Monday, November 5, 2018

THE VALLEY APART and A SUBTLE WAY: Young Adult Series by NZ Author Greg Roughan

Title: The Valley Apart 
Author: Greg Roughan
Series: Beth Singer #1 
Genre: Young Adult 
Release: Available NOW

Would you escape a kidnapping, if doing so would cost your friend their life? That’s the premise behind this young adult series by New Zealand author Greg Roughan.

Its main character, Beth Singer, is a 14-year-old schoolgirl who hasn’t had to worry about much more than her grades until now. But when she accepts her father’s invitation to spend the school holidays with him in remote Isfastan, where he works as a diplomat, she’s faced with decisions that will push her far beyond anything she’s known.

The Beth Singer books mix page-turning action, with their gutsy (yet reluctant) young hero, and a kind of medieval mysticism as Beth travels into the remote tribal hinterlands of this foreign land. The first story, the Valley Apart, is a fast-paced yarn that most readers will finish in a few days, and is followed by the longer A Subtle Way.

So what draws a Kiwi author to write a school girl’s struggles on the other side of the world? Greg says he wanted to explore the kind of grey decisions that teens are faced with, as they grow out of the simpler black and white morality of childhood days. He’s also father to two daughters - currently 6 and 4 - and wanted to write a fierce female character who would inspire them when they were old enough to read.

Beth Singer #2 
Available HERE!

Driven far into the wilderness of Isfastan, Beth escapes into a valley sealed off from the outside world. She discovers a ragtag group of refugees gathered around a withered old man lost in an endless silent meditation. 

With the help of Oesha, the ten-year-old leader of the group, and Jarrett, an Englishman hiding from the outside world, Beth must learn to thrive in their primitive community if she is to unravel the mystery of her family’s past - and escape the enemy closing in on her trail.

Special Excerpt from The Valley Apart, 
Courtesy of the Author 

Beth slammed against the side of the pick-up as the truck cornered wildly, pain exploding in her face as her eye socket hit the side of the tray. With ankles cinched together by plastic ties, and wrists bound behind her back, the best she could do to protect herself was to clench her body and tuck her chin down to shield her face. She heard the engine rev madly as they bounced out of a pothole and for a moment she was suspended, cushioned by the canvas cover above, before slamming back into the deck.

On and on they went, the truck never seeming to leave second gear, while Beth slid around in the back like a sack of dirt. There was a moment when she thought she heard helicopters, but then gunfire erupted and the sound of rotors swung away. At some point after that the tempo of their flight seemed to change; the driver shifted gears, the engine slowed, and the mad swerving gave way to a steady rattle - with the occasional bounce as they hit a rock. For the first time in hours Beth felt like she could breathe - and hold a thought without having it slammed from her head.

It seemed there were others in here with her; she figured two, though she’d taken a while to realise. She had only clicked when something heavy rolled between her and the side, giving blessed relief from being bashed against the metal, and she’d heard them gasping and grunting as they’d braced for impact.

A gag was in her mouth. Above, a greenish light pricked with white came through the worn canvas, while a reddish glow filtered down the sides. Dust and grit were everywhere, burning her nose and stinging her eyes. But when she squeezed them shut an image from the attack that afternoon looped behind her eyelids, as clear as if she was standing in the midday sun: the man with a red beard who had watched their convoy. She had been close enough to see his lips moving, counting off the distance as their first car passed, then he’d looked at her, lifted something in his hand, and vanished - disappearing before her shocked eyes, to be replaced with light and dust - dust everywhere - and a roaring, ringing silence that had finally faded into muffled shouts and the sound of guns.

The red-beards. The thought of them sent Beth into a sudden full-blown panic - her body seeming to fall away while her mind filled with clouds of numbing fear - until a jolt rapped her head against the deck and the pain shocked her mercifully back to herself; breathing hard into the gag, but in control.

Oh Christ. The red-beards. Her father had told her about them: despised in Isfastan as the only tribe that never traded hostages. Captives they took for interrogation in wartime, but all were killed soon after as a point of pride.

She was going to die. She felt it not just as a thought, but in the black of her bones. They were going to kill her - and her father too.

She’d seen him bundled into a different vehicle just before they’d taken her. Could it have been their own people pulling him to safety? Beth forced herself to picture the men who’d hauled her father off by his collar - saw in her mind their white robes stained red at the collars by their wiry beards - and gave herself up to despair.

She let her body go limp on the rattling metal tray as the tears finally came. In the top pocket of her jacket the stiff folded paper of her father’s letter pressed against her ribs. Through the snot and tears Beth almost imagined she could smell the faint spiced odour of the paper and tried to hold it in her mind - the last trace of him she would ever know.

About the Author 

An author, journalist and editor, Greg Roughan's notable stories range from an investigation of the quirky-yet-true history of occultism in New Zealand, to an account of a first-time hunter's kill. 

His first novel, Effra, is a contemporary story of young people in London that weaves in the history of the lost rivers - the city's buried waterways. He is currently writing a young adult series about a 14 year old British girl kidnapped in the Far East. Books one and two are out now.

Greg lives in Auckland, New Zealand. Visit or follow on Facebook to stay up to date.

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