Ghost Maven

 

Ghost Maven cover

Author, television producer, award winning documentary film maker, and world traveller, Tony Lee Moral, has just completed work on his second published novel, Ghost Maven, and has generously offered to share a bit of insider scoop on his new book, what drives and motivates him, and what he has planned next. Despite an increasingly busy work life, as with everything Tony takes on, he remains focused and grounded while enjoying the creative journey he rides with each new project and challenge. Welcome Tony!

Interviewer: Debbie A. McClure
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Q: Your work spans several genres, including documentary film-making with your own production company, journalistic interviews with celebrities, and author of several books. Is there a common thread or arc in each of these endeavours? If so, what would that be?

A: Story! Story! Story! Whether it’s making a documentary film, writing a novel, or interviewing your subjects for a non-fiction book, each has the common thread of having a good story at the core. If I have something compelling to say, I will write, direct, produce, or find an outlet to tell my story.

Q: Your latest project, Ghost Maven, is a YA novel, which is quite a departure from your previous books on Alfred Hitchcock and murder mysteries. Can you share a little about this story to whet a young reader’s appetite?

A: In Ghost Maven, I blend mystery, with suspense and the supernatural. The central character, Alice Parker, moves to Monterey, California, with her father and little sister after her mother dies. Whilst kayaking in the bay, she paddles towards a mysterious island, but capsizes and is drowning when a young man, Henry Raphael, magically appears, delivering her safely to the beach. Against all rules, they begin seeing each other. It’s a love story with a twist.

Q: Why YA at this point in your career?

A: I’m inspired to write different genres, and as a compulsive communicator, I wanted to reach out to as many different readers of all ages as possible. The Young Adult readership is especially appealing to me, as I read many books in my teens and can identify with the hopes, fears and aspirations of being a teenager. It can be a very uncertain time for many teens, but I hope they identify with the characters in the book and want to share the journey with them.

Q: Have you ever encountered a ghost or spirit form in your personal life or travels? If so, what happened? If not, do you believe in ghosts?

A: I haven’t experienced ghosts or spirit forms, but I have had some intuitive dreams. Like Alice, I have experienced personal loss, and I use those feelings to create an atmosphere of reaching to the after life. I do believe that some things can’t be explained and science is still trying to unlock the answers.

Q: What surprising correlations or similarities have you discovered between film-making and writing?

A: Good storytelling is at the heart of both film-making and writing, whether it be shaping well-developed characters, creating emotional arcs and creating compelling situations. A good film or book takes the viewer or reader on a journey of discovery, enlightenment, or good old-fashioned entertainment.

Q: What dissimilarities have you discovered between film-making and writing?

A: With film-making, one should think in visuals, rather than relying on words or dialogue. You have a rectangle to fill with a succession of images to create an emotional response. Hitchcock said he wasn’t interested in photographs of people talking in his films, so I try to rely on visuals to tell my story when directing. In fact, I often think my novels are more like screenplays as I’m always thinking of the mise-en-scène, where the characters are, how they are dressed or what expressions they have on their faces. The advantage of writing is that you can really get inside your characters’ minds, what they are thinking and feeling, which you can’t quite do in a documentary film.

Q: What would you say fuels your imagination in writing?

A: Definitely travel – I’m lucky to travel with my day job as a film-maker, and I have been to some extraordinary places and have had access to some incredible situations and people. I’m like a sponge, absorbing human behaviour and thinking of how I can translate stories to the page or screen.

Q: How long does it take you to write a novel from first draft to final edit?

A: It depends on the publishing process. I first wrote Ghost Maven in 2010, so six years later it is being published. The last 18 months has been especially productive, as the novel was honed through various drafts, and I had some wonderful input from agents and copy editors.

Q: You are represented by a literary agency, Loiacono Literary Agency, in an age when many writers are choosing to self-publish. What has been your experience in working with an agent?

A: One of support and encouragement, which is invaluable as writing can be a very lonely process. The great screenwriter Jay Presson Allen, who I interviewed, described writing as a “divorcement from life”, which I can totally identify with. But having an agent is having someone to share the rewards and accomplishments with. What’s the point of being successful, if you have no one to share that success with?:

Q: Can you tell us a little about your production company, Sabana Films, and what you are trying to accomplish with your films?

A: I won the Special Jury award last year at the Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival, which was an incredible, inspiring moment, and has reignited my love for natural history. I’ve started filming a documentary movie which I’m very passionate about called ‘The Cat that Changed America’. It’s about P22, the mountain lion who is trapped in Griffith Park in LA, and the wonderful conservationists and Angelenos who are trying to help him.

Q: If you could sit down and spend an evening chatting with three people, dead or alive, who would they be, and why?

A: Alfred Hitchcock, because I’ve written three books on the Master of Suspense, and currently writing a fourth on his reputation. His films have inspired me and are text book examples of film making and screenplay writing.

F. Scott Fitzgerald, as he is my favourite author, his prose is elegant, simple and elegiac. I love The Great Gatsby, the world Fitzgerald lived through and created, and the characters who populate that world.

Winston Churchill, because he epitomizes everything great about being British, what I love about England, and the country where I was born. His stoicism and heroism is something to be admired.

Q: What’s next for you, Tony?

A: I’m looking forward to my book tour for Ghost Maven. On Labour Day weekend, Saturday 3rd September 2016, at 2 p.m., I will be in the Old Capitol Books store in Monterey, California, signing copies of the book. It’s very special to me to launch the book in the place where the novel is set and where I lived for two inspirational years.
Q Where can our readers find you online?

http://www.ghostmaven.com
http://www.tonyleemoral.com
http://www.alfredhitchcockbooks.com
http://www.thecatthatchangedamerica.com
http://www.sabanafilms.com

https://www.facebook.com/tonyleemoralfans/

 

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Children of the Night (series)

FallenEmbers cover art

Vampires and sex! What could be better for paranormal romance lovers? Author PG Forte certainly pushes the envelope and explores the dynamic, complicated lives of her vampire characters in her Children of the Night series. I wanted to delve into the world and mind of a writer who creates such complex characters and doesn’t shy away from writing outside the proverbial box. With open candour, PG provides answers that give readers insight and a behind-the-scene look into what goes into writing this kind of series, fitting in, and the benefits to not fitting in.

Interviewed by Debbie A. McClure

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Q So what’s a nice Catholic girl like you doing in a sexy vampire fantasy writing world like the ones you pen? What draws you in and holds you to this genre?

A LOL! Would you believe my daughter made me do it? No, seriously, she did. She was reading a lot of vampire fiction at the time, and I’d been complaining about the various vampire traditions I didn’t like—not being able to see themselves in mirrors, being allergic to Holy Water, that sort of stuff. She suggested I write my own, so I did. What keeps me there are the characters I created.

I love them because they’re a family. They care about each other, even though they don’t always show it. They can live forever, which isn’t always the blessing it appears to be on the surface. That’s why the first line of the first book is, “When you live forever, you’re bound to make a few mistakes.” Oh, and they do! lol! But, on the other hand, when you live forever, there’s also time to get a few things right.

Q You are writing your sixth book in a vampire series. What would you say are the challenges writers of serial books face that are different from single titles?

A Oh, where do I start? lol! I guess I should begin by saying that I love writing series. It can be hard sometimes saying good-bye to a set of characters at the end of a book. With a series, you do get a bit of a reprieve. On the other hand, I generally find myself getting frustrated at some point and have to be talked out of killing off the majority of my characters. While I was writing my Oberon series, for example, I kept threatening to have an earthquake destroy the town.

One of the big challenges is consistency. I have to go back and re-read earlier books all the time to make sure my characters aren’t contradicting themselves from book to book. Also, with a big, sprawling series, like most of mine, you end up with a lot of minor characters. Sometimes you don’t remember all their names—which can be a big problem when you reuse a name, or call the same person by two different names. Usually it gets caught in time, but I live in fear. lol!

Another problem is writing yourself into a corner—it happens a lot! Even though I plot everything, my characters have a way of taking detours or going off on tangents. Sometimes those are great, serendipitous moments of glorious inspirations. Other times, you find yourself lost in a world of pain and re-writing, to get yourself back on track.

And then there’s the pacing. You need a few series-long story arcs, but those are often the things that try your readers’ patience. Some loose ends take a while to tie up. For example, there’s a bit of a mystery in the Children of Night series involving Conrad and Damian. The two were lovers for nearly four hundred years. Then, in 1856, they had a terrible falling out. They didn’t speak to each other for the next hundred and thirteen years, and it took them another forty years to finally get back together.

Not surprisingly, readers want to know what happened. No one is thrilled when I tell them I’m not going to explain it until the seventh and last book. And, no, it’s not because I don’t know the answer! I know exactly what happened between them, and why it happened, but as it happens, they’ve both been keeping secrets from each other, so they don’t know. And until they break down and tell each other the truth, there’s no way for the readers to find out either.

So that’s another challenge: keeping your readers so interested in what’s going on, that they forget how frustrated they’re getting with you for not telling them everything up front.

Q What is the greatest lesson you’ve learned about yourself since you began your writing journey?

A Well, I’ve learned I’m a bit of a perfectionist. Trust me; anyone who’s seen my house will be as surprised as I am by that fact. I have patience—who knew? I have determination and the ability to persevere, and a trace of paranoia, which appears to be an occupational hazard for many of us. I’ve also learned I’m a lot more competitive than I ever realized.

Q Would you say you’re a plotter, or a pantster, and why?

A Oh, total plotter. Occasionally I’ll start writing a story before I have the entire plot laid out. Usually this happens when I have a deadline and start panicking about the fact that I don’t have the entire plot laid out. But even then I usually have to stop and work out all the details before I can proceed.

On the plus side, even when I get side-tracked I always have a map to get me back on track. And my finished outlines are so detailed, all I need to do is clean them up again and voila! Instant synopsis—which is a huge advantage!

Q Could you give our readers a brief summary about what your latest book is about?

A I’d love to! Fallen Embers is the fifth book in the series. It’s a seven book series, so this is the point where things are starting to look pretty bleak for some of the characters, while other characters are just starting to come into their own. Exciting times!

The series for the most part is about Conrad Quintano, the patriarch of the Quintano vampire family, and his two youngest children, twins Julie and Marc Fischer. Julie and Marc were born vampire—which is supposed to be impossible. By all the rules governing vampire culture, they should have been killed at birth. But Conrad promised their mother on her deathbed that he would protect them and raise them. He and his partner, Damian, went into hiding together (even though they were no longer lovers) and raised the twins in secret until they were adults and could “pass” for normal vampires.

In each of the books, the twins learn a little bit more about their true heritage and destiny. And, in each of the books, we also explore a little more about Conrad and his relationship with various members of his family. Fallen Embers is largely about Conrad’s relationship with Georgia—his oldest friend and another of his former lovers.

Conrad and Georgia first met in the early twelfth century. On the night they met, Conrad saved Georgia’s life, but he’s always maintained that she saved his as well. It was Georgia who taught him that, just because he was a vampire it didn’t mean he had to be a monster as well. But that was then and this is now and a lot can happen over the course of nine hundred years! They’ve both been keeping dangerous secrets from each other, and now they’re starting to come out.

Q What inspired you to write this series?

A To be honest, I didn’t exactly intend for the series to go this way. In the very beginning I wanted to write a paranormal mystery series. I imagined the twins would be growing quite bored with their lives. Sure, Conrad has amassed a huge amount of wealth over the centuries, and you’d think this would mean they could do whatever they want. But after forty years of not being able to pursue any kind of career (since they don’t age, etc.) and having to keep a low profile, I figured they’d want something to keep their minds occupied. So I thought they should start investigating crimes and mysteries in the paranormal community.

The first book was going to be an introduction to the series and their first case was going to be finding Conrad, who’d gone missing. In the course of writing the book, however, I realized there was a lot more to Conrad’s story than I’d realized. And a whole lot more to Damian’s as well.

Five books later and here we are. Sure there are still mysteries to unravel and the twins are in the thick of things, but it hasn’t unfolded at all the way I thought it would. On the other hand, I love these characters and enjoy spending time with them … now that I’ve been talked out of killing them all off!

Q For you, what is the easiest part of writing a book, the beginning, middle, or end, and why?

A It depends on the book. A lot of beginnings are easy because even when I haven’t worked out all the details of where I’m going or how I’m going to get there, I at least know where I am at the start. But beginnings are also probably where I spend the most of my time, because I am never satisfied with them and, until I have the beginning just right, I can’t move one.

Middles can seem endless, and it’s really easy to get bogged down in them, or to get turned around and lose your way. On the other hand, once you get a little momentum going—and assuming you follow your outline and don’t get off track—you can make a lot of progress in a relatively short period of time.

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that endings are usually the easiest for me. However, there are a couple of exceptions. If you’re ending a series, or a stand alone book and saying goodbye to characters you aren’t ready to say goodbye to, endings can take forever. Also, I love endings; which means I’m a perfectionist. I want them to be just right. I’ve written a couple of books in which the last chapter took an embarrassingly long time to write. In fact, in one book, Waiting For The Big One, the last chapter took as long to write as the entire rest of the book. Of course, it was just a novella, and I wrote the rest of it in record time, but still!

Q Do you have a favorite character in this book, or in the series? If so, what makes this character your favorite?

A I love all my characters … well, almost all of them. Even the minor characters have a way of surprising me from time to time. I have one I just can’t kill. He was supposed to have died a couple of times, but one of the other characters keeps stepping in and saving him at the last minute. But, having said all that, I have to admit to being especially fond of Conrad and Damian. And Damian maybe a little bit more.

After 1200  years, Conrad’s a bit tired and jaded. His early life was, for the most part, very unpleasant. And by early life I mean the first several hundred years of it. This has also left him with more than a bit of a bad temper!

Damian, on the other hand, is more irrepressible—and a lot more flamboyant. Unlike Conrad, he was raised in relative luxury. He came from Spanish royalty and was serving as a courtier when he met Conrad. He fell in love with Conrad and ran away from court (and his patron—a very jealous Archduke) to be with his “demon lover”. He also has a temper, however, and a reckless, impulsive nature that regularly lands him in trouble.

I think it’s fair to say Conrad treats Damian, at times, as he would a trophy wife. He loves to indulge him and shower him with gifts, but he doesn’t always understand Damian’s needs and insecurities. There are also some times when he really wishes Damian would just shut up and do as he’s told. Yeah, that’s never gonna happen.

But the two of them love each other to death and have enormous admiration and respect for each other, so they’ll be okay. At least they will once they get those pesky secrets they’ve been keeping sorted out.

Q What’s the one thing about you that might surprise our readers?

A Uh…you mean beside the fact that I talk about my characters as though they were real people? I don’t know. I’m assuming most of them already know about the tattoos, the piercing, and the unicorn hair. That’s old news anyway. One thing that continues to surprise my husband is the fact that, when I’m on a roll, I can happily spend days in front of my computer writing. Seriously, if I’m the only one at home, and as long as I don’t run out of coffee, wine, or dog treats, I’ll barely even stop for meals.

In fact, now that the kids are out of the house, whenever my husband has to go out of town for business it’s exactly what I do. And I’m perfectly content.

Q What are your thoughts on the future of publishing and the self vs. traditional publishing debate?

A I think the more options the better, at this point. I was not an early adopter of the indie publishing movement, to be honest. DIY is a lot of work, frankly, and I really believed—or wanted to believe—that publishers had, perhaps, a better grasp on the industry than individual authors.

I still think some publishers have a better grasp on some aspects of publishing than some authors—but for the most part, I think the days when ANYONE could lay claim to having a handle on what’s going on in the publishing industry—or how best to appeal to the book buying public—are long gone.

At this point, I think the smartest way to go—for me—is hybrid. I don’t want to do all the work for every title, but some titles, yeah. I like being the one making ALL the decisions.

Right now, however, I think it’s really kind of a free-for-all. I think everyone has to decide for him or herself what kind of career best suits them.

Q You write erotic books featuring both gay and straight characters. Has it been difficult finding your “niche market” readers and/or publishing venues? If so, what has been your greatest publishing challenge?

A Oh, yes! Absolutely. Writing a series which is basically impossible to categorize? Terrible, awful, very bad idea. But it’s worse even than you know. Some of the books in the series are erotic; others have no explicit sex at all. There were several important reasons for why there was no sex—either all the sex took place in the past while my main couple were broken up and sleeping with other people and my editor pointed out that, while it was understandable they had both taken other lovers, readers would get upset if they “saw” them having sex with other people. And rightly so, btw, because readers did mention the fact after the book was published! Then, too, I write really long books, and when you have to cut 40K out of a book before it can be published, sometimes the sex has to go.

I don’t know if I’d do anything differently, because as I said, I love my characters and I’m happy with the way the series is turning out, but yeah … not a good idea. Lol!

Of course, I write in a lot of different subgenres anyway, which has hurt me in some ways too. It’s hard to sell books when you can’t easily elucidate your brand.

Q So, what’s next for you, PG?

A Well, I’m just about finished with the follow up to Fallen Embers, which is called To Curse the Darkness and is due out in December. This one picks up pretty much right where Fallen Embers leaves off. Then, before I tackle the seventh and last book in the series, I’m hoping to release a trilogy of novellas which are the start of a spin-off series from my book Inked Memories. The stories all revolve around a tattoo shop in Oakland, CA where a reality TV show is being shot. These are straight up contemporary romances … well, straight up with a little bit of kink and a lot of tattoos. I’m also hoping to finish up a short story and a novella that, hopefully, will also be released this year as part of two anthologies I’m involved with. So, hopefully, it will be a real busy year.

You can find PG here:

Website: http://www.PGForte.com

Blog: http://www.RhymesWithForeplay.blogspot.com

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorPGForte

Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/TheCronesNest/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/PGForte

Tsu: http://www.tsu.co/pgforte

Beacon of Sound

Beacon_of_Sound

A woman who seemingly has it all is about to get her world shaken up by one worldly man, and the results just might be too hot to handle. Take an average counselor living an unsuspecting life and throw in one incredibly delicious prince who thinks he needs to save her, and the result just might be one sensual disaster. In this mildly erotic tale by R. M. Garry, two people learn just how far each is willing to go in order to find a place in each other’s lives, and perhaps something beyond wild desire.

Interviewer: Christy Campbell

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Tell us about yourself and how you came to enjoy writing.

I am a day dreamer. I know everyone says that, but it is true in my case. My characters are always role playing in my head. At least now I have a way to share the insanity with the world. Beyond my work, I am a mother of three boys. My husband has had the pleasure of being married to me for the past 12 years. During my nonexistent spare time, I am a full time Master’s of Mental Health student. Every day, I create a new fantasy about quitting my day job and writing until my fingers burn.

What’s the story behind Beacon of Sound?

I have been asked that same questions numerous times. There are numerous stories within Beacon of Sound. The reader has to pay attention because I give them all the answers they will need. Yes, it is a very adult book with many adult scenes. The introduction is specifically blunt to lead the reader in a particular direction. Once you read the story, you realize Beacon of Sound is more than you expected.

Why did you write Beacon of Sound instead of a novella?

It was time for me to really work. A novella would not have told the whole story. The world of the Noir Dera is very complicated. I know a novel the first time out is ambitious, but I had to drink the whole bottle. It was the only way to decide if I would continue to write.

Your novel is an erotic paranormal romance. Your cover does not convey that description. Why did you choose that cover?

I work with a fantastic cover artist. Her work is beyond amazing. We both decided that this cover fit the story. The heroine is a stubborn mental health counselor who happens to play a mean cello. While her profession and life seem perfect, there are secretes hiding right below the surface. The woman on the cover looks angelic yet mysterious. She definitely has something to hide. She fools you into coming into her world and you are completely unprepared for what she has in store.

What are you hoping to receive from your readership when it comes to this genre?

I hope to gain minions. Yes, I said minions. It is imperative I gain worshipers that love everything I write. The only thing I want is to put out great stories that people connect with.

Authors are always busy creating and rolling ideas around in our heads. Is there anything that would interfere with your desire to keep up your writing career?

I would only stop writing for two reasons. If my children needed me and my work caused me to be unavailable, then I would put the work aside. My wolf pack comes first. The second reason is very simple. I love to write and share my work with the world. The moment I no longer enjoy writing is when I will walk away without any regrets.

You like to get that music playlist going once you dive in. What makes your playlist differ from another’s?

While working on Beacon of Sound, I listened to nearly 20 hours of music. Every single song had to be significant. The songs had to fit with the emotions flowing through each scene. I love art in all forms, but I am a music groupie. At some point in my life, I have listened to almost every common and some uncommon musical genre. After spending seven years playing a cello, I know that a story is naked without music. My playlists are as important as the words I write.

After publishing your first book, explain why you chose to follow the Indie route.

If I had sent query letters and received numerous rejections the first time, I would have quit. Being self-published gave me the freedom to learn and grow on my own. For now, it is the best way to get my work to readers.

Did you have any sales expectations for your first novel?

I expected to sell one or two copies. When I sold more, it made me feel as if this was something I could do long term.

How do you find balance when it comes to work, writing, and parenthood?

I gave up expectations. There was a time where I expected to do it all. I was going to be supermom, wife, employee, and student. Then one day I realized the more I expected from myself, the less I did.

What’s next on the goal list for R.M. Garry?

I just completed a contemporary romance and will work on having it published by January of next year. I recently started working on a novella that ties Beacon of Sound to the second full novel in the series. I hope to have Beacon Holiday out by December. There are at least three other series waiting to be written. My brain never stops creating stories.

 

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.

 

 

 

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

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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!