Sunday, April 17, 2011

Second Death by Donna K. Fitch

Mark Richards is a dead man in thirty-one days if he does not discover how to dispel the curse that has plagued his family for one hundred and thirty-three years—a curse in which he refuses to believe. His father insists on the reality of the curse, but Mark questions the sanity of a man who has attempted suicide multiple times. He questions his own sanity as he suffers a series of blackouts accompanied by bizarre visions of danger in another place and time.Sylvia Dee wholeheartedly believes in the curse. With the assistance of her seductively beautiful ward Victoria and her psychically vicious henchman, she monitors and manipulates its effects. By the end of the month Mark will be joined with Victoria in a terrifying ritual, culminating Sylvia’s century-long quest for the power of Isis and Osiris.The power over life and death.

Bio: Donna K. Fitch is not a scary person. She doesn’t like slasher movies and has been known to throw up at the sight of blood (mostly her own). She is, however, rather fond of eldritch horrors, curses, cemeteries, falls of fish, and torturing protagonists. She will don another identity for a role-playing game at the drop of a hat (which she looks rather good in, by the way). She is still not sure what she wants to be when she grows up, but she’s been a librarian and a web designer. And a Baptist worship leader. Donna lives in the middle of the state of Alabama with her technology-whisperer husband Thomas and her three cats, Nala, Alice and Sophie. Visit her website at

What will readers like about your book? 

I think everyone at one time or another feels like their family is cursed. This story takes it to an extreme--what if your family really is cursed? Seeing your greatest fears played out can be fun (or is that just me?). The main character, Mark, is likeable and real, and has trouble dealing with some strange events. The setting--the urban American south--is appealing, as I think it's new to many people. And mostly I think readers will enjoy that it's a non-stop page-turner of a good story.

Why did you self publish? 
It seemed to me like the right time. The book has bounced around and come close to being published in a traditional way, but I think e-books are the wave of the future. Plus, I have complete control over the whole process, which is appealing to me.

What is your writing process? 
I write multiple drafts. For me, writing drafts is how I figure out what direction the story should take. Second Death had 12 drafts before I figured out where it was going, and then several more after that. I like to do research, so I spend a lot of time on details that I think make the story come alive. The details make a rather fantastic story more believeable.

How long does it take you to write your first draft? 
Ages. I am not a fast writer, although I'm trying to speed up the process. I don't write one complete first draft, but get to a point and start over, as I indicated in the previous question. My current goal is to write a first draft rather quickly, and then do edits.

What inspired you to write this particular story? 
I actually began thinking about it while having physical therapy on my shoulder after an accident at work. I had lots of time to lie on the table and think while I had electrodes attached to me (not as bad as it sounds). The nightmare scene of someone crashing through the underbrush, pursued by an unseen attacker during the American Civil War was the first part I visualized.


The impact of solid earth against his knees shocked his entire body, and warm fluid spread through his mouth as his teeth clamped on his tongue. He spat blood and clawed at the nearest tree trunk. Jagged rocks underfoot lanced the thin soles of his boots as he scrambled for purchase on rain-slimed leaves. A twig snapped. The attacker sprang toward him. His heart thudded as he ducked under the arc of the knife blade and rolled—Mark's father peered at him, eyes narrowed. "Demarcus?"Mark stood on the porch of his father's house, but even the memory of that morning's dream or vision or whatever it had been clung to his consciousness with more reality than the old man hunched over on the porch swing. "Sorry, Dad," he said. "What were you saying?" Thomas Richards rubbed his tanned face with both hands and sighed. "You tune me out when I try to talk to you about this, so I always give up. I can't this time.” He took a deep breath. “Demarcus, there's a curse on the Giles family."Eyes fixed on his father, Mark leaned back against the railing. It was the last thing he’d expected his father to say. He laughed. "What, a gypsy curse? Or the curse of the mummy?""I am not joking," Thomas snapped. "This is serious."Mark slid down the railing, curled paint chips crackling behind him, and sat on the wooden floor. The sound of the chips reminded him of the breaking twig in the dream. With sheer force of will, he dragged his attention back to his father's face.Thomas hunched forward again, hands dangling between his knees. "I must explain myself to you."His father looked at him. "Our past is your responsibility. As it was mine. I have tried to fulfill my obligation to the past, but I've failed time and again."Mark shook his head. "I'm not following you."Thomas hissed out a long breath through clenched teeth, knuckles white on his knees. "My mother died twenty-six years ago today. When I turned twenty-one, she sat me down and revealed to me something that happened long ago, before her father's time, something horrible that brought a curse down on the Giles family.""I've waited far too long to tell you this. Twelve years too long. I thought I could stop the curse, thought I knew how. But I've always failed." He blinked, fixing Mark with a stare. "Story of my life."Mark wrapped his arms around his own knees, the same feeling in the pit of his stomach he had as a kid when venturing across his dark bedroom at night. "Dad ... "

Thomas raised his hand, palm outward, like a bailiff swearing in a witness, and the sunlight illuminated the ridged white scar across his wrist. "The responsibility is yours, son," he intoned, his voice husky. "You must not fail, as I have. Do you hear me? You must not fail. Or your children are doomed."

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