BLOG TOUR – #INTERVIEW – Darkness Dawns by Zakarrie Clarke – #Excerpt #Giveaway

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🌟 Please join me in welcoming author Zakarrie Clarke to Stories That Make You Smile! Zakarrie is here today celebrating the release of her fabulous new release, Darkness Dawns. She also kindly sat down and answered some fun questions about her new release and about herself. 🌟

Darkness Dawns by Zakarrie Clarke

Sometimes…there are none so blind as those who see…

Publisher: MLR Press
Release Date: February 1, 2019
Length: Novel / 65,000 words / 150 PDF Pages
Pairing / Genre(s) / Keyword(s): M/M Contemporary, Humour, Disability (Blindness)

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It’s a novel with a sequel. The first 43 chapters form Darkness Dawns; it concludes on a HFN and the sequel completes the novel.

I’ve written both, but thought it best to split it, or it would be over 140 000 words long.

Blurb

Darkness Dawns is a love story. It also tells the tale of one man’s war with himself, brought onto the battlefield of his blindness. Leo Ferrar suffers from diabetic retinopathy and lost his sight two years ago. Unable to bear the scrutiny of strangers or the impact of his blindness on those he loves, Leo has determined on shutting the world out ever since. This is the man Ben meets on his first day at work as Mr Ferrar’s care assistant.

A former heroin addict, Ben was sentenced to six months community service as punishment for his crimes by a judge entitled to condemn him to a seven-year stretch. Far too charming for his own welfare, Ben proves unaccountably brilliant at ‘bulldozing the blind’.

When fate sees fit to dispatch Ben to the home of the man he has dubbed Mr Ferrarcious; it is with the words of the last five unfortunates who’d dared darken Leo’s doorway ringing in his ears. A door that is opened by a man who might be Lord Byron himself. Drop dead gorgeous and as hot as hell, Leo Ferrar has the most beautiful eyes Ben has ever seen.

Never has an irony seemed so cruel. Nor fate so fortuitous.

Excerpt

Leo knew he should have opted to use the cane, instead of the arm Ben offered him for their unexpected walk. Should. Every time that word left someone’s lips, Leo wanted to scream; fists clenched in a screech of hopeless, helpless rage. The fact that everything he should do was For-His-Own-Benefit, made it so much worse, which was as ludicrous as it was true. Independence was the only thing he had left to aspire to. So, why the fuck did should rub Leo so raw it obliterated any inclination he may have had to do whatever it prefaced? He ought to want to do the things he should. But what if he tried…and failed? What if Leo couldn’t master any of them? Then he would lose even the hope that he might, one day, be able to. Even more galling, that loss would be down to him, because he was so bloody useless. He did want to show Ben that he was quite capable of managing…didn’t he? Very much, although why that mattered, Leo had no idea.

Why care what this latest in a long line of functioning eyeballs thought of him? It was probably more politic to say, ‘visually unimpaired’. Visually Impaired. Leo had to stifle the urge to punch people who described him thus. Impaired? Adj: weakened or damaged. Weak. Weakened. F’fucksakes. He was still chewing that particular wasp when Ben asked for his wrist.

Does he intend to lead me by it, as if I’m a toddler?

Leo found himself holding it out anyway. Christ knows why he was going along with all this. It was just that…being in Ben’s company was rather like sitting in the passenger seat of a snow plough driven by a drunk. Far preferable to standing in its path…and yet, somehow more appealing than staying behind, wherever the hell it was off to.

Nevertheless, he was still relieved when Ben clasped the proffered wrist—not to cart Leo off as he’d feared—but to plant his hand on top of Ben’s head. The fact that Leo could have changed the lightbulb without stretching a whole lot further, did seem to suggest he’d been addressing Ben’s nipples for the last half hour.

Quite how Ben then contrived to claim fault for something that was Leo’s mistake was less clear, but this was pulled off with such disarming charm, it would’ve been churlish to argue otherwise. Why the hell did the notion of calling Ben’s bluff feel as brutal a prospect as drowning his cat? If he had one, of course. Cat? More to the point…nipples?

“Thank you,” Leo managed to mumble, which was something of a result itself. Half an hour with Ben and he’d started to feel several sandwiches short of the proverbial picnic. He’d also begun to suspect that Violet had been a sweet little old lady—and quite sane—when she’d met Ben.

So off they went. The blindingly daft leading the blind off on a stroll around Camden.

In a bid to distract himself from well, pretty much everything he’d thought for the last five minutes, Leo decided to ask Ben to describe himself. For some reason he was intrigued, not only to know what Ben looked like, but to hear the picture he drew. Leo had an inkling this would prove more unmissable than an aural tour around the National Portrait Gallery. Unmissable? It was a bloody masterpiece. There most definitely were not any renderings of Steptoe’s six-four daughter there. The last two years might have felt a damn sight less soul-destroying if Ben had voiced Leo’s DVD visual descriptions.

Walking outside had lost all its appeal when the world became a giant landmine lying in wait to blow up in Leo’s face; every step into the unknown, a potential public humiliation. Despite this, and Ben’s partiality to lamp posts, they somehow arrived in Gloucester Crescent, alive and well. Even more shocking, was that Leo hadn’t fretted about…anything really, along the way. He’d just drifted along, listening to Ben weave words too beguiling to question where embellishment waved farewell to the truth. But who the fuck would want to, when that would feel as blasphemous as punching a fist through a Picasso?

☆ Interview ☆

Congratulations on your new release. Please tell us a little bit about it. What’s your favorite aspect or part of the story? Do you have a favorite character? Who/Why?

Thank you so much, it’s lovely of you to have me. Darkness Dawns is the story of two broken men who believe one another into being more than seemed possible to either of them. Disability is a subject dear to my heart, so I wanted to write a story about living with one, rather than its initial impact. Most of all, I wanted to write a love story about a man whose innermost convictions are demolished by someone who sees him, despite himself. Leo has determined on shutting the world out, unable to bear being seen, when he cannot. His mental health has become more debilitating than his blindness when Ben becomes his carer.

Ben…is every bit as damaged as Leo; who is, in truth, better equipped to cope with the world than Ben has ever been. Leo might have the more obvious affliction, but Ben’s efforts to suppress his HSP have proved just as debilitating. I fear I may have made it sound a mite maudlin, but Ben is ‘as daft as he is demented’ so there’s a lot of banter and gallows humour along the way. Although I’ve written Leo’s struggles as honestly as possible, it’s a story steeped in acceptance and hope, rather than despair. My favourite aspect? Leo’s unfurling of self in Ben’s company.

What are your short-term and long-term writing goals?

Setting myself goals tends to be a mishap waiting to happen, so I mostly hope I don’t do anything too disastrous along the way. I’ll never be able to pull off ‘mainstream’ so I’ll be chuffed to bits if three readers enjoy my books for their foibles, rather than despite them. I couldn’t aspire to be a bestselling author unless I did my damnedest to be someone else. I write as I think, so my stories are the only place I don’t drive myself nuts attempting ‘normal’. This makes being published, unabridged, more than enough. In goal terms, that felt about as feasible as scoring the winner in the World Cup.

What were your goals for this book? Did you achieve them?

I hope so…my primary concern was doing Leo proud. His story has been read the person whose opinion counted most, and they could relate to his feelings, which meant the world to me. Leo can’t abide political correctness, so I hope I’ve done him justice and related his reality. The tone of the novel felt most important to get right. I aimed for warm and witty, rather than drenched in despair. It’s a romantic comedy at heart and ends on a HFN (or it would be 130,000 words long), but the sequel is already written and has a HEA.

What is your favorite ice cream flavor?

Haagen Dazs Pralines and Cream.

Who would play you in a movie about your life?

Helena Bonham Carter. She is far too beautiful but, aside from that, even her hair is perfect. I suspect that turning up in her own clothes and reciting the lines would do just fine.

If you were arrested with no explanation, what would your family or friends assume you’d done?

That I’d lost the plot and done something demented.

Winter, Spring, Summer, or Autumn (or Wet vs. Dry Season)?

Autumn leading into Winter. September to December are my favourite months. All feels right in my world when the nights start drawing in.

Meet the Author

When Zakarrie was little and dreamed big, she wanted to be a writer. Just like Enid Blyton. Or p’raps not…having been most remiss on the lashings of ginger beer front. After moving to London at eighteen and flitting about for far too long, she finally settled, as blissy as can be, by the sea. When her castaway dreams resurfaced, they were believed into being by the warm words of friends who breathed life into her own. Her one wish now is that someone, somewhere, might enjoy the misadventures of her miscreants as much as she adores writing them.

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