Vampire in the Scrying Glass

VampireInTheScryingGlass

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

Go to Goodreads and enter the drawing for a free copy of VAMPIRE IN THE SCRYING GLASS

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/

 

 

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

 

In the Spirit of Love

Debbie McClure

Can a sensibly modern young woman on holiday find everlasting love an ocean away with a dashingly handsome aristocrat who may or may not be a murderer and, oh by the way, has been dead for 150 years?

In her debut paranormal romance, In the Spirit of Love, author Debbie A. McClure not only channels those feelings of déjà vu that so mystify even the most grounded among us but also demonstrates just how hard it is to “give up the ghost” when Fate is determined to fuel the fires of passionate reunion.

Interviewer: Christina Hamlett

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Q: Tell us about your personal journey as a writer and the mentors who encouraged you along the way.

A: Well, I gotta tell you, this has been a looong journey. Although I didn’t start writing until I was nearing fifty years of age, writing had been a life-long dream of mine. But as with so many people, life gets in the way. Years struggling with poverty as a single parent post-divorce, re-marriage, blending a family of five teenagers (yes, five!), and assorted jobs to pay the bills, had me holding back on the dream. Finally, I decided to do what I wanted to do, not just what I could do. Along the way I was encouraged by my parents, who always saw the potential and encouraged me to follow my heart. My mother has always been an avid reader, a pioneer in business, and a tremendous source of encouragement and mentoring for me throughout my life. When it comes to my writing, she, my father, and my husband have never faltered in their unwavering support. I’m one lucky woman!

Q: What books would we have found on your nightstand when you were 10? 20? Today?

A: At ten I was reading Nancy Drew and other youth-focused mysteries. I’ve always been intrigued as much by what I didn’t know, as what I did. In my twenties I had started reading Danielle Steele, and later, Nora Roberts, and J.R. Ward. Today, I still love the same authors, and have added a new favorite I discovered two new favorites via my middle sister; Kristin Hannah and Tatiana De Rosnay. In addition, I love to read Clive Custler adventure books, and have read lots of Stephen King and Dean Koontz. I have pretty eclectic tastes when it comes to reading.

Q: If you could have lunch with your three favorite authors of all time, who would they be, where would you go, and what questions would you most like to ask?

A: I’d love to lunch and learn with Kristin Hannah, Nora Roberts, and Clive Custler. My preferred lunch spot would be at a restaurant on a beach. I’m the biggest beach fan, and I love seafood! The questions I’d most love to ask each of these esteemed writers is; how do they see each book before they start to write, in progress, and at the end. Each one of these writers creates characters so full of real personality and intricate relationships, that I wonder how they keep it all straight. I’m not an outliner, but I do keep notes as I go to help me keep characters, places, and events in line. I’d love to know how they approach their writing, and whether they’ve ever been surprised by an ending or character.

Q: What was the moment when you first decided, “Aha! I’m going to sit down and write my first novel!”

A: People often ask me this when I’m doing a speaking presentation or book signing/reading. I actually remember it very clearly. It was during a Christmas break when I was working in real estate sales. I’d booked two weeks off, and had really been struggling with what I wanted to do with my life. I was nearing fifty years old, and even though the thought of taking on such a massive project scared the living heck out of me, I was determined to at least give it a shot. So, one day I told my husband I was going up to my office to “write”. He just nodded and said, “Go for it.”. That’s all I needed. I wrote that entire day, and by the time I pulled away from my computer, I knew I was hooked. I had no real plan, no outline for characters or plot. I just let my imagination go with the germ of an idea I had. From that day to this, I sit down every day and write for as much as 5-7 hours. In the beginning, I was still working a full time job in sales, so set my alarm 1-1/2 hrs early. Now, I write full time, having given up my job in sales.

Q: What attracted you to the genre of paranormal romance for your debut as a novelist?

A: Ah, good question. I guess I’d read a lot of paranormal romance over the years, and had always been intrigued with the idea of the paranormal. To me, as a writer, it allows me to explore situations and adventures not available to us mere mortals. In particular, I love pairing the “normal” with the paranormal characters. Of course my paranormal character, the ghost of a grand English country estate, has to embody all the elements of a traditional romantic protagonist, with a little dash of something extra. He has also had the advantage, or curse, of having witnessed a century and a half of history, people, and as a result, has developed a unique outlook on life. Because of the strong mystery aspect to this book, I was pleased to learn that several men had also really enjoyed it, and claimed they hadn’t been able to figure out “who done it” before the end. The leads are all there, but I’m glad readers of both genders have enjoyed this first book.

Q: Tell us how you came up with your title.

A: Because of my background in sales and marketing, I knew I wanted my title to indicate the genre, by including the word “love”. Because this story involves a ghost as the male lead, I chose to include the word “spirit”. In The Spirit Of Love just seemed to pull together all the elements I wanted in one tidy phrase.

Q: Would you say your work tends to have a running theme or message, and if so, what would that be?

A: Most definitely. I’d have to say that the running themes, or message, through my work is that life is full of mystery, we need to value each of life’s experiences, and love is worth fighting for. I also try to remind readers that friendship and family are the most valuable assets we have, and aren’t to be taken lightly.

Q: Who was your favorite character to write?

A: The ghost of Kent Estate, Sir Richard Abbottsford. As a result of his spectral existence, he’s had to learn a lot of very difficult lessons the hard way, and he continues to evolve as he begins to connect with the people, places, and events of the present.

Q: If Hollywood came calling, who’s your dream cast?

A: Oh, easy one! I’ve always envisioned Sir Richard, the ghost, as either Hugh Jackman (tall, dark, and handsome), or possibly Leonardo Di Caprio (suave and debonaire). I’ve envisioned Claire as fellow Ontario Canadian, the multi-talented Rachel McAdams. As for supporting cast characters, I’m much more flexible, and haven’t nailed down exact Hollywood representations for them. I’d like to be surprised on that one.

Q: Aspiring authors often assume that once they have written (and sold) their first book, they are automatically on Easy Street. Speaking from your own experience, what have been some of the challenges of sustaining a writing career once you embark on one?

A: I guess due to my background in commissioned sales, I knew it was going to be a looong haul, and my writing wasn’t a get-rich-quick thing. Still, I’ve learned that writing has a learning curve the size of a tsunami, and it’s really easy to get swamped and overwhelmed. The biggest challenges new writers face is getting the word out about who we are, our work, and our brand. I’m also amazed at the number of new writers who don’t realize that writing (and publishing) is a business, and consequently, they must be the CEO of their new venture. Learning to market and promote yourself and your work is a massive daily undertaking, and can be wearing, to say the least. Because the money doesn’t just flow in, writers also have to juggle the dream against the realities of life, and making a living. This means looking at either maintaining a day job in addition to writing, or turning your writing into part of a platform for additional revenue streams, such as paid public speaking gigs, workshops, freelance writing, etc. Someone recently posted on Facebook that many people say they could write a book, if only they had the time. I replied that if time were all it took, more people would walk this walk. There’s just so much more to it than that, talent and perseverance included.

Q: When and where do you get your best writing done?

A: Oh, I’m a morning writer. I’ve tried other times, but for me, I write best in the mornings, in my office. It’s then that my brain is clearest, I’ve had my morning coffee, I’m dressed (yes, dressed in proper day clothes), and ready to get to work for the day. If it’s a gorgeous, sunny summer day, I’ll take my laptop outside and sit in the gazebo at the patio table and write from there. It gives me the illusion of having gotten outside and away from my office.

Q: The publishing industry is undergoing a massive shift as new technologies are being developed and perfected. What do you see as the future of publishing and writing?

A: As those in the business will attest, this is a remarkable time to be a writer. So much is changing, and so quickly. I see writers, publishers, and agents, having to step up to working collaboratively to capture the benefits of current and upcoming technologies. The “gate-keeper” mentality of publishing just isn’t working for many of today’s writers, and as more writers move into the realm of self-publishing, and very successfully in some cases, each party is going to have to come to the table with open hands and a willingness to create the best product together, with the writer being treated as a valuable player. Fair compensation and contract terms for a writer’s work are becoming more of a hot topic, which is why I think we’re seeing more “hybrid” writers evolve. Technology isn’t going anywhere. In fact, I think the future is going to see a greater shift towards technology, as our next generations come to expect and rely on it for a number of reasons (that’s another topic entirely). I believe print books will always be available, perhaps more via POD, but I also see a shift in favour of new technologies in the future. Bricks and mortar stores are going to have to adapt to accommodate the coming changes, or risk failing completely.

Q: Do you believe it’s harder or easier for new writers to get published today than it was a generation ago?

A: Without a doubt, easier. With the advent of digital publishing, more and more writers are choosing to go the route of self-publishing. After all, they can hire the same professional editors, cover artists, and upload their work to the very same e-venues as the big publishers do. As a result, getting published isn’t as difficult to achieve today. But make no mistake, self-publishing carries a ton of work, and it all rests on the shoulders of the writer.

On the other hand, I think traditional publishers are even more careful about the writers they choose to work with. With limited distribution channels, overhead costs, etc., I believe publishers are looking for writers who are willing, and able, to approach their writing in a professional, serious manner. Creativity is certainly necessary, as is talent, but so is a business mind-set to persevere over the long haul.

Q: What’s your best advice to a writer who is just starting out, insofar as preparing for the challenges that await them?

A: In the beginning, just have fun! Explore the limits of your imagination. Don’t worry about the outcome. But in the meantime, start learning everything you can about the business of writing and publishing. Because if you decide to persevere in this crazy business, you’re going to have to be prepared to really dig in and learn. Also, connect with other writers, at all levels of their career. Build relationships, and help others build their own careers while building your own. Especially in these changing times, learn and share with each other. I’ve met some amazing people along the way, including you, Christina, and I hope they’ve learned as much from me as I have from them. Oh, and with regards to social networking, never post something unprofessional, derogatory, or something that labels you as less than professional. This means pictures, expletives, political, and religious view points. Set up an author fan page, and keep business and personal pages separate. People are watching and forming opinions on who you are and your message, whether you like it or not.

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

A: I failed both Grade 7, and typing! I’ve learned that failure doesn’t mean stop. Sometimes it just means pay attention, and try again. I now type as fast as I think, and that’s a real advantage when writing for hours at a time.

Q: What’s next on your plate? Give us the inside scoop!

A: After the success of In The Spirit Of Love, I decided to write the sequel, In The Spirit Of Forgiveness, which is slated for release later this month, May, 2014. Continuing the story of Claire and the ghost of Sir Richard, Forgiveness follows the two protagonists as they solve yet another mystery of Kent Estate. Magic, mystery, and love are all part of the spell woven throughout this exciting new story. I’m really excited about this next release, and hope readers enjoy this next book as much as the first. Who knows, I may even begin penning a series based on the first two books.

I’m also extremely excited to share that I’ve started a new novel in an entirely different genre; a fact-based historical fiction. The King’s Consort-The Louise Rasmussen Story is the story of a woman who rose from obscure poverty as an illegitimate child of a seamstress, to marry the King of Denmark. It is a true love story set in the mid-1800’s amid immense political intrigue and change. Despite severe opposition and open hostility from the aristocracy, Louise and her king are determined to be together, and as a result, change the course of a nation forever. I’m hoping to have this next project released sometime in 2015/16, but haven’t decided the publishing route for it yet. Time will tell.

Q: Where can readers discover more about you, your books, and ongoing public speaking or workshop events?

A: Website: www.damcclure.com

Blog: http://the-write-stuff.me/

Twitter: @debbiemcclure59

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/#!/DebbieA.McClure59

 

Thank you so much for your invitation to chat today, Christina. I’ve really enjoyed the thoughtful questions you’ve posed.

 

 

 

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?

 

The Fury

TheFuryCoverV1

The Mafia, gangs and a killer hyena. Not your typical day in the New York City life of one female detective. In John Reinhard Dizon’s The Fury, readers will delve into a twisted thriller that combines the battle of good versus evil with the modern day realism of an occult world. A fast-paced read, Dizon will both frighten and intrigue with this tale of suspenseful mayhem.

Interviewer: Christy Campbell

**********

Tell the readers a little about your background. Have you always wanted to be a writer?

I wrote my novella, Enemy Ace, when I was in sixth grade. It was a James Bond knockoff with a German fighter pilot turned British Secret Service agent. I wish I knew what happened to it, maybe it’ll be in a museum someday long after I’m dead. I decided to take my chances when I moved to Missouri ten years ago and submitted a manuscript to Publish America. After having five books published, I decided to try my hand at being my own publicist/agent. I wanted to expand my horizons beyond the POD field, and as it turned out, Netherworld Books shared my vision.

The Fury isn’t your typical horror genre novel, and you took a risk doing so. How did you come up with the premise?

I never wrote anything in the horror genre and took it as a new challenge. A big part of it would be in coming up with a different angle than what is already on the market. Having an African shaman turn into a hyena and be manipulated by West Indian drug gangs in East Harlem is one I hadn’t seen before. My previous experience as a crime fiction writer was a big plus.

Voodoo cults, drug trades, New York City and the Mafia are all featured in your book. How did all of that work together in order to appeal to a common horror fan?

It had to be something that included the Mafia or the book wouldn’t have been realistic, so we have the centuries-old prophecy of an Italian dynasty and French royalty joining to create a demonic kingdom in the New World. The history of voodoo in the West Indies and New Orleans worked perfectly as Bridgette Celine’s ancestry is seen as the missing link between the Rossini Family and Miss Goyette’s voodoo sect. Having a hyena eliminating the competition was the secret ingredient.

You opted for a female main character. Tell us about Bridgette Celine, and what it was like to write from a female point of view.

Bridgette Celine is probably the most aggressive of all my female protagonists in my previous works. She comes from a working-class background and carries lots of emotional baggage that she hides beneath a punk rock demeanor. She handles the danger and the supernatural horror well, but having to deal with her family history leaves her vulnerable and uncertain. People who like strong female characters will love Bridge because she is way over the top. Yet her personality is peeled like an onion as the story progresses, and her different sides gives her the depth of character that makes her special.

I enjoy the challenge of writing from a female perspective. Tiara was largely written from Princess Jennifer’s POV, and Penny Flame focuses on Moneen Murphy’s journey into the unknown. I have a couple more coming up as well -– stay tuned!

Give us the goods on a couple of other characters in the novel. What roles do they play?

Johnny Devlin emerges as the major male protagonist as a street-weary detective in a NYPD ‘black ops’ unit trying to solve the hyena murders plaguing East Harlem. At first he uses his friendship with Bobby Mendoza, Bridge’s boyfriend, to find out more about her relationship with Mafia don Peter Ross. Eventually a mutual respect develops between himself and Bridge, and when he falls in love with her cousin Becca the situation becomes personal. Devlin is used to taking the law into his own hands in dealing with the lowest scum in the NYC underworld, but the Satanists prove to be more than he bargained for.

Anna and Becca, two characters featured, are clearly good people. Is there a downright evil person in your story?

The sorcerer Achok Majok and the voodoo priestess Miss Goyette are the closest resemblances to the Devil Incarnate. Everyone else might find readers seeing them as victims of circumstance. Peter Ross rolls the dice to see if the Satanic prophecy will establish his narcotics empire and loses big-time. Buda Sakumbe is pretty close to what you might call a victim of human trafficking. Even when Bobby Mendoza does a heel turn at the end of the novel, we can see where he was blinded by the demonic promise just like everyone else.

Is there some personal element in your story, or is it just pure fiction?

Lots of the Lower Manhattan scenes were based on personal experiences as a NYC punk rocker in my young adulthood. The characters in Johnny Devlin’s Zombie Squad were all based on people I knew. As a rule, I tend to use real people in my characterizations because lots of the people in my past are so interesting, you couldn’t make them up.

If you were to rewrite your book what changes might you make, if any?

I’d say the editor and I may have dropped the ball in the omniscient narrative as far as the occupants on the second and third floors in the haunted tenement. Miss Goyette seems to move from one apartment to another as do other characters, and it turns into an exercise in postmodernist technique that is too easily perceived as an editing issue. The idea was to convey the sense of helplessness people feel when they get lost in a hostile environment. Ever go into a dark subway, walk all the way to the end of a deserted platform, and find the exit’s locked? Or try to drive through a bad neighborhood at night and find out you misread the map? We should have overemphasized the fact that people kept finding themselves on the wrong floors. Some critics felt like we were the ones who got lost. Regardless of location, the characters make it clear they can’t wait to get out of there.

How about some authors who have inspired you as a writer?

I would have to consider myself a postmodernist author at this stage of my career, and I’ve been studying others of like mind to enhance my own style. Right now I’m reading Kafka; he’s having an enormous influence on my new manuscripts. In my opinion, Shakespeare is the greatest writer of all time, and I’ll have to consider him my greatest overall influence. Ian Fleming was the one who inspired me in my early days, and Robert E. Howard was another one who gave me a new perspective in developing my abilities over the years.

Which horror films or books appeal to you, as a viewer or reader?

As far as horror, nobody touches Stephen King, though I hope readers will make favorable comparisons as my work surfaces. I’ll never forget staying up nights reading Bram Stoker’s Dracula as a school kid. That one stands up against any of King’s books. Moviewise, The Exorcist is the greatest of all time, while I don’t think anyone appreciates the impact Texas Chainsaw Massacre had as the first of the slasher-type flicks. I walked home after the premiere looking over my shoulder.

As writers, we all have habits we employ during a day’s work. What are some of yours?

Lots of times I end up doing more research than writing on any given day. I spent a large amount of time with the historical backdrop on The Fury substantiating the expository narrative. I feel like I’ve validated the work when readers can do some checking up and find out the subplots are based on actual persons, places and events. When I’ve written a dynamic chapter that I know will captivate the audience, I’ll take a break and go for a walk to recharge my batteries and rehearse where the characters are going next. I also enjoy watching pro wrestling to compare notes on how to capture the audience’s imagination with the least dialogue and the most impact.

Where can readers find The Fury, as well as your other novels?

Just plug in John Reinhard Dizon in the Books search engine on Amazon. There’ll be my previous works with Publish America on sale, as well as The Standard available through Tenth Street Press. I take pride in the fact that I don’t allow myself to be confined within any particular genre. Every novel is a new experience that I’m sure the reader will enjoy. I can guarantee that you won’t find any of them a boring read!

 

Hunter’s Moon

hunters_moon_cover

When Were-shifter Aren discovers his mate, Sasha, is the Jaguar shifter who got his father killed, and threatened the lives of his twin and alpha, loyalties are called into play. Unfortunately, his heart and his head won’t agree on the matter, and the instinct to protect his mate is too strong. As Sasha unwittingly calls upon him to help her save her sister from a nefarious organization, Aren is forced into close quarters with her, and instinct gives way to something even stronger—love. Too bad Sasha doesn’t have the same inclination to mate for life, and she’s forsworn men. But then again, her heart and head may not get a say in the matter in the end, as the relationship between them deepens amidst a life-or-death struggle against a crazed, juiced-up Green Beret Were-shifter who can shift in broad daylight with vengeance on his mind.

As the second book in the Moon Series, Hunter’s Moon will be welcomed by fans of Ms. Lisa Kessler and Moonlight (the first in the book.) I am one such fan, and after having the pleasure of interviewing Ms. Kessler, I will likely follow her work for years to come because of the heart that shines through in her writing, and in real life it shines in spades.

Interviewer: Joanna Celeste

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Q: Your new book, Hunter’s Moon, is out this month. How many books do you see this series running, or are you taking it one book at a time?

A: I have 8 books planned for the Moon Series. Blood Moon will be out in July of 2014. That’s Gareth’s book and readers can have a sneak peek of the first chapter at the end of Hunter’s Moon. I’m hoping we’ll get Harvest Moon out at the end of 2014, but I don’t have a date for that book yet, so we’ll see…  *fingers crossed*

Q: Great! As your second series (after “The Night Series”) what was easier in your writing and publishing process this time around?

A: Hmm…  The two series are incredibly different, so it’s a real shifting of gears for me to write them both. With the Night Series, since they were my first books published the editing process was new and difficult. I did know more of what to expect with the Moon Series so I think I’m a little faster at turning the edits around than I was initially.

Q: Editing does end up being a huge part of the writing process; this explains how you can give us three novels this year so far. Fans will be excited to read your upcoming paranormal romance coming out (Beg Me to Slay)—as your first book in the new Entangled Publishing Covet line, might this evolve into a PI Paranormal romance series?

A: For now, Beg Me to Slay is a standalone, but you never know… I really loved writing Gabe and Tegan, and I could see them solving more cases and saving people in the future… We’ll see what readers have to say! J

Q: I look forward to seeing if it develops, or if there is another series up your sleeve in the future. Your debut novel, Night Walker, won you many awards. (You shared some of your success with us in your post http://www.authorlisakessler.com/humbled-by-an-awesome-day/). What is the story behind the writing and eventual publication of Night Walker?

A: Night Walker actually came in being after I got a palm reading in New Orleans. After my reading, the psychic led me to the door and then stopped and said, “Are you a writer?” At that point I did write every night, but just for fun. I’d never even contemplated getting published. I replied, “No. I write for fun, but nothing serious.” She smiled and said, “You’re going to be a famous writer someday…” I was stunned! LOL. And by the time I was in the New Orleans airport to fly home, I had written my basic plot outline for Night Walker down on cocktail napkins!

I loved vampires, but I felt like Anne Rice did an awesome job with European vampires. I wanted something from the Americas… Mayans were a perfect fit. I researched like crazy and the Night Series came together.

Q: Awesome! Your tagline “Dark. Passionate. Paranormal.” certainly fits your work—how do you find new aspects in a genre that is essentially saturated? (Perhaps this is the same as asking how people can make so many different types of music from only eight notes, but nevertheless I’m impressed by the worlds you build given the proliferation of paranormal literature.)

A: Good question! With my immortal characters I usually find some unexplained events in history and start building their lives around that, giving paranormal explanations to real history.

I also try to not to write to the market. Instead I try to write the book I really want to read with characters I can relate to. Then I hope they’ll resonate with readers too…

Q: They have resonated with me, for sure. On your blog, you shared a post about your research methods (http://www.authorlisakessler.com/book-research-aka-fun-times-for-a-writer/) How does this quality of research come into play when you blend several genres (like romance, paranormal, and historical fiction) so that it weaves together in a fluid storyline?

Research plays a huge part in all my paranormals. For me as a writer and a reader, if you can weave in lots of real facts and bits of real history it makes the paranormal elements seem more real as well. That suspension of disbelief for the reader gets even smaller until readers are thinking “maybe immortals really do exist”….  Or at least that’s my goal! LOL.

Q: I think of them like parallel universes where these beings are quite possible. As an author of novels and short stories (including Across the Veil), what do you enjoy the most about the different mediums?

A: I love all the different mediums for different reasons. Short stories will always hold a place in my heart, because that was where I started and my first taste of getting published professionally. I think the beauty of a short story is that you can convey it quickly for the reader in one sitting.  And when the story sticks with the reader long after they’ve finished then it’s magic!

Q: Yes! I admire how prolific you are, and how engaged you are with your readers. Your website/blog offers many ways to connect with you (and you share some posts about your adventures in promoting). What do you consider the best kind of marketing to involve, when we as authors tend to become our own brand?

A: The best kind of marketing always the kind you’re most comfortable with. If social media is your thing, then you should be on Facebook and Twitter chatting with your readers. If blogging is your thing, then blog and don’t worry so much about Facebook and Twitter. The bottom line is be authentic and positive. If readers take the time to find you online and interact, you should take the time to acknowledge them and let them know you appreciate their support.

Q: Thank you. You’ve mentioned a passion for music and you are a professional vocalist, performing with the San Diego Opera and other notable venues. What do you love the most about your music?

A: I love the connection between you and the audience. There is an energy between you during a song that’s beyond words. I love to see the music touch people. That’s pure magic!

Q: Overall, it sounds like quite a magical life, even more wonderful for the fact that you’ve earned every bit of it. Since you’ve professed a love for Disneyland, I have to ask: what is your favorite thing about the place Where Dreams Come True?

A: The Haunted Mansion in Disneyland is my favorite, followed closely by Pirates of the Caribbean and all of Fantasyland!

Q: Awesome! Is there anything else you would like to say?

A: Thank you so much for the great questions! And thanks to everyone out there who took a chance on me and read my books. Every email and note from you means the world to me. It’s readers who make this whole publishing journey worthwhile.

 

 

Thresholds

Adrianne Hall

“In all secrets there is a kind of guilt, however beautiful or joyful that may be, or for what good end they may be set to serve,” wrote Gilbert Parker. “Secrecy means evasion, and evasion means a problem to the moral mind.”

Throughout her debut novel, Thresholds, Adrianne Marie Hall’s skill as a storyteller deftly demonstrates that no matter the intention behind the smallest lie or casual secret of fleeting convenience, it holds the power to become a weapon of mass destruction. Hall shares how her journey as a writer began…and what path she plans to take next.

Interviewer: Christina Hamlett

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Q: When did you first know that you wanted to be a writer?

A:  When I was eight years old, my third teacher gave the class an assignment to read the poem Stopping by Woods on a Snowing Evening by Robert Frost. I absolutely loved that poem and as we discussed the poem in class, the concept of describing and or expressing one’s thoughts, feelings and ideas into something as compact as a poem was the spark that ignited my interest in writing poetry.                           

Q: Did you read a lot as a child and young adult?

A: Having older siblings and parents who loved to read and write was a blessing that resulted in my learning to read and write before I started kindergarten. As a matter of fact by my first day of kindergarten I had read Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White but I hadn’t yet learned how to tie my shoe strings. I am still an avid reader… and I still don’t like shoestrings.    

Q: What were some of the books and who were some of the authors that made a lasting impression on you as an aspiring writer?

A: My favorite book will probably always be To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Not only is the story fantastic, I just love the fact that Harper wrote just one fabulous book in 1960 and it is still in print all of these decades later.  A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith is also a book at the top of my favorites list but I also have to mention The Stand by Stephen King, Runaway Jury by John Grisham, and The Help by Kathryn Stockett.  I love to read and have read hundreds of fantastic books in my life. What I look for is a story that keeps me engaged, and surprises me at the end.    

Q: What are you currently reading?

A: I am actually reading through the 4 volume Digital Photography Library by Scott Kelby which might sound boring to some people but I love photography almost as much as I love to write. Just a few weeks ago I was able to meet Scott in person when I attended a photography seminar that he was teaching at the LA Convention Center. He is a photography guru.    

Q: If you could go to dinner with your favorite author, who would it be, where would you go, and what question would you most like to ask him or her?

A: My favorite author is none other than Harper Lee. I would love to invite her to the Four Seasons Tea Room in Sierra Madre where we would sip tea, munch on some of their delightful finger sandwiches and delicious scones. Then I would ask Harper if she could share with me what her process was for deciding to write the classic story To Kill a Mocking Bird. Finally I would ask her to sign my copy of the novel which my father gave me when I was 12 years old.   

Q: Tell us about what inspired you to write Thresholds.

A: Well, Thresholds began 18 years ago when I decided to take some of the characters that I had in my arsenal and bring them to life in a novel. The story line has been rewritten and reworked over the years but my focus was always the same. Using the premise that “Everyone has a secret and some of those secrets cross over the threshold to being outright lies I wanted to tell a story about how secrets and lies take on lives of their own. They get out of hand and wreak havoc in the lives of the secret keepers, the lie tellers, and most often in the lives of those who are innocent bystanders.     

Q: Who’s your target audience for the book?

A:  I would say that my target audience would be any adult who enjoys fiction packed with twists and turns and adult content. Recently, I autographed a copy of Thresholds for a very spry woman in her late seventies. She shook my hand and told me that she not only enjoyed reading the novel, but she thought it was “Juicy”.  I think I actually blushed.     

Q: How do you go about creating and developing authentic characters that will resonate with your readers?

A: I have characters that pop into my head all of the time. Sometimes they are born from an unusual name that I hear or a quirky personality trait that I see in someone. I create short character bios that are 2 to 3 sentences long which I file away for a while until I decide to develop the character a little more. When I develop a character I create a mini-story about them that may range from a few paragraphs to a few pages, and again I file that away until the time comes for me to bring that character to life in a story.      

Q: Do you work from an outline or just let your characters guide you as you go along?

A: I actually start with a story idea and then work on the last two pages of the story. During this process I decide on which characters from my arsenal I plan to include, and from there I just let the writing juices flow. With my novel Thresholds, I wrote down the title of the novel, the premise for the story which is that “Everyone Has A Secret……” and I decided to use Carley and Winter as my main characters both of which were characters that I pulled out of my arsenal that I created at least four years or so before I started writing the novel.      

Q: Have your characters ever surprised you over the course of bringing them to life?

A: Oh absolutely. Without giving away any details and ruining it for those who have not yet read Thresholds, the character Patrick Bernard had to die.   

Q: If Thresholds were turned into a movie, who would play the two lead roles?

A: Wow that’s a great question. To be honest, I would love for the characters of Carley and Winter to be played by two aspiring and gifted young women who have never before been down or near a ‘red carpet’. For every movie star that we see or hear about, there are dozens of undiscovered and equally talented people just waiting for their chance. It would be spectacular if two unknown young women were able to take their talent and make the characters of Carley and Winter shine on the big screen. 

Q: Do you allow anyone to read your work in progress or do you make them wait for the finished product?

A: I make them wait for the finished product.

Q: Which do you feel is more challenging – writing fiction or nonfiction (and why)?

A: I still write poetry every now and then just for fun which is about as close to nonfiction as I can get. I have a collection of poetry which I might publish one day. For short story and novel writing, I prefer fiction because I love surprises and playing around with reality. I grew up watching the Twilight Zone, Creature Features, Night Gallery and Alfred Hitchcock which fed my already overactive imagination. Writing fiction is not a challenge at all… I love everything about it. I might someday try my hand at writing nonfiction. When and if I do, the challenge for me will be not including something that was completely over the top, unimaginable, or out of the box.   

Q: How did you go about identifying a publisher for your project?

A: A few years ago, I met Azaan Kamau who runs Glover Lane Press. She was such a delight and took the process of publishing seriously. When it was time for me to pursue publishing my book, I naturally contacted her. She liked my novel and the rest is history. 

Q: What do you know now that you didn’t know when your publication journey began?

A:  I know more now about ISBNs than I could have ever thought necessary!

Q: You also recently launched your own business which has a unique connection to the book-loving world. Tell us about it.

A: You must be talking about Beadie Beads BookJewelry which is “A bookmark that is so unique, it has to be called BookJewelry. I actually started that company 14 years ago.

(Editor Note: Adrianne’s interview on her BookJewelry business can be found at http://thefaceofbusiness.wordpress.com/2013/02/04/beadie-books-bookjewelry/)

Q: What’s next on your plate?

A: For over 15 years it has been a dream of mine to get into the independent publishing business but I put off pursuing that dream while raising my children. Now that the three of them are adults with college degrees and careers of their own, I am moving forwarding with Anthurium Publishing LLC.   

Q: Where can readers learn more about you…and buy your book?

A: Readers can learn more about me at www.authorstourusa.com and at www.thresholdsthenovel.com.  My novel can be purchased in both paperback and in the Kindle versions through Amazon. On the Thresholds website there is an Amazon.com link that will take readers directly to the Amazon website where they can make their purchase. The Thresholds website also includes information for those who would like to purchase an autographed copy of Thresholds directly from me. Webster’s Fine Stationers located at 2450 N. Lake Ave, in Altadena, California also carries copies of my novel as well.