“... a new talent of truly deranged proportions ...”
--Christopher Fowler, author of Full Dark House and Ten-Second Staircase.
A.W. Hill lives somewhere between Hollywood, Nashville and Alpha Centauri. He has felt a lifelong antipathy toward secret societies, but concedes that this may stem at least partly from the fact that not one of them has ever offered him membership.
Nowhere-Land is the mystical experience, novelized; it is belief, faith and spirituality, described. It’s the visions of Hildegard of Bingen wrapped up in a mystery like an evangelical egg roll. Points in the novel are reminiscent of Plato’s allegory of the cave, surreal moments where the reader emerges from the shadowy confusion of the cave to behold the light and truth outside. While disorienting at first, it’s also extremely rewarding. Forget about putting it neatly in some genre; it’s far beyond genre. It’s like nothing you’ve ever read before, probably like nothing you’ve even imagined before, singular and refreshingly unique. And completely unforgettable.
--Paul Stotts, Blood of the Muse
ON NOWHERE-LAND: The P.I. protagonist, Stephan Raszer, is part skeptic, part Hollywood Hills mystic, a dreamer pulling dreamers back from beyond the edge, as evolved as a tough guy can be and vice versa . . . as complete a male protagonist as is probably possible in the 21st Century. What struck me this time out is how, a la Chandler, A.W. Hill manages to stake the plot of the soul on top of the plot of the story, making for a page-turner that tries not to be more but can't quite help it--guilty and spiritual pleasure dancing on the head of a pin.
-ALAN RIFKIN, author of SIGNAL HILL STORIES and ALT.COUNTRY
from: THE GOD OF SLEEP, A Stephan Raszer Investigation (work-in-progress)
The master bedroom was on the same level as the sunken living room. It’s location presented something of an architectural illusion, as to reach it they had to follow a hallway that felt as if it ought to have led them straight into the face of the canyon. It didn’t, obviously. There were floor to ceiling windows in the room, and though the curtains were drawn, they were translucent, and dusky sky and darkening chaparral could be seen beyond. Lou did not turn on the lights. There was just enough illumination from a candle and what remained of the day for Raszer to see every detail of the exquisite form that lay across the king-sized bed.
“You keep a candle burning?” he asked Lou.
“Yeah,” Lou said. “She asked me to.” He remained in the doorway, his hands against the frame, allowing Raszer to be, in some fashion, alone with her.
Some might have used the word exotic to describe Rose. Her hair, swept back from her face like a 1950’s starlet’s in spite of her position (on her left side, turned away from the door, hands folded to her breast), was as black as ink, and her pigmentation was dusky enough to make her Indonesian—or even Polynesian. The long, gentle slope of her haunch, accentuated by the black sweater dress she wore, further suggested an island girl. But she wasn’t from that part of the world. Raszer recognized the look because once upon a time he’d fallen in love with it. It was Welsh. The kind of Welsh whose compact wiriness and bright, black eyes seem to carry distant traces of India or Persia, toughened by the north country and the cold sting of the sea. She was achingly beautiful.
“May I sit?” Raszer asked, motioning toward the bed.
Her eyes were open and clear. No filminess or redness, and just moist enough to shine a little. They were not the eyes of a corpse, although like a corpse, they didn’t appear to blink. Their focus was on a very far away place.
“Have you seen her blink since she’s been in this state?” Raszer asked.
“No,” said Lou. “Weird, huh?”
“Yeah.” He leaned in a bit to get a better look at her pupils. They were dilated, but not outrageously so. “I’m going to put my hand on her waist, Lou. To feel her breathing. Okay?”
“Sure,” said Lou, and his voice went a little hoarse. It’s okay.”
Her breathing was even, shallow, and slow. His hand rose and fell only slightly from the curve of her waist. He put two fingers to her throat and closed his eyes for a full minute. Her heart rate wasn’t more than forty beats per minute. Insofar as the body on the bed still stood for Rose, it was deeply relaxed.
“I’ve never seen anything quite like this,” Raszer said softly.
“How do you mean?”
“I mean…it’s a trance state. She’s not catatonic in any way I know of. No agitation. Her eyes are clear. Her pulse is almost yogic. She does seem to be somewhere else. I’ve worked with people who were far gone, but not like this.”
“That’s what I told you,” said Lou.
“Tell me again…why you don’t have her in the hospital.”
“You think I should?” Lou replied, with obvious anguish.
“Well, she can’t take water or nourishment in this condition, and sooner or later, that will start to cause problems.”
“You’re the guy who’s supposed to understand this stuff,” Lou protested. “She told me she wouldn’t need those things. That everything would be provided. At least that’s what the Shaman told her, and she believed him.”
“And what about you, Lou?” Raszer asked. “Do you believe her?”
“I made her a promise. She asked me not to let the doctors mess with her if she ‘went to the Spiral Castle.’ She begged me. Even so—like I told you—I took her to Cedars after these…seizures, or whatever they are, first started happening and had her checked out by a neuropath. She was out of it when I took her, but in the hospital, she snapped to. Passed all the tests. Eight hours after we got home, she went back into it. This time, I kept the promise. But if you think I should break it, I will.”
“This,” said Raszer, drawing a deep breath, “is where it always gets tough. And that’s probably one of the reasons I don’t do it much anymore.”
“How do you mean?”
“I’m not a deprogrammer. I’ve never broken into someone’s psyche and told them to snap out of it. I respect ecstatic experience…I just don’t want anybody to get hurt. So on a few occasions, I’ve let my strays go where they tell me they want to go. Most of them came back. But a few didn’t.”
“Strays?” Lou asked.
“Lost sheep. Nine times out of ten, they want to be shepherded to pasture, or back to the corral for the night. So do most lost people. That’s what I used to get hired to do. But people are more complicated than sheep. Some stray off the path with full awareness that they’re headed into unknown territory. Those people are pilgrims. Peregrinos.”
“How do you know the difference between a pilgrim and a lost sheep?” Lou asked.
“It’s not always easy. Just like it’s not always easy at dusk to see the kid on the bicycle. Or to distinguish between what’s happening to Rose and some sort of extended absence seizure—what they used to call petite mal. You have to look at what—or who—is drawing them off the path. There’s no bad religion that isn’t made by bad preachers. There are good gurus who demand devotion, but if they’re really good, they always leave an escape route. Transcendence should never be compulsory."
"An eruption of a book that is quite likely to take up a sort of illicit residence in your skull" -- David Freeman, author of The Last Days Of Alfred Hitchcock
Gritty and transcendent, author A.W. Hill takes the reader from the hills of Hollywood to the mountain-lands of Turkey, Iran, and Iraq on a search for God. Simply put, Nowhere-Land is a guy’s book any chick would dig. From the eerie cover to the final chapter this book has enough suspense and chills to cool even the hottest summer day.