Thursday, April 28, 2011

TICK TOCK RUN by H.C.Elliston

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It’s Saturday night. Chelsea Denham should be enjoying your best friend’s hen evening. Instead, she’s wondering why Lee, the handsome stranger hovering behind her in the bar, is questioning people about some rather creepy phrases. Phrases from an email she opened earlier, which she’s trying her hardest to ignore. The email contains her full name, a countdown timer that’s already ticking, and the words, ‘Your number’s up! People have to pay for what they’ve done.’ The more Chelsea learns the more worried she becomes. And rightly so. Lee’s brother received an identical email, and when its timer ran to zero... he died.

I run a small art business from home. I live in Yorkshire with my fiancé and our two King Charles Cavalier Spaniels. I spend every spare moment tapping away on my computer, and just love getting lost in fiction land!

What will readers like about your book?
I write modern-day stories about everyday-type characters who get thrown into the core of awful situations, and must use their limited skills to find their way out of the mess. I think readers will enjoy my work because there is no magic, no extraordinary gadgets or skills, it’s as though it could be your friend, or neighbour who’s trying to escape from the mayhem.

Why did you self publish?
I was waiting back to hear from an agent at the time that I self published. Then my Nanna passed away, and my patience disappeared for a short spell. I just decided to go for it, put my novel out there and watch it sink, float or fly.

What is your writing process?
I start with a skeletal idea, a bad situation for my characters to wriggle out of, and just go from there. I have an idea of what each scene will be, but don’t write them in any particular order. Once I have pieced all the chapters together like a jigsaw, I then rewrite the entire manuscript – however many times it requires to get it right.

How long does it take you to write your first draft?
3 – 6 months

What inspired you to write this particular story?
The ‘countdown timer in the email’ idea came to me while sitting with my dogs in my garden. One of those moments when you’ve stopped trying to think of ideas, only for your brain to continue, and hey, presto! The idea pops up. Plot aside, I wanted to write something entertaining, a mystery thriller with romance, and take the reader through a range of emotions, because this is what I enjoy in books and movies.


A waitress approached our booth.
“Give us a few minutes, please,” Lee said.
Five new messages waited in my email inbox. Most were junk, but, spotting one marked ‘urgent’ planted a seed of dread deep within me.
“Oh, God! I think I’ve got another one here.” While my heart tapped a tune of dread against my ribcage, I closed my eyes and wondered whether I wanted to open the message. Emma’s attempt to put a stop to further emails must have failed.
This was what I’d hankered for, to find out why it felt like a dead guy was stalking me all weekend. However, I had a breathy moment of uncertainty that I didn’t want this to go any further. I imagined the computer crashing, to give me pause to think. No. I couldn’t ignore the nagging feeling that something was wrong, and that Lee had sensed it, too. Face it. I opened my eyes and told myself, it’s just an email, it’s not as though it’s going to bite me.
The cursor jumped around the screen. I tried to keep my hand from shaking, but couldn’t.
Lee stretched across my lap and placed his hand on top of mine. “Let’s see what the message says, shall we?
I met his eyes. “Sure.”
We clicked on the link to open the mail. Lee stared so intently at the screen, I could easily have mistaken him for someone who’d never seen an email before.
The speaker volume sounded low, but not low enough to mute the sharp notes. Tick, tick, tick, repeated in the background as it had in the email I opened on Saturday, mirroring my mounting anxiety.
I nudged Lee’s hand away and scrolled up and down, then stopped.
I stared at the title words on the screen:
‘Your number’s up!’
Lee paled within a second. “Oh, hell!” he choked out. “I was afraid it would be the same.”
Lee’s reaction was larger than I’d expected. It put me on edge.
The email design was near identical to the first one I’d received, but the clock it displayed was different. Instead of digital, an hourglass timer was in view. The black sand ran like treacle through the narrow gap, sliding into a heap in the bottom dome. Half of the sand had already run through.
I scrolled down a touch. The words ‘number two,’ shifted up the screen.
Lee’s body twitched beside me, so I glanced at his face. Confusion flickered in his wide-open eyes. He looked worried.
I faced the computer screen again, moved the mouse and centred the image. There it was. A second timer.
“What’s this for?” I asked.
Lee’s breath grew louder. “Some sort of game.” 

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