Monday, February 20, 2017

Interview with Author Christine Verstraete by Jacqueline Seewald

Christine (C.A.) Verstraete is the author I am interviewing today. Find out about her and the unique novels she writes here.

 Question: What is the title and genre of your novel?  Why did you select them?

Answer:  Lizzie Borden, Zombie Hunter is a mash-up of alternate history, mystery, horror and real life crime, based on the actual Borden murders and trial. It actually started out as Zombie Killer, but the publisher suggested the change as it seemed to work better. I got hooked on zombies and the stories by watching The Walking Dead.

Question:   What inspired this novel? How did it come about?

Answer: I always found historical crimes like Jack the Ripper and the Borden murders interesting because of the mystery behind them. Looking at the actual autopsy records and reports for the Borden murders, I realized another plausible reason could be made as to why Lizzie Borden could have committed such an awful crime. Since the victims had been hit in the head, it made perfect sense that she’d committed the murders because they’d turned into zombies.

Question:  Could you tell us a little bit about the heroine and/or hero of your novel?

Answer:  To me, Lizzie Borden’s character reflects the things she faces – strength in facing and doing the unthinkable, fear that her life may end if she’s found guilty of her father and stepmother’s murders, a bit of recklessness and flaunting of conventions (after all she’s facing the gallows), and a vow to protect her sister and fight for her town, even as she’s mostly rejected by society. Takes a strong person to do that, I’d say.

Question:   Can you tell us about some of your other published novels or work?

Answer:  I also wrote a young adult novel, GIRL Z: My Life as a Teenage Zombie, which tells the story of what happens when 16-year-old Becca is accidentally scratched and turns into a part-zombie. I’ve also written a kid’s mystery and books on dollhouse miniatures since I’m a collector.

Question:   What are you working on now?

Answer: I’ve been working on a ghost-haunted story novella also set in Lizzie’s hometown and centered on her doctor and neighbor, Dr. Seabury Bowen.  I also started Lizzie Borden, Zombie Hunter 2, which continues the story. It’s been fun writing about Lizzie again!

Question:   What made you start writing?

Answer:  I wanted to write since I can remember, and it seems I was destined judging from one of my baby pictures showing me with a newspaper and a pencil behind my ear. I still write for newspapers as well.

Question:   What advice would you offer to those who are currently writing novels?

Answer:  It can be a long haul from writing to seeing a book in print, but it’s worth the effort to see your vision come to life. It is an exhilarating, frustrating, fun, horrible journey at times. But that’s the writing cycle. It has its ups and downs.

Question:  Where and when will readers be able to obtain your novel?


Amazon (Print, Kindle and Kindle Unlimited):
Barnes & Noble (Print):

About Lizzie Borden, Zombie Hunter:

Every family has its secrets...
   One hot August morning in 1892, Lizzie Borden picked up an axe and murdered her father and stepmother. Newspapers claim she did it for the oldest of reasons: family conflicts, jealousy and greed. But what if her parents were already dead? What if Lizzie slaughtered them because they’d become… zombies?
   Thrust into a horrific world where the walking dead are part of a shocking conspiracy to infect not only Fall River, Massachusetts, but also the world beyond, Lizzie battles to protect her sister, Emma, and her hometown from nightmarish ghouls and the evil forces controlling them.

Questions and comments for Christine are welcome here!

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Interview with Author Judy Penz Sheluk

I'm celebrating Valentine's Day and Mystery Thriller Week with a special interview. Fellow author Judy Penz Sheluk is my guest today in the writer’s spotlight.

Question: What is the title and genre of your novel?  Why did you select them?

Answer: Skeletons in the Attic is an amateur sleuth mystery, but it is suspenseful rather than cozy. It is the first book in my Marketville Mystery series, and was published by Imajin Books in August 2016. As a reader, my go-to genre is mystery and suspense. I remember reading Learning to Swim and A Cold and Lonely Place by Sara J. Henry and thinking, “I’d like to write a book like that.”

Question:   What inspired this novel? How did it come about?

Answer: The idea for Skeletons in the Attic came to me while I waited with my husband, Mike, in our lawyer's office. We were there to update our wills, and his goldendoodle kept us company while our lawyer was detained at court. The opening scenes of this book are culled directly from that experience. Let that be your takeaway from this: everything that happens in a writer's life may end up in one of their stories.

Question:  Could you tell us a little bit about the heroine of your novel?

Answer:  Calamity (Callie) Barnstable is a thirty-six-year-old single woman with “loser radar” when it comes to men. Her job as a call center worker at a bank’s fraud unit sounds a lot more exciting than it is (all the interesting stuff gets bumped up to her supervisor). When her father dies in an “unfortunate occupational accident,” she inherits a house that she had no idea existed—with the condition that she find out who murdered her mother thirty years before. A mother Callie assumed had left them for “the milkman or some other male equivalent.”

Here’s a Valentine’s Day Treat—sorry not candy or flowers—instead an excerpt from the novel:

For Callie Barnstable, the protagonist in Skeletons, Valentine’s Day 
has a special meaning. And not in a good way:
I was right. The pictures had been taken the year before my mother
 left. February 14, 1986, the date forever etched in my mind. Years 
later, when a boyfriend dumped me on Valentine’s Day, my father 
lamented that I’d fallen victim to the Barnstable curse. What I’d 
fallen victim to, I’d told him, was another classic example of my 
loser radar, a combination of poor judgment and lack of insight. 
I didn’t tell him that I’d actually been expecting a ring, or that I’d 
spent hours picking out just the right Valentine’s Day card, an 
adorable image of two porcupines kissing, with the message, 
“I love you so much it hurts.” It had hurt all right, just not the way 
I’d expected. 
Question:   Can you tell us about some of your other published novels or work?

Answer:  I’d love to. The Hanged Man’s Noose was my debut novel, published by Barking Rain Press in July 2015. It’s the first book in the Glass Dolphin mystery series. The premise for Noose is this: A greedy real estate developer comes to a small town with plans to build a mega-box store, thereby threatening the livelihoods of the independent merchants on the town’s Main Street. This is something we see all the time, in growing communities. I merely took that premise and said, “What if someone was willing to murder over it?”

I’ve also written some short crime fiction, which can be found in various anthologies, all available on Amazon. I love writing short fiction, but I find it incredibly challenging. It’s almost easier to write a novel!

Question:   What are you working on now?

Answer:  The sequel to Noose, the sequel to Skeletons, and a couple of short stories.

Question:   What made you start writing?

Answer: I’ve always wanted to write. As a kid, I wrote stories in my head, on the way to school and back again. I thought all kids did that@ In 2003, I left the corporate world to try life as a freelance writer. I’ve never looked back. In late 2011, after taking some courses in Creative Writing, I decided to start The Hanged Man’s Noose. It was an instant addiction.

Question:   What advice would you offer to those who are currently writing novels?

Answer: I always answer this question the same way, with a quote from the late, great Agatha Christie. “There was a moment when I changed from an amateur to a professional. I assumed the burden of a profession, which is to write even when you don't want to, don't much like what you're writing, and aren't writing particularly well.”

Question:  Where and when will readers be able to obtain your novel?

Answer: Noose is available in print and e-book at all the usual suspects, including B&N, Kobo, Amazon and Kindle. Skeletons, which is print and Kindle only, is also available on Kindle Unlimited.

Judy welcomes comments and questions.

Monday, February 6, 2017

What Writers Can Learn from Tom Brady

On Sunday evening I watched the Superbowl along with my husband. Not being a football fan, I still watched the game with interest. My husband who was very athletic in his youth, played sports, and refereed as well, did a wonderful play by play analysis for my benefit.

By half-time, I was convinced that the New England Patriots would lose the Superbowl. Atlanta had his number. But low and behold Brady would not give up. He persevered. I think this is the mark of a true champion.

What can writers learn from Tom Brady and his performance at the Superbowl? Perhaps to never give up, even when the odds appear to be against you. Making it as an author is a lot like making it as a professional athlete. Only the best survive and succeed. Pit bull determination, hard work and effort are necessary. Never give up!

Comments welcome here.