A cop killing in New York throws up all the horrors of the Vietnam War.
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Sentinels of the Night is an action-packed novel that follows tracker Cat Morgan who uses forces beyond her understanding to find murder victims. What was the inspiration behind this story and how did you turn that into a novel?
I’ve always been intrigued with characters who have an extra edge, that ability to overcome adversity and danger. Add to that my infatuation with Native American myths and legends and Scottish and Irish folklore, and you have the backdrop for my characters.
In Sentinels of the Night, I created an elite FBI unit—Trackers. Each has a secret, that extra edge that defies reason and logic. Tracker Cat Morgan’s paranormal element was pulled from a Native American myth.
As for the plot, I have twenty-seven years of law enforcement experience. I served in patrol, undercover narcotics, advanced accident investigation and the SWAT team. I was a unit sniper. Several incidents in the book were based on those experiences. Early in my career, I crossed paths with a serial killer who was convicted on eleven counts of homicide. I have never forgotten the dead look in his eyes. That memory was the basis for the serial killer.
Cat Morgan is a mysterious and alluring character. What were some of the trials that you felt were important to highlight the character’s development?
The character had to deal with issues she couldn’t ignore. While her extraordinary gift added to her investigative ability, it made her different and there was the ever-present fear of rejection if her fellow agents found out.
I enjoyed the tension that builds between Cat and Kevin. Was their relationship something that was mapped out or did it grow organically?
It developed as I began to add depth to the characters. Kevin questioning his sanity as the plot progressed added another dimension of trust.
What is the next novel that you are working on and when will it be available?
I published the second of the Tracker novels, Going Gone! about two months ago, and a third is on the way. I hope to have it completed by the end of the year.
FBI Tracker Cat Morgan has an unusual talent, one she has successfully concealed, even from her fellow agents. That is–until she finds a body with a strange symbol carved on the forehead during a stop in Clinton, Mississippi and crosses paths with the town’s rugged police chief, Kevin Hunter.
Despite his instant attraction to the sexy agent, Kevin is suspicious of her presence at the crime scene and isn’t buying her dubious explanations. He wants her out of the investigation and out of his town.
The discovery of another mutilated body with the same symbol sends Cat back to Clinton, and this time she isn’t leaving. To stop the killer, Cat must find a way to overcome Kevin’s distrust and will face an impossible impasse–truth or lies.
But will either one matter, when the killer fixates on her for his next sacrifice?
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Days Gone By follows Caleb as he struggles with agoraphobia and the loss of his nephew in a car accident. What made you want to write a story about this topic? Anything pulled from your life experiences?
There are a few things that are taken from my past. At the time of my writing Days Gone By my nephew was five years old. He is now seven and a joy to be around. No tragic car accident; however, I wanted to write a heartfelt, emotional, character-driven story and if I had to go through what Caleb did, I don’t know how I would deal with it, but hiding seemed like a safe choice; and that’s exactly what Caleb is doing.
Many of Caleb’s visitors are based on real people in my life. His grandfather, for one, is based on my Mother’s father who did live in The Azores, Portugal. His story he shared about a possible angel telling him to return home due to a dangerous road ahead was true. Since he also lived so far away I did not see him that much and do wish I had more memories with him.
Caleb’s Irish great, great, great grandmother is also mine from my father’s side who also emigrated to the U.S. from Cork, Ireland. Miss. Di Coco was my second grade teacher and Jessica was my real life childhood friend.
The writing in your story is very artful and creative. Was it a conscious effort to create a story in this fashion or is this style of writing reflective of your writing style in general?
To date all my books are adaptations from my screenplays. So they all share this style of writing. I also marketed it to a local theater to be a play, but my character list ended up being too long. The stories I’ve written before my scripts and now after will follow more traditional book layouts.
Caleb’s has physical and psychological difficulties, but the spiritual burden of guilt for being the cause of his nephew’s death is overwhelming. What were the driving ideals behind the characters development throughout the story?
I knew Caleb’s journey was going to be a hard one. Feeling sadness because of a tragic event is one thing, but Caleb is terrified of it. He’s afraid to feel that deep sorrow and face that reality. This fear became an illness that spread to all aspects of his life. He put up a wall to protect himself and now everything outside of his home and daily routine is scary.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
My next book will be written as a regular novel and takes place in 1885, but further advanced than in our own history. I think I’m on page five. 🙂
Three days after Christmas an auto accident left Caleb partially disabled and took the life of his five year old nephew. Now on the anniversary, four years later, Caleb is afraid to leave his house; even to attend his brother’s upcoming wedding.
Soon past friends and deceased relatives mysteriously begin showing up in his home to deliver their messages and help him through his phobia by showing him glimpses of his past, present and possible future.
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Black Inked Pearl follows Kate, a young Irish girl, as she searches for her lost lover. What was the initial idea behind this story and how did that transform as you were writing the novel?
It began in a dream when I was in New Zealand visiting my daughter and granddaughter who live there. This was, essentially, the first page (and chapter) of the novel when Kate, panicked and feeling she was too young for love runs away desperately as her best childhood friend (I never learn his name) tries for the first time, a teenager to kiss her. That scene, that act, is the foundation for the story as she years later discovers that she as frantically and desperately loves him as she had frantically fled from him years before
I say ‘dream’ as that is the nearest word I can get, vision perhaps they would have called in in the middle Ages. But that word’s a bit misleading. In two ways.
First, it wasn’t exactly a dream in the sense of being, asleep more an experience in that liminal in-between state of being neither awake nor asleep but somehow fully both – the whole novel came in that somehow enchanted enspelled state ( I suppose you might call it ‘inspiration’). I planned nothing, but it was still a chapter a night, written down effortlessly (I don’t even remember doing it! or, by now, what the words were. it surprises me every time – so many times – I reread the book now).
Second, ‘dream’ suggests something visual, But it was more a kind of very intense node of emotion, something very personal to me (in a metaphorical sort of way the whole book is kind of autobiographical – what serious novel is not? – and the second chapter about a small girl experiencing the magical world of Donegal – is directly so.
Then the novel – and Kate – just grew. I came to know the hero well, but wish that my ‘dreams’ had given me his name
Black Inked Pearl is told in a dreamlike, almost stream of consciousness, style of writing. Why did you want to tell the story in this style and what were the challenges?
Well, it arose in dreams and the writing essential came from, and took place in, my unconscious – at least that is the only way I can understand and it. So the style is scarcely surprising, it was little under my deliberate control and almost not at all revised later.
I didn’t know in what style I was writing – the process was almost unconscious – but when it was finished I saw (or rather heard when I read it aloud ih my inner ear as I always do with my writing)that it had the rhythms and sonorities of African and Irish story-telling (my mother was a wondrous story-binder) and that some literary giants (Joyce, Fulkner, Hopkins … many others) had written in similar styles. Poetry is mixed with prose – well in a way, as with its oral resonances (a subject on which I have written in academic contexts, in Oral Poetry for example), it is all poetry, some fully, some ore in a kind of blank verse: all unexpected by me!
Also, the content. Part of what I learned as the story revealed itself to me was that the division between dream and reality is an elusive and perhaps non–existent one.
Problems – well some of my readers have problems with it! Some object because they cannot abide what they see as ‘incorrect’ grammar orthography words, not what they learned in the first form at school – I appreciate that they have tried but think they miss the point (how do they cope with Shakespeare?).
Others including my deeply wise best friend, get a bit lost in the plot from time to time, too full of Celtic mists said one. It’s too late now to amend that (and maybe it is just a necessary feature of the novel – mystic, mysterious – anyway) but I have tried to make things clearer, while not abandoning what has now has now become my signature style, in the related ‘Pearl of the Seas’ and, on the way, The helix pearl’ (the latter the same story but this time as told by the garrulouos ever-sprarklng laughing sea (a very different perspective but equally born in dreams). I wonder what is coming next ..
Oh yes, the unusual spellings were loved by the Garn Press, the lovely publishers, but at the same time gave the copy-editor real problems. Microsoft, can yoy believe it (the cheeky thing) kept automatically ‘correcting’ the ‘wrong’ spellings. In the end they got me to send a special list to add to their ‘glossary’ of all my new spellings and word and abbreviations etc. I thought that would be quick and easy – about fifty cases? Whew, no! They tell me, incredibly, that it was nearly two thousand! Don’t believe it! Ut they ear that’s true. Anyway, hey did a great job whatever.
Kate is an enthralling and curious character. What were the driving ideals behind her characters development throughout the story?
As I say it wasn’t conscious since it all came in dreams. So in a way no ‘driving ideas’.
Still I have noticed some abiding themes , detected, later, in the text, as if looking at someone else’s writing (well in way it’s NOT exactly mine, not t=in the normal way anyway – not of the deliberate, conscious careful academically trained me). /tow especially, the ones `I swoudl like to think readers will take form the novel (and from the movie if it gets made a I hope it one day will)
First as I said earlier is the understanding , that we may pretend or think we do, but that actually we do not really know the difference between reality and dreams. Given the way we have been brought up as children of the scientific revolution, this is an exceedingly difficult idea, is it not – but so important to try to accept, specially now as we become more aware of the lives, and, in a way, precious value of those with dementia. Perhaps it is only through literature and metaphor that we can eventually begin to grasp this.
Second is the thought, revealed near the end, that it is and was indeed right as Kate did, to search for others and try to help them carry their burdens. But that in the end it isourselves we are responsible for, it is our own souls for which we have to answer before (whatever metaphor we prefer here) the last judgement throne. As Kate in the final chapters had to do.
Also, after I had finished the book, I was inspired by the little butterfly that, unknown to me, the publishers had put, with the pearl and the jagged black, on the beautiful cover. ‘Butterfly’ in Greek –elsewhere too I think – is the same word and concept as for the soul, breath, spiritus, life: psyche (as in ‘psychology’, ‘psychiatry’). So the soul – figured as Kate, as every man – flies through the black ink print of the story and at the end settles down on the back cover, life fulfilled story told, with her wings folded.
Kate’s discovery of herself at the end was also, I now see, a kind of discovery of myself as person, as soul.
What are some of your inspirations as a writer that helped shape Black Inked Pearl?
Again, ‘dreams’, my unconscious I suppose. But, as one perceptive reviewer put it, only someone with my background and personality would have had those dreams. So – my life, my loves, my experiences of the resonances and styles and images of great literature, above all Shakespeare, Rumi, Homer and the Bible.
An epic romance about the naive Irish girl Kate and her mysterious lover, whom she rejects in panic and then spends her life seeking. After the opening rejection, Kate recalls her Irish upbringing, her convent education, and her coolly-controlled professional success, before her tsunami-like realisation beside an African river of the emotions she had concealed from herself and that she passionately and consumingly loved the man she had rejected.
Searching for him she visits the kingdom of beasts, a London restaurant, an old people’s home, back to the misty Donegal Sea, the heavenly archives, Eden, and hell, where at agonising cost she saves her dying love. They walk together toward heaven, but at the gates he walks past leaving her behind in the dust. The gates close behind him. He in turn searches for her and at last finds her in the dust, but to his fury (and renewed hurt) he is not ecstatically recognised and thanked. And the gates are still shut.
On a secret back way to heaven guided by a little beetle, Kate repeatedly saves her still scornful love, but at the very last, despite Kate’s fatal inability with numbers and through an ultimate sacrifice, he saves her from the precipice and they reach heaven. Kate finally realises that although her quest for her love was not in vain, in the end she had to find herself – the unexpected pearl.
The novel, born in dreams, is interlaced with the ambiguity between this world and another, and increasingly becomes more poetic, riddling and dreamlike as the story unfolds. The epilogue alludes to the key themes of the novel – the eternity of love and the ambiguity between dream and reality.
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Erinland follows 21st century characters as they are catapulted into a 9th Century Viking war. Some fantastic battles and world building ensues. What was your inspiration for the setup to this fascinating novel?
Actually, my inspiration came from the Irish side of the conflict. When visiting Ireland some years ago we visited Trinity College in Dublin. Displayed in a glass case is the Book of Kells. It is a beautifully illuminated ancient manuscript with vivid colours and characters depicting stories from the four Gospels of the bible. The Book of Kells is believed to have been written around the year 800 in a monastery in Iona. After a Viking raid on the monastery, the surviving monks took refuge in a new monastery at Kells, taking their treasures with them. The meticulous attention to detail and its beauty resonated with me, so I did some digging into Irish history and the Viking presence in Ireland. This finally lead me to Amy and Richard and the writing of Erinland.
Erinland provides much in the way of Viking history. Did you do a lot of research to maintain accuracy of the subject?
Yes, I certainly did do a lot of research into both Irish and Viking (Norse) histories and mythologies. I learned a lot about their ways and beliefs and found it absolutely fascinating!
I understand this is a your debut novel. What a fantastic start! What made you start writing?
I’ve always dabbled a little with writing. I enjoy getting lost in the ‘writing space’ and hopefully creating something entertaining for the reader but for Erinland, the catalyst was seeing the Book of Kells first hand.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I am currently working on a sequel to Erinland. It should be available mid 2018.
Two troubled young adults find themselves key players in a deadly game that spans the 21st century and the Viking Age.
Amy, finding it difficult to ‘fit in’, becomes increasingly obsessed with the virtual reality game Erinland. The VR characters and the mist of Erin begin to invade Amy’s dreams and her waking moments. She finds herself drawn into Erinland in 9th century Ireland. Amy becomes part of this mystical world as she joins in the struggle to defeat the Viking raiders.
Richard has a complicated home life and feels he doesn’t belong anywhere. A series of events finds him desperate and living on the streets, where he finds himself dragged into 9th century Norway by a Viking warrior. Richard finds acceptance with the Vikings and joins them on a colonisation raid to Ireland.
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