Interview with Maddison Michaels, debut author of THE DEVILISH DUKE

The Devilish Duke

Historical Romantic Suspense

26th February 2018, Entangled Publishing

Minerva Spencer: Today I’m chatting with Maddison Michaels about her new Victorian novel, THE DEVILISH DUKE. Welcome, Maddison! Would you please give my readers a brief description of what the book is about?

Devlin Markham, the notorious “Devil Duke” of Huntington, needs a woman. And not just any woman. If he can’t woo one of the most eccentric bluestockings of the Ton within the month, he can kiss his hard-earned fortune goodbye. But he’s always thought love a wasted emotion and marriage an inconvenience at best. And oddly enough, Lady Sophie Wolcott seems unmoved by his charm…

When Sophie learns her beloved orphanage is in imminent danger, she will do anything to save it. Even marry a ruthless rake who takes what he wants in business and pleasure. A man who’s everything she’s always feared most—but whom she reluctantly begins yearning for.

Then Sophie becomes the target of a killer lurking from the dark shadows of Devlin’s past. And they find not only their lives in jeopardy but their very hearts.

This sounds like fun, Maddison! How about a teaser from your book.

“Hadn’t you heard? I am the Devil Duke, my very existence is blasphemous. Now run along or I will show you just how much of a devil I can be.”


Minerva Spencer: Where did you get the idea for your book?

Maddison Michaels: I think the characters first came to me – and I was watching Julian McMahon in Charmed and I liked the idea of a rake being reformed.


MS: What’s the story behind the title?

Originally the working title was The Rake’s Rules – but then I changed it to The Devil Duke, and then my Publisher changed it to The Devilish Duke.


MS: No spoiler, but tell us something we won’t find out just by reading the book jacket.

Sophie literally falls at the feet of the Devil Duke from the branch of a tree…


MS: Tell us about your favourite character.

I love both Devlin and Sophie… they’re very special to me and I imagine that as the first hero and heroine of my first novel, they always will be.


MS: If you could spend a day with one of your characters, who would it be and what would you do? 

LOL! Ok well it would be with the hero Devlin, and I would be researching if the descriptions in my book regarding the action scenes, worked…


MS: Are your characters based on real people, or do they come from your imaginations?

Like I mentioned, the inspiration for Devlin was Julian McMahon from Charmed, but apart from that, they sprang from my own imagination.


MS: How long did you take to write this book? (You can share about the timeline from drafting to publication)

It was done in spurts – and because the partial earned me a spot in the RWA Australia 5 day mentor program, I had to finish it quick smart. So I actually wrote about 30,000 words in a weekend to finish it off (of course it needed lots and lots of editing, lol).

MS: What kind of research did you do for this book?

I have a heap of research books (really what writer doesn’t), which I made good use of.

MS: What did you remove from this book during the editing process?

A few scenes from the villains pov were removed, and a couple were shortened.

MS: Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Definitely a plotter – if I don’t have a detailed outline I flounder, but when I know where I’m headed (much like a map) the writing flows easily.

MS: What is your favorite part of your writing process, and why?

I love the plotting – coming up with the twists and turns, is just so much fun. Plus I get to know my characters really well.

MS: What is the most challenging part of your writing process, and why?

Editing… because it’s editing…


MS: Can you share your writing routine? 

When I’m writing a novel, I spend about an hour per night writing, and then on the weekend I try to have a nice block of 6-8 hours writing.


MS: Have you ever gotten writer’s block? If yes, how do you overcome it?

Yes, when I don’t have an outline, lol. So when I’m blocked, it’s usually because I haven’t fleshed out the scene beforehand. To overcome this, I just go back and plot the scene out in more detail.


MS: If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

Just keep going.

 

MS: How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

I have a fair few unfinished ones – in my earlier days when I didn’t plot out the novel, I would write all steam ahead, until I hit around 15,000 to 20,000 words, then I wouldn’t know where to go, and I’d just stop. Thankfully, I’ve worked out what works now for me.


MS: Do you have any writing quirks?

I make up a playlist/soundtrack for my novel, before I even start plotting it out. Then when plotting I listen to the music, and then when I write, it gets me straight back into that headspace. Oh and I also burn some lovely aromatherapy oils while I write too.

 

MS: Tell us about yourself.

I’m a police prosecutor by day and writer by night! I am married to my wonderful husband and have a beautiful (yet rather headstrong) 6 year old daughter.

MS: How did you get into writing?

I caught the writing bug when I was eleven and entered a writing competition. It’s just something that is a part of me.

MS: What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Hang out with my family. Read. Go for walks or bike rides.

MS: Apart from novel writing, do you do any other kind(s) of writing?

Nope, not yet anyway.

MS: Share something about you most people probably don’t know.

I hate sharks – probably because I watched JAWS when I was 4 years old…

MS: Which book influenced you the most?

All of Amanda Quick’s novels and Julie Garwood’s – my two fav historical romance writers.

MS: What are you working on right now?

A new three book Victorian series – with some really strong and unusual heroines.

 

Thank you for joining us, Maddison! You can order your copy of Maddison’s new book from the links below. Happy reading!

Book Purchase Links:

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B079LF6NTV

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B079LF6NTV

Amazon Aus: https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B079LF6NTV

Amazon Can: https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B079LF6NTV

iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/the-devilish-duke/id1344891465?mt=11

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/the-devilish-duke-4

https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Maddison_Michaels_The_Devilish_Duke?id=k35KDwAAQBAJ

B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-devilish-duke-maddison-michaels/1127921821?ean=9781640633438

Indoctrinated into a world of dashing rogues and feisty heroines when she was only 14-years-old, Maddison Michaels is a prolific reader and writer of romantic suspense and historical fiction. She gets her daily dose of suspense from working as a Police officer, prosecuting real life villains in the Local Courts of Sydney, Australia.
A member of the Romance Writers of America and Australia, Maddison is as passionate about her writing as she is about her other two loves; her family and her cups of tea. Maddison’s debut novel ‘the Devil Duke’ is due for publication with Entangled Publishing in February 2018, and her second novel ‘The Fiancé Fiasco’ is due for publication with Entangled Publishing in October 2018.

You can find Maddison online at www.maddisonmichaels.com.au

Website: http://maddisonmichaels.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MaddisonMichaelsAuthor/
Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/mmichaelsauthor
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/maddisonmichaelsauthor/
Goodreadshttps://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17367583.Maddison_Michaels

Amazon Author Page : https://www.amazon.com/Maddison-Michaels/e/B079LXRLQ7

Interview with author Elena Mikalsen: Wrapped in the Stars

Today I’m chatting with author Elena Mikalsen about her debut novel, Wrapped in the Stars. First, a little about Elena’s debut, women’s fiction which will be published by Wild Rose Press February 19, 2018.

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Struggling with guilt over her sister’s death and the stress of her medical residency, Maya Radelis runs away to Scotland. A robin seems to lead her to an antique shop, where she finds a century-old engagement ring. Curious about the ring, she follows the slim paper trail, wondering if it is only coincidence that her dreams reveal the story of a Swiss woman physician who wore the ring during World War I. In Paris she meets fellow New Yorker David Fischer, a lawyer with family in Switzerland as well as America. He helps Maya follow the memories stored in the ring as they lead her around Europe. The attraction between David and Maya grows, and when they discover a connection between the ring and David’s family, they learn, bit by bit, more about the ring’s earlier owner. Will Maya’s own life have the same tragedy of lost love?

Below is a little teaser from the book:

He took her hand gently and led her away from the window and onto the crowded ballroom floor. Her heart was beating wildly. It had been years since she attempted to dance at a ball. She had always been terrible at dancing and swore she’d never do it again. She hadn’t had to, either, since going to the university. Why did she agree to dance now? What was she thinking?

The music started. She felt his hand slide gently around her waist. Suddenly, she was flying on the dance floor, despite her clumsy feet and her terrible, heavy dress.

“You deceived me. You’re a great dancer,” Edward whispered in her ear, his mustache tickling her and his breath warming her neck.


Minerva Spencer: Let’s talk about where you got the idea for Wrapped in the Stars?

Elena Mikalsen:  I got the idea when I was in Edinburgh with my family. I stood in front of the antique shop (the picture of the exact shop is below). It was dark, cold, and misty. My feet very terribly achy from a day of walking on cobblestones. My husband said, “Do you want to go warm up in this store? The jewelry here looks like something you’d like to buy.” It was a tempting idea, as cold as we all were.

And then I shuddered as a thought occurred to me. What if I buy an antique jewelry item and it has memories of its owner attached to it? What if those memories then attach to me and change my life? I looked at my perfect family and shook my head. I didn’t want someone else’s memories. I was happy with mine, no matter how achy my feet were.

But this idea of memories transferring from people to objects wouldn’t leave me alone. And this book was born just a month after

MS: What’s the story behind the title?

EM: I came up with the idea based on the song I listened to often as I wrote Maya’s character. The song is by Ed Sheeran and it’s “All of the Stars.” Stars represent destiny and fate and this novel is about destiny and fate. The stories of men and women in this story are neatly wrapped around together with fate.

MS: No spoiler, but tell us something we won’t find out just by reading the book jacket.

EM: The story features Lenin, the famous Russian Revolutionary, who happened to plan the Russian Revolution as he resided in Bern at the time that my characters lived and fell in love there.

MS: Tell us about your favourite character.

EM: I love both of my women, even though they are very different from each other. Maya is a modern physician, who grew up after losing most of her family. Even though she is a modern woman, she struggles to be strong and stand up to others and know what she wants. However, she finds her voice and strength in the end, she just needed some time. Rebecca is a woman from Edwardian times, surrounded by protective family members, yet she knows exactly what she wants and how to get it and is the finest physicians and advocate for women in Bern.

MS: If you could spend a day with one of your characters, who would it be and what would you do?

EM: I would spend a day with Rebecca in her clinic for women, helping her treat underprivileged women and children.

MS: Are your characters based on real people, or do they come from your imaginations?

EM: Mark is a character based on my great-grandfather who came from Ukraine to study medicine in Switzerland. Maya’s grandmother is based on my grandmother.

MS: Let’s talk about how long it took to write this book? 

EM: It took me 3 years.

MS: What kind of research did you do?

EM: I studied many biographies written by women and men who studied medicine in Swiss Universities at the time Rebecca studied medicine. I also read biographies by first women physicians to learn of the struggles they had in medicine and what kind of work they chose to do. I read about WWI and Swiss history. I read Lenin’s biography as written by his wife. I read books about Ukraine during WWI, even though I grew up in the country and knew quite a bit.

MS: What did you remove from this book during the editing process?

EM: Several chapters about Maya’s life in Ukraine.

MS: Are you a plotter or a pantser?

EM: I am very organized in my writing, with many charts. But I start by just writing all my ideas down. So, I am a mix.

MS: What is your favorite part of your writing process, and why?

EM: When I fall in love with my characters and they start telling me their stories all the time and I can’t stop writing. I can write almost all day long at that point.

MS: What is the most challenging part of your writing process, and why?

EM: I work full-time and I often don’t have enough time to write.

MS: Can you share your writing routine?

EM: I write early in the morning, usually at 6 am to 8 am. I also write late at night. 8 pm and until I can’t stay awake again. I write most of my weekends.

MS: Have you ever gotten writer’s block? If yes, how do you overcome it?

EM: I struggle to write in December, because I usually wear myself out during NaNoWriMo (The National Novel Writing Month, during which you write every single day).

MS: If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

EM: Don’t let your insecurity stop you from writing. I was afraid to write for many years because I thought my grammar was poor. I didn’t know there was editing software and there were editors around.

MS: How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

EM: I have 2 half-written books right now that I am working on.

MS: Do you have any writing quirks?

EM: I have to have music on when I write. It’s soundtracks that I put together for each novel I write.

Thanks for joining me, Elena and congratulations on your debut!

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Elena’s Bio:

I am a debut Women’s Fiction author. My first novel, WRAPPED IN THE STARS, will be released in February of 2018. It was short-listed for the Del Sol First Novel Prize in 2017. I am somewhat obsessive about travel, but, when I am at home, in San Antonio, I can be found browsing through bookstores or antique shops with my husband and two children.

When not writing stories, I am a Pediatric Psychologist helping children with chronic medical illness. I write books about women who have a chance to change their lives. My stories take place in the United States, in Europe, in cities, in small towns, anywhere my characters take me. I blog on issues of mental health for teens and adults. I enjoy working with the media due to my expertise in managing anxiety, stress, and parenting issues. I provide consultation to authors on writing about mental health. My nonfiction writing can be found at https://www.drelenamikalsen.com


If you’d like to learn more about Elena or her book or get your hands on a copy, you can check out one of the links below:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/elena.mikalsen

Twitter: https://twitter.com/WF_writerEM

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/writer.mikalsen/
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/elenamikalsen/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17629655.Elena_Mikalsen

A Book Birthday for Debut Author Clarissa Harwood’s Historical Fiction Novel, Impossible Saints!

Today’s interview is with author Clarissa Harwood, whose book, Impossible Saints, debuts TODAY, January 2, 2018!! 

Impossible Saints is historical fiction and published by Pegasus Books and you can grab a copy NOW from the following book vendors:

Amazon

Barns & Noble

Chapters Indigo

The book is set in 1907 England. Lilia Brooke, an agnostic militant suffragette, believes marriage to a clergyman is a fate worse than death. Paul Harris, a quiet, intellectual Anglican priest, is well aware that falling in love with Lilia is incompatible with his ambition to become the next cathedral dean. Lilia and Paul must decide which compromises they’re willing to make and whether their love is worth fighting for.

Impossible Saints Authors18.jpg

A teaser from Impossible Saints:

“How well do you know Whitechapel?” she asked.

He hesitated.

“Have you ever been there?”

“No,” he admitted, “but I don’t need to go to Hell to know I don’t want to spend time there.”

She laughed. “That’s a terrible analogy.”

“Don’t you think you could better achieve your ends by adding a little prudence to your fearlessness?”

“You sound like my mother.” She tapped her foot impatiently. “Why is it that men’s courage is called bravery but women’s courage is called recklessness—or, even worse, foolishness? If I were a man, would you urge me to be prudent?”

“I certainly would,” he said firmly. “Not everything is a question of sex.”

“That’s where you’re wrong. Everything is a question of sex, but because you’re a man, you don’t see it.”

*************

Minerva Spencer: How long did you take to write this book? 

Clarissa Harwood: The novel took about twenty years from conception to publication. The first draft took me a little over a year, but I’ve written so many drafts since then that I’ve lost count. I gave up on it several times and wrote other books, but I kept coming back to it. You can read more about the timeline, including signing with my agent and getting the book deal in this blog post.

 

MS:  What kind of research did you do for this book?

CH:  As a doctoral student and later an English professor, I specialized in nineteenth-century British literature, so the poetry and fiction of that era always sparks my research and leads me to primary sources. An early influence on Paul’s development as an Anglican priest was Anthony Trollope’s Barchester Towers, with its delightful melodrama surrounding the lives and loves of cathedral clergy. Poets associated with Anglo-Catholicism inspired Paul’s story too, such as Gerard Manley Hopkins and Christina Rossetti. First-person accounts of the suffragettes’ destruction of property, hunger strikes in prison, and the brutal force-feeding they endured, especially Emmeline Pankhurst’s My Own Story and Constance Lytton’s Prison and Prisoners, were especially influential in shaping Lilia’s experiences.

MS:  What did you remove from this book during the editing process?

CH:  Deciding what to include and what to exclude is always difficult, but I’m fortunate to have people with great editorial eyes looking at my work—critique partners, beta readers, my agent, and my editor at Pegasus.  I’ll admit I was dismayed when Laura, my agent, first suggested killing off a fairly major character in Impossible Saints, but Laura has an uncanny ability to detect which elements of a story should be left in and which should be left out, so I knew I could trust her judgment. I was also disappointed when I realized on my own that I had to kill off my only Canadian character and put a New Zealander in his place! It’s obvious to me now that both “murders” improved the novel.

MS: Are you a plotter or a pantser?

CH:  My natural tendency is to be a plotter, but I’m trying to let my inner pantser come out more often! I never plot a novel in great detail, though. Before I start writing a novel, I usually write a brief synopsis. Writing a synopsis for a finished novel is painful, but writing one early in the process is a helpful exercise to work out what the important turning points and key scenes will be. Of course, the synopsis I write at the beginning bears little relation to the one I write at the end, but that’s as it should be!


MS:  What is your favorite part of your writing process, and why?

CH:  I love revisions, whether I’m doing them on my own after having written several drafts, or whether I’m doing them based on my agent’s or editor’s feedback. There is no “terror of the blank page,” so I don’t experience writer’s block when I’m doing revisions. I already know the story and the characters, so I don’t have to create anything from scratch. Instead, I’m adding layers and depth, polishing something that is already a solid story.

 

MS:  What is the most challenging part of your writing process, and why?

CH:  The first draft! How I hate the first draft! I hate not knowing my characters. They aren’t my friends yet, and I miss my old friends from the previous novel. The characters in a first draft are people who’ve dropped out of the sky and are ordering me to tell a story I don’t know.


MS:  Can you share your writing routine? 

CH:  I’m very fortunate to have flexible hours in my day job (I teach online courses at my local university), so I can work at home most days and organize my time the way I want to. Mornings are my sacred writing time: I try to write for at least an hour or two every morning. But my writing routine is quite different depending on whether I’m writing an early draft or a later one. I give myself a minimum time period when I’m working on a first draft (only ten minutes if I’m really struggling). When I’m working on a later draft or revisions, I give myself a maximum time period: otherwise I miss appointments, meals, and sleep because all I want to do is write!


MS:  Have you ever gotten writer’s block? If yes, how do you overcome it?

CH:  Yes, usually when I’m working on a first draft or if I’ve been away from the manuscript too long. I’m a recovering perfectionist, so my first step is usually just reminding myself that it’s ok to “write crap.” In fact, this is how I wrote my entire dissertation! When my writer’s block is really severe, I use the ten-minute minimum time period I mentioned before and let myself make point-form notes if I can’t form complete sentences. Another trick I use for severe writer’s block is stolen from the movie The King’s Speech: to work on the king’s stutter, his speech therapist had him shout out swear words to loosen him up. I do this with writing if I’m really stuck: I just write long lists of swear words!

 

MS:  How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

CH:  I wrote two novels as a teenager that were awful. I rewrote one of them in my twenties, but it was still pretty awful. I’ll call those my three practice novels. Then I signed with my agent based on a finished novel that didn’t sell, and I recently finished a sort of sequel to Impossible Saints. That’s two finished unpublished novels. I also have two unfinished first drafts of new novels.

Thanks so much for sharing your process with my readers and good luck with your publishing journey!

*********

Clarissa_Harwood Authors18.jpg

If you’d like to contact Clarissa or have questions for her you can find her at one of the following places:

Website: www.clarissaharwood.com
Facebook: @ClarissaHarwoodAuthor

Twitter: @clarissaharwood

Goodreads: Clarissa Harwood

Interview with debut author Carrie Nichols!

Today I’m speaking with Carrie Nichols, debut author of The Marine’s Secret Daughter, a romance about forgiveness and second chances. Carrie’s book is published by Harlequin and will be out SOON, the paperback will be available 1/16/18 and the digital on 2/1/18.

I’ve asked Carrie to talk about her writing process, but first, here is a peek at the cover:

The Marine's Secret Daughter

Carrie’s book isn’t out yet, but you can grab a copy early if you just click on THIS!

And how about a quick teaser….

This was not how her first meeting in over five years with Riley Cooper was supposed to happen. In her imagination, she was all sexy in a little black dress and killer heels after a relaxing spa day. Yeah, right; she’d spent the day cleaning and probably looked like Nick Nolte’s mug shot. So not fair! Riley was supposed to be breathless and falling at her feet, not vice versa. Stupid, stupid asthma.

Minerva Spencer: Thanks for joining me, Carrie. My first question is one authors get all the time: How long did you take to write your book?

Carrie Nichols: Years and years. LOL! The story underwent a lot of changes since I knew nothing about plotting and story arcs when I first wrote it as a series of scenes. But these characters wouldn’t let go and I’d learned enough by the 4th draft to start winning contests and to sign with my dream agent.

MS: What kind of research did you do for this book?

CN:  I love research so I did way more than I needed. I researched the fictional setting of Loon Lake, Vermont, including the loons that make the lake home. I consulted several nurse friends for the hospital scenes, a friend whose son was a marine and my critique partner whose husband is a respiratory therapist.

MS: Did you have to change much during the editing process?

CN:  We mostly added things during the editing process. I had already removed scenes that didn’t further the story thanks to my ever patient agent.

MS: Are you a plotter or a pantser?

CN:  I’m a recovering pantser. I had the luxury of years to write and rewrite my first story but knew I had to learn plotting basics to sell on proposal. I still struggle with plotting but with the help of Laura Baker’s Turning Points and Discovering Story Magic online classes, I’m slowly becoming a plotster. I have a skeleton with the big scenes and story/character arcs and fill in the rest as I write.

MS:  What is your favorite part of your writing process, and why?

CN:  Getting to know my characters and what makes them tick. They come to me fully formed and I have to figure out what happened to them (their backstory) to turn them into the flawed people they are. And because I write romance, I love giving them their HEA (happily ever after) after making them work for it.

MS:  Can you share your writing routine?

CN:  I write in my home office. When my youngest moved out I cried when I walked into his empty room until I realized I had an empty room! As my husband observed, I wasted no time in making that room my own with paint and some bookcases. I am also lucky enough to not have a day job. I lost my job about a month after signing the contract with Harlequin and since my husband was already retired, I decided to join him.

MS: One last question. If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

CN: Don’t give up!!

Carrie Nichols

Carrie Nichols, is a hardy New Englander transplanted to the deep South, where two inches of snow can bring a city like Atlanta to its knees. She loves to travel, is addicted to British crime dramas and knows a Seinfeld quote appropriate for every occasion. 
Carrie has one tolerant husband, two grown sons and two critical cats. To her dismay, Carrie’s characters, much like her family, often ignore the wisdom and guidance she lovingly offers.


USA Today called Carrie’s short story, Snowbound with the Stork, “a charming debut”

You can connect with Carrie at:

Website: http://carrienichols.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authorCarrieNichols/

Twitter: @carolopal

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/carolopal/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15104405.Carrie_Nichols

Meet Pamela Kopfler, author of the new cozy mystery, Better Dead.

Earlier this week fellow @authors18 author and blogger Dianne Freeman talked with Pamela Kopfler about her debut novel, Better Dead. Today I’m going to ask Pamela questions on one of my favorite topics: a writer’s creative process.

First, here is a brief description of the book:

Pamela Kopfler

A feisty B & B owner believes her cheatin’ husband deserves to choke on his divorce papers and spend eternity roasting in hell after nearly bankrupting her Louisiana bed and breakfast. At least, she’s half-right when he turns up dead, but she’s dead wrong when she accidentally calls him back from the grave. Unfortunately, he has unfinished business. Unless she wants to be stuck with her ghostly ex forever, she has to wedge him through the pearly gates by cleaning up the mess he left behind—a smuggling ring he started behind her back at her B&B. Now she has thirty days to solve her not-so-dearly-departed’s murder or she’s stuck with him for life. Or worse, she may be doing life.

Amazon   B & N   BAM

 

Minerva Spencer: How long did you take to write this book? 

Pamela Kopfler: It took seventy-eight days to draft Better Dead. The revision took much longer, but I don’t remember how long. Revision is something that is never really complete.

MS: What kind of research did you do for this book?

PK: Oh, it was grueling…I visited many historic homes that had been converted to beautiful bed and breakfasts, sipped lots of cocktails, and ate some of the best southern style food on earth. Don’t pity me too much though. (Excuse me while I bless my own heart before you do.) Actually, that part of the research was serious fun! Other than that fun B & B research, my family has orders to bleach bit my computer to hide my search history.

MS:  What did you remove from this book during the editing process?

PK:  I cut ten thousand words. I had a subplot that my editor felt needed to go and she was right. I hope to add some snips from the editing room floor to my newsletter. I really did cut my darlings.


MS:  Are you a plotter or a pantser?

PK:  Both. I have a general idea of the whole story and an opening when I put my keys on the keyboard. After I get the opening down, I write a short synopsis just for me. As the pages pile up, sometimes the plot changes because I’ve found a better twist, so I go with that.


MS:  What is your favorite part of your writing process, and why?

PK:  Revising. It’s like makeup. Everyone looks better with a little lipstick on.


MS: And finally, what is the most challenging part of your writing process, and why?

PK:  Starting, hands down. Once I am writing the real world fades away, and I’m in a timeless place where the story comes to life.

Thanks for sharing your writing process with me, Pamela, and congrats on your debut!

If you’re a fan of cozy mysteries or looking to try one you can connect with Pamela on her website, or find her on Facebook,  Twitter, or Instagram

Interview with Sandi Ward, author of THE ASTONISHING THING

Today I’m interviewing fellow Kensington author Sandi Ward, who has joined me to talk about her new book.

Hi Sandi! I understand the narrator of The Astonishing Thing is somewhat. . . unusual. Can you tell me about it?

The narrator of this story is a cat! Her name is Boo. I decided to write a story from a cat’s point of view as she tries to solve a mystery. In this case, Boo’s human mother goes out one day and doesn’t return. Boo wants to know: what happened to my mother?

As I wrote more of the story, I realized that Boo’s point-of-view was similar to that of a perceptive child. She understands a lot of what’s going on with her humans—but not everything. Boo doesn’t know much about mental illness, or divorce, or what exactly is wrong with the baby of the family. So the reader must go on a journey with Boo, piecing together clues until the truth becomes clear.

I have to ask: Is there romance in your novel?

Absolutely! Although my story is general fiction and I write about families, I love stories with romance. I have never written a story that didn’t include a romantic relationship at its’ core.

To my narrator, Boo, the need to find a mate is completely normal and natural. At the same time, Boo finds the mating rituals of humans very amusing. She thinks people are funny and quirky, and she can’t always figure out what people are attracted to, and why.

In her family, Boo also gets to see up close what devotion truly is about: sacrifice, the willingness to look the other way sometimes, and forgiveness. And even then, no one is guaranteed a happy-ever-after. In real life, sometimes “happy for now” is good enough.

Here is Boo on the cover of Sandi’s book:

the astonishing thing copy_March 2017.jpg

Why did you name the cat Boo?

First of all, I just think it’s a very cute name for a cat. It’s simple and sweet.

I also had in mind Boo Radley from To Kill A Mockingbird. He’s another character who is housebound and very quiet, but impacts a story at important moments.

The humans in the story have other nicknames for Boo, like Cutie and Sweetie. Because I’m a J.K. Rowling fan, the character Jimmy (a teenager) also sometimes calls the cat  “Crookshanks”. Boo doesn’t get the reference, of course. She has no idea who Harry Potter is, and couldn’t care less.

ABOUT THE ASTONISHING THING:

In her inventive, sometimes bittersweet, ultimately uplifting debut, Sandi Ward draws readers into one extraordinary cat’s quest to make sense of her world, illuminating the limits and mysterious depths of love . . .

Pet owners know that a cat’s loyalty is not easily earned. Boo, a resourceful young feline with a keen eye and inquiring mind, has nonetheless grown intensely devoted to her human companion, Carrie. Several days ago, Carrie—or Mother, as Boo calls her—suddenly went away, leaving her family, including Boo, in disarray. Carrie’s husband, Tommy, is distant and distracted even as he does his best to care for Boo’s human siblings, especially baby Finn.

Boo worries about who will fill her food dish, and provide a warm lap to nestle into. More pressing still, she’s trying to uncover the complicated truth about why Carrie left. Though frequently mystified by human behavior, Boo is sure that Carrie once cared passionately for Tommy and adores her children, even the non-feline ones. But she also sees it may not be enough to make things right. Perhaps only a cat—a wise, observant, very determined cat—can do that . . .

Wonderfully tender and insightful, THE ASTONISHING THING explores the intricacies of marriage and family through an unforgettable perspective at the center of it all.

“A unique and poignant tale of a family’s struggle as witnessed by someone who sees everything…a triumphant debut for Sandi Ward.”

— Helen Brown, New York Times bestselling author of Cleo

FIND THE ASTONISHING THING AT YOUR LOCAL BOOKSELLER, OR:

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ABOUT SANDI

Sandi Ward grew up in Manchester-By-The-Sea, Massachusetts. She attended Tufts University, and received her MA in Creative Writing at New York University, where she studied with E.L. Doctorow. She now lives on the Jersey Shore with her husband, teenagers, dog and a big black cat named Winnie. Sandi is a medical writer at an ad agency in New Jersey, specializing in psychiatry and pain management.

Her first novel for Kensington Books is titled THE ASTONISHING THING, and it is available October 31, 2017. Her second novel is titled SOMETHING WORTH SAVING, available November 2018.

To learn more about Sandi and STAY IN TOUCH:

Learn more at: www.sandiwardbooks.com

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