A Chat with Konn Lavery

mental-damnation-reality-cover

Dark fantasy is a popular genre in today’s YA market, and Canadian author Konn Lavery taps into that enthusiasm with his second edition of Mental Damnation: Reality. The storyline follows a pair of friends—Krista and Darkwing—as they struggle to survive gang violence, a militarized dictatorship, and a fast-spreading disease that is infecting the population. Like many writers who are passionate about their craft, Lavery frequently burns the midnight oil coming up with page-turning plots. By day, he runs his own graphic design and website development business under the title Reveal Design. These skills have been transcribed into the formatting and artwork found within his publications and supporting his fascination for transmedia storytelling.

Interviewer: Christina Hamlett

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Q: Why did you decide to go the self-publishing route?

A: I initially wanted to go through traditional publishing when I was in high school. This would have been back in 2007. At the time I didn’t know anyone in the industry and had no idea how to begin. I had it in my head that if you land that one publishing contract you were set. The publisher would get you an editor, print the books, market it and tour you around the world. The industry doesn’t work that way. Self-publishing also did not seem like an option since I didn’t have any network or an editor to complete my manuscripts.

After some failed submissions I decided to hang up the writing and focus on my postsecondary education. It wasn’t until 2011 when I was teaching at a graphics college when a colleague and good friend of mine asked to read some of my writing (which at the time was unpublished). She happened to be the first person beyond my immediate family who read my work. I gave her a digital copy of the first manuscript of Mental Damnation. Her feedback was very encouraging and she believed I should seriously consider pursuing my writing.

I didn’t want to go through the process of finding a publisher again. Being in the graphic design industry, I now had the knowledge of design fundamentals, book layout, formatting and technicalities to work with a print shop. Self-publishing seemed like a much more plausible option than when I was in high school.

From there I began asking colleagues, friends and searching online about the pros and cons of self-publishing. I took down as many notes as I could and began the process of finding an editor and ultimately releasing my first novel in 2012.

Q: Your latest release is a second edition. Can you elaborate on why Mental Damnation: Reality has a new edition?

A: The first novel I released was Mental Damnation: Reality back in 2012. I had published three more novels after that, one being unrelated to the Mental Damnation series. In the fall of 2016 I returned to the series to finish the story. To do this, I had to brush up on the first novel and become absorbed in the fantasy world once again.

After reading the first edition of Reality, I identified clichés, narration and a stylistic approach that could be improved upon. It had been about five years since the initial release and you can learn a lot in-between that time. My writing has evolved and it read as if it were written by another author.

It had been two years since the release of the third book in the series and I realized that it was an opportunity to start from ground zero and improve the overall story. I compiled a list of feedback I had received over the years from readers who commented on ways to improve the book and applied it to the second edition of the novel.

Q: Will the rest of the series have second editions as well?

A: Yes, the other two novels currently in the series will have second editions. A lot has been adjusted in the new Mental Damnation: Reality and these changes will be seen in Dream and Fusion. Some of these include the lore, character and creature descriptions. I will also be adding new chapters into these novels much like with the new Reality to further expand on the storyline.

Q: How many books are planned for the series?

A: Now that I have re-visited the story, I have the endgame in mind. While I have been re-writing book one, two and three, I am including additional chapters that will help tie together the whole story together.

There will be a fourth and final book in the series that provides a conclusion to Krista’s storyline and a number of subplots that have been introduced to the readers.

Q: Where did the idea for the Mental Damnation series come from?

A: The original storyline for Mental Damnation was written in high school; the concept has evolved drastically over time. It has adapted creatures and characters from earlier manuscripts.

The premise came to me in 2007 while in math class. I was supposed to be doing my homework but instead, I was drawing. The sketch was of a reptilian girl – Krista – who was clutching her head and split between two worlds. On one side it was a forest and on the other was a hellish landscape with demons and fleshy monsters.

The sketch inspired me to come up with a name for the piece and a backstory. I had played with a number of titles such as “Mind’s Hell” or “Mental Fire” but settled on “Mental Damnation” for the biblical reference.

From there, I drafted the first manuscript which differs greatly from the novel you see today. A lot of it has been altered during the editing phases in 2011 and late 2016. This has been a crucial part of my growing process as a writer and am quite pleased to have gone through it.

Q: Will you be writing more books related to Mental Damnation?

A: In the future yes. I have always had the idea that every book I write is part of the same universe. Very similar to how Stephen King’s novels relate to the Dark Tower. As for spinoff novels or more dark fantasy pieces, I do plan to write more related to Mental Damnation.

Fantasy is a big interest of mine – I used to play a lot of role-playing games as a kid – and I do have story outlines for future novels related very closely to the timeline and characters of Mental Damnation.

Q: You also illustrate all of the artwork found in the book, what made you want to do this?

A: By trade I am a graphic designer and web developer and I have also been drawing for as long as I have been writing. After sketching the initial drawing of Krista split between two worlds, I felt that the visual portion of Mental Damnation played an important role to help set the tone of the story. It also provides extra content for fans to enjoy.

The visuals have also seen an evolution over the years. The drawings I did in high school were more detailed and more illustrative. Now they pull a lot more graphical influences with icons, glyphs and patterns. The abstract approach towards the illustrations helps keep the details in the imagination of the reader.

Surprising to me, the addition of illustrations has led to some fan art over the years. It has been very inspiring to see that my work has encouraged people to draw.

Q: You wrote another novel last year in the strange fiction genre. Tell us about it.

A: Back in 2014 I had released Dream and Fusion, two novels found in the Mental Damnation series. I had been engrossed in the dark fantasy world for a number of years and wanted to take a break from it. This opened the doors to explore a new writing style and genre. I was able to take everything I was familiar with and do the opposite of that and grow as a writer.

In 2015 I participated in the NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and wrote the first manuscript for the novel Seed Me. At the time it was called Amensalism but it didn’t fit the mood of the book. Writing Seed Me allowed me to explore a first-person, past-tense narration, something I had never done before.

It was a good experiment and helped broaden my writing ability. I was able to do a lot of research into the history of Alberta, Canada and study what makes a good horror. This research led me to H.P. Lovecraft’s theory of playing off of the unknown which became a major part of the novel.

Q: With Seed Me you introduced a score to accompany the book. Why?

A: I am a huge fan of transmedia storytelling. As seen in the Mental Damnation series, there are a lot of visual bonuses such as a glyph system, illustrations and a map. With Seed Me, I wanted to experiment with new writing and new bonus material.

The score accompanying a book has been done in the past and is a very good idea to create a mood for the readers. While writing Seed Me I listened to a lot of dark ambient, witch house and down tempo music. I also had been writing my own music and knew a number of musicians within these genres.

In the spirit of experimentation that I had for Seed Me, I thought I could take it one step further and include a musical component to the story compiled by various musicians.

Q: What else will you be writing in the near future?

A: I have several story outlines on the go. One being the fourth and final novel in the Mental Damnation series, one being a splatter punk novel and another is a thriller.

In the immediate future, the second edition of Mental Damnation: Dream will be out in the fall of 2017. The second edition of Mental Damnation: Fusion will be out early 2018. The thriller novel I am working on will also be out for 2018.

Q: Any final thoughts you would like to share with our readers?

A: If you are interested in writing or are writing, keep doing it. It is the only way to improve. As mentioned above, I’ve gone forwards and backwards with my writing to really improve on the storytelling and craft.

Don’t be afraid to try new things with your writing and push yourself out of your comfort zone. This is where you’ll really discover what you are capable of.

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Windstalker: Awareness

baginski

The soul that has conceived one wickedness can nurse no good thereafter. -SOPHOCLES, Philoctetes

Science fiction, fantasy, romance and inhuman creatures all blend together in author K.M. (Kisa) Baginski’s debut series Windstalker. In Awareness, the first book Baginski introduces, she spins a tale that introduces a force of evil that preys on a group of unsuspecting young adults sucked into a world of chaos. Note to avid fantasy fans: Be prepared for a lot of suspense, with a little nail-biting thrown in!

Interviewer: Christy Campbell

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Great title by the way! Tell us a bit about Kisa the author and your debut novel, Windstalker: Awareness.

I’m just getting started in the world of writing and look forward to producing much more. For me there was always drive to get particular stories out of my system. I haven’t been in training like many authors I know and respect. In terms of my educational profile, I was always science matriculated. I’ve just wanted to share stories as they come to me. Storytelling is such a beautiful art form. I hope to grow and continue learning as I tell more of them. Awareness is about the Windstalker creature, an evolved Nephilim- half angel and half human. It’s set in New York City and the creature has an impact on a group of unassuming, nonspiritual and emotionally dysfunctional friends. They try to cling to reality for much of the story, ignoring or avoiding the presence of something they can’t rationalize, until they are forced to accept events and circumstances that defy logic. They become aware of the presence of a supernatural force. A Windstalker.

What was your inspiration for writing a supernatural thriller?

I have these amazing vivid dreams from time to time that are a lot like watching a film. They are usually open around the rising action of the story to its climax. The calm just before the storm and, of course, the storm. Windstalker began as one of these dreams.

It came about because as a teen I dreamt from the perspective of a pair of creatures that hovered in an abandoned lot next to a building. The creatures were disguised as swirling wind but could also morph into men, so human beings did not notice them at all. The building was isolated on a dark corner of the street and only significant because of a woman who lived there. She was a sweet, gentle single mother of an infant. Though she was not a particularly noteworthy citizen, one of the two creatures stalked her. And you have to remember the dream was seen from the perspective of the creature. The woman reminded him of a life he had known previously, when human, a life to which he desperately wanted to return. He didn’t say as much to his formless partner as he knew the partner didn’t want to be alone. The longing creature led a sort of tug-of-war among the three as he searched for and tested ways to permanently revert back to human form. Almost ten years later, I hadn’t forgotten the intensity of that dream. So I thought it would be a great start for a novel-writing future. I have many stories that began that way, waiting to surface.

Introduce us to your main characters. What are some of their struggles throughout the story?

Mitchell Geathers is an ambitious young man. He is a leader in his family and maintains a certain level of control. He’s really driven by fear that he will lose control and endanger his loved ones. Chelsea Easton is lost in the real world. She often feels out of place and thinks she has to divert attention away from herself. But being the product of a broken, dysfunctional family, she actually craves love, affection and validation from others.

What makes your novel unique from other paranormal novels out there?

I would say the creature itself. A windstalker isn’t just a shapeshifter. It is a very difficult creature to destroy and can also be reverted into a human being, given a special set of circumstances the reader will have to discover throughout the series.

Were there any authors you read for inspiration while preparing for your first book?

I read a few Victorian Gothic horror novels such as Dracula (Bram Stoker) and The Picture of Dorian Gray (Oscar Wilde). I also read Lolita (Vladimir Nabokov); for a while I toyed with making the character Chelsea younger. I read Anna Karenina (Leo Tolstoy) for Tolstoy’s panoramic scenes allowing the reader to understand the same incident from another character’s perspective. I thought if I was going to try writing my own novel, I needed to wrap my mind around some of the most celebrated masters of prose and the horror/fantasy genre.

Is this volume one of its kind or will it be part of a series you are developing?

Awareness is the first in the Windstalker series. There are at least two more parts I’m working on now.

In that case, what can your readers look forward to in the next book in your series?

The next book is geared toward discovering the levels of hierarchy within the Windstalker culture. There is a major division within their inner world. An alliance with the peace keepers among them and the stronger group for the time being and a rogue organization seeking to overthrow the peace keepers and establish themselves as supreme leaders of the species.

Fans of science fiction thrillers that touch on romance will easily devour a story like Windstalker. If you could choose a couple of famous folks to play your characters, who comes to mind?

It’s funny but the only character I could see having a famous actor doppelganger is Eli Roberts. I see Eli being played by Charlie Hunnam for some reason.

Give us a few of your favorite films or television shows that might compare to the theme of Windstalker.

I’d like to think Windstalker: Awareness could very well resonate with True Blood, Dexter, Dead Like Me or even Buffy the Vampire Slayer TV fans; or fans of the movie Fallen – for the Grigori Angel mythology. Most of these projects had a dark premise, complex characters and a good mix between horror, romance, thriller and comedy genres.

There are so many online resources today where readers can learn all about their favorite authors. How can readers stay connected to you and any future book projects?

Windstalker stories are available on Amazon and my Windstalker books website. I’ll be announcing any new Windstalker projects as they surface. There is currently a short story prequel (Windstaker: The Fall of Samyaza) and novella about a character named Drew Royce (from Awareness) in development. Both will be released before the second book in the series.

Can you provide your audience with any retail and/or review links as well?

The series website is www.windstalkerbooks.com.

Pieces of Artyx

Artyx cover

First time author Jennifer Early shares the scoop on her debut novel Pieces of Artyx, one of a five book fantasy series that follows a set of siblings whose main agenda is stopping their powerful sister’s takeover of their own world. Unique creatures and a creative atmosphere will draw readers in to explore the journey of Artyx and Aylus.

Interviewer: Christy Campbell

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Tell us about your new book release Pieces of Artyx: The Forged Journey. Sounds exciting!

It’s quite exciting since it’s my first published work. I started writing it, finally, about three years ago when my son was born. However the story itself has been simmering inside my head since I was a teenager.

Pieces of Artyx is the first in a series of five books. I’m actually in the middle of writing the fourth one. It’s the beginning of a journey of my main characters Artyx and Aylus who set forth to stop their older sister from dominating their world. Dubbing herself Empiralin Emzala, she endeavors to conquer all in order to accomplish another purpose. Along the way you get to experience the world of different creatures and landscapes that I’ve crafted. I’ve written this story to be casual for the reader and to be able to relate to the characters easily.

The premise is interesting. What inspired you to write for the fantasy genre?

Magic, mythical creatures, epic wars, and mythology make everything more interesting. Creating a different world filled with wondrous places is fun. A lot of fantasy stories have your run of the mill dragons and other creatures that are easily recognizable. But I love making new creatures, often with a twist of horror. You can pretty much make anything when you have magic and a great imagination.

I also enjoy the challenge of making the unreal real. That’s the heart of fantasy; to fabricate a whole world immersed in magic that can be seen clearly by the reader. When you can add humans and their real life problems to the mix and make it believable, that’s a part of why I love writing for the fantasy genre.

As writers, our dream is to see our work out there for all the literary world to see. How did your vision of being an author become a reality?

For me, as a writer, I think my dream of becoming an author will only have been fulfilled when a lot of people have read my work. To share my stories is the primary reason for writing. So far, I don’t think I’ve been successful enough to truly say that my vision of becoming an author has come true despite having been published.

What were your first thoughts when you finished that final page–i.e. mission accomplished?

Is it really done?” I think I was in shock when I finished. I never really thought I would finish because the story had been in my head for so long. I first conceived of it years before but one thing or another came along to keep me from doing it.

I think a lot of first time authors feel that way too. When you have been planning a novel and writing it off and on for so long, it seems unreal that it’s actually done. Of course, next I felt relieved. That weight had been lifted off of me and put into text.

Based on your own writing experience, what do you think is the most difficult part of creating a story?

Creating the world itself. As with most fantasy you have to start from scratch and plot out where the cities are, who the people are, the economics, trade, government structures, etc. You don’t realize what’s involved until you’re actually going through to make the world. There is so much detail involved to make it seem realistic.

My hard drive is filled with files that I’ve called “indexes”. Indexes and files for magic, flora, fauna, gods and goddesses, creatures, immortals, and races of people. Not to mention the notes for the plot, cities and time lines. It’s all very extraneous to keep everything in order and making sure it’s consistent.

In contrast, what was the easiest?

The characters I put in the story were the easiest to create for the most part. I’m an artist too so when I need to make a character I start by drawing him/her. I usually make notes on the side for their name and traits. It’s honestly my favorite part of the process. I’m a pretty visual person so I like to be able to see the character, place or thing before I write about it. I have a three ring binder full of characters, maps and the like.

Who are your biggest supporters when it comes to fulfilling such a fantastic goal?

My husband. He’s very supportive in all my endeavors. Without his support I don’t think I would have been able to write in the first place. He makes me feel like I can do anything. There’s also my best friend. I call her the spirit and foundation of my imagination. One of the things we’d do when we were starting to think of stories was plan out plot for books and stories. She’s the one who inspired my want to write in the first place.

Is there anything in your educational background that contributed to writing and publishing your first novel?

I have a Bachelors degree in Computer Animation which is a very creative degree and requires a lot of imagination. In a lot of ways it helped me to think differently and outside the box. If I did have an idea my next thought would be to ask myself if it can be done another way. It also required a lot of research so it gave me the skills I needed to find any information for my story.

Are there any favorite authors who influenced you to explore the world of fiction writing?

J.K. Rowling, J.R.R. Tolkien, Peter S. Beagle. These authors mean so much to me in that I feel like they are the heart of the fantasy genre. Their stories are so vividly real in their characters and settings in different ways whether it be a casual or formal way of storytelling.

Tell us what you like to do in your spare time when you aren’t parked in front of that trusty computer.

Primarily I’m a stay at home mother, so my main job is looking after my three year old son. He is full of monstrous amounts of energy so he keeps me busy. Lately I’ve been reading The Hobbit to him. I hope to instill a love for reading and writing in him. He started to read simple words a couple months ago so I think I’m doing something right! And as a mother I love to bake.

Other than that as I’ve mentioned earlier I draw. I’ll sketch my ideas with a mechanical pencil then pull it onto my iPad to create the finished work. Reading is also one of my favorite things to do.

Where can readers learn more about Jennifer Early and Pieces of Artyx?

My author’s Facebook page is: https://www.facebook.com/JAEarlyAuthor?ref=hl

I set up a blog recently about my book and my writing: https://jaearlyauthor.wordpress.com/

Thirst of the Sea

Scarlet Hunter

No matter the genre or medium you embrace, telling total strangers that you’re a published author typically elicits a response of “Wow!” For a lot of people (many of whom believe they have a book inside of them and yet have neither the time nor skill sets to actually sit down and write it), authors are often perceived as having crossed a threshold of awesomeness that completely defies gravity. I still recall a woman in the 1970’s who remarked, “I had no idea that you people lived right here among the rest of us.” I’m not sure if she thought that all the authors of the world inhabited their own special island or lived in a mist-shrouded fortress in the Himalayas (which is actually a lovely idea) but it became especially amusing over the years whenever word leaked out in the workplace that a certain brunette three cubicles over was leading a double life: mild-mannered coworker by day and prolific raconteur on evenings and weekends.

I was, thus, delighted to discover kindred spirit Scarlet Hunter whose fictional foray into the dark, sexy and sensual realm of paranormal fantasy romance with titles like Thirst of the Sea is far removed from what she does for her mortal day-job.

Interviewer: Christina Hamlett

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Q: Scarlet Hunter is such a great name for someone who writes fantasy romance! So, of course, I just have to ask: is it the name you were born with?

Actually, no. To be honest, it’s a combination of things. I love animals and have had cats my entire life. When I was a little girl, I named my first kitten Scarlet. When I needed to come up with a pen name, Scarlet instantly popped into my mind. Since I was writing books about vampires, I thought…umm, vampires are blood hunters…the word Scarlet also means red or burgundy…so why not Hunter for the last name—Blood “Scarlet” Hunter—So Scarlet Hunter it was. LOL

Q: Tell us about your journey as a writer and the moment you first realized that this was what you wanted to do as a career.

Ever since I was old enough to hold a writing utensil I’ve been jotting down things in my head. Funny, I still have the stories I wrote in elementary school, and of course they were about cats…Haha. So I’d say the passion has always been there. The moment I realized I wanted to make a real go at it was after I joined a writing group and became great friends with those who were already published authors. Then one day I finally decided to write a full length story from start to finish, and see if I’d get published, and I did. It was the best day of my life!

Q: Were you a voracious reader growing up? If so, what are some of the books we might have found on your bedroom nightstand?

Surprisingly, not at all. Growing up, you had to force me to read, and only because they were books required for school. I loved to play around with paper and pen, but asking me to sit still and read? Yeah, that wasn’t gonna happen. J As I got older, I was still always on the go; never stopping to find the time to sit and read a book. Not until 2010. My life changed all due to one book— Lover Avenged by J.R. Ward. (I’ll explain after the next question LOL)

Q: Which authors – past and present – have influenced your own style of storycrafting?

Gena Showalter, Richelle Mead, J.R. Ward, and actually a good friend of mine, LaVerne Thompson. LaVerne has helped me become a much stronger writer. She was and still is a great mentor. I’d also say Nicholas Sparks. I’m a hopeless romantic and one of my hobbies is collecting autographed books he has written. His style of writing helped me open my mind even farther when writing sensual relationships between my Hero and Heroine. He is also the reason I am experimenting with writing my first contemporary story.

Q: What attracted you to the paranormal/fantasy romance genre?

Like I mentioned above, I was someone who never sat still. Always running around doing something. Well one day, I was with my mother browsing around in Walgreens and came across a book by J.R. Ward called, Lover Avenged. After reading the blurb, I bought it, went home, and that day starting reading it. Let’s just say I couldn’t put the book down. When I was done, I went straight to Barnes and Noble and bought every single book available in that series. Hahahaha From then on, I was hooked on that genre. And now, four years later, you should see my library. It’s filled with books of Paranormal, Sci-fi, and Fantasy Romance. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Q: Books, movies and even television shows these days are delivering a steady stream of plots that involve the undead, the unreal and the wickedly supernatural. In your opinion, what accounts for society’s longstanding fascination with characters that aren’t of this Earth?

I think it’s the fantasy of it all. Characters and creatures unlike us mortal humans are so interesting and exciting. Super beings with powers and abilities we wish we had, or at least I do. LOL. That’s why I love writing about either vampire, angel, demon, or fairy characters. The imagination is endless as to where you can take and do with them.

Q: If you could be a witch, a vampire or a ghost, which would you choose?

One hundred percent vampire, baby! I would kill to have immortality, not to mention some of their powers. Speed being one of them. I think vampires are just pure sexy!

Q: Give us a teaser about your latest release, Thirst of the Sea.

With a lustful gaze, his eyes drifted to meet hers; he stared directly into a pair of translucent pearl-like eyes. Every section of his monstrous frame froze as they stared at one another. Every muscle in his body tensed. Trying to find his voice, all the while, his mind screamed inside his head.

MINE…Take her…she is yours…why do you hesitate?

Swallowing hard, he tried to regain his self-control.

He needed find some kind of inner gallantry, being rusty on the treatment of a beautiful female who shockingly provoked something raw within him. A feeling unusual and most unexpected, for no female in his lifetime had affected him in such a way. “My name is Alaois. What is your—”He suddenly felt unable to continue when a feverish swell of the glands inside his mouth and throat exploded from a much stronger scent coming from her…Blood!

Moving his gaze toward this mouthwatering aroma, Alaois spotted the blood. On the inside of her arm, a large cut bleeding out from its binding. His whole body began to quiver. The bloodlust rose within him to take what flat out invited him over into temptation. Grinding his teeth, Alaois had to hold his breath, for any moment his body and mouth could easily seize this female prey, fully consuming what now seemed to be graciously offered before him.

While she would be nothing but food to others, his instincts told him so, yet all his senses shouted, Mine. Protect!

He raged a battle to hold himself back, fearing he would hurt her. Alaois collapsed on his knees at her feet. He brought his hands up covering his face, shielding his exposed fangs and shouted for her to run. Perceiving her feet moving closer toward him, he did the only thing he could do. Alaois removed his hands from his face, glared up at her locking his pained gaze with her innocent one and bared his fangs. He roared out in a hiss of hunger, “I. SAID. RUN!”

Q: Which character was the hardest for you to write

Umm. That’s a good question. One of the characters in a book I’m about to release, titled Heaven’s Sacrifice was challenging for me. It’s an Inspirational, Fantasy, and New Adult Fiction. Without giving too much away, it involves two sisters. They are total opposites. It was fun to write one of the sisters because of the way she is. I had to try and write her personality as perfect as I could so readers would connect and really feel the difference between the two. She was the most challenging to write and ended up being my favorite of all the heroines I’ve written so far. Her name is Brianna. When the book comes out, you’ll know who I’m talking about.

Q: Conversely, which one was the easiest?

Wow. I’m not sure on that one. I guess in the book Dust of Darkness, Raina seemed easy to write for me. She is a fairy and her character is so feminine and cute.

Q: Are your characters fashioned after anyone you know (including yourself)?

Yes to both. I recently started writing my first contemporary and one of the characters is based on a friend of mine. She is spunky and bouncy and well – the craziest person I know. And I mean that in the best way possible. LOL The character will be so much fun to write, and readers I hope, will spend a lot of time giggling – I’ll just say that.

As for myself – Another work of mine that’s still in progress I did put a lot of myself in the heroine. Some of her characteristics and life events she encounters actually happened to me in my own personal life.

Q: If Hollywood came calling to do a film adaptation of Thirst of the Sea, who’s your dream cast for it?

Oh no doubt, Joe Manganiello for Alaois. I actually had him in my head the whole time I wrote Alaois’ character. Joe was my inspiration. Long hair, deep voice, his overall sex appeal—OMG is all I can say! However, I must add, the guy on the book cover would be perfect for Alaois as well. Bad ass vampire sums him up perfectly.

As for Aretha, the heroine, I’d like to see Diane Kruger play her. She’s not as famous as some A-list actresses, but her overall look is very much like the goddess Aretha is in the book.

Q: You have two other titles on the market in addition to this one. What are they about?

Dust of Darkness is the first book in my series called The Reign of Darkness. This series is about Lucifer’s mission in hopes of turning the world into darkness. Lucifer and his demons fight every obstacle they can to triumph. Dust of Darkness takes place mainly in the woods where one particular species stands in Lucifer’s way—Fairies.

Curator’s Curse is Book One to another series, Legends of the Immortal Bloods. Vampires trying to keep their race alive. Curator’s Curse is the journey of a vampire named Larken. After losing his parents at a young age, he is forced to grasp who he was born to be. He is guided by his mentor, Seamus. Larken struggles with unknown powers bestowed to him and because of that, he cannot have the woman he seeks.

Q: Your day-job as Director of a TPA company for Section 125 benefit plans is worlds apart from the dark realm of cursed goddesses and vampires. What do your colleagues think of the paranormal flip-side of your business personality?

They were very surprised. I’m all business at the office and when they heard I wrote books, especially paranormal/fantasy romance, made a few eye-brows go up. I loved revealing that secret side of me…keeps them wondering – what else does she have up her sleeve? hahahaha

Q: Have you ever threatened to put one of them in your books if they annoy you? (spoken by someone who turned several former bosses into chalk outlines on the fictional floor…)

I’ve thought about it – yes, But no, I have never threatened to do that…yet. LOL Thankful all my co-workers and bosses are the best to work with.

Now I can’t rule out some “former” bosses as you have mentioned above. Oh goodness ~runs to get pen and paper~ You just gave me an idea!

Q: A lot of aspiring writers lament that they don’t have the time to pen a book because they’re working full-time and that they’re just going to wait until after they retire. What’s your response to that?

Everyone’s lifestyles are different. It’s easy for me to juggle my professional day job and my writing career because I’m not married, nor have children. Now I’m sure there are authors who do work full-time, are married with children, and manage to write – I admire those. It’s a personal decision one must make for themselves. For me personally, writing is not a job to me. It’s a way for me to journey to another place after a long day at work. It might sound crazy to some people, but writing relaxes me. I’m on the computer eight hours a day at the office and then I come home and get on my laptop and write for hours. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Q: Do you allow anyone to read your work in progress or do you make them wait until you’re completely done?

I have friends who ask me to send them some of my work when I’m in the middle of writing a story. I’ll send them a couple chapters I know will leave them hanging, begging to know more…But that’s when I make them wait until it’s completely done. LOL I’m a stinker, I know.

Q: When you’re not in front of your computer, what do you do for fun?

I like to travel when I can. I try to go to the beach every chance I get. I’ve been to Washington, DC to visit some friends of mine and last year went to New York and caught a Broadway Show, Phantom of the Opera. It was an unforgettable experience. Other than traveling, I make time to read of course. But I have a strong passion for wine ~snickers~ so my friends and I always try to find restaurants we’ve never been to before in hopes of experiencing new kinds of wine.

Q: Any new projects in the works?

Oh gosh, where do I start?

I’m currently co-writing a ghost story with LaVerne Thompson. I’m very excited about the storyline and we hope to release information about it soon.

I also have a few stories I hope to have release dates in 2014

–          Heaven’s Sacrifice

–          Burning Salvation

Q: What would readers be the most surprised to learn about you?

I used to play ice hockey.

Q: If your philosophy of life were on a tee-shirt, what would it say?

Love and Be Loved!

Q: Where can readers learn more about you?

My official website: www.scarlethunter.com

I am always on my Facebook Page posting new book cover reveals and video trailers, as well as all my upcoming release dates, etc. It is one of the best ways to keep in touch with me J https://www.facebook.com/ScarletHunter11?ref=hl&ref_type=bookmark

Twitter: ScarletHunter11

Q: Anything else you’d like to add?

THANK YOU for having me here today. I was overjoyed when you asked me to come and be a guest and this has been so much fun.

I’d also like to mention that since I’m an indie author, there is an Indie Author Celebration currently going on from now until July 18th. My promotion day is July 5th. Throughout this celebration, there will be hundreds of dollars in giveaways. You can find the link of information and how to enter the raffle, by going to my website – www.scarlethunter.com

 

The Witch’s Hand

The Witch's Hand

There’s no question that people have had a fascination throughout history with fantasy, magic, and the supernatural. In her new book, The Witch’s Hand, author Wendy Joseph demonstrates that she’s adept at stitching all three together against a compelling – and terrifying – backdrop. We also have it on good authority that she has performed on stage and in film, been chased by pirates and typhoons, can splice a 12-strand line, and can even say “Argh!” in six languages.

Interviewer: Christina Hamlett

**********

Q: What was your inspiration to develop your plot about a witch, an unwilling apprentice, and a flawed Crusader with PTSD?

A: The Witch’s Hand started with a vision in 1985, that of a hand, suffused with light and emanating power. What did that suggest? Magic, witchcraft. When and where was the heyday of witches? Medieval France—they reputedly burned more witches than any other country. How could I make a really good story out of this? Nothing is worth writing unless it’s a good story. How about a powerful witch who wanted to do humanity some good, but was rebuffed? How about an apprentice who is scared of her own powers and doesn’t want to be a witch? Who could help her? Somebody unlikely. Everything in the story came out of this.

Q: You’ve indicated that The Witch’s Hand is “the thinking person’s sword and sorcery.”

A: I wanted to not just tell a good story, but give the tale more depth and philosophical meaning than the usual hero-must-conquer-the-evil-sorcerer-and-save-the-princess saga, with 3-D characters, not just the good guys and the bad guys. I wanted to look into the deeper parts of people’s motivations and mental processes, and raise questions of right and wrong and how to choose between them. I wanted to take an accurate look at the Church’s good and bad sides, at everybody’s good and bad sides. So Jettaret struggles with his moral demons and quotes medieval scholars and Malaxia justifies her actions as working toward a greater good. How does one successfully deal with power like hers?

Q: What was your primary attraction to this genre?

A: The genre came along because of the nature and setting of the story. I don’t intentionally write in any genre. The story is first, and if it happens to be a murder mystery with a film noir detective, then it’s in that genre.

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

A: Voracious? I was insatiable! I have loved words from my first reading lesson in the first grade. When Mrs. Sechler pointed to the big black letters on the big white poster board and said “Look. L-O-O-K,” I sat up straight and knew This Was Important. And it’s been important ever since. Every time we ordered Scholastic Books in elementary school, I would get seven or eight when everyone else was getting one or two. In junior high I read the Norse Eddas. In high school I read Don Quixote, War and Peace, and Shakespeare’s Macbeth, Hamlet, and King Lear. Biography was fascinating then and now; I read bios of Madame Curie and George Washington Carver, people who had to overcome great odds to achieve what they did.

Q: Tell us about the research that went into crafting the magical elements and historical backdrop for The Witch’s Hand in order to stitch them into a plausible and compelling tableau.

A: Ah, historical research in France! Getting picked up by men with questionable motives at the Gare de Lyon in Paris, then tossing them out of hotel windows—I had to work, after all—having visions of the Virgin at 3 am after sleepless nights in a furied frenzy of composition, walking the ground my characters walked, catching up on medieval French history at every tiny local museum, many of which had an astounding amount of information, and scoring a coup-de-grace with the discovery of a twenty volume collection of medieval legends and tales. How exactly did they make brooms and wooden pitchforks in 1206? What kind of locks and keys did they have, and how big exactly were they? What kind of crops did they plant in the Auvergne region, and when? And on and on. Know where the phrase “to point the finger” at a criminal to identify him came from? A long time ago, a robber murdered a man and cut him into pieces, then continued down the road to an inn. The severed finger of the victim inched its way down the road after the murderer, leaving a bloody trail, went inside and pointed at him. The authorities followed the bloody trail, found the victim, and nabbed the murderer.

And while ensconced in a hotel near the Louvre to consolidate my research, I luxuriated in the knowledge that I was playing American expatriate writer in Paris, like Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Gertie Stein, et al. Yum. The poor cleaning girl wanted to come in and vacuum—she was under pressure from the dragon lady manager—but I had papers carefully strewn over everything and wouldn’t let her. Finally I opened the door and pointed to a space about one foot square. “Vacuum there.”

I studied up on Tarot and other medieval occult fields, grabbing every book I could find on medieval magic and devouring it. I even attended a contemporary witch’s gathering, complete with boiling cauldron and magical chants. This was on April 30, 1986, four days after the Chernobyl nuclear plant blew. It was sending a plume of radioactive particles north toward the pole, which were expected to come down over Canada and the US. So the chants were in the vein of “Go back! Go away! Begone!” And the next day the plume started to turn around and head back toward Chernobyl. I am not a practitioner of or believer in magic but that was a “Whoa!” moment. At any rate, I got a feel for how witches view the magical arts.

Q: How has technology impacted how, when and where you write?

A: In 1985 I wrote the first draft of The Witch’s Hand longhand, on several 6”x9” notepads, working through the night for several nights. I later typed it up on an electric typewriter reluctantly, not being the world’s greatest typist; my reading is fine but my typing is dyslexic. Finally computers with autocorrect programs came along and I don’t mind typing anymore. I have no set time for writing, but I used to work on The Witch’s Hand early in the morning. I don’t get up early anymore.

Q: How long did The Witch’s Hand take you to write from start to finish?

A: Twenty-five years. It’s a long time to give birth. It staggered and stopped and picked up again throughout the process.

Q: Do you prefer to work from an outline or let your muse guide you from one chapter to the next?

A: I get the ending clear as soon as I have the beginning down, then the fun part is deciding how to get from one to the other. I don’t use an outline as I don’t want the story to be too tied down to going in one direction in case it doesn’t work. Sometimes I work from scribbled notes.

Q: Have your characters ever done anything that surprised you?

A: Alberge was supposed to only play a minor role; introducing him as Jettaret’s former comrade-in-arms was to help flesh out Jettaret’s background, nothing more. But I walked into the inn and there he was, a total rascal, and I knew I wasn’t going to able to drop Alberge after only one scene.

Q: Did you allow anyone to read your chapters in progress or did you make them wait until the project was completed?

A: Nobody reads my stuff until it’s done. I don’t need somebody else’s mind messing up my work. As a matter of fact, I don’t like anyone messing with it after it’s done.

Q: Who’s your favorite character in the book and what aspects of his/her personality are a reflection of your personal hopes, fears and dreams?

A: Alberge is the character I most wish were real, because if he were, I’d run off with him. Have an attraction to rascals. I gave Alberge my sense of humor. After the story ends, I figure he dies in the gutter in Paris, but trust that won’t be my fate. I write seeing through the character’s eyes, or looking just over his/her shoulder. Everything they do is real to me. I worked out the swordfights by playing both combatants; I have swordplay training. I try to make all the characters 3-D, with a sympathetic side to even the worst ones. And if you’ve done your job right, the characters will resonate with the audience.

Q: What do you hope this book will accomplish?

A: I want people to read it, enjoy the story, love the characters, and think about some of the problems presented as they pertain to the reader’s life. Oh, and a few million copies sold, a movie, ballet and opera produced wouldn’t be bad, either.

Q: If Hollywood came calling, who would be your dream cast for a film adaptation?

A: I’d go back to Faye Dunaway’s Milady in Lester’s The Three (and Four) Musketeers for Malaxia, or Angelina Jolie today. There are a lot of good actors for Jettaret, but I’d want one that can do the pathos as well as the swashbuckling. Liana needs to have her feet on the ground and be scared and strong at the same time. Alberge needs a basso growl, and he’s short, stumpy and lame, but built like a blacksmith on top.

Q: In your personal life, you’re certainly no stranger to pulse-pounding, globetrotting adventures. Please share a few of these with us, along with the takeaway lessons that you believe best prepared you for the drama, uncertainties and euphoria of a writing career.

A: Somali pirates chased my ship in 2010. Here’s my report from my Sea Log, with some info on life at sea, the pirate chase, and a treatment of it in poetry. It’s a little long, but I didn’t know when to say “cut.”

We discuss pirate attack the same way you’d talk about bad traffic on the freeway. The ship has numerous barriers and obstacles to prevent pirates from successfully storming the ship, and you will understand if I don’t tell you what they are. We did one pirate drill, which essentially is to circle the wagons and wait for the cavalry. At the PA announcement, “Alamo, Alamo, Alamo,” we go to a secure room, and I’m not saying where that is either, with extra food, water, and a radio, and call the nearest coalition warship. Somebody aboard wondered why they chose a call word to get us to safety from a battle where everybody died.

Too many liability issues if we shoot back ourselves, though many would like to. I’d love to get one of the Lady Washington’s cannon off at them. We are trying to get Uncle Sam to give us, the US flagged commercial ships, a military unit aboard for protection, as the Military Sealift Command ships have (they are military cargo ships owned by the Navy but crewed by civilians). There is a Natl. Guard unit on those ships; during WWII the civilian Liberty ships that delivered cargo carried Naval Armed Guard units. If the war on terror is truly a war, shouldn’t we have the necessary protection against terrorists? The shipping companies don’t want to spend the money for armed private security units.

But pirates are nothing compared to what my dad went through in WWII; he had one ship torpedoed out from under him before Pearl Harbor, then on the Murmansk Run in ’42 he ran a 24/7 gauntlet against mines, submarines, air attack and icebergs. He came through all without a scratch. I have his Merchant Marine dogtag from then, and figure if that doesn’t bring us luck, nothing will.

Bad news from off of Cameroon, West Africa: The Northern Star, a 7,000 ton ship, was attacked by pirates near midnight Monday night. Twenty armed pirates in three boats came aboard, stole cash and computers, smashed all the communication equipment on the bridge, and took the Capt. and Chief Engineer with them as hostages when they left. No word on a ransom demand. All the other crew are apparently safe. Don’t know what flag she was.

5/26/10

Out into the Gulf of Aden. Commencing pirate watches tonight. I’m on as rover on deck from 00:00 to 04:00, after my regular 20:00 to 24:00 watch. Watch out, bad guys, Bloody Wendy is waiting. Grabbing some sack time so I’ll last through the night, then up again for my 08:00 to 12:00 watch. One warship was nearby

Leaving Colombo, Sri Lanka—Call out was 00:30 for 01:00 departure, after a long day and twenty minutes lying down but not sleeping. We stood to and waited. And waited. Didn’t get away till about 05:00, off watch at 06:00. Enough time to get cleaned up and lie down for another twenty minutes before bridge watch at 07:45. Third Mate had had the same hours so we pulled down all the window sun shades to spare our bloodshot eyes from the cheery morning light. No OT today; everyone catching up on sleep.

Flash! Zombies Take Over Ship!

Mindless maniacs sail ship in great circle off the coast of Sri Lanka, as long dead creatures rise up out of the sea, and with zombie riders, slosh ashore to steal popcorn and spread green slime around! Stay tuned!

6/19/10

Sat., 09:15. Off of Oman. Rough and choppy, many whitecaps. 40 kt. wind on the bow, a little to port. White water and spray over the forward port side; spray arcs up over the containers to starboard, sun catches it and makes rainbows.

I thought nobody in their right mind would be out in a small boat in this stuff. But then pirates aren’t in their right minds.

02:30. It was a very warm night/early morning on pirate watch, and I was on roving patrol on deck. We carry a hand held supercharged searchlight known as the Ronnie Ray-Gun, after the late president, and I was also armed with a radio, a knife, a Leatherman multiplex, a small flashlight and my keys. Those pirates better not mess with me. Got up to the bow where there was a bit of a wafting wind, and wanted to cool off, so I laid down, unbuttoned my shirt and let God admire His handiwork. Felt a bit like the Little Mermaid, or like pirate Mary Read, who, disguised as a man, killed another man in a duel. As he lay dying, she ripped her blouse open so he could see, to add insult to fatal injury, that the man who had killed him was a woman.

This is Pirate Central, where the Gulf of Aden joins the Red Sea, from about 12°12.5’ N., 45°47.5’ E., to 13°08.4’ N., 43°05.9’ E., between Somalia and Yemen. Collected some Genuine Pirate Water up on the bow at 12°24’ N., 44°16’ E., and put it in a bottle. Maybe I can sell it on E-Bay.

On the bridge, looking at our computer chart with AIS ship names and positions on it. Big cluster of ships ahead, so dense you can’t read the names. Feels like we’re at the back of the pack in the Indy 500. Shipping lanes are marked on the charts here so the pirates know where we’ll be. Still no sign of any. EU warship out of sight broad to port, six miles out; visibility poor, lots of haze. British by the sound of their radio calls. Nice to know they’re out there. Two choppers flew by as well.

16:00 to 20:00 pirate watch. It’s Rhonda’s 43rd birthday so I took her watch. Over an hour’s time, half a dozen very small launches, in ones and twos, sped toward us and tried to keep pace. None could, and they all fell away. There were two or three guys in each boat, no room for more, or for any artillery bigger than a shotgun; more then that and the recoil would capsize them. I was told they were fishermen. Fishermen? Drug runners? Or pirate scouts? They didn’t look like fishing boats; no room for any real gear or fish. The fishing boats around here are bigger, enough for five or six guys and a reasonably sizable catch, thirty feet long at least. These were much smaller. And if they were fishing boats, I’m Prince William.

I called their positions in to the bridge, from the forward catwalk on the bow. It’s between the forward mooring station bulkhead and the first row of containers, you get a good view to port or starboard, and it’s well protected. It was exciting, running back and forth on the catwalk to check both sides, and not scary.

They didn’t fire at us so technically we weren’t under attack. But were they pirates or drug runners or joyriding fishermen? Why would fishermen do that? Exciting anyway. Chased by pirates!

Pirate Chase off Somalia

Aboard the APL container ship

President Jackson, in the

Gulf of Aden off Somalia,

June 20, 2010

Run, run back,

Oh; no, run the other way,

they’re coming.

How am I going to call

pirate boats approaching from both sides

when they rush us at the same time?

Careful on the catwalk here,

narrow, narrow,

don’t slip, don’t trip,

slips-trips-and-falls-are-the-single-most-

common-cause-of-injury-aboard-ship.

Protected here,

bulkhead this side,

containers that side,

what about RPG attack?

Goddam they’re close.

Bridge, Bow Lookout,

two small vessels approaching

broad to port;

one small vessel approaching

three points to starboard,

Bloody hell these can’t be fishing boats,

vessels approaching rapidly,

Hey this is fun!

Two more vessels

approaching fine to port

Do they have AK-47’s?

Wouldn’t they have used them by now?

Hey the cook said

he’s got something hot for them

if they get below but we’d

all be in the safe room by that time

Hey, we’re getting attacked by pirates!

but is it an attack if

they aren’t shooting at you yet?

Bridge, Bow Lookout,

vessels approaching—

 

But you know something? None of this makes getting a rejection slip any easier. It still stings, and if someone hurts me in an interpersonal relationship, that is just as bad too.

Q: You’re also an accomplished playwright and actor. What aspects of penning theatrical scripts and treading the boards have enhanced your skills as a storyteller and novelist?

A: I wrote The Witch’s Hand as a play first. In play form, you can go straight to the conflict between characters and the characters’ inner conflicts. And you can’t depend on “take two” and CG effects on stage. The drama is there or it isn’t. In play format, scenery can be minimal and that focuses attention on the drama too. It’s the best way to get the bare bones of the story and character down.

Q: What would readers be the most surprised to learn about you?

A: Considering my job as a Merchant Marine deckhand on cargo and military ships, people might be surprised that I am 61, only stand 5’4” and weigh 110 lbs. But I get the job done. I also won a Bad Hemingway contest.

Q: So what’s next on your plate for 2014?

A: Oy! I have several projects in the hopper but work on them is slow. The Diary of Bobbie MacBride, nearly finished, is a War of 1812 swashbuckler. Irish lass Bobbie disguises herself as a boy and hops a ship in search of her Johnnie, who’s been taken by the King’s press gang to fight the war in America. They meet up with pirate Jean Lafitte and—but you’ll have to wait for it.

Of three plays, one is Mr. Jefferson Requests, about the famous dinner in 1790 with Madison, Hamilton and Jefferson in attendance. The Constitution is newly adopted but untested. There is no Bill of Rights. The government is deeply in debt. There is no consensus on where the federal capitol will be.

Nobody took notes at this dinner, but we know that the parties agreed to locate the federal capitol in the South in return for the Southern states, who had paid off their share of the Revolutionary War debts, helping the Northern states pay off theirs. And after that, the three worthies never agreed on anything again.

So how did they get there? And more enticingly, what else did the three greatest minds of the founding fathers talk about? What did they say? Jefferson was in the midst of his affair with Sally Hemings at the time; where do she and her chef brother James fit in?

Ulysses

A grad student in English Lit. is trying to figure out James Joyce’s densely written and enigmatic Ulysses. He is not particularly helped by the novel’s characters, who act out their parts, upbraid and cajole him into fits of rage, frustration and ecstasy.

Mein Kampf

How did Hitler do it, hoodwink a nation, and what were his deepest motives? JJ, a jaded American journalist, becomes a Greek Chorus and the conscience Hitler didn’t have, and confronts him repeatedly as the evil genius plots, manipulates and murders his way to power.

Q: Anything else you’d like to add?

A: Where can I get a winning Lotto ticket?

 

Love Redeems (A Redcliffe Novel)

Author_Catherine_Green

Witches and werewolves and ghouls – oh my! What accounts for the longstanding obsession that mortals have with all those mysterious denizens of the supernatural? Psychology studies suggest that our vicarious flirtations with immortal beings through stage, page and cinema are a cathartic way of dealing with that which we fear most: death. Throw a little sizzle into the mix – as Catherine Green has done in her new release Love Redeems (A Redcliffe Novel) – and you have the makings of a paranormal romance that will transport readers to the delicious depths of dark fantasy.

Interviewer: Christina Hamlett

**********

Q: So what inspired you to put your bewitching heroine, Jessica Stone, in the company of unworldly companions such as vampires and werewolves?

A: Jessica has her own secrets, and she was destined to join the hidden world in which she truly belongs. I knew she was never going to be a ‘normal’ human, but I also did not expect the story to turn out as it did! I think my inspiration came from a childhood of feeling like I never quite belonged. I would look up at the sky and wonder what was out there, and I knew there were whole new worlds and mystical places just waiting to be discovered.

Q: Where and when does this paranormal romance unfold? What elements governed these choices for you?

A: The setting is a quaint seaside town in Cornwall, near the Devon border. I have family friends who ran a hotel in the real town of Looe for several years, and it was this place that inspired my location. I would wander through the town and envision Jessica and Elizabeth’s bookshop in place of the real ones I saw, and the coastline is just breathtaking. I mixed my fictional town of Redcliffe with Looe and Polperro, two very traditional English fishing towns that are steeped in history and legend. I had to bring in some magic and mystery, and I always loved the stories of smugglers and pirates in Cornwall, so these helped inspire my setting. The Redcliffe story is contemporary, and luxuriates in wild British heritage.

Q: If Hollywood came calling to make a movie of Love Redeems, who would your dream cast be and why?

A: Ooh, that’s a tough one. I have actually spent a lot of time thinking about this, and I am still none the wiser! Ideally I would like to find identical twin brothers from Ireland to play Jack and Danny Mason. They have to be identical because it is crucial to the story. If anyone can suggest appropriate actors, please let me know! Otherwise, I see the Mason brothers as a mixture between the Hollywood actor Michael Fassbender and Aidan Turner, who played the vampire Mitchell in BBC’s popular television series Being Human. Jessica Stone is another confusing character to place. I want her to be played by an English actress, preferably from the North West for authenticity. I think it’s time I watched the popular soap operas so I can find my actors! Now I think about it, I quite like the actress Rosie Marcel, who plays the consultant Jac Naylor in the BBC medical drama Holby City. She would make a convincing Jessica Stone I think. Staying with actors from Holby City, I quite fancy James Anderson to play the vampire Marcus Scott. He plays the trainee surgeon Oliver Valentine, but I could see him switching into playboy vampire mode if he was interested! Similarly I could see Marcus being played by Joseph Morgan, who is currently popular as the evil vampire Klaus in The Vampire Diaries… I think Jemima Rooper could be Jessica’s best friend Elizabeth Gormond. She played Thelma Bates alongside Michael Fassbender in the television series Hex. For the remaining cast, I really don’t know.

Q: Personally speaking, what do you suppose accounts for this longstanding fascination we have for things that go bump – or snarl – in the night?

A: I think ultimately we know there are things out there that cannot be explained. Our society has been obsessed with science and mechanics for such a long time that we have managed to make it socially taboo to believe in things we cannot see, touch or explain. However, there has always been an undercurrent of belief fuelled by legends, mythology and folklore, largely passed down through religious channels over the years. Humans are arrogant creatures, but we also fear the thought that we may not be alone in our ego driven lives! Therefore we turn legend into horror, and scare our children into behaving in the way that we find acceptable and manageable, to keep things even and controlled.

Q: What scares you? And how do you use that fear to send a chill down your readers’ spines?

A: Hmm, lots of things! I’m a bit of a wimp, and I don’t like stepping out of my comfort zone, like so many people in this world. For now I am exploring the human fears of manipulation and control. I suppose it is largely connected to my passion for female independence and equal rights. I constantly battle with myself over whether I am being weak and dependent on the men in my life, and I want to be a strong and positive role model for my daughter and my younger sister. These fears are played out through my heroine Jessica Stone and her best friend Elizabeth Gormond, who are both so very different in their personalities, but so similar in their ideals and morals.

Q: Do you primarily write in one genre or are you an adventurous dabbler?

A: I seem to gravitate towards paranormal romance. I would like to dabble in horror and historical fiction, but I am a sucker for a love story, and they just seem to seep into my tales! I do intend to write at least one historical novel, although it will be paranormal. It will take some research to make sure it is accurate, so I have put it on the backburner until I have more time to devote to it. My stories will always include some aspect of the paranormal, whether it be vampires, shape shifters, witches, ghosts or other mythical and magical creatures.

Q: Were you a voracious reader when you were growing up and, if so, did dark fantasy find a home on your bookshelves?

A: Oh yes! Our town library was only very small, but I must have read pretty much every children’s book in the place, and then as I got older I was able to buy my own books when I found them in the right places. As a child my favourite authors were Roald Dahl and Enid Blyton, not exactly dark fantasy writers, but a good starting point for inspiration. My first foray into dark fantasy was really with the author L.J. Smith when I was a teenager. I read her Nightworld Young Adult vampire series, and that is really where the Redcliffe novels had their origins. I then discovered Anne Rice and Laurell K Hamilton, and now I find new and exciting authors every day. It is wonderful!

Q: If you could sit down for lunch with any famous author whose forte revolved around vampires, werewolves, witches or monsters, who would it be and what would you most like to ask him or her?

A: It would have to be Laurell K Hamilton. I would have so many questions for her! I know her journey to becoming published was a fairly long one, and I have seen how her novels have developed through reading the Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter series. I would probably ask if she became bolder in her story content as she received greater interest from her fan base. The books have definitely become more fantastical and very taboo as they have developed, and I can’t help but feel like she was tentatively trying it out with her first few books. Now, she simply writes what she wants, and she knows her audience will adore it.

Q: When did you first decide that being a writer was what you wanted to do?

A: I decided officially back in 2009. At the time I had finally told my younger sister about the story in my head, and she insisted that I write it down and show her. Once I started, things progressed naturally. I was bombarded with ideas for new stories, I found places to submit to competitions, and I got myself published. That was when I knew I could turn a fleeting childhood fantasy into a real adult career.

Q: What do you know now that you wish you had known when you started?

A: I could have done this sooner! I mean, I am only now 31, so I’m not exactly old. But, I could have written my stories way back in the beginning, when I was still a teenager, and who knows what might have happened? That said, I understand that many of my life experiences up to this point have contributed to the Redcliffe novels, and so they may not have been as good if I had written them back then.

Q: Did you have mentors who assisted in that journey?

A: Probably my younger sister. She was the one who gave me a proverbial kick up the backside and gave me the confidence to follow my dream. Other than that, I have found lots of support and assistance from fellow authors and writing professionals in the online social networks I am a member of.

Q: The publishing industry continues to reinvent itself. The combined effects of downsizing at traditional publishers and the desire by authors to have more control over their intellectual property and pricing structure has led to an escalation in self-publishing endeavors. What are your thoughts on this issue, particularly the debate as to whether a self-published title is as “real” as one produced through traditional channels?

A: I don’t like it when people react snobbishly to those who self-publish. When you make the decision to publish your novel or short story, it becomes a huge learning process when you discover just how complex the industry truly is. While I admire people who are published traditionally because they somehow managed to get themselves seen by the ‘right people,’ I am all for encouraging people to self-publish. I would simply advise that they remember to get professional help in producing their manuscripts to the highest possible standard, do not skimp on the artwork for the front cover, and make sure everything is completed to the highest standard of presentation that they can provide.

Q: What are some of the biggest challenges for authors attempting to break in?

A: Being seen and heard. The platform is so huge, and is still growing at such an alarming rate, that if you want to be known as a serious professional writer, you have a lot of work to do when it comes to promotion and marketing. I am still learning and developing my own fan base, and I have a long way to go. Getting published isn’t the problem. Getting people to see and read your books is. We have to become small businesses as well as being authors.

Q: Any advice you’d like to share with them?

A: Never give up. If you truly want to finish writing your book, get it published and share it with the world, then you will. If you submit it to agents and publishers and they keep rejecting you, then ask why. Find out what needs to be improved, if anything, and simply alter your search criteria. Always remember that you can make it happen, no matter how long that takes.

Q: How do the changes in today’s publishing industry impact – if at all – your own perceptions regarding the role of literary agents?

A: I think many people don’t see a need for literary agents any more. Personally I would still like to find an agent, because I appreciate that they will have the industry experience, and the contacts to help launch my novels on the right platform. Agents can’t always land you the dream contract with a big publisher, but I’m sure they can offer a lot of help and influence in places that will grow your audience and your brand name.

Q: As a reader, what’s your preference – hardback, paperback or ebooks?

A: Ooh, that’s a tough one! I am currently reading one of each, and I love them all for different reasons. My hardback just smells and feels so good. I love the texture, the weight of it in my hands, the smell of the pages, and it makes me smile every time I look at it. It is definitely a sensory attraction. The paperbacks are easier to handle, easier to transport, and they still carry the smell and texture of good old-fashioned books. I love battered old paperbacks from second-hand bookshops, because they tell their own stories even alongside the novels they contain. But, my ereader is very easy to transport, I can read it one-handed while I am eating or nursing my child, and it is convenient. It will never replace proper books though.

Q: Libraries and bookstores across the country are cutting back their hours and closing their doors. What do you feel the future holds insofar as the vitality and longevity of these two entities?

A: I am saddened to see the decline of our high street bookshops. There are so few of them in my local area that I make special daytrips just to visit the one or two second-hand bookshops I know of that are within travelling distance. Unfortunately it seems they simply cannot cope with the Internet sales revolution, alongside so many other shops. I don’t think they will ever die out completely, because lots of people like myself will continue to visit them and keep them afloat. I do think that perhaps they might begin to diversify in order to stay open and trading. In my opinion, their future is uncertain but by no means is it coming to an end.

Q: How do you balance the demands of your writing schedule with the demands of family/domestic life?

A: It has been a struggle. I have a 2 year old daughter who has just started at pre-school, and so I am settling into a routine where I can work properly for three days a week, and the rest I do in the evenings or when she takes a nap. That said, I am pregnant with my second child, so it will all change again later this year! My husband works long hours, so for the most part I entertain our daughter and make use of friends and family for babysitting. We make it work, somehow.

Q: What’s next on your plate?

A: I am soon to release my third Redcliffe novel, Love Redeems (A Redcliffe Novel). I am in the middle of a final edit of the manuscript, and then it will go to print. I anticipate its release early in March, and am very excited! That will conclude the initial trilogy of the Redcliffe novels, but I will soon begin writing book 4 in the series. I am also writing a separate novel about a vampire hunter who discovers she is a fallen angel, and I have another vampire novel waiting to be edited and prepared for publishing. Alongside this I am setting up a freelance business offering professional writing services for copy editing, proofreading, critique and ghost writing. My intention is to use that to subsidize my author career, and also to work on that female independence I mentioned earlier.

Q: Anything else you’d like to add?

A: Yes please! I am very active on social networks, and you can find me in the following places: Author website: http://www.catherine-green.co.uk

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CatherineGreenAuthor

Author blog: http://www.catherinegreenauthor.blogspot.com

Twitter: http://twitter.com/SpookyMrsGreen

Goodreads – http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2545995.Catherine_Green

Thank you very much for having me!