by Tracy March
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Heather Graham puts a chill in summer reading with the release of two novels in her ‘Krewe of Hunters’ series, Heart of Evil and Sacred Evil. The series features an elite team of paranormal investigators who blend hard forensics with rare—often inexplicable—intuition.
First in the series is Heart of Evil.
Emerging from the bayou like an apparition, Donegal Plantation is known for its unsurpassed dining, captivating atmosphere, haunting legends…and now a corpse swinging from the marble angel that marks its cemetery’s most majestic tomb.
Desperate for help traditional criminologists could never provide, plantation heiress Ashley Donegal turns to an elite team of paranormal investigators. Among them is Jake Mallory, a gifted musician with talent that stretches far beyond the realm of the physical, and a few dark ghosts of his own.
The evil the team unveils has the power to shake the plantation to its very core. Jake and Ashley are forced to risk everything to unravel secrets that will not stay buried—even in death.
Sacred Evil follows.
The details of the crime scene are no coincidence. The body—a promising starlet—has been battered, bloodied and then discarded between two of Manhattan’s oldest graveyards.
One look and Detective Jude Crosby recognizes the tableau: A re–creation of Jack the Ripper’s gruesome work. But he also sees something beyond the actions of a mere copycat. Something more dangerous…and unexplainable.
As the city seethes with suspicion, Jude calls on Whitney Tremont, a member of the country’s preeminent paranormal investigating team, to put the speculation to rest. Yet when Whitney and Jude delve deeper, what they discover is more shocking than either could have predicted, and twice as sinister.
Here’s what Heather has to say about her latest series and her body of work.
How did you come up with the concept for the ‘Krewe of Hunters’ series?
The concept for the series came out of the fact that I’m fascinated by possibilities. I’m not sure what I believe; as human beings, we want to be more. If there is more—than God does exist—and we only use about a tenth of the capacity of the human mind, it’s possible that some people can connect with what others can’t. Some people are born not seeing, but others can see, and if the realm of the supernatural is out there, it might almost be scientific.
Do you have any childhood experiences that made you consider the paranormal at an early age?
My mom was from Dublin and I spent a lot of formative years with her family. My great-grandmother watched my sister and I often and threatened with the idea that the banshees might come for badly behaving children when they were in the outhouse. She managed that threat so well that we were teenagers before talking one day and laughing because we never had an outhouse, but her stories were so good we fell for them anyway.
Heart of Evil features the fictional, civil-war era Donegal Plantation. In 2010, you went on a ghost expedition in Louisiana. Tell us about that experience.
With the idea of creating a trailer to cover the ‘Krewe of Hunters’ series, we decided to head for the Myrtles Plantation in St. Francisville, Louisiana, supposedly one of the most haunted plantations in existence. Connie Perry, who does theatrical costuming for me, came along with other friends and family, and Phin, our videographer, and Bridget from Truth Be Told. It was great!
Not all the books in the series take place in Louisiana, but we found ways to make the setting work for the trailers. A grand 1850s stairway can be much the same in NYC as in NOLA (Watch the trailer). We had so much fun! Fourteen of us with the place all to ourselves, along with the Peace River Ghost Trackers, friends from my area who have done expeditions many places.
We think we have some interesting phenomena on tape and film, but they’re still tracking it all down. Personally, I think we laughed so hard so often that the ghosts were shaking their heads. My husband Dennis agreed to step in for Jack the Ripper, and my sons went a la Civil War, and it was all great. Phin is a doll, so we did a lot of playing around with the film. It was similar to an experience I had with a group from HWA going to the Lizzie Borden house–not sure what happened there, but we had an amazing time!
Jake Mallory is one of the ‘Krewe of Hunters’ featured in Heart of Evil. How does a character with paranormal powers deal with approaching a case versus a person without paranormal capabilities?
Jake is from New Orleans. He’s grown up with quite a bit, too. As with most the others, he knows that his abilities are something not to be shared with everyone. With Adam putting the Krewe together and with Jackson Crow in charge, they all look to the logical or to living people trying for an agenda with “smoke and mirrors” first. But they know that they have a sixth sense, and that they have other avenues to explore as well. Ghosts, or course, are the remaining souls and personalities of the living. Some are shy, some are surly, and some are desperately trying to communicate.
What inspired you to set Sacred Evil in Manhattan?
Sacred Evil takes place in NYC and is based on the theory that Jack the Ripper came to the United States. One woman, Carrie Brown, was murdered in a very similar fashion to his other victims and left in a Bowery hotel. Police on both continents became suspicious. I love downtown New York and all the history of the city. It seems, far too often, in New York we’re shopping or going to the theater (Hey, both good things!), but sometimes forget how intriguing the history of the city can be. Sacred Evil looks at spiritualism and some of the growing pains, although the action is all contemporary. I’ve always been intrigued by the various theories regarding Jack the Ripper, and it was fascinating to weave a modern tale of fiction around that era.
What is in store for readers in future ‘Krewe of Hunters’ books?
The last book in the series is set in Salem, Massachusetts, and takes a look at how we can too easily look at circumstantial evidence—okay, so the suspected killer is found naked in the street, covered in his family’s blood—and how important it is to delve beneath the obvious. Salem’s history reminds us that justice is only what we make it, and that we’re still fighting for it. I also love the city of Salem, and head there whenever I can!
Having written more than a hundred and fifty novels, how do you keep your ideas fresh?
Trying to keep fiction fresh after more than a hundred and fifty novels is a challenge. To me, the key is remembering how different and unique every living person is–and how different and unique their lives are. I think of what matters to me when I read, and most of the time, I’ll love a book because the author–whether it be historic, sci-fi, mystery, suspense, thriller, romance, or non-fiction–I become involved in the characters. When we hear about a catastrophe across the ocean, it hurts our human sensibilities and we feel empathy and usually want to help with a loss. When something either horrible or great or eventful happens to a good friend, we become immersed in the involvement. That’s the key to a story to me–make the reader grasp hold of your characters, and then they’ll truly care what happens to them.
Heather Graham is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author whose books have been featured by the Doubleday Book Club and the Literary Guild. An avid scuba diver, ballroom dancer and mother of five, she enjoys her south Florida home, yet loves to travel as well. Reading is the pastime she loves best and she a member of many writing groups. Heather is currently Vice President of the Horror Writers Association and an active member of the International Thriller Writers. She’s very proud to be a Killerette in the Killer Thriller Band, along with many fellow novelists she admires.
To learn more about Heather, please visit her website.