Tag Archive | writing

Heather Blanton–Lady in Defiance

Heather Blanton ph    Heather Blanton––Lady in Defiance

Heather said, “I believe Christian fiction should be messy and gritty, because the human condition is … and God loves us anyway.” –

A former journalist, and avid researcher you skillfully weave truth in among fictional story lines. I understand you love to explore the American West.

Yes, especially ghost towns and museums. I’ve walked parts of the Oregon Trail, ridden horses through the Rockies, climbed to the top of Independence Rock, and even held an outlaw’s note in my hand.

No wonder your books bring our western culture to life.

You write Christian Westerns. Besides your love of the west is there another reason?

I get to write about strong pioneer women and men who struggle to find God and then live out their faith in real ways. Romance is always a strong element in my stories because it is such a beautiful gift from God, and a perfect reflection of how he loves His children: sacrificially and lavishly.

You have been able to write Christian Westerns without being preachy or cheesy.

Like good old-fashioned Westerns, there is always justice, a moral message, American values, and lots of high adventure, unexpected plot twists, and more than a touch of suspense. I think readers find my stories heart-warming, realistic, illuminating and glorifying to God.

Where do you think this love for the west stems from?

I think it’s because I grew up on a steady diet of Bonanza, Gunsmoke, and John Wayne movies. My fondest childhood memory is of sitting next to my father, munching on popcorn, and watching Lucas McCain unload that Winchester!

I can relate to your love for the old west. I loved the western movies growing up. Every Saturday afternoon was movies and then home to recreate those Roy Rogers and Gene Autry movies. We loved that era.

You are the bestselling independent author of several Christian Westerns, including the Romance in the Rockies series.

This  series, Intrigued by the concept of three good sisters stranded in a lawless Colorado mining town, caused a few notable Hollywood producers to request the script for my first book in that series.

trio of heather    book1    book 2

You’ve been called “A Lady in Defiance” and your writing is gritty and realistic. In fact, your books have been compared to AMC’s Hell on Wheels series, as well as the legendary Francine Rivers book, Redeeming Love. You just released Romance in the Rockies Books 1, 2, & 3 Plus The Lost Chapters.

Readers now can get all three of the bestselling Defiance books in ONE collection, along with a BONUS, never-before-published prequel novella, The Lost Chapters.

Heather, we wish you continuing success in your writing. We enjoy reading your work so we can’t wait to read this one.

Thank you for visiting with us today.

 

To learn more about Heather visit her website: https://ladiesindefiance.com/ and get her newsletter.

https://www.facebook.com/heatherfreyblanton https://twitter.com/heatherfblanton
https://www.pinterest.com/heatherfblanton/

 

Elaine Marie Cooper on Road to Deer Run

elaine marie cooper 451MtQNdo0qL._UX250_We are delighted to have Elaine Marie Cooper visiting with us today. Elaine is an author and speaker who became fascinated with the American Revolution growing up in Massachusetts. 

I describe myself as a history geek. You will find my bookshelves filled with volumes about the American Revolution.

Your  book, Road to Deer Run, tell us about the story and the books in the series.Road-to-Deer-Run-Cover-197x300

It’s a historical romance set in Colonial America in 1777. This book was published in December 2015. The war has already broken the heart of Mary Thomsen, a nineteen-year-old colonial woman from Massachusetts. Her brother, Asa was killed by the King’s army, so when she stumbles across a wounded British soldier, you can imagine her sense of right and wrong is challenged. Inside she’s battling the “Should I help a soldier of the enemy who took my brother’s life, or let him die, cold and alone?”

The war has  broken the British soldier Daniel Lowe’s spirit. He’s severely wounded and a prisoner of war, he escapes his rebel captors while on a death march to Boston. As the pain in his injured leg worsens, he wonders if the young woman looking down at him is an angel or the enemy.

So the question becomes, what will they find on the Road to Deer Run? This book was highlighted in Southern Writers Magazine.

The second book, Promise of Deer Run was just published in June of this year.

promise of deer run

It is set in 1790 and the American Revolution is over, but a battle still rages in the hearts of survivors. Painful memories of war haunt one young veteran. He still waits for a father who never returned from battle and feels the sting of betrayal from a former love. Withdrawing into his own world, he clings to one hope — perhaps his father still lives.

There is only one person in Deer Run who seems to understand him, Sarah Thomsen. She’s nineteen- year- old who struggles to bury her own war memories. The veteran’s search for his father touches a chord in her, as she feels the loss of a father she never knew. While the couple begins to find hope in a mutual affection, others are determined to destroy it. Slander and misunderstandings ignite a fire of doubt and mistrust, destroying any faith they had in each other.

The next book, the third one in this saga will be released in December, 2016.  Can’t wait to hear more about the third book. We hope you will come back and visit and share information on this book and also information about the new historical novel that will release in October, 2016 which is Saratoga Letters. I understand that book is set in 1777 and 1977. Can’t wait to hear more about that one.

You also wrote a book called Fields of the Fatherless.

Yes and it won a few awards.

It won the Winner of the 2014 Selah Award, YA Fiction, right? 

Yes and it won the 2014 Next Generation Indie Book Award, Best Religious Fiction
Winner of the 2014 Moonbeam Children’s Book Award and Best YA Religious Fiction .

The  Fields of the Fatherless is based on a true story.

fields of fatherless51yq+jk+SsL._SX320_BO1,204,203,200_  In the early months of 1775, war is brewing in the American colonies. Although frightened, eighteen-year-old Betsy Russell (an ancestor to actor Kurt Russell) of Menotomy Village, Massachusetts, wants to be prepared in case of attack by British troops. Her father, prosperous farmer Jason, is the fourth generation of Russells on this land yet their very rights as British Colonials are being stripped away one by one. Will the King of England take their land as well? Tensions are growing here in the countryside west of Boston and the outbreak of battle seems a certainty. Jason desperately wants to protect his family–– his wife, children and grandchildren and their future. Betsy makes every attempt to be prepared for the worst. But not even the American militia could have predicted the bloody massacre that was about to occur right on the Russells’ doorstep. If Betsy loses everything she holds dear, are the rights of all the Colonists endangered?

And this is based on a true story?

Yes, on the first day of the American Revolution, the worst battle did not occur at Lexington or Concord. It took place at the home of Jason Russell in Menotomy Village, MA. “Fields of the Fatherless” brings this true story to light as seen through the eyes of Jason’s daughter, Betsy.  Although written for a YA audience, it has received positive reviews from its many adult readers.

No wonder this novel has received several awards and continues to find new readers more than two years after its release. Thank you for sharing this with us.

It was great having Elaine here today to share her books. Be sure and check out her website

http://www.elainemariecooper.com/

and visit her blog

http://www.elainemariecooper.com/blog/

 

 

 

Cyci Cade~Brazilian Writer of Urban Fantasy and YA Fiction

cyci cade  We are delighted to welcome Cyci Cade with us today. Cyci lives in Brazil and writes Urban Fantasy and YA Fiction. Her debut novel Dragon’s Curse was released in November of 2015.

I am anxious to know if you chose urban fantasy and young adult fiction or did these two choose you?

I believe both things happened. During my childhood, my mother used to read me stories like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Cinderella, and Beauty and the beast; as time passed I started reading those types of genres and new ones like Marvel, DC Comics, and Philip Pullman´s books. I use to say  I´m a professional reader! Becoming a writer was inevitable.

Tell us what publishing is like in Brazil. 

The process is a little different from the way it is here in  America. We don´t have literary agents; we send the query letters to editors. Getting published is easier in Brazil but more expensive. We have to compete with best-sellers books that come from America and Europe. Usually, it´s a combination of both.

And what about the marketing methods, are they so different from here in America?

My book, Dragon’s Curse you can get on AgBook, a Brazilian publisher, and you can get it on Amazon.com. I set up online giveaways,  write bonus material, short stories, and offer exclusive content. I also use social media to distribute my work.

Do you market in Brazil only or do you also market in other countries as well as America?

I market in many countries. Social Media gets me in touch with people from other countries, so when I set up my giveaways it is open on a worldwide scale.

I read where you said your ideas for your book Dragons Curse came from reading and watching Painted Skin and Game of Thrones. What specifically from each one?

I took the dragons from Game of Thrones when Daenerys Targaryen mentioned them for the first time. I immediately thought, “I´ll write a book about dragons”. Then Painted Skin gave me the idea to look for Chinese mythologies, places and creatures. Chinese culture is very rich so I was able to find many legends and mythologies.

Do you attend writer’s conferences and/or belong to a writer’s group?

I use to attend book fairs and biennials, now I belong to some fantasy, sci-fi, and writers´ groups on Goodreads.

Tell us a little about your book Dragon’s Curse.

dragons curse      Two princes from the Dragon´s Dynasty, Liu and Wei, are cursed and condemned to live as dragons because they failed in their duty, to protect the Dragon Empire. After two centuries their fate changes when Kate appears in their lives and they are able to return to their human form. However, the curse isn´t broken yet, they can´t survive without the dragon´s side.  To break the curse, the princes must recover the eyes and heart of the Great Dragon. As Liu, Wei, and Kate embark on a journey to the Palace of Jade in search of the first eye, they´ll have to face mythological creatures and the immortal warriors. Face death and have to prove  they are honorable men to save Kate´s life. They´ll be tested as never before and discover feelings they never imagined existed plus they will have to  fight like wild warriors. A curse can be broken… But at what cost?

Wow, great description. Now I know I’ve got to read this book. I would think this will have a lot of following. This is just book 1 in the series right?

Yes, I wrote  six books of the series Dragon Princes; Dragon´s Curse is the first one published. I also wrote another trilogy and I decided that now is the right moment to share my work.

What’s next for Cyci Cade?

egypt   I´ve worked on a new book related to a short story I´ve published on my blog, Son of Egypt. As the name suggests, the story is set in ancient Egypt, I mix real people who lived at that time with gods, myths, fantasy, and romance.

Love the cover. Congratulations Cyci. Please keep us posted as new books come out.

Thank you so much for visiting with us.

 

For more information about Cyci Cade visit her at:

http://cycicade.blogspot.com/

https://www.facebook.com/cycicade/?fref=ts

 

 

TERRY SHAMES-THE SAMUEL CRADDOCK SERIES

 

Terry Shames 3 photo by Margaretta K. Mitchell Terry Shames is the author of the award-winning best-selling Samuel Craddock series, set in the fictitious town of Jarrett Creek, Texas. MysteryPeople named Terry Shames one of the top Five Texas Mystery authors of 2015!

Welcome Terry, I am excited you are here and anxious to hear about this series. 

What brought about the writing of this particular series?

 I had been struggling to find a publishing niche for several years. I took time off when my son was in middle school and high school and when I went back to writing, I took a weekend workshop that changed my writing life. In it, one of the workshop leaders spoke passionately about the need to find your own voice. I had heard this advice before (“Find an empty space on the bookstore shelves and fill it,” and “Write the book that only you can write.”). Maybe I was ready to hear the advice, but a month later I sat down and thought about the book only I could write. I had written a few short stories set in the fictitious town of Jarrett Creek, which was based on the town where my grandparents lived when I was growing up, and I thought it would be a natural setting for me. And when I thought of a main character, there was really no question. I was very close to my grandfather. He was no angel, but he had a strong sense of fairness and responsibility. I thought those qualities would be excellent in a protagonist who solved crimes. The first book in the series poured out of me as if it had been waiting to be told.

I love the rural life you create your story in and the Texas setting. It’s that small settlement feeling, where everyone knows everyone. And the characters you create just come to life.

killing-at-cotton-hill-175  This book, A Killing at Cotton Hill, was a finalist for numerous awards and won the Macavity for Best First Mystery, 2013.

For those who don’t know The Macavity Award’s name is the “mystery cat” of T.S. Eliot (Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats). Each year the members of Mystery Readers International nominate and vote for their favorite mysteries in four categories.

Is there a purpose behind the story that you want your readers to know?

I have heard it said writers have one main story to tell, or one main idea to explore. I am always interested in the way secrets affect people. The person keeping the secret isn’t able to fully be part of a family and community. I’m not talking about small secrets (when you stole a lipstick from the drugstore when you were nine), I’m talking about the big ones. Big secrets ripple all the way through the community. Sometimes an entire community has made the decision to ignore an open secret. When I was growing up, there was a woman in our community who was a kleptomaniac. Everyone knew it and was complicit in allowing her husband to quietly return purloined items.

nonie-blake-175    Families sometimes simply don’t talk about the family member who is a little “off.” In my latest book, The Necessary Murder of Nonie Blake, the family has chosen to hide a family member who did something terrible by sending her to a mental facility. But as the book reveals, there’s more to it. Liars keep secrets in order to save face. And sometimes they even kill to make sure the secret doesn’t overwhelm them.

What was the most challenging part in writing this story?

For some reason The Necessary Murder of Nonie Blake didn’t present the challenge I talked about in the prior answer. It seemed to unfold easily. But in that book most of the challenge was in researching how mental illness would have been described and handled twenty years ago.

dead-broke-175  Every book seems to present a challenge at some point. Usually for me it’s the plot resolution. I know how I want it to end, but I don’t know exactly how to get there. My third book, Dead Broke in Jarrett Creek, lead me astray until I had a complete mess. Finally I went back to the middle and realized where I had gone wrong. Sometimes it’s when you try to force your characters into roles they don’t want to inhabit, but sometimes it’s not exerting enough control over your story. It’s a delicate balance. 

death of jacklast-death-175 The Last Death of Jack Harbin was a Macavity finalist for Best Mystery, 2014 and named one of the top ten mysteries of 2014 by Library Journal and top five of 2014 by MysteryPeople.

Tell us about this book.

 Right before the outbreak of the Gulf War, two eighteen-year-old football stars and best friends from Jarrett Creek, Texas, signed up for the army. But Woody Patterson was rejected and stayed home to marry the girl they both loved, while Jack Harbin came back from the war badly damaged. The men haven’t spoken since.

Just as they are about to reconcile, Jack is brutally murdered. With the chief of police out of commission, it’s up to trusted ex-chief Samuel Craddock to investigate. Against the backdrop of small-town loyalties and betrayals, Craddock discovers dark secrets of the past and present to solve the mystery of Jack’s death.

Deadly Affair at Bobtail Ridge When I finished my fourth book, A Deadly Affair at Bobtail Ridge, which came out last May, the end didn’t satisfy me. It was empty and didn’t give me the resolution I wanted. My editor told me to keep thinking about it. Finally I appealed to my agent, and she told me that one scene didn’t quite work for her. I immediately realized that what was in my head hadn’t fully made it onto the page. Fixing it required a whole new scene and a big expansion of another scene. When I was done, I knew it was right.

 I read A Deadly Affair at Bobtail Ridge. Could not put it down. Loved the twist you created in the story. In fact, I liked it so well, my husband decided he wanted to read it. He too could enjoyed reading this book and liked your story style.

Did the writing require a lot of research and if so what kind?

All the books require some kind of research. I do “backwards” research, which I fear one day will get me in trouble. I usually write my books the way I “think” things would go. If I have a question about the way law enforcement works, how an autopsy would be handled, or the type of gun someone would carry, for example, I write it the way I think it would be and put big stars around it. When the first draft is done, I go back to find the stars and research how it would really happen—to make sure I haven’t made any glaring mistakes. In a couple of books, I’ve had to go back several years to find out how things would have been done.

In book three, I relied on an official website for information about law enforcement. After the book was edited, I had the good fortune to attend a talk at Heart of Texas Sisters in Crime, given by a veteran detective. I asked him about the protocol. He laughed and told me that officially it was supposed to work that way, but in reality it was handled much differently. I instantly phoned my editor. Fortunately, it wasn’t too late to make the few lines of changes. Here’s the thing: it wouldn’t have really mattered if the book had been published with the error. I doubt that anyone would have quibbled. But I knew that it was wrong, and I wanted it to be right.

Thank you Terry for visiting with us today. We have enjoyed learning more about your writing and books. I recommend them for other readers, knowing they will enjoy your stories and writing style.

Be sure a visit Terry Shames at:

http://terryshames.com/

http://terryshamesbooks.blogspot.com

 

 

 

Elaine Marie Cooper

Elaine Cooper   If you like to read historical fiction, you will enjoy reading Author/Speaker Elaine Marie Cooper’s novels 

Welcome Elaine. I read where you described yourself as a geek.

Yes, I’m definitely a history geek because delving into the little known facts of our American History is pure fun for me. My bookshelves are filled with volumes about the American Revolution. I became fascinated with this era when I was growing up in Massachusetts.

You have two award-winning books, Fields of the Fatherless, a Young Adult historical book and Bethany’s Calendar, which is a memoir of your daughter’s battle with brain cancer.

Before we talk about your historical writing, tell us about your book, Bethany’s Calendar. This book released in December 2014, correct?

Bethanys Calendar Cover Yes.  My world was turned upside down in January of 2002 when my then 23-year-old daughter was rushed to the local emergency room and subsequently diagnosed with a terminal brain tumor. My husband and I took care of her for a year and nine months in our home. While we hoped and prayed that she would recover, the Lord had other plans. Bethany’s Calendar covers each month of her illness, what she went through and what our family went through. I did not hold back on the fears we experienced nor the faith that God helped strengthen in us during that time. It was an emotional journey that still brings tears to my eyes. Yet I know someday I will see her again. Praise God.

That must have been a hard book to write. Your passion for your family and your faith played a big part in this time of your life I am sure. 

Without my faith in the Lord, I’m not sure I would have survived this event. It was very painful to write Bethany’s Calendar yet the Lord made it clear to me that He wanted me to do so. Since it’s release, I have heard from numerous readers who thank me for sharing this story. That’s when I realize how important my daughter’s testimony is and how her legacy still lives on.

Your most recent publication is Road to Deer Run, a historical romance set in Colonial America in 1777. It is Book 1 of the Deer Run Saga and this will be followed by Promise of Deer Run in June 2016. Legacy of Deer Run in December 2016 and Saratoga Letters will release in October 2016 and will be a historical romantic suspense set in both 1777 and 1977.

This is very exciting to learn what you have in store for your fans.

Tell us about your book, Fields of the Fatherless.

fields of the fatherliess9781938499920_cvr_v2-193x300  This book was the winner of the 2014 Selah Award, YA Fiction; the 2014 Next Generation Indie Book Award for Best Religious Fiction; and winner of the 2014 Moonbeam Children’s Book Award, Best YA Religious Fiction. It is also based on a true story.

The real events depicted in Fields of the Fatherless actually occurred right down the street from where I grew up in Arlington, MA. I never forgot the old house on the corner and, as an adult, decided to find out about its history. Well that piqued this writer’s interest and I knew it was a story worth telling.

Here is the synopsis:

In the early months of 1775, war is brewing in the American colonies. Although frightened, eighteen-year-old Betsy Russell of Menotomy Village, Massachusetts, wants to be prepared in case of attack by British troops. Her father, prosperous farmer Jason, is the fourth generation of Russells on this land yet their very rights as British Colonials are being stripped away one by one. Will the King of England take their land as well? Tensions are growing here in the countryside west of Boston and the outbreak of battle seems a certainty. Jason desperately wants to protect his wife, children and grandchildren and their future. Betsy makes every attempt to be prepared for the worst. But not even the American militia could have predicted the bloody massacre that was about to occur right on the Russells doorstep. If Betsy loses everything she holds dear, are the rights of all the Colonists endangered?

 

Road to Deer Run - Cover  Next Road to Deer Run Released. Give us some background on this one.

This book is actually inspired by my own 4th great grandparents during the American Revolution. It definitely made the writing a personal endeavor! Here is the synopsis:

 The year is 1777 and the war has already broken the heart of Mary Thomsen, a nineteen-year-old colonial woman from Massachusetts. Her brother, Asa is dead — killed by the King’s army—so when she stumbles across a wounded British soldier, her sense of right and wrong is challenged. Should she help a soldier of the enemy who took her brother’s life, or let him die, cold and alone?

The war has also broken British soldier Daniel Lowe’s spirit. A severely wounded prisoner of war, he escaped his rebel captors while on a death march to Boston. As the pain in his injured leg worsens, he wonders if the young woman looking down at him is an angel or the enemy.

Need and compassion bring these two young lives together, but will the bitterness of war keep them apart? Or can they find their way to love and forgiveness on the Road to Deer Run?

These were great books, especially for those of us who like historical fiction set in these periods.

Thank you so much. I personally love to read historical fiction as well!

Thank you so much for dropping by to visit with us. I know your fans are excited to hear you have books coming out this year.

Thanks so much for having me as your guest!

Keep us posted on your books.

Elaine would love to hear from you so be sure and catch up with her on her blog:

http://www.elainemariecooper.com/blog/

And her website:

http://www.elainemariecooper.com/

Until next time, Happy Reading.

 

Getting To Know Authors-All Through The Year.

We have enjoyed so much visiting with authors Amanda Kyle Williams, Irene Hannon, Gail Martin Gaymer, Jamie Langston Turner and Robin Lee Hatcher. Each one in their own right are very successful authors.

Amanda Kyle Williams is a  contemporary American crime writer best known for her Keye Street series of novels.

Irene Hannon is an edge-of-the-seat suspense writer and writer of heartwarming romance.

Gail Martin Gaymer writes great romance and suspense novels.

Robin Lee Hatcher is known for her heartwarming and emotionally charged stories of faith, courage, and love.

Jamie Langston Turner writes Christian Fiction with warmth and vivid detail.

Be sure and check out their books for the holidays at http://www.southernwritersbookstore.com

 

Don't Talk to Strangers Amanda Kyle Williams

DeceivedSide     Irene Hannon

BettertoSeeYou2      Gail Gaymer Martin

Love-Without-End       Robin Lee Hatcher

to see moon       Jamie Langston Turner

Check out their interviews in Southern Writers Magazine  Irene Cover 8620211

We hope you will visit their websites, get to know them, let them know how much you enjoy their books. They are always glad to hear from their readers and if you have questions about the book, be sure and ask them.

Thank you for joining us to visits with these terrific authors.

Come back soon and see who will be joining us for the next round of visits from authors!

Amanda Kyle Williams-

 

 

thebigthrill.org

thebigthrill.org

Amanda Kyle Williams is a contemporary American crime writer best known for her Keye Street series of novels.

Welcome Amanda, we are delighted to have you here today and since it is cold outside we’ve made a delicious hot flavored coffee for you.

vanilla ginger145084med

Vanilla-Ginger Café Latte.

2 teaspoons finely chopped candied ginger or ginger syrup, 4 ounces espresso, 2 tablespoons Vanilla Flavor NESTLE COFFEE-MATE NATURAL BLISS All-Natural Coffee Creamer, 1 cup steamed low-fat milk. Place 1 teaspoon of ginger in each large mug or tall heatproof glass. Brew 2 ounces of espresso over ginger in each cup; stir well. Stir in 1 tablespoon of Coffee-mate in each cup; top with ½ cup steamed low-fat milk in each cup. Serves 2. (go to https://www.coffee-mate.com website for this recipe.

Thanks for having me.

I have to tell you I like your book covers. Even if I didn’t know you as an author, I would grab your books. Now, I understand that you took some courses to prepare yourself for writing in this particular genre.

Well, I knew I wanted to create a character with some layers, a past, some wrong turns, a trained criminal investigative analyst now working in the private sector. I needed to understand how a behavioral analyst might approach a crime scene and how they might work with law enforcement. A year before I started the series in earnest, I found criminal profiler and forensic analyst Brent Turvey, who was teaching basic criminal profiling courses geared to law enforcement. I took his course and it was incredibly helpful, and, I thought, fascinating. I then took a course called Practical Homicide Investigation from a seasoned cop named Vernon Gerberth. I wanted a foundation in procedure, a sense of how local homicide investigations work. I also worked with a PI firm here in Atlanta, and I was a licensed process-server. All of that informed my writing in a real way.

Wow, no wonder your writing is so good in this genre and so believable. I noticed on your website, http://www.amandakylewilliams.com that you actually have a page that gives your readers Keye Street’s complete bio. That is truly one of the reasons I think she seems so real to your readers. It is for me.

What was the one thing that stood out in your mind about this field?

About writing? It’s harder than I thought it would be. I’m usually the one rolling my eyes when I hear someone who has the privilege of writing full-time say something like that. Who was it that said, “It’s not the writing, it’s the thinking”? It’s also the discipline and the focus, and if you want to produce, it’s about silencing that internal editor. I have one of those on my shoulder every day. I’m that writer who obsesses on a page for three days. I don’t think I realized there are all these internal psychological battles waged just to sit down and write, or paint, or whatever you do. I remember reading a little book called The War of Art that talks about all the ways your flesh and your mind will rise up against you when you begin to create—you’re hungry, you’re thirsty, you’re thinking about that spot on the window, whatever. I’m getting better at being still. And I’m getting better at pushing through to the next scene and promising that little editor on my shoulder we can go back to it later.

I know you spend a great deal of time writing and researching, but what do you do for fun?

I spend time with my animals. They’re always good for a laugh. If I can scare myself enough when I’m writing that I have to get up and walk my dogs, I’m doing my job. My 3 rescued mutts and 5 cats enjoy having a writer at home. And I cook. It’s therapy. Unfortunately, I have a talent for baking, which is catching up with me. I’m going to need to walk the dogs a lot faster.

I know you are passionate about animals and have been active in the humane community for a long time and also  one of the founding directors at Lifeline Animal Project, a nonprofit, no-kill animal welfare organization. (To learn more about this organization go to http://lifelineanimal.org/.)

Yes, Lifeline Animal Project is an Atlanta-based non-profit organization working on collaborative solutions to end pet overpopulation and stop the euthanasia of healthy and treatable dogs and cats in shelters. Lifeline’s focus is to promote the adoption of homeless pets and to initiate and support effective spay and neuter programs.

I know you are a supporter also of The Fugees Family.  Fugees Family, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization devoted to working with child survivors of war.   (For more information visit  http://www.fugeesfamily.org/.) It’s great when authors take their time and talents to help organizations who help others and animals.

Don't Talk to StrangersYour book that released this year, Don’t Talk To Strangers is really a grab you and put you on the edge of your seat book. Just reading the description makes you want to find ou more.  Tell us a little about it.

It’s about two bodies found tin he woods of Whisper, Georgia. One recently dead, the other decayed from a decade of exposure to the elements. The sheriff is going to need help to track down an experienced predator—one who abducts girls and holds them for months before ending their lives. Enter ex–FBI profiler and private investigator Keye Street. Though reluctant to head out into the country, Keye agrees to assist Sheriff Ken Meltzer. Once in Whisper, where the locals have no love for outsiders, Keye starts to piece together a psychological profile: The killer is someone who stalks and plans and waits. But why does the sociopath hold the victims for so long, and what horrible things must they endure? When a third girl goes missing, Keye races against time to connect the scant bits of evidence. All the while, she cannot shake the chilling feeling: Something dark and disturbing lives in these woods—and it is watching her every move.

It’s amazing how you can write words that grab your reader and take them into the world you are writing about and feel the emotions of the people in the story.  Your other two books with Keye Street are just as explosive. Strangers in the Room and The Stranger You Seek.

stranger in thesroom       The Stranger you seek

I know your research is  intensive. Tell us about it and also what  is the scariest research you’ve ever done?

Preparing to write the series took some focus and work. Not having a background in law enforcement or in criminal profiling, I had to make sure I could reach down into that world and pull out something authentic.  But this is where my interests lie, so I enjoy that kind of research. For the individual books, it’s really specific. For example, I needed to know if tear fluids would fluoresce while I was working on one of the Keye Street novels. I was having a tough time finding an answer. I reached out to the GBI’s Coastal Regional Medical Examiner, Dr. Jamie Downs and to criminologist, Brent Turvey who always reminds me that nothing is certain that circumstances—humidity, light, temperature—are different in every case, at every crime scene. If you’re interested, the right answer was it’s possible for tear fluids to fluoresce with an alternate light source under the right circumstances. Truth is, most fiction writers don’t use a 10th of their research. We’re not writing technical manuals. But understanding a subject gives you the confidence you need to put believable language in your character’s mouth and the self-assurance to place that character in whatever environment you choose.

What frightened me most during the research process? Studying real cases, violent serial offenders—the crime scene reconstruction, blood spatter, wound analysis, the criminal analyst’s interpretation based on the physical evidence, interviews with offenders. That’s when I began to get a sense of what it’s like in those terrifying, chaotic moments for a victim. Real life monsters, the ones that have no capacity for empathy, that remain unmoved regardless of victim suffering. That’s what scares me. And, oddly, it’s what draws me to crime fiction. Maybe there’s power in writing what frightens you.

Name a few fun facts you learned while researching some of your books.

Since my research tends to run on the dark side, there’s not a lot of laugh out loud moments, but my books are peppered with them. Keye Street has a deeply irreverent (and sometimes inappropriate) sense of humor. And I love the idea of a very dark thriller having those light moments. It’s a tightrope for a writer. You never want to slow the pace in crime fiction. I remember when my Random House editor read my revision of the first book, The Stranger You Seek, she commented on these transitions in the book from light to dark. She thought it worked. I was thrilled. I absolutely love the idea of pulling a big laugh out of someone, then wiping that smile off their face in the very next scene. Is that wrong?

Not at all, and you do it so well!

Some of your readers would love to know what you did before becoming a writer.

I was a house painter, a property manager, a sales rep, a commercial embroiderer, a courier, a VP of manufacturing at a North Georgia textile mill, and owned Latch Key Pets, a pet sitting and dog walking business. I also worked with a PI firm in Atlanta on surveillance operations, and became a court-appointed process-server. I contributed to short story collections, wrote small press novels and worked as  freelance writer for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. We do what we have to do to keep the lights on while we’re waiting for that big break.  Working as a process-server and with PI and courier firms in Atlanta was wonderful preparation for developing the Keye Street character.  It takes time and work to find that unique voice as a writer, and for that voice to reach pitch.  And more time to then develop a character that’s the perfect vehicle for that voice.

Tell us about developing Keye Street. 

She’s slightly damaged, seriously flawed; a sober alcoholic with a mighty Krispy Kreme doughnut addiction.  She makes jokes to avoid intimacy.  She’s more afraid of heartbreak than she is of whipping out her ten millimeter Glock.  She feels real to me.

I know it takes time to develop a character and how important it is to make your protagonist likable yet flawed without turning anyone off. You have done a great job in creating her. She is very likeable, and says what we would love to say sometimes yet she feels so human because of her flaws. Thank you for perfecting your craft and writing these thrillers. Look forward to the next one.

Irene Cover 8620211You were just in Southern Writers Magazine, the September/October issue. I wrote the interview piece. I really enjoyed writing that interview. In there you went into discussion on Find The Right Voice. If you readers want to read that interview just go to this site to get a copy of that issue www.southernwritersmagazine.com/subscribe.html.

I want to thank you for visiting today. I’ve enjoyed it.

Me Too!

And for our readers, we are so glad you joined us today. Be sure and email Amanda when you read her books. She is always glad to hear from you and if you have questions, be sure and ask them. Check out her website to learn more about her upcoming books for next year.

Follow her on her  website, Facebook, twitter. If you are in a book club, go to her website www.amandakylewilliams.com and click on book clubs.

Email:

To contact Amanda directly, you may email her at amanda@amandakylewilliams.com

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