Today’s Featured Author – K.M. Hodge

Please welcome author K.M. Hodge to my blog. Her latest book, The Sally Ride Chronicle, is a prequel to her Syndicate Born trilogy. And best of all it is FREE until Saturday March 3rd so get your copy today from Amazon!

Interview

Tell us a bit about yourself:

Award winning and USA Today Bestselling author, K.M. Hodge grew up in Detroit, where she spent most of her free time weaving wild tales to spook her friends and family. These days, she lives in Texas with her husband and two energetic boys, and once again enjoys writing tales of suspense and intrigue that keep her readers up all night. Her stories, which focus on women’s issues, friendship, addiction, regrets and second chances, will stay with you long after you finish them. When she isn’t writing or being an agent of social change, she reads Independent graphic novels, watches old X-files episodes, streams Detroit Tigers games and binges on Netflix with her husband.

If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

I started my first novel at the tender age of 18, but my own feelings of inadequacy prevented me from finishing the novel. The novel, Red on the Run, didn’t get completed until eighteen years later. The novel eventually got picked up by a publisher and went on to win the Pinnacle Book Achievement Award for Thrillers. My advice to my younger self would be to complete the book and not give up.

How long on average does it take you to write a book?

While it took me eighteen years to write my first novel, the others have gone by much faster. In the last three years I have written almost nine novels and published seven. The fastest book I wrote was my Syndicate-born novel: Black and White Truth, which took me 60 days to write.

Please tell us about your current release.

My latest release, The Sally Ride ChronicleA Syndicate-born Prequel, gives a look at what drove Sally Ride to become a spy and take down the Syndicate. Readers asked me to write more about my characters Sally and Alex. According to the current reviews, I met reader expectations.

If you could be one of the characters from any of your books, who would it be and why?

I would absolutely be the character Sally. She is a strong, determined and feisty gal. She preservers through intense situations and fights even when it seems like all hope is gone. Her evolution through the series was the most interesting and fun to write.

Book Blurb

The Syndicate doesn’t believe in divorce, but murder is another story.

Sally wants out—out of her marriage, out of the mob, out of Ocean City. An impossible dream. That is until the MDNA, a secret hacktivist group, invites her to join the ranks of their rebellion. The goal? Take down the criminal empire.

She’s no Jane Bond, but no one in her town suspects the quiet church-going mom is a threat, especially The Syndicate’s criminal defense attorney, Michael David, who’s got a thing for mysterious blondes. His love-’em-and-kill-’em exploits, and his penchant for causing witnesses to disappear, make him enemy number one for the hacktivist group. Sally’s mission sounds simple enough—destroy the lawyer’s life and make him pay—but….

Once she starts, there’ll be no turning back.

Follow Sally as she attempts the unthinkable—take down the largest crime ring in US history—in this prequel to The Syndicate-Born Trilogy.

About the Author 

Award winning and USA Today Bestselling author, K.M. Hodge grew up in Detroit, where she spent most of her free time weaving wild tales to spook her friends and family. These days, she lives in Texas with her husband and two energetic boys, and once again enjoys writing tales of suspense and intrigue that keep her readers up all night. Her stories, which focus on women’s issues, friendship, addiction, regrets and second chances, will stay with you long after you finish them. When she isn’t writing or being an agent of social change, she reads Independent graphic novels, watches old X-files episodes, streams Detroit Tigers games and binges on Netflix with her husband. K.M. Hodge truly enjoys hearing from her readers, so don’t be shy about dropping her an email or say hit on social media: Facebook, Twitter and Google+.

You can get The Sally Ride Chronicle on Amazon for FREE through March 3.

Today’s Featured Author – Tanya R. Taylor

Today I welcome Tanya R. Taylor to my blog. Her latest book, The Contract: Murder in the Bahamas, is the fifth in her The Cornelius Saga and was released earlier this month.

Excerpt

Daniel J. Smith, a forty-eight-year-old colored man, sat alone in the diner across the street from Tinnedale Hospital. He was of medium height and build, which edged closer to the broader side of the scale, but handsome, nonetheless, by many accounts. The clear eye-glasses sat comfortably on the bridge of his nose as he perused the morning newspaper.

Glancing above the daily, he observed a man in a long, white coat a few tables away and a woman wearing a dark blue outfit with high-heeled shoes to match. A younger man sat a couple of tables down. He appeared to be just staring into space as he sipped his hot chocolate, the steam of which steadily curled into the air. Daniel was among the few who quietly sat that morning in Al’s Diner.

His mind drifted to the meeting he had the day before with Lucille Green. That’s the day he flew in from Florida for what was probably his fortieth visit to the city of Nassau. He could see her sitting on the porch of that old, clapboard house. The entire residence had a square footage which nearly matched the size of his master bathroom back home in Boynton Beach to a “t”. Lucille was easily tipping the scales at around three hundred pounds, and every crevice and wrinkle on her sagging skin that sunny day as he sat with her told of countless struggles across her eighty-two years of existence. Daniel couldn’t deny her strong personality neither as she spoke aggressively through her raspy voice.

“It’s a damn shame how they treated Jackie all those years ago,” she roared. “The woman had five small children to take care of before they cuffed her like a common criminal and hauled her off to court. And to think they’d really believe she murdered that woman.”

That woman? Daniel was clearly offended and had to set her straight.

“That woman…” he pronounced “…was my mother.”

The nerve of you was embedded in Lucille’s expression, laced with a tinge of sympathy over the fact that the poor dead woman did indeed give birth to him.

“Right. No offense to you, young man,” she went on. “But I tell you, without a shadow of a doubt, that Jackie Pearl Agatha Smith did not kill your dear mother. My sister didn’t have it in her. Believe me when I say that.”

Daniel recalled her glassy eyes being wide with conviction while she uttered those words.

“They let my sister languish in prison for a whole six years before she succumbed to cancer. She suffered and died in that God-forsaken place for a crime she didn’t commit!” Tears were welling in her eyes. “She was humiliated and her children had to grow up without their mother. That just ain’t right.”

“So did I, Miss Green. I was just three years old when my mother was murdered. I don’t know how well her kids managed as they were coming up, but I was sent to live in foster homes ‘til I turned sixteen. After that, I was on my natural own. They were hard years.”

Lucille didn’t respond.

“I can’t begin to tell you what my life was like, but you sit here practically swearing for your sister when she was tried and convicted in a court of law. Every appeal was denied, yet you say she’s innocent.”

“Young man, I don’t know what you expected before you came here, but if it was for me to look you square in the face and lie to you, I’m sorry I disappointed you. You don’t have to believe a word I said. You can go on believin’ the lies they all told you. But I’m sure you’ve seen from the court papers, each and every witness for the defense said my sister was a good wife and mother even after her husband of twenty years, your father, strayed from his marriage and tangled himself up with your mother. Not only tangled himself up with her, but had a bastard child on top of that!”

Stunned by her choice of words, Daniel, nevertheless, held his tongue. He was taught to respect his elders.

“How you think my sister felt?” Her gaze was intense. “All right, let me answer that for you: Like Hell! She felt like Hell! Yet, she stuck in there and continued doing what she always done. She cried for the longest time and was terribly depressed – all this while still havin’ to go to work, cook and clean every day, take care of the children and satisfy her husband every time he came back home from the fields for a visit. Knowin’ when he was away on that God-forsaken job, he was shackin’ up with your mother every chance he got. I hate to put it to you that way, son, but you wanted the facts. There they are! Although your father’s betrayal almost killed my sister, she never lifted a finger to harm your mother. I dare say the real killer has never been caught to this day.”

Daniel’s thoughts were slain by the soft tinkling of wind chimes hanging above the doorway as a tall, solidly built man with dark hair walked in, accompanied by a lady whose facial features closely resembled his. She was wearing black slacks and a light, pink blouse; her hair roped in a ponytail. Daniel immediately pushed the newspaper he had barely read aside and stood up as the couple made their way over.

Book Blurb

~ A golden opportunity that ends in disaster. ~

Many “well-to-do” and “have-it-all-together” people have had depressing thoughts and suicidal tendencies — not knowing who to turn to or confide in. They believe an outward show of success will solve their problems and subdue their inner demons, but “achieving it all” and “having it all” fail to erase that nagging emotional pain. Daniel J. Smith tried a few times to end his life, but failed, and finally he thought: “Maybe there’s a reason I’m still here”. Read his troubling story in ‘THE CONTRACT: Murder in The Bahamas’, book 5 of the Cornelius Saga Series.
Mira Cullen is prompted to fly out to The Bahamas to meet a man her brother Wade must introduce her to. Daniel Smith believes it’s providence that a chance encounter with Wade has resulted in him meeting the one person who could possibly bring to light and put to rest an age-old mystery involving his beloved mother. Smith, a product of “the contract”, which took place decades earlier — deems it an opportunity that literally sustained the lives of many, but in whose clutches also stole the life of the one person he loved more than anything else in the world.

Will Mira’s attempt to uncover the truth ultimately grieve the one who yearns for it? Or will the final discovery prove to be bitter-sweet?

About the Author 

Tanya R. Taylor is the author of several #1 bestsellers on Amazon.com as well as the Amazon UK and Canada stores. She has been writing ever since she could remember holding a pencil and published her first book titled: A Killing Rage as a young adult.

Tanya has worked in the Financial arena and is also a seasoned ghostwriter. She is the author of both fiction and non-fiction literature, and all of her books have made Amazon Kindle’s Top 100 Paid Bestsellers’ List in several categories. Cornelius climbed to #1 in the Teen & Young-adult Multi-generational Family Fiction category in November 2015. And her supernatural, suspense/thriller – INFESTATION: A Small Town Nightmare is a #1 multiple times international bestseller.

America’s Most Haunted tweeted about her ocean thriller: “With HAUNTED CRUISE: THE SHAKEDOWN, Tanya R. Taylor Joins Ranks of Horror Greats.”

Tanya writes in various genres including: Paranormal Romance, Fantasy, Thrillers, Science-fiction, Mystery and Suspense.

She has a passion for the welfare of children and her hobbies include: Reading, writing, and researching. She’s also keen on documentaries.

You can find out more about Tanya on Facebook or on her website.

You can purchase The Contract: Murder in the Bahamas on Amazon.

#NewRelease – JILO by J.D. Horn

Please welcome author J.D. Horn to my blog. Today, he releases Jilo, the fourth book in the Witching Savannah series. Be sure to check out the excerpt from Jilo after the interview!

Interview

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I completed my first—and, as yet, still unpublished novel—twenty years ago. Eighteen years later my novel The Line landed me as an official nominee in the category of best debut author in the 2014 Goodreads Choice Awards. (So if your dream is to become a published author, keep the faith and don’t give up.)  I may have only come in 16th place, but considering the competition, I am quite pleased with the result. My books have now been/are being translated into eight languages (Russian, Polish, French, Italian, German, Spanish, Turkish, Romanian).

What or who inspired you to start writing?

I always wanted to tell stories, but it was the Armistead Maupin’s “Tales of the City” series that actually gave me the push to try. His light and engaging way of dealing with complex and often heartbreaking issues inspired me.

Do you outline your books or just start writing?

I start out with a broad summary—basically what I’ve promised my editor I’m going to write—and then sit at the keyboard until the characters tell me what’s really going to happen. If I’d stuck to an outline, Jilo—the titular character of my newest release—would never have made her way into The Line, as she didn’t reveal herself until my fourth (or maybe fifth) run at the book. As I tell my publisher whenever I present them with a proposal, my writing process resembles what happens when you store your carry-on luggage in a plane’s overhead bin. At the other end of the journey you find pretty much what you expect, but the contents may have shifted during flight.

Please tell us about your current release.

 Jilo is the fourth book in the Witching Savannah series, but as a prequel, it offers a new window into the Witching Savannah world—a reader doesn’t need to read the other three books in the series to enjoy Jilo.

In The Line, when we first meet the character of Jilo, she is a sharp-tongued, secretive, octogenarian with an axe to grind. Savannah’s foremost practitioner of Hoodoo, coastal Georgia and South Carolina’s equivalent of Voodoo, Jilo presents herself as a frightful and unsophisticated personage. Over the series, as the layers are stripped away, readers come to see Jilo as an intelligent, educated, and highly sympathetic character. Jilo may have captured the hearts and imaginations of tens of thousands of readers, but her biggest fan remains her creator. When given the chance to expand on the Witching Savannah (at the time) trilogy, I didn’t have a single doubt as to which character I wanted to spend more time with, and get to know better.

While the other books in the series (The Line, The Source, and The Void) are contemporary, Jilo covers a period running from 1932 into 1960, shedding light on how the series’ arguably most popular character grew into the beloved, but not to be trifled with, Mother Jilo.

What kind of research did you do for this book?

Research is very important to me. I did a lot of “boots on the ground” research in Savannah when writing the contemporary portion of the series. I’ve even had readers tell me they’ve carried The Line along with them as an ersatz travel guide.  I went back again while writing Jilo to delve into the Hostess City’s not so pleasant past, spending many, many hours going through newspaper microfiche, speaking to longtime Savannah residents, visiting the sites of long since demolished buildings and even entire neighborhoods that have been erased from the map.

If you could be one of the characters from any of your books, who would it be and why?

That’s easy. Oliver Taylor from the Witching Savannah series. He’s handsome, never seems to age, can charm people into doing whatever he wants, and he gets away with making the comments I have to keep in my head.

Do you have an all time favorite book?

I do. Mikhail Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita. A beautiful book about love, writing, and a cocktail party thrown by Satan.

If you could meet two authors, who would you pick and why?

If we’re talking living writers, strangely, I kind of, sort of, have met the two writers I’d pick. I bumped into Armistead Maupin on the corner of 18th and Castro in San Francisco back in the mid-nineties, but didn’t have the nerve to say hello. He smiled. I smiled. The light changed.

I’m going to cheat a bit and mention Charlaine Harris and Anne Rice in one breath, as both have been very influential on my writing. I had the chance to say hello to Charlaine at a book signing a couple of years back, and then had the opportunity to gaze at her from across a crowded room when she spoke at the International Thriller Writers’ 2015 ThrillerFest. I also attended the awards dinner at the previous year’s ThrillerFest where Anne Rice was a speaker. So, I’m not besties with either of them, but it was great to get even that close.

Excerpt from Jilo

“Thank you, Pastor,” Jesse’s mama said, placing her hand on his shoulder. Pastor Jones looked at her, Bible still held high, seeming to deliberate whether or not he should shrug her off and carry on. “I do so appreciate you coming out today,” May added in a sincere tone. Jesse knew his mama, though, and despite her calm demeanor, he knew she’d heard enough. The preacher had been given more than enough time to speak of wheat and chaff and wise virgins with well-trimmed wicks. The look on her face was the one she used when placating anyone in authority—usually the buckra, but occasionally one of their own. “We need to be getting the babies and the old folk out of the sun before one of them falls ill.”

The young man searched her face for a moment, then acquiesced. “Thank you, sister,” he said, taking a step back from the head of the grave.

Jesse’s mama smiled again at the preacher. “You go on, now,” she said, dismissing him in no uncertain terms. “We can handle it from here.” Jones lingered for a moment, as if considering whether he should listen, then nodded and walked away from the grave, passing by Jesse and his family on his way to the cemetery gate. He hesitated a moment when he reached Jesse’s daughters, who watched the young pastor with listless trepidation. Opal shifted Jilo, balancing the baby on her hip. Jones reached out to pat Poppy’s head, but then stopped dead at the sight of Jilo, doll-like in her starched white cap and gown. The pastor pulled his hand back slowly and hurried on toward the gate. Silence fell over the group until he was well beyond the boundary.

“Opal,” his mother called. Jesse’s eyes darted to his daughter.

“Yes’m.” The girl startled and straightened to attention at the sound of her nana’s voice.

“You bring your sister on up here,” Jesse’s mama instructed. “Bring Jilo to me.”

Jesse felt Betty tensing beside him. “You stay right where you are, girl,” Betty said, wagging her finger at Opal, who seemed nearly split in two by her desire to please both her nana and her mama at the same time. “What you need my Jilo for?” Betty took a few steps forward. Jesse couldn’t help but notice that she had moved toward his mother, ready for confrontation, rather than toward her baby, ready to protect.

He knew there was no need to protect Jilo from anything that was going to happen here, so while Betty geared herself up for a shouting matching with his mama, he stepped back and approached the girls. “Let me have her,” he said with a nod to Opal. Her face relaxed in gratitude as she handed the baby over.

Jesse took Jilo in both hands and shifted her into the crook of his arm. He leaned his head over to plant a kiss on her round cheek, then reached out and ran his thumb over Opal’s cheek as well. Over the sound of their mama’s indignant shouting, Jesse winked and said, “Your daddy has the best girls in the whole wide world; you know that, don’t you?” A smile curved on Opal’s lips, and she blinked once before nodding her response.

“And you, my little flower?” he said, turning toward Poppy, who scurried up to him and hugged his leg. He patted her head. “I love my girls,” he said. “All three of them.” When Poppy released him and slid back next to Opal, he closed his eyes for a moment before turning to face the scene unfolding behind him.

“And I,” Betty said, waving her finger in his mama’s face, “am not gonna have my babies take part in any of the old woman’s Hoodoo. You hear me?”

“Jilo,” his mama replied in her calmest voice, even though the angry set of her mouth and the crease that lined the center of her forehead told Jesse she was anything but relaxed, “is the last born. You want to be good and clear of the old woman”–her head rocked in indignation–“then we need to pass Jilo over the coffin.”

Jesse had almost reached his mother’s side when Betty caught sight of him. She pushed roughly past the mourners who didn’t have the sense to part between them like the Red Sea at the wave of Moses’s staff. “Gimme the girl.”

Jesse took a step backward and placed his hand over the back of Jilo’s little capped head. “It’s our way.”

“It may be your way, but it ain’t my way, and she’s my child.” Betty now stood within spitting distance of him, her chest and shoulders heaving. She flung out her arms, grasping at the linen of Jilo’s gown.

There was no way he was relinquishing the girl to those clenched and angry hands. “She’s my child, too.” For a moment, Betty’s face froze. Then her eyes narrowed, and she tilted her head. Her lips parted, readying to speak the truth that his cousins had been whispering behind his back, the truth his gut already knew. The truth that his own heart told him was the greatest lie of all. But then she stopped. Her tongue darted out of her mouth and licked her lips instead.

She gestured with a wide wave of her arm that included him, his mother, the casket, and the baby. “All right, y’all heathens go right on ahead. Y’all do what you need to do.” She spun around and stomped off, heading toward the gate.

Opal and Poppy started to take off after her, but their mother swung her hand back, signaling for them to stay put. Jesse could read the worry and confusion on their little faces from a hundred paces. “You come up here with Daddy and Nana,” he called to them. They hesitated, keeping an eye on their mother’s receding back. “Come on,” he said and urged them forward with a wave of his free hand. The two girls joined hands and walked forward with some lingering trepidation.

Jesse’s mother positioned herself on the opposite side of the coffin. He shifted Jilo off his shoulder, taking her in both hands. She gurgled with laughter, a bit of drool falling from the side of her mouth. Her black eyes twinkled with such love and intelligence, so much soul. It was like she’d already lived a thousand lives, and held every secret of the universe in her chubby, damp hands. He pulled her in close and placed a kiss on her forehead, then reached her over the casket to his mother.

His mama’s calloused, yet gentle, hands brushed his. As he let Jilo drop into her grasp, his ears were met with a loud pop, and his eyes registered a flash of bluish light. Everyone stood there gaping in silent amazement. Jilo squealed happily and reached her chubby arms across the void of his nana’s grave toward him, a joyous mystery playing in her eyes.

Book Blurb

Horn-Jilo-19825-CV-FT-V11950s Georgia: King Cotton has fallen. Savannah is known as the “beautiful woman with a dirty face,” its stately elegance faded by neglect, its soul withering from racial injustice and political corruption.

The dark secrets of Savannah are intertwined with the story of the young Jilo Wills who rises to become a legendary part of the most powerful family of witches in the South. The origins of the famed Taylor witch family finds its roots with Jilo’s great-grandmother and her grandmother, both who used their sorcery to influence the city’s power brokers. The two matriarchs, however, die before they can provide Jilo with a solid education in the magical arts. In desperation to make a quick buck, Jilo takes advantage of the family’s reputation and her scant magical knowledge to create a “Mother Jilo” persona. But soon, Jilo is forced to accept the full weight of her legacy when it becomes clear she is the one that the mystical witch world has been waiting for. Jilo becomes the unbreakable link between the past and future witches of Savannah.

In this standalone introduction to one of the Witching Savannah series’ most vivid and beloved characters, readers are swept away by the resourceful and determined Jilo as she comes of age, strives to master formidable magical skills in the face of overwhelming adversity, and forges her strange destiny against the turbulent backdrop of the civil rights struggle in the American South.

About the Author

JD HORNJ.D. Horn was raised in rural Tennessee and has carried a bit of its red clay with him while traveling the world, from Hollywood to Paris to Tokyo. He studied comparative literature as an undergrad, focusing on French and Russian in particular. He also holds an MBA in international business and worked as a financial analyst before becoming a novelist. Along with his spouse, Rich, and his furry coauthors, Duke and Sugar, he divides his time between Black Butte Ranch, Oregon, and San Francisco, California. Previous titles in the Witching Savannah series are The Line, The Void and The Source.

You can find out more about J.D. Horn’s series on his website.

Jilo can be purchased on Amazon.

 

Today’s Featured Author – Eric Drouant

Today, I welcome author Eric Drouant to my blog to talk about Remote, his suspense thriller series.

Interview

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I work for a large company in the defense industry. I guess the most notable aspect of that career has been time spent in Iraq and Afghanistan and plenty of travel to places I never imagined seeing.

Where were you born and where do you call home?

I’m a Louisiana boy, born in Baton Rouge and raised in New Orleans. I currently live just north of the Crescent City along with a pack of kids and an even bigger pack of grandchildren.

What is the best and worst advice you ever received? (regarding writing or publishing)

The best advice I’ve ever heard is to just sit down and start writing. Write anything. It might be good or it might be crap, but you can always toss it or revise it. If you don’t do something, you have nothing. I don’t know about any bad advice. I believe you just have to find something that works for you.

What is the best thing about being a writer? The worst?

This is strange but in one of my short stories I found an incredibly original way to kill a character, which is tough to do. I was proud of that. The worst part, for me, is editing and re-writing.

How do you conceive your plot ideas?

Most of my books have begun with only the vaguest idea of what I want to do. As I move further and further into it, I’ll begin to map out a few ideas. These sometimes come to fruition and sometimes fall by the wayside.

Please tell us about your current release.

Right now, I have a three book series titled REMOTE. The first book, ORIGINS, relates the story of their discovery by a government agency and their struggle to escape being imprisoned and used as a weapon in the Cold War. FATAL, the second in the series, becomes a little more personal, but again the characters are faced with tough situations. The ending of this book caught both myself and some readers by surprise. ARTIST is the third in the series and sets the tone for further books by placing Cassie Reynold, the main focus of the first two books, into an entirely new set of circumstances in her life.

Did the story turn out the way you planned from the beginning? If not, what change happened that you didn’t expect?

The biggest surprise to me was the emergence of Cassie Reynold as the focus of the book. The original concept involved her boyfriend, Ronnie Gilmore, as the main character. As I moved through the writing, Cassie became simply overpowering and grabbed the lead without any help on my part.

Is there a specific place in the house (or out of the house) that you like to write?

I write where I can, which is usually at my kitchen table or in a hotel room on the road. If I could pick any place in the world to write, it would be in a small hotel room in Le Havre, France. Large parts of ARTIST were written t here and that location is the place I’ve been most productive. I don’t know what it is but I would go back there in a minute and I know the words would pour out again.

Book Blurb

Origins_Ebook1When CIA operatives discover that teens Cassie Reynold and Ronnie Gilmore possess uncanny psychic abilities, their seemingly normal existence is catapulted into a world of espionage,mayhem, and cold blooded murder.

Set against the backdrop of the Cold War, these two high-value targets are marked as prey for renegade agent Thorne. Capturing them will cement his position within a clandestine world, rife with danger at every turn.

The year is 1973 and the world has changed. The government is on edge, no one more so than rogue CIA operative Thorne. After discovering the pair of New Orleans teenagers and their paranormal abilities, he is determined to capture them and use them to further his own cause, but doing so will not come easily, especially when the pursuit unleashes the deadliest instinct of Cassie Reynold.

About the Author

Eric Drouant lives in Slidell, La just north of New Orleans. Born and raised in the deep south, the author spends a considerable amount of time on the road. His work has taken him to Iraq, Afghanistan, South America, and several European countries. A lifetime of reading led him to newspaper work, web content writing, and finally, a plunge into fiction.

You can buy Origins and the rest of the Remote series on Amazon.

 

Today’s Featured Author: Maggie James

Today, I welcome author Maggie James to Into Another World.

Interview

Tell us a bit about yourself.

My name is Maggie James, and I’m a British writer of psychological suspense novels. Fiction is a relatively new venture for me, although I’ve always wanted to be a novelist. As a child, I never doubted I’d write books as an adult, but things didn’t turn out that way. The desire to write still nibbled at the back of my mind throughout the decades, although I didn’t do anything about it until I reached my forties. Then I began writing fan fiction, starting with a short 1,800-word story, which received good reviews. That gave me the confidence to carry on, and I wrote several more stories. The idea of writing a novel, though, seemed overwhelming. So what changed? Well, my fiftieth birthday appeared on the horizon. Such a milestone date; I couldn’t bear to pass it without having written the novel that had been burning inside me for so long. I had my epiphany in December 2010; by the end of February 2011, I’d drafted the first version of ‘His Kidnapper’s Shoes’. The moment when I typed the final word was highly emotional, and I’ll always remember it.

What else about me? Well, unlike the characters in my novels, I rarely swear, and I loathe violence and confrontation. Travel has been a lifelong passion of mine and I’ve been lucky enough to indulge it extensively, with more trips planned. I adore food and everything to do with it; restaurants, cooking, browsing recipe books, etc. I’m into healthy living, although the characters in my books definitely aren’t! I am a yoga aficionado, doing four classes a week, and I’m a gym member. And I adore animals, especially cats!

How much of yourself, your personality or your experiences, is in your books?

There’s a myth that writers pour themselves and their issues into their books, but it’s not true for everyone. Sure, some authors operate this way – Stephen King is a well-known example – but I definitely don’t. I’m a private person, and the idea of revealing snippets of myself via my novels is a complete no-no for me. My experiences? Well, my books are based in Bristol, so I draw on my knowledge of my home city. That’s the extent of it, though. None of the traumas to which I subject my characters has ever happened to me (for which I’m grateful!) My books express my desire to write; they’re not a catharsis.

Have you started your next project? If so, can you share a little bit about your next book?

I’m working hard to bring my fourth novel, ‘The Second Captive’, to the state where it’s ready to publish. The novel centres on the fascinating psychological condition known as Stockholm syndrome, in which a hostage bonds with his or her captor. Here’s an idea of the book’s plot:

Beth Sutton is eighteen years old when Dominic Perdue abducts her. Held prisoner by him in a basement, she’s dependent upon him for food, clothes, her very existence. At first, she hates him, but as the months pass, her abhorrence changes to compassion. Beth never allows herself to forget, however, that Dominic has killed another woman. She has tangible evidence to prove it, not to mention Dominic’s own admission of murder.

Then Beth escapes…

And discovers Dominic Perdue is not a man who lets go easily. Meanwhile, despite being reunited with her family, she spirals into despair. Release from her prison isn’t enough. Can Beth also break free from the clutches of Stockholm syndrome?

A study of emotional dependency, ‘The Second Captive’ examines how love can assume strange guises. If all goes well, it should be on sale by the end of October 2014, and I’ll probably make it available for pre-order before then.

What is the best thing about being a writer? The worst?

The best thing? I’ve fulfilled my lifelong desire to be a novelist. Nothing beats creating a novel from the first glimmer of an idea through to a finished book. The sense of satisfaction that comes from shaping words into entertainment is immense. The worst? It’s hard to think of any downsides. Some people have strange ideas about writers, which means I get the occasional weird comment, but other than that, I can’t think of anything bad. It’s the best career in the world!

How do you conceive your plot ideas?

Plot ideas can come from anywhere. The world is a cornucopia of possibilities, from conversations overheard in bars to events on the news. In turn, these spark questions such as ‘how would that feel?’ or ‘what if…’, generating dozens of potential plot ideas. I always have a notebook and pen on me to jot down possibilities.

When the right idea strikes, I recognise it instantly. I get an unmistakable gut feeling, accompanied by huge excitement. My brain goes into overdrive, taking the raw idea and spinning it into a fully-fledged novel over the course of four to six weeks.

Do you outline your books or just start writing?

I outline in a fair amount of detail before I begin. I can’t simply pitch into writing a book; I need to follow a pre-designed sequence for what will happen to my characters. That way I stay on track, avoiding the nightmare of complicated revisions later. As I’ve progressed in my writing career, my planning has become more detailed; as a result, editing is easier. For my first novel, ‘His Kidnapper’s Shoes’, I kept track of it via an Excel spreadsheet, with a tab for each character and a brief synopsis for each chapter. It wasn’t enough; I ended up with a 146,000-word first draft that needed severe pruning. Nowadays, I plot each chapter and scene in detail before I start. I firmly believe planning staves off the dreaded writer’s block. After all, if a novelist has extensive notes for what comes next, it’s not hard to write it.

What inspired you to write Guilty Innocence?

The inspiration for my third novel, ‘Guilty Innocence’, came from this question: what would it be like to discover somebody you love is concealing a criminal past? I don’t remember what sparked the original idea, but once I’d decided it had potential for a novel, I was hooked. I started with the character of Natalie Richards, asking myself: what’s the worst felony I can attribute to her boyfriend, Mark Slater? The answer: being a convicted child-killer. A crime that incites strong reactions, and I’m drawn to examining events with a fierce emotional charge.

What kind of research did you do for this book?

I went to Moretonhampstead, where some of the action takes place, taking photos and finding the field where Abby Morgan was murdered. I’m glad I did, because when I wrote the first draft, I’d not been to the town; instead, I based what I wrote on internet research. After my visit, I rewrote much of the relevant chapters; going there intensified everything in my mind, making it more vivid. I also consulted with a senior police officer, one with over thirty years’ experience. He gave invaluable help about the process of creating new identities for offenders. Not an easy task, because such details are kept from public knowledge due to the possibility of vigilante action. He was also helpful concerning the dialogue between Mark and the police officer handling his case.

What was the most difficult thing/scene to write in this story?

Without doubt, the murder of Abby Morgan. The brutal killing of a two-year-old girl is hard to contemplate for anyone who’s not a psychopath. Yet the story required me to include the circumstances of her death. What happened that day was pivotal in the lives of Mark Slater and Adam Campbell, the two individuals convicted of Abby’s murder. I needed to include her death, but do so in a way that isn’t graphic or hard to handle. That wasn’t easy. I can’t contemplate how anyone could harm a tiny child, so I had to dig deep to write the scene, and set aside my natural revulsion.

Did the story turn out the way you planned from the beginning? If not, what change happened that you didn’t expect?

No, it didn’t, despite the fact I planned the novel beforehand. Sometimes it goes that way – a plot can appear neatly sewn-up at the planning stage, but once an author starts writing, the characters pull him or her in a different direction. You realise certain things won’t work and that changes are necessary. That’s not a bad thing; it’s important to stay true to where the story and characters lead the writer. In the first draft of ‘Guilty Innocence’, Mark Slater kills Adam Campbell and goes to jail for his murder. When I came to edit the novel, that part didn’t gel with me. Mark, although he’s a tortured soul, isn’t a murderer; I needed to find a different way for him to resolve his issues.

Book Blurb

GuiltyInnocence_BlogTwo eleven-year-old boys.

One two-year-old girl.

A murder that shocked the nation.

Ten years after being convicted of the brutal killing of a toddler, Mark Slater, formerly Joshua Barker, is released on parole from prison. Only the other boy jointly sentenced for Abby Morgan’s murder, the twisted and violent Adam Campbell, knows the truth. That Mark played no part in Abby’s death.

Four years later, Mark’s on-off girlfriend discovers a letter revealing his conviction as a child killer. At risk of having his protective cover made public, Mark’s need to confront the injustice of his sentence becomes overwhelming. Desperate to find answers, he initiates a friendship with Abby’s older sister, something strictly prohibited by the terms of his parole. Rachel Morgan, however, unaware of Mark’s former identity, is battling her own emotional demons.

Meanwhile, circumstances have thrust Mark back in contact with Adam Campbell, who, aged twenty-five, is more domineering and chilling than ever. Can Mark rewrite history and confront his nemesis?

A gritty novel examining child murder and dysfunctional families, Guilty Innocence tells of one man’s struggle to break free from his past.

About the Author

Maggie James is a British author who lives in Bristol. She writes psychological suspense novels.

 

The first draft of her first novel, entitled His Kidnapper’s Shoes, was written whilst travelling in Bolivia. Maggie was inspired by an impending milestone birthday along with a healthy dose of annoyance at having procrastinated for so long in writing a novel. His Kidnapper’s Shoes was published in both paperback and e-book format in 2013, followed by her second novel, entitled Sister, Psychopath. Her third novel, Guilty Innocence, has now been published, and like her first two, features her home city of Bristol. She is currently editing her fourth novel, The Second Captive.

 

Before turning her hand to writing, Maggie worked mainly as an accountant, with a diversion into practising as a nutritional therapist. Diet and health remain high on her list of interests, along with travel. Accountancy does not, but then it never did. The urge to pack a bag and go off travelling is always lurking in the background! When not writing, going to the gym, practising yoga or travelling, Maggie can be found seeking new four-legged friends to pet; animals are a lifelong love!

You can find out more about Maggie on her website or check out her Facebook page, follow her on Twitter or visit her Goodreads page.

You can purchase Guilty Innocence on Amazon.

 

 

Today’s Featured Author: Karen D. Scioscia

Today I welcome author Karen D. Scioscia to my blog to discuss her book, Kidnapped by the Cartel.

Interview

Tell us a bit about yourself.  

It seems like I write all the time! I currently write a weekly column for The Charlotte Observer, contribute to Yahoo.com, have several stories published in magazines, write speeches for corporate executives, and am working on two books. My next book is in the true crime genre, about a serial killer (who is languishing in prison at this moment), and the other is a novel that contains a bit of paranormal. The information and thoughts for both of these books are constantly swirling about in my head. I am able to work on more than one project at a time, which astounds even me at times.

What or who inspired you to start writing? 

My father was a college professor (English and Speech) and wrote plays for children’s theater. My paternal grandmother wrote a weekly column in a Florida newspaper until her death at age 96. I think the love and desire to write is in my genes!

Please tell us about your current release. 

My current release, Kidnapped By the Cartel, was inspired by my niece’s abduction at the hands of the Mexican drug cartel. I was physically involved in the eleven day search for her. We were so devastated as a family with what happened, that I was originally going to write a true crime book. But in all of my research, including interviews with the San Diego Police Department, la Policia de Tijuana, and management and staff at various hospitals and rehab centers, I discovered that what had happened to my niece wasn’t an isolated incident. There were many such events – most often with the most horrific results. I compiled my research information along with some of the situations involving my niece, and, using my imagination, created a character, Amanda Tate. The result is a fast-paced, suspenseful, action-charged thriller about drugs, kidnappings, torture and the inside story of what Mexican drug cartels are all about.

What was the most difficult thing/scene to write in this story?

The scenes containing torture were the most difficult for me to write. I had to get outside of myself to graphically describe the gruesome, violent and blood-chilling methods of the cartel. I wanted readers to feel like they were right there with Amanda.

What book are you reading right now?  

Reading is a passion, and I always have more than one book going at the same time. I just finished Killing Jesus by Bill O’Reilly and Is Everyone Hanging Out without Me? by Mindy Kalin. Both were great. I’m starting David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell and Think: Why You Should Question Everything by Guy P. Harrison. Two of my all time favorite books are The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein and The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff. Both books make you think and say a lot in just a few words.

Tell us a random fact about you that we never would have guessed.

I love to dance and do some of my best dancing in my car while stopped at red lights.

Book Description

Latest BookA beautiful, young American woman was kidnapped and confined against her will in the putrid depths of Tijuana, Mexico. Drugged and tortured, she lived in constant fear for her life. Kidnapped by the Cartel opens the doors into the secret covens of Mexican Organized Crime, a terrifying place where many are lost forever. The slimy backstreets of Tijuana are graphically revealed as the disgusting, gruesome, and violent places they are known to be. The U.S. State Department has warned against non-essential travel along the United States/Mexico border, especially in the violent cities of Ciudad Juarez and Tijuana. This novel gives a taste of what goes on behind the fence.

You can purchase Kidnapped by the Cartel on Amazon and Barnes & Noble

You can find out more about Karen on her website.

Today’s Featured Author: Tom Abrahams

Today, I am pleased to welcome Tom Abrahams, author of SEDITION, to my blog.

Interview

WHERE WERE YOU BORN AND WHERE DO YOU CALL HOME?

I was born in a log cabin in rural Kentucky.  My mother died when I was young.  And while I didn’t go to college, I did pass the bar after teaching myself the law with the help of textbooks.  Wait…that’s not me.

I was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana but was raised in North Carolina.  I went to college in Florida and spent a decade there after finding jobs in the northern and central parts of the state.  Home is now Houston, Texas.  My wife and I have lived here for more than 13 years and are raising our kids here.  We do not live in  log cabin.  Neither of us are lawyers.

WHEN DID YOU CONSIDER YOURSELF A WRITER?

When I sell one more book…

HOW DO YOU CONCEIVE YOUR PLOT IDEAS?

While I don’t rip the ideas straight from the headlines, I do base the stories on the current political climate.  SEDITION is based on an 1820 British conspiracy to overthrow the government.  But it resonates as a modern day commentary on our politics because of the divided house on Capitol Hill.  My next novel plays off dissatisfaction some states seem to have with the federal government and our dependence on hydrocarbons.   I take that “reality” and then try to manufacture a fictional tale within that world.

DO YOU OUTLINE YOUR BOOKS OR JUST START WRITING?

A little bit of both.  I have an idea and start writing out the first few pages.  Then I work on developing the main characters and how they’ll fit into the original idea.   I create a very rough outline that hits the beginning middle and planned end of the story.  It, of course, changes as I write.  Characters change as do some of the plot points.  And I find that the book I intended is only about 60% of what I end up writing.

WHAT WAS THE MOST DIFFICULT THING/SCENE TO WRITE IN THIS STORY?

There is a scene late in the book in which one of the primary character commits suicide.  It was surprisingly difficult to write because I think, in part, I’d become attached to that character.  I felt the emptiness and sadness as I wrote the incredibly detailed pages that reveal how and why the characters decides suicide is the only option.  I didn’t anticipate being as emotionally drained as I was.  And when I go back to read that part of the book again, it still bothers me.

DID THE STORY TURN OUT THE WAY YOU PLANNED FROM THE BEGINNING?  IF NOT WHAT CHANGE HAPPENED THAT YOU DIDN’T EXPECT?

There were two major plot twists in the book that were not originally planned.  One of them occurs about midway through the story.  And I didn’t expect to take the plot that direction, but as I wrote, I found the characters “leading” me that way.  It was very cool and one of my favorite parts of the narrative.  The second twist was a total rewrite to the end of the book.  I’d resolved the story one way, when my wife suggested an alternative.  I loved the idea and rewrote the last thirty pages of the book.  I can’t take credit for that twist, but I know it was the right move.  Readers have repeatedly told me they didn’t see it coming and that it made the book.

WHAT BOOK ARE YOU READING RIGHT NOW?

I’m reading THE FIFTH ASSASSIN by Brad Meltzer.  In the book he switches from 3rd to 1st person POV.  Given that my first novel was 3rd person and my next one is 1st person, I’m reading it to learn from his gift.  He writes with a great deal of ease.  I’m envious.

HAVE YOU STARTED YOUR NEXT PROJECT?  IF SO CAN YOU SHARE A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOUR NEXT BOOK?

My next project is about 70% complete (that is the first draft is 70% complete).  It’s tentatively called ALLEGIANCE and takes place in Texas.  It follows a political operative as he finds himself unwittingly caught in a political conspiracy involving secession, oil, and nanotechnology.  While a blend of political and science fiction, I’ve had help from some great people in crafting a very believable plot.  Nanoscientists are awesome in sharing what they know and making it understandable to an aspiring writer like me.  I hope to have ALLEGIANCE available at the end of 2013.

Book Description

SEDITION_coverThe President of The United States is dead. There is no Vice President to take his place.

As the nation slips into a constitutional crisis, a small group of disenfranchised neo-patriots conspire to violently seize power.
They have the will. They already have someone on the inside. And they have the explosives.

Standing in their way is a woman who listens to conversations not meant for her to hear. She reads mail not intended for her to see. She knows their intention. But can she stop them in time?

SEDITION is a smart, fast-paced, modern day political novel woven in reality and based on the 1820 British plot, The Cato Street Conspiracy.

It navigates the thin line between good versus evil and patriot versus traitor, proving there’s always a reason behind treason.

Author Bio

tomchronpicjpgTom is a Texas television reporter and anchor who has spent 20 years covering local, national, and international news.

He’s interviewed Presidents, cabinet members, and leaders in congress. He’s reported live from the White House, Capitol Hill, and the United Nations.

Tom’s covered five national political conventions. He has flown with presidential candidates, gone backstage at their rallies, and broken stories about them on televion and online.

You can buy SEDITION at Amazon, Amazon UK, Barnes & Noble, the Kobo Store and iBooks. The paperback version is also available at Tower Books, Murder by the Book and Createspace.