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Laura K. Cowan’s Music of Sacred Lakes is Beautiful Redemptive Ghost Story + INTERVIEW

musicofsacredlakesbookcoverfrontMusic of Sacred Lakes, by Laura K. Cowan, is my type of book. I love books that rise above words on a page and become their own surreal, atmospheric, deep thinking entities. It’s why I love Neil Gaiman, Erin Healy, and Ted Dekker so much. I really wish there were more authors who would write stories that intertwine the essence of life with fantastic ideas and a connection to nature, our ancestors, and the spirit world. Maybe I just think deeper myself than an average person on such subjects, but I doubt it. I am sure there are plenty of us free spirit thinkers sitting on benches by rivers and lakes and thinking about how it all fits together.

In this novel, Laura deals with emotions and issues such as not feeling like you belong, feeling guilty for not meeting expectations, feeling that you can’t be who you are, and as well, emotions that come from accidentally doing something wrong and having it eat away at you. She does a wonderful job of bringing it full circle though and redeeming the protagonist as he does inner soul searching and embraces self-awareness and forgiveness.

This story is somewhat supernatural in regards to it deals with the character diving deep beyond the normal, natural world and seeks guidance from God, spirits, natures, and himself. He is heightened in regards to thinking beyond the average world and healing himself. The lake, and his quest he is sent on by a native american healer to hear the lake speak to him, brings a gothic, foggy feel to the novel.

I really enjoyed Laura’s use of the first people tribes, the Odawa and Ojibwe, which are native to the area of Canada and Michigan. Native American novels and the use of their spiritual history and connection with nature has always interested and appealed to me, so I was thrilled that her novel included this element. It gives us as Christians an understanding that their is more than the usual religion that most are used to, that long before the white men came here, native americans were in-tune to the natural world and as well their own emotions and spiritual plain. A deep understanding of nature can call to us, change us, and speak to us, or how spirits and ancestors can speak to us through it, is so eerie to read about and yet so interesting to think on.

I really loved the issues and emotions Laura put into her book, as well as her character development and  her astounding magical and spiritual realism and symbolism. I can’t read to read more from Laura. If you liked Erin Healy’s Afloat or Neil Gaiman’s The House at the End of the Lane, then I think you’ll love Laura’s Music of the Sacred Lakes.  4.5 stars

Interview with Laura K. Cowan~

laura-k-cowan-headshotHi Laura!! Happy to have you come by Oh, for the Hook of a Book! It’s always a pleasure to have you here. You are kicking off quite the year as not only are you publishing Music of Sacred Lakes, but you have many more books launching this year. How are you feeling about launching Music of Sacred Lakes to the world?

Laura: Thank you! It’s so nice to be back to talk to you again. How am I feeling? Giddiness followed by dread followed by joy. No biggie. But seriously, this book came out of a full year of intense research and involved a shift in my worldview to a new understanding of the connectedness of things, so it’s big for me even if I’m not inventing any new way of seeing things that didn’t already exist in the world. I am super excited to share it with everyone, but I’m also pretty nervous. How many more people have to call me a heretic before I earn my sew-on “This Artist Has Been Flogged and Proven Sincere” patch?

Erin: NO reason to be nervous….haha! It’s getting somewhat more like spring where we are in Michigan and Ohio, after all that massive snow we had, let’s don our sweatshirts and head out in the cool breeze for a walk around one of our neighboring lakes. Should we bring coffee or tea? I opt this time for a steaming cup of java myself. You?

Laura: I love coffee, but it turns me into a maniac! I seriously can’t drink more than a quarter-cup of coffee without attempting to write an entire book in one day or clean my whole house. That would be awesome if it didn’t involve a crash on the other end. So, tea, thanks.

Erin: I have some great questions I’ve been waiting to ask you so let’s get started.

Q: Tell us a little about Music of Sacred Lakes. What was your inspiration for the novel?

A: My family actually has a sixth-generation family homestead in Northern Michigan like Peter in Music of Sacred Lakes, and while I’m really proud of my pioneering ancestors and relatives who still maintain the farm, I was upset when I learned as a kid about the history of Native American tribes being forced to give their lands to the United States to open it to settlers in the 1800s. I thought all my life about how maybe I should give back land I had control over, or at least help these tribes. In the end I realized that this sort of thing has happened throughout history to many peoples and it’s not possible to untangle it so simply, but it got me thinking about ownership of land, a concept I’ve never really been comfortable with. I also was thinking about how different cultures give rise to unique musical styles that really seem to reflect the environment they come from, and I started to wonder if there was a relationship between music and land. What was people’s relationship to land? What kind of relationships do people have with nature? I was starting to realized that feeling unwanted and displaced in the world was a deeper issue than family relationships, a big theme running through the generations of my family. It had something to do with the way we view our place in the world as a whole as well, something that had more to do with our entire culture’s way of viewing their relationship with nature.

Q: Your stories generally have an air of spirituality and connection with the natural elements. How do you feel your ghost differs from the normal ghost stories we read mainstream today?

A: This ghost is so different that I didn’t decide it was a ghost until the story was finished! This ghost is more like the voice of the world or the creative force behind it, which comes to Peter in the book in the form of the girl he accidentally killed rising out of Lake Michigan as a part of the lake. That’s why I call it a redemptive ghost story. It’s certainly still fascinating in the way I think all ghost stories can be, but it’s not just scary or sad. There’s a real ambiguous quality to it. We travel through the experience of being pursued by this voice with Peter, unsure of what is going on.

Q: How do you as an author define your genre? Literary? Christian? Paranormal? And how do others define you? Even though we can say we don’t want to be defined, generally our novels fit in somewhere and this helps readers to know if it’s a read for them.

A: I guess the best fit for me is magical realism or imaginative fantasy, in which invisible or mythical truths are made literal and visible in the contemporary world. My writing hops across several genres: fantasy, literary fiction, spiritual/visionary/metaphysical/postmodern Christian, paranormal psychological thrillers, but everything is about dreams, the connections between the natural and spiritual worlds, and supernatural or magical elements.

Q: What makes your novel, The Music of Sacred Lakes, stand out on the shelves? What makes your story unique?

A: Both supernatural novels and literary novels sometimes have a kind of dark vision of the world these days, probably just a reflection of our times. But Music of Sacred Lakes dives into one of the hardest topics literature tackles–being unwanted, unloved, displaced in the world, seeing no hope or purpose in life: despair–and brings an ambitiously hopeful vision of how things might be all right after all. It might be that we just don’t see it.

Q: What do you hope readers “take away” after they read this novel? What types of emotions or thoughts do you hope to evoke from them?

A: Hope. A feeling of being surrounded by loving care and belonging just as they are.

Q: The Odawa tribe, which is featured in the book, were native to Canada and Michigan. Have you done much research about the tribes? How did you feature the tribe in the book?

A: The main character’s best friend Derek is from the Odawa tribe local to the area where Peter’s family has been living since 1865, and it’s his uncle he takes Peter to when he sees he is in trouble after accidentally killing a girl. It’s this Uncle Lou, a pipe carrier or spiritual leader for the tribe, who tells Peter he needs to live by the shores of Lake Michigan until it speaks to him. I read everything I could find about the history of the tribes and their culture and myths while researching this novel, but a lot of information is kept private within the tribe. I contacted the band of Odawa living in the area where Music of Sacred Lakes is set and someone very graciously answered some of my questions about the tribe’s culture and lifestyle. I was also lucky to find an Ojibwe linguist in my own town who would help me proof some details in my novel. (Ojibwe is a brother tribe to the Odawa and the languages and history are intertwined.) This gave me a bit more confidence that I wasn’t going to make any huge mistakes writing this novel, but the more I learned the more I realized how complex the culture and beliefs were.

Q: Is the lake in your novel Lake Michigan or Lake Huron? How many novels do you think could be penned just by looking out at a lake and clearing your mind? Lakes offer so much depth, pun intended. Do you find beauty, solace, and stories at the lake?

A: Lake Michigan. And oh my I could write forever looking out over Lake Michigan in particular. I think readers will see how much I love the lake by reading the novel. The lake itself is a character in this book, and I had no problem coming up with a new image to describe the lake every single moment Peter looks out over the water throughout the book or listens to the waves. The lake is like that, always changing, always bringing you some new insight or sense of freedom.

Q: Your life is busy, how have you found time to write novels such as these that seem to take a lot of internal reflection and deep thinking? I’d love to be able to write on this wavelength, but the voices of a million things to do with the kids and work and life seem to stifle my thoughts. How do you do it? Advice?

A: I honestly am always thinking on speculative, metaphysical and spiritual topics and have been told most of my life that it’s boring or that it’s arrogant to think that I’m capable of thinking deeply on these things. I finally had to decide that I believed I was capable of this, because I really can’t help myself. This is what I love about life. And when my brain or my heart get going on these topics, the stories just explode inside my head, or start to unfold slowly and then accelerate, and I have to write to keep up. It’s still accelerating now that I’m investing in my writing, and it’s a little startling sometimes to see all this stuff in my head rolling out onto paper. It’s only a fraction of what’s going through my mind, but it’s quickly turning into a whole library of work!

Q: You’ve described yourself as a literary imaginative novelist, or an American Fabulist. Can you talk about this a little and describe what that means for readers?

A: The main features of my work are that it is high-concept, meaning I’m exploring really deep topics of speculation about how the world works. And it’s imaginative, because if I write fantasy I’m often making up my own monsters or putting two concepts together into something new, not writing about existing fantasy creatures like elves or dragons. So I’ll take you down a lot of different paths with my stories, but it will hopefully always be something that is important to you and really resonates with you, and it will always be imaginative and new.

Q: What are your hopes for yourself as a novelist? We can be humble, but we all aspire. What are your aspirations, goals, dreams?

A: There are so many things I can’t control about my success, so I focus my goals on things I think I can accomplish. I would like to be the most prolific and imaginative American Fabulist in history. Of course my real dream is to connect with as many readers as possible and for my stories to mean something to someone who is hurting and needs some hope and love or a world to escape into where they can be happy. I had my first glimpse of this when I released my first novel, The Little Seer, last year. Two people wrote to me and told me the book changed their lives. Even if I didn’t already write for the love of it, that would have made five years of work worth it, for me.

Q: What authors do you like yourself? What authors have served as inspiration for you? What are some of your favorite books?

A: I love Italo Calvino, who wrote literary fantasy. Jorge Luis Borges, the king of magical realism. I love the new fairy tales coming out these days, written by Eowyn Ivey, Kate Bernheimer or Ekaterina Sedia, and anything speculative or imaginative and spiritual at the same time. I love Victorian or Puritan ghost stories about priests, for obvious reasons. Some of my favorite books include Charles de Lint’s Memory & Dream, in which art is sentient, Robert Holdstock’s Mythago Wood about a layered magical wood of mythic creatures, Neil Gaiman’s American Gods since it opened up this world of contemporary fantasy mixed with world myths to me. And Lewis Carroll. Alice in Wonderland is the most amazing story on so many levels.

Q: Are you making a conscious decision to self-publish your books? Can you talk about that and what your thoughts are on this?

A: Yes, it was a tough decision because publishing is in a huge transition right now, but ultimately I discovered that traditional publishing couldn’t offer me the things they used to, and that contract terms were so bad they could sometimes stop an author’s career in its tracks. Even though I met some amazing people in the process of making this decision, I had to go it alone in the end just so I could keep my career moving forward. As a self-published author I can publish six books a year, as quickly as I can write and edit them, I can control how quickly I get my covers designed, hire any help I need, and so on. I hope someday to find partners to help me get my work out and scale up my career even further, but for now the only way to write what I want and not get bogged down in bottlenecks is to do it all myself, and I actually enjoy that process so it’s very satisfying.

Q: Also are you crazy publishing such an unheard of amount of books in the next one to two years? How are you doing this? What is your plan? How many books do you actually having coming out and what are they about?

A: I have six books coming out this year starting with Music of Sacred Lakes, everything from new fairytales about portals between worlds to a young adult fantasy world in which dreams balloon into a new reality that threatens to roll up the world like a scroll, and a paranormal psychological thriller about an ex-ballerina running away from an abusive marriage while trying to figure out if she’s possessed. It all follows the same supernatural spiritual lines of the rest of my work but dips into many different genres.

I’m publishing this quickly because readers now consume books like they do movies, binge reading whole backlists, and because this really is how quickly I need to work to keep up with myself. I have three books I’m editing over the next few months in parallel, and I already have four more books I want to write noodling around in my head. My idea file must have close to 200 ideas in it, and growing. Yes, I’m probably crazy, but hopefully the interesting kind of crazy.

Q: Where can readers and authors connect with you? Where can they purchase your books? 

A: All my work comes out first on Amazon and Kindle (you can find Music of Sacred Lakes here [ http://www.amazon.com/Music-Sacred-Lakes-Laura-Cowan/dp/1494711427/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1397568590&sr=8-2&keywords=laura+k.+cowan ] ), but I will be releasing many of my books to other e-book retailers soon, and you can always order my work in any bookstore or request it be ordered by your local library. I’m on Facebook [ http://www.facebook.com/laurakcowannovelist ] and Twitter (@laurakcowan) as well as Pinterest and Goodreads as Laura K. Cowan. And I blog at http://www.laurakcowan.com.

Erin: I’m always so happy to learn of your work and feature you on the blog, Laura, my friend. Best wishes to you with all your pursuits and we’ll be here to inform our readers about all your fabulous novels as they publish. I love watching all this blossom for you.

Laura: Thank you so much! I really appreciate all your support. Best of luck to you with everything as well!

Music of Sacred Lakes, Synopsis~

musicofsacredlakesbookcoverfrontPeter Sanskevicz doesn’t belong anywhere. He doesn’t want the sixth-generation family farm his great great-grandfather unwittingly stole from its Odawa owners, and can’t continue his jobs serving “fudgies,” tourists in Northern Michigan who seem more at home than he is. He can’t seem to take charge of things or do anything but make a mess. Then, Peter accidentally kills a girl.

Seeing his life is at risk, his friend takes him to his uncle, a pipe carrier of the Odawa tribe, who tells him he must live by the shores of Lake Michigan until the lake speaks to him. Peter lives and loves and rages by the shores of the great lake, haunted by its rich beauty, by strange images and sounds that begin to pursue him through his waking and sleeping hours, and by the spirit of the dead girl, who seems to be trying to help him. One day, he finally finds an inner silence. And then, he hears what the lake has to say to him. A story about reconnecting with the source of your life and your joy, Music of Sacred Lakes gives voice to the spirit of the land and lakes that gave birth to us all.

With this second and astonishingly sophisticated novel, Dreaming Novelist Laura K. Cowan cements her reputation as one of the most imaginative new American Fabulists, a writer of spiritually-oriented magical realism, literary fantasy, and visionary fiction in the line of Alice Hoffman, Ursula K. Le Guin, or Paulo Coelho, but characterized by an electric mix of lyrical language, an evocative sense of place, and quick-moving narrative that harkens back to a time when literary fiction was served up raw and ghost stories weren’t told for their sad and scary parts.

Available April 26, 2014 in Paperback and Ebook

Author Laura K. Cowan, Biography~

laura-k-cowan-headshotLaura K. Cowan writes imaginative stories that explore the connections between the spiritual and natural worlds. Her work has been compared to that of acclaimed fantasy and sci-fi authors Ursula K. Le Guin and Ray Bradbury, but her stark and lovely stories retain a distinctly spiritual flavor.

Laura’s debut novel The Little Seer was a top 5 Kindle Bestseller for free titles in Christian Suspense and Occult/Supernatural, and was hailed by reviewers and readers as “riveting,” “moving and lyrical.” Her second novel, a redemptive ghost story titled Music of Sacred Lakes, and her first short story collection, The Thin Places: Supernatural Tales of the Unseen, received rave reviews. Laura’s short stories also appear in a number of anthologies, including the charity anthology Shades of Fear, and the upcoming historical horror anthology Sins of the Past, the rather ridiculous soon-to-come PANTS! anthology, and the completely absurd upcoming Faery Tale Therapy.

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Filed under Book Reviews, Q and A with Authors

Interview with Author M.J. Rose of Seduction: A Magical, Haunting Tale of Victor Hugo

Hi, M.J.!  Welcome to Oh, for the Hook of a Book! It’s a pleasure for me to have you here today for an interview. Our time is obviously short so let’s get started!

SeductionQ:  Where did your inspiration for Seduction stem from? What compelled you to write it?

A:  A trip to Paris and Victor Hugo’s home there inspired me to read Les Miserables. I became obsessed with Fantine. I kept wondering if someone had inspired Hugo to create her? I started reading more and more about him. I read his poetry. Sought out his watercolors and drawings… But it was coming across a description of his belief in reincarnation and his experimenting with séances that made me decide to write about him… and the woman who might have inspired him to create Fantine.

Erin Comments: Fascinating!

Q: How is Seduction similar to your other novels? How does it differ?

A: Al l of my novels seem to be about how the past influences the present.   Seduction is different in that it’s the first time I wrote from a famous person’s point of view. About 25% of the book is me writing as Victor Hugo – giving his first person account of his experiences with séances.

Q:  What was your favorite part of writing Seduction?

A: The second draft. I love that part of every book the best. The hardest part is done – getting the book on paper – then I get to finesse for days and days and days.

Erin Comments: Totally understandable.

Q: What is one thing you want readers to remember or feel after they are done reading Seduction?

A: Hopefully how much they enjoyed reading the book so they tell everyone about it 🙂

Q:  What other novels have you written and are they all historical thriller/suspense?

A: All the books are at MJRose.com – there are 13 novels all together. The Reincarnationist, The Memorist, The Hypnotist and The Book of Lost Fragrances all have elements of historical fiction – the others don’t.

Q:  I like how you meld the senses, art, music, and the spiritual into your books. I can imagine you live your life surrounded by all things beautiful from the creative world.  What would some of your favorite Pinterest boards say about you (if you have or would have them) or show us about your personality?

A: OH I HAVE THEM! Just visit MJRose at Pinterest – I love doing them. – some are very personal and some are even hidden that the public can’t see. I use them to create characters and work on stories.

Q: Who are your favorite heroines from history?

A:  I can’t tell you – I have a list of them and a series of books planned about them – and don’t want to give it away 🙂

Q:  How do you feel that the publishing world is doing now in accepting females as major novel writers, especially in the thriller genre?

A: Other than getting reviews – which mostly go to male writers in suspense and every genre – women writers in the suspense genre have done well for decades. Going back to Agatha Christie and even further, I don’t think there’s been any serious prejudice from readers or publishers against women writers.

Q:  Do you think paranormal or spiritual themes are integral parts of your writing?  Why do you feel these themes are so popular in the current culture?

A: I think magic is integral to my writing… I’m drawn to possibilities even when they are impossible ones. And I think they are popular because we’re living in hard times and the paranormal takes us out of our world and offers hope that there is more than we know about – more than we can see.

Erin Comments: I agree.

Q:  You are an extremely well-known consultant and mentor in regards to self-publishing. I know you’ve opened a marketing company for promoting books. I’m in the same line of work in regards to journalism, PR, and marketing. I’m wondering, how do you manage to do all this and write novels too? How do you juggle it all?

A: I work on my fiction in the morning and then the afternoon is devoted to AuthorBuzz.com

Erin Comments: You make it sound so easy. Kudos to you for all you accomplish.

Q: What is some of your best advice for women authors who are balancing a family, life and writing novel(s)?

A: I don’t have any since I do not have anything like a balanced life!

Q:  What is your advice about self-publishing versus looking for a traditional publisher? What about independent press?

A: All publishing is a lottery. Over 2 million books will be published this year. Most will sell less than 100 copies. I think everyone needs to educate themselves and not just talk to the successes in traditional publishing and self publishing but talk to the authors in the trenches in both camps and see which trench you’d rather be in. Self publishing gives you total control, you own all your own rights and you don’t share any of what you make on your books but I think you need to have  an interest in running a business. Traditional offers you a lot of help, more distribution, financial support upfront and a chance at reviews that elude most self published authors. It’s all what you want to do and how you want to do it.

Q:  What has been your biggest achievement or success? What has been your biggest challenge?

A: Staying alive. And staying alive.

Q:  Switching gears, what is your favorite stage play and why? Movie?

A: Stage play  Brigadoon – it is so magical.

Erin Comments: Also one of my favorites! I hardly hear anyone say this one!

Movie – Sabrina with Audrey Hepburn tied with Portrait of Jennie. It’s that magic again.

Q:  What is coming up next for you?

A: I’m working on the 2014 book now but I think it’s bad luck to talk about it.

Q: What is the best way for readers to connect with you?

A: MJRose.com – there’s a form there.

Erin:  It’s been an honor to have the opportunity to interview you, M.J.!  I wish you even more continued success and welcome you here anytime! Best of luck to you in all your many endeavors.

M.J.: And a pleasure to visit with you here!

Readers, please stop back by on May 9 for my review of Seduction!

Seduction, Synopsis~

SeductionPublication Date: May 7, 2013
Atria Books
Hardcover; 384p
ISBN-10: 1451621507

SYNOPSIS: From the author of The Book of Lost Fragrances comes a haunting novel about a grieving woman who discovers the lost journal of novelist Victor Hugo, awakening a mystery that spans centuries.

In 1843, novelist Victor Hugo’s beloved nineteen-year-old daughter drowned. Ten years later, Hugo began participating in hundreds of séances to reestablish contact with her. In the process, he claimed to have communed with the likes of Plato, Galileo, Shakespeare, Dante, Jesus—and even the Devil himself. Hugo’s transcriptions of these conversations have all been published. Or so it was believed.

Recovering from her own losses, mythologist Jac L’Etoile arrives on the Isle of Jersey—where Hugo conducted the séances—hoping to uncover a secret about the island’s Celtic roots. But the man who’s invited her there, a troubled soul named Theo Gaspard, has hopes she’ll help him discover something quite different—Hugo’s lost conversations with someone called the Shadow of the Sepulcher.

What follows is an intricately plotted and atmospheric tale of suspense with a spellbinding ghost story at its heart, by one of America’s most gifted and imaginative novelists.

Author M.J. Rose, Biography~

M.J. RoseM.J. Rose is the international best selling author of eleven novels and two non-fiction books on marketing. Her fiction and non-fiction has appeared in many magazines and reviews including Oprah Magazine. She has been featured in the New York Times, Newsweek, Time, USA Today and on the Today Show, and NPR radio. Rose graduated from Syracuse University, spent the ’80s in advertising, has a commercial in the Museum of Modern Art in NYC and since 2005 has run the first marketing company for authors – Authorbuzz.com. The television series PAST LIFE, was based on Rose’s novels in the Renincarnationist series. She is one of the founding board members of International Thriller Writers and runs the blog- Buzz, Balls & Hype. She is also the co-founder of Peroozal.com and BookTrib.com.

Rose lives in CT with her husband the musician and composer, Doug Scofield, and their very spoiled and often photographed dog, Winka.

For more information on M.J. Rose and her novels, please visit her WEBSITE. You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter.

Promotion for Necklace from M.J. Rose!

NecklaceYou will be eligible to win a Victoria Choker if you:

1. Put the book on you To Be Read shelf on Goodreads and email me the link or tell me and send me your account name in an email to hookofabook@hotmail.com: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/15802432-seduction


2. Pre-order SEDUCTION here: http://mjrose.com/books/seduction.asp?BookVar=Praise
Send your receipt to mjrosewriter@gmail.com and state you came from the Hook of a Book blog.

Only US residents can enter.
See More Guest Posts, Interviews, Reviews, and Giveaways at Link to Tour Schedule: http://hfvirtualbooktours.com/seductionvirtualtour/
Twitter Hashtag: #SeductionVirtualTour
Seduction Tour Banner FINAL


Filed under Q and A with Authors

An Interview with a Vampire Writer…Check out this new interview with author Denise K. Rago of “Immortal Obsession”

Ever wonder what makes a writer of vampire romance novel tick? Thought you’ve too encountered a mysterious stranger that you just sensed you knew?

Well, this weekend I have an exciting interview with a favorite new writer of mine that I now consider a friend. She is a fantastic writer and I love her historical appeal mixed in to her paranormal scenery. I did a review of her first paranormal romance, Immortal Obsession, a few months back on this blog, which you can read by clicking on the book cover to the left. I am happy to have the opportunity to speak to her about herself, her book, and what is on the horizon for her.

At the end of the interview we will be giving away a free signed copy of Immortal Obsession, courtesy of Denise, so please stay tuned and read on!!

Erin:  Welcome Denise!

Denise:  Thank you again Erin for granting me this interview.  I love doing them and I find that each one has a different feel to it. 

Q:  I think the idea for your book coming to you in the guise of a mysterious stranger is very interesting. Can you explain that encounter? Have you ever run into him again?

Immortal Obsession was inspired by an otherworldly experience I had in a New York City diner one night six years ago, when my path crossed with that of a beautiful, unusual stranger who sat down at a table behind my husband and I.  Even by New York standards he was unusual. He was very tall, with waist-length blond hair and dressed entirely in black. When I turned around he said hello and as I fell into his dark eyes he felt very familiar to me. 

That weekend I began writing Immortal Obsession and when my husband and I talked about our experience with this mysterious stranger, I realized we saw two very different people that night.  The experience was unnerving, yet exciting. This stranger was the inspiration for my main character, the vampire Christian Du Mauré. 

I have had a few other encounters with him, though we have never spoken, except when he said hello to me the first time and I said hi back. I am not sure why, but I feel uncomfortable approaching him.  I do try to connect with him through the practice of meditation.

Q: Do you think you might have known him “in another life?” Wouldn’t that be something!

I must preface my answer by explaining that I have always believed in reincarnation, past lives and soul connections. 
I learned that the man I saw in the diner is someone I have known from a past life.  I also have learned that there are many more life times we have shared together and that he continually guides me from the other side as his role in my writing and my life continues to unfold. He is my muse. 

Q:  I know you write paranormal romance as your genre. But how do you think you differ from others in this genre? Why do you think this genre seems to be on the rise?

To answer the first question, I feel that my novel tells Christian Du Mauré’s story, which parallels my experiences with this spirit guide from a past life. 

In April of 2006, I took a writing workshop with Canadian horror writer Nancy Kilpatrick. One of my assignments was to explain why I thought vampires were more popular now, than ever before.  I spoke about the events of September 11, 2001 and their impact on our nation.  From a high point near my home I could see the thick plumes of dark smoke from the burning towers and the sad truth is that death, destruction and the inability to control these events in our lives is very real. I attribute the increase in novels in the paranormal genre as a direct correlation to the unsettling nature of the world in which we all find ourselves.  Perhaps creating tales about the vampire is our subconscious coming to terms with the great unknowable and uncontrollable mystery of death as we try to embrace and to control this mysterious power. 

Q:  Did you dream of vampires as a child? Kidding!! What were your interests as a child?

Actually, I dreamt a lot about aliens invading the earth!  Strange I know.  As a child I was an avid reader with a passion for art, history, ballet, archaeology and the natural world.  My mother enrolled me in ballet class at seven years old and I remember loving it but hating the recitals.  I have never liked competition.  I would come home, toss off my ballet slippers and play in my front yard for hours, digging holes in my yard and burying coins or little plastic toys (I have 4 brothers and there were always toys around).  I tried to imagine what future civilizations would think about us when they uncovered these objects.   I also have always had an interest in astrology, ghosts; anything metaphysical. 

Q:  What are your interests now and what do you think has spurred them? or developed them?

I have the same interests! I took my love of archaeology and got my undergraduate degree in Anthropology, with my focus on Cultural Anthropology.  I spent two summers doing fieldwork on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota to satisfy my love and compassion for the American Indian.  I took my love of art, history and museums and got my Masters’ Degree in Museum studies.  I still take ballet classes when I can and I am a voracious reader.  I started writing poems, plays and short stories in junior high school and to this day I keep a diary.  I have always wanted to write novels and my horoscope is the first thing I read in any newspaper!

Q:  On to the book now, what do you want to tell your readers about your book (I’ve already told them what I think, I love it!)……

Than k you Erin!  Even though the story is set in present day Manhattan, there are themes in Christian’s life that parallel his experiences as a young vampire in eighteenth century Paris. He loves, regrets, second guesses himself and despairs, just like the rest of us.  

The theme of unrequited and forbidden love comes through in my novel as my characters struggle with their choices as well as their losses.  I think we all have regrets.  Love is an emotion that can sustain us as well as cause us great pain.  Vampire Christian Du Mauré falls instantly in love with a young mortal woman, Josette Delacore. At the risk of giving too much away, they embark on a love affair that not only changes both of their lives forever, but causes them both much heartache. 

Another discovery I have always believed, but now know to be true, is that love never dies.  It moves with us through time which ties into my beliefs of reincarnation and meeting souls in our present lives that we knew in a past life. 

Q:  I hear you have plans for subsequent books about the Christian and Michel characters. What can we all do to help you along so you get them done faster? Kidding! In honesty, what do you want to tell us about your future?

I am currently working on the next two novels in this series, which is titled The Enchanted Bloodline Series.  I am hoping to have at least one of them completed by the fall of 2012.

Q:  As writers we all have different times of day and different influences that encourage or hinder our writing. I know you are a morning person, while I am a night person and can’t take my head out of covers in the morning. Sometimes I get to busy to find time to write. That said, when do you write the best? What encourages you? How to time manage and what advice do you have for aspiring writers?

I love writing and though it is not something I do every day I can honestly say I am always thinking about the story I am trying to tell.  Since I am back to working full-time, writing becomes another part of the balancing act which is my life.  Sitting down to write isn’t just about finding the time.  It’s the mindset.   I am a morning person and actually I am writing this at 5:51 am before I head out to work. 

 Advice for aspiring writers?  Believe in yourself and the story you need to tell.  Understand that writing is a process. Write as the story comes to you, even if it is not in sequence.  If your muse calls to you, answer!

Q:  When an idea comes to a writer, sometimes it isn’t always in a convenient place, right? (I seem to find myself in the shower…) How do you organize your thoughts? What advice do you have for others who have a hard time organizing their plots, characters, and ideas?

I bought a wonderful calendar that has a section for Notes and Lists.  I use it a lot.  I also have a binder which contains portraits and character traits for all of the main characters in Immortal Obsession. I also keep a note pad by my computer as I am always jotting down something. 

I have an accordion file which holds my current manuscript plus any articles I need as a part of my research. I try to keep everything in one place. I have genealogy charts and timelines for the characters as well, especially since most of my vampires were born in the eighteenth century.  Anything to keep me organized and on track with the events in their lives. 

Q:  What authors do you relate to as a person? Then, as a writer?

This was my favorite question yet probably the hardest to answer.  One of my favorite authors is Anne Rice.  Reading Interview with the Vampire in 1976 changed how I viewed the vampire. She has had an influence not only on my love of the paranormal novel but on my writing style as well.  She is approachable, intelligent and I have the utmost respect for her as a person and a writer.   

I also love John Connelly, the Irish author who writes what I feel are incredibly dark yet brilliant thrillers.  His detective Charlie Parker is one of my favorite characters and I so look forward to his novels.  I believe that an authors’ work should speak for itself. I truly admire writers like Harper Lee or Suzanne Collins who seem to live by this principal.

Q: What do you have to say about self-publishing? What are the pros and cons of that for you?

I found the entire experience of self-publishing to be rewarding and a learning experience for me.  I chose Createspace and I have found them to be professional, supportive and always there to answer my questions.  Self-publishing gives the author total control over their work product, from the font type to the cover art.  The entire production is in your control.  As an author who has worked hard over the past few years to bring my novel to life, I find this rewarding. 

On the other end of the spectrum, being in total control means just that. Web design, marketing, publicity all fall on my shoulders.  I was fortunate enough to find a design/marketing team out of San Diego California who not only designed my website but also have been instrumental with marketing advice, printed materials and assisting me in all ways.

(Erin: Sorry for the plug here on my blog during your interview, but I just want to note how important this can be and a well-worth-it investment. Tim and I own a PR business in which we copy write, edit, proofread, consult and we love to help writers. We are a small agency and work from home, from a small rural town and always enjoy talking to new authors and writers. We have over 25 years combined experience in our field.  Our website is www.addisonscompass.com)

Q:  How has the dawn of e-books changed the reading world? How about an author’s world?

It’s much more convenient to download books and generally, they are less expensive.  I still like holding a book in my hands. I am always reading and I have such a hard time parting with a book so my house looks like a library!  E-readers allow for the storage of thousands of books and if I had a career where I travelled or commuted then having an e-reader makes so much sense.  I am glad my book is available as an e-book which again, gives readers the option to download it rather than buy the paperback.

 As e-books become more popular we are losing book stores and personally, browsing a book shop is one of my favorite activities.    There needs to be a balance and I believe there is room for both. 

 Q:  Lessons learned, what would you tell first-time authors?

Hire a professional editor and copy editor to read your manuscript and pay them.  I was fortunate enough to have a very experienced editor; publisher and writer read my draft of Immortal Obsession.  He then wrote me a very detailed letter highlighting what he liked but also how I might make my story better.  I took his advice on most things and then hired a copy editor to read it line by line and also make suggestions.

Writing may be a solitary process but please, hire competent professionals whenever possible. Connect with other writers whether on the internet or if you are lucky enough to meet and talk face to face, do so.  Build a platform.  Visit website and blogs that you enjoy and let them know it. Map out your publishing goals yet be realistic, patient and flexible. 

Q:  Where can other authors or interested readers contact you?

My website link is www.denisekrago.com.  Please visit me there as I have several portraits of some of the characters as well as reviews, interviews and guests posts.  Readers can get a clearer sense of who I am and what the buzz is about my novel. I can also be reached on Facebook and  Goodreads as I have pages on both sites.

Q:  Where can everyone find Immortal Obsession?

Again, visit my website at www.denisekrago.com

There is a buy button with a drop down menu to select from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Createspace, Indie Books and Smashwords.  My novel is also available as an e-book too.  If you happen to live in New Jersey near the historic town of Clinton, there is a wonderful book store there which carries a few signed copies of Immortal Obsession

I can’t finish this interview without mentioning the importance of supporting local book stores and the role they play in our communities.  There is room for the massive corporate chain, e-books and local book shops.  Please utilize them so they remain with us.

(Erin: I so agree, Denise. Our home too looks like a small library. We love our bookshelves. I love looking at the covers, touching the pages, imagining the blood, sweat, tears, and joy that the writer poured into the book. I haven’t gotten into e-readers at all yet, though it does seem like something that can be used alongside private book collections and library use. I can’t state enough the important of library funding, and the utilization of libraries, as well as the small town bookstores that let you browse on a balmy, or snowy, Sunday afternoon. If that ever dies, a small part of me will too.)

About Denise K. Rago

An avid reader with a lifelong passion for vampires, history, and art, Rago’s work deftly mixes elements of Gothic art, historical fiction, and the storied literary legacy of the undead. And it all takes place against the backdrop of the world’s most unforgettable cities: a ravished, Revolution-era Paris and modern-day Manhattan.  Denise K. Rago was born and raised in New Jersey, where she resides with her family.

Erin:  I so appreciate your spending this time with us Denise and I have enjoyed getting to know you. You are a fabulous woman of varied intertests much like my own. I hope for future communication and we’ll look forward to your next book!

Immortal Obsession GIVEAWAY

Author Denise Rago is giving away a COMPLIMENTARY copy of her paperback book Immortal Obsession to one lucky reader!  All you have to do is comment on my blog with what you liked best about the interview, comment it on my Facebook page (www.facebook.com/almehairierin) and include my blog link www.hookofabook.wordpress.com, or comment it to me on Twitter with a mention @ErinAlMehairi. In one week, a winner from all commenters will be chosen and it could be YOU. YOU don’t want to miss the opportunity to receive this book in the mail. It is phenomenal!


Filed under Book Reviews, Q and A with Authors