Tag Archives: advice for writers

#HookonWiHM: Author David Duggins Interviews Horror and Fantasy Author Angeline Hawkes

Today in the #HookonWiHM series, author David Duggins has interviewed author Angeline Hawkes! I adore Dave, but had never heard of Angeline, so very glad he’s introduced another new woman in horror to me. And not only does she write horror, but she’s a fantasy gal too, which is another genre I love. I feel sad I didn’t know her, she’s been writing a long time and has worked with some excellent presses and has garnered high praise. 

I’m taking interviews by men and women with women in horror, as well as guest articles, throughout the month of February, but will schedule throughout the year too in order feature women in horror all year long. You can find information on this at the bottom of the post.

Let’s introduce you to Angeline and then we’ll let Dave take the white page with his interview..

Angeline Hawkes is from Texas, which means she ain’t got no quit in her.  She’s been busy not quitting since 1981.  She works mostly in fantasy and horror, where her publishing credits include stories in Stoker and Origins Award-nominated anthologies, and enough novels featuring monsters and kick-ass warriors to fill a very large transport trailer. 

Sometimes, she writes with her husband, Christopher Fulbright.  Sometimes she writes by herself.  She always writes hard, bright and true, and her characters live in your head for a long time after you’ve read her work.

Her current short fiction collection, Inferno, is available from Elder Signs Press, on Amazon.  Upcoming works include a new horror novel, Cold Is the Mountain, out later this year through Elder Signs, and a short story, “Strange Gods,” in the anthology C.H.U.D. Lives from Crystal Lake Press.

Angeline’s website is http://angelinehawkes.com/


Interview with Angeline Hawkes

What are you working on now?

Three barbarian/heroic fiction novels all set in my Kabar of El Hazzar world. The novels are in various stages of completion. Every couple months, Christopher Fulbright and I write a new short story or novella for this project or that. We tend to take those opportunities as they come up and write longer works in the meantime. I also have a few non-fiction articles in the works as well.

Has your writing process changed significantly over the years?

Yes. It’s funny because when my four kids were all babies, I wrote my tail off. For some reason I always thought I’d have more time when they were older. I look back at my writing schedule in those days in awe. I don’t know how I did it all! Now that they are older (my youngest is almost 10 years old), I find I don’t have as much time as I did when they were little.

I don’t despair though. As Stevie Nicks says, time makes you bolder, even children get older, and I’m getting older too.  I know some day I’ll look back at this time in my life and remember it fondly even if I’m not cranking out the fiction at break-neck speed like I was ten years ago. I think I’ve moved into the quality over sheer quantity stage of my career. Not that I wasn’t concerned with quality before, but now, I don’t feel the need to place four stories a week. I do what I can. I write when I can, and I let the chips fall.

What advice would you give new writers?

Practice. Write often. Study grammar and sentence structure. Read outside your genre. I think there is a lot to be learned from the old masters: Hawthorne, Dickens, Shakespeare, Hardy, Stevenson, Conrad, O’Henry, Bradbury, etc. Study history. Study PEOPLE. That’s what it’s all about, isn’t it? People? Every person has a story. Listen to as many of them as you can. Those tales tucked away in your head are the root of character development. Go hang out in a nursing home and spend some time with some of our forgotten elderly. What tales they have to tell!

Stay away from the haters. Storytelling is a gift. Hone it. Don’t be afraid to try a different approach. If something isn’t working, just put it away. You’ll return to it. If you don’t, it probably wasn’t worth the development and time.

Above all, believe in yourself. This is a harsh industry full of constant rejection. YOU have to believe in your talent, believe in your gift. You don’t choose writing. Writing chooses you.


Amazon Link

Thanks to Dave for providing a wonderful interview!

David Duggins, Biography –

Dave GuitarDavid Duggins is a writer and CG artist who’s been thrashing around in the genre fiction pool for almost thirty years. While he has published short fiction professionally in magazines like Cemetery Dance and Fear, David prefers the DIY approach, and now publishes under his own Silvern Press Imprint.

You can follow or find information on Dave on his websiteHis new novel, Watershed, is available in the Kindle store. You can follow him on Twitter: @dave_duggins

Watch for more to come in the #HookonWiHM series….

February is Women in Horror Month! Though I agree women should be celebrated on the same level as men every day of the year, I like to partake in Women in Horror projects as a catalyst for spreading the good news and works of women in the genre in hopes that it will carry on throughout the year. It’s time to celebrate and show off what we got! For those of you reading, men AND women both, try to read and watch more horror produced by women this year.

For the #HookonWiHM, or Women in Horror Month at Hook of a Book, we’ll be hosting interviews conducted by men and women with other women in horror. Watch for those spread throughout the month, and if you want in, contact me.


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Read Across America/Dr. Seuss Day, March 2 + Favorite Quotes

Today was Read Across America Day AND Dr. Seuss Day in honor of his birthday! I’ve always loved Dr. Seuss. I fondly remember having a subscription to the books..you know, where once a month a couple appeared in the mail? It was always such a thrill. I still have my collection and now my children have read them!! His creative spirit is admirable as well as his huge heart for humanity and the environment.

I’m glad he still is enjoyed by each generation. My 7 year old found some pencils, erasers, and bookmarks with Dr. Seuss characters on them at the store on Friday night, so she was more than prepared to celebrate for the entire year, not just the day!

What Dr. Seuss book inspired you? Which books do you love? 

Dr. Seuss never gets old in our hearts!! Here are some fave quotes, perfect for anyone:

“Today is your day. Your mountain is waiting. So … get on your way.

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.

“If things start happening, don’t worry, don’t stew, just go right along and you’ll start happening too.

“A person’s a person, no matter how small.

“It is better to know how to learn than to know.

“Be who you are and say what you mean. Because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”

“You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And you are the one who’ll decide where to go.”

“To the world you may be one person, but to one person you may be the world.”



Filed under Children and Family, Feature Articles

Talking with Ruth Hull Chatlien about Betsy Bonaparte, Women in History, Writing, and Dream Vacations

Hi Ruth! Thank you for joining us today at Oh, for the Hook of a Book! We are happy to have you. Hopefully spring is around the corner for all of us, at least here in Ohio, we are hoping. How has 2014 treated you and your book, The Ambitious Madame Bonaparte, so far?

Ruth: To be honest, 2014 got off to a rough start for me. Not only was it the coldest winter in northern Illinois’s recorded history, but I was also diagnosed with early stage breast cancer on New Year’s Eve, so for the first three months of the year I had to undergo surgery and radiation. But I’m finished with all that now, and as an official cancer survivor, I’m looking forward to the future. The book has been one bright spot in all of this. It’s been well received by readers, which gives me great joy.

Erin: Oh, Ruth, I am so sorry to hear that you went through that, and so recently as well.  We have dealt with that with some of our family members and in the previous two years I was President of the Board of a local Cancer Association where I live and we worked and assisted many patients, more than half with breast cancer. I know what a struggle that can be and I am glad to hear you made it through. Best wishes to you to continue on your road to recovery. What a joy to have your book launched and well-received! I certainly enjoyed it!

It’s a bit chilly here, so I’ll still opt for a pot of tea. Would you like some tea or coffee? Then we can have a seat and discuss your novel and your writing. Let’s show the cover first, which I believe you helped illustrate.

The Ambitious Madame Bonaparte

Ruth: Coffee would be great as long as it’s decaf. Oh what the heck. Since it’s virtual coffee, maybe I can splurge and have the caffeinated kind.

Erin: That is so true about it being virtual, that said, why not throw in a scone or cookie as well. No calories on the computer screen! Let’s get started then!

Q: The Ambitious Madame Bonaparte, your debut novel, is about the American wife of Jerome Bonaparte. Being that your specialty in your non-fiction work is U.S. history and world history, it was interesting that you were able to tie the two together. How did your idea for your book come about?

A: I first learned about Betsy and Jerome from watching the Horatio Hornblower series that showed on A&E in the 1990s and early 2000s. The young couple’s struggle to get to France to obtain the emperor’s approval of their marriage was portrayed in the last episode. When I googled their names to find out if the episode was based on historical fact, I learned that Betsy’s story was far more complex and interesting that the snippet shown in the TV show.

Erin: Yes! I forgot that. That was a great series….cool!

Q: I have never heard much about Betsy Patterson Bonaparte. How much has she been spoken about in the history books? For non-readers (who haven’t yet read your book), how well-known is her story?

A: Betsy was a well-known celebrity throughout the 1800s and into the early 1900s, and there were several biographies and even novels written about her. After the 1960s, her story fell off the radar, but her reputation is making a comeback. Two academic biographies have been published about her within the last few years (one of them after my novel came out).

Q: What kind of research was done for your novel? Did you have any challenges or find out anything extremely interesting?

A: I used six different biographical sources for Betsy alone, some of which contained excerpts from her letters (which are held by the Maryland Historical Society). I also read about Jerome, Napoleon, Dolley Madison, the Caton sisters, the War of 1812, Baltimore architecture, period clothing, and an early explorer’s expedition to Niagara Falls. My husband and I traveled to Baltimore to visit period homes, a 19th-century ship, and Fort McHenry.

Erin: Very interesting. My son just did his historical research project on Dolley Madison. I would love to visit Baltimore, exciting.

I learned a lot of interesting things while researching. For example, Betsy carried a porcelain bourdaloue with her when she traveled. A bourdaloue is basically a fancy, French porta potty shaped something like a gravy boat—a handy thing to have for those long 19th-century carriage rides. I find it difficult to imagine Betsy hiking up her skirts and taking a tinkle in a public coach, but maybe she used it in the shrubbery during stops along the way. And she and Jerome did travel extensively in their own privately owned coach, so theoretically, she could have used it there.

Erin: Oh my goodness, too funny!

Q: Betsy Bonaparte seemed like an extraordinary woman. What types of things do you think that women of today can relate to in regards to her? Does she teach us any lessons or hold admirable qualities that should be remembered more fully?

A: I think some of the forces Betsy fought against haven’t gone away completely. We still have religions that teach women to be subservient to men. We’re still seeing attempts to limit women’s ability to plan the size of their families. Perhaps reading about the struggles of Betsy—and her poor mother—will help remind women not to be complacent about our own rights. In addition, women can learn from Betsy’s example about prudent financial planning. (I know I could learn a thing or two from her in that regard!) I also think women of today can learn a negative lesson from Betsy. In my opinion, the friends who urged her to try to use her talents to find happiness were right, and her life might have been more satisfying if she had focused on doing some type of meaningful work instead of seeking after rank.

Erin: That is such a wonderful answer, thank you!

Q: What kinds of struggles did the wives that married into the Bonaparte family have?

A: To be honest, I haven’t done much research into the other wives who married into the Bonaparte family. I’m planning to write a non-Bonaparte book next, so I’ve been away from this subject for a while. I do know, however, that Napoleon tried to impose political alliances on many members of his family. Josephine’s daughter Hortense, who married Napoleon’s emotionally erratic brother Louis, was very unhappy in her marriage. There were even rumors that her son, who became Emperor Napoleon III, wasn’t a Bonaparte at all.

Q: How long did it take you to write this novel? Are you a plotter or a pantser (write by the seat of your pants)?

A: It took me a little over two years from the beginning of research through the final edits before publication. I’m mostly a plotter, although I will deviate from my outline if my characters insist on taking the story a different way. (For instance, in one chapter, Bo has a tantrum, which came as a complete surprise to me.) With this book, the events of Betsy’s life were already laid out for me, but I did fill in the known events with a lot of fictional episodes. I decided most of those ahead of time, but a few came to me as I was writing.

Q: You’ve written a long time for your day job. What other types of interesting people do you speak of in your educational materials? Who else might make an interesting book?

A: One interesting project that I did a few years back was a young adult book that included the biographies of several modern American Indian leaders, both men and women. I really enjoyed learning about their different ways of leading their people. I also did a fascinating unit on Magellan’s voyage a couple of years ago. It’s one of the most amazing adventure stories I’ve ever come across and would make a fantastic novel, but it won’t be written by me. I’m more interested in writing about women who live during times of conflict or change.

Erin: I am interested in reading book about the women too. I hope you write more! So many stories to tell!

Q: Who do you feel are the most instrumental women in U.S. and/or world history?

A: The word instrumental throws me a bit because it seems to imply someone who was a major player in leading the nation. However, as a writer, I’m not especially drawn to people in the political sphere, so I’m going to take this in a different direction. Some of the women who stand out for me in U.S. history are the ones who really tried to make a difference in the lives of others: Elizabeth Cady Stanton (fighting for women’s rights), Harriet Tubman (leading hundreds of slaves to freedom), Jane Addams (working to educate immigrants and help them adapt to their new communities), and Eleanor Roosevelt (helping the disadvantaged and promoting equal rights). A similar figure from world history is Florence Nightingale with her work to improve hospital care. Each of these women fought to make the world a better place.

Erin: Yes, I feel these women were instrumental. Elizabeth Stanton has come up in so many interviews lately, I think she needs some attention! I do think that the legacies all these women left behind were instrumental in making American culture what it is today or where it still need to go. And Eleanor is a personal favorite of mine, as I am from the same family tree as she and very proud of her work.

Q: What is your best advice for writers? Maybe name three important things.

A: I think the first thing all writers should decide is why they want to write. Some people want to gain commercial success, while others write primarily for self-expression or to create art. Either goal is fine, and the two can overlap, but usually one dominates. A writer needs to be clear about his or her primary goal because the career strategies and standards of evaluation for each will differ. The second piece of advice I’d offer is to listen to the work. You have to pay attention to what’s going on in the story and be willing to change your preconceived ideas about it if they aren’t working. Finally, find a support network because writing can be lonely and difficult. I was fortunate; I met my husband in a writer’s critique group, so we provide great support for each other because we know what the process is like. Even so, I still seek support from other writers I’ve met through blogging and online discussion groups.

Q: Do you have plans to write any other books in the near future? If so, what will they be about?

A: Yes, I’m in the research stage of another historical novel based on the true story of a woman taken captive during one of the most brutal Indian wars in U.S. history. Her story will be very different from Betsy’s, but the two women share the quality of being fiercely determined survivors.

Erin: I love stories such as these, I would really like to read that when you complete it.

Q: For fun, what is your dream vacation? Maybe a perfect writing spot?

A: That’s easy. Seven years ago, my husband and I took a month-long writing sabbatical by renting a beach cottage on Amelia Island, Florida. It’s in the northeastern part of the state, and there’s a quaint town called Fernandina Beach. We love it there. I’ve been itching to go back lately, but it will have to wait. Our next vacation is going to be a research trip for the novel I’m working on.

Q: What books have you read lately that you enjoyed? What are some of your favorite all time books?

A: I recently read Queen’s Gambit by Elizabeth Fremantle and was very impressed with the book. It tells the story of Henry VIII’s last wife. And I’ve recently become hooked on Louise Penny’s Inspector Armande Gamache mystery series. My favorite all-time books are Little Women, Pride & Prejudice, Jane Eyre, David Copperfield, and The Lord of the Rings. Nothing too out of the ordinary there I’m afraid.

Erin: Ah, yes, but classics. I love all of those. I liked Queen’s Gambit too, I reviewed it here. She has a new one coming out looks good too.

Q: Where can readers and writers connect with you?

A: I’m on Twitter using the handle @RHChatlien, I’m on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ruthhullchatlien, and I blog at ruthhullchatlienbooks.com.

Erin: Thank you so much Ruth! We certainly enjoyed you stopping by for a hot cup of coffee with us. We wish you the best of luck in all your future endeavors.

Ruth: Thank you, Erin, for putting together such a comprehensive and interesting set of questions. I enjoyed spending time with you.

Erin: Feel free to come by anytime!

The Ambitious Madame Bonaparte, Synopsis~

The Ambitious Madame BonapartePublication Date: December 2, 2013
Amika Press
Paperback; 484p
ISBN: 978-1937484163

As a clever girl in stodgy, mercantile Baltimore, Betsy Patterson dreams of a marriage that will transport her to cultured Europe. When she falls in love with and marries Jerome Bonaparte, she believes her dream has come true—until Jerome’s older brother Napoleon becomes an implacable enemy.

Based on a true story, The Ambitious Madame Bonaparte is a historical novel that portrays this woman’s tumultuous life. Elizabeth Patterson Bonaparte, known to history as Betsy Bonaparte, scandalized Washington with her daring French fashions; visited Niagara Falls when it was an unsettled wilderness; survived a shipwreck and run-ins with British and French warships; dined with presidents and danced with dukes; and lived through the 1814 Battle of Baltimore. Yet through it all, Betsy never lost sight of her primary goal—to win recognition of her marriage.

Watch the Book Trailer

LINK: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yUOymzEHBLY&feature=player_embedded


Buy the Book

Amazon (Paperback)
Amazon (Kindle)
Barnes & Noble (Paperback)
Barnes & Noble (Nook)

Author Ruth Hull Chatlien, Biography~

Ruth Hull ChatlienRuth Hull Chatlien has been a writer and editor of educational materials for twenty-five years. Her specialty is U.S. and world history.

She is the author of Modern American Indian Leaders and has published several short stories and poems in literary magazines. The Ambitious Madame Bonaparte is her first published novel.

She lives in northeastern Illinois with her husband, Michael, and a very pampered dog named Smokey.

When she’s not writing, she can usually be found gardening, knitting, drawing, painting, or watching football.

Connect with Ruth Hull Chatlien at her website or on Facebook.


Tour Schedule: http://hfvirtualbooktours.com/theambitiousmadamebonapartetour

Tour Hashtag: #MadameBonaparteTour

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Interview with Australian Crime Fiction Author, Vanessa Skye: Writing, Crime, and Australia

Today, I spoke with Australian author Vanessa Skye about the second book in her Enemy Inside series!  Broken, book two, is available this week. A crime and psychological drama, these books will have you on the edge of your seat! We talk about her inspiration, her advice for writers, and how challenging it was to go from writing as a journalist to creative writing. Take a peek, enjoy! But before you do, here is a Rafflecopter link for you to take part in a special giveaway! Stay tuned soon to the blog for a review and a guest post!

Link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/share-code/YWY2YzM5YWI0MWE1NWIzOGZhNzVjMDg5MTliMGJkOjI5/

Hi, Vanessa! So glad to have you here on Oh, for the Hook of a Book!  I missed out on your first book, but I know the second book in your series is releasing this month! Broken is an intense crime thriller, how has all the momentum leading up to your launch been going?

Vanessa: Honestly, it’s snuck up on me a bit due to a personal tragedy that unfolded over January. I have to hope that the book, Broken, speaks for itself as I haven’t heart the heart to do much about the launch leading up to it. 

Erin: I’m very sorry to hear that! 😦 We’ll try to lighten your spirits a little with this interview, at least for a few moments.  You’re quite a bit of ahead of me in time there in Australia, but I’d love to make it for a cup of tea by the ocean. It won’t stop snowing here! Let’s settle in for a conversation.  But first here is the book cover for readers….

Broken cover

Q:  Can you talk about the inspiration for your books, The Enemy Inside and Broken, and some of the themes that they deal with?

A: The Enemy Inside all started with a dream about eight years ago that I kept having every night for about a year. In the dream I was writing the first chapter of a book. Every night, I would write this chapter over and over again in my dream and it annoyed me to the point where I decided to write it down just to get it out of my head! The rest of the book followed, quite by accident! After writing it, I didn’t feel that Berg’s story was done, so what started off being one book by accident will actually be three books, all up: The Enemy Inside, Broken, and Blood Lines. You can read Broken as a stand-alone book, but it contains spoilers for The Enemy Inside, so I would recommend reading them in order.

There are various themes in the books, everything from love and romance, to murder, psychopaths, justice, abuse, depression, addiction, and most importantly, healing. I also write interesting female characters, characters that may have been more traditionally male in the past.

Q:  How much psychological and/or crime research did you put into your novels prior to writing them?

A: When I wrote The Enemy Inside, it was by accident, so I had done no research whatsoever! So after the first draft was done, I had to study up on the American Criminal Justice System, criminal investigations, evidence collection and storage, autopsies, forensics, interrogation techniques, and much more. I then went back and added the detail and changed the storyline where necessary. All up, the research has taken more time than the writing itself, but it’s crime fiction and it has to be believable in the real world.

While I have studied psychology, I tried not to write each character via a ‘checklist’ of behaviors, as I wanted them to feel real and believable. The books are more about the triggers and tipping points that switch people from ‘normal’ to ‘something else’ and how they heal from that, if they can. It’s about people and their journeys, rather than their pathology.

Q:  What do you hope readers will take away from your book about any sociological issues, such as child abuse?  Do you feel you are speaking as if this is an international problem? What are some steps that can be taken to create more fair justice system?

A: I think justice is a very subjective thing, although many people feel that justice has been lost in the criminal justice system. Some people may read Broken and think that my main character and female detective, Berg, goes too far to get justice, and some may think she doesn’t go far enough. Berg is all about an ‘eye for an eye’, but her love interest, Jay, is far more forgiving and happy to work within the bounds of the law, even if that means that sometimes they don’t get the bad guy. Do you consider people like Dexter or Lisbeth Salander (Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) to be villains? I personally don’t, but others will likely disagree with this. So I urge people to read Broken and judge if they consider Berg a hero or a villain for themselves.

Child abuse is a major problem in the world today and I find it devastating that we as humans don’t do more to protect the most vulnerable among us. Child abuse has far reaching consequences not only for the child, but society at large. 

Depression is also an issue that is close to my heart, having dealt with it my whole life. It’s important to me to be able to normalize this kind of mental illness and remove the stigma from it. There are people who suffer with issues like depression but don’t seek help because they are embarrassed, and they shouldn’t be.

Q:  What did you find the most interesting part of your research?

A: I just love to see how my characters will react to things. I have completely changed plotlines and taken the books in different directions just to stay true to my characters. I am fascinated by human behavior. The fact is that you can put two people in a room and have them watch the same sequence of events, and then each of them can react totally differently, and get something else entirely out of it. This is why eyewitness testimony is some of the most unreliable testimony you will ever have. You never know how people are going to react to something. I love it, people are awesome!

Q:  Is any part of your book based on true events or stories? Or is it all fictionalized?

A: It’s all fiction developed in my damaged imagination!

Q:  When you decided to work on your book, did you plan an outline or are you a writer who likes to write from free thought and research notes? What did you learn in the process that you might recommend to first-time writers?

A: The first thing new writers should know is that there is no RIGHT way of doing this. You have to do what works for you. Because The Enemy Inside was an accident I had no plan and no idea what I was doing. I went back over more than seven drafts and added and removed things, changed characters and plots and it ended up completely different to how to started. With Broken, I tried to have a nice plan and I even created a fantastic excel spreadsheet with chapter breakdowns (I love a good spreadsheet). Of course, when it came to the writing, that all went totally out the window. Because my characters are real to me (they even have their own playlists on my iPod), I let them take the lead and the story follows. This is really important because if you try to mould your characters to fit your plotline, you end up with a story that doesn’t come across as being authentic or real. Let you characters run free and see where they take you.

Q:  I read that you first received a degree in Journalism, and then you went into Public Relations, before quitting it all to write your books. This intrigued me as it sounded like my path too and I now have a freelance business and write my books (though the latter is slow). I love to ask those in the field who’ve made the transition what it was like for them to go from a journalistic type of writing into creative writing?

A: It was HARD! As you would know, the journalistic style of writing is very factual and bare bones, with the most important information at the top of the story. I had to re-learn to write, to write fiction. I had to become familiar with flowery descriptions, and ‘showing’ instead of ‘telling’. Even now, my first drafts are very bare, containing basic plotline only. In later drafts I go back in and add descriptions, locations, and adjectives. I have a very vivid imagination, but to get it out of my brain and onto paper is difficult for me. 

Stemming from that, also what skills do you feel your journalism background lent to your fiction writing?

A: Discipline. If you want to be a writer you have to treat it like any other job. You have to write even when you don’t feel ‘inspired’, and you have to stick to deadlines. If you wait for your muses, you will get nowhere. It’s the act of writing that spurs creativity.

Q:  Are you planning any more books for in the future? If so, what types of books? Will you ever write another genre?

A: I have two more books in the works, Blood Lines, the final book in the Edge of Darkness series, and I have written a paranormal romance called Koven, which I hope to get off to my publisher soon. Koven is the first book in a new series. Apart from that, I’d love to write fantasy one day. When I was little, that’s always what I pictured myself writing, I don’t know where the crime fiction came from!

Q:  What is the best thing you like about living in Australia? It sounds so wonderful and I’d love to visit one day. Can you give me a peek through words?

A: Everything, it’s like being on holidays all the time. As I’m typing this, the sky is azure blue outside and the there’s a cool breeze coming off the ocean cutting through the warm, summer air. The birds are chirping outside, the garden is green, and later I will take my girls for a swim. On the weekend we are planning a BBQ, and I might ride to Manly beach on my bike for some exercise, or go for a bushwalk. Australians are very laid back people, the food is fresh, it’s not too crowded, and it’s quiet here, which is perfect for an introvert like me. What’s not to love? I love visiting other places, but I only ever want to live here. Or maybe Hawaii. You could twist my arm on that one, I’m a beach girl (I’ve only even seen snow once in my life, but I believe you have a lot of it over there right now? Perhaps send me some please?)

Q:  Where can readers connect with you?

A: Come visit me on my blog: http://www.vanessa-skye.com, or on twitter @vanessaskye, or on my Facebook page: Vanessa Skye (author), I’d love to hear from you.


Q:  Where should they go to purchase your books in the US, UK, and/or Australia?

A: Check out the TWCS website, amazon.com or amazon.co.uk, Kobo, Book Depository and Booktopia. The books are also on Goodreads, so please stop by and leave a review.

Erin: Thank you so much for your time with me today, Vanessa! It was lovely to speak to you! I am gathering up a nice list of women I’ve “met” who are past/present journalism/PR women who are now writing fiction! Makes me proud! Best wishes on all your ongoing writing.

Vanessa: Thank you so much for having me Erin, I’ve had a great time! Best of luck with your own writing endeavors, don’t give up. Yes, us ex-journos/hacks are pretty marvelous people. 🙂

Vanessa Skye, Biography~

Vanessa skyeVanessa Skye has always had a love of words and spent her school years writing poetry, speeches and fictional essays.  After completing a Bachelor of Arts in Print Journalism and studying Psychology at Charles Sturt University, Vanessa got a job at Australia’s largest publisher of regional and agricultural news and information, Rural Press, where she worked as a journalist in the Central West of NSW for four years.

Thousands of stories later, Vanessa decided to move back to Sydney and try her hand at public relations while studying a Master of Arts in Communication.

Skip forward a few years and Vanessa once again found herself joyfully studying various psychology subjects while managing a Sydney public relations firm. Enthralled with examining the motivations behind people’s actions, Vanessa realized what she really wanted to do in life was combine her love of words with her fascination for human behavior.

So Vanessa quit public relations to begin the significantly more impoverished life of a professional writer.

Inspired by a recurring dream, Vanessa wrote her crime fiction debut, The Enemy Inside, which challenges the concept of justice, asks if the need for vengeance sometimes justifies murder, and explores whether you can ever heal from childhood abuse. The second book in this series, Broken, soon followed. In her spare time, Vanessa wrote a short story, The Piece, which was published in February 2012 by Dark Prints Press as a part of the ‘One That Got Away’ dark fiction anthology.

Vanessa now works as a freelance writer, lives in Sydney’s northern beaches and tries to immerse herself in salt water at least once a day.

Broken, Synopsis~

Broken coverA Chicago mother is murdered in a robbery gone wrong…

A teenager is raped and beaten, her life hanging by a thread…

For Chicago Detective Alicia Raymond, a.k.a Berg, the need for justice burns deep and fills the emptiness when therapy and relationships fall short. And while Berg wages a life or death battle against a sociopath who is always two steps ahead, an old adversary will stop at nothing to end her career.

As Berg fights to prevent another murder, she will cross the line between hero and villain—and there’s no turning back.

Broken follows the series debut, The Enemy Inside and is available this month, February 2014.

Add to your GoodReads!


Filed under Q and A with Authors

How Does a Horror Author Debut His Talent? Interview with The Haunted Halls Author Glenn Rolfe

I’ve got a really interesting and exclusive interview with new to the scene horror author, Glenn Rolfe! I’ve enjoyed the first volumes of his The Haunted Halls serial, as well as the first part of another serial, Becoming. He’s a writer with promise and I highly recommend you get hooked on his writing.

You can read my review of Volume 1 of The Haunted Halls HERE and then today (May 29) and tomorrow (May 30) download for FREE just previous to Volume 3 publishing!! They’re worth money, so get them at a steal while you can!! 

Amazon Link Vol. 1: http://www.amazon.com/The-Haunted-Halls-Volume-ebook/dp/B00B6ZPZQC/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1369850179&sr=8-1&keywords=The+Haunted+Halls

Amazon Link Vol. 2: http://www.amazon.com/The-Haunted-Halls-Volume-ebook/dp/B00C4CSLKS/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1369850179&sr=8-2&keywords=The+Haunted+Halls

HH1 cover

Enjoy the interview and be sure to comment and tell Glenn and I what you think in the comments! And he’d be happy to answer more questions if you leave them in the comments, as well!

Hey Glenn!! It’s so great to finally have you here at Oh, for the Hook of a Book! I’m loving your The Haunted Halls serial book for the Kindle!

Glenn: Hello Erin. Thanks for having me. Glad you dig the tale.

Erin: It’s awesome!  Let’s grab some coffee, hang out on the couch and discuss you and your work…here we go.

Q:  How long did you know you wanted to be a writer?

A: I flirted with the idea back in my early twenties. Nothing serious though. I just started reading a lot more. Mostly Leisure Book Horror stuff.  I’ve always been a creative type, but my focus was on the bands I played in. I eventually scribbled a couple of silly short stories (with horrible endings) in a notebook and thought, hmmm.  It was about six years later that I tried writing again. I was out of work, and needed something to do. I found a short idea I had scribbled down and started writing and sharing that with a couple of my horror book reading friends on Facebook. They loved it and wanted to know what happened next…three months later, I had completed my first novel. That’s when I said, I like this.

Erin Comments: Glad you did!

Q:  What authors inspired you most growing up? Who inspires you now?

A: Not so much anyone when I was a kid. Like I said, I started reading on a semi-regular basis when got in my twenties. It was definitely Stephen King.  Now, I love Richard Laymon, Bentley Little, Robert McCammon, Ronald Malfi…the King boys, of course. Short story-wise, I’ve been reading a lot of David B. Silva.

Q:  When did you really start to take your writing to the next level—to pursue it even more seriously?

A: I wrote that first novel in 2011. Pretty much after that I started writing as much as I could. I have a great wife who believed in me from the moment I said I think I want to be a writer. From there I started doing research, bought some how to write your novel type books…and joined the Horror Writers Association. I figured if I invested money in it, I would be more inclined to stay the course. I’m too old to be trying on careers.  I’ll continue to write no matter what my future holds.

Erin Comments: It’s refreshing to see someone so goal-oriented in their writing. And if writing is in your blood, it’s hard to stop it!

HH2 PICQ:  I think you really capitalized on the craze for the serial novels with The Haunted Halls! Where or how did you come up with the plan to publish that way?

A: Honestly, I had no clue that there was a serial novel revolution or resurgence happening. I was shopping short stories and looking for places accepting new works. I found this cool site called, Jukepop Serials. The only serial I had ever read was The Green Mile. I looked through my short stories and searched for one I thought seemed like the beginning of something more. I had a short called, Night Swim. Once Jukepop accepted it, it became the prologue to The Haunted Halls. So would try to write a new chapter a week to put up on the site. 

As far as the writing of The Haunted Halls, I am writing it in sections.  I have a loose outline (emphasis on loose),but I like to let the story write itself. That way I’m on the journey of discovering what happens right next to the reader (I do try to stay a few steps ahead).

Erin Comments: That’s why you were lucky you got on the very front end. See how it exploded in the last 6 months or less? Samhain Horror has one coming out with Jonathan Janz, Kindle started their own versions, and many people are enjoying the short reads and the suspense. Great timing.

Q: You’re very self-motivated in your dreams. How did you decide to take it further and self-publish The Haunted Halls through Amazon?

A: . My problem became my impulsiveness. I would write a chapter and throw it up, half ass editing the thing. Then I would find loads of typos and stuff that was just wrong. And on Jukepop, you can’t edit it after you submit it. It goes live and that’s that. At the same time, I had been playing with the idea of self-publishing. The two things smacked into each other at about the same time. The mistakes in my work up on Jukepop were driving me crazy…I went back and fixed them in my files and decided I had to put out the best possible version of the tale.  Amazon has an easy to use system. I am very happy with how it all turned out. I eventually asked Jukepop to take down The Haunted Halls (and all of its mistakes).  I offered them my new serial, Becoming.


Q: Has that been a good decision with The Haunted Halls? Why or why not?

A: I love it. It’s a hell of a lot of work, but that’s life. Some people have the will, some do not. I enjoy the challenge. And I believe this story is worth it.

Q:  What are your hopes for The Haunted Halls? How do you plan to increase readership with each segment and also will you publish it all combined for a price one it’s complete?

A: I’m hoping a couple people like it … and those people follow it through to its completion.  And then it becomes a mega blockbuster movie and bestselling novel! Nah, as long as someone likes it, I’m happy.

Erin Comments: Always good to feel successful from alot of hard work. Writing is hard work and writers don’t get enough in return. I hope it really does well for you.

When it’s finished, I’ll look at my options. I would love to have someone publish it. One way or another, it will be out as a single unit eventually.  As for when that happens, I have no idea. I would guess at some point in 2014 between January and December.

Erin Comments: Great! Keep us updated!

Q: I think using the hotel as the scene of the novel is original as well as your type of scary “character.” Where do you come up with your ideas?

A: I work full time at a hotel in my hometown. Two of my shifts are the overnights. The origins of “Night Swim” which became the prologue, came to me one overnight as I walked past the swimming pool. I kind of imagined seeing something come out of the pool and then I actually got goose bumps. I stopped in the bathroom on my way back to the desk, and imagined it following me…When I got back to the desk, I wrote it all down. So now, when I’m wondering where to go next with the story, I walk down to the pool room and walk around it talking my ideas to the imaginary beast. Usually she says –“yes, there it is. That’s what should happen next!” 

Erin Comments: I will never stay in your hotel in your hometown because I wouldn’t sleep knowing that woman was in the pool, or could be anyone walking by me…shiver!!!!

Q: What other kinds of short stories and/or novels do you write? Are they all horror? What other themes surround your horror writings? And if other genres, what else and why?

A: Whatever strikes me, that’s what I write. It has all been horror so far. I’m sure I’ll write some non-horror stuff sooner or later. But I love horror literature so much. My finished novel is a werewolf novel. Sort of a Cycle of the Werewolf meets the Narrows. I have another novel started, but that’s on the backburner until I get these first two out of the way. I’d rather keep quiet on that one until it’s finished.

My short stories are all over the place. I have gathered a collection I’m extremely happy with since last year. I would love to put them out as such, but I’m still shopping many of most polished ones, so that will have to wait a bit, too. Subject wise…I’m not big on Lovecraft, zombies, or vampires. Although, I do love Ann Rice and what I’ve read of Robert S. Wilson’s Empire of Blood books. So vampires may be down the road somewhere…way down the road. I have a ton of stuff to get to first.

Erin Comments: You have to go where your muse takes you, but please NO ZOMBIES!!

Q: Without putting yourself in a box, what type of horror do you describe your writing as?

A: I don’t know. I try to keep it real (as real as the devils allow). I like my stories to have heart. Even though The Haunted Halls contains some brutal stuff, that would not work if I couldn’t get you to care about the main characters. It would just be a crappy slasher that you would forget the moment you put it down. I want my work to resonate with the reader.  I can’t really say who or what I write like…but my aim is to be a mix of King, Laymon, and little…with a dash of… Malfi. If I eventually get anywhere close to that I would be happy.

Q:  Is there some kind of vibe in New England for writing horror? I know you recently went to book signing with Joe Hill and his father, the amazing Stephen King was there. Did you grab some of their mojo? 

A: I wish. There’s another great guy from Maine, Nate Kenyon, oh, and Kristin Dearborn. She went to school with me and is gearing up for her second published novel! But yeah, it probably has something to do with the long winters and short summers. The cold seeps into the marrow…maybe it sticks with us and warps our minds.  🙂

Erin Comments: I LOVE Nate Kenyon. He rocks. 🙂 Yea that cold chill, creepy fog, dense dark tree lines, and history….all those ghosts you know…..

Q:  I know you also love music and have been in a band. What type of music do you like? Does music spark your creative side? Help you write better?

A: I’ve played in punk rock bands since the late nineties. I’m currently playing (when I can) with a group. We call ourselves the Never Nudes. But yeah, music is my first love. I usually like to have something dark or heavy on when I’m writing. If not either of those, its hair metal. I love everything from Poison to Rancid to Bruce Springsteen and Carrie Underwood.  

Erin Comments: CARRIE UNDERWOOD?? Are you mad? Ok, the picture of you singing Jesus, Take the Wheel just isn’t there for me. lol

Q:  I also understand that you don’t like a lot of horror movies, even though you love horror novels. I am the same way!  Why do you think that the characters are so much more well-developed in the novels?

A: I have NO idea how most of those movies get made. I want to like them…but most of them suck. I think it has to do with not having enough time to develop good characters and having to get so much blood and gore and scares in there…I don’t know. Give me a great Tarantino or Will Ferrell movie any day of the week. Horror flicks (especially post 80’s) are random hit, but mostly miss.

Erin Comments: I kinda agree. I need deep emotional ties to characters.

Q:  Who has been your favorite character in a horror novel? Why?

A: Now you’re making me think? Jeesh.  I think Ed Logan from Richard Laymon’s Night in the Lonesome October. That character really struck a chord with me.  He was a heartbroken wanderer. I was that kid once upon a time.  I love that book. 


Q:  With as busy as you are with work, writing, and have three small children, how do you find the time to write? Any advice for the other writers out there?

A: I do a lot of my writing and editing on my two overnights. It’s quiet at the hotel in the midnight hours…other than that, I write whenever I find a good hour or two to do so, either late at night, or when the kids are on one adventure with mom or nana.

Advice…write what feels right to you. Don’t force anything (dialogue, action,  etc.) I like to let the story tell me where we’re going next. Sometimes it takes a little while, but if you wait and listen…it comes. Quiet definitely helps! If you have a family, it helps to go somewhere else and write, which takes a good partner. My wife will let me run away to Barnes and Noble if I need to.

Erin Comments: I need quiet too, and never get it. Probably why I stay up so late. Great advice though!

Q:  Does writing come naturally for you? How have your perfected your craft?

A: I certainly have not perfected any facet of my craft. I’ve been writing for the past two years this month. I think (I hope) I’m just getting started.   The writing does come pretty natural. I’ve been the main songwriter in all of my bands, so I guess you combine that with an overactive imagination and let it roll.

Q: Whenever I encounter you online, you are always very happy and friendly. What gives you your sunshine? And many of us laugh about how it’s the friendliest and nicest people writing horror…agree?

A: It seems that way. Although Brian Keene seems like a fucking badass. I’m not sure that he really is, but he seems like it to me. But yeah, everyone that I’ve had the pleasure of being in contact with seems so nice.

 I love being alive, I love my wife and monkeys. I love music, books, movies… I don’t know. I’m just grateful for what I have in my life.

Erin Comments: See, how could someone not think you are terribly humble and sweet after you write that? My friend Brian Moreland once told me “We are so friendly because we get everything out on the page and don’t have to carry anymore of it around.” I haven’t met Brian Keene though…..so…lol.

Q:  What else is on the horizon for you as a person and as a writer? What other books will you be writing or trying to publish?

A: Well, Volume 3 of The Haunted Halls is out in a couple days. After that, I’m working on getting the aforementioned finished werewolf novel, Blood and Rain, published the traditional way (fingers crossed). Lots of short stories… back to work on the new Jukepop serial, Becoming, and after I do get the Haunted Halls finished, I’ll get back to the other novel I started last summer.

Personally, I’m taking the whole family down to New Orleans for the World Horror Convention in a couple weeks! My first Con, trip to New Orleans, and vacation! We’re pretty excited about that. When we get back from that, I have to lay guitar and vocals down on the band’s first EP. That should keep me busy for a little bit.

Erin Comments: You are going to have so much fun at WHC!!!! Take a camera!

Q: If you could eat anything for dinner, what would it be?

A: ALWAYS Spaghetti.


Erin Comments: Do you eat it like this? Mmmmm, me too.

Q: Where can fans and fellow writers connect with you?

A: Twitter (www.twitter.com/glennrolfe ) and Facebook (www.facebook.com/glennrolfehorror).

Erin:  Thank you so much, Glenn, for coming by. You’re a bundle of positive energy and a superb writer that has a very bright future! I wish you so much luck and am sure I’ll see you back here again soon!

Glenn:  Thank you so very much for having me. It’s been rad. BYE ERIN!

Erin: You only said bye because I told you too….funny guy. *wink*

Author Glenn Rolfe, Biography~

GlennGlenn Rolfe is an author from the haunted woods of New England. He has studied Creative Writing at Southern New Hampshire University, and continues his education in the world of horror by devouring the novels of Stephen King and Richard Laymon. He and his wife, Meghan, have two girls, Ruby, and Ramona. They currently reside in Augusta, Maine.

His short story, “Sins of My Past,” was published in December in “Paranormal Horror Anthology” (edited by Elle Pryor). His next short story, “Skull of Snakes,” is set to be published in October of 2013 in the anthology, “Coins of Chaos,” from EDGE Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing (edited by Jennifer Brozek).

 For all the latest news on Glenn Rolfe, check out his Facebook page:

The Haunted Halls, Synopsis~

HH1 coverThe Haunted Halls– A six part serial horror novel being self published throughout 2013. There are plans for a one book paperback version to be released in early 2014.

 What lies in wait at the Bruton Inn? Where did it come from? What does it want? People are checking in, but the little voices, the nightmares, the deep cold sinking into their marrow is changing them. What haunts these halls will alter those within its confines. Something big is unfolding, something dark- something evil. The haunted halls of the Bruton Inn welcome you. Checking in?


Filed under Q and A with Authors

Do You Like to Uncover Archaeological Mysteries? See this Interesting Interview with Elle Maria, Author of Chronicle of the Mound Builders

Today I have a wonderful original interview with Elle Marie, author of Chronicle of the Mound Builders. And after the interview, there is a giveaway for a copy of it!!! If you missed my review for it yesterday, click HERE!

Hi Elle, welcome to Oh, for the Hook of a Book! I’m so glad you could join us for an interview. Your work is a fascinating blend of history and fiction! How are things going for you?

Elle: Hello, Erin! Thanks for having me. Things are going very well. I’m really enjoying my tour with Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours.

Erin: So glad to hear that! Let’s leave the “dirt” of the archaeological site and dig deeper into your writing…let’s have a seat and get started!

Chronicle of the Mound BuildersQ:  Where did you come up with the idea to write Chronicle of the Mound Builders?

A:  I’ve always wondered what happened to the ancient civilization at Cahokia Mounds. They disappeared 700 years ago with few traces left behind – one of archaeology’s greatest mysteries. When a Mound Builders village was discovered in my hometown of Chesterfield, Missouri, it gave me the idea to write about what might have actually happened to destroy the prosperous community.

Q:  Have you always been a fan of archaeology and/or Native American studies? If so, what intrigues you about this profession and about Native American history in particular?

A:  Oh yes, I love both fiction and nonfiction books about archaeology. I find it fascinating to learn how archaeologists solve mysteries through the clues they find and interpret from digs. The Native American cultures in particular are very interesting to me. So much of what we think we know comes from stereotypes in movies, which only show a slice of what their lives were really like.

Q:  The mystery component for those that enjoy these types of topics is usually a propelling factor in a desire to read or write books with this topic. Do you like to uncover and solve historical mysteries? Without giving your book away, can you describe the element of mystery that you have in Chronicle of the Mound Builders?

A:  The basic mystery in Chronicle of the Mound Builders is what happened to the Mississippians, otherwise known as the Mound Builders. The entire civilization vanished practically overnight and no one really knows why or how it happened. Chronicle follows the people living in that time period as they move toward their destiny, while at the same time telling the story of archaeologist Angela Hunter trying to solve the mystery in modern times.

Q:  In researching and writing about Native American tribes, the names and verbiage can sometimes be hard to pronounce, write, and organize. How did you deal with this or overcome this? Do you have any words of advice for readers in regards to pronunciation?

A:  I’m glad you asked – it’s come up many times already! I did a lot of research to find actual Aztec and Native American names to use in Chronicle, and the Aztec names in particular are long and hard to pronounce. I recently added a pronunciation guide to my website (http://www.chronicleofthemoundbuilders.com/dig-deeper.html, below the chapter excerpts) where you can actually hear the names and places spoken aloud. It was fun to recruit volunteers to help me do the recordings.

Erin comments: That is a GREAT idea!

Q:  What was one of the most interesting things you uncovered during your research?

A:  I was amazed at the advanced technology developed by the Mound Builders. Their knowledge of astronomy, agriculture, and even dentistry was so much more sophisticated than I expected.

Erin Comments: I love the whole astronomy aspect!

Q:  I love Native American, or in other words First Peoples, history and culture. We have the Serpent Mounds here in Ohio and they are fascinating. What you see on the ground compared to what you see from the air is so different, it’s like they built them for someone looking down from the sky. That mystery again is what thrills people. Do you feel that there is more than meets the eye?

A:  That’s another mystery we may never know the answer to. How were they able to visualize a view that they could not actually experience themselves? Perhaps Angela Hunter will take on that challenge next!

Erin Comments: One theory is that they were directed by people from another world to build them as markings for them. I wonder…!! I suppose astronomy comes in to play in that regard. Kind of like the Great Pyramids. If Angela ever wants to visit the Serpent Mounds here, I’ll give her a tour! 😉

Q:  What do you feel that modern society can learn from the ancient cultures of Native Americans?

A:  What impresses me most about the ancient cultures was their understanding of nature and their desire to be in harmony with it, rather than overcome it. I think we forget that sometimes and have the mistaken belief that we can control nature.

Q:  I read that your book is an adventure. What do you hope that readers take away when they’ve completed your novel?

A:  My hope is that while readers are enjoying the action and adventure, they’re also learning about the ancient cultures. Kind of a stealthy way of educating through entertainment.

Q:  When did you start writing? What is your inspiration for writing and what motivates you to keep writing?

A:  I’ve been writing one thing or another since grade school. I think everyone has the desire to create something, and since I have pretty much zero artistic or musical talent, I turned to writing.

Q:  What has been your happy moment during the process of writing and publishing your book? What has been your biggest challenge and how did you overcome it?

A:  What I enjoy most is hearing from readers and their thoughts on Chronicle. While not all the comments are favorable, I can always learn something from them. As far as my biggest challenge, I guess one of them was deciding when to stop researching and get back to the job of writing! There is so much fascinating material about the Native American cultures, but I also researched things like hunting, how to escape from a cave, and how a bear attacks. One item leads to another related article or website and sometimes it’s just fun to follow that trail. Then before you know it, another evening is gone!

Q:  What else do you plan to write in the future? Will there be a sequel to Chronicle of the Mound Builders?

A:  I’m actually starting to plot out a prequel to Chronicle. Angela will face another archaeological mystery and the reader will gain some insight into her early relationship with Dr. Oettendorf. Should be fun!

Q:  Who are some of your favorite authors and your favorite books to read?

A:  I’m a very eclectic reader. I enjoy historical fiction (of course!), mysteries, and nonfiction such as biographies. Recently I’ve read the Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls, Life of Pi by Yann Martel, and One Thousand White Women by Jim Fergus. I enjoy reading fun adventure novels by authors like Michael Crichton, Ken Follett, and Douglas Preston. I also confess to the guilty pleasure of reading Sophie Kinsella books. She makes me laugh out loud!

Q:  You work in what must be a challenging full-time job that seems opposite from your creative side. When and where do you find time to put on your creative hat? What advice do you have for other writers?

A:  That’s a funny question coming from someone who is able to juggle writing, public relations, photography, motherhood, and more – I should be asking you! But to answer your question, my full-time IT job is certainly challenging and when I’m working, I’m fully immersed in it. But after hours, I prefer to use my imagination and creativity. My secret to having time to write is that I don’t watch television. I don’t necessarily advise other writers to give up TV, but I would tell them to find a cozy place to work without distractions and set aside a solid block of time each day for writing. I find I can’t really be productive in 5-minute spurts – I need time to focus and give my thoughts a chance to flow.

Erin Comments: Life is full, for everyone in different ways! And I don’t always juggle well!! Ha! I like your advice though and I think the answers I get to this question helps out other authors as well.

Q:  Where can readers and writers connect with you?

A:  My website is www.ChronicleOfTheMoundBuilders.com and you can find me on Twitter at @ellemarie24. I’d love to hear from fellow authors as well as my readers!

Erin:  Elle, thank you so much for joining us here today. Glad to find we have a similar interest! I look forward to seeing what else you write in the future!

Elle:  Thanks! It’s been great talking with you.


The giveaway is for one (1) paperback copy and open to US/Canada. Enter by 11:59 p.m. EST two weeks from the date of this post. You must leave your email in the comments, email to me at hookofabook@hotmail.com, or comment on a Facebook link I post.

For +1 extra entry, follow my blog and for another +2 entries, “like” the Facebook page at www.facebook.com/HookofaBook.


Chronicle of the Mound BuildersPublication Date: October 29, 2012
Paperback; 416p
ISBN-10: 1479206652

Archaeologist Dr. Angela Hunter discovers an ancient codex at a Mississippian Indian dig site in the St. Louis area. Knowing the Mississippians, or Mound Builders, had no written language, she is determined to solve the mystery of the 700-year-old, perfectly preserved codex.

In the early 1300’s, an Aztec family is torn apart. A judge rebelling against the Aztec tradition of human sacrifice is cursed and escapes his enemies with his 12-year-old son. They travel from the Gulf of Mexico up the Mississippi River to settle in the thriving community of Migaduha, modern-day Cahokia Mounds, Illinois.

Angela recognizes the symbols as Aztec pictograms and begins to translate the story. However, other forces also want the codex and will do anything to get it. Can she learn the secrets of the chronicle before the tragic events of the past are repeated today?

Author Elle Marie, Biography~

Elle MarieComing from a large family of readers, Elle Marie grew up with a love of reading. Her passion for reading led to a desire to write. After first publishing a nonfiction book, Living the Thin Life, she turned to fiction.

A visit to Cahokia Mounds sparked a fascination with the mysterious Mound Builders, about whom so little is known. What was their culture like? How did ordinary people live in the 14th century? What caused the civilization to vanish, seemingly overnight? She put her imagination to work and came up with a story line that put it all together. Extensive research enabled her to create a believable, engrossing world.

By day, she works in the information technology field at a large financial services firm. She is a graduate of the Missouri University of Science & Technology and lives in the St. Louis area with her husband. Chronicle of the Mound Builders is her first novel.

For more information, please visit the OFFICIAL WEBSITE.

Link to Tour Schedule: http://hfvirtualbooktours.com/chronicleofthemoundbuildersvirtualtour/
Twitter Hashtag: #MoundBuildersTour



Filed under Q and A with Authors

Exclusive Interview with the Master of Thrillers, Author David Morrell

Today I have an INTERVIEW with the fabulous David Morrell, author of First Blood, and many other titles, that have given him the legacy of being the master of the action thriller. With many decades of books under his belt, he is an amazing author still to this day, writing, mentoring, and inspiring many other authors. Currently, he just published Murder as a Fine Art. Very happy to feature him today and I hope you join us for this exclusive interview…..

Murder as a Fine Art

Hi David, welcome to Oh, for the Hook of Book! I am thrilled and honored to have you stop by to discuss your writing and books with me! As one of the best loved thriller writers and trailblazers in the business, I can’t wait to delve into your thoughts. So how are you?

David: Great. I’m halfway through my tour for Murder as a Fine Art and glad for a chance to sit down and take a breath.

Erin:  In that case, by all means let’s sit down and get started…….

Q:  You’ve had quite the career, David! I love your story of how you caught the writing bug by watching the TV show Route 66 in the 1960s.  How do you think this changed your life?

David MorrellA: I was seventeen and going nowhere.  My high-school principal once told me that I wouldn’t amount to anything because I watched so much television. How ironic that television showed me the way. Stirling Silliphant’s scripts for Route 66 were a combination of action and ideas that absolutely inspired me. I sent him a hand-written letter that basically said, “I want to be you.” He actually responded and encouraged me. I never looked back. Years later, we were able to work together when he was the executive producer of the miniseries based on my novel, The Brotherhood of the Rose.

Q:  How did your writing career first get started then?

A: To the surprise of many, I decided to finish high school. Then I went to college so that I could read the best of what had been written. By then, I realized that not many people earn a living as a writer and that I ought to get a day job. I went to Penn State for an M.A. and Ph.D. in American literature—again to the surprise of many—with the intent of becoming a professor. All along, I kept writing, and finally, twelve years after I first watched Route 66, at the age of 29, I published my first novel, First Blood.

Q: You mention having some fabulous mentors, such as Philip Young who wrote the first critical study about Ernest Hemingway. How did they work with you or effect you in order to make such a profound difference in your life? What did they teach you?

A: Philip Young is important because his book about Hemingway is what made me decide to go to Penn State and study with him. Eventually I became his graduate assistant. But another Philip—Philip Klass, whose pen name is William Tenn—made the difference in terms of my fiction writing. For three years, from 1967 until 1970—he taught me the basics, not only about writing but about being a professional. I explain his theories in my writing book, The Successful Novelist. Klass had a couple of mantras. One was that everyone has a dominant emotion. He believed rightly that mine was fear, the result of a rough childhood. He encouraged me to use my dominant emotion to write a book that only I could write because of the forces that made me what I am.  He described this as “self-psychoanalysis,” and it had a powerful influence on me.

Erin Comments: Writing a novel myself, I like this advice. It’s an ever bigger step than “write what you know.” Emotions are very powerful.

Q:  Your debut novel, First Blood, which introduced the character of Rambo and was adapted into a hit film, has made you a household name. How did you first come up with the idea for First Blood, and then, its series?

First Blood coverA: At Penn State, I earned my tuition by teaching composition classes. In 1967, several of my students were veterans newly returned from Vietnam. They described the problems they had adjusting to peacetime. Nightmares, sweats, difficulty sleeping, reaction to loud noises, problems relating to people. The phrase “post traumatic stress disorder” didn’t exist then, but that’s what they had.  At the same time, the United States was experiencing massive protests against the war, coupled with hundreds of race riots (which in an indirect way were related to the war because a disproportionate number of Blacks were drafted). There seemed a risk that the country would fall apart.

One day, I had the idea of a Medal of Honor winner returning from Vietnam to the U.S. The war, it turns out, had radicalized him because his experiences had taught him that he had a talent for killing and he hated himself because of that. Wanting to be left alone, he inadvertently finds himself in a version of the Vietnam War in the mountains outside a small American town. It’s an anti-war novel that led to a series of films, the second and third installments of which had a reverse theme.  I had nothing to do with the later films, but I think that the first movie is very well made.

Erin Comments:  Amazing.

Q: Were you surprised by its reception with readers? I’m sure that having such success with a novel completely changed your world. Can you put it into words?

A: I wrote my Masters thesis on Hemingway’s style.  When I wrote First Blood, I kept remembering the way Hemingway wrote about action in novels like To Have and Have Not and For Whom the Bell Tolls. He always made it fresh. He never resorted to tired, pulp phrases like “A shot rang out.” I began wondering if it was possible to write an action book that wouldn’t feel like a genre book. In 1972, there’d never been a non-genre book that had that much action.  First Blood changed the way action could be written. Its techniques—and the timeliness of the subject—led to very positive reviews in just about every major magazine and newspaper. First novels seldom get that kind of attention. Then came a big paperback sale, and the movie sale (although the movie didn’t get made for ten years). It was all very bewildering.  Fortunately I was a professor. Teaching the great books every day put everything in perspective for me. 


Q: Over the course of the years you’ve written many more novels in the thriller genres and even co-founded International Thriller Writers organization. Are all your books in the same genre? How are they similar, or are any different (besides Murder as a Fine Art that we’ll get to in a minute)?

A: This is my 41st year as a published author. That’s an eternity in the publishing world, where many successful careers end after 15 or at most 20 years. What can happen is that an author finds something that works and repeats it until the author and the author’s readers get tired. In contrast, I thought of my career as a way to grow and evolve, a way to find new methods of showing what a thriller can be.  In fact, I also wrote a western, and I have a large following in the horror community. My work doesn’t have anything supernatural in it, but it often has an eerie tone, which earned me three Stoker awards from the Horror Writers Association. 

In the 1980s, I wrote a series of influential espionage novels that began with The Brotherhood of the Rose. They were the first to combine the authentic espionage tradecraft of the British tradition with the action of the American tradition. I’m always looking for new ways to tell an exciting story, to the point that my friend Steve Berry keeps kidding me about how often I re-invented myself.

Erin Comments: But that is the way to keep yourself fresh and able to sell books!

Q: What do you love the best about writing thrillers?

A: I was destined to write thrillers. My father died in combat just after I was born. My mother couldn’t hold a job and take care of me at the same time, so she put me in an orphanage.  Later she remarried, but my stepfather disliked children. He and my mother fought so much that I lived in fear. I often slept under my bed. In the dark, I made up stories to distract myself. They were adventure stories in which I was the hero.  It’s no wonder that I became a thriller writer. I feel fulfilled every time I sit down to write.

Erin Comments: I am very sorry to hear this, but I’m glad that you took your experiences and used them to motivate your writing. I’m guessing you like to write Captain America comics (I know you’ve done some in recent years) since he was such a hero!


Q: You might have already mentioned research. I know you’ve been able to allow yourself some extensive outside training in your research…raceways, survival training, getting a pilot’s license….what have been some of your most memorable adventures? What do you feel you gain by immersing yourself into these types of training situations?

A: Too many thriller writers take their details from movies and TV shows, which almost always are in error. In a movie, someone will shoot the gas tank of a vehicle, and the fuel tank explodes. In life, that doesn’t happen. Or a character will shoot a tire, and the tire will explode. That doesn’t happen either. Early in my career, I realized that to respect what I was writing about, I needed to have hands-on experience. I interviewed the kind of people I wrote about.

I trained in various activities, such as spending a week at the Bill Scott Raceway in West Virginia to learn how to handle cars the way the Secret Service does. For a wilderness survival sequence, I once lived in Wyoming’s Wind River mountains, receiving training from the National Outdoor Leadership School. I once broke my collarbone in a knife-fighting class. 

For the airplane sequences in The Shimmer (about the mysterious Marfa Lights of west Texas), I took flight lessons until I earned my private pilot’s license.  The research is a way of respecting my material and doing my best to make it believable.

Erin Comments: And very exciting as well! I love how you bring true details and action to your novels.

Q:  I tend to try to be humorous, but the question comes to mind—do you feel you would have been some kind of FBI, Fighter Pilot, or some other risky profession if you hadn’t gotten your break as an author? (Even your picture makes me think you might be undercover –*smiling*)

A: There’s no question that I lead two different lives. Mostly, I sit at a desk and write. But every year or two, I head off for training of various types, and often it’s dangerous.  I look like a mild-mannered professor, but someone who looks like that can be an effective, unsuspected operative. I’m reminded of training I received at the G. Gordon Liddy Academy of Corporate Security.  For three weeks, he brought in ex-government agents who taught a version of what CIA recruits receive at the Farm.  It was invaluable experience, and in our street exercises, following people etc., I was amazed by how invisible a trained operative can be.

Q:  You’ve had a busy year, besides finishing up Murder as a Fine Art, being an archivist and doing all things organizational to assist readers. Can you explain what’s been happening with your titles? Are they all available in e-book form now?

DM 2A: When the e-book revolution occurred in 2009, I started preparing some of my out-of-print titles in digital format. I’ve been publishing for so long that I have the e-rights to the majority of my books. I also began digitalizing short stories and essays that were published decades ago.  Nearly all my work is online now (millions and millions of words), with a few exceptions, such as Extreme Denial, which I’ll release this summer when I’m finished with the release of Murder as a Fine Art.

Erin Comments: That’s exciting!

Q:  Stemming from this, how do you feel that the publishing and book selling industry has changed? What do you find positive, and in comparison, negative, with all that has transpired in the last decade?

A: For most of my career, an author needed to go through the gatekeepers of an agent and an editor. I still think that this is the way to go—because the work is better for having their help. But sometimes a writer finishes something that doesn’t fit what agents or editors are looking for. It can be a beautifully written book, but it just doesn’t fit current trends. In former decades, that would have been the end, but now an author can take charge and release the book digitally. In that sense, there has never been a better time with more opportunities for authors. That’s the good news. The bad news is that some books are so poorly written that they deserve not to be published, but without gatekeepers, an awful lot of those poorly written books are flooding the e-market.

Erin Comments: Spot on. I agree.

Murder as a Fine Art

Q:  Now that you’ve tried to challenge yourself with your writing and take on a new era, how did you find it writing about Victorian England in your newest book, Murder as a Fine Art? How did you come up with the idea?

A: A 2009 film about Darwin’s nervous breakdown (Creation) had a brief bit of dialogue in which someone says, “Charles, people such as De Quincey are saying that it’s possible to be influenced by thoughts and emotions we don’t know we have.” I wondered if the reference was to Thomas De Quincey, an 1800s author whom my long-ago college professor dismissed as being a mere literary footnote. But that bit of dialogue intrigued me. It sounded like Freud, except that Freud didn’t publish his theories for a half-century after De Quincey.  I felt something tugging at my mind.

After the film ended, I opened one of my college textbooks (I still have them). I started reading De Quincey and fell down a Victorian rabbit hole. He invented the word “subsconscious.” He also invented the true-crime genre in his Postscript to his sensational essay “On Murder Consider as One of the Fine Arts,” which is about the notorious Ratcliffe Highway murders. He influenced Edgar Allan Poe, who in turned influenced Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to create Sherlock Holmes.  This guy was major, I discovered, and I couldn’t wait to write a novel in which he appeared at the start of the detective tradition.

Q:  What kind of research did you put into Murder as a Fine Art? Certainly you didn’t become a serial killer, and likewise, it was probably hard to time travel in order to become a member of Scotland Yard. So how did you “get into costume” so to speak?

A: Again, I became a Method author. The first step was to read and re-read the many thousands of pages that De Quincey wrote. That wasn’t hard—his work became more brilliant with each reading. Eventually I felt as if I was channeling him.  Then I accumulated a vast amount of books about Victorian culture in London in the 1850s. After that, I read and re-read novels from the period. Truly, I began to feel that I was actually there, and my goal became to make readers feel the same way. The reviewer for Entertainment Weekly was especially complimentary about the vividness of the historical details.

Erin Comments:  I agree, the historical details in your novel are fabulous.

Q:  Is history something you are interested in, or was it the literary works of Sherlock Holmes/Arthur Conan Doyle what most influenced you?

A: Most of my novels have a strong element of history. Back in 1977, I even wrote a historical western, Last Reveille, about “Black Jack” Pershing’s hunt for the Mexican bandit, Pancho Villa.  The Brotherhood of the Rose is filled with history.  And so on. But this is easily my most historical book. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Sherlock Holmes weren’t a factor for me. I admire the character, but Holmes shows up three decades after the events of Murder as a Fine Art. In fact, the chronology is interesting. De Quincey inspired Edgar Allan Poe, who in turn inspired Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to create Holmes.  And then there’s Wilkie Collins’s The Moonstone, one of the first detective novels (two decades before Holmes). Its climax uses De Quincey’s Confessions of an English Opium-Eater to solve the crime, so De Quincey can truly be found at the start of the detective tradition.

Erin Comments: That is very interesting!

Q:  Do you feel this book also stretched your writing style beyond just the time period? How did the narrative and POV come into play?

A: In graduate school, I was trained to believe that the best novels combine form and content. That meant if I was going to set a novel in 1854 London, I needed to write an imitation Victorian novel, one that was true to the period. These days, the omniscient viewpoint is hardly ever used, but it was used all the time by people like Dickens. Every chapter of Murder as a Fine Art begins with an omniscient narrator. The technique is true to the era, and as a bonus, it allows me to explain the weirdness of Victorian culture, which I would otherwise not have been able to do.  Many Victorian novels also use first-person journals, so I used that device also. It was great technical fun.

Q: Do you have in writing process, or have you thought about, any other types of new novels?

A: The response to Murder as a Fine Art has been so positive that many people asked me to write another book about De Quincey. My publisher was very happy when I said that would be my next project. I don’t normally write sequels, but De Quincey has really grabbed me. I have plenty more to say about him and 1854 London.

Erin Comments: Wonderful news (in my review yesterday, I said I had hoped you’d be writing more)!

Q: Who are your personal favorite thriller writers? Who are your favorite writers overall? And why?

A: The thriller writer who most influenced me is Geoffrey Household, whose classic 1939 novel Rogue Male is about a British big-game hunter who stalks Hitler on the eve of WWII. That book and Household’s Watcher in the Shadows showed me what thrillers can be.

Q: Do you feel all your dreams have come true? What is one thing you’d like to do you haven’t done yet?

A: Truly, I try not to have expectations. That way I don’t have disappointments. My 15-year-old son Matthew died in 1987 from a rare bone cancer called Ewing’s sarcoma. In 2009, my 14-year-old granddaughter Natalie died from the same disease. Only 200 people get it each year in the United States.  My many years have taught me that the only thing of value is time. When I start a project, I always ask myself, “Why is this project worth a year or two or three of your time?”  Writing fulfills me in a mysterious way. I choose projects that have something about their theme, their technique, and their research that will make me feel fuller. Murder as a Fine Art more than did that for me.

Erin Comments: I am sorry to hear that, please accept my sympathies.  I agree with you, time is valuable. Each and every minute and writing, to me, is a lasting legacy.

Q: Where can readers connect with you?

A: www.davidmorrell.net.  It’s a very informative website, with information about Route 66 and Rogue Male and Rambo and video interviews and free essays about writing.

Erin:  Thank you so much, David, for chatting with me. You are quite an inspiration and I am proud to have had this opportunity. I appreciate it and wish you continued success and best wishes!

David: I enjoyed my visit. Thanks.


Murder as a Fine Art Review~

You can read my review of Morrell’s Murder as a Fine Art HERE!



You may enter to win one (1) copy of David Morrell’s Murder as a Fine Art by leaving a comment at the end of this blog post or on a Facebook link. Please enter by 11:59 p.m. EST two weeks from the date of this post. Open in the United States only, this time.

For +1 extra entry, follow my blog. For +2 extra entries, please “like” the Hook of a Book Facebook Page at www.facebook.com/HookofaBook.



Murder as a Fine ArtPublication Date: May 7, 2013
Mulholland Books
Hardcover; 368p
ISBN-10: 0316216798


Thomas De Quincey, infamous for his memoir Confessions of an English Opium-Eater, is the major suspect in a series of ferocious mass murders identical to ones that terrorized London forty-three years earlier.

The blueprint for the killings seems to be De Quincey’s essay “On Murder Considered as One of the Fine Arts.” Desperate to clear his name but crippled by opium addiction, De Quincey is aided by his devoted daughter Emily and a pair of determined Scotland Yard detectives.

In Murder as a Fine Art, David Morrell plucks De Quincey, Victorian London, and the Ratcliffe Highway murders from history. Fogbound streets become a battleground between a literary star and a brilliant murderer, whose lives are linked by secrets long buried but never forgotten.


“Murder As a Fine Art by David Morrell is a masterpiece—I don’t use that word lightly—a fantastic historical thriller, beautifully written, intricately plotted, and populated with unforgettable characters. It brilliantly recreates the London of gaslit streets, fogs, hansom cabs, and Scotland Yard. If you liked The Alienist, you will absolutely love this book. I was spellbound from the first page to last.”

—Douglas Preston, #1 bestselling author of The Monster of Florence

Author David Morrell, Biography~

David MorrellDavid Morrell is a Canadian novelist from Kitchener, Ontario, who has been living in the United States for a number of years. He is best known for his debut 1972 novel First Blood, which would later become a successful film franchise starring Sylvester Stallone. More recently, he has been writing the Captain America comic books limited-series The Chosen.

He’s written numerous novels and been an Edgar, Anthony, and Macavity nominee as well as a three-time recipient of the distinguished Stoker Award from the Horror Writers Association. The International Thriller Writers organization gave him its prestigious career-achievement Thriller Master Award. His work has been translated into twenty-six languages.

For more information on David Morrell and his novels, please visit the official website. You can also follow David on Facebook, Twitter and Google+.

Link to Tour Schedule: http://hfvirtualbooktours.com/murderasafineartvirtualtour/
Twitter Hashtag: #MurderAsAFineArtTour

Murder as a Fine Art Virtual Tour FINAL2


Filed under Q and A with Authors

Featuring Author Deborah Harkness: Under the Cover of Her Novels

Deborah Harkness, author of New York Times Bestselling novels A Discovery of Witches and Shadow of Night, emanates a warmth and poise that made me want to immediately sit down and chat with her about history, science, books and life all by a warm fire, with a glass of wine in hand for her and a cup of coffee for me, as if she was a long-lost friend.  Of course that didn’t really happen even if she made me feel it could, but I did meet her on Sunday as part of a presentation she gave that was hosted by the Cuyahoga County Public Library.  She spoke about her books, her writing, and her author/life balance.

Pictured above: 
Deborah Harkness and I together during her book signing on a hot day in Ohio. My glasses were sliding slowly down my face, while Deb looked radiant!

Harkness was an amazingly confident public speaker. I suppose that comes from all her years as a university professor. She’s also very witty and knowledgable and connects with readers and an audience in a very sincere way.

After patiently signing books from an extended line of people on a very hot Ohio day, while being so very kind, thoughtful, personable and accommodating to the many fans, she was introduced to a thundering of applause as the crowd cheered for the announcement that Shadow of Night had just hit the #1 spot on the NYT bestseller list. I smiled when I saw her discreetly do a “hand pump” as she waited in the wings behind the stage curtain.  The amount of whirlwind international success must be very exciting indeed, even though she already has accomplished so many academic accolades.

She spoke about how her vision for the books came to her and I had to admit I chuckled. It reminds me of something that would happen to me.  She had been in an airport with her family to head on vacation when she saw row after row of books that had to do with vampires, fallen angels, witches and the like. She thought in her head that if these entities were real, where would they be? She laughed to herself as she told us she started to follow her family around asking repeated questions because she wanted to figure out, basically, that if all these supernatural types are getting front page news, then where are they? What do they do for a living? Of course, I know myself that any person who loves education will most likely ask a million questions until they get the answer. Given my own personality, I could relate to her incessant need to understand where these entities come from and where they reside. Readers can be glad that she kept pursuing her questions and created her trilogy. Sometimes we just can’t find concrete answers and that is why fiction is so wonderful and important in our human lives. I was happy to see an academia-type person step outside the non-fiction “box” and take on novels.

In talking about her novels then, what makes them so overwhelmingly popular and successful?  People are intrigued by the unknown and love to use their imaginations to vicariously live through these characters created by fiction writers. While these types of characters dominate the Young Adult reading genre, Harkness noted that many of these aren’t really for serious adult readers with adult characters. With her first book, A Discovery of Witches,  she wrote it because she thought “Why should teenagers have all the fun?” With this mantra she created a fairy tale for grown-ups that included adults falling in love as well as a more detailed mystery that kept us wanting more. For the second book, Shadow of Night, she describes it as her characters delving beyond the initial stage of falling in love and that the book moved on to show how two people can stay in love and accept each other through major change and turmoil. ” That is true magic,” she stated.  For the third book in the trilogy, she said she will take readers back to the present day, tracing what happens to her characters after no one is the same after Shadow of Night.  Though she is still writing it, she tells us that by completion we will find out the real secrets of the magical book Ashmole 782.

When asked if the past will affect the future in book three, Harkness said, “We learn things from the past you can only learn in the past.” She certainly knows how to keep her readers guessing.  However, the books and characters have kept Harkness herself guessing, such as Hamish appearing to her then knocking on the door in A Discovery of Witches. She said though he wasn’t planned, Hamish is one of her very favorite characters.  In Shadow of Night, there are two such characters as well, but I don’t want to spoil who they are. She never fully knows for sure where her book will take her, stating that, “Books act like children, they don’t all behave the same way.” 

And what about considering Ashmole 782 as a character? The alchemical manuscript is quite real in so many ways isn’t it?  In academic libraries the books are cataloged by a person’s name and number. Ashmole 782 is actually the library call number for the book in the real Bodelian library at Oxford. In doing some of her research, it was an item Harkness really wanted to take a look at and honestly, she told the audience, it really is missing. Since she couldn’t find it, she thought, “Ok then, there is that annoying missing book. I’ll throw that in, too.” I’m sure readers are glad she took on the task of fictionalizing an answer to where this book might really be because it gave all the characters a purpose and kept us turning page after page.  It has the answer we all are seeking, doesn’t it? Where do witches, vampires, and daemons come from?

Another question she addressed that many people seem to have is why does her character Matthew Clairmont have to know EVERYONE? She laughs at this thought and proceeds to explains that Matthew is actually based from a poem by George Chapman, circa 1594, that was dedicated to Matthew Roydon, who appears historically to be a man that everyone knew, but one not much is recorded on. Harkness tried to research him, coming up with references of him in relation to many other famous men of the late 1500s-early 1600s, but nothing directly about him. In fact, when he was called to testify in the trial of Christopher Marlowe’s death, he was never found. She said she thought “ummm….vampires would be like Matthew Roydon. Always adjacent to the spotlight, but never actually in it.”

Difficulties between Diana and Matthew in Shadow of Night come from their needed adjustments to the time period that they time walked to. They had to learn things about each other, while also dealing with all the changes that come from living in a time where there was no expectation of privacy. Harkness describes it humorously as a “never-ending family vacation.”  Diana is dealing with being thrown into Matthew’s world in 1590 where Harkness says “it is difficult to not only be a witch, but also a woman.” They deal with Matthew reverting to old ways, not always grand in that time period, and his friends, dubbed in history books as members of the School of Night.  Also, Diana doesn’t know the old magic, she barely was learning her new magic, and beyond that it is almost a death sentence to be public about being a witch. The pair emerge from the tight cocoon of new romance into chaos. In the end, they must learn to value each other and find acceptance while staying alive and fighting for their future.

Pictured above: Deborah giving her presentation on July 22, 2012.

There are so many discussion facets that make this trilogy such a success. Harkness’ background to the books and her outline of all the different threads running through them makes the books even more interesting.

Not only do we get a wonderful book series, but the rights to the All Souls Trilogy have sold to Warner Brothers Pictures.  The Pulitzer and Tony Award winning playwright David Auburn (Proof) has written the screenplay. I can only imagine how amazing these movies are going to be. But Harkness won’t given any indication of who she pictures playing Matthew or Diana, though those are frequently asked questions. A testament to her kind heart, she doesn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings if they cast someone else.  “If you were an actor how would you feel if someone said to you, ‘do you know Deborah Harkness really wanted so and so to play your part?'” she stated.

Harkness said that she never really had much intent to write fiction and that the last she remembers of writing fiction was a piece from her sophomore year of high school. Although she thought of writing an Elizabethan mystery many years ago, she really couldn’t get into it.  She has, of course, written numerous scholarly articles and two non-fiction works.  She’s worked in numerous libraries all over the world and currently teaches European history and the history of science at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.  With her historical researching, teaching and writing behind her, she is right when she states, “I am a historian, and what are historians if not story tellers.”  Of course, historians are the most natural of story tellers and the most inquisitive of people as well.

So when asked what she’ll write when the All Souls trilogy is done, she states that she is not entirely sure. She has lots of ideas always running around her head, including some non-fiction ideas such as a book about the relationship between Elizabeth I and her father, Henry VIII.

Pictured above: This photo shows Shadow of Night on NYT Bestseller List this week. I stole the photo from Deborah’s fan page…so she gets photo credit. I hope she doesn’t mind.

She attributes her fiction success to what she calls quite simply, “pixie dust.”  She said, “What happened to me wasn’t supposed to happen but it did.” Her advice to other writers is “write the book that speaks to you and then take one day at a time.”

Most aspiring authors want to know how other authors get it all done. What is Harkness’ writing routine?  While writing A Discovery of Witches, she wrote two hours each morning and about two pages a day.  I was writing, teaching and living, she said.  “Write 2 pages a day for a year and you have A Discovery of Witches,” she continued. But balance can be hard.  This Fall, she is taking a leave from teaching because she had to throw in a fourth component, which is book promotion.  She didn’t feel it fair to her students to come in “looking like her hair was on fire and try to teach the italian renaissance” after a summer of major book touring all across the U.S.

From my view point up close her hair is certainly is not on fire yet, even if her books are. Her warm heart is certainly something that will keep heating up her success as she tours around the country. If you haven’t read A Discovery of Witches yet, or Shadow of Night, I urge you to do so just for the sheer fun of a good magical adult read full of romance, mystery, history, supernatural elements, and intrigue. You can’t go wrong when you put all those details together with excellent writing.

To read my previous review of Shadow of Night, click HERE.  To read an interview with Deborah Harkness, click HERE. Please note the giveaway is now closed, though the information on the books is always relevant.

To keep up on news about Deborah Harkness and her books, go to www.deborahharkness.com. And talk more to Deborah on her Facebook Fan Page at http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Deborah-Harkness/163048101811

It began with a discovery of witches…..

how will it end?


And THANK YOU to the Cuyahoga County Public Library and the Berea Branch for hosting Deborah and for moving the location to accomodate more of her fans. THANK YOU to Deborah for coming to Ohio!


Filed under Book Reviews, Feature Articles, 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