Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Reunion by Jeff Bennington

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Twitter: @TweetTheBook

Twenty years after surviving a school shooting, Tanner Khan and his fellow classmates reluctantly agree to hold a reunion. Although they suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, they come back to their hometown and reunite in the defunct school building. Old flames are rekindled, fears are ignited and their lives are about to explode in a whirlwind of memories, haunted by the spirit of David Ray, the troubled teen who killed many of their classmates. 

Once inside the old school, they discover that a dark entity has joined them. It has come to collect a debt, long overdue and someone has to pay. Will Tanner and his classmates overcome their fears and put the pieces of their lives back together, or will they be consumed by their worst nightmare? Find out in this groundbreaking suspense thriller that is frightening and powerfully moving.

About Jeff Bennington

Jeff Bennington is the author of ReunionKilling the Giants and The Rumblin’. Jeff lives in Central Indiana with his wife, four children and two stray cats. He teaches a creative writing class for a home-school co-op and has consulted small publishers regarding author platform building and ePublishing. Jeff grew up in Aurora, Ohio,  settled in Central Indiana and graduated from Indiana University in 2001 where the seeds of his writing career took root. Mr. Bennington blogs weekly at The Writing Bomb about writing and publishing and contributes to the blog, Criminal Minds at Work


David Ray stood in front of his mirror, dressed to kill. I look good, he thought, like the real deal, like a real killer. He narrowed his eyes, grit his teeth and unfolded his checklist. Sharp blades of black hair dangled in front of his face, covering the brownish rings that encircled his eyes. He peered at his scribbled writing and read the list as he felt his insides tense with hatred.
This is it, he thought. No room for mistakes. 
David had learned over time that life needed to be carefully navigated to avoid pain. He had come to the conclusion that the only way to control his life was by controlling the lives around him. The list helped him stay on track. He paced back and forth, quietly going over the details of his plans as his adrenalin increased.
He slouched down at his desk, clenched his hair as it draped over his eyes and pondered how the neglect and abuse he’d suffered had snuffed the music from his soul. David longed for old, familiar melodies to bring him comfort and laughter, but found only the clamoring sound of an off-tempo dirge. Although he tried to arrange the chords and time signatures in a way that was intelligible to his ear, he stepped out of time, his notes were flat, and those around him cringed and laughed. He was humiliated and he hated them for it.
He glanced at a picture on the desk of his mother holding his hand as a young child. It stood in a bright red clay frame; a misshapen art project from the fourth grade. Neither of them looked happy, and a lot had happened over the past eight years. Smiles were a rare commodity in their household. He turned the picture face down and stood up.
David walked to his small window. He pushed the roll-up blind to the side, peeked through the glass and watched the fog sinking into the sage-covered valley to the east. He observed the sun stretch its arms over the rocky hilltops to wake the ponderosa pines and heard the mountain bluebirds singing in the distance. For the last time, he witnessed the river in the valley, flowing downward in search of rapids and lower ground. He stared into the gorge with cold and unfeeling eyes. The sight reminded him of the time when Bill, his stepfather, had taken him down there and let him shoot his shotgun just for fun. David knew the activity was meant to keep him silent, a form of hush money.
Peering through the dirty glass, he thought about his plan to finally get even with everyone who’d taunted and bullied him. Today was the day they’d finally get what they had coming to them. Today the world would sit up and take notice of David Ray. Those kids and their families would be sorry. Now they’d know some of his misery. They could kiss goodbye their happy days of Mom’s cookies, home-cooked meals, and playing ball with Dad.
A sliver of sunlight struck his eyes. David squinted and released the window blind. He preferred the darkness.

Interview with Jeff Bennington

What will readers like about your book? 

Reunion is a mixed genre fiction with elements of suspense, romance, horror and the supernatural. Readers and reviews have enjoyed the fact that Reunion is rounded, emotionally engaging, frightning, moving with a twisted and unexpected ending.

Why did you self publish? 

Indie publishing makes sense to writers who are growing their readership and are willing to work extra hard. An author with a list of well written books has the potential to be very successful without the demands of an industry that cares little for the author and more about the investors. I care about my readers. I work hard. I get my work professionally edited. I offer full distribution and my books are returnable. That's as good as a traditional publisher and I'm happy with that.

What is your writing process? 

I play a thunderstorm on my ipod, and start writing stuff. Actually I use a basic plot outline and characters sketches, nothing extravegant, and make up the rest.

How long does it take you to write your first draft? 3-6 months. After that, I obsess over the details...another 3-6 months. After that I put it away or send it to an editor. Eitherway, I've learned that fresh eyes make fresh material.

What inspired you to write this particular story? 

Have you ever wondered what becomes of the students who have been traumatized by a school shooting? Or have you puzzled over what might cause a child to intentionally murder his or her peers? Have you questioned what the long-term effects might be on the victims? How would their lives change? Who would make the most of their journey after the shooting? Who would lose their faith? Who might find it?
        I did.
Over the years, I’ve wondered if the survivors would be able to return to the place where they watched their friends and classmates suffer, and die, at the hand of a crazed teen? How would they perceive those memories twenty years later?
These are the questions that have swirled through my mind every time I’d learn of yet another school shooting. I cringe when I hear that another young person has gone off the deep end and killed his classmates, leaving this world a darker and colder place with every bullet fired. The fact that it happens forces us to question what is wrong with our society—that this is even possible. The arguments are endless. But I didn’t write this story to discuss politics. I wrote this story because I was interested in finding the answers and because I actually do care about the future of these victims.

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