10 Statements – Ju Ephraime

Ju Ephraime writes steamy high heat romances, packed with emotions and strong alpha characters and always a wonderful, happy ever after. She has won several awards for her writing, and had even seconded in Amazon Breakthrough Novel Contest, with her White Magic Woman. When not writing romance novels, Ju could be found writing children’s books, which includes her, Too-Clever series, a collection of ten children stories. Ju writes her children’s stories under, Dr. Julia E. Antoine. These days she stays busy helping in the community and donating her services to a not-for-profit organization, which she helped establish. Presently, she resides in CT where she has lived with her family for the past thirty years. She still misses her time on the sunny Caribbean islands, but takes pleasure in using them as backdrops to some of her stories.

Find me…







My personal motto:

I don’t have a motto.


10 statements
  1. A typical (work) day begins with… me having a cup of coffee, checking my email accounts, I have several. I will then promote my books for a couple hours before I settle down to write for a bit.
  2. I lose track of time… when I’m reading an interesting book.
  3. I have always… been an avid reader.
  4. I have never… written a YA fantasy story.
  5. Home means to me… being with my family and familiar things.
  6. I am inspired by… the opportunities available for independent publishers and authors.
  7. I would like to meet…
  8. My worst character trait… is stubbornness.
  9. My best character trait… is staying the course. I believe if I commit to doing something, I want to see it to the end.
  10. The best advice I was given… is to do the best I can  with the cards I was dealt.

A Love Relentless

Elizabeth Johansen lives her life by a specific code of values. She has worked hard to obtain everything she owns, and she wants nothing from anyone. But now, she faces a dilemma when an unexpected inheritance from her Great-aunt Edna forces her to reexamine her values and embrace the culture she has long since forsaken.

Rohan is the son of an Athabaskan chief. At twenty-six, he is more focused on amassing his fortune and preserving the land of his ancestors. So, when he learns the large parcel of acreage adjourning his property has been left to a woman who has no interest in preserving their customs, he sets out to convince her to sell.

But Rohan finds the independent beauty irresistible and sets out to win her. Elizabeth, proud and self-sufficient, soon discovers that the man of her dreams is part of the culture she abandoned. Can they each find a way to meet the other halfway between his life and hers?

Print length:  392 pages

Published:  2017-12-19

Buy links (E-books):  books2read.com/u/ml59pq





10 Statements – Mandy Jackson-Beverly @MJacksonBeverly


Mandy Jackson-Beverly was born in the bustling town of Pyramid Hill, Victoria, Australia … Population: 419. This remote childhood kick-started Mandy’s imagination, as did the rugged coastline and rolling hills of Tasmania, where her family relocated when she was four years old.

In 1982, Mandy moved to London, where she discovered the importance of the creative collective: The 1980s fashion scene. A year later, in Los Angeles, she found her own creative freedom among the thriving, no-holds-barred visionaries of the music video world. As a costume designer and stylist Mandy worked for photographer Herb Ritts, and directors Joel and Ethan Coen, David Fincher, and Julien Temple, and music icons David Bowie, Madonna, and Tina Turner, to name a few.

Mandy has taught Advanced Placement Art, written and directed high school theater productions, is a contributor to The Huffington Post, a book reviewer for The New York Journal of Books, and the author of A Secret Muse, and The Devil And The Muse. She resides in Ojai, California, with her husband, Brian Beverly, a crossed-eyed cat, Luna, a dog named Cash and, sometimes, her sons, Angus and Jack.

Find me…

Website:  https://mandyjacksonbeverly.com/
Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14424944.Mandy_Jackson_Beverly

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/MJacksonBeverly

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/asecretmuse/

Instagram:  https://www.instagram.com/mandyjacksonbeverly/


My personal mottos:

“Without courage, all is lost.”
“Make chocolate, not war.”

10 statements
  1. A typical (work) day begins with… Cash, my dog, taking me for a walk.
  2. I lose track of time constantly.
  3. I have always… loved chocolate.
  4. I have never… danced naked on the Ponte Vecchio.
  5. Home means to me… family, pets, and nature, and dark chocolate, and coffee…
  6. I am inspired by… everything around me.
  7. I would like to meet… Lorenzo de Medici.
  8. My worst character trait… never letting go.
  9. My best character trait… never giving up.
  10. The best advice I was given… “Follow your heart.”

A Secret Muse (The Creatives Series Book 1)

UCLA art professor Coco Rhodes knows little about her family’s association with the ancient clandestine organization The Allegiance and wants to keep it that way. She dislikes secrets–they’re a painful reminder of her childhood experiences that were erased as a result of her parents’ tragic deaths when she was four years old.

After a brutal attempt on her life, and the arrival of a birthday letter from her dead mother, Coco demands explanations from her brother, Christopher, a high-powered D.C. lawyer and member of the Allegiance.

Christopher guides Coco to her birthplace, Italy, insisting she’ll find her answers there. Enter the enigmatic Gabriel, a powerful warlock with a vampire father, and the ethereal Prudence, keeper of the Allegiance.

When a close friend is murdered, Coco’s life takes a dark turn. With only a faded portrait torn from a lost sketchbook, and one of her mother’s unfinished paintings, Coco unravels clues from her past, in the hope of saving those she loves.

Murder, mystery and the occult come together in this exciting supernatural thriller that will grab you from the very first page!

Print length:  300 pages
Published:  2016-02-01
Buy linksbooks2read.com/u/4XolBg

The Devil And The Muse (The Creatives Series Book 2)

An ancient curse.
A forgotten love.
A painting with secrets only one woman can reveal.

In this fast-paced second installment of The Creatives Series, Creative (mystic artist) Coco Rhodes is surprised by a horrific vision beneath her most recent painting: the violent attack upon a fragile young girl. When a link is discovered between an education-finance fraud and several girls disappearing from Washington, D.C. schools, Coco’s lover and leader of the Allegiance, the vampire-warlock Gabriel, vows to rescue the girls, and topple a corrupt congressman. Concurrently, the dark and twisted past of Kenan, the Allegiance’s sworn enemy, is revealed. With Kenan’s whereabouts unknown, members of the Allegiance begin to unravel his sadistic plan.

From New York and D.C., to Tuscany and the Dolomite Mountains of Northern Italy, the supernatural guardians of the Allegiance are guided by both the lessons of history and the shocks of present-day life. Through magical twists and otherworldly subplots, this supernatural thriller weaves a web of intrigue, love, and conflict. In The Devil and the Muse, Coco’s sense of duty to the Allegiance is tested. But will protecting her loved ones cause her to sacrifice her humanity?

Print length:  284 pages
Published:  2017-06-12
Buy links:  books2read.com/u/4NRlrG



10 Statements – Sybrina Durant


I’m Sybrina … Just one of millions of wannabe author/singer/songwriters out there but I hope, after reading or hearing my books and songs, you’ll think my contributions to the world have as much value as any other famous artist out there today.

Fame is all in being in the right place at the right time but at least with the internet and venues like this, all of us have opportunities to share our creativity with the world. I’m so happy that I am able to share my works with you. That is awesome!

The books I’ve written span a wide range between illustrated picture books, coloring books and YA novels to technical and how-to books. If you’re so inclined you can read a little bit about the inspiration for each one below.

My latest effort is The Blue Unicorn’s Journey To Osm. It is a book I started writing 30 something years ago and never finished. At the time, it was meant to be an epic fantasy along the lines of novels written by Tolkien, Piers Anthony, Ursula K. Le Guin and other amazing fantasy writers. I’ve pulled out my notes, dusted off the outline and began rewriting and expanding upon the 50 pages I had began. This story is now available as an Illustrated Book for teens and older readers in full color and in black and white, too. The black and white version is a “Read and Color” book. Read a chapter, then color the following pages. How fun is that? There is also a picture book for pre-schoolers called Unicorns From Unimaise – The Magical Metal-Horn Trobe. A longer version of the chapter book will soon be available as an Illustrated Novel with a companion glossary called, The Marbryn Compendium. All of the fantastic fantasy illustrations are by Dasguptarts. There is also a companion coloring/character description book, edited by Calyie Martin. It will introduce potential readers to the myriad of characters, places and things in the story.


Find me…

Amazon Author Central –

YouTube (Book Trailers) –

Facebook –

Google+ –

Instagram –

Twitter –

Pinterest –

Zazzle –

Website –
http://www.sybrinablueunicornbook.com/ and

Goodreads –


My personal mottoes:

“Help yourself.” – More on that in statement 10.
“Just Do It!” – I always loved that Nike commercial. I’m sure it motivated lots of people in a multitude of ways.
“Teach a child a task in a fun way and they will remember it forever.”


10 statements
  1. A typical (work) day begins with… writing or marketing my books for 30 minutes to an hour each morning before I go off to my 10 hour a day “real job” at an engineering company. Twelve hours later I arrive back home and jump right back on my computer to write or promote the different books that I am involved with. Many authors find themselves in the exact same circumstances these days because until book sales pay the bills, you have to make a living. It would be great if writing was the only task I came home to but marketing and promoting is key to any kind of success with books these days. If it wasn’t for social media and other writers who are willing to share their personal blog space to introduce their readers to other authors and their books, it would be very difficult to let many people know we even exist.
  2. I lose track of time when I am researching for nuggets of gold on the internet. I start out with good intentions to stick with a particular subject but one thread of information leads to the next and before I know it I’m way off track from my original thought. For the Blue Unicorn, I’ve documented most of my research to use for a future  book-length glossary. The “MarBryn Compendium” will be published  simultaneously with the expanded full-length novel version of the blue unicorn story.
  3. I have always… wanted my name to be remembered fondly by masses of future generations. LOL  I’m laughing but I’m not really kidding. When it comes right down to it, don’t we all???
  4. I have never… thought of so many ways to offer one story to the public before the “Blue Unicorn’s Journey To Osm Illustrated Book” for teens and older readers came to life.  My original intention was to only make it available in full color but I was completely unaware that so many full color pages would make the printing cost exorbitant. I was particularly devastated when I found out how much the 188 page illustrated book was going to cost customers. That dilemma led me to the bright idea of having all of the illustrations reworked in black and white. The incredibly talented artist, Sudipta Dasgupta, and his team created what look like old fairy tale woodcuts. Those pictures remind me of the days when I was reading The Wizard of Oz books and daydreaming about faraway lands populated with fantastic creatures. I’m happy to say that my idea paid off because printing the black and white version of this book costs 1/3 the price of the full color. That price reduction puts it within the realm of most reader’s pocket books. Plus I now have the added benefit of promoting it as a “Read and Color” book. Read a chapter, then color the following pictures. What’s more fun than that? The story is also available in audio book form on most of the online audio book websites. I love how the narrator, Troy Hudson, brought the characters to vibrant life. There’s also a children’s storybook version titled “Unicorns From Unimaise – The Magical Metal-Horned Tribe”. It is meant to introduce little ones to the 12 member unicorn tribe and the land of MarBryn (where the story takes place). Soon, I’ll be publishing an expanded full-length adult fantasy version of the blue unicorn tale along with the companion “glossary” book, “The MarBryn Compendium”. Last but not least, unicorn lovers can find lots of book related unicorn bling on zazzle.com – just search for Journey to Osm to see nearly 100 items featuring pictures from the book. More will be coming in the future.
  5. Home means to me… the place where I can concentrate on the people I love and my books. Writing of course, is my favorite thing. Marketing is actually a close second. I wish I could devote more time to both.
  6. I am inspired by… others who work hard to achieve their life goals. I am especially inspired by people who think out of the box to accomplish their dreams.
  7. I would like to meet… Piers Anthony, author of the Xanth fantasy series. It was his books that first ignited my interest in intelligent colorful unicorns and in my use of word play in the blue unicorn story. In fact, even if I could never actually meet him, I’d like to at least go back 15 years or so ago and join his online newsletter. Little did I know, he was already expounding upon the virtues of self-publishing when Createspace and Kindle came into existence. CreateSpace (Print On Demand) was founded in 2002 and was acquired by Amazon in 2005. The first Kindle was released in 2007. I can’t help wondering – If I had only known then, what I know now, how much further ahead would I be today? A lot can happen in 10 to 15 years. Createspace, Amazon and Kindle are certainly testaments to that.
  8. My worst character trait… Depression hits me hard sometimes. I think feeling insecure or unsure after one defeat or another is a trait that many creative people have in common.  We let our perceived failures get us down and we listen to those voices inside (and sometimes outside) saying, “Why bother?” or “You’re not good enough!”or “No one is ever going to care…” and a million other negative thought demons. Sometimes, it’s hard to make yourself try just ONE MORE TIME..
  9. My best character trait… I’m glad this was the next question so that I can tell you, luckily, I don’t stay down long. I try to learn from whatever knocked me down and try to avoid doing that again. I’m an eternal optimist…a glass half full type of person. I can’t help but try just one more time.
  10. The best advice I was given… ”Help Yourself” – In fact, I wrote a song with that philosophy many years ago. It starts like this – “The best place to find a helping hand is on the end of your own arm. Success can be at your command if you believe in number one. Help yourself and you will go far. Believe in your capacity to reach the highest star. Think of all the possibilities to make your dreams reality. Nobody can do for you what you can do for yourself.” You can listen to the song here if you wish – http://www.phrasethesaurus.com/index_Help_Yourself_Publish_Book.htm. That attitude has been my motivation for whatever I may try to achieve in life. To me, it doesn’t matter if you know everything you need to know to start doing something. Just think of what you want to do and then find a way to do it through research and other means of learning. That’s how I started with my self-publishing journey. I wrote a book that I wanted to make available to anyone who might want to read it. I quickly learned that competition for the attention of potential readers was immense. And the possibility of finding a traditional publisher was so far out in the cosmos that only a select few would ever attain that lofty aspiration. So, I decided that the self-publishing route was my best option because at least that way, I could reach those in my immediate sphere of influence. I went through a lot of trials and errors but I’ve gathered and catalogued all the information I came across as I went along. I even eventually put it all in a book to help other authors easily do what it took me a long time to figure out. I titled that book “Help Yourself – Learn To Produce, Publish and Promote Your Book On Your Own”. The best thing about this particular book for other potential authors is that half of it shows how to do most of those three things absolutely free.


The Blue Unicorn’s Journey to Osm

“The metal horned unicorns are doomed!” That’s what Lauda Lead Horn wailed when she first saw the tribe’s new savior. OK, so his horn was not metal … and he did not have a magic power … and he was really a puny little runt. But doomed? Were things really that bad?

Well, things were pretty bad in the land of MarBryn. Magh, an evil sorcerer utilized unicorn horns and hooves to create his magical potions and spells. Those he used, to increase his power and to conquer everyone in his path. All of the unicorns from the Tribe of the Metal Horn were now gone … except for twelve survivors.

Before the blue unicorn was born, Numen told Alumna, the aluminum-horned oracle, that he had a plan to bring the tribe back home to Unimaise. His prophecy was, “Only the blue unicorn can join with the Moon-Star. Until then, no new unicorns will be born.” Blue was the last unicorn born. Twenty years later, his horn was still covered with a plain blue colored hide. There was not a glint of metal to be seen on it or his hooves. And he still didn’t have any magic. But he was no longer scrawny and he had his wits. Though no one else in the tribe thought he had a chance, Blue felt ready to make Magh pay for his evil deeds. And he went off to do it alone. That was Blue’s first mistake. If the entire tribe was not standing horn-tip to horn-tip at the proper time and the exact place to help usher the Moon-Star Spirit into Blue’s horn, he would die. Then, the rest of the tribe would really be doomed.

Readers will follow along two journey paths in this book. Blue is joined in his travels by his mentor Gaiso, the Stag and his friend, Girasol the Firebird as they try to find their way across a danger-filled MarBryn to Muzika Woods. The rest of Blue’s tribe is forced to follow another route due to Nix Nickle Horn’s unfortunate incident with a Manticore. Nix, the great unicorn defender must safely lead the way for Ghel, the Golden-Horned unicorn; Silubhra Silver Horn; Cornum the Brass-Horned unicorn; Steel Horned Style; Cuprum the Copper-Horned unicorn; Tin-Horned Tinam; Dr. Zinko; Iown the Iron-Horned unicorn and the others in an action packed adventure to their destination in Muzika Woods. Both journey paths converge there in the Nebulium Circle.

Print length:  236 pages

Published:  2017-03-02

Buy links: 

Ebook –

Ebook (Looks like printed book) –

Audio book (Listen to free sample) –

Hardcover –

Softcover –

Black and White Print Book –

Coloring Book –



10 Statements – Wendy Unsworth @WendyUnsworth

Wendy Unsworth spent her early years in Lincolnshire, England where she first developed a love of the countryside and wildlife. She is a passionate traveller and collector of new experiences, having lived for fourteen years in Central and Eastern Africa. 

Writing has always been a part of her life; she began to work seriously on her first published novel, The Palaver Tree, in 2011. This story is a psychological drama based in the fictional, Cornish village of Berriwood, though it does borrow heavily from her experiences in Africa where much of the action takes place. There have been two more novels in the series. Beneathwood (2016) and Dirty Work (2017).


Find me… I would love to hear from you:

Website:  https://wendyunsworth.wordpress.com/

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5625095.Wendy_Unsworth

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/WendyUnsworth

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/WendyUnsworthAuthor/


My personal motto:

I do like quotes and inspirational sayings. If I was to adopt one as a motto I think it would be:  “Life is not about waiting for the storms to pass but about learning to dance in the rain.”


10 statements
  1. A typical (work) day begins with… Tea. Two cups, while I browse emails and generally rouse myself for the day ahead.
  2. I lose track of time when I am successfully lost in creativity, be it writing, knitting or sewing or working in my garden.
  3. I have always… been excited by travel and new experiences.
  4. I have never… been into outer space or invited the join the SAS and, though I would like to, I have lost hope and expect that I never will!
  5. Home means to me… comfort and a special place to create my own well being. A place to welcome family and friends.
  6. I am inspired by… determination to win through despite the odds.
  7. I would like to meet… oh, tricky! There are so many. For all the amazing stories he could tell, David Attenborough.
  8. My worst character trait… The inability to ever complete a project to my satisfaction.
  9. My best character trait… I like to think I work hard for myself and others.
  10. The best advice I was given… my sister remarked many years ago that, though I wasn’t rich, I lived as if I was. I took this as a never to be forgotten complement and as advice. Enjoying the good things in life, family, friends and special places makes me rich.

Dirty Work (Berriwood Series, #3)

A shallow grave.
A body to find.
But no one is looking.

Caroline Duke and her sister-in-law Marcie lead very different lives, but blood is thicker than water; they are close, they share things. Husband troubles.

Marcie has everything she could possibly want, funded by Nathan’s high-powered city job. She pays for her privileged position in lonely days and nights, while her husband works away.

Caroline is struggling with two jobs and out-of-work Pete, who brings in no money at all. He is never home either. He spends his evenings in bars and clubs and the occasional ditch.

But everything in the Duke family is set to change. And for the better. Pete declares he has given up drinking for good and is getting a job. Nathan announces his intention to work less, spend more time with Marcie.

A birthday dinner should be the perfect occasion to bring the four together. But when is a party not a party? When someone ends up dead.

Print length:  264 pages

Published:  2017-09-30

Buy linksbooks2read.com/u/31MDMr


The fingers twitched momentarily; a slight, almost indiscernible movement, and he noted, with mild interest, that she was not quite dead.

The nails, exquisitely manicured, though too bling for his own, more minimal tastes, were torn, the hand traumatised. Ragged skin hung like slivers of grated cheese, ruched and curled. The thumb appeared to be curiously displaced.

Now, as he watched, the man paused; took a moment to consider his night’s good work. And it had been good, thorough and satisfying, though… Credit where credit’s due, he silently acknowledged, with a nod toward the fingers that still fired tiny, random gestures, almost reminiscent of a greeting…

The bitch had fought. 

Even as her incapacity had begun to take hold, it had not deterred her from a relentless drawing of breath; the stuff of life sucked up with desperate, dogged determination. She had surprised him, impressed him. And though there was no longer any point to her feeble struggle, he understood this last, desperate flicker; could put himself in her position, so to speak, prone and confused, the earth closing in around her. Her muddied thoughts, he fancied, were still of life and he flattered himself to believe, also of him.


Beneathwood (Berriwood Series, #2)

A Cornish house, nothing more; slate and granite, tile and wood.

When Olivia Benson hears that her father has unexpectedly inherited Beneathwood she urges him to sell and be rid of it. She has never liked the dark and rambling old house and she has some good reasons…
… amongst them, the terrible sight of Auntie Edith, lying on the floor, smouldering.

But Olivia’s father has no such qualms. New retiree, Gordon Carroll, is eager to take up the challenge of renovation and, as he brings Beneathwood back to life, he begins to see the house not only as an asset but as home.

Beryl Carroll loves Beneathwood too… at least, she thinks she does. But when a box appears, seemingly out of nowhere, stuffed with remnants from her past, she begins to wonder if it is only she and her husband who have moved in.

Print length:  269 pages

Published:  2016-02-14

Buy links:  books2read.com/u/bpWqGX


The Palaver Tree (Berriwood Series, #1)

Berriwood Village, Cornwall, England; quiet, uneventful like the pace of schoolteacher Ellie’s selfless, modest existence until John Hathaway stops to ask directions. Their chance meeting catapults her into a new role as wife of a wealthy businessman and resident of the most prestigious home in the area, the majestic Calico House.
But Gabriel Cole is coming to the village, and his presence will set into motion a chain of events that bring dramatic change to Ellie’s life again.

In the poor, chaotic but captivating surroundings of Central Africa, Ellie teaches at Cole’s school, The Hope Foundation. She finds friendship and purpose and, perhaps for the first time, real satisfaction and love in her life.

But this new peace and happiness is short-lived. As Ducana descends into political chaos Ellie is torn by doubt. Is the Hope Foundation really the benevolent, caring institution she first believed it to be? And is headmaster Gabriel Cole really their guardian angel?

Ellie’s unquestioning belief in fate and fair play are slowly shattered as she learns that others, close to her, have been drawn into the same web of manipulation and deceit.

Ellie is plagued by the injustice of what has happened, until the moment comes when she is presented with the choice to stubbornly hold on to her principles or take matters into her own hands…

Print length:  368 pages

Published:  2012-01-23

Buy links:  books2read.com/u/bPJ71r



10 Statements – Annika Perry

Although writing has always been a lifetime passion for Annika, her route to full-time writing has been circuitous and she formerly worked within journalism and the timber trade before severe illness and motherhood gave her an opportunity to pursue her dream.

Annika’s First Prize win in the ‘Writing Magazine’ short story competition was the much needed impetus and confidence booster for her to complete the first novel, ‘Island Girl’, which is currently in the final editing stages. Annika is also working on the last edits of her first short story collection which she hopes to self-publish very soon.

As well as writing, Annika is an avid reader (a world without books is unimaginable for her), a keen gardener, walker and she enjoys travel (in spite of her well-documented fear of flying!)

For the past two years blogging has become an important part of her life and she deeply values the friendships formed here on WP via the warm encouraging and uplifting comments. She lives in the South East of England with her husband and teenage son.

Find me…

Website:  https://annikaperry.com/
Twitter:  https://twitter.com/AnnikaPerry68

My personal motto:

The following quotes from ‘Illusions’ by Richard Bach have often have often been the keystone in Annika’s life, giving her strength in face of adversity and courage when faced with new challenges.

“The simplest questions are the most profound. Where were you born? Where is your home? Where are you going? What are you doing? Think about these once in a while, and watch your answers change.”

“Argue for your limitations and sure enough, they’re yours.”

“You are never given a wish without also being given the power to make it true. You may have to work for it, however.”


10 statements
  1. A typical (work) day begins with…  a delicious bowl of cereal, granola, berries and fruit yoghurt in the sunlit living room!
  2. I lose track of time when reading, writing, blogging.
  3. I have always… been true to myself, often at a personal price.
  4. I have never… smoked.
  5. Home means to me… being with my family in a cosy safe environment where I can totally relax and unwind.
  6. I am inspired by… my mother whose strong, positive and loving spirit never wavers and whose trust and belief in life seems unconquerable.
  7. I would like to meet… my Mormor (maternal grandmother) again. I often imagine sitting down to chat with her, give her hugs and most of all introduce her to my son, let her listen to him playing the piano – they are so alike in many ways and I know she would love him so.
  8. My worst character trait… is being a bit of a perfectionist! I can come across as rather impatient at times.
  9. My best character trait… is my loyalty and faithfulness to friends and family and ability to listen and empathise with others.
  10. The best advice I was given… “Believe in yourself, you’re strong.”


Extract from ‘The Whiteout Years’ by Annika Perry…one of the short stories featured in her soon-to-be published collection:

Out of the blackness Carl spotted the sign for the village. Two kilometres. His fifth year here and the road felt as familiar as the one he drove every day to work. How could that be? How could he feel so at home in a place he’d visited so infrequently?

He started to in shock, eyes blinded by a kaleidoscopic sheet of colour. Blinking, he saw more rainfalls of brilliant reds, whites, purples high in the sky. Another rocket swerved to the right, evaporating high up in the dark. Firework upon firework followed. Carl was late, the plane had been delayed and it must already be midnight. The start of a new year. As he drew closer to the village Carl saw that it had excelled itself. Now he could hear the distant
thunder of the rockets, the odd whoops of delight from the crowd.

Three years since his last moments with Karin. Three years since days, weeks, months, years ceased to matter. Her parent’s had survived their loss; he never knew how. At their insistence Carl came every year to visit them. Whilst he held himself responsible for the accident, they had taken it upon themselves to save him. A lost cause, he told them repeatedly. He’d tried to escape their care and concern – to no avail. So, here he was again. Late.

Suddenly a wall of brown appeared in his lights. Large eyes gleamed in the headlights and instinctively Carl slammed on the brakes. The car spun to the side and with a smash it stopped; then suddenly it lifted and twisted up into the air before landing on its roof with a cushioned thud. Outside Carl heard the sound of an injured animal, the pained barking of an elk. As the car spun slowly, Carl saw the huge animal steady itself, before sheepishly trekking into the trees.

He heard her breaths next to him, the harsh rasping and puffs of warm air upon his cheek. Tiny wisps of vapour floated in front of his face, warmth meeting cold. Carl started to shake, then thought of Karin and reached out to her, to protect her. The seat was empty. It was all wrong. Where was she? Wasn’t she driving? Why was he in the driver’s seat? She must have escaped? Gone to get help? He heard her voice in the distance, “Keep safe! Live.”

“Karin!” Carl shouted her name until his voice was hoarse, quaking with the cold. His hand, blue and black, fought to release the seat-belt buckle. Karin, he had to find her.

She was driving, laughing, singing away as they took an unknown short cut to her parents. He should have said no. He should have told her to slow down. Be sensible. No, he had told her, she’d shouted back. “Sensible is not living, this is!” and with that she’d turned the wheel first one way and then the other, skidding round and round. He’d been furious, his temper frayed with fear. Seeing this, Karin had thrown herself around his neck, nestled her face into his neck, kissing him, comforting, all the time muttering, “Sorry, sorry.”

After a while the car chilled and conscious of the time and the fireworks display, they set off. “Please, Carl, sensible is okay but remember to live, to live wildly, madly. Promise me.”

“Wildly, madly,” the words echoed in his mind, around him. “Please live…” the silent voice begged of him.