22 Dutch Road follows Billy who goes back to his late father’s house and finds something strange going on with the statues on the property. What was the inspiration for the setup to this intriguing novel?
The inspiration came from an amalgamation of ideas that were stuck in my head for several years: wouldn’t it be creepy to be alone in a house surrounded by statues that seem to move? What would be the circumstances that would keep you there despite your own sense of self-preservation telling you to get out of Dodge? Was it all in your head, because of medical reasons, or were there malign forces at play? If these statues really were moving around, why were they doing so? How long have they been doing so? Who, or what, is pulling their strings?
Billy is an interesting and well developed character. What were some driving ideals behind his character development?
From the beginning, Billy was going to be somewhat of a early twenty-first century “everyman”, a young man without means, living under the shadow of an overbearing and totally unfair father. He was, however, also going to be supported by a good (if not somewhat overbearing in her own way) mother as well as extended family “father figure” uncles. He would have a few close friends. He was going to be “a good guy” but not a perfect one, one with visible strengths and weaknesses. Despite being chastened by years of ill treatment from his father, he would secretly yearn for connection anyway. He was going to be reasonably clever and witty but not brilliant or hilarious. He was going to be likable and attractive in a Professor Snape sort of way. He was going to be good with his hands.
I enjoyed the mystery at the heart of this story. Was this planned before writing or did it develop organically while writing?
The basic storyline of a struggling, haunted young man returning to an “ancestral” home out of necessity, only to engage in a psychological struggle with his father, was there from day one. There were always going to be some key elements like a cute dog and a helpful neighbor. About 75% of the detail, however, developed organically; I found myself discovering how things “happened” in the story as I wrote it; most of the subplots developed by themselves and some of these plots changed significantly over the course of writing. For instance, the lawyer character, Bates, was originally going to be a one-dimensional character, merely there to develop the plot, but became interesting enough to me to flesh out more. He’s an adroit, cold lawyer, but why is he that way? Many of the sub characters started out this way–one dimensional–only to have their back stories flesh out over the three and a half years I spent writing this book.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
My next book is called The Evil Men’s Book Club. At the pace that I write–writing is a hobby and I have a job and family, like I imagine most writers do–it should be complete by early 2022. By the way, there really is an Evil Men’s Book Club, also known as the EMBC, formed in the DC area in the 90s. The EMBC is an informal club of my friends and the book, a murder mystery, will be loosely based on it.
Silent Screams follows four friends in the aftermath of a school shooting that unravels secrets and relationships. What was the inspiration for the idea behind this compelling story?
It came from a song called Prom Queen by Katie Turner. She has a line about a audience that was never meant for me. It was where the idea for Zachary came to be. It was also my 50th novel that I wrote. I wanted to add elements from each of the first 49 in there.
We really get to dive deep into each unique character in the story. Who was your favorite character to write for?
Honestly, it was Cass. I just had such love for her. I wanted so much for her to be strong and be able to move past all the hurt she had to deal with. I just honestly don’t know how she handled that situation. You find out your boyfriend is cheating on you, and you can’t hate her because she lost her life from one of your best friend’s actions. Then on top of that Jarele was a good guy. He helped Cass through so much. It was hard for Cass to hate Jarele. I just was impressed by her strength and where she ended up.
In this story we get to explore how families and relationships are all different and complex. What were some themes you wanted to capture within them?
Honestly, that everyone goes through some hardships in their life. I also wanted to go through this idea that no one is a full villain or victim. With Gabe each person viewed Gabe in such a different way, and I really wanted to portray that. My theme for all my novels is make sure to not judge someone because you don’t know what’s behind someone’s closed doors.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available
I’m working on a campy book. It’s a lot like my High Schools Queen trilogy. It’s called Cutthroat Cheerleader. It’s sassy, campy, and a murder mystery too. It will be out actually in October.
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Devil Days in Deadwood follows Violet, mother/demon executioner, who must risk her life to save her aunt. What was the inspiration for the setup to this entertaining novel?
Throughout the first 10 books in the Deadwood Mystery series, we travel along with Violet Parker as she grows from being a newcomer, both in town and as a real estate agent, who knows nothing about her family history as “Executioners,” to her finding out she comes from a long line of killers. Eventually she realizes there is no escape from doing what she was born to do—kill supernatural troublemakers. Until now, through books one through ten, Violet has fumbled and stumbled with her duties, both as a real estate agent and as an executioner. But, at this point in the series, she has accepted her role and is now going forth with help from those around her. Inspiration wise, I’ve had a fun time building Violet’s character and skills through the first part of the series. Readers came along for the ride, cheering Violet on as she faltered, fell, got up again and began to see more and more successes. Now that we’ve rounded the first bend in the series along with Violet, we are able to watch her face foes that would have been the death of her back in the beginning. For those readers who have read the previous ten books, this eleventh in the series is doubly exciting.
Violet is a riveting character that I had fun following. What were some driving ideals behind her character motivations?
I have always enjoyed reading about heroes and heroines that I can relate to on different levels. Violet is a mother trying to protect her two kids. At the start of the series, she is like many single moms I’ve known—struggling financially, trying to raise her kids without a strong father figure, and wishing she had someone in her life to offer companionship, emotional support, and love. From the beginning, I wanted to create a heroine who was not only relatable, but funny, too. Violet handles her fears, frustrations, and worries with humor. I’ve always turned to humor in tough times, so it felt natural to write about a heroine who does the same. My goal with Violet was to give readers someone with whom they could laugh and cringe. Someone they could identify with on some level. A heroine who would refuse to give up, keep pushing onward and upward. In the end, I think Violet is a fun character because she doesn’t quit when the going gets tough, even though she sometimes would rather hide under her bed than go forth and conquer.
I enjoyed the dynamic between Executioner and devils throughout the story. How has this changed as your series progressed?
Initially, Violet’s reaction to supernatural beings included a lot of fear and fumbling. While many of her skills as an Executioner are innate, she is always learning about what else she is able to do both physically and mentally. Of course in the beginning, she struggled to accept what she was becoming and wanted more than anything to go back to her everyday life struggles rather than deal with the frightening creatures and adventures in front of her. By this eleventh book, though, she has more confidence in her abilities and a better understanding of what she can accomplish on her own, as well as with the help of her crew of friends and family. I’ve enjoyed watching Violet’s confidence and skills grow through the series. There have been a lot of laughs in the process that have made her journey even more fun.
This is book eleven in your Deadwood Humorous Mystery Book series. What can readers expect in book twelve?
There will be more laughs, more chills, and more fast-action page-turning fun. Violet has accepted what she is and what she needs to do to fulfill her role in her family line and protect those she loves. I have book 12 plotted and the first chapter written. I’m putting it aside to work with my husband, Sam Lucky, on book 3 of our Deadwood Undertaker series (which is the prequel series to the Deadwood Mystery series), but I will return to finish book 12 this fall for release in late 2020 or early 2021.
Posted in Interviews
Tags: Ann Charles, author, author interview, book, book review, bookblogger, Devil Days in Deadwood, ebook, fantasy, fiction, ghost story, goodreads, kindle, kobo, literature, mystery, nook, novel, paranormal, read, reader, reading, story, supernatural, suspense, thriller, writer, writing
Crimson at Cape May finds Darrel between a battle for his reputation and a battle against paranormal forces. What were some sources of inspiration that influenced this novels development?
Having lost his job—and maybe his love—in Wilshire, Darrell heads to Cape May (New Jersey) to help coach a summer football camp. With being forced to resign, he needs the money and hopes it will give him the time and opportunity to restore his reputation. When he arrives in Cape May, he finds a town almost frozen in time, surrounded by incredible Victorian mansions everywhere. But he also discovers the old seacoast town is flush with spirits who pester and haunt him to help out one of their own. Darrell has to balance both his “gift” for seeing into the spirit world with his efforts to get his old job back. In the end, he commits to help another young student whose sister has gone missing, which ties to all his problems.
There have been several times in my life where reputation, job and livelihood was threatened and I drew on these experiences and the reserves I used to meet these very real challenges to help sketch Darrell’s predicament and his way of navigating out of it. Because of my experience, my hope is the reader will find Darrell’s journey credible and something they themselves can relate to.
I enjoyed Cassie’s character and found her relatable. What were some ideas you wanted to capture in Cassie and Darrel’s relationship?
My choice of Cassie as a POV character was deliberate and carefully thought out. First of all, she and Darrell are opposites, or appear to be. Darrell is a traditional, successful (kind of) teacher and coach, from a good family and good upbringing. Cassie is none of those things. She has been abused and denigrated and runs away from her family, such as it is. Instead, she has had to learn skills to survive on her own, in her teens. But Darrell’s first instinct is to reach out and protect children and young people in trouble. As a teacher, it’s part of his DNA—a characteristic I witnessed for real in my many of my teaching colleagues. When he encounters Cassie, Darrell recognizes the vulnerability of the young woman, even through her hard-shell, street-smart armor she has wrapped herself in. Then as “sensitives,” they begin to check each other out and eventually learn to trust each other. Erin proves to be critical in their evolving relationship as she stands in almost as an older sister for Cassie. Darrell never stops feeling responsible for the younger Cassie—especially as her life is threatened—but in the end, he realizes they have to work together to solve the murder of the Haunted Bride. This fictional relationship reflects the very real dilemma that parents and teachers face everyday with teenagers. Adults who care for kids have to find a way to take care of them and try to keep them from the greatest risks, while at the same time allowing the adolescents to begin to make some decisions themselves, even though some of those decisions are unwise and even dangerous. It’s a tightrope that is not easy to navigate. Darrell, like parents and teachers, has trouble knowing when to let go.
I enjoyed the compelling mystery behind this story. Was the arc planned or did it develop organically while writing?
My approach to my stories fall some where between the “plotter” and the “pantser” mindset. Before beginning a novel, I will have completed a general outline of the story arc, of essential characters, of the crime itself and, of course, of the thematic issue. In addition, since each entry of this series is set in a new resort location (BLOOD on the Eastern Shore, CRIMSON in Cape May), I do a considerable amount of local research to ensure my setting is accurate and thorough, which in turn requires a considerable deal of planning including how the setting snd plot will interact. Layering over all that is where the ghost elements will intrude, another planning aspect.
I realize that sounds pretty far in the plotter camp, but there is much more. Then as I begin the actual manuscript, I find myself “pantsing,” more writing by the seat of my pants. As characters develop, I find myself adjusting the trajectory of the narrative and writing accordingly. There are elements of the plot and storyline that I deliberately do not plan in advance. For example, I don’t make a final decision on who the actual antagonist will be until I am well into the narrative. That way I make sure that several suspects are viable and keep my inner reader guessing until the reveal—as I hope I do for the actual readers of the novel. I do make some slight adjustments to this plotter/pantser balance for different novels but find overall this approach works well for me.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I’m currently completing the third book in the Haunted Shores Mysteries Series no title determined as yet), a Christmas ghost mystery set in Crystal River, Florida. I thought the idea of setting a holiday mystery in the warm climes of Florida’s Gulf coast to be an interesting challenge and decided to take Darrell and his new wife, Erin, on their honeymoon there. And number three will have a very different ghost twist—the ghosts are those of two young Hispanic children who have mysteriously disappeared. An added plus is this gave me an opportunity to explore another serious issue the nation is grappling with, the life of migrant workers and the fate of illegal immigrants. I hope I’ve come up with a mix that will make number three another interesting entry in the series. This third installment is scheduled for release for October 2021—in time for Christmas, of course.
Devil’s Days in Deadwood by Ann Charles is a fun supernatural thriller. The story delves into the life of Violet Lynn Parker a seemingly normal human being who works as a real estate agent but is involved in the supernatural as a ghost hunter. The protagonist is part of an agency that is tasked with defending Earth from the evils unseen by normal human beings. The compelling heroine of the story faces a formidable foe but she requires help from and engaging cast of characters in order to overcome the exact definition of evil incarnate. The story is set in the alluring town of Deadwood, a town plagued by mysterious happenings since time in memorial ranging from ghosts to haunted houses.
Ann Charles has invoked various stylistic devices that highlight her writing skill and made this novel stand out in the paranormal genre. Although this is book eleven in Ann Charles’s Deadwood Humorous Mystery series, I think new readers will be able to jump right in as I have. What I particularly liked about this novel, and Ann Charles’s view of the supernatural, is the satirical lens that it is all viewed through. It’s a stimulating blend of humor, mystery, and paranormal that all come together to make the reader alternate between gasps, laughter and furiously flipping pages. It reminded me of the writing style of Douglas Adams or A. Lee Martinez.
Violet is an exceptionally well defined character, someone we can relate to as a mother who works hard to provide for, and protect, her children. But in the same vein of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, she’s a demon executioner who risks her life to defeat some truly vile, other worldly, beings. While I understood Violet’s motivations, and her emotions, I did want a little more backstory. The world created here is interesting and I wanted to explore it more, though I suppose I could by reading the other novels in the series.
I was excited about this novel from the very beginning, based on the short synopsis of the book. I was thoroughly entertained and may have found a new series to while away the time in quarantine. Fans of supernatural thrillers will find an exceptional piece of literature that offers a unique voice to this genre.
Pages: 393 | ASIN: B0884DJ4MP
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Doomed to wander for generation after generation, under the curse of heavy chains, Jacob Marley’s soul was lost and without hope with nothing of this earth that belonged to him except the cold fingers of the grave – to which he refused to retreat.Marley saves the soul of a dear friend and finds himself trapped between the realm of untapped power and endless damnation. Waiting and waiting, hoping to prove himself…WORTHY!
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Athena Daniel’s Girl Unseen is a paranormal suspense novel that will have you hanging on to every word.
Pia Williams is a gifted medium who works for a television series, Debunking Reality. Girl Unseen begins when Pia and her crew are asked to investigate possible paranormal activity in a family’s home. While they record footage for the show, a spirit of an angry young girl appears to Pia. In a fit of rage, the entity kills a man. Pia is taken into custody and held for questioning by a detective who has no patience for things unseen. Looking for help she calls ex-Special Forces detective Nate Ryder. With Nate and the Debunking Reality crew by her side, Pia sets out to uncover the terrible truth of what happened at the old lighthouse keeper’s cottage.
Girl Unseen is the third installment of Daniel’s Beyond the Grave series and a fantastic addition at that. The novel offers suspense, twists, action, and romance – everything a story needs to make it impossible to put down.
In the first chapter, we meet the Debunking Reality crew and witness a murder. I was instantly sucked into the story by such a riveting beginning! I immediately wanted finish the novel so I could find out what happened! Each page kept me wanting to read more as Pia uncovered more and more about Sarah’s past and death.
The plot of Girl Unseen kept me guessing the entire time. The majority of the novel is from Pia’s point of view, so we only know what she knows. As she tried to solve Sarah’s mystery, I tried to guess along with her, but was surprised every time. Occasionally, Daniel switched to Nate’s point of view to give us another perspective. This helped me immerse myself in the story, because I was seeing characters and situations through different eyes.
Daniel’s characters are well-developed! They seemed like real-life people you could meet anywhere. Every character had a defined personality, and their actions reflected that.
There were very few things about Girl Unseen that I did not like. I do think that it could have been longer. It was a quick read with great ideas and intense action scenes, but I think more detail and depth would add more to the story. Also, I was a little annoyed about how frequently Pia’s resistance toward relationships was brought up. I understand why Daniel mentioned it – Pia’s trust issues were vital to the romantic tension – but I think there was a different way to create the same effect. It seemed like Daniel kept repeating the same thing, which made it more redundant rather than helping you understand Pia better.
I thoroughly enjoyed following Pia and her crew. Girl Unseen is the perfect book for someone looking for a quick read with lots of suspense.
Pages: 274 | ASIN: B071Z1RMZ1
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Tribulation Jones leaves home and joins with a band of rough neck southerners that are off to fight in the American Civil War. Tribulation goes along in fear of the bleak future the group paints for the south if they don’t all stand up and fight. Tribulation, not fully understanding what he’s getting into and why he’s even doing it, is drawn in by the comradery. But the war takes its toll on him, the South, and the North. Through the horrible fighting, witnessing his men die horrible deaths, and all the trials and miseries of war he comes to understand what he’s fighting for and questions if it’s worth all the suffering that he’s endured. But all the death and strife and brooding reflection is only a prelude to a tangled story of magic, conjuring and the afterlife.
Tribulations War is a remarkable story with some of the best battlefield descriptions I’ve read in a long time; covering all the senses; touch, hearing, smell, and sight.
“Flying metal shards slammed into them, hissed like snakes around their heads. Yankee cannons stood on the crest and a rain of canister burst at their mouths. Men fell, ripped open, blinded, spewing blood. Someone shouted “Wheel right–File–Goddamn enfilade -” and the voice turned to a howl. Tribulation peered through acrid clouds, aiming at gunners, the sergeant there with his hand on the lanyard.”
Author Kyri Freeman writes some of the most elegantly incisive descriptions that I’ve read. The book has a spectacular ability to deliver quick pacing with a deeply detailed story world and characters. The character dialogue, while not deeply engaging, was well fitted to each character. They each had their own mannerisms and again was all done with superb ease. The story takes place during the American Civil War and, I’m no history expert, but the battles, places, dates, weapons, and speech were all believable. The story covers a lot of the pivotal times in the Civil War, with one in particular being a central point of the novel; the death of General Stonewall Jackson. I won’t give away the intriguing twists and turns that follow, but I will say that they are engrossing and engaging and all told with a deft handling of language and pacing that is rare for many writers. The book is broken up into two sections. Book one covers the Civil War and Tribulations life through it and can be considered a Civil War era fiction novel. While book two, in stark contrast, is an exquisitely bleak look at the dark side of magic, conjurations, necromancy, and potions. Ten years after the war Tribulation is now trying to make his way in post-Civil War America while he suffers from post-traumatic stress. He wanders for several years and through many jobs before he finds himself at the Woodman’s hovel where he was first cursed early on in the book. He’s taken on as an apprentice by the Woodsman and is taught some conjurations and potions and other magical things that he learns through bitter trial and error and force on the Woodman’s part. Tribulations War is an exceptional book with a story that is deftly executed with superb writing, spot on pacing and deep character development.