Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Zed by Jason McIntyre!
It’s the waning dog days of August, 1975 and Tom Mason’s in Dovetail Cove for the last few weeks of his summer job at the group home. His boss and the home’s owner is Karen Banatyne, one of the wealthiest folks in town. It seems like she’s got it in for Tom; she’s the only one standing in his way as he scrimps for a new camera.
But Karen has her own problems. A regulatory agency might cut off her funding, plus her hubby hasn’t been seen in a few weeks, and she’s not saying why. Most ominous of all, it seems as though something’s hiding in the hot spring north of the main beach and one of Karen’s ‘houseguests’ is about to come face to face with evil. Tom is too.
I really enjoyed the nostalgia in this book. Jason McIntyre’s reference to Jaws, slathering oneself with baby oil while sunbathing, and other things from the 70’s, made me feel like this story could have taken place during my childhood. I do think these references would have been unnoticed from readers in their 20’s. They are not needed to understand the story, they just make it a bit more enjoyable.
McIntyre does a wonderful job slowly building up the tension in this book. It begins with a nice day trip out to natural springs with Tom, Karen, BLAnK and the residents in the group home where he works. A little bit of tension begins because BLANK is there to go over how Karen is running the facility. And you also get a bit of sexual tension when Tom meets some townies who are sunbathing.
The story progresses, and while I can’t say it is fast paced, I did want to keep reading. Events transpire with Zee (or Zed) coming in contact with an organism in the water that starts to make his befuddled mind begin to think more clearly. And Zed is not happy with what he remembers about his past or how he and the other residents are being treated.
Even more tension builds when another resident gets lost. The whole time you are wondering where is Karen’s husband, who is supposed to be helping her and Tom with running the place.
Zed knows though. And when he tells Tom, that’s when things really start getting horrifying.
I would not classify this completely as horror. I would say more psychological thriller combined with horror. Some of the scenes towards the end got graphic, but McIntyre didn’t over do it. He wrote the scenes in ways to only enhance the story, not just gore for gore’s sake. And there is one giant question at the end that I wish the author would have answered, but at the same time, it makes it even creepier that he didn’t.
*I did receive an ebook copy by the promotional team. All thoughts and opinions are my own, and I was not given any money or material incentives for an honest review of this book.
What has inspired you to become a writer?
Inspiration to tell stories came early. I was the kid in the fourth and fifth grade sneakily reading Stephen King novels at 800 pages apiece behind my propped-up math text book. At eight, I was the editor of a short-lived school paper and we didn’t have enough content to fill the back page. I went home and hauled out my Mom’s old IBM typewriter to begin an epic serial about two young girls who are abducted by aliens in their backyard. I knew I had something when the other kids begged to know what would happen in part two. Alas, the teacher who managed the newspaper project got a transfer and part two of the saga never made it out. I guess, in a way, I’ve been writing towards the end of that tale ever since.
How do you come up with your characters and how do you make them so interesting?
I start in a very visual way. Without even closing my eyes, I can clearly see what’s happening and, as I noodle around on the ‘what’ of a story, I eventually start to form a visceral view of the ‘who’ in the tale. The people inside that vision have to become real to me, even before I start the first sentence. If they don’t then I don’t care about them. I have to care, or else I never haul them out of trouble. And, really, isn’t that what makes fiction great? Dumping someone you care about into a heap of worry and then methodically traipsing them out of said trouble in a believable and satisfying way. My biggest conundrum is when a dazzling or lovely person gets in a trap and they aren’t pulled out in time. It’s the biggest challenge for me — I can’t save everyone and, sometimes, a character I adore needs to die so that things keep chugging for the whole story. Forgive me, readers. I will kill again.
What makes your stories and books different than other books you have read?
Everyone has their own style, what is yours? I mix and match genres, influences and types of stories. One major thrust of my writing life is to never repeat the same kind of book twice. I want to push myself to unearth new and different pieces of myself as I tell stories. So while a book like ZED has companion books that have a flow between them, there are nearly a dozen different genres represented among them. One might be a coming-of-age paranormal while the next might be a murder mystery and then I may discover that the next works best as a straight-ahead horror. There’s noir and crime books and even a western. Now, do they all look exactly like their home genres suggest? Not at a glance. They use the tropes from each genre but usually in a new mix. They meld into something that, I guess, looks and reads like a Jason McIntyre novel. Hopefully, readers enjoy the journey through all the different places I like to play. Oh, and I hope they get scared and a little upset along the way.
Do you plan on writing any other genres?
Future genres include something that no one who’s read my work will believe. I want to write a romance novel and a deeply historical fiction that is true to an extremely ancient time period. As always, I want to have fun with what I write, and produce something unique that interests readers, but pushes me into new territory.
Anything else you would like to discuss about you as a writer?
ZED is part of a mosaic novel. The only other writer I know who’s written this kind of a work is George RR Martin. His mosaic comprised of books written by a dozen different writers all working within one world and telling stories about the same characters.
DOVETAIL COVE works in a similar way. The characters flow in an out of the background of several booksand the island setting is the same place, spanning a decade in the history of one place that has a succulent past and a lurid present. The difference between Martin’s mosaic and this one is that I’m writing all the pieces myself.
Each DOVETAIL book stands on its own, with a distinct beginning, middleand end. But if you read more of them, the pieces of a much larger puzzle begin to fall into place. At present, ZED marks the fourth of ten books to be released. Others available now are BLED, SHED and DREAD. Look for new ones in 2015 and 2016.
Getting to Know the Author as a Person What do you like to do when you are not writing?
I travel as much as I can and spend time with my crazy kiddos. Readers and friends from social media will likely remember all the posts about the nutty things my kids say. I won’t even mention my wife here. She has her own cult following among my Facebook and Twitter feeds. I have built a lovely studio in my home and use it to write music, paint when I’m able and, yes, nap profusely when the spirit is not moving me otherwise.
What relaxes you when you need to unwind?
Creation of every sort is about the most relaxing thing I can imagine doing. I adore many forms of music and art and, when I’m in the middle of drafting a new book, it’s the greatest escape from life’s stresses. I peel back the page and transport to an entirely new place as I write. The process of uncovering a story is food for my soul.
What are your favorite foods?
I have always loved to travel and try new experiences and dishes wherever I go. Lately, I’ve been on a jag for Eggs Benedict and have been trying that in as many countries and cities as I can. Now, of course, lots
of places don’t have that so I’ve broadened it to ordering eggs prepared in whatever style is most prevalent in the place I’m visiting. It’s really interesting to discover the different cooking methods — not to mention the different kinds of birds’ and lizards’ eggs that have been brought to my table!
Have you ever had any paranormal experiences?
I’ve had what I call ‘inconclusive’ paranormal experiences. Things have happened that, even after intense scrutiny, a rational person might not be able to form a judgment as to whether it was explicable by science or by para-science. Rest assured, all strangeness in my world (paranormal or just odd and intriguing) eventually finds its way into a story or two. Writing, I’ve discovered, has really become my own form of torture, er, I mean self-therapy. I write to understand the events of the world, of peopleand of my own life. Tell us anything you would like your readers to know about Jason McIntyre. I once shared a bottle of expensive red wine with a homeless man. The throat infection I developed the following week nearly put me in the hospital and my health insurance had lapsed so I couldn’t get a scrip for antibiotics. I went through six tubes of topical Polysporin. Yep, I gargled the stuff five times a day until I could see straight again.
Record: 1974-03452 Subject: Zeke <Last Name Redacted> Date: August 31, 1974 Type: psychological assessment Method: audio cassette recording Interviewer’s notes: Zeke seems to be of below average intelligence. My understanding is that he’ll be given comprehensive intelligence and psychological tests upon admittance to a local group home care facility. – CF
Zeke, can you tell me how you feel about your family, now that you’re an adult?
I got me no memory of my Mama. My Daddy, he and I didn’t get along so good. Now we have some good times. He lets me work with him. Least he used to. Now that Chief Birkhead come and get me and start doing his talks with me, I don’t know. I might never do the work with my Daddy again. That mightbe sad.
What do you want from life?
To keep my truck, wash it, and have it nice fer always. I only got a me few scratches and I buffed them out. I’d like to find a purty lady who maybe doesn’t care that my thinker bottle is cracked and don’t work so good no more.
If you were granted three wishes, what would you ask for?
Like a genie in a bottle? I saw that on a tv show once. I Dream a Genie. Let’s see. A shiny bufferin’ machine. For my truck you know. A new poker stick so’s I can reach way down deep into the sewers. For when I’m on duty and the trash pick up on Main street. And maybe, I dunno, maybe I’d like to take a train trip one day. I member going on the little loco-mota when I’s a boy. We got one on the island, you know. Lotsa people don’t know that but we do. It was fun. That big smoke stack going way up and making that big smoke in the air. It was fun and I’d like to get me on a train like that again. What three things would you take to a Desert Island? I dunno, I already live on an island. Dovetail Cove and a bit north of town is the only place I ever been. Hard question. Can I skip it?
In your relationship with others, how are you different with family than you are with friends?
Why? I ain’t never different with nobody. Same Zeke alla time. I hate when people give those fake smiles, you know? Or when they lie to you and you know they lyin but you can’t figure out what to say so that the lie is seen. Fakeness is hard. Same Zeke always. Scout’s honour.
How do you fall in love? At first sight? Over a long period?
<inaudible> <muffled response>
Zeke, can you answer? How do you fall in love? Does it take a long time or happen all at once?
I bin in love a couple times you know. I like it when purty girls laugh. They sound so nice and when Imake em laugh, that’s the best, you know. My Dad says I’m not supposed to talk about bein in love. Guys like Zeke, he says, guys like us, we don’t get to do that.
What parts of loving come easy for you? Hard?
Hard? Like you mean when dem girls do their laughing and my private parts get— <inaudible> No. Kay. Nevermind. I like the talking parts but I’m not so good at them. Making purty girls feel safe – I can do that real good. Really, Mister, if you’re gonna keep asking about lovey-dovey stuff, you gots ta talk to my Dad. He says I’m not supposed to talk about this. I got in trouble a couple times now. Chief said. and when I make em laugh, that’s the best, you know. My Dad says I’m not supposed to talk about bein in love. Guys like Zeke, he says, guys like us, we don’t get to do that.
How do you decide if you can trust someone? Experience with others? With this person? First impressions? Intuition? Do you test the person somehow? Or are you just generally disposed to trust or not to trust?
Trust? I don’t know. What do you mean, trust?
Oh, I don’t know Zeke, I guess I mean, how do you know someone isn’t lying to you?
I never really think about it. Don’t all Mommies and Daddies teach their little ones to tell the truth? Mine did. I always do. Everyone should.
When you walk into a room, what do you notice first? Second?
I was real good at re-doin floors. All kinds of floors. Tile and wood, polish and rug. I like to see how good a floor is and then I think about how I could do it better.
When you walk into a room, what do you expect people to notice about you?
Nobody should look at Zeke. My Daddy told me I ain’t supposed to look at nobody so maybe they shouldna look at me. Describe yourself to me.
Me? I’m strong for my size. I can lift two of me, and I’m real good at looking after Main Street.
Did you turn out the way you expected? The way your parents predicted?
When I was a kid I got hurt real bad. My thinker took to leaking and I don’t imagine anyone knew I wasgonna be like I am. But I can still get by. I do okay. What really moves you, or touches you to the soul? Daddy says we ain’t got no souls. But if I had to say, I’d tell you. Purty girls. When they laugh. That’s what touches Zeke’s soul.
What’s the one thing you have always wanted to do but didn’t/couldn’t/wouldn’t? What would happen if you did do it? My Dad says I’m not supposed to say.
What do you consider are your strengths?
My arms. My back is pretty strong too.
What do you consider are your weaknesses?
Can’t lift much with my pinky fingers. Or my baby toes. They’re the weakest, I bet.
What is one physical attribute you are proud of?
Physical what? I told you about my nice truck, right?
What one physical attribute would you change?
I put two new tires on the back when I saved up enough. I’d change out the front ones if I could afford to.
What do you consider your special talent?
I always do what I say I’m gonna. No one has to guess. Zeke always comes through.
What do you wish your special talent was?
Maybe if I could patch up my thinker. I can see the words. I know what I’m supposed to do and say, butit pours out before the words come to my mouth. Maybe like sand. Or water. If I could patch up m’ thinker, tha’d be good.
What are you most proud of about your life?
You keep asking me that same questions! I told you about my truck, din’t I?
Is there anything you’ve always wanted to do but haven’t done? What would happen if you did it?
This question again. Where’s my Dad? Did he make you ask this one? Trine ta trick me, maybe.
What’s the worst thing you’ve ever done?
Why? I have to go now, okay? I should get back to my job with the town.
Describe your ideal mate.
Please Mister. Can’t we just let Zeke go back to work now…? maybe.
What’s the worst thing you’ve ever done?
Why? I have to go now, okay? I should get back to my job with the town.
Describe your ideal mate.
Please Mister. Can’t we just let Zeke go back to work now…?
What are you most afraid of?
<inaudible> <muffled> Okay. I can’t talk to you anymore. Kay?
Zeke, what’s the most important thing in your life? What do you value most?
<sobbing> Come on, Mister, please, you have to let me go back. I’m gonna get in trouble. I can’t do no more of your questions right now.
How do you feel about your life right now? What, if anything, would you like to change?
Pleeaaase! Let me go! <inaudible> *End of Recording
JASON MCINTYRE is the #1 Kindle Suspense author of THE NIGHT WALK MEN, bestsellers BLED and SHED, plus the multi-layered literary suspense, THALO BLUE. His first novel,ON THE GATHERING STORM, earned a spot in the Top 20 Debut Authors for the Goodreads Choice Awards.McIntyre’s debut novel, ON THE GATHERING STORM was VOTED as one of the TOP 20 DEBUT AUTHORS — Goodreads Choice Awards
Learn more and connect with the author at www.theFarthestReaches.com