Naomi

( 6 )

Overview

From Bram Stoker Award-winning author Douglas Clegg, comes his most fascinating and enthralling creation yet!

The subways of Manhattan are only the first stage of Jake Richmond's descent into the vast subterranean passageways beneath the city -- and the discovery of a mystery and a terror greater than any human being could imagine.

Naomi went into the tunnels to destroy herself...but found an even more terrible fate awaiting her in the twisting...

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2001 Hard Cover 1st Edition, 1st Impression New in New jacket Signed by Author #393 of 1500 Signed and numbered copies. Cloth boards. New in New DJ. Flat-signed by author on ... custom, tipped in limittion page. Dust jacket covered with mylar jacket. Tight, clean, unread copy, purchased signed from Publisher. Signature guaranteed. Please ask for pictures. Read more Show Less

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Overview

From Bram Stoker Award-winning author Douglas Clegg, comes his most fascinating and enthralling creation yet!

The subways of Manhattan are only the first stage of Jake Richmond's descent into the vast subterranean passageways beneath the city -- and the discovery of a mystery and a terror greater than any human being could imagine.

Naomi went into the tunnels to destroy herself...but found an even more terrible fate awaiting her in the twisting corridors. And now, the man who loves Naomi must find her...and bring her back to the world of the living, a world where a New York brownstone holds a burial ground of those accused of witchcraft, where the secrets of the living may be found within the ancient diary of a witch, and where a creature known only as the Serpent has escaped its bounds at last.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
If you missed the premier of Douglas Clegg's Naomi in 2000, when he made it available free as an email serialization, here's your chance to find out what all the buzz is about. This deliciously creepy tale of serpents, witches, and a subterranean world beneath Manhattan's busy streets is a tragic love story about fate, destiny, and the sometimes awful truths behind our human existence.

Naomi Faulkner and Jake Richmond were childhood friends who grew up in Virginia's backcountry. They shared love, happiness, and a terrible secret -- until the day Naomi disappeared. As an adult, Jake moves to Manhattan, marries, has a child, and then gets divorced. Unbeknownst to him, Naomi is also in Manhattan, leading a life filled with sadness and despair. By the time Jake discovers that Naomi is living nearby, she is dead, having thrown herself in front of a subway train. Dead, but not exactly gone.

In Greenwich Village, a middle-aged woman named Maddy discovers that some sort of witches' holocaust took place on the land beneath her brownstone, which is undergoing extensive renovations. The exposed graves contain some gruesome artifacts and a centuries-old diary that belonged to a woman named Naomi. The diary reveals the terrible truth about this Naomi's life and death and provides a key to a formidable power. When Maddy succumbs to her curiosity and delves deeper into the diary's secrets, it leads her far underground to a vast maze of tunnels beneath the Manhattan streets. Also drawn there, by what seems to be the ghost of the modern-day Naomi, is Jake. Awaiting them is a dark and evil force that is about to break free of its bonds and wreak terror on the world. For Maddy and Jake, the stakes couldn't be any higher -- they must risk more than just their lives if they hope to emerge triumphant.

The sense of unavoidable destiny and the bittersweet poignancy of Jake and Naomi's doomed love provide an added layer of texture to Clegg's subtle but clever horror. Plus, the immaculate pacing makes for a sweet bit of torture all its own; Clegg builds the suspense until the pages fairly crackle with it. His masterful use of imagery combined with the complexity of his characters makes for a lasting impression, a lingering sense of wonderful terror that hangs on long after the last page has been turned. (Beth Amos)

Beth Amos is the author of several novels, including Second Sight, Eyes of Night, and Cold White Fury.

Linda Marotta
...Naomi is definitely one of the best horror novels of 2001. Douglas Clegg has been building up to this level of excellence for some time; his steady stream of powerful works like The Nightmare Chronicles and You Come When I Call You have made him one of the best and most consistent horror novelists working today...
Fangoria Magazine
Rue Morgue
Clegg is the direct heir to the crown of contemporary horror fiction.
New York Daily News
Clegg gets high marks on the terror scale.
Dallas Morning News
Clegg has cooler ideas and is much more of a stylist than either Saul or Koontz...
Locus
Clegg's gifts as a teller of grim tales are disconcerting and affecting.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781892284754
  • Publisher: Subterranean Press
  • Publication date: 12/28/2000
  • Edition description: Signed Limited Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 281
  • Product dimensions: 6.27 (w) x 9.36 (h) x 0.96 (d)

Meet the Author

Douglas Clegg is the award-winning and bestselling author of horror, gothic, fantasy, thriller and suspense fiction, including Goat Dance, Purity, The Words, The Children's Hour, Breeder, Neverland, The Hour Before Dark, You Come When I Call You, The Machinery of Night, Bad Karma, Nightmare House, Naomi, The Nightmare Chronicles, The Attraction, Dark of the Eye, Mischief, The Infinite, The Abandoned, Red Angel, Night Cage -- and more.
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Read an Excerpt

PART ONE
THE HAUNT

She knew that this was the last evening that she would see him for whose sake she had given away her lovely voice and left her home and family; and he would never know her sacrifice. It was the last night that she would breathe the same air as he, or look out over the deep sea and up into the star-blue heaven. A dreamless, eternal night awaited her, for she had no soul and had not been able to win one. --Hans Christian Anderson, "The Little Mermaid"

CHAPTER ONE:
Subway
1

Destiny lurks, but when the time is ripe, it devours.

Don't imagine for a moment the silver towers of Manhattan, shining in December with sweat and frost. Forget the postcard images in your mind of the city, the looming skyscrapers, the brown and gray apartment buildings obscuring any trace of morning sunlight; lose your memory of the small grocery mart with its rows of oranges and apples and cheap flowers, and the great clock over the Persian rug shop, and the closed trattoria with ragged awning flapping, traces of soap on its windows.

Imagine instead a vast cavern of overgrown brownstone and gleaming pumice, frozen in spray up to the sky; imagine the anthill and its inhabitants; imagine anything but the buildings along 8th Avenue, the yellow taxicabs, the young man in sweatpants and hooded jacket jogging, the gray-suited bald man with glasses, shivering, a steaming Starbucks coffee cup in hand; the handsome and the ugly; the elfin woman still drunk from the previous night, blown by an icy gust as she walks her Boston terrier on a short leash; the masks and the faces they reveal; the two shiny men with gym bags; the piles of trashbags; piles of kids as they wander with their Walkmans and cel phones; the overcoats fluttering; the hat pulled down over ears; and through it all, the serpent turns.

And it lurks. And it will devour.

The message steams in the crisp cold air, the breaths of fog that pour like smoke from the mouths of people wandering the chilly city streets; it is in the exhaust of buses, too. The citadel of stone could stand for a hundred more years, and still none will escape destiny as it waits, hungry. The city is the cave for a serpent, and serpents can look like anything or anyone, but still they are what they are. Only you know it, because you are part of the In, you are close to the pulse of how this island kingdom runs. You are one of the few who can journey from the In to the Out and back without fear.

And you know that today, the serpent is loose.

But it is an ordinary winter's day, they call the city New York, they live within the belief that all is well for now. Somewhere across this island, there are construction workers' jackhammers making the earth's crust tremble, and somewhere, between the In and the Out, what should've stayed chained has been set free. They all dig down deep but never find the In, they never know all the wormholes that the serpent has, but you know, you and the others like you, you know the passages of the serpent, and you know that no matter how it looks in the Out, what has been loosed cannot be put back.

But it's business as usual here. Christmas is coming; the lights are up even early in the day; shop windows are heavy with ornament and display; the snow from the week before all but melted in the city; the trash bags roll and shift with wind and rats along the side streets as the Village bleeds into Chelsea; as you watch her walk -- no, as you watch her stride towards her goal. In her stride, her destiny.

She is the kind of woman that once seen, will never be forgotten, not because of some ideal of beauty, but because of her very nature: she is the unmade bed, she is the lost unknown, she is the woman whom other people speak of but whom no one invites, she is mystery, she is purity-in-chaos. Her eyes are brutally kind; her manner is distant; her face is pale without being sunless, a redness around her eyes and nose, a vulnerability. She has the look of having been in the storm, droplets glistening on her skin, crystal snowflakes melting. You read her thoughts in her hands as she gracelessly reaches in her coat for keys or some Kleenex or a good luck charm or a memento from the past. You see the child-like way she smiles at nothing, perhaps at the very air itself, perhaps at the folly of life. She reminds you of the woman you'd want to meet someday; but she has darkness within her. She has spent her life searching for the serpent; and now it will find her.

She is dangerous.

2

"Destiny lurks, it does, I tell you when your time's ripe, it devours, it surely does, it's a devourer, it opens its jaws and unlocks just to get you." That's what the teenaged boy on the corner of 14th Street and 8th said to the woman who had passed up his offer to allow her to give him change. He shook the can that had once held Del Monte pineapple slices and now clanged with a few quarters and several pennies, and perhaps later on would carry water or soup if he could get some. His stink was strong, a gust of foulness from the pit of some unwashed arm. His name was long forgotten, but those who called him friend also called him Romeo, for no other reason than the fact that he roamed.

"Listen, you give me change, lady, and I give you salvation. It's a damn good bargain you was to ask me," he said, his voice like the squeal of brakes over shattering glass bottles. He was too old to be young and too young to be old, and his red baseball cap had seen better gutters. His eyes were dull and milky as if he suffered from some ailment a woman like this would never want to know about. His grin was infectious in all the unfortunate ways.

"All right, lady, destiny lurks but it can devour any second, and just the price of a cup of coffee'll get you some relief. It's a -- whoa -- a huge mother of a snake -- and it gets out and it bites you where the sun don't shine. I said its got a sting and a bite and then it just chows down like you don't even matter and I seen it, I know what it can do."

He knew his words didn't sound as clear as he thought them in his head, but he said them anyway. She glanced at him once, and he was sure that she looked right through him before moving on. She walked so awkwardly towards the subway entrance, with her tan coat, her faded jeans, her worn sneakers, the way her hair wasn't quite combed, nor was it quite blond. And something about the way she glanced back at him let him know that she was not one of the Out People even if she hadn't given him a quarter or the time of day.

She's one of us.

She had the darkness in her already; he could tell.

The street, so alive with suits and skirts and rags and vendors and loafers, washed her image away like a sudden downpour. Hunger wrestled with his fears, but he kept shaking his cup and hoping that he'd get enough change to take care of his great burden. He didn't like the thought of the serpent or of the lady who wanted to find it, but there was no coming between what was and what was meant to be.

3

Don't think, just do.

The words were like mosquitoes humming around the woman who stepped down into the urban underworld known as the subway. Within her mind, the world itself was a mass of mosquitoes all swirling in patterns around her.

Just do, she thought, wiping at her nose with a Kleenex.

Quit thinking so much. Thinking too much about it is what screws everything up.

A cold, left over from Thanksgiving, lingered in her sinuses. She fumbled with the nasal spray bottle to get one last clear breath -- she laughed at herself, wondering why she was so worried about her stupid cold, why she even cared anymore. Inhaling, she smelled the dust and piss of the subway and street and then her head began pounding again. She'd had a Sudafed with a glass of wine at six a.m., hoping it would allow her to fall asleep; but it just seemed to make the pain more intense, and she wanted to get the feeling out of her system. It manifested itself in a throbbing at the edges of her scalp and a constant hammering behind her eyes. Her head was pounding with a thousand words left unsaid, conversations she'd wanted to have, arguments she wished she'd been brave enough to incite. But none of it added up to much, and so little was clear she just wished all thinking would stop.

But one thought pounded at her, the hammer of one thought, up and down, again and again, behind her eyes. One thought.

All she could think about as she went down the cold stone steps was that he would never have let her leave the apartment had he known that she intended to throw herself in front of the first train that came down the tunnel.

4

But he'd gone out for an hour, and she had her chance.

In under a minute she laughed, wept, and smiled. Then, she closed her eyes and tried to pray but there were no more prayers in her. She glanced up at the sky before it disappeared from view as she went down the stairway into the bowels of the city. A last glimpse of sky. White with clouds. The bare trees of winter.

She tried to picture the winter sky as she walked through the passageway. The walls comforted her to some extent; this was a safe enclosure, an antidote to the open muddy fields and burnt ruins of her childhood. The city was a cold but welcome embrace, and she never felt it more strongly than down in the subway.

She knew what he would say. The Alien. His name was Alan, and she liked to think of him as Alien because then it was easier to not let him touch her anymore, to not let him get under her skin in any way.

But still, she knew what he would say if he'd been there to stop her. "Naomi," he'd say, "it's the winter blues, that's all. Have you been off your prescriptions again? That's not good. That's not sticking with the program."

Sticking with the program.

Learning to cope.

Making do.

Recovering.

All of them, Alien buzz words. "When you have all your ducks in order, we can sit down and talk about the future," he'd say, and whenever he used this phrase, she wanted to get an Uzi and shoot all those damn ducks and watch the blood and feathers fly.

She knew how he would suddenly be gentle with her and how she would lash out at him. He would sit there and be gentle and even kind. Her thoughts would turn violent although she did nothing to fulfill them; his kindness would feel violent to her. Sometimes kindness was the worst sort of treatment. She wanted to tell him she'd been seeing another doctor who suggested she'd been misdiagnosed, but she knew that the Alien would really find a way to twist that up so that she would begin to doubt her own sense of reality again -- and she didn't even blame him. It was her. It was completely her. "You need to pay for good medical care. These therapists you know," he'd say, his head shaking slowly, "bargain basement prices, and no real training..."

But none of that mattered. She had to smile as she asked for the subway token - a buck fifty. A subway ride was still a bargain, one of the last of them at the end of the 20th century - a real bargain basement, she thought, glancing around. You could go anywhere on the subways in Manhattan for a buck fifty. That was New York all over. Anywhere that didn't matter, you could get there cheap. She could go the length of the island and never get back to the place where she'd been happiest.

A child stared up at her as she dropped the token in the turnstile. Dark hair, dark eyes, a wan look as if he had no expectations. His mother, a cool drink of water -- that's what Jake would've said. The boy's mother was in a bad mood. Her eyes were fixed on the boy's hands, like a cat ready to pounce. "Where's your token?" the mother asked and the boy's mouth dropped, drool on the edge of his lips. "Where the hell is it?"

The child watched her even while his mother clutched his hands, demanding his token.

Two men, tall and stocky, hair on one like a rock star, non-existent on the other, businessmen in blue and gray uniforms, rushed past her -- the earthquake rumbling of the approaching train grew louder. A short redhead in a raincoat practically shoved her. Then the rain of people followed in her wake. From all corners they shoved and jostled and slipped between one another, creating pockets of personal space; black, white, a woman in furs, a teen in a leather jacket with purple hair. They melted into one another as they rushed forward, grabbing their places along the platform.

To her, it was not a platform on the subway, but a precipice.

The edge was everywhere. The edge was life, and she was always on the verge of discovering what lay beyond the edge. Her eyesight was all messed up; tears? No, not tears. Tension. The headaches. The memory that she could never dredge up, no matter how hard she tried. All she could call it was the blank spot of her life. But her vision sucked -- she laughed thinking of it that way -- and the faces in the crowd, she remembered the poem, the apparition of these faces in the crowd...

We're all ghosts, already. We reach adulthood and we're already gone from the world that matters. We're just keeping things in order for the next crop of people. We go about our business. And why? We're ghosts. We repeat patterns without knowing that we have no effect. Our lives are determined before we're twenty After that, we just repeat. It's already the future. These people are already ghosts. I am a ghost.

I am no one.

My time has come and gone.

I am ruined, she laughed to herself. I am ruined. I will be no more.

She stood there, her head throbbing. Slowly, she walked to the edge of the platform, closing her eyes. Her steps seemed completely silent to her. She barely noticed the murmurs as those she passed spoke about the lives they were leading, their victories that were really just defeats in disguise. Their eyes had not been opened.

Images bled in her mind:

Her mother, lying in the coffin; her brother stealing the trophy; the Alien, his eyes flashing green, picking her up in the rain outside of Lincoln Center, his car so warm, his manner so smooth, her desperation so great; the blank spot, the blindness of moments in time, moments that were cut from her and had turned to darkness; and Jake -- just his face, sixteen years' old, sweat shining like smoldering ashes under his skin...Jake, if only Jake were here...If only I had the courage...

Now, the other voice within her whispered. It was the voice of her highest self, she knew. The one who knew how to do things. The one who knew where she was going.

Now.

The sound of the train grew louder, and the tunnel wind swept her hair --

One foot ventured into the air beyond the platform. The rumbling was loud. She could feel the train's heat, nearly. She could do it; she knew she could. All it would take was another step forward, and then she'd fall, and the train would reach her before she landed on the tracks...

She drew her foot back; she looked down at the track, and the train was suddenly there, its silver flash slowing to a blur and then it became solid, a train once more, doors opening. The door opened in front of her, and a woman asked if she was going to stand there all day. "Can you hear me?" the woman asked, her voice full of crust.

She stepped aside for the crusty woman. The rain of people poured in, the doors closed, and then the blur of an impressionist painting as faces and train became one.

The train moved on.

The subway platform, empty, but for Naomi Faulkner, standing there looking wistfully at the flashing of the train as it moved through the tunnel. Naomi Faulkner who had once had dreams like anyone else, but had reached the age where dreams no longer were enough to clean up a messy life. She had come to the realization that she was not special enough, that whatever magic she'd imagined life had, it was not for her. It was for other people who went on to bigger and better things. It was for people that got on the train and had their minds on things other than themselves.

Selfish. That's what you are. Selfish and stupid and wasting your life chasing something that people like us don't ever get.

She heard her own voice in her mind saying those words, but she could not pinpoint from whom she'd first heard them. She hated the feeling of weakness.

I am not a victim. I will not be a victim.

She could say it a hundred times, but she would never be sure if she meant it or not.

The platform, so lonesome a place now, with two empty benches, bore smudges of washed-over graffiti on the chipped-paint walls (*she's all that*, one read; *I Moan*, a spraypainted scrawl with an obscene sketch beneath). She got the sense that she stood in the empty corridor of a windswept and icy school. It reminded her too much of waiting for the principal or the school nurse; suddenly she was thirteen again, and expecting punishment. St. Anselm's, the Church in the Vale, at the edge of Carthage, its ruined steeple, and the way they'd dragged her there like a dog... Church, sins, the white chapel with the long aisle and the hardwood pews, and having to stand up in front of everyone on that day and confess her sins...

She went over and sat on the bench. Glanced at her wristwatch -- it was eleven a.m., Saturday, December 14th, and this would be her final decision. And, as far as she could remember, the only important one since she'd run off as a teenager too many years ago. That decision hadn't worked. This one would.

A man with a foolish grin walked by her. Perhaps he was thinking something funny to himself. She liked that. The Alien had no sense of humor whatsoever. He was completely solid and sober. He needed to be like Foolish Grin a little.

"Damn you," she said aloud to no one. When she looked up, she realized Foolish Grin was still there at the platform, rocking back and forth, heel to toe. He had prematurely gray hair and a wore a houndstooth jacket over a bulky sweater. He glanced at her briefly, then looked away.

Let me tell you what I'm planning, she thought. I'm planning on leaping off the platform into the path of the train. I'm planning on feeling every moment of this train bursting my bloody atoms apart. Then, with luck, I will be nothing.

She heard the hoofbeats of wild bulls -- the sound of an oncoming train -- she glanced down the track and saw two pinpoints of light. She glanced at her watch. It had only taken a few minutes for the next train.

She stood, smoothing her coat. Then, she giggled to herself at her own vanity. Who cares if my clothes look like hell? Wait'll they see my apartment, then they'll really know I went the failed diva route.

The image of her messy bedroom floor with its piles of laundry and stacks of paperbacks brought to mind little Katie. She was sure that Maria or Soozan would come to Katie's rescue in a day or two. In the meantime, the cat had enough Friskies in the bowl and plenty of water in a shallow pan to last her 'til then. Surely, one of her friends would remember the cat as soon as the news was out.

What if she was so obliterated that no one could identify her for weeks? What if Soozan was off on one of her last minute trips to the Bahamas? What if Maria might be so involved with her work that she'd even forget to give her the usual Saturday night phone call, let alone check in on Katie?

No, I'm sure they'll remember Katie, they love Katie. Maria was there when Katie got spayed and even loaned her money for the vet bills.

They'll think of Katie before they even think of the Alien.

The train drew near; she stepped up to the edge of the platform; she could practically see her tabby cat mewling for food and water in a dark, forgotten studio apartment. Stop it! She shouted within herself. They'll find you Katie within two days and Maria will probably let you come live with her.

Naomi Faulkner, a struggling actress in Manhattan, threw herself to her death this morning at the 14th Street subway beneath the express train going uptown. She is survived by her cat.

She imagined the words. It would be nice to have an obituary, no matter how brief.

Katie would be fine. She'd sent the note to both of her friends, and they'd be getting it by Monday or Tuesday at the latest. There were enough Friskies to last until Wednesday. Once they got their notes, they'd go get Katie and that would be that.

Foolish Grin was stepping up to the platform, not so much beside her as behind her. She could sense him even if she couldn't see that grin. Get a load of what you're about to see, Mr. Foolish Grin. Watch this swan dive. It's a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Now, she thought. Now. Do it.

The twin headlights of the train -- only now they were dreadlights, eyes of spiraling fire -- heading for her, zooming down the tracks...

And now, you have to jump. Just another second, and --

But I can't, she thought. Oh god, it's like willing yourself to drown. Can't do it, have to fight for air, have to survive. Oh shit.

Damn it, I can't jump.

Yes, I can. I can. Damn it, just jump, real easy, just step off the edge and walk on air for a second and then when the metal smacks you upside the head you can get rid of that headache once and for all and you'll never have to think again and you'll just sleep forever and ever...

Just think of what you have to live through if you go back there, think of what's lying ahead down the road a few years, think about how the Alien's going to somehow make nice and you'll be taking more Prozac and then you'll be secretly sneaking out, and how all you want to do is go back to a place you can never go, and twist time around and pull back to that one moment when you made a decision so monumental in less time than it takes to jump in front of a train, go back to that and then see if you can stop all the crying in your head, all that noise.

And then, it began. The cats all yowling, the alley of her dreams, full of cats and snakes, the rattles and the cats, the cymbals all smashing together like windup toys, and the girl in the middle of the muddy field screaming louder than anyone could possibly scream...

"Shut up." She wasn't sure if she opened her mouth or if she was still living in her mind, but it all hurt, all tore at her --

There was something about knowing that this was it - this was her last chance -- that forced the images in her mind: the friends, the lousy job, the apartment that was like a crate with a toilet attached, her cat, even him, the Alien, and then the memories of Carthage, hellhole and heaven all at once, and Jake, Jake who was no longer there for her, but somehow, just the fact that he existed somewhere -- in a place she would not go -- was enough.

Here come the lights. Close, closer, getting warm, feeling the warm dusty breeze of the train against her skin, the silver blur...

5

Voices from the past erupted within her as she closed her eyes, willing herself to jump.

"It's not as bad as it seems."

"Oh my god. It's the worst thing a human being can ever do."

"No. You're wrong."

"You know I'm right. You know this is the worst thing. It's a sin. That's what it is."

"There's no such thing as sin. And this is not your fault."

"You're wrong. This is a sin. What I did. What I never should've done. I can never be forgiven. This is the worst sin on earth."

She remembered those words at a distance of thirteen years, the girl who lived in Carthage, Virginia, the girl who had never really gotten out --

The girl who had become a woman at some point in time and had moved to New York only to make her life's ambition a leap from the platform of a subway station into the lights of a train.

The end of the line.

6

And she could not jump. The life spark was there -- it was like the voice of an old friend within her. Life had importance. Life had substance. Life was everything she knew. Even something about church teachings was screwing with her and wouldn't allow her to give in and jump. Or maybe it was pure biology. Perhaps her whole body, its flesh and blood and bone, all refused to help her accomplish what should've been her greatest triumph. It just felt like the nearly inaudible mumbled whisper of life asserting itself.

She wanted to live, after all. She took a deep breath. The train was speeding into the station, but she would remain on the platform.

Here it comes, but you won't be leaping. You're a coward at heart. You love life too much. You just need to get away from the Alien. You need to figure out this mess. You need to begin anew. So what if you become an alcoholic or a head-pounding freak? New York was a good place for all that and more. Other women reinvented themselves here, they couldn't all be together, hip, interesting, sexy, and brilliant, could they? There must be some mouse like you that just fell into the wrong maze and can't quite find the cheese. There's got to be a place for you.

She didn't need to kill herself just to get away from the Alien. She didn't need to prove anything to anyone. She needed to figure it all out; she needed to get her life back. That's what it was. She needed to grab the keys to the car and drive, which was something she'd given up doing. That was the problem. Life wasn't the problem.

Thank god, something within her whispered. Thank god, because you didn't really want the pain. You didn't really want to find out what it would feel like to have all that metal and fire inside you, tearing your skin, bashing into you, breaking you.

And then she felt the hand pressed into the small of her back, almost a tickling sensation.

"Wait," she gasped, half-turning, but then he pushed -- Foolish Grin? Was that who was pressing against her? -- the rough hand making sure she went over the edge, into the path of the oncoming train.

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Interviews & Essays

An Exclusive Announcement from the Author
I've written several horror novels in my career, but one year, I decided to do something a bit different.

I resolved to write a novel in serial form for the Internet, and so in 1999, I began writing Naomi, week by week, for my subscriber list of several thousand people. My publisher, Leisure Books, sponsored the email serial, and it became known as "The Internet's first publisher-sponsored e-serial novel."

Naomi changed everything for me, and I went on to sell hardcover and paperback rights to the book. Basically, Naomi gave me a lot: It taught me more about the craft of writing than had any of my eight previous books. And Naomi keeps giving to me, in ways I would not have thought possible.

I revised the book for print publication. The hardcover came out in a beautiful limited edition and sold out fast. Somewhere in there, I decided that Naomi, the novel, needed to give to someone else for a while. It has been my good-luck charm long enough. Also, frankly, I believe that everyone who works at any trade in this life should choose one project out of a lifetime of projects and give its proceeds as a gift to something important in the world. I work as a writer, so the project I have to give is a novel.

I decided that all my author royalties from the first-published paperback edition of Naomi should be designated for a charitable organization, or a not-for-profit group dealing with important research. And I wanted the organization to be something that has nothing to do with what is within the pages of Naomi itself. Although there is a homeless child in the book, I didn't want to exploit that character in order to attach a worthy cause. So, I needed to find an important group that was not represented within the pages of Naomi at all, but was always on my radar for various reasons.

I chose the National Down Syndrome Society. Why? Well, first, I've always known wonderful people with Down syndrome. Then, the National Down Syndrome Society, again, has nothing to do with what's within the pages of Naomi itself -- and as I've learned more about the organization, its goals, and how it's run, the more I thought: This one is it. They're great.

So, every dime I make from royalties of the paperback edition of Naomi from Leisure Books goes to the National Down Syndrome Society.

Now, this is pure selfishness on my part: I want Naomi to keep giving the way it gave to me, but I also want those of you who might not ordinarily pick up one of my paperbacks to try it. You'll be paying the National Down Syndrome Society instead of me. But you'll be paying me the compliment of reading my novel. I'm convinced once you've read it, you'll want to seek out my other books, as well. Both the NDSS and I benefit, but, I hope, you benefit by getting a mysterious and disturbing story with Naomi.

Let me briefly mention what Naomi is about: When a woman named Naomi apparently dies in an accident in the subways of New York, Jake Richmond, who has always loved her, believes that she is still alive -- living beneath the city in some kind of netherworld of darkness. Meanwhile, Maddy Sparke has discovered that there's a witches' burial ground on her property -- the resting place of women and men who were executed in 17th-century Greenwich Plantation for the crime of witchcraft. The spirit of one of the witches has influenced what exists in the subterranean caverns beneath New York City, and the mystery of who Naomi was, and where she now exists, mingles with the past story of a young witch who was destroyed by love.

The character I probably enjoyed getting to know the best from the novel is Romeo, a runaway who lives in the darkness of what he calls "the Below," a world of the human subconscious, and of those who rarely emerge from eternal night. Yes, this is a horror novel, pure and simple, but it has also been called a moving story of love and loss, and a tale of destiny and triumph. I hope you enjoy it.

When you grab the paperback of Naomi, be sure and look at the back cover of the book. There's information there on the National Down Syndrome Society, so you can find out more about them and their goals.

Thank you,

Douglas Clegg

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 6, 2003

    Great Novel

    I really like this book. Makes me wondering whats really lerking in those subway tunnels. A MUST READ for the horror/occult fans.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 18, 2002

    Gripping, Effusive, Engrossing

    Douglas Clegg writes a gripping, effusive, engrossing tale of love, evil, of witches, and of demons. Naomi is a wonderful book that deserves more attention than it got. This book is truly charming. Douglas Clegg writes a book on a higher level than anything the popular Stephen King can write. Highly recommended. I am looking forward to his newest book, 'The Hour Before Dark', which is to be out by October of 2002.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 26, 2001

    NOT AS GOOD

    DOUGLAS CLEGG IS A VERY GIFTED WRITER, BUT HIS QUALITY IS NOT WHAT IT USED TO BE. HIS EARLIER NOVELS GOAT DANCE AND BREEDER ARE MUCH SCARIER THAN ANYTHING HE HAS PUT OUT LATELY. TOO BAD HIS EARLY STUFF IS OUT OF PRINT.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 9, 2001

    A Thrilling Page Turner

    Douglas Clegg, Bram Stoker and International Horror Guild award-winning writer has written another winner that puts his name up there with Koontz and King on the horror charts. This story has everything you can ask from a horror novel, with characters you truly feel are alive and unspeakable evil that keeps you reading long into the night. The book has everything from creepy Subway tunnels to Witchcraft (If you enjoyed Wither you'll love this book!)The plot takes us on three seperate but related journeys that come together nicely for the finale. I can't wait for Sept. 15th so I can get his newest novel The Infinite! Thanks Doug for giving us horror fans something to be excited about again! I should also mention all proceeds from Naomi to goes to charity.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 29, 2001

    A NOVEL OF LOST LOVE, REINCARNATION AND WITCHCRAFT!!

    In Douglas Clegg¿s newest paperback novel, NAOMI, Jake Richmond has moved to Manhattan to escape the ugly memories of Carthage, Virginia. It was in Carthage that Jake fell in love with his childhood friend, Naomi Cross. When something bad happened to Naomias as a teenager...something that she couldn¿t even talk to Jake about, she eventually left and moved to New York City. It wasn¿t long before Jake followed her. Though Jake looked for his lost love, he never found her until it was too late. Instead, he started a career as a writer, got married, and had a wonderful child. When Jake¿s wife leaves him for another man, he once more begins his search for Naomi, only to find out that she committed suicide by jumping in front of a subway train a few months before. The body of Naomi may have been torn apart by the train, but not her spirit for she is destined to return to help destroy an evil that caused her death hundreds of years before when she was a young girl, living on a plantation in old New York. To win this battle, Naomi¿s spirit will need the help of Jake, as well as the help of a woman named Maddy (who owns an old brownstone in Manhattan where the bones of several murdered witches are found buried beneath the basement floor) and a homeless boy who calls himself Romeo and knows the subways tunnels like the back of his hand. All the players are gradually drawn together to finish their roles in a drama that was started in a previous lifetime, and only a few of them will survive the final confrontation between light and darkness. While not having the action and intensity of YOU COME WHEN I CALL, Mr. Clegg¿s newest book has great characters that drive the story forward and a premise that held my interest. The author is extremely skillful when writing about the ambiance of teenage life, especially where young love is concerned. He¿s able to capture the innocence, the hope, and the melancholy with stark clarity that brought back memories of my younger years. Mr. Clegg also knows how to weave the intricate details of a story, creating an atmosphere of suspense and dread that permeates each layer of narrative as it unfolds. I found myself loving the characters of Jake and Naomi, wishing that they could have found each other as adults and fulfilled the possibilities that their long relationship seemed to promise. I also liked the details of Manhattan¿s subterranean caverns that house the old subway tunnels, and where hundreds, if not thousands, of homeless people live. I found the City of the Forbidden where the Serpent (evil incarnate) lives underneath Manhattan to be well drawn and frightening in nature. I did think the ending was a little too quick and that the novel could¿ve used another twenty pages or so to wrap things up in greater detail. Anyway, I believe NAOMI is a wonderful weekend read and is recommended to those who enjoy a well-written tale of the supernatural. Though Mr. Clegg has yet to write his breakout novel (a novel that hits the top ten on the bestseller lists), I feel confident that it will soon happen. This author has a talent that keeps drawing me back to him. There's only one thing I would like to say to Mr. Clegg: please work something out with your previous publisher and have your out-of-print novels reprinted for your growing mass of fans. You have several that I would like very much to read. Perhaps Leisure Books could buy the publishing rights and print them under their logo. These would certainly add to your popularity as an author.

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Excellent horror novel

    Jake and Naomi were both born in Carthage, Virginia, a place where evil stands side by side with the righteous. Neither one had a descent family to turn to for support so they clung to one another. At seventeen Naomi left town to attend school and a year later Jake followed her though they never stayed in touch with one another. Thus, Jake is shocked to elarn that his childhood sweetheart died by falling onto the tracks of a New York subway station. <P>In a bizarre coincidence, Jake rents an apartment in Greenwich Village just across the hall where Naomi lived. When he goes into the subway to catch a train, he swears he has just seen Naomi walking on the tracks. When it happens again and other weird things occur, Jake wonders if Naomi is dead or is her restless spirit trying to communicate with him. Either way, Jake knows that he cannot ignore what his senses tell him for if he does he will go slowly insane. <P>Douglas Clegg has written a complex, suspenseful, and exciting horror novel that contains several levels of understanding due to strong subplots that tie back to the prime theme. The story line includes several likable and not so likable characters, but the show belongs to Jake who must contend with the curious and crazy happenings that engulf him. <P>Harriet Klausner

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