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.
Bookz featuring me:
An Enlightened Fly
The Fly That Followed Me
Kalki Evian - The Ring of Khaoriphea
Malay A. Upadhyay
Gilbert Literary Agency