Abandoning one slow read in the summer of 2012, I scanned through my downloads for something more suited my macabre mood. I didn’t expect to find anything; after all, I’d only downloaded a dozen books and I’d read most of them.
But I found Graveyard Blues, and I was captivated from its very first word straight through its final ones. My June 2012 review was glowing:
As a lifelong reader of horror, I’ve come to expect that most horror will neither actually scare me nor stick with me after I’ve finished reading it. It’s exhilarating to find a horror novel that engages me from its first pages and only gets better as it goes. Graveyard Blues is such a novel.
Hettie and Henry, the book’s protagonists, are some of the most memorable characters I’ve encountered not just in horror but in fiction. They’re very real, very funny characters with whom I’d be happy to travel even if the story itself weren’t so engaging. But let’s be clear: the story is compelling.
When its protagonists came up against obstacles at every turn, I found myself holding my breath and hoping all would turn out well for them . . . even if, as the story progressed, that seemed an increasingly unlikely outcome.
The end more than satisfied. Best of all, it’s not so much an end as a resting point. I normally prefer standalone books, but THIS is a series to which I’ll happily return.
It’s both my pleasure and honor to be interviewing Graveyard Blues author Reina Salt today.
Have you always felt compelled to write? If not, what inspired you to pick up the proverbial pen?
Well, as I child, I wanted to be an artist when I grew up. Actually, that’s not entirely true — I wanted to be Indiana Jones and Elvira, but failing that, I wanted to make art. For years, I painted, but I didn’t have much by way of success. When the economy crashed, I was left unemployed at my day job, battling depression on a daily basis, and trying to find more ways to channel my creative energy to make some money. I taught myself to sew, and sold things I made to people around the world for a few years. I dabbled in writing in the past, but for a long time, it was just another tool for me to make art with; an unused paintbrush, if you will. That is, until my character Henry came to me in a very intense monologue which I use in his first scene. I tried to put it out of my head several times, but he remained, persistent, and getting louder. Writing wasn’t a conscience decision for me, so much as it was a compulsion. I was driven to write after being haunted by my own creations, as it were.
My dear friend E.L. Farris has recently published her first novel, Ripple:
Finding herself in trouble, Helen must relinquish control and put her faith in a process she knows to be flawed. As a team of lawyers, therapists and women from a safe house help Helen and Phoebe find hope and healing, a sociopath lurks, waiting for his moment to strike.
A lyrical, dark fairytale that will resonate with fans of women’s literature and psychological thrillers, Ripple delves into the nature of evil, without seeking to provide final answers to the issue of what makes a human commit evil acts. And while the author takes readers to scary places, she ultimately shines a light on the human condition and celebrates the triumph of the human spirit in the face of great tribulation.
I enjoyed Ripple tremendously, and for many reasons. Top among those reasons were the strong, compassionate, very dissimilar women who filled its pages. I have read many popular novels recently in which the protagonists were drafted “empty,” the better to enable readers to insert themselves into the story as the protagonist.
Those empty characters really wig me out. I want to read stories, like E.L.’s, whose characters would be excellent coffee shop companions. I don’t necessarily have to like each of them all the time, but I must always have something to learn or laugh about with them. E.L.’s characters weren’t just real people but real friends to me by the time I read Ripple‘s final pages with a smile on my face.
I am hopeful that these women will inspire some of Ripple‘s readers to find like women in their own lives, and to find the courage to leave abusive situations, knowing there really is help available. The journey to a safer life needn’t be made alone.
E.L. has taken a few minutes out to answer some questions I had for her about Ripple, writing and life. I hope you’ll read them and consider buying your own copy of her compelling first novel.
Have you always been a writer, or did your word-lust begin later? Read more…
The Monster’s Daughter is not paranormal romance.
Until yesterday, I failed to understand why people would buy my first novel expecting romance. After all, nothing in the title, cover, nor description hints at romance. See the description:
Ginny Connors doesn’t believe in vampires. There’s totally a rational reason her dad is a lot more bloodthirsty and a lot less interested in food than he used to be. Still, she hangs a cross on her bedroom door. Just in case.
When Ginny discovers people aren’t the guests but the main course at her father’s New Year party, she wishes she could save the day with garlic pancakes. Instead, she must face the limits of her daydreams, and attempt to stop the monster her father has become.
Vampires: check. Dads: check. Daydreams: check. All present. Romance, though? Romantic love? Smoochie-face? Gaga-eyes? Infatuation? These guys had other places to be. Read more…
Labels can be useful.
Is this parsley? Or is it thyme?
Is this a middle school? Or is it a high school?
Labels can also be useless or, worse, counterproductive.
Is he a nerd? A geek? A poser?
Is he a future success story? Or a failure waiting to happen?
As a writer, I’m struggling with labels right now. Is my first novel, The Monster’s Daughter, YA? Or is it horror? I’d put it squarely into the category “YA horror,” no matter how I envision it as a coming of age tale, but the categories available don’t allow me this designation.
I’m left to choose between “Teen: monsters” or “Horror.” I personally feel the latter fits somewhat better, but it also makes my novel virtually invisible in searches. The former doesn’t fit quite as well but opens my book to a much wider audience. Read more…
I stopped reading debates about the merits of indie publishing versus traditional publishing a long time ago. I don’t think in straight black and white whether the subject is publishing or what’s for lunch, so I was turned off by how many writers sat squarely in one camp and totally decried the other. I needed a little more nuance and a little less outrage from my readings, but I was hard pressed to find it.
When YA author Annie Cardi pointed toward a blog she said “gives credence to both sides,” my curiosity was piqued. I trust Annie, and welcomed the thought of a balanced assessment vetted by her. I followed the link to Livia Blackburne’s post and was indeed delighted by what I found. I was so delighted, I typed out a long, thoughtful comment . . . which my iPad then devoured. Sigh.
Instead of typing another comment there, I opted to link up here and share the gist of my thoughts: Read more…
Chain letters usually go straight to my spam filter, but when I received an invitation to participate in a chain blog, my curiosity was piqued. Its sender was Sara Burr, a writer and blogger who captivates me with her eloquence and thoughtfulness. I haven’t had a chance to read her first novel yet, but you can bet I’m looking forward to it!
With two days of editing my newest book under my belt, this chain blog was perfectly timed to get me thinking both about what it is and what I want it to be. It’s also got me wondering. I know we’re not supposed to play favorites with our children, but is it OK to favor certain of our books over others? Because it’s possible–not certain, mind you, just possible–that I enjoy this one a heck of a lot more than the ones that preceded it. Maybe. A little.
What is the working title of your book?
Elelu. It’s not the most descriptive working title, granted, but I’m still early in the process!
Where did the idea come from for the book?
It came from my idea box from younger years. I had a night dream that jarred that old idea loose and got to daydreaming up what the story would look like if I wrote it today. Then, without too much delay, I got to writing.
What genre does your book fall under?
Urban fantasy. I’d also classify it as Young Adult, but my fiancee, Ba.D., is fighting me on that one: “Everything is YA right now! It’s a meaningless classification. Just go with what it really is.”
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
I’m way too early in the process to start playing that game! Right now, I want to stay true to my characters as they are instead of envisioning who else they might be.
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
When the sole survivor of mermaid genocide lands in her lap, loner Abigail must decide not only what she believes in but how far she’s willing to go to save someone else.
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
Independently published. Although there are pros and cons to each, I’m much more interested in creative control than traditional publishing at this point.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
About four months, excluding the month I took off.
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
This question had me stumped until I started reading Necromancing the Stone last night. So far, it’s similar to that book’s predecessor (Hold Me Closer, Necromancer) in tone and pacing.
Who or what inspired you to write this book?
My fiancee inspired me. When I had the dream that got me thinking about writing my old story, I described that dream in depth to Ba.D., who told me that sounded like a book he’d love to read. Over the next couple of weeks, I told Ba.D. what I was thinking and asked for his input when I encountered any logic or plot hurdle I couldn’t seem to jump by myself. With his encouragement, I moved from thinking about the story to actually writing it.
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
I grew up poor, but not so poor that my mom couldn’t cough up gas money to take one of her barely-running cars to the Oregon coast every year or two. Those coast trips brought me a sense of possibility. In Elelu, I’ve captured the feelings of hope and home that imagining the ocean continue to evoke in me. I’ve done this within an exciting story full of characters you might not always agree with but whom I think you’d probably enjoy grabbing a cup of coffee.
Click here to learn a little more about Elelu. Otherwise, please mosey on over to visit the next link in the chain, my friend E.L. Farris. Her heartbreaking yet inspirating first novel, Ripple, will hopefully be out in time for Christmas.