Today I would like to welcome you all on my stop of the Blog Tour for Blackwood By Michael Farris Smith and I would like to share an exclusive extract, with all of you. Thank you very much to Anne from Random Things Tours for the invitation. Please do show some love to all the wonderful book bloggers on this blog tour by following and sharing their work. 🙂
Publisher: No Exit Press
Release date: 19 03 2020
Price*: Kindle £5.63 (GBP)/ Paperback £10.19 (GBP)
Kindle $7.08 (USD)/ Paperback $13.74 (USD)
Pages: ~ 256
You can get this book here:
Description of the book: The small town of Red Bluff, Mississippi, has seen better days, but now seems stuck in a black-and-white photograph from days gone by. Unknowing, the town and its people are about to come alive again, awakening to nightmares, as ghostly whispers have begun to fill the night from the kudzu-covered valley that sits on the edge of town.
When a vagabond family appears on the outskirts, when twin boys and a woman go missing, disappearing beneath the vines, a man with his own twisted past struggles to untangle the secrets in the midst of the town trauma.
This is a landscape of fear and ghosts, of regret and violence. It is a landscape transformed by the kudzu vines that have enveloped the hills around it, swallowing homes, cars, rivers, and hiding terrible secrets deeper still. Blackwood is the evil in the woods, the wickedness that lurks in all of us.
Colburn was standing with his mother in the kitchen when she said go fetch your father. The long light of an August day bleeding through the windows. His face and hands dirty from playing football in the neighbor’s yard. His mother wiped the sweat from his face with a dishtowel. Held his chin in her hand and gazed at him. You’ll be twelve soon. I can’t believe it. He asked where his father was and she said out back in the workshop. Go tell him it’s time for supper. The boy noticed the empty bottle on the counter, beneath the high cabinet where his father kept his whiskey, and he picked up the bottle and unscrewed the cap and sniffed and it burned through his nose and his mother laughed when he winced and then told him that should teach you all you need to know about that stuff. Don’t ever bother with it. Not now not ever. And then the smile left her face and her eyes drifted out of the kitchen window and into the backyard. Her eyes drifted toward the workshop where his father hid most days when he came home from work. Sometimes the buzz of a saw or pounding of a hammer but mostly silence from the workshop. Her eyes drifted and an emptiness came across her face.
She lowered her eyes. Turned on the faucet and washed her hands. Closed her eyes and touched her wet fingertips to her eyelids and held them there, drops of water running down her wrists and from her cheeks and so silent as she paused with her fingers against her eyelids as if commanding time and space to wait for her. Only wait for her for a moment until she was ready again. Colburn knew to leave her alone when she was like this and he backed out of the kitchen and walked across the backyard. He called for his dad before he got there. It’s time to eat. Momma said come on. Sometimes he liked going into the workshop. When the radio was playing and his father was sweating in the middle of some time killing project and his father would let him drive a nail or wipe a paintbrush and there was a calm in his father then that he recognized at no other time. Random specks of light against the darkness he carried. And because of this darkness he did not like going into the workshop when there was no sound. Because that was when he would find his father sitting in a folding chair, hunched over with his elbows resting on his knees and a bottle hanging from his hand and blood red eyes and the voice of some other man saying to him, what do you want? Huh? What the hell do you want? And he would back out of the open door and turn and go inside as quickly as he could and say to his mother he’s not ready to come in yet and then it would be the next day at the breakfast table before he saw his father again.
On this day there was no sound but he was still running for touchdowns in his mind when he came to the door of the workshop. He reached for the handle but then he paused. Wondered why the door was closed in the heavy heat and he peeked through the slats of the door and saw only shadow. He looked over his shoulder toward the kitchen window and his mother moved back and forth, setting the table and pouring tea into ice filled glasses and he touched his hand to the door handle again and he pulled the door open. He reached inside the door to turn on the light switch but that was when he heard the grunting and the exit of breath. Slices of daylight between the wall planks that cut across his wrestling father as he swung from the ceiling beam of the shed, his ankles bent like a ballerina’s and his toes batting against the top of a stool and his face red and spit down the sides of his mouth as the noose squeezed his throat. The boy’s eyes went wide and he stepped back and hit his head against the doorframe and his father grunted and choked and smacked at his own throat and face and tried to say something but he could only wave the boy toward him. He waved the boy toward him and Colburn came forward and from a small stack of bricks in the corner of the shed he grabbed two and set them on top of the stool and tried to set his father’s feet upon them but his father kicked the bricks away. Slapped at the back of Colburn’s head and with another quick wave he motioned him away. Motioned to the other side of the workshop and tried to communicate some impossible message but he was only grunting and spitting and dying. The tips of his toes tapping against the top of the stool and this great moment of indecision and Colburn stared up at his father and into his bulging eyes. He didn’t run or scream, as if invisible hands covered his mouth and held him by the shoulders and arms. The ceiling beam creaked with the weight of his father struggling against time and gravity and the dust danced in the slanting light. And then Colburn jerked his head and jerked his shoulders as if to break free from hands that held him and he surged forward and kicked the stool out from under his father.
He backed away. Met his father’s eyes one last time. And then he stepped out of the workshop, closing the door behind him. He stood in the yard. Watching his mother move from the stove to the table, oven mitts on her hands and holding a casserole dish. She set the dish in the middle of the table and then she looked out of the window. Caught Colburn staring at her and she gave him a half smile, a half smile he had seen many times that was a poor mask for sadness and when there was silence inside the workshop, he crossed the yard and went inside to get her.
About the author: Michael Farris Smith is the author of The Fighter, Desperation Road, Rivers, and The Hands of Strangers. He has been awarded the Mississippi Author Award for Fiction, Transatlantic Review Award, and Brick Streets Press Story Award. His novels have appeared on Best of the Year lists with Esquire, Southern Living, Book Riot, and numerous others, and have been named Indie Next List, Barnes & Noble Discover, and Amazon Best of the Month selections. He has been a finalist for the Southern Book Prize, the Gold Dagger Award in the UK, and the Grand Prix des Lectrices in France, and his essays have appeared with The New York Times, Bitter Southerner, Writer’s Bone, and more. He lives in Oxford, Mississippi, with his wife and daughters.
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