Janice Cole Hopkins
Today I have the pleasure to present an author who has been listening to stories for as long as she can remember, reading books since she was five, writing stories since third grade, and writing poetry since eighth grade. Janice Cole Hopkins’ popular Appalachian Roots series contains four books. The Farmers is a trilogy with three. Her books are page-turners, so please give them a try. All her profits go to a scholarship fund for missionary children.
Tell us a little about yourself.
I grew up in the eastern part of the North Carolina mountains. I often joke that I write a lot of historical fiction because I grew up much like people did in the 1800s, but there’s also some truth in that statement. As an only child in a rural setting, I developed a vivid imagination early. This gave me a foundation to dabble in many arts and crafts and especially in storytelling. I’d begun writing my own stories by the time I was in third grade, and I’ve never stopped.
What type of books do you write?
I have fifty-four books on Amazon. Fifty-two of them are novels, and two are Christian non-fiction. Among the novels, ten are contemporary, forty-two are historical, and twenty-one of those are Westerns. That should give you some idea of what I write, but I hope readers will check out my Amazon author’s page. I majored in history and English in college, and that’s likely why the majority of my books are historical novels. I even enjoy doing all the research for them.
What book are you sharing today?
Simon’s Shame is my newest book. It published on March 21 and is part of the multiple-author series, Hers to Redeem. I love this series because it fits my writing style and the books I like to read. It’s about hurting heroes who become recluses because of problems from their pasts. My first contribution to the series was Mason's Memories, but I'll have seven more in the series, including Simon’s Shame, continuing through 2024. There are sixteen books written by ten different authors scheduled in the series before it finishes in August 2024.
In Simon’s Shame, Simon Carlson becomes a recluse because everyone thinks he’s mentally challenged. When he started school, it soon became apparent that he just couldn’t learn to read or write. Today, we would call this a learning disability and get him help, but they didn’t know about such things in 1887. His father never got over the fact, and he turned the community against Simon. When a new schoolteacher comes to Flagstaff, she doesn’t act as if he’s a moron the way others do. Can she show him that he has worth?
As a writer and avid reader. myself, I had an unusual challenge in writing Simon. Before I knew it, I would have someone write him a note or want him to discuss a book he had read, and then I would have to go back and edit that out. Reading and writing are such an integral way of life for me.
What do you see as your current biggest challenge?
Time management – I just don’t have as much time as I need. I will be publishing sixteen books in 2023. When the new year came, I was doing well and had several of the rough drafts already written. So far, I’m still staying five or six months ahead of the publishing schedule, which gives me time to get them edited. However, another problem is that my favorite editor struggles to keep up with my pace, so I’ve ended up having four backup editors I can turn to if needed. I’m sure this will be the most books I ever try to publish in one year, but I’m excited about it.
Although I won’t be publishing books this close together again, I already have the next two years planned, writing nine in 2024 and nine in 2025. There doesn’t seem to be an end in sight, and I love it.
Please share an excerpt with us.
Simon Carlson stood staring at the rectangular hole as the coffin lowered to the bottom. The wooden box held his father’s body. He kept telling himself that, but his mind couldn’t quite grasp the fact.
His father had been larger than life, a force to be reckoned with. Both his mother and Simon had been disappointments to the man – Simon more than anyone. He had never measured up to his father’s standards or even been adequate.
His mother had disappointed him by not giving him the heir he wanted. Simon had come along in the middle of a line of miscarriages, and there had never been another child who’d lived more than a few hours. Most of them had been born dead.
Father had called Simon an imbecile, idiot, halfwit, moron, and several other terms he’d rather forget. And the man had been right.
No matter how hard he tried, he had never been able to learn like other students. He could barely read a few words, do basic mathematics, or write much more than his name.
His mother whimpered by his side, and he put his arm around her. She sank closer to his side in her grief. The woman was as close to a saint as anyone Simon knew. She had to be to put up with and even care for his father all these years.
She’d been the reason Simon never left home. He stayed to offer his love and support in light of his father’s ever-increasing bad moods.
Caroline Brown disembarked the train and looked around. She tried not to be disappointed by what she saw.
The town looked to be about one-fourth the size of Phoenix, but it had the same predominance of saloons. She would say that Flagstaff had as many saloons as all other businesses combined.
She hoped they also had good law enforcement. They would need it.
“Miss Brown?” A short man with a bowler hat and spectacles came hurrying toward her.
He came to an abrupt stop and took off his hat, revealing gray hair thinning on top. “I’m Roosevelt James Harper, the chairman of the school board. We’re glad you agreed to come and help start our school year. Welcome to Flagstaff.”
“Thank you, sir. I’m glad to be here and look forward to teaching your students.”
He cleared his throat. “I suppose you have baggage.”
“Yes. Two trunks besides this carpet bag.” She lifted the bag she held in her hand. “One trunk holds my personal items, and the other has books and supplies I thought might be useful.”
He nodded, but he didn’t look happy. “Come, we’ll make arrangements to have your trunks delivered, and then I’ll take you to your cottage. It’s right beside the schoolhouse.”
“Good. I’m eager to see them both.”
“We opened the school three or four years ago. It’s made of logs. I hope you won’t be disappointed, but we have just built a cottage beside it for a teacherage. I hope you’ll find the arrangement sufficient. I think you will be more comfortable in your own place, even if it is small, than staying with different families and moving around.”
“I’m sure it will be fine.”
“I understand you have family in Arizona.”
Caroline fought back the tears that still wanted to come whenever she thought of her parents. She had been finishing school in St Louis when they succumbed to smallpox. She still couldn’t believe they were gone.
“Yes, an older brother and sister-in-law.”
Her much-older brother had inherited the property, although their parents had left her some money. Reginald had taken a new wife after his first one died in childbirth, and Caroline found Elenore cold and unwelcoming.
She had never been close to Reginald anyway, so she secured a teaching job to the north. At twenty-five, she would soon be considered a spinster, and prospects of a suitable marriage dimmed with each year that passed.
She had only been courted once, but that man had jilted her for another in the end. She had little hope of an acceptable husband.
Her friends at school had told her she shouldn’t be so particular, but she refused to marry a man for the sake of being married. She could have more men court her, but the ones who’d shown interest were uncouth, uneducated men who had little in common with her. Most of the men she’d met in St. Louis whom she might have found acceptable showed no interest in her.
She breathed in deeply as she followed Mr. Harper. She liked the noticeably cooler air here, but she wondered what the winters would be like.
However, this would be a new beginning for her, and she wanted to make the best of it. The future whispered all sorts of possibilities.
Today I have the pleasure to present an author who is listed on Romance Writers of America’s Honor Roll of Bestselling Authors. Barbara Longley’s books have garnered many awards, including a Maggie, the Holt Medallion, a National Readers’ Choice, two Heart of Excellence awards, a Bookseller’s Best award, and a Diamond Award. She creates memorable heroes and heroines who grow into their strengths and go on to save the day.
Summoned in Time is the third book in a time travel/fantasy romance trilogy. What inspired you to write a series of stories set in Ireland?
I have Irish ancestors on my dad’s side, and I’ve always been interested in the history, myths and legends of Ireland. Shortly after completing a four-book series of time travel romances set in Scotland (The Novels of Loch Moigh), I spent fourteen days exploring museums, ancient sites and cultural history in Ireland—inspiring, let me tell you.
I’ve always been captivated by tales of Fionn MacCumahail’s legendary Fenian warriors who were charged with protecting Ireland from invaders and with upholding the law during the third century. Legend has it that Fionn was part Tuatha dé Danann, demigod-like beings who were direct descendants of the goddess Danu. When the Fenians became too powerful, a faction of Irish kings set out to destroy them. How could I not want to write stories having to do with the Fianna, time travel, and romance?
Can you give us a brief overview of the series?
The MacCarthy Sisters trilogy involves three sisters who have a touch of fae DNA. Because of their fae blood, each of them is endowed with special gifts. Regan, the oldest, and Grayce, Meredith’s twin sister, wish they could return the giftedness, which they view more as a curse. Their stories involve coming to terms with who they are and to manage their lives accordingly. All three stories involve adventure, danger, and obstacles along the path to happily-ever-after.
Meredith’s story, Summoned in Time, is different from her sisters. She’s always embraced her fae giftedness. Meredith can see and communicate with ghosts, and it’s her mission in life to help them find peace. Usually, she wishes only to guide spirits move on, but not in Daniel Cavanaugh’s case. The reasons he’s been unable to crossover are far too compelling for her to ignore. He’s also too vibrant a spirit for her to dismiss. Another difference between Meredith’s journey and those of her sisters is that her story begins in a ghost town in Montana rather than in Ireland.
Given the finite number of plot themes, how would you describe the plot of Summoned in Time?
I would describe the theme for Meredith and Daniel’s story as a combination of the quest/rescue, and adventure tropes. The heroine travels through time to try and prevent Daniel’s murder. This is kind of a role reversal in terms of who the true hero is in this tale, and who takes all the risks. Like the other two stories, Meredith’s tale involves the fae associated with her family.
You write in a variety of genres. Why have you chosen to genre jump?
Genre jumping is like a reset button, or a way to refresh and stimulate creativity for me. I read or experience something, and an idea for a story or two comes to me. Why not write that romantic comedy, that contemporary romance, or the occasional historical romance?
Every author’s voice is unique, so rather than brand myself through a single genre, I’d rather brand myself through my “voice.”
Can you give us an excerpt from your book?
“Finally,” Meredith said as she finished grading her last American history essay test for the semester. She’d enter student grades into the community college’s system, and then she’d figure out what to do for the next few months. Barista at Starbucks maybe? Tutoring?
“How about I start charging for ghost whispering?” she muttered to herself. Requiring payment to help people rid their homes of unwelcome spirits would not go over well with the MacCarthy family at large. Their gifts were meant to be shared, not sold, and she agreed—most of the time.
A rebellious flare of resentment ignited. Others profited from their talents. Singers, actors, athletes, writers, and artists made money from their giftedness—the lucky ones, anyway. Why shouldn’t she profit from her abilities? Her sisters would applaud and encourage her rebellion.
“The time to decompress has officially begun.” Her favorite supernatural tabloid offered the outlandish, sensationalized, ridiculous distraction she craved—a guilty pleasure since her own college days. Meredith hit the bookmarked website and began scanning articles.
“Spirit of deceased zoologist possesses baby elephant at local zoo. Exorcism planned.” She snorted. Sure, it was possible, but not probable. What would be the point? Poor baby probably had some kind of illness or a parasite.
She continued to scroll, coming to a stop when an article popped out at her as if it had been written in super bold font, but wasn’t. U.S. Bureau of Land Management seeks volunteers to staff a haunted ghost town. An odd, tingly sensation took hold, and her mouth went bone dry.
The bureau was looking for people to live in what was left of Garretsville, Montana. While there, volunteers would lead tours, provide information, run the gift shop, and maintain the buildings and grounds. The once booming mining town is rumored to be haunted. People reported hearing music and laughter in Keoghan’s saloon. Others heard footsteps and doors opening and closing.
Something traumatic must have happened in that town for so many spirits to haunt the same site. She couldn’t help feeling sorry for the unfortunate trapped souls, but she could fight the pull their plight exerted on her.
Today I have the pleasure to introduce an whether who is an ardent lover of medieval history, and has channeled this interest into fiction writing. Mercedes Rochelle’s first four books cover eleventh-century Britain and events surrounding the Norman Conquest of England. BA in Literature at the Univ. of Missouri St.Louis in 1979 then moved to New York in 1982 while in her mid-20s to “see the world”. The search hasn’t ended! Today she lives in Sergeantsville, NJ with her husband in a log home they had built themselves.
Why did you choose to write Historical Fiction, or do you feel the genre chose you?
Let’s see... Did the genre choose me? You know, I was reading and enjoying historical fiction before I even knew it was a genre. It all started when I specialized in the 19th century novel during my college years. I think the first time I had an inkling about historical fiction was while reading "The Hunchback of Notre Dame". Medieval France absolutely came to life for me. Then I read "The Three Musketeers" and I was truly smitten. Then I fell in love with Sir Walter Scott. By the time I started writing my first novel, I still wasn't aware I was writing in any kind of genre; I don't remember referring to historical fiction as such in college. I believe I “got it” while reading Sharon Kay Penman’s THE SUNNE IN SPLENDOUR in the ‘80s (I have the first edition!). Maybe it was because she was contemporary; suddenly I realized I could do that too.
How did you get interested in the eleventh century?
My interest in Anglo-Saxon history directly stemmed from my research for my first book, HEIR TO A PROPHECY (a sequel to Macbeth, I like to call it). It was Shakespeare’s doing, actually. I knew next to nothing about the period, but my protagonist Walter in HEIR happened to go to London on the day Earl Godwine returned from exile. At the moment I was writing this, Godwine was a convenient plot device. My Walter ended up serving Harold Godwineson for a few years, then his story veered off to Scotland. However, I was left with this unsatisfied curiosity about Earl Godwine, not knowing that he went all the way back to Canute the Danish King of England. Was I ever surprised! If it weren’t for Godwine’s unprecedented rise to power, we would never have had Harold Godwineson, Last Anglo-Saxon king. They were commoners, not of royal blood; all their success was due to ability and political adroitness.
What happens when your historical sources don’t agree?
This happens much more frequently than one might expect—especially when researching a thousand years ago. Although we did have the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (brief and tantalizing though it can be), most of our primary sources were written hundreds of years after the Battle of Hastings. The chroniclers were reliant on hearsay for the most part. Then we have to deal with prejudices, agendas, and bias. Norman chroniclers censured the sinful Harold Godwineson. English chroniclers berated William the Bastard. As we move forward through the centuries, however, it doesn't get much better. A king who was usurped (like Richard II and Richard III) was given plenty of bad press by the king who was left standing. Not only do contemporaries need to follow the "party line", so to speak, much evidence to the contrary was destroyed or altered.
Even modern historians don't agree. When you think about it, no historian wants to "reinvent the wheel", so every book is written with a slightly different agenda. This is especially true from generation to generation. The Victorians tended to write from the Whig point of view— celebrating the superior British political wisdom—which is out of favor now. I noticed that the historians of the 1920s and '30s were hugely interested in gathering factual details about how society and royal administrations were structured. In the '60s and '70s they were interested in psychological factors. In the 1990s it seems that more undiscovered material was coming to light, and some current historians seem to be inclined to take unorthodox points of view about previously unchallenged circumstances (for example, I'm thinking about the alleged death of Edward II). Naturally, there is a lot of disagreeing going on as each new historian needs to prove his point.
This is where the historical novelist comes in. We have to weigh all the conflicting information and decide which narrative fits our story. Sometimes the discrepancies are small (the order or location of events) and sometimes they are huge. Did Earl Godwine kill his hostage Alfred Aetheling in cold blood, was he ordered to do so by the king, or did he merely turn over his hostage to royal thugs who did the dirty deed? No one knows, but he was held responsible for the rest of his life. I find the whole process fascinating, and of course frustrating, but that's the challenge. If we put the puzzle together convincingly, the reader will accept our story without question. If we do it awkwardly... well, it will show.
From what I remember, Earl Godwine is usually portrayed unfavorably by historians. How did you handle that?
It was a challenge to rehabilitate him. First of all, he went with Canute at the time the Danes were conquering England. There must have been an element of betraying his own people. I think—and hope—that Godwine saw his role as representing the Anglo-Saxons in a difficult situation. Canute favored him for whatever reason, and it seems the Danish king really wanted to become acceptable to his conquered island. He even embraced Christianity. Unfortunately, Canute died young and Godwine’s prospects diminished accordingly. We have the mutilation and death of Alfred Aetheling which I mentioned before, and Godwine’s reputation was ruined, though frankly I think it was undeserved. Why would he commit such a monstrous crime? There was no benefit to it. Nonetheless, Kind Edward the Confessor, Alfred’s brother, believed in Godwine’s guilt and nothing the earl could do changed his mind. The other earls were certainly jealous of him and tried to place him in a bad light. I think Godwine’s best feature was his loyalty to his family and his resourcefulness, which could easily be twisted to look like acquisitiveness. He certainly defended his people against the hated Normans.
What was a hurdle you faced in writing this book and how did you overcome it?
Interesting question. Yes, I actually had two challenges in this book that dovetailed nicely. Both had to do with not wanting to fall into that old predictable trap concerning characters. There are so many love stories that seem formulaic. I didn't want that same old theme: disliking each other first, then falling in love (and all the variations thereof). On the other hand, I understand that there needs to be some kind of stress in the romance before it comes to fruition. It was obvious that Godwine had a happy marriage (or at least a productive one) since they had so many children. I was really intrigued by the discrepancy of their social status. Godwine was a commoner, and Gytha was a noble (or the Danish equivalent). At the same time, I had a hard time figuring out why Swegn, the firstborn, turned into such a bad egg. I don't believe a character should be all good or all bad. People just aren't like that. Even wicked characters act that way for a reason; sometimes they have good qualities that get buried under their more powerful bad qualities. Finally I had an inspiration: if Godwine's marriage started out in anger, or stress (Gytha was given to him in marriage, but she didn't have to go willingly), perhaps the firstborn would be neglected and unloved. That would explain his subsequent behavior. It took some doing to make that work, but I'm happy with the result.
I noticed a Godwin in the Netflix series “Viking Valhalla”. Is this the same character?
Yes! I was amazed to see my old friends on the show, even though the chronology is out of whack; Swegn Forkbeard was dead before Canute became king. Nonetheless, I’m not unhappy with the way Godwine was portrayed in the series. He was loyal to Canute yet by all indications he didn’t get along with Queen Emma. This was true to form. It was good to see the eleventh century get some attention.
What is your next series?
The next series is called The Plantagenet Legacy about the struggles and abdication of Richard II, leading to the troubled reigns of the Lancastrian Kings.
Today I have the pleasure to present ‘The Dirty Lowdown’ called Mike Faricy, America's hottest new mystery writer. The Irish Gazette referred to him as Minnesota's Master of the Bizarre. Crime Scene referred to him as the next Carl Hiaasen.
Tell us about your writing awards.
My books have been nominated for the Killer Nashville Silver Falchion Award. I received The Poison Cup Award from The Crime Masters of America, two Best Selling Mystery Series Awards from the Crime Masters of America, and four Book of the Month awards from the Irish Gazette.
How many crime fiction series do you have?
I have four crime fiction series:
The Dev Haskell Private Investigator series, currently thirty-three books, is set in my hometown of St. Paul, Minnesota. It’s written with a sense of humor, and along with my chief protagonist Dev Haskell, there are three other recurring characters. Dev’s office mate, an attorney named Louie Laufen, who deals with DUI cases. His childhood pal, Lieutenant Aaron LaZelle, who heads up the local Homicide Department, and the local crime lord, an individual by the name of Tubby Gustafson. Dev has a relationship with a different woman in each book. At the end of the book, they basically tell him to, ‘Please, never call me again, ever.’ I write three or four books annually in this series.
My Jack Dillon Dublin Tales series is set in Dublin, Ireland. Jack Dillon is a US Marshal who, through a series of events, is assigned to the Dublin police force, An Garda Síochána, Special Branch. I write three or four books annually in this series.
My Corridor Man series consists of ten books set in St. Paul, Minnesota. Disbarred attorney Bobby Custer is my chief protagonist. He obtains an early release from prison after promising to work with federal authorities. I describe him as psychotic, sociopathic, and always charming. Of my four series, the Corridor Man series is the most gritty and violent.
My Hotshot series consists of five stand-alone crime fiction novels. All set in St. Paul, Minnesota, and written with a humorous twist.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m originally from St. Paul, Minnesota, where I live part of the time. I also live in Dublin, Ireland. Hence the Jack Dillon Dublin Tales series. More about this series and my latest release below.
How did you get into writing?
Ever since I was a little boy, I’ve enjoyed books. As children, my parents brought us to the library every week, and we could pick out books. They read to us every night before bedtime. My favorite book was George the Pig. George wouldn’t share his birthday cake, and on the last page of the book, he explodes from eating too much cake. I read books growing up and began writing ‘Award Winning’ first chapters for a number of years. After maybe fifty first chapters, I decided it was time to either fish or cut bait. I had to actually write a book or stop wasting paper.
I wrote my first mystery and somehow arranged to meet St. Paul resident and New York Times Bestselling author William Kent Kruger for lunch. At the end of our lunch, I hauled out my two-hundred-and-ninety-page manuscript and asked him if he’d like to read it. He held his hands up and said, “No!” He then went on to explain that all writers have a book that they keep under the bed. The more I thought about that, the more I decided that was probably a good place for my initial work of genius.
That said, I went on to write six stand-alone crime fiction novels. I had three children at home at the time, so I wrote in the dark, either late at night or before sunrise. With each book, I would dutifully send out eighty to a hundred query letters to traditional publishers along with a self-addressed, stamped envelope in order to receive my rejection in a timely manner. It was on the sixth book that my query letter to, in those days, one of the five major New York publishers was returned to me. The envelope had a large purple stamp across the front that read ‘Return to Sender.’
On the back of the envelope was a handwritten note that said, ‘This does not fit our needs at this time.’ The envelope had never been opened. It suddenly dawned on me that Mike Faricy from St. Paul, Minnesota, didn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell with these people. But, there was a side gate into the publishing playground, eBooks and independent publishing were just beginning to come alive. I had covers made and eventually put all six of my books out on Amazon. I haven’t looked back.
Most of my friends thought I was crazy. That probably wasn’t far from the truth, but I stuck with it.
I’ve been writing full-time for a number of years, working seven days a week. I currently produce six or seven books per year. My novels are filled with the sort of oddballs we're all curious about, but wisely prefer to keep at a distance. My characters serve not so much as an example as they do a warning to all of us. None of them will be saving the world from terrorism, international banking conspiracies, or coups to take over the government. Rather, my characters inhabit a world just below the surface of polite society. The circumstances they find themselves in are usually due to bad decisions, but then bad decisions make for interesting stories. I currently have 73 books, 25 box sets, and I’m halfway through my latest work, another Dev Haskell book. I write for crabby old guys like myself, but my readers are largely women. My mornings are usually spent on marketing and interacting with authors and readers. From noon until the evening, I’m writing. This, no doubt, makes me the most boring guy in town. I’m blessed to be able to work at something I love to do. I encourage anyone starting out to stay with it. Writing is a tough, crazy business that changes constantly, and I love it.
I hear from two or three traditional publishers over the course of any year, but after looking at the numbers, I continue to remain indie.
My most recent book, Jewels to Kill For, is scheduled for release on the seventh of February of this year. It’s the fifteenth book in my Jack Dillon Dublin Tales series. Dillon and his partner, Paddy Suel, are investigating a series of four murders that occur within four days. There’s no apparent relationship between the victims, and the murders initially appear to be random.
Living in Dublin for part of every year has given me a good deal of local knowledge. Not only the basics such as locations, streets, neighborhoods, etc. But also the more subtle things, like how a pint of Guinness is ordered in a pub, how it’s poured, bus routes, local laws, tv programs, and speech patterns.
Jack Dillon lives with his dog, Lucifer, in an attached two-story home in an area on the north side of Dublin called Glasnevin. Being a member of the Special Branch unit, he is not assigned to a specific area of Dublin. He and his partner investigate difficult cases or aid in situations where there simply isn’t sufficient manpower.
In Jewels to Kill For the initial investigation suggests that the four murders are indeed random. Dillon and Suel are eventually able to uncover a series of links that begin to suggest a pattern. It’s up to them to tie the murders together and then, against all odds, hopefully find a suspect.
Wishing everyone all success and all the very best.
Today I have the pleasure to present an award-winning USA Today Bestselling Author who started writing to curb the homicidal tendencies she experienced during her daily Seattle commute. Chris Patchell writes gripping suspense thrillers with romantic elements set in the Pacific Northwest and believes good fiction combines a magical mix of complex characters, compelling plots, and well-crafted stories.
For fans of Kendra Elliot and Melinda Leigh, Find Her is a chilling police procedural about how obsession leads to murder in the small town of Sweet Home, Oregon.
Tagline: A stolen hammer. A dead suspect. A terrifying trail of murder.
What made you want to write this story?
An author friend of mine, Judith Lucci, was putting together a multi-author box set of thrillers and reached out to me to see if I’d be interested in contributing a story. I’d been working on a stand-alone book and hadn’t published anything for a while, and I relished the opportunity to take a break from what I was working on to write something new.
The original idea behind Find Her was based on a short story I’d worked on years ago where a security guard is obsessed with a woman who works in a mall. I’ve always been fascinated by the concept of what happens when the people you’re supposed to be able to trust aren’t all that trustworthy.
I also wanted to write about a smalltown cop and what it would be like to work on your hometown police force and how knowing everyone in your town can have both upsides and downsides, which makes for some interesting interactions and scenarios for police officer Lacey James when she’s called to the scene of a burglary. While the crime on the surface seems pretty innocuous, the story that unfolds is both chilling and complex.
Was Find Her meant to be a stand-alone or the beginning of a new series?
I wrote Find Her as a standalone and had no intention of making it a series, until my copyeditor said, “Hey Chris, I’m loving this new character. Are you going to write more?” I laughed and shot off a quick “Ha! No, I’m busy working on other things,” but then when another opportunity to join a private box set popped up… Well… I did have another idea in mind that could be easily adapted into a Lacey story and the timing was right, so Find Her was soon followed by another book, and then there were four.
What makes Lacey so relatable?
Fans of the story love Lacey’s bravery, her determination, and the way she cares about her family, her fellow officers, and the community she serves. Her struggles being married to a guy in the military have struck home for a lot of readers. While I’ve never worked as a police officer, throughout my long career in technology, Lacey and I have shared some similar struggles including how to balance a challenging career with the demands of raising small children. The trade-offs you have to make and the sense that no matter what you do, you’re always falling short. We both also work in male-dominated industries, which has its own set of challenges. Lacey faces the sexism she experiences unflinchingly and with a maturity I wish the younger version of myself had been capable of. I also enjoyed writing about her close relationship with her cousin, Amber. Amber’s the one she can always rely on when things get tough. Don’t we all wish that we had an Amber in our lives?
Why did you choose Sweet Home, Oregon as a setting?
Once upon a time in a land far far away, I was born and raised in a small town. Though I spent many of my adult years living in cities, there are things I miss about small towns, and it’s this feeling—the charms and challenges you face while living in a small town, I found appealing. Quirky characters. Family grudges. You name it. And that feeling that everyone is in everyone else’s business makes for great conflict. I wanted to find a town that was set close to the Cascade Mountain range because the mountains make for some great obstacles that I thought could benefit the story. So when I went looking for a nearby town, I happened upon Sweet Home, Oregon. The location was right and that name… Well, I couldn’t resist.
When the story came out, I was surprised by how many of my contacts in law enforcement as well as some of my newsletter subscribers actually either come from or have worked in either Sweet Home or its neighboring towns. It’s been fun to hear from them, and gratifying to know that some of the descriptive elements that I love including in my stories hit home for them.
What do you think readers will love most about this story?
The way the story is structured is unusual. It’s told in three parts. It starts out with Lacey investigating a crime and trying to apprehend the suspect. Part two begins in the suspect’s point of view and is time-shifted to occur before part one begins. Part three picks up where Part one left off. I think that playing with the timeline in the way that I do heightens the suspense in the story and allows the plot to unfold in a way that is surprising to the reader.
In addition to the story structure, I work hard to ensure that all of my characters are fully formed. These are people with deep passions and relatable flaws, the kinds of people you’d want to know, to be friends with. Okay, maybe not the psychos, but you know what I mean. As novelists, we’re afforded the opportunity to allow our readers a glimpse inside the minds of our characters, and that can be a real gift.
And finally, the setting. I often write stories that are set in the gorgeous Pacific Northwest where I live with my family. I spend a fair bit of time during the editing process working on the setting descriptions, so much so that I often get feedback from the people who either live in or have visited the areas that the descriptions ring true. Even if you haven’t been to the Pacific Northwest, I hope that reading one of my stories gives you a glimpse into the regions and makes you feel as if you’ve been here.
Thank you so much for hosting me on your blog, Uvi. If your readers are interested in learning more about me or my work, they can visit my website and sign up for my newsletter at
A. L. Butcher
Kitchen Imps and Other Dark Tales
Today I have the pleasure to present the author of The Light Beyond the Storm Chronicles, fantasy, historical fantasy and poetry. A. L. Butcher is the winner of the NN Light Book Heaven award for Fantasy 2018 and 2019, and the short story category 2020. She also offers writing services: editing, formatting, and indie promotion.
How did the Kitchen Imps come into being?
The short story collection The Kitchen Imps was born from a silly conversation between two writers. I was grumbling to my friend about socks going missing in the wash. Every time the laundry is done a sock or other item vanishes. Where do they go? We had a silly conversation about possibilities – an interdimensional portal to Sock World, a hungry monster behind the grate in the machine, that sort of thing. We are both fantasy writers, so you can imagine the creatures and scenarios we came up with. Then the Kitchen Imps were born – pesky little creatures that live in the house and cause mischief – sock goes AWOL – it’s the imps taking it (they love stinky laundry). Lost your keys? Hidden by imps. Wonder why the butter isn’t where you left it? Imps.
Where did your love of writing come from?
My late father would tell me stories about wicked household items, I remember the old hose pipe that was replaced and went on to ensure the interloper was put aside. My dad had a dark, mischievous sense of humour and was a great storyteller. A lot of his influence is in my short stories. Both my late parents enjoyed reading (although my father struggled with normal print books, due to having lost most of the sight in one eye), and they encouraged us to read prolifically, and enjoy music and the creative arts. For that I am eternally grateful.
I’ve written short stories and poetry for as long as I can remember – storytelling is in my blood. Someone once asked me – why did you become a writer? I think writing, or being a musician or artist, is not something you ‘become’ – it’s what you are. You can’t help but create stories, music or pictures. They come and if you don’t let them out, they poke and poke until they are free. Whether they are any good, or whether or not you share them with anyone doesn’t matter – you’re still creating these works. Write because you can, write because you must. The question should have been ‘when did you become a published author?’ – That’s not necessarily the same thing.
How do you think fantasy has influenced us?
Fantasy and folklore are everywhere – permeating every culture, in every time, in every country. In some ways it’s how we’ve made sense of a confusing, dangerous and mysterious world, how we have instilled morality (or warned against the lack of it), and how we have entertained ourselves since humans first sat around the fire.
Think about it. Western culture – Santa Claus, the tooth fairy (which is sinister), the Brothers Grimm, Disney films, Star Wars, King Arthur, Tolkein, Norse, Roman, Greek mythology, elves, fairies, Black Dogs, ghosts, werewolves, vampires, Krampus, The Green Man, unicorns… I bet there’s a fantasy/folklore influence in your everyday life you don’t even realise. Religion is mythic (whether or not you believe it’s true) – and the supernatural creatures therein hold court in our language and our lives – regardless of belief. How many atheists speak of ‘guardian angels’ or tell their kids about Father Christmas? Even if you don’t believe these beings are or were ‘real people’ – the influence is there.
How many of you drink in a pub called the ‘Robin Hood’? The ‘Green Man’? The ‘Unicorn’? The ‘George and Dragon’? Even if you don’t like Star Wars or Star Trek – I’d bet you’d know who Darth Vader and Captain Kirk were. It’s in our language too – people speak of Pandora’s Box, an odyssey, a ‘Herculean’ effort, for example. I bet if you thought about it, you’d see something mythic or folkloric every day, and simply not realise, because those things are so entwined with our culture.
Will there be any more Imp stories?
I hope so, but I’m not sure. I have a begun story of the imps discovering fire, and I’m working on a post-apocalyptic Jack and the Beanstalk. I’m also working on book IV of my series, but nothing is proceeding at much of a rate.
Did you want to be a writer when you grew up?
No, I wanted to be (in no particular order), JCB driver, a squirrel, a dinosaur, a pilot, a civil servant, a steam engine, a vet, a whole host of professions, creatures, inanimate objects and of course life often doesn’t work out that way. I don’t think I’ve actually grown up much, I find adulting stressful, depressing, exhausting, expensive and scary so try and avoid it as often as possible. I’d much rather be reading, gaming, writing and avoiding reality.
Blog, writing services and promotion
Much thanks, Uvi, for your feature of my book today! So appreciated! oxReplyDelete
My pleasure Sarah! Can't wait to read it :)Delete
Thank you so much for this opportunity, Uvi. The presentation looks fantastic, too.ReplyDelete