Homing Instincts

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Seth Hingham has hit a dead-end. At 35, he returns to his New England hometown after losing his job and the woman he had planned on marrying. Homing Instincts – a new novel by Karen Guzman – traces Seth’s struggle to redirect his life and lay to rest lingering ghosts, including one from a long ago accident that killed a childhood friend.

Interviewer: Christina Hamlett

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Q: So tell us how your journey as a writer first began.

A: It seems I’ve always been writing. As a child, I wrote short stories and descriptive passages of things that caught my fancy. I must have been about nine when I began writing short stories and stapling the pages together to make “books.” I began writing fiction seriously in my twenties.

Q: Were you a voracious reader as an adolescent and teen?

A: Maybe not “voracious,” but pretty enthusiastic. I still am. One of my greatest pleasures is curling up in bed with a good book. I’m always reading something.

Q: Who are some of the authors whose books we might have found on your childhood bookshelves?

A: As a young child, I liked animal stories best. In grade school, some favorites included:

Meindert DeJong, whose children’s classic Hurry Home, Candy stole my heart. I didn’t want to return it to the library. I went on to read most of his books.

Walter Farley, wonderful animal tales.

E.B. White, Charlottes’s Web, bittersweet even as a child.

Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings. The Yearling was a landmark book for me. I loved the natural descriptions, the relationship between the boy and his fawn and the dramatic turn it all takes.

Jean Craighead George. Julie of the Wolves is a sophisticated, sensitive children’s masterpiece. Love her work.

Marguerity Henry. I think I read every “Misty” book. Couldn’t get enough.

Jack London, Call of the Wild and White Fang.

Oddly enough, Booth Tarkington’s The Magnificent Ambersons had a big impact on me in about 5th grade. My parents had the book in their own collection and I somehow began reading it.

Q: As an adult, what kinds of stories are you naturally drawn to?

A: I seem to be dawn to stories that feature protagonists who must remake their lives, or find their way again, after major disruption or loss. Why? Good question. I guess because we all encounter this scenario so often in our own lives. I also like stories that include spiritual elements or longing.

Q: What was the inspiration behind your debut novel, Homing Instincts?

A: I attended the funeral of a man I had never met the summer before I began writing Homing Instincts. He was the father of my husband’s good friend, and judging by the turnout at the funeral and the tributes paid him, he was a dearly loved and respected man. I began wondering what kind of life a person leads to be remembered so fondly. At first, I thought I wanted to write about the deceased father, but it didn’t take me long to realize that it was really the man’s son whose story I wanted to tell.

Q: It’s interesting to note that your first-person narrator of the story is a man. What, for you, are the challenges of writing from a male perspective so as to keep the voice and mindset authentic?

A: I’ve always been close to and comfortable with men as people, as individuals. I have three brothers, and I’ve always had male friends who tend to confide in me. That said, when Homing Instincts, I did have to occasionally stop and ask myself would this male character say this, like this? I sometimes had to back up a bit, not just because the character was a man, but because he was a unique, individual character, who also happened to be a man. I just followed his lead.

Q: Aspiring writers often forget that the physical environment and backdrop of the story can play as much – and as crucial – a “character” role as any of the actual people in it. For Homing Instincts, why did you choose the picturesque landscape of New England? Give us an example of a scene that you believe could not have been played better somewhere else.

A: The forests and coastline of Connecticut play such a big part in this book. As a wildlife biologist, the main character is drawn to the natural world. He finds comfort and a connection to all living things. New England was a natural choice, because I live here and I love the landscape and the seasons. The ambiguity of the weather—its dramatic swings and the resilient natural world that bends to them—is a wonderful, atmospheric tool for scene setting and for character development. One scene that would have been difficult to place elsewhere: the politically tinged protest when state officials cull the deer herd at a state forest preserve. The shifting, provocative skies overhead and charged atmosphere are pure Connecticut. The scene is, in fact, based on a similar, emotionally charged issue that pitted deer lovers against deer haters years ago.

Q: Describe your process for developing your first novel. For instance, did you work from a formal outline, make things up as you went along, do extensive research, etc.?

A: After writing about fifty pages just to capture the voice and get something on paper, I created an outline. I like outlines, because they keep me moving forward. But my outlines are very broad and I fill them in as I go along. I never project more than a scene or two into the storyline. I kind of just lay out plot points, big things that I know I want to have happen. The arc of the story connecting these points is created on the fly as I write.

Q: How long was the process from start to finish?

A: About four years. But they were four years when I also changed day jobs twice, moved, and had a baby, so, you know, a lot was going on!

Q: How do you find – and make – the time that being a serious writer requires?

A: As best I can. It’s not easy. All the writers I know face the same challenge of struggling to find time for our writing while living a life in this demanding world. Lunch breaks at work are crucial, so are the stolen hours late at night when my husband and son are both asleep and the house is at last quiet.

Q: Did you allow anyone to read Homing Instincts while it was still a work in progress or did you make them wait until you typed “The End”?

A: My dear friend and fellow writer, Cathy Cruise, did read pieces of Homing Instincts in progress. She stopped me from making all kinds of terrible mistakes. My husband and a second writer friend didn’t read the manuscript until it was finished. They both offered interesting insights, too.

Q: How did you go about finding the right publisher for it?

A: When I reached the point where I just honestly didn’t know how to improve the manuscript anymore (3-4 drafts in), I just started sending it out. I queried agents as well as small presses. Several agents really liked it, but felt literary fiction was just too hard to break into at the moment. Some offered helpful criticism. I did another rewrite and kept sending it out. Then Michele Richmond from Fiction Attic Press contacted me in late December 2013 to say my manuscript had won the Press’ First Novel Contest and to offer me a publishing contract. I was—and still am—overjoyed.

Q: What do you know about the publishing world now that you didn’t know when you started?

A: That selling a book is even tougher than I’d realized. That persistence matters more than anything. That good writing does get noticed. Agents will read your query—and so will editors—if your sample is well written…having solid credentials helps, too. That small presses are publishing some of the best literary fiction being produced today, and we should all support them. And that as writer trying to publish today, you absolutely need a social media platform and a website. Authors have to work really hard to build readership.

Q: Tell us some of the things you’re doing to promote your book. Which ones seem to be the most effective in generating a buzz?

A: It’s still early in the process since my book just came out this month but I’m networking with other authors, especially around New England. I’m reaching out to independent booksellers, libraries and writers groups to arrange for readings. I’ve announced the book’s publication on my social media platforms, and I’ll ratchet it up in the coming months. I’m also tapping into my old MFA crowd, down in Virginia and around the country to raise awareness and get the word out.

Q: What’s next on your plate and how is it different from – or similar to – Homing Instincts?

A: I’m working on a new novel, and it’s a huge departure from Homing Instincts. It’s about a woman facing a sort of midlife crisis in the wake of her divorce. It’s a third-person narrator, so different from the first-person voice and so freeing.

Q: Where can readers learn more about you and your upcoming projects?

A: Please visit my website, www.karenguzman.com, and follow my blog at www.writedespite.org

 

 

Playing Mrs. Kingston

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I’m very pleased to introduce writer, television producer, film maker, and world traveller, Tony Lee Moral. Tony brings his extensive knowledge and love of Alfred Hitchcock’s work into play with his exciting new thriller novel, Playing Mrs. Kingston. Read along to discover more about this fascinating, versatile writer!

Interviewer: Debbie McClure

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Q: Tony, so many of today’s youth have no idea who Alfred Hitchcock was, or what he contributed to film. What would you like them to know about this iconic filmmaker and how his style is still being used today?

A: Alfred Hitchcock’s career spanned the history of cinema, beginning with silent films, to the invention of talkies with his film Blackmail (1929), through to the start of the modern horror slasher film with Psycho (1960). I would go as far as to say Hitchcock invented many aspects of film grammar. He was a great teacher, and inspired many other directors, producers and screenwriters. Today, filmmakers who are inspired by Hitchcock include Christopher Nolan, David Fincher, Guillermo del Torro, and many more. I write about Hitchcock’s huge influence in my book Alfred Hitchcock’s Movie Making Masterclass published by Michael Wiese Productions.

Q: As a great follower of Hitchcock, tell us how you’ve used his principles of suspense in this latest novel.

A: Hitchcock often outlined the difference between mystery and suspense. Mystery is an intellectual process like a whodunit. My novel Playing Mrs. Kingston is a murder mystery, but I made sure that it was much more than that and was full of suspense. Hitchcock said that suspense is an emotional process that makes the audience care about the characters and often cited the bomb under the table, which is about to go off. The audience knows about the bomb but the characters do not, and that’s where the suspense arises. I made sure that my readers rooted for the characters and that the story was full of suspenseful questions. Who killed Miles? Will Leiobesky expose Catriona? Will Mario go to jail?

Q: Everyone who has ever tried to accomplish something outside the norm has benefited from the support of a mentor(s), and although we know Hitchcock played a huge role in the direction you’ve taken with your books and movies, is there anyone else in your life who has significantly mentored you or contributed to your success? If so, who are they and why do you consider them instrumental to you and your work?

A: I would say F. Scott Fitzgerald is an enormously important writer in my work. The Great Gatsby is one of my favourite novels. It is the perfect American novel, where the characters are in pursuit of the American dream, rather like my protagonists. Fitzgerald’s prose is so deceptively simple and elegant, and in the many party scenes in Playing Mrs. Kingston, I was inspired by Fitzgerald’s portrayal of rich and beautiful people full of money. I was also greatly influenced by Thomas Hardy as an impressionable teenager and love writing about irony and coincidence in the novel, such as characters being in the same place at the same time. Like when Catriona, her theatre boss Lowry, and the Inspector who is chasing her, are all at the Whitney Museum, and Catriona could be exposed at any time for not really being Mrs. Kingston.

Q: When writing a novel, what do you find is the most difficult area to tackle, the beginning, the middle, or the end, and why?

A: The middle, or the second act is the most challenging, because you have to sustain interest and motivate the reader to continue reading into the third act where the whole story moves towards and everything should start falling into place. The middle section can be very challenging for a writer, but it’s the heart of the novel, full of complications and problems for your characters. My background as a screenwriter helped me literally navigate the streets of New York when creating a road map for my characters through the second act.

Q: You wanted to write a novel that followed the Hitchcockian principles of suspense, but did you find implementing those principles more difficult than you expected, or did they come easily to you?

A: I would say it is harder because you’re creating suspense through language rather than visuals, so I relied on big set pieces when writing my scenes, often in everyday places where chaos could erupt at any moment. Hitchcock loved to set his characters in places like the Plaza Hotel or the United Nations Building, symbols of law and order, where the everyman is thrown into and murder literally takes place. So I set my novel in theatres, art galleries, museums, train stations, where extraordinary events happen in ordinary situations.

Q: You write Playing Mrs. Kingston from a female protagonist’s POV, as a male writer, can you share with us why, and were there any difficulties in sustaining this throughout the writing?

A: Again I was inspired by Hitchcock, who often rooted for the suffering heroine in his film. There’s a wide belief that he was misogynist, but he most definitely was not. He was deeply emphatic with feminine feeling. Some of his best films have strong female characters at the centre; consider Notorious, Vertigo, and Marnie. He loved women and identified with their plight in patriarchal society. Winston Graham, one of my favourite authors, wrote Marnie from a first person perspective. One female critic said it was the best book about a woman written by a man. I tried to follow this with Playing Mrs. Kingston, by identifying with Catriona as a role player who is determined to succeed in 1950s New York.

Q: You are clearly drawn to the dark underside of human psychology, as evidenced in your fascination with Hitchcock and your own novel, Playing Mrs. Kingston. Can you explain what draws you to that genre and why?

A: I have a zoology and psychology background, and I see things from the point of view of instinctual animal behaviour. All good writers are natural psychologists and question the why of human behaviour. Catriona is so driven toward her goals, I think she is motivated instinctually and doesn’t always make the best decisions in the long run, which is why she becomes embroiled in this extraordinary situation of pretending to be someone she is not.

Q: Do you ever get nervous about releasing a new project, or worry about reviews and critics? What do you do about it?

A: I don’t get too nervous. I’m a television producer and have been involved in the media all my working life. As long as I know that I’ve done the best job I can under the circumstances, then I am relatively satisfied.

Q: What are your thoughts on good and evil, and the complex human psyche?

A: Sometimes I’m very sad about human behaviour, and New York where I lived for several months, is full of lonely displaced people. I feel great empathy with minor characters in the book like Leiobesky, the Polish blackmailer, or even Singer, the Swiss bank manager. On the other hand, when I experience acts of random kindness from strangers, it affirms my belief that human beings can be wonderful. Ultimately, we are so precious and unique in the universe that we should really value each other more. We only have one life and should try to fulfill our potential to the maximum.

Q: Tony, you’ve done everything from film, to novel writing, to world travel, what inspires and drives you in each of these various directions?

A: The quest for new stories, sharing human experiences, empathy with my fellow human beings, and telling a good yarn, is what drives me.

Q: What surprising fact about yourself can you share with our readers that they couldn’t discover by reading your bio, books, or watching your films?

A: I’m very dichotomous. The great screenwriter, Jay Presson Allen, who I interviewed, once said that writing is a divorcement from life. I’ve sacrificed a large part of my life in the last few years in getting my books published. At the same time, like the characters in my novel, I love meeting people and going to parties and collecting stories to write about.

Q: What’s next on your plate?

A: Another biography on Alfred Hitchcock, another novel about a girl who falls in love with a ghost, much more travel, and many great experiences.

 

Website: http://www.tonyleemoral.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/TonyLeeMoral

Literary Agency website profile: http://www.loiaconoliteraryagency.com/authors/tony-lee-moral/

 

 

The New Mrs. Collins

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Oh, what a tangled web we weave…when first we practice to deceive. ― Sir Walter Scott

A beautiful woman with mysterious powers. One stolen man and two southern gals with different agendas. In Quanie Miller’s second novel, The New Mrs. Collins, set in a small Louisiana town, a broken heart sends Leena Williams digging into a world of buried secrets. Based on her suspicions about the graceful yet ruthless Adira Collins, Leena soon finds the old adage to be true: looks can be deceiving, and deadly as well.

Interviewer: Christy Campbell

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Let’s talk about Quanie Miller, personally and professionally.

I’m a married mother of one. I’m from New Iberia, a small town in Southwest Louisiana that sits right on the Bayou Teche and is rich in history. I spent most of my youth reading so many books that my cousins would look at me like I was crazy. “You aren’t gonna play outside? And you’re gonna read that whole book?” Then, they would shake their heads in amazement. I love writing about strong-willed women who can’t keep themselves out of trouble and setting my stories in fictional, Louisiana towns.

What moved you to write about this plot?

I wanted to explore what would happen when a woman pulls the veil back on the seemingly normal world she lives in. The main character, Leena, has lived her whole life in this small Louisiana town, never once suspecting that there are people in the world with mystic powers, and all of a sudden, not only does one such woman come into her life, but the woman is beautiful, has stolen her fiancé, and is now the stepmother to her son! In an attempt to solve the mystery of who this woman is, Leena ends up going down the proverbial rabbit hole. I was intrigued by how I might get her out of it.

Is there one fact about your book that stands out more than any others?

When I sat down to write the first draft of The New Mrs. Collins, a funny voice took over and it turned into a comedy! I was going to tell the story from the point of view of a nanny who discovers that her boss’ new wife is a sinister woman with mystic powers. This is how the story was going to go: the nanny, because of a flat tire, would get stranded in an affluent neighborhood without a cellphone, end up knocking on a random door, mistaken for an interviewee, and land the nanny job by mistake. But when I put the character on the page, this humorous voice took over, and the nanny-to-be never made it into the house. That character ended up being Jasmine T. Peacock, the protagonist of my first novel, a romantic comedy called It Ain’t Easy Being Jazzy.

What if I asked you to summarize your latest book in one line?  

When Leena Williams suspects that there’s something otherworldly about her son’s new stepmother, she goes digging for answers and discovers a little too late that some secrets are better left buried.

Based on your experience, what has been the best part of the writing process?

I think it’s the feeling you get when the story in your head (finally!) matches what you put on paper.

Is there something you wished you’d learned earlier as a writer?

That you should get as much feedback on your work as possible so that you can learn what you do well and hone that.

We all feel that buzz of confidence when our work is done and that feeling of accomplishment abounds. What have you found your greatest strength as a writer to be?

I’d have to say my ability to infuse humor into pretty much anything that I write. It’s not even something I try to do. It just happens.

Sum up a few interesting tidbits about Quanie Miller that make us go hmmm.

I trip getting inside of my own car. I’m probably the only person in the world who hasn’t taken a selfie. And not because I’m against them but because I’ve tried to do them but somehow, in the images, all I can see is a bright flash of light and the tip of my thumb. Also, while growing up, one of my aspirations was to be a rapping psychologist!

Okay, as an interviewer, that’s the most unique aspiration I’ve heard to date! How about your own feelings as a newly published author-did you have cold feet at some point?

I had doubts about whether or not I could even write a paranormal novel but then I asked myself: what kind of story do you want to see? I knew I wanted to write about a main character I could relate to, from my neck of the woods (Southwest Louisiana!) who discovers that there is a bit of magic in the world. So I re-evaluated the The New Mrs. Collins (whole new plot, page one rewrite), set it in a fictional town in Louisiana called “Carolville,” and it was full speed ahead. It took some time, but I’m so glad I didn’t give up on it because writing it proved to me that if you push through fear and doubt, you can accomplish exactly what you put your mind to.

Do you have any advice for new writers that you’d have given yourself on the journey to self-publishing?

My advice is to hone your craft. Do it any way you can and multiple ways. Take classes on writing. Read books on the craft of writing and study the work of writers that you admire. Study, study, study! And also, believe in yourself, even when nobody else does.

And last but not least. Let’s imagine your book was in the works for a movie. Who do you envision playing your main characters?

Love this question! I could totally see Taraji Henson or Jill Scott playing my main character, Leena. And of course, my BFF in my head, Kerry Washington, playing the villain, Adira.

Find The New Mrs. Collins, and more about author Quanie Miller, at: http://www.amazon.com/New-Mrs-Collins-Quanie-Miller/dp/1502489252/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1415717314&sr=8-1&keywords=the+new+mrs+collins

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7218800.Quanie_Miller

 

 

The White Horseman

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Ancient artifacts, mad sorcerers and the prophecy of a human child makes for an intriguing, compelling fantasy tale in J.S. Graydon’s first published novel The White Horseman. Saving the world is no easy feat for one human child amidst a war of destruction when one powerful messenger is summoned by the enemy: The Horseman, who will bring forth a message of apocalyptic warnings: the world of humanity will end. With the right combination of magic, wizardry and action packed adventure, Graydon’s debut will surely be a treat to readers of all ages.

Interviewer: Christy Campbell

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Tell us about J.S. Graydon, fantasy young adult author.

I am originally from England. I was raised in a very little village. The same one that is in the book! I had a wonderful childhood there. In the countryside people really do still believe in magical creatures. I truly believed that there were fairies that lived at the bottom of our garden. We had a true white witch that lived less than a mile from us! When you are brought up with such colorful people, it is hard to contain your imagination! I have since moved to southwest Florida which is a fantastic place to live. When I’m not writing, I love to travel.

Tell us about the premise behind your debut novel, The White Horseman.

Good question! The book is about a young boy that gets a chance of a lifetime to join in an adventure that will ultimately save the world. A sorcerer, determined to obtain his place within the immortal realm has begun a chain of events that if not stopped, will bring about the very End of Days itself! His spell would unleash the first of the horseman of the apocalypse: The White Horseman.

The young boy is drawn into situations of magical manipulations and of enchanted forests that are not rooted in place. He encounters wondrous creatures drawn from the myths and legends of ancient lore such as centaurs, hobgoblins, elves, and celestial beings that intervene to try to stop an ancient evil from rising again.

But while the good try to repair the damage before it’s too late, there are others that plot to sabotage. Not all those that appear to help the boy are truly what they seem. There are creatures that would love nothing but for the plan to fail. Suspicion runs rampant as it becomes clear that there is a traitor amongst them. They can only hope that they can stop the one person that stands between salvation and hell’s gates before it is too late.

How long have you been writing fiction?

I’ve been writing most of my life. I have tons of unfinished manuscripts and plays that got started but never finished! This story came to me in a dream and it was important to finish it.

What makes your book unique from other fantasy adventures on the bookshelves today?

It’s unique because there are many other programs and television shows that are on the same page (no pun intended) as this novel. For example, the television show Constantine portrays a battle with demons and angels. This is also true within my book. There are celestial forces at play in The White Horseman that will keep you guessing until the end of book! Another example would be Sleepy Hollow: This show follows more closely the ideas that The White Horseman creates. The young man, Ben, is thrust into a magical journey to stop the horseman of the apocalypse from returning to earth.

The plots and subplots also make it unique. I just love weaving ideas around each other. There is more than one story being told within the pages of The White Horseman. The characters are complex and each brings to the table a strong personality.

Tell us about the main characters in the book.

Absolutely! Ben is the main character – he is the one that crashes through the protective barrier that hides the guardian world. A prophecy picks Ben to lead a group of local characters in an effort to stop the evil wizard that plans on ruling both worlds. His mentor is Gerhardt – an ancient sorcerer whose knowledge will help guide him on his quest. He is accompanied by some very colorful characters: An elf, a Scotsman, a centaur and a hobgoblin. He also has the unpleasant task of working with a Contrary – a person cursed to live his life backwardly. Not all are as helpful as they could be. Some are not his friends at all but plan to sabotage Ben’s efforts at any cost!

Some of the conflicts in the storyline appear to be ripped from the headlines. Can you elaborate on why you chose to go that route?

Yes that is true. Though this is not a religious book by any stretch of the imagination, it does touch upon problems and issues that the world is having right now. Problems within economies and religion do play into this story as a back drop. The fictional events in the novel play into a version of what people consider being the End of Days. I just took the story a little further and asked myself “what if there was a realm aside from our own that guarded us from this misfortune?”

Did you simply wing it when it came to penning the story or did you work from an outline?

Great question! I had a general idea of what needed to be written but it was mostly written free style. I had started the story years ago, writing on ledger books – I had tons of them. Eventually I had the task of transferring the written word into a computer. That took some time! The second half of the book was written directly on the computer which definitely sped up the thinking process. Now that the characters are fully formed I plan on using an outline for the second book in the series called the Red Horseman.

What was the most challenging aspect of writing your first book?

Probably it was finishing it! I started writing it many years ago but didn’t have the discipline to finish the novel. There was a two year gap between the first half of the book and the second portion. When I picked up the book the second time around I enjoyed the characters so much that I knew that I needed to knuckle down and finish it!

Also, originally I would go back and re-read the chapter in an effort to ‘fine tune’ it. This led to me slowing down and feeling that the chapter was stale. The second time around I just barreled forward and ironed out the small details much later. This allowed me to work quicker and keep the story fresh in my mind.

Which character did you find the most difficult to portray?

The most challenging character was writing in the Contrary. The Contrary is a person born of both the human world and the world of Wode Uplands. It is a highly unusual aberration. Because the Contrary is born of both worlds he is cursed to forever live his life backwards. I must say that trying to clearly write about a man that must live his life in reverse was difficult at best but he is a very important piece in the puzzle between the two worlds. The Contrary in essence becomes like a bridge that can see into both realms. His place in the book is a vital one.

Are you an avid reader of any particular genres/titles?

Yes, yes, yes! I love to read. I will read anything. Cereal boxes, ingredient lists, magazines, books, you name it! I caught the reading bug very early in life and I believe I’ve read hundreds of books. I love young adult and fantasy books, but I relish a good mystery or thriller too! Imagination is such a wonderful tool that the mind has. Mine works on overtime. In all the hundreds of stories I’ve read or written my mind conjures up new environments and colorful scenery each time.

Tell us what’s in store for fans of J.S. Graydon?

I plan to continue writing. The White Horseman is the first in a series of five books. I have already started work on the second book, The Red Horseman. I would love to get everyone’s thoughts and reviews on the book. I’m sure that it will help guide the next books on their way!

Where can readers learn more about you and purchase The White Horseman?

The book is available for purchase immediately. I am currently on Amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/White-Horseman-J-S-Graydon-ebook/dp/B00OD00U76/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&sr=8-1&qid=1415595865

and Goodreads.com: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23324262-the-white-horseman

I also have a new website: http://www.jsgraydon.com/. It has just opened but I plan on using it as tool to connect with my readers. I am thrilled to start this new chapter (pun intended) of my life and to be able to share it with others.

 

Vampire in the Scrying Glass

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Vampires, mortals and forbidden love sound juicy when it comes to R.E. Mullins’ delectable yet thrilling series, Blautsaugers of Amber Heights. With her latest debut, Vampire in the Scrying Glass, just released on Halloween, vampire lovers will eat up the action, romance and secrets that abound in this fantasy tale of the living and the undead.

Interviewer: Christy Campbell

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Let’s start by telling readers about how your creative journey as a writer first began.

I’ve lived most of my life inside my head. Even as a young child I was always daydreaming and weaving fantasies to entertain myself. I would tell my mother bizarre stories—always with me as the lead doing something outrageous and heroic—as if they’d really happened. In an effort to make sure I understood the difference between fantasy and reality, she’d always bring me back to earth by asking, “Is this something that really happened or something you’d like to have happen?”

I was faced with this wild imagination in my second child. Once he came home from preschool and told me there’d been a fire but he’d put it out using water from a puddle and saved everyone. It was then I understood how my mother must have felt when listening to me.

When I got a little older, I started making up episodes for my favorite TV shows and characters. I think the very first ones were for The Partridge Family and The Mod Squad.

Where did you get the ideas for your novels?

I worked as a phlebotomist for ten years. Consequently, I’ve been called a vampire, bloodsucker, and, my personal favorite, a tick. I’ve heard about every vampire joke ever written and it got me to thinking… What would happen if a phlebotomist was turned into a vampire? That story turned into the first novel I ever wrote called: It’s a Wonderful Undead Life. It’s the story of Cailey Kantor and how she meets the Blautsauger family and gets turned into a vampire.

My second novel: Vampire In The Scrying Glass which came out on Halloween 2014 can be read as a standalone but also deals with the Blautsauger family. It is the romance between Cailey’s friend, Morgan Maguire and the youngest Blautsauger son, Rafe.

Did you start with an outline or simply wing it as you went along?

Ha! I always try to start with some type of outline but it never lasts long. The characters in my head (which I call my voices) are too demanding and obstinate. They go their own way.

Is there a lot of research involved during the writing process?

Yes, I must say research is one of my favorite things to do. I can get lost in researching names, Wiccan philosophy, magical tools, demonology, and poisons. In Vampire in the Scrying Glass, I tried my hand at doing some scientific research while trying to devise the artificial blood formula Michaela and Morgan are working on. Hopefully, it sounds convincing enough—though I’m sure it’ll make a real scientist cringe.

I also do a lot of research on historical timelines and style. Whenever I refer to the one of my vampire’s past, I want to make sure they dress and act accordingly.

Was anyone in your circle of family and friends allowed to read chapters in progress or did you make them wait until the whole thing was done?

Ah, poor Melanie. She was one of my co-workers and I chose her (okay blindsided her) as my very first reader because I thought she’d give me an honest opinion. I was afraid closer friends or family members might be too worried about hurting my feelings. Let me say, Melanie turned out to be a great choice. She was a real trooper, read it all, constantly encouraged me, and corrected a lot of punctuation.

I heard you like to include names with hidden meanings and other trivia in your books?

Yes, I’m guilty of that. I use the term Nosferatu to refer to vampires of European descent and Toltec for the vampires coming out of Mexico and South America. Of course Nosferatu is a 1922 German Expressionist horror film and the Toltecs were a bloodthirsty and warring ancient tribe from central Mexico.

Blautsauger is the Bavarian word for bloodsucker. I named the vampire siblings: Gabe, Michaela, Metta, and Rafe based on the angels of prayer: Gabriel, Michael, Metatron, and Raphael.

Ixchel is the Mayan Moon Goddess, and Eztli gets her name from the Nahuatl dialect word for blood. At the back of Vampire in the Scrying Glass my editor put in a short glossary of how to pronounce several of the names and their meanings.

Since I always like to learn new things when I’m reading, I also try to include something my readers might not know. For instance, the actual name for a blood pressure cuff is a sphygmomanometer.

In Vampire in the Scrying Glass, I also include an account of one of my more disastrous blind dates.

Swapping to the personal side of things, we live in a world where technology is abundant. Readers have become addicted to electronic means so they can devour their favorite books. What is your preference – an old fashioned hardback, paperback or eBooks?

I love books. I like holding them. As my daughter once put it, it’s nice to physically feel and watch as one side of the book decreases and the other side increases as you progress through the chapters. I like the sturdiness of a hardback and the slickness of a paperback. I held out against eBooks and then my children sent me a Kindle for mother’s day… Now it goes with me everywhere. I love how I can adjust the font size when my eyes are tired and how I can carry hundreds of books in one compact package. It makes it ideal for travel and I appreciate how my suitcase no longer weighs a ton with everything I want to read while on vacation.

As an adolescent and teen reader, what were some of your favorite titles and authors that had the most influence on your personal style as a storyteller?

I have always been a voracious reader. Books opened up a whole new world for me starting with See Spot Run. I graduated from Dick and Jane to Dr. Seuss, Little House on the Prairie series, the Boxcar kids, Robinson Crusoe, Swiss Family Robinson, Moby Dick, The Witch of Blackbird Pond, and My Side of the Mountain. I always had a book in my hands. I still do.

I read most of the classics starting in Junior High: The Scarlet Letter, Stoker’s Dracula, Shelley’s Frankenstein, Gone with the Wind, and Hunchback of Notre Dame to name a few. I went through a period where I read every biography I could get my hands on. I loved the ones on Henry the VIII and each of his wives, Gypsy Rose Lee, and Marilyn Monroe. Then I read Harwood’s So Merciful a Queen So Cruel a Woman about Queen Elizabeth the first. I read it right after reading Good Queen Bess by Diane Stanley and Peter Vennema. This was an eye opener for me. One book portrayed the Monarch as all sweetness and light while the other painted a much darker picture of her motives. It was at this time I began to understand that everyone, even our most revered heroes, are flawed. These differing viewpoints presented an uncomfortable and challenging dichotomy for my young mind.

I know I’m forgetting many wonderful of the wonderful books I read during my adolescent and teen years but I’ll stop here. I will say that as an adult I mainly read romances and want my “happily ever after”. These days I rarely read anything too weighty and want my escapism.

Last but not least, give us the scoop on where readers can find out more about you and your series.

Twitter handle: #REMullins

Facebook page: www.facebook.com/…

Goodreads author page: https://www.goodreads.com/REMullins

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Buy links:

Amazon link: amzn.to/ZQ8n5Y

Wild Rose Press: http://www.wildrosepublishing.com/maincatalog_v151/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=195&products_id=5867

Blog: http://remullins.blogspot.com/