Category Archives: Interviews
I Have Demons is a collection of stories following three characters grappling with the demons in their lives. What served as your inspiration while writing these stories?
Fiction is usually built at the crossroads where self-reflection, your surroundings as you perceive them, and your imagination meet. I Have Demons is character-driven and each protagonist is an amalgam of people I have met–even if for fleeting moments–creative license and of me. The idea for the first story, “An Alpine Lodge Special,” was sparked from my observations of the regular patrons who frequent a Canadian coffee shop chain and a restaurant located a few blocks from where I live in Ottawa’s historically Francophone east-end. It seemed as though the same elderly people would congregate here on a regular basis; merely by their presence they would add colour with their rich memories and lived experiences to an otherwise humdrum and drab restaurant franchise. More often than not, everyday people are, in fact, extraordinary.
The story “David and Franco” is probably something to which most people at the cusp of their adult lives can relate. I think we were all David once: we begin adulthood with idealism and grand ideas, perhaps even a missionary zeal of sorts, as we tend to have some very definite ideas of ethics and the world around us. It can be exciting, overwhelming and full of promise, even when we don’t have money, and when a good job and a proper livelihood seem difficult to attain. But does life experience temper our idealism and compromise our values?
The story that stands sandwiched between these two and provides the title for the anthology is also the “heart” of my book. I am not a priest, but I have been involved quite closely with the Catholic Church for many years and I can relate to the protagonist, Fr. Solomon. I’ve encountered Father Solomons along the way. This thirty-something priest is also the character that probably includes more fragments of my own personality than any other in the book.
Each character has their own challenge they must face. What were some themes you felt were important to capture?
Sometimes people we don’t expect to be marginalized in contemporary society do, in fact, live on the peripheries. This does not mean that they perceive themselves to be victims of oppression, even if they are forgotten or disadvantaged. In their own way, perhaps with limited success, they display a degree of agency as they journey towards the centre and attempt to make their voice heard.
I find that, while writing, writers sometimes ask questions and have the characters answer them. Do you find that to be true? What questions did you ask yourself while writing this story?
Creating characters and building narratives with them can be a process of discovery for the author. Inevitably, you begin to see the world around you through eyes other than your own. No character is completely divorced from the author, who is after all the creator of these people and their worlds. Yet if the goal is to tell a story credibly, the author must make a best effort to walk in the shoes of others.
One of the questions I asked myself is whether or not the Divine still exists in a mostly secular society. As the Catholic Church and mainline Protestant churches become more marginal to, and even absent from, the lives of the majority, where does that leave the concept of a Divine presence in the world–if, indeed, there is one? Writing these stories helped me better imagine the possibility of the Divine’s implicit and mediated, yet real presence in the world, through every living creature. This isn’t a new concept at all. The idea that everyone we meet, whether friend, foe or stranger, represents part of the image of God, is the fundamental underpinning of the Catholic and Christian faith, and the Jewish tradition too. Yet it can be a hard teaching to embrace. Fiction can help.
What is the next story that you are working on and when will it be available?
I’m working on my first novel, which will see a return of Fr. Solomon. I feel he’s a character with still more potential and room to grow. As for when this work may be available–I fear that I would make for a very bad clairvoyant, so I’ll have to give an evasive answer to this question. Scene by scene, I have been working on this new story since the spring. Once I’m done, my fate, and that of my novel, will rest in the hands of potential publishers.
A jaded young priest of a dwindling parish faces a man with a terrible secret. A lonely pensioner spends a Thanksgiving she’ll never forget at a local diner, served by an acerbic waitress who has finally found her ticket out of there. A recent university graduate from small-town Ontario leaves home with nothing to his name but the hope of a new life in the city and places all his trust in a charismatic yet dubious life coach.
Lyrical language, at times haunting, and moments of dry humour weave through the three novellas in this collection. Set in and around Ottawa, Ontario, these stories examine the peripheries of society. In the characters’ journey toward the centre, they navigate flawed human relationships, seek to encounter a divine presence that is at once implicitly present yet dreadfully distant, and struggle to negotiate the conditions of redemption.
The Enchanters’ Child follows three unlikely allies on a quest to find the sorcerer as they try to keep their identities secret. What was the inspiration for the setup to this thrilling story?
A hero on a journey to defeat the main villain is a common story arc that I sought to put my own twist on. Since I was a kid, I have always been an avid reader and I often found myself being drawn to the magical worlds I could transport myself to. I loved the idea of creating a world where anything was possible whether that is through magic and otherworldly creatures. Inspired by these stories, I decided to write a fictional fantasy story of my own.
Wren, Quinn, and Zayne are all intriguing and well developed characters. What were some driving ideals behind their character development?
The characters of Wren, Zayne, and Quinn are inspired by everyday teenagers. The way through which they struggle and attempt to find their identities is what makes them the most relatable. Despite this common journey to their identities, each one of them has experienced unique circumstances in their life that mold their beliefs and unique individuality. For Wren, the death of her parents causes her to become a determined, brave person that will do anything to find justice for the ones she loves. However, her thirst for revenge soon morphs into her own character flaw through failing to enjoy and live in the present. Zayne’s determining characteristic is his steadfast loyalty, whether that is to his kingdom or to his friends. His sense of duty is what drives him to aid in defeating the main antagonist as well as his empathy towards the world in which he lives in, as shown in his tenacity to find the killer of the many bodies that mysteriously begin to appear. Yet, his duty is the very thing that keeps him from his desires as he struggles with going against his father’s power and expectations. Last but not least, Quinn initially is a character portrayed to be callous and emotionless, with his only objective being to follow his orders, even if that means killing others to achieve it. Despite this, as the story progresses, readers discover that even the most notorious assassin has his own reasons for his actions, ones that can even be considered noble. Despite his sinister past, he learns to love the people around him. Quinn is unique in that his weakness is his own self. His own beliefs of his unworthiness and vileness causes him to push away those around him as he grapples between doing what is right and the sacrifices he must make if he chooses to do so.
The backstory to this world is intricate and captivating. What were some themes you wanted to capture while creating your world?
The setting of The Enchanters’ Child was designed to have an enchanting atmosphere, complete with magic and strange beasts. I wanted to capture a world that reminds readers of the fairytale-like worlds that they are familiar with while showing that even the most remarkable places coexist with darker facets such as greed and misused power. Along these lines, I also wanted to capture that there can be beautiful brilliance in the bleakest of places, whether that brilliance is the surroundings around the characters or each other.
What is the next novel that you are working on and when will it be available?
As of now, the date for publishing my next book is tentative; however, I am in the process of writing another work.
Wren has a secret. She’s the last of the Arobol, a group of magic-wielders. After her parents were murdered by a dark entity when she was young, she has been trying to discover who has killed them. However, it wasn’t just anyone; it was the Dark Sorcerer, a being who is believed to exist only in a fairytale. When an unexpected tragedy hits, Wren is forced to flee to town in hopes of finding the leader of the Gavreel Society, said to have information on her parents’ killer.
Zayne has been working for months to uncover the reason behind the dead bodies showing up in multiple towns and the mysterious symbol that is etched into their skin. As Trading Day approaches, he goes to meet with his Gavreel Society to formulate a new plan for uncovering the person behind these killings. Little does he know that he’ll find the solution in a girl, one who’s holding as many secrets as he is.
Quinn is an assassin, killing anyone his Master orders him to kill. Tasked with finding the Enchanters’ Child and bringing her back alive in exchange for his freedom, Quinn won’t let anything get in his way. Yet, when he finally discovers the Enchanters’ Child, he finds himself questioning his ability to fulfill his mission. Weaving a story of deception, he befriends the Enchanters’ Child, but wonders if she is worth his freedom.
As they race to find the Sorcerer, each for their own reasons, secrets come out, powerful enough to tear them apart.
Saving Time follows two unlikely companions who must band together to save Scotland from a nuclear threat. What were some driving ideals behind this story’s development?
Rory is the son of Scott and Caitlin (Stolen Time: Community Chronicles Book 2) and is an emerging leader in a community of survivors founded by his parents. He is the head of his Militia team. Siobhan has grown up in the Scottish Government underground Bunker. She is a child of a scientist member of the Brains Trust, the group of specialists seconded to the Bunker when the world’s situation spiralled downwards after the Stock Market Crash forty-odd years previously. Plus, her team of scientists, technicians and Scottish Defence Force personnel.
These characters, and their respective communities, come from different worlds and have lived under the impression that their ideologies, types of governance, and lifestyles will be at odds. But they find out that they can and, indeed they must, co-operate for the safety of Scotland.
In so doing, they discover they are more aligned and alike than they had been led to believe. Those members of the teams involved, who had previous apprehensions regarding their need to co-operate, find that, with a little effort, they can. But not all are open to this, which causes more problems and threatens the success of the endeavors of the combined team.
I hoped to show that when people put their prejudices, preconceptions, and personal agendas aside they can cooperate and combine their efforts for the common good. And maybe even find something precious along the way, such as acceptance, a unity in common purpose, and even love.
Your characters are methodically and deeply developed. What is your writing process like to bring these characters to life?
I follow loosely the method of character creation outlined by Jeff Gerke in his book Plot Versus Character (2010. Writer’s Digest Books). Donkey was right, we are onions, and I develop my characters a layer at a time beginning with personality type as defined by the Myers-Briggs model. Then I work through the layers including physical appearance, back story etc. and, of course, their internal knot—their inner issue they will be forced to deal with during the course of the story.
For example, Rory is closest to an ISTJ, a sentinel type with defender/protective tendencies. He has a strong sense of responsibility and great loyalty to his family and Community. He struggles with his father’s death and is driven by the need to emulate the hero-figure status of his father. Well, I’ll let readers find out for themselves how that pans out.
What were some new ideas you wanted to explore in this book that were different from the first two books in the Community Chronicles?
I wanted to explore the beginnings of restoration. It is over forty years since the world descended into a dystopian chaos after The Stock Market Crash, and now a hitherto silent government is preparing to go up top and govern the country once more. The situation of a leaking nuclear war head on an abandoned submarine from a rogue state is the catalyst, but is Scotland, and indeed its underground government, ready for it?
What about those who have managed by themselves in this changed world without its leadership or intervention? How will the government diplomatically endeavour to connect with a people who have felt abandoned by them for the past forty years?
I wanted to explore the effects time travel may have on a human. Rory has made the journey to the past previously and does so again in this story. How has it changed him? Does he now have a special relationship with linear time?
Rory has a very different view of time travel than his father, Scott. Rory strongly believes the Time Machine should not be used for personal gain or manipulation and is determined it never will. His greatest fear is that the government will discover its existence.
I cannot wait to read book four in the Community Chronicles series. Where will book four pickup and when will it be available?
I’m so pleased you can’t wait to read Restoring Time. It picks up immediately from Saving Time with Rory desperate to bring Siobhan home. There is plenty of action, more time travel, and we meet once more Derrick Lloyd, from The Crash: Community Chronicles Book 1. All I will say is age has not softened him any.
I’m endeavoring to have this book published by the end of the year.
2061, forty-three years after the stock market disaster which changed the world.
Rory, Militia man and son of Caitlin and Scott Campbell, lives in a self-governed Community that exists independently from the Scottish Government.
Nuclear physicist, Siobhan Kensington-Wallace, has lived underground in the Scottish Government Bunker since the Crash. Along with the other children of the Brains Trust, she has been brought up to believe they are the elite who will bring restoration to Scotland.
Their opposing worlds collide when Rory discovers a submarine leaking radiation into a sea loch in the North Western Highlands. Forced to work together to save Scotland from annihilation, Rory and Siobhan discover more is at stake than neutralizing the current nuclear threat.
Will their attraction cause fallout of another kind…or will their allegiances divide them forever?
Issaura’s Claws follows Lluava as she is forced to take action against stereotyping and inequality in a kingdom divided by racism. What was the inspiration for the setup to this intriguing story?
Growing up in the South, one becomes aware of prejudices around oneself. Personally, I have always had a strong sense of equality whether for race, religion, gender or sexual orientation. As a result, I wanted my debut series to open up a dialogue about prejudice of all sorts. Throughout the Incarn Saga, my four-book series, the main character Lluava is blatantly aware of racial, religious, and gender divisions within her society, and she stands up against them. Yet, even she occasionally comes face to face with the fact that she, too, is influenced by flawed thinking and must overcome those learned behaviors.
Lluava is both strong and intelligent and her character gains depth as the story progresses. What were some driving ideals behind her character development?
I love strong women. I do. From historical figures like Pharaoh Hatshepsut to fictional powerhouses including Ripley from the Alien series or Laura Croft from Tomb Raider, I have always gravitated toward strong, self-confident, and empowered females. In my writing, I choose to focus on heroines that have great inner strengths though they may not all view them that way. As for Lluava, I wanted to shine a light on the fact that women can be smart as well as physically strong. I follow fitness competitors and have competed once myself, so more often than not, I find some time each day to work out in the gym. I also wanted my initial heroine to demonstrate that women can encompass intellect, physical prowess, and a curiosity for the unknown. Yet a good heroine is also flawed. I say this because all people are flawed. No one is perfect. Lluava is hotheaded and overly quick to act at times. As book and series progress, she must recognize and overcome her weaknesses and learn to make better choices — a great goal for every person.
The Kingdom of Elysia consists of humans and the shape-shifting Theriomorphs. Were the backstories for these races planned before writing or did they develop organically while writing?
The true beginning of the idea for the series came from a dream about humans transforming into animals. After that occurred, I was fixated on the concept, going over and over it before ever beginning to write it down. Because of this, the initial backstory of the two races from Issaura’s Claws developed rapidly. Only when nearing the end of my first draft did I realize there were three more books to come. With each subsequent book, I added more depth and complexity to the Kingdom of Elysia and the long and volatile history between the races.
This is book one in the Incarn Saga. What can readers expect in book two of the series, Ullr’s Fangs?
As mentioned earlier, the concept for the final three books came after Issaura’s Claws was almost complete. Because of this, the other books do have a darker, grittier feel as the world expands, the war intensifies, and morality is questioned. In Ullr’s Fangs, Lluava heads to the capital and encounters corruption within Elysia. New characters are introduced including a strong foil for Lluava’s military partner. And the enemy that they thought they had begun to understand is nothing like what they expected.
“According to legend, when the world was young, the goddess Issaura appeared among men. Those who treated her with kindness received the gift of the gods—the ability to transform into an animal form. This was a great honor but one that separated this race from other humans. Before Issaura departed the mortal realm, she promised to return if her people were ever at the point of destruction.
“Now a threat is rising from a land across the mists of the ocean, a threat that will push this race to the brink of extinction. Responding to the call to war, seventeen-year-old Lluava heads off to find her destiny, one that will carve her name in history.”
The Journal follows a young man’s search for his sister who has gone missing in Cambodia and finds more than he thought. What was the inspiration for the setup to this intriguing story?
In my early twenties, I spent two years travelling and working my way around the world. It was an exciting, engaging and enthralling adventure that I will never forget. Travelling on a shoe string budget, I began in Europe, traveled across Russia and China, moved down through South East Asia and into India before going across to Australia and New Zealand and, finally, into South America. I regularly wrote about my experiences whilst I was away and wanted to try to use this to create something, but at the time I wasn’t sure what.
A few years later, whilst doing some creative writing classes, I had an idea for a novel. I wanted to create a story that revolved around the search for meaning. I thought that it would be an interesting concept to try to explore this in the context of someone going on a literal search. I decided upon the idea of a young man searching for his sister after she had disappeared whilst travelling abroad. When I considered the setting for the story, I wanted to be able to authentically represent a part of the world in which the protagonist would instantly feel out of place and yet, at the same time, experience the wonder and amazement that the world can offer.
I liked Ethan’s character and thought he was well developed. What were the driving ideals behind the characters development throughout the story?
I wanted to write a bildungsroman style novel and to explore some of our most fundamental questions, such as: What does it mean to be a human being? Why are we here? How should I live my life? These are questions that everybody considers at some point. It is part of the human condition to question the nature of our lives; we wouldn’t be human if we didn’t. Most of the time we might ignore these questions, or not really consider them. Alternatively, we might push them to the back of our minds, thinking them unimportant in the hectic schedules of our day to day lives. However, as Albert Camus pointed out, these questions and the feelings that they evoke can push in and abruptly occur to us at any point, even just walking around a street corner. At any time we can be struck by the question of what is this really all about? And that feeling of not knowing why we are here and what’s going to happen can be quite powerful.
These questions can feel even more significant when we are on the cusp of adulthood, a time when emotions can run high, we are trying to work out who we are and are still yet to put together the pieces of our lives. When I began to write The Journal I wanted to try to create a character who would capture some of the naivety, anxiety, curiosity and idealism that comes with facing these questions at such a delicate time of life. After some different ideas, I settled on Ethan Willis, a bright, fragile eighteen-year-old boy who often struggles and feels frightened by the uncertainties that life throws at him. In The Journal, I chose to really bring out Ethan’s insecurities by making him have to go look for his absent elder sister who disappeared and was last seen on an adventure in South East Asia.
The story takes place in Cambodia and Laos. Why did you choose these locations for your novel?
When deciding on the location for the story, I turned to the notes I had kept whilst away for inspiration. Reviewing my travel writing and thinking back to my time there, I felt that South East Asia would be the perfect setting for the story. There is such a rich depth of variety, colours, tastes, sounds and experiences in South East Asia that I felt it would be the ideal place to throw my protagonist in at the deep end and highlight his sense of feeling out of place in this world. Travelling in Cambodia, Laos and Thailand can offer a visceral experience in which the beauty, awe and challenge of the world are never too far away.
In creating the world in which the protagonist, Ethan, inhabits, I drew from my memories of the back-packing scene in South East Asia: the conversations with strangers on bus journeys; the late night parties and philosophical discussions; the characters and personalities encountered along the way; the nature and intensity of the fleeting yet meaningful relationships formed in such an environment; the stunning beauty of some of the scenery; the pleasure seeking escape of being somewhere you might never be again; the desire to be individual and meaningful; the recreational drug use and the search for answers; the disdain for, and lack of understanding of, ‘real’ life; and the impact that this industry can have on those who have to live through it.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I have recently finished a first draft of my second novel and am currently beginning the painful process of editing. My second novel is a very different type of story and is a thriller set in a world that is like our own but with one important difference. I hope to have a second draft completed by the end of the year.
Ethan Willis is a confused 18 year old who struggles with the uncertainties of life and has just embarked on a quest to find his elder sister, Charlotte, who disappeared whilst travelling in South East Asia. Ethan admires and idolises his sister for her spontaneity, individualism and worldly understanding. His quest to locate her throws him into the backpacking world and, following what could be his sister’s ghost, he is taken on a journey through the countryside of Cambodia, into the remotest parts of Laos and finally to the party islands of Thailand.
When Ethan finds his sister’s journal by chance, he traces her footsteps. The travel journal, along with flashbacks to their childhood, reveals Charlotte’s nature and her relationship with Ethan, taking the young man on an existential journey as he is led to address many of his questions about meaning, truth and beauty.
With the help of Elodie, a fragile and complex girl with whom he has developed a meaningful relationship, and his own growing sense of self-esteem, Ethan begins to question his relationship with his sister and why she disappeared. When he finally learns of a place in which he might be able to locate his sister, will he be ready to find her?
Left for Dead at Nijmegen follows the extraordinary true story of an American paratrooper in WWII and the challenges he faced to survive in enemy hands. What was the inspiration that made you want to write this biography?
In 2014 I was in the process of drafting a series of WW II first person “remembrance pieces” for a WW II publication. I came upon Gene Metcalfe while researching the subject and drove out to interview him. By the end of the first interview, which ran more than five hours, I knew I had a story that needed to be told in a hard-bound, full-length book.
Life interfered and I was unable to pick up again until the summer of 2017. A publisher, Casemate Publishers, in response to my query, stated an interest in Gene’s story. Gene was all for it so I transcribed my tapes and re-wrote all of my notes into a book outline and began researching. In October, 2017, Gene and I commenced twice weekly meetings. I learned his sense of humor, his views on life and the War and many other aspects of his personality.
I researched every facet of what he relayed to me, and quite a bit more. I found it necessary to read the 1968 biography of Heinrich Himmler “Himmler” (Roger Manvell and Heinrich Frankel) as well as “The Private Heinrich Himmler” (Katrin Himmler and Michael Wildt.) I expended in excess of 2,000 hours piecing together Gene’s story.
As an aside, there is reference to a castle in one of the chapters. I could find no trace of it until I found it was actually referenced in Himmler’s biography. I have a “no stone unturned” research philosophy.
Observing Gene as he described grisly details of his experiences and proceeded to explain how humor got him through the ordeal impressed me. His sketches have a humorous flair too, as one can see from those he drew for the book. I will admit there was more than one time he had me on the edge of my chair, even when I was hearing the story for the 8th time.
The war was a series of ups and downs, sometimes happening in a dizzyingly fast sequence. Gene found it to be a matter of bending to the flow of events or being overwhelmed and succumbing.
I intentionally set out to write a book that conveyed the essence of Gene Metcalfe. In my opinion it was the best approach to truly convey what, and how, he experienced WW II.
The historical accuracy was exceptional in this, even down to the smallest detail. What kind of research did you undertake to write this book?
I read three books, including one book that focused only on the Nijmegen aspect of Market Garden. I researched US Army debriefing reports of POW’s and information on every base where Gene was stationed. I also read after-action reports.
I am a researcher by trade. Along the way I accumulated an entire box of print-outs. What pleased me the most was coming across the most rare and perfectly timed photo possible, the encounter with two older German soldiers. It took me six months to get permission to use the photo. The uniformed Dutch guide in the photo apparently did the “dirty work” and is the man who disappeared before the combat patrol encountered the tank. Mike, the bazooka-man, was carrying a bag of hand-grenades as in the rush to jump from the plane he left his bazooka rockets on the floor.
I understand that your “intention was to convey the essence of” Eugene Metcalfe. What were some important ideas or themes you felt were important to convey to readers about Gene?
I felt it important to provide Gene’s background as the basis for better understanding who he was and why he was/is that man. The fact he was an only child, but “not my mom’s favorite” played a large part in the formation of his personality. He was on his own.
He was talented as an artist and musician and is gifted with the ability to draw or paint anyone or anything he has come into contact with. The sketches in the book, though produced by Gene in 2018, are accurate reproductions from 1944-45.
I wasted little time in establishing his sense of humor. Without it, Gene would not have survived and there would not have been a Left for Dead at Nijmegen.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
Nannini: Midnight Flight to Nuremberg, from the coal mines of Pennsylvania to the Explosive Skies of Nazi Occupied Europe in my next WW II biography and is ready to go. In this new book I actually spent weekends at the subject’s home interviewing him. I anticipate it will be considered to be at least as good as Left for Dead at Nijmegen and is jammed with photos, some of which have never before seen print.
I am in the process of placing Midnight Flight and, and four additional books, with an appropriate publishing house. If all goes as planned, I will have two new books on the market next year.
Left for Dead at Nijmegen recalls the larger-than-life experiences of an American paratrooper, Gene Metcalfe, who served in the 82nd Airborne during WWII. From his recruitment into the military at Camp Grant to his training with the 501st Paratroop Infantry Regiment at Camp Toccoa, it wasn’t until D-Day itself that he first arrived in England to join the 508th PIR.
When Metcalfe boarded the C-47 which would drop him at Groesbeek Heights, just outside of Nijmegen, Holland, he was handed a box of twelve dozen condoms by an over-confident British lieutenant. He was to be among the first to jump into what should have been a picture-book meadow, free of German troops. Instead, it was defended by three German anti-aircraft cannon emplacements.
As he jumped into a hail of bullets and exploding shells he watched his plane roll over and plummet into the ground. It was at that moment he realized the condoms had either been a bad joke or the planners of Operation Market Garden had seriously underestimated German resistance. Gene was listed as KIA and left for dead by his patrol, who presumed the worst when they saw his injuries from a shell explosion.
The rest of his story is equally gripping, as he became a POW held outside Munich, being moved between various camps ridden with disease and a severely undernourished population. Eventually, after making an escape attempt and being captured within sight of the snow-capped Swiss mountains, his camp was liberated by American troops in April 1945.
Gene’s story is both remarkable for his highly unusual encounter, and his subsequent experiences.
Scooter Nation follows two funeral directors trying to hold things together as events spiral out of control. What was the inspiration for the setup to this entertaining novel?
The funeral industry, as it is now often called, is an interesting one in that its policies and practices haven’t really changed since the “modern” funeral home came into being in the 1970s. By that, I mean, larger facilities with multiple visitation suites and staff trained to accommodate not just European traditions, but traditions from around the world.
As a caregiver, the director is tasked with providing services to both the living and the dead; the people left behind need as much care and concern and, yes, expertise as the person who has passed. But approaches are changing in keeping with how society has changed with the arrival of the digital age. Families are now savvy consumers who demand to know what is going on behind closed doors at what cost and why.
All reasonable questions/expectations.
For me, as a funeral director, I was intrigued by the notion of how staff locked down by tradition—the funeral home in Scooter Nation is 70 years old as is a lot of the furniture—would react to change and how far they would go to hang on to the only thing they think they know.
They are a great deal wiser by the end of the novel, I think.
Scooter and Carla were unique and well-developed characters. What were some driving ideals behind their development?
Scooter and Carla are career funeral directors, which means they have been doing their work since high school. Unlike the Weibigands who own and operate the funeral home, Scooter and Carla were not born to it. Because of this, they take a peculiar proprietary interest in the place. In other words, they think they care about it more than the family that started it. This may or may not be true depending on who the reader sides with. What is true is that they have been altruist funeral directors for a long time and resent the appearance of a new owner who wants to change everything for the greater good. They challenge this assertion, believing wholeheartedly that the new owner is merely out for revenge and self-aggrandizement. The journey for them and for me as the writer was to wade through the misconceptions, mistakes and moments of enlightenment that take not just them, but all the characters to a rational, thought-provoking conclusion. Very satisfying to get there.
I understand that you’re also a funeral director. Was there anything from your own life that you put into this novel?
I was a hybrid in mortuary school in that I was not a funeral home kid. My family weren’t directors and certainly didn’t like the idea, at first, of me becoming one. I was drawn to it, maybe the way some astronauts dream of going to Mars even if it means never coming back. I love and believe in the work and the intrinsic good it does. But there’s no way to write about death and dying and make it “nice.” I tend to shy away from novels that go there. But I’m influenced by the satirists and gonzo writers and like the idea of shining a light on tough subjects and making them accessible through humor.
We don’t joke a lot at work, but many of us have that dry sense of humor that carries us through after a tough day. Murder victims and children are especially tough—no one gets used to that—so I guess I bring that mix of dread and the promise of a new and different day to the novels.
What is the next novel that you are working on and when will it be available?
I have three half-finished manuscripts and all three demand my attention. It’s a tough choice. Self-Defense, the first in the Kirsti Brüner Mortuary Mysteries series, follows the ups and downs of a first-year licensed mortician not quite in tune with the practices and traditions of her chosen profession. She has a nose for inconsistencies and knocks foreheads with the formidable chief coroner, who isn’t really a bad guy but claims to know much more than she ever could. Self-Defense is a murder mystery.
Next, there’s The Heuer Effect, which is a prequel to Heuer Lost and Found, my first. Effect goes back forty years to 1979, where protagonists Enid Engler and Jurgen Heuer are alive and well and doing as much damage as possible. It’s a coming of age story set against the reality of growing up first generation Canadian with questionable German relatives. Enid lands a job at Seltenheit and Sons, the enemy funeral home of Weibigand’s referenced in Scooter Nation. It’s fun giving that side of the story.
The last one is Poor Undertaker and this one really calls out. It is the story of Jocasta “The Jocastrator” Binns and Alma Wurtz, her nemesis in Scooter Nation. It begins in 1947 when the Weibigand funeral home is in its prime and staff are venerated for the good work that they do. Poor Undertaker shows Scooter readers why the home declines and why the Weibigand family staff become the way they are in the current novels. There is a murder and a doomed romance as well as a matriarch who is equal parts racist, alcoholic, brutal and very, very sad. This is a three-part novel that treats equally, the matriarch, Jocasta Binns, and Alma Wurtz. It’s very exciting to write.
Aging managing director Charlie Forsythe begins his work day with a phone call to Jocasta Binns, the unacknowledged illegitimate daughter of Weibigand Brothers Funeral Home founder Karl-Heinz Sr. Alma Wurtz, a scooter-bound sextenarian, community activist, and neighborhood pain in the ass is emptying her urine into the flower beds, killing the petunias. Jocasta shuts him down. A staff meeting has been called and things are about to change.
The second novel in the UNAPOLOGETIC LIVES series, SCOOTER NATION takes place two years after HEUER LOST AND FOUND. This time, funeral directors Scooter Creighton and Carla Moretto Salinger Blue take center stage as they battle conflicting values, draconian city by-laws, a mendacious neighborhood gang, and a self-absorbed fitness guru whose presence shines an unwanted light on their quiet Toronto neighborhood.
Heart of a Warrior Angel follows Lilac in her twilight years as she recalls her journey through life crossing literal and metaphorical oceans. Why was this an important book for you to write?
Writing Heart of a Warrior Angel as my debut novel was a passionate process for me that began 4 years ago. I wanted to relay an inspirational and character-driven narrative that embodied a metaphysical fantasy about an incarnated angel’s journey on earth but also sought to humanize the protagonists’ experiences in a way that readers would be able to relate.
This story touches on some sensitive subject matter of childhood trauma and fear-based conditioning through the eyes of the main character, Lilac Noble, as she struggled to liberate herself from the shadows of her past and the evil entities that had plagued her bloodline for generations. From the systemic abuse and repression that had long scarred Lilac’s family tree to post-traumatic stress symptoms and the battle between traditional healing and modern therapy, this story relays some of the most challenging issues people face today. By removing the veil of secrecy and shame, the story recounts how the protagonists heal from their past through self-actualization, in a vulnerable and authentic manner. I wanted to write a thoughtful, empowering and challenging novel about perseverance, resiliency, compassion, forgiveness, and portray a story that transcended pain into unconditional love.
Since embarking on my own awakening journey 4 years ago, I was motivated to write an emotionally invoking thriller where I could raise awareness on these relevant issues through the characters and share some philosophical insights into epistemology, quantum physics and energy healing. I am humbled to be able to tell this heart-wrenching tale that reflects the realities of many brave warriors who have survived various forms of violence, giving them a voice through my characters. It was important to relay a poignant visionary fiction that may resonate with readers and perhaps also serve as a catalyst for changing conversations.
Lilac is an intriguing character that captures so many emotions. What were some driving ideals behind her development?
This was a story that needed to be told, and it started to flow organically as I began to develop the qualities of the main character. Lilac is a compilation of many incredible, resilient women that I have met throughout my life, who have found the courage and their own inner strength in the face of life’s mounting hardships. Lilac’s captivating tale facilitated this inspiring and empowering story of love, compassion, and forgiveness.
When I developed the main character, Lilac, I had to imagine how an incarnated angel’s true identity could be stripped away in modern day society, by humanizing the fantasy. I wanted to make her real, authentic and vulnerable, relaying raw emotions and internal conflict that readers could relate to as she struggled to understand her Soul purpose in the face of darkness.
As readers vicariously wade through Lilac’s past experiences of financial hardship, pain, cruelty, and the long-term effects of post-traumatic stress, it was essential to relay her sheer determination to protect her loved ones from harm. She was broken, far from perfect and layered with her own scars, but accepting of her emotional volatility as she actively sought healing techniques to expand her consciousness and discover her true identity.
I wanted to portray Lilac as a multi-dimensional character, compelled by pure, unconditional love, giving her layers of emotional and spiritual depth throughout her self-realization journey, as she discovered her warrior wings and began to conquer the evil entities that have been sent to derail her divine mission of breaking the generational bloodline curse.
The story creates a beautiful tapestry of emotion and metaphysical visions. Was this a planned direction for the novel, or did it develop organically while writing?
Heart of a Warrior Angel is the first metaphysical thriller in a trilogy that is based on the journey of three spiritually connected incarnated Angels brought together in the third-dimensional existence, to realize their Divine Feminine Soul purpose. Each of them is a Light carrier and have to experience unique self-realization journeys through the awakening process, to discover their true authentic self and overcome the obstacles and dark entities that are meant to destroy their inner light. As Lightkeepers and Empaths, their primary mission is to help uplift humanity to higher dimensions by transmuting negative vibrational frequencies into positive light energy, expanding the state of unity consciousness.
This was always the planned direction and vision for my debut novel as I wanted to blend the metaphysical philosophy as part of the protagonists’ healing and awakening process. There is an element of supernatural suspense as Lilac faces the traumas of her past to vanquish the evil entities that have consumed members of her family lineage for generations. On this epic journey, Lilac undergoes the destructive process of spiritual enlightenment to lift the veil of darkness and shame that has obscured her youth. As Lilac unlocks painful memories of abuse, suppressed in her subconscious from years of fear-based conditioning, she uncovers menacing secrets feeding the evil within her generational bloodline. In an attempt to vanquish the sinister energies, Lilac finds the courage to discover her inner truth, vulnerability and authenticity, as she awakens her divine light and overcomes her debilitating fears of the past. Her unequivocal love of her family guides them through a journey of self-awareness, healing, spiritual enlightenment and transformation.
Through metaphysics and energy transmutation, Lilac exposes the evil out of the shadows and brings their truth into the light with self-love and acceptance, to live in freedom, peace, and in harmony with the universe. Everything Lilac experienced in her youth had been a culmination of events to prepare her for the most devastating incident she never could imagine – a real test of her authenticity, courage, and sacrifice. Lilac is thrown into the most epic combat of all time – good vs. evil, fighting to break the bloodline curse of her heritage, where darkness has lurked and fed on the low-frequency vibrations of humans that were conditioned by fear and lived on the lower realms of existence.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
My current work in progress is the second book of the trilogy, The Art of Rose, which is also a metaphysical thriller exploring the concept of reincarnation. The main character, Rose, is Lilac’s youngest sister, who is on a quest to find her mirror self and twin soul flame. She’s on a mission to discover her own Soul purpose by activating her past life memories as she time travels back into ancient Egypt. Rose is plagued with sinister entities that shape-shift throughout her travels, to derail her divine mission. Through a journey of self-love and kundalini awakening, Rose overcomes early childhood trauma and feelings of abandonment to blossom and live a life of creativity, passion and in service of the Light. I’m hoping to have the second book available for publication by 2021.
I’m also working on the third book of the trilogy, The Code of Joe, where I will be transitioning into the Young Adult fiction. This metaphysical fantasy explores the transitional impacts on humanity as the world begins to shift into higher dimensions, exposing all the darkness that has been buried in the shadows by generational conditioning. As the collective consciousness evolves, these shadows begin to emerge into the Light, propelling humanity from the age of spiritual oppression into spiritual independence and responsibility. The sixteen-year-old protagonist, Joe, is Lilac’s youngest daughter who grows up in the New Age of technology and the insurgence of artificial intelligence. Her journey to enlightenment uncovers the truth about accessing the infinite power and wisdom of the Akashic Records, recognizing her true identity as an incarnated angel early in her youth. With Lilac’s help, she discovers her inner magical powers to fight off the sinister shadows and help uplift humanity through the era of the Matrix, into the New Age of ascension. I hope to have this novel available for publication by 2023.
Award winning Author Lali A. Love provides a supernatural thriller of metaphysical and visionary fantasy with her own revolutionary philosophy and unique narrative skills to produce this emotionally invoking, heart-wrenching and gripping tale of a family’s rise from poverty, oppression and abuse.
Lilac Noble must face the traumatic experiences of her childhood before she can conquer the dark entities that have wreaked havoc on her family. On this epic journey, Lilac undergoes the destructive process of spiritual enlightenment in order to lift the veil of darkness and shame that has obscured her youth. As Lilac unlocks painful memories of abuse, suppressed in her subconscious from years of fear-based conditioning, she uncovers menacing secrets feeding the evil within her generational bloodline. In an attempt to vanquish the sinister energies, Lilac finds the courage to discover her inner truth, vulnerability, and authenticity, as she awakens her divine light and overcomes her debilitating fears of the past. Lilac’s unconditional love for her family guides her through her process of healing and transformation, fuelling her instinct for survival and her burning desire to illuminate the world.
Spanning two continents and three generations, this inspirational novel portrays the best and worst of humanity and shows how the “tiniest spark of light can overcome the darkness of any magnitude,” through forgiveness, compassion, and the most powerful force in the universe – Love.
Wings at Dawn follows a journalist on a fact-finding mission about child pornography and human trafficking in India. Why did you choose this topic for your novel?
I was a development worker in Asia for 15 years, during which time I encountered many social issues that have become the breeding ground for the perversions and evil of mankind. The development workers I met working on human trafficking experience horrors beyond belief on a daily basis, and yet, the trafficking of young boys remains taboo. The character Amrita and her team are not figments of my imagination, but based on real unsung heroes who fight the battles for the unheard voices. My novels will always deal with unpleasant realities that need to be brought to light because it is only awareness that will save lives.
Your characters were well developed, but Matt was my favorite. What were some themes you felt were important to capture in your characters?
I wanted credible and flawed heroes with acute sensitivity on a personal and professional level. It was important to dispel the notion that journalists are callous and heartless cynics as they go around the world on assignment. The professional side was important to highlight, yes, as well as the drive that propelled them forward to pursue the issues and remain committed to the work. However, a strong sense of social justice and community service was essential in building up the friendship among the three men, as well as the individual personalities. Unconditional friendship is something that I also needed to bring out in this book, as it is so rare, but so precious.
The novel showcases Indian culture and food. What experiences of your own were you able to use in your novel?
12 years of living in India provided the perfect resource for Wings at Dawn. Every item described in the book is something I ate, cooked, and or enjoyed at some point while living in Delhi and exploring the country. The description of the places, cuisine and cultural nuances are based entirely on personal experience, which is why I was able to go into such intimate detail for Matt’s sake. The opening scene with Alex, for example, is one of my favourite walks in Old Delhi, exploring Chandni Chowk with the pleasure of resident searching for treasures that no tourist will encounter in a fleeting visit.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
The next book, Sunset Shadows, follows the trio, Alex, Julian and Matt through another assignment, but this Julian’s story, as he explores the dark world of transgender trafficking throughout Asia and Europe. Due out in Spring of 2020.
Writer and photographer, I am a native of the Philippines who grew up and lived in various countries, resulting in photography and writing becoming integral pillars of my soul and, hence, inseparable from my being. The urge to write about what I photograph or match a photograph to my writings are processes that are never far from one another. In the same manner, while on retreat in the mountains of Kodaikanal, India, one year, photography transcended into a form of prayer. When I need to find my center or escape the madness of the world around me, I grab my camera and immerse myself in a world that understands me, and I it.
My novels deal with controversial social issues that span the globe. The stories are not meant for the reader to swoon over and fall in love momentarily for a shallow romance. I want the audience to cry with me, to be enraged, be disgusted, and after turning the last page, they should be more vigilant.
All my books and stories are supported by extensive travel and research, in addition to firsthand experience, having been a development worker in Asia for over 15 years and seen horrors that few will ever write about. My life experiences are the foundation for my novels, and I write from the soul, not an empty page.