Saturday, October 5, 2013


NAME:Identity X
AUTHOR:Michelle Muckley
GENRE:Sci-fi thriller

Ben is a research scientist.  He finds the cure for genetic disease in a serum called NEMREC.  He celebrates with his best friend Mark and returns home to his wife Hannah.  When he returns to his laboratory he finds that his research and his staff have disappeared.  When he tries to leave the laboratory somebody tries to shoot him.  He flees, and he manages to escape.  But when he tries to contact his wife she cannot be reached.  He has to work out who he can trust in an attempt to find his wife and his son Matthew, all the while dodging mysterious agents who seem to want him dead.  He has lost his wife, his son, and the chance to save his son’s life with his genetic research.  Identity X is the story of his fight to take these things back.

I was born in the town of Warwick in 1981. It is a small historical town in the heart of England, and I was the fifth child born into a family of boys. I developed a huge interest in the written world from a young age, and with more than a little help from Roald Dahl found quite the taste for anything gross and gory. Home now is Limassol, a city on the southern Mediterranean shores of Cyprus.  Winters are spent in the mountains, summers are spent at the beach, and pretty much all hours between are sat at a computer where I am writing the next novel, or reading somebody else's.

Q and A
What inspired you to write your first book?
From the first time I said to myself I want to write a book, I had been procrastinating very well and doing a lot of thinking, but not much else!  A lot of thinking that didn’t get me very far, until one day an idea popped into my head which was something along the lines of, how far would a person go to preserve their own life at the cost of those around them?  It got me thinking about what is precious to people, and what is so important that they would betray those close to them, or ignore their moral code.  From this one thought, The Loss of Deference was born.
What books have most influenced your life most?
When I am asked this question the book that always comes to mind is The Beach by Alex Garland.  For months afterwards I couldn’t settle in my job, and all I wanted to do was give it all up and go travelling.  The fact of having a mortgage however stopped me!  Also, Gerald’s Game.  It was the first Stephen King book I read and from that point on I wanted to be a writer.
What are your current projects?
I am currently writing a book set in Bowness on Windermere in the Lake District, UK.  It’s my favourite place in the world.  It is about a woman who has many psychological issues and how she is dealing with them with her less than perfect husband and the death of her father.  But unfortunately for her the problems reach further than her mind.  I have just finished the first draft.  It need a heck of an edit!
Can you share a little of your current work with us?
Here is a little bit from Identity X.
He waited before he spoke again, unable to focus on anything but the burgundy pool of blood forming underneath the waist of the dead shooter.  “Why did he want to kill me?”
“Because you are already dead, Ben.  There are no options left for you.  They will kill you.  They will not stop until they do.  They have hundreds of these men, and each one of them will die before they give up their duty,” she said, looking at the body on the floor, “and four of them are standing next to me right now.”  Ben looked up at the men at his wife’s side and contemplated in what possible reality his wife would be flanked by four assassins.  “You are going to walk out of this station with me, and you will get into the van parked outside.”
“If I don’t?”
“Then we will kill you here and now.  I will do it because you will leave me with no other choice.  If you come with me, if you trust me, I will protect you.”
What were the challenges (research, literary, psychological, and logistical) in bringing it to life?
For me editing is always the biggest challenge.  I think as I write, which always means that story changes and develops and needs adjustments afterwards.  The first book was difficult to write because I was working full time with an on-call commitment at the time.  Finding the hours was tough.  Right now the challenge is that I can hear the Disney Channel in the background in Greek, which when I’m not concentrating just sounds like blah blah blah.  
What advice do you have for writers?
It is really important as a writer to practice your craft.  By this I mean write consistently, and do it as frequently as you can.  Ideally I think you should write each day, even if it’s only for a short while, but sometimes this isn’t practical.  Reading is just as important, and I love to do it.  It is like research and for me if I am not reading I feel my writing is more sluggish.
From a practical point of view for somebody who wants to test their skills in the world of publishing, the best advice is to polish whatever you want to publish to the point when you cannot possibly stand to read it anymore, and until you believe it is as good as you can possibly make it.  Then make a choice between traditional and self publishing, and just go for it.  And whichever you choose, make sure you are tough enough to stand rejection and criticism.  I have experienced both, and it is essential to ride through it if you want to succeed.  Professional writers are after all, the amateurs who didn’t give up.  I heard that recently.  I can’t remember who said it, but I think it sums up the journey perfectly.
Chapter One
Sixteen eyes gazed back at him, twelve of them through heavy rimmed glasses.  They stood there silently waiting for him to speak whilst clutching their plastic cups, shuffling first left, then right.  Graham was still holding his pipette, his fingers poised and willing, trained for nothing but repetition and tedium.  Even in a moment of glory Ben could see that he was desperate to get back to his workspace.   Alan was pulling up a stool, rubbing the base of his back like a woman in the third trimester of pregnancy who had reached her daily limit.   Ami stood behind them, her open lipped smile full of reassurance, and she was staring at Ben as if they were the only people in the room.  Right now he was the centre of the world.  He was the centre of Ami’s world.  It felt good to have her approval.
Phil finished pouring the cheap champagne into his own crumpled cup before tipping the remainder of the bottle, which seemed to constitute little more than froth, into Ben’s.  He stood nonchalantly at Ben’s side ready for the celebratory cheer, the empty bottle swinging low.  As he nodded to Ben to speak, a quick come on, we’re waiting, a bizarre image of Phil crept into Ben’s mind.  He visualised a young Cambridge University student with smooth wrinkleless eyes, but behind the same thick rimmed lenses that he wore today.  The imagined face was youthful, yet was still topped with a balding scalp, only partially covered by the long hairs that had been left to grow from just above his left ear.  So ingrained was the image of the aged Phil, it was impossible to conceive a true and faithful representation of the young genius that he must surely have once been.  It was like he had always been old.
“Well, it has been a long four years,” Ben began, pausing for breath after almost every word.  It was hard to concentrate over the distracting sound of his wine as it fizzed about in his cup, and the whirring of the air conditioning rattling along above him.  His eyes were tired and gritty from the dry atmosphere.  It was seven thirty at night and he had been here for over twelve hours already today.  He had known by late morning that today would be the day.  When the first results came back, he knew it had worked.   As he gazed out from behind his own glasses to see them all waiting for him to say something momentous, all he really wanted to do was knock back his bitter and overly carbonated fizz and get out to the bar with Mark.
The truth was that he didn’t know what to say to them.   He felt an uncontrollable need to find something meaningful and poignant to say; to mark the life changing occasion with something that would never be forgotten.  He had to find something inspiring.  Something that would cause each of the scientists before him to regale their families with the story, who would in turn tell the tale to their friends, before soon enough the story would travel with the same inertia as a meteor through space.  He felt the weight of all great men before him who had stood on the same precipice of achievement, isolated in the solitary moment before the world learns what has been accomplished.  All that kept coming to his mind were the fuzzy static heavy words of Neil Armstrong as they were beamed back from the moon all those years ago.  People still spoke about that moment, even kids like Ben who were born years after the event.  It was impossible to forget the significance of that first footstep.  There was no person in the world that would forget that name, that moment, or those words.  His success today may not have the same intergalactic stretch from one celestial body to the next, and would perhaps be more quietly celebrated, but he felt the same sense of weightlessness.  This moment was the joy.  This moment was his, just before the curtains are drawn to reveal the expectant audience.  Stood there in his lab coat and shoe covers in front of a sea of tired faces, he felt as overwhelmed and excited, he imagined, as the first man to step foot on the moon.
“We have done it together.  This is our success, and it will change the world.  Raise your glasses.”  Ben held up his plastic cup, and a series of hands rose up before him, including Graham who had finally relinquished his pipette to the bench.  
“Here’s to us.  And here is to NEMREC.  We did it.”  They all nodded their heads, their plastic cups in the air in muted celebration before knocking the liquid back.  He saw a couple of smiles, and several of them patted their nearest colleague on the shoulder, in a display of professional appreciation and admiration.  If he could have done so without automatically assuming an air of inflated self importance, he would have patted each of them on the back himself, and thanked them for their individual efforts.  Instead he settled on a submissive handshake with each, as the formal line of scientists disintegrated into a casual crowd.  He wanted to emphasise the joint effort today.  He knew in the whirlwind of media attention and fervent celebration that would surely ensue in the days to come that it would not be his team appearing on the television.  Nor would it be them who would be whisked away, by business class no doubt, to the next conference for genetic research that he was certain he had read was going to be a six day stint in Dubai.  It would be Ben Stone.  Revolutionary Scientist.  The one that cured genetic disease.  He rolled his self-awarded title around in his head enjoying the way it sounded and getting drunk not on the alcoholic drink, but the dizzy heights of accomplishment.  It sounded good.   Seeing that during his momentary lapse into daydream the rest of the team were either finishing up at their work benches or had already discarded their lab coats and were back in their own clothes, he took a step towards his own office.
“Don’t forget, drinks at Simpson’s tonight,” he called, as he saw a couple of them nod in enthusiasm.  Ami nodded too.  “Eight thirty, I’ll be there.”  He turned and opened the door to his office, and sat down into the green leather chair.  It was always darker in here, although in theory there were the same number of lights as the main laboratory.  He knew because he had counted them last winter when one day he could barely see to read at his own desk, and he had indeed established that based on an equivalent floor space in the main laboratory, there were four recessed lights, just as there were above his desk.  The trouble in here was that there were so many papers and so many books that the light literally got sucked into the heaving mass of a lifetime of research.  Every surface had been utilised to hold some item of importance, including the uncomfortable looking couch that had on occasion formed an impromptu bed when he realised that the time to catch the last train home had passed him by.  It lined the only wall that wasn’t covered by a bookcase that stretched all the way up to the ceiling.  He had read every page of every book in here.   He had spent the majority of his life either huddled over a test tube, or with his head buried in a book.  He established his life’s path from the very first day that he learned of his family’s unfortunate trait.  It was the day that his mother had sat him down when he was fourteen and explained the basis for his father’s mood swings and how they would likely get worse, until one day when they might not be able to recognise the man they knew anymore.  Until then, Ben had been happy to play the role of a teenager.  He offered up no complaint when passing his time casually with his friends, racing his BMX around the park across the purpose built ramps to perfect his bunny hop bar spin trick.  But the day that she sat him down to talk, that changed everything.  
Consumed in his daydream he hadn’t seen Ami approach, and when she tapped her knuckles on the glass door she startled him.  As he looked up from his desk he saw the cascading mass of jet black hair, released and flowing like a waterfall across one shoulder, pooling in the crevice of her elbow.  Her eyes were set as endless jet black saucers, so different to the Ionian blue of his, and her skin was the perfect shade of honey.   When she joined the team just over a year ago, he could barely believe his luck.  He motioned with a smile and a quick wag of the fingers for her to open the door.  In a single fluid motion, she pushed the door ajar, and leant like a ballerina into the arabesque en l’aire, curling the top half of her body around the half open door.
“We are all leaving now, Ben.  We’ll see you there?”  Her hair fell casually forwards, spreading the scent of dried rosebuds across the office that reminded him of his own mother in a disturbing and yet somehow pleasant and familiar way.  Ben wondered if he looked as foolish as he felt in her presence when it was just the two of them.  He sat himself upright, his chair creaking as he shifted his weight around uncomfortably, pulling in the nearest research journal and leafing through the pages in an effort to look casual and unflustered.  
“OK, yeah. I’m right behind you, just finishing off here.”  He motioned to the research journal and glanced down at the page.  He noticed that he had undesirably opened the journal at a location that detailed a new stem cell treatment for erectile dysfunction.  An article complete with diagrams.  He caught her glancing down at the journal, and he closed the cover, hoping that she hadn’t deciphered the subject matter.  “I just need to make a telephone call.”  Erectile dysfunction.  Of all articles I had to open it there.
“Shall we wait?  It’s not a problem.”  She either hadn’t seen, or was too polite to joke at his expense.  He was grateful for either possibility, with a heavy preference for the former.
“No, go on ahead.  I’ll meet you all there.”  She smiled with pursed lips and tucked her chin in.  It made her look cute and sexy at the same time.  She closed the door behind her with her perfectly manicured hand.  He lent back in his chair, adjusting his position to watch her cross the laboratory floor until she closed the far door behind her.  He wondered if she swung her hips like that on purpose, or if when he looked away they would rest into a more natural rhythm.  He took the offending journal, shook his head in disgust and tossed it with revulsion into the waste paper bin.  He kicked his chair out from under the desk and put his feet up on top of the papers.  Resting his head of thick blond curls back onto the top of the chair he took the arms of his glasses in his fingers and slid them from his face.  He could barely believe that all his years of work, and all of his effort had culminated in this solitary moment.  He was surrounded by brilliance in his laboratory, and his team was made up from the best of the best in their field.  Yet now, when it was quiet and he was alone, when he should be revelling in the glory of his achievement it was impossible not to go back to that day and that life changing moment when his mother explained to him what a genetic disease was.  He would have loved to pick up the telephone, dial her number, tell her one simple thing.  He would tell her that he had done it.  That nobody else would suffer, and that their past would never be repeated.  He glanced over at the telephone, playing her long since redundant number over and over in his head.  He could see the answering machine flashing on the far side of his desk and it brought him back to reality.  There were three messages. Swinging his legs back down he propelled himself forward and hit the play button, leaving thoughts of his mother in the past where they belonged.  The first was from a supplier of gene chips to let him know that Monday’s delivery would be late.
“I don’t think we need to worry about that now,” he laughed to himself.   The second was from Hannah, asking him what time he expected to be home.  Her words sounded bitter, and he could hear her mumbling to herself as she hung up the telephone.  He wouldn’t let it spoil the moment though, and he put her message to the back of his mind.  The final message was from a Mr. Saad.  This wasn’t the first message he had left, and Ben still had no idea how he had managed to get hold of his direct telephone line.   The familiar and gravelly accent needed no introduction.
“Hello Mr. Stone.  I do hope you will do me the courtesy of returning my phone call this time.  I want very much to discuss your research with you.  I am able to offer a very substantial contribution to your funding which I know that you will need very soon.  My personal contact number is....”
“No thank you.”  Ben hit the delete button before he finished listening to the message. He had done it.  The compound had been shown to work.  NEMREC was ready to go.  It was only a matter of time before support from a large pharmaceutical developer would roll his way.   He had a month until the National Genetics Conference, and that was more than enough time to collate his results into something presentable.  After that, the funding and everything that came with it was virtually guaranteed.  He could almost feel the heat of the Dubai sun on his face.  He wondered if any sponsor might let him take an assistant, but with the same speed he considered it he reminded himself of the inappropriateness of his intentions.  He stood up from his chair and grabbed his jacket from the coat stand.  He had no windows in this office but he could hear the falling raindrops as they fell onto the flat metallic roof above.  He made his way towards the door and from the corner of his eye he caught sight of the thick brown wooden photo frame on the edge of the desk.  It had been gradually pushed to the side over a period of time by an ever increasing volume of paperwork.  He picked up the photograph with both hands and held it closely to him but angled it so that he could see it.  Staring back at him was the past, another time and another life it seemed to him now.  It was his own eight year old face, smiling and happy, pressed up against the face of his father.  His father’s hair in the photograph had already started to turn grey, and he was close to forty five years old.  The first signs had already started.  He was always restless, and to Ben he seemed jerky, even at eight years old when he should have been too immature to notice.  He always seemed irritable and he kept forgetting things.  It was when he had asked several guests during the ongoing fourteenth birthday celebrations why they had come to his home, and if it was only to bring in the dirt from the garden in the tread of their shoes that his mother had sat Ben down to talk to him.  It had been quite a scene, after all.  Seeing this photograph reminded him that it wasn’t the celebration, the glory, or the admiration on Ami’s face that he was looking for.  He didn’t need the all expenses paid trip to Dubai, as nice as it might be, especially if he got to take an assistant.  He didn’t need the nod to significant and overwhelmingly important prizes.   All the recognition he needed was here in the eyes of his ageing father.  He tapped the photograph with the back of his fingers.
“We did it Dad.  We did it.”  He sat the photograph back down on the desk, clearing away a selection of papers to place it centrally, and where tomorrow he would see it again.  He picked up the telephone and tapped out his home number.  Hannah answered, and the annoyance in her voice regarding his recurrent lateness was tangible in her short staccato sentences.
“Yeah, I’ll be late.  I’m finishing up at the lab.”  He paused briefly to listen.  “Just waiting for the machines and the final run.  I’ll be home by ten thirty.  Yes, you too.  See you later.”   He hung up the telephone and grabbed his briefcase.  He glanced at the piles of handwritten notes on his desk and considered taking the latest of them with him.  Instead he agreed with himself that he deserved at least one night off and so left them undisturbed.  He made for the door and turned off the lights, and as the air conditioning units slowed to a halt he could hear the rain louder as it pattered down onto the roof.  He was close to the underground station but doubted he would make it without getting soaked through. He rummaged around in the coat stand for a would-be luckily left umbrella, but it proved a futile search.  Instead he grabbed his raincoat from the hook and threw it across his shoulders, wriggling his arms into the sleeves.   He pressed the button and the entrance door slid open as a quick shot of air squeezed out from the pneumatic mechanism and he made his way downstairs towards the chill of the early spring rain.


Retail Links
Formats available
eBook: Available through Amazon
Paperback: Available through Amazon
(ISBN-10: 1490431446  / ISBN-13: 978-1490431444)

The Author has generously decided to help hold a giveaway for ONE PAPERBACK copy of Identity X along with SIX eBOOKS.
So Enter now for a chance to win!!


  1. Great post! Everything looks awesome.

  2. I loved Identity X!! Hope Michelle Muckley gets lots of new readers via this tour!!

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction