Friday, December 29, 2017

New interview with author Kelly Charron

Author Kelly Charron is back with a new interview. She joins me today to wrap up 2017 with an interview about her new psychological thriller, Wicked Fallout.

She was here last year to talk about YA novel, Pretty Wicked.

Kelly Charron is the author of YA and adult horror, psychological thrillers and urban fantasy novels. All with gritty, murderous inclinations and some moderate amounts of humor. She spends far too much time consuming true crime television (and chocolate) while trying to decide if yes, it was the husband, with the wrench, in the library. Kelly has English Literature and Social Work degrees and has worked in education and in various social service areas. She lives with her husband and cat, Moo Moo, in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Welcome back to Reviews and Interviews, Kelly.
Thank you so much for having me back, Lisa!

Please tell us about your newest release.
Wicked Fallout takes place 12 years after Pretty Wicked, which is the first book in the series. It follows incarcerated serial killer, Ryann Wilkanson, as she attempts to get a commuted sentence and released from prison when new evidence comes to light about the murders she committed when she was fifteen. The book alternates between Ryann’s point of view and the forensic psychiatrist, Dr. Nancy Clafin, who has been appointed by Ryann’s new defense team to evaluate her.

What inspired you to write this book?
I had a lot of fun writing Ryann. The sequel actually began as a rewrite of Pretty Wicked. I was at a writing conference and talked separately with an editor and agent who were each interested in seeing Pretty Wicked written as an adult book instead of young adult. I gave it a sincere try but in the end, I couldn’t abandon the vision I originally had for the book. I was going to have to change too many interesting and important elements to the story which didn’t sit right with me. I decided to use some of what I’d written but changed it to be the sequel instead. I was interested in seeing what happened to Ryann after the end of the first book. Where was she? What was she like? How had she changed? I enjoyed writing an older and more experienced version of her as well as the new perspective Nancy had, which is obviously a very different one from Ryann. I love dark stories and dark characters. I’ve always found the villain in stories to be far more fascinating than the heroic protagonist. True crime and serial killers have interested me since I was a young child, I have no idea why—though I chalk it up to being captivated by human motivation and flaws. I’m intrigued to learn about individuals who are so vastly different from most people you or I would ever encounter.

What’s the next writing project?
I’m currently working on a new adult thriller separate from the Pretty Wicked Series. It centers around three women who have been friends since they were young. One of them is engaged and the three spend a night celebrating an intimate bachelorette party at a local pub. They split up, but two of them get a phone call the next morning from the fiancé saying that their friend never made it home. Her purse and keys are found on her front lawn, proof that she made it back, just never inside. It’s far more than a kidnapping story. I don’t want to give away the twists and turns (of which there are many) but there’s quite a bit of drama between the friends left behind. I’m exploring the idea of how well you really know the people in your life, including what they are actually capable of doing under the right, or wrong, circumstances.

What is your biggest challenge when writing a new book? (or the biggest challenge with this book)
Procrastinating is my curse. I wish I didn’t, but I’m guilty of it at some point most days. I have great writing streaks where it’s not an issue, but if I’m tired I’m always going to choose TV or Netflix over writing. The biggest challenge I faced when I was writing Wicked Fallout was deciding how much to delve into the murders from Pretty Wicked. Wicked Fallout is an adult book so there is a distinct possibility it would get a new readership than PW. I’ve already had a few emails from readers telling me they have read WF and not PW because they don’t enjoy young adult. I wanted to make sure I put enough information about the things Ryann had done in book one so that readers who went straight into WF had a complete grasp of the murders and her character. I struggled finding a balance between recapping and recreating the events of the first novel, but I worked with the same beta readers and editor on both books and they helped me reach a good balance. It’s constructed in a way to refresh the memory of someone who read book one and fills in enough of the gaps for a new reader.

If your novels require research – please talk about the process. Do you do the research first and then write, while you’re writing, after the novel is complete and you need to fill in the gaps?
I research as I write. I hate leaving areas that are blank or only partially written, so when I come to a part that I need more knowledge about I will research that in that moment. This way the information is fresh in my mind and will be truer on the page. I did quite a bit of research for both books, though for Pretty Wicked my research was watching documentaries, reading true crime accounts and studying serial killers, especially children who kill, of which there are far more than I ever anticipated. Because Wicked Fallout had a huge legal element, I interviewed a Colorado Prosecutor as well as a woman who worked with children who had committed violent crimes and were incarcerated. I am a Canadian and our legal system is quite a bit different so it was important for me to represent American prison and legal areas as realistically as possible while still allowing for the magic of fiction.

What’s your writing space like? Do you have a particular spot to write where the muse is more active? Please tell us about it.
I can write everywhere and do—from cafes to my home office or sitting on the couch or the couch of another writing friend. As long as I have my laptop I can create, and if I don’t, I often carry a notebook with me to write plot or character points. I’m a horrible plotter, but try to prepare some of my scenes ahead so I’m not flailing and wasting time, which unfortunately still happens on occasion.

What authors do you enjoy reading within or outside of your genre?
There are many. I love Stephen King, Anne Rice, Maggie Stiefvater, Jenny Han, Gillian Flynn and JK Rowling, among others. It’s difficult to narrow down the list.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers today?
I love connecting with readers and can be found at: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

Thank you for coming back to Reviews and Interviews!

Thank you so much. It was a pleasure!

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Interview with author Michael Sprankle

Author Michael Sprankle is here today and we’re chatting about The Ghost of Tom Mix.

Michael Sprankle is an American author of journalistic style fiction. 

His writing style combines the interaction of events, facts, ideas, and people that are the "news of the day" and that impact society to at least some degree. He is a graduate of Penn State University with a BA in film. His books feature the recurring themes of drug abuse, comedy, everyday life, art, crime and conspiracy theories. He has worked as a bit-writer for major motion pictures and television shows, and has worked for some of the largest studios in Hollywood. Literary influences who have inspired his writing are recognizable in his novels and include Hunter Thompson, William Burroughs, and Dan Brown.

Novels include:
Once Upon a Time in New York, How I Painted My Masterpiece
Love & Theft (in the 2016 Pulitzer competition)
The Killing Spring
I Want to Believe

The Ghost of Tom Mix (with Rick Cherry)

Current Project:
The Apocalypse Within
The Killing Spring Movie (in development 12/19)

TV Shows:
Under The Dome

He currently lives in Phoenix, Arizona

Welcome, Michael. Please tell us about your current release.
In The Ghost of Tom Mix, the reader

What inspired you to write this book?
My inspiration for this book came from my love of old Hollywood.

Excerpt from The Ghost of Tom Mix:
The streetlights began turning off one by one as we drove underneath them, leaving a darkened freeway behind us. When we got to Tom Mix Wash, the thermometer on the dash stopped functioning, our cell phones lost service, and the dash lights flickered and died, including the light that lit up the clock on the dash. I continued to drive, but we were both totally freaked out. The inside of the car got very cold…

What exciting story are you working on next?
My next project is The Apocalypse Within with co-writer Rick Cherry. It is an absorbing story of the end of civilization relayed through a handful of tortured characters. It will be coming out in early 2018.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
From early on, I kept a journal of everything interesting in my life. Like most of us writers, writing is an outlet. It is a way to block out all the noise and distraction in life…the craziness, and just think, focus, and release whatever thoughts have been weighing heavy on our hearts and minds. Along with the little “stargate” that writing provides for me, it has also taught me many things. I have noticed that I write in more than one way. Sometimes, I write for others. I write what I think people would like to read, or what they can relate to. The schizophrenic me writes for myself. I write about certain things based entirely on how I feel or even how I feel about certain things. And sometimes, I am at a total loss as to what to write about which forces me to become very creative; so, I pull some dusty file out of the back of my mind. Writing has shown me a few things. Writing has shown me that it's okay to write about whatever it is I want to write about, that this is my creation to write and my story to tell; there is no right or wrong way, and that is a nice feeling to have. In this sense I create a monster, and bring that monster to life. I also have never been much of a social butterfly and I am somewhat closed when it comes to feelings or personal matters. It is through my writing that I can express these things in a more comfortable manner than I feel I would otherwise.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I don’t write full time, but if you are serious about writing, you must write every day. One of my quirks or habits, is that even when I can’t physically be writing, I am constantly writing in my head. I write when I’m driving…sometimes even when I’m watching TV. I maintain a daily routine of writing as religiously as the most driven marathon runner. I can’t afford to wait for a lightning bolt of inspiration to strike before sitting down and staring at a blank page.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
My most interesting quirk bar far is the way I twist things around in my stories. The best plot twist is an unexpected one. This means something happens that the reader could in no way infer was going to happen, or perhaps a change in the story that might not have been completely unexpected, but occurred at a completely unexpected time in the story. Try giving your story an open ending, try something unexpected, and be sure at least one of your characters is shifty.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Laugh if you will, but I wanted to be a movie star. I actually almost was. To find out how, you would have to read my novel Love & Theft.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Nope. Time to write.


Thanks for stopping by today!

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Interview with author Scott Kauffman

Novelist Scott Kauffman is here today to talk a little bit about his new coming of age historical novel, Revenants, The Odyssey Home.

Welcome, Scott. Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
My fiction career began with an in-class book report written in Mrs. Baer's eighth-grade English class when, due to a conflict of priorities, I failed to read the book, necessitating an exercise of imagination. Not only was I not found out, but I snagged a B, better than the C I received on my last report when I actually read the book. Thus began my life-long apprenticeship as a teller of tales and, some would snidely suggest, as a lawyer as well, but they would be cynics, a race Oscar Wilde warned us knew the price of everything and the value of nothing. 

I am the author of the legal-suspense novel, In Deepest Consequences, and a recipient of the 2011 Mighty River Short Story Contest and the 2010 Hackney Literary Award. My short fiction has appeared in Big Muddy, Adelaide Magazine, and Lascaux Review. I am now at work on two novel manuscripts and a collection of short stories. 

I am an attorney in Irvine, California, where my practice focuses upon white-collar crime and tax litigation with my clients providing me endless story fodder. I graduated summa cum laude from Ohio University in Athens, Ohio, and in the upper ten percent of my class from Lewis & Clark Law School in Portland, Oregon, where I was a member of the Environmental Law Review and received the American Jurisprudence Award in Conflict of Laws.

Please tell us about your current release.
When a grief-stricken candy striper resolves to return home a nameless veteran of the Great War, she must overcome not only his reticence to reveal his past but the skullduggery of a local congressman who controls the hospital as part of his small-town political fiefdom. Revenants is a coming-of-age retelling of Homer’s Odyssey about Betsy’s struggle to regain meaning in her life following her brother’s death in Viet Nam by returning home a war-disfigured patient the VA hospital has secreted away for fifty years. Hidden and forgotten. Almost. Because standing in her path is Congressman Hanna who knows her patient’s name. A name that if revealed would end his congressional career and destroy his marriage. Complicating Betsy’s struggle is her patient’s refusal to surrender his name. Yet he is compelled by his need for contrition to tell his story, dropping clues as to the boy he once was, about the girl he left behind, that Betsy must puzzle together before Hanna discovers she has learned his secret. While not an historical romance novel, a forbidden love, revealed near the end of Revenants, drives the plot. If I have piqued your readers’ interest, they can read the first two chapters on BookBuzzr by going to my website and scrolling down to the lower right-hand corner:

What inspired you to write this book?
Literary inspiration came from Johnny Got His Gun, Legends of the Fall, and The English Patient. Personal inspiration came in part from my late-wife’s uncle who may have been the last American combat death in Viet Nam and is the only American to have died on an MIA recovery mission. Also, I came of age during the Viet Nam war. From 1963 to 1975 it was television and front-page news every day. I only missed getting shipped to Viet Nam myself because I pulled a high enough number in the draft lottery.

Excerpt from Revenants, The Odyssey Home:

January 1984
Just twelve more days to Christmas and I was totally jazzed. Exams ended on a Wednesday, and I absolutely knew I’d aced all of them, even that stupid head cracker in geometry that Lisping Larry Lehman threw at us. Now I was done until the new year that I knew – absolutely knew – would be my greatest ever.
Even better, winter came early. Like it was God’s special reward for a job well done. Almost never did we get much snow and it didn’t get super cold before at least January, but on the day after exams it snowed over a foot, and then the temperature dropped below zero at night so we could go sledding and ice skating at Hanna Park where I’d get to see Billy Hufnagel every day just like if we had classes except without the Gestapo hall monitors eyeballing us to make certain we weren’t holding hands. I mean really. I dare you to name me one girl who ever got herself knocked up while holding hands.
My fuddy-duddy parents wouldn’t let me go steady with guys until I turned seventeen, but Mom said that year I could invite Billy over on Christmas Eve for hot spiced cider and caroling around the piano. Who knows? Maybe he’d slip me a friendship ring, but if he did I’d have to wear it on a chain with my lucky locket so Mom wouldn’t have a cow and make me give it back.
On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me . . .
And I knew – absolutely knew – under the tree on Christmas Eve would be a pink cashmere sweater from Fitzpatrick’s I’d been drooling for since September and a silver ID bracelet with “Betsy” engraved on it and maybe because it’d gotten so cold an ice-skating skirt so I could show off my thighs I’d toned up from cheering. But the best presents were on their way. The best presents year-in-year-out came in a box from my brother Nathan.
Nathan was the best. A grownup who hadn’t quite gotten the hang of growing up. When he came home we cruised the neighborhood in his cherry-bomb Barracuda with Tavo his poodle who he never once duded up at the groomers but let his fur grow and grow until Tavo looked like this disembodied Afro waddling about on four legs. If Nathan needed to be somewhere, he’d pay me five dollars to watch him. I would’ve watched him for free, but I didn’t turn down the cash either because when you’re a kid you’ve never sufficient operating capital for necessities like hot chocolate when ice-skating and you can only hustle so much babysitting. Then me and Nathan would go to the Dairy Queen, sometimes twice in the same day, and afterwards, when I was smaller, he’d drive us over to Hanna Park where he’d carry me to the playground shrieking on his shoulders or when I got older if it was summer and sometimes even in winter he’d drop the top down and crank up the radio, and we’d belt out the lyrics, getting these weird looks from other drivers.
Be-be-be-Bennie and the Jets.
Nathan’s boxes, like him, were the best. They didn’t arrive with little-girl stuff anymore but for the woman he saw me becoming. Like the year before his box had this gold watch that Mom said I couldn’t wear every day but only for weddings and the spring prom and stuff. With it came this dozen-drawer jewelry box hand crafted out of ebony, and inside one of its tiny drawers was a pair of half-carat diamond earrings, but Mom said I still had to wait until I was seventeen – what was it with her about me turning seventeen – before getting my ears pierced?
Nathan’s boxes were just so boss, but I always worried they might not make it. No need for me to have worried that Christmas. The one holding his Distinguished Service Cross came with a commendation telling us that on December 13, 1973, his helicopter, part of the Joint Casualty Resolution Center and identified by three orange stripes, took off before dawn from its base in Thailand to search for MIA’s at a crash site in Bin Chanh, twelve miles southwest of what was then Saigon. Nathan and his men, all Special Forces veterans, wore fatigues emblazoned with orange pockets and insignia identifying them as members of the Four-Party Joint Military Team. There was this sort-of-ceasefire in place, and an American delegate to the Paris Peace talks informed the North of the mission a week before. They’d no more than touched down when a Chinese B-40 rocket exploded inside the cockpit, and he and the handful of survivors came under intense machine gun and small arms fire from thirty-some Viet Cong concealed in a row of palm trees. Though pinned down, Nathan stood up, hands raised. Không có vũ khí. Unarmed. Không có vũ khí.
Three days after the American delegate to the Paris Peace talks threw Nathan’s bloodstained jacket across the negotiation table and the day after the honor guard lowered his casket into the frozen earth at the cemetery overlooking Hanna Park, his Christmas box came. The doorbell rang, and I ran stocking-footed downstairs where Mom slumped against the front door, crumple-faced and still dressed in her flannel nightgown because she slept a lot now, the night’s snow wisping over her pale legs, Nathan’s white-dusted box on the porch behind the postman who knelt beside her.
Ma’am? What is it? Ma’am?

What exciting story are you working on next?
Chips Pushed Forward: Before a grief-stricken bounty hunter risks the wrath of the Midwest mob that hired him to track down their fifteen-year old runaway, he must come to terms with his culpability for the suicide of his teenage daughter.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
The day my first book was accepted by a publisher: In Deepest Consequences.

Do you write full-time?
I wish.

What do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I write early in the morning. My law practice and my writing consume much of my time, but I do read, listen to audio books, and run. I try to work in a ten-miler on weekends.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I enjoy listening to sacred choral music, particularly from the baroque (think Bach, Handel) and Renaissance periods. Just so sublime it makes me more contemplative.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A foreign correspondent. That changed in college (the Watergate era) when half my class went into journalism and other half to law school. We were so idealistic we thought we were going to change the world, which we did, just not the way we set out to do. Talk about the road to Hell being paved with good intentions.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Only to thank them for making it this far.


Thanks for joining me today, Scott.