The Shadow Mark
Title: The Shadow Mark
Author: Mason Thomas
Series: Lords of Davenia
Release Date: February 13, 2017
Genre: M/M High Fantasy
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
A Lords of Davenia Novel
Auraq Greystone, once a military officer with a promising future, exists on the fringe of society. Accused of murder, Auraq is on the run from the ax—until two fugitives crash into his solitary life. One is a young man named Kane. The glowing marks on his arm pulse with an otherworldly power, and they have made him the target of a sinister organization called the Order of the Jackal. When the old man protecting Kane dies in an ambush, Auraq swears an oath to take his place.
But the runes are far more significant than they realize. They are a message from the shadow realm, a dark memory of the past—one holding evidence of a bloody massacre and its savage architect; one that will shake the kingdom to its foundation. Risking arrest and execution, Auraq fights to get Kane to the capital city where the cryptic marking can be unlocked. And with assassins close on their trail, Auraq might never get the chance to show Kane what’s in his heart—or the way their journey together has changed him.
The Shadow Mark is an epic tale of magic, murder, conspiracy, betrayal, and—for the two men tasked with unraveling the mystery—love and redemption.
Alpha Book Club Welcomes Mason Thomas~
How ADHD Made me a Writer
I distinctly remember the day I got my hands on a red permanent marker. I was five years old. What excited me about it was how it had this wide tip. I could really fill things in quickly and easily with it. So, I set off, searching about the house for something to try it on.
First, I colored a door handle. The metal was too dark and I couldn’t really see the red the way I wanted to. Then, I started to color in the bottom of the mattress of the top bunk. My thinking was I would look up and see that beautiful red color every day when I woke up. But even with the wide tip, I learned quickly that that would take me far too long to fill in the whole mattress. So, off I went to find something else.
Just outside the bedroom I shared with my brothers was an antique radio. It was one of my father’s prized possessions, passed down to him from a favorite aunt. It was made of beautiful carved oak and had a rich dark stain. The woven screen over the speaker displayed a scene of Italian ruins. In the front, above the speaker, there was a small rectangular space for you to read the radio frequency. Turn the black knob, and the dial would move, showing you the different numbers. I have no idea why, but I put the fat tip of the marker into that space and turned the knob, making the entire number display red.
This sort of behavior was a regular occurrence for me. I’m well aware I was not the easiest child to raise. I was impulsive, easily distracted, and always on the go. I was one busy kid, constantly getting into things I shouldn’t, and half the time perplexed why I was in trouble and why everyone was mad at me. I would go through a small army’s worth of hats and gloves and notebooks each school year, because I would get distracted by something, set it down and off I’d go. (I would have no memory of ever setting it down, either.) Then, at other times, when I was involved in something that captivated my attention in a particular way, I would become hyper-focused, so engrossed in the activity that time would disappear and someone might call out my name multiple times and I’d never hear it.
That is the childhood of a kid with ADHD.
This all happened before kids like me were medicated. I often wonder how my life would have been different if I’d been on Ritalin or Concerta in my youth. Certainly, I’d have spent less time in detention, and probably would have had better grades. As a grown up now, I’ve learned how to cope with my distractibility and impulsivity, and I don’t lose my gloves and my keys quiet as often (I still do though). But I still think of all the ways my life would be more consistent, more structured, and less frustrating if I took medication to help me focus.
Then, I consider what I might lose.
The parts of my brain that are the chaotic whirlwind called ADHD are the parts that have made me the writer I am today.
Many like myself with AHHD have very robust inner lives. Our imaginations drive us. We are perpetually thinking “what if?” (We just don’t always have the impulse-control and will power to not find out. There was a reason my mother wisely put me in a harness and leash when we traveled to the Grand Canyon) What if I put that marker in there and turned the dial? What if I stuck my finger in that? What if aliens busted through the door and took us all prisoner? My imaginary life has always been as much a part of me as the “real” one and, much to the frustration of my perplexed and exhausted teachers, I often had a rough time separating the two.
I was still in grade school when I discovered that writing feeds this part of my brain, and I’ve been addicted to writing ever since. It has become my self-medicating drug of choice. When I’m at the computer, I am drawn deep into a world of my own making and my imagination, so often tethered, is free reign to run amok like a dog at a park chasing squirrels. I can immerse myself in my story with a depth and ferocity that is at times staggering even to me. Details whirl around me, and events unfold unbidden. I become hyper-focused—something akin to a trance or out of body experience.
I typically don’t plan out much of my story ahead of time because frankly it’s of no use. My mind doesn’t work that way. Once I delve into the story, my ADHD brain takes the wheel and it weaves the tale faster than I can dictate it. I honestly don’t know where the ideas come from, but they are there waiting for me when I need them.
Someone with Attention Deficient Hyperactivity Disorder, as the name implies, has issues with sustained attention. This is because we notice everything. Everything. In our distractible state, little things pull our attention from what we are trying to concentrate on. This too serves me in my writing—because I notice things. I notice little things. Facial expressions, small gestures, the way two people are interacting with each other. And these are the details that I draw from when I’m writing.
So, if I’m having a conversation with you and you notice that my mind is elsewhere, perhaps I’m noticing that your shoe’s untied, or that there is something on the floor, or it’s quite possible I’m doing research for a scene or working on my plot. Apologies in advance.
About Mason Thomas
Mason Thomas began his writing journey at the age of thirteen when his personal hero, Isaac Asimov, took the time to respond to a letter he wrote him. He’s been writing stories ever since. Today he is ecstatic and grateful that there is a place at the speculative table for stories with strong gay protagonists.
Mason, by all accounts, is still a nerdy teenager, although his hairline and waistline indicate otherwise. When his fingers are not pounding furiously at a keyboard, they can usually be found holding a video-game controller, plucking away at an electric guitar, or shaking a twenty-sided die during a role-playing game. Mason will take any opportunity to play dress-up, whether through cosplay, Halloween, or a visit to a Renaissance Faire. He pays the bills by daring middle school students to actually like school and encouraging them to make a mess in his science classroom. He lives in Chicago with his endlessly patient husband, who has tolerated his geeky nonsense for nearly two decades, and two unruly cats who graciously allow Mason and his husband to share the same space with them.