In a couple of weeks, INCHWORMS, my next book in the Dude Goodfeather series will come out–or maybe it’s just one week? I’m not sure.
Bad author! Bad.
Anyway, recently a woman in a message on a social media platform said, “Carrie. You are such a nice person. Why do you write about scary things?”
And I said, “I don’t always write about scary things.”
And she basically harrumphed via messenger.
It’s true though that lately the books I’ve been putting out do have scary things that happen in them. They are serial killers and reporters in small Maine towns (in the Bar Harbor Rose series), there are killers and teens in Maine and the south (Dude Goodfeather series), there are demonic influences in Maine (Saint, Maine paranormal series).
A long time ago, I wrote in an essay for Hunger Mountain, what I still think is true right now.
“Our world is full of responsibilities. We pay bills. We do homework. We get sick. We argue with our relatives. We worry about war and the economy and finding someone to love. Fantasy offers hope. It shows us there are other potential Big-footed ways of living. There are possibilities of lives and worlds greater than our own and if those possibilities can be imagined, maybe our own lives can become grander things. Maybe we can be a boy wizard who defeats the ultimate evil. Maybe we can find an entire new world by leaping through a cupboard. Or even if we can’t be those characters, we can be our own heroes, pushing ourselves to our greatest limits by following their examples.
“When I write fantasy I am stunned by my characters’ abilities to deal with their massive problems and it gives me hope that I can deal with my own. Compared to fighting off a pixie invasion, dealing with the fact that I forgot to pay my cell phone bill is a breeze. I like that. I like the fact that characters don’t give up even when their mentors die; even when they are facing the ultimate evil and they only have a .02% chance of succeeding. I want to be more like that. So I write it.
“If you suck away the every-day complicating details like homework and parents, and make the dramas big you can really hit on those universal truths. You can build stories for kids that are about good and triumph and hope. Kids deserve those kinds of stories. They deserve characters who fight the trolls, who find Bigfoot. They deserve heroes like themselves. They deserve to believe in magic, in their dreams and in themselves.
I don’t know about you, but I get so sad about the world and mad and horrified and I do what I can to help, but I also write scary things, I think, to help me feel like there is hope and possibility, to give me a pathway towards understanding both my own inner failings and society’s.
Anyway, I hope you’ll check out my next book (or any other ones) so I can keep being an author for a living and not have to leave the house. Just kidding! Sort of!
A fascinating must-read suspense from New York Times bestseller Carrie Jones.
A new chance visiting a small Southern college. A potential love interest for a broken girl obsessed with psychology. A damaged group of co-eds. A drowning that’s no accident. A threat that seems to have no end.
And just like that Jessica Goodfeather aka Dude’s trip away from her claustrophobic life in Maine to try to get an amazing scholarship to her dream school has suddenly turned deadly. Again.
Share this if you want and also because it would be super nice of you!
The lead character in this is Dude Goodfeather. Her real name is Jess. Her dad calls her Dude and that means everyone else does, too. I’m so into her. I hope you will be too.
They aren’t the most popular. They aren’t the prettiest. They aren’t the wealthiest, but they are the smartest and as the kids in the ‘gifted’ program move through their senior year, they have their lives all ahead of them.
Until they don’t . . .
Quirky and psychology-obsessed high school senior Jessica “Dude” Goodfeather isn’t having her best time senior year after her best friend and boyfriend both dump her, but when she finds the dead and mutilated body of Lucas Landry? Things get a whole lot worse.
Is someone she knows the killer?
Someone is picking off Dude’s classmates, one by one. And she’s pretty sure that she’s next.
Join New York Times and internationally bestselling author Carrie Jones in the first book of the Dude Mystery Series as it combines the excitement of a thriller with the first-hand immediacy and quirky heroines that Jones is known for.
The next Book comes out in September and it’s called INCH WORMS.
But here’s an excerpt. I hope you’ll read it, like it, and buy it! That’s me marketing. 🙂 Sort of?
An intense feeling of fear or anxiety that usually has to do with personal persecution or belief in threats and conspiracies
Everything people say about me is true. I’m neurotic and obsessed with psychology terms because of my own sad toddler years. I always expect the worst case scenario for myself but never for other people. Pathetic, I know. It’s like I’m always expecting something bad to happen, and I’m terrified of being caught off guard and not being prepared for when it does.
This morning, when my cat Misfit wakes me up, I know something is wrong right away. It’s like a gut feeling. It’s like all my worries have become reality.
“You’re worst-case scenario. You have to believe in yourself, in the power of your own brain,” Dad told me last night when I was stressed about potentially not getting into any colleges. He was making vegan gumbo and waved his wooden spoon at our cat who was passed out belly-up in the kitchen sink. “Seriously, you’ve got to chill-ax. Look at Misfit. Be like Misfit.”
Be like Misfit?
Because right now Misfit’s mewling the way cats do when they are freaking out about something terribly important in the kitty world like whether or not there is exactly .75 cups of cat food in their dish that is spaced exactly one inch out from the northeast corner of the bathroom wall.
The mewling? That’s the first clue.
“What is it, buddy?” I mutter, blinking hard against the morning light as Misfit moves across the bed covers and up to my face. She headbutts my chin with her nose.
I’d been dreaming about Alexis and me when we were little and still best friends. We had been jumping off the dock into the river, giggling, and then the dream shifted so that Alexis was drowning in the water, blood coming out of her belly button. This did not happen in real life. Alexis is alive and well and now best friends with Samantha, and not me. I’m a little bitter about this honestly. Bitter and lonely.
Misfit refuses to let me go back to the dream and pushes against my face again. Cat fur tickles my lips and nose.
Sneezing, I say, “Buddy. Dad can feed you.”
Then I remember that Dad doesn’t ever feed her because he’s one of the most forgetful humans of all time, and then I remember that he’s not even home. He left at midnight, off for a three-day trip to a con in Boston, a science fiction con, because he has this little side job where he self-publishes his own graphic novels.
“Crud,” I mumble as Misfit thumps off the bed, thudding to the ground, right by a dead mouse. A tiny spot of blood mars the brown fur of its tiny stomach.
Misfit purrs and sort of nudges it a little closer to my bed.
I wish, occasionally, my gut would be wrong.
Moving backward toward my headboard, I grab for my phone by my pillow, but it’s not there. It’s always there, but instead there’s just my charger, flapping around. I’m positive that I connected it last night.
This is the second clue.
The third clue is that my door is shut. I’m not sure how Misfit even got in the room with her mouse, and that’s not the point. The point is that the door is shut.
My door is never shut because ever since I was little having a shut door has completely freaked me out. That’s because I always used to imagine monsters lurking behind the doorknob. Everyone judges me about that.
But Misfit could have shut it maybe? Batted it closed with her immense kitty paws.
She leaps up onto my bed, thankfully leaving the mouse on the floor, and I grab her to my chest. She purrs again. It’s comforting.
“I freak myself out too much,” I murmur. “You bringing dead mice as presents doesn’t help, buddy. No offense.”
She starts kneading at my lap, and I sigh. I’m not sure why I forgot to plug in my cellphone last night, but I use it to tell the time and set the alarm to wake me up and now I have no idea if I’m late for school or not. I blink hard. I was positive that I set the alarm last night because I was thinking about how Dad wasn’t going to be here today.
The weirdness of it all hits me as I lift Misfit up a bit so that I can set her down next to me on the covers. She protests and puts her claws into the quilt, but I still manage to move her. Resisting the urge to close my eyes and ignore the mouse, I lean over the bed, hoping my phone just fell somewhere.
Nothing. It’s just a dead mouse, schoolbooks, art supplies, and socks.
The only other thing I can think is that maybe I took my phone with me in the middle of the night when I went to the bathroom. Sure, I don’t actually remember going to the bathroom, but the cellphone is pretty awesome because it has a flashlight. I use that app all the time.
Vaulting off the bed so that I land nowhere near the mouse, I head toward the bedroom door, yank it open and gasp.
There’s someone standing there right outside my door.
I slam my door back closed and lock it.
My mouth drops wide open.
I don’t need any more clues.
That’s because the someone lurking outside my room is not my dad or my former best friend Alexis or my current best friend Rebecca. That someone is not a ghost or a figment of my imagination.
It’s a human being. And it’s wearing a ski mask.
Reflexively, I shove my dresser against the door, which opens inward. It opens inward, so that means that the person out there can’t come in if the dresser is blocking the way. Right? Panic starts.
There is someone outside.
I repeat this fact over and over again in my head.
Someone is outside my door.
Someone should not be there.
I can’t let them in.
Searching for my phone again, I survey the room, but the phone is missing, which means that I can’t call for help. My laptop! I put it in my bag last night after I was done cruising through posts about college application essays. Running, I grab my bag even though it’s super close to the mouse.
My laptop is gone.
I can’t email anyone for help.
I can’t Skype the police or whatever.
I’m trapped and there’s only one thing to do to escape. I yank open the window by my bed. I’m on the second floor, but it doesn’t matter. There’s an overhanging roof over the downstairs master bathroom, which connects to the porch. It’s mossy, but it’s a way out.
“Misfit!” I mutter and snap my fingers. She actually springs out the window onto the roof. She springs to the ground, making it look easy, like hopping ten feet to the grass is not a big deal at all. I scoot as quickly as I can down the angled roof and jump. The ground thuds beneath my feet, and adrenalin pops me right back into standing position. I scoop Misfit up in my arms and run through the woods.
I’m not sure if I’m saying this aloud or not. I’m not sure if the sentence is a command or a prayer or a mantra. The pine needles sting my naked feet. Stones and roots scratch at me. I trip and Misfit bounds out of my arms as I fall down. One second down and I’m up again, running for our neighbor’s house. The houses here on the Union River aren’t close, which I normally like because nobody wants to hear their neighbors’ music or yelling or whatever, but right now I’d give anything to live in a crowded subdivision.
Misfit veers off toward the river, but I run forward to the Saunders’ house. I pound on the door. Nobody comes. There’s noise behind me. And I see them—him—her —whatever—the person running through the woods toward me.
I pound again.
There’s no time.
The Saunders have a dock and a kayak, just like we do. Praying that they don’t have a lock on the kayak, I rush to my right, downhill toward the river, tumbling and screaming. The dock is about fifty feet of wood planks out toward the water. The tide is lowish and the kayak is tied up at the end. I run as fast as I can toward it. The dock bounces with every footfall. Misfit is nowhere in sight, but the intruder? He’s halfway down the hill. He’ll be here soon and then … and then …
The yellow cord attaching the kayak to the dock is just a half-hitch and I yank it off with my shaking hands. Two seconds later, I’m unhooking the rudder, dropping it into the water. Two seconds more and I’m hopping into the kayak’s cockpit. It rocks, but doesn’t turn over. There is no paddle. No paddle. I tuck the rope up between the lines on the front of the cockpit to get it out of the river. Water sloshes onto my pajama shorts. It doesn’t matter. All that matters is getting away. How do I get away without a paddle?
Using my hands, I push off the dock sideways as hard as I can. The river mud waits in front of me. The person is on the dock, running toward me. The ski mask obscures the hair, the face. Whoever it is isn’t big. That’s all I get. They are not big.
The tide takes the kayak. It’s coming in, away from the ocean, and toward town. I hit the foot pedal hard to steer the kayak, make it face the right way, and then the river does its work, pushing us out and into the middle, pulling the kayak and me away from the person on the dock. I look back. I’m so afraid they have a gun. I’m so afraid they’ll go unlock our kayaks from our dock, somehow, like they’ll know enough to know where Dad puts the keys.
But they don’t.
The intruder stands at the end of the dock and watches for a second. Then they lift their hand like they’re going to wave. Instead, they give me the finger.
I face forward and start hyperventilating, but I don’t cry. I never cry. Not since my mom left at least. And that was a long time ago.
See I’m committed! One book a month for the rest of the year.
December – NECROMANCER, YA paranormal – This title might change. 🙂
Oh! And check out our podcasts when you get a chance. There are writing tips and life tips on DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE and just a freer flow of weirdness on our very live LOVING THE STRANGE. It’s live on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube at 7 p.m. EST, on Fridays.
BE A PART OF OUR MISSION!
Hey! We’re all about inspiring each other to be weird, to be ourselves and to be brave and we’re starting to collect stories about each other’s bravery. Those brave moments can be HUGE or small, but we want you to share them with us so we can share them with the world. You can be anonymous if you aren’t brave enough to use your name. It’s totally chill.
Want to be part of the team? Send us a quick (or long) email and we’ll read it here and on our YouTube channel.
LET’S HANG OUT!
HEY! DO YOU WANT TO SPEND MORE TIME TOGETHER?
MAYBE TAKE A COURSE, CHILL ON SOCIAL MEDIA, BUY ART OR A BOOK, OR LISTEN TO OUR PODCAST?