Welcome to this week’s Friday Author Spotlight! It’s been a while, but we’ve got a few lined up over the next few weeks or so. Today, Keith Anthony Baird is visiting to share his book, The Jesus Man. He’ll be sharing an excerpt from the book as well, so keep reading!
Keith Anthony Baird lives in rural Cumbria, England, with his partner Ann, a mad spaniel, two cats and two goldfish. He’s also inherited two daughters and a grandson. He’s had a varied career, having been a journalist for ten years, and also a designer and a retail manager in his time. The Jesus Man is his first novel, written throughout 2016 and based upon an idea he devised just under thirty years ago.
Inspired by such luminaries as H. P. Lovecraft, Edgar Allan Poe and H. G. Wells, his aim has been to deliver stories in a classic vein, but with a contemporary slant in both style and content. He aims to remain entirely independent, producing his works his own way, without interference from traditional publishing houses.
In his spare time, he and Ann indulge their shared love of the mountains by scaling the many peaks of the inspirational Lake District National Park.
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About the Book
In time, the world goes dark. Crops fail and economies begin the inevitable collapse. Countries close their borders, cease trading with one another and declare martial law to control their populations. As oil and power dwindle, the descent into chaos follows and the global meltdown unfolds.
An entity arrives and this malevolent force begins its strategy to claim this broken territory as a piece in a long-waged celestial conflict. Moving half a century ahead, the story centres on a colony entrenched in the desert of the Four Corners region of the United States. It is a place of sanctuary, established in the post-war years and grown to be a stronghold in the badlands. In the wake of the entity’s global strategy, it stands as the sole remaining seat of the human race. Its citizens are ruled by a brotherhood of elders who cling to the shattered remnants of the Christian faith.
A priest, favoured of the sect, begins to suffer nightmarish visions as evil turns its intent on the last bastion of mankind still to fall by its hand. Overcome, and subsequently possessed, the holy man becomes the vessel through which dark forces infiltrate the colony and lay low the last of men with a crushing malediction which will claim their souls, their homeworld and ultimately their Godhead for all time.
Rich in descriptive content and paced throughout with a growing sense of doom, The Jesus Man delivers an unsurpassed vision of Hell on Earth.
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Keep reading for an excerpt:
A faded sign that read ‘North 163’ rattled where it lay as a feral wind tore across a desolate highway. It was a howl of dry air that sung a septic aria to scorpions and little else. East of the cracked and bygone lanes, a huge ragged incisor-shaped rock punched skyward from the volcanic field like a bite that lacerated the forlorn panorama. Empty decades had wreaked their toll of abandon on this forgotten road and, where broken and degraded, the surrounding badlands had encroached to reclaim the strip. Strangled with scrub and suffocated with sand, the man-made scar that stretched to the horizon looked the spine of an era long dead. The racing sky lifted the skin from the land and birthed a pack of dust devils that danced over the creeping death of it.
South of here it was an ugly stripe of dessicated plant life, of those that could survive even the harshest of conditions, yet they stood stripped of moisture and seared beyond recovery. They withered right here, at a rate that defied natural law and the overdriven air scattered their parched stems into the hate of the desert. His presence was the antithesis of existence, an aura that whispered quiet annihilation to anything in his path, unless he willed otherwise. He reached inside his robe, retrieved a sackcloth doll and put his gaze upon it. A thing that had been cast down before him by a medicine man on a distant island in a weak attempt to ward off his imminent ending decades ago. It was a crude representation fashioned from a weave of dried sedge, dressed with a coarse fabric, that bore sewn features and was held together with rustic string bindings.
As the last act of defiance by a human soul it had intrigued him and so he’d kept the effigy as a memento mori and, in recent times, had embellished the thing with a modification all his own. Rosary beads he’d picked from the wreckage of a church in the City of Angels were now wrapped around it, with the crucifix in situ on the chest. He turned, stepped off the highway and moved to a cluster of rocks with the plants of the desert floor being destroyed with each step. The raging wind deflected around him, unable to make contact with its abrasive cargo of sand particles and disrupt his actions in any way. He placed the doll on a sheared rock and this time removed a skull from his garments, formerly the medicine man’s head, then moved the upturned remnant in a lazy counter-clockwise motion before spilling the knuckles inside across the slab to reveal their bone divination.
A sole peal of thunder rasped through the arid drift, followed by no other. Satisfied, he stowed the articles and made his way back to the road, making once again for the stark horizon and leaving a swathe of dead flora in his wake.