Interview with Steve Hagood, Author of CHASING THE WOODSTOCK BABY

woodstock-copy

Welcome, Steve. What is your book about?

Retired Detroit police detective Chase is approached by a nice old lady who asks him to find the baby she had, and lost, at Woodstock. The search takes Chase to a small town in Michigan that has a secret that it has been hiding for four decades. The man who runs the town will go to any lengths, including murder, to keep the secret.

What inspired you to write this particular story?

I have always been fascinated with Woodstock. When I heard the legend of the Woodstock baby I wondered what had happened to it. Why has nobody ever come forward to claim to be the baby, or the mother? My imagination took over from there.

Tell us a little about your main characters. Who was your favorite? Why?

Obviously, my protagonist Chase is my main and favorite character. A lot of Private Investigators in novels have a sidekick who acts as his foil – dark, mysterious, the guy who does the dirty work – Spenser and Hawk, Elvis Cole and Joe Pike. Chase is both of those guys rolled into one. He is the wise cracking, lovable guy who isn’t afraid to do the dirty work.

Sarge and Sally are Chase’s partners in the bar he owns. Sarge was Chase’s training officer when he joined the Detroit Police. He still acts as a mentor and a steadying influence. Sally is the brains of the operation. She acts as Chase’s de facto research department. She doubles as the female, creating sexual tension between the two.

Did you do any research for the book? If so, how did you do it? (searching Internet, magazines, other books, etc.)

Yes. I had to do quite a bit of research for this book. The internet is a wonderful tool for a writer. It can transport you to any place and any time you want. I was able to put myself at Woodstock through pictures and stories. Hopefully my writing puts the reader there with me.

What’s your writing schedule like? Do you strive for a certain amount of words each day?

I don’t really have a schedule. I have a day job and a family so it’s not always easy to find time to write. I write when I can. I live by the mantra “Writers write” to push myself to write something every day, even if it’s just a few paragraphs or sentences.

What are you working on right now?

I recently finished another Chase novel, titled Cold Dark Places. Hopefully we will see it soon from Indigo Sea Press. It’s a story about a college girl missing in Detroit, and the basketball player implicated in her disappearance.

What was the first story you remember writing?

I didn’t start writing until about thirty. The first story I wrote was a ghost story. I don’t know why. It’s the only ghost story I’ve ever written. It was about a group of friends on a fishing trip who were haunted by the ghost of a Civil War soldier. It wasn’t very good, but it was a lot of fun to write.

Where do you get the names for your characters?

Names are tough. One of the techniques I use is to open up the internet and use the first name that I see, if it fits the character that I need to name. I head up a scholarship given by my graduating class to the high school we graduated from. I offered my former classmates their name in a book in exchange for a donation to the scholarship. I had a couple people who wanted to see their name in a book, so it worked out for me, for them, and the scholarship.

What’s been the most surprising part of being a writer?

The most surprising aspect of writing, for me, is when the story builds upon itself. Sometimes I feel like a stenographer. I’m just the guy typing the words, the story is writing itself. In The Woodstock Baby there is a scene where Chase is questioning a suspect, the suspect denies any involvement and Chase says, “We have a witness!” I thought, “Wow, there’s a witness!” I didn’t know there was a witness until I typed it, and I’m the author! I couldn’t wait to see who the witness was because I sure didn’t know.

What writer influenced you the most?

I actually have two big influences. The late great Robert B. Parker made me fall in love with books. His Spenser stories are still my favorite. I’ve read them all multiple times. The fact that Chase is known by a single name is in homage to Parker and Spenser.

The other writer who influenced me is JA Konrath. I love his books, but it’s more than just his writing that influenced me. One thing the general public doesn’t know is that it is very difficult to get published – “you should publish that” a lot. If only it was that easy. Konrath called himself the king of rejection. He wrote nine full novels in two or three different genres before he got one published. He accumulated literally hundreds of rejections, but he never gave up. He eventually broke through and now has millions of books sold. He inspired me to never give up, to never stop chasing my dream.

What one word describes how you feel when you write?

Joy

If your book was made into a TV series or Movie, what actors would you like to see playing your characters?

Ironically, in Cold Dark Places I make mention to The Woodstock Baby and how some Hollywood people wanted to make a movie about the case. They promised to get Denzel Washington to play Chase, even though Chase is “white, younger than, and nowhere near as pretty” as Denzel.

In “real life” I see Chase as more of a Will Patton type. He has the ability to be caring and tough and make them both authentic.

There’s this other actor who I know named Tevis Marcum who I think would do an outstanding job as Chase. He’s from the Detroit area and has the look. Like Will Patton he has the ability to be caring and tough in the same character.

What is something you never leave home without (apart from keys, money and phone)?

My flash drive. My work goes everywhere with me. I do back it up to my computer however. It has gone through the wash a time or two. There is no terror like the terror of finding your flash drive in the bottom of the washing machine.

What is your favorite place, real or fictional? Why?

Saline, Michigan. It’s my hometown. I moved away for a while and when I returned I thought, “Ahh, I’m home.” When I needed a small town to set The Woodstock Baby in I chose Saline because “there’s no place like home.”

Where can people learn more about your books?

From Indigo Sea Press http://www.indigoseapress.com/Stiletto-Books–Crime-and-Mystery-Authors-A-H.php#Steve and www.stevehagood.com

Interview with Sherrie Hansen, Author of SWEET WILLIAM, a Wildflowers of Scotland Romance

Hi, Sherrie. I’m thrilled you have a new book published. What is your book, Sweet William, about?

On the outside, Sweet William is about castles, kilts, and cows. It’s about sweet vs. savory – in the kitchen, and in the bedroom. It’s about family, friends and bull semen. On the inside, Sweet William is about doing the right thing, even when your heart is screaming at you to do the complete opposite. It’s about the good ones dying and the ones who irritate you no end still hanging on and refusing to go away. It’s about the unthinkable, the impossible, having a life you love and being asked to give it all up and move to an alternate universe on the other side of the globe because there is no other option.

It all begins when Minnesota farm boy, William McKnight, and sassy Scot, Lyndsie Morris, are forced to work together in the kitchen of Rabbit Hill Lodge. William is a real sweetheart (sickeningly sweet according to Lyndsie). Lyndsie is a wee bit tart (although William is too nice to ever point out such a thing.) The atmosphere is as charged as an episode of Chopped. It remains to be seen whether someone will get cut, or if they’ll find a recipe that works. Things just start to get spicy when an angry bull butts his way into the picture, and Lyndsie has to decide if she loves William more than everyone and everything she holds dear.

What inspired you to write this particular story?

When William McKnight showed up at Michael and Isabelle’s wedding in Shy Violet, it was love at first sight (for me, not Lyndsie, who was totally irritated when he stole the limelight away from her dainty finger foods and crudités with his roasted grunter, buttery soft potato rolls and overly sweet Farm Boy Barbeque Sauce.) The two of them were so great together that I decided they had to be.

Sounds fun. Tell us a little more about your main characters. Who was your favorite? Why?

William is getting rave reviews from my readers. He’s being called my best hero ever. I’m still so enamored of Pastor Ian in Wild Rose, that I can’t quite see it, but that’s another story. I adored writing Lyndsie. She’s spunky and sassy and self-confident. She knows her own mind and isn’t afraid to stand up to anyone who challenges her. She loves her family and would do anything for them, even when she’s totally disgusted by their actions. She’s a very loyal friend – until she has to choose between her two best friends and a family member that all desperately need her – and they live on opposite sides of the globe. Lyndsie has such snark – and William’s sweet disposition is the perfect foil for her sass.

Did you do any research for Sweet William? If so, how did you do it?

Although I grew up on a farm, my dad never raised cattle, so I had to do a lot of research on various breeds of beef cattle and their traits and behaviors. I researched cattlemen’s association in Scotland and the U.S., the origins of the Aberdeen Angus breed, agricultural import and export regulations, and… bull semen. I accomplished my task by visiting Scotland, Devon and Cornwall, interviewing veterinarians, talking to my niece, Victoria, who raises beef cattle and shows them at the fair, and tracking things down on the internet.

What about your book besides the Scottish setting might pique the reader’s interest?

I’ve been told by several readers that when I started writing my Wildflowers of Scotland novels, they missed the local color, familiar places, and quirky Midwestern characters from my first five books, which are all set in Minnesota or Iowa. While I maintain that people are the same everywhere (check out the church ladies in Wild Rose if you doubt me), my local readers will be pleased to know that Sweet William is partially set on a farm in Southern Minnesota. Backdrops like the Minnesota State Fair and a family gathering at William’s family’s farm in Blue River, Minnesota, should make them feel right at home.

What was the most difficult part about writing Sweet William?

I’ve “killed off” bad guys, in both Wild Rose and Blue Belle, and sent nefarious pirates to the slammer in Shy Violet, but in Sweet William, I had to do away with a good guy. Writing those scenes, and grieving alongside my characters, cut me to the core and filled me with complete and utter trepidation about the time in my life when I will have to face this kind of loss.

Are you writing to reach a particular kind of reader?

One of the hardest things for me to do, as an author, has been to single out a particular type of reader to whom to market my books. They call it branding, and I’m terrible at it. My Wildflowers of Scotland novels are a good example. The focus of Wild Rose is faith and forgiveness, which appeals to a certain type of reader. Although there are no steamy scenes in Wild Rose, it does not fit the parameters of inspirational fiction – Rose is much too quirky, and well, too wild, for that. Blue Belle and Shy Violet are quite steamy, and the behavior of the bad guys in Blue Belle is sometimes gory, gross, and too explicit for the faint of heart. Sweet William is sweet, and except for one teeny, tiny, mildly steamy scene, suitable for all readers. It’s less suspenseful than the others, and focuses more on family “situations” for conflict. The thing is, my books are character driven. No two characters are the same. I think my books are better because I don’t try to put my characters in a box, but if you’re going to come along for the ride, you need to be willing to take whatever each particular character throws at you – me. If you’re open to it, I think it’s far more fun that way.

Which is more important to your story, character or plot?

As expressed above, I’m into characters. A reader recently wrote to me and said, “Boy, you know people. I have been practicing psychology and social work for 45 years and you must have been sitting in the office next to me. You know your stuff!” Although my characterizations are subtle, it thrilled me that she could appreciate the inner workings of the men and women I write about. I feel that if my characters are honest, well-motivated, and real enough, my plot will basically write itself based on their actions, fears, and needs.

Does your understanding of the story you are writing change during the course of the book?

How could it not, given how unpredictable people are? I always say that I write the first one third to half of the books, and my characters write the rest.

Have you written any other books?

Sweet William is a Wildflowers of Scotland novel, and follows Thistle Down (a prequel novella), Wild Rose, Blue Belle, and Shy Violet. I’ve written two stand-alones, Night and Day, and Love Notes. I also have a trilogy, the Maple Valley novels, about three quirky sisters who can’t stop with the quilts – Stormy Weather, Water Lily, and Merry Go Round.

Where can people learn more about your books?

Here are some links to places where you can learn more about my books:

https://www.facebook.com/BlueBelleInn
http://sherriehansen.wordpress.com/
http://www.BlueBelleInn.com or http://www.BlueBelleBooks.com
https://twitter.com/SherrieHansen
https://www.pinterest.com/sherriebluebell/
http://www.amazon.com/Sherrie-ansen/e/B007YXQJ4W/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1
http://www.indigoseapress.com/Star-Crossed-Books–Contemporary-Romance.php#Hansen

Don’t forget to check out Sherrie’s new release: Sweet William. https://amzn.com/B01H2TUD3U

Interview With Helen Donovan, Author of WHAT GOES AROUND

What Goes AroundWelcome, Helen. What is your book about?

What Goes Around is about Phoebe who is adopted at birth. She’s yearned to know where she came from for as long as she can remember, so after she graduates from college she hires a private investigator to find her roots. He does. She is thrilled when he finds two living relatives…that’s when things take a turn for the sinister. And I mean sinister.

Sounds interesting and ominous. How long was it before you began to write the story?

The idea germinated for at least three years, maybe longer. My game plan for when I retired was to do music full time.  And then when nature deteriorated my voice, I’d write. So that’s what I did. I sang, time marched on, but nature didn’t kick in. I could still sing but it was time. I had to make the decision. After a few months I told my friend and longtime accompanist that I was quitting.

What inspired you to write this particular story rather than, for example, something about music?

One afternoon I watched two members my friend’s family fly off the handle over nothing. Looking back over our long friendship, I must have had my head in the sand because that’s how her brother and sister always reacted. It was their behavior that intrigued me. Why do they react like that? Others would never react that way. What makes some people do what they do? Why does someone from a loving family commit murder and an abused kid becomes a priest?

Sounds like a good foundation for a story. How long did it take you to write the book?

Oh, at least three or four years. I had all of 96 pages and I thought I had a book but I knew I needed professional help. I was dead right. I enrolled in a general writing workshop that was led by a retired professor from Northwestern University, that’s in Evanston Illinois, and Jerry was merciless. At the end of six weeks I was among a few others he invited to participate in the advanced workshop, which I did. I recorded those sessions and rewrote What Goes Around.

How do you track or differentiate between characters?

What worked really well for me and what was suggested by another author was a flow chart. It was invaluable for remembering details. It ensures that if she always has an English muffin for breakfast on page 2 she gets the same muffin on page 296. Notes also help keep each character’s behaviors consistent.

Is there a message, or anything you want the reader to take away with them?

Yes, think about the age old debate: nature vs nurture. How much do we really know?

What was your greatest challenge?

Getting What Goes Around published. The only thing that kept me hanging in there after all the rewrites and all the rejections was keeping faith in the story that was based on a sound concept.Helen Donovan

So, now that What Goes Around is published, where can we learn more about the book?

From my publisher, Indigo Sea Press. http://www.indigoseapress.com/deep-indigo–mainstream-authors-a-l.php#Helen

You can also buy the book at Amazon. http://www.amazon.com/What-Goes-Around-Helen-Donovan/dp/1630662933

Thank you for talking with me today, Helen. Best of luck with your book!

Interview With Lazarus Barnhill, Author of PASTOR LARSEN AND THE RAT

Pastor Larsen and the RatWelcome, Lazarus Barnhill. Congratulations on the publication of your new book! What is Pastor Larsen and the Rat about?

Reverend Martin Luther Larsen — highly regarded, completely ethical, genuine and sincere —has dedicated his life to the pastorate. Now, in the face of the drudgery, church politics and frustration that are the usual professional hazards of the ministry, a dangerous and intriguing complication has slipped into his life: Ange. No one in Larsen’s close knit congregations knew of the existence of this woman, the daughter of a parishioner who appeared just in time for her mother’s funeral. For Larsen, Ange is more than mysterious. She is alluring, wise and astonishingly intuitive. . . . And then there is the issue of the large rat that seems to be taunting the members of his church.

That rat. Such an interesting part of the story. So mysterious! But that’s only one of the mysterious aspects of the book.

Underlying the story are multiple mysteries that get solved and secrets that get revealed. Most church-goers have little conception of the attitudes, aspirations and frustrations of the ministry. The more readers assume what they read in Pastor Larsen and the Rat  is totally unlike their congregation and sect, the more likely the story is a perfect mirror of their religious world. Then there is the mystery of mistress: who is Ange; why does she go out of her way to seduce Larsen; will she destroy him either intentionally or accidentally — how could it be otherwise? Finally there is the rat. Is his annoying, persistent presence some sort of sacred portent or is he just a varmint on the loose?

What made you write this particular story?

I actually conceived this book back in the 1980’s when a big rat took up residence in the church I served in Dallas. For weeks we tried everything to kill or capture the rat, without success. Over the years, the story grew, developed and transformed itself until at last it was complete in my mind. Once I started the actual writing process, the novel just wrote itself. Then I let it marinate for another twelve months, periodically re-reading it, until the publisher said, “It’s time!”

Are you worried that people will find Pastor Larsen and the Rat controversial?

To a degree. Some will find it profane. I hope some find it insightful and hopeful. Those familiar with religious bodies — and with the way spirituality operates in human life — will not be able to deny it’s honesty–not the sex part, but the organized religion part, and the divine intervention part. Ultimately I hoped when I wrote it that non-religious people would read it for the naughty romance and gain some insight into how the holy is able to work in our midst despite all that religions do to prevent it; and that religious people would “force themselves” live with the titillation in order at last to read something truthful about their gatherings.

Why do you write fiction? You once were a preacher. Isn’t that a better way of reaching more people?

When you write about a controversial issue, you don’t have to make it the center of your story to express it fully. You just work it in. For instance, when I wrote The Medicine People, I dealt a lot with the quiet underlying bigotry Native Americans and Western European descendants still harbor for one another but never express out loud. And while it was essential to the story, it didn’t overwhelm the novel. Stories have the power to make an issue live in the mind of the reader the way a speech never can.

In Pastor Larsen and the Rat, your religious background plays a big part. Do you believe writing is a divine inspiration?

I believe that whatever force there is out there in creation (call it God, destiny, a Higher Power or whatever you want) actually wants you to write. When you write, you are fulfilling an essential aspect of your truest purpose for existing. What do you think??

I am beginning to believe the meaning of Creation is creation, so by writing — or doing anything creative, even just living creatively — we are participating in Creation.

For  the sake of argument, let’s say the universe wants you (in fact the whole perverse group of us literary creative people) to write. Is there such a thing as praying for help with your writing? What would you pray? “Get me unstuck, O literary angel”? What about this, “Let my writing muse guide me to express my truest self as a writer, and trust the outcome to be in greater hands than mine”?

What if your literary angel has a purpose and story in mind for your writing that is greater than anything you can currently imagine? Of course that implies that being on the NY Times bestseller list may not be the greatest destiny.

You ask good questions, Lazarus. I wish I had the answers, but I do like the idea that our writing has a purpose greater than being on the NY Times bestseller list! Still, I hope one day your books will achieve such stardom.

Thank you, Pat. And thank you for talking with me today.

Thank you, Lazarus, and best of luck with Pastor Larsen and the Rat.

Pastor Larsen and the Rat is available from Indigo Sea Press http://indigoseapress.com
It’s also available from Amazon and is currently $0.99 on Kindle.
https://www.amazon.com/Pastor-Larsen-Rat-Lazarus-Barnhill-ebook/dp/B01GGIKF4A

Click here to read an Excerpt From PASTOR LARSEN AND THE RAT by Lazarus Barnhill

Interview with Rami Ungar, Author of VIDEO RAGE

Video RageCongratulations on the publication of your latest book, Rami. What is Video Rage about?

Video Rage is the sequel to my first novel, Reborn City, and the second book in the Reborn City series, a science fiction trilogy I’ve been writing since high school. The series follows the Hydras, a street gang in the futuristic city-state of Reborn City, a Vegas-like metropolis. The Hydra leaders have strange powers, and the origins of these powers are tied in with the mysterious Parthenon Company that rules Reborn City.

In Video Rage, the Hydras are currently on the run from Parthenon and its cruel CEO, Jason Price. They’ve been branded terrorists and are being hunted across the North American continent. They also have to deal with internal struggles and strife, which leads to some really interesting drama among the characters. It’s a very dark time for the Hydras, and they’ll have to band together if they have any hope of finding a way out of their troubles.

Tell us a little about your main characters. Who is your favorite?

My protagonist is Zahara Bakur, a Sunni Muslim teenager from New York who found herself becoming a member of the Hydras by pure random chance. She’s the exact opposite of a gangster: she’s shy, modest, and timid, which makes her reluctant to take part in most of the Hydras’ activities. Despite this, she grows in confidence and courage throughout the books and establishes herself as an essential member of the Hydras, changing them and their outlooks on life as well. I really love her as a character, though I do have to put her through a lot of stress for the sake of story.

My other main character is Rip, a Hydra leader who’s a bit of a parody of the quiet and stern bad boys we see teenagers go crazy for in fiction these days. He’s tough and intense, but he can be too stubborn for his own good sometimes, and he actually has a phobia of talking too much, especially with people he doesn’t know. He has his own growth arc through the trilogy, mainly revolving around letting go of his earlier beliefs about the world and his place in it, as well as learning to open up to others, especially Zahara.

Why will readers relate to your characters?

I think readers will relate to my characters mainly because they may have been in similar situations to the characters. The Hydras have lived through violence and loss for all their lives, and many of them have been under the impression that they’re only meant for violence and loss. Zahara is a Muslim in a world that can be hostile to her faith, and has experienced horrible discrimination. Rip has struggled with drug addiction. They’ve lived hard lives, and even people who haven’t experienced these problems can identify with the characters, and with their hopes that things can change and improve.

What about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

I think that, at its foundation, Reborn City and Video Rage are sci-fi adventure stories. The books are filled with fights with superpowered beings, futuristic technology, gunfights, shadowy government figures. The characters are also lots of fun to get to know, and their journey and struggles are believable and real. I think there’s a lot here that will draw in readers and make you want to find out what happens in the story.

What is your goal for the book, ie: what do you want people to take with them after they finish reading the story?

While I didn’t originally have this in mind when I started writing the trilogy, I think what I want people to come away with is that just because people say you;re good for only one thing or you may believe that about yourself, doesn’t mean it’s true, or that you can’t be something better. The Hydras have erroneous beliefs about themselves, but Zahara challenges those beliefs when she joins their gang. She’s had people think the worst of her for years, but she’s never let those ideas shape who she is, and that’s something to the Hydras. I think that message is going to resonate with a lot of people, and I hope they take it to heart.

What was the most difficult part about writing the book?

Finding the time! I was able to write Reborn City through two years of high school, when my audience was family and friends and teachers, and I didn’t have a deadline or anything to make me write faster. But then I hit college and started to build an audience. And then I started publishing books, and Reborn City proved to be the most popular of my work. And readers wanted a sequel, which is difficult when you have a busy college schedule and a part-time job to do. Somehow though I did it, and I’m finally getting Video Rage out. Here’s hoping the third book doesn’t take as long to get out as the previous two did!

Who designed your cover?

The cover of Reborn City I designed myself on Createspace with a photo I took myself as artwork. I did the same thing with the cover of Video Rage, except I had my friend and fellow novelist Joleene Naylor do the artwork. She did a fantastic job bringing to life one of the scenes from Video Rage. I think I might have her do the final book’s artwork as well.

If your book was made into a TV series or movie, what actors would you like to see playing your characters?

I’ve thought a lot about this, but I’ve only been able to match two actors to two characters. Firstly, I would like Tyler Possey from Teen Wolf to play Rip. He looks very close to my vision of the character, and he has the range to play the character. I also would love for Jason Price to be played by Samuel L. Jackson. In fact, I based the character on some of Jackson’s performances. So if either of them somehow find this interview, I hope they would consider helping get this book to the big screen and playing the characters I mentioned!

Have you written any other books?

I’ve published a collection of short stories called The Quiet Game, and a thriller called Snake. I’ve also written two more novels, and I’m compiling another collection of short stories. I’m a busy, busy guy with more stories than I know what to do with it!

What are you working on right now?

I’m going to edit another of my already-completed novels. Then I’m going to probably work on some short stories till November, when I plan to start writing the final book in the trilogy for National Novel Writing Month. With any luck, I’ll have that book out before I’m thirty!

Where can people learn more about your books?

All of my books are available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Smashwords, and Kobo. If anyone reading this decides to read them, I hope you like what you read and that you find a way to tell me if you do. Positive or negative, I love hearing from my readers.

Blog: https://ramiungarthewriter.wordpress.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RamiUngarWriter
Twitter: https://twitter.com/RamiUngarWriter

See also:
Rami Ungar, Author of “Snake”
Rami Ungar, Author of “Reborn City”
Rami Ungar, Author of “The Quiet Game: Five Tales To Chill Your Bones”

Interview With Joleene Naylor, Author of “Masque of the Vampire”

What is your book about?

Masque of the Vampire is the eighth in the Amaranthine series. Though is it a series, I try to write them so that anyone can pick up any book and understand what’s going on. This time Katelina and Jorick, who is one of the vampire “police”, are assigned to provide security for a party. A mysterious stalker, a serial killer, and a crashing chandelier later, they’re embroiled in a net of intrigue that has a surprising conclusion. You can purchase it from all major retailers. (http://www.joleenenaylor.com/books/mov.php)

What genre are your books?

Paranormal. Paranormal WHAT is up for debate. Is it Urban Fantasy? Maybe, though they spend more time in the country than an urban setting. Paranormal Fantasy? Maybe. The Heart of the Raven arch does have the pacing of a fantasy trilogy, including the evil “sorcerer” and the army of misfits. Paranormal Romance? Eh, not really. There is romance, but there’s no hero’s POV where his knees are weak and his blood is burning for her touch. Paranormal YA? Definitely not. Horror? I think so, but the female protagonist and the above mentioned romance make that an iffy label. In the end, my books kind of fall between the cracks of genres.

How have you marketed and promoted your work?

I’ve done a lot of things over the years. A blog. A website. Blog hops. Guest blogs. Paid listings. Free listings. Sales. Lots and lots of freebies. Blog tours. A facebook party. A facebook page where I post daily comics with my charaters. A newsletter. And I’ve recently started a Facebook Street Team group.

How much of yourself is hidden in the characters in the book?

There are probably little pieces of myself scattered all over, otherwise I wouldn’t be able to channel them. I’m not sure which one I have the most in common with, though, as even I and Katelina aren’t completely alike. Her reactions sometimes make me go, “What? Why?”

Who is your most unusual/most likeable character?

I think Verchiel is probably everyone’s favorite. He’s a redheaded mischief maker who pops into Katelina and Jorick’s lives seemingly by chance, and then just keeps popping up. He and Katelina have a love/hate relationship while Jorick just despises him from the start.

Have you ever had difficulty “killing off” a character in your story because she or he was so intriguing and full of possibility for you, his or her creator?

Yes. The aforementioned Verchiel is one of those. I designed him to pop into one scene and get killed. That was it. “Hello. I’m bad. Goodbye. Splat. Dead.” But he was so interesting I let him live. He’s one of the really organic characters that completely write themselves.

Another was Torina, the sister of Jorick’s fledgling. In the original draft of book 4, Ashes of Deceit, she was killed in the attack on the citadel. But it created too many complications, so I gave her a reprieve.

How do you develop and differentiate your characters?

For the most part they develop and differentiate themselves. It’s kind of like they drop from heaven fully formed and as I go I have to dig backwards to find out how and why they are the way they are.

Where do you get the names for your characters?

A lot of them I made up (like Jorick, Katelina, Oren, Torina) but sometimes I use the internet to find names that would be authentic to the culture or time period someone is from. Eileifr – one of the vampire’s High Council is an example of that. I have no idea how to pronounce his name, but it’s supposedly authentic Norse. Samael, Lilith, Ishkur, Inanna, and Utu, of course, come from mythology as they’re supposed to be the figure the mythology is based on.

Did you do any research for the book? If so, how did you do it? (searching Internet, magazines, other books, etc.)

Yes! Starting in the fifth book, my characters go overseas so I had to look up everything, from temperatures, to sunset times, to what kind of animals they might be able to feed on, not to mention ways to get them across country boarders – what’s required to fly in? Can they take a boat? How long will that take? And then weaving in the legend of Samael and Lilith was a nightmare of research. I’ve worked to try to tie together ancient Chinese mythology, Mesopotamian mythology, and even the book of Enoch together into one cohesive storyline. It took several word documents.

What, in your opinion, are the essential qualities of a good story?

A great world. This includes good characters with interesting backgrounds that interconnect well. I’m currently reading the second in EG Manetti’s Apprentice series and she does that so well. Every aspect of the universe has been addressed so that even if I have an issue with an aspect of the story the world is so compelling, so complete, so REAL that I’m still thinking about it days later.

How do you deal with exposition give readers the background information they need?

With a long series this is something I struggle with from book to book. I start by skipping information that isn’t necessary to the story being told in that particular book, and then I try to alternate between four methods; having Katelina think about it (for instance when she sees someone she might think “Oh, that’s the guy who owned the vampire cat.”), by having the characters have a quick conversation about it, by inserting a short flashback accompanied by Katelina’s thoughts, or in some instances by the more direct but less exciting just telling. I know that telling is frowned on, but there comes a time when the run around alternatives just feel like run-arounds.

What has been your greatest internal struggle to overcome in relation to your writing career?

Anxiety. I just *know* that everyone is going to hate my books. I think the most terrifying words in the English language are “I got your book”.

Does your understanding of the story you are writing change during the course of the book?

Yes. Always. If it doesn’t then it means I haven’t developed it enough and I need to go back over it and figure out what the angle is.

What is a talent you have that nobody knows?

I can blow bubbles with my spit. Like pretty large bubbles. I learned to do it as a kid in the 80s who wasn’t allowed to have bubbles gum. I realize most people think this is gross, but it’s the only thing I could think if that I haven’t shared before.

Links:

author blog: http://joleenenaylor.wordpress.com/
FB author page: https://www.facebook.com/joleenenaylorbooks
twitter http://twitter.com/joleene_naylor
website- http://JoleeneNaylor.com
facebook profile – http://facebook.com/joleene.naylor

Interview with M. J. Heywood, Author of “The Web Across the Water”

What is your book about?

The Web across the Water is about two lonely souls, living on opposite sides of the Atlantic Ocean. Lily and Brad meet on an internet chat room; Lily is a prolific internet thief and fraudster, who has been using the internet to trap victims for years. However, she throws herself into danger when she meets Brad and travels across the water to get closer. Brad has sinister intentions of his own. Once the pair have met, they are thrown into a tangled battle of wits in which both are in the deepest peril.

What inspired you to write this particular story?

I am greatly inspired, if that is the correct word, by True Crime. The abhorrent nature of the master thieves and serial killers of the UK and USA are very fascinating to me, as I find them so difficult to understand. For this project, I enjoyed getting inside the heads of the two characters and describing actions which I found to be so against my values.

Who is your most likeable character?

Brad’s friend Phil, who works as a janitor in the apartment block where Brad resides is probably the most likeable of the characters. He provides the comic relief in the story, and has a light hearted view of the world, despite him having a difficult life living away from his sick daughter in order to find work. He is slightly naïve, and is a fun and charming man.

Is there a message in your writing you want readers to grasp?

There is certainly a deep moral to the story. We live in a world which is now largely in the shadows after the beginning of the internet. Online we can be whoever we want to be, which can give us false confidence, and even if we have dark intentions ourselves, there is no telling who is looking through the other end of the wire. We give ourselves an access into worlds which would not have been accessible, but we can also be opening the door to people who we should not have any dealings with.

What are you working on right now?

I am working on my second thriller novel, and have so far written about 40,000 words. It is a similar style of story, also looking at the darkness within, and it features one of the lesser characters from the first novel in a more central role, despite not being a sequel.

Does writing come easy for you?

I can get stuck from time to time, but overall, it comes a lot easier than I thought it would when I started. The only problem is, I deviate from my plan every so often, when I see an opportunity for a different outcome or a new story arc. I then have to go back through everything that I have written, in order to avoid plot holes.

Do you have mental list or a computer file or a spiral notebook with the ideas for or outlines of stories that you have not written but intend to one day?

I have a notepad where I jot initial premises down. I also like to write a few chapters when the idea occurs, and I save them for a later date. In fact, before I started working on The Web… properly, I had the first chapter saved on my computer for a few months.

How many stories do you currently have swirling around in your head?

At the moment, just one more after this one; I started with three clear ideas, so once I reach the end of book three (which will be a direct follow-on) I will start to spend a little more time on letting the new ideas loose again.

What, in your opinion, are the essential qualities of a good story?

Number one – characters with depth; they must have strengths as well as flaws and deep weaknesses. Number two – I believe everyone in a story should be disposable, and that no-one should be invincible. Invincibility makes a story weaker for me, as if you know that the main character(s) will survive, there is less tension. Number 3 0- A living, breathing place, described well enough to set the scene, but not too deep so that you restrict the imagination of the reader; I want to give them just enough so that they see what I need to see. For example, Eastport, Maine was the main focus of much of this story. I believe that it was a great choice for Brad’s hometown, as it was a pure and unspoilt location, relatable to many people who.

How do you deal with exposition give readers the background information they need?

In this story, it was a mix of flashbacks, time jumps and material such as newspaper articles and police interviews.

Describe your writing in three words.

Tense, fast, different.

Would it matter to you if you were never published? (In other words, would it matter if no one ever read your books?) Why or why not?

Yes. I write to entertain, and the thrill of writing is achieving the moments of suspense and tension, and the whole point is to know that it is having an effect on people. The reviews so far have shown that I was successful in my aims, so this was a rewarding feeling. I don’t mind how many read the story, but I wouldn’t be satisfied if nobody read it.

If your book was made into a TV series or Movie, what actors would you like to see playing your characters?

When writing Lily, I had Rosamund Pike in my mind, but this was before seeing her as Amy in Gone Girl, and she was totally brilliant in that role. Since then, I could only see the Gillian Jacobs as Lily, as long as she can pull off a British accent, which I am sure she could. She has been captivating in Love and plays a role of emotions and traits so convincingly. For Brad, I think Zach Efron would be a good fit. I feel that he could play the lighter, charming side of Brad very well, and I think he has a talent for portraying aggression too.

Who designed your cover?

I designed my cover myself, using royalty free images and the fantastic Gnu Image Manipulation Software. I was thrilled with the result, and have continued to do this with book two. I feel that I can achieve a professional looking cover which fits my vision. It is also good fun to do.

Is there anything else you’d like to say about your book?

I am keen to connect with readers. My work can be found at the following link, and my wordpress is attached to this account. http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Web-across-Water-Heywood-ebook/dp/B015WTJVLM/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top?ie=UTF8