Our guest post today is by Kat Richardson! She's an absolutely brilliant writer and I was overjoyed when she agreed to participate in Paranormal Summer Camp. GREYWALKER, her first dark urban fantasy, was one of the books that sucked me into the genre and I've been a huge fan ever since. Her books are all about Harper Blaine, a private investigator who can now through the Grey (a realm of ghosts, vampires, and more that exists between worlds) after a near-death experience. There are currently seven books out in this series, including the most recent one, SEAWITCH, that comes out in two short days.
Whether you've read any of the Greywalker books or not, this story is sure to hook you. And if this series is new to you, you should enter the giveaway to win a copy of GREYWALKER, the book where it all began, from the lovely folks at Penguin at the end of this post.
Without further ado, here's Kat's story!
So, here's a little piece I'm tinkering with for Greywalker #9 in which Harper tells Quinton about her adventures at dance camp as a girl...
Camping with the Bones
A Greywalker story
by Kat Richardson
“Have I ever mentioned that my idea of camping is the nearest motel that doesn't have room service?” I asked.
Quinton nodded as he sat next to the puny fire, patiently turning a charred and sharpened stick on which were impaled two large chunks of linguiça sausage. “Yeah, you've said that before, and I don't really get it, I admit—you're a practical person, competent and most of the things that make a good camper. And yet, you're uncomfortable with it, in spite of the necessity. Me, I like camping.”
“I figured that out,” I said in a dry voice.
“What gave me away?” he asked, glancing up with a twinkle in his eye—or possibly just the reflection of the tiny fire flickering a moment under the roasting sausages.
“Oh... probably the way you keep on grinning at everything, even when the situation is horrifying.”
“Ah. My enthusiasm is my downfall. We're perfectly safe right now. Why are you so miserable? It's not as if the weather is bad—God knows it's gorgeous out here this time of year. The bathing facilities leave a bit to be desired, but we have a fire, hot food—or soon-to-be-hot food—shelter, and an amazing view.”
“I haven't had a lot of good times out roughing it.”
“That would imply you've had some....”
“One. And that kind of sucked, too.”
“Oh?” He let the word hang there, the silence in its wake begging for a story to fill it.
At first, I resisted. I know that trick; I've used it more than a few times myself. But in the end, it didn't matter if I told him, so I did. I looked out past the fire, toward the sea and the city of bones that lay between. “When I was a kid, we used to go visit my uncle in the summers, but my mother thought I had more important things to do than hang out with my cousins. So she sent me to dance camp one year.”
“Is that like band camp? My sister did that once.”
“Yeah... like band camp but with tap shoes and dieting. It was kind of horrible and I hated it. Mostly.”
“Ah, so now we come to the one good part.”
“Which still sucked, remember.”
He nodded and checked the sausages for doneness before returning them to the fire, apparently not yet satisfied. “Go on.”
“All right. So. I think I was ten, maybe eleven... at dance camp... and all the other girls there were these tiny, coltish things. I wasn't a lot bigger than they were, yet, but I had these gigantic feet. I was destined to grow into them, but not right away. I looked... like some kind of crazy sea bird back then. All skinny limbs, angles, and feet like pontoons. So my fellow campers called me Crane—which I guess is better than it could have been.”
“They could have called you Yellowlegs.”
“Luckily, they didn't. And don't you start.”
The small fire illuminated his smile for a second, but he didn't say anything more.
“Anyhow,” I continued, “it wasn't much fun and I doubt I was the only kid who really didn't want to be there. A couple of the girls in my cabin liked to pick on me—self-appointed divas with egos like the San Andreas Fault. They used to do annoying things that looked like accidents, like tossing my bundled sleeping bag out the window so it rolled down the hill into the creek, or kicking my outdoor shoes down the exercise room steps so I'd have to go barefoot though the pine needles to get them back and I'd have to scrub my feet raw to get the pine tar off afterward. They always snickered and said rude things about the Crane hunting for grubs—”
“Which only showed their ignorance of cranes.”
“—and how clumsy I was and how stupid I looked.”
“Typical mean girl stuff. I didn't imagine you'd put up with that.”
“I didn't have the self-confidence I have now. I mostly just ignored them publicly and stewed in private.”
“So... how did this ever become a good camping experience? I'm kind of not seeing an upside, here.”
“Well... I spent a lot of time down around the creek, saving my shoes and bedding from floating off or drowning, so I started noticing things they weren't seeing at all. Oh—did I mention we also went to chapel on Sundays? Well, we did and being as we were all baby ballerinas and aspiring hoofers, they felt we needed to be reminded to keep our pride in check, so we got all the classic homilies at the service, including 'pride goeth before a fall,' and 'the meek shall inherit the earth,' so there was a certain... readiness to believe....”
Quinton frowned. “Readiness to believe what?”
“I'm coming to it. So. At the beginning of the second week, Sunday, after lunch, I came back to the cabin to find all my ballet shoes—the exercise shoes and the toe shoes—had been carried off by some wild animal and left floating in the water. Which wild animal varied depending on who was telling the story, in one case it was a beaver, in another a bear, and someone else claimed it was a flock of birds that flew into the cabin and absconded with my shoes, dropping them, of course, into the creek.
“All the girls clustered around, waiting for me to lose it, I think, but I just walked out the back door and down to the creek. They followed me—at a safe distance in case the bear came back, of course.”
I could see Quinton's smirk even in the near-darkness. “And what did you do?”
“I took off my outdoor shoes and I walked out across the water to retrieve my dance shoes. Then I walked back across the water and calmly put my regular shoes back on, tucked my wet shoes under my arms, and went back to the cabin as if nothing had happened.”
“You walked on water?”
“You know, that's just what one of the girls asked. She looked so surprised when I said 'yes,' I thought she'd swallowed her tongue. They didn't bother me so much after that.”
Quinton blinked at me, owlish in the ruddy firelight, ignoring the smoking sausages. “Yeah... I imagine not. But... you don't walk on water. Or if you do, it's not something you've bothered to tell me about before.”
I grinned. “It only works if you know where the rocks are.”
More about SEAWITCH:
Harper Blaine was your average small-time PI until she died—for two minutes. Now Harper is a Greywalker, treading the thin line between the living world and the paranormal realm. And she’s discovering that her new abilities are landing her all sorts of “strange” cases.
A quarter century ago, the Seawitch cruised away from her dock and disappeared with everyone on board. Now, the boat has mysteriously returned to her old berth in Seattle and the insurance company has hired Harper to find out what happened.
But Harper is not the only one investigating. Seattle Police Detective Rey Solis is a good cop, albeit one who isn’t comfortable with the creepy cases that always seem to end up in Harper’s lap. As they explore the abandoned vessel, Harper and Solis discover a cabin containing symbols drawn in human blood, revealing the ghost ship’s grave history.
As Solis focuses on the possible murder of a passenger’s wife, Harper’s investigation leads her to a powerful being who may be responsible for the disappearance of the Seawitch’s passengers and crew. And while their searches lead Harper and Solis in different directions, they will need to put aside their differences to solve a deadly mystery twenty-five years in the making…
And here's the rest of the series:
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Ends Wednesday, September 5th, 2012
(like all of our Paranormal Summer Camp giveaways)
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Harper Blaine was your average small-time P.I. until a two-bit perp's savage assault left her dead for two minutes. When she comes to in the hospital, she sees things that can only be described as weird-shapes emerging from a foggy grey mist, snarling teeth, creatures roaring.
But Harper's not crazy. Her "death" has made her a Greywalker- able to move between the human world and the mysterious cross-over zone where things that go bump in the night exist. And her new gift is about to drag her into that strange new realm-whether she likes it or not.
Kat Richardson is the national bestselling author of the Greywalker paranormal detective novels. Prior to success in the fiction world, Kat worked as a writer and editor in the computer industry and as a course writer for the Gemological Institute of America. She has tried her hand at a bit of almost everything in genre fiction and has dabbled in other text forms and media including: RPGs, Film, and Computer Games. Before going into writing, Kat pursued a degree in vocal music and she used to read the “Sunday Funnies” for the Evergreen Radio Reading Service in Seattle–part of the Washington Talking Book and Braille Library. A former theater brat, she worked the technical side as well as singing and acting in community and school theater from the age of eight–putting in almost a year as an orphan and doing a short stint as a singing nun–and put in thirteen years as a renaissance faire actor, dancer, and costumer at RPF in Agoura CA.
Kat is a California native with a degree in Magazine Journalism from California State University, Long Beach. She currently lives in the Seattle area with her husband and a pit bull named Bella aboard an old wooden boat that is haunted by the ghosts of ferrets. She rides a motorcycle, shoots target pistol, and has been known to swing dance, sing, and spend insufficient time at the gym. She finally got her first TV in 2011–yes, she missed Buffy but not Firefly! And, although she no longer lives there, she is an advocate for California Ferret Legalization.