Jerrimiah Stonecastle Author Interview
Flash of Light follows a mother and her two children who are racing to their bomb shelter in the Catskill mountains in the wake of a nuclear bomb strike. When you first sat down to write this story, did you know where you were going, or did the twists come as you were writing?
This is one of my books where I actually stayed close to the outline until the last chapter. I had intended for this to be a stand alone issue but the ending opened up the possibilities of two more books in this series. After the Flash is the second book. I know there will be a third but have no clue what it’ll be about. But I know from the notes on the second book there will have to be a third book.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
On the third chapter of this spiritual thriller. If I can stay focused I hope to have it done in time for an Easter release.
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Iris March Author Interview
“The Broken Bridge” follows a plant shop owner turned succulent sleuth as she unravels small-town secrets and navigates unexpected twists to solve a captivating cozy mystery surrounding a missing college student. What was the inspiration for the setup of your story?
I regularly walk or run on the trails in our local park district. On a run on one of these trails, I was struck with the “succulent sleuth” term and knew I needed to use it in my series title. I also really wanted to incorporate trails in my novel. I thought about making one up but decided I should use the real-life Buckeye Trail that makes a loop within my home state of Ohio.
Did you plan the mystery at the heart of this story before writing, or did it develop while writing?
It’s so funny to say this but I knew who I wanted to kill before I started writing the book along with who the suspects were going to be – the red herrings. I thought I knew who the killer was, but that person evolved a bit as I was writing.
What scene in the book did you have the most fun writing?
I wrote the showdown between Molly, my main character, and the killer long before I was done with the middle of the book. I still get goosebumps when I reread those chapters!
What is the next book that you are working on, and when will it be available?
I have a short story in an anthology that’s coming out in April – it’s the second story in the Succulent Sleuth Cozy Mystery Series. My story is called The Library Attic Attack. Molly and her BFF are organizing a plant swap at the local library. Someone collapses in the attic – Molly thinks she smells something planty and our Succulent Sleuth is on the case again. The ebook will be available on April 11 and the print book will be out in May.
I’m working on the second Succulent Sleuth novel, but it’s slower going this time around for some reason.
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Witches Could Be Clever
Winifred the Wonder Witch follows a whimsical good-natured witch who uses creative problem-solving in different situations to help herself and others.What was the inspiration for these stories?
The inspiration to write ‘Flying Santa’ and ‘Winifred the Wonder Witch’ was my granddaughters. When they were small I told them many stories, and these were the two that resulted in a book.
What were some of the emotional and moral guidelines you followed when developing your characters?
I thought that witches in many stories had ‘a bad rap.’ I wanted to show that witches could be clever, kind and helpful – like many other heroes.
What were some educational aspects that were important for you to include in this children’s book?
Winifred is an excellent problem solver. From Winifred, children could learn how to be smart, kind, and help those in need. She also knows how and when to involve others in her projects.
Will there be more stories about Winifred the Wonder Witch, and when will they be available?
There may be more Winifred books, but only if ‘Winifred the Wonder Witch’ proves to be popular.
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The Best Plan Of Attack
The Celine Bower Story: Chronicle Two follows two people, one a vigilante the other a man with a desire to harm others, whose paths intersect. How do you balance story development with shocking plot twists?
I find it easiest to balance the story development with plot twists if I grow each character and what they are a part of by suspending them in time away from each other, until they are needed again. For example, I didn’t even consider Celine and her actions while I was creating Troy and what he was doing. The best plan of attack is to have a solid outline planned out before you even begin then slowly work your way toward the action.
Which scene or chapter in the book is your favorite? Why?
My favorite scene in Chronicle Two is the ‘juice lady’. I could just hear her shouting so loudly as she was running to help. It made me feel like we are all connected in some way, and no matter your circumstance, there is always a way to help another person.
What do you think makes a story memorable to readers?
The stories I remember most are the ones where I actually felt like I knew the characters. I think it helps readers connect when you feel like you can reach out and touch someone, like you’ve developed a connection with them even though you will never meet in real life.
Do you have any advice for aspiring authors out there?
My advice to aspiring authors would be this: don’t quit your day job. The only other advice that I could give is to read everything; read things that aren’t in your genre, read articles, old library books, and try to read the things that other people recommend to you. And, don’t give up; there will be times when the only person that cares is you, and that’s okay, just don’t give up.
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Turned Out To Be Pretty Amazing
Time Intertwined follows a mother and daughter separated during the Vietnam War who have reunited decades later thanks to a DNA test. What was the inspiration for the setup of your story?
In 2019, my family had our DNA tested and we unexpectedly found a relative–his story turned out to be pretty amazing and I thought it should be written down. My relative didn’t have any interest in writing it, but gave me permission to write a novel that used elements of what happened to him.
Why did you choose this place and time for the setting of the story?
The relative we found unexpectedly learned he was part Vietnamese. He found us because my ex-husband is Vietnamese. The two are first cousins and both were born during the war in Vietnam. Thus, much of my novel is set during the war, but intertwined with events occurring in the present.
What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?
Initially, the plan was to focus on the civilians and how the war impacted them. I just wanted to tell a simple story of a child who had been adopted after Operation Babylift as well as the story of the woman who lost her. I wanted the history to be accurate as much as possible and did quite a bit of online research. However, as I read more and began to write the story of a lost child, I realized I had an opportunity to showcase some of the positive, non-military acts of many of the Western soldiers (eg, providing food and medical assistance to the orphanages). Too many negative stories have been written about our soldiers and I wasn’t going to contribute to that. Lastly, I couldn’t write a book about the war and not weave in the story of Agent Orange. Agent Orange was an herbicide used extensively in South Vietnam to destroy enemy food crops and the dense jungle which gave them cover for ambushes. It was supposed to be harmless to humans, but it wasn’t. The effects of this chemical combination can still be seen today.
Can you tell us a little about where the story goes in book two and when the novel will be available?
The original plan was to write one book, not a trilogy. But after the first book was published, I felt I hadn’t said enough about Agent Orange–so that is when the tirlogy was born. Lives Intertwined (Book 2) was published late in 2021 while Darkness and Light Intertwined (Book 3) was published late in 2022. Although both books keep the underlying theme of the long-term effects of Agent Orange, it is a bit more prominent in Lives Intertwined. The second book also takes a completely differnet look at the war compared to the first. In it, we follow two soldiers, one American and one Vietnamese, through the war. They become friends and conduct many missions together. Interwoven with their story is a modern day who-done-it murder mystery. There’s also a love story.
Book 3 tells the story of an orphan who grew up in Vietnam during the war and the struggles she faced just trying to survive. One of my favorite aspects of the third book is how it tells the same love story as in book 2, but from the woman’s perspective instead of her soldier/lover. Like book 1, books 2 and 3 are genealogical mysteries that reveal how our DNA connects us to our genetic family.
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Life Overnight Turned Upside Down
Topanga Canyon: Fire Season follows a teenage boy from Chicago who is sent to live on his grandfather’s horse ranch in Topanga, CA. What was the inspiration for the setup of your story?
I’ve never been disciplined enough to keep a daily journal, but I do enjoy chronicling moments and thoughts by writing short stories when time allows. And when the Coronavirus countywide “Stay at Home Order” took effect in Los Angeles, turning my life, and everyone else’s, instantly upside down, I found I had a lot of it.
Overnight everything came to a halt. A few designated businesses were allowed to remain open if deemed “essential”: as long as the employees followed a strict regimen of cleaning, mask-wearing, and intensified hygiene.
Our small café was one of them. Granted, we had the option of closing, but we were desperate to have some sense of normalcy in our lives and the lives of our customers, neighbors, and friends despite the constantly terrifying, changing world of Covid. And that the simple act of brewing coffee and baking muffins would signal our trust that that world would, one day, return to normal.
Santa Monica had become a ghost town. Hours would go by before anyone entered the café. And the unknown deadly threat of Covid and the sudden lack of control over our future began to get to me. I began to write a short story about Matt, a teenager whose life overnight turned upside down, and how he dealt with the frightening new circumstances
Around the same time, I came across an old interview from 2014 on NPR about Tennessee Walking Horses.
Now, Walking Horses are an American breed started by Albert Derment in the late 1800s in Tennessee. Albert bred horses, and late in his life, he purchased a rather plain-looking small black stallion named Allan, who had this uncanny ability to walk at different speeds. Now that might sound like a simple thing to do, but other horses cannot do that. And because Allan could walk at different speeds riding him was like sitting in a rocking chair. So Albert Derment began breeding the stallion with this genetic quirk to see if his offspring would also carry that trait. And some of them did. This selective breeding resulted in what is known as the Tennessee Walking Horse. They are beautiful to watch with their heads held high, their front legs fully extended, and their long flowing tails as they fast walk around a show ring.
Unfortunately, to ensure show horses raised their legs higher, some unscrupulous trainers invented the practice of soring, which is applying a caustic material on the horses’ legs so that the pain would make them raise their legs higher. Granted, legislation through Congress has been passed to eliminate this decades-long abomination, but the laws were basically toothless. The most recent bill H.R. 5441 117th Congress, reintroduced as the PAST Act of 2021, is still pending. I hoped that by highlighting this ongoing practice, people would once again become aware and get involved in ending soring once and for all. And I was convinced that my main character Matt would be able to do that.
Why choose this place and time for the setting of the story?
Located in the Santa Monica Mountains, Topanga Canyon is next to 16,000 acres of Topanga State Park. With its deep canyons and slopes dotted with oak trees, this pristine park allows one to envision what California looked like a hundred years ago when the indigenous people, the Tongva, thrived in the Los Angeles Basin. Topanga Canyon is a magical place where one can be transported to another place and time. And I did not know how to write about the Canyon without bringing in a character of Tongva heritage. I thought Topanga Canyon was the perfect place for a horse ranch where Matt could be introduced to that reality and Los Angeles today with its vibrant and evolving indigenous community.
What were some challenges you felt were important to defining your characters in this story?
As my little short story grew into a much longer project, I found that the more time I spent with my main characters, the more solid they became. It took a while to ensure that each one had their own voice and did not blend into one another. I had to be careful to avoid every character saying the same thing in trying to get a point across. It was important that each one had their own point of view and were true to their age and gender. This was easier said than done.
Will there be a follow-up novel to this story? If so, what aspects of the story will the next book cover?
I enjoyed my time at the High Stepping Ranch. And Matt keeps leaving articles on my desk about Horse Therapy, also known as hippotherapy, and how it is used with people with PTSD, Autism, and physical disabilities. Silas’s boots banging down the hallway as he complains about the proposed Convention Center slated for the pristine Canyon reverberates in my head. And Esmerelda keeps whispering about researching the Tongva language. So I would enjoy doing a follow-up novel.
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This Disturbed View Of The World
Malketh and the Undead follows three young knights on a journey who encounter a villain that wishes to reclaim the land for himself, and he brings an army. What was the inspiration for your story?
I much wanted to have a more classic bad guy (with some explanation) for this book. That way the youth would have an easy time rooting against. I wanted it to be a little tragic, like it didn’t have to be this way. So, I layered in Malketh as a person who has a filter that he put on everything that he listened to and took in. His subjectivity doesn’t allow him to take in the truth so he gets this disturbed view of the world and it affects his actions.
As a secondary part, I wanted to explore the protagonists a little more. The first book set them on a journey. So, it was more about the places they were going and who they were pursuing. Here, we get a little more insight into the three.
Did you plan the tone and direction of the novel before writing or did it come out organically as you were writing?
Since I was going with the undead, I wanted it to feel urgent and a bit scary. In that way, I had a definite tone laid out. I had a direction as well, but I never want to control this too much in my storytelling. It may crimp some great ideas.
What was your process in writing the characters interactions to develop the bond they have?
I use real people as inspirations. That way I can make my characters more consistent. Then, I make them converse quite a bit. I find that dialogue makes reading easier for youth as it gives them more natural breaks. That devise becomes the vital way on which they relate.
In this book, I gave my main characters something for which to compete. That brought out there true natures. So, I put that in the earlier chapters, to create some connection between the readers and the three.
What future adventures do you have in store for Raven Romda and Ravai?
It’s funny. I already have a third book written, but I am actually evaluating right now whether I should put it out next. So, I am in the middle of writing two more. The hesitancy comes from what I would like to address. Where magic will be allowed in the kingdom is a big question, since it had been outlawed and is making its way back in to fashion. I also have to start to do more than hinting at my multi-book story arc. In my mind that is the actually story with these books being sub-stories. The first of the three books that I am finishing is a story about a rebellious town using magic. I employ multiple villains pitted against each other so that the plot is a little unpredictable. The second book is about three former mentors of Raven, Romda and Ravia coming back and having a less than positive impact. I’m growing fonder of this one because it will have many colorful characters in it, and will give a look into the life inside kingdom. The third book has about one-third of a nearby town going mysteriously missing. This has a twist or two in the plot and helps detach somewhat from the traditional epic fantasy themes.
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A Load Of Fear And Shame
Drive follows a gay man living in a conservative town who has to decide how much he is willing to risk to find love. What was your inspiration for the setup of the story, and how did that help you create the ending?
A lot of the setup is informed by personal experience. I grew up in a small town in Texas, not quite as extreme in views as Black Creek, but still not a safe place to talk about or explore queerness. In that situation, it can be very easy to latch onto the first person that shows you any kind of acceptance, even if it’s not a healthy one. While Victor may not have been the most ideal relationship parnter for Red, I don’t think he would have had the courage to approach Sean, even in a platonic capacity, without experiencing that acceptance.
What was your approach to writing the interactions between characters?
The main thing I tried to keep in mind is that they are all carrying around a load of fear and shame. Even Victor who seems so confident in himself is terrified of being outed and ostrasized by his community. The way they interact with each other and the world reflects this. Victor comes off as cold because of the walls he’s put up, Sean is deeply lonely, and Red walks around on eggshells between them.
What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?
One of the major themes of the book is self-acceptance. At the beginning, Red believes that there is something wrong with him because that’s what he’s been told by his abusive father and by his community. He hides it away from everyone, even his sister who he adores, out of shame. It’s through his relationships with Victor and Sean that he realizes that there’s nothing to be ashamed of.
What is the next book that you are working on and when can your fans expect it to be out?
My next book is a dystopian sci-fi called A Perfect Heresy. It follows Jax, a soldier now branded a heretic trying to make it home, and Koi, a sick Outsider who’s is trying to find xyr sibling who was abducted, as they navigate through a city and society broken by war. It can currently be read in its raw form on Kindle Vella and I hope to release it in paperback by mid year.
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