Well blow me down! Avast ye maties!
Welcome aboard The Whimsical Herald! You are all invited to join me at the Captain’s table and our most distinguished and renowned author guest Francesca Quarto to share a cup of grog as we pick her brain about her latest popular release, Love’s Prey!
Fair Warning! It’s not a tale for the faint hearted! There is plenty of action, intrigue and steamy romance packed into Francesca Quarto’s new release!
HER EXOTIC BEAUTY IS A LURE TO EVERY MALE THAT CROSSES HER PATH, BUT WHEN THE ONE MAN SHE TRUSTS THE MOST BETRAYS HER, SHE MUST RUN FOR HER LIFE, MARKED AS A MURDERER.
“I need to show you how I feel. I have to let it out, or it will consume me as it has day after day since I first saw you!”
He sounded desperate and afraid. But there was something else, something sinister in the way his hands were moving. She shifted her direction, but now the backs of her legs bumped against a low desk. Tricia looked down in desperation and saw a pair of long scissors, instinctively slipping them into her hand. She held the newfound weapon behind her back. “You-you’re scaring me. You need to stay away from me, Reverend Reed. Whatever you are feeling toward me, isn’t right. It’s not something I ever wanted.” He took a step forward and she tried to reason with him, to make him realize what he was doing by saying, “Please, your wife is a good person and you don’t want to hurt her.”
His face contorted in anger and was covered in a sheen of perspiration. The bright overhead fluorescents highlighted dark smudges under his eyes, making him look more like a demon than a man of God. He edged closer. “It isn’t her I need to hurt, it’s you! I need to end your control over me, you little whore.”
Tricia Cooley’s dream is to escape her life in the Black Hills forever and follow her love of art into the Chicago galleries, but her exotic beauty draws the attention of any man seeing her on or off the Sioux Reservation. Her fantasy becomes a nightmare when the one man she trusts turns her into a killer and escaping means running for her very life.
While Tricia tears blindly through the night, the scent of death fills the air with sweet allure to a rogue band of shapeshifters. Her clan’s powerful shaman, Shadow Stalker, knows these Hunters are in pursuit, and that their leader, Dream Slayer, finds Tricia as irresistible as his lust for power.
Jackson Wolf, a Keeper of The People, is sent to protect her from the beasts that shadow her. His growing feelings challenge his discipline, just as they are forced to battle a pack of wild shifters.
Tricia must unleash the warrior within herself if she is to survive the diabolical scheme to kidnap and turn her into a sex slave for a demonic shaman.
1. Did the exquisitely detailed world building in ‘Love’s Prey’ evolve on its own or did it require a lot of research to create?
The setting for "Love's Prey" was one I was already familiar with from my travels throughout those areas. Though this does not include visiting the Black Hills (yet) I have been fortunate to have visited several American Indian Reservations throughout the Southwest region. I did research on the Sioux and that particular Reservation setting in the Dakotas and also used information on their tribal folk lore.
2. What/who inspired you to write your very first book?
My first book, "Wolf Master of Iron Mountain" is book 1 in my "Witch of Appalachia" series. It came about after I had already written poetry, essays, article and various newsletters over the years, some of which I actually saw published! I am an avid consummer of every kind of book, in every kind of genre, but my imagination sought a different outlet for discovery!
3. How would you describe Sioux native Tricia Cooley’s personality? Was her character inspired by anyone you’ve known?
Though Tricia Cooley is not based on any one woman I know or have known, her personal story is sadly indicative to many young women seeking to better themselves in historically, male-dominated cultures. This would be true in modern day Middle Eastern countries, African nations, what are refered to as "Third World" countries and here, in our own country where the 'glass ceiing" has only a few cracks!
For my character, Tricia Cooley, though young, her intellect inspires her dreams of bettering her life and her stregth of character help direct her actions. Her suffering actually ends up strengthening her resolve to live free of all control, physical or sexual.
4.There is a lot of danger as well as intrigue in “Love’s Prey’. Aside from Tricia which characters are your favorites?
I enjoyed hearing the voice of Thomas One Tree, the wise Keeper dressed in the guise of an old Indian they meet along the road. I also found the clan's Shaman, and Jackson's grandfather, a strong, non-judgemental advocate for Tricia. Naturally, making my hero a hunk was rather fun, but then, he was a great fantasy wasn't he?
5. What makes you laugh and cry?
I enjoy reading books with lots of edgy humor, like any mystery by the late, great Robert Parker.
I cry at movies all the time, especially if I've paid twelve bucks and the movie stinks like boiled cabbage! I do cry at sad movies as I tend to get totally wrapped up in whatever my head's into at the time.
6 .Can you tell us about some of your most popular works? Which ones would you recommend to a reader that is new to your novels?
My series the "Witch of Appalacia" would appeal to anyone in the family who enjoyed the magic themes in Harry Potter and Twilight I think. My stories are all independent mysteries and the reader can start anywhere in the series and not miss out on the story line. If readers enjoy mysteries and magic, I've got you covered!
7. The American Indian culture is a big part of ‘Love’s Prey’. What drew you to this theme?
After an extensive trip I took throughout the South-West, I became aware of the social and econimic challenges facing the American Indians. I witnessed what I called "grinding poverty" on many of the Reservations, even through my lens of a visitor, skirting the large, geographic areas. I wanted to see something more hopeful and Tricia would provide that.
8. What actress in your mind could do justice to the role of Tricia Cooley?
If I could choose, it would have to be a American Indian Actress and I can't name one..can you?
9. If you had to select one scene in this book to read aloud to an audience, which scene would it be ?
Though the sexual abuse Tricia suffers at the hands of the Hunters is germane to the developement the story, I would read the chapter where Jackson Wolf has to fight the three Hunters at the diner near the bus station. This sets up his sworn duty as a Protector, to keep Tricia from falling into the hands of the Hunter's Shaman, Dream Stalker, who lusts for her, body and soul.
Chocolate or Vanilla?
Always CHOCOLATE! Everything else is just something cold sitting in the dish!
Rock or Jazz or Classical?
All of them! On a quiet island, Yo Yo Mah!
Tea or coffee?
Coffee, dark roast with cream please!
Any that finds me alive and writing!
My favorite actor to play Tricia Cooley? I would love to see both the male and female protagonists played by American Indian actors to be authentic in characterization. (I'll have to research who would fill that bill and get back with you.)
Cats or Dogs?
Love both, but DOGS rock!
10. Please tell us about the future projects you have planned and what you are working on right now!
As we speak, I am working on Book 5 of the "Witch of Appalachia" series. I'll have the first draft finished by week's end and then let it percolate for a few days, before I begin the task my editor most loves...re-writes! I will let this consume me and my time until satisfied and then start thinking about, "Celtic Fires" Book 6 in the same series.
I really want to begin a new Paranormal Romance, but will use mystery along with romance which is mysterious enough if you ask me! I am thinking of a setting in the deep south as I keenly remember a trip to Mississippi, where the cemeteries were far more inviting than the cities.
Well me hearties, the time has come to bid a fond farewell to our fascinating Author Francesca Quarto. We have enjoyed visiting with her and look forward to new literary booty from her fertile creative mind!
Keep a weather eye open-Old Man Winter still has his icy fingers in us yet. Stay warm and dry until next we haul into port to bring you more literary treasure from the briny deep.
Your servant as always.
Mistress of Madness, The Whimsical Herald
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
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!)