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. (

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.


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Celeste Paulette Boudreau, Character From “Rubicon Ranch: Secrets”

RRBookThreemidsizeRubicon Ranch is a collaborative and innovative crime serialization set in the fictional desert community of Rubicon Ranch and is being written online by authors of Second Wind Publishing. Celeste Boudreau is the creation of Dellani Oakes.

Who are you?

Celeste Paulette Boudreau, though I wasn’t born with that name.

Where do you live? 

I just moved to Rubicon Ranch.

What is your problem in the story?

I’ve got a secret I’m desperately trying to hide.

What is your secret?

If I told you, it wouldn’t be a secret anymore, would it?

What do you think of yourself?

I’m more dangerous than I seem. People see the outrageous wigs and the colorful skirts and don’t see past them to who I really am. Deep down, I’m not the colorful, flighty psychic. I’m much more than that.

What are your achievements?

I’m a psychic – a real one. Not one of these smoke and mirrors types. I see things in dreams, I know things about people that they would rather I not know. I have secrets of my own that would put theirs to shame. These imitation soothsayers make me sick. They wander around pretending to have spirit guides and hear the secrets of the universe. If they spent an hour in my mind, they’d see what real spirit guides are like. You think they’re warm and fuzzy? They aren’t. They don’t care if they jerk me out of whatever I’m doing to tell me something they think I should know. I’ve nearly been in three car accidents because of them.

What I wouldn’t give to be normal, just for one day. There are people who call this thing I do a gift. It’s not a gift, it’s a damn curse. And try to make money at it! People think you’re crazy or a fake and they won’t listen, no matter what you say. Idiots.

Do you talk about your achievements or do you keep them to yourself? 

My achievements make people laugh. They don’t believe them. When I say that I’ve been instrumental in solving three homicides, they ask why I didn’t help on the ones in Rubicon Ranch. Well, cause no one asked me. I’ve gone to that idiot of a sheriff more than once with my visions. He threatened to have me arrested for contaminating a crime scene and obstructing justice. Is it my fault that the ghost of the dead woman possessed me and made me walk around like a lunatic while she spouted some nonsense about who killed her? She didn’t even see the man! That case is still unsolved – but that’s not my fault. I tried to help and they won’t believe me that it was her scumbag neighbor. Pervert, that’s what he is. One day, he’ll get killed and just see if I’ll help out on that one.

Do you have any special strengths? 

Yes, I’m a psychic. I’m a damn good one too. And no, I can’t tell you the winning lotto numbers or how your mother likes the afterlife. It doesn’t work like that. I can’t just summon it for answers. If people tell you they can, they’re lying. This is unpredictable as the weather.

I’m also a damn good liar.

Do you have any skills? 

You mean besides divining the future and being ignored? Yeah, I’m really good at telling stupid people what they want to hear. I’ve been a psychic advisor on TV and radio. I even was on the Psychic Phone Network when I first got my powers. I thought I could really help people, but you know what? Those morons don’t want the truth. They want platitudes. When you tell them the truth, then you get sued.

What makes you happy? 

The bottom of a gin bottle after I’ve drunk my way to the bottom.

What are you afraid of? 

You want a list? So many things, I can’t possibly tell you all of them. Let’s start with that creepy “guide” who showed up when I was talking to Ward Preminger and won’t go away. I think I’m being  haunted by the ghost of Morris Sinclair. That’s just the tip of the iceberg.

What makes you sad? 

I don’t have time to be sad. Being sad doesn’t get you anywhere. It doesn’t matter what you do, where you go or who you say you are, you can’t escape some things. Sadness doesn’t help with that.

What was your childhood like? 

I was born with the ability to see things about people. I could sense auras before I knew what they were. I could get an accurate read on a person just by touching them. No one in my family understood. They thought I was crazy, some called me a witch. We moved a lot because after awhile, someone would find out about me. Someone tried to abduct me once because of my powers. Because I could sense that, I got away before they could catch me. My life got even more interesting when my other abilities surfaced at fourteen.

What is your favorite music?

I love Thin Lizzy, Gary Moore, Pink Floyd.. Don’t give me any of that wonky, new age crap. I only listen to that when there are clients around. Classic rock all the way.

What is your favorite item of clothing? Why?

I love my wigs. They express who I am trying to be.

If you were stranded on a desert island, would you rather be stranded with, a man or a woman?

I’d like to be by myself. Maybe then I’d get a little peace.

How do you envision your future? 

Pick one – I can envision yours, mine, the dog next door…..


Click here to read: Rubicon Ranch: Secrets ~ Chapter 4: Celeste Boudreau — by Dellani Oakes

Hayley Lawson-Smith, Author of The Julius Romeros Extravaganza, Part 1, The Bearded Girl

424005_116392965201730_2083669360_nWhat is your book about?

More than one answer to that question! Love, acceptance and individuality, are certainly some of the main themes, but at the heart of the story is adventure. Abigail is very young when she embarks on her adventure in Part 1 of this trilogy. As a baby born with a beard, she’s been shunned, pushed aside, even hidden from society by those too small-minded to understand true beauty, and eventually she’s sent away altogether to live with a circus. But it’s in this circus, The Julius Romeros Extravaganza, that Abigail finds acceptance and family.

Who is your most unusual/most likeable character?

I think it’s certainly a matter of opinion when it comes to deciding who is the most ‘unusual’ character. Since the majority of them are sideshow performers, in fact they happily call themselves ‘freaks’, they’re all fairly unusual. But I’d have to say the character who stands out most in the story, for me anyway, is Julius Romeros, who has been born with lobster claws for hands. Personally I think the most likeable character is Old Barty. He’s gruff and tough in a Popeye meets Captain Haddock kind of way, but at the same time he can be so gentle and caring; he’s concerned for Abigail in very much a grandfatherly fashion and I enjoyed writing his dialogue so much I think he became more of a central character than he was going to be.

Who designed your cover?

A brilliant artist by the name of Diogo Lando, who’s based in Portugal. I adore his work as it springs from the page, but at the same time is so subtle. An amazing mix of realism and fantasy which moulded so well with my writing.

Do you have a favourite snack food or favourite beverage that you enjoy while you write?

Chocolate! Chocolate and coffee and sometimes macaroni and cheese. But not all at once. If I’m feeling good I’ll chop up some fruit and munch on that, but it’s mostly junk food, I’m afraid. I describe a lot of food in my writing and I think that makes me hungry for all the wrong things.

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

Inadvertently and absolutely. I think I was about halfway into Part 1 when I realised I was writing a story with a strong moral, which I hadn’t intended to do because I never like to shove things in people’s faces and say, ‘this is the way you should live your life!’ But it’s an honest message that society can never seem to grasp; acceptance. Not just tolerance, but taking the idea that someone can be completely different to you and respecting them for that.

Are you writing to reach a particular kind of reader?

Nope. I look at stories this way: so many people have said Harry Potter was a ‘kids book’, and yet millions of adults read and cherish the series. Similarly I’ve met little kids who will happily sit down with a big fat novel and read for hours. I guess time will tell who the biggest audience for such a tale is.

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?

Agh, yes! Twice now, but in a twisted kind of way I’ve enjoyed the death scenes. There’s a lovely big build-up, the penultimate moment and then the final breath; I have to admit that they’re fun to write. Although afterwards that character is gone for good; I’ve loved writing them into life and making them real, and now there’s a big empty space and I might not get to hang out with them anymore. But with the magic of writing it doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t get to see them again. Depending on the age of the character, there might have been years’ worth of adventures they’ve had you could write about … just create a prequel!

Where do you get the names for your characters?

Sometimes I’ve heard a name in the past and thought it had a nice ring to it, or when I createa character I pick a good name which goes with their personality or character traits. For example, Abigail means ‘father rejoice’ or ‘father’s joy’, which I thought was gorgeous because, after all, my Abigail has whiskers just like her father’s. Baby books are an excellent resource, and sometimes just randomly flicking through the phone book can lead to happy accidents.

Do your characters ever take on a life of their own?

Often. So many of them like to rant and give little speeches, it can be a lot of fun. Mervin the clown, for example was one of those fantastic characters who pretty much wrote himself. Walking home from work can be entertaining because it’s quite easy to have long meaningful conversations with the different men and women in my story. Once you’ve created a meaty character, their words just flow naturally.

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

I would love to see Abigail, as a full-grown lady, played by Lily Allen; she has a beautiful, natural quirkiness all her own which would really bring life to the character. Minerva the Twisted Woman would be amazing played by Nicole Kidman; she can pull off icy and sexy at the same time. Bob Hoskins would be perfect for Julius Romeros, as he’s that perfect mix of ham and genuineness, plus I reckon he could really pull-off the lobster claws and top-hat.

Is there anything else you’d like to tell us about yourself or your books?

This is only Part 1 of a particularly long story. In the setting of a circus and sideshow there is so much scope for characters and adventure. Part 1, while being a novel of many adventures, almost acts as an introduction to the characters and setting; Parts 2 and 3 tell a story of their own, almost the moment Abigail’s life has been building up to.

What inspired you to write this particular story?

The initial idea came from a weird dream I had while struggling through a fever! There was a woman in my dream with a beard, with a ribbon tied through it, and she was travelling across the countryside with identical septuplets. It was bizarre and stuck in my head, so I gave some life to it, bulked it out and created new people for the woman to have adventures with.

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

Actually, I wish I was more like some of the characters. Reynalda, for example, is so tough and forthright and doesn’t suffer fools. I wish I had half her guts! If there was one character my friends and family would say I’m like it would be Bertha, the nanny. But that’s only because I’m a nanny myself. I don’t know if I have half her patience, though I’d hope I have the same capacity to love. Maybe I’m a bit like Julius Romeros, because I do like taking centre stage in the theatre …

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

My favourite, at least in Part 1, is Lolly, the albino elephant. She’s such a fun, mischievous character, who doesn’t say much, being a pachyderm, but is so loyal to Abigail. I loved watching both her and Abigail grow up together, Abigail from a little girl to a mature woman and Lolly from a naughty albino calf to a saucy adult elephant.

Where can people learn more about your books?

Amazon, Lulu, Smashwords and ASJ Publishing are the websites to go to if anyone’s thinking about purchasing the book. There is also a Facebook page, with character introductions and story-line titbits.

Lily Rae Foster, Hero of “Lily of the Springs” by Carole Foley Bellacera

The 50’s…Drive-in Movies, Doo-wop Music…and Love in the Back Seat of a ’51 Plymouth

In 1952 Kentucky, 18-year-old Lily Foster, the daughter of strict Southern Baptist parents, becomes pregnant by the town “bad boy”—and just like that, she finds herself married to a man who doesn’t want to be a husband. Jake has no intention of letting the inconvenience of marriage stop him from what he believes is his due. In actuality, Lily is the one who is trapped. She loves Jake—always has, since they were children playing in the woods on adjoining properties–and she’s convinced she can eventually make him love her. All it will take is desire and patience. Once the baby arrives, they will be the perfect little family.

From Lily’s home on Opal Springs Ridge to a four-year stint at an army base in New Boston, Texas, and finally, to life on their own in Bowling Green, Kentucky, Lily struggles to maintain a rocky marriage with a moody, immature husband while raising two daughters. Set during the “American Dream” period of the ‘50s and into the turbulent ‘60’s, LILY OF THE SPRINGS is a story of a woman’s indomitable spirit and her fight for independence and identity in an “Ozzie & Harriet” society.

What is your story?

My name is Lily Rae Foster, and when my story, LILY OF THE SPRINGS, opens, I’m living in a holler near Russell Springs, Kentucky in 1952. It’s the day before my high school graduation, and something is going to happen tomorrow night that will change my life forever.

What is your problem in the story?

Well, in the large scheme of things, it might not sound all that horrible to you, but I’m 19 years old, and I end up getting pregnant by the town hood. In 1952, this is not a good thing. You ever heard of a shotgun wedding?

How do you see yourself?

I see myself as a slightly rebellious girl who is head over heels in love with Jake Tatlow. I thought he loved me, too. Sadly, I was wrong about that.

How do your friends see you?

I reckon they see me as a popular, happy-go-lucky girl who loves life.

What do you want to be?

I dream of being a big-time romance writer. But Jake tells me that’s impossible. That things like that don’t happen for little country girls like me. When he found my first manuscript, he laughed so hard, I thought he was going to choke. Made me feel so bad that I ended up burning it in the stove.

What do you believe?

I believe I’m a doggone good writer. Maybe I’m a little ignorant about grammar and such, but I know how to weave a good story.

What makes you happy?

I’m happy when Jake is in a good mood, and acts lovin’ to me.

What are you afraid of?

Like any momma, I’m afraid of something bad happenin’ to my two girls. I just love them to pieces, my Debbie Ann and Kathy Kay.

What makes you angry?

Mean people. I just about died that time Jake interrupted my Tupperware party and said something really nasty to my guest, Barbara. She was the first Negro woman I ever invited into my house, and I knew Jake wouldn’t like it, but I didn’t think he’d say something to her face like that. I felt so embarrassed and ashamed. Barbara never spoke to me again, even though I apologized to her the next day. Can’t say I blame her, though. She probably thinks I’m just like Jake.

What do you regret?

I often regret that Chad and I broke up before I got together with Jake. (Well…our break up was the reason I got together with Jake.) I know Chad would’ve been a good husband. He was a good man. Why did I have to go for the ornery one?

Has anyone ever failed you?

Don’t make me laugh! Jake Tatlow failed me. Yes, he did. Every day for 20 years, he failed me. And I just took it because I was afraid to leave. Afraid of being a divorced woman and having to make it on my own with two children. But it wasn’t only the fear that kept me with him. I loved the man. How can you explain love? I loved him from the time we played in the woods as children. How could I know he’d never love me in the same way?

What was your childhood like?

Pretty ordinary, I reckon. We lived out in the country, and there was always hard work to be done. My mama and daddy were real religious—Southern Baptists. We went to church every Sunday and every Wednesday evening. And in the summers, we had revivals. I had an older brother, a younger brother and a younger sister. In the summers, we played out in the woods all the time when our chores were done. I loved summers. That’s when me and Jake first got together, when we were just younguns. That is, until Daddy found out, and peppered my behind. He said Jake Tatlow was trash, and I needed to stay away from him. Funny…twelve years later, he and my brothers, with shotgun in hand, went and collected Jake, and before I knew it, we was married.

How do you envision your future?

A new beginning where I’m my own person, and I’m no longer a slave to love. I want to be independent and sure of myself, a good mother to my girls. And I want a man who loves and respects me and wants to grow old with me. That’s not askin’ too much, is it?

Where can we learn more about you?

Buy the book here:

Book Trailer:

Captain Danny Maine, Hero of Now and Forever 2, the Book of Danny” by Jean C. Joachim

Who are you?

I’m Captain Danny Maine…well, I’m not a Captain anymore. I retired from the Army. I’m now Professor Danny Maine. I teach freshman English at Kensington State University. I’m in love with the dean, but don’t tell anyone. No, no, not Mac Caldwell, Eliza Baines!

Where do you live?

I live in Willow Falls, the sweetest little town of 5,000 people in upstate New York.

Are you the hero of your own story?

Hell yes! My name’s in the title. Now and Forever 2, the Book of Danny by Jean C. Joachim. Mac Caldwell is jealous because he was the hero of the other book but didn’t get his name in the title. I asked him if he was sleeping with the author, Jean, but he wouldn’t say. *snickers*, I’m not saying either. You can put the pieces together.

What is your problem in the story?

I have a few obstacles in my way. Okay, I admit it maybe more than a few. I suffer from PTSD. I have nightmares, I get jumpy, but I can lick it. I know I can. I didn’t know my old man would get sprung from jail and ask me for a hand-out. Didn’t know he’d picked up some scumwad friend in prison, either. Wish they would leave me the hell alone so I could focus on Eliza and teaching. Geez, facing a classroom full of freshmen scares the crap out of me more than facing a sniper in Iraq!

Do you run from conflict?

I’ve never run from anything in my life and I’m not going to start now. No one pushes me around. Hell, my life can’t get any worse than it’s been.

How do your friends see you?

My friends know they can count on me. I protect those I love. Callie and Mac know that I will do everything I can to keep them safe from that piece of crap, Fred, and my lowlife father.

How do your enemies see you?

My enemies had better be afraid, very afraid. Because I can outthink anyone and out-maneuver them, too. And I will. I will arm myself, I will do whatever is necessary to prevail.

How does the author see you?

Don’t say anything, but I think she’s secretly in love with me. Heh heh. Not that I mind *wicked grin* Hey! Don’t tell Eliza I said that! Yeah, she listened to my story and we kind of…well…you know how close you can get when you’re working on a story. I swear that was before I started dating Eliza! *holds up hand*. Jean is a good listener and she took down everything I said. When she got off course, I shoved the story right back on. Even had her in tears a couple of times *shy smile*. Love the way my story came out and that she found a publisher, too, is awesome.

Do you think the author portrayed you accurately?

Hell, yes! I was right there in the room with her. Had to sweet talk her sometimes, make a few changes from time to time but it is truly my story.

Do you have a hero?

My brother Kyle was my hero. He was killed in Iraq.

Do you keep your achievements to yourself?

Yes. I feel lucky to have what I have. Where I came from, my life could have ended up so differently. I’m grateful for what has come my way. None of this would have happened if my brother didn’t watch over me, make sure I took the right path. I have him to thank for who I am today. It’s too bad he isn’t here to see what a great job he did.

What do you need?

Eliza and Dr. Weiss say I need therapy. So I’m going. Actually, I like Dr. Weiss. She’s kind and nice to me and doesn’t make me feel weird, you know? She’s the one who told me I was damaged on the inside. Since I’ve going to see her and writing in my journal I have fewer nightmares, so she must know what she’s doing.

What do you want to be?

Married to Eliza, a father and at peace.

What, if anything, haunts you?

Life with my abusive father haunts me. My buddies’ instant deaths in Iraq haunt me. But I’m working to overcome those fears, those memories…by facing them and building a new life. I’m part of the community in Willow Falls. I love my Kiwanis guys and coaching soccer. All I want is a quiet, normal life and the hottest lady in town in my bed.

Are you lucky?

You’re damn right I’m lucky! Hell, I came back with a back full of shrapnel scars but that’s all. Well, maybe a mind full of nightmares, too. Okay, okay I’m a bit injured on the inside. But I came back with all my limbs and a chance to find something better.

Do you have any distinguishing marks?

A shit-load of scars on my back. Hey, can I say that in here? And a few that only Eliza knows about *turns red*, oops, TMI.

What was your childhood like?

It was a worse nightmare than my days in Iraq. I don’t want to talk about it. I spend enough energy trying to forget.

What in your past had the most profound effect on you?

The love and devotion of my brother.

Who is your true love?

Eliza Baines is my true love. She’s the hottest, classiest, smartest lady I’ve ever known and I hope to win her, make her mine forever *blushes*, hey, don’t quote me on that. It’s private, ya know? I fell for her the first time I met her. Never known a woman like her.



Michael Haskins, Author of “Stairway to the Bottom”

Welcome, Michael. What is your book about?

My book, Stairway to the Bottom, is about greed. In this story, there are two cases of greed. One case, federal agents believe a man who vanished from Key West on a Jet Ski knows where Boston gangster White Bulger’s hidden fortune is, now that Whitey is in custody. They want it and feel after all these years they deserve it. The other case involves retired and not so retired Cold War agents who think the Jet Ski escapee is the agent that walked off with more than $20 million in diamonds as the Berlin Wall came down. They want the diamonds. Sometimes it’s comical. Other times, as the ending approaches it becomes deadly serious.

Who is your most unusual/most likeable character?

I think the most unusual character in the series is Padre Thomas Collins, as Jesuit who talks and sees angels. He lives with survivor’s guilt because the angels told him to leave his Guatemalan rectory days before government soldiers came and massacred the residents. He’s an off-the-wall character that some of the regular characters don’t like or trust, but his angels have kept Mick Murphy, my main protagonist, alive.

How do you develop and differentiate your characters?

I spend time in the bars of Key West observing tourist and locals. There are some strange mannerisms people have in bars and on vacation. I try to put some of these to use in my characters. These traits separate my characters.

How (or when) do you decide that you are finished writing a story?

I know the beginning, middle and end of a story before I begin. How I get to the middle and end is the fun part. As I write the things I knew or wanted in the story sometimes change, including the end. In Stairway to the Bottom, I didn’t like the ending and added one more chapter. I hadn’t totally thought of that way on ending the story, but as I re-read it, I knew it need a little more than I planned on. I think the ending found me.

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

I thought I was writing stories about good times in Key West, until a local friend and critic asked me about why my character was such a stickler for justice. I thought about the books in my Mick Murphy series, the ones from California/Mexico and the Key West ones and realized justice was the driving factor. Justice doesn’t always come from the people who have that responsibility. Bad guys don’t have rules and good guys do. The law has rules to follow and sometimes those rules keep the bad guys on the streets. At least in my series, Murphy’s rule is to be true to friends and see that justice is reached, no matter what.

How has your background influenced your writing?

My background is in journalism, old journalism, before computers. Murphy’s background is journalism. Murphy covered Central America, I worked in Boston, so the similarities stop. We also enjoy Jameson and Cuban cigars. I kept him close and that allows me to be more flexible with the other characters.

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

I try to write every morning. To finish Stairway to the Bottom, I found myself writing through the afternoon and sometimes into the evening. It was an interesting experiment and I found I could do it. Usually, I would have brain freeze before noon. I also have days when I re-read and self-edit and re-write what has come before. I find this slows my writing process down, but when I’ve completed a book I am usually more happy with it than friends of mine who bitch about Major re-writing.

Does writing come easy for you?

When I am not writing, I love writing. Most time I’m having a good time, but there are those times the story takes off on its own and I have to keep up. I think writing is like anything, if it comes too easily you won’t take it seriously. It has to offer the writer challenges and that’s one more thing to love about writing.

What do you like to read?

I read mysteries. I read because I like the author and want to see what he/she is doing. Sometimes I discover something new in their writing style and think I can use it. We all steal from each other, it’s a great community.

What advice you would give to an aspiring author?

Anyone that wants to write has to read, read and then read some more. A writer has to know what has been done, what is being done and figure on a way to make it better or more interesting. After all, love & greed are the two driving forces behind a good mystery and finding a more interesting way to tell your story maybe hidden in the pages of someone else’s book.

Where can people learn more about your books?

I have written seven books in the Mick Murphy series. Car Wash Blues will be released in Aug. 2012. Free Range Institution came out in Feb. 2011 and are both hardback books. Stairway to the Bottom is a trade paperback on Amazon and on Kindle and Nook, as are some of my other books. To find out the whole story, check my website: More there than you ever want to know.

Gloria Lopes, Hero of “Go Down Hard” by Craig Faustus Buck

Who are you?

My name is Gloria Lopes. That rhymes with hopes. My grandfather was Argentine but for some reason the Spanish pronunciation didn’t stick. Don’t ask me why. Even my Dad doesn’t know, and he still speaks with a Spanish accent. I was with the LAPD for 18 years, rose to Lieutenant, homicide, before the shit hit the fan. Don’t ask. I guess you could call me a private security consultant now. I’m single though my boyfriend, the baptist dentist, keeps asking me to marry him. Drives me nuts. Not that I don’t love the guy, but I’m philosophically allergic to monogamy. Moral constraints give me the heebie-jeebies. I can’t imagine depriving myself of variety in sexual partners, just as I would never give up variety in foods, books, or music. I can be faithful emotionally, but that’s as far as I go.

Where do you live?

I live in a Spanish Colonial fourplex, built sometime in the 1930s in the Fairfax district of Los Angeles. My apartment has hand-crafted archways, thick stucco walls, a Mexican-tiled fireplace, built-in cupboards and shelf-nooks whose edges have been softened over the years by layers upon layers of paint. Not fancy but blooming with character. After all these years I still love coming home. I’ve furnished the place with treasures from the Goodwill. A few downtrodden antiques, a little modern, some rustic, some shabby chic. No two chairs match or even hail from the same decade, but I think it feels homey.

Do you embrace conflict?

I wouldn’t say I embrace it, I just seem to attract it. Maybe it’s because I tend to speak my mind and pack a mean left hook. I also pack a Glock.

How do your friends see you?

I don’t have too many friends since I left the force. Most of my cop friends see me as a professional liability. I guess my best friend is Nob Brown, the guy who wrote that book about Lana Strain, the rock star who got murdered in the early ’90s. He’s an ex-cop, too. And we sleep together when he’s not in a relationship, which is usually. When he has a girlfriend, I leave him alone. I’m into free love, but I’m no homewrecker. I’ve never slept with a married man unless his wife was participating.

How do your enemies see you?

I don’t know. I try not to speak to my enemies if I can help it, and when I don’t have a choice, we’re usually talking about something more pressing than their feelings about me.

How does your author see you?

What author?

Do you have a hero?

No. Every hero I’ve ever had disappointed me sooner or later to I’ve stopped trying. I’m not big on organized religion, though I sometimes go to a Black Baptist church for the music, but I think they’re onto something with that false idol thing.

Do you have a goal?

World peace. Zero crime. An end to poverty. And multiple orgasms.

Do you talk about your achievements?

No. And I have little patience for people who do.

Do you have any skills?

I read people well. I’ve been called an astute judge of character. I guess it’s from my years as a homicide dick. It’s a professional requirement. As I may have mentioned, I throw a mean left hook. I think my sexual skills are pretty polished, judging from the state I generally leave ‘em in. I’m pretty deft with a cocktail though I can’t cook to save my life–I could probably drop an elephant with my coffee. I’m a great shot with a side arm. And I’m a cheap drunk, which many men consider an attractive skill.

Do you have money troubles?

I didn’t until I lost my job. My needs are minimal and my lifestyle is cheap. But if don’t find some work pretty soon, I’m headed for skid row. I don’t exactly have a safety net seeing as how I’m about as close to my parents as Earth is to Pluto. And like that distant rock, I was demoted from their solar system one Thanksgiving when my sister decided to regale the family with highlights from my broad spectrum of sexual activities. I’d never even heard my father say “hell” before, much less “you dirty slut.” Said sister lives on the East Coast, which is still too close for comfort. That leaves my brother who, last time I checked, had a job in a rehab Ashram in the Punjab strapping cold-turkey patients to their beds. Welcome to my family. In a pinch, I could borrow some money from Nob, but only for a month or so.

What do you regret?

I regret getting sucker-punched out of a career. I gave a bad performance review to a dirty cop so he trumped up a sexual harassment claim against me. It was total bullshit, but certain rumors, which were more or less true, about my private life seemed to substantiate the charges. The thing is, I would never ever shit where I eat. LAPD personnel were absolutely off limits for any kind of sexual activity, including inuendo. My squad was my responsibility and I made sure the work environment was nonhostile. But I should have anticipated some sort of cheap shot from that cop. Instead, I painted a bullseye on my back to give him an easy target.

What, if anything, haunts you?

I gave a child up for adoption the year I graduated from the academy. He must be seventeen now. It’s not so much that I gave him up that haunts me, but that I never told his father about the pregnancy. It was a weird accident. A fellow cadet and I were having pretty amazing sex at a motel one afternoon when we heard a scream from the room next door. Not a scream of passion but the kind you might hear from a woman being waved around by a giant ape on the Empire State Building. The kind that grabs your attention like a bullet in the gut. Talk about coitus interruptus. By the second scream I was sliding off him and into my pants. The upshot was that I nailed a serial killer, but in the process neither the other cadet nor I realized his condom had come off inside me. That’s how I got pregnant. It seemed prudent not to tell the father at the time, but now he’s my best friend and that secret eats at my insides like a starving rat. I don’t even want to think about what might happen if Nob were to find out.

Do you keep your promises?

Without fail.

Are you healthy?

For a woman with a bullet wound between her breasts, I’m doing pretty well.

Was there ever a defining moment of your life?

I guess having a bullet go through me and into Nob was pretty defining. Especially since if I hadn’t been there to slow it down, he probably would have died. The bullet was headed straight for his heart. It missed mine by a half an inch. That sort of thing doesn’t exactly define as much as illuminate. It creates the sort of bond very few people have.

Do you have any hobbies?

Reading crime novels. Scuba diving. Collecting antique sexual devices. And using them.

What is your favorite beverage? Why?

I’m a gin drinker. Straight, on the rocks. Specifically Bombay, but I’m happy with Gordon’s or Hendricks or even Gilbeys. I love the juniper berry flavor. That’s why I can’t stomach Tanqueray. You just can’t taste the juniper.

What are the last three books you read?

Heart Sick — Chelsea Cain
Die a Little — Megan Abbot
Go Down Hard — Craig Faustus Buck (in manuscript, he’s still shopping it)

If you were stranded on a desert island, who would you rather be stranded with, a man or a woman?

I’d go for a hermaphrodite. The best of both worlds.

How do you envision your future?

I don’t. I live for today. Tomorrow’s too iffy.

Click here for more information about: Craig Faustus Buck