Book Tour: Phobia Guest Post by C.A. Shives


SETTING A STORY

I'm small town.

I was raised in a rural community with an official population of about three hundred residents. Like most small town kids, I wanted nothing more than to leave for bigger and better things after graduating from high school. Higher education provided me with the opportunity to live in the city, and my first job as a postgraduate was located well within a metropolitan area.

Although I enjoyed the convenience of city living (Pizza delivery! Art museums! Cell phone service!), I longed for the peace and community of a small town. I missed the rolling farmland and grazing cows. I missed the parks and lakes and hiking trails. And I hated feeling like a rat in a race every time I commuted to work in bumper-to-bumper traffic.

I eventually found my roots again in a rural community. The view outside my kitchen window is one of green mountains and a hayfield. My chickens peck at the grass in my backyard. I often see deer and wild turkey on the land behind my house.

Most crime novels, especially hard-boiled detective stories, tend to be set in large cities. The grit and criminal population of these environments enhance the dark nature of these books, providing a backdrop of dirt and despair and violence. But when I determined the setting for Phobia, it seemed natural to choose a small town. I'm intimately familiar with the characteristics of a little community. A visit to the local park often results in seeing a former elementary teacher or classmate. Residents live and die in the same house. Nicknames like “Skeeter,” or “Snuff,” or “Butch” get assigned in childhood, continue through adulthood, and eventually appear in the obituary. These subtle nuances of small town living create a colorful and serene backdrop for the gruesome murders in Phobia. I hope this contrast of peace and chaos—mirrored in the internal struggle of my main character, Artemis Herne—brings a fresh element of interest to the novel.

I initially worried that a rural setting would limit future books in the series. Small communities usually lack the criminal interest of gangs, hitmen, and a large underground network of nefarious activity. But they do have their own seedy underbelly. Sadly, we have our share of child abusers, pedophiles, drug addicts, burglars, and domestic violence. I suspect I will have plenty of material to continue the Artemis Herne series for quite a while.

Title: Phobia
Author: C.A. Shives
Genre: Thriller/Suspense
EVERYONE HAS A SECRET FEAR...

Ex-cop Artemis Herne thought he left the grit and crime of the city in the past when he moved to a small town in Pennsylvania. But the discovery of a woman's dead body, bound and covered with snakes, sends panic through his community and ignites his investigative instincts.

As the serial killer continues to target his prey, Herne must confront his own haunted past to uncover the pattern in the deaths. He soon discovers that every victim suffers from a phobia. And every murder transforms the victim's worst fear into reality.

Tormented by his personal demons, he is forced to face his own fears as he hunts for a murderer who uses terror for a weapon.

Book Excerpt
EXCERPT 1

They stared at each other as memories flooded Herne’s mind like a scattering of photographs faded by sunlight. On summer break their freshmen year of college, they shared a bottle of illicit whiskey in Tucker’s basement. Best buddies having a little fun on a typical Saturday night. Walking a street in Hurricane, on their way to meet Tucker’s girlfriend—who would later become his wife—they saw the unmistakable glow of flames a few blocks away. The old brick bakery was on fire. They ran to it, knowing that the building was really a shelter for battered women. Once there they found a thin, long-haired man in the parking lot, holding a lit Molotov cocktail while screaming the name of his wife. Two more unlit homemade frags sat on the asphalt.
When the man saw them, he threw the bomb against the building and charged at Herne.
Herne pounded at the man’s face until his fist pulverized bone into tiny shards. Through a red haze of fury, Herne only saw the face of his sister—his sweet, young sister—beaten to death in her teenage years by a jealous boyfriend.
Tucker pulled him away into the night as sirens sounded in the distance. The man spent years in reconstructive surgery, and he never looked anything less than a monster. The brain damage he suffered made it impossible for him to identify his attackers.

C.A. Shives is the author of PHOBIA, a suspense novel based in a small Pennsylvania town.

When not reading, writing, editing, or publishing, C.A. enjoys watching a good action movie. The author also spends time target shooting on the range and raising backyard chickens.

C.A. loves cheesy poofs, Bruce Willis movies, and wine (often simultaneously). The author is also a fan of Professional Competitive Eating.

A second book in the Artemis Herne series is scheduled for a winter 2012 release. C.A.’s upcoming novel weaves a dark tale of horrific vigilante justice tainted by the bitter taste of revenge.
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