Featuring supernatural thriller The Falls by Colleen McMillan
Every small town has secrets…
…most won’t get you killed. Maddie Decker escaped Sterling Falls just after high school and never looked back. She was sure nothing could convince her to return. Until an urgent message from her high school best friend arrives begging
Maddie to come back before he dies changes everything.
Maddie can’t refuse.
Once there, tattered relationships and long forgotten memories are pushed aside when a mysterious presence appears, Maddie uses her professional training to help discover who is killing the residents of Sterling Falls, even if no one wants her there.
Can Maddie survive the homecoming she never wanted?
Excerpt from The Falls
When they reach the paddock, the gate is open, ripped apart. Boards lay shredded on the ground, splinters everywhere. It looks as though a tornado tore through, demolishing the wood. The ground is destroyed as well, mud and grass everywhere.
They get out of the truck, and the smell hits Charlie like a hammer. Alpacas are very clean animals, and their manure is not as pungent as other livestock, but the scent of twenty animals all emptying their bowels at once will knock a person flat. There is also a whiff of metal in the air, like copper or iron. Charlie runs through the decimated gate.
Flies buzz around the paddock, their wings beating a rhythm in Charlie’s head. The insects settle on the bodies, feeding in clusters. They swarm, forming vaguely alpaca-shaped lumps so the animal fur looks black.
They are scattered around the paddock, but Charlie isn’t sure if all twenty bodies are there. The ground is stained dark red with pools of blood. Limbs are scattered, as if each animal exploded. Some of their necks are twisted completely around, and bowels litter the area. Something tore each of their bellies open and spread the organs; half-digested hay and grass steam in piles near some of the bodies. Charlie has a horrible thought of nightmarish pinatas spilling morbid candy.
He walks into the paddock toward the nearest body, pinkish white and brown. He thinks it might have been the pregnant one. Her eyes have been removed, and her tongue dangles from an open mouth. Her body is shredded, and Charlie has a view inside her torso, but there is no baby. He leans closer and touches her leg near the hoof. She is cold. The blood is sticky, and he tries to wipe it on his jeans, but the maroon color spreads.
He takes a step back, leans over, and pukes.
Jemma runs over to rub his back, and when he’s thrown up everything from his stomach, Charlie screams.
An Interview with Colleen McMillan
-What inspired you to become a writer?
I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. One memorable story concerns my mom and a call from my second grade teacher. I’d finished a creative writing assignment, and it was a little gory and descriptive for my teacher’s taste. My mom wasn’t worried at all. She knew I loved writing “weird stuff,” as she called it. She read the story I wrote — something about a crow — and said she thought I deserved an A. Besides always writing, I was also always reading. Stephen King, one of my favorite authors, often spoke about how he didn’t just want to write, he HAD to write. That really spoke to me, and I’ve been working on getting published ever since.
-If you could visit your book’s world for a day, what one thing would you do?
Oof, that’s a tough question, considering my fictional town isn’t the best place to live. One thing I’d probably do: make sure I visit Charlie’s alpaca ranch before it’s decimated. Sorry about that, Charlie! I’d also like to see what Sterling Falls was like during its prime, when the Sterling family was still in charge. I’ve grown up around lakes too, so I’d like to test my bravado at Big Sterling Lake.
-It’s two in the morning. What does your protagonist reveal in confidence? (Don’t worry, we won’t tell.)
That depends on who she’s talking to! Maddie doesn’t reveal much to anyone. If she happened to call Billy at 2am however, she would explain to him in vivid detail about why vampire bats are such intriguing animals. This conversation would go on for at least two hours. Then she would proceed to tell him how “not drunk” she was. She is definitely tipsy.
-Which of your characters would you go out for drinks with?
BILLY. He’s the most fun out of my main trio and has way less angst than Maddie or Fletcher. Also, Fletcher’s mom Winn. I’ve written a short story about her that is close to my heart, the first piece of writing that was published, and she is full of hilarious anecdotes and knows all the best places to go in town.
-You’re in a tavern, and a dwarf challenges you to a duel. What do you do?
What sort of duel?! If it’s beer-drinking, I’m in. I love beer, and I am an adept drinker of said beer. If it’s a trivia duel, also sign me right up! I play bar trivia every week, so I’m used to the pressure. If it’s any sort of combat, I’d try to talk the dwarf down. I have no faith in my combat prowess. Maybe he’d prefer a nice tankard of ale?
-Is there a genre you could never write? Which and why?
When I was younger, I would have said Romance, but my first novel was a romantic comedy. I don’t like to limit myself as a writer, so I’d be up for trying anything. As a younger writer, I was only interested in mysteries, horror, science fiction, fantasy. Romance was fine, but it didn’t have the draw for me. Then I tried dating, found out it was even more terrifying than most horror movies, and gave writing romance a shot.
About Colleen McMillan
Born and raised in Minnesota, my writing focuses on the Midwestern United States. I’ve been a writer since I could pick up a crayon, pencil, or pen; there are more than a few stories about my macabre grade school writing interests, to which I just shrug. You can’t blame a second grader for wanting to set a scary scene!
I attended the University of WI, River Falls for my undergraduate degree and completed my Master’s degree in creative writing at the University of Kent, Canterbury, in the UK. For my dissertation research and inspiration, I lived in Canterbury, Paris, and Edinburgh. Paris is my second home and favorite city, so don’t be surprised if it turns up in my work.
My two most influential authors are Stephen King and Flannery O’Connor, and my dream is to establish a Midwest Gothic tradition.
I currently live in Minnesota with my jerk of a cat, Duncan. I love living in the most beautiful state in the country, but I always feel Europe’s pull…
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Colleen McMillan will be awarding a $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.