We’re celebrating today’s release of L. Marie Wood’s new novel, The Realm, with an exclusive author interview below!
ABOUT THE BOOK
Patrick closes his eyes to the only life he’s ever known and opens them to a new and dangerous world.
In this Realm the newly dead from all over the universe are being hunted by a formidable race of giant beasts, the likes of which have never been seen by the living world. Before long, he meets others from all over the universe that are doomed to live in this terrifying Realm with him. This place is like nothing he ever learned about in life; it is neither heaven nor hell, purgatory nor Sheol.
Patrick will encounter clusters of people huddled together for safety but he acts as a lone wolf – they don’t trust him, and perhaps with good reason.
He is key to the future of The Realm – Patrick must right old wrongs, and fight against all the terrors it has in-store. He must fight to save his family and, indeed, all of his descendants. His revelations will impact the living world as well as what comes after.
He is the future of humanity.
The Realm appears to be a bit of a departure from your usual work—what was your inspiration for this book?
It seems like it but it really isn’t. Each my novels are written from the psychological horror space, so even though Crescendo is a ghost tale and The Promise Keeper is a vampire tale – both having traditional horror antagonists to play with – they are still written with the psychological horror headspace in mind. The Realm adds a little sci-fi to the mix but is still a tale of the supernatural from a psychological horror perspective at its core. Blurring genre lines is a recurring theme in my work, so if you look at it from that perspective I am in my element.
You describe Patrick as a “lone wolf” in the book description. What makes his character different from the typical fantasy hero? What was your favorite thing about writing him?
Sometimes protagonists find allegiance in their quest, whether it’s a mage that helps open doors along the way or an elder who can impart wisdom. From the very beginning of The Realm Patrick realizes that he can’t trust anyone. He is on the run and can’t stop to get his head on straight – there’s just no time. All of the information he picks up along the way has to be questioned, and in the end he finds that it is better to stay away from those he encounters… because maybe they can’t trust him either.
Writing Patrick was fun for me because he reacts to things the same way I would. Whether it is surprise, frustration, indignation – he and I are in lockstep. You may wonder why that is surprising to me – indeed, refreshing to me – because, after all, I wrote him and could make him behave any way that I wanted to, but that’s the beauty of bringing characters to life. Once you create the shell, they tend to fill in the rest on their own, taking turns you don’t expect and behaving in ways that you hadn’t accounted for. That’s what keeps a story fresh for the storyteller: witnessing character development before your eyes.
If The Realm made it to the screen, big or small, what actor would you love to see bring Patrick to life?
That’s a hard question! Michael B. Jordan would do Patrick justice, I believe. His ability to tap into his emotions and be so expressive while doing so would lend the drama that the role requires as well as the athleticism. I’ll add a second actor to that list – Mads Mikkelsen. His ability to impart emotion through his eyes alone and the honesty he uses in his action scenes would bring Patrick to life accurately and quite nicely. I’d love to be a fly on the wall watching either of those actors interpret this work.
Since some of your previous projects involve vampires, this question is obvious—who is your favorite vampire character from pop culture and why?
Without question, Lestat. His impetuousness alone is enough to be drawn to him, but once ensnared, he just toys with you until he has grown weary of your company. The control Lestat exhibits throughout Rice’s Vampire Chronicles is palpable. Just wow.
What’s next? Tell us about any other projects in the works that we can look forward to.
I’m so excited about what’s coming! I have a short story that was just released in Mocha Memoirs’ vampire anthology SLAY: Stories of the Vampire Noire (speaking of vampires!). Another in the upcoming anthology Obsidian coming from Cedar Grove Publishing and a few other short pieces hitting the shelves in early 2021. The Promise Keeper, which is available in audiobook and ebook versions now, will be re-released in print in February 2021. And there are a few novels that I am putting the finishing touches on right now that I’ll be able to talk more about later in 2021.
(Make sure to follow this author at her social media links, available below!)
And finally, leave us with a short excerpt from The Realm to show readers why they should check it out!
It didn’t happen the way they said it would.
No angels came to greet him; no bright light funneled a path through the darkness. No relatives called to him from the beyond.
He didn’t feel warmth, acceptance, or love – he felt emptiness.
He saw nothing in the moments before death. Just an impenetrable darkness that crowded his vision like oil spreading in water, encroaching on the faces of his son and daughter-in-law, blackening them: obliterating them. He could hear them after his eyes dimmed, standing open and blind like black holes. His tear ducts dried up as his son cried over him.
The sound of Doug’s grief, the guttural moans roiling and meshing with his pleas—his barters with God to save his father—was more than Patrick could take. Trying but failing to lift his hand from his side and stroke his son’s head, Patrick silently prayed that his hearing would dissipate as quickly as his sight had.
Patrick could only imagine what Doug and Chris were seeing as his body broke down in front of him. Images of eyes ruined by broken capillaries filled with blood, his slacked mouth allowing a discolored tongue to peek through tortured his mind. He struggled for every breath now, death’s grip holding fast and firm. The thought of the kids seeing him fight for air, his face a twisted mass of pain and effort, upset him more than he thought it would. Death was not pretty.
Doug moaned and Chris cried while Patrick’s eyes grew drier and his skin grew paler. He thought it would never end, the display, the sick, cruel game death was playing. That he should witness it, that he should have to hear the calmness his son usually displayed crumble and fall away, was torture if ever there was a definition of the word. The devil, then. It was his work after all, he supposed. He was on his way to Hell and this was but a taste of what was to come.
And then there was silence.
The sound of his son’s anguish was gone, mercifully. The hum of the respirator, the clicking of the rosary beads the man in the next bed held, the squeak of rubber soles on the sanitized tile floor as the nurses and doctors hurried to his side – all sound had disappeared. He wondered what would be next to go. His memory? He quizzed himself just to see if it was already gone. What’s my name? Patrick Richardson. How old am I? 59. Was is more like it, he corrected himself. After all, he was dead. Dead. Gone. Finished.
Patrick stood in the pitch-black silence confused and unbelievably sad. He was dead. He would never see the baby that Chris was carrying, his first grandchild. He wouldn’t ever watch another boxing match with his son and friends over beer and pizza. He wouldn’t get the chance to watch the waves break on the shore from a beach chair in the Caribbean. He wouldn’t do anything anymore—not eat, drink, or fuck—ever again. Because he was dead.
And death was dark. Impenetrably so.
How did this happen? he asked aloud using a mouth he could no longer feel. He thought back to that morning, when he was taking out the garbage. He could remember walking to the back of his house and getting the garbage can. The damned cat had gotten into it again; the little stray he left food and water for had knocked the top of the can off, torn through the garbage bag, and gotten to the trash inside. The little monster made a hell of mess too, strewing soggy newspaper, chicken bones, and juice cartons all over the brick patio. Patrick remembered cursing out loud and casting his eyes around the backyard, looking for the cat. He remembered turning back to the bowl he’d left out the night before and finding it full of food. ‘That’s what you were supposed to eat, damn it!’ he’d said as he bent down to clean up the mess.
On his way back into the house to get another garbage bag, a piece of the dream he had the night before came back to him. It hung in front of his eyes like a transparency over real life, framing everything with the hazy film of familiarity, all soft edges and anticipation.
As usual after those dreams, the dark ones that made him wonder if he was there, really there, walking, talking, living within them, he wondered if he was the character whose face the audience never sees.
The memory was faint, as it always was the morning after, but he knew what happened next. This time the scene was identical to his dream. There was usually something askew, some crucial piece off center, but this time nothing was out of place. He knew he would turn away from the door instead of going inside to get the garbage bag. He knew he would squint from the sun when he did, and that he would place his hands above his eyes, shading them like a visor. He knew it just as well as he knew his name, for as easily as that knowledge came, it dragged heavy fear and worry in its wake.
He obliged. It wasn’t like he had a choice.The Realm, L. Marie Wood
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
L. Marie Wood is an award-winning author and screenwriter. She is the recipient of the Golden Stake Award for her novel The Promise Keeper, as well as the Harold L. Brown Award for her screenplay Home Party. Her short story, “The Ever After” is part of the Bram Stoker Award Finalist anthology Sycorax’s Daughters. Wood was recognized in The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror, Vol. 15 and as one of the 100+ Black Women in Horror Fiction.