During an ill-fated girls’ night out, still reeling from the loss of her husband, Live Bestte meets a mysterious, old woman who promises to return her husband to her – for a price. It isn’t until the reanimated corpse of her late husband has begun terrorizing the hills and hollows around Julian, West Virginia, tearing flesh from bone, that Liv learns the price is her soul.
Now Liv is racing against time to find a way to satisfy this debt without sacrificing herself. And she soon learns that the only way she might escape her grisly fate is by offering up her daughter, Tegan, in her place.
But is it already too late for Liv? Is Liv’s fate sealed by family history? When Liv is about to make an ill-fated decision, it is Liv’s younger sister, Abby, who stands in her way, despite the fact that Abby was the first victim of the resurrected thing that was once Conner Bestte - Liv's late husband.
Ahoy me hearties!
Ah… the winds are from the South and balmy as we sail into port to welcome aboard a crafty teller of dark tales, author Jerome Sparks! Appropriately enough we can see darkly ominous clouds gathering on the horizon as our horror author joins us at the Captain’s table on board the Whimsical Herald.
…Here be monsters!
LOVE, BETRAYALS AND A LUST FOR REVENGE THAT NOT EVEN DEATH CAN EXTINGUISH
“I don’t know what corner of hell you crawled out of, but you might as well drag yourself back because you’ve come to the wrong man if you’re looking for payback!”
1. What draws you to write horror?
I've always loved horror stories and horror films. I can't really say why, but I think it may have something to do with the fact that, when I was a really young kid (back in the mid-1970s), I was allowed to stay up late everynight to watch this program on a local network affiliate titled "Chiller Theater." They played all the classic monster movies from Universal - Dracula, Frankenstein, The Wolf Man. And, of course, there was a bevvy of 1950s B-grade schlock like - The Last man On Earth, Them, The Thing, The Blob, House of Wax, The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms, The Invasion of the Body Snatchers, etc., etc., etc. And I remember watching The Abominable Dr. Phibes on Chiller starring Vincent Price. (Vincent Price was a horror god!)
And I loved the start of the show as much as the films themselves. The show started out with a tight zoom in on what was obviously a model of a crumbling, gothic, Victorian style house sitting atop a steep hillside, barren except for some lifeless black trees. And then came the booming, baritone voice announcing the title of the films we were about to see (always a double feature) as a flash of what was supposed to be lightening lit up the screen.
I’d normally watch the show with my dad, but the Saturdays when my pal stayed over were the best because we made an event of it. We’d start out by making these ultra-thin Chef Boyardee pizzas all by ourselves and all from scratch. (Okay, my mother helped outa little and everything we needed did come ready in a box. But, otherwise, we did it on our own and from scratch!) Then with a slice of pizza in one hand and a soda in the other, we’d settle down in front of the television and watch that night’s offering on “Chiller Theater”!!!
Of course, “Chiller Theater” eventually went off the air. But, once Videocassette Players (VHS and Beta) came along, my friends and I set out to make the whole weekend a Chiller weekend. We’d rent the latest horror releases, head over to one guy’s house or another’s (it usually depended on whose parents weren’t upset with us that particular weekend), order a pizza and veg out for the night. That’s how I spent many of my weekends during 1980s.
I’m writing horror fiction now because I want to revisit that feeling I had when I was kid watching those late night horror films and having the be-jeezus scared out of me.
What is it about the horror genre that makes it so popular in your opinion?
It’s hard to answer that without blathering on forever. However, I will say that I believe horror is a successful genre in part because it taps into something primal in our psyches that everyone recognizes and relates to. We’re all afraid of something,if not several things. By reading a good horror novel or watching a horror film, we’re able to face up to some of those fears and come to grips with them in some small way.
Another answer to your question is that the best horror fiction is a way we can face the worst part of ourselves and our society. Really good literature often forces us to recognize what is going wrong in the world, what is making our society sick. I think horror is one genre in particular that can do that in a very up front and in your face way.
2. How long have you been composing stories?
I’ve been writing since I was in grade school. I’ve always wanted to tell my own stories. After I’d watched a movie or read a comic-book or saw a television show that I loved, I’d go off and try to fit my own characters into worlds like those I’d just seen or read about. I remember writing plays back in the 5th grade and recruiting other kids in my class to star in them. (To be honest, I think the idea to write a play and have other kids star in it came from watching reruns of old black and white “Our Gang/Little Rascals” shorts on TBS.) We never actually managed to put on a production, but we had fun cobbling a story together and talking about it during lunch or whenever we got the chance.
Did you originally want to be an attorney or a writer?
A writer. I came to the practice of law late in life, after I discovered I wasn’t cut out to teach an English course at the college level.
I’d love to be able to support myself solely by writing but that isn’t possible for everyone. And it’s not for me. I know that only the most successful writers can live entirely off of the money they make from sales of their books. So, I make my honest money by practicing law.
I do enjoy this line of work because I get to craft arguments often involving complicated ideas and theories. In a lot of ways, the practice of law is like writing a novel. You take an idea and develop it into something that has a shape and a form, something that you can present to an audience. In the case of the legal field, it’s a judge and/or jury, and with a novel it’s the reader. But the idea you are putting out there has to be formed and crafted so that it is intelligible and so your audience can understand it, appreciate it and come to see the logic behind it.
3. Early on in ‘Love, Death, and Other Lies’ there is a family gathering, the dynamics of which would resonate with nearly any reader. How did you come up with it?
I think a lot of people have probably lived through family gatherings just like that – uncomfortable, awkward, with tensions simmering just beneath the surface. Every family has some sort of internal political wrangling going on. None are immune. No matter whether we’re simply trying to figure out what to do during a vacation or struggling to deal with the ramifications of a divorce, there’s a certain amount of push and pull, some give and take that’s always taking place. All I did with that particular scene was take what I knew of family dynamics, my own and those of my friends, and teased the conflicts out a bit so they’re more dramatic and obvious.
One reason I like to focus on families in my stories, and family dynamics, is the fact that transgressions are more egregious and the horrors greater when they are visited upon us by members of our own families. When a friend or acquaintance betrays or fights with you, you suffer. But, when a close member of your family betrays you or fights with you, that suffering is deeper, closer to the bone.
When reading, I always found that those stories involving the betrayal of a character by close family members drew me into the story more than others, and it’s because those relationships are more personal than any other we’ll ever experience, as well as being more universal.
4. Who encouraged you or inspired you to become a writer?
I’ve been lucky to have a lot of people encourage my love of writing: teachers, professors, friends, family, my daughter, my wife. But, the first person to really encourage me to write was my dad – Gene Sparks. He has always been an avid reader, devouring any number of books during a given week. And, when he noticed that I was trying to come up with my own stories he was thrilled. He really wanted me to work on my silly little ideas, asking me about the characters and what I had planned for them. He still does. He’s always asking me if I’m working on a new story. He’s read everything I’ve ever written. And I value his advice and criticism.
5. What horror movie do you love that other horror aficionados might hate?
There are so many bad horror films out there that I’ve fallen in love with over the years, it’s really hard to zero in on just one. And, any movie I could come up with mostly likely has some kind of cult following. Most of the really awful films do. Just look at Ed Wood and his films! Not only do his truly awful contributions to cinema have a cult following, but the man himself was immortalized by Tim Burton in a fictionalized bio-pic in which Wood was portrayed by Johnny Depp! (That’s a film I do love, love, love by the by!)
I suppose, if I had to pick one movie that I’ve heard my friends complain about that I do love it is “The Midnight Meat Train,” a 2008 film starring Bradley Cooper and Vinnie Jones. It’s based on a short story by Clive Barker of the same name and is a bit gory, following a photographer (Cooper) who is investigating the murders of late night commuters on the subway. Of course, this leads him to Vinnie Jones’ character, the serial killer responsible for the murders. The story has an interesting reveal and gruesome twist at the end, which is why I found it compelling.
I’m not really what people call a gore-hound. I prefer movies that deliver more scares than gore (“Paranormal Activity,” “Insidious,” “The Ring,” “The Last Exorcism,” “The Witch,” “Sinister,” etc., etc., etc.), but I recognize the fact that there are plenty of gory films out there that deliver both gore and scares. And, I think “The Midnight Meat Train” is one of those. There are no real jump scares, but “The Midnight Meat Train” does present this overwhelming feeling of dread that permeates the film up until the end when Cooper’s character discovers why Jones’ character is actually committing these gruesome murders.
6. There is quite a bit of both tongue in cheek and snarky humor in your novel-are you a funny guy?
I’d like to think I’m funny. Although, I’m not sure that’s the case. My daughter sometimes tells me I’m funny. And sometimes she tells me I’m annoying. So, it’s probably a toss-up.
In all honesty, I include humor simply because so much of life is absurd. The things we all have to suffer through and deal with during our lives are so ridiculous sometimes. It’s hard not be alive at this particular moment in time and not recognize that fact. You don’t have to look far to find an example of how absurd things are, you only have to pick up a newspaper. And, in my mind, there’s a very thin line between what is humorous and what is horrific.
I think there are some really great writers out there who manage to demonstrate what is both humorous and horrific in our world. The best example of one such writer, who is still at the top of his game, is Chuck Palahniuk. Everything he writes contains examples of both the absurdity of the modern world, as well as its horrors. One book of his that I love is “Damned,” which is the story of a teenage girl who dies and is damned to Hell. The story skewers many modern pop culture movements and lays bare how ridiculous it is to believe in any such movement so whole heartedly to the exclusion of anything else. In short, this story, as many of Palahniuk’s stories do, exposes how shallow our modern world is. I’d love to be able to do what he does, but my style is different in tone and approach.
7. Twists and turns abound in ‘Love, Death, and Other Lies’. Did you plot this novel out or did it just evolve?
When I write, I usually have an idea where the story is going, an idea of how I think it will end. And I usually have an idea what some of the stops along the way will be. But, all of these twists and turns are usually due to who I think the characters are and what I’d think they’d do in a given situation. However, many times when I’m in the middle of a story, I’m unable to take it in the direction I’d initially intended, times when the ending changes on me. This happens when I learn more about my characters, when I’ve been working on one character or another and I find that they’re not the person I’d initially thought. When that happens, the dynamics of the story will change, along with the plot points and the ending.
That is what happened, to some extent, with “Love, Death and Other Lies.” The characters of Liv and her younger sister, Abby, turned out to be much different than what I’d initially thought they’d be. They almost changed roles from where I’d initially envisioned them going. And, by following where the characters took me rather than by sticking to a strict outline for the story, I believe the ending was more satisfying. (At least, I hope readers find it more satisfying.) For Liv, the end is much, much darker than where I thought she’d wind up.
8. Did you find that your legal background and knowledge added to the realism of the novel?
Wow. That question actually surprises me because I’d never really thought of “Love, Death and Other Lies” as a realistic story. I suppose that’s because it deals with a reanimated corpse, a demon, ghosts and possession. However, those elements are dropped into a world I hope most readers could recognize. So, I guess you could maybe say it’s a crude example of magic realism?
I don’t know that I can say my legal background added anything to the story itself. However, I hope that my legal training, especially where writing legal briefs and memoranda is concerned, informed how I approached the process of writing the novel. When you’re putting together a legal argument, you have to focus in on the message you’re trying to convey and you want to set that out in the most concise and succinct terms possible. I take the same approach when writing any story. I ask myself whether or not the description I’ve provided is too verbose, too cluttered. Because, if it is, if I’ve hidden the idea I’m trying to convey under a mound of overly grandiloquent verbiage, I have to assume I’m probably only amusing myself and more likely to lose the reader.
9. What advice would you give other aspiring authors?
That’s a funny question, because it assumes I’ve reached some point in my writing career where someone should actually listen to what I have to tell them. Or that I have some writing wisdom to impart. When it comes to writing, I wouldn’t suggest anyone give what I have to say about “the craft” much weight.
I don’t really consider myself qualified to offer advice to anyone. But, I would encourage other writers to keep plugging away, to continue to refine and hone their skills. I’ve never believed it’s enough just to write a story, you have to learn to edit your writing as well and be able to accept and listen to criticism – especially from people you trust and respect. That isn’t to say you should simply roll over and change the heart of your plot because someone reacts negatively to what you’ve written. You should simply consider what it is that caused that reaction and, if the critique is valid, see if you can improve on what you’ve got.
I think I’m still developing as a writer. (Or, I hope I am.) I think that’s the most important thing for anyone who writes, to try and continue developing and improving. On some level, I’m never satisfied with what I’ve written. I always want it to be better and I’m always trying to figure out what I need to do, what I can do, to improve the next story I shuffle off.
10. What current projects are you working on and can you share details of any of them with us?
I do have a new horror story that I’m working on now. I’m about 40,000+ words into it. It follows a young girl from the time she loses her parents as a baby into her young adult life, as well as the demon that is watching over her in hopes of one day corrupting her soul so that she’ll be damned. I’ve peppered the story with moments of what I believe are extreme violence and horror along the way, but the heart of the story is the growth of this young woman and where she ultimately ends up.
11. What does literary success look like to you?
Depending on how you define the word “literature,” I picture Stephen King and/or John Steinbeck as being the epitome of literary success. I know there are pretentious readers out there who will likely roll their eyes because I put both of these men up as equal examples of literary success. But, the fact is that they both epitomize success as writers – because they both managed to connect with their readers. And, in the end, that is the true mark of a good writer, of a successful writer and of “literary success.” I admire both of their respective careers, and their love of writing. And, I would hope, that I could rank up there some day.
In all honesty, I’d love to be able to live off of sales of my writing, so that I could do nothing but write for the rest of my life. But, whether I end up disappearing with never having another novel published or not, I’ll likely continue to write. For me, it’s cathartic.
Ultimately, even if I should fail with regard to sales, I’ll be happy as long as my daughter can one day look at what I’ve written and appreciate it or, at the very least, appreciate what I was trying to say.
aUTHOR rEADING !
Blimey! As we unfurl the sails to make for new ports we thank our honored guest Jerome Sparks. He has entertained us most handsomely and we are sure his intriguing novel, ’Love, Death and Other Lies’ will shiver your timbers as it did ours!
Until next we meet, fair winds, following seas, and a warm wind at your back! All my duty to you!
Your Mistress of Madness,
The Forest of Bleeding Trees--Author Interview with Patricia Mattern herself & Reading by coauthor Marcus Mattern!
Having been granted permission to come aboard, I would like to wish a hearty ahoy to the crew and visitors of The Whimsical Herald. I’m the harbor master, Elizabeth Fortin, and I’ll be hosting a celebration voyage for your favorite Mistress of Madness, Captain P. Mattern, as she launches The Forest of Bleeding Trees with her son and coauthor, M. Mattern, horrific fun for even the most blood-thirsty pirate among you!
Vampires, werewolves, and demi-gods, oh my!
Thanks for having me sit at the Captain’s Table, P. Mattern! I have read your exciting tale and have a few questions for you, if you don’t mind enlightening us.
1. So Johnny seems pretty uncomplicated for a guy with two hot chicks after him. What do you think it is about Johnny that makes the girls fall for him?
I think Johnny’s ingenuousness is a lure, his sincerity shines through as well as his devotion to his family. Because of these qualities they tend to overlook his shortcomings, e.g., he doesn’t seem to know what birth control is. ;)
2. Johnny’s family seems very close. How important do you think this theme is to the storyline?
This theme of family loyalty is key and part of my own frame of reference. I grew up around salt of the earth, nonpretentious folks, fiercely loyal to family, neighbors and friends. Loyalty not only adds to Johnny’s appeal as a character but explains his motivations and is the source of some of his conflicts in the novel.
3. The Forest of Bleeding Trees has several subplots. Did it make the complex world building of your story more difficult to write?
I am a pantser and just the willing scribe to my muses, so characters and subplots just kind of showed up when they were supposed to. In some instances I was kept guessing how they would eventually fit into the main plotline of The Forest of Bleeding Trees.
4. The species in your story are unique, and though they share some resemblance to more traditional creatures from fiction, they have unexpected traits and traditions. How do you come up with such interesting characters?
Thank you! I harvest creatures from nightmares and daymares and strive not to be too ‘trope’. I am always second guessing by asking myself,” Am I buying this? Would a reader buy this?” Even if a creature is fantastical it has to be believable.
5. Up until the very end, the reader doesn’t know for sure what’s going to happen. Did you know when you started your story how it would end?
Nope. Actually at one point the novel had three different endings. Through working with my incredibly adept Editor at Tell-Tale Publishing E. Fortin The Forest of Bleeding Trees ended up with what I am convinced is the best “knock your socks off’ ending it could possibly have.
6. Obviously this is a horror novel. What make you want to write horror?
I am sure that some of my own life experiences have inspired me to write horror. Life is kind of like a Fun House, only its not really that fun and scary things jump out at us when we least expect it. Fear is a very powerful emotional reaction. Nothing else seems to affect us in the same heart pounding, gut wrenching way. Horror also can include humor and I find that aspect of it very entertaining.
7. Do you prefer psychological scary or gory scary? Why?
Oh wow, psychological hands down. I grew up watching and reading Alfred Hitchcock on TV and in story collections. Sometimes the most subtle nuances can deliver the best terror. I am a big chicken when it comes to gore in horror though I do appreciate it in the writings of others. And I do include it, but I will skip over it when I read it even in my own books. I peek through my fingers when I watch a horror movie!
8. Who is your favorite horror novelist, and why?
Mary Shelley and Bram Stoker are at the top of my list, I love the poetry of Poe, Daphne duMaurier includes a lot of psychological horror in her novels, Shirley Jackson rocks and Clive Barker is scary. I also enjoy many Indie authors. James Longmore is a favorite as is K.C.Harper and Jay Michael Wright II. My son and cowriter M. Mattern can write a mean horror story too.
9. What do you think every good horror novel MUST have if it’s going to be a GREAT horror novel?
Pacing, clarity and conflict are key. And if I get ‘fooled’ somehow I am delighted!
10. Do you see a sequel in the future for TFOBT?
Absolutely! The area in West Virginia where Johnny lives is honeycombed with underground abandoned mines. Below ground level a new kind of evil is brewing.
The Forest of Bleeding Trees is a horrific delight, a fast-paced ride that will leave you breathless and exhilarated until you reach the unexpected but satisfying end.
First you have the straight-shooting but heroic JOHNNY TREADWELL, a handsome young man with backwoods charm and unwavering devotion to his family. He’s also the guardian of a thousand sorrows.
Enter the mysterious, Gothic, LILI MACLUSTER, a darkly beautiful daughter of the richest though most preternatural family in town—and keeper of a thousand secrets.
In stark contrast is KATRINA MCCOY, the studding blond princess of the town’s most prominent businessman—and survivor of a thousand waking nightmares.
Together they will fight for their lives in a supernatural turf war that takes place in the superstition and ghost riddled mountains and bogs of West Virginia.
Author Reading by P. Mattern's son and coauthor, Marcus Mattern!
What an exciting story, Patricia and Marcus! And what a great reading for your mom for Mother's Day, Marcus! Thanks for joining us at the captain's table in such a unique and fun way!
I, for one, can't wait for a sequel! Let's raise a mug of TT's delicious Highland Hauntings Coffee (Whiskey and Butterscotch flavored) from our Latte Da Cafe (with a splash from my secret flask of lovely whiskey and a dollop of whipped cream added since this is a pirate ship, for the perfect Irish Coffee--though any of the readers joining us can add just a dollop of whipped cream or drink it straight up, equally delightful) to toast the launch of your new book.
Thanks for having me aboard today, Captain Mattern. I had a wonderful adventure! I'm sure your fans can't wait to get their hands on your latest release!
Blood of the dragon--Bewitching interview with francesca quarto, autho r of the Witch of appalachia series!
Aye and begorrah me hearties!
As spring embraced us and we celebrated the ‘wearin’ of the green’ we looked forward to today with excitement, so we could lower the plank for another auspicious Guest Author whose Irish lassie protaganist dabbles in Celtic Magic: Francesca Quarto. We welcome her aboard as we spotlight her latest release, ”Blood of the Red Dragon.”
WEST MEETS FAR EAST
A mysterious delivery during a snowstorm…
A magical artifact full of power and potency…
An evil that if unleashed might well destroy mankind…
…Cathleen O’Brien, ’THE WITCH SLEUTH OF APPALACHIA’, is on the case!
“Chung Wu wore semi-formal court robes, in a soft apricot yellow. The rich garmet was decorated with a Dragon motif and an impressive depiction of the cosmos. This garb signified his high station at the Court, as only the nobles were permitted the privilege of such robes. The Dragon symbolized the Emperor himself, the Son of Heaven. Only he could have granted this honor to Chung Wu, but that would have been hundreds of centuries ago!
How old is this guy? I wondered in amazement.
After a slow, dignified bow from the waist, the shimmering image stood erect and spoke in perfect English, with only the slightest hint of an accent. His cultured, deep voice filled my kitchen.
“Cathleen O’Brien, daughter of Liam and Brighid, Celtic Wizards of the ancient clan of Brian Boru ,High King of One Ireland, I humbly greet you.”
1. A family history of Celtic Magic figures prominently in main character Cathleen O’Brien’s background. What drew you to this theme?
As a young Italian girl going to Parochial schools, my head was filled with ceremony, mystery and a litany of the wondrous deeds of every mortal that performed miraculous acts. St. Patrick was definitely no piker in my eyes when it came to things magical, no matter that his works were deemed sanctified by the good sisters trying to dissuade me from such heretical views. Our school always marched in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade and I wore my green shamrock and green sash as proudly as any red headed lassie!
I have never lost my affinity for things Irish. I’ve always been charmed by its people’s history and gorgeous countryside. I am especially attracted to an ancient culture that embraces Faeries and naughty Leprechauns, magic and folk tales that Chaucer would love. The castles that dot this beautiful land add greatly to its mystical and haunting allure. How could I not love the magic of the Blarney Stone as a writer?
2. Did you enjoy the skillful world building in ,’Blood of the Dragon’, and what tips do you have for emerging authors attempting to build their own worlds?
I think I spend a good bit of my life rummaging about inside my head. When I conceived the third book of my series, “Blood of the Dragon”, I wanted my protagonist, Cathleen O’Brien to find herself in an exotic, unfamiliar place. Her home in the rugged mountain forests of Appalachia were too much like a fortress to my idea of vulnerability. Hence, the historic setting replete with a foreign or transplanted culture; China Town, San Francisco.I didn’t think the present day sprawl of China Town would create the shadowy, alien ambience I needed. I have visited those streets many times and the only scare I ever experienced was the smoke coming off my charge cards.
Cathleen was put deep into the China Town of old, the historic town that teemed with immigrants, bulged at the seams with gambling parlors, brothels, opium dens and the usual assortment of gangs, pimps, pick-pockets and corrupt politicians. This China Town was buried in 1906 along with unknown, unnamed thousands of people. For Cathleen, I reinvented that world for her and for my reader.
I would recommend any emerging author rely on solid research to support your underpinnings of your world-vision. Then, stretch out the facts like silly putty until they take on the look and feel of your created environment.
3. At what point in your writing career did you ‘feel’ like an author?
Feeling like an author, is a concept I still struggle with as I read some of my favorite writer’s work. I have always been in awe of the perfect choice of a word or phrase. I am currently writing two books in different genres so I guess I’m either an author, or avoiding housework.
4. Attention to detail and your inclusion of many mysterious cultural elements in ‘Blood of the Dragon’ engage the reader from the get go—how much research went into your most recent release?
While I don’t totally ascribe to the old adage of writing about what you know, there is definitely some value in the level of comfort it affords the writer. For me, I am an old and frequent visitor to the City by the Bay, finding San Francisco full of diversity and color. I have drawn upon personal experience to recapture some of the ambience of the crowded, smelly, noisy streets of China Town and instilled those impressions into my story’s many flavors. By necessity, I did some significant research into the history of the first Chinese dynasty as well as the folklore surrounding Chinese vampires. All research helps with color and helps glue together plot description.
5. Just as your own books are inspirational to other authors, what authors have inspired your own writing?
Being an eclectic reader opens my imagination like that famous box of candy where you never know what you are going to get! I love Poe and still cringe. I read anything by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child; together or separately for they are both masters of suspense. Robert Parker, Cormac McCarty, Wilbur Smith, Amy Tan; each has focused on the human condition more brightly than I could see alone. I believe my love of Sci-fi and fantasy fueled my efforts to move in that direction, but Ann Rice helped “put some teeth” into my work, so to speak! I will always love the Harry Potter series and admire J.K. Rowlings’ well-crafted world-building.
6. When did you first begin telling stories? Who encouraged and supported you on your journey to becoming an author?
One of my earliest memories of storytelling is of my dad giving my twin brother and me a bath. He was telling us one of his remarkable stories of the adventures of his invented hero. This was a tiny Italian boy who was constantly in need of rescuing by his best friend, a giant black bird. I guess at three years of age, my father planted the seeds of storytelling while cleaning behind my hungry ears! As I grew and bath time became a solo gig, my parents both encouraged me to write. Over the years as I expanded from poetry into articles and essays, their support gave me the courage to peel back my imagination a little more to see what little treasures I could unearth. Naturally, family and friends encourage my work, but it’s still the new Quarto fan that keeps me dedicated to the dream.
7. Tell us about your writing process? Any quirks? How often do you write?
I always, always, keep a dictionary on my desk, a notebook on my left, and pens everywhere to hand, before I begin anything. Discipline of form begins and ends there. I seldom work directly from an outline; preferring instead to commit my characters to the notepad as they make their appearance in my story. I also note their characteristics e.g. hair, eyes, mouth. Important plot shifts are marked down along with page and chapter references to guide me later. This is a rogue approach to writing, but it works for my brand of thought process. It has its pitfalls if I’m not alert though. Plot twists can trip me up when I’m not paying close enough attention to the flow of action. Guess my approach is quirky come to think about it! I write every day; starting at 6:00 a.m. until around 7:30 and then off and on as I can make the time. My personal elixir? Coffee! I enjoy the solitude of what I call my “Willow Room” where my PC sits humming and ready for a new adventure.
8. Is there a certain type of scene that you find more difficult to write? How would you describe boyfriend Jason and Cathleen’s relationship?
I am comfortable with any scene if it conveys my character’s situation and frame of mind for the reader. To me, every word needs to be a mirror reflecting the many faces and passions of being human. I just finished the first draft of a rape scene in a Paranormal Romance Thriller I’m writing. It felt right to use the words to describe the horror of the experience, especially since I knew this would not be an act of violence that would go unpunished.
Cathleen and Jason have moved from deeply attracted, to feeling sexy around one another. I needed to let them grow into that comfortable and romantic state and was reminded by my editor, it was normal for heaven’s sake! They respect and admire one another as strong individuals. Cathleen has said that Jason “gets her”. Jason understands Cathleen is a witch on a mission. He’s ready to let her give an order and man enough to follow it. Strong woman, strong man; perfect partners.
9. Plotter or pantser?
Finding the plot of a story is like kicking up a clod of dirt, and unearthing a diamond. You know you have something really good in your sights, but it needs refinement, cleaning, weighing and measuring, before it amounts to more than a dirty stone. I like to begin with a title that buzzes me like a mosquito. I think about what that triggers in me when I say it to myself. If it comes back like an echo loaded with ideas reverberating around my head, I’ll let it take hold. Guess I drive my books by the seat of my pants; fast, furious, fun and frantic! The last one’s for my editor!
10. What is your best piece of advice for aspiring writers?
No one who ever says, “I want to become a writer” should ever begin the process without first reading everything from the classics to the Bible. Seriously. I have personally gone through cycles of reading nothing but Science Fiction, moving on to Romance (a definite correlation there) then on to Paranormal Thrillers, Mysteries, Historic Fiction and so on. I like to read two books at the same time now, mixing genres for the sake of variety and time. So many books, so little time!
Besides reading voraciously, an aspiring writer needs to be patient with her muse and when it comes to the final draft of a work, do one more and be ruthless! Not every word is sacred, only those that bind and tell the story. And for the love of the gods, learn from your editor!
11. What projects are you currently working on? Can we have a teaser quote from one of your current works in progress?
I am continuing my “Witch of Appalachia” series with book four, “Bringing Forth the Dead”. I mentioned I am also working on a Paranormal Romance Thriller to keep my muse busy and out of mischief!
From “Bringing Forth the Dead”, Book IV
Cathleen and Jason talked in lowered tones even though no one was about. The fireplace crackled in the background, fragrant smells rising off the burning pine cones Flannery had added earlier.
They moved onto the oriental hearth rug, sitting close together watching the flames. Jason shifted onto his back, laying his head in Cathleen’s lap. She leaned down and they were kissing deeply, his hand gently, but firmly keeping her head in place.
They were too engrossed in their passionate interlude to notice a dark face beginning to take shape, leering out at them from the swaying flames.
Jason had bent her back until they were both lying down on the carpet. Cathleen laid her head on Jason’s chest, her arm wrapped around him, a leg flung over his. The only sounds, their whispered words and the snapping and crackling of the logs as they burned.
Cathleen had begun to drift off and Jason was already breathing heavily. She moved her foot away from the hearth, feeling the heat had grown too intense. Somewhere in her floating mind, she realized this wasn’t a natural occurrence and she disengaged herself slowly from Jason’s arms to sit up.
The soothing scent of the pine cones and firewood was replaced with a heavier, sharper smell that hung in the air around them. She looked into the stone hearth a few feet away and its dancing fire for an answer.
The face of the Necromancer smiled back at her through the jagged tongues of fire.
hear about the entire series from the author
After learning of the disappearance of an ancient Chinese artifact, “Blood of the Red Dragon”, Cathleen O’Brien accepts her next investigative assignment from the mysterious Dr. Chung Wu.
She must secure the statue that holds the Perverted Blood Magic of the Artist, Feng Xi. If he controls the statue, his power over all natural life in the first realm, would be godlike and unstoppable.
To complicate her search, Cathleen discovers her family is pledged to render one service upon request, to the beautiful Vampire, Lady Bao. She covets the statue of the Red Dragon to enhance her own powers and to bring about the ultimate destruction of her Master, Feng Xi.
If Cathleen can’t discover the hiding place of the deadly statue, this realm will belong to a Vampire or a demented Wizard! Either way, she’ll first lose two people she loves and probably her own mortal existence.
Author reading--blood of the dragon
Keep up with Francesca on social media!
It is with regret that we bid a fond farewell to Francesca Quarto, and thank her for her company and her parting gift of her epic tale,’ Blood of the Red Dragon’. It is great Fortune we be wishing her as we heave ahead to explore the literary high seas in search of more tall tales to fill our sails and tickle our imaginations.
Here our ways divide, until next we meet me hearties!
Patricia Mattern, Mistress of Madness
Okay, we admit Dick's not the most politically correct agent alive, and he sometimes bumbles and reminds us of what happens when you cross a certain French Inspector with a British Legume to produce an American Dick, but you have to admit that he's as cute as a pink Rottweiler when he's on the scent of a good case! Who says you can't teach an ole dog new tricks?
Ahoy, Me Hearties! It's cloaks and daggers for this exciting interview with author Richard Avery! Our interview will be conducted under cover of darkness as we meet clandestinely to get the scoop on his newest release, 'Dick Scalps the Injuns', The Dick Avery Adventure Series, Book One.
As we lower the gangplank to welcome him we anticipate hearing about this amazing read from the veteran Spy himself!
HE KNEW HE WASN'T BEING GIVEN ALL THE FACTS...
HE KNEW HE'D BEEN CHOSEN BECAUSE THE MISSION WAS DANGEROUSLY IMPOSSIBLE AND NO ONE ELSE WANTED IT...
...BUT HE ALSO KNEW THAT HIS EMPTY WALLET LEFT HIM NO CHOICE.
...DICK AVERY IS ON THE CASE!
"It was the same old, same old routine since I returned to the states. I was bored out of my mind and welcomed the assignment for a change of pace and some sanity. I knew it was probably a no win situation for me, but I didn't care since I needed the money."
Ahoy, George! Welcome aboard The Whimsical Herald! I've got lots of questions for you today, so I'll dive right in!
When did you start writing?
I started writing rather late in life after more or less being retired with a lot of spare time on my hands. I’d toyed with the idea off-and-on for several years and finally decided to sit down and write a book. That start ended after I wrote five novels over a continuous, two year period. The story lines kept popping into my head until I couldn’t come up with any more. It was most definitely a manic phase in my life.
What methodologies do you use in writing your books?
I’m not sure what that means. I simply start out with a vague idea as to what the story will be about and go from there; sort of a stream of consciousness or perhaps unconsciousness way of doing things. One sentence leads to another until I’m finished. If I get stuck, I skip the part and move on. I don’t diagram things or sketch out the story line beforehand. Of course, I go back and try to perfect the writing, but for the most part it’s all about moving the plot along until conclusion.
What’s the raison d’être behind the books?
I wanted to write humorous spoofs and send-ups of the State Department, my organization, the Diplomatic Security Service, and U.S. foreign policy; all set to mystery/adventure stories. I didn’t want to vilify or glorify anything, but rather to poke some fun at our institutions and their foibles overseas. They are most certainly politically incorrect reads. There was already a plethora of conventional spy heroes, secret agents and the like out there and thought I‘d take a different tack. I believe my firsthand experiences and insights into the Foreign Service culture give the stories added depth and credence thus enhancing the reads. I also throw in some tongue-and-cheek comments about our war on terrorism, embassy life and customs, diplomatic protocol as well as some insider tidbits and teases.
Where do you draw your material from?
The Dick Avery Adventure Stories come from both my experiences working abroad and a vivid imagination, along with a very quirky sense of humor. They are loosely based on assignments and travels I had with the State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service, The World Bank, and as an international security consultant. I’ve lived overseas and traveled the world during my career and have come across many different situations that lend themselves to a good story.
Tell us about the protagonist in the series.
Dick Avery is a retired special agent of the Diplomatic Security Service who is down on his luck and life. He doesn’t have enough money to sustain his many vices and few virtues and is always looking for a handout from Mother State. Hopefully, it’s a bone with some meat left on it for a change. He’s considered an expendable commodity and convenient scapegoat by the big suits in the State Department. That’s why he’s recalled to take on the tough cases that no other right-minded agent would readily accept since the assignments are fraught with danger to one’s Foreign Service career. Dick typically solves the cases in his own unorthodox, bumbling style of investigation, with the help of his colorful colleagues.
So, what’s Dick Scalps the Injuns about?
Dick is sent to India by his masters to investigate the kidnapping of the U.S. ambassador’s daughter in New Delhi. He subsequently learns that Afghan President Karzai’s daughter had been kidnapped at the same time and this has the State Department and White House in an uproar. Karzai’s daughter had been living at the ambassador’s residence under an assumed name and attending the International School of Delhi. His search for the girls leads him from Delhi to the crematoria Ghats in Banaras to the Taj Mahal and back to Delhi in his pursuit of his adversary, his foe and his nemesis: Kris Amar, the head Dalit at the largest crematorium in Banaras.
Why the pseudonym Dick Avery?
I originally used Avery Dick, but the publisher thought that it was a little too racy. I thought it was spot on to describe the character, but she won out. By the way, a nom de guerre is only used by Pentagon wonks with any leftover tail feathers relegated to the State Department as nom de plumes. So, Dick Avery it is.
Are you working on other projects?
Yes, I’ve written an anthology of paranormal stories titled Macabre Memories (Eclectic Tales to Chill the Soul) that I’m trying to flog at the moment.
Did you have a particular audience in mind when writing this novel?
No, I didn't, but the publisher thought the protagonist should be a younger, good looking guy who would better appeal to women. So, that's what happened in the editing in order to create broader acceptance by the readership.
Humor has a predominant place in ‘Dick Scalps the Injuns’ in the form of wisecracking, pun intended and other word play. Did you find in reality that the serious business of acting as a Special Agent has a lighter side?
Yes, most definitely. Despite the serious nature of the job and sometimes tragic events overseas, there were quirky, humorous events that happened from time-to-time. Early one Sunday morning, in the mid 1980's, when assigned to the embassy in Panama, I was awakened by a helicopter gunship hovering outside my bedroom window of my apartment on the 13th floor of my building. This was during the rule of General Manuel Noriega and the Panamanian people were expressing their displeasure with him and his regime. The area I lived in was largely populated by wealthy Panamanians who were protesting his continued leadership. By the way, gallows humor is very popular in the Foreign Service.
I received a frantic call one day from the pouch supervisor while assigned to our embassy in Bangkok. It seem an intruder had entered the pouch vault at the rear of the chancery without notice. An 8 foot long water snake had slithered underneath the back door and moved about 6 feet down a hallway and slid beneath the day gate to the vault, nestling itself among the diplomatic pouches. The snake likely came from the klong (canal) at the rear of the building. It was a funny event to everyone except the supervisor.
Coming from a unique insider background of 49 years as a Special Agent and Security Specialist are you ever concerned that you might reveal too much concerning the inner workings of government agencies?
No, of course not. My books have been vetted and read by my former superiors and colleagues.and were for sale at the Diplomatic Security Service store in a State Department annex.for several years when I self-pubbed them. When I refer to insider information and teases, I'm talking about embassy life as it relates to such things as how employee housing assignments are made and how some try to scam the system and how currency accommodations are handled and could be abused and many other tidbits. However, they are all made up from transparent, whole cloth---some fact, but a lot of my imagination.
As a world traveler, what cultures appealed to you the most? Would you consider retiring in any of them?
I lived in Thailand for 2 years and would consider retiring to Chiang Mai in the North of the country. Great people, medical facilities, food and a very low cost of living.
Can we expect more books from your series?
Yes, most assuredly. There are four more titles to be released by the publisher over time: Dick Slays the Dragons, Dick Fades the Albino, Dick Cases the Bank and Dick Hounds the Afghans.
Just one more question, for fun. What’s your favorite color?
That’s easy, pink of course. It’s the color of the mascot of the Dick Avery Adventure Stories: the Pink Rottweiler.
In Dick Scalps the Injuns, Richard Avery is sent to India to investigate the kidnapping of the U.S. ambassador's daughter in New Delhi. He discovers that the White House and State Department are in an uproar over the subsequent kidnapping of Afghan President Karzai's eldest daughter who had been living on the ambassador's residential compound under an assumed name and attending the International School of Delhi. His search for the girls leads him from Delhi to the crematoria ghats in Banaras and the Taj Mahal.
George Larson, AKA Dick Avery, both of whom are well thought of, puns and all, here at TT, have kept us on our toes keeping up with the fast pace with which a former spy guy is used to working/moving once he is given a directive.
George received a BA degree in English from Northern Illinois University. He then had a 49 year career in investigations, law enforcement and security in the US and abroad (private investigator, DOD security specialist, senior special agent Diplomatic Security Service US State Department, World Bank security consultant, Vice President Corporate Security for NASD, Security Director for Salliemae, independent security consultant). It's fairly easy to see from here, where Richard Avery comes into the picture.
Me? My nom de guerre is Richard Avery, though I'm old enough that my nickname as a kid was and still is Dick, so I've given it to the "character" Dick Avery, and I am a retired special agent of the U.S. State Department's Diplomatic Security Service or simply DSS, if you prefer. I'll leave out the plenipotentiary and extraordinary accolades that go along with the title because there aren't any. I was just one more bureaucrat among many who served their career sentences in the sideshow called the Foreign Service. What's the old quip? "Those who can, do. Those who can't, teach. Those who can't teach join the federal government." Yep, that's me alright and I’m damn proud of it!
You may connect with me further, if you can keep up, on my website and other social media sites! http://www.dickavery.net/index.html
It is with deep regret and many still unanswered questions that we bid farewell to our honored guest Richard Avery as he departs THE WHIMSICAL HERALD. We are excited to discover more of his intriguing tale within the pages of his latest novel 'Dick Scalps the Injuns'. One click it today to immerse yourselves in a tale well told.!
All my duty to you,fair winds and following seas till we meet again!
Patricia Mattern, Mistress of Madness
THE WHIMSICAL HERALD
Today coming up the gangplank as the Captain’s honored guest is author Victoria Craven. She will be telling us about her splendid tale and brand new release, ”Destiny’s Promise’.
But first, a teaser to tantalize ye swabbies as we hoist the Jolly Roger and sail off to Medieval Times with author Victoria Craven!
LOVE, MURDER, AND SECOND CHANCES
“A touch whispered across her face. Her dream bathed her with desire as fingertips traced the ridges of her bottom lip. The scent of masculinity floated into her senses. Carina floated to the surface of her sweet dream……..and when she opened her eyes she found herself staring into eyes the color of a frozen blue lake.”
“His untamed raven hair framed the face of an archangel. His jaw was squared with a cleft in his chin. He was the most beautiful man she had ever seen. She wanted to raise her hand and caress his cheek. Then reality shot through her like a hunter’s arrow.”
AND the evil HERS:
“The old flesh had been burned away to reveal the woman she had once been. Gone were the aches that had riddled her body. Hesitantly she peered at her reflection in the pool of water, and staring back at her were the eyes of her youth. She could feel the powers of old renewed and surging through her body…
Insidious euphoria engulfed her.”
1. Victoria, what is it about the medieval period that captivates readers so? Why were you drawn to it for Destiny’s Promise, Book Three in your ‘LOVE CONQUERS ALL’ series?
I believe people are drawn to the romance of medieval times. It was a time of chivalry and honor. Readers love a hero that has a strong moral compass.
I was drawn to writing medieval paranormal romance because of the creative freedom. Even though I had to stay inside the parameters of historical accuracy, I was able to create a world of fantasy and empowerment for both the hero and the heroine
2. Your beautifully descriptive scenes draw the reader in. Did this talent evolve with practice or does this way of writing come naturally to you?
It was both. I always loved painting the picture of a scene, but over time I learned how to go beyond the visual, I learned how to add the other senses, as well, such as taste, touch, and smell.
3. Who were your greatest supporters and influences in your journey as an author?
My husband is my biggest supporter. He will sit by my side while editing a book and ask me tough questions that make me dig deeper into my characters or into the plot. He is a great influence.
4. Can you tell us something that readers might be surprised to find out about you?
I love to sing. I won a gold medal in highschool for singing. Since I don’t sing now, people are often surprised when I show them the medal.
5. Do you do research for your novels? What is the most unusual thing you’ve googled in your research?
I think any author has to do some kind of research. A good deal of my scenes comes from research. The weirdest thing I looked up is medieval hairstyles. Men were very vain back then. Women’s hair was hidden under a scarf or whimple, and they were very elaborate. I don’t use any of those, because they detract from the character I want the reader to envision.
6. What is one of your favorite genres to read?
Fantasy. I can’t get enough.
7. One word response please:
Chocolate or Vanilla? Both
Day or Night writer? Day
Introvert or extrovert? Extrovert
Plotter or Pantser? Both
8. Which three living actors would you choose to play the three main characters, Aris, Carina and Disa, in the film adaptation of your novel ‘Destiny’s Promise’?
Angelia Jolie, for Disa. Carina, would be Mila Kunis, (Bad Moms), and Aris would be, Chris Pine, (Star Trek).
9. Do you tend to write standalones or series?
Each book in My Love Conquers All, series can be read as standalones. You don’t need to read all three to understand them.
10. What other projects do you have planned that your readers would be excited to hear about?
I have a story about Liam. He is one of the characters in the first book who has true hero qualities. One of my friends said she wanted to read about his story.
Disa is in love with Arys, but he’s in love with Carina. Out of heartache and rage she murders them on their wedding night and vows they will never find happiness together. Now the two souls are about to reunite. Disa makes a pact with the Red Demon to destroy Carina’s soul so she can never be with Arys again. On his deathbed, the sorcerer who raised Carina tells her she’s in grave danger and only the Black Knight can protect her. But she has no idea who the Black Knight is or where to find him, and she’s being evicted so has bigger problems.
Randolf, known as The Black Knight, is a powerful warrior and possesses strong magic, but he is plagued by dreams of a woman pleading with him to find her. After yet another dream, restless and frustrated, he goes to a local inn where he encounters Carina. She’s familiar but he doesn’t know why. Not then. Will their souls reunite before Disa carries out her diabolical plans?
Victoria Craven discovered her love for story-telling in her sophomore year of high school. Those teenage adventures always had a romantic happy ending, and they still do today, whether she’s writing thrilling contemporary suspense or paranormal historical romance.
Having lived most of her life in Western Michigan, Victoria relocated to the suburbs of Chicago where she lives with her husband, who is the love of her life. She has three beautiful daughters, and two toddler grandsons who keep her busy.
Supported by her friends and family, she left a career as a media account executive to pursue a career doing what she’s passionate about, writing happy endings that she can share with others.
When Victoria isn’t writing or revising, she is playing with her grandsons or curled up with a good book and a vat of hot chocolate.
The Whimsical Herald would like to thank Author Victoria Craven for a rousing time. Her tale of jealousy, betrayal and love that endures beyond both space and time is a must read for lovers of paranormal romance.
As we watch the fair lady walk down the gangplank to return to port, we search the horizon with our spyglass and hoist anchor to sail off on the literary seas in search of our next beguiling read!
We bid you farewell, fair winds and fair weather. Tis Spring, after all.
P.Mattern, Mistress of Madness
Avast ye me hearties and blow me down!
Today we welcome Western Contemporary Romance Author Loralee Lillibridge on the deck of our fair ship to thrill us with a tale of Western Romance spun in Texas.
All hands on deck to welcome her aboard. But first a teaser...
BUSINESS BEFORE PLEASURE?
"Whit sped down the road toward Peabody, cursing himself six ways to Sunday.The electricity generated between them was enough to light up all of South Texas...
But then, that would have put a crimp in his plans to obtain the lease, and he didn't want to screw that up."
"Gracie watched, her whole body tingling, still wanting,until Whit disappeared from view.What would have happened if she'd followed her urge to kiss him senseless?"
Romance author, Loralee Lillibridge, is a long-time fan of romance novels and a strong believer in the power of love.
Loralee grew up in Texas loving cowboys and rodeos, but relocated in Michigan after her marriage to a handsome Yankee who stole her heart.
She still favors country love songs, and seeing a field of Texas bluebonnets can make her cry, but she admits the West Michigan lakeshore has a beauty all its own.
Even as a child, Loralee’s love of books, combined with a vivid imagination, fueled a desire to create her own stories with characters readers could care about. Her first attempt was a neighborhood play about a pirate who rescued a princess. (Original, yes?) Needless to say, the audience only consisted of her parents and the boy next door who reluctantly played the role of the pirate.
Now she enjoys writing emotionally fulfilling stories centered on the relationship of a man and a woman and their often rocky road to love. Heart-warming stories of ordinary people and extra-ordinary love.
Thank you so much for inviting me to THE WHIMSICAL HERALD BLOG. I look forward to telling you a bit about my latest release, COWBOYS, CASTLES AND CRADLES.
Welcome aboard, Loralee!
1. Your novel Cowboys,Castles and Cradles begins with an explosion of action, stormy weather and circumstances. Was it intentional that your novel begins with a bang?
The beginning action was definitely intentional. I wanted Whit and Gracie to meet at the start of the story in order to give them more time to develop a relationship. After all, they certainly don’t have anything in common. Or do they?
2.What inspires you to write Western contemporary romance?
I’ve always loved reading about ranch life in the Hill Country. Texas history fascinates me and cowboy movies a la Roy Rogers and Lone Ranger were a Saturday afternoon must as I was growing up. John Wayne, Tom Selleck and Sam Elliott movies came along later.
3.Whit Carter Lovett the Third and Gracie Castle seem to have an instant connection. Are you a believer in love at first sight?
I believe a mutual attraction can be instantly filled with fireworks, but true love takes time to grow. Of course, there are always exceptions, especially in romance novels.
4.Take us through your typical day as an author.Do you write on a schedule?
Schedule? I’m still trying to find one. Right now I’m in the process of moving to a new home, so my time to write is usually in the evening after a day of sorting and packing. But I believe having a schedule is necessary in order to get the pages written each day. I’m motivated by my terrific critique partners who have been my inspirations for over twelve years.
5.Are you a plotter who makes outlines or a fly by the seat of your pants author?
I’m more of a pantser who wishes she was a better plotter! Actually, I’m somewhat of a daydreamer, also. But I count that as “story development”, wouldn’t you?
6.Are there authors who have inspired you to write? Who are your favorites?
Back in the day, (long, long ago), my high school English and Literature instructor banked the fire for reading that my parents started. My preacher father was also an artist and poet. As for authors who inspired me, there are too many to name. There are some in every genre. I can’t choose!!!
7. What was the first novel you published, and what advice would you give hopeful emerging authors?
My first novel was Accidental Hero published by Harlequin Special Edition in 2005 and still available in digital. Advice? Keep writing and never stop learning.
8.What current projects do you have in the works for your readers to look forward to?
I hope to write another Texas contemporary romance or two and another cozy mystery. Right now I’m taking a break until I get settled in new home.
9. There is a lot of humor in Cowboys, Castles and Cradles--what is one of your favorite scenes in your newest novel?
My favorite humorous scene? Probably the one in the pasture with the bull. Or any with the two old codgers. They’re my favorite secondary characters. I’d love to hear which one readers choose.
10. Are there other genres that you are tempted to write in?
I’d love to write an historical Western. I love reading them. I’d set it in Texas. Anyone surprised?
Well me hearties, we shall in parting splice the main brace and give three cheers for Loralee Lillibridge and her new release,'Cowboys.Castles, and Cradles! Be sure to grab a copy of this fine Western Contemporary Romance today! We thank Loralee Lillibridge for coming aboard and regaling us with her tale of complicated love mystery and family in Southern Texas.
Once again it's time to 'weigh anchor and hoist the mizzen ' as we sail off to scope out more treasure on the literary high seas!
Yo ho ho from your Mistress of Madness,
ALL HAND HOY ME HEARTIES!
Aaaaaargggghhhhh! We are weary of grey skies, but with the advent of February we are steering a course for Valentine’s Day and ,beyond that, the Spring Equinox beckons like a Siren.
Walking the gang plank today to board The Whimsical Herald is an author with an imagination as vast as the ocean and a wit to match. We welcome Author Ellen Fritz on board. She comes bearing a pirate’s chest of literary treasure and has invited all of you to share the spoils of her newest release, ’UPRISING:The Second Birth Chronicles’ .
As she takes her seat at the Captain’s table we hoist theJolly Rodger and invite you to listen in on our first author interview with the notable Ellen Fritz! Prepare for chills, mystery, romance and (wait for it, wait for it) . . . ALIENS!
“He shivered. He knew the horrors humans were capable of. Whatmight aliens do?”
"The hairs on the back of Ted’s neck stood straight up as if lightning were about to strike. He blinked his eyes a few times and pinchedhimself. Erik Ander was the first to change, then his wife…finally Collins turned into something tall, thin, with lavender skin and long pastel-colored robes. The one facing the window had eyes of deep, deep blue with spots oflight twinkling in them.”'
Ellen Fritz is a retired teacher and high school counselor. Over the years of teaching reading and English to students in grades seven through twelve before be-coming a counselor, she had the great opportunity to discuss numerous favorite books with students and also took their recom-mendations for her own reading.
She finally found herself with the time to give life to the stories that have always been patiently waiting in her head for an audience. Ellen wrote Mira to appeal to those teen readers that she found so inspiring through her career as an educator.
"I didn’t start writing seriously until I retired and found myself with the time to spend a whole day in front of the computer. The ideas had been in my head for many years, but were undeveloped and unexplored. One day, several months after my teaching/ counseling career ended, I sat down and started.
Q-Ellen there is intrigue and drama, but also a lot of humor in uprising. How did you come up with the character of Detective Ted Peterson with his tongue in cheek sense of humor?
I knew I needed someone who was dedicated to his job, friendly and brave. He had to be willing to face the aliens to save the women who were abducted. It all came from there. Using humor to cover his nervousness and fear also worked to make him seem real.
Q-Do you take a break between novels or have several projects going at once?
I can’t take a break between novels because my mind doesn’t stop working on new ideas. I had a new novel started while editing Uprising and was finishing another series. It would be easier to do one at a time, but I’d have to stop thinking of new things and that would be boring.
Q-Who inspired you to complete your first novel? Who continues to inspire your fresh ideas for characters and plotlines?
I’m a retired high school English teacher and my inspiration to start writing at all came from students. But inspiration comes from everywhere. Often, the storyline seems to just pop into my head and it’s later that I realize where it came from. I’ve known a lot of people through the years and my inspiration for characters is usually a mix of many different people.
Q-Ted’s first alien kiss was a doozy. How did you approach writing that scene?
I knew I wanted it to be a doozy, so I thought long and hard. Ted and Sindri both needed to be wowed, so I wanted her to be in her Miran form. That would wow Ted, but how would it impress Sindri? Her story of no human ever knowing what she truly was after being on earth for thousands of years, became my answer. The fact that he knew and she could be herself touched her deeply.
Q-If you had to come up with a few dating rules for humans dating aliens what would they be?
I think they’re the same rules for any relationship. Stay honest. Stay open. Remember you don’t have to rush the relationship.
Q-You seem to have a lot of knowledge about police procedures, detectives and crime scenes. What is your background and how did it figure in with your portrayal of certain scenes and characters in ‘UPRISING’?
I have absolutely no background in police work except that many of my previous students are now police officers, detectives, and state patrol officers. I think my knowledge comes from all the detective shows I’ve watched on TV. See, you really can learn from TV. Thank you, Law and Order.
Q-A certain ‘genetic eye opener’ in ‘UPRISING’ provided a unique plot twist. Did you plan that or did it happen spontaneously during your writing?
I planned that. There had to be some reason Ted could sense the other race of aliens, the Dabih. I realized then that it also gave Sindri a reason to doubt him, which added an interesting twist.
Q-Was the world building and stage setting detail of the opposing alien cultures, the Mirans and the Dabih featured in your novel a challenge to flesh out?
It wasn’t much of a challenge. Sometimes, thankfully, one idea leads to another. I established the Miran settlement in the first book, and wanted the Dabih world to be completely different. Putting them underwater while the Mirans are in the mountains helped. I went back and forth a few times, and changed some things, but it was actually easier than I anticipated. There’s also much more about the Dabih in the next book. Watch for it!
Q-Who have your mentors been on your journey to becoming a notable YA author?
I have always been a voracious reader which is one of the reasons I became an English teacher. I’ve read literary classics, science fiction, fantasy, romances, mysteries, great literature and trash. So my mentors are all those other authors that I’ve so thoroughly enjoyed. My advice? If you want to be a writer, be a reader first.
Q-Who was your favorite character in ‘UPRISING’?
Answer: Without a doubt, Ted. I enjoyed every part of making him who he is – the good guy that everyone likes and appreciates as a friend. The guy who was born to be a cop because he genuinely wants to help people that need help. Who wouldn’t like Ted?
Q-What future projects do you have in the wings for your readers to look forward to?
The third book of the Second Birth Chronicles, which is ready for editing and all the other stuff the publisher needs to do. I also have a book with Tell-Tale Publishing that is about Bigfoot. No more hints now, but it is due to be out by May. There are two more that are partly written, but the dystopia is what is rolling around in my head and begging to be finished.
Detective Ted Peterson’s investigation of a suspicious death case leads him to suspect Lexi Collins and her boyfriend Adam. What he discovers is that they’re extraterrestrials. Now he's without backup and caught up in the conflict between two alien races secretly inhabiting the earth. One race, the Dabih, is abducting women and running experiments. The other, the Mira, seem friendly toward humans – especially their attractive leader Sindri - but can Ted trust aliens to help him find the Dabih and rescue the kidnapped women before it’s too late?
Also by Ellen Fritz
Mistress of Madness
Well, do you have any idea why a raven is like a writing desk?
Lewis Carroll, in 1897, proposed this answer, "Because it can produce a few notes, though they are very flat; and it is 'never' put with the wrong end in front!" (raven, spelled backward, is nevar aka never...or as we like to say here at TT...never more!)