Monday, 20 August 2018

The Write Stuff with... Jack Jordan

Today it's my pleasure to be kicking off week 2 of the Before Her Eyes blog tour and it's my pleasure to welcome Jack Jordan to the blog to talk about his writing and what it was like seeing his book on the shelf for the first time.  But not only that I have an extract to share with you too which should certainly whet your appetite for this chilling read.

Seeing my book on the shelf for the first time was a total game-changer

Many people think of authors as having a glamorous lifestyle. We wake up each morning to a flurry of ideas, make a pot of fresh coffee, and tap at the keyboard all day by a sunlit window to the sound of birdsong, with a small fortune to pay for the house to be kept clean, the cupboards filled, the garden groomed and beautiful to the eye.

In reality, this is a small margin of authors’ lives (sorry to disappoint the ‘book pirates’ *cough* they should be called thieving, self-entitled criminals *cough, cough* who have recently been quoted in the media as thinking of us authors as elitists). For a lot of us, writing – a full-time job with a full-time workload – must fit around a job that pays the bills. Some authors juggle family and parenthood. What I’m saying is: we’re a tired, underpaid bunch, stumbling over each other for space in the same metaphorical boat.

I love writing, or rather, I have to write - it’s the only thing I know. It’s what gets me up in the morning and keeps me awake at night. But it’s also an extremely hard profession. As authors, we must armour ourselves against rejection and negative reviews, prove the validity of our profession to people we’ve just met as they ask about sales figures and income; we have to write because we love it, knowing that there is no guarantee we’ll ever get to depend on our careers to fill our stomachs, despite the sacrifice of sleep, days off, our own money, and something I have heard people call a ‘social life’.

It’s so hard in fact, that every time I finish a book I think to myself ‘My next book has to be the last. I can’t keep doing this year after year.’ I’m not talking about the writing itself (although that’s bloody hard too, and anyone who says it isn’t should be hit on the snout with a rolled up newspaper immediately), but the baggage that comes with it: the lack of security, the working hours, the act of trying (and failing) to find a work-life balance, the feeling of working hard to move forward but remaining stuck in the same place, and that the majority of the time, mainstream success isn’t down to talent alone, but a sheer run of luck, backing from third-parties, or ginormous marketing budgets.

But everything changed when I saw Before Her Eyes on the shelves for the first time.

Before Her Eyes is my fourth book, but it’s also my traditional debut. When I had success with my previous books, it felt like everything was happening at arm’s length: the only way for me to gauge success was numbers on a screen and the ping of notifications. I never saw success in the physical sense; something that proved I was on my way up and what was happening was real. I never saw my work on the shelves… until now.

After eight years of grinding, yawning, shaking from too much caffeine, and contemplating giving up (and knowing I never could), my work is on the shelves for all to see, and I’ve realised that every low, every worry, every devouring doubt, were worth it. The second I saw Before Her Eyes on the shelves at WHSmith Liverpool Street, the weight of fear was lifted from my shoulders – suddenly, it was all out of my hands.

If it sells, that’s absolutely fantastic. If it doesn’t, it will be a deep, personal defeat, but in the end - I have no control over it. I’ve done everything I can. I’ve invested my time, my money, my heart, my entire life to the book for the last two years, and now, it’s time for me to take a step back. It’s out there; it’s no longer about me. To a certain extent, the book isn’t mine anymore but belongs to those who put it in their shopping baskets, whether virtual or physical. It isn’t as terrifying as I thought it would be; in fact, it’s freeing. 

So the next time exhaustion catches up with me and I think ‘I can’t do this again’, I will remember the powerful moment of seeing my book on the shelves at a busy London train station, and own the fact that, despite all the drawbacks and fears, writing is what I do, and something I’ll never be able to give up.

Follow Jack on Twitter: @JackJordanBooks, Facebook: JackJordanOfficial or Instagram: @jackjordan_author

She can't see the killer
But the killer can see her...

Naomi Hannah has been blind since birth. Struggling with living in a small, claustrophobic town, Naomi contemplates ending her life. But then she stumbles across the body of a young woman who has been brutally murdered. She senses someone else there at the scene - watching her. Naomi may not be able to see the killer's face, but she is still the only person who can identify him.

As the police begin hunting the person responsible and more victims are discovered, Naomi is forced to answer the question on which her fate hangs: why did the killer let her live?

In a town this small, the murderer must be close, perhaps even before her very eyes...


The blood on his hands peeled off in flakes like ash from charred meat.  He tasted her every time he licked his lips, and remembered the hot splatter of blood against his face as he dragged the knife across her throat.
     The spade crunched into the earth.  Drops of sweat mixed with the blood and ran down his face in rosy streaks.
     The body lay at this feet, skin washed porcelain under the moon.  The fear she felt as the blade severed her neck was locked inside her eyes.
      He stopped to catch his breath and looked down at her.
     Even in death she was beautiful.
     The adrenalin began to wane.  Lactic acid burned in his arms and shoulders; his bones ground together at the joints and seized with every thrust of the spade.  He wiped sweat from his forehead and waited for the guilt to come.  Nothing.
     The spade fell to the ground with a clatter.  He took her by the ankles and noticed how cold they were, how the skin and muscles had began to harden against her bones.  He heaved her towards the grave, squinting against the sweat.  The body landed with a thump.  A bone cracked against a rock, the snap of her neck maybe, or her skull splitting in two.  He threw the knife in after her and eyed the moon reflected in the bloodied metal.
     Light flooded the lawn with a flash.  He shielded his eyes and felt sweat trickle to his elbow.
     Mother stood at the window, her shadow stretched across the grass.  He felt her take him in: skin and clothes spoiled with dirt and blood, strands of hair stuck to his face.
     Mother knew what he had done, what he was capable of.  Perhaps she had always known, known even before he did, and had been waiting for this very moment, sleeping lightly and ready to wake to watch her child bury another.
     He had to finish before dawn.  Dew was collecting on the grass and the eastern corner of the sky was diluting with the waking sun.  The car would need to be scrubbed and bleached, his clothes burned.
     He picked up the spade and shovelled the dirt on top of the body, listened to the stones clatter against her bones, ricochet off her eyes, her jaw, her ribs.  He watched her face disappear the dirt as it filled the dip of her eye sockes and her open mouth.  When the earth was packed tight, he looked up again.  The sky was emblazoned with oranges and reds where the sun had risen behind his back.
     Mother closed the curtains.  He went inside to wash the blood away. 



Naomi Hannah stood at the edge of the cliff with the sea breeze pushing against her as though it was trying to keep her from jumping.  All she had to do was lean into the wind and wait for it to drop.
     Not knowing how far she had to fall should have made it easier.  Being blind didn't usually come with advantages, but as she stood before death, she was indebted to the darkness.
     She stood and listened to the waves crash against the cliff. The sound of them thundered in her ears like taunts. Jump, you coward. Jump. 
     Maybe the waves would be merciful, yank her downwards with the current and rake her over the rock bed until her neck snapped; quick and forgiving.  But Naomi knew better than to expect mercy.
     She curled her toes over the edge until earth crumbled between them.  All it would take is a second of courage to tip forwards.  Gravity would do the rest.
     Someone would find her clothes and walking boots at the top of the cliff and know she jumped.  There would be no need to scour the beach for tatters of fabric tangled with the seaweed.  Someone would find the suicide note tucked in her pocket, the paper stained with the dark splotches from stray tears, the words scrawled on the page like the writing of a child.  No one wold need to find the body she had left behind, dressed in nothing but underwear and bloated skin.  The sea would take care of that.
     Max ran around the green behind her chasing rabbits, his tail wagging and wet with dew.
     He will go on helping people, she thought.  He will forget me.
     Just the night before, she had stood in the very same spot, wondering if it would be better to wait for the tide to go out so she could fall onto the beach and break her spine in one quick hit, or leap then and there for the waves to slam her against the cliff face and thrash the life from her bones.  But she hadn't found the courage; she had stood there for hours picking at the skin around her nails until her fingers bled.
     The smell of the sea brought with it memories of better times.  A day at the beach with her adoptive mother and sister eating soggy sandwiches speckled with sand; playing on the beach with her niece and nephew with her then husband by her side, his voice filled with hope at the thought of children of their own, children she would never give him.  She shook her head.
     Don't think of them.
     Her mother, the woman who had found her and raised her as her own, would never forgive her.  The wail of the wind began to sound like distant screams.  Maybe that was what her mother would sound like when she learned her daughter was dead.  She clenched her eyes shut and covered her ears.
     'Please stop,' she whispered.
     Her ex-husband's voice seeped in, stalking the salty breeze, whispering the words she would never forget: I'll never stop loving you.
     Two tears shot simultaneously down her cheeks.
     She shouted the word to the wind until her throat burned.
     Dane had been the start of it all.  He had been the one to claw up that voice again, the voice that whispered of death and how easy it would be.  She had existed for two long years, isolated, single and friendless, but loneliness had finally got the better of her.  To successfully quieten the voice inside her head, she had to die.
     Max's bark echoed over the barren clifftop.  If she turned, he would run towards her and make her give up.  She couldn't give in to the fear.  Not again.
     'Max, go away!'
     She covered her face with her hands and felt the wind curl around her body like a cold embrace.  Even the wind pitied her.
     Max barked again, closer this time; she felt the heat of his breath on the backs of her legs.
     'Stay away! Go!'
     His high-pitched whine sliced through her chest.  She landed on the ground with a dull thump, sending crumbs of dirt from the edge towards the sea.
     Max nuzzled her hair with his wet nose and licked her tears.
     She hadn't brought him with her last night for fear of not being able to go through with it with him so close, but then the guilt had eaten away at her when she thought of him locked up inside the house waiting to be found.  What if no one realised she was gone?  What if he wasted away waiting for her to come home?  She imagined her mother entering her house and being hit by the smell of him, decomposing in his bed.
     The sun hid behind a cloud and left her to the mercy of the breeze drifting in from the sea.  She stood up and began to dress.
     'Tomorrow.' she whispered.  'I'll do it tomorrow.'
     She forced her feet into her socks and walking boots.  The laces fumbled between her deadened fingertips, numb to the bone.
     The suicide note teetered on the edge of her jeans pocket and whipped up with the breeze, carried briefly about the green before it launched over the edge of the cliff and danced in the air, right before her eyes.  All she saw was darkness.
     'Come on.' she said, searching for Max's service harness on the wet grass.  'Let's go home.'
     She fitted Max's harness and walked away from the cliff edge.  Another failed attempt.  She took a deep breath and held it in her lungs until her chest burned.
     Tomorrow, she thought. I'll do it tomorrow.    

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