Friday, December 17, 2021

Virtual Book Tour + #Giveaway: The Falls by Colleen McMillan @ColleenWritesMN @GoddessFish

The Falls

by Colleen McMillan

GENRE: Supernatural, Thriller


Every small town has secrets...

...most won't get you killed. Maddie Decker escaped Sterling Falls just after high school and never looked back. She was sure nothing could convince her to return. Until an urgent message from her high school best friend arrives begging
Maddie to come back before he dies changes everything.

Maddie can't refuse.

Once there, tattered relationships and long forgotten memories are pushed aside when a mysterious presence appears, Maddie uses her professional training to help discover who is killing the residents of Sterling Falls, even if no one wants her there.

Can Maddie survive the homecoming she never wanted?


When they reach the paddock, the gate is open, ripped apart. Boards lay shredded on the ground, splinters everywhere. It looks as though a tornado tore through, demolishing the wood. The ground is destroyed as well, mud and grass everywhere.

They get out of the truck, and the smell hits Charlie like a hammer. Alpacas are very clean animals, and their manure is not as pungent as other livestock, but the scent of twenty animals all emptying their bowels at once will knock a person flat. There is also a whiff of metal in the air, like copper or iron. Charlie runs through the decimated gate.

Flies buzz around the paddock, their wings beating a rhythm in Charlie's head. The insects settle on the bodies, feeding in clusters. They swarm, forming vaguely alpaca-shaped lumps so the animal fur looks black.

They are scattered around the paddock, but Charlie isn't sure if all twenty bodies are there. The ground is stained dark red with pools of blood. Limbs are scattered, as if each animal exploded. Some of their necks are twisted completely around, and bowels litter the area. Something tore each of their bellies open and spread the organs; half-digested hay and grass steam in piles near some of the bodies. Charlie has a horrible thought of nightmarish pinatas spilling morbid candy.

He walks into the paddock toward the nearest body, pinkish white and brown. He thinks it might have been the pregnant one. Her eyes have been removed, and her tongue dangles from an open mouth. Her body is shredded, and Charlie has a view inside her torso, but there is no baby. He leans closer and touches her leg near the hoof. She is cold. The blood is sticky, and he tries to wipe it on his jeans, but the maroon color spreads.

He takes a step back, leans over, and pukes.

Jemma runs over to rub his back, and when he's thrown up everything from his stomach, Charlie screams.

Interview with Colleen McMillan

What made you want to become a writer?

This is always a tough question to answer, because I've been writing as long as I can remember. I think it starts with my love of reading and stories. My mom would read to my brother and me every night when we were young, and I remember being so excited to pick the next book when we finished one. My love of reading definitely came from her.

What inspired you to write The Falls?

I enjoy a lot of genre stories — science fiction, horror, fantasy — and had wanted to try writing a series of interconnected short stories about a specific place. Kind of like how Stephen King uses the same setting for some of his stories and novels. I started writing short stories set in Sterling Falls in my undergraduate courses, and it grew from there. This is the first novel to come out of that “universe.”

Can you tell us a little bit about the characters in The Falls?

Everyone is a mess! I don't think any real person is perfect; we all have our flaws. So, no character is perfect. It's way more fun to write a character's messiness than have them be a hero with no stains on their souls. The book has three main characters: Maddie, Fletcher, and Billy. They each have a distinct voice in my mind, so I hope I brought that to the novel. Maddie is a no-nonsense zoologist with a lot of family emotional baggage. Fletcher is the town golden boy, a professor, and highly sought after for his criminal profiling. Billy is home in Sterling Falls with his estranged father, and he's suffering from a mysterious illness that even his famous physician father can't crack. They are (or were) all best friends when they were young, so it's fun to jump back and forth between their past remembrances and the present hardships.

You know I think we all have a favorite author. Who is your favorite author and why?

Stephen King is by far my favorite author. I love his writing style, his blatant inability to stop writing, and his sense of humor. All of his characters feel like real people, and he doesn't hesitate to show humanity at its lowest while also writing about everyday people who can become heroes. His short stories are terribly neglected, at least in my opinion, so I always tell people to read them.

Can you tell us a little bit about your next books or what you have planned for the future?

There is definitely a plan! The Falls technically is a sequel to another story that I have brewing. I needed time to develop the main villain of that piece, but I think I'm close to starting work on that. The other idea I've had knocking around in my head for ages is a YA concept with plenty of teen angst. I'm not certain which project I'll go with first, but it's nice to have some options ready.

What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

I loved creating such a wide range of characters! I even made a spreadsheet so I could keep track of everyone, who they interact with, their relationships to other characters. I'm a big outliner, so that helped as I developed the book, got in deeper with the large cast. If you're trying to make the setting a character in your work, I think it's important to people it with more than a handful of characters.

AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Born and raised in Minnesota, my writing focuses on the Midwestern United States. I've been a writer since I could pick up a crayon, pencil, or pen; there are more than a few stories about my macabre grade school writing interests, to which I just shrug. You can't blame a second grader for wanting to set a scary scene!

I attended the University of WI, River Falls for my undergraduate degree and completed my Master's degree in creative writing at the University of Kent, Canterbury, in the UK. For my dissertation research and inspiration, I lived in Canterbury, Paris, and Edinburgh. Paris is my second home and favorite city, so don't be surprised if it turns up in my work.

My two most influential authors are Stephen King and Flannery O'Connor, and my dream is to establish a Midwest Gothic tradition.

I currently live in Minnesota with my jerk of a cat, Duncan. I love living in the most beautiful state in the country, but I always feel Europe's pull…

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$25 Amazon/BN GC

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Sherry said...

Sounds like a interesting book.

Unknown said...

Thank you so much for hosting! I'm excited for readers to enter the world of Sterling Falls!