By Dawn Ius
Like Harry Potter to young readers, Anne Rice to vampires, and Dan Brown to conspiracy theory thrillers, Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series—both in continued novel form and the more recent TV adaptation—has re-opened the portal for time travel adventures.
Just in time for Gwendolyn Womack’s stunning debut, THE MEMORY PAINTER.
“It is a time travel story, but not in the classical sense,” she says, “In the present day storyline, our two lovers remember their past lives as if they’re living it in real time, so it makes the story feed like time travel—although it’s their minds tunnelling them deeper into the past until they arrive at the lifetime where it all began.”
If it sounds complex, you aren’t far off the mark. Spanning six continents and more than 10,000 years, THE MEMORY PAINTER required extensive research, including riveting information about ancient Egypt that not only surprised Womack, but became the springboard for the novel’s thrilling climax.
“If readers are interested in alternate theories about Egypt’s history and the intended purpose of the Great Pyramid, then I recommend Christopher Dunn’s book The Giza Power Plant, and Robert Bauval and Graham Hancock’s book The Message of Sphinx.”
Of course, these works were just a drop in the research bucket for what was required to successfully weave her characters through time with authenticity. Ironic, perhaps, given that Womack’s background is in theatre and she’d originally intended to write THE MEMORY PAINTER as a feature film. A much more truncated version of the story, of course.
“When I sat down to write the novel years later, I completely wiped the idea of it being a movie from my mind and let the story go into far off places without thought of ‘how are we going to shoot this?’”
By Dawn Ius
Pet owners understand the power of unconditional love. That stampede of feet when you walk through the front door can make you feel like the most important person in the world, and nothing can comfort sadness faster than a tender feline kiss. Your pet can heal your heart just with its presence, but if your fur companion is under the weather, it can sometimes leave you feeling helpless.
For author J.G. Faherty the unfortunate stomach troubles of his chocolate lab and subsequent trip to the vet inspired THE CURE, a paranormal horror about Leah, a young veterinarian both blessed and cursed with the power to heal.
“I remember thinking about the famous novel by F. Paul Wilson, The Touch, where a man gets the power to heal. And I thought, wouldn’t it be great if a vet had that power? Animals would never have to suffer,” Faherty says. “And right away I knew I was on to something, but I didn’t want it to be just a rehash of the other book, so I took some time and came up with a bunch of twists and problems that were unique to Leah.”
Indeed, the dark side of her special ability is explored when a force of evil murders the man she loves, transforming the shy, dorky Leah into a demon of retribution. She resurrects her love and embarks on a mission for revenge, leaving readers to eventually question whether Leah has control over her power—or whether it controls her.
“For me, it was all about how a good person will sacrifice anything to help the person they love, and a better person will do it to help innocent animals,” Faherty says. “But there are other themes as well—such as no good deed goes unpunished, keeping secrets can be bad, power corrupts, and so on.”
Amazon recently sent me an ad for crime novels, grouped, not by author, or publisher, or genre subdivision (noir, police procedural, etc.), but by crime. As if I’m sitting there thinking, “What I need is a damn good kidnapping,” or, “I could use a bit of larceny tonight,” or, even, “Gosh! I wonder if they’ve got a good book about jaywalking?”
Well, I suppose it’s as fair a way as any to classify a book. Personally, though, I’ve always had a thing for books that don’t quite fit the marketing pigeonholes, however they’re arranged. Books that take a bit of this, a bit of that, throw in a whole bunch of disparate ingredients, and turn them into something new. Start with a detective story, bolt on a Victorian penny dreadful, add a bit of Wellsian SF, and, if you’ve done it right, you’ll have my interest. The ingredients may vary. It’s the way they’re mixed that counts.
My new novel, DEVIL IN THE WIRES is one such hybrid beast—although I’m hoping, if I’ve done it properly, you’ll soon be so caught up in it, you’ll never see the join. On the one hand, it’s a contemporary thriller. It starts with a perilous mission in Iraq, moves to Paris, then London, and ends with some very bloody goings-on in Chicago. What makes it different is the premise, which is fantasy: that there are ancient powers—gods, for want of a better word—which can be captured, drained of energy, and used to provide electric power for modern cities. Handling them is big business, as you might expect. It’s also dangerous. The entity in the present book, for instance, could make Three Mile Island look like a fun day in the park, if it wanted to.
And that, of course, is the thing our hero has to prevent.
By Ethan Cross
Hemophage (n.): One who subsists on blood; a vampire. Also, strigoi.
Made strigoi against their will, Robin Bradford and his lover Naomi Paris confront a series of threats from other vampires dedicated to destroying them both. Author Stephen M. DeBock’s narrative begins in 1600s England and carries forward to the present, weaving actual historical events into the chilling story of two star-crossed lovers.
The Big Thrill recently caught up with DeBock to talk about HEMOPHAGE, the thrilling conclusion to The Pentacle Pendant trilogy.
Tell us about HEMOPHAGE in one line.
Made vampires against their will, Robin and his lover Naomi must confront a host of enemies dedicated to destroying them.
What kind of research did you conduct for HEMOPHAGE?
The novel spans some four hundred years, with settings in 17th Century England, colonial America, the Pacific theater in WWII, Vietnam, inner city Newark, NJ, Washington, D.C., and environs. I did extensive research on the Internet, also in books relating to the eras and events described, and further used my own experiences when writing about some of the contemporary venues. As the third book in The Pentacle Pendant trilogy, it incorporates characters found in at least one of the first two books and necessitated the making of a gigantic spreadsheet incorporating names, dates, and events in the first two novels—and then slotting in the newest characters and their narratives to ensure the integrity of the entire scope of work.
Describe your typical writing day. How do you balance your writing with marketing, editing, plotting, and all other commitments?
I’m a retiree, so my writing day can begin at any time inspiration strikes. This is a blessing. At times, I’ll wake up and head straight to the computer and write for two to three hours; at others, I’ll detour on the way to bed and write for another hours-long stretch.
By Dawn Ius
Inspired by the strength of some of the women in his life who were facing tough times, Ethan Reid conceived The Undying trilogy, a series of apocalyptic novels, the first of which is centered on a young American named Jeanie learning to survive after a worldwide electromagnetic pulse creates a terrifying new reality.
THE UNDYING: SHADES, the second book in the trilogy, picks up on the journey several years later, as Jeanie and the baby boy, Ren, she saved attempt to survive in the devastated landscape of Southern Spain.
“SHADES is, at heart, a coming-of-age YA novel, as the main character is a teenager struggling to survive in post-apocalyptic Europe,” Reid says. “While the first novel was about birth and survival, the second book follows Ren’s adolescence as he enters adulthood.”
Shifting the focus to Ren was perhaps the hardest part about writing SHADES, Reid says, admitting that the strong, resilient Jeanie was a tough character to leave behind. And as the dark—and sometimes comedic—story moves forward, readers are introduced to several new characters, both the living, and the undead.
“I find humor is the way to stay afloat,” Reid says. “To create characters who can laugh around the campfire after clearing out a city full of the undying ones.”
Charley Davidson has enough going on without having to worry about twelve hellhounds hot on her trail. She is, after all, incredibly pregnant and feeling like she could pop at any moment. But, just her luck, twelve deadly beasts from hell have chosen this time to escape onto our plane, and they’ve made Charley their target. And so she takes refuge at the only place she thinks they can’t get to her: the grounds of an abandoned convent. Of course, if hellhounds aren’t enough, Charley also has a new case to hold her attention: the decades-old murder of a newly-vowed nun she keeps seeing in the shadows of the convent.
Add to that the still unsolved murder of her father, the strange behavior of her husband, and Charley’s tendency to attract the, shall we say, undead, and she has her hands full…but also tied.
By E. A. Aymar
Suzanne Johnson enjoys keeping a foot in two worlds.
Her Sentinels series takes place both in contemporary New Orleans and an intricately developed paranormal universe that lies just beyond the city. Her characters battle both supernatural and human conflicts, but Johnson is too skilled a writer to let the physical fights overshadow the emotions that led to them. And although her books employ a number of fantasy conventions, Johnson uses actual historic incidents and figures (such as Hurricane Katrina, and the French pirate Jean Lafitte) in her work.
Additionally, she co-writes the Collectors’ series under the pseudonym Susannah Sandlin. Despite her busy schedule, Johnson took the time to discuss her writing and her latest book in the Sentinels series, PIRATE’S ALLEY.
What’s been your biggest challenge with maintaining the Sentinels series?
Building and sustaining a large multiverse—lots of species, each with different types of magic or powers—without drowning the reader in too many characters or complexity. I’ve introduced the major political players slowly, with the wizards and historical undead in the first book, Royal Street, then shifters and the water species in River Road, the elves and vampires in Elysian Fields, and now the fae in PIRATE’S ALLEY. As the series marches toward an interspecies war unless heroine DJ finds a way to prevent it, I hope introducing the species slowly in this way will help readers keep them straight!
By Steve Turner
Readers of Gigi Pandian’s novels know she likes to feature lost artifacts, quirky characters, evocative locations, and unexpected twists. Her latest novel, THE ACCIDENTAL ALCHEMIST, also delivers these ingredients.
This urban fantasy thriller is based in Portland, Oregon, an appropriately fashionable setting for the unusual and strange. And sure enough, after only a few pages, we soon learn this is going to be a tale that embraces the extraordinary. The protagonist, Zoe, seemed as surprised as I was to discover that the other main character was a diminutive French-speaking gargoyle with a penchant for fine dining. Next we find that Zoe herself is not quite the ordinary girl she first appears to be, but is actually significantly older, providing a rich backdrop for the story’s past and present.
As the plot unfolds, we follow the exploits and adventures of this very unusual pair of sleuths, who lead us, hand in tiny stone hand, on a very curious journey indeed. The narrative maintains a relatively light atmosphere amongst shades of darker things and sinister goings-on, but avoids fixating on the grim to conjure an enjoyable escapade.
I interviewed Gigi to gain an insight into the book’s creation and also for a sneak a peek into her diary of future plans.
Imagine discovering everything you believe about yourself to be a lie. And that the truth could stir a killer from his lair.
Following the death of the woman she believed to be her mother, twenty-eight-year-old Naomi Waters learns from a malicious aunt that she is not only adopted, but the product of a brutal rape that left her birth mother, Mary Rose Francis, a teenager of Micmac ancestry, in a coma for eight months.
Dealing with a sense of betrayal and loss, but with new purpose in her life, Naomi vows to track down Mary Rose’s attackers and bring them to justice. She places her story in the local paper, asking for information from residents who might remember something of the case that has been cold for nearly three decades.
She is about to lose hope that her efforts will bear fruit, when she gets an anonymous phone call. Naomi has attracted the attention of one who remembers the case well.
But someone else has also read the article in the paper. The man whose DNA she carries.
And he has Naomi in his sights.
The reviews are in—and they’re strong, comparing Joan Hall Hovey to Hitchcock and Stephen King. The author graciously agreed to say a few words to our readers:
I have a book in front of me that’s fiendishly hard to classify, as it contains elements, among others, of the thriller, the paranormal, and the weird. But these many facets combine to form a polished and original end-result; one particular gem is the unique spin on the mortals-immortals relationship that sees humanity using them as a source of energy.
Its believable, down-to-earth characters depict pleasantly imperfect people, who must face situations both of and beyond this world. We meet protagonist Chris Copeland, his job description being neatly encapsulated in the book’s title, who crosses paths with a chain-smoking, chain-swearing Hungarian detective who is certain to find her way into reader’s memories. Together they provide plenty of fascinating interplay, and form an unlikely human team facing off against fleeting inhuman entities whose brevity forces us to gulp down concentrated doses of spookiness.
I was fortunate to hunt down Tim Lees and subject him to a round of questioning in an attempt to shed light on the thought processes behind the darker side of the creation of such a novel.
Your novel, THE GOD HUNTER, could be described as a paranormal thriller. What appeals to you most about writing for the paranormal genre?
You can play with ideas. Your story automatically has an extra level to it. On the one hand, you have the usual matter expected of a novel such as characters and plot, but then you have this sort of mythic level on the top of that, setting up all kinds of resonances. If everything goes well, it can be a very pleasing combination.
Ken Newman has loved stories of the supernatural since listening to his grandmother’s tales of witches, haints, boogers, and catawamps when he was a child. Author of urban fantasy novels, his fiction reflects his Tennessee roots and his love for all things that go bump in the night.
Mixing folklore with modern themes, Ken’s novels create a universe of supernatural creatures and larger than life heroes where nothing is as it seems and myth and legend are terrifyingly real.
Ken graciously agreed to answer a few questions about his latest novel, THE VOICE IN MY EAR.
Where does this book take readers?
Zack Cole never enjoyed living in Bryson City, Tennessee. Being the direct decedent of a bloody serial killer made Cole a pariah and when he was old enough, he left, never intending to return. Coaxed back after two years to attend a memorial for his best friend was a bad idea and Zack finds himself the lone survivor of a bloody massacre. Not only is his body broken, his memory does not jibe with the official police version of events. On the day of his release from the hospital, Zack receives a mysterious visitor who forces Zack to make good on a deal he made moments from death. In exchange for his life, Zack agrees to become the host of a very special entity. Laylakokumi Akirasoon Shu, better known as Layla, was the most powerful witch to every walk the earth, but that was 4000 years ago. Cursed to exist as an earthbound spirit trapped in the form of a tattoo, Layla needs a host to survive. While Zack and Layla struggle with their new relationship, they have no idea they are pawns in a deadly game between the Fallen.
What attracts you to this type of story?
From a young age, we are led to believe that the world in which we live is well ordered and devoid of anything outside natural laws. All the tales of witches, monsters and supernatural creatures were the creation of backward superstition. I think the concept of the world around us as being more mysterious and dark than we believe is too enticing to let go. Just imagine if myth, monsters, and legends were not only real, but lived among us, fighting a secret war? A war that from time to time we mortals were drawn into. What if your third period school teacher was secretly a warlock? Perhaps the pastor at your church was a fallen angel, or your next door neighbor a shape shifter?
By Dan Levy
Like many successful authors, Alex Gordon was drawn to writing early in life and continued through high school. Then, Gordon explained, “I poked around with the idea of writing a (science fiction) novel in college, but that fizzled.”
Gordon shelved her writing for a time, but as it is with so many, the call was strong. “In the early nineties, I saw that so many of my coworkers were returning to school for MBAs. I thought that I would give writing a shot, that some sort of writing course would be my version of an MBA,” she said. The result was Code of Conduct, the first in the Jani Kilian science fiction series, written under my real name, Kristine Smith.
Nearly a decade later, Gordon returns with a supernatural thriller entitled GIDEON, set for release this month. THE BIG THRILL caught-up with Gordon to learn about her latest work and her shift from science fiction to the thriller format.
First, why the switch?
The main reason I want to write thrillers is because I love to read them. Supernatural, science fiction, espionage, medical—I enjoy the high stakes, rapidly-evolving plots, larger than life characters. They’re a blast to read and a real challenge to write. You need just enough detail—too much and you bog down the story. You need interesting characters, but you have to remind yourself that you’re not writing character studies. Revelations need to tie into the main plot.
The #1 New York Times bestselling Sookie Stackhouse novels by Charlaine Harris spawned the hit TV show, True Blood, and captivated fans around the world—including many writers. Now a group of writers, specifically chosen by Harris and co-editor L.P. Kelner, pays tribute to “the southern, mind-reading belle who gets mixed up in the world of vampires and magical creatures” (The Kansas City Star) with a collection of fifteen all-new stories about your favorite residents of Bon Temps.
DEAD BUT NOT FORGOTTEN is the seventh paranormal anthology produced by Harris and co-editor Kelner, an acclaimed writer in her own right. With this latest effort, the powerhouse duo may have outdone themselves.
Kelner and Harris graciously answered a few questions for THE BIG THRILL.
The smash-hit Sookie Stackhouse series may have had its finale, but Sookie’s world set in Bon Temps, Louisiana, lives on in this collection of 15 stories. This DEAD BUT NOT FORGOTTEN anthology includes an incredible line up of notable authors. How did you decide which authors to invite to write new tales within the Sookie universe? And were you looking for a diversity of narrative styles and voices to create this collection or similar appeal?
Toni Kelner: Of course, we wanted great authors, but also we were looking for people we knew to be actual fans of the Sookie books, people who’ve spoken to Charlaine over the years about their favorite characters and storylines. Since Charlaine has had such a huge influence on urban fantasy and paranormal romance, it wasn’t hard to find folks.
By J. H. Bográn
I first met author Maria Alexander in the hallways of the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York City during the 2010 ThrillerFest. We exchanged book pitches and business cards. Hers was made of thick pink cardboard, with black lettering, lilac leaves on each corner, and neatly framed. There was this message on the back that has haunted me ever since: “I’ve suffered for my art. Now it’s your turn.” We kept in touch, and when I got this month’s assignment I was thrilled to find out it was for Alexander’s MR. WICKER.
Tell us about MR. WICKER.
Alicia Baum is missing a deadly childhood memory. She must find it before it destroys her. Located beyond life, The Library of Lost Childhood Memories holds the answer. But the Librarian is Mr. Wicker—a seductive yet sinister creature with an unthinkable past and an agenda just as lethal.
What can you tell us about Alicia?
She’s intelligent. Independent. Passionate. Depressed. Angry.
Authors rarely kill off the main character in the first paragraph, but that’s exactly what I’ve done in MR. WICKER.
While she is certainly in a bad way at the outset, her enormous imagination and courage later help her process extraordinary events that would drive you and I insane. Her strong will and rebellious streak don’t always help her make the best decisions. However, you can see the size of her heart in her defense of and compassion for those weaker than herself. Publishers Weekly said some lovely things about both the book and Alicia. It made me very happy.
Can you give us some dirt on the librarian? Without giving away the ending, of course.
Mr. Wicker, who presides over The Library of Lost Childhood Memories, is one unforgiving bastard, even when it comes to centuries-old hurts. The contents of the Library have corrupted his mind, yet there is still a chance for him to learn forgiveness. Whether he takes it or not is to be seen, but Alicia’s life might depend on it.
A HIDDEN ELEMENT, the new novel by Donna Galanti, returns readers to a treacherous sci-fi-tinged world first visited in A HUMAN ELEMENT.
In the first book in the paranormal trilogy, Laura Armstrong and Ben Fieldstone confronted a madman with a terrifying and murderous mission. In the new volume, the couple, now married, face the abduction of their son seven years later.
He’s the target of a madman out to breed an alien community. Their son’s special powers are a key to a world-dominating plan, in fact. That forces Ben and Laura to trust the madman’s son, Caleb Madroc, who has children of his own at stake plus a desire to save oppressed people just like himself.
It’s a new journey for all, and a new nightmare in a world made up of what Bram Stoker award-winning author John Everson called a blend of “all my favorite elements—psi-powers, aliens hiding among us, sex as a weapon, and secret rebellions that could change worlds.”
With A HUMAN ELEMENT available in a new edition from Imajin Books and A HIDDEN ELEMENT rolling out, Galanti answered a few questions about the tale and the world of the Element trilogy.
A HIDDEN ELEMENT picks up action begun in A HUMAN ELEMENT and returns readers to that novel’s universe, which is an interesting blend of science, paranormal, and thriller. Did you discover new things about that world as you wrote the new book?
Book two takes place in a secret cult-like community hidden deep in the Oregon wilderness, but unrest hides within the compound over forced breeding, communal living, and harsh punishments. With the community losing faith in its leadership, many members flee, widening the crack in this insulated compound and opening it to increased dissension—and death. The world in this book throughout the trilogy is a paranormal world and I discovered it’s one that really takes place inside us—it could be a world positioned anywhere. And while book one dealt with paranormal violence in a wild, unrestrained vein, book two also reveals violence through paranormal activity in a planned, methodical manner.
By Ethan Cross
Booklist describes Nicholas Kaufman’s work as possessing “a real sense of style and wit,”while Suspense Magazine compares him to Dean Koontz and hails his latest novel, DIE AND STAY DEAD, as “creepy, fun, and immensely entertaining.”
In this pulse-pounding sequel to DYING IS MY BUSINESS, Trent, a man who can’t stay dead or retain his memories, tries to uncover his connection to a deadly doomsday cult bent on destroying New York City.
A brutal murder in Greenwich Village puts Trent and the Five-Pointed Star on the trail of Erickson Arkwright, the last surviving member of a doomsday cult. Back in the day, the Aeternis Tenebris cult thought the world would end on New Year’s Eve of 2000. When it didn’t, they decided to end it themselves by summoning Nahash-Dred, a powerful, terrifying demon known as the Destroyer of Worlds. But something went wrong. The demon massacred the cult, leaving Arkwright the sole survivor.
Now, hiding somewhere in New York City with a new identity, Arkwright plans to summon the demon again and finish the job he started over a decade ago. As Trent rushes to locate a long-lost magical artifact that may be the only way to stop him, the clues begin to mount…Trent’s past and Arkwright’s might be linked somehow. And if they are, it means the truth of who Trent really is may lie buried in the twisted mind of a madman.
Tell us about DIE AND STAY DEAD in one line.
Oh jeez, can’t you start off with something easier like “Tell us the meaning of life?” One line, oof. Okay, then. How about: “While racing against the clock to prevent a madman from summoning a demon that will destroy the world, Trent, a man who has lost his memories, must confront the dark truth of his past and the awful secret of who he really is.” Hrm. Yeah, I don’t think I’m very good at the one-line thing, but that’s the gist of it.
THE BETRAYED is New York Times-bestselling-author Heather Graham’s most recent book in her Krewe of Hunters series and the third in her latest Krewe trilogy, after THE CURSED and THE HEXED.
In THE BETRAYED, New York FBI agent Aiden Mahoney is a new member of the Krewe, the Bureau’s unit of paranormal investigators. One night, Aiden receives a visit in a dream from his old friend, Richard Highsmith, an up-and-coming politician whose future seems unlimited: mayor of New York City, governor, perhaps even President of the United States. The very next day, Aiden is dispatched to Sleepy Hollow, New York, the setting of Washington Irving’s classic story about the legendary Headless Horseman. During a campaign appearance in the town, Highsmith disappeared without a trace.
Maureen (“Mo”) Deauville lives in Sleepy Hollow and works with her dog, Rollo, to find missing people. To her horror, she and Rollo find Highsmith—or more precisely his head—stuck on one of the town’s many statues of the Headless Horseman.
Risking their own lives, Mo and Aiden explore both past and present events to figure out who killed Highsmith. As they work together, they discover that they share an unusual trait—the ability to communicate with the dead. They also share an attraction that’s as intense as it is unexpected. The problem is that they might not live long enough to enjoy it.
Heather Graham graciously agreed to answer some questions about her compelling new novel.
Please tell us about the Krewe of Hunters series.
I’ve worked with the Krewe of Hunters for a while now and we’ve reached that scary place where I want them to be real! Years ago, in a book called HAUNTED, I introduced a character named Adam Harrison. A very wealthy man, he was always kind and a philanthropist and also friendly with many important dignitaries. He began to find people like his son to investigate when strange things were happening. Eventually, he joined with the powers that be at the FBI to provide his people with training and all the modern tech needed. The Krewe come from different vocations, all adding something to their special talent—basically, the ability at times to see the dead.
Did you ever have to talk to a weasel? Not that shifty guy in accounts receivable, a ferret. What about a naked mole rat? With her very special psychic ability, such conversations are not unfamiliar to Dr. Shelley Morgan. She’s the heroine of GUARDED, the second paranormal thriller in Mary Behre’s Tidewater series, following SPIRITED.
That’s right, Dr. Morgan is a veterinarian whose patients can tell her where it hurts. That’s not all that animals can tell her, so her ability comes in handy when she stumbles on an exotic animal-kidnapping ring and becomes a suspect in a zoo keeper’s murder.
This is a romantic thriller too, so fortunately Detective Dev Jones is involved in the case and promises to be a big help. He’s a really big help. Some have found his “bear-like physique” intimidating. Shelley knows he’s an intelligent, capable man, however.
To help Shelley, Dev might need all of his wits, and he might just have to put his career on the line as the case unfolds.
Since the Tidewater books mix mystery and thrills and humor, let’s just end this introduction by saying that in the Q&A that follows THE BIG THRILL posed a few guarded questions to Behre.
GUARDED is your second Tidewater installment. Tell us a little about the series and the Tidewater universe. The books focus on a different Tidewater resident each time, but there’s a connection between the heroine of GUARDED and the heroine of the first book in the series, SPIRITED, right?
The fictional city of Tidewater is set in beautiful coastal Virginia. It was inspired by my time living in Norfolk, Virginia Beach, and Chesapeake, Virginia. The residents in these cities (as well as Portsmouth and Suffolk) often refer to the region as Tidewater, though the name doesn’t appear on a map.
In the Tidewater series, certain members of the city are endowed with unique, cursed gifts, or “crifts.” Each one has a different psychic ability.
By J. H. Bográn
Nancy J. Cohen is nothing if not versatile. She writes the humorous Bad Hair Day mystery series featuring hairdresser Marla Shore. Several of these titles have made the Independent Mystery Booksellers Association bestseller list. Cohen is also the author of WRITING THE COZY MYSTERY, a valuable instructional guide for writers on how to write a winning cozy-style whodunit. Her imaginative romances have proven popular with fans as well. Her titles in this genre have won the HOLT Medallion and Best Book in Romantic SciFi/Fantasy at The Romance Reviews.
For this story, the focus is on the next volume of WARRIOR LORD. I first met Nancy J. Cohen when she was about to release a book in her Bad Hair Day series. Then she was kind enough to let me steal the spotlight on her blog. Now I’m pleased THE BIG THRILL gave me the opportunity to her a few questions about her new book.
What’s the plot of WARRIOR LORD – Drift Lord 3?
Pottery sculptor Erika Sherwood has no idea her televised wedding in Las Vegas is for real until an official confirms she and the stranger she’s just met are legitimately wed.
A Drift Lord and warrior of the Tsuran, Magnor tricks the redhead into marriage because she’s one of six women prophesied to save Earth. But as he’s forced into her company in their race against the apocalypse, he wonders if he risks his heart more than his life.
Can a free-spirited ceramic artist and a fierce swordsman trust each other enough to prevent disaster?
By John Raab
New York Times bestselling author Heather Graham returns with her latest book in her Krewe of the Hunters series with THE HEXED. Heather is one of those rare authors who has written in several different genres, from romance to thriller to ghost stories and more. She has been listed on every major bestseller list, and if that wasn’t enough, she’s released several blockbusters this year alone: THE CURSED (the first of the newest trilogy within the Krewe Hunters series), WAKING THE DEAD (part of her Cafferty & Quinn series), and THE AWAKENING (a new reissue in her Alliance Vampires series). Out of breath yet? It is amazing that we were able to slow her down for a second and talk with her about THE HEXED among other topics, so check out her interview with THE BIG THRILL below.
THE HEXED is the second book in your newest Krewe of Hunters trilogy, that started with THE CURSED. Please tell us about the series.
I’ve always loved the concept of something beyond—or explaining what can’t be rationally explained. We know we use a very small percentage of the amazing “computer” that is the human brain, so, perhaps some people do have senses that we don’t know about. Historically, there have been mothers who have known the precise time a child is in trouble or twins who can sense something with one another miles and miles away. No one has the answer to death. And, of course, I love to believe that there is something more, and if there is . . . well, maybe some of us really can touch more than others. But, with the Krewe, the concept was to gather talented investigators and law enforcement officials who have extra sensory talents and put them together as units. So, they’re a “special” unit of the FBI, both teased by others as “ghost busters” and admired for their solve rate. They head out on cases that defy the logical. They tend to take place in cities and towns I really love—and that lend to the extraordinary. I love Salem, Mass, where THE HEXED takes place. My family has gone almost every year since I don’t know when since my husband has—seriously!—a zillion relatives in Massachusetts. The history there is incredibly sad—how we allowed people to die by “spectral” evidence can only be slightly understood by looking back at the fear people lived with in the late 1600s and the belief that the devil was real and ready to seize human souls—and bodies. There’s still so much that went on that is debatable—which makes it a perfect setting for fictional stories.
Tell us a little about yourself.
Well, if you’ve read my bio, you know I come from a huge family, 37 strong. It’s not a joke, promise. It’s very real. Here’s the fun part—I am the least social person you’ll probably ever meet. No, really. In real life, where people come up and hold actual conversations, I have to rely on my husband for support. I’m pretty shy until the ice gets broken. Then, woo baby, I’m right in there.
I’ve been blessed with two boys because someone up there knows I’d never survive raising girls. I have nothing but admiration for those who have accepted that challenge. My boys are two of the greatest things I’ve ever done, well, next to marrying my best friend. So yes, I’m very outnumbered in my home, but they’ll tell you it feels the other way around.
I sport a type-A personality, even managed to get a Master’s in Organizational Management. Yep, it’s a real degree. That’s the degree the person who comes into a company, looks at it, and says, “You know, guys, you’re going about this all wrong. Here’s what you need to do…”
However, no matter how much in order the rest of my life must be, I’m a closet plotter when it comes to writing. When I first started out, I would loudly and proudly proclaim I wrote by the seat of my pants. Five books later, I humbly bow before the wisdom of those who shook their heads and tsk-tsk-ed my proclamations. While I detest outlines (evil reminders of all my college research papers and journalism assignments), I’ve found them necessary to ensure my stories come together without massive reconstructive surgery.
A haunted house in Key West
Hannah O’Brien, who grew up in the house and now runs it as a B and B, has always had a special ability to see a pair of resident ghosts. But when a man is murdered in the alley behind her place, she’s dismayed when his spirit appears, too, asking for help.
FBI agent Dallas Samson has a passionate interest in the murder, since the victim’s a colleague whose death is connected to the smuggling ring known as Los Lobos—the wolves. Now Dallas is even more committed to chasing them down….
Unaware that Dallas has certain abilities of his own, Hannah calls her cousin Kelsey O’Brien, a member of the FBI’s Krewe of Hunters, an elite unit of paranormal investigators. The present-day case is linked to a historical mystery involving salvagers, a curse and a sunken ship. Danger and desire bring Hannah and Dallas together, but to survive, they have to solve the mysteries of the past—and stay alive long enough to solve the crimes of the present!
By Brian Knight
Every town hides secrets…and Cromwell Bay is no exception. Eileen Maroni is running from her past, but she envisions a new life in the tough little fishing village, where no one knows who she is—including the police.
Frank Foster just buried his best friend, and is struggling to come to terms with the devastating loss and his own self-doubt.
Nothing will ever be the same for them again when their paths cross at the Harbor Motel, and they learn what lies behind the door of room #8.
Tell us a bit about your upcoming book.
ASH AND BONE is both a departure—and a non-departure—from my other work. My novels, THE GENESIS CODE, THE JANUS LEGACY, and BLOCKBUSTER (coming January 2015) are techno and medical thrillers. ASH AND BONE is more of a horror/noir/suspense work. That said, it’s much like an early short work. I find that I prefer using the novel format for thrillers, and the shorter novella format for horror/noir work. It just feels right for me.
In ASH AND BONE, two characters—each damaged in different ways—converge in the town of Cromwell Bay and make a grisly discovery that significantly changes their lives. Eileen blows into town with a wad of cash from some prior shady activities. She buys the old, long-closed Harbor Motel and fixes it up for business. Frank ends up staying there on his way home from a dear friend’s funeral. His friend, a highly successful L.A. entertainment lawyer, had everything going for him, until he’s murdered in a fluke robbery at a convenience store. The loss of his friend and the sheer waste of it torments Frank as he stops for the night in Cromwell Bay. One of these characters financially benefits from the discovery and the events that follow, and the other winds up forever consumed with guilt.
By Basil Sands
Allow me to introduce you to Mary Behre.
Mary is the lone female in a house full of males and the undisputed queen of her domain. She even has the glittery tiara to prove it. She loves stories with humor, ghosts, mysteries and above all else, a good romance. When not writing, she enjoys reading, gluten-free baking, and hanging out at the beach with the most important men in her life, her family.
Her debut paranormal romance, SPIRITED (Tidewater Novel #1) was an award-winning manuscript before it sold to Berkley Sensation. The Tidewater Series is mix of humor, suspense, and a psychic love-connection. The first three stories are about three sisters separated years before in the foster care system. As they search for love, each other, and a way to live with their psychic abilities, they’re tossed into the middle of mysteries that only their unique gifts can help solve.
Look at what PUBLISHERS WEEKLY had to say about SPIRITED: “Behre’s exuberant debut paranormal romance is lighthearted and easygoing, with a slow-moving subplot that promises to spark future books.”
Mary, tell us a little about SPIRITED.
Hi Basil, thank you for inviting me to talk to THE BIG THRILL about my debut novel. SPIRITED is full of ghosts, love and mystery. Jules is a psychic who wishes she wasn’t. Seth is a cop out to repair his tarnished reputation. They’re repeatedly thrown together by a ghost on a mission to help solve a murder before another person dies:
By Basil Sands
This month we introduce to you J.D. Horn, international man of mystery. Well, maybe not really an international man of mystery in the literal sense, but he really does get around. Whether he’s in Tennessee, Hollywood, Paris, or Tokyo, running half-marathons or conversing in French, one thing is certain, his debut novel, THE LINE, does indeed contain a sense of mystery.
As Kathryn Leigh Scott of the old TV series DARK SHADOWS put it: “JD Horn weaves an intricate, gripping tale of magic and mysticism with the assured grace and lyricism of a seasoned novelist.”
J.D., tell us about THE LINE.
To the uninitiated, Savannah shows only her bright face and genteel manner. Those who know her well, though, can see beyond her colonial trappings and small-city charm to a world where witchcraft is respected, Hoodoo is feared, and spirits linger. Mercy Taylor is all too familiar with the supernatural side of Savannah, being a member of the most powerful family of witches in the South.
Despite being powerless herself, of course.
Having grown up without magic of her own, in the shadow of her talented and charismatic twin sister, Mercy has always thought herself content. But when a series of mishaps—culminating in the death of the Taylor matriarch—leaves a vacuum in the mystical underpinnings of Savannah, she finds herself thrust into a mystery that could shake her family apart…and unleash a darkness the line of Taylor witches has been keeping at bay for generations.
Alma Katsu’s highly acclaimed Taker Trilogy will come to an end in January with the release of THE DESCENT. The author answered a few questions for THE BIG THRILL about what it was like to write such an unusual series and what comes next in her writing career.
Tell us about THE DESCENT
THE DESCENT is the finale to The Taker Trilogy. The trilogy starts with Lanore McIlvrae using magic—magic she doesn’t understand—to try to bind a faithless lover to her, only to find that she’s damned them both to an eternity with a mysterious man with otherworldly powers, and it’s up to her to free them. The struggle between the three characters spans over two centuries, several continents and, in THE DESCENT, takes them to their final battleground: the underworld.
That’s the pocket description but it doesn’t begin to cover it. The one thing most readers say about the books is that they’re unlike anything they’d read before. So while it’s been compared to INTERVIEW WITH A VAMPIRE and Diana Gabaldon’s OUTLANDER, and THE HISTORIAN it’s not exactly like any of those books. It’s got elements of historicals, fantasy, paranormal, romance, and suspense but it doesn’t belong in any of those genres. I think that ultimately readers find it a pretty satisfying experience, nonetheless.
Ruby witnesses her uncle’s murder by a supernatural weapon. On his dying breath, he utters the name of the man who must have sent it. But Cyntag is far more than a mere man. Dangerous, sexy, and Dragon, he’s the only one who can keep her alive in a hidden world of dark magick, deadly power, and hot passion.
“What a fantabulously brilliant and unique world Jaime Rush has created in The Hidden. I am a HUGE fan of her Offspring series and have been chomping at the bit for Dragon Mine, the prequel novella for her new series.” — SMASH ATTACK READS – Mel Thomas
“A passionate, spellbinding dragon tale.” – NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author Pamela Palmer for DRAGON AWAKENED.
By Cathy Clamp
Shape shifters live among us, hidden from the view of humans. Sasha’s future was stolen from her the moment she was bitten. Now she’s on the run from the Nero Organization that transformed her from a human detective into a shape shifting jaguar assassin.
When a rogue bounty hunter threatens her younger sister, she’ll be forced to fight, and with nowhere else to turn, Sasha will need to trust the one man who has every reason to want her dead.
Aren is a werewolf with a secret. While protecting his twin brother and Alpha of the Pack, he found his one mate for life. Sadly she’s also the jaguar assassin who tried to kill them both. Now Aren is struggling between his animal nature to love and protect her, and his loyalty to the Pack.
The second book of the Moon series by Lisa Kessler is an action-packed book full of twists and turns that will keep readers on the edge of their seat. THE BIG THRILL sat down with the author to talk about the exciting new release that will leave both thriller and suspense readers begging for more.
Will readers picking up this book need to read the first book (MOONLIGHT) to understand the reality?
Not at all. HUNTER’S MOON is part of the Moon Series, but it stands on its own.
By Derek Gunn
Nicholas Kaufmann is no stranger to writing. Over the last few years his short fiction has been nominated for a number of awards including the Bram Stoker Award (“General Slocum’s Gold”), the International Thriller Writers Award (“Chasing the Dragon”), and the Shirley Jackson Award (“Chasing the Dragon”).
He has now entered a tough market so he will need every bit of that experience. Urban Fantasy has become a very popular market in recent times with so many books on the shelves that it is not easy to get noticed or to survive. There are some very big players in this market and lots of pretenders to the throne. There are sub genres too. Stories with hints of horror, steampunk, erotic, and other stories with more than a hint, vie for our attention. So what is different about this one I hear you ask – or is that just the voices in my head?
Well for one thing – this book is very well-written. Believe me that is not a given in this field. Characters are well fleshed out, have real issues and come across well. The writing is stylish, you might expect that for someone accomplished in short story writing but it does not always come through in novels. Romance, horror, belly laughs – this one has it all. Except for a zombified werewolf – no my mistake – it has one of those as well. Intrigued? You should be. For another thing this book is fresh. It’s as if the Urban Fantasy genre wasn’t already – dare I say jaded ? Told in the first person this really does slap you in the face with its wonder and awe at strange phenomena. When was the last time you read a book where normal people did not totally accept the supernatural far too quickly?
A gunfighter battles flesh-eating zombies and corruption in an 1897 Nevada mining town.
Coyote Flats, the Nevada desert 1897: the age of steam and gears and zombies. Ryan McBride has one of the richest gold mines in Nevada. But that’s not enough. He not only intends to own every gold claim in the area, he wants the town, too. And he’ll do whatever it takes to make that happen.
At night when the devil wind blows, a pack of flesh-hungry zombies descend on Coyote Flats. Townspeople are killed and Sheriff John Cable stands alone against the creatures. He steps into the night and disappears; but not before asking that a telegraph be sent to his friend Max Traver in San Francisco requesting his help. Now it’s up to Traver to stop McBride. But first he has to face McBride’s gunman Driscoll Pine and the zombies turned loose on the town to instill fear in the miners.