Interview with P.T. Michelle, author of Brightest Kind of Darkness, and Giveaway!

Synopsis:
When destiny is on the line, will love be enough to light the way?

In order to save Ethan, Nara gets pulled deeper into his dark world, where everything she thought she knew about Ethan and herself turns on its head. Ethan and Nara turn up the heat with bone-melting seduction and heart-rending moments, but surprising revelations, lies, treachery, betrayal, and unimaginable evil will challenge their relationship and their future together. As the stakes rise, encompassing more than just her relationship with Ethan, will Nara make the ultimate sacrifice?

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13504881-destiny?ac=1
Destiny
Purchase:
DESTINY BUY LINKS

Amazon: http://bit.ly/1bSlrMi
B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/destiny-pt-michelle/1117135101?ean=2940148697626
Apple: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/destiny/id725875082?mt=11
Kobo: http://www.kobobooks.com/ebook/Destiny-Brightest-Kind-Darkness-Book/book-iLfX3a6PBkuGL7ZXdHg6BQ/page1.html?s=3x4tomSevEqq68CcE0yc6w&r=1

BRIGHTEST KIND OF DARKNESS BUY LINKS

Amazon: http://bit.ly/GSnyBw
B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/brightest-kind-of-darkness-ya-paranormal-romance-pt-michelle/1106016258?ean=2940044639706
Apple: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/brightest-kind-darkness-ya/id460285698?mt=11
Kobo: http://www.kobobooks.com/ebook/Brightest-Kind-of-Darkness-Book/book–eJ-rrY8zEaXzhh7ymMbvg/page1.html?s=SQWmrxpp-0CVMXCpeq-Fcg&r=4
PTMichelleAuthorPicture
Interview

P.T. Michelle is the author of the young adult series BRIGHTEST KIND OF DARKNESS. She keeps a spiral notepad with her at all times, even on her nightstand. When P.T. isn’t writing, she can usually be found reading or taking pictures of landscapes, sunsets and anything beautiful or odd in nature.

As a writer, how do you come up with your ideas for stories?

Writers by nature are very observant people. We absorb what we see, hear, smell and touch everyday, so everything inspires us from movies to music to people. One thing that has always inspired when forming a new story idea is I always ask myself the question, “What if….” and then I fill in the blank. 🙂

A story about a girl dreaming her entire next day (and ONLY her next day) the night before is unusual. How did you come up with the concept for Brightest Kind of Darkness?

The idea behind the Brightest Kind of Darkness series started off as one of those “What if” questions. I ask myself, “What if a girl dreamed her entire next day?” Then I think through all the possible scenarios: How would that impact her? Would she act upon what she saw? And if not, why? What if she didn’t have a choice? And from there…the story starts flowing.

Destiny is the 3rd book in the Brightest Kind of Darkness series. Did you know how many books it would be when you first wrote Brightest Kind of Darkness?

I didn’t know how many books the series would be, but I definitely knew the story was far bigger than just a couple of books. I’m what you call a hybrid-pantser writer. A pantser is someone who sits down and just writes…no planning, no plotting involved. The story just flows out. My stories are intricately weaved, so I have to do a bit of planning before I start writing. I write a very high-level outline and give myself TONS of permission to veer off course as the story unfolds while I write. But at least the outline keeps me reminded of what my goals were for the story. When you have mystery elements like I do in the BKoD series, knowing where you’re going is pretty important. 🙂 So as the stories have unfolded, they took on a life of their own. And then I’ve had to plan each book as I go and also dovetail back into the previous books I’ve written in the series.

Ravens feature dominantly in the BKoD series, which is definitely different from vampires, werewolves and the like we’ve seen in a lot of popular paranormal books. What made you choose to write about ravens?

I’ve always been fascinated by ravens. The lore about them is so interesting. Ravens have been on many of my previous book covers and are mentioned in passing or are part of the storyline in past books. They just weren’t the main storyline. In Brightest Kind of Darkness, ravens finally take front and center. 🙂

How many books do you plan for the Brightest Kind of Darkness series?

Right now the plan is four books. Depending on how the last book unfolds, there may be a spin off. I’m leaving the possibilities open. 🙂

Any thing else you’d like to add?

I just wanted to shout out a huge THANK YOU the readers and bloggers who’ve supported the Brightest Kind of Darkness series from the beginning!

Giveaway!

Like the author’s Facebook page, and this post, for a chance to win a free copy of Destiny. One winner will be notified by November 1st!

Interview with Helen Keeble, author of No Angel

Image

Synopsis:

Rafael Angelos just got handed the greatest gift any teenage boy could ever dream of. Upon arriving at his new boarding school for senior year, he discovered that he is the ONLY male student. But what should have been a godsend isn’t exactly heaven on Earth.

Raffi’s about to learn that St. Mary’s is actually a hub for demons-and that he was summoned to the school by someone expecting him to save the day. Raffi knows he’s no angel-but it’s pretty hard to deny that there’s some higher plan at work when he wakes up one morning to discover a glowing circle around his head.

Helen Keeble’s debut novel, Fang Girl, has been praised for its pitch-perfect teen voice, and VOYA called it “refreshing and reminiscent of Louise Rennison’s Confessions of Georgia Nicolson series.” No Angel brings you angels and demons like you’ve never seen them-complete with the wry humor of Vladimir Tod, sinfully irreverent romance, and some hilariously demonic teenage dilemmas.

Purchase:

Interview

1. Describe your new book No Angel in a single Tweet.

Boy thinks life at an all-girls school will be heavenly, but it’s hell on earth. And he’s the angel sent to fix things. Help!

2. Do we need to have read your first novel, Fang Girl, to enjoy No Angel?

Nope, they’re entirely unrelated to each other. Well, apart from containing the same brand of humor!

Even though No Angel isn’t a sequel to Fang Girl, I hope that readers who enjoyed the way I affectionately mocked vampires in my first book will get the same sorts of giggles from the way my new one makes fun of the whole ‘angel boyfriend’ subgenre of paranormal romance.

3. Is No Angel a stand-alone novel or the start of a series?

It’s definitely a stand-alone novel. Not to give away any spoilers, but the plot is very much wrapped up at the end of the book.

48357904. Why did you decide to set No Angel at a boarding school?

My dad went to various VERY traditional English boys’ boarding schools from the age of seven to eighteen, and although he doesn’t talk much about it, he’s told me a few horror stories. I’m fascinated by old-fashioned boarding schools as these little self-contained worlds, with their own history and culture, completely isolated from normal life. Due to Harry Potter, I think most of us now have a pretty romantic idea of boarding schools as a magical wonderland, but they could just as easily be (and often were) utter hell-holes. Bullying is bad enough, but when you can’t even get away from your tormentors at the end of the school day…? Scary!

5. Your vampires in Fang Girl have some unusual (for the paranormal genre) traits based on traditional Eastern European folklore. Have you done anything similar with the angels and demons in No Angel?

Definitely! I had a lot of fun researching angels in early Christian traditions. I took a lot of inspiration from De coelesti hierarchy, a 5th Century text on angels that is utterly cracktastic to modern eyes. Let’s put it this way: When you think “angel”, do you think:

a. A noble, handsome/beautiful protector with big white wings, glowing with pure, holy goodness

b. Two massive bicycle wheels jammed crossways into each other, set on fire, and COVERED IN EYES

… Yeah.

Let’s just say that Rafael Angelos, the hero of No Angel, is not exactly happy about his newly discovered angelic tendencies…

6. Fun fact about No Angel?

I guarantee it’s the only light, fluffy YA comedy you’ll ever read that includes higher-dimensional mathematics as a pivotal plot-point.

(Don’t worry, there are no equations)

7. Would you rather be an angel or a vampire?

Definitely an angel! I’ve always wanted to fly. I, uh, may have spent an entire year hooked on a computer game called Aion just because it let me play a character with beautiful big wings. *blush*

Although I have to say I would prefer to be an angel from someone else’s book, not my own. The angels in No Angel are… not exactly eye-candy.

8. What are your favorite books, shows, or movies about angels and demons?

For books, Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. I’m also very fond of The Demon’s Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan.

9. Favorite funny movie or TV show?

Galaxy Quest, which is a movie about a group of actors from a second-rate, long-cancelled TV science-fiction series (which is of course in NO WAY based on a real TV show *cough* Star Trek *cough*) who get abducted by real aliens, who have based their entire culture on the show. Or, as the aliens call it, “the historical documents”, as they believe it’s all real. Hijinks ensue!

If you are at all aware of science fiction fan culture, Galaxy Quest is screamingly funny. The fact that I went to Star Trek conventions as a teenager, owned a lovingly-painted collection of Enterprise models, and once won a Halloween costume competition with my home-made Spock outfit, may go some way to explaining my deep and abiding love for this movie.

(no, you can’t see pictures of me in my Spock costume)

Author Links:

No Angel excerpt

In which Rafael Angelos — high school student, would-be Casanova, and unexpected angel – attempts to get to grips with his awesome new powers

So I was, for want of a better word, an angel, possibly with a holy mission to protect the world from the forces of evil. Obviously there was one thing I had to do as soon as possible.

The next morning I got up at the crack of dawn, liberated a helmet from the communal bike shed, and set off to learn how to fly.

A half-hour hike found me a nice wide clearing in the woods, well away from the school buildings. With a last glance around to check for onlookers, I shrugged my wings out. Early morning mist scurried along the ground as I lofted them to full vertical extension, the glowing pinions reaching for the sky like outstretched hands. I crouched, looked up, and took a deep breath.

“Okay,” I said softly, and swept my wings down.

It was a good thing I’d worn a helmet.

“Right,” I muttered to myself, spitting out dirt. “Less sideways, more up.”

After another ten minutes of running, leaping, and rather unangelic swearing, I was still resolutely earthbound. I brushed the mud off my knees, scowling. Maybe what I needed was motivation. I’d certainly had plenty last night. Unfortunately, I didn’t think Faith would appreciate her own guardian angel pushing her out a window, not even in the interests of science. And I wasn’t quite confident enough in my wings to want to throw myself out of a window, either.

I crouched down in a sprinter’s stance and squeezed my eyes. Just think of all the things I’d be able to do once I mastered flight. I’d be able to confirm my suspicions about the true threat to the school. I’d be able to save Faith if she fell again. I’d be able to sneak out in the evening and find the nearest pub-

“Oh my God,” said a voice behind me.

I leapt into the air in alarm — literally. A short mid-teens girl in a baggy cardigan and unflattering glasses stood frozen in the bracken, staring at up me with her mouth hanging open. “You’re… you’re an angel,” she said.

As I was hovering six feet above her on glowing, slowly-beating wings, this did not seem like something I could deny. The rising sun highlighted the girl’s tear-tracked face and red eyes. She took a hesitant step forward, holding up a hand to shield herself from my light. “Who are you?” she breathed.

With my head backlit by my incandescent feathers, she must not have been able to make out my features. If only I could get away quickly, she need never know my identity. “Yes, I am an angel,” I said in the deepest voice I could manage, while frantically trying to work out how to go up. I wobbled dangerously in the air. “Sent from Heaven to, uh…”

“Smite the wicked?” the girl suggested hopefully. She sniffed, swiping her sleeve across her nose. “Because I can totally give you a list. Starting with that bitch Joanne.”

“Er, no.” What the hell did angels talk about? Half-remembered bits of the few Christmas services my dad had forced me to attend drifted up out of my memory. “I come bearing Good News! For unto you a child shall be born!”

The girl stared at me. She did not look like she considered this to be Glad Tidings.

GIVEAWAYS
Prize (open internationally): A signed copy of No Angel – a Rafflecopter giveaway – CLICK HERE TO ENTER

Author Interview: Laurie Treacy

Laurie Treacy is one of the authors in the urban fantasy anthology, Urban Harvest: Tales of the Paranormal in New York City, and I’m so happy to have her featured on my blog for an interview.

What do you like about writing in the paranormal genre?

As a writer, I like the possibilities presented by the paranormal genre, not knowing about the unknown, about ‘otherworldly’ creatures and realms. What a creative playground for writers to play in! 

What prompted you to write this story?

“Wished Away” was originally a short story I wrote in 2012 titled “Scarecrows and Sunflowers” to enter into a competition. I didn’t win, didn’t expect to, but I wanted to explore the short story format. What I discovered was I liked creating shorter pieces. When I read the call for submissions for Urban Harvest, I thought “I can do this. I’m a New Yorker!” My favorite place in the city is the banks of the Hudson River, especially the Metro-North station at Riverdale. Many an hour I’d spent there and I’d also walk down to Spuyten Duyvil. There was my setting. While researching for another story, I discovered the urban legend of Henry Hudson’s “ghost ship.” There was the foundation of my urban lore. The Scarecrow story was still in my mind so I opened the file and began thinking. Ghost ship. Riverdale. The word “wish” popped into my mind. I was intrigued and a new story began to take shape. Within a few days I had my first draft of “Wished Away.”

What other things have you written/are you writing?

I wrote a paranormal New Adult short story, “Powerless,” which will be included in the Stalkers anthology edited by Cynthia Shepp and Rene Foslom. I also wrote an adult paranormal short story “Just One Bite,” which will be part of the In Vein vampire anthology, edited by Jodi Pierce. Both anthologies are expected to be published later this year. I am also writing two Young Adult novels, a paranormal, Strays, and a fantasy, End of Silence, finishing up my YA paranormal, Everlast, besides other works-in-progress.

Do you consider your writing character-driven or plot-driven? 

My writing is definitely character-driven. On my blog (www.laurietreacy.com) I call myself “The Story Channeler.” I feel like Theresa from TLC’sLong Island Medium, except I hear the voices of characters telling me their stories. I’ve learned whenever characters begin speaking or images pop into my mind, I grab paper or my laptop and get it out. It could be a page or two or even longer, but those spurts of inspiration can lead to short stories or novels. I let the characters take the lead.

Do you plot ahead of time, or let the plot emerge as you write?

Much like baking, the plot rises out of my stories during my writing. I do like to roughly outline first and then I will go back and plot the story.

Do you have a writing mentor or inspiration?

I don’t have one particular mentor. I regard inspiration like a sponge seeking water. I am inspired by the books I read and love. As a frequent conference attendee, I am fortunate to meet many in the industry, listen to them talk about their own journeys and that inspires me. I am also inspired by images, pictures, paintings, and by nature. Many times I stop driving to capture a picture of something because it speaks to me. I never know when I may need that picture for creating a particular setting or as the catalyst for a story idea.

When and how did you first become interested in writing?

I wanted to be a writer ever since I was a kid. Growing up in New York City, I spent many summers in the public library, lost in books. I still have two books I began writing when I was in the sixth grade (of course, both were Young Adult stories, one paranormal, one contemporary romance). In college I was very active with the school newspaper and literary magazine, majored in Journalism, and won some writing awards (I won an award from Columbia University for my Bruce Springsteen record review which was really cool).

Writing schedule?

I try to block out some hours in the morning but that doesn’t always work. I will say whenever inspiration strikes, I do pay attention so you may find me writing while waiting for my daughter at dance or while my son is practicing soccer. I need to write where I can see the outdoors and make sure I can listen to the playlist for that particular work.

What’s next?

I’m really looking forward to Nanowrimo this year. I have a title and story outline all ready to go. I’m excited ever since I was inspired by an urban exploration I went on. It will be a New Adult paranormal.

Anything else?

I’m a member of the SCBWI. I love to write YA and read a lot of books in this market. I’m also an active book blogger at Reader Girls, a blog I started in 2009. I get to meet many wonderful authors, publicity people, and other readers as well as discover new and exciting books.

Follow Laurie at:

Website: www.laurietreacy.com and www.readergirlsblog.com

Twitter: @llt806 and @ReaderGirls

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Reader-Girls/101996519841548

Bloglovin’: http://www.bloglovin.com/blog/3766750/the-character-channeler and http://www.bloglovin.com/blog/3467855/reader-girls

The following is a short excerpt from Laurie’s story in Urban Harvest.

Wished Away

I haven’t hung out with Colton in a few years. He was always quiet and intense. He still seems the same way. We stick by the lone Amtrak track. We both know we’re trespassing but shrug it off. Colton laughs. “Do you hear it?”

He tugs me towards the river bank as a school of clouds pass in front of the moon. We hear voices. Stopping before the land slopes down, he draws me beside him. His arm slips around my shoulder. “Close your eyes. Clear your mind of everything. Listen.”

I do. We’re wasting our time, but I shut my eyes and don’t complain. Keeping my mouth closed comes easily living with my father. I like being around Colton. My mind turns into a smart board on Monday mornings.

Within seconds, they barge in. Voices. Sounds. Lots of them. At first muffled, then clearer.

“Captain!”

“Set sail soon.”

“Collection!”

Accented voices.

Then shuffling. Hurried steps. Climbing. Huffing from heavy lifting.

What the hell is this?

My heart races as I scan around.

The area is empty. But I can almost feel a presence of something big, something looming ahead. The waves are faster here as they crash against the bank, spitting froth onto our boot tips.

Colton’s grip tightens as I’m tucked in beside him. “Do you believe, Maire?” he asks, his tone excited.

“Um, kinda.”

He shakes his head. “No, you need to believe. Look again.”

I want to dismiss him as weird. I can’t. Something is going on.

To read the rest of Laurie’s story, check out Urban Harvest: Tales of the Paranormal in New York City, available from Amazon

Author Interview: Sean Sakamoto

Sean Sakamoto is one of the authors in the (very!) soon-to-be released urban fantasy anthology, Urban Harvest: Tales of the Paranormal in New York City, and I’m so happy to have him featured on my blog for an interview.
 
What do you like about writing in the paranormal genre?
 
Albert Camus famously said, “Fiction is the lie through which we tell the truth.” If that’s true, and I believe it is, then paranormal, or any speculative fiction, is an even greater lie through which we can tell an even greater truth. I love the freedom to create any device to get at the heart of a story, and genre frees me to do that. If I need to explore how blind optimism can be dangerous, then I can create a virus that causes optimism and wreaks havoc upon the world. If I want to explore the sheer terror of being stopped and frisked by uniformed police, why not show my city under occupation by aliens who can grope my mind and broadcast my secrets? Genre, and specifically paranormal, give me a language for going deeper into the horror, adventure, or hilarity of the human condition.
 
What prompted you to write this story?
 
In my story, Ghosts of New York, 8 million ghosts are released from a rotten seam of rock in the dig for the second avenue subway line. Every New Yorker gets one ghost, and that ghost tells the truth about them to everyone nearby. I wrote this story because I often feel like I’ve got a ghost on my shoulder that whispers my worst fears into my ear. “Your writing sucks. You have no imagination. Everyone knows you don’t belong at this party. You’re getting too old for this kind of fun.” ad nauseum. One way I have found to get on with living my life despite these nagging doubts is to admit that some of them are true. My worst fears are true, and once I’ve been honest about it, I have nothing left to hide. Yes, I’m no Shakespeare. Yes, I’m getting old. Yes, I’m usually not the brightest guy in the room. That’s fine. Once I embrace the truth, as unflattering as it is, it has no power over me. I wanted to imagine a way for all New Yorkers to confront this, and have it literally play out. I wanted to take the power away from the ghosts that whisper in all of our ears.

 
What other things have you written/are you writing?
 
I was recently the story editor and associate producer on Star Trek: Secrets of the Universe. It aired on History, and it was a look at the science of Star Trek, and a glimpse behind the scenes and on the set of Star Trek Into Darkness. I’m also writing an apocalyptic novel called Rictus, about a pharma virus that jumps the lab and infects the world with blind, relentless optimism.
 
Do you consider your writing character-driven or plot-driven?
 
I consider my writing idea driven, and then it’s up to me to make the plot fun enough, and the characters interesting enough to keep the reader interested. Ideally, nobody would spend any time at all pondering the idea behind my writing because the story is too much fun. I’m not trying to lecture or teach anyone anything, I just find that some kind of overall idea to explore is how I find my way into a story and then I need to tell it well enough that readers have a great time with it. Ideas are what get me writing, but my purpose is to entertain. 

 
Do you plot ahead of time, or let the plot emerge as you write?
 
I plot ahead of time. I usually have a shot list of scenes that will get me to the end, and then I write my way through each scene. If the story is thin, I’ll add some scenes to help connect the major points, or flesh out a character. I have to work out the plot before I write because I find it too confusing to tell the story and work out where it’s going at the same time. That feels like multi-tasking to me, and I’m easily frustrated. If I feel like I don’t know where my story is going, I can easily become overwhelmed and get lost on the internet in full retreat. I need to break my story down into discrete steps and small goals to keep myself focused and prevent panic.

 

Do you have a writing mentor or inspiration?
 
I enjoy the podcasts Starship Sofa, and The Functional Nerds. Those are both great for keeping up with stories, ideas, and TV shows that are good. I’m always looking for more sources, especially for independently published fiction. I attended Viable Paradise, a Science Fiction and Fantasy writing workshop and I learned a ton while I was there. It really helped me understand how to write science fiction and fantasy for an audience and I’d recommend applying for anyone who wants to spend some time with great writers and editors and learn about the work.
 
When and how did you first become interested in writing?
 
When I was a kid, I remember sitting with a neighborhood friend and making up stories to pass the time. I was probably 13 or 14 and I realized then that I wanted to be a writer. I loved being able to let my mind run, and I loved the feeling of being in a new place that was being invented word by word. Since then, I feel most comfortable when I’m reading a story and it takes me over. I love the feeling of immersion in a world that was utterly constructed by an author. I seldom feel that way as a writer, but that is a feeling I want to provide readers. When I first became interested in writing, it was because I thought I had a lot to say and I wanted people to pay attention to me. 
 
As I’ve grown, that has changed for me, thankfully. Now I want to give people something. I’ve shifted my internal focus from me to them, and I think my writing has improved as a result. It’s wonderful to be part of a conversation whether as a reader or a writer, and that’s all I’ve really wanted I think.
 
What’s your writing schedule? Do you have a favorite place to write?
 
I have time to write in the mornings, but I often squander it. I find it hard to focus, and I’m easily distracted. I’d love to bring more discipline to my schedule. I don’t have a favorite place to write, but I am thinking about finding one. I’ve got a great son, and wife, and a busy life, so I make time to write when I can. When I have to write something professionally, as I did with Star Trek: Secrets of the Universe, then I work every chance I get. But with my own projects I’m less disciplined.

What’s next?

I’m rewriting Rictus, which I hope to finish by Spring. I’m also co-publishing a series of speculative fiction with Saif Ansari called Slipstream City. In our first volume, Tales from Other New Yorks, we had stories set in New York City. Our next volume will contain stories on the theme of Occupied New York. The stories will all be speculative fiction, all exploring some aspect of life in New York City under occupation. The stories could be set in any time with any aspect of occupation that the author wants to explore. I’ll have a piece in there about New York City under alien occupation, with mind-probing checkpoints and the measures that ordinary citizens take to resist this dismal life. It should be fun, and I’m looking forward to seeing what other writers come up with for the anthology.
 
Anything else you’d like to add?
 
I want to thank Donna for putting this together. I hope we feed some people with the proceeds of this book. I’m very excited to live in a time when interested readers and writers can put together a book around ideas that excite them and connect on a kindle, or any e-reader. This is an amazing time for fiction and I feel lucky to be able to read so much great stuff nowadays. 
 
 The following is a short excerpt from Sean’s story in Urban Harvest.
 
Ghosts of New York
 

“Hey, loser! Outside already? Why not noodle on your guitar for a few hours at home and call yourself a musician?” The words were a whisper, but their meaning was loud and clear. Bill, a man in his late 30s, winced into the insults and kept walking down Grand Street, heading to the Delancey Street station.

“Great isn’t it? That moment of optimism before the coffee wears off?” The mist hissed as it formed into an oblong face inches from Bill’s nose.

“Morning, Spork,” Bill said. The mist ignored him, as usual, and continued its tirade.

“Going to an interview, eh? This is gonna be good. I wonder how long it’ll take ‘em to figure out you’re completely useless?” The voice came from a misty figure that hovered in the air, floating backward as Bill walked. It breathed its misty words just inches from his face. Bill called the ghost “Spork” because its forehead bulged like the back of a spoon and the wisps of mist that made up its head tapered into points like the tines of a fork.

Bill sighed. “Just…go back in that hole you came out of!” he shouted. A woman walked by, caught his eye, and gave a wary look of sympathy before she quickly passed him; a big-nosed wisp hovered by her side.

Bill wanted to pretend that Spork wasn’t striking a nerve, but he just couldn’t fake it this time. The morning coffee kick was just running out, as Spork had predicted. The bright future buzz that Bill relied on to get him out of the apartment was fading into the mid-morning crash, and he needed to stay happy for his first job interview in months. It was a perfect time for Spork, the ghost that haunted him, to show up. Perfect for Spork, anyway. Not so good for Bill.

“Are you going to tell them about the arrest?” Spork hissed into Bill’s face. The sprite’s breath was a cool mist with the musty smell of a subway tunnel on a damp day. Six months ago, Bill would have taken a swing at Spork, but it never mattered. None of the sprites ever reacted to anyone, aside from a moan when someone smiled. But that didn’t happen much anymore; smiles were in short supply. But talking to them? Useless, like yelling at a cloud. They just kept doing whatever they were doing, oblivious. Only, unlike a cloud, they tormented the people of New York City.

 To read the rest of Sean’s story, check out Urban Harvest: Tales of the Paranormal in New York City, available from Amazon this Sunday (tomorrow)!

Author Interview: Laura Wenham

 Laura Wenham is one of the authors in the soon-to-be released urban fantasy anthology, Urban Harvest: Tales of the Paranormal in New York City, and I’m very happy to have her featured on my blog for an interview.
 
Your story, Coexistence, is about dragons who live under NYC. What prompted you to write this story?
 
The idea for my story began when I got my first job in Manhattan and walked every day past manhole covers that were constantly emitting streams of steam and smoke.  At first I largely thought how inefficient the steam heating systems were to be losing so much heat. Then, as I kept walking past them, I thought all of that smoke would make a good cover for dragons hiding underground.  Then I began to wonder how much evidence you would need to support the idea of underground dragons and what the likely reaction of the rest of society would be if a scientist claimed to have discovered dragons under Manhattan.  I couldn’t figure out what might cause a scientist to seriously research this until the various steam pipe explosions began happening in Manhattan. Like the character in my story, I walked right past the hole left by the explosion  in front of NYU’s library, which made quite an impression on me. 
 
What other things have you written/are you writing?
 
I have folders full of stories and poems and songs on my computer. I am very good at coming up with interesting ideas and very bad at figuring out where the plot and characters want to go. I am currently working on two different short stories. One of them is based on the idea that we become able to communicate with our dark-matter doppelgangers and the new rich tourist activity is not traveling into space, but instead meeting their doppelgangers in a room sealed by plasma to keep the universe from exploding – until one of the dark-matter  doppelgangers is murdered after the meeting and the detectives on our side of the universe have to figure out the motive without access to any physical evidence. The other story is about these tiny kangaroo-like robots that are built to be used for surveillance of enemy terrain (http://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/robotics-hardware/tiny-jumping-robot-finds-room-for-a-tail). When the military figures out a way to also have them radiate to increase the enemy’s feelings of fear,  an anti-war group decides to make them broadcast feelings of peace, make them self-replicating, and releases them in the US, with wide-ranging results. I am also trying to write down the amusing anecdotes of my 2.5 year old son’s daily adventures. 
 
Do you have a writing mentor or inspiration?
 
I am extremely grateful to the members of the Mom’s Writer’s Group at the Midshore Mothers’ Center (http://midshoremotherscenter.org/) who, when I described my story idea to them, patiently encouraged me to actually finish and submit it. I would also like to thank my various friends who read the final draft for mistakes, particularly Preston Ray, whose edits were extremely helpful in decreasing my word count without losing content. 
 
What’s your writing schedule? Do you have a favorite place to write?
 
With a 2.5 year old, my writing time is limited – which is why I value the free write time we have as part of the Mothers’ Center group as well as late nights in bed typing (sometimes incoherent) story ideas on my iPad. 
 
What’s next?
 
Our Writer’s Group starts up again in early October, so I intend to keep working on the two stories I mentioned above (as well as the several ideas I will probably come up with between now and then). 
 
Anything else you’d like to add?
 
I love the idea of writing anthologies and donating the profits to charities, particularly when they are local, meaningful charities such as City Harvest. Not only am I now a published author, but as I encourage my friends and family to buy the anthology on Sunday because I want them to read what I wrote, I also do so knowing that they are helping out a great cause! (And I have to confess I am terribly curious about and anxiously waiting to read the other stories in the anthology!)
 
 The following is a short excerpt from Laura’s story in Urban Harvest.
 
Coexistence

I knew I had to have an excess of proof in order to not be seen as another Bigfoot or Loch Ness Monster hunter. I spent months, and then years, creating the most thorough maps of the NYC underground. During this time, I became increasingly oblivious to events on the surface. The friend whose apartment I had been using moved during one of my long periods underground. When I resurfaced to shower and pick up my unemployment checks, I was very surprised to knock on his door and meet a nice Asian couple who had no idea who I was. My belongings, and one of my few remaining connections to the surface world, were gone without a forwarding address.

I can’t explain the patterns I saw without my data, which the FBI confiscated when they arrested me. It’s probably collecting dust in an FBI basement now, but back in the spring of 2014 with everything right in front of me, I thought I had developed enough of an understanding of the markings that I was considering altering them to attempt communication with my theoretical life forms. Before I could do anything, however, the decision was taken away from me.

I was camping in a small open area formed by the intersection of two of the marked tunnels when I saw it. This was not a small tube worm or hydrogen-sulfide breathing scorpion. Emerging from the smaller tunnel was what I would best describe as an earth dragon. Not a winged creature like Toothless from How to Train Your Dragon, but instead similar to a large worm-snake with a scaly covering of rock in every earth-tone imaginable.

As the dragon stretched to pull itself out of the tunnel, I could do nothing but stare in awe. The tangled asbestos fibers were clearly from a pelt that covered the dragon’s ventral side. As it emerged fully into the room, I realized it had a “head” end which had circular shiny, almost polished areas, and a “mouth” area which had shiny white crystals inside, while its “tail” end came to a sharp point. It was, I would find out later, on the smaller side for a dragon—but at the time the fact that it was probably three feet around and six feet long was impressive enough. 

 To read the rest of Laura’s story, check out Urban Harvest: Tales of the Paranormal in New York City, available from Amazon this Sunday!

Author Interview: Don Corcoran

Don Corcoran is one of the authors in the soon-to-be released urban fantasy anthology, Urban Harvest: Tales of the Paranormal in New York City, and I’m very happy to have him featured on my blog for an interview.

What do you like about writing in the paranormal genre?

The paranormal brings three things to my writing: Suspense, Wonder, and The Creep. Supernatural elements bring a level of uncertainty to the page. The idea that a protagonist can be threatened indirectly and must approach problems through the same murky process heightens the readers anxiety. Often the reader hasn’t internalized the rules of engagement making plot development and character interactions more of a mystery (without making the piece a stone cold whodunit). That mystery delivers suspense – what is the bad guy going to do and will the white hat, superior in many ways, be able to see it coming.

That mystery is the source of wonder. I am not a person that likes writing about fireballs and flying vampires. I like my fantasy to be subtle and in the background. I like my paranormal to incite curiosity and illicit the reader to want to learn more, a forever moving target, like dark spots in your vision to chase.

It’s the ever-present, background weirdness that brings shivers to ones spine. When the reader starts to think about what’s going on and they think they’ve got it or they start to understand the implications and insert themselves into the narrative that the creep settles in. It’s not quite horror. It’s not disgust one gets from gore or the darkness revealed in a characters soul, rather it’s the inevitable. The slow crawling doom you see the characters approaching despite their best intentions.

Sure, some of this can be maintained through mundane means but there’s a balance that further enhances the effect of paranormal elements.

What prompted you to write this story?

I write supernatural westerns. I saw the submission call for the anthology and thought about some of the material that gets lost in the research process of my other work. I recently read A Passionate Girl, by Thomas Flemming, watched Copper, and had been doing a lot of research on New York during the Civil War. I am writing novels set at the beginning of the war in New Orleans. There’s just not an opportunity to explore religious immigration and the roles of slavery in Manhattan in the mid-1800s in my books, right now. I have nowhere to talk about Tammany Hall, political corruption, and the gangs of Five Points. Writing short stories allows me to not only express the fascinating details of those spaces but also lets me create a more complete picture of the setting without diluting the novels.

 

What other things have you written/are you writing?

I am currently writing a Voodoo Western Dime novel series. It follows the exploits of a black union soldier behind enemy lines desperately trying to free his mother from slavery. In the process he’s drawn into the politics of voodoo and discovering his supernatural inheritance. 

Do you consider your writing character-driven or plot-driven?

That’s tricky since my plots are character driven. So my writing follows a very narrow path and leads to a focused point but that end point is developed by understanding what the goals of the characters are, what are their obstacles, and how they will change over time. A story begins by recognizing a character’s deficiencies and it ends in the afterglow of those changes

Do you plot ahead of time, or let the plot emerge as you write?

It’s semi-organic. I start by doing a character study of each main character, what they want and where they are going. Then I have a solid idea of where the story will go and what the whole things looks like from the top down. Once I have those general ideas then I plot out the story scene by scene every 10,000 to 15,000 words. I usually use a three scene/three act scene structure to think about the rise and fall of drama.

Obviously, with a short story I plot out the whole thing. With the story for this anthology I went through two first drafts, reorganizing the focus of the story and rethinking where I want it to go. With something so small I find that much easier to do.

When and how did you first become interested in writing?

My sister asked me if I’ve always been writing and I recalled that I write my first novella when I was thirteen, hand written on loose-leaf. I’ve always been a gaming and movie nerd. Have always been way over-educated. Writing allows me to express those interests and draw out the narratives in my head. Nothing gets me going to write than seeing something done poorly. It was inadequacies (or at least intriguing variations) in books, films, comics, and games that inspired me to rethink a fictional space. It was great authors like Lamour, Bradbury, and Eco that gave me the bar to set my craft to.

What’s your writing schedule? Do you have a favorite place to write?

I wish there was a “schedule.” I have opportunity to write daily, thank goodness. I drop my daughter off at daycare, sometimes jog to get the blood flowing, sit at a café to get in about four pages of hand-written journaling, then sit at my desk and write to a dedicated playlist. That said, I usually can get a short story done in a day and a novel’s first draft in a month.

What’s next?

I am doing research on the Industrial Revolution for my next series. There is a strong possibility that the Voodoo Western series will extend to two more trilogies after this one. Each book I write is usually accompanied with one or two short stories exploring other characters and spaces in the periphery of the novels. All of my books have a social message, putting a finer point on various social issues. The Voodoo Western is all about race and religion. The new series will be about living wages and the loss of craftsmanship.

 The following is a short excerpt from Don’s story in Urban Harvest.

 An Elegant Cross

“Let’s begin. I can’t wait for William.”

Smitty held bottles and burning incense for Mama’Jo as she weaved her conjure. He sang, as he had so many times before, the song never quite escaping the back of his throat. Mama’Jo took a long draught of rum, finishing it by pouring the rest of the bottle over her head. Smitty danced in tight circles around the shop, the lavender smoke of the sage wafting in lines until it filled the small room with haze.

The door opened. Smitty and Mama’Jo stopped and stood stock still. The mambo’s back was to the door. Smitty stepped closer, relieved to see it was William. He brought the new man’s saddle bags.

William said nothing, but emptied their contents. Smitty and William jumped back at the sound of a rattle and the appearance of a snake among Murphy’s belongings.

Mama’Jo’s voice was low, “Smart boy,” she said using her lips, her lungs. Mama’Jo reached down and picked up the dead rattler. “Perfect.”

The mambo slid about the tiled floor holding the serpent up high.

William found a rosary, a bull-sack pouch filled with tobacco, and a wooden comb. He put the rosary around Mama’Jo’s neck and began to recite a prayer. He emptied the pouch, mixed a few crushed herbs together, and poured piss from a bottle into the mixture. Smitty drew an elaborate pattern on mirrors with soap.

Mama’Jo snapped one of the serpent’s fangs and added it to William’s poultice. She began to dance. William stripped the comb of errant hairs and added it to the pouches contents. Carefully he put the pouch in Murphy’s mouth.

The mambo began to chant in Creole, calling her snake god, all the while shaking the rattle.

At the ceremony’s crescendo she opened Murphy’s mouth. The pouch was gone.

“It’s okay, young buck,” she whispered in his ear. “I got you.”

When they were done, Smitty and William cleaned up. Mama’Jo sang to the dead serpent in soft tones, devoid of the furrowed brow and set jaw that had her earlier.

“This is a good sign, William.” She smiled at the snake. “Is everything in order?”

 To read the rest of Don’s story, check out Urban Harvest: Tales of the Paranormal in New York City, available from Amazon this Sunday!

Author Interview: Andrea Stanet

Andrea Stanet is one of the authors in the soon-to-be released urban fantasy anthology, Urban Harvest: Tales of the Paranormal in New York City, and I’m very happy to have her featured on my blog for an interview. 

What do you like about writing in the paranormal genre?

The paranormal genre and I have had a long and tumultuous love affair filled with many sleepless nights for almost my entire life. To this day, I can’t get enough of vamps, were-creatures, and of course, ghosts. One thing I love about the genre is that you can do so much with myths and creatures. I enjoy turning tropes on their heads in wacky ways and I like to toy with the humorous side of the genre. For instance, a few years ago, on a whim, I thought a YA quartet of short stories that is a mash-up of vamps, werewolves, zombies, and aliens all living in a suburban community would be hilarious. It’s pretty silly, but I had fun writing it.

What prompted you to write this story?

“Under the Mattress” came from a very different place than most of my other short stories and novels, so I’m not completely sure what prompted me to sit down at the keyboard. Even at the time, I didn’t know where it stemmed from; it just popped into my head and bled out. I disliked it when I first wrote it because it felt so dark. The first draft left me sad and disturbed. I felt much better about the story once I revised and solidified Nathan’s arc, thematic issues, and the ending.

At the time I had been thinking quite a bit about a family member, let’s call him “P,” who is an Iraq War veteran. This was almost exactly a year ago, and his birthday was coming up. Shortly after I finished the first draft, I learned that P had been experiencing an emotionally traumatic period and had been suicidal. Fortunately, he had the presence of mind to seek help. Since then I’ve felt that on some level his pain drew this story out without my knowledge. While the main character isn’t a veteran, like so many veterans’ families, his loved ones’ experiences still profoundly affect him.

What other things have you written/are you writing?

I recently wrote a short thriller that will appear in the anthology, Stalkers, set for release in October. Currently, I am revising a middle-grade piece to submit for a tween and YA paranormal anthology called Wild Cards. The proceeds will go to the National Children’s Cancer Society.

I have several fantasy novels in the revision stage. I decided to completely rewrite the perspective on the fae middle-grade I was submitting. Once my last anthology submission is done, I will also start revising a dimensional-travel modern fairy-tale. Some of my other novels feature zombie dragons, twisted fairy-tale characters in a house of horrors, and twins who get transported to a sword & sorcery world.

Do you plot ahead of time, or let the plot emerge as you write?

I almost never plot ahead of time. I’ve tried with disastrous results. As I’m writing, I may project a few steps ahead so that I have a general direction, but I don’t really know where the story will end beyond a vague idea. For example, in “Under the Mattress,” I didn’t know what was under the mattress until at least midway through the story. It’s always fun when I get to the climax of a story and can’t decide how it ends. Luckily, the characters usually take over by then and don’t give me too much say in their outcomes.

When and how did you first become interested in writing?

The first story I remember writing, “Who Killed Crystal?” wriggled out of my brain when I was about nine. A young girl recounts a burglary and her attempts to escape the intruder. Too bad for Crystal, she ends up telling the story as a ghost. I recall that there was a lot of upheaval going on for me at the time, and I think writing fiction helped me cope with scary nine-year-old issues. My father and older brother had introduced me to monster movies and ghost stories at a young age, so it’s no surprise I followed the horror/paranormal/fantasy path from the very beginning. Since then, I’ve always had stories in me, even those that never make it to paper. When I go too long without writing, the ideas build up and assault me in my dreams, giving me terrible nightmares until I get back to work. So now I make sure to write all the time.

What’s your writing schedule? Do you have a favorite place to write?

I don’t exactly follow a schedule although I do prefer to write early in the morning. My brain just doesn’t work after sundown. Whatever the opposite of a vampire is, that would be me.

When we first moved to what I consider “the country” (being the city kid that I am), I had grand visions of sitting out on the patio all summer with a cup of tea drawing inspiration from the woods around us. Then I learned that the trees block most of our morning sun, and it gets buggy as the day warms up. There’s not much inspiration in a drowned gnat polluting your tea, trust me.

Now when I work, you’ll find me hunched over my laptop in the corner of our dining area, often with a space heater blowing on my feet. I have two desks, but my work space is the dining table. Go figure. My second favorite spot in the winter is in front of our pellet stove. I like to borrow one of my kids’ lap desks, wrap myself up in a blanket and sit with my back to the fire. A warm, bug-free environment and fresh brain cells are the necessary components for my creative process.

What’s next?

Next I would like to see one of my novels published. I haven’t yet decided if I want to try self-publishing. There seem to be an increasing number of benefits to it, but it’s also a scary prospect. For now, it’s just revising, and then I’ll see what opportunities arise and where fate takes me.

Anything else you’d like to add?

My website is a work in progress at: http://AndreaStanet.com. I am in the process of slowly rebuilding my autism blog at: http://myautisminsights.com, and you can also find me on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/AutismInsights. Thanks for reading!

The following is a short excerpt from Andrea’s story in Urban Harvest.

Under the Mattress

A fresh bouquet of assorted flowers added the only splash of color to the otherwise dismal family plot. Nate’s eyes roamed over the simple engraving on the stone, stopping at the date. Three years ago. The end of good times.

As he kneeled to straighten the flowers, water seeped through his jeans.

The rain stopped. His hands stilled. Then they clenched into fists. Nate ground his teeth together so hard they hurt. “I’m so done with this shit, Dad. I’m supposed to be the kid, not the parent! She’s useless!” Sitting back on his heels, he ran a hand through his curly black hair. “Ever since she came back—”

“I know, Nate.”

The voice came from behind him.

Nate gasped. He whipped around, fell over, his butt squelching into the wet grass, his spine smacking against his father’s headstone. Nate visited the grave often because he always felt his father’s presence, somehow. But he had never expected to see his Dad again—not in this world, anyway.

His father stood in the at-ease stance, his chin held high, across the grassy aisle that separated his section from the next. He wore his dress blues, the ones he had been buried in. Nate could see rows of headstones behind the transparent figure. It was impossible, yet there he was.

“Dad?” He reached for his father, then let his hand flop back to his lap. That’s it—I’ve finally cracked.

To read the rest of Andrea’s story, check out Urban Harvest: Tales of the Paranormal in New York City, available from Amazon this Sunday!