Noise by Brett Garcia Rose

noise by Brett Garcia Rose book coverNoise is an action/adventure/mystery novel by Brett Garcia Rose. It was published in June 2014 and is available for sale on Amazon.

 

Synopsis:
The world is an ugly place, and I can tell you now, I fit in just fine.
Lily is the only person Leon ever loved. When she left a suicide note and disappeared into a murky lake ten years ago, she left him alone, drifting through a silent landscape.
Or did she?
A postcard in her handwriting pulls Leon to the winter-cold concrete heart of New York City. What he discovers unleashes a deadly rage that has no sound.
A grisly trail of clues leads to The Bear, the sadistic Russian crime lord who traffics in human flesh. The police—some corrupt, some merely compromised—are of little help. They don’t like Leon’s methods, or the mess he leaves in his wake.
Leon is deaf, but no sane person would ever call him disabled. He survived as a child on the merciless streets of Nigeria. He misses nothing. He feels no remorse. The only direction he’s ever known is forward.
He will not stop until he knows.
Where is Lily?

 

Praise for Noise:
“A staggering, compelling work of fiction…mind-blowingly per- fect. It has everything. Exquisite details, world-weary voice, and people worth knowing. It is truly amazing!” – MaryAnne Kolton, Author and Editor of This Literary Magazine
“Strong, compelling, raw and human in the best sense. Beautifully written.” – Susan Tepper, Author of Deer and Other Stories
“Perfect, compact and explosive, closing with the gentlest word.” – James Lloyd Davis, Author of Knitting the Unraveled Sleeves
“Wow. Beautiful and wonderful and sad and real.” – Sally Houtman, Author of To Grandma’s House, We . . . Stay
“Frighteningly good.” – Meg Pokrass, Author of Bird Envy
“Superbly explosive. The rage escalates and careens out of con- trol. Amazing.” – Ajay Nair, Author of Desi Rap

 

Excerpt from Noise:
Twenty-Eight
The sounds I cannot hear: The whistle of the hammer as it arcs through the air. The wailing of pain and the begging of The Bear. The dripping of blood from thawing meat onto the wet concrete floor. The beautifully crude threats.
My own hideous voice.
I drag The Bear into a walk-in freezer by the hook sunk through his shoulder and toss him into a corner on the floor. When I reenter the freezer, dragging the oak table behind me, The Bear is hard at work on the hook, trying to muscle it out, but it’s sunk deep, through the tendons. Hope is adrenaline, fear masks pain, begging helps no one.
I yank him up by the hook and then hold his hands outstretched, one at a time, as I nail his wrists to the table with railroad spikes. I put all of my 240 pounds behind the hammer, but even so, it takes several swings. His body shakes, the nails sink further into the wood, his face is pain. He screams, but I cannot hear.
The building above burns a deep blue hue with my smuggled-in accelerants.
The sound of the hammer into The Bear. The pain in his eyes. I have never seen so much hatred. It is beautiful to me, to reach this center, this uncomplicated base, to disassemble the past and honor a new history. It is another film, also homemade and rough, an overlay, an epilogue. The Bear is broken but I have spared his face, and to see those eyes, that is what I needed; to see his hatred flow into me, my own eyes sucking down the scum like bathtub drains. His life whirls into me and I taste the fear, the hope, the sharp sting of adrenaline pumping and the reeking muck of despair. His pain soothes me, a slow, thick poison. We will all die.
I know it now; I am a broken man. I always was. I imagine Lily watching me, Lily keeping score, making lists, balancing all. As a child from far away, she was the queen, even more so than her mother. But she didn’t survive. The world was not as we had imagined, not even close. The world is a cruel, bastard place, Lily cold and lost somewhere, me hot and bleeding and swinging my hammer. Life as it is, not as we wish it to be.
The sounds I cannot hear: The laughter of the watchers. The groan of my sister as The Bear cums inside of her, pulling her hair until the roots bleed. The Bear screams and shits himself inside the dark freezer. Lily’s wailing and cursing and crying. I scream at The Bear with all my mighty, damaged voice, swinging the hammer at his ruined hands, hands that will never again touch anyone. Lily at the end, beaten and pissed on and begging to die.
Lily is dead. I am dead. It will never be enough.
I remove the stack of photos from my wallet that I’d printed at the Internet café a lifetime ago and place them face down on the table in front of The Bear. I draw an X on the back of the first photo and turn it over, laying it close to the pulp of his ruined hands.
The Bear offers me anything I want. An animal can feel pain but cannot describe or transmit it adequately. The Bear both is and is not an animal. I lack hearing, so the Bear cannot transmit his experience to me unless I choose to see it. His pain is not my pain, but mine is very much his. I swing the hammer into his unhooked shoulder, and then I draw another X and flip another photo.
His lips move, and I understand what he wants to know. Five photos.
In my notepad, I write: you are a rapist fucking pig. I put the paper into the gristle of his hands and swing the hammer against the metal hook again. It’s a sound I can feel.
Anything, The Bear mouths. He is sweating in the cold air of the freezer. Crying. Bleeding.
In my pad, I write: I want my sister back. I swing the hammer claw-side first into his mouth and leave it there. His body shakes and twitches.
I turn over his photo and write one last note, tearing it off slowly and holding it in front of his face, the handle of the hammer protruding from his jaw like a tusk. You are number four. There are a few seconds of space as the information stirs into him and I watch as he deflates, the skin on his face sagging like a used condom. He knows what I know.
I turn over the last photo for him. I turn it slowly and carefully, sliding it toward him. Victor, his one good son, his outside accomplishment, his college boy, the one who tried to fuck him and they fucked my sister instead.
I remove another mason jar from my bag, unscrewing the metal top and letting the thick fluid flow onto his lap. I wipe my hands carefully and light a kitchen match, holding it in front of his face for a few seconds as it catches fully. He doesn’t try to blow it out. He doesn’t beg me to stop. He just stares at the match as the flame catches, and I drop it onto his lap.
The Bear shakes so hard from the pain that one of his arms rips from the table, leaving a skewer of meat and tendon on the metal spike. I lean into his ear, taking in his sweet reek and the rot of his bowels and, in my own hideous voice, I say:
“Wait for me.”

 

author brett garcia roseAbout the Author:
Brett Garcia Rose is a writer, software entrepreneur, and former animal rights soldier and stutterer. He is the author of two books, Noise and Losing Found Things, and his work has been published in Sunday Newsday MagazineThe Barcelona ReviewOpiumRose and ThornThe Battered SuitcaseFiction AtticParaphilia and other literary magazines and anthologies. His short stories have won the Fiction Attic’s Short Memoir Award (Second Place), Opium’s Bookmark Competition, The Lascaux Prize for Short Fiction, and have been nominated for the Million Writer’s AwardBest of the Net and The Pushcart Prize. Rose travels extensively, but calls New York City home. To learn more, go to www.BrettGarciaRose.com, or connect with Brett on Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads.
For further information, to request a review copy of Noise, or to interview Brett, contact Book Publicity Services at info@bookpublicityservices.com.

 

Twisted by Lola Smirnova

Twisted by Lola SmirnovaInspired by real life events, Twisted is a fascinating story of vulnerability, courage and the art of making a living in the sex trade…
Back in the 90’s, the corrupt post-Soviet Ukraine with its faltering economy, is thrown into a devastating depression. Times are hard. Opportunities are scarce. Three young and eager sisters – Natalia, Lena and Julia – dream of a better life and weigh their options: do they stay and struggle like their parents, or join scores of their compatriots in the sex trade in glittering western European cities, who earn in a night what they’d take several months to earn at home? Naive and tempted by the allure of ‘quick’ money, the girls set off on an adventure that changes their lives forever…
For sensible, resilient and calculating Lena and Natalia, the transition to the underworld of Luxembourg’s deceptive champagne bars is eye-opening, but smooth. But for fragile, brittle Julia, haunted by a childhood assault, the change is more than just vocational. Struggling to adapt, she turns to alcohol and drugs, exposing herself to increasing danger and depravity; and, ultimately, betrayal, when a deceitful client, who claims to love her, drugs her and cleans her out.
Despite her sisters’ best efforts to intervene, she finds herself in Istanbul – culturally a world apart – in an attempt to make back the money and self-respect she’s lost. Vulnerable without the protection of Luxembourg’s champagne bars, she descends into a hell of drugs and high-risk sex until, at the novel’s terrible climax, a kidnapping, brutal assault and one-sided justice system lead to her imprisonment and a threat of deportation.
How will Natalia and Lena save Julia?
Twisted is available for sale on Amazon in ebook and paperback. It is the first book in the trilogy. The second book Craved will be released soon.

 

Praise for Twisted:
“A gripping and mature story deftly woven by Lola Smirnova, “Twisted” is the kind of suspense novel that will linger in the mind and imagination long after it is finished and set back upon the shelf… “Twisted” introduces an extraordinarily gifted author to an appreciative readership looking eagerly toward her next literary effort.” – Midwest Book Review
“Charged with some disturbing sexual scenes (including rape), the book manages a steady, readable flow as it shines a light on the multifaceted world of the European sex trade.”
 – Kirkus
“Smirnova takes us on a philosophical and pseudo-psychological pilgrimage through the sexual underworld as Julia, in first person narrative, describes her struggling introduction into a profession where she can ply the only skills currently marketable.” – 5 star review from Readers’ Favorite
“I highly recommend ‘Twisted’ to open-minded readers who aren’t afraid of a little blood, sweat and semen. It’s sure to shock and surprise you, with both its storyline and its literary value.” – 5 star review from Red City Review
“In the meantime, Smirnova hopes that Twisted will raise awareness to the problems of the sex industry… Kudos to Smirnova for an outstanding job achieving that goal!” – 5 star review from Pacific Book Review
“While the subject matter does not make for a light read, a breezy writing style and Julia’s willingness to fully and shamelessly lift the veil on her controversial lifestyle makes an irresistible combination.”

 

Excerpt from Twisted by Lola Smirnova:
Chapter 1
‘Sag es!’ he screams at me.
The heavy motorcycle helmet is so tightly strapped to my head that I can hear the blood rushing through my ears. The smell of stale sweat reeks from the worn padding inside it. I struggle to swallow. A drop of spit runs down the ball gag that has been shoved into my mouth, then down my chin, and drips onto the couch beneath my knees. My shoulders are screaming from the pull of the handcuffs, which force my hands together behind my back.
He stands in the middle of the small and gloomy room and I can see the outline of his large body. Two bloodshot eyes are firmly fixed on my exposed nipples. A fleshy tongue slides backwards and forwards through the gap in his teeth. He licks the sweat off his lips, moans, and starts rubbing his groin, rocking his wide hips back and forth. He increases the pace, while his moans get louder and louder. Next, he stops abruptly, moving his eyes from my chest to my face, scowls, and takes a few menacing steps towards me. I shrink instinctively, tensing my body …
‘I know him. Don’t be scared Jul. He’s a bit strange, but a harmless motherfucker.’ That is what my sister, Natalia, managed to whisper in my ear half an hour ago, before I followed this freak, with the brain bucket in his hand, upstairs.
Natalia and I were sitting at the bar counter when he walked in. He didn’t even have a drink; just stepped in the door, looked around, stopped his stare at me, and mumbled, ‘I want you. Let’s go.’
‘It’s time to work!’ teased Natalia. Her naughty look followed us all the way up the stairs.
‘Sag es!’ the crack-head screams again, which I think means ‘say it’ in Luxembourgish or German.
He grunts, and with a wild thrust shoves his hips right into my face. He doesn’t even bother to take his jeans off. A quick unzip and he pulls out a flaccid penis, puts one foot up on the couch and starts violently pumping it, so close that his clenched palm is punching the helmet. Lucky for me the visor is shut.
I sigh deeply and try to shift on the couch to get rid of the cramps, which start crawling up my legs and back.
A bit strange? Come on, Natalia! You could call him anything – cracked, insane, alien on Earth – but hardly ‘a bit strange’!
I glance at the half-empty bottle of champagne seductively chilling in the ice bucket. If I’d known what Natalia had meant by ‘a bit strange’, I would have finished it before he handcuffed me and shoved the damn ball into my jaws.
‘Sag es!’ brings me out of my thoughts again.
I peep at his red face … What the hell does this crack-head think he is doing? I wouldn’t even call it masturbation! He tortures his penis in a spasmodic exertion. The awful tongue tossing in his distorted mouth, the dark brown hair stuck to the film of sweat on his broad brow, and the whimpering noises coming out of his fat body make a disgusting spectacle.
‘Sag es!’
According to the instructions he gave me before we started this session, I was supposed to say ‘I love you, I forgive you’ through the gag.
I wonder what my seventh-grade teacher would say if she walked in the door right now? She always believed in me and encouraged: ‘You are going to come out on top, Julia …’ Good shot, Anna Ivanovna. You were pretty close!
He shuts his eyes and wrinkles his forehead in concentration. Frustrated, he drops his limp penis and squats next to the small table in the centre of the room. He pauses only to wipe the trickle of sweat from his forehead. Then he quickly snorts the line of blow on the glass table, and doesn’t get up for a while, staring deadpan at the wall.
Hey, fat boy, get on with it so we can have some together after this. I think I deserve a little pick-me-up for my efforts here.
I wonder what could possibly have happened to turn his grey matter inside out like this. A few hours later, when I kick my ‘labour hour’ around with the girls, they will tell me some rumours about him having had a motorbike accident. Apparently, he was riding ‘under the influence’ with his fiancée in tow. She died there on the street, in his arms, in a puddle of mud. With the last beats of her heart, he stared at her wide-open eyes, full of terror, and at her bleeding lips that breathed in agony: ‘Please, baby, I don’t want to die.’
I shudder. I don’t know if he was injured in the accident, but after this short time we’ve spent together I can assure you that his brain was nowhere to be found after that crash.
‘Sag es!’
Yeah, whatever …
He finally comes back to the couch, pulling and beating his poor half-dead cock in front of my plastic shield. I try to say what he demands – anything to get this over and done with, and me out of here – but ‘I love you’, that forms beautifully in my throat, dissolves into an incoherent mumble as it hits the ball.
His small eyes devour every inch of my naked body, which is truly just skin and bone with boyish nipples where there are supposed to be breasts. The only reason why any man would choose to fuck me (aside from being a paedophile, of course) would be my big blue eyes and long blonde hair.
‘Sag es!’
His whole face is scrunched up in an ugly leer and his bottom lip is quivering as he makes a weird whining noise.
Oh please! Don’t tell me you are going to cry now! Pathetic, sick, even disturbing, but not just ‘a bit strange’, Natalia?!
He keeps on yanking and jerking and thrusting like a maniac – harder and harder. He’s going to pull that thing off if he doesn’t stop!
‘Sag es! Sag es!’ he whines over and over, then forcefully flips the visor up and pulls the bottom of the helmet so close that his soft crotch hits my face. I shut my eyes a second before the first squirt of semen hits them.
‘It’s over’ slips with warmth and ease into my head, then streams down through my body, echoing the semen on my face. My eyes are closed but I can still hear him sobbing, sniffling and mumbling.
I can’t believe this fucker just ruined my make-up!
All I’ve got from this pathetic episode is an experience I will never be able to share with my grandchildren and €60 with no promise of a tip.

 

About the Author:
Lola Smirnova is an author from Ukraine. She loves twisting a suspenseful tale through the dark lens of realism around the sexual underworld, so clocked in secrecy and shame. Lola’s work is inspired by real-life events and is meant for the open-minded readers who are not afraid of a little blood, sweat and semen.
Her debut novel Twisted was released in 2014. The book placed as Honorable Mention in General Fiction Category of The 2014 London Book Festival’s Annual Competition.
Whether you prefer to slide your finger across a touchscreen or turn a paper page, Lola’s thrilling tales will surely shock and surprise you, with both its storyline and its literary value.
Now living in South Africa, Lola is about to release her second novel – a sequel to Twisted – Craved, which proves just how many fascinating stories she has to share about the ordinary women in the global sex industry.
To learn more, go to LolaSmirnova.com
For further information, to request a review copy of Twisted, or to interview Lola, contact Book Publicity Services at info@bookpublicityservices.com.

 

Destiny’s Anvil: A Tale of Politics, Payback & Pigs by Steven Wells Hicks

Destiny's Anvil Book CoverNew Orleans novelist Steven Wells Hicks recently published his latest novel Destiny’s Anvil: A Tale of Politics, Payback & Pigs. 
Destiny’s Anvil is a classic tale of revenge between a sociopathic politician and the campaign puppet master who unleashes him
 on the people of Louisiana. Written from an insider’s experiences in the back rooms of hardball Dixie politics where cold-blooded payback 
is coin of the realm, Destiny’s Anvil is at once a sharp-eyed examination of the seamy underside of America’s elections and a freewheeling yarn in the grand Southern tradition.

 

Synopsis:
Will Guidry’s career as a backwater lawyer is going nowhere until he has a couple of beers with up-and-coming political operative Tucker Callahan, whose family’s petrochemical fortune instills in him a confidence bordering on hubris. As Tucker explains to his rudderless brother, Carter, “Guidry and I made a deal because he needed a miracle and I wanted to play God.”
Guidry rides Tucker’s political horse sense into the office of Louisiana’s Attorney General, while Tucker capitalizes on Guidry’s victory to bolster his own political reputation. But what should become a powerful alliance deteriorates into a bitter feud when Guidry tries to flex his political muscle and Tucker suspects he may have maneuvered a calculating sociopath into the marble halls of power.
Caught in the crossfire is Carter, the story’s narrator. Devastated by betrayal at the hands of his brother and the woman he loved for a lifetime, a brooding Carter remains content to watch the power struggle between Tucker and Guidry from the sidelines. Everything changes when he stumbles on the charismatic attorney general committing a monstrous crime, and finds himself drawn into the vortex of his brother’s private war.
Racing from a bungled execution through ruthless political payback and a no-holds-barred courtroom showdown, before culminating in a bloodbath by the side of a bayou, the stakes continue to rise and Carter finds his small-town naiveté peeling away. Replacing it is a mounting dread of what will happen when the hammer of Fate meets destiny’s anvil.
Destiny’s Anvil was published in June 2014 and is available for sale on Amazon.

 

Excerpt from Destiny’s Anvil:
THE MERCURY WAS STILL HOVERING ABOVE NINETY when the three of us rolled up to the first set of gates at the state penitentiary in Angola. Climbing out of my car, I glanced toward the sun dropping over the cotton, bean and sweet potato fields that stretched unbroken toward the horizon. I wondered if the hapless bastard who had fewer than fifteen minutes left was gazing out a window, watching the last day of his life ebb toward eternal darkness.
I didn’t want to be there. I was twenty-six years old, secure in the prospect of at least fifty more years of a generous life, and didn’t want to see a man put to death before my eyes, no matter what he did. My brother Tucker had tried to worm his way out of witnessing the execution as well, but he couldn’t come up with an excuse that Will Guidry might buy. We both knew that over the previous fourteen years Will had worked up a hankering for blood that eclipsed any reverence he ever may have held for justice.
Two guards checked our names against their clipboard, opened the back doors of a cruiser and we got in. Without a word, they drove us through the prison compound to the no-frills building where Louisiana’s executions were carried out. We were led through several sets of barred doors until we reached a stark room with two rows of wooden chairs at one end and the electric chair at the other, maybe fifteen feet apart, maybe less.
The drifter who had raped and smothered Will’s kid brother Robby in the clearing of a cane field was already strapped into the chair and an electrode was being attached to his left calf. He watched the process, showing no emotion beyond detached curiosity. His expression didn’t change as his shaved head was straightened and a man wearing a threadbare black suit put a moistened sponge on the crown of his head and covered it with a metal skullcap. His eyes never wavered as he declined to buy final seconds with last words.
Father had told Tuck and me about how the dog, after nosing the sneaker around the drainage ditch, took off through the canebrake, how the three men looked at each other and started working their way into the thicket behind the dog, their hands and forearms collecting nicks and scratches as they hacked through the stalks of cane, how they were barely twenty yards into the cane when they heard the single bark followed by whimpers. I was later told that my father had been the first of the three to make it into the clearing, and that once he realized what he had stumbled upon, the only thing he could whisper was, “Oh, Jesus.” The dog’s chin was between its forepaws, and inches from the tip of its nose lay the second sneaker, still on the foot of Robby Guidry’s lifeless body. Even in the rose light of fading afternoon, the sock on the boy’s other foot glowed white, in stark relief from the blue jeans that had been yanked down to his ankles. A rivulet of blood had seeped out of his rectum, and was drying halfway down his left thigh. Once his face was pulled out of the mud into which it had been pressed, the parish coroner said he wouldn’t be able to tell if Robby had been strangled or forcibly drowned in mud until he got the body hosed off for the autopsy.
While the warden read the sentence in a bland monotone, the drifter’s eyes scanned across the faces on our side of the room. I felt myself shudder when his eyes locked on mine. He looked at me for an eternity that lasted less than a second, and my eyes followed his as he shifted them to his left and into the steady eyes of Will Guidry. Will’s face was stone except for the slightest movement of his lips, and I heard him whisper, “Fry in hell, dickhead.” Even though I knew there was no way the drifter could hear Will at that distance, I swear I saw him smirk at Will as a sweating guard stretched a black blindfold across his eyes before knotting it against the back of his skull.
The warden nodded his head and the electricity rocketed through the convict with the hiss and crackle of bacon in a dime store skillet. His hands tensed into claws as he dug his nails into the arms of the chair and his body thrashed against the leather restraints until thirty seconds had passed and the current was switched off. The silence was thick and underlined by the stench of smoldering flesh.
A doctor with a stethoscope moved toward the convict, but stopped once he realized the body would need a few seconds to cool down enough to touch. I let my held breath release and was gulping for any whisper of sweet evening air when the doctor looked at the warden and said, “He isn’t dead.”
Robby Guidry was only the murderer’s first victim. Three months after her son’s desecrated corpse had been discovered in the cane field, a disconsolate Marie Guidry had shoved her head in the family oven and turned on the gas. Having lost his wife and younger son within less than one hundred days of each other, Frank Guidry’s drinking ran away from him until the day that an increasingly withdrawn Will showed up at school with a shiner everyone couldn’t help but notice. The news of Will’s black eye hit my father particularly hard. Father was a good neighbor, the kind of man who always kept jumper cables in his trunk or saw to it that your garden was watered if you’d gone out of town and forgotten to ask anyone for help. I knew for a fact that Father felt acutely sorry for Will Guidry when he stepped up his regular prodding of both Tucker and me to spend more time and behave like brothers from the womb with Will. But Tuck was better at being an openhearted brother than I ever was, and as Tuck and Will became more like actual brothers, Tuck and I became less.
The second jolt was set to last a full minute, but I doubt thirty seconds had gone by when tongues of orange flame blazed from beneath the skullcap, followed by billows of steam and acrid smoke. A urine stain spread across the front of his pants, his skin bloomed scarlet as the temperature rose, and his body swelled to the point his flesh began to split. Blood streamed from his nose and mouth, and the smell of sizzling flesh mixed with the stink of where he’d fouled himself. I was ready to scream for someone to cut off the power for God’s sake when the room went silent except for the retching coming from Tucker as he lurched forward and vomit spattered on the waxed linoleum floor.
After letting the lifeless body cool, the doctor listened to his stethoscope, nodded and read the time off the wall clock in the death chamber. Two guards wheeled in a wobbly cart, on top of which was a state-issue coffin covered with a cheap, nubby fabric, while a third guard started to absentmindedly whistle between his teeth as he unbuckled the restraints. We were herded out with the other witnesses and taken back to our car at the prison’s main gate as the evening’s first stars pierced the twilight.
The emotional canyon separating me from Tuck had widened during our time at LSU, and I was neither surprised nor disappointed, in fact I was relieved, when Will Guidry realized he’d find more butter on my brother’s side of the bread than he ever would on mine. Hell, Will glommed so close to Tucker that people on campus started to snicker that Tuck was having the devil of a time trying to figure out how he might ever separate himself from his Siamese twin.
Following graduation, Tucker and Will had set off in search of stars beyond their reach while I returned home to New Acadia, a house that had grown empty during my time away and no prospects for any kind of meaningful work.
None of us had said the first word to each other since we pulled up at Angola, and I didn’t think any of us knew what to say after what we’d just witnessed. I glanced at the rearview mirror expecting to see a brooding Will Guidry, only to find one who was downright chipper as he said, “That was great. Let’s go find us someplace to eat.”

 

Steven Wells HicksAbout the Author:
Steven Hicks came to Mississippi in 1974 and spent the next quarter century writing for various advertising agencies, including his own. He wrote commercials and print ads about hot dogs and other baloney, used cars, barbecue shacks, sunscreen, banks galore, white bread, undertakers, churches, casinos, turkey calls, finger-lickin’ chicken and symphony orchestras. Some of the work was thoughtful. Some was funny. Most was neither.
During that period of time, he earned the enmity of his competitors and peers by being named Mississippi’s top copywriter nine times, winning six certificates of excellence in the International CLIO Awards, over 150 ADDY Awards, Radio Mercury honors and being included in Who’s Who in American Advertising.
A major portion of his advertising and marketing income came through his work as a political consultant, engineering the media and messaging efforts for more than six dozen campaigns, culminating with the POLLIE Award for best statewide/national commercial from the American Association of Political Consultants in 1989.
While the embarrassing abundance of honors mean next to nothing to Hicks, the education he got through the process meant everything. He learned how to write what people like. He learned to write with economy and clarity, because consumers won’t buy things from long-winded peddlers of perplexity. He learned when words have to be polished and when they’re best left plain.
Through it all, people kept telling Hicks he should write books and he kept saying, “Maybe one day,” until the day came when a near-fatal stroke in 1997 forced him into an eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation with his own mortality, and he realized he wanted to be remembered for something more consequential than gimmicky commercials.
There was only one hitch. The stroke had taken away his ability to read.
For the next thirteen months, Hicks stubbornly stared at newspaper letters until he could form words, read sentences, then paragraphs, and finally had the ability to once again read novels, albeit at a far slower pace and with cognitive problems enhanced by lingering reading difficulties stemming from alexia, an aphasia problem caused by brain lesions.
It made the headstrong Hicks more determined than ever to take a shot at those novels people had been encouraging him to write for years.
Ten years and eleven revisions later came his debut novel, The Gleaner, a trans-racial romance set in a sleepy Mississippi whistle-stop. In a competition of 5,000 entries, The Gleaner was named a quarter-finalist in Amazon.com’s prestigious “Breakthrough Novel” competition. Upon its heels came two comic novels in 2009, The Fall of Adam, a satire of Deep South advertising, and Horizontal Adjustment, a farce about sexual escapades among competitors for a news anchor position in a tank town television station along the Florida Panhandle.
Deciding to take a breather from novels, Hicks started publishing New Orleans restaurant guidebooks on an annual basis in 2011, all of which have become mainstays on Amazon.com’s list of the 100 top-selling books about world dining.
In May of 2014, Hicks published his fourth novel, Destiny’s Anvil, which marked a stark departure from the breezy style of his earlier works.
“The final product is the polar opposite of the novel’s original intent. It is dark, violent bordering on savage, as it strips away the veneers of not only politicians, but the entire American political system. At the same time, it moves with the furious pace of a thriller overflowing with cliffhangers,” says Hicks.
Steven Wells Hicks currently resides in New Orleans. To learn more, go to StevenWellsHicks.com, or connect with Steven on Twitter.
For further information, to request a review copy of Destiny’s Anvil, or to set up an interview or appearance by Steven Wells Hicks, contact Book Publicity Services at info@bookpublicityservices.com.