Heat Book 1 by David Neth Genre: Superhero Action Adventure
The city is heating up...
Ash doesn't know who he is or how he ended up in an old coal mine outside the city. Even more terrifying, he discovers that he can throw fire from the palms of his hands when he saves Rachel from being mugged. She's a researcher, who develops a curiosity for his powers. With the help of Rachel and her coworker, Perry, Ash tries to piece together what happened to him.
They soon encounter another super they call the Gatekeeper, who knows Ash's history and holds a grudge against him for it that he expects Ash to pay for. But the Gatekeeper seems to be more powerful than Ash's own moniker: Heat. With the Gatekeeper's apprentice, Black Magnet, terrorizing the city, Heat will have to fight his way to uncover answers about his past.
Piercing sounds echo in my ears. I’m thrown against a rocky surface. My right side takes the brunt of it. Instantly, my shoulder begins throbbing in pain.
I groan, my voice sounding foreign to me. My body aches all over, but still I force myself to sit up. I open my eyes, but don’t see anything. I shut them tight and reopen them again.
Desperately, I turn my head, searching for any trace of light. Behind me, I spot the tiniest sliver. I follow it. Once on my feet, my bare right foot slips on the rock below me, but I’m able to catch myself with my left. I’m only wearing one shoe.
The air smells like something burning—or something that has since burned. Like a campfire the following morning. It’s further amplified by the layer of grime I can feel all over my body, coating my skin, making it almost slick, just like the rock I’m stepping on. And it’s cold in here, too. My fingers and toes—especially the bare ones—are even going numb from the lack of heat.
A low growl grows from deep in the shadows, followed by a chilling breeze. At first, I’m not positive that it’s even real, until the sound grows so loud that it feels like the floor is shaking. Then, in an instant, it’s gone, along with the wind. The silence echoes in my ears and goosebumps prickle my skin, making me wonder if it even happened.
What the hell is going on?
I need to get out of here. I’m afraid I hear more traces of another growl starting up. The longer I spend in here, the more it gives me the creeps. I don’t know if it’s just in my head, but I can’t help but feel like there’s something sinister lying just beyond the surface, hidden in the darkness.
My bare foot jams against a rock as I move closer to the light. My eyes adjust in the darkness and I can just make out the sharp edges of the boulder. Reaching up, I climb on top of it, shifting around a few large rocks to make the small crevice where the light’s coming from big enough for even my thin frame to fit through. My body scrapes against the unforgiving surfaces as I pull myself through, but it’s better than staying trapped.
The other side is warmer and the light shining from the end of the tunnel is blinding. My eyes burn, even as I turn away from the light. But deeper into the tunnel, past the crevice I just escaped from, I feel a growing sense of unease and danger.
I need to get out of here.
Turning, I take careful steps toward the light, squinting at the harsh sun. Still, the light seems to rekindle my memory. Or rather, my lack of one. I have no idea how I got here or why I’m so disheveled.
Actually, I don’t remember much of anything. How I got in this cave, what city I live in, who my parents are—I don’t even know my own name.
No, that I do remember. Ashton—Ash. That’s who I am.
But that’s it. That’s all I remember. Not the place I rest my head each night. Not any memories from years ago. Not even a single person who cares about me.
What the hell happened in that cave?
I turn and look back at the crevice I crawled out of, even more dread building up inside of me as I hear another grumble. I need to get out of here.
Luckily, my eyes have adjusted enough for me to pick up my pace. As I move I look around to try to find things to jog my memory. My one bare foot is black from what appears to be soot, as are my arms and the rest of me. My shirt especially is so torn I might as well not even be wearing one. At least I have my pants.
I make it to the end of the tunnel and squint at the light from what appears to be a setting sun. Reluctantly, I have to turn around and face the cave again because my eyes burn too bad. Still not used to this much light. I must’ve been in that cave for a while, but I can’t remember.
When I turn back around, I search for the glowing setting sun, but I can’t see it. It must be on the other side of the mountain, meaning I’m facing east. That’s a start to figuring out where I am.
I take in the view, instantly stumbling back a step. I’m a hundred feet high, overlooking a dense city that’s situated in the valley between two mountain ranges. There’s a river that runs through the city, underneath the myriad of streets and buildings. Clustered together, several towers rise high in the sky, challenging the height of the mountains. Nature still wins this battle. Despite the urban environment, a lot of the city is green from trees blooming between structures. Once again, nature wins.
The view is spectacular—and frightening—but I need to get down there somehow. Find someone who might be willing to help me figure out who I am and where I live. Hell, I’d kill for a shower first. And a meal. Not that any bystander on the street is going to give me the time of day in my present state, but anything’s better than the cave.
The fresh air passing from outside makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up even more. It’s a warm breeze. Completely in contrast to the cold cave.
It appears as though there’s an overgrown path along the rocky wall leading down to the city. Or, at least I hope it leads down to the city. Maybe it’s an animal path. Maybe it’ll lead to a dead-end and I’ll have to backtrace my steps. Either way, the inviting warmth from the sun leads me down. I just want to put distance between me and this damned cave. Is that a part of who I am? Claustrophobic? Paranoid? I wonder how quickly I’ll remember who I am.
Kicking back weeds, ducking under thick tree branches, I keep a look out for any insects or animals I might accidentally step on with my exposed foot. Add a fear of snakes to the growing list of things I’m learning about myself.
My hand trails along the rocky wall until the path curls around in the opposite direction, snaking its way down the mountain. I try to remember as much as I can, but my mind is blank. Nothing’s up there. The light’s on but nobody’s home. Well, as far as my memory goes.
I don’t remember anything. Nothing besides my name, that is. It’s a wonder I even remember that. Must be it’s ingrained in my head so much that it’s impossible to forget. But that begs the question: does that mean there’s no one in my life that’s so ingrained in my memory that I can’t remember them?
The sun’s rays dwindle over the course of the hour it takes me to walk down. My mouth is bone dry. I need nourishment. And soon.
By the time I get to the bottom of the mountain, most of what’s carrying me is momentum from the incline. Finally, I make it to the end of the path and spot a locked ten-foot tall chain-link fence dividing the mountain from the city streets.
Walking up and down the fence a bit, I search for a hole or a loose spot to get through, but there isn’t one. Instead, I take a deep breath to summon all of the strength left in me. There’s not much. I grip the twisted metal of the fence and heave myself up. It takes more energy than I thought it would—especially on an empty stomach—but I manage to get to the top and down the other side, half stumbling and adding yet another scrape to my side.
Now comes the next problem: where to go? I cross the street to a large concrete building, hearing the roar of traffic noise off in the distance. The towering buildings I spotted from the cave entrance rise up in the distance. Must be the center of town. The sun is setting, casting shadows in this deserted part of the city.
I come around the corner of the concrete building to a parking lot, where I spot a blonde woman walking briskly to her car with her keys clenched in her fist. She looks up from her phone and sees me, but only stops when I wave to her, unsure what else to do. I’m sure my grubby appearance isn’t putting her at ease.
I consider telling her I need help—does my voice work? What does it sound like—but between two other vehicles, a man rushes out and grabs her from behind, pressing a gun against her side.
“Hey!” I bark as I take off in a run toward them. My throat feels like it’s tearing with the shout, but I ignore it. The heat from my anger ripples through my body quickly as I race toward them. With only a few feet between us, I notice my hands are literally on fire.
But I don’t burn. Or feel too hot. Instead, I feel a sense of confidence. A sense of purpose. A sense of knowing that I haven’t had since I woke up in that cave.
The man stumbles backward as I charge him with my burning fists. He yanks his arm around the girl’s neck and pulls her to the side, pointing his gun at me with his free hand, shaking. The girl screams when she sees me charge them.
In the moment, I don’t worry about whether he’ll shoot—he doesn’t seem like the type of thug who has the balls to shoot anyway—and I follow through with a punch to his face.
He drops his gun, lets go of the girl, and recoils. “Son of a bitch!”
She backs away quickly, but still doesn’t leave the scene.
The man growls and turns to me. My fists are no longer flames, although his face is blistering from the attack. He reaches for his gun, but a stream of fire shoots out of my palm to his hand, causing more of his skin to break out in blisters, just like his face.
He cries out in pain and eyes me up nervously, cradling his burnt appendage.
“Go!” My throat burns again from the force.
Without another word, he takes off running down the street.
My stomach growls and my muscles ache from the exhaustion I’ve felt since I woke up. Only now it’s amplified with the extra exertion. Almost to a breaking point—quickly rising.
The girl takes a step forward. “Thank you. How did you—”
She doesn’t finish her sentence as my energy is finally depleted and I collapse on the pavement in front of her.
Heat Book 2
The truth will set him free...
In the aftermath of Black Magnet's demise, Ash and his friends are still adjusting to the ramifications its had on their lives. Now equipped with a glimpse of who he was before he woke up in the mine, Ash is reluctant to learn more about himself and looks for anything to keep his mind off of his past.
When a student at Perry's new job at a nearby university winds up dead with no sign of attack other than sand scattered around the body, Ash finds the perfect distraction. Only, he can barely get answers on the first victim before another student is killed in the same way somewhere else on campus.
While attempting to solve the murders that Ash knows was done by a super, he soon finds himself in the cross-hairs of the police detective leading the investigation. In order to stop the super truly responsible for the murders, Ash is faced with a choice: take the fall for the attacks or expose himself as Heat.
When Ash gets a phone call from Detective Jenna Harkness, he knows he's in for a whirlwind. She tells him an officer brought in a crazy man who might be of interest to him.
The man thinks it's 1969.
But when Ash listens in when Harkness interviews the man--who identifies himself as Donald Douglas--he isn't convinced that there's much of a connection. That is, until Douglas lays eyes on Ash and spits in his face.
The team soon discovers that Douglas is the latest hitman hired by the Gatekeeper to kill Heat. But they still haven't figured out a way to stop the Gatekeeper and keep him contained under police supervision. And unlike Heat, he's willing to change history to settle the score.
David Neth is the author of the Heat series, the Fuse series, the Under the Moon series, and other stories. He lives in Batavia, NY, where he dreams of a successful publishing career and opening his own bookstore.
Can you, for those who don't know you already, tell something about yourself and how you became an author?
I’ve been writing since I was 12 years old and briefly considered publishing when I was around 17, but quickly became discouraged by the process of querying for an agent to then try to pitch to publishers.
Instead, I thought I could scratch that writing itch byworkingin publishing, so I went to graduate school in NYC for a degree in publishing. That’s where I was in class with professionals who had worked on big name titles like Harry Potter and Batman, which was really cool!
Through those classes, I learned that self-publishing was a growing industry and decided to work toward the goal of self-publishing a book I had written when I was 15. So after many many many manymanyrounds of edits, I publishedThe Blood Moonin 2015 and have gone on to publish a whole series around that book and several other series across different genres.
What are you passionate about these days?
The series I’m writing now is something that I’m really focused on lately. I’m revisiting the first series I published (Under the Moon) and writing a prequel series to it. It’s where I can tell all the stories I alluded to in the original series. It’s a lot of fun! I’ve laid out the groundwork in the original series, so the rest is just filling in the blanks.
My plan, as of right now, is to create a “villain of the week”-type series, where the main characters face different mythological creatures while balancing the challenges of their personal lives. While the writing is original and follows my own style, my inspiration for this series are the weekly comics or pulp stories that were popular in the mid- to late-20th century.
What do you do to unwind and relax?
One good thing of COVID-19 is that I’ve been reading a lot more. I’ve always been an avid reader, but for the last few months I’ve been flying through books and trying to work my way through my TBR pile.
Other than that, I like to go for walks or ride my bike. Nothing too crazy!
What inspired you to write this series?
I wanted to write superhero fiction for several reasons. The first being that when I started working on Fuse (my first superhero series) I was really enjoying the TV showsArrowandThe Flash. I liked the episodic nature of the shows and how there was an overall story arc or the whole season and then smaller story arcs for each episode.
The second reason I wanted to write superhero fiction was because I needed a break from magic and witches! At that time, I had been writing fantasy for more than ten years and I wanted to explore what other genres I could write.
A third reason was that the Fuse series ended up being really dark. At the time, I wanted to write something that was different than the Under the Moon series. Something that was grittier and rooted in real-life issues rather than magical ones. The Green Arrow and Batman comics were big inspirations for that series, so the result ended up being a darker series for Fuse. When it came time to write Heat, I knew I wanted something lighter. Something to show how someone else could perceive his development of powers in a whole different way and laugh and joke about the unusualness of his powers instead of being weighed down by them.
Another reason was that I wanted to start building a “universe” that spanned several series with each book being a “villain of the week”-style “episode.” That’s still a work in progress (since I only have two superhero series out!) but it’s something that’s started and can be picked up in the future once I get great ideas for several more stories. I have a few ideas for more books, but I want to commit to being able to write several at once before I start adding to that series.
What can we expect from you in the future?
Coming in the fall of 2020 I’ll have the first few books in my latest series done (the series is titled Coven and the first three books areHarpy,Siren, andValkyrie). It’s a prequel series to the first series I published, Under the Moon, which is about a family of witches that fight evil. The new series will be very episodic and will be told in a “villain of the week” style.
Other than that, I have two new Christmas stories in my Small Town Christmas series coming out under my pen name D. Allen. And I’m not quite sure about next year yet. Probably writing more Coven books, definitely more Small Town Christmas books, and maybe even venturing into a new genre (and a new pen name).
Who designed your book covers?
The covers for the Heat books were illustrated by Damián Avilés, who works as Dakzper. He’s done illustrations for my books in the past and has a wide variety of styles, so I approached him to illustrate the Heat character. After he created those, I designed the rest of the covers myself.
How long have you been writing?
I’ve been writing since I was 12 years old. I started writing fantasy, working on a story that was so incredibly bad it was laughable. But it was my start! I learned from it and kept going. Most important of all, I had fun writing it. It led me to starting a whole new series when I was 15, which eventually (after countless rounds of editing) became the Under the Moon series, which was the first series I ever published.
Do the characters all come to you at the same time or do some of them come to you as you write?
Characters and story ideas often come to me organically. For main characters, especially, I like to sit on the idea of the character and their mission, writing down a few notes over the course of a few days or weeks (or even months), but not too many notes so I don’t commit myself to anything in particular. I’ll think about that character whenever I encounter something related to them and make a mental note of the things that best fit who they are.
So in the case of Ash (AKA Heat), I knew I wanted his power to have to do with fire, but I didn’t know what limitations to put on that. I also knew that he needed to have some personal struggles to face as well as his superhero struggles. Eventually the idea that he didn’t have a memory came to me and I built the story around that premise.
With other, more minor characters, I sometimes come up with them on the spur of the moment and see how they develop in the story on their own. InDust Storm(Heat, Book 2), Detective Jenna Harkness was one of those characters I just wrote in real quick to have a detective in the story. As I wrote that book, I naturally developed that character more and she become a more prominent feature inThe Gatekeeper(Heat, Book 3) and will probably be a mainstay for the series. All because I wanted a detective duo to interview Heat in one scene!
Do you write one book at a time or do you have several going at a time?
I try to remain as focused on a particular series as I can, so I don’t write more than one book at a once. Also, I don’t typically have the time to write more than one!
On the rare occasion where I do have more time, I’ll write a chapter of one book and then edit a couple chapters of another. It keeps my productivity up while still devoting my creative brain to the one book I’m writing.
A day in the life of the author?
It varies, depending on what time of year it is. For the most part, I aim to write 2,000 words a day. In the past, that meant one chapter (give or take a few hundred words), but lately I’ve been experimenting with writing shorter chapters to keep the story moving and actually add different layers to the story. Surprisingly, it’s been helping me write more in one day!
That’s it, for the most part. Sometimes writing takes me an hour, other times three hours (although about two hours is my average). If I have more time, I’ll edit another book after I write or work on some things for the “business” side of self-publishing (which, I admit, I’m quite lazy with).
The most important thing is that I’m writing every day (and I don’t write on the weekends, usually because breaks are important too). Without getting the words on paper, there’s really no point in calling myself a writer anymore, is there?
What are they currently reading?
I’m always reading and I tend to stick to series so I can follow the same character as they grow and develop through the events of several books. Some of the series I’m a fan of are the Tracy Crosswhite series by Robert Dugoni, the Rizzoli & Isles series by Tess Gerritsen, the Erika Foster series by Robert Bryndza, and the Jack Daniels series by JA Konrath.
What is your writing process? For instance do you do an outline first? Do you do the chapters first?
A book from start to finish looks something like this:
Idea, inspiration, several scrap pieces of papers with random ideas. Outline (brief chapter summaries of what’s going to happen in each chapter, making sense of those random ideas and throwing out the ones that don’t fit) First draft (getting the words on paper, not caring if I use bad grammar or spell something wrong) In this phase, I’ll modify the outline as needed, adding in additional chapters to flesh out the story, or completely changing some of the chapter outlines if they no longer work. During this phase, I also add comments of changes I want to make or consistency checks to work on during a future draft so I don’t break the flow of writing during the first draft. Second draft (reading through the book, resolving some comments, adding several more comments, possibly even adding additional chapters) Third draft (clearing up the comments, rearranging some chapters, double checking consistency, spelling, and grammar) Send to proofreader Final draft (reading through the bookagainand checking for consistency issues, spelling, grammar, wording, any other glaring changes) Move on to formatting and publishing!
Each step changes per book, but for the most part those are the general steps I follow. Some books require more editing, others not as much. It depends on the book and how distracted (or inspired) I am when I’m writing it.
Follow the tourHEREfor special content and a giveaway!