Friday, November 2, 2012

A Darker Moon by J.S. Watts

Summary: What if your death would save humanity? What decision would you make? Abe is an orphan who only know who his family is by a picture his mom left with him, when she dropped him off at a Synagogue. His childhood was plagues by night terrors and sleep walking. He is terrorized by his past, and can't let go. So he goes in search for answers. He finds a painting that looks exactly like the picture of his mother, only a different background during a different time period. Could he be related to the woman in the picture and in the painting. Years go by, and he tries to locate it again failing to do so. He runs into another painting this women looks exactly like his mother and the woman in the other painting. This time though he meets young Ms. Striga who is related to the women in the painting. Her name is Eve.
      He falls deep in love with Eve. As they try to find out their connection in the past, he realizes that things aren't exactly adding up. Eve has been lying to him about things. But how far has her deceptions strayed him from the truth. As they try to unravel this mystery together, it starts taking a mythological turn. He learns of a psychotic brother who is intent on killing him.
     Now on a quest to find out who his family really was unearths a past even greater than he could have imagined.

Review: This book was definitely an interesting spin on the Cain and Abel story. Abe as a character is very lost, and unsure of himself. You really want Abe to be successful. At first I had a hard time forming a connection with him, but it grew as the story progressed.

The plot was very fast paced in some areas, and very slow paced in others. This isn't an action type of story. There isn't a bunch of fighting and killing. This is more of thinking type of story. I kept watching the pieces of the story try to fit together seeing where it would lead. Some of my guess were kind of correct, and some were totally wrong. Pieces don't start fitting together until about 50 percent of the way through. After that then there is a clear direction for where the story is heading.

Overall, I enjoyed the story line. I though it was an interesting concept. I do recommend it to people who do like mythological thinking type stories.

FTC: This was given to me for an honest review.

1.       What inspired your book? 
     No one thing, but lots of different things coming together. I came across a portrait in The National Portrait Gallery in London, Louise Jopling by Sir John Everett Millais, which gave me the spark that directed me towards the story that became 'A Darker Moon', but it wouldn't have provided an initial spark if I hadn't visited Birmingham Art Gallery over twenty years previously and seen a Nineteenth Century painting of a long dead woman that reminded me of someone alive whom I knew. My life-long love of myths and legends also played a part, as did my interest in mental health issues. All that came together and 'A Darker Moon' evolved from it.

2.       What inspired your characters, were they based off anything in real life?
    The characters in 'A Darker Moon' are all absolutely fictional. Physically, there is a similarity between Eve and the painting of Louise Jopling. As for Abe Finchley, the novel's main character, when I was writing him I imagined him in terms of either the actor Clive Owen or as Keanu Reeves. If anybody feels moved to make a film of 'A Darker Moon', please take note.

3.       What other books have you written? 
    Two other books - both poetry. There is 'Cats and Other Myths', a full-sized poetry collection that finds contemporary relevance in the echoes of myth and legend and the mythic in the day to day world around us and 'Songs of Steelyard Sue',  a pamphlet-sized poetry sequence that narrates the life and times of a future-world everyman, or, more precisely, everyfemale-mechanoid, the titular Steelyard Sue, living out her existence on an Earth turned rubbish heap.

4.       If you could only keep 5 books because of some world ending event, which would you keep?
    I always have difficulty with this type of question. I love books, all sorts of books in all their diverse shapes and sizes, styles and genres. I would therefore struggle to pick out one or even five favourites to keep. However, if I really had to I would go for: 1) The Complete Works of William Shakespeare, 2) Sylvia Plath's Collected Poems, 3) The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson, 4) The Complete Oxford English Dictionary and 5) The Complete Works of Ray Bradbury. With regards to number five, I don't know if such a book exists yet, but if it doesn't it should do - and soon!

5.       What is your favorite food? 
    Another difficult question. I do like my food and I have diverse tastes, so I am struggling to name one particular favourite: anything Chinese? most things Italian? a bacon sandwich? a decent curry? Sorry, I give up  - this question's too hard for me.

6.       If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be? 
    There are so many wonderful places in the World and from time to time I've fantasised about living in a number of them, but, if truth be told, I love living in Britain, so I think I'll stay put, if that's alright?

7.       What are your favorite genres? 
    Yet another difficult one. I read widely and across a range of genres. If I have a look at my bookshelves, though, the types of books I have most of are : poetry, fantasy, science fiction and literary fiction.

8.       What advice would you give to aspiring writers? 
    Read, learn your craft, keep writing and persevere.

9.       What is the best advice you have ever gotten? About writing? I'm not sure I've ever had much advice. About life in general?
    I've always remembered my father's advice: it doesn't matter how you do, as long as you've done your best.

Author bio: 
 J.S.Watts is a British writer. She was born in LondonEngland and now lives and writes near Cambridge in East Anglia. In between, she read English at Somerville CollegeOxford and spent many years working in the British education sector. She remains committed to the ideals of further and higher education despite governments of assorted political persuasions trying to demolish them.
Her poetry, short stories and book reviews appear in a variety of publications in BritainCanadaAustralia and the States including Acumen, Envoi, Mslexia and Fantastique Unfettered and have been broadcast on BBC and independent Radio. She has been Poetry Reviews Editor for Open Wide Literary Magazine and, until its demise, Poetry Editor for Ethereal Tales. Her debut poetry collection, Cats and Other Myths and a subsequent poetry pamphlet, Songs of Steelyard Sue are published by Lapwing Publications. Her novel, A Darker Moon, is published by Vagabondage Press  Further details of her books can be found on her website: . You can also find her on Facebook

Description of 'A Darker Moon': 
        Abe Finchley is a damaged man, an orphan with no roots, and no family ties. When he finally meets the woman he has been looking for all his life, he finds not just love and passion, but a dark and violent family history that spans generations into humanity’s deepest past.

Eve is the woman of Abe's dreams; but dream is just another word for nightmare, and Abe knows all about those. Amidst a confused web of lies and secrets, Abe is trying to discover who he is and make sense of what he may become. More than just his future and his new-found love is at stake. When he discovers that he has a brother, a man bound by divine destiny to kill him, Abe is going to have to make a difficult choice. A choice that might redeem the world. A choice that just might destroy it.

A Darker Moon is a dark, psychological fantasy. A mythical tale of light and shadow and the unlit places where it is best not to shine even the dimmest light.

Excerpt from Chapter 1:

A small brown owl perches on my cot rail, its huge, yellow eyes like two full harvest moons. It may only be a little owl, but those eyes are big enough to drown an infant, and I have a sense of falling, of being sucked in and down towards two pools of deep moonlight. It is my earliest memory.
It is followed very closely, within the variable flow of remembered time, by another in which an elderly woman, whom retrospectively I have assumed to be one of my many carers, taps my lips with an ungentle finger and mutters unintelligible mantras, unintelligible that is, except for one word, "Lilith." That word and the two luminous drowning pools imprinted themselves on my consciousness and haunted me into adulthood. Even now, I sometimes wake with a start from a dream in which I am forever falling to hear the fading hiss of a whispered "Lilith," convinced I have been listening to mumbled septuagenarian incantations in my sleep. As for owls, they have a morbid fascination for me, but I couldn’t bear to live within the sound of their call.
I think it is fair to say that I did not have a settled childhood and most of my different carers and foster homes have become something of an amorphous blur in the mental album of my recollections. In addition to the early memories, the only other strong image I have from this first period of my life is of my mother, or rather, of the one and only photograph that I have of her.
I do not actually remember my mother. When she abandoned me in a basket on the steps of a North London synagogue, the only things she left me with were barely enough blankets, my first name (written on the back of an address card of a less than reputable Soho nightclub of the time), and a black and white photograph of herself. At least everyone, including me, has always assumed that it is a photograph of her. There is no name or inscription on the photo, or any other indication as to whom it is. But why would you leave a photograph of just anyone with an abandoned baby; it must be my mother. It has to be her.
In the photograph, she is standing partially side on to the camera with her face turned to look at the photographer. She holds her hands behind her back. And in them is something dark, it is not clear what: a clutch bag or a book, maybe? Perhaps she was studious. Her hair is long, black, and gently wavy. She is wearing it loose and slightly unkempt. Her dark eyes stare directly at the camera, her face unsmiling, but not stern; more quietly confident, mildly challenging, maybe a trifle arrogant. Wearing a long baggy dress and beads, a feather boa draped around her neck and with her tousled hair, she looks like a hippy, a sixties love-child. Sometimes, I wonder if I was the real love-child: a freebie that came with the free love of the era; an unexpected and unasked for acquisition that she felt equally free to give away and pass on without compunction or guilt. On days when I am feeling somewhat more generous towards her, I wonder if she was a working girl, hence the nightclub card, who fell on hard times and gave me up, with tears and regrets, in order to give me a better life than she could offer. Who knows? I certainly don’t, but at least I have the freedom to create stories that shine a little light on the gloomier and more uncertain parts of my life.
Of my father I know even less: no name, no photograph, no nothing. My hair and eye colour are dark like the woman’s in the photograph. Does that mean my father was equally dark, or just that my mother’s were the stronger genes of the two?
The fact that I know nothing of my father does not bother me. The little information I have about my mother, as constructed from her possible photograph, gnaws away at me, but over the years I have had to learn to deal with the bite marks.
Yet another unknown aspect of my heritage is my faith: Am I Jewish? My mother had dark hair and eyes and abandoned me at a synagogue; little enough to go on, but it might indicate a Hebrew legacy, mightn’t it? I, too, am dark-haired and dark-eyed and my name is Old Testament kosher, though I am not circumcised. This gave the rabbi who found me, like a land-locked, latter-day Moses, something of a dilemma: Should he hand over full responsibility for me to the secular authorities, or ensure I was brought up as one of the chosen people? It would have been nice to have been chosen. My maybe-mother looked as if she might have been Jewish, which should have counted for something, but there was no way of telling. I had been found on a Friday, just at sunset, so the rabbi kept me for the Sabbath and then handed me over, lock, stock and blankets, to Social Services as soon as possible the following Monday morning, and I do mean as soon as possible. One of my old social workers told me he was standing on the department steps, with me and the basket thrust down at his feet, well before anyone had arrived at the office to open up.
From this inauspicious start in life I entered the state care system as a doubly rejected child of unknown parentage and indeterminate faith, with only a set of poor quality blankets, an anonymous photograph, and a card from the disreputable Black Moon Club to my name.

Rating: out of 5

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