I’m delighted to welcome you today to my stop on the blog tour for the incredible I Am Dust by Louise Beech. Thank you to Anne Cater and Orenda Books for giving me the opportunity to share an extract from this fantastic book with you today.
About the book:
When iconic musical Dust is revived twenty years after the leading actress was murdered in her dressing room, a series of eerie events haunts the new cast…
The Dean Wilson Theatre is believed to be haunted by a long-dead actress, singing her last song, waiting for her final cue, looking for her killer…
Now Dust, the iconic musical, is returning after twenty years. But who will be brave enough to take on the role of ghostly goddess Esme Black, last played by Morgan Miller, who was murdered in her dressing room?
Theatre usher Chloe Dee is caught up in the spectacle. As the new actors arrive, including an unexpected face from her past, everything changes. Are the eerie sounds and sightings backstage real or just her imagination? Is someone playing games?
Not all the drama takes place onstage. Sometimes murder, magic, obsession and the biggest of betrayals are real life. When you’re in the theatre shadows, you see everything.
And Chloe has been watching…
About the author:
Louise Beech is an exceptional literary talent, whose debut novel How To Be Brave was a Guardian Readers’ Choice for 2015.
Her second book, The Mountain in My Shoe was shortlisted for Not the Booker Prize. Both of her previous books Maria in the Moon and The Lion Tamer Who Lost were widely reviewed, critically acclaimed and number-one bestsellers on Kindle.
The Lion Tamer Who Lost was shortlisted for the RNA Most Popular Romantic Novel Award in 2019. Her short fiction has won the Glass Woman Prize, the Eric Hoffer Award for Prose, and the Aesthetica Creative Works competition, as well as shortlisting for the Bridport Prize twice.
Louise lives with her husband on the outskirts of Hull, and loves her job as a Front of House Usher at Hull Truck Theatre, where her first play was performed in 2012.
Extract from I Am Dust:
UNDER ONE ROOF
This was one of the last messages before the three teenagers went their separate ways; one of the last messages of the game. Sitting cross-legged in a circle, Jess, Ryan and Chloe wore Macbeth costumes; Jess’s red velvet dress was damp beneath her arms; Ryan wore his crown, as if he was saying that he was the leader tonight; Chloe wore her long witch robes, but she had flung the itchy wig into the backstage cupboard.
Their final show of the season had finished hours earlier, to rapturous applause. Now it was time to play the game one last time. When they began over a month ago, Ryan had called it a ‘game’, and he had told them the rules. But along the way they had bent them to fit their needs. ‘We’ll shut it down if it gets weird,’ they had agreed. ‘We’re in control,’ they had said.
Chloe knows now that they all lied.
Not only to one another – by saying they would end it if necessary – but to themselves. Over that summer, morbid curiosity, youthful bravado and teenage love had joined them on a dusty stage in a church. Now autumn was a breath away. Now the dying August sun could barely penetrate the boarded-up windows and light the room. Ryan had left a lamp on in the nearby backstage room, and it filtered gently through.
‘Last time, then,’ he said, positioning the alphabet letters in a circle.
‘Last time,’ repeated Jess.
‘Last time,’ said Chloe softly.
Ryan lit the three candles. The third one wouldn’t ignite easily; he managed on the third match. Three, three, three. It had always been three. Chloe tried not to cry. So much ending. So much change. She wasn’t ready. They put their fingers on top of the upturned glass in the centre of the circle.
‘Is there anyone here with us tonight?’ asked Ryan, as he had so many times.
Chloe smiled, wondering if the spirits liked to tease, to make their audience wait. Eventually a slow, seductive scrape drew their eyes down – the glass moved from letter to letter, spelling out messages from beyond. Chloe smiled. She knew who was moving it so deliberately.
This was the one she most liked to talk to.
Then the glass stilled, but only for a moment, as though ownership had switched, and the new owner had taken a breath. She saw him. Like she had that first time, so long ago it seemed now. He was sitting behind Ryan. Cross-legged. A teenage boy. Grinning. Face bloody; the crimson flow from a ragged gash across his forehead pretty in the flickering light.
The glass continued moving. It spelled out the words:
‘We are,’ said Ryan.
YOU ARE ETERNAL THREE
‘We are,’ said Ryan.
READY FOR THE POWERS
Chloe knew these words were the beginning of the end. The end of their friendship. The end of this. The end of childhood. Because they were all different now. She felt it as acutely as she had so many things this summer. Even though the spelled-out words were not spoken, Chloe heard them as though they had been. Many times, for her, the black-and-white letters somehow transformed into the voice of their creator.
UNDER ONE ROOF
It was only later – when Ryan and Jess had gone, and Chloe was speaking to the spirits alone – that she asked aloud why it was better they never meet again. And the answer made her realise they never should.
Then slowly, she forgot it all.
Like a jigsaw broken up, piece by piece, the memories died. Chloe eventually forgot that summer, and Jess and Ryan and their words, and the spirits. But the love she had felt remained in her heart, as a feeling more than a physical memory – an ache, a pain that compelled her to return to the dark, secret habits again and again, until they were an addiction.
End of Extract
How is it even possible to do this beautiful book justice? I Am Dust by Louise Beech goes from chilling psychological thriller to a hauntingly beautiful ghost story that will make your heart hurt. The author’s talent is immense as she brings these characters so vividly to life, with the atmospheric setting of the theatre becoming a character in its own right.
An exquisitely written story I would highly recommend.
Louise Beech is an accomplished author who has the ability to transport you instantly to another time and place no matter what genre she writes in. Outstanding!
I Am Dust by Louise Beech is available to buy now: Amazon UK
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