Here’s the story:
The night Heather’s brother Sam disappeared , he warned her of THINGS in the junkyard. Now she’s dealing with an endless onslaught of weird paranormal phenomena. Apparitions. Trance writing. Blue electricity from her fingertips. It’s so out of control, the geeky paranormal investigators club at school has noticed. They agree to help her find Sam–but she has to show them the ghosts.
Then Heather encounters a strange boy in the junkyard–Emmett, who moves across the junkyard with the flick of a spider, who gathers up the blue electricity with the twirl of a bident–and Heather begins to wake up to where she belongs. Like her spiritualist father who died, burned by a spirit’s curse, she faces a future of wrangling ghosts. And to find Sam, she’ll have to trust Emmett to escort her to the spirit world–Ciudad del Muerto, City of the Dead–where she will become the protégée of a master spirit, and the connector of worlds–a medium.
This has been a very exciting month for Despair, with the first Heather Despair book finally available online, and I also began writing The Odd Pizza Place, my first book for adults. Still in the Despair ‘verse! It’s kind of like Blade Runner, except funny, and with aliens–and pizza!
Jake Li, known by his employees as “On-break Jake,” appears to be a simple pizza place manager in a seaside town, somewhere on Earth. Unknown to his regulars, he is actually a trans-dimensional, off-world being known as a psionic mystic, and his real job involves watching over the many portals in and around the Odd Pizza Place. The portals send not only aliens needing cover jobs, which Jake provides, but lots and lots of mysterious periodicals, including deadzines–making the Odd Pizza Place recognized as “an information hub in seven hundred dimensions.”
Jake’s content to just do his job–or try to–but when Coney Idyll, the troublesome editor of the deadzines, makes off with every last deadzine under Jake’s protection, Jake sets off an adventure to find Coney, regain the deadzines, and save his reputation. In the process, he meets a talking dog, an alien from upper management, a very lovely cat burglar, a pirate captain of an offshore floating pharmacy, and a gang of alien cat men who keep punching him in the gut. Jake uncovers some frightening truths about who he really is, why he’s on Earth, and why he should quit smoking. As he comes to accept the body he inhabits as his own, he’ll have to decide just who is the manager of Jake Li’s life, anyway.
Here’s a sample:
The smell of cigarette smoke woke me. I reached up, in the darkness, toward a glowing cherry–all I could see. The floor underneath was hard metal.
“You want this, do ya?” A voice I didn’t recognize. Sounded like a goon, though.
I sat up, massaged my wrists. My head spun with dizziness, but all my parts seemed to be intact. I braced myself against the hard floor. Inhaled the second-hand smoke, with growing hunger.
“Yeah.” My voice sounded gravelly. “I want that.”
It flew through the air, and somehow I caught the non-burning end. I stuck it in my mouth and inhaled. Oh crux, that felt better.
“You know those things ain’t good for you,” said the wiseass goon, and he cackled.
I just sat, furiously smoking. I knew they’d lay it on me soon, what they wanted from me.
“So tell me something,” the guy continued. “How does a super-powerful psionic, a mystical gen-i-us, such as yourself, wind up in an Earth city, running a pizza joint?”
“It’s just a job,” I said. “Everybody’s got to have an occupation.”
“Yeah, but your job isn’t making pizza? Is it? Jake?” shouted the guy, and he lit another cigarette. I searched for his face, but all I could see was the cherry, burning away in mid-air, in the dark. My own had burned down to the filter.
“Got another one of those things” I asked.
“Sure.” I heard him step closer. He lit one and shoved it into my mouth. I still couldn’t see him. Nor, I realized, with growing apprehension, could I sense him much. It was like with X, but not quite as total.
“What’s your act-u-al job, Jake?” His voice was a hiss. Then it got friendlier, just like that. “I’m from off-world too. A lot of us are, here. You could join us.”
“Why would I want to do that?” I lay back, resting my dizzy head. My thoughts came and went, very fuzzy, as I smoked. I wanted to resist. But for what? For the Higher Purpose Committee? For Merc? Shit, the guy was going to neuter me. Why should I care what happened to the damn corporation that claimed it owned my body? I might be better off, to join these thugs.
“This could be an ex-cell-ent opportunity for you. And I heard you was an in-tell-i-gent life form,” he said.