Friday, 6 May 2016

Population by Elizabeth Stephens

Elizabeth Stephens was born in Baltimore, Maryland but has since lived in Atlanta, Seattle, Washington D.C., Cairo, Amman, Paris, Beirut, and Geneva. Elizabeth currently lives in Johannesburg with her boyfriend and Zurg, a fat cat she stole from her neighbors.

Elizabeth began writing at the age of 10. She later was able to translate these skills into work as a political correspondent and travel writer during her time in the Middle East and North Africa. Her true passion however, still remained in the realm of fiction.

Being a fan of the macabre, Elizabeth's first published pieces were horror stories that featured in several ezines and online magazines. She then combined her love of horror with a soft spot for all things romantic and produced Population, her first full length, adult fiction title published by Vantage Point Books in April 2015. The second and final installment to the Population series, Saltlands, is scheduled for release in May 2016.

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About the Book


The day the sky ripped open and the Others descended on Earth marked the beginning of the World After. Twelve years later and violence is Abel’s native tongue in a world run by monsters, ravaged by gangs, and fueled by the desperation of hunger. The list of rules she lives by keeps her among the few humans left living, but when her best friend’s daughter is taken by one of the Others, Abel discovers that to get her back she’ll have to break them all.

Rule number five: run.

But she doesn’t even though blood bastes the scene and one of the Others is still breathing. In a jolt of irrational inquiry, Abel takes something so precious from one of the Others as he clings to life.

Rule number three: don’t get personal.

When he hunts her down to retrieve what she has taken, violence brings them together in an unlikely alliance and she quickly realizes that in order to get her best friend’s daughter back, she’ll have to trust one of the Others.

Rule number one: never hope.

Unused to foreign concepts like friendship and trust, Abel is wary when the Other drags her into his world and offers her something she didn’t think existed in the World After: hope.

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Keep reading for an excerpt:


He cocks his head and for a second I think he’s really considering my offer. Then his eyes look past me, becoming distant. “I’d prepare yourself. It looks like we’re about to have guests.”

I don’t hear anything myself and even though I don’t trust him, I at least trust his hearing. I curse under my breath and reach for the sword even though it’s closer to him than I care to be. I grunt as I pull, but nothing happens. Grunting louder, pulling harder, I’m still not making much progress until I feel his rough hand close around mine. I hold my breath, preparing to defend myself, but when I glance at his face I see that he’s watching me and though I can’t name the emotion I see in his dark eyes, it’s not homicidal. At least. He gives the sword one swift jerk and hands it back to me.

I don’t know what to say, so I stand over him and mutter, “Just try and look dead or something.”

He closes his eyes and lies back on the floor with a groan. “Shouldn’t be too difficult.”

I have half a mind to laugh at his calm, especially given that he’s mortally injured and in enemy territory, but I’m distracted from the impetus by distant hollering. “Gangs,” I whisper, gritting my teeth.

“Gang,” he corrects, “just one.”

I look down at him. His eyes are closed and a slash of moonlight cuts across his blood-covered chest to reveal no less than half a dozen gaping, bloody mounds. Bullet holes that haven’t closed up yet. Other than that, he’s got the body of a regular human guy. Well, minus the fact that he’s ripped beyond belief and also glowing. Yeah, so there’s that… The moonlight helps disguise what is very definitely a faint orange light emanating from the space over his heart. I watch it for a moment and notice that it seems to pulse at a slow, but steady metronome. I tilt my head to the left and watch the way the light flares and dies then flares again. It fascinates me for longer than it should. Also because it’s warm. His entire chest emits a faint heat that I find intoxicating.

“Yes?” He catches me watching him, so I straighten up quickly. Too quickly.

I look away from him and am fleetingly thankful for the darkness, which I hope disguises my blush. All business, I ask him, “Can you hear them from here?”
He tilts his head to the left, as if he’s considering lying to me, then in the end decides against it. “Yes.”

“How many are there?”

He pauses, as if to think. “Seven, maybe eight.”

“Any women?” When I speak my voice is an entire octave higher.

“No.” And I shudder as his tone dips and chills, becoming as icy as the night air around us. “But I will not allow them to dishonor you. Kill you, perhaps. But dishonor you, no.”

I make a sound like a horse. “Well that’s comforting,” I say. The funny thing, is that it is.

He cocks his head towards the furthest room at the end of the hall. “You’d best be going.” And just as he says that, I hear the unmistakable crunch of porcelain on the first floor.

An excited voice calls into the space, “Johnny, I’m home.”

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