Into the Mist
Taine McKenna Adventures Book 1
by Lee Murray
Genre: SciFi Action, Thriller
When NZDF Sergeant Taine McKenna and his squad are tasked with escorting a bunch of civilian contractors into Te Urewera National Park, it seems a strange job for the army.
Militant Tūhoe separatists are active in the area, and with its cloying mist and steep ravines, the forest is a treacherous place in winter.
Yet nothing has prepared Taine for the true danger that awaits them. Death incarnate.
They backtrack toward civilisation, stalked by a prehistoric creature intent on picking them off one by one. With their weapons ineffective, the babysitting job has become a race for survival.
Desperate to bring his charges out alive, Taine draws on ancient tribal wisdom. Will it be enough to stop the nightmare? And when the mist clears, will anyone be left?
Into the Sounds
Taine McKenna Adventures Book 2
On leave, and out of his head with boredom, NZDF Sergeant Taine McKenna joins biologist Jules Asher, on a Conservation Department deer culling expedition to New Zealand’s southernmost national park, where soaring peaks give way to valleys gouged from clay and rock, and icy rivers bleed into watery canyons too deep to fathom. Despite covering an area the size of the Serengeti, only eighteen people live in the isolated region, so it’s a surprise when the hunters stumble on the nation’s Tūrehu tribe, becoming some of only a handful to ever encounter the elusive ghost people. But a band of mercenaries saw them first, and, hell-bent on exploiting the tribes’ survivors, they’re prepared to kill anyone who gets in their way. As a soldier, McKenna is duty-bound to protect all New Zealanders, but after centuries of persecution will the Tūrehu allow him to help them? Besides, there is something else lurking in the sounds, and it has its own agenda. When the waters clear, will anyone be allowed to leave?
“Murray pretty much nails small unit tactics.” ‒ Justin Coates, author of The Apocalypse Drive
“A fantastic blend of military fiction, a very real primordial monster, and powerful mythology.” ‒ Paul Mannering, author of Hard Corps, Hell’s Teeth, and Eat.
Into the Ashes
Taine McKenna Adventures Book 3
No longer content to rumble in anger, the great mountain warriors of New Zealand’s central plateau, the Kāhui Tupua, are preparing again for battle. At least, that’s how the Māori elders tell it. The nation’s leaders scoff at the danger. That is; until the ground opens and all hell breaks loose. The armed forces are hastily deployed; NZDF Sergeant Taine McKenna and his section tasked with evacuating civilians and tourists from Tongariro National Park. It is too little, too late. With earthquakes coming thick and fast and the mountains spewing rock and ash, McKenna and his men are cut off. Their only hope of rescuing the stranded civilians is to find another route out, but a busload of prison evacuees has other ideas. And, deep beneath the earth’s crust, other forces are stirring.
“INTO THE ASHES is a kick-ass thriller with twists you will never see coming! Lee Murray serves up a nail-biter of a weird-science action adventure. Brava!” —Jonathan Maberry, New York Times best-selling author of DEEP SILENCE and V-WARS
A deadly wash of lava and rocks, as wide as the Waikato River, surged around the house, taking the line of least resistance. The side of the house exploded in flames. Taine had no time to take it in because the front wheels of the Unimog were lifting in the swell, the air blackening with the smoke and stench of immolating tyres.
“Hine, go!” Read croaked. Grabbing Brooker by his shirt, he dragged him back onto the Unimog.
She jumped clear, landing near Taine as the lava surged around the Unimog. Carried on the broiling wave of lava, it circled in a bizarre ballet, Brooker and Read still inside.
Dammit. Taine had to get them off now. That truck was a toaster oven bobbing on a sea of red heat. “Read!” “I’m sending Brooker to you. Line-out style. Be ready!”
Taine had to hand it to him: as ideas went, it was gutsy. With the bed of the Unimog still floating above the flow, there was a chance it could work.
“Hine, we’re going to have to catch Brooker.”
Hurry it up, Read.
Standing as close as they dared, Taine and Hine braced themselves…
The Unimog circled.
The vehicle came around. Read bent his knees, grabbing Brooker by the overalls below his hips. When the vehicle neared the lava’s leading edge, Read thrust him upwards, Brooker jumping as best he could.
Dammit. He was going to fall short. Taine stepped forward, his boot searing at the edge of the liquid rock. He leaned out and yanked Brooker to him, while, crouched low, Hine caught the boy’s trailing leg before it hit the lava.
Taine snatched his own foot back.
“Fuck me! That was close,” Brooker panted, his chest heaving.
One down, one to go. What if Read leapt and missed? Taine glanced at Hine. He could spare her that at least. “Help Brooker to the twin cab,” Taine shouted. “I’ll get Read on the next pass.”
Suddenly, Lefty was there, pushing Hine out of the way. “It’s okay. I’ll do it. You get clear.” The soldier hefted Brooker over his shoulder, carrying him down the driveway, where Miller was backing up the truck, slowing just enough to allow the men to pile on.
The Unimog was like a raft on the rapids, the viscous current pulling it towards the middle of the lava-river.
“Read!” Taine yelled.
“Is Brooker safe?” Read called over the roar of the lava.
Taine glanced back. Lefty and Pringle were lifting Brooker onto the truck while, on the flatbed, Parata dragged him in.
“He’s safe. Read—” Taine jumped back as a spray of lava spurted off the surface.
“I know, I know. I’m coming. Just waiting until the…” he trailed off.
“Matt,” Hine whispered.
Lee Murray is a Bram Stoker-nominated writer and editor horror fiction, and multi-award-winning writer of dark speculative fiction (Sir Julius Vogel, Australian Shadows). Her works include the Taine McKenna adventure series, and supernatural crime-noir series The Path of Ra (co-written with Dan Rabarts). She is the editor of ten dark fiction anthologies, the latest being Hellhole: An Anthology of Subterranean Terror (Adrenalin Press). Lee lives with her family in New Zealand where she conjures up stories from her office overlooking a cow paddock.
What book do you think everyone should read?
Preferably one of mine. 😊 I’m kidding. I’d love it if people would sample a book by one of our fabulously talented New Zealand speculative fiction writers. Check out the SpecFicNZ website for some suggestions. Read New Zealand works, classic texts, new releases, books written by women, by LGBTQ writers… read widely, read often, read any book that you like, just please, please, if you can, leave a review because it makes a huge difference to the author.
What kind of research do you do before you begin writing a book?
So much research. So many tabs open at one time. As I write this blog post, for example, I can confirm there are seven tabs open on articles and research papers which I am currently using to inform my work. When writing a book, I’ll research the location, scientific concepts, recent technological advances, and also historical and mythological tales relating to the region. I might look up psychological papers to get an idea of how certain personality types might react in a given situation. Occasionally, I’ll conduct an interview with someone in the industry, or an eye witness to an event. I’ll use archived secondary information such as photographs, letters, and other accounts. I’ll run the work past sensitivity readers to ensure the cultural aspects are covered with sensitivity and accuracy. For authenticity of a book, and also suspension of disbelief, I really think it helps to have precise, up-to-date details to inform your writing. But my research doesn’t just relate to the content of my work. Sometimes, I’ll refer to books and articles to improve my writing techniques too: studying means of accelerating the narrative, or how to get into my backstory in a way that isn’t too clunky.
Do you see writing as a career?
Yes, I definitely see writing as my career. I have been a full-time writer and editor for the past twelve years. The advantage is that the commute to my office is very short, only a few steps, and if I choose to spend the day working in my pyjamas, I can.
Do you prefer to write in silence or with noise? Why?
I prefer silence. My novels have a lot of characters and with all of them demanding to be heard it’s already pretty noisy.
Do you write one book at a time or do you have several going at a time?
I generally write one book at a time, although occasionally I might have a novel and a short story on the go simultaneously. I suppose the half-finished manuscripts I have tucked away are technically still on the go…
If you could have been the author of any book ever written, which book would you choose?
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater. The Girl With all the Gifts by MC Carey. Anything by Australian horror writer, Kaaron Warren.
Pen or type writer or computer?
Advice they would give new authors?
Grow a tough carapace.
Win the Lotto
Write what you love.
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