Hart, a young Blemished girl who has a dangerous secret, as she tries to escape the dreaded Operation and get out of Area 14.

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