Tuesday, October 25, 2011

When the Monsters Are All Too Human by Guest Blogger Tess St. John

Continuing our Halloween series this week is the terrific Tess St. John! In her books, the bad guys do despicable things to her heroines, so I wondered, "What actually scares Tess?"

When Suzan asked me to blog about “Books that give you chills” I couldn’t wait!!!

I didn’t read as a kid (not even required reading, don’t ask how I passed in school, I got by with what I learned in lectures), but I went to the movies all the time. HOWEVER, scary movies were not my thing. I spent all of HALLOWEEN (the original, yes, I’m that old…don’t go there) and JAWS sitting on the floor with my fingers in my ears humming to myself. I won’t even discuss THE SHINING or I’ll have nightmares tonight.

And while I might be totally frightened with movies, I found books were a different story.

After I married, my husband traveled a lot and would leave books behind after he’d read them. That’s when I discovered how much I enjoyed reading scary books. And Dean Koontz was one of my favorites. The first book I read of his was WATCHERS—From a top secret government laboratory come two genetically altered life forms. One is a magnificent dog of astonishing intelligence. The other, a hybrid monster of a brutally violent nature. And both are on the loose—OMG, I can still visualize the monster holding the Mickey Mouse cartoon he and the dog used to watch together, while begging the hero to kill him. **goosebumps**

And his book STRANGERS—THEY WERE STRANGERS. A handful of people. From different backgrounds, living in different towns and cities across America, they had nothing in common - except fear. THEY WERE VICTIMS. Cold and stark, an unknown terror gripped their dreams and turned their days into living nightmares. THEY WERE CHOSEN. And they could not escape. Deep in the heart of a sprawling desert, a dark memory called out to them drawing them to the Tranquility Motel - where the terrifying truth was waiting—I’m not sure how many of you have read it, but I still have the words “the moon” go through my mind every once in a while and feel a shiver race through my body!

And I’ll never forget the first time I read Dan Brown’s The DaVinci Code. That first scene where the man is dying and positioning his body to be found as a clue, WOW. I still feel a bit of a tremor thinking of it.

I’m in awe of writers who have written something so visually and emotionally compelling, that I can remember the scenes decades later!

I thought when I started writing I would write thrillers, but found I didn’t have that jagged edge talent. But I do write Romantic Suspense, and I hope I raise a few hairs on people’s necks every once in a while!

Here’s an excerpt from my latest release, EYES OF JADE:

Eve peeked from under the jacket Jake held over them. Something was familiar about the guy on the motorcycle. Cloaked in black, the only color on the rider was a rainbow helmet. She’d seen that helmet before. When he reached inside his jacket, panic pulsed through her. This was a scene from Legally Mine.

“He’s got a detonator!” she screamed.

“Her car!” Stewart yelled.

Jake grabbed her shoulders and shoved her toward the building, away from her car.

A sonic boom exploded and shook the ground.

She tripped and lost her footing, landing on her hands and knees. Like a rag doll, her palms skidded out from under her, scraping the rough wet bricks. She turned her face, just as her cheek smashed to the pathway.

A body instantly covered hers—knocking the air from her lungs.

Heat assaulted her like an unharnessed furnace.

Gray smoke engulfed the air.

A car engine roared to life and peeled out—no doubt chasing the motorcycle.

Eve wished for a way to melt into the blood-red bricks.

Jake jumped up, seized her arm, and hauled her to her knees. “Can you walk?”

Stewart gripped her other arm and the two men lifted and carried her toward the street. Her feet hit the ground every once in a while, but she wasn’t using them. Her palms stung, and her head and cheek throbbed. The ringing in her ears resembled the bells used to wrap a day of shooting—except the ringing wouldn’t stop.

The men hustled her to one of the cars still waiting on the street. Agents surrounded the vehicle with their weapons drawn. One held the back door open, while Jake helped her inside and slid in beside her.

Stewart shot into the driver’s seat and sped off.

She glanced back at the inferno. A sickening déjà vu struck her as she remembered the same scene from Legally Mine. Her voice was nothing more than a coughing whisper. “My movies are coming back to haunt me.”

“Don’t.” Jake nodded toward the front of the car. “Don’t look back. Only forward.”

She twisted toward the front seat. Bullets. Explosions. Her life had become an action/adventure movie. Not one she wanted the starring role in, but it seemed she had no choice. She didn’t realize she was trembling until Jake cradled her hands in his. His touch a comfort she desperately needed. Rocking back and forth in her seat, her body jerked every so often.

Don’t look back. Only forward.

Easy for him to say. He hadn’t been shot at and almost blown up.


Yes, he had.

But this was a life he’d chosen, signed up for. He promised not to let anything happen to her. She hoped he’d be able to keep that vow.

“Get down,” Stewart yelled.

Jake shoved her upper body to the seat and crouched over her.

The back window shattered.

She bit her lip to keep from screaming.

Stewart turned corner after corner and sped through the streets.

Flattened on the leather, facing the front seat, Jake’s now familiar body protected hers. Eve caught a whiff of his citrus cologne. Considering how close they’d been this morning, she was surprised she hadn’t noticed his subtle, clean scent earlier.

She tried to think of anything besides the motion sickness plaguing her. And the fact they were being chased. But she was too terrified for rational thought.

I want to thank Suzan for having me today, what a blast!

You can find out more about me and my books at my website.


  1. WATCHERS is one of the finest books ever written. Koontz has talked about it, publishers have been clamoring for a sequel for years, but he won't touch it unless, in his own words, he can come up with something better than the original. Have to agree with him there. Four movies have been made based on the book; 'based on' being generous. It's almost as if someone said "Hey, we can use a super-smart dog and call it WATCHERS." Barf. I wish someone like HBO or Showtime would re-do it, and do it properly.

    EYES OF JADE is in my TBR stack, Tess! I really enjoyed DON'T LET IT SHOW, and can't wait to get into this one...:)

  2. Thanks, Will and I'm so glad you agree with me about Watchers!!!! First book I ever cried reading...that monster just pierced my heart!

  3. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Koontz. Dragon Tears was one of my favs. I devoured all his books.
    Great excerpt, too, Tess!

  4. I'm about a third of the way through Eyes of Jade. Don't tell me you don't have that needed edge! It's a wonderful read.


  5. I used to read Dean Koontz all the time, but I stopped for some reason I cannot remember. He definitely has a special talent and reading your reviews of his books makes me want to pick him up again. And I enjoyed your writing, Tess.

  6. Jenn, I haven't read Dragon Tears...I will look for it!! Thanks for stopping by!

  7. Thanks for your kind words, Susan!! You're such a dear!

  8. Patti, I know, I don't read him a lot anymore either for some reason...I think the book where the people became part of the computers was the last one of his I read (I can't remember the name) and science fiction is not my thing...I think that's when I stopped reading him...thanks so much for stopping by, dear!

  9. I love Dean Koontz! Of course, Stephen King is my fav ;), but Koontz is a close second!

  10. The first truly scary book I remember reading was "The Headless Horseman" with Ichabod Crane as the starring hero. It scared me silly so I turned all the lights off when I went to bed just so I could see that flaming pumpkin head coming at me quicker!!!

  11. Great post!!
    I never read Watchers, but I did watch the movie and yeah, it was thrilling, even with the 'old school' graphics.
    As for Koontz, I've read a couple of those and he may be the one author who actually surprised me with the 'whodunit'.
    Adding Eyes of Jade to my TBR list now. I thought I had it there already. Humph, I must be slipping in my old age! :-)

  12. Hey, Becky...thanks for stopping by. For some reason I never got into King...although his book "ON WRITING" I adore...isn't that odd? I'll have to pick up another of his books.

  13. Oh, Stacey...Icabod Crane and flaming pumpkin heads...you give me chills!

  14. Robin, thanks so much, Koontz does have a talent for surprising readers...what a wonderful trait to have!!

  15. Tess, I love all of your books. I love suspense but nothing really violent. Your books are page-turning and suspenseful.

    I've never read Dean Koontz because I won't read horror or anything too scary. The scariest books I've read were the Mayfair Witches series by Anne Rice. I couldn't read her vampire books because they scared me too much. I have lots of respect for Stephen King, but I can't read his books. I'm just a wuss. Can't handle anything too scary. I don't watch violent movies either. I did enjoy Jaws. The Exorcist still scares me.

  16. Tess, I read Koontz and Stephen King in high school and lived for the scare! Oh, and Anne Rice's vampires. Somewhere over the years they started giving me nightmares, so I migrated to romance. Romantic suspense works, too, which is why I love your books!

  17. Tess, I adored Eyes of Jade and Don't Let It Show.
    I cannot wait for your next novel.
    You are the greatest!!

  18. Cara, if I read horror these days it has to be during the day!! Or when my hubby's at home! Thanks so much for stopping by and for your lovely words!

  19. Aileen, maybe I got too old too!!! LOL. Thanks so much for the sweet words! And I'm so disappointed I never read an Anne Rice...I gotta go pick on up! I think I'll look up the ones Cara mentioned...the Mayfair Witches.

  20. Oh, Marie...aren't you just the best!!! Thanks so much for stopping by, honey!

  21. After reading your list of scary movies...I'm too scared to go to bed! Love the new book, Eyes of Jade.

  22. LOL, Meb!!! Thanks for stopping by!

  23. Great excerpt, Tess! I don't like the gory details in most thrillers so I stick to Romantic Suspense. Lisa Jackson is my favorite right now. :) Love your books too!

  24. Tessy,

    I loved your post:) It seems we read the same genre, and the same writer:) Watchers is one of my all-time favorites, they butchered the movie, but the book is excellent. I find it difficult to believe, but I think I missed, Strangers--They were Strangers. Guess what I'm downloading today?:)

    Love the cover of your book, gal...those jade peepers are lookin' good!:)


  25. Thanks, Missy!!!! I know what you mean...I have a hard time with the blood and gore these days too!

  26. Lo, I hope you enjoy Strangers!!! And I like the fact we like the same books, dear! Oh, the internet doesn't do Jake's eyes justice...I got the print book today they're amazing!