20 August 2015

Excerpt Thursday: WHITE HORSE REGRESSIONS by Steve Lindahl

This week, we're pleased to welcome author STEVE LINDAHL with his latest novel, WHITE HORSE REGRESSIONS. Join us again on Sunday for an author interview, with more details about the story behind the story. The author will offer one free copy of White Horse Regressions to a lucky visitor.  Be sure to leave your email address in the comments of today's post or Sunday's author interview for a chance to win. Winner(s) are contacted privately by email. Here's the blurb.

Hannah Hersman is haunted by horrific nightmares of Paige Stackman, her murdered lover. With the police investigation at a dead end, Hannah takes the unusual step of calling Glen Wiley, a regression therapist. Glen sends her back into her past life memories where they discover a cycle of violence and death they must break.
The sessions reveal that Glen and Hannah shared a life in Victorian London during which they knew Annie Chapman, whose gruesome murder by Jack the Ripper was similar to the fate Paige suffered. They find that the crime has repeated itself through the ages. The search for answers requires that Glen send Hannah back further, to a life she lived in China during the Han dynasty, where the cycle began.
Through the use of past life memories the novel covers three time periods, all involving backstage theater settings and the show people who inhabit them: a community theater in present time Vermont, a traveling circus in Victorian London, and a puppet theater in China during the Han Dynasty. The London scenes weave facts from the Ripper murders into the novel's plot while the scenes in China include facts from the story of the two monks who brought Buddhism up from India and changed the history of the world.
Glen and Hannah journey into the memories of their past lives to solve a murder that has been committed in their current existence and stop murders destined to happen after their deaths. In the process they learn about evil, love, and the eternal nature of the human soul.

**An Excerpt from White Horse Regressions**

Sometimes Kao Si was jealous of Kao Hui because her daughter was too young to work. What a life, she thought, sleeping all day while her mother carries her on her back. Kao Si would never admit her feelings to her husband. He would call her lazy. Everyone woke at sunrise and worked outside until it was dark. That’s just the way it was. Unless there was rain. It was nice when there was rain.
There was none that day, but there was something else that stopped their work. Shortly before the noon break, two men arrived. They were riding on white horses with many tablets and small statues tied behind the saddles of the animals. They both had dark skin and wide eyes so they must have come from a far away place where people look different.
Kao Si’s husband, Kao Jin, put down his hoe and approached the men.
“Welcome. We rarely get visitors out this far in the country. What brings you our way?”
“This is She Moteng,” the taller one said. “And I am Zhu Falan. We are on a long journey, bringing sacred texts to Emperor Ming of Luoyang.”
“Are you hungry? We can’t let travelers pass without offering a meal. My family was about to stop for our noon break. This is my wife, Kao Si with our daughter who is called Kao Hui.”
Kao Si bowed as low as she could. She wanted to say welcome, but she didn’t speak because she did not want to seem too forward. The men were dressed in patched robes that had been dyed yellow-orange. Their clothing along with the way they had spoken of sacred texts told her they had to be religious men. They dressed as if they were poor, but the horses they rode were magnificent and the statues she could see strapped to those horses’ backs were beautiful. Perhaps they had taken a vow of poverty, but they were now working for the emperor who had taken no such vow.
Kao Jin turned to his wife. “Prepare some rice and millet wine for these fine men.”
Although millet wine was not an expensive drink, Kao Si was surprised that her husband had offered the men more than simple bowls of rice. It seemed to her that he was trying to impress them for his own advantage. That was a wise move. Perhaps he was more ambitious than she had thought.
Inside the one room hut they called their home, Jin and Si had a simple wooden table and two benches, their only furniture as they slept on mats. Jin had made the table and benches himself and Si believed he had done a good job with the work. They didn’t have many material things to take pride in, but she liked that table. They offered the seats to the travelers. Jin and Si sat on their bed mats while they ate.
“The statues we carry are protected by the Emperor,” She Moteng said when they were done. “No one would dare touch them without our permission.”
“I know,” Kao Jin replied.
“They’re statues of the Buddha. You are welcome to look at them if you wish.”
“I’d like that.”
“Come. I’ll show them to you. Some of the smaller ones are made of pure gold.”
She Moteng stood up and bowed to Kao Si. He and Kao Jin stepped out of the small home, leaving Kao Si alone with Zhu Falan.
“Your husband seems interested in our statues.”
“My husband is no fool. The emperor’s protection is enough to temper his interest.”
“Kao Hui began to cry, so Si picked her daughter up and cradled her.”
“Perhaps she is hungry?” Zhu Falan asked.
“I fed her outside before you arrived.”
“I see. And you know your daughter well enough to know it isn’t time for her to be hungry again. You are an amazing woman.”
“It is not unusual for a mother to know her child.”
“That is true, but there is more to my words than you know at this time.”
“Then you must be the one who is amazing.”
“Perhaps I am, in certain ways,” Falan told her, then seemed to change the subject. “Would you prepare some tea?”
“I have none to offer you.”
“We have come from India and I have brought a great deal of tea with me. If I give you some, would you prepare it? And share it?”
“Is it the emperor’s tea?”
“Yes. But there are times when the emperor is generous. I know he will not mind you having some of his tea and perhaps he wouldn’t mind your husband having a gold statue, if the circumstances were right.”
“A gold statue? Even the smallest one must be worth a fortune.”
For Kao Si a dream of wealth had always been as likely as that she might sprout wings and fly. She was overwhelmed by the idea that her family might be allowed to keep one of the statues. The money would bring choices they never thought they could have. They might buy more land and have tenant farmers pay to work it. Kao Hui might not have to lead a life of constant hard work as her mother had. It was amazing to think about, yet she wondered about the right circumstances Zhu Falan spoke of.

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