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!
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
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!)