The Truth About Night by Amanda Arista Genre: Paranormal Mystery
As an investigative journalist, Merci Lanard has an uncanny knack for getting the truth out of people, a talent she uses to expose the real story behind her city’s most gruesome crimes.
Until one night, when her partner, Ethan, is killed.
Reeling from shock and grief, Merci vows to track down his murderer. As she starts digging, she meets Ethan’s estranged brother, Rafe, who agrees to work with Merci to find his brother’s killer. She soon discovers Ethan had been hiding things from her, mainly that he was a Shifter and had a whole life in a supernatural world she knew nothing about.
A Shifter himself, Rafe introduces Merci to magic she never knew existed. As they work together to uncover hidden connections between Ethan's murder and a series of strange dead bodies, they find themselves in the crosshairs of a turf war for the soul of the city.
If Merci is to have any hope of saving her city, she will have to face the truth about this war, the truth about this new magical world, and the truth about who she truly is.
The words echoed across the parking lot, and everyone turned. They turned because it was a show; it was a spectacle at a funeral. It distracted people from their loss and own sense of mortality.
I turned around because this voice felt like someone sliding a blanket across my skin. The static in my brain rose to greet this new sensation, as did the hairs on the back of my neck.
The man I’d seen fighting with Levi stormed across the parking lot straight toward me. Hayne tried to step between us, but I restrained him with an outstretched hand. I’d never hidden behind Hayne before, I wasn’t about to start now. I would face him as I faced all threats, head on.
When he stopped before me, my skin singed under his teal-blue eyes and the anger that poured off of him. He glared at me, the arch of his eyebrow giving a wicked articulation to a presence that felt bigger than his body. Who was he? What were he and Levi fighting about? Why had he called me a liar? The questions started circling around in my brain and the sizzle to answer them was like Frankenstein’s monster being brought back to life.
“You’re lying about what happened that night.”
My body reanimated with the new electricity running through it. I took my time with my answer as I collected details. The who’s and what’s of the situation. Accent was Scottish. Couldn’t be family. He was smaller than Ethan. The suit was new from the smell of it. And, seriously, those eyes were as deep as an ocean trench.
“I never lie about anything,” I answered, keeping my voice steady and my nerves calm.
He thrust his finger at me. “You got him killed.”
Oh, the game was on now. A smile played across my lips as the current danced around my head, tingling and tightening the hairs at the nape of my neck, “You really want to do this here?”
“Yes. Here.” His glare deepened. “I need to know.”
It was comforting to feel the familiar chill down my spine as I slipped into interrogation mode.
“Did you see the initial police report?” I asked.
“It was a load of shite.”
The police report didn’t have much in it because I didn’t have much to tell. Even now, after three days of reliving it in my head, there was very little I could articulate about what had happened. And I’d never give up Benny as my informant—his ass was mine. “What do you think happened?”
“Ethan was targeted. Either by your stupidity or—” He snapped his mouth shut as the words nearly spilled out of him.
“Or what?” My voice somehow remained calm though I was vibrating on the inside with anticipation, like a high schooler with their first cup of coffee.
Tension filled his jaw and his entire body as he restrained himself from speaking.
I bit my lip to keep the questions inside. Who was this man? Why did he think that Ethan’s death was on me? What did he think happened that night? They were all right there, the questions, beating against the inside of my skull like a swarm of angry bees against a window.
He took another step toward me. I watched his lips, the flush of his cheek as he spoke. “I will find out what happened.”
I didn’t back down. Never backed down. “No, I will. He was my partner.”
His nostrils flared, and his knuckles went white at his sides. “Aye, but he was my brother.”
It was like steel bat to my midsection, and all the air left me in one quick assault.
Ethan never mentioned a brother.
Amanda was born in Illinois, raised in Corpus Christi, lives in Dallas but her heart lies in London. Good thing she loves to travel.
During the summer after second grade, she read every book in the young adult section of the library, much to the surprise of the local librarian. So she started making up her own stories and hasn’t stopped.
She has a husband who fights crime, one dog who thinks he’s a real boy, and another who might be a fruit bat in disguise. She recently added a tiny human to the mix who is following in her mother’s footsteps of storytelling.
Along with her BA in English & Psychology and her MA in Education, Amanda is a graduate of the SMU Creative Writing Program and now teaches other aspiring authors. She has delivered lectures at several writer conferences and loves discussing craft, character, and structure. Her current favorite: Stirring up Trouble with Romantic Subplots.
She is represented by Kimberly Brower, of Brower Literary & Management.
Amanda is adopted and loves to share that story with others to promote adoption.
Amanda has a collection of turtle figurines that collects on her travels.
Amanda has a strange love of cheesy horror movies. She prefers demons and witchcraft to slasher films.
Amanda is a really good bowler and completely rocks at croquet.
I thought when I sat down to write The TRUTH ABOUT NIGHT I thought the world building would be a cinch. It was going to be a modern Philadelphia with shape shifters. Done. I set my mythology for shapeshifters and I’m golden.
Hah! The moment you ask your readers to suspend any disbelief in your story, you have to lay everything out for them as well as understand that your readers are just as brilliant as you and will have the same questions that you will about your new world.
I’ve heard that smarter writers have all this laid out before they start writing. Me, well, I had to discover my world through my writing. I’d never thought of a day in the life of my world, what things would smell like, or how my hero would be seen in the world.
So before or during the writing process, which ever you prefer, think about what a day in the life would be like. Think about what a year in the life would be like. Think about what a life time looks like through the eyes of your character. This will give you the details of the world: what they eat, what they wear, what opportunities they will be given, what they do for a living and who they are allowed to marry. I think we all know how culturally insightful that little detail is.
Writing an urban fantasy gives you a little less to plan out but is just as painstaking because the readers know the world already and you have to speak to that knowledge. Philadelphia is a city. It has city rules. There are big buildings that people see everyday and know. There are cars and roads. Using the corporeal world that readers are used to is not a cop out; you still have a lot of building to do to layering your mythology on top of that to make your readers believe that this could happen in their backyard. For me, my goal was to make sure that every reader was a little afraid to put their trash out and check their locks at night. The smaller details make it real. I built most of my supernatural stuff on the little things that we tend to brush off in everyday life: phantom smells, déjà vu, nightmares. These details layered on top of everyday life it the key to writing an urban fantasy.
And you have to all of this without telling the readers any of it. They must experience the world for themselves in order to believe it. All senses must be used to immerse your reader in the world. For me, a major example was what power would feel like and what each character’s power would smell like. I couldn’t just say “Her power floated out around the room.” As a human, I have no idea what that would feel like. So you connect it to sensations that people have experienced. This translated for me into “Her power floated out around the room and my skin was smoothed in cashmere as the smell of library dust filled my nose.” You are setting the rules of your world as well as connecting it to an experience that your readers have felt before. They now know what being brushed by a shapeshifter feels like.
Without letting it go to your head, you are a god in the world that you build. Even in contemporary romance, you still control the world that the characters live it. You decide what tests this world will hold for the characters and how the others will view your main character. Know your world and the people in it. Believe in your world and the readers will see it as you see it.
What does your world taste like? Pen me a line below and enter yourself for a chance to win a $50 dollar gift certificate to Amazon and a Merci Lanard survival kit.
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