Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Guest Post 21: Emma Ennis

Red Wine and Words is a collection of 16 short stories that will take you on an intoxicating journey through the torments and enigmas of life. The unforeseen, the unpredictable, love, loss, horror and fantasy all await within. Though rich and varied in theme, throughout the stories is the underlying principal that sometimes the line between reality and the mysterious can blur, creating a place where what-if's reign supreme.
A worldwide conspiracy revealed, a biblical apocalypse wrought; a vengeful imaginary friend, and one not so vengeful but with just as harrowing consequences; an unlikely hero, and an unwilling one; an ancient Egyptian curse, a malevolent Indian spirit – these are just some of the characters and themes you will rub shoulders with in this eclectic compilation.
With my debut collection, I invite you to raise a glass in a toast to the unknown, and see if Red Wine and Words doesn't make you question the threads in your carefully woven blanket of beliefs.
Here is a little excerpt from Cornflower Blue, the closing story in Red Wine and Words:
Five days ago on my way to work, while the snow tumbled in fluffy clusters to mingle with the gathering layers on the ground, I passed a woman on a street corner. She stood on the bend, close to the crossing. Her back was to the street which was uncharacteristically devoid of vehicles; rampant instead with foot passengers, crunching along about their daily chores. They did not see her. She did not see them.
The wall she faced was strewn with flyers and posters and advertisements, all fighting to be heard over the clamour of the clutter. She stared at it, her eyes unblinking. I know this because I stopped for a moment and watched her.
The edges of her nightgown brushed the snow on the sidewalk. On the toes of her fluffy pink slippers little pompoms of flakes were forming. Her hair was dishevelled; bed-head. I passed on though I continued to regard the poor lost soul, and was surprised when a curve in the footpath afforded me a full glance at her face. She was younger than I had expected, than the bedroom attire and unkempt hairstyle bespoke. There could not have been many years between us, putting her somewhere in her early thirties.
* * *
I saw her again the next day. The snow had turned to sleet; a biting lash that sent one scurrying into the furthest recesses of their overcoats. Nobody was lingering long outdoors, and all journeys were made in a slippery rush. Yet she stood there, in her slippers still, sinking into a pile of muddy slush. At least this time she had thought to put on a coat.
I was in a hurry that day, but I determined that the next time I saw her I would approach her. I had no idea how or why I was going to do this, but to see her made my heart hurt with a pity so intense it had me feeling nauseous and cantankerous; an odd mixture on an empty stomach.
* * *
That was last week. I hadn't seen her in three days, and though I had far from forgotten her, I began to believe the phenomenon had passed.
She was there again today...
* * *
The snow was back, bringing its old buddy Gale along for the ride. Together they made it a bitterly cold day. The flyers on the wall fluttered and cracked in the wind, snow packing up behind them so their pregnant messages bulged.
She was dressed in a jeans and sweatshirt, and for the first time I got to see her willowy frame. Her feet were bare, the skin red raw where she stood in the snow, alone, staring at the wall. Faceless people bustled around her; a sea of bodies caught in the drift, swirling around the little anchored island that was she.
The ache hit me with a kick in the chest, full force, like a bout of particularly malevolent indigestion, when I saw the poor feet. Pretty feet they were, with pretty silver toenails, but they were blazing with the cold. If she stood there much longer she would lose them.
I stopped and looked around me, becoming another island in that uncaring, selfish sea. A man passed by us, a bunch of flowers swinging in one hand. An anniversary? A birthday? An apology?
I reached out and put a hand on her shoulder. It was thin beneath my fingers. I could feel her cold skin under her sweater react to my body heat. She did not even flinch. I shucked my overcoat down over my arms and swung it around her neck. Still she did not budge.
“Miss?” I tried to get her attention. There were frozen tear trails like silvery scars on her pale cheeks. “Won't you come indoors? Your poor feet will freeze to the sidewalk.”
She made no answer and no acknowledgement of me. Her complete attention was on the wall, her eyes pouring her soul into whatever it was there that she tortured over.
Across town the church clock struck ten. On the last bell a shiver seemed to run through her. She turned to me, and she saw me.
And oh, those eyes. Would I ever forget them? They were the colour of cornflowers on a clear, summer day. But it was not the colour alone that struck me, it was the depth, the soul behind them. Those eyes had seen pain and loss, and a world of suffering.
Acclaim for Red Wine and Words:
Described as 'tragic,' 'chilling,' and 'harrowing,' there is a profound sense of love and loss interwoven throughout the collection that creates an impression which grabs hold and stays in the mind long after the pages have stopped turning.
“On my bookshelf I own collections of stories by the likes of M.R. James, Conan Doyle, and HP Lovecraft and I hope Emma Ennis would not be insulted if I said that stories of this kind belong beside these.A natural storyteller Ennis is definitely someone to watch for in the future.” ~ Dean Cowan,
“Only two Authors have ever made the skin tighten on the back of my neck so fierce that I could barely turn my head. Stephen King was the first, James Herbert was the second, and now I can add Emma Ennis to that list.” ~ Darren Gallagher, author of the forthcoming short story collection, 'Strings'
“Someone wrote a review saying they were putting this book on the same shelf as Poe and Conan Doyle, which sounded like hyperbole, but I have to say that several of the stories in this book belong in such company.” ~ Armand Burke, author of 'The Great Leap Forward'

“Not only has Ms. Ennis overwhelmed me with colorful phrasing and perfect pacing, not only has she developed infinitely believable characters in gripping and astounding situations, she has managed to weave her stories so expertly that I found myself unable to put the book down once I had opened the cover.” ~ Brian Dobbins, author of 'Jasmine's Tale'
“The theme of love and loss runs through many of the tales in this collection, and I found myself thinking about several of these stories days after I had finished the book. For me, that is a sign of good writing, and fantastic story telling.” ~ Edward J. McFadden, author of 'The Black Death of Babylon'
“Emma Ennis has put together a chilling collection of stories in Red Wine and Words.They are full of twists and turns and within them is a subtle horror. In a few of her works the buildup is to something more horrific than you could imagine.” ~ Suzanne Robb, author of 'Z Boat' and 'Contaminated'
“Each tale is the product of an active and somewhat skewed imagination, and each one is told in a way that quickly grabbed and then held my interest. Ms. Ennis is another PMP author I'll be keeping tabs on.” ~ William L. Nienaber
“What I found amazing about this collection of short stories was that even though I would not normally be inclined towards stories from this genre I thoroughly enjoyed each one purely based on how well they were written. It's rare but sometimes the rhythm of a piece of writing can be just as enjoyable as the plot, in this case both struck a chord with me.”
“You won’t find gory horror or gratuitous crimson spilling in this short story collection, but if you’re after more thoughtful discourse of the faults of human nature you shall be pleased.” ~ Nathan Robinson, author 'Starers'

~Thank you for stopping by today to see what author Emma Ennis has to share. If you liked this, then you’ll definitely want to return Thursday for another sample of Emma’s writing. It’s very entertaining and worth a look. Then on Friday, be sure to check out my interview with Emma and get an inside look into the mind of this dynamic writer.
For more from Emma Ennis, check out these sites:
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