Dancing with a Dead Horse
Genre: YA Thriller
Publisher: Eirelander Publishing
Date of Publication: April 30, 2014
Word Count: 65,104
Cover Artist: Buffi BeCraft
Sometimes lullabies aren’t soothing; they’re deadly.
Sixteen-year-old, Jason Miller, wants three things: to become a professional Mixed Martial Arts fighter, graduate from high school, and avoid his mother’s ballet classes.
When he finds the body of the most popular girl in school, he has a major freak-out session, and then calls 911. But if finding a body wasn’t bad enough, when a horse doll made of human skin and hair is found in his locker, the entire town accuses Jason of the murder.
As the body count rises, so does the hostility. Jason is left with a choice: To run and hide or to clear his name and find out why the killer is targeting him before it’s too late.
Available at Amazon
Living in a small town is like living in a bubble. Everything seems to go the way it has for eons, until something comes along and POP! The bubble bursts. That’s when mass panic sets in.
The panic doesn’t come immediately. Usually, it takes some loser redneck with a chip on his shoulder to say something like, “Kyle Crabtree has always been weird. Weird ain’t good.” And the next thing you know it all goes to hell and poor Kyle has a mob surrounding his house demanding justice. Unfortunately, Kyle has no idea what’s going on. Then, they drag him out of his house. If Kyle is lucky, they don’t beat him to death.
Thank God, I’m not Kyle.
My name is Jason Miller and I almost died today. Believe me, it sucked. All I wanted was a normal life, instead, I ended up with a giant mess.
But, today wasn’t the beginning. It all started about six weeks ago…
“Jason,” Mom said. We were in the kitchen. She had done a lot of work to it over the years. The formerly green metal cabinets were replaced with white wooden ones, and the sink was made of some type of soapstone. She’d spent hours trying to decide on the right colors, the right design, but I never really paid much attention. Kitchens just weren’t my thing. Not that I really paid much attention to the rest of the house either, but that was beside the point. I looked up from my cereal. She was wearing her do-what-I-say-mister-or-you’ll-be-sorry look. Her brown hair was pulled back into this severe bun. It was so tight that it seemed to stretch her eyebrows up towards the top of her skull. People said I looked like her. I guess it was the brown hair and blue eyes. Who knew what I’d done this time. Mom was kind of obsessive compulsive.
“Yeah?” I asked. I fought not to roll my eyes. I didn’t feel like dealing with her weirdness this morning.
She put her hands on her hips, not that she really had any. She’d once been a famous ballet dancer for the Kirov Ballet, but then she’d met Dad while trying to find some obscure Chinese restaurant in New York when the company was on tour, and the rest was kind of history.
“You left towel on the floor again,” she said. It was interesting. Mom had lived in the States all these years and her Russian accent was still as strong as ever. I guess the “homeland” never left her. Not really.
But, shit. The way she acted, you’d think I just shot the dog—not that we had a dog, but whatever. I’d hit on her worst fear. She was a germaphobe of the highest order;at least that’s how it seemed to me. I didn’t mind it though.
The thing you have to know about Mom is that she has these fears because she lived through Soviet Russia. When she was a kid, she lived in an apartment with carpets on the walls to try to keep out the drafts. Everything was saved to be reused, even aluminum foil. So now, when she has something, it all has to be perfect, so it can stay good for many years. Somehow the American disposable society and her ideals still work. That is- if you can keep her from having a conniption fit when the TV breaks. Her culture was set on making things last because they didn’t have a choice. I think she resented that Americans didn’t pay much attention to things like that anymore.
Her head was probably running rampant with images of mildew snaking its way up the walls of my bathroom like some kind of space monster. And honestly, my bathroom wasn’t that bad. It was one towel for crying out loud. I mean, a little soap on the sink wasn’t that big of a deal and I’d cleaned up that part of it this time. Plus, Mom had a cleaning lady come in once a week. The place wasn’t going to turn into mold central that quick.
“Sorry, Mom. It must have fallen.” I gave her what I thought was a I’m-just-your-little-boy smile. Hell, even I had to admit, coming out of my mouth it sounded fake and hokey, but you can’t blame me for trying. Playing innocent was the only way I knew to get by Mom. But, she was getting better and better at ignoring my charm. At least I hoped it was charm.
She huffed and gave me the look. Apparently, my charm was not working this morning. “Don’t you lie to me, Jason Nicholas Miller, or I’ll make you take advanced class this afternoon.”
Oh, God, anything but that. Dealing with her reaming me out for not hanging up my towel was one thing, taking one of her classes was another. “I’m sorry,” I said. And I meant it. I did not want to spend the afternoon in tights and having sweat stick to my balls like glue. The itching would be bad enough, but the “unclean” feeling would drive me crazy.
Last thing I wanted to do was take ballet classes again. Mom owned her own studio here in town. Town was Orinth, Ohio. It wasn’t a bad place if you still liked picket fences and lots of gardens. Orinth was known for its yearly garden show. We never participated.
I felt the look of disgust creeping onto my face and I forced my facial muscles to relax and remain neutral. I needed to be strong. If I caved now, I would be so screwed. Besides, I didn’t need the “ballet dancers are manly” talk again.
Did you always wanted to be a writer? If not what did you want to be?
No, actually, my dream job was to be a ballet dancer. I took classes for many years, but my health made it impossible.
When did you first consider yourself a “writer”?
Probably when a publisher actually wanted my stuff. Before that, I was just “writing”. LOL
How long did it take to get your first book published?
Roughly 1.5 years. I started out going for an agent, and then explored small presses. That’s when Eirelander came in.
Do you do another job except for writing and can you tell us more about it?
I teach a class on how to fit pointe shoes. There are so many different things that are needed for a ballet dancer to be protected and supported properly.
What is the name of your latest book, and if you had to summarize it in less than 20 words what would you say?
Dancing with a Dead Horse. Sixteen-year-old boy must clear his name before a serial killer destroys his life.
Who is your publisher? Or do you self-publish?
I am published several different ways. I write for both Eirelander Publishing and Crescent Moon Press. And, I also self-published a short story this year.
How long does it usually take you to write a book, from the original idea to finishing writing it?
It depends on the book, honestly. Some I can crank out a first draft in a month. Others, it takes me longer. Dancing with a Dead Horse took around three months.
What can we expect from you in the future? ie More books of the same genre? Books of a different genre?
I have 3 more titles coming out this year. Sorrow’s Edge- the second in my Sorrow’s series which is adult dark fantasy/horror, The Devil’s Liege- the second in my Mathias saga which is YA Fantasy, and Love Me to Death- an adult horror novella.
What genre would you place your books into?
I write in several different genres. Dancing with a Dead Horse is the unusual one because it is my first book without any paranormal elements.
What made you decide to write that genre of book?
I wanted to create a seriously creepy serial killer. I am a huge fan of Thomas Harris and Chelsea Cain.
Do you have a favorite character from your books? And why are they your favorite?
Of all my books, Jimmy Holiday is my favorite character. He’s the protagonist of the Sorrow’s series. His personality is my father’s, so a lot of things he says has come out of my dad’s mouth at one time or another.
How long have you been writing?, and who or what inspired you to write?
I’ve been writing since I was a child. I started out in poetry and over the years gradually went from writing plays to writing prose.
Do you have a certain routine you have for writing? ie You listen to music, sit in a certain chair?
I sit at the kitchen table with a steno pad and a bevy of sparkly gel pens.
Do you read all the reviews of your book/books?
I do. Some people say you shouldn’t, but I do. Even if someone happens to not like one of my books, I feel that if they’ve taken the time to review, they’ve given me something- their time. And, time is very important.
Do you choose a title first, or write the book then choose the title?
The title usually comes during the writing process. In the case of Dancing with a Dead Horse, the title was decided upon after the book was written because the publisher wasn’t a fan of my original title.
How do you come up with characters names and place names in your books?
Place names usually just pop into my head. Character names are different entirely. I choose them for their meaning, sound, and sometimes, if someone I knew had that name.
Are character names and place names decided after their creation? Or do you pick a character/place name and then invent them?
I have to have the name of anything before I can fully form it into something. I chose the name Orinth for the town Jason lives in for Dancing with a Dead Horse because it sounded like a small town name and it was a little unique.
Do you decide on character traits (ie shy, quiet, tomboy girl) before writing the whole book or as you go along?
The character develops as I write usually. I don’t think of them in terms of traits specifically.
Are there any hidden messages or morals contained in your books? (Morals as in like Aesops Fables type of "The moral of this story is..")
Sometimes. It depends on the story. They aren’t something that deals with the entire tale though, usually a character’s opinion on a controversial subject. That type of thing.
Which format of book do you prefer, eBook, hardback, or paperback?
I prefer reading paperbacks. I’m still pretty old school. I like the smell of books.
What is your favorite book and Why? Have you read it more than once?
This is a really hard question. One of my biggest favorites right now is Night Film by Marisha Pessl. I’ve read it three times within the last year.
Do you think books transfer to movies well? Which is you favorite/worst book to movie transfer?
I think it depends on the book. My favorite book to movie transfer is The Shining. I think Stanley Kubrick brought out of psychological horror of Jack Torrance very well.
Your favorite food is?
Your favorite singer/group is?
Type O Negative
Your favorite color is?
Your favorite Author is?
Probably a toss up between Richard Matheson, Anne Rice, and Jim Butcher.
Danielle DeVor spent her early years fantasizing about vampires and watching “Salem’s Lot” way too many times. After living briefly in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, she moved back to her hometown to write. When not writing and reading about weird things, you will find her hanging out at the nearest coffee shop, enjoying a mocha frappuccino.