Monday, October 28, 2013

Interview with Young Adult Mystery Author Lisa Orchard

Lisa Orchard was hooked on mysteries by the fifth grade and even wrote a few of her own. She knew she wanted to be a writer even then. After graduating from Central Michigan University with a Marketing Degree she spent many years in the insurance industry, pining to express her creative side. The decision to stay home with her children gave her the opportunity to follow her dream and become a writer. She currently resides in Rockford Michigan with her husband, Steve, and two wonderful boys. When she’s not writing, she enjoys spending time with her family, running, hiking, and reading.

Hello, Lisa. This is a young adult mystery about three girls who organize their own detective squad. Please tell us about your novel.

It’s the story of an innocent game of Truth or Dare that spins out of control when three friends stumble upon the dead body of a reclusive neighborhood woman. The girls are taken into custody when the police arrive on the scene and find them. One of the police officers believes that the girls are responsible for the old woman’s death. Fearing he will frame them for the murder, the girls form their own detective squad and start their own inquest. They dig into the Cat-lady’s past and discover a horrible crime that happened thirty years ago. When they uncover a connection between the two crimes, they bring the information to the police, only to be reprimanded for meddling in the investigation. Not only are the girls upset by the admonition, but they find out their exuberant investigating may provide a legal loophole for the killer to go free. Frustrated by this turn of events, the Super Spies realize it’s up to them to snare the Cat Lady Killer.

This book is perfect for the Halloween season. Where did you get your inspiration for this book?

I got the inspiration for this book from my own teen exploits and the fact that I wanted to be a detective when I was younger. In fact, my friends and I formed our own detective squad and investigated an act of vandalism in my neighborhood. I was also a huge Nancy Drew fan when I was younger so the mystery genre was a natural choice for me.

What kind of research did you have to do for this novel?

I did a lot of research on police procedures regarding crime scenes.

What does your family think about your writing?
They’re very proud and excited for me. I have two young boys and they’re always coming up with titles for my books. It’s fun for all of us.

Now that’s real support. I love how your kids help out. Okay, it’s time to tell us something about the real you that we’ll never forget.

Well, I’ve already told you about my desire to be a detective when I was younger. That’s something most people never forget. LOL. I love chocolate and hiking in the woods. Both are great stress relievers!

True. Chocolate and exercise do relieve stress. Haha. Thanks for this great interview, Lisa. I believe this will be a fun series of books.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Interview with Sweet Romance Author Sarah Dunster

Sarah Dunster is happily married, mother to seven children, and an author of fiction and poetry. Her poems have appeared in several magazines. Sarah’s first novel, Lightning Tree, was released in 2012. When she is not writing, Sarah can often be found cleaning, cooking vegetarian meals, holding small people on her lap, or taking long, risky walks after dark, especially in thunderstorms.

Hello, Sarah. Your novel is written in first person and in present tense. It’s about a young woman having to deal with the death of her husband and how she learns to cope. It defines what struggling to survive is all about. This is what Mile 21 is about.

Abish's husband died suddenly just seven months after their marriage, so she's allowed to be a little crazy and mixed up inside. But it's been a year now since it happened, and her family can't handle her quirky behaviors and emotional disconnect anymore. When mom boots her from the family apartment, it seems her only choice is to move back into single-student housing and attend the ward that her drill-sergeant boss happens to preside over. Add in Bob, the divorced-single-parent who Abish accidentally walked in on in her pajamas when he was trying to fix her internet, and Abish is sure it's all some cosmic joke. Question is, will she be able to land on her feet, or is she going to allow her world to continue to fall apart until she has nobody left?

Why is this novel called Mile 21?

The 21st mile of a marathon is the point at which a lot of runners break down and struggle. My main character Abish is also struggling. She’s having the most difficult year of her life, and she happens to be twenty-one years old. It just worked!

Where did you get your inspiration for this book? Do you get any ideas from your own life experiences?

Oh, yes.  This book is about struggling with unexpected tragedy and overwhelming difficulty, and struggling through inspiration, the help of others and sometimes, pure mean grit. I’ve had these sorts of experiences in my life. Abish and I, in fact, share a lot of traits and some of her experiences are ones I can relate to firsthand. That is what makes things so much sweeter for her (and have for me as well) when things turn around and she finds happiness again.

What kind of research did you have to do for this novel?

You won’t believe this but… I toured a women’s prison! It was so interesting. And heartbreaking. I also had to ask for information from a lot of friends who run. And I had to make sure I knew about LDS doctrine related to marriage and sealing and the death of a spouse, and so forth. People were very helpful.

Wow! You actually toured a women’s prison. That’s great research. Now it’s time to tell us something about the real you that we’ll never forget.

I think when I write, my drive and passion is to bring another perspective to readers who might not be able to go through certain things for themselves. I personally have gone through a lot of unusual things—I’ve adopted 2 girls from a foreign country. I had a very sad and tragic first marriage that failed. I’ve gone through a lot! And I’m happier for it. I know that sounds completely trite, but it is absolutely true. I would not trade any of these experiences because they’ve put me right where I am right now, with my husband, with all of my children. I’m so grateful for being able to weather tough stuff and come out well on the other side, with the help of my spirituality and friends who turned out to be more like family. I wouldn’t trade that for anything.

You have certainly gone through a lot in your life. And yes, you’re right. Our trials make us the people we are today. Thank you, Sarah, for this interview. I hope my readers will check out your book and see what it’s like.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Interview with Sweet Romance Author Marie Higgins

Marie Higgins is a multi-published author of romance; from refined bad-boy heroes who makes your heart melt to the feisty heroines who somehow manage to look past their faults and love them regardless. She’s married with two children and two grandchildren; and she has lived in Utah all her life. Visit her blog for more about her books – 

Hello, Marie. This new romance has a different spin to it than your other books. It’s actually a ghost story. Haha. Please tell us about your novel, Waiting For You.

You have no idea how different this story is from others I’ve read or heard about. My heroine, heiress Abigail Carlisle, is a ghost who was murdered in 1912. She’s been stuck in the building where she was killed for over 100 years waiting for the man her gypsy grandmother told her would help her one day. All Abigail knows about this man is that he’s a solicitor with the initials N.M. Abigail knows she’ll find him – because he will be the only person who can hear and see her. Abigail’s heart tells her that this man will help her pass over.

Nick Marshall was once a high-profile lawyer who was stuck in a scandal. Now, a few years later, he’s ready to clean up his life…which means he cannot date his clients. When he meets the heiress for the first time, he convinces himself that he’s finally having that mental breakdown that he’d been waiting for since the Hollywood scandal. But soon Abigail convinces him that she really is a ghost. He’s determined to find her killer and help her cross over…either that or check himself into the mental ward.

Slowly, she starts to become real to him, and he’s in danger of breaking his rule about having feelings for his clients, because now he wants to give Abigail his heart. Abigail is very much attracted to Nick as well, but… How can there be a happy-ever-after if she’s already dead?

Wow! What a new concept for a story! Where did you get your inspiration for this book?

I know you’re going to laugh, but growing up I was always playing Charlie’s Angels with my friends (the original three). I was always Sabrina, but I wanted to be Kelly. lol  Anyway, after the angels were off the air, Jaclyn Smith made a lot of movies. One was titled  “Love Can be Murder”. That was about a detective and a ghost. She was the detective. It was a funny movie, and at the same time, there was a good mystery and love story. (Although I didn’t like the ending at all!) This is what inspired me to write “Waiting For You”.

My book was previously published as a different title a few years ago, but the publisher had taken out some funny scenes. So now that the book is mine again, I’ve added back in these scenes and made the story even funnier.

Back a few years ago when paranormal romance was big, I wanted to write one, but I didn’t want a vampire. Well…the next best thing in my opinion, was a ghost!

I love this story idea. And I’m glad that you put the humor back in the book because that’s what makes a good book to me. What kind of research did you have to do for this novel?

I had to research what California was doing in 1912. I had to make sure the names of the streets were the same, and buildings. I even used the mayor’s manor house as my heroine’s home. Oh, and this was the fun part… I researched the Titanic. I mention the sinking a couple times in my book. And, did you know that the first newspaper that published the news about Titanic’s sinking actually said that all the passengers were saved? Oh yeah! So, that’s what I added in my story. I also had to research how they ran a newspaper office in 1912. That was hard, but thankfully, I found information.

I love your research. One reviewer wrote: “Happily surprised!” What intrigued you most about writing this ghostly love story?

Believe it or not – a lot of things intrigued me. I don’t plot my stories, although in this book I had to mainly because there were so many suspects who could have killed Abigail and I needed to fit them in the time-line. But as I was writing the story, I found my characters had different ideas. I loved the way they directed the story toward the end. There are many twists and turns, and…(eerie music starts to play) nothing is as it seems.

Haha. Well, you’ve got me hooked. I can’t wait to read it. Thanks for this wonderful interview.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Interview with Suspense/Romance Author Charissa Stastny

Charissa Stastny was born and raised in Las Vegas, Nevada...but she has never gambled and can’t shuffle cards to save her life. She is married, has four kids, and loves writing, reading, hiking, and imitating monkeys–although when she tried it at the zoo, one of the monkeys spit at her. She currently lives in Boise, Idaho, where she doesn’t have to be embarrassed by her poor card shuffling skills nor worry about being taunted by monkeys.

Welcome back to my blog, Charissa. I love your bio about the monkey incident. There’s nothing better than an author with a great sense of humor. Please tell us about your Eyes of Light trilogy.

This series is clean romance with lots of suspense, action, and emotional turmoil. From Hispanic drug capos and Mormon missionaries in Guatemala to Mossad agents in Israel, these stories take opposites to extremes. Suvi Goldstein is torn between violent men in one world and a forgiving man in another, but must overcome dark secrets from her past to ultimately find redemption and love.

Each book switches between 3 points of view: Suvi - our troubled main character seeking light, James Hinton - a clean-cut, returned missionary, and Austan - an ex-NCS operative who Suvi believes died when she was in high school. He has gone deep undercover, but still secretly watches over and protects her from forces bent on her destruction.

What kind of trials do your main characters have to endure?

Suvi’s trials never seem to end (I feel bad for being so brutal to her as an author—but it makes for a good story). She’s a recovering closet alcoholic, as well as dealing with repressed memories of abuse as a teen and adult. And as if those weren’t bad enough, she has drug capos and a psychopath killer stalking her. Good thing her dad is a Mossad agent.

James’s trial seems to be Suvi, even though he’s smitten by her. The baggage above that she carries becomes his by association...and puts his life in jeopardy.

Austan’s life rivals Suvi’s. Unloved and unwanted as a child, made to play dead as an adult and lose the love of his life, he’s used to life’s gut punches. The secretive life of a CIA-NCS operative isn’t as glamorous as he’d thought it’d be when he signed up; but with Suvi’s life at risk, he can’t quit.

When will book number 3 be ready and what is it about?

My goal was to have it out well before Christmas, but that was before I had a wedding to plan for my daughter. I guess it will be a surprise, depending on how efficient (or not) I am this fall with my writing. In Hands of Mercy, the infinite power of the atonement comes full circle in the lives of my three characters. Life is perfect for Suvi...but then the unthinkable happens. The Dragon returns, and brings tragedy in his wake. Suvi, James, and Austan are tested beyond their limits as death tears them apart and forces them to question their faith, love and convictions.

I think it’s interesting when authors add real life situations to their stories. Did you put real experiences in this book?

In Eyes of Light, the missionary scenes are almost all taken from real-life experiences my brother had while he served in Guatemala. I found his letters captivating and used them to form my character James. In Secret Keepers, there are several scenes—like the Garden tomb and the Wailing Wall—I described from being in Israel as a college student. I also stayed on a kibbutz and based Suvi’s experiences there on mine. I find as an author that little bits and pieces of real life creep into my writing whether I want them to or not. My sisters always tease me by saying things like, “Ha! James rides his bike like your husband.” or “Suvi bites her nails like you.” Sometimes those references happen on purpose, but usually they don’t.

This was so much fun getting to know you better. My husband has read both your books in this series and really loves them. Thank you for an awesome interview, Charissa.

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