This is my stop during the blog tour for The Girl on Camera by Morgan Dun-Campbell. This blog tour is organized by Lola’s Blog Tours. The blog tour runs from 6 till 26 August. See the tour schedule here.
Reality TV is about to get real…
“Are you ready to win the heart of the nation? Compete with seven other contestants for the cash prize? Change your life forever?”
Twenty-six-year old Rory Stevens is thrilled to be selected as one of eight contestants for new reality show: The Retreat.
However, on the second day of filming – during a televised broadcast from the show’s host – all power shuts off with no explanation: leaving the contestants, quite literally, in the dark.
Completely stranded, it is now up to Rory and her seven companions to figure out what is happening.
And then one of them disappears…
For fans of Naomi Alderman, Dave Eggers and John Marrs.
You can find The Girl on Camera on Goodreads
You can buy The Girl on Camera on Amazon
We’re in a clearing, and beyond this car, three others are parked a few feet away, to the right of us. Next to them is a white van with the back doors open. Stood by the van is Suzie, talking to a man I don’t recognise. Another guy stood by one of the cars holds a fluffy sound mic. A camera sits on top of the roof of one of the cars, and a tripod has been set up by the van.
Directly in front of me, about twenty yards away, a grey stone wall runs maybe fifty feet along, twenty feet high. In the centre, two dark oak doors as high as the wall. Above them, a metal plaque reads:
Lined against the wall are seven people. The other contestants? A woman is clipping a tiny device to the guy stood at the front – presumably a mic.
I’ll have my very own, too. So everyone I’ve ever known can hear me utter my first words on national television.
Suzie spots me and comes over. ‘You Ok, Rory? You’re looking pale. It’s perfectly natural to be feeling nervous. Want me to fetch you some water?’ Now that she mentions it, I am feeling light-headed. Tiny green spots momentarily cloud my vision.
‘Water would be great, thank you Suzie,’ I say in a weak voice. She nods, and calls to the guy with the fluffy mic. A moment later, he hurries over, carrying a water bottle from a large cooler they have positioned next to the van. I drink half of it all at once.
‘Better?’ Suzie asks. I nod. The mic guy holds out his hand for the bottle, and takes it from me, before rushing off again. ‘Everyone else has arrived,’ Suzie continues, ‘so we’re just getting everything set up before the official launch, which is…’ she glances at her watch, ‘in just over an hour. Look – why don’t I introduce to the others? It might help you relax. After all, you’ll be supporting each other throughout this.’ Even in my dizzy state, I sense this is nothing more than a comforting lie. Reality contestants aren’t supposed to get along, because that doesn’t equal entertainment, right?
Suzie takes a step back and holds out her hand. ‘So, come on. Hmm?’ I take it and she leads me over, like it’s my first day at school.
Standing at the front of the queue, so closest to the doors, is a tall tanned man of maybe six foot four, with huge shoulders and a square jaw. He wears a long brown coat which looks designer, a wrap-around blue and black chequered scarf, plain jeans, black brogues. A silver wristwatch flashes on his right arm, which again appears designer. His turquoise eyes are embedded in fine lines that add character.
He catches my eye and smiles, as if to say, everything’s alright. I’m here now, and you can trust me.
‘This is Freddie,’ says Suzie. He laughs: a deep, booming sound.
‘Oh, Suzie,’ he says, placing a huge arm around her shoulder delicately, a friendly bear handling a human with care. It’s as though they’re reunited friends who go decades back. Suzie can’t stop herself from dropping her professional demeanour – straight back, hands clasped, tight set poker face – and joining in with his infectious laugh.
‘How many times Suzie,’ he squeezes her shoulders playfully, her eyes sparkle, indulging him. ‘It’s Nice Guy Freddie. That’s what my friends call me, anyway,’ he says to me, and I’m shell-shocked for a moment to be the centre of his focus, like coming face to face with a treasured celebrity.
‘Nice Guy Freddie,’ I repeat.
‘Nice Guy Freddie,’ he says, one slow nod. ‘It’s a little pun, from my favourite Tarantino movie,’ he explains, one hand in the air, palm facing upwards, spread fingers, the other arm still looped around Suzie. ‘Such a talented director,’ he says, as though projecting to a theatre audience. ‘And I seem to gel well with the people in my life,’ he looks to Suzie, gazing at her as though they’re star-crossed lovers, while she gazes back, ‘absolute superstars, every last one of ’em – and the nickname stuck. So,’ he unloops himself from Suzie. She appears dazed now that he’s broken the spell by focusing attention elsewhere, as though a hypnotist has just awoken her from a trance. She looks embarrassed to have been sucked in so easily when she’s supposed to be in charge.
Though it’s pretty clear whose little finger everyone is wrapped around.
‘Nice Guy Freddie at your service,’ he says to me, chest puffed out, huge arm outstretched. I take his hand and his warm grip is firm and reassuring, the true definition of a hearty handshake. ‘Looks like you took a turn for the worse back there, hmm?’
‘It’s just nerves,’ I quickly explain.
‘Now now, chin up,’ Freddie says, and actually – to my alarm – reaches forward and strokes the underside of my chin with his forefinger. ‘I promise to take some of the heat. I’m quite the performer.’ For a moment, his face is completely straight and I feel a chill. Then he’s laughing heartily, and looks from me to Suzie and back again. ‘I should think so, after three leading theatre roles.’
‘Do I stand behind F – Nice Guy Freddie?’ I ask Suzie. She shakes her head.
‘No, I think it’s better with Mariah behind him. Oh – Mariah, Rory, Rory, Mariah,’ Suzie gestures back and forth between me and this Mariah character stood behind Freddie, donned in a white fur coat and black leather trousers, a black ribbon choker around her neck, in the centre of which lies a silver spider pendant.
She’s striking in the sense that she borders between gorgeous and bizarre. Her huge bee-stung pout, presumably cosmetically enhanced, seems a touch too big. Her black blocky brows are almost perfectly arched, just a touch too pronounced. Her ice blue eyes, like two frosty gems staring out from her face, are entrancing, but somehow make her appear inhuman. Her age is impossible to guess: she’s either an older looking girl, or a younger looking woman. Just turned twenty or nearing fourty?
If Freddie’s like a ray of sunshine, she’s the storm cloud looming behind, ready to rain on this parade. Even so, I give her a tight-lipped smile.
‘Hey Mariah, looking forward to living with you for the next few days.’
‘Yyyeah,’ she says, drawing out the syllable, before sucking air through her teeth, and looking me up and down, with a condescending fixed look. I lower my hand. ‘I’m not really one for the gushy introductions. No offence but, I never say pleasure to meet you. ’Cause how do I know yet? For all I know, you’re a complete bitch.’ She examines her nails and shrugs. ‘I’m just keeping it real.’
I think I’ll be giving her a wide berth from now on.
About the Author:
Morgan Dun-Campbell lives in London. She has an MA (Distinction) in Creative Writing and Publishing, has participated in two Arvon literary writing courses, and has worked as an intern for numerous publishing houses, including Penguin Random House and Bloomsbury. The Girl on Camera is her first novel.
There is a tour wide giveaway for the blog tour of The Girl on Camera. Five winners will each win a prize bundle including a signed copy of the book The Girl on Camera, a bookmark, and a small box of Celebrations. Giveaway is UK and US only.
For a chance to win, enter the rafflecopter below:
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