Author L.J. Sharman recently launched her Magenta Mysteries series, featuring a mystic of flexible morality with three days to return her husband to the Other Side or be stuck with him for good. L.J. kindly allowed Genre Reader a snoop at the Book 1, so wrap your eyeballs around this, an EXCLUSIVE extract from Magenta is the Warmest Colour:
Chapter One: Here we go
“Magenta,” rumbles Oprah Winfrey, soft brown eyes smiling, lips doing likewise, “we’re all desperate to know: when did you first realise you could speak to the dead?”
I inhale deeply and leave a pregnant pause, stroking the silk of my cheongsam and gazing thoughtfully into the middle-distance. The tension builds in the studio as the silence lengthens. Someone coughs. Oprah shifts uneasily. A crisp bag rustles in the distance.
I count ten bananas in my head and abruptly snap my gaze back to Oprah. She gasps briefly with alarm as the throbbing intensity of my orbs pins her to her seat.
“If I remember correctly, Oprah,” I intone, tonefully, “it was in the womb. I began communicating with spirits before I was even birthed into the material plane… Oprah.” My father (herbalist/weed-smoker, whyte witch/bullshit artiste, masseuse/pervert) once told me the importance of using the other person’s name as much as possible in conversation if you want to establish a “connection.” My father was very good at making connections, and was often on antibiotics as a result.
“You remember being in the womb?” Oprah queries, arching a surprisingly furry eyebrow. Doesn’t she have people for that?
“Of course I remember. Doesn’t everyone!?” I trill, throwing my head back to laugh, the feathers of my turban brushing the back of my neck sensuously. I laugh for a while, and then worry that I’m overdoing the bonhomie. It’s such a fine line between “charming” and “psychotic.” I snap my head back into an upright position and adopt a serious expression.
Oprah chuckles, confused and uncomfortable. Just how I like it.
“I don’t remember being in the womb,” Oprah says, “Perhaps your brain works in ways that we…” she gestures towards the moronic-looking studio audience, “cannot begin to understand. Magenta, you’re clearly an extraordinary woman. But Magenta, tell me,” She’s doing it too, now. Caressing my name repeatedly with her mouth. The connection has clearly been forged! We’ll be dry-humping by the end of this interview. “How is it possible to communicate with dead people when… enclosed… in a womb?”
Renewed tension in the studio as they wait for my answer. God, it’s such a rush. People care desperately about what I’m saying. Even though it’s total rubbish! Still. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from years of fortune-telling and lounge-singing, it’s this: if you want to get away with something; do it big; do it bold; do it with conviction. And wear clean underpants, because you’re about to get lucky. (That last one is metaphorical.)
“I wasn’t communicating with spirits that existed outside the womb, Oprah.” I say, making it up on the spot. My voice takes on a dreamy quality. It also helps to glaze the eyes slightly, as if you’re peering through The Veil Between Worlds. “I had spirit-company…. in the womb.”
Oprah furrows her brow (not a believer in Botox, I see.)
“A spirit…in your mother’s womb? Who was this spirit?” Oprah prompts.
I pause again. I drop a lot of loaded pauses into my speech, it tends to unnerve people, not to mention giving one valuable thinking-time.
“I had a conjoined twin, Oprah. (Pause.) One who did not develop as I did. He passed to The Other Side while still a mere dot of existence, a tiny collection of cells. And yet part of his physical body remains: you can still see the remnants of him… here,” I gesture to the beauty mark on my cheek that I’d pencilled on earlier that afternoon in the bogs. A profound hush descends over the studio. “We continued to communicate in the womb after his passing. And his spirit is still with me to this day. In fact, Oprah, he’s my guide. And he’s sitting right next to you.” I look at an area on the sofa to the right of her generous lap, “….there. On that cushion. Oprah.”
Oprah involuntarily flicks her eyes to where I indicated, her mouth forming a perfect ‘O’. A silence you could dip a crudité in fills the room.
Oh yes! They bloody love it, all of them! Look at their faces! They’re torn. Torn between believing me and wanting to buy my book, and not believing me and still wanting to buy my book. Excellent. I relax back into my chair, the battle already won.
“Magenta! I need a wee!” shouts my husband Bernard. Oh for God’s sake. This is hardly the time. “I can’t wait any longer!” he squeals. I sigh heavily.
“Alright! Come in then! The door’s open.”
Bernard bursts through the bathroom door, unzipping his trousers. “Sorry!” he says, releasing a stream into the toilet bowl.
While he’s occupied, I modestly arrange a couple of rubber ducks around my chest region and a flannel over the undercarriage. Even after 19 years of marriage, I think it’s best not to get too blasé about nudity. How’s he going to get excited in the bedroom if he’s seen everything casually swinging around all day? Unfortunately he doesn’t seem to take the same approach with his willy.
Sighing with relief, Bernard turns to me, his ding-dong still in his hand.
“Put it away Bernard!”
“Oops, sorry! And sorry to interrupt your bath, my love.”
“It’s fine. You couldn’t go in the kitchen sink again. Not after the neighbours saw you last time.” Our kitchen window looks directly into their living room; good for casual spying, not so good for spontaneous nudity. I continue: “Although you did interrupt a rather good fantasy I was having.”
“Oh yes?” he says.
“Put it away, Bernard!” He’s still stood there gripping Mr. Bumble.
“Sorry!” he says, clearly not sorry, and finally zips himself up. I sometimes wonder if he’s oblivious or just perverted. Not that I mind the latter too much; Bernard’s imaginative approach to naughty business has been instrumental in my work as an Internet Psychic Love Guru.
“Hand me a towel would you, my love?” I say, hoisting myself upright, the water cascading off my fabulous body. I truly have an excellent figure. Wonderful bosom, a bottom you could fall asleep in. It’s not fashionable to say so, I know. I imagine I’m supposed to be wasting time and energy weeping over a rice-cake. Instead I am a bountiful, bouncing, bum-tastic Goddess. Lucky, lucky Bernard.
He’s looking at me quite intensely now as I stand like Venus-in-the-bath, his glasses slowly fogging up. I imagine it’s giving him that effect that Captain Kirk gets when he looks at a foxy space lady; all soft focus and shimmering femininity. He’s certainly taking his time handing me the towel. Hmmmm.
“Fancy a ride?” say I, and off we trot to the boudoir, the ghost of Oprah left to evaporate with the suds.
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