Category Archives: Interviews

The Truth Is More Sinister

Chris Kelsey
Chris Kelsey Author Interview

Ain’t Nothin’ Personal follows a suspended police chief who is pulled into an old unsolved case that turns into a murder investigation with ties to powerful people. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

In a somewhat oblique way, the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre inspired this one. I grew up in Oklahoma in the 1970s, a time when explicit racism in the south (and I consider Oklahoma part of the deep south) was a way of life. I was in my 40s before I ever heard of the Tulsa massacre. Can you imagine something like that being covered up for so long? The coverup in Ain’t Nothin’ Personal is similar. The only African-American family in town has their house burned down. They disappear and people think they just moved away. No one talks about if for years, until an old racist makes a death bed confession and everyone realizes the truth is more sinister.

Emmett Hardy is an interesting and well developed character. What were some driving ideals behind his character’s development?

Emmett’s a mixture of crime fiction/film archetypes: the plain-spoken dispenser of frontier justice in the tradition of Will Kane in High Noon or the title character in Shane; the enigmatic, emotionally tortured detective in Phillip Kerr’s Bernie Gunther novels; the socially conscious righter of wrongs that you find on Per Wahloo and Maj Sjowell’s Beck mysteries. I should also mention Lieutenant Joe Leaphorn in Tony and Anne Hillerman’s books, Craig Johnson’s Walt Longmire, as well as all the classic hard drinkers in noir literature, from Sam Spade to Phillip Marlowe to the twisted misfits found in every Jim Thompson story. What they all have in common (with the exception of Thompson’s creations), is their drive to do what they think is the right thing, regardless of the consequences to themselves.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

Do the right thing. Love each other, love yourself. Greed is not good. Power corrupts. Be kind; we’re all in this together.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

My next one is the fourth Emmett Hardy mystery, Junker Blues. It’s in the hands of my beta readers as we speak. It fast-forwards from where Ain’t Nothin’ Personal ends in the late ‘60s to the day Richard Nixon resigns the presidency in 1974. The OPEC oil embargo has rejuvenated the oil industry. Emmett’s Burr, Oklahoma is now a boom town. With the boom come ingredients for the inevitable bust, however—not least, an illegal drug problem and attendant violence the small rural community is ill-equipped to deal with. It’s scheduled to be released in June 2022 by Black Rose Writing.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

After a kidnap-for-hire plot results in the death of a young boy, Burr police chief Emmett Hardy blames himself and has an alcohol-fueled breakdown. His life at a crossroads, Hardy checks into the hospital for treatment, only to discover upon his release that he’s been suspended from duty. When a dying prisoner contacts him about a long-forgotten unsolved case, Emmett-temporarily at loose ends-begins an informal investigation.

Soon he becomes a target of violence himself, as his investigation becomes a murder probe implicating the most powerful men in town. Hardy is forced to relive one of the most traumatic events of his childhood, and faces the possibility that members of his own family may have been involved in the crime.

Ultimately, with Emmett’s tenuous grasp on sobriety slipping and his moral foundation shifting beneath his feet, the answer to the question, “Who do I trust?” becomes a matter of life and death.

That SOB Deserved That!

Gary Hickman
Gary Hickman Author Interview

The Light Reapers follows an elite team on a mission to rescue a scientist while battling hordes of zombies. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

I initially wrote the story during COVID and I was thinking about how the zombies were created. As I thought through different options, the media kept saying CORONA Virus and that stuck with me. For my first book, I wanted to write something that I was familiar with but also wanted to have fun with it. I have always loved zombies since I first saw Dawn of the Dead (the original). Zombies and the military seemed like a good combination. I mean, plenty of people had done it before successfully, so why not me? There are actually quite a few events in the book that were based on real life. The fighting, the tactics used, the interactions between some of the characters all had a significant influence on what I wrote. There are a few of the characters who are based on real people I served with. I obviously removed the enemies and put in the infected, changed the names and locations due to counterintelligence reasons, but most were still based on truth.

This seemed like a fun book to write. What scene in the story did you have the most fun writing?

Chapter 19, the scene with Randy. I didn’t like writing the situation so much, but the end result I had quite a bit of pleasure writing. Something in most books that aggrivates me is the vilan causes all this pain and suffering only to be shot dead to fall off a building. I wanted there to be some moments in the book where people said, “Yeah!”, that SOB deserved that!

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

Brotherhood of the soldiers. Acceptance of the others whowere not originally part of the team. Retribution on those who chose to do evil, even though the apocalypse was on them. Just shows some people’s true character. I wanted to show that even though there lies no obligation to people, they stucktogetherand made a life as best they could.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

I am working on the sequel to The Light Reapers, this one is “The Light Reapers: Fight for a New Beginning”. The book is about 80% complete as far as writing. Then comes the editing. I could have done much better on the editing of the first book, so I am hiring a professional to edit the second book.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

The Light Reapers are a Special Operations Unit who had served numerous campaigns together. They were an expertly trained and elite group, but could they ever prepare for what was to happen next.
Under a shroud of darkness and maliciousness, a viral weapon was being produced by an alliance of terrorists bent on the destruction of their respective enemies. When double-crossed by an ISIS faction, the viral weapon is stolen and prematurely unleashed on the planet.
Now facing a worldwide epidemic, The Light Reapers are deployed to rescue a scientist who may be able to develop an antidote. If that wasn’t difficult enough, they also must track down the ISIS faction and eliminate them. All while battling hordes of the infected.

What does school look like now?

Suzy Beamer Bohnert
Suzy Beamer Bohnert Author Interview

College, Covid, and Questions provides tips and advice for both parents and students that are preparing to go to college during these tumultuous times. Why was this an important book for you to write?

The whole Covid experience has turned everyday school upside down. I wanted to try to smooth the path to get to a more normal way of schooling.

Covid hasn’t gone away—and may never go away completely—but hopefully this book can bring normalcy to a person’s college experience than would typically be the case.

What is a common misconception you feel people have about going to college?

The students think everything must have changed a lot since their parents were in school. However, the practical things are much the same, and we all need to know about those.

Keeping track of your health, especially with Covid, is so important. You need to follow the rules. The details have changed, but the bigger-picture issues have stayed the same—such as health, eating, and living quarters.

What were some ideas that were important for you to explore in this book?

With Covid, yes, health has always been a concern, but how does Covid change a person’s approach to maintaining their health?

Some of the latest learning techniques, including virtual and hybrid, have changed things in the classroom setting and so has technology. What does school look like now?

What do you hope is one thing readers take away from your book?

Taking care of all the practical, everyday ins and outs of things will make the entire college experience so much better.

Author Links: GoodReads | Website | LinkedIn | Amazon

College, Covid, and Questions: Tips and Advice for Incoming Freshmen, Undergraduates, Transfer Students, and Parents

Millions of people are considering going on to college, but there are so so many choices and questions that need consideration and answers. Not only when and where do you want to go to school, but once you’ve made the decision, how do you prepare? Once on campus, how do you take advantage of all the opportunities at college and beyond? What type of school-community college, four-year university, public, or private?
Whether you’re in high school, the mom or dad of a university student, taking a gap year or a college transfer student, making a career change, finishing a military career, or enduring a bad job market, this book is for you. Or, maybe you were waiting for your dream school, and received an acceptance.
College, Covid, and Questions will help you to know:
– School essentials during coronavirus
– Considerations when buying a computer
– Technology to succeed in school
– Characteristics to look for in a tutor
– Advice on help with accommodations and services from the Center for Accessibility Services
– Advantages and disadvantages of campus meal plans
– Hints and tips when seeking an internship
– Tips to get along with roommates
– Academic advisors-your role and theirs
Simple, clear answers about coronavirus and college, classes, internships, campus dining, dorms, roommates and residence life, academic advisors and mentors, clubs, recreational activities, and getting back home.
This is the essential guide to navigating the college journey successfully in these unprecedented times.

Different Than I Imagined

Author Interview
Jonathan Durham Author Interview

Winterset Hollow follows a group of friends who discover the truth behind their favorite story is darker and more dangerous than they imagined. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

I’m always interested in telling stories that are based in reality but twist on genre conventions…stories that begin in a normal, recognizable world, but end up somewhere completely different. I wish there was some blinding moment of clarity that sparked this particular story, but there really wasn’t…I was just sitting around one day and wondered how I would feel if I went to The Hundred Acre wood and found that the animals from Winnie the Pooh were actually real…and then I wondered what would happen if they were actually completely different that I imagined them to be…and then I basically just began branching that idea off into darker and darker directions until I felt I had something interesting enough to develop. My process is utterly mechanical, so the answer to the inspiration question is always disappointingly unromantic lol.

Your characters are intriguing and well developed. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?

Well, I wanted them to feel familiar but also fresh, but they also needed to be complex and scarred and duplicitous in a way…they needed to present themselves as one thing but be another completely different thing in reality for the story to function correctly. One of the things that helped me shape them though is that initially I wanted each of them to represent a different mental health issue that I sometimes struggle with—depression, anxiety, imposter syndrome, and OCD—and though that turned out ot be more of a seed than a rule to follow as they developed, you can still see the footprint of that idea in their makeup.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

This book is in large part about the gray of the world—the double edges that most things have. In that respect, I wanted to explore the dangers as well as the wonderful parts of nostalgia, the ups and downs of family history, and accordingly, both the pros and the cons of having a family in the first place lol. Apart from that, I always find the dynamic between power and perversion interesting as well as the lasting impact of those that have passed on…and of course, it’s no secret that this book deals a lot with the scars of our upbringings and how they shape us throughout our lives.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

Well, I’m still in the development process for a few different stories, so it’s a bit early on in the game to say… but it’s either going to be a dark thriller with the framing of historical fiction, or another contemporary dark fantasy set in the world of moviemaking…either way it should be ready to roll late next year, so keep an eye out!

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

Everyone has wanted their favorite book to be real, if only for a moment. Everyone has wished to meet their favorite characters, if only for a day. But be careful in that wish, for even a history laid in ink can be repaid in flesh and blood, and reality is far deadlier than fiction . . . especially on Addington Isle.
Winterset Hollow follows a group of friends to the place that inspired their favorite book—a timeless tale about a tribe of animals preparing for their yearly end-of-summer festival. But after a series of shocking discoveries, they find that much of what the world believes to be fiction is actually fact, and that the truth behind their beloved story is darker and more dangerous than they ever imagined. It’s Barley Day . . . and you’re invited to the hunt.
Winterset Hollow is as thrilling as it is terrifying and as smart as it is surprising. A uniquely original story filled with properly unexpected twists and turns, Winterset Hollow delivers complex, indelible characters and pulse- pounding action as it storms toward an unforgettable climax that will leave you reeling. How do you celebrate Barley Day? You run, friend. You run.

Self-Sacrifice on Multiple Levels

S. Lee Fisher
S. Lee Fisher Author Interview

Under the Grapevine is the second book in your riveting family saga, The Women of Campbell County. What were some new ideas you wanted to introduce in this book that were different from book one?

I wanted the reader to know that love is powerful and can overcome deceit and hatred. Despite having a wretched mother, the Bailey children develop into adults, minimally scathed, due to the nurturing of Tabs’ love.

What were some challenges you set for yourself as a writer with this book?

My biggest challenge writing Under the Grapevine was the transition from Olive to Harriett as the main character. It’s difficult for Olive’s impudence to play second chair.

What were some obstacles in the story that you felt were important to defining your characters?

Life during the first half of the last century is often depicted as a simpler lifestyle. I wanted to remind my readers that living through the Great Depression and WWII was complicated and stressful, resulting in self-sacrifice on multiple levels.

What can readers expect in the next book in The Women of Campbell County series?

The next book in The Women of Campbell County series revolves around Harriett coming into her own, garnering the education her mother coveted, and succeeding as a corporate woman. In contrast, it also follows her husband Eddy’s journey after being drafted into the Army. Unlike the first two books which cover several decades, Hill House Divided, takes place over three years, 1950 to 1953.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

The entire country is in upheaval, and so is she. Can one broken woman survive the coming storms?

Western Pennsylvania, 1925. Olive Westchester brims with bitter, unrealized potential. Refusing to visit her father’s deathbed and forgive him for her beloved brother’s passing, she turns her attention to completing the schooling she always coveted. But her anticipation erupts into rage when a fifth unplanned pregnancy torpedoes her longed-for future.

As the years pass and America suffers from the Great Depression, Olive painfully faces shattered dreams of reaching medical school and independence. And when her youngest daughter inherits her smarts and seizes an opportunity for higher education, Olive’s unhappiness threatens to swallow her whole.

Will she ever find the success and achievement she so desperately craves?

Under the Grapevine is the gripping second book in The Women of Campbell County: Family Saga women’s fiction series. If you like deeply drawn characters, historical authenticity, and true-life dilemmas, then you’ll love S. Lee Fisher’s emotional journey.

Buy Under the Grapevine to struggle for a brighter tomorrow today!

More Realistic

Author Interview
Deven Greene Author Interview

Unwitting follows Dr. Rosen who discovers an autistic man with information on a terrorist who is bombing public places. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

I wanted to write a story about an autistic individual—not the high-functioning type usually portrayed in movies and TV. I wanted my character to be more realistic, representative of those who are severely impaired in terms of communication and social interactions.

Dr. Rosen is an intriguing and well developed character. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?

Being a physician myself, I think she represents the ideals most physicians hold to be important. The large majority of those who go into the field have a strong moral compass and want to help others, so her behaviour wasn’t a stretch.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

I wanted to show a realistic view of the difficulties faced by autistic individuals, and those who care for them.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

I am working on the third book in the Erica Rosen MD Trilogy. This book will be called Unforeseen and deals with the pharmaceutical industry. I’m hoping it will be available mid-2022.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Website

Dr. Erica Rosen’s world is turned upside down after a suicide bomber explodes amidst a large crowd entering Oracle Park baseball stadium, near her San Francisco home. Many are killed or injured, and police have no leads in solving the case.

Erica becomes involved after a teacher of young autistic men calls her. The teacher believes her students are involved in the bombing but is afraid to contact law enforcement. She reaches out to Erica, who has experience with special needs children.

Erica arrives at the school but finds the police already there and a young autistic man doing a jigsaw puzzle, oblivious to his murdered teacher on the floor. The young man has information about the mastermind behind the bombing but has limited ability to speak. Erica is determined to protect him, prevent further bombings, and find his missing classmates.

Throughout This Ordeal

Author Interview
Larry Singleton Author Interview

Prayers and Po-boys tells your inspirational true story battling and surviving cancer. Why was this an important book for you to write?

I think that despite how much cancer has touched all of our lives, there is still so much that goes overlooked and I wanted to highlight the struggles of not only patients, but caregivers as well.

I appreciated how candid you were in the book. What was the hardest thing for you to write about?

There were several aspects that were hard to discuss, but I think that the fear and uncertainty was definitely the hardest.

What is one piece of advice you wish someone had given you when you were first diagnosed?

Throughout this ordeal, just trust the process and most importantly, trust God.

What do you hope readers take away from your story?

I hope that readers understand the true struggles that accompany having, surviving, and giving care to those with cancer and that they continue to pray for the families and friends of those who lost their battles to this terrible disease.

Author Links: Facebook | Twitter

Prayers and Po-Boys is the author’s account of his own journey with cancer, taking readers from the earth-shattering diagnosis, to the ups and downs of chemotherapy, and ultimately to Singleton’s miraculous recovery. He details not only the physical pain he dealt with, but the mental and spiritual toll both cancer and chemotherapy took on his life.
Readers will find themselves inspired by Singleton’s courage in the face of everything cancer had to throw at him, including the extreme side effects that accompany chemotherapy. Prayers and Po-Boys will both touch and uplift audiences as they experience firsthand the trials Singleton experienced as both a cancer patient, and survivor.

The Historical Conflict

Ross Davis
Ross Davis Author Interview

Friendship’s Gallop follows two boys who’s friendship is tested when the Cavalry attempts to purge the Indian boy’s tribe from the frontier. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

The inspiration for the setup was largely the historical conflict between Indians and non-Indians in America, especially back in the 1800s, such as the battles of Wounded Knee and the Little Bighorn, forced assimilation of Indians in Christian missionary schools, and so on. (Aside from such unfortunate conflict, there’s been instances of cooperation, such as the Navajo code talkers of World War 2, and the contributions of Indian performing and fine artists to American culture up to the present.)

Another inspiration was my experience living in South Dakota for a couple of years, where I befriended Indians from the Sioux tribes out there. Considering the potential to look beyond one’s own race or culture, despite the differences with someone else’s, there nevertheless exists a cultural universal—friendship. And a basis for this is that we’re all ultimately of one race—the human race.

The setup was initially written to be more benign, where David would first meet up with Painting Horse and Red Owl under friendly terms. Yet revising the setup to be more dramatic, involving a physical confrontation based on a misunderstanding, provided more of a basis or contrast from which to develop the story further.

Your characters are interesting and well developed. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?

A precursor to driving ideals behind the development of David’s or Painting Horse’s character was the innocence of youth: David and Painting Horse first met when they were in their early teens, when they were still somewhat in their formative years, and not so entrenched in adult ways—good or bad–of their respective cultures. This allowed for some flexibility in developing a friendship at that age despite coming from different cultures.

Beyond that, some of the driving ideals behind each character’s development, especially while they were in their teens, were that David and Painting Horse would likely still be trying to have fun as kids or young adults, while also trying to survive the more primitive life back then out on the American frontier. Painting Horse and David were essentially two main protagonists in the story, versus a customary tendency to have just one main one. It allowed for more intricacy in the story. While their friendship was a way to show commonality, their differing cultures was a way to show contrast. To give more nuance, Painting Horse was intended to be somewhat more stoic than David, given he contended with greater challenges later in the story.

The element of music entered into the story as a common way for the characters to communicate and bond, by performing their instruments together (music—“the universal language”).

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

Some of the important themes that I wanted to explore in the book was of course friendship, in addition to courage, culture, and history. I wanted to explore the potential to maintain a friendship even under life-threatening conditions that can potentially pit two friends against each other. That’s where courage and culture comes in: How much courage it takes to overcome the risks of being stigmatized or more if one goes counter-culture to sustain a friendship if it’s really important to do so. And it becomes more of a test as David and Painting Horse meet up years later as adults, when they become more entrenched in their ways relative to their own cultures. And going back in history makes the story more interesting in an exotic yet still down to earth way: Back then it wasn’t the majesty of driving a new SUV, but rather riding a capable horse, which of course was a historical fact of everyday life back in the late 1800s. The story is loosely based on historical fact, so it also can be sort of a lesson in American history.

Ultimately, while the book invokes history involving Indians and non-Indians in the American West in the late 1800s, hopefully a reader can appreciate the themes such that they can also apply to the more recent past or even today.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

I don’t have a next book in the works at the moment, as far as fiction. It’s conceivable that Friendship’s Gallop could be expanded beyond a short story to something approaching a full-length novel; it depends in part on the level of reader interest in an expanded version.

Author Links: GoodReads | Website

A homesteader’s son and a Lakota Indian boy become steadfast friends
through music, horsemanship, and simple adventure. However, their friendship is ultimately tested as they are forced to choose sides amid the Cavalry’s attempt to purge the Indian boy’s tribe from the frontier.
%d bloggers like this: