Paranormal Headliner: Marcus Twyman (and a Giveaway!)

  Today I am welcoming author Marcus Twyman to the blog, and as a special treat, he is offering up TWO copies of his novel, Khet Chronicles: Blood Ties, to a couple of lucky commenters on this post.  (Thanks Marcus!)

A Little About Marcus

Marcus Twyman has lived most of his life in Montgomery County, Maryland. Since he was a child he’s enjoyed writing stories, songs, and poetry – using the power of words as a therapeutic release for his feelings and emotions.

Now living in New York City, Marcus has been slowly adapting to the bustling concrete jungle and is incorporating his new experiences into his writing.

You state in your author profile that you lived in Maryland the majority of your life and moved to NYC. How have you adapted?  Which place do you prefer?

Marcus: It’s been an interesting adjustment to say the least. I am by no means a city guy. I love trees…and grass…and a variety of animals (not just rats and pigeons which is what you tend to see in the Big Apple). New York is okay, but Montgomery County, Maryland will always be where my heart is.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Marcus: This is a funny question because as a child I wanted to be a scientist. I could have sworn that I’d be the one to bring dinosaurs back to life…Stephen Spielberg beat me to it.

What do you do to unwind and relax?

Marcus: Believe it or not, I read. I will literally pick up a book, read for hours, and then feel like I have no troubles in the world.

Marcus on Writing

You mentioned that the idea for your novel developed as early back as your childhood. Can you share more about that?

Marcus: When I was a child in the third grade, I moved to Florida to live with my mother. During those years I started to develop characters in my head that could do these amazing things. As I grew older, the characters seemed to grow with me, taking on more mature characteristics and personalities. The world of the Khet kept developing and changing, becoming a rich, complex, place. It got to the point that I would start telling everyone about “this story I have in my head”.

Are your characters based on people that you’ve known, or situations in your book things you’ve encountered in real life?

Marcus: The characters aren’t based on people I’ve known or know, but some of the situations have taken cues from my own life. I wanted my story to grab the reader emotionally, and to do that I tried to think about situations in my own life that caused me to feel happy, sad, depressed, angry, etc. When I read a story, I want to “feel” it. That’s why I chose to incorporate some of myself into the tale, so that I could be sure that the reader would get what the characters were going through.

What is it about writing that brings you back to the page for more?

Marcus: Writing to me is therapeutic. If I’m angry, sad, stressed, or even happy, writing allows me to release everything thats bottled up inside of me.

How did you come up with the title of your novel?

Marcus: I actually knew that I wanted to incorporate an Egyptian theme into parts of the story so I researched Egyptian words and their meanings. Nebu Khet literally means “Gold Fire”. Here’s an Egyptian description that I found intriguing: “Nebti; Khasekhemwy Nebu Khetsen (The Two Powerful Ones Have Risen, Their Bodies Being Of Gold)”. I thought, “Oh, wait. My characters are powerful, long-lived, beings. What would they have done throughout their long existence on this planet? How would they have influenced past civilizations?” That’s where the Nebu Khet come from, and since I plan on writing many books about them, I decided to make the story part of the Khet Chronicles.

What are your current projects?

Marcus: I am currently working on the sequel to Khet Chronicles: Blood Ties and I’ve started writing 3 other spinoffs from the series.  I’m also putting together an anthology of short stories that I’ll release as an ebook sometime in the next month or so.

What is the hardest part of writing for you?

Marcus: The hardest part is getting how I feel to be reflected in the story. What I feel during each scene is what makes the story worth writing, so I try very hard not to lose that so that my readers can experience the story the way that I do.

What advice would you give to writers just starting out?

Marcus: Don’t worry about other people’s opinions. Too many people will criticize you and tell you that you can’t do something, but usually these people haven’t done anything themselves! There will always be people who want to see you fall, and if you allow them to influence your writing then you may never accomplish what you were meant to.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk? 

Marcus: Umm…I talk to myself. And I make facial expressions as I type…seriously.  I wind up looking borderline insane.

Marcus’s Paranormal Perspectives

What’s your definition of the paranormal genre?

Marcus: Paranormal to me has to have a touch of reality and a large dose of weird. Oh…and a sparkly vampire or two can add some kick to the recipe, although I prefer my vampires a little less sparkly and a lot more Lestat-ish.  If you’re out of vampires, you can always throw in whatever mythical being you have laying around in your pantry.

How do you feel about the boom of paranormal fiction lately?

Marcus: I honestly don’t mind it. I love the genre so I’m perfectly fine with it, although some of the stories are being churned out at crazy-fast speeds. I like the genre as long as it keeps bringing something to the literary table. Too much “fluff” can really deter the genre’s reader base though. If you’re going to write a story about a vampire or a werewolf, then make sure that you’re writing the story because you enjoy it and because you like werewolves and vampires. Don’t write a story just to release it as a book and hope to earn money. When this happens the story is generally poorly written and people lose faith in the genre. If you’re going to write, then write a story that you would want to read.

What scares you?

Marcus: What scares me? Roaches. Can’t stand those nasty little critters. Yuck!

What is your favorite paranormal book?

Marcus: The Queen of the Damned.

What is your favorite paranormal movie?

Marcus: Underworld.

What do you think draws people to paranormal novels?

Marcus: I think that paranormal novels give people a release from reality. It’s like a mental break.

Do you ever research real events, legends, or myths to get ideas?

Marcus: I do research real places and events to try and tie my stories into reality. Having some details that are loosely tied to the real world helps people connect to the characters and what they’re going through.

Don’t Forget There’s a Giveaway!!

For your chance to win your very own paperback copy of Marcus’s novel, Khet Chronicles: Blood Ties, simply leave a comment or question for Marcus below.  (It’s THAT easy!)  Two commenters will be randomly drawn on Friday, March 30th and notified by email (so don’t forget to leave it when you comment).

Connect with Marcus

Twitter: www.twitter.com/khetchronicles

Facebook: www.facebook.com/nebukhetscry

Blog: www.khetchronicles.com

Thank you for hanging out with us, Marcus!!

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Paranormal Headliner: Stacy Eaton

I’m kicking off Friday with a bang and welcoming author Stacy Eaton to the blog. Stacy is the international bestselling author of the paranormal series My Blood Runs Blue.  As you’ll find out soon, the color blue in this context has a special meaning for Stacy. Let’s jump in!

A Little About Stacy

Currently Stacy works full time as a Police Officer for a small township is Southeastern Pennsylvania. While her current position is that of a patrol officer, she spend a lot of time doing investigations and crime scene processing. Forensics is something she loves and she takes her job seriously. It is not just about proving who is guilty, it is also about proving people are innocent.

She is also a wife to a Police Officer and with their constant schedules life can get very hectic at home. She has been blessed with two children, a son who is currently in the United States Navy and is very proud of him for what he is doing and for serving his Country. Her daughter is a priceless princess who loves to help market her books to teachers and other parents while she is at school and church. She is also working on a book too.

When she is not working the job that currently pays all the bills she works on her business. Yes, she has her own business too.

In her spare time… she writes.

You mention in your author profile that you hail from Pennsylvania. For someone who has never visited there, what things make your hometown unique?

Stacy: Southeastern Pennsylvania is a pretty awesome place just because of where it is and what it has to offer.  If you go to the North – you have the mountains – and New York City is not too far away. If you go to the east, Philadelphia which is rich in history is less than an hour away. Just a bit further past that and you find yourself at the beach. Heading south of us, Delaware and Maryland was very close by, and the west takes you to Amish county.  While I live in a place where it is very populate, getting in the car and driving to the west 20 minutes takes me to the county so it is a very diverse area and I like that.

As a child, did you know that you wanted to be a Police Officer?

Stacy: I didn’t know I wanted to be a police officer until I turned 30. It was never a thought in my mind. One night on television I saw them talking on the news about how woman were vital to the job.  I had recently watched the movie Patch Adams and that movie stuck with me.  I had been asking myself about my life and what could I do with it that I could have a “passion” about. Once I saw the news article, for some reason the idea clicked in my head and I started looking into it. Not long after I applied to the academy and got accepted. I never looked back.

What do you do to unwind and relax?

Stacy: It all depends on what I’m in the mood for and what might be going on around me.  If I just need to do a quick unwind – I read, or snuggle with my daughter. Throwing toys for my dogs helps relax me a bit too.  If I have more time, Watching a movie with my husband, taking a walk or hanging out with my best friend for coffee or a beer make a huge difference in my life.

The thing that relaxes me the most would be to be near the ocean with my camera in my hands.  I love to view the world through the viewfinder and stop time in milliseconds. A piece of time forever stopped to be viewed over and over again.

Stacy On Writing

What is it about writing that brings you back to the page for more?

Stacy: Allowing all the crazy thoughts in my head to get out!  I am a classic Type A person and my mind is constantly thriving.  It feels good to get some of those thoughts out of my head and on to paper.  Allows me to forget about them for a time and move forward, making room for more thoughts to come.

How much has your work as a Police Officer influenced your books?

Stacy: My career has been a huge influence in my writing.  All of my books take place in the world of law enforcement.  I have found it is easy to write, when you can write what you love and know.  Since I thrive on my job, it is easy to write about it.  There is so much that people don’t know about what police officers really do, that this is my way of showing them the real world and not the “Hollywood” version of what they think really happens.

How did you come up with the title for your books?

Stacy: Every title I use is a line within my books.  These particular words hold that particular book together all the way through and give you the theme.  “My Blood Runs Blue” brings to you how important being a police officer is to Kristin Greene, and police officers around the world hold the thought that we all share the same blue blood.

“Blue Blood for Life” is a slight twist to that.  Blue Blood keeps with the theme of the series while ‘for Life’ is a huge part of this particular book.  It will be referenced in there many times.

Another book I am writing and should have released this summer is “Whether I’ll Live or Die” and is a thought the main character will have during a traumatic time in her life.

Are you encountering any surprises in writing a series?

Stacy: I wouldn’t exactly say I am encountering surprises; there are some roadblocks at times, but no real surprises for me.  In book 3 of the series, I have had to go back three times to redo the plot to make sure it goes where I want it to go so that the fourth and final book will give closure to all the characters. It seems more daunting to makes sure I do that then surprising.

What is the hardest part of writing for you?

Stacy: Editing… sigh…  I hate editing my work, but it needs to be done.  I love the writing of it, but I get tired of going back and reading and re-reading everything over and over again.  I always send my work to a professional editor, but it is the editing over and over again beforehand that wears me down.

What advice would you give to writers just starting out?

Stacy: Grow a thick skin.  Being an author is not an easy thing.  There are people out there that do not want you to succeed, but what those people don’t realize is that there is plenty of room for everyone.

Also, understand that not everyone will like your writing. Everyone has personal tastes, and while you can reach a lot of people with your marketing, not everyone is going to want to read what you write and some, once they read it won’t like it at all.  I never take offense to that. I know there are plenty of books out there that I have no interest in reading, but I support the authors and help them when I can. Learn to accept what comes your way. Embrace the positive and let go of the negative.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk? 

Stacy: I’m not sure I have a quirk.  I will say I need to listen to music when I write and the music has to fit the feeling of the chapter I am working on.  I write fast and just let things flow.  After I put it all down on paper – I will go back and read it over to figure out what I just wrote and how to make it better or remove things that take away from the story.

What is your favorite supernatural creature and why?

Stacy: If you knew me – you would probably say a werewolf.  Only because I LOVE WOLVES!  I have them everywhere around me – including a custom made pendant around my neck and a tattoo on my back shoulder.  However, while I like some werewolf stories, my heart belongs to the vampire.

I’m not entirely sure why that is, but I find myself drawn to the mystery of them.  There is that mysterious darkness about them that I find draws me in and holds me close. The myths behind them make them almost appear real in some ways and it is just different enough from real life that I think, keeps my interest.

Stacy’s Paranormal Perspectives

What’s your definition of the paranormal genre?

Stacy: Something that could be possible but is different than the way we view real life.  There are so many different aspects of the Paranormal – the angels and demons, werewolves and vampires, ghosts and spirits. When you look at it – paranormal is like the category of “This could be true”, but no one knows for certain.

How do you feel about the boom of paranormal fiction recently?

Stacy: Personally, I love it. I deal with so much drama in my everyday life that I like to step away from that and fall into a fantasy of ‘what if’.  What if this could be real, how different would our lives really be?  It is rare for me to read a book that does not fall into this genre of some type.  Don’t get me wrong, I do read other fiction, but if I had to choose between a women’s drama novel and one of fantasy, I’d take the fantasy 9 times out of 10.

Is there a specific paranormal sub-genre interests you the most? 

Stacy: I tend to stick to the vampires and wolves, although I have read quite a few books dealing with angels and demons.  I am not one for horror so I stay away from the violent books they depict the gory and violence of these characters – I am not a fan of Zombies, lol… they just make me really uneasy.

What scares you?

Stacy: Lol….  I don’t scare easily, but what truly freaks me out are things that slither and crawl.  I am not a fan of snakes and spiders.  I come across them in my job and they give me that all-encompassing spine shiver that chills you to the bone.

Our police station is haunted, and while it used to spook me, I embrace it now finding it rather interesting when he shows up.

What is your favorite paranormal book?

Stacy: Oh man, Really?  Wow…  hmmm….  I’m not sure I have a favorite. I have read so many of them, but if I had to pick one, I would have to say the Black Dagger Brotherhood by J.R. Ward.  I loved this series… Thrived on it.  J.R. Ward is an incredible author and I love all of her books! Don’t tell anyone, but I want to be like her when I grow up! Lol…

What is your favorite paranormal movie?

Stacy: Wow! Another incredible question!  The first movie that comes to mind is The Lake House that starred Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock.  I absolutely loved that movie! The second is Premonition staring Sandra Bullock.  I am a huge fan of hers.

What do you think draws people to paranormal novels? 

Stacy: The “What If” factor.  People want to think that some of these things could happen or that they “do” happen.  I think a lot of people don’t want to deal with reality because sometimes reality just plain sucks so they jump into fantasy and get sucked in!

Do you ever research real events, legends, or myths to get ideas?

Stacy: Nope – I use my own imagination to draw from.  I don’t want to use the same ole stuff that others have used. I want something that came to my mind that is fresh from what is already out there.  I think I succeeded in it too!

Cege – Thank you sooo much for allowing me to visit with you today!  It has been a true honor to be here.

Thank you Stacy- I loved having you here!

Connect With Stacy

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Stacy-Eaton/191880767522183

Twitter: @StacySEaton

Blog: http://stacyeatonauthor.blogspot.com/

Website: http://stacyeaton.com/

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4826711.Stacy_Eaton

Purchase My Blood Runs Blue here.

Purchase Blue Blood For Life here.

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Paranormal Headliner: Deborah Hughes (and a Special Treat!)

Today I am welcoming Deborah Hughes, author of Be Still, My Love. Deborah has had some real life paranormal experiences that definitely shaped her work. And she’s met Stephen King!!  (I swoon in envy.)  As a special treat, Deborah is offering up a Numerological Evaluation to one randomly chosen reader!  (Read on to hear more about how to score that…)

A Little About Deborah

Deborah Hughes moved into a haunted house at the age of seven.  She lived there for seven years and that experience spurred her to learn all she could about the bizarre world of the paranormal and the supernatural.  The more she read, the more she learned, the more she realized how little she knew. This realization has led to a lifelong search for knowledge, truth, and enlightenment.  The writer in her is constantly inspired.  From the age of eight, she scribbled down the stories that streamed like movies through her mind.   She enjoys the process of their evolution from thought to completed book and hopes others will enjoy those stories as much as she does.

Where are you from? 

Deborah: I was born and raised in Bucksport, Maine.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?  

Deborah: I have honestly wanted to be a writer since the age of eight when I wrote my first story.  I decided then and there that I wanted to grow up and write books.

What do you do to unwind and relax? 

Deborah: I read quite a bit but I also love movies.  If I need something that requires more action, I love traveling and sightseeing.

Deborah on Writing

Your bio mentions that you had some experiences as a child that influenced your decision to write. Can you share a bit more about that? 

Deborah: I moved into a haunted house when I was seven.  We lived there for seven years.  I lived in fear for all seven of them.  Although nothing bad every happened to us, the fact that unseen people…dead ones!…really freaked me out.  When I became more proficient at reading, I started checking out books from the library about ghosts and hauntings.  I wanted to understand the phenomena.  It was only natural to start writing stories that involved ghosts.  I love romances, too, so I like to combine both of those passions. One of my favorite people in the world, a beloved uncle, encouraged me to follow my dream of being an author.  I was 14 when he died.  I swore I’d dedicate my first book to him and I have.

How did you come up with the title for your book? 

Deborah: It came from the book, actually.  I was nearing the end and Tess’s husband, who is dead (she’s a medium), says to her, “Be still, my love” when she managed to live through a particularly dangerous situation and I loved it.  I thought how fitting since this is what the story is about…Tess needs to get past her husband’s death and he needs to move on in the after life.  Not to mention, the two restless spirits Tess was trying to help…well, she was trying to “still” their anguish as well.

Are your characters based on people that you’ve known, or situations in your book things you’ve encountered in real life? 

Deborah: I have certainly based a lot of the situations that Tess encounters with my own experiences.  For instance, Tess holds a seance and I’ve done that.  The way she experiences the spirits or encounters her spirit guide…they are similar to my own.  As for the other characters, no, I didn’t base them on anyone I knew.  I think there is a lot of me in Tess but I can’t say that any of the other characters are similar to anyone I know.

What are your current projects? 

Deborah: I am nearly finished with the sequel to “Be Still, My Love“.  The town in which “Be Still” took place is a fabrication but the next story takes place in Bucksport, my hometown.  There’s a cool legend associated with the town’s founder Jonathan Buck.  Supposedly his grave monument is cursed by a witch.  The story is brought to Tess’s attention in “Be Still” and I thought, how cool would it be for Tess to go to Bucksport and try to figure out if that witch’s curse has any basis?  I’m really enjoying the story and learning a lot of Bucksport’s colorful, tragic history.  I also have another book which I’m preparing for publication called “No Matter What”.  It’s about a young girl who was burned for witch craft and is now reincarnated to save her spirit which now haunts the estate where she lived and died.  Some of the people who took part in her death are also reincarnated and they are all trying to work out issues associated with that past life event.  I’m very excited to share both stories with the public.

What is the hardest part of writing? 

Deborah: Finding the time to actually write!  Seriously, life has a way of getting in the way of my make believe stuff!  (smile) Writing the stories is really not a problem for me, I’ve been doing that since I was old enough to string words together.  For me, it’s marketing my book that I’m finding the most difficult.  It sucks up even more of my valuable time.  So, the hardest part is getting enough uninterrupted time to write.

What advice would you give to writers just starting out? 

Deborah: Don’t give up and don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do it.  Nowadays, anyone can write and publish.  How successful you are as a published author depends on how much time and effort you are willing to put into it.  Be prepared to put in a lot of both.  And believe in yourself.  If you don’t believe you have what it takes to be a writer who can produce stories others will want to read, then it’s probably not going to happen.  Take a look around you.  There are successful people whom you can’t believe are successful.  In your opinion, they might not have the level of talent needed to be successful…but in their opinion and belief…they do.  And they are.

Deborah’s Paranormal Perspectives

What’s your definition of the paranormal genre? 

Deborah: Well, nowadays it seems to mean anything involving vampires and werewolves and the like.  It’s a bit frustrating because when I do a search for ghost stories, it’s hard to find them!  Most authors categorize their ghost stories under the paranormal umbrella and there are so many vampire books that ghost books get buried.  I think we’re going to have to come up with another genre subdivision for ghost stories.  I categorized my book as “ghost” and “gothic” but people looking for those sorts of books normally do so by searching the paranormal so it’s going to be hard to find my books in a general search.   The Paranormal Genre is a pretty broad category.  The Supernatural Genre is pretty much the same though that seems to be more associated with horror.  By “horror” I mean, terror and possibly gore.  My books are spooky but there’s no genre specifically designed for spooky ghost stories.  It’s a bit of a paradox.

How do you feel about the boom of paranormal fiction recently?

Deborah: I think it’s not going away.  The paranormal is a wide open realm of possibility.  There are no rules and the imagination is not limited by set parameters.  I think it’s great that writers have flocked into this genre with such enthusiasm and creativity.

Is there a specific paranormal sub-genre interests you the most? 

Deborah: Obviously my sub-genre is ghost stories!  But I enjoy all of it…the whole spectrum of the paranormal.  It’s all fascinating.

What scares you?  

Deborah: Evil.  I know there is negative entities in the world and I know that I’ve brushed up against it a time or two.  I know there was something not “nice” in that haunted house I lived in.  I prayed a lot while I lived there.  I believe my faith kept us safe.  I have a hard time watching true horror because it does scare me.  Dying horribly, painfully…it’s the worst thing ever.  I get spooked sometimes while writing my stories but I don’t get terrified.  I make sure that the entities in my stories cannot overpower the characters.  Because, it’s that sort of thing that would scare me.  A lot.

What is your favorite paranormal book?  

Deborah: The Reincarnation of Audrey Rose.  It inspired me to write “No Matter What”.  But I also love Jacqueline Frank’s Nightwalker series.  And really, I could go on here because I love so many.  The Shining by Stephen King is another favorite.  I met him right after reading The Shining; it left quite an impression on me.  I was 16 at the time and worked at a party he was hosting.  He took time out of his busy day to come talk to me and my friend…the kitchen help.  I thought, someday, I’m going to be like him.  (smile)

What is your favorite paranormal movie?  

Deborah: I loved The Sixth Sense!  What a great spooky movie that was!  I also like Poltergeist.  It got a little weird toward the end but I think it’s a great paranormal movie.  The Entity is another great movie.  Again, it’s hard to give a favorite because there are so many but those are at the top of my list.

Do you ever come up with anything so wild in your writing that you scared yourself? What was it?  

Deborah: Yes!  I scare myself all the time. I’ll be working on a spooky scene and then suddenly one of the kid’s toys will come on or I’ll hear a knock somewhere.  I truly think sometimes that writing spooky stories invites the spirits to come around.  When writing ghost stories, you get in that groove and begin to feel the spookiness of what you are writing.  It becomes almost real.  In “No Matter What” the little girl, Lynn, finds an old ragdoll and she and her mother bury it.  Later, when Lynn goes to her room…the doll is on the bed. I was not expecting that to happen. It gave me the creeps!  Lol.  Little things like that spook me enough that I sometimes have to stop and think about other stuff.  You get in that mood and suddenly your skin is broke out in goosebumps and the more you write, the more you begin to think someone is standing behind you.  Creepy.

What do you think draws people to paranormal novels? 

Deborah: We need to be taken out of the norm…the ordinary…and experience something more, something out of this world.  The paranormal cannot be predicted and it certainly isn’t “normal”.  It’s paranormal and it’s exciting.

Do you ever research real events, legends, or myths to get ideas? 

Deborah: Yes!  I think there’s some truth to art imitating life imitating art.  As I said, I’m working on a book now that is based on an actual legend.  While researching that, I found out some other mysteries and now I’m thinking I’d like to explore those as well.  There’s something exciting about taking something that happened but has unknown elements and creating something to explain the unknown elements.  It makes it seem more real somehow and thus, spookier!

Connect with Deborah

Website: www.deborahjhughes.com

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/DeborahJHughes

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Deborah-J-Hughes-Author-Page/257975100917551

Purchase Be Still, My Love on Amazon here.

A Little Something Special:

For one lucky reader, Deborah has offered to do a Numerological Evaluation of his/her birth name or birth date.

What’s a Numerological Evaluation You Ask?

Each letter has a numeric value and each numeric number resonates to a specific meaning.  Since every letter has a numeric value, everything that exists can be reduced to a single number value (0 through 9) using a specific formula.  Our names and birthdates are two things most associated with our lives and the numerological value placed on those two things are supposed to give us insight into our life purpose, talents, and characteristics.  It’s fascinating and can pretty accurate (and fun!).

What Do You Need to Do to Win?

Pop a comment on this post to say hello or ask Deborah a question. That’s it! One random winner will be selected on March 13th, 2012.

Thank you for visiting Deborah!!

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Paranormal Headliner: Mia Darien

Today I am welcoming Mia Darien, author of Cameron’s Law and When Forever Died, as my first ever Paranormal Headliner!  I’m introducing this series as a way to highlight other authors writing in the paranormal realm. One thing that intrigues me about Mia’s books is that she is writing a whole series of standalone books that share a common setting: the town of Adelheid, CT. It looks like there is quite a bit of paranormal adventure going on in Adelheid! So grab a cup of your favorite beverage and settle in as we get to know Mia better.

A Little About Mia

Mia Darien has lived in New England all of her life and knows that no matter where she goes from here, New England is always going to live in her. Presently, she still lives in the land of snow and fast talkers, with her husband, her son and her pets. She writes a bit of everything genre fiction (horror, romance, mystery, fantasy and science fiction) and thinks it sounds like an odd joke: a unicorn, a space monster, and a pair of zombie lovers walk into a murder investigation…

You mention that you hail from New England, and you seem to have a strong affinity for it. For someone who has never visited there, what things make you love it the way that you do?

Mia: It may just be sentimentality. I was born here, I’ve grown up here. I lived in the same town my entire life. But it is more than that. New England is beautiful. I’m not good at describing scenery (my books are proof of that) but it’s green and full of hills and every autumn, the trees look like they’re on fire. I live in a rural area, farm country, where it’s quiet and peaceful. That suits me very well. I can walk down my dirt road, after it stops being a road, and see history from two hundred years ago where stone walls used to wall off pastures but are now full of trees and wetlands, and how it used to be the main road from my town to the neighboring town. It’s just full of history and personality. My husband, who was born and raised in the South, sometimes says it’s not always a *nice* personality, but I say we’re at least always honest. 😉

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Mia: Oh, all kinds of things! For a while, my best friend and I were going to open up a veterinarian’s office. At another time, I wanted to be a police sketch artist. When I was fourteen, I got hit by the writing bug and wanted to be a published author, and I’ve stuck with that since.

What do you do to unwind and relax?

Mia: My husband would say I don’t do either very well! It’s true, I always feel like I should be doing something productive. I guess when I need to chill out, I like to read. I write as a hobby as well as for publication, so that unwinds me and I’m working on fitting time for World of Warcraft back into my schedule.

Mia On Writing

What is it about writing that brings you back to the page for more?

Mia: I can’t stop. In fact, I’ve tried. There were a few years when life was too insane and I just couldn’t write. Times when I felt like it was too much and I should stop, but the ideas wouldn’t go away. I kept coming up with characters and story lines that wanted to be written, so I kept writing them down and leaving them for later. Now I have more stories than time to write them, and the knowledge that I just can’t stop. I have to keep writing, or my head really might explode.

How did you come up with the title for your books?

Mia: “Cameron’s Law” is fairly self explanatory when you read the book. My entire premise is that there is a law that makes preternatural creatures legal. It is officially the Preternatural Rights Act of 2010, but is named informally after the man (werewolf, Harvard Law student) who began the process, Cameron St John, hence Cameron’s Law. “When Forever Died” is actually a line from the story, when one character is explaining something to another. To say any more would give away a plot point!

Are any of your characters based on people that you’ve known, or situations in your book things you’ve encountered in real life?

Mia: Yes, actually. Have you ever seen that t-shirt in catalogs: “Careful or you’ll end up in my novel”? Well, in my case, I only make characters after people I like. Sadie and Dakota are both a little bit of me. Sadie Stanton’s name comes from family names. Vance Johnston is a little bit of my husband. Sarah Beaumont is after a friend of mine. My family and friends always sneak in there in parts, even if it wasn’t a conscious choice. As for situations, not specifically. But everything I see, everything I feel, read, watch, learn about, all eventually goes into the mix and comes out into a story in some way or another.

It looks like you have a lot of work planned for the future of your series (6+ more books- WOW!). What has been the thing that has surprised you the most in crafting storylines that all converge in the same town/same place?

Mia: I’m not sure if anything has surprised me about the whole thing, or the town, but the characters like to surprise me. I recently – in the book I’m writing now – had what was supposed to be an innocuous conversation turn into something I had to adjust my plot outline for. Sneaky vampires. It’s always the characters that surprise me the most, saying or doing things I didn’t see coming. But that’s the fun part, too.

What is the hardest part of writing for you?

Mia: There are a lot of hard parts to writing. Just getting it done, for starters. Making sure it’s a story that doesn’t suck, is consistent and well written. Then the inherent anxiety that comes with releasing it to the public: oh no, are they going to like it, is anyone going to read it, are they going to pan it… and so on.

What advice would you give to writers just starting out?

Mia: Keep at it. It’s hard and takes a lot of work, you’ll want to throw yourself out a window at some point, but you just have to stick with it if you want to move forward. Listen to advice, but not all of it ’cause your head will explode. Read, read, read.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

Mia: Oh, my. That’s a tough one. It’s hard for me to know what my “quirks” are, but one thing that I have found that differentiates me as a little odd, compared to other writers: I hear about a lot of authors that write to music, and what music inspires them. I listen to television shows and movies while I write. You would think it would get in the way, but it doesn’t. I think it’s something about hearing dialog and ongoing stories that inspires me more than music.

What is your favorite supernatural creature to write and why?

Mia: I don’t know that I have a favorite creature, actually. Vampires are fun because I love making dead jokes. (I write in First Person and all my character have a hint or more of sarcasm in their wit.) So, they’re great for the lack of a heart beat jokes and such. But Dakota and her unique nature are an absolute blast. And I have some other unique creatures in the pipeline that I bet will be as much fun, so I don’t think I can actually pick a favorite.

Mia’s Paranormal Perspectives

What’s your definition of the paranormal genre?

Mia: I’m pretty broad about this. Paranormal is defined as anything “extra” normal, and that’s how I view it. If it has vampires, werewolves, faerie folk, witches and what not, I would define that as paranormal. Though I suppose I’d have to further define it as these creatures in our world, at any time. If it’s another world then it’s sci-fi/fantasy.

How do you feel about the boom of paranormal fiction recently?

Mia: It worries me, to be honest. I love that it’s popular. It’s “okay” now to be a vampire freak. But at the same time, I worry about the genre I love being flooded with substandard story-telling. People writing paranormal *just* because it’s popular and sells well, not because they love it, and there by weakening the whole thing.

Is there a specific paranormal sub-genre interests you the most?

Mia: You know, I don’t think there is. I just like good stories. It’s all about the story.

What scares you?

Mia: All manner of things! I’m anxious by nature, and neuro-chemistry, so real life can be pretty frightening. 😉 But seriously, reading books and what not, I can get spooked by things that strike too close to home, like zombie fiction that’s more realistic than outrageous can give me the creeps. Or mysteries with particularly realistic killer perspectives.

What is your favorite paranormal book?

Mia: The first Vampire Files book by P. N. Elrod, because it’s the first in a whole series I love a great deal and highly admire. If you want to put modern definition on classics, then I’d go with “Dracula.” I have an audio version that is so fantastic that I’ve listened to it repeatedly.

What is your favorite paranormal movie?

Mia: You know, I really don’t know. I’ve liked a lot of the blockbuster paranormal films, despite some defects. (Underworld, Blade) But there was a low budget indie time film called Demon Under Glass that was fascinating. I’m still waiting for someone to get “Dracula” right.

What do you think draws people to paranormal novels?

Mia: I think it’s just something in the nature of humanity that’s always been there. I watched “Ghost Hunters” for a while and that, by nature, proves my point but beyond that, I had considered doing a ghost hunting story. Still may, but it’s down the line. I was researching ghost hunter sites and read a fascinating article, which had a part that I’ve always remembered. If you look back in old lore and read stories of the faeries, the wee folk, and how they used to kidnap babies and so forth, the descriptions of many of those stories sound a lot like people’s descriptions of aliens in more recent time. From mythological to science, it’s the same thing. People have always had these fascinations with things beyond themselves. Vampires and shifters in particular are so much like humans but not that it’s easier to imagine, I guess.

Do you ever research real events, legends, or myths to get ideas?

Mia: I wouldn’t say I research to get the ideas. I just research and read about these things because it interests me, and ideas may or may not come. Like, I’ve written a historical romance focused during the time of the Beast of Gevaudan. I don’t qualify it as paranormal, but I did read about the Beast for the first time in the Werewolf Encyclopedia. (Fun book.) The French film ‘Le Pacte des Loups’ is also about the Beast. I was obsessed with Egyptian, Greek, Roman and Norse mythology in middle school and onward. Norse mythos has made its way into my story “When Forever Died.”

I particularly enjoy regional stuff. I have two books on regional vampire stories, one in New England and one from the South, and then two books of ghost stories, same regions since I have ties there obviously. So, I can’t say I go to this stuff to get the ideas, but it definitely gives me ideas when I read it. And even if it didn’t, I’d read it anywhere because it’s just fun and fascinating.

Connect With Mia

http://www.miadarien.com – Site & Blog

http://www.twitter.com/MiaDarien

http://www.facebook.com/author.miadarien

http://www.goodreads.com/mia_darien

Thanks so much for chat, Mia!

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Author Spotlight: Justin Dennis

Today I’d like to welcome Justin Dennis to my first Author Spotlight!

Justin wrote Through the Portal, which was the book review that was highlighted in yesterday’s post.  It is always interesting to get more insight into an author’s motivations and thought processes in developing their work. Take it away Justin!

Cege: How long have you been writing?

Justin: I’ve been writing ever since I can remember, honestly. I used to just dream up random stories, draw pictures of strange creatures. Turns out I’m a terrible artist, but I could actually tell a story! I wrote some short stories in junior high, and then the beginnings of a novel in high school, but Through the Portal was my first full-length novel. Writing has always been my passion, and it felt amazing to finally pull together this book: a collaboration of everything I had ever dreamed of or imagined.

Cege: Who are your major writing influencers?

Justin: Definitely JK Rowling and Philip Pullman. Christopher Paolini as well, the author of the Inheritance Cycle, because he wrote at a young age as well and created a fantasy world too. Rowling because the Harry Potter series had the most intricate, wonderful plot of anything I have ever read, and Pullman because he wrote poetically and described everything beautifully, while also dreaming up incredible worlds and creatures.

Cege: How did you develop the story concept for Through the Portal?

Justin: It really began in pieces, as Callisto was a world with its own inhabitants before Jem and Oliver found their way there. So it took a lot of planning of the history and future of Callisto before I decided on having Earth kids venture over. Then I wanted to make statements about independence, about relationships, about war and peace, about friendship and loyalty, about everything, so I designed scenes to lead them through this world while portraying important lessons and dropping just the right amount of hints as to what will be in books two and three.

Cege: Are any of the characters based on you, or someone you know?

Justin: Hm, that’s a good question. All of them have pieces of myself, small things brought to extremes, but no character is fully myself or anyone else. Pretty much everyone just popped straight out of my mind!

Cege: Who is your favorite character in the story?

Justin: I really like Sierra because she’s a strong, independent person capable of so much and has so much to prove throughout the trilogy. She’s really an outstanding person, and without her, none of this adventure would’ve been possible. But of course, like any writer, I love all my characters.

Cege: Through the Portal is set in Callisto, a parallel world to Earth.  How did you develop the topography Callisto and its six regions?

Justin: Well I wanted the terrain in every region to be instantly recognizable and unique to the inhabitants, and so I brainstormed all the different kinds of landscapes that I could use and denoted one to each region that fit the personality of the region. For instance, Lurians are very introverted and keep to themselves, so it snows heavily in Luria and is very cold, hence the people stay inside by themselves. Another interesting fact about the six regions is that each is named after one of the noble gases. Well… except for Luria, which replaced Krypton, simply because I didn’t feel I could steal that from superman.

Cege: You created a lot of new and interesting people, places, and animals that only exist in Callisto and the other world Kelados. How do you decide on names for your creations and keep track of all of them?

Justin: Oh jeez, I have a hugeeeee list, trust me! There are actually a lot more creatures that inhabit Callisto than I was able to squeeze into the book. Some of the people have names that relate to something in their personality. For example, Afflatus is a word that means inspiration or the imparting of knowledge, because Jem sees him as knowing everything and he is an important teacher to Jem. I named Callisto after Jupiter’s moon, which is thought to possibly have life on it. Kelados is derived from Enceladus which is one of Saturn’s moons, also thought to possibly harbor life. There is a lot more behind the names of everything and I’m constantly scheming up new creatures and names that will find a place within the next couple books.

Cege: Will we see more of Kelados and learn more about its zombie inhabitants in future installments?

Justin: Most definitely.

Cege: There seems to be a romance brewing between Jem and Sierra.  How do you approach writing that plot line knowing your target audience is younger readers?

Justin: Well it certainly entails being careful with the language I use and the situations that crop up, but I actually enjoy writing about them because I see it as an opportunity to teach younger kids about relationships. A major thing Jem and Sierra have to battle with is dependency, and both have to learn to be independent without the other. I think it’s a truly important lesson for readers to learn, and I love having Jem and Sierra to demonstrate that. It’s definitely not a simple boy falls in love with girl story.

Cege: When can we expect to see the next installment of Jem’s adventure?

Justin: For sure, it will be out by Summer 2012, although I’m working really hard to get it out by the Spring. So hopefully within the next few months.

Thank you Justin for hanging out in the Cege Smith universe!  I wish you the best of luck with all your writing endeavors!

Connect with Justin:

Justin’s Blog: http://justindennisofficialblog.blogspot.com/
Justin’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/justindennis4
Justin’s Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Justin-Dennis-Author/283492421662394

Buy Through The Portal:

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Through-Portal-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B005JEENAU

Smashwords: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/84302
Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/through-the-portal-justin-dennis/1105128562

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