Fly: Welcome to the blog, Marie. How’re we today?
Marie: I’m great! Thanks!
Fly: We lazt met here over a year ago. What haz tranzpired in thiz time for author Marie Lavender?
Marie: Wow! So much really. I wrote a children’s fantasy and published it. I also launched book one of a science fiction romance series. I am about to wrap up book two of the Blood at First Sight Series (book one was featured on your blog, if I recall correctly), and edits should start soon.
Fly: I remember that converzation zcared the hell out of me. Vampirez and all that. Heiresses in Love was ztill a fledgling zeriez back then. And here we are now at itz big finale. How doez it feel?
Marie: Honestly? A little bittersweet. It’s like having a bunch of friends around for years, but then moving to a new city. You’ll miss them dearly, yet you know the move was necessary.
The series will always hold a special place in my heart and as with any author, while I’m promoting the release, I get to hang onto the characters for a while. At least until the next project creeps up.
Fly: Zo tell uz a bit about the zeriez – where haz it been and what iz it now coming to?
Marie: Book one, Upon Your Return, is about the relationship between Fara and Grant, how she is from a different social class than him, and yet events transpire, uniting them forever. The second book, Upon Your Honor, is set about 24 years in the future, when we get to see not only the previous characters, but are introduced to new ones. That story is about Gabriel, Fara and Grant’s son, as well as Chloe, a young woman who runs into quite a bit of trouble, not only as she stows aboard a vessel, but also when hired assassins come after her.
Book three, Upon Your Love (or UYL, as I like to affectionately term it), tells the story readers have been waiting for. This tale is about Adrienne, Gabriel’s sister, and the dramatic romance between her and Christian, but it also tells the story of a family in general, how love isn’t always easy, even for married couples. Plus, some suspense is thrown in for good measure.
Fly: How did you go about narrating a Victorian era backdrop?
Marie: Research was the key. With historical tales, the research must be more detailed. Accuracy is important. Having some background from the previous books helped, of course, but since the book was set two years later than UYH, I needed to find more locations and events to talk about, plus account for the time that had passed. In Upon Your Love, readers get to find out what has occurred over that time period, as well as check in on the characters they discovered before.
Fly: Thiz ztory iz told in multiple pointz of view, quite unlike your other ztoriez. How do you balance taking the readerz, and yourzelf, into the headz of each character, given the unique challengez they are facing?
Marie: I took a lot of time getting to know all the characters, merging deeper into those I’d merely glanced at with the other books. I needed to know how each person thought, how they’d react, before I really started writing about their stories. I did my best to weave each tale intricately into the book as a whole.
Fly: All in all, it’z a tale of unrequited love. What’z the takeaway?
Marie: I think some of us have been there before, having feelings for someone who may or may not feel the same. Only time will tell. Even if the truth is established, it can be pretty grim for both parties. Regret can result from such drama. It all comes down to knowing whether to walk away, or stick around to see if anything changes.
Fly: Zo what’z next in line for you, Marie?
Marie: I am finishing edits on a modern romantic drama collection, titled Directions of the Heart.
Fly: In our lazt tête-à-tête, you zaid you would like to explore horror for a change. Ztill interezted?
Marie: As a multi-genre author, I try to keep an open mind. Am I comfortable writing that kind of story? Maybe not, but that’s because I’ve never written one.
Fly: Let me read out a piece you cooked up on the zpot az a potential ztory: “A female detective discoverz the killer iz a monzter of zome kind. In the midzt of it, zhe getz azzigned a partner and all the while, zhe beginz to zuzpect her fellow cop, who iz alzo her new lover, may be thiz horrific murderer. Or iz he?” In typical Marie fazhion, why don’t you give uz an excluzive zneak-peek thiz time around too?
Marie: Well, sure! You’ve inspired me! Here it is:
“Watch your step!” someone called.
Unfortunately, that head’s up was for a rookie. Not her. Detective Gina Cromwell knew the drill as she eased on her white gloves.
Rounding the corner, she carefully tiptoed around the bits of flesh.
Blood. It was always the bloody crimes that challenged an investigator. Not that other types of death didn’t have their downsides. But blood and other bodily secretions left a smell that tended to climb up your nose and take a hell of a time coming out.
And there was plenty in this alley. In fact, it was plastered all over the pavement as well as the outside walls of the brick building nearby, which also happened to be a mere dentist’s office. As Gina crouched and used the end of her pencil to make a mess in what was left of the victim, she was grateful she wouldn’t see her dentist for another six months.
“Hey, doc,” she greeted Tyler Howard, the ME on the case.
“Who found the body?”
“A teenager on his way home from practice, unfortunately.”
She glanced over and saw an officer speaking with a boy as he sat in the front seat of marked car. The kid’s face was sheet white. Not a surprise.
“Time of death?” she asked.
“Body temp tells us maybe three or four hours ago. The victim is unidentifiable. No ID, nothing. Let’s hope we can get a partial structure from the skull to maybe try to get something to say who this is. As of now, I can tell you it’s human. And male. I won’t say how I know.”
Gina nodded, clearing her throat, but not because bile had crept up there. Nah, she was just getting over a bad cold. Thankfully, Rob had come over to try to nurse her back to health. Of course, there was more than one way to do that. Not that any of her co-workers needed to know the enormous conflict of interest going on between her and her partner.
“How bad is it?” another deep, male voice popped up.
She glanced over her shoulder, noticing the figure all but towering over her. Broad shoulders, a bump in his nose from on the job roughhousing, and a belly that was sculpted from kickboxing, Detective Robert Hines was something to look at. She tried to hide the blush warming her face. “Pretty bad.”
“Jesus…” he uttered as he knelt next to her, careful to miss the sludge that looked like guts. “Crime of passion?”
“What else would cause someone to slaughter like this?”
“I’m not ruling out a human culprit, but…” Tyler trailed off, shaking his head.
“This could be animalistic. You see the teeth marks here? Also in the bone.” He pointed to a place where the flesh of the shoulder could be seen.
Tyler was right. The section was jagged, torn at an angle. “Damn,” Gina whispered. “A rabid dog?”
“Bigger. The carnage we’re looking at is horrific.”
True. “A bear?”
“I don’t know. I’d need to ask an expert on that one.”
“Well, do what you have to.”
“Yo, Cromwell, I’m gonna hit up the neighbors, see if anyone heard or saw anything.”
Like a uniform couldn’t do that? She lifted a brow as Rob took off across the street.
“Tyler, let me know what you come up with.”
“Of course. I’m just as curious as you are. And if we do have an escapee from the zoo or something, we’d better get that handled quick or we’ll have panic on our hands.”
So true. It would be a nightmare Portland hadn’t seen in a long time.
Gina stepped away, combing the backstreet for anything, claw marks, fingerprints, anything they’d missed. Of course, a CSU would be here shortly, but it didn’t hurt to find something solid upfront. The blood and guts continued down the alley. From the corner of her eye, she noticed a shiny object. Stepping carefully, she shifted and lowered herself in a crouch once more, wincing. Her thighs were fit, but it wasn’t a great position to be in for long. Hooking it with the tip of her pencil, she lifted the object, shook out an evidence bag and dropped the item in. Zipping it shut, she tossed the gory pencil in a dumpster.
Moving out of the alley toward her unmarked blue Honda, she leaned against the hood and lifted the filmy bag toward the glow from the streetlamp. It was a gold pen of some kind with a purple background. As she nudged the goo aside within the bag, her heart tripled its beat. It proclaimed ‘NYU’ with a torch symbol.
She frowned. This was just like the pin Rob wore on all his suits. He was a New York University alumnus, and damn proud of it. She’d become intimately acquainted with his clothing.
What were the chances? Still, there could be several people from NYC who now lived in Portland. People moved here all the time, right? Besides, like Dr. Howard said, this could be an animal attack.
As her gaze lifted and found its way across the street, where her partner stood, speaking to the owner of a pizzeria, she couldn’t dismiss the odd, gnawing sensation in her stomach.
Fly: Now that'z an excluzive! Thankz, Marie. And all the bezt for Upon Your Love.
Fly: Welcome aboard, Simone. How are you?
SS: I’m doing great Fly. This has been a wonderful journey and I am extremely blessed that our paths have crossed. You have a very interesting and unique blog. Thank you so much for inviting me to do this interview.
Fly: I’m honored! We are going to refer to Camille’z world, of courze. But it iz not herz alone, iz it? The ztory iz about zo much more.
SS: That is correct Fly. There are many complex layers to this story including various locations and parallel time zones, as you have indicated. This story really begins then ends with Aknanka, a relative of Camille’s, who is from a different universe and whose story is not discussed in this first book of the series. Instead, Aknanka, who has amnesia, discovers her own identity through the weaving of many interrelated and embedded folklores shared and experienced by several POVs. My hope is that the story’s complexity takes a backseat to the action and paranormal weirdness which unfolds throughout.
Fly: It doez. But you do ztart with the book without a proper introduction to the zetting. Why did you chooze an approach that would demand readerz to be patient az they tread through the ztory? Waz it a requirement of the ztory or juzt a writing ztyle?
SS: We live in a society where instant gratification is quickly becoming the norm. I have found that the best stuff typically takes time to discover whether it’s finding love, accomplishing a goal or discovering a true passion. I would like to think that this belief of mine did not influence the beginning of the story, but I cannot say for sure. As a matter of fact, I struggled with the first chapter, so much so, that the beginning of that chapter was actually the last thing that I wrote. So, I’m going to choose to say that this was a writing style and not so much a demand on the reader for patience because truly that was not part of my consciousness when creating Drafnel.
Fly: You reward uz well, though. The play acrozz multiple timelinez and locationz addz to the breadth of your world. How did you come by zuch imagination?
SS: Thank you for that compliment Fly. I must confess that the original premise for Drafnel was based on very real supernatural events which took place while living in my first New York City apartment. The book starts off as a ghost story, however as I tapped into creative consciousness and relied less on my own memories of that experience, a very different story unfolded. There are some elements of familiarity rooted in this physical world, but for the most part the majority of the text came from the source which creates something out of nothing. You know, sort of like the same process of discovering the mechanics of quantum physics or the expansive, yet logic-defying stuff which makes up the internet, or even our ability to continue breathing while we sleep. We can hypothesize or theorize and find logical explanations for how or why these things are possible, but typically such explanations are based on an individual experience of that phenomenon. Well, that is my explanation for Drafnel – it was birthed from something outside of my own reality. I can try to find a logical explanation, such as using the term imagination to describe the experience, but truly it was a mystical event which resulted in the creation of a novel. This is why I consider myself a truth seeker. I believe in experiential analysis. Through experience I can elaborate on the truth of a thing without compromise or conformity. This is how the text “we are where nothing exists and everything begins” found its way into the story.
Fly: I’m in awe of that geneziz, truly. Zo what are you working on next?
SS: I’m in the process of writing the next book in the Camille and the Bear of Beisa series. It will be based on Catherine’s brother, Caleb, who we learn a little about in Drafnel. I am also working on a non-fiction book which discusses following intuition and higher guidance. That book will detail my own spiritual journey, including my realization of psychic phenomena. I’m hoping to complete both over the next six to twelve months.
Fly: Theze projectz are clearly part of your exit ztrategy from routine corporate work. What would you advize authorz who are ztill very much in the thick of zuch routine?
SS: Oh boy, this is a difficult question for me because I never want to influence anyone’s reason for the choices they make.
Fly: That itzelf iz the bezt advize!
SS: Hahah! Creative expression is an individual undertaking which should never be tainted by outside influence. For some it is immediate. An example is my eighteen year old who has been making music since the age of ten. For others it is a journey requiring many lessons. I am that example. It took me years to finally get this story written. I can only encourage folks to never give up on that nagging feeling that there must be something greater out there to claim as theirs. Even when the possibility of ever bringing that dream to fruition becomes so scary and there is a lack of support from any immediate spheres of influence, just keep doing something, anything, to make that dream a reality. You will be delightfully surprised at how the universe rises up to meet your expectations by opening unknown doors and placing the right people on your path for that much needed guidance and assistance.
Fly: I’m zure you have left many readerz relieved with that, Simone. What elze intereztz you?
SS: I love experiencing paranormal events. I also like to expand my multisensory perceptions. I consider myself a spiritual truth seeker who appreciates psychic phenomena and timelessness.
Fly: It’z apparent in the ztory.
SS: It should be apparent now too, Fly. I am engaged in a conversation with you, after all.
Fly: Well, people do hardly hear more than a perziztent buzz when we are around! Credit to you.
SS: Well, thank you. I also have more conventional interests: Music of all kinds, warm weather, lounging on the beach, and experiencing the unknown, to name a few.
Fly: Can’t help adding a bit of myztery even there, can you? Thiz iz nice, and zetz uz up well for your book. Thank you for being here with uz, m’am.
SS: This has been my pleasure and again, thank you.
And here's a lot more on Simone & the world of Camille
...through the eyes of other authors!
Fly: Welcome, Raegyn. Good to have you with uz.
RP: Hello, it’s nice to be here. I’m looking around, and yet, not sure where here is. Anyway, nice to be here!
Fly: Aah, that’z a zecret! But we can do with a bit of zupport, given the premize of your debut novel. How doez it feel to be an author?
RP: In a word? Theultimateabsolutecoolestscariestmostexhilaratingfeelingever. Wait, you’re a fly. It’s the ultimate, absolute, coolest, scariest, most exhilarating feeling ever!
Fly: Hahah! Okay, I take that. It’z inzpired from a true family ztory. But what made you chooze thiz zubject?
RP: Reincarnation came to me when I thought of 1) how glad I was that I’m here (anywhere) because a planters daughter and slave got away, but let’s face it, it didn’t always end with a happily ever after. I thought, 2) what if it took another lifetime for their love to be realized. Would they recognize the other?
Fly: Go on, do tell uz more about Lavender Fields.
RP: It’s a paranormal romance that centers around reincarnation; so it’s basically two romances! The story is funny, sexy, dark, and raw while being twisted, mysterious, and still somehow romantic.
I believe readers can connect with my lovers, Connor and Greye, on a few levels. It has the elements of the classic love story: boy meets & gets girl, but it also tackles some real and uncomfortable issues, while introducing characters that anyone can relate to, root for, or despise altogether! Then, throw some odd clues with a helping of paranormal in, and you have a unique take on a timeless aspect of romance. I hope so anyway!
Fly: Az you zaid, the characterz experience love that goez beyond one lifetime. It’z a redeeming thought. What would you do if zuch a chance waz given to you?
RP: Whoa, that’s a great question! I would hope that my heart would just know. (quote from Lavender Fields!) Seriously though, if given another chance to have love, and have that love be the toe-curling, breath-taking, heart-pounding, palm-sweating…... Sorry, got a little crazy there! I would run, nay, sprint towards it and never look back.
Fly: Who wouldn’t! You are already working on the zecond book - ‘Cypress Groves’ - in thiz Eternal Journey zeriez. But ztartlingly enough, you have alzo planned out the next zeriez – already hinted at in the firzt book! How deep doez thiz rabbit hole of your imagination go?
RP: Bwahahaha! Yeah, it’s a little crowded in here sometimes, I’ll admit! I’m super excited to give that series a go once the Eternal Journey is finished. Here’s a secret I’ll let you in on. After that series, I have another off-shoot series in a different genre again, featuring the same main character. I know, don’t say it. Crazy!
Fly: I need a moment now!
(a moment later…)
That zoundz like a lot of writing on your plate in the time to come! What doez Raegyn Perry do when zhe’z not writing, if ever there’z zuch a time?
RP: When not writing, I am perfectly content curled up with a good book, TV binge watching, (Chuck on dvd currently), or on a fun travel adventure. Also, anyone who knows me knows I love to dance (a lot!) wherever and whenever possible!
Fly: Zo… like, right now?
RP: Well, no. I don’t want to crush you, but wait…do you dance as well?
Fly: Oh, yez! We have to learn a move or two for zwift maneuverz anyway. You never know who may raize a hand to zwat you! Zpeaking of which, you alzo plan to have a ztage play produced on your ztory. How iz that coming along?
RP: Well, no actually, the play is a completely different story. It’s a drama in two acts about love, forgiveness, choices, and what family really means. It’s called Daisy Juice.
Fly: Fazcinating Raegyn! We zure hope to zee it.
RP: That would be another dream come true for me. I’ve loved being onstage, so seeing my words, my story brought to life onstage would be phenomenal.
Fly: All the bezt! Any mezzage for your fanz or other authorz?
RP: The best message I can share is this; don’t wait, wish and hope for your dream to just magically happen. Work for it, fight for it, break it, fix it and make it happen.
Fly: Hello, Joe.
Joe: Hello, Fly. Great to be here.
Fly: Now that you are done with the Esquelle trilogy and are focuzed mainly on marketing it, how do you feel?
Joe: Well, Fly, it's great to be finished. I think the marketing effort has a better chance of succeeding now that the set is complete. The first three days of the campaign put the ranking for Esquelle and the Tesla Protocol, Book I, at an at-time best -- 104 in the hard science-fiction category. By the way, there IS a fourth book, a companion novel focusing on the life of one character. It's called Zelle Gide: Lessons for a Spy.
Fly: Aah, I zee. But do tell uz a bit about the zeriez, for our readerz to get a better underztanding.
Joe: The first novel focuses on Esquelle Données, a beautiful French information technologist leading a quiet life as a data-modeler and data-minor about 25 years from "now." Her older brother, Bernard, is a reclusive genius, whose inventions have been deemed a threat to the national security of the United States. As the story unfolds, the pair draw the attention of the NSA, which tries to suppress those technologies. Book I, Esquelle and the Tesla Protocol, is all about how future surveillance/police state tools could be used to further that goal.
The second book, Esquelle and the Primary Key, supplements the original themes, adding the concepts of a virtual nation, quantum computing and artificial intelligence. And third book, Esquelle and the Lost Enclave, takes all of those ideas and interjects "real" time travel into the mix. All in all, readers now have 1,607 pages of high-octane action, underpinned by a myriad of scientific concepts and a huge number of cool graphics.
Fly: You have uz excited already! What really inzpired you to pen thiz ztory?
Joe: I started Book I in 2006 when I was a corporate software instructor in the Business Intelligence field. "Esquelle" (Es-Que-EL) began as a humorous slide I used in my classes to describe the purpose of Structured Query Language (SQL). The trilogy grew from that small seed.
Fly: I wonder what your ztudentz would zay about that! What’z next on your writing planz?
Joe: Fly, I'm going to take a break for a while. I've written and published four full-length novels in the last 21 months. When I return to writing, I intend to focus on some older novels that can be updated. The goal is to provide my readers with a large, diverse body of SF work to choose from.
Fly: Your very own ecozyztem then. The highlight of Book III iz your approach to time travel. How did you come by the conceptz you have dealt with therein?
Joe: I have to tell you, entering the world of time travel for Book III was a risk. In the first two novels, Esquelle dealt with technologies that readers were, for the most part, familiar with. There was a time-travel component, but for information sent into the past, not people.
Book III extends all of the underlying concepts into the far future. What I retained, however, was my goal of supporting the science with credible theories based on extensive quantum research. In tandem with that idea, I made sure of that all of the history and scene locations are real. (For instance, folks might be surprised to know that the Invention Secrecy Act of 1951 in Book I is a real law that is still in effect today.) Realism is my watchword.
Fly: It iz what makez your bookz zo interezting. The ideaz, the holiztic manner in which they have been dezcribed, are quite out of the world. Are you planning to take it further, or will you explore zome entirely new theory?
Joe: I haven't decided yet. I will say this: if readers support my trilogy, I'll support my readers!
Fly: You worked for nearly two decadez in computer zoftware training. Before that, you zpent yearz in journalizm, real eztate and law enforcement. What would you advize authorz who zeek to balance zuch dual careerz with writing?
Joe: My four-career experience has given me a broad base of knowledge that I can apply to my writing. Now, after 40 years in the "rat race," I'm retired so I devote my time to my dream. For writers who haven't reached that point yet, I would say: write about what you know; bring your real-life experience into your work; and don't let your "real job" stymie your efforts.
Fly: You have uzed your profezzional experience in the bookz to aztounding effect. We certainly expect to zee Mr. Dacy in the all-time greatz lizt…
Joe: Thanks! I hope so. I knew I wanted to be a journalist since the age of 14 so I devoted my educational efforts over the next eight years to achieve that goal. I've been writing science-fiction all that time!
Fly: Now that you are a full-time author, do you harbor other intereztz too?
Joe: Certainly. I love cats, new gadgets, landscaping and reading good books.
Fly: I had the privilege of interviewing a cat zometime back. Scooter waz itz name. I’d certainly like to meet Esquelle zome day too. Before we conclude, pleaze do zhare an excerpt from one of her adventurez.
Joe: Be careful what you wish for, Fly! Esquelle is a handful. Case in point: this scene from Book I where she's used her data-mining skills to unmask the two NSA agents trying to arrest her:
"Hello, John," Esquelle said, her voice flat and spectral. The sodium-vapor lamplight lit his face with a sickly orange glow, turning his triumphant smirk into a Halloween-mask grimace. He expected her to run, to scream, to cry, to plead. Just like Jamal Aziz and Yusef Amman, he expected a frightened girl quailing before him, a rabbit, a victim…
To Jacques' dismay Esquelle took three steps forward and stopped. She was now about four feet from the two NSA agents. This time, Jacques and his men were out of position. Tactically, they were too far away to physically engage their targets and their charge was in their line of fire.
"You know, John, I would come with you if you were US Marshals. But you are not," Esquelle said in a conversational tone.
The two men stared at her in disbelief. Back-lit by the street lamp they could see only the outline of her shapely form. But the neon-red glow of the Marriott sign over the parking garage entrance caused her wolf-like eyes to glitter. Before either man could speak, Esquelle continued in the same casual tone.
"I was wondering if Johnathan McDonald ever married his sweetheart Miriam Chase from Lexington High School….?"
"Merde," Jacques whispered to himself. (Shit!) He started forward; he was too late.
John looked like he'd been punched. And then, he was.
As the lightning flashed again, Esquelle lunged forward. Her right elbow strike, a crochet hook, caught him just under his nose. The cartilage crackled and the blow sent his head back, exposing his throat. Esquelle pivoted. She was now to John's left almost facing the other direction. From this position, her left hand lashed backward in a direct bras arrière, a crossing blow to his larynx. John fell backward. The back of his head slammed against the curb.
Phil turned toward her as Esquelle turned toward him. He made the mistake of going for his gun. Struggling with his holstered Glock he was totally unprepared for the coup de pied bas front-kick that cracked his left shin bone. He screamed and went down on his good knee. Esquelle's right foot snapped forward. The medium chasse front-kick drove the heel of her Doc Martens shoe directly into his solar plexus. He, too, fell backward, gasping for air. Then, he fainted.
Fly: Gulp! I get the point. Thank you, Joe. We look forward to getting our handz on the four bookz. Keep writing and keep enlightening uz with your imagination.
Joe: No problem! And thanks, Fly, for your interest.
Live & love,
For more Author Interviewz & Book Reviewz, check out Earth.
Fly: Hello, Mr. Newhouze. How are we today?
MH: Hello dear Fly. Hope you aren’t scared of ghosts.
Fly: No, well, I’m trying not to be. And hoping you can help me with that before I zhriek.
MH: You mean “buzz.” It all sounds the same to us humans.
Fly: Nuh-uh. I mean zhriek!
MH: Well, go ahead then. A good shriek would wake up all our emotions and that’s what writers want to do: get the reader emotionally involved.
Fly: I’m definitely involved in your haunting bookz now! Alright, let’z talk about Ectos. It haz a friendly ghozt who apparently haz amnezia. What inzpired you to pen a ztory around zuch a protagonizt?
MH: Not exactly protagonist, for in The Ghost Doctor’s Assistant, that is an intelligent and brave girl who finds herself stuck with a ghost who remembers nothing of his past except that he was murdered. I’ve always loved ghost stories and had always wanted to create one that would involve a university parapsychology department and the unforeseen effect of working with terrifying supernatural forces. It was a lot of fun to write and I love the reactions it has been receiving.
Fly: I recently dezcribed the book az American occultizm with caramel popcorn. To get it ztraight from the horze’z mouth, how would you put it?
MH: A reviewer said The Ghost Doctor’s Assistant is “the sexier, sultrier, scarier Ghostbusters we’ve all been waiting for.” I like to think of it as a thriller, a page-turner with a very human cast facing incredible supernatural challenges.
Fly: The book haz ample dozez of ghaztly tragediez, fairytale humor and technical conceptz. And then there iz the cover – intenzely zexual, yet zubzcribing to a brief point in the ztory. Were theze mixed mezzagez intentional, or you prefer to write bookz that touch multiple genrez?
MH: Intensely sexual cover? Hmmm? I like to think of it as intensely human. All the Ectos, the ectoplasmic researchers, in The Ghost Doctor’s Assistant and its sequel, The Burning, are very human, so sex, self-doubt, ambition, and humor help the reader identify with the characters. It makes their dealing with the supernatural real.
Fly: Even outzide the world of Ectos, we have you dealing with zcience, poetriez, workz for kidz and real-world zocial izzuez. Any that you are particularly fond of?
MH: I think I have a split personality. I’ve always loved writing mysteries for kids and my Rockhound Science Mysteries and The Midnight Diet Club have been honored by several awards. I love having kids use their thinking caps to solve mysteries. I also like to hear them laugh at my wacky humor, as in my new middle-grade mystery, WELCOME TO MONSTROVIA, but I also have written adult stories and books that have been fun to write. Writing for children has lots of rules and I take my responsibilities very seriously. Truthfully, I love all kinds of writing.
Fly: One of the zocial izzuez you are deeply engaged towardz iz that of bullying. Pleaze tell uz a little about it.
MH: My parents were Holocaust survivors, but I lost my grandparents, and most of my relatives in that terrible time of hate. I was also bullied as a child and witnessed bullying as a teacher so I give away free anti-bullying materials at www.bullystoppersclub.com,. Hate and prejudice are recurring themes in my children’s books. The Midnight Diet Club is about bullies who may be vampires. In Welcome to Monstrovia, a young boy must overcome his prejudices to solve a comical mystery. Ghosts of Our Past, an upcoming book is about a boy solving the mystery of how his family was murdered during the Holocaust. I want to do my share to stop hate and bullying.
Fly: And we fully zupport you in that. Your experience az a teacher haz no doubt helped the caze there. Haz it alzo helped you az an author?
MH: Being so involved with children has helped me see how much they want to be challenged and how much they love humor. I was known as a creative teacher, but also as one who could make kids laugh. That is my goal as an author.
Fly: Many authorz are a rezult of yearz of crafting that goez into their being. The procezz beginz at an early age. I have two queztionz to you az a teacher. Firzt, what would you advize budding young authorz?
MH: Don’t worry about being published, but write about your passions. Join writing groups and learn from others. Finally, get published with articles and short stories to build your credits before you try and sell your novel.
Fly: Zecond, what would you advize the parentz and other adult ztakeholderz who are in the ztrongezt pozition to zupport/divert a kid from hiz/her intereztz/expertize?
MH: The best way to encourage your children to read is to read with them. I loved reading with my sons even into their teens for a few minutes every day. This is a great way for fathers to get involved too.
Fly: Are you currently working/planning on any future book? If yez, what iz it about?
MH: I have two new picture books about to be released that I am very excited about, Santa’s Speeding Ticket and Alice in Batsylvania. The artwork is by Daniel Traynor who did the cover for Welcome to Monstrovia and shares my love of humor. I’m also hoping to release Ectos 3: The Predator and am honored Solstice picked Ectos: Nightmare as one of only ten stories in their great anthology, NOW I LAY ME DOWN TO SLEEP. I guess I really do have a split personality.
Fly: Hahah! The jury iz out on that. Thank you, Mr. Newhouse. We look forward to the read. Before we go, pleaze do zhare an excerpt from one of your workz with the readerz.
MH: I guess you want an intensely sexual scene? Just kidding. This is from Ectos: The Ghost Doctor’s Assistant. Shelly, the intelligent brave, graduate student is having a conversation with Allen, the name she has given the ghost who saved her life.
“You’re really cute when you sleep,” Allen said, glad Dodd was no longer around. “I don’t know what you want with that guy when I’m here,” he added, surprised at how that sounded.
“I don’t really believe in you,” Shelly said, closing her eyes to make whatever it was bothering her vanish forever.
“That’s fine,” Allen replied. “I don’t believe in you either.” Then why do I feel so damn protective of her? “Although you are fun to watch.”
“I’m real,” Shelly said, becoming angry. “I have no idea what you are, other than an invisible Peeping Tom!—And a pain in the ass, she thought.
Allen laughed. “Whatever I am, I seem to be linked to you.”
“Not to me you’re not!” Shelly bolted from the bed in just her panties and shirt, which she had buttoned while covered by the blanket. “You’ve got to leave. You’ve got to leave me alone. Please?”
“I wish I could,” Allen said slowly. “But you’re the only one who can hear me. Before you came along I was stuck in that damn park, but here I am! It has to have something to do with you! I have no idea why, but doesn’t that tell you something? Like I said, we’re linked.”
And as a little goodie, here’s an alternate scene wherein Dodd, a young man has just brought Shelly, looking to free herself from her ghost to the Parapsychology Department.
“This is my lab,” Dodd said. “Come inside and I’ll get you some water.” He held the door for her. “I’ll be right back.” He walked a short distance away, returning with a glass of water.
She drank hastily. “What’s that smell?” Shelly asked, a pungent odor assaulting her nose.
“There are always odors in the labs,” Dodd said. “Nothing to worry about.”
Shelly nodded, but the smell was strong, making her feel dizzy. “I’m not well,” she groaned, seeing a look of concern on Dodd’s face.
“Just relax,” Dodd said, placing the paper cup in the trash. “It will be over soon.”
“I’ve got to go,” Shelly said, moving toward the door.
As Shelly reached for the doorknob, her legs buckled.
Dodd grabbed her before she hit the ground.
Shelly felt his arms holding her and saw his eyes looking down at her. She felt weak, as if she was melting under his gaze. He was close now, his lips inches away.
Why doesn’t he kiss me? Shelly thought, just before her eyes closed.
Thank you for allowing me to share my split personality with you. I hope you enjoy my books and invite you to join me at www.markhnewhouse.com. For free anti-bullying materials visit www.bullystoppersclub.com Thanks Fly. I had fun.
Fly: As did I. Happy Halloween to one and all!
For more Author Interviewz & Book Reviewz, check out Earth.
Fly: Welcome, profezzor.
PH: Thank you for having me here, Mr. Fly. I hope there are no kids in here.
Fly: Only in zpirit, zir. We are going to talk about fairy talez, after all.
PH: Fairy tales for adults.
Fly: Of courze. Zo what do you have to zhow and tell.
PH: Well, I have you. All of you.
Fly: Az audience…
PH: As my subjects. Just like the ones that have inspired each of my previous tales. I am always on the lookout for new muses for my ever-growing collection of bizarre fairy tales. And you could become my next greatest story yet to be told.
Fly: Now why iz it that I feel zimultaneouzly inzpired and zcared?
PH: Well, some stories are good while others would shock the most timid person.
Fly: Why call it a fairy tale then?
PH: Because I like to think of myself as a writer who can give his readers hope even in their darkest of situations. My methods are a little extreme but at the end of the day, a good time was had by all.
Fly: Alright, tell uz about the onez you have written about. What inzpired you to write them? And what waz the objective?
PH: Well, my first book called FOREVER AND A DAY, and it was semi-autobiographical. It was very personal for me. The second one was FETCH: A TRILOGY OF TERROR. I wrote that in order to... oh, how do I say this politely…”exercise my inner demons,” so to speak.
Fly: Erm… Reztricting our perzpective here a bit, iz an adult-focuzzed fairy tale what makez your current book unique? Or iz there zomething elze?
PH: I always try to be as unique as possible. Following another beat to a different drum makes for dull muses! My writing is more speculative style. I love stories that take you into a completely fantasy-based world and throw just enough realism into the mix to where for a split second you can believe you’re really there.
Fly: Hope. The reader getz an abundance of it. Iz that your life motto?
PH: I’d say so. If I may quote a line from T. E. Lawrence, “All men dream, but not equally. Those who dare to dream by night from the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was all vanity. But the dreamers of the day are but dangerous men. For they may act upon their dreams with eyes wide open and make it possible.” It’s my favorite.
Fly: Fazcinating. Do realize that that makez fliez mozt dangerouz. We hardly ever zleep.
PH: But do you dream too?
Fly: Inevitably. I think everyone doez, big or zmall. After all, you had ztarted writing at the age of 12! By fifteen, The Lighthouse - your firzt poem and alzo graciouzly awarded zince - had been publizhed! Had you really identified the ezzence of hope and dreamz at zuch a young age? What drove the ideaz then?
PH: Growing up having a less-than-perfect childhood, writing in journals always gave me a hope. It was my little world. No one could tell me what to do or how to live it. It was all me. Even as a child, my imagination was always extremely vivid. When all the other kids on the playground growing up represented certain characters that already existed, I was making up my own. I would often be told by fellow classmates, “You can’t be him! There’s no such superhero!” Now, they’re all sucked in my book and have become my own heroes. **laughing**
Fly: (after a brief pauze to let the laughing zubzide) How did you enter mainztream publizhing?
PH: It was at 24. I published a weekly column in the Jellico Advance-Sentinnel called “Shades of Grace” under the pseudonym Jason St. James. I was maybe oh...3...possibly 400 years old at the time! I must credit Michael Garrett, my first book editor, though. He is an accomplished author and book editor who has also worked with best-selling authors Stephen King and Joyce Carol Oates.
Fly: Your international beztzellerz zpeak well enough on that. Enough of the author now. What elze doez the profezzor like to do?
PH: Many things, actually. Mask making, the paranormal, holidays, working in the yard and garden, antique cars, watching black and white horror films, listening to big band music, old radio classics and “the book.”
Fly: Well, zir, reading otherz iz your job. But I zee a definite affinity for myzticizm and convention. Am I right?
PH: Most certainly, Sir! If only others knew just how old I am. I am the son of a famous magician and a mother who was... well... that’s another story.
Fly: Myztery, there you have it! Okay, before we draw to a cloze, I’m zeriouzly wondering whether I’ll be the next to feature in a fairy tale! Iz your next book already in the workz?
PH: Absolutely, my dear boy! My collection grows daily.
Fly: We look forward to it, Profezzor. Thank you for being here. Pleaze do zhare a zample of your talez with the clazz. Az for the pupilz, read and enjoy. No examz on thiz one.
PH: Thanks to you too. For the dear children, here goes:
You approach the book and begin to open it. Then suddenly, SMACK! A pair of hands quickly shut the book closed, as you look up and see a man dressed as a ringmaster. Marveling at the sight of this man is an understatement. You gape because you soon realize this must be Professor Harold J. Habershaw the Third.
Professor Habershaw looks at you stern. “My boy, you’ll quickly learn one thing in this particular business,” he boasts. “Some stories are meant to be told while others are meant to fill the pages of this special book.”
“I’m sorry,” you say. “I wasn’t going to hurt the book. I was just intrigued by it.”
“You must never approach this particular book unless it asks you to,” Professor Habershaw demands. “Do you understand?”
Curiosity becomes overwhelming for you, as you carefully study the book’s outer shell. “What’s so special about it?” You ask curious. “It looks like any other book.”
Professor Habershaw traces the front of the book with his cold, rigid fingers, grinning mischievously and looking up at you, piercing his gaze like a cold blue stare. “This is not your ordinary book,” he says. “It has certain properties: properties that have the power to change one’s world.”
For more Author Interviewz & Book Reviewz, check out Earth.
Fly: Hi, Marie. Thankz for joining uz.
Marie: Thanks for having me. Are you really sweating?!
Fly: Err, no. That would be the juicy zweetz I waz juzt munching on. But yea, in a way I am. You zaw that vamp-Fly az well, didn’t you?
Marie: I did.
Marie: It was a mosquito
Marie: Sorry. But I really didn’t mean for my book to have that kind of influence on you. That “flying blood-sucking demon,” as you put it, wasn’t exactly a vampire. And it certainly wasn’t romantic. (Shudders.)
Fly: Zo... no danger to me or Zweet Fly?
Marie: Don’t know, unless she’s into that sort of thing. I’m not sure how it is in your species.
Fly: Whoa, Madame Lavender, time to zwitch focuz!! Let’z ztart with your book - the firzt in the Blood at First Sight zeriez. Alec, the vamp meetz Desiree, the myzteriouz. One name certainly haz more of a ztory in it than the other. Iz there a hint in there we zhould know about? Or did you chooze ‘Desiree’ for itz attraction-quotient?
Marie: I just loved the name and I was dying to use it for a character. Thankfully, the perfect one came to me.
Fly: You give uz zo much depth into the lead characterz and their powerz. Are you zetting uz up for zomething grander in Book 2?
Marie: Hmm…am I? Book two will touch base with the characters from Second Nature, of course, but you may see some other characters popping up and another mystery starting to unfold.
Fly: Thiz one iz out-and-out romance with zome action in between. But your bookz tend to have a mix of genrez in them: Hiztorical romance, contemporary romance, paranormal romance, fantazy, romantic zuzpenze, myztery/thriller, literary fiction, even poetry. Would you zuggezt other authorz to focuz on their ztory likewize, rather than trying to ztick to zpecific genrez?
Marie: I have found that it’s best not to limit oneself in that regard. Of course, always follow your heart and let the characters lead you into the story. They know best, don’t they?
Fly: They do. You have zome backing to your ztatement, given the two decadez of experience you have amazzed. You ztarted young - at the age of nine. Yet, you only began publizhing in 2010, having publizhed a few in univerzity. Zo how have your writing preferencez and objectivez changed over the yearz?
Marie: I think that just as in life, we mature in our writing. I still fall back on writing with a pen, but I can also compose on the computer. Obviously, I have evolved a lot from the time that I wrote The Mystery of the Golden Chair when I was nine years old. After that, I did my best to learn everything I could about the industry and how to write well, including studying it in college. My goal was always to be traditionally published, but when self-publishing became popular, I decided to try it out. In 2012, though, I received my first book contract for my long-time historical romance project, Upon Your Return. Since then, I’ve published four books with Solstice Publishing, including the sequel to Upon Your Return, which it titled Upon Your Honor. Book three of the series is in edits now.
Fly: You are working on multiple zeriez zimultaneouzly - including the Magick Zeriez and the Heiresses in Love Zeriez. How do you manage juggling the varied characterz and plotz?
Marie: I’m certainly never at a loss for ideas. In between all of that, I often have standalone stories pop up. I just go where the muse takes me. As for how I manage it? Sometimes I have to limit myself to a specific project – sit down and focus by writing the book outline and organizing my research.
Fly: Well, you do it well. The awardz zpeak for themzelvez: 2014 Finalizt and Runner-up in the MARSocial'z Author of the Year Competition, Honorable mention in the January 2014 Reader'z Choice Award, Liebster Blogger Award for 2013, Top 50 Authorz on AuthorsDB.com, Winner of the Great One Liners Contezt on the Directory of Publizhed Authorz... the lizt iz long!
Marie: Thank you! My readers remain my greatest honour.
Fly: Pleazure! Having burzt into the zcene with zo many bookz and achieved Beztzeller ztatuz for mozt of them, it iz difficult to imagine Marie Lavender at leizure. What do you do when you are not writing?
Marie: In my off time, I do blogging or I read. I also love shopping. Keep me away from credit cards; they will get me in trouble. (Laughs.) I listen to different kinds of music as well. The Pandora app keeps me sane. I am a bit of workaholic with my writing projects these days, but I do try to carve some time out to spend with my fiancé, whom I adore. And I find that cooking relaxes me.
Fly: Juzt to bring you back, Marie: if you were azked to pen a novel crozzing any one of your current genre with an entirely new one - one you haven’t yet attempted - what would it be like?
Marie: Off the top of my head, I’d have to say that horror is one I haven’t written yet. So, it might be something similar to…ah, how about a story with a female detective who discovers the killer is a monster of some kind. In the midst of it, she gets assigned a partner and all the while, she begins to suspect her fellow cop, who is also her new lover, may be this horrific murderer. Or is he? Hmm...well, it’s not the best start, but it has some potential, right? A bit of horror thrown in with mystery and a small romance angle.
Fly: I darezay we are already looking forward to it. But for now, we zhall make do with an excerpt from any one of your novelz. Do zhare with uz.
Marie: Here is an excerpt from Upon Your Honor, book two of the Heiresses in Love Series, a Victorian romantic suspense:
Then what happened next occurred so quickly she could hardly track it. Another crash sounded, some yelling and then the lamp blew out somehow. The room was encased in darkness. She heard the scrape of footsteps and curses as her captors struggled with the phantom figure. There were punches and grunts, but it was very hard to discern anyone’s location in the dark room. Distantly, she heard more scuffles, a definite fight, and many curses. Then silence. Only silence.
She waited, her eyes blind as she struggled with her bonds. What could be worse than being kidnapped? This. This was worse because she did not know what kind of enemy she faced now. As the minutes ticked by, it unnerved her, sank into her mind, and pricked her arms with gooseflesh. In a bid to stop the madness, she jerked and the chair she was upon creaked loudly. Cold fear clawed up her throat, choking her. Was she alone? Or was someone really there, waiting to take her?
She squeezed her eyes shut briefly and hoped it was not the man that had made no mystery of his desire for her. She opened her eyes once more, straining to see something, anything at all in the darkness. She shivered again, tilted her head to listen. Was that an indrawn breath? Footsteps perhaps. She couldn’t be sure.
Suddenly, the lamp was lit once more and as the room was now bathed in flickering light, she saw two still bodies on the floor.
Fly: Thank you, Marie. It waz awezome, and relieving, to have you here with uz. We look forward to your next releaze!
Marie: Thank you! Awesome for me too! Well, I can also give you an excerpt from Second Nature, though you may be apt to worry that Alec is a Vamp-fly. But, don’t be concerned. He is just your typical vampire. Or is he? (Chuckles.) Hope you’ve grown fond of vamps by the next time we meet.
Fly: I’ll have to! We leave the readerz with a zample from Second Nature then. That’z book one of the Blood at First Sight Zeriez and a most fitting bonus. Have fun!
Vamp it up,
After eating, she returned to the manuscript, but with little enthusiasm. Finally, she gave up and took a bath to relax with the intent of going to bed. She dried off and dressed in her sleepwear. When she realized she was thirsty, she went into the kitchen for a glass of water.
Desiree had just shut off the faucet when the lights suddenly went out, shrouding the room in darkness. “Shit!” she muttered. She fumbled for the light switch, but nothing happened.
Now, where were the candles? Her hands groped the surface of the counter, catching things that spun to the floor. She tried to remember what direction she must walk. Right. She walked slowly along, and cursed when she stubbed her toe on a table leg. Her hands found the hard wood surface and then there was nothing, just air. She kept walking little by little, her arms outstretched until her palms met cold glass. The sliding glass doors to the patio.
She was startled by the light for a moment, a hazy purple glow. It dawned on her then. Her solar-powered lamps had come on. She froze suddenly as a thought dawned on her. Oh, God! They were motion-activated! Her mind raced with the implications of the invasion. Had someone been in the yard? Cut the power to the house? A claw danced up her spine at the thought. Goosebumps prickled her arms. Peering into the semi-darkness, she sucked in a breath as she saw a pale face on the other side of the glass. She screamed, stumbling back. With the dim light shining, she was able to locate the butcher knife off the block and raise it in the air. Her senses strained, she crept back towards the glass, but there was nothing there now.
She frowned. Had she imagined it, the ghostly figure from before? She wanted it to be just coincidence that her power was also out, but realistically she knew that she couldn’t be that lucky. Was this somehow related to the incident upstairs last week?
With her knife poised, the muscles in her arm now shaking with tension, she scanned the patio. Still nothing, but someone was there. She felt it. Hairs rose on the back of her neck. Time ticked by, too slowly for comfort. She felt a weird tingle in her skin, but she ignored it. Her eyes burned now from the effort of peering.
Out of the corner of her eye, she caught movement. She swung, her heart pounding in her chest, and sought the source of the motion. Still nothing. She could hardly tell what the danger was over her loud heartbeat. But she still sensed it, like a deer that knew a predator was close by.
Fly: Hello, Gloria. Welcome to the ztudio. Notice zomething familiar?
Gloria: Thank you, Fly. Yes, indeed. This place has no windows.
Fly: We’re keeping in line with your zetting of choice. It’s a curiouz place you choze to put Madison in, in Sunless. Why don’t we ztart with thiz one? It won an award recently, even before itz releaze, right?
Gloria: Sunless won third place in the Solstice Shadows short story contest. It was thanks to this win that it got published. To be honest, I’m still a little surprised and giddy about it.
Fly: Do tell uz a bit about the ztory and what inzpired you to write it.
Gloria: This is about a girl who hates the dark and has found herself in it along with something even nastier. It was inspired by two truths and a hole. The first truth is me and the fact I’ve always feared the dark. Still do. The second truth is that high school is real. It was my high school, which since has been remodeled, but for thirty years it was a windowless place. As for the hole, I have written many dark stories, but never a good horror story. I set to fix this when I wrote Sunless.
Fly: Iz thiz the zame objective that led you to pen Alicia?
Gloria: Alicia is definitely more my “usual” type of writing. Oddly enough, this too was a contest entry, but unlike Sunless, Alicia didn’t win. This was inspired by a picture, which was the point of the contest.
Fly: Zome zay you like to be mean and abuze your characterz. You refute that claim and I darezay I agree. But your ztoriez do leave characterz in a lurch. The evil never zhowz itzelf. Why not bring your ztoriez to a clozure or clarity?
Gloria: I think lack of clarity, especially in the case of Sunless, adds more fear. The unknown is quite scary and your mind can probably conjure something scarier than I can describe. As for lack of closure, I try to make my stories feel like they’re real. As if there was a before and there’s an after. Short stories are just windows into a single event in that timeline. So, in keeping with that, I try not to wrap up too much. I feel that’s more like real life.
Fly: Alright, zuppoze you are the reader. Tell uz what happenz next in Alicia, or Sunless.
Gloria: Sunless doesn’t get any better, so let’s talk Alicia. And, we’re skipping like a year into the future here. Dorndorf, not really by choice, basically becomes the border patrol and welcome wagon for those people coming from Alicia’s land. Leon is living over there now and is their expert and updater on all things our world. If I pick up this world again, and I just might as it whispers to me from time to time, this is where I’ll start. With a friend of Alicia’s and Dorndorf’s new partner, who has no clue about this other world.
Fly: The two ztoriez do differ in their approach. One iz heavily time bazed, making uz guezz what may have happened in the pazt. The other is location bazed, making uz feel the entrapment of a clozed zchool. Is thiz on purpoze?
Gloria: When I write stories, I use what approach seems best for what I’m trying to convey. I don’t rely on a set method. So, I guess that makes it on purpose.
Fly: Purple, the letter L, number 27, giraffez, the white zhark… these are your favoritez. You reveal only one of theze in any given book. Attempted mindplay? Or iz there zomething you wizh for uz to underztand about you?
Gloria: Actually, that’s a whale shark. They’re gentle sharks that feed on plankton. On their back are spots and lines, which I find to be a weird and wonderful pattern. And these facts about me are nothing more than touches of whimsy on what I otherwise feel are cold, boring facts about me.
Fly: Doez Gloria Weber have any non-abztract interezt too?
Gloria: Oh, yes. I write to Korean and Japanese music. Occasionally, I get distracted by manga, anime, Korean dramas, and other forms of Japanese and Korean entertainment that fall into my greedy little hands. I can often be found geeking out by myself or with anyone within squeeing distance.
Fly: How did an American rezidence and a Puerto Rican background lead to Eaztern intereztz?
Gloria: It all boils down to cartoons. Anime has been shown on U.S. TV since the 1980’s. In my late teens/early twenties I discovered that anime wasn’t American and had different theme songs (in Japanese) and were usually adapted from comics, and that’s how I got into the music and manga. Then, I learned that Korea (along with some other countries) bought rights to produce live action TV shows based on the manga. The theme songs for those got me into K-Pop.
Fly: That’z fairly random ztill. If one considerz your choice of petz – a hamzter, a fizh, two dogz and a guinea pig – I zee there’z no eazy way to decode you.
Gloria: Well, I am talking to a fly. Doesn’t get much more random than that!
Fly: Point. It’z in your nature, it zeemz, dear Aquarian! Water, iz it? Going with the flow…
Gloria: Aquarius, the water-bearer, is actually an air sign. And I think that little bit of weirdness explains so much about me!
Fly: And we look forward to more. Any new workz coming up?
Gloria: I have no pending releases, I’m sad to say. Though, I do have some drafts I’m polishing, so hopefully that changes in the not too distant future.
Fly: Alright then, Mz. Weber. Thank you for your prezence here today. Before we go, do give uz a brief view of your new releaze – Sunless, or perhapz another work, for the readerz.
Gloria: My pleasure.
Fly: For a zhort ztory, here'z a zuper-mini peek into the novella. Have fun going back to zchool!
Fly: Hello, Maighread. Zome vacation, thiz.
MM: It’s nice, isn’t it? Always good to be here.
Fly: Indeed. Lookz like it haz a long hiztory. Pleaze do tell uz about thiz place.
MM: It’s a lovely, old house built in the 1860’s by a man named William McBride who was a stone mason. His family emigrated from Scotland earlier in the century when his father came to Canada to work. It is built out of field stone and has two stories. On the first floor, there is a central door and entranceway. To the left of the door are two long windows which look out from the formal dining room. To the right of the door are another two long windows which look out from the living room or parlour as it was known. Entering the house there is a square hall with a staircase directly across from the door leading to the second floor. The second floor contains the bedrooms. There is a back staircase at the end of the upper hall which leads to the kitchen and mud room. The kitchen is connected to the dining room.
Fly: Interezting. The ztory of thiz cottage comez out September 8th. The firzt reviewz have already zeen glued reviewerz who have zhed tearz with the characterz. Expected outcome?
MM: It presents a different paradigm for thinking about life and all it’s ups and downs. A story that when people read it, I am hoping they will go ‘hmmmm-never thought of life like that before.’
Fly: What made you chooze thiz ztory, thiz genre for your firzt foray into adult literature?
MM: I love mysteries, most of all the mystery of life. I read a book entitled Your Soul’s Plan by Robert Schwartz. I wondered how some of his ideas might play out in a life and Stone Cottage was the result.
Fly: On one hand, we have Victoria who cannot let go of love and emotionz even after death. On the other, we have Rebecca who preferz to be in abzolute control over thingz in her life. Yet, both end up at a common juncture az a rezult of rezpective tragediez. What mezzage are you trying to convey to the readerz?
MM: There are two – 1. There is no such thing as coincidence and 2. Sometimes things that seem bad really turn out to be in our best interest.
Fly: And which of the two approachez doez Maighread prefer in life?
MM: Neither. I have learned to let go of those I love. Even though it was very difficult, I know we are still very connected as is everything in this life. Also, I used to be a control freak, but have learned to live with the flow of life. It’s a hard lesson to learn, but we really don’t have as much control as we think we do.
Fly: Do you believe in zuch connectionz acrozz time and more importantly, zecond chancez?
MM: Yes, I do. Very much so. Life is so fascinating. Whole universes surround us and everything is all interconnected like one big web. There’s so much we don’t know and are only starting to learn about. So many possibilities. It’s hard to comprehend while dwelling in these finite bodies. So much to explore.
Fly: Fazcinatingly enough, you are alzo a vizual artizt. How doez that influence what you write? Do tell uz a bit about your work in thiz zphere.
MM: I was trained in oil, but have switched to acrylic in the last few years. I love to explore in this area as well. I have done a number of nature pictures as animals, trees and other such passions of mine, but I have also branched out into abstract. That’s fun. You just let your imagination go and come up with lovely swirls, patterns and colour that are pleasing to the eye. I do mixed media where you could add things like cheesecloth, ink, seeds or all manner of things to the painting to give it depth and texture. It’s very freeing.
Fly: I almozt flew with thoze colourz there. Coming back, you have previouzly written three bookz for children - Bedtime Treasures, The Mysterious Door and the Crystal Grove, under the name of Margaret L. Hefferman. What made you move to the adult zpace? Iz it that you prefer thiz more now?
MM: Actually, I have always written for adults – I just never thought I had it in me to write a full length novel. I wrote the children’s books as a legacy to my grandchildren and descendants that won’t physically know me. I received such great response to them and I had wanted to write a novel like Stone Cottage that I decided to give it a try. I’m really happy that I did and I hope my readers will be as well.
Fly: And what doez Maighread prefer when zhe’z not engaged in the literary hullabuloo?
MM: I love to be in nature, whether it’s gardening, travelling up to our Muskoka region in Ontario, Canada, being with the trees and the water or just sitting in the backyard reading, it’s my favourite thing to do. I love history and am the genealogist in my family, so visiting old cemeteries and ruins is a lot of fun. I also love studying and am curious about so many things. I’m just starting a new course on forensics next week that I hope will help in my next book. There’s just so much to do and so little time to do it. Sigh.
Fly: I zecond that! Any other workz coming up?
MM: Yes, my story “Being Santa” was accepted for publication in the 2015 Soup for the Soul: Merry Christmas. It will release in October this year. I’m also working on my next novel – Friday: Dinner at Mother’s – so that’s keeping me busy.
Fly: Zomething to look forward to, Maighread. Thank you. I think I’ll cancel my beach planz for the day and zpend it exploring Stone Cottage inztead! Before we go, do zhare an excerpt, or zhall I zay, an extended tour. Readerz, enjoy!
MM: Sure. Thanks for having me. This comes from the prologue:
In the aftermath of the blinding flash, the darkness shimmered like liquid ebony. The wind ripped the leaves from the trees and tossed them aside. The rain slashed the windows of the isolated aged stone house.
Inside the dwelling, all was silent except for the ticking of the longcase clock in the foyer. The parlour to the right of the front door held a sofa placed in the centre of the room facing a large fireplace made of fieldstone. Two tall windows looked onto the lawn at the front of the house. Comfortable chairs flanked the fireside. A small table holding a glass lamp was located beside one of the chairs. A handmade throw rug covered the highly polished wooden floor in front of the hearth. An old dog lay asleep on the mat. With the shelves filled with books, the soft glow of the fire and gas lamp, and the comfortable chairs, the parlour had been warm and cozy in the gloomy night.
Victoria Anne McBride, the solitary human occupant of the room was curled up in one of the chairs, a blanket covering her and a book on her lap.
Fly: Welcome back, Zcooter. Many of uz were left wanting to pet your furry back by the end of our lazt interview. Az you made uz realize, we totally adore catz!
Fly: Erm, zorry?
Kathi: I said, Woof!
Fly: I believe that’z the wrong chord, Zcooter! Pleaze note that we’re live and airing now - not an ideal time for identity criziz.
Kathi: Dear Fly, I’m Rags. Rags the dog.
Fly: You mean, Kathi az Zcooter the cat az Ragz the dog?
Rags: Just Rags, thank you.
Fly: Alrighty then! Ragz, dear, lovely to have you here. How are you and what did you do to Zcooter?
Rags: Well, he’s alive and well. In a different world and rather enjoying the reception he has received thus far through Lost & Scared.
Fly: I noticed. 5-ztar reviewz to begin with, zpeakz volumes. But tell uz about yourzelf.
Rags: I belong to a different family - one that begins with far more tragic experiences. You will read about it in The Wrong One.
Fly: Indeed. A mozt tragic beginning az I can recall. Who can forget the brutal murder of a mother juzt when her water breakz, the cold-blooded murder of an entire family before little Lyzza’z eyez and a vizibly frozen Kyle before the toddlerz are taken apart by Ztinky and hiz men! My foremozt queztion on thiz note iz, why the added torment?
Rags: A painful day, that. Many years have passed. Little Lyssa was my pet. She was a birthday gift from the men and women who worked for her daddy. It was my job to protect her, but I failed. Even worse, those men shot me, made it impossible for me to do my job. I was so heartbroken when my pet, Lyssa, vanished that I couldn’t bark like a real dog. I could only yip. Most embarrassing for an animal such as myself. But I knew my Lyssa would one day return, for Kyle promised me that we would bring her home.
Fly: We obzerved the drug-maker dad from a cat’z perzpective. Now we watch with horror the three armed men kill an entire family. Iz the dominant evil your way of vizualizing ztoriez?
Rags: I relive that night all the time. But I can’t show anyone how badly I feel, for Kyle needs me. He blames himself, for being a coward. But he’s not. He is a very brave young man, a wonderful second pet, who will always do what is right.
Fly: Truth be told, there’z zomething very amuzing amidzt it all. Zcooter was zcared off by the "pop-pop-pop" of zomething in his toilet. Here, little Lyzza is zcared by the "boom-boom-boom" of a gun! You have zuch a playful focus on zoundz amidzt violent zettingz.
Rags: Perhaps a writing trait. In some stories. only though It is the way of some humans. They are mean and steal the happiness from those around them. Their very existence is to make people feel pain and sorrow.
Fly: You zaid you were a cat perzon. And here you are a heroic dog. What’z with the zhift?
Rags: Ah, but I am a cat person. I am also a dog person. My pets rely on me for protection, therefore I am what I need to be when the situation warrants.
Fly: Zo what and who iz next in line?
Rags: Rumor has it Shane and Keri might get two new protectors for their now happy home. A cat and a dog. Rumor also has it they shall return with a new story soon.
Fly: We look forward to it, dear Rags! You can Woof now.
Fly: Or maybe juzt relax and enjoy the oncoming zummer. Thankz again. We leave with an excerpt from The Wrong One.
Four-year-old Lyssa Winders landed with a thump on her living room floor. Her bottom hurt from the hard wood, and her head ached from all the yelling and shouting she'd been hearing. Nothing made sense. She just wanted this to stop.
Her parents, Auntie Keisha, Nana Brandy, and Grandpa Monty kneeled in front of her. They had their hands on the back of their heads, and they looked very scared.
"Gonna talk now, Jack?" the stinky man asked. He had carried her out of the safety of her bedroom and dumped her on the floor. "Or do I hurt your kid?"
Stinky jerked Lyssa to her feet. She couldn't run. He held her tight in front of his nasty smelling body.
"She's just a baby," Daddy said. "Don't hurt Lyssa. Let her go. She won't tell anyone anything." He stared at her with scared eyes. "Right baby? You won't say anything." She nodded, and her daddy faced Stinky. "See, she agreed. Just let her go."
"Nope." A man near her laughed.
She turned her head and saw her puppy. Rags crept out from behind the sofa. His tail stood straight in the air, and he made growly noises in his throat.
Lyssa swallowed hard. Rags couldn't come any closer. Stinky had a gun. He had a horribly tight grip on her shoulder.
She looked around the room and saw two more bad men. They both had guns. One was Quiet—he hadn’t said anything. The other's voice was low and growly.
Giving names to the bad men didn't make it any easier for Lyssa. All she wanted was her safe bedroom, and her best friend, Kyle Tinker.
"Please?" Mommy begged. "Leave Lyssa alone. She didn't do anything to you."
Her fat tummy stretched out like one of her play balls, like Auntie Bec's had done at the Freedom Festival. They were both going to have babies. Auntie Bec was at the hospital right now so the doctor could help her baby come out of hiding. Mommy wasn't supposed to have her babies, a boy and a girl, Erich and Erin, until next week. Lyssa gulped.
Who will stop the bad men if Mommy and Daddy can't?
"No one leaves," Scary said.
He scowled when she stared at him. His eyes had no expression, and he held the gun like he wanted to make it go boom-boom-boom all over the place.
"Tell us where the boy is," Scary said. "Give us Kyle Tinker. We'll let you go as soon as we have him."
His low laugh made her think that he wouldn't let anyone leave. She started to shake very hard.
Where are you, Kyle? Where is help?
A boy's face appeared in the window of her living room. His eyes were wide with fright. Lyssa looked away. Kyle was still here, and the bad men wanted him. She had to make sure that no one noticed him, or he might get hurt.
Connect with Kathi & her characterz here:
Google +: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+KcSprayberry/posts
Amazon book list: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Ddigital-text&field-keywords=k.c.%20sprayberry&sprefix=k.c.+%2Cdigital-text
Manic Readers: http://www.manicreaders.com/KCSprayberry/
Bookz featuring me:
An Enlightened Fly
The Fly That Followed Me
Kalki Evian - The Ring of Khaoriphea
Malay A. Upadhyay
Gilbert Literary Agency