Please say hello to Lindsay Black and
Most people think riot squad officer Taylor Jameson is an asshole. Little do they know his apparent indifference stems from having a meddlesome family always butting into his business. And little does Taylor know he’s about to stumble into a situation that’ll make indifference impossible.
When everything goes horribly wrong at a political rally on a harbour ferry, Taylor encounters Sietta Salisbury. The son of a wealthy politician, Sietta is a revered—but presumed dead—musician, and an enigma who is so strange, Taylor is compelled to look into his background. What he discovers draws him into a bizarre mess of prisoners, politics, and attempted murder that makes him realise what he’s been missing.
Falling in love isn’t hard. Trying to convince someone else you’re worth loving despite your crazy family and the people trying to kill you? That’s a whole other can of worms.
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So, Fishy Riot has been out for a few days now. If you’ve read it, thank you for reading and I really hope you had some fun. Obviously, it’s not a serious book. It’s an action comedy romance, and it’s set in Australia. Nothing in that sentence implies seriousness, so… So! If you haven’t read it and you want a good laugh then this might be the book for you! It’s hard to say, since it is in all honestly very, very… unserious. I thought for sure that unserious was not a word. Turns out it is and I’ve learnt my new thing for the day.
At this point it’s hard to know what to talk about, I’ve talked about pretty silly things on this little blog tour, including love, piss, utes and weird stuff, so I thought I would talk about Emma (because that makes sense?).
I decided on this because most people who’ve read Fishy Riot end up talking about Emma. She’s Taylor’s niece, and she’s a bit of a riot (ha!). She’s one of my favourite characters, mostly because you get to see just how crazy family can be through the honesty of a five year old. But also because you realise how we get to be so crazy, watching our parents be crazy and all that.
A lot of people have asked if Emma was inspired by my own childhood. Sadly, if anyone in Fishy Riot reflects me as a child it’s probably Jay, Emma’s big brother and all-round trouble maker. He’s the curious one, always destroying things in his path to see what might happen next. Emma is much more my little sister in that regard, though my real life sister was far more polite than Emma could ever hope to be!
Just to give you a great summary of me in childhood, this pretty much does it:
At some point that morning my mother clearly thought it advisable to dress me nicely in a white dress, do my hair complete with ribbons and no doubt take me somewhere lovely, like church. Unfortunately, that never lasted long and that’s me in said lovely white dress, stomping through the sandpit (who knows where my shoes went), probably having kicked over my brother’s tonka truck (that’s not my brother in the photo, that kid’s just plain scared in the corner and staying clear of me), no doubt storming toward some poor unsuspecting sod with a bellowing battle cry (alternatively, I may have spotted a toad I felt needed destroying). At least I have a band-aid over my latest injury instead of spurting blood from a new one. This image really does sum up my childhood, so as I said, I was much more Jay than Emma. Unfortunately, for my parents.
Childhood in country Australia is great. Everyone in your town knows you (and knows not to invite you to things before proofing their home against your specific level of destructiveness, again I’m so sorry mum). When I hear stories of my partner’s childhood it doesn’t sound as great, mostly because he grew up in Melbourne and Sydney. Parents seem far more fearful in cities, with good reason. There’s traffic and strangers and well….traffic? I have no idea what’s in cities, I avoid them like the plague, obviously. But in country towns there are cows and magpies to look out for and the occasional kangaroo or snake to flee and that’s about it. You can walk to school. You can walk home from piano practise. You can throw a screaming fit in the supermarket because you lost the last scrap of your ruggie and everyone will laugh at you while helping your parents find the stupid thing. (Yes, that really happened. So sorry, Mum!) The point of this is I assume Emma has had a strange mix of mine and my partner’s upbringing. She’s in Sydney, and she’s sheltered as a result, but she’s also surrounded by a massive family of very unique individuals who don’t treat her like glass. That has to rub off on you, and clearly…does.If you have any ridiculous photos of your childhood, feel free to share. In the meantime, here’s an excerpt, featuring the lovely Emma.
He fell asleep. When he woke, it was not Sietta’s eyes staring at him, nor Sietta’s face. Little flecks of brown, completely out of place in the eyes of any Jameson, which told him exactly who it was. Not that he needed that to tell him, when there was that much fruit on the kid’s breath.
“Emma… back off.”
“Give her a break, ever since she heard Uncle Tay was let out of the hospital, she’s wanted to come and make sure your face was okay.” Brayden’s voice came from somewhere near the kitchen.
“My face is fine, Em,” Taylor grumbled in response, reaching down to haul her into his lap as he sat up and searched the living room. He spotted Brayden by the couch, handing Sietta a steaming mug of what smelled like ginger tea.
“You let him in?”
Sietta froze, eyes flicking from one brother to the other before settling on Taylor. “Was I not supposed to?”
Taylor shook his head, and Brayden laughed, going to collapse on the other couch, looking tired, as usual. “Don’t mind Taylor, he prefers to avoid family as much as possible.”
“But…. Clay lives here,” Sietta pointed out, less confusion in his voice and more amusement as he sipped his tea.
“Uncle Clay and Uncle Tay are the same soul split in two bodies,” Emma settled in Taylor’s lap like a small princess. Somewhat literally, as she was dressed as Elsa, her favourite Disney princess, along with the rest of the world under six.
“I don’t think that’s quite right,” Brayden told his daughter, but she scrunched up her nose at him.
“Nanna said it!” As if that would magically make it saner.
“See, not right, then,” Taylor agreed with Brayden.
“Well, she was right about your face!” Emma reached up to poke the dark purple bruises on the side of his head, making him hiss and bat her hands away. “Why did Uncle Clay let the thing hurt your face?”
“Jay says if you pull a funny face and the wind changes, it’ll stay that way. What if now your face stays this way? Then everyone will know Uncle Clay is the nice one just by looking at you, and no one will ever talk to you again.”
There was one of those strange silent moments before the shock wore off and they were all laughing with Emma shaking her head at Taylor and continuing to try to poke his bruises, before he grabbed her hands and folded them in her lap for her.
“My face is going to be fine, they’re just bruises and bruises fade. You know that. Remember when you hit your knee last month? And now it’s all gone, right?”
“Yeah, but… I’m a nice person.”
They were probably never going to stop laughing at him, and Taylor really couldn’t blame them. From the mouths of babes and all that.
“I’ll still be Taylor’s friend,” Sietta said from across the room, and Emma seemed to notice him for the first time. Her eyes went wide and she leaned closer, as if trying to get a better look at him. Sizing him up for her next victim, perhaps.
“Is he paying you?”
“What?” That tea almost went everywhere. Sietta was clearly struggling to swallow the hot brew and not spray it.
“Emma… no, Taylor is not paying Sietta to be his friend.” Brayden struggled to explain, clearly wanting nothing more than to laugh hysterically. “Sietta was hurt, and I helped him at the hospital, and then Uncle Taylor agreed to let Sietta stay here while his brother is staying with Uncle Clay and Uncle Joel.”
“Oh.” Yeah, oh.
Sietta was still struggling with his tea.
“How come I don’t get to stay with Uncle Joel?”
“Because you live with me. You know, your father,” Brayden pointed out. It was like he had these conversations every day. They didn’t seem to faze him at all.
“Oh. That makes sense.”
He was a doctor. Of course it made sense. But Taylor wasn’t stupid enough to tell her that.
“Is Uncle Tay’s head really going to be okay? I don’t want him to have no friends.”
“Yes, Emma, Uncle Tay’s head is like a rock, remember? So his head’s fine, and his face will get better. It’s just God’s way of telling him he’s horrible and needs to be nicer to people. His face will go back to normal when he’s learned his lesson.”
“Bray, what the….” Taylor gaped at Brayden, but he was sitting there looking smug and sickeningly in control of the situation, and Taylor let him have the win. It wasn’t like he really cared, anyway, Brayden hated that Taylor was Emma’s favourite. Supposedly because Taylor needed whatever friends he could get, but Taylor suspected it had more to do with the secret stash of lollies he gave her under the table at Sunday lunches.
“You should learn faster, it’s pretty ugly,” Emma told him resolutely, and Sietta was laughing again. At least something good was coming from his pint-sized emasculation.
“I’ll try,” Taylor looked at Brayden. “What are you doing here?”
“I came to check on my patients. Mostly because Mum wouldn’t stop harping on about you dying of brain damage or something. But also because I have duty of care and Emma wanted to see you.”
“There are these things called telephones,” Taylor reminded snidely, letting Emma play with his hair, happy he kept no glitter in his apartment. They’d all learnt that lesson pretty quick.
“You don’t answer yours when you don’t want to.” Brayden shrugged.
“Or I’m busy? Or at work? What if I’m on a raid and my phone starts ringing and I’ve got to answer it because my mum’s calling?”
“Why would you take your phone on a raid?” Brayden scoffed, and Taylor scowled at him because he was deliberately missing the point. Not that Taylor actually cared.
“Were you on a raid with Uncle Tay?”
All sets of eyes returned to Emma. Taylor wondered if it wasn’t her superpower; coming up with the most awkward thing to say in any given situation to ensure all attention was purely on her.
“Oddly enough, I was.” Sietta was snickering. He seriously had issues. Serious issues. Seriously serious issues. If Taylor hadn’t known it already, the look on Brayden’s face would have told him, clearly and succinctly. And yet he didn’t care about that either. He cared that Sietta was laughing, not in the slightly manic way he had been, but openly and naturally. Genuine.
“He was in the wine cellar,” Taylor told her in a soft, serious tone he knew she would listen to, and her eyes went wide in fascination while Brayden groaned.
“Were you drinking?” So serious.
“Well, not when Taylor found me, no, but sure, I would drink down there. I mean… it’s hard to survive if you don’t drink something.” She was nodding along to everything Sietta said, as if it made perfect sense to her. It didn’t, but it was cute that she tried.
“Uncle Clay takes his clothes off when he’s drunk.”
Dead. Silence. Brayden sank into the couch as if he thought it could eat him. Sietta sat gaping at her. Taylor looked at the ceiling and prayed for a reprieve from his whole family, Clay included.
“He… what?” Sietta was still struggling. It was cute as hell, and something Sietta would have to get used to if he intended to continue to hang around Jamesons. Which, considering Micah was fostered at Joel’s, he was going to have to.
“It’s a Clay thing. One too many and whoosh, off go his pants and he runs around naked until he passes out or I arrest him, which I try not to do because then he thinks we’re playing cops and robbers, and he tries to steal my stuff.” Taylor shifted Emma off his lap to snuggle in against his side.
“Oh… my… God…” Sietta’s eyes couldn’t get any bigger. Emma was shaking her head, clearly recalling their last Christmas party, where Clay had overindulged. Taylor had convinced Clay to lie on the lilo in the pool, he’d passed out and gotten so sunburned he’d had to go to hospital, where Brayden had made him stay overnight. Emma had been kind enough to go read Uncle Clay a bedtime story or fifteen while he was stuck in hospital.
“He only tries to steal Taylor’s stuff, though,” Brayden thought to add. “The rest of us apparently aren’t in the game. Or we just plain don’t exist if Clay’s drunk. It’s like Tay’s his whole world.”
Taylor went to stick his finger up before he remembered Emma was in his lap and covered it by shoving his fingers into his hair instead, glaring at his brother.
“Taylor drunk is just funny,” Brayden offered, and the light of curiosity lit that quickly in Sietta’s eyes as he turned to listen. Brayden smirked knowingly, and Taylor groaned and wondered if there was any way to claim brain damage and scare them all out of his house. Unlikely; it would be more likely to land him back in hospital until Brayden’s care, and he did not want to be there. “He sings. So badly. It’s amazing.” Those eyes were like saucers.
“When you say badly….”
“I mean dogs howl loudly in an effort to drown him out and run away to hide and whimper when they fail.”
Well, at least Sietta was getting a laugh out of it.
“Why do you sing then?” Sietta asked a little breathlessly. Taylor could think of ten things right off the top of his head that would have made him equally breathless and been far more fun than Brayden telling stories. Oh well.
“Apparently drunk me thinks he’s a superstar,” Taylor muttered.
“Oh, no… drunk Taylor is awesome.” Brayden got up and went to the kitchen, taking a bag of frozen vegetables out. He shoved them against the bruising on Taylor’s face, amused when Emma took over holding them in place so he could return to his couch.
“He’s nice!” Emma piped in, and Taylor gave up, because if it wasn’t going to be Brayden and his pint-sized niece, everyone else in the family would ensure all his secrets were revealed and he remained single for life.
“Drunk Taylor is nice?” Sietta looked around the room for clarification.
“Will agree to do pretty much anything,” Brayden acknowledged, and even he seemed surprised by this.
“Just about?” Sietta was looking at Taylor now, smirking.
“Well, there was this one time when a girl tried to get him to go home with her….”
He could jump off the balcony…. Right? Run down the street…. The train station wasn’t that far away, and he was sure he had a few coins in his pocket. He could get to Joel’s and beg asylum?
About the author:
Lindsey Black lives in Darwin, Australia, where the weather report permanently reads ‘humidity at 100%, only going to get worse’ for ten months of the year and ‘monsoon at 4:00 p.m. for exactly fifteen minutes’ for the remaining two. Between teaching and studying full-time, she escapes this oppressive environment to bushwalk for weeks on end wherever the mobile phone reception has zero bars for as long as possible and the weather report reads something along the lines of ‘blizzard likely.’ She enjoys martial arts, music, and mayhem, which explains the untidy state of her home where she attempts to write while splitting her minimal amounts of spare time between her incredulous husband, lazy Chinchilla cat, and crazed Siberian husky. If you expect her to sit and have a chat, it’s best to have a matcha green tea latte with almond milk on hand and your hiking boots within reach. Oh, and be sure to bring a guitar for impromptu jam sessions.
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