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A TASTE OF REALITY
Book One of the Reality Bites Trilogy
By JOANNE McDONNELL
When Rosie and her friends discover that Melbourne’s nights are ruled by a secret society of vampires, their lives are changed forever.
The death of a single vampire ignites the fanatical wrath of a pure-blood, who actively hunts the teenagers. Faced with the fight of their lives, they discover that one of their friends is “not quite human” and Sorin, an enigmatic man who demands their trust, is clearly obsessed with Rosie.
Battles are fought, lives are lost, and the final explosive conflict leaves the teenagers distraught and confused. Only one thing is clear–life will never be the same–nor will death.
A TASTE OF REALITY
Book One of the Reality Bites Trilogy
By JOANNE McDONNELL
Excerpt from Rosie’s diary.
I wish I could write this so that if anyone else ever picked it up it would self-destruct. I can’t do that, so let’s just hope I can hide it well enough until I decide to destroy it myself.
So–why am I writing about this if it’s so personal? Well, my therapist has been on my back for ages to do it. He said that this would be a good way of getting things off my chest, a good way of talking about things–without talking. It sounded a bit dicky to me, but I finally tried it and you know what? He was right.
I like my therapist. I call him the dark side of Santa, DSS for short. He’s big and fat and miserable. He has thick shoulder length wavy hair and the biggest, bushiest black beard I have ever seen. So you see why I call him the dark side of Santa, but besides that, he’s kinda cool. I promised him I’d write about “The event” as we refer to it, one day, and today is that day. This is for you DSS.
Mum had been freaking out big time; the Mulligans were due to arrive in half an hour and she had only just realised that dad had forgotten to buy the wine. Mum met Jenny Mulligan about four months before “The event” when she walked into the shop where mum worked. Jenny was beautiful, successful, funny and really, really nice. Her and mum had hit it off instantly and when Jenny invited mum for a cup of coffee in her lunch break, their fate was sealed. If there is such a thing in this world as soul-friends, then mum and Jenny Mulligan were it.
After a few dinners over at Jenny’s place it was finally our turn to play host, and as I said… mum had been freaking out. She had been planning this night for weeks, and had spent the two days prior to the “Royal visit” cleaning and preparing a sumptuous feast for Jenny and her husband Brad. Everything had been going to plan until mum realised that dad had forgotten to buy the wine.
Robby, my little brother, sat down on the sofa next to me and we waited for mum to go ballistic. The conversation went something like this.
‘How could you forget the wine?’ mum shouted.
Robby poked me in the ribs and whispered, ‘this is gonna be a good one.’ Watching mum and dad fight was one of our favourite sports, as long as they weren’t fighting about us.
Dad tried to defend himself, ‘give me a break luv, I’ve been running around all day for you.’
‘You’ve bee…you’ve been running around all day. That’s rich that is!’
‘Oh for God’s sake Beth, I’ll go back out now and get your bloody wine. What do you want?’
‘It’s on the list!’ mum yelled at the top of her voice, ‘or are you too stupid to read now?’
Whoa, Robby and I looked at each other; we’d never heard her call dad stupid before. At this point we thought it was time for us to slip out of the room; we didn’t make it.
‘Where do you two think you’re going?’ Mum immobilised us with her glare.
We looked at dad for help but didn’t get any. We were on our own.
‘Rosie, go and finish setting the table then go and get changed. Robby–you go with your dad; he might need your help with his list.’ The implication of that last comment wasn’t lost on anyone.
‘Do I have to?’ Robby whined.
Dad spoke up for him, ‘Let the boy stay at home Elizabeth. I’ll go and get your wine.’
I remember thinking to myself; you shouldn’t have said that dad.
‘My wine!’ Mum was off again. ‘It’s not my wine. It’s the wine I asked you to get for our guests, and no. He can’t stay at home. He’ll just end up making a mess again.’
Mum turned and stomped out of the room, shouting over her shoulder, ‘they’ll be here in twenty minutes!’
I looked at dad and said, ‘she really went off the deep end this time.’
He just smiled and said, ‘She’ll get over it Rose-Bud. Tonight’s important to your mum and you know how she gets sometimes. So– I’ll take Robby, we’ll get the damn wine and then everything will be back to normal.’ He turned to Robby, ‘come on son, grab your coat and we’ll be back before you know it.’
As he walked past me, dad placed his hand on my unruly red curls and ruffled my hair. As usual I pretended that I didn’t like it with a drawn out, ‘Daaad, stop it.’
But I loved it, and he knew it, he was my dad.
The Mulligans had arrived and been there for more than fifteen minutes, but there was still no sign of dad and Robby. Mum was livid. I could tell, but she hid it well from our guests. Thirty minutes after the arrival of the Mulligans mum’s anger was fading and the first traces of worry were beginning to show on her already frayed nerves.
She moved constantly from the dining room to the kitchen and back again, tweaking this or straightening that, and apologising profusely for her husband’s tardiness. Her perfectly coiffed hair was beginning to look worse for wear as she kept pulling strands down and twirling them in her fingers, a nervous habit of hers. I remembered I giggled to myself because I thought she looked like Medusa, with thin, red squiggly snakes sticking out from her head.
Ten minutes later the doorbell rang and mum froze. Dad never rang the doorbell. Even if he had forgotten his keys, he never, ever rang the doorbell. He would walk around to the back door, which was rarely locked, and before he came in he would knock his familiar knock on the back door. Knock, knock–kncokknockknock–knock, knock.
I still had no idea what was going on, but I’ll never forget the atmosphere in the house that night. It’s really hard to explain; the best I can do is this. Imagine the anxiety you feel before you open an exam paper for your worst subject. As you open the paper, you still cling on to the weak hope that the questions will be based on the one lesson you actually paid attention to but, after scanning through the questions you realise you are doomed. All you can do now is to try not to step on your hope, which is now lying shattered on the floor underneath your chair.
Then mum opened the front door and our lives changed forever.
Two police officers were standing on the door-step looking professional, sympathetic and serious all at the same time. When they asked to come in mum’s knees buckled. Luckily for her Jenny and Brad had walked up behind mum and Brad caught her before she hit the floor.
I still didn’t know what was going on, a bit naive I know, but other than the police asking, Mrs Gardener, can we come in? No one had said a word. Besides, when you have a near-perfect life, you don’t expect it to come crashing down at the ring of a doorbell.
Jenny helped mum onto the sofa and sat next to her, holding her hand tightly while the police officers talked.
I stood in the doorway, apparently forgotten, as my brain tried to make sense of the words that my ears were pushing into my head.
I am so sorry…the man ran a red light….nothing that Mr Gardener could do…the driver of the other vehicle was drunk… your husband and your son….they were both killed instantly…killed instantly…killed!
I let out a stifled sob and Jenny’s husband came over to me and wrapped his strong arms around me. It felt nice. Then he lifted his hand and placed it on my head.
‘NO!’ I screamed as I slapped his hand away and ran upstairs nearly blinded by the tears that were pouring down my face.
Born in north-east England in 1963, I was raised in a normal loving family. Went to a normal school, earned a reputation as a normal, average student and developed in the normal way. But there my normality stopped.
I have always had an overactive imagination, during the day I’d spend hours at a time talking and playing with my pet duck, a duck I might add that did not exist. While at night, my vivid dreams transported me into dark and often scary worlds.
My imagination was further fuelled by the many books I read, and yes, I was one of those kids who stayed up well after bedtime, huddled under the bed covers with a torch, reading just one more chapter, until there were no more to read. My obsession with books lessened a little when I turned eleven, and my parents gave me a very special gift; my first camera. It was a Kodak pocket camera and it became my new best friend.
Skipping ahead, I left school at the age of 16, safe in the knowledge that there were two things in life I would never, ever do. One, I would never work in a factory. Two, I would never work in a shop. So you can imagine my excitement when I got my first full-time job, in a factory. I found myself clipping threads from make-up bags, though not an overly challenging job, it awarded me with ample time to think. After 12 months of devoted clipping, I moved to Scotland for a year where I waited tables and worked behind the bar, before heading back to Blyth, my home town.
It was then that an exciting opportunity presented itself to me in the shape of a twelve month work visa for Australia, where I learned the ins and outs of working in MacDonald’s and other service oriented jobs. At the end of that period, just like the migrating swallow, I returned to Blyth. Of course I needed a job and soon found myself once more working in a factory. This time making components for car ignition locks.
I was twenty one when I returned to Australia, this time as permanent resident, and I’m pleased to say that I was able to avoid factory work. This time I got a job in a shop, (so much for life planning). But as it turned out, this was a good thing. I undertook some tertiary education, and made a career for myself, working my way from check-out-chick to store manager within 6 years. Until, nineteen years after my arrival in Australia, I met the man of my dreams, got married and quit my job to help my husband with his IT business.
So, how have my life experiences led me to writing a book? Well I guess my love of reading, evolved into a love of writing, which merged with my love of photography, and in a way that was my first introduction to storytelling, albeit visual. For most of my adult life I have been writing, telling stories and creating visual art. However, it wasn’t until my husband was offered a full time position with a company he had been consulting for, that I was given the gift of time. This gift allowed me to delve into the recesses of my mind and scrape out some of the characters, ideas and stories that I had buried there over the years. This luxury of time, for indeed it was a luxury, enabled me to bring some of my ideas life.
Oh, and as you can see from my planned 250 word biography, (I’ll save you counting, there’s over 600) I seem incapable of sticking to a plan, and I simply love to write.
Links to Joanne’s website, blog, books, etc.
**SPECIAL GIVEAWAY**: Joanne is giving away ebook copies of A TASTE OF REALITY to up to five (5) lucky winners who comment on her Interview or Killer Book Bench blogs. Don’t miss this chance to read Joanne’s new story. Thanks, Joanne, for sharing your newest release with us!