Eoghan Egan – The Other Side Of Fear (Blog Tour)
Published by Red Dog Press, available in hardback, paperback and ebook. Buy direct from the Red Dog bookshop at: www.reddogpress.co.uk/. Many thanks to Sean at Red Dog Press for inviting me to take part in the blog tour.
I am delighted to be sharing an extract of Eoghan Egan’s second novel in his Irish Midlands trilogy, published by the small but mighty Red Dog Press. Read this and catch up with all the reviews on the blog tour and I am sure you will be tempted to get your hands on the book to see what happens…
First, the official blurb: Sharona Waters is determined to dig into loan shark Dessie Dolan’s business and see him brought to justice. But when a young woman she’s only briefly met goes missing, a much darker story emerges. Pulled into the ruthless world of people trafficking – a world built on violent brutality and sudden death – Sharona finds herself caught between crime and conscience, pursued by powerful and ruthless criminals, and just one bad decision away from having her whole world crash down. Sometimes, the only way forward is to risk everything, no matter the cost.
The heat in Whispers nightclub was oppressive.
Someone had come up with the idea that the place was classy enough to have a coat check-in area, and Sharona Waters pulled Ronan Lambe past the queue of chattering girls and entered the nightclub. Eyes narrowed against the blinding strobes and dazzling laser lights, her body bounced to the hard-core beat of pulsating, deafening, techno music. ‘C’mon,’ Sharona shouted to Ronan.
‘Tiesto vs Diplo. C’mon is the song title.’
‘Oh.’ Techno electronic wasn’t Ronan’s music.
Sharona scanned the nightclub and felt old. A churn of teen bodies surged around her. They smelled of wet clothes, cheap perfume, and scrummed for position at the bar. The dancefloor was crammed with clubbers. Some sucked on baby pacifiers to lessen the ecstasy side effect of jaw clenching and teeth grinding. Others waved glow sticks, deciphering the music with their own facial contortions and gestures, spraying sweat with every head shake. A DJ, high up in a Perspex booth, surrounded by machinery, turned and twiddled knobs, using technology and technique to fuse and blend the sound. Waves of relentless bass beats snapped like whips, pumping energy into the crowd. White strobes and flashing lasers beamed and bounded, inducing some dancers into hypnotic-like trances.
Sharona grinned and stretched out her arms. ‘Feel it.’
‘Feel the music. Let yourself go.’
A fug of heat haze and dry ice radiated from the dancefloor. The music scaled up, building, building… Eyes closed, heads tilted towards the heavens, dancers twirled and spilled into one other, each in their own frenzied world, until the music reached a crescendo.
The house lights came on. Dancers hugged. The DJ spoke a disjointed, garbled sentence, then left his perch.
Ronan checked his mobile. ‘Midnight. Is that it?’
The crowd left the dancefloor, focus shifting. Caught in the wake, the pair went with the flow of bodies. Sharona spoke to a young girl next to her. The teen replied and gesticulated.
‘Music break while they pick models for a fashion competition,’ Sharona told Ronan. ‘Five grand plus guaranteed work at some international fashion show. She thinks Milan.’
The horde halted by a thick red decorative rope at the edge of the dance floor, held in place by metre high tarnished bronze supports with ornamental heads. The rope seemed to run all the way to the bar. More rope and props were placed parallel, leaving a three-metre wide space between. The babbling teens tussled and elbowed their way to get space at the rope. Two, three or four rows back would lessen their chances of being spotted. Some girls ducked under or jumped over the rope barrier and ran to the other side and jostled for the best position. Two hawk-faced bouncers halted the stampede, got the aisle free again, and stood guard. The babble turned raucous when a small man, surrounded by two huge minders, walked up between the red ropes.‘
There’s Dessie Dolan,’ Sharona pointed and shouted over the din. ‘He’s a bloody loan shark, not a fashion promoter. Why’s he—?’
A twenty-something woman, with flame-red hair and thin as a junkie, trailed behind Dolan. She flitted over and back, selected a few hopefuls. When a girl was chosen, a bouncer unlatched the rope from the support, let her through, and then reattached the rope. In the minute it took the group to reach the spot where Sharona and Ronan stood, four giggling teenagers followed the female Pied Piper. The red-haired woman’s eyes caught, held, and brushed past Sharona.
‘Hey. Me. Pick… what’s wrong with me, Ron?’
‘Nothing. ’Cept you’re five years too old.’
Sharona tried to move through the crowd. ‘I’m gonna ask Dolan some questions.’
‘Jesus, that’s… You said you wouldn’t—’
‘That was then. This is a golden opportunity.’
Sharona side-stepped bodies, got hemmed in, jumped across the red rope, ducked under a bouncer’s outstretched arm, and ran to catch up with the tight cluster that now had six or seven teenagers in tow. The group skirted the bar and started to file through an interior exit door. Sharona grabbed one of the girls, but got shrugged off. She clutched another girl’s arm and yelled into her ear. The teenager shouted back and kept walking. Sharona yelled again. The girl nodded, mimed dialling a phone. Sharona passed over her mobile and the girl tapped buttons and handed it back. Sharona put out her hand for the girls’ phone, but the teenager turned away and pushed forward. Sharona dug into a jacket pocket, found a crumpled receipt and a biro. She scribbled down her mobile number, folded the sliver of paper and handed it to the girl. The girl, still on the move, rolled the paper between a finger and thumb and shoved it into the back pocket of her denims.
The redhead stood beside the bouncer in the doorway and ushered six girls through. She frowned and shook her head at Sharona, beckoned the girl behind her to come forward. Then she followed her chosen troop, closed the door and left the glowering doorman to stand guard.
Sharona turned away, frustrated, and waited for Ronan.
‘What’s the story?’ he asked. ‘Did you get Dolan?’
‘No. I talked to one of the girls, though. Rebecca Greenfield. She’s been picked as one of the finalists in the modelling competition. It happens here every month, she said. Fashion industry’s always on the lookout for fresh faces.’
‘Young fresh faces,’ Ronan said.
‘She gave me her number.’ Sharona added the name to her contacts. ‘If I can’t get to Dolan directly, I’ll find another way. She said she’d let me interview her later. It’ll make good insight.’
‘Why would she—?’
‘I may or may not have said that I’m a fashion reporter, and I’d get her story in our magazine. Hint: I did.’
The house lights dimmed and the music swelled. Sharona leaned into Ronan. ‘We’ll hang around for a bit, see if Rebecca comes back. You don’t mind, do you?’
‘Aww, you’re sweet. If you’re bored, take a tour around the place.’
‘Ah, no. I’ll stay here with you.’
‘That’s the right answer.’ Sharona planted a kiss on Ronan’s lips, then went back to watching the exit door for Rebecca.
A native of Co. Roscommon, Ireland, Eoghan Egan wrote his first story aged nine. At college, he studied computer programming, and now works in sales management and marketing, but his passion for reading and writing remain. His stories were shortlisted for the 2018 Bridport Short Story Prize, and Listowel’s 2019 Bryan McMahon Short Story Award. Others have been published in various anthologies. The Other Side Of Fear is the second in a trilogy set in the Irish Midlands, after Hiding In Plain Sight. A graduate of Maynooth University’s creative writing curriculum and Curtis Brown’s edit and pitch your novel course, Eoghan divides his time between Roscommon and Dublin.