Tag Archives: Ohio authors

Talking with Historian and Mystery Writer Sam Thomas about Sleuthing in the 1600s

Hi, Sam! Welcome to Oh, for the Hook of a Book! So happy to have you join us as you don’t have to travel far to converse with this fellow Northeast Ohioan! Hope you’ve settled into Ohio as well as you have into being a well-received author!

I loved reading A Midwife’s Tale and I’ve been excited about A Harlot’s Tale publishing this month. I know you have a lot of physical book signings coming up at stores and libraries. Did you have a nice winter break and holiday to rest up?

Sam: Thanks so much! We love it here in Cleveland – so much so that my wife and I (without any planning gave each other the same Christmas present – “Cleve-land that I love” t-shirts!

Erin: Oh my goodness, that really is cute! You should both put those on and post a picture! I’ve lived in Ashland, which is just down I-71 about 45  minutes and we’ve spent a lot of time in Cleveland. It really does have a great vibe and lots of things to do. Why don’t we hang out and talk about your book series and your life as a writer for a bit. Grab a hot coffee, or your drink of choice, and we’ll get started.

The Harlot's Tale

Q:   You are a historian and teacher first and foremost, so was it a natural progression to write novels, even if they are fiction? What gave you the idea to write historical mysteries?

A: Actually, it was part of a much larger life change. I was making the jump from teaching at a public university in the south to a private school in Cleveland, and the one thing that held me back was that I LOVED midwives. I had been studying them for nearly ten years, and hated the idea of just walking away from them.

Since I knew that teaching at a high school would mean giving up long trips to England to dig through archives, I decided to take a shot at fiction. Miraculously, it came together pretty quickly, and The Midwife’s Tale came out about a year after I started my new job.

Erin: It seems like you made a great choice taking it in this direction!

Q:  A Midwife’s Tale introduces us to midwife Bridget Hodgson, who in the middle 1600s in England hears all the news—good or bad. She was a great choice as a protagonist who might scour the city solving crimes. There are so many reasons why, would you mind sharing to our readers?

A: Contrary to the popular image of midwives as poor, marginal, figures who were often executed as witches, midwives were key to the enforcing the law. They investigated crimes ranging from rape and infanticide to witchcraft itself. So at a most basic level, they are part of the law-enforcement system of the time.

Even better, they cross all kinds of social boundaries. A wealthy midwife served rich and poor alike, and knew everybody’s  secrets. What more would you want in a sleuth?

Q:  How does Bridget and her supporting characters progress through the series? Do you have a set number of books planned?

A: At the start of the series, Bridget at Martha are more or less alone in the world. Martha has no family to speak of, and Bridget is still reeling from the death of her husband and both her children. The first two books are about their efforts to create a family out of the wreckage of their lives. 

The third book – not to give away too much – asks the question of both women: How far will you go to protect the family that you have created?

Q:  How many midwives were available in various places in historic England? Were there only so many to an area? How did they become trained?

A: That’s actually a difficult question to answer, simply because it’s hard to define the term “midwife”. It’s not like modern doctors, who have been to medical school, taken an exam, and received a license. A midwife was someone who delivered children, but since most women played a role in childbirth it was not always clear what distinguished a midwife from someone who was very helpful.

Some women went through formal training, serving as a deputy midwife for a number of years until they became official midwives. This is Martha’s position in the first few books. She is learning the art and mystery of midwifery, but is not yet a midwife herself.

Q:  What does the title of your second book, A Harlot’s Tale, refer to? The Midwife’s Tale is more forthcoming, of course, as the protagonist is a midwife.

A: The book focuses on a series of murders that take place in York, and (for reasons that are not entirely clear) the murderer is targeting York’s prostitutes. There’s another layer to the title, but I can’t explain that without giving away a bit too much!

Q:  I think I saw you’ve written a few short stories, or at least one and in the process of more, that take place in between your novels? What are they and why did you do so?

A: The short stories started as a way for me to answer a question I had about Bridget’s nemesis, Rebecca Hooke. She is a truly evil woman, and I wondered how she came to be that way. The short story was a way for me to answer that question.

Down the road, I want to write more stories like this, each with the focus on one of the supporting characters from the novels. The next one will be about Samuel Short, the jailor from the first two books.

Q:  Do you have a title for the third in the series? What will that one be about?

A: The third one is going to be called The Witch-Hunter’s Tale. It too is set in York, and focuses on the outbreak of witch accusations in the city.

Erin: I can’t WAIT to read this one as well!

Q:  How did you learn to write suspenseful fiction (plotting point to make it suspenseful, mysterious, and thrilling) or did it just “come to you?” How have you honed your craft and what advice do you have for other historical suspense writers?

A: I just made it up as I went along! I’ve always been a big reader, so I think it is something I picked up as I read, without really realizing it.

Erin: That comment of “making it up as you went along” is going to make some writers jealous!!! Your loose ends and mystery points always tie up nicely for writing that way!

Q:  Outside of this series, do you have any other books you might think about writing?

A: I’m actually working on a stand-alone novel right now, but it’s super top secret!

Q:  Who are your all-time favorite sleuths (books or shows)? And why?

A: At the risk of sounding trendy, I’m a huge fan of the new BBC version of Sherlock. I find the blend of suspense and humor to be really great. And the actor who plays Moriarity is a wonder!

Q:  Who are some of the favorite authors that you are reading, when you have time to read?

A: I’m all over the place. I think Joyce Carol Oates is deeply creepy, and for that I love her. I’m also a fan of Joe Hill. For mysteries, I have an author crush on Tana French. When I read her books I feel like quitting the business because I know I can’t possibly write characters as well as she does.

Erin: I LOVE Joyce Carol Oates. If you didn’t read her 2013 novel, The Accursed, I highly recommend! Also, Joe Hill is fabulous, as is his dad.

Q:  Favorite place to eat anywhere in Cleveland area, let’s see if we agree!!

A: With two little ones, we don’t get out too much. When we do, it’s usually pretty cheap. Yours Truly for breakfast, Tommy’s over in Coventry, and the Tremont Taproom closer to downtown.

Erin: haha!! That goes for us too, on the don’t get out much and go for cheaper…we have three kids aged 14, 10, and 6. But we do enjoy good eatery and there are so many great things in Tremont. I also recommend MELT if you haven’t been to one!

Q:  Where can readers and fans connect with you?

A: I’m all over the place:

I’m also on the web:

 Q:  Where can readers purchase your books?

A: Anywhere fine publications are sold! If you’re an online person, I’ve collected some options here: http://www.samthomasbooks.com/buy-the-book.html

Erin:  Sam, thank you so very much for letting me interview you today. I hope you’ll come back many more times as I truly enjoy your novels! I’m going to try to get out to one of your appearances and introduce myself! Best of luck with your series!

Sam: Thanks so much! I love personalized interviews, so this was a lot of fun.

The Harlot’s Tale, Synopsis~

The Harlot's TalePublication Date: January 7, 2014
Minotaur Books
Hardcover; 320p1250010780
ISBN-10: 1250010780

It is August, 1645, one year since York fell into Puritan hands. As the city suffers through a brutal summer heat, Bridget Hodgson and Martha Hawkins are drawn into a murder investigation more frightening than their last. In order to appease God’s wrath—and end the heat-wave—the city’s overlords have launched a brutal campaign to whip the city’s sinners into godliness. But for someone in York, whipping is not enough. First a prostitute and her client are found stabbed to death, then a pair of adulterers are beaten and strangled. York’s sinners have been targeted for execution.

Bridget and Martha—assisted once again by Will, Bridget’s good-hearted nephew—race to find the killer even as he adds more bodies to his tally. The list of suspects is long: Hezekiah Ward, a fire and brimstone preacher new to York; Ward’s son, Praise-God, whose intensity mirrors his father’s; John Stubb, one of Ward’s fanatic followers, whose taste for blood may not have been sated by his time in Parliament’s armies. Or could the killer be closer to home? Will’s brother Joseph is no stranger to death, and he shares the Wards’ dreams of driving sin from the city.

To find the killer, Bridget, Martha, and Will must uncover the city’s most secret sins, and hope against hope that the killer does not turn his attention in their direction.

Author
Sam Thomas, Biography~

Sam ThomasSam Thomas has a PhD in history with a focus on Reformation England and in 2013 leaped from the tenure track into a teaching position at a secondary school near Cleveland, Ohio.  He has received research grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Newberry Library, and the British Academy.

He has published articles on topics ranging from early modern Britain to colonial Africa. The Harlot’s Tale is the second book in his series, in which The Midwife’s Tale is the first.

Thomas lives in Ohio with his wife and two children.

For more information, please visit Sam Thomas’ website and blog.  You can also follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

Link to Tour Schedule:  http://hfvirtualbooktours.com/theharlotstaletour
Twitter Hashtag:  #HarlotsTaleTour

The Harlot's Tale_Tour Banner_FINAL

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Monsters Arise: David Searls Releases Yellow Moon, a Novel of Suspense Horror

YellowMoon72lgToday I want to give you some information on a novel that author David Searls has re-releasing through Samhain Publishing: Horror on June 4, 2013! It’s called Yellow Moon, and I’ve recently heard numerous times that this book is one of the best horror novels out there! You’ll be reading my thoughts on Yellow Moon sometime soon once I get it read, and also, I should have an interview with David to post in the near future.
 
A fellow Ohio dweller like me, and near to my vicinity northwards towards Cleveland, David is a great guy who’s made writing his living, as well as publishing several great books with hopefully more to come. You can read about Yellow Moon below as well as about David. He’s modest, but die-hard horror fans have raved about him for many years. Don’t miss this version of Yellow Moon with the AWESOME new cover!
 
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Yellow Moon Synopsis~
 
When the moon rises, the monsters descend!One day, thirty strangers arrived in the small town of Cleary, Ohio. And five boys vanished during a baseball game in the park. Bizarre tunnels have appeared under the town, leading to a place no earthly eye has seen before.
 
Eventually the children will return, but the once-peaceful town of Clearly may wish they’d stayed away. For they will not be alone. They will bring with them unimaginable creatures, monsters only visible in the eerie light of…the yellow moon.
 
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Other reviews for Yellow Moon:
 
“Creepy and atmospheric, Yellow Moon is full of small-town authenticity. It’s like an alternate universe horror version of The Andy Griffith Show. So dare the light of Yellow Moon and read it!”
—Joe R. Lansdale, author
 
“Searls is a horror writer who goes for imagination and suspense rather than regurgitated splatter.”
—Ramsey Campbell, author
 
Purchase at Amazon at:

Pre-order or Purchase at www.SamhainHorror.com and get on SALE for limited time:  http://store.samhainpublishing.com/yellow-moon-p-7276.html?osCsid=4f801b1baefc380a8799c988bd915afb

Author David Searls, Biography~

David SearlsDavid Searls first had the novel Yellow Moon published by Warner Books in 1994. That was at the time the horror market was dying, so he wasn’t able to publish another work. He tried his hand at submitting mysteries and YA novels, but nothing got picked up.

 In the meantime, he worked as a copywriter at several Cleveland ad agencies, while also moonlighting, or sometimes fulltime freelancing, as a magazine and marketing communications writer. His magazine credits include Cleveland Magazine, Plain Dealer Sunday Magazine, The Writer, Super Lawyer, USAToday.com, People.com, Concrete Décor, Case Engineering (a glossy publication from the Case Western School of Engineering) and countless others.

 He was also a stringer for People, where he was able to cover such stories as a high school counterfeiter in Des Moines Iowa, a horse murder case in Kentucky, lawn mower racers in Mansfield, a murder case in Cleveland, and a famous (or infamous) child abuse case in northwest Ohio, to name a few.  He’s interviewed Jim Belushi and Dan Aykroyd, and family members of other celebrities, in his time.

 In 2012, he had two novels released by Samhain Publishing’s Horror line which was newly developed. Those novels were Bloodthirst in Babylon and Malevolent. Both had originally been written right after Yellow Moon first got picked up in the 1990s. He constantly updated and revised them and was very pleased to have found a home for them with Samhain, especially Bloodthirst in Babylon, since that is his favorite of all his novels.

 Samhain Horror is re-releasing Yellow Moon on June 4, 2013, while David is still busy writing. He lives near Cleveland, Ohio.  You can reach him at davidsearls.com and on Twitter @davidsearls1.

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Our Fabulous Fantastic Trip to the Samhain Horror Hang-out at HorrorHound Cincinnati Convention!

This Friday, Tim and I drove three hours to Cincinnati for FearNet.com’s HorrorHound Magazine Convention to see some of our favorite author friends who were there signing books with their publisher Samhain Publishing/Horror.

For those of you not familiar with HorrorHound, it’s primarily a horror film festival that’s gravitated from a film focus into so much more. It’s a weekend long event with big film and television draws such as this year’s Walking Dead cast, director John Carpenter (Halloween, Christine), Robert Patrick (Terminator 2, X-Files), the real 1958 Plymouth Fury that starred as the car Christine (Stephen King), and the list goes on (check out www.horrorhoundweekend.com). Vendors, music, and even a Zombie ball entertained people during the event; many stand in line for hours to pay for photos with their favorite TV stars like Norman Reedus.

It was such a draw in fact that they had unforeseen numbers for their opening day of Friday. Thousands lined-up to get in a get a glimpse at some of their favorites. We waited in line for over three hours, but oh, it was worth it!!  Thank goodness there was a little sun, as just a few days later we’ve had a snow blizzard!

Here’s a cool Instagram (follow me…Erin Al-Mehairi) that I took, with a view of a case with all Christine book covers that have been created over the years…..

Christine

Samhain Publishing , an established romance publisher, launched its Horror line of books several years ago and is now a major sponsor. With that, some of my favorite dark fiction and horror writers and directors came in for the weekend to sign their items at the Samhain Horror booth.

Those amazing authors who were there on Friday were Brian Moreland, Jonathan Janz, and Kristopher Rufty. David Searls, also from near Cleveland, Ohio like us, was there on Saturday afternoon. In this post, I’d like to highlight each of them, some of whom have new releases coming up. Then, I’ll note some deals and dates you might be interested in as we wrap-up the post! Read to the end and get a coupon for a free book!

And here’s a photo of me and the guys (L-R: Jonathan Janz, Brian Moreland, me, Kristopher Rufty)… of course I keep look toward JJ and laughing……

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We had a blast hanging out and talking with them on Friday night. People who don’t always read horror may generalize or stereo-type that word sometimes, but these guys are not only amazing people who are very kind, they are great spinners of their craft…writing the tales we sometimes see in our heads and creating entertainment for the dark recesses of our minds that give us break from all our worldly stress.

Brian, Jonathan, and Krist have been extremely important inspirations to me as a person, a writer, a journalist, and as an aspiring author. All with varying personalities, they’ve shown me support and/or given advice that is priceless to me. And they’ve made me love to read horror!!

We also had a great time meeting Meli Hooker, who writes for Dreadful Tales! What an amazing mind in a tiny little body! Meli is super fun and seemed to take in everything as a newbie to her first horror con. 🙂

So a little about these authors, their books, and upcoming releases….

Brian Moreland is the author of Shadows in the Mist and Dead of Winter. I’ve known Brian for a few years now, ever since Samhain opened its horror line.  Though we’ve talked numberous times, it was great to see him in person and he’s just as friendly and endearing in the flesh.  Brian writes for the screen, so with his books you find a cinematography you might not expect that is extremely gratifying.  He writes very visually and you’ll feel drawn in to the story.

Stuff and HorrorHound 2013 168You can read some of my past posts with Brian on my site, such as my review of Dead of Winter by clicking HERE, which is one of my favorite books of EVER, an interview I did with Brian HERE, and a guest post about Shadows in the Mist HERE, a book which has had years of extreme success that was re-released this year from Samhain Publishing/Horror.

And here is an Instagram photo of Brian holding the artwork my two daughter’s ages 9 and 5 made for him….they tried to make him scary photos but they still included flowers of course!! LOL!

Brian with kid's pics

Coming in July and August 2013, Brian has several items publishing this summer called The Girl from the Blood Coven (July 2013 – free short story prequel) and The Witching House (August 2013 – novella).  And Brian created his own covers!!

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Then, The Devil’s Woods (novel) is coming out in December of 2013, all from Samhain Publishing’s Horror line. I hope he won’t mind me saying, but I was able to read a first version of his novel last summer and I absolutely loved it. I can’t wait to publicly announce that it will be on my Top Favorites Ever list along with his other book.  He’s made some really great updates to it since then and it will be a hit for fans of Native American legends and spooky happenings in isolated forests.  Want a sneak peek at The Devil’s Woods, you can go here:  http://brianmoreland.wordpress.com/2012/09/16/excerpt-of-the-devils-woods-coming-2013-10-2/.  You can find more on Brian at his website at www.brianmoreland.com or find him on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Jonathan Janz is the author of The Sorrows, House of Skin, and the soon-to-be released The Darkest Lullaby (novel – coming April 2, 2013 –  I’m the new proud owner of a signed copy from HorrorHound) and Savage Species, a serial horror novel first for Samhain Publishing that’s coming June 4 and hitting every couple of weeks until end of July, 2013!  You can pre-order to download the first installment right now, for FREE by going to:  http://store.samhainpublishing.com/night-terrors-p-7384.html.

He’ll also have Dirt Devil (a vampire western!!) coming out in February 2014 from Samhain.  You can read my review of The Sorrows HERE and our interview HERE. I LOVED the fun time I had reading The Sorrows, it’s superb!!

thedarkestlullaby_v2-1

I’ve gotten to know Jonathan well over the past year, after he launched The Sorrows and I was one of the first to interview him. It was wonderful to meet him in person as his energy and aura are certainly contagious.  His writing style is completely nothing like his real life persona. He’s bubbly and sweet, but his writing is tough, dirty, intelligent, and emotional.

Me and Craig

This weekend at a separate location, Jonathan was recognized with House of Skin as the First Runner-Up in the Darrell Awards, which is a panel in the Mid-South that recognizes authors, or authors with characters from their region, that they feel are the best published in science fiction, fantasy and horror!

You can keep up to date with Jonathan about his life, his writing, and his upcoming books by following his blog at http://www.jonathanjanz.com  and you can see his latest post where he talks about his award, HorrorHound, and yours truly in fact (beaming!) here:  http://jonathanjanz.com/2013/03/24/house-of-skin-named-runner-up-at-darrell-awardshorrorhound-cincinnati-updates-galore/. Jonathan is also on Facebook and Twitter.

Kristopher Rufty is the writer/director of the movies Psycho Holocaust, Rags, and Wicked Wood, and also the author of Angel Board (novel), The Night Everything Changed (novella), The Lurkers (novel and The Night Everything Changed is a prequel to it), A Dark Autumn (novella), and coming in August 2013, Oak Hollow (novel which I scored a signed print copy of at HorrorHound!!).

I have a review of A Dark Autumn HERE, which is a novella you’ll want to read this year for its visceral content. I dare you NOT to be moved by this piece of work.  I also loved his novella The Night Everything Changed (which you can download FREE now here:  http://store.samhainpublishing.com/night-everything-changed-p-6931.html ) and the first chapter of The Lurkers, which I plan to read in whole soon.

Stuff and HorrorHound 2013 175I’ve just gotten to know Krist this year through the other Samhain authors, but I was immediately impressed. His quiet demeanor is not an indication of his writing, which is far from mild.  It’s extremely raw, intense, and in-your-face. I can see why he has such increasing popularity and is already a horror icon. I was so happy to get to meet Krist in person. He’s really a kind and gentle person who pours his heart feverishly into his writing.

OakHollow

You can follow along with Krist at his Last Krist on the Left blog:  http://lastkristontheleft.blogspot.com/ and follow him on Facebook and Twitter. Urge him to tweet or drop him a line. He’s been a mad-man writing machine for months and he has not only a bunch of books already published but quite a few upcoming! Samhain quickly publishes many manuscripts so they are fresh and you can still feel the authors sweat on the page….ok, not literally.

We didn’t get to see author David Searls, who signed books at the Samhain booth on Saturday. However, I want to mention David as he’s from near the Cleveland, Ohio area where we are also from. Tim, in fact, used to work with David and we are happy to support his authorship pursuits! He’s written hundreds of magazine articles, columns and essays, with a byline that has been carried by People Weekly, The Cleveland Plain Dealer Sunday Magazine, USAToday.com, Cleveland Magazine, and many more.

He’s written and published three books, including the horror novel Yellow Moon, which was first released by Warner Books and will be re-released by Samhain Publishing/Horror on June 4, 2013 with an AWESOME new cover.

YellowMoon72lg

In 2012, two of his horror novels, Bloodthirst in Babylon and Malevolent, were published by Samhain Horror. I’ll be happy to review these novels as I hear he’s a superb writer, especially in the vampire genre. I also am intrigued by his books having Ohio locales….or maybe since I live in Ohio, that should scare me a little more….

Samhain Publishing did a great job highlighting their authors and had some fun bloody needle pens to giveaway that my daughter just loves using (haha!), red mechanical pencils (I am in love with mine) and of course, having various other titles for sale. They have some great writers on board like one of my favorites, Ronald Malfi, as well as Hunter Shea, Frazier Lee, Bryan Smith, David Bernstein, Damien Walters Grintalis (who is pictured as being at the event but was unable to make it) and many more.

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You can find all kinds of book, including horror titles and those aforementioned fabulous authors, at www.samhainpublishing.com or www.samhainhorror.com.  Thank you, Samhain, for letting me report on the event and your fabulous authors!

Happy Reading!

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