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

Deborah J Ledford, Author of Crescendo

cres_137x212Welcome, Deborah. What is your book about?

CRESCENDO is book three of my Steven Hawk/Inola Walela thriller series. Inola carries this book as the only female Native American cop of a small western North Carolina town, searching for a little boy no one but her believes is missing.

What inspired you to write this particular story?

I’m a former screenwriter so ideas and snippets of stories come to me visually. One of the most compelling scenes in CRESCENDO presented itself one morning, that of Inola, gun pointed at a woman standing next to a vehicle stopped at the shoulder of a highway, duffle bag tucked under her arm, the other hand clutching a handful of money, bills swirling in the air.

I pay attention when such a strong visual is presented and this scene became instrumental in piecing together the entire novel.

Do you have specific techniques you use to develop the plot and stay on track?

I don’t use an outline, but I do implement a chapter breakdown as I work. Essentially a one-paragraph wrap up of what happens in each chapter after it is written. For the chapters I don’t quite have figured out, I leave those chapters on the breakdown blank and move down to the elements I know I want to implement. This may be merely a line of dialogue, or a climatic element I will flesh out later. The point is to keep going until I reach the end of the first draft. I also keep track of my word count output each day. I keep a yearly Planner that is only for my writing and publishing accomplishments. I find that when I keep track of how many words I’ve written this keeps me focused and helps me meet my goal. I do a word count after I’ve finished for the day and jot that accomplishment on the calendar.

Do you think writing this book changed your life? How so?

CRESCENDO puts Inola in the spotlight more than Hawk—although he is still a major player and Inola would be nothing without him in her life. During the course of the Steven Hawk/Inola Walela thriller series the lead and even secondary characters have evolved to true members of my family. And while researching for the books I’ve had the opportunity to meet people I never would have had the opportunity to know. Like Inola, writing the series has given me a purpose and goal to present my very best work as a writer.

What are you working on right now?

I’m in pre-production mode to record and distribute the audiobook version of CRESCENDO and SNARE which will also benefit a Native American language and culture foundation.

What advice you would give to an aspiring author?

What every other published author recommends: butt in the chair, don’t give up, polish, submit. Most of all, once you’ve submitted your manuscript to agents/publishers start another novel or short story. Rejections don’t hurt as much when you’re in love with another project.

* * *

Deborah_J_Ledford-114x160Deborah J Ledford is the author of the Steven Hawk / Inola Walela suspense series, including: CRESCENDO, SNARE—The Hillerman Sky Award Finalist, and the New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards Finalist in the Mystery / Suspense category. The classical music-themed STACCATO is book one. She is a three-time nominee for the Pushcart Prize and her award-winning stories appear in numerous print publications as well as literary and mystery anthologies. Part Eastern Band Cherokee, Deborah spent her summers growing up in the Great Smoky Mountains of western North Carolina, the setting for her psychological suspense thriller novels and many of her short stories.

Click here to buy: Crescendo

Eduardo Gomez, a character in “The Ambivalent Corpse” by Jerold Last

What is your story?

I’m a Paraguayan police lieutenant named Eduardo Gomez. You will first meet me in the novel The Ambivalent Corpse by Jerold Last.

What is your problem in the story?

One of my other bosses wants me to help investigate a murder in Uruguay that might have neo-Nazi connections that could affect my home country, Paraguay.

Do you embrace conflict?

No, I try to use my brains rather than my considerable brawn.

How do you see yourself?

As a man trying to do the best I can in three difficult jobs, and sometimes being tugged in different directions by conflicting loyalties.

How do your friends see you?

They only see the parts of me I want them to see.

How do your enemies see you?

My goal is always that eventually they see me through the bars of a prison cell.

How does the author see you?

He hasn’t really let me have my own story yet so we have unresolved issues. I think that may change eventually, but not immediately in this series.

Do you think the author portrayed you accurately?

Only on a pretty superficial level. There’s a lot more to me that he has revealed thus far.

Do you talk about your achievements?

Often, I can’t. I do a lot of work that is best kept from the public.

Do you have money troubles?

Fortunately not. I am being paid a good salary for all of the things I do.

What do you want to be?

A good person and a good father.

What do you believe?

I believe in right and wrong, and that we are all responsible for doing as much right as we can while we’re in this world.

What makes you happy?

I enjoy my collaborations with Roger and Suzanne. They know a lot more about me than anyone else so I can relax with them and just be the real me. And I enjoy spending time around Suzanne.

What makes you angry?

Evil. Evil people. Extreme poverty and what it does to otherwise good people.

Do you keep your promises?

To the best of my ability I do. That’s very important to me, especially because of my life style.

Do you have any distinguishing marks?

You don’t need to know that.

Did anything newsworthy happen on the day you were born?

Yes. Paraguay played Brazil in an international soccer match and tied 0-0. This was when Pele was still playing for the Brazil National team.

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

My religious upbringing.

Who was your first love?

The lovely girl I met in college who became my wife.

Who is your true love?

My wife, even if I also have some unresolved feelings for Suzanne.

What is your most closely guarded secret?

Who my international employers are and what exactly it is that I do for them.

What is your favorite food?

I like good wines and fresh seafood. Paraguay is landlocked so fresh seafood doesn’t exist and the Paraguayan wine industry has a long way to go to catch up to Argentina in making fine wines.

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

A woman of course. I’m a South American man.

Click here for an interview with: Jerold Last, Author of “The Ambivalent Corpse”

Click here for an: Excerpt From “The Ambivalent Corpse” by Jerold Last

Jerold Last, Author of “The Ambivalent Corpse”

What is your book about?

The Ambivalent Corpse is set mainly in Montevideo, Uruguay. Our heroes find parts of a dismembered corpse on a rocky stretch of beach in Montevideo, apportioned equally between the Memorial to a German cruiser sunk in World War II and the Memorial to Jews killed in the Holocaust. Because of the murder victim’s strategic location shared between two antithetical monuments, the Uruguayan press names her “The Ambivalent Corpse”. Private detective Roger Bowman and his girlfriend, scientist Suzanne Foster, find themselves traveling through Uruguay, Southwest Brazil, and parts of Paraguay and Argentina to help solve the case. Along the way they experience the local tourist attractions, lots of intrigue, and a complex murder mystery that Suzanne and Roger both play essential roles in solving. The plot races along at a rapid pace that makes this book very difficult to put down once you’ve started reading it. Start early if you want to get a full night’s sleep. This fast paced mystery has plenty of action, atmosphere, and sense of place. While the novel is basically a hard-boiled mystery story, it bends the genre slightly so that it should also appeal to readers interested in travel, romance, Indigenous creation legends, and South American food and wine. The book is getting 4- and 5-star reader reviews on Amazon and Smashwords.

How long had the idea of your book been developing before you began to write the story?

It took a while for me to find the time to sit down and start writing the book. In this case “a while” spanned 12 years. The major challenges for me are finding the time to write and the discipline to edit the dialogue and descriptive passages over and over until things feel right and pass my wife’s critical evaluation. I haven’t needed to spend much time on research as yet, since I’ve lived in the locations that the books have been set in.

What inspired you to write this particular story?

The premise of my latest book is that our heroes Suzanne and Roger find parts of a dismembered corpse on a rocky stretch of beach in Montevideo, apportioned equally between the Memorial to a German cruiser sunk in World War II and the Memorial to Jews killed in the Holocaust. Because of the murder victim’s strategic location shared between two antithetical monuments, the Uruguayan press names her “The Ambivalent Corpse”. I actually got the idea for “The Ambivalent Corpse’s” book title and basic premise when my wife and I took a walk in Montevideo, Uruguay in 1999 and we saw that strange juxtaposition of the two monuments.

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

The setting for my novels thus far has been South America, especially Uruguay and Northwest Argentina, both places we lived during a sabbatical I took several years ago. I’ve been back to Montevideo and Salta several times since then for collaborative research and teaching programs there, so I know the locales, the food, and the people I use for the books. Novels to come will be set in Chile, Peru, and Brazil, all places I have spent time in thanks to the various scientific collaborations that began during our sabbatical leave.

I try to write books that are fast moving and entertain the reader, while introducing the readers to a region where I’ve lived and worked that is a long way from home for most English speakers. Montevideo, Salta, Machu Picchu, and Iguazu Falls are characters in these books, and the novels will have succeeded for me if some of you say that you’d like to visit these places because they seem so vivid and real.

How has your background influenced your writing?

I believe my strengths are in inventing interesting plots, paying attention to story details, and entertaining the reader. The science I sprinkle into the books is authentic; I have a Ph.D. degree in Biochemistry and am a Professor at a large university medical school. The locales are authentic; I’ve either lived in or visited all of the places my characters visit.

What are you working on right now?

I’m putting the final touches on the third novel in this series, entitled The Surreal Corpse. In this new book Roger and Suzanne search for a serial killer in Peru and Northern Chile. I’m also collecting ideas for Book #4.

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Ambivalent-Corpse-Crime-Meant-ebook/dp/B0060ZFRQG/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1319989507&sr=1-1

Click here for an: Excerpt From “The Ambivalent Corpse” by Jerold Last

Guy Harrison, author of “Agents of Change”

Welcome, Guy. What is your book about?

Primarily set in present-day Philadelphia, Agents of Change is an adult action suspense/thriller, with a sci-fi twist.

It’s about an amiable corporate manager, Calvin, whose dream job falls into his lap when he’s recruited by a secret worldwide organization that imbues its agents with uncanny abilities to empower and influence everyday downtrodden individuals. Disaster strikes for Calvin, however, when an elaborate scheme leaves him as a prime murder suspect…and his new employer is presumably to blame.

With the authorities on his heels and his life left in ruin, Calvin uses his new powers to blend in until his journey for freedom becomes a quest for peace. As the agency’s complementary organization threatens the security of all of earth’s inhabitants, Calvin teams up with unlikely allies to battle startling enemies that are hellbent on unleashing their power in a twisted version of justice.

How long had the idea of your book been developing before you began to write the story?

For over a year, if you can believe it. I originally wrote Agents of Change as a television pilot script around this time last year. As an aspiring screenwriter for many years, I finally got tired of banging my head against the wall as I attempted to sell the script.

This past October, I finally asked myself “what if I wrote a novel?” I really believed in the television pilot’s concept but knew I needed to rework it for the purposes of a book. It’s darker than the television series would have been. Truth be told, I actually like it a lot better as a novel.

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

Well, when Calvin is recruited into the Agency of Influence, the self-proclaimed purveyors of Good Karma, he meets the top-ranking agents at the agency’s Philadelphia branch. He meets the branch director, Donald Richardson, who’s kind of an old, folksy guy from the South. Calvin also meets Agent Nick Hamilton who has his own demons, both personally and professionally, and Agent Elena Jimenez, who comes across as a gruff bitch.

All three of these agents have glaring flaws that are all surprising given the cause for which they work. Richardson’s theory, as Calvin observes, is that flawed people have an easier time relating to other flawed people. Thus, Calvin has his own glaring flaw, and the people he helps also have flaws, even though they deserve the help he’s giving them.

My favorite character to write was Elena. It’s much more fun making one of the good guys (or gals) so ornery that you begin to question their motives. On top of that, Elena’s got a military background, she’s beautiful, and she’s Latin. All of those characteristics, I think, make her a very unique character.

How much of a story do you have in mind before you start writing it?

Very little. At least, that’s how it was with Agents of Change.

Even after deciding to rework it from TV script to novel, the book I ended up writing was far different from the book’s outline. A few things contributed to that. One is that, as the book moved along, I decided to fully embrace the sci-fi/action aspects of it. Until that point, the book was kind of a mystery novel with no real action. Once I started to think big in terms of what the characters could do with their abilities, that’s when everything changed.

The other thing that contributed to the change was the fact that my outline was too short. I initially wrote it during NaNoWriMo, so the goal was 50,000 words. Eventually, though, when I embraced the idea that I could publish this myself, my goal was to at least write 80,000 words.

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

There are quite a few themes in the story; selfishness, greed, and the shielding of one’s self or of things that are most important to them. I think these are all things we’ve experienced or witnessed in other people and it’s interesting to see those things with this concept as a backdrop.

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

I guess another theme and something I’d want readers to grasp is to not judge a book (no pun intended) by its cover. As a black man, Calvin always has to overcome stereotypes but, in the context of the story, it goes deeper than that with many of the characters. What you see is not always what you get.

What are you working on right now?

Right now I’m working on a collection of short stories called Ruminations from the Desert (which is almost the same name as my blog). It will contain three short stories that all take place in Arizona. I hope to release that early this spring.

Beyond that, I’ll probably begin plotting the sequel to Agents of Change in late spring or early summer. Then, when I’m done with the sequel, I’m going to try my hand at a standalone novel. I know it’s going to be a sci-fi twist on an old classic…I even have said old classic picked out but I’m not telling

What was the first story you remember writing?

When I was in fifth grade, I wrote a play based on Charles Schultz’s Peanut characters. I was (and still am) a big Charlie Brown fan, maybe because I saw a little of myself in his ineptitude. I brought the play in to school one day and the teacher let me direct the show, in class! Needless to say, the production was very sloppy.

Does writing come easy for you?

It depends on how you define easy. I can write a lot in a short amount of time, which makes indie publishing perfect for me. Now, whether or not any of that stuff is good remains to be seen.

In all seriousness, I’ve been writing professionally in the PR world for the last six years. It takes me very little to no time at all to write a press release, or a business letter, etc. But I’m still getting a hang of this fiction thing.

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

Actually, something I was surprised with as I was writing Agents of Change was how emotionally involved I got with the story. There were times, while writing the first draft, where I couldn’t fall asleep because scenarios for my characters were constantly swirling around in my mind. After a while, I told myself that I couldn’t write right before bed anymore!

Where can we learn more about you?

From my website: http://www.guymharrison.com/ and from Twitter: @guymharrison

Agents of Change is due for a Feb. 13 release.

Click here for and interview with: Calvin Newsome, a character in “Agents of Change,” by Guy Harrison

Cynthia Vespia, author of “Demon Hunter: Saga”

What is your book about?

In a dark and ageless time where the world knew evil in many forms: werewolf, vampire, demon and dragons, Costa Calabrese has just uncovered the truth about his past. Some truths should never be revealed. When you learn you’re the son of the world’s foremost and feared hunter of demons life’s rules inevitably change. Now it is up to him to take up the role his bloodline demands and stop the evil from spreading over the land…whether he wants to or not.

Exploring the classic theme of good versus evil, Demon Hunter blends the highly popular elements of dark fantasy with the proven concept of high-adventure novels where believable, down-to-earth characters take the reader on a journey. It is the story about a nobody who becomes a somebody in the bloodiest of ways.

This is without a doubt the darkest idea I’ve delved into in all my years of writing. But at its core Demon Hunter is a story about human frailties. Costa, our hero, is plagued not only by physical demons, but mental ones as well. We’ve all had those little voices in our head trying to sway us from our path. It is those demons not faced that are the true danger.

How do you develop and differentiate your characters?

I pull from real life characters. People are different in many ways, tiny character traits can set them apart just as easily as monumental things. Its the little differences that make us unique as people so it becomes necessary to add those in to the characters you create.

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

The story decides for you. You let it run its course. The best endings are those that surprise you as the writer.

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

I’ve never been after trying to send out some sort of message with my writing. I don’t want to change the world, I simply want to entertain. If some type of message is imparted between the lines of a particular story then that is great too. But more than anything I just want readers to be moved by the characters, engrossed in the story, and taken on a wild adventure…a little escape from reality…because that is why I like to read. That is what got me started writing in the first place.

What has changed for you personally since you wrote your first book?

I’ve grown as a writer, first and foremost. The longer you continue with your chosen craft you either get better or get out of the game. I feel as though I’ve gotten better, that I’ve found my voice.

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

Red wine. I like a fine Merlot, Cab, or even a sweet red. It is soothing and relaxing.

What are you working on right now?

I have switched back to more contemporary work. I have two thrillers I’m working on at the moment. One is based in my hometown of Las Vegas. I’ve been waiting to showcase Vegas in a proper light rather than all the stereotypes you may have seen.

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 one of my old trapper keepers from school that is bursting at the seams. I keep getting ideas that get piled on top of more ideas. Not a bad problem to have by any means but I wish I had more time in the day to get to all of them!

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

Relatable characters, a believable plot (even if its sci-fi or fantasy things should sync up), and description that is niether too short or too cramped and weighs down the story. I like a page turner. My time is limited so if the story doesn’t engross me within the first few chapters I’m going to put it away and move on to one of the other ones on my pile. Also, I’d like to note that alot of books these days are involving too many characters. More than five or so main characters and I’m going to get lost…and that’s even pushing it.

Who gave you the best writing advice you ever received and what was it?

To be honest I forgot where I heard this but the advice was “write for the wastebasket.” It has never left me. What it means is that the first draft is exactly that…the first draft. There will be many other drafts along the way so don’t get too attached to that first one. Just to take the pressure off imagine that you are writing everything just to toss it out so it doesn’t have to be perfect.

What advice you would give to an aspiring author?

Learn the ins and outs of your craft. That includes the business of it. You will be your own best marketing force even if you get picked up by Random House, etc. Learn the rules and then throw them out and make your own!

What words would you like to leave the world when you are gone?

Wow, that’s huge. I don’t know about words but I’d like to know that I made the world a better place for somebody just by being there for them. My words have always been “Live Your Dreams” Because life is short and dreams shouldn’t be dashed.

Have you written any other books?

I’ve written a lot, since I was eight in fact. The Crescent Set in the days when answers were taken at the tip of a a sword, two women will face adversity and find their calling battling as gladiators in a sport of death; Theater of Pain In the world of professional wrestling everything is over-the-top. Some competitors would do anything to make it to the top…even if it means murder; and Life Death and Back a paranormal thriller where in the wake of his death a man must come to learn what it truly means to live by helping a troubled young girl find her true path before its too late.

Where can people learn more about your books?

You can find me at http://www.CynthiaVespia.com; http://www.OriginalCynAdvertising.com; facebook.com/cynthia.vespia; and twitter.com/cynfulcharm

Describe your writing in three words.

Character driven suspense

Click here for an: Excerpt From “Demon Hunter: Saga” by Cynthia Vespia

Click here for an interview with: Costa Calabrese from “Demon Hunter: Saga” by Cynthia Vespia

Costa Calabrese from “Demon Hunter: Saga” by Cynthia Vespia

An Interview with Costa Calabrese from Demon Hunter: Saga by Cynthia Vespia
Available from Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com

Who are you?

My name is Costa Calabrese. I am the killer of killers, the hunter of hunters. I am the chosen one. I am the demon hunter.

What is your story?

Once I lived as a lowly farmhand longing for adventures away from my mundane life. Be careful what you wish for. I’ve come to find out that my entire existence has been a lie. My true reality is that I am the son of a famed and fearless hunter of demons. Now, it has become my lot in life to follow in my father’s footsteps to eradicate the scourge of evil that has been released as a plague upon the earth…whether I want to or not.

Do you have any skills?

I am my father’s son. I’ve been endowed with strength, speed, agility handed down through generations of demon hunter before me and forged from years of training. My special gift is insight, visions. I can glimpses of the future…mild premonitions. They are both a gift and a curse.

What do you want to be?

When I was younger I wanted to be a hero. Now some call me a hero, some call me a killer. Above all I just want to be a good man, take care of those close to me, and perhaps leave the world a little better than how I found it.

What are you afraid of?

I’m afraid of becoming like my father. Even though I hold the moniker of demon hunter in his stead I do not want that life to consume me. My father became bitter, loveless, angry. He started to identify with the demons he fought until the sweet release of death was his only refuge.

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

When I was just a boy my father left my mother. We lived a hard life but I knew I was loved by her. Then one day my world turned upside down. They burned my village, killed my mother, and I was left with nothing.

Have you ever had an adventure?

My life is an adventure. I travel the world with my companions Paralay and Talisa and together we seek and destroy the minions of evil.

How do you envision your future?

I long for peace. That part of me that hated the simplistic life of a farmhand now longs to live those days again. Simple, safe, and routine with the love of a good woman and an armful of happy, healthy children that never need to walk the path of a demon hunter.

Click here for an Excerpt From “Demon Hunter: Saga” by Cynthia Vespia

Click here for an interview with: Cynthia Vespia, author of “Demon Hunter: Saga”

Calvin Newsome, a character in “Agents of Change,” by Guy Harrison

Who are you?

My name is Calvin Newsome III and I’m 28 years old. I grew up on the mean streets of Philadelphia but made it out of the ‘hood to go to an Ivy League school (the University of Pennsylvania) and eventually became director of business analytics at Maxwell, Inc. Despite all the money and the corner office, I came to realize that I had a strong desire to help people. At the beginning of the story, I dabble in professional matchmaking. It’s okay. I mostly don’t like it because I still have to use my business sense.

What is your story about?

Agents of Change is the story of how I quit my cushy but boring six-figure salary job to live a life of significance. At the beginning of the story, I’m recruited by a secret organization called the Agency of Influence, which considers itself to be the world’s purveyor of Good Karma. In becoming an Agent of Influence (or A of I, for short) I acquire magic powers (namely telekinesis and shapeshifting) as I’m tasked with providing Good Karma to downtrodden individuals.

Sounds cute and warm and fuzzy, right? Well, let’s just say that my dream job becomes a nightmare.

After one of my new co-workers (I’m not going to name any names) makes a huge–no, colossal–mistake, I suddenly become a murder suspect and a fugitive in my own city! Meanwhile, the Agency of Influence’s sister organization, the Agency of Justice, has its own ideas about how to best serve this planet. The A of J is not warm and fuzzy…they kill people.

Eventually, I have to save mankind from the A of J while eluding the cops. Somebody shoot me.

How do your friends see you?

Depends on who you ask. I think most of my friends see me as a generous, sensitive kind of guy. They might even tell you–and I know I’ll regret even bringing this up–that I’m a bit of a white guy trapped in a black guy’s body.

If you were to ask my best friend, Veronica “Ronni” Lee, however, I’m not sure what she’d tell you. We’ve known each other for a long time. Ronni’s one of the kindest people I’ve ever met. Our friendship is a bit awkward these days, though, because she wants more out of our relationship, er, friendship…whatever you want to call it.

I kind of take a laissez-faire approach to it all; as her friend I want to hear how she feels. Of course, it’s not until I finally get decisive about it for a change that all of the nonsense in the story kind of gets in the way.

How do your enemies see you?

My enemies view me as collateral damage. In fact, they actually pity me. What kind of messed up stuff is that?

Do you think the author portrayed you accurately?

Well, it’s actually my story, told from my point of view. So I guess the answer would be yes. Maybe even a little I have a bit of a potty mouth. I hope my mom doesn’t read the book.

Do you have a goal?

Yes. My goal is to eventually make a difference in this world. I want to do something the entire world can profit from, and not necessarily in a financial way. I want to do something where people look at it and know that Calvin Newsome’s fingerprints are all over it.

What is your biggest disappointment?

Oh, that one’s easy. By far, the most disappointing, heartbreaking moment of my life was getting stood up at the altar. I was not the best, most attentive fiancé. That turn of events taught me a lot about myself.

What did you learn about yourself?

Well…I can be a bit selfish, especially in my closest relationships. I have a tendency to take without giving. I’m working on it, though. It’s a process.

Did you get along with your parents?

Well, I never really knew my dad. He left my mom and I when I was just a baby. My mom and I have a love/hate relationship. I don’t know much about what she’s up to these days, other than the fact that she’s alive. She’s a difficult woman to please. Can you imagine if I told her I quit my job at Maxwell? She’ll make it a federal case.

Do you have any hobbies?

I like sports. Most people look at me and think I play basketball or football. If I had my druthers, I would have actually played either baseball or hockey professionally.

I also coordinate our community service program at Maxwell. I get together a group of co-workers and we go in the community to clean parks or volunteer at the SPCA.

When I’m not working or doing any of those things, I like to play video games, too. I’m still a kid at heart in some respects.

What is your favorite food?

You know, I hadn’t tried it until I met Agent Elena Jimenez (she’s the lady who recruited me for the A of I) but I love arroz con pollo. It’s a Spanish dish, consisting of yellow rice and chicken. It’s especially popular in Elena’s native Little Havana community in Miami.

How do you envision your future?

I’d better bring my running shoes, that’s for sure. In fact, I think I see some unsavory-looking characters outside. I better get going!

Where can we learn more about you?

From Guy Harrison’s website: http://www.guymharrison.com/

Agents of Change, a suspense/thriller written by Guy Harrison, is due for a Feb. 13 release.

Dana Logan and Sarah Cafferty, protagonists in “Murder on the Interstate” by Jean Henry Mead

Welcome, Dana and Sara. What’s your story?

Sarah: We’re a couple of not-quite over the hill women who can’t seem to stop tripping over dead bodies. And I’m darn well getting tired of it.

Dana: What my friend means is that we sold our homes in a California retirement village after our friends were murdered there by a serial killer in A Village Shattered. We then bought a motorhome to travel the western states.

What does Sarah mean about stumbling over dead bodies?

Dana: We were traveling in southern Colorado when I received a call that my sister, Georgi, a mystery writer, had committed suicide. I knew she would never take her own life so we drove our RV through a Rocky Mountain blizzard to Wyoming to discover what had really happened.

Sarah: Tell Pat about the diary, Dana.

Dana: We discovered my sister’s diary, which helped to solve her murder. We also discovered a vicious drug ring in Diary of Murder.

Sarah: Then we were driving along I-40 in northern Arizona, minding our own business when a pickup truck caused a young woman in her Mercedes convertible to run off the mountain road during a heavy downpour.

Dana: That investigation in Murder on the Interstate nearly cost us our lives when we were kidnapped by homegrown terrorists.

It sounds as though you’re both unwilling amateur sleuths.

Sarah: You can say that again. Although I’m a private investigator’s widow and thought I wanted to follow in my husband’s investigative footsteps, I’m sick and tired of murders interrupting our travels.

Dana: We’ve been in some dangerous situations. I’m a mystery novel buff, which has helped to uncover clues to the murderers’ identities, but we’ve found that solving murders is an unhealthy hobby.

Then why don’t you leave the investigations to the police?

Sarah: Oh, we’ve tried, but our first murder case was headed by a bungling sheriff, a former dog trainer, who had just taken office and half his staff quit in protest because he ran the department like a kennel. Then he fell in love in Dana and has pursued her throughout our investigations.

Dana: And to complicate matters, Sarah has a crush on him.

That could cause problems. What about your daughter, Dana? Hasn’t she been involved in your murder investigations?

Dana: Yes, Kerrie’s an investigative journalist. She’s helped tremendously with most of our cases. But in Murder on the Interstate she’s kidnapped by terrorists and nearly loses her life.

Sarah: Don’t forget about us, Dana. They nearly killed us too. I think it’s time the author retired us and found two more patsies to take our places.

Dana: You’d be bored to death if we stopped solving murders.

Sarah:  I’d like to live long enough to collect my social security.

Dana: I wouldn’t depend on that either, Sarah. You know you always have a home with me in my sister Georgi’s mansion.

Sarah: Huh. Remember when the drug gang kept breaking into the mansion after Georgi died? The mansion isn’t any safer than a bus station in downtown Los Angeles. And all that money you inherited from your sister didn’t keep us safe either.

Dana: Even so, it’s better than sitting around in rocking chairs or playing shuffleboard.

Sarah: True, but a little murder-free time would be appreciated.

Why don’t you two take a cruise and leave the motorhome behind?

Sarah: Which motorhome? Two of them have been wrecked already. One by the drug gang and the second when Dana had to crash it into a ditch to escape a killer, who was holding her hostage.

Dana: We can’t leave Bert, our retired police dog, behind again. He spent a month in the kennel while we were investigating the murders in Phoenix. He didn’t even recognize us when we finally arrived home.

Sarah: And Kerrie’s getting married soon to that handsome FBI agent who used her as a decoy for the terrorists.

Dana: (sigh) It’s a murky world out there and I doubt we’ll ever be able to retire. Our author is busy cooking up another plot to place us in danger.

Sarah: She’s going to have to play detective herself to find me in Argentina!

Thank you for talking to me today. Where can we learn more about you?

You can check out Jean Henry Mead’s website. It has all the links to her blogs and books: jeanhenrymead.com.

Click here to read an: Excerpt From “Murder on the Interstate” by Jean Henry Mead