Visiting Cedar Key with Terri Dulong

Hey Terri, Welcome to Manic Readers!  I’m so glad you were able to visit.

First off, congrats on being a finalist in the 2010 New England Reader’s Choice Bean Pot Awards and the deal with Reader’s Digest Condensed!  I’m betting you were tickled no end.

Thank you for inviting me here and yes, I was quite honored about the New England Reader’s Choice Bean Pot award and ended up winning third place.

Can you tell us a bit about CASTING ABOUT and your contribution to the HOLIDAY MAGIC anthology?  How excited were you about being asked to contribute to the anthology?

CASTING ABOUT is book 2 in the CEDAR KEY SERIES and is Monica’s story.  Monica is Sydney’s daughter and readers met both of them in SPINNING FORWARD.  Monica is now newly married and has taken over her mother’s yarn shop.  But when her husband gains full custody of his eight-year old daughter, the normally even-keeled Monica doubts herself at every turn as she goes from honeymoon to new step-mom.

I think the excitement of being asked to do a Christmas novella in an anthology with Fern Michaels headlining is still lingering!  I was beyond thrilled and honored.  My contribution was A CEDAR KEY CHRISTMAS.  My editor requested that I stay with the setting of Cedar Key, which is where I reside.  My main character in this story is single mother, Josie Sullivan.  Josie’s eleven-year old daughter, Orli, teaches the entire community what the true meaning of Christmas should be.

How did you celebrate your 2 book deal for SPINNING FORWARD and CASTING ABOUT with Kensington?

A bottle of French champagne, followed by a flight to Paris to celebrate.  Only kidding!  Although I’m a confirmed Francophile and I normally visit France quite frequently, I’m afraid I’ve had no time to get back there since my first contract.  However, my husband and I did celebrate with a lovely dinner and wine at the Island Room restaurant here on Cedar Key.

There’s a difference between your Cedar Key Series, your Lost Souls Series and the suspense you co-wrote with William Bonner.  Can you tell us a bit about those previous books?

Lost Souls of the Witches’ Castle is also women’s fiction but more of a “fiction based on fact” because the plot goes back and forth in time and is based on Danvers State, the mental facility north of Boston where I did my RN psychiatric training and it’s also a love story that transcends time with a bit of a paranormal twist to it.

Immoral Symphony, written with Bill Bonner, is a romantic suspense and deals with the issues of homelessness, health care in the country, and sexual harassment in the workplace.  We wrote the novel via emails, using first person, with Bill taking the male character and I wrote the female character.  It was a lot of fun to work on because we treated it as “real life.”  In other words, when I received his current chapter, I had to pick it up from there and continue with the plot, but except for the main themes…….we never really knew what the other had planned plot-wise.

Did you finish the third in the Lost Souls Series?

I didn’t finish the third book, however, I still have about ten chapters in my computer.  I did end up writing a prequel to Lost Souls though……Daughters of the Mill and that was published in 2004.

What took you from them and brought you to your Cedar Key Series?

The seed for my Cedar Key series was born five years ago when my husband retired and we relocated to the island off the Northwest coast of Florida.  I was captivated by this very friendly and small fishing village.  It was the actual setting and the sense of family and community here that compelled me to write SPINNING FORWARD.  My writing deals with relationships, which of course involves family, friends and community…….and Cedar Key itself was my major inspiration.

Any chance you’ll revisit those roots?

Well, right now I’m still getting established building my reader base with the Cedar Key Series, but yes, if readers would eventually like something a bit different, there’s a strong possibility that my three previous books could be reprinted.

How has having been a nurse influenced your writing?

Being an RN has specifically influenced my writing because of all the close contact I’ve had with patients over the years.  I worked Oncology, ICU, Emergency Room and then Home Health Nursing…….so I was exposed to many various character traits and human nature in both good and bad situations.  I think it allowed me to see and feel emotions in a stronger way, which I think many times gets unconsciously transferred as a composite to my fictional characters.

Do you have a favorite place you’ve lived or has each been special in its own way?

I love Salem, Massachusetts, the home town where I was raised and went to school.  It will always be special to me and continues to evoke good feelings.  But I also love Paris, France where we lived off and on while my husband was working there.  And now….Cedar Key has wound its way around my soul.  I love living here and I know, without a doubt, that I’m in my element.

Who’s in control, you or the characters?  If the latter, have you ever been surprised?

Actually, we’re both in control.  I start out with some ideas and the characters then jump in forcing me to take a detour.  For the better, I might add.  So yes, they often surprise me.

Do you plot and outline or just go with the flow?

This is similar to my characters.  I start out with a main theme that I want to focus on in my story.  In SPINNING FORWARD, it was “identity” and finding oneself after age fifty.  In CASTING ABOUT, I wanted to focus on “is every female cut out to be a mother and father’s rights with custody.”  So yes, I do a fair amount of both plotting and research, but then…when the characters step in, I never know what the destination will end up being.

Do you have favorite authors?  Influences?

All of my favorite authors write women’s fiction.  But a few at the top of my list are Fern Michaels, Sue Miller, Eileen Goudge and Barbara Taylor Bradford.

Currently reading anything good?

At the moment I’m reading the re-issue of Fern Michaels, Sins of Omission.  And loving it!

3 pet peeves?

Greed and selfishness, jealousy and lack of compassion.  Opps!  I guess that was four.

Your dogs are precious, do they keep you entertained?

Oh, gosh, yes!  I’m a huge animal lover and Duncan and Brie constantly bring a smile to my face and make me know how great life is……if we pay attention to the small things.

What’s one thing you would change if you were Empress of the Universe?

I’m not sure how I’d accomplish it…….but I’d want to change the lack of understanding among people of the world.

Is there anything you’d care to share with us that I might have missed?

I’d like to share that my editor recently called to offer me another two book contract and yes, I’m beyond thrilled to now be contracted with Kensington through 2012.  Book 3 in the Cedar Key Series will be out November 2011 and book 4 will hit bookshelves in November of 2012.  Therefore, I want to thank all of my readers and fans that helped to make this possible with their huge support!

And thank you, Ivy, so much for inviting me here.  You had some great questions!

WOOHOO Terri!!   That’s wonderful news..*G*

Thanks so much Terri!   I’ve really enjoyed it!

Tara Taylor Quinn ~ Chapman Files International Blog Tour

First, I want to thank Manic Readers for their invitation to visit!  I’ve spent some time on the site and find it full of great tidbits.  I hope everyone who’s following us on The Chapman File International Blog tour takes time to look around.  It’s a really cool site!

Expert Witness Psychologist, Kelly Chapman, star of The Chapman Files and my alter ego, and I have a guest on tour with us today.  As we’ve been traveling around the world visiting with people, we’ve been trying to raise awareness and support for the fight against domestic abuse.  Specifically, we’re raising money for Strengthen Our Sisters, the first battered women’s shelter in the United States.  With ten homes filled to capacity with battered women and children, SOS lost $400,000 in donations this year and we’re doing everything we can to help them.  (Even having a charity skate/walk-a-thon!  For more information visit,, or

I knew going into this fight that there were a lot of women who suffered from domestic abuse.  I knew because the fight is personally dear to me.  The first file Kelly Chapman opened to me, The First Wife, Harlequin Superromance, 9/10, was a domestic abuse case.  A man has been accused of killing his wife.  Kelly’s client?  The wife.  There were two of them.  Turned out the man was a bigamist.

What I didn’t realize was that the silence I’d suffered behind for thirty years was not unusual.  I truly thought that in today’s world, most women who suffered from spousal abuse were able to get help.  Maybe they didn’t get away, but they sought assistance.  We aren’t in the dark ages anymore.  And with the help of Sandra Ramos, founder of SOS, and individuals like her, laws have been established in the United States to protect abused spouses.  Awareness has been raised.

Kelly finally helped me see the sad truth.  My own silence is not uncommon.  In fact, it’s one of the top symptoms of abuse.  The abuser blames the abused.  It’s a way to control.  To manipulate.  Blame promotes shame.  And shame promotes silence.  The abuser, in order to be successful, has to make certain that his victim remains silent.  If the victim speaks out, the abuser’s role, the abuser’s authority and control, is threatened.  The abuser must answer to actions.  Defend actions.

The control is insidious.  The feelings of guilt, of doubt – key abuse ingredients – insinuate themselves until the victim honestly believes that there is something wrong with her that brings out the heinous behavior in another.  And the most debilitating part of all of this is that once doubts are present, the abused can no longer trust distinguish what is fact and what is control.  I was in a conversation with a dear friend of mine this past week – my closest friend for many years – who was only just finding out about my own experience.  For the first time we talked about the private hell that I’d kept buried inside.  And I was horrified to hear myself tell her why it had happened.  I was horrified because even now, after coming out on the other side, I took the blame.

I’ve been shocked at the number of people who’ve written to me over the past six weeks, telling me of their own situations.  (Unfortunately Kelly hasn’t been surprised at all.)  We’re making a difference!  For every single woman who speaks out, an abuser is losing control.

Today Kelly and I want to share with you one of the letters we received.  This is from a former resident at Strengthen Our Sisters.  She gave us permission to share her story.

The biggest mistake I’ve ever made was marrying my soon to be ex husband and father of my three children.  I met him on April, 1991.  He was charming, handsome, with a good sense of humor and at the same time very reserved. I thought he was the perfect man for me.  He had a good job, his own apartment and his life seemed settled. I liked that, for at the time I thought those were the essentials for a relationship and even a family.  Little did I know then that he was going to be the cause of all my pain and sorrows,  that my life was going to change for ever.

Four months after meeting him I was already moving in with him.  One month later I got pregnant with my first child.  By then he had become very controlling and very abusive to me.  Everything I did bothered him.  For example, if the house was not clean enough, or if the food was not to his taste.  If I didn’t walk next to or in front of him, he would push or drag me.  If I dared to talk back to him, he would smack my face or pulled my hair.  My self esteem went to the floor and I became very frantic and nervous.  I also became very quiet.  I cried a lot, to the point that I thought my tears were going to dry up.  I hardly visited my family and friends.  I became isolated from everyone.  My family started questioning what was going on with me.  I would lie or make excuses.

Months later I had a son.  Five months after my son was born, he told me we were getting married.  We did, I thought my life was over any way.  The day we got married I felt like the weather.  It was a very cold, gloomy, rainy day.  We went to City Hall with two of his friends as witnesses and two hours later we were back home.  Half an hour later he left me at the apartment, feeling like I had made the worst mistake of my life.  There was no turning back.  I felt it was my fault and that now I had to think of my son.  That he needed to have a real home, with a mom and dad.

As the years went by I had two more children.  After many break-ups, make-ups and restraining orders, the physical abuse had stopped.   The mental and verbal abuse got worse.  He also became more and more controlling.  It was a very ugly cycle where I didn’t know how to get out.  My children were affected by all this.  They heard and saw everything.  They were not doing well in school and I think that in some ways they blamed me for not doing something about it.  They would often suggest that we needed to leave the house.  I just couldn’t find a way out.  Until one day he made the abuse public.  He went before the church congregation where we attended and announced to everyone there that I was listening to the devil, among other things.    I decided right there and then that I had to do something.  I had to get away from him and his abuse.  My children and I never went back home, instead we went to a battered women’s shelter.  Our lives changed for ever.

Even though that bad decision was the worst mistake I ever made, I know that it has made me a better and stronger person.  It also made me see that there’s always a way out, no matter what mistakes we make.”

This woman is now working as a Victim Advocate and attending college.

This post is brought to you as part of The Chapman Files International Blog Tour. Over the next three months, as we celebrate The Chapman Files, expert witness psychologist Kelly Chapman and I are going to be asking for help. If you can, join us in our fight against Domestic Abuse. If you’d like to help, go to and click donate.  Or just comment here to show your support.

There’s an item from our new book, The Second Lie, hidden on the tour with us. Guess the item to enter the drawing to win it! Today’s clue: You Can Get It Color Coordinated.  Send all guesses to To see previous clues visit blog sites listed at Guess as many times as you’d like!

Don’t miss The Chapman File tour party on December 4th at! We’re giving away a KOBO e-reader and many other cool prizes! All you have to do to be entered to win is leave comments on the tour!

E-books of all of The Chapman File Stories are available for pre-order at

Next tour stop: Wednesday, October 27,  2010. Storybroads  We hope to see you there! The more blogs you visit with us, the more chances you have to win! Every time you comment your name is dropped in the bag for the prize drawings.

For weekly blog tour dates, visit Or to have the weekly schedule sent directly to your email, send request to

Kaylie Austen Returns

Kaylie, thanks so much for joining us today at Manic Readers.

Thank you for having me again! I’m so excited to be here.

We’re glad to have you come back to see us too hon…*S*

Do you think your multi-cultural upbringing has influenced your writing?

Sometimes this is the case. I normally fail to view the skin color of my characters and I’ve even made up races with unique blends of many ethnicities. I think that culture adds flavor and depth to the story, making it easier to connect with the character and their world. I know that if I ever pursued a serious women’s fiction project, it would revolve around racial issues and what happens when one culture is raised in another since that has been the case with my life. In fact, I have a bitter tale looming in my thoughts, but I don’t know if it will ever get put down.

Might be cathartic if you could just get it out and down, even if no one but you ever reads it?

Did you always know you wanted to write?

I was certain of two things growing up: one, that I would end up in the medical field; and two, that writing would always play a role in my life. My earliest creative story that I can recall is one about vampire bunnies written when I was ten. I’m also an artist, so the story came with graphics!

Why weres?

Until now, I’ve never been a big fan of the paranormal especially with werewolves and vampires everywhere! To be honest, I had a difficult time placing my work so I wrote a piece that a publisher wanted-weres in a large city. MS Fiction took it. It was out of my comfort zone. It was short, paranormal, and a romance. I would rather write about weres than vampires, for one thing, the aggression, mythology, and struggle creates a very tortured character that readers like to see win some. No scrawny, pale bloodsuckers this time.

So, tell us how you really feel about vamps!   *G*

Can you give us a brief synopsis of your latest novella SECRETS OF THE FRENCH QUARTER contained in WERES IN THE CITY 2 DIGEST from MS Fiction?  The first in this series is CAJUN SPICE and the third is THE DISTRICT, right? A bit about the series as a whole?

Cajun Spice starts the series with the meeting of the human Kila and the infamous alpha shape-shifter Ethan. In my world, shifters are immortal predators and humans are vain, unsuspecting prey. Humans are kept alive and left unaware of the shifter realm and never in known history have two ever mated. Ethan is in NYC on the hunt for his rogue brother when he embarks on an illicit and torrid affair with Kila. Everything is great until he returns home to New Orleans.

This is where Secrets of the French Quarter picks up. Kila is struck with physical and mental attacks that she can’t explain, forcing her to find Ethan. The Vieux Carre clan’s alpha female sniffs out Kila in New Orleans’ French Quarter and all heck breaks loose. Ethan, who is loyal to both his kind and his pack, must calm them and choose between the clan and his forbidden mortal lover. But here’s the thing, the shifter world upholds the unwritten Law and Ethan has broke many of those laws. Neither he, nor Kila, can escape from retribution for the atrocity that has occurred.

The story will lead to Washington, D.C. in The District, part of the Weres in the City 3 digest that will be released later this year. There’s a dark and twisted secret that comes up and tears everything apart.

Cajun Spice was originally written as a standalone adventure into new territory for me, but the story wouldn’t end there. After unintentionally writing this short trilogy, I’ve combined all three and added lots more to create a full length novel, Immortal Bloodlines, to be released by MS Fiction in March 2011.

Something to look forward to.

Any news on RAVENS?

Ah, you remembered! My precious sci-fi bordering on urban fantasy is still my baby. The novel inspired by comics is still looking for a home, although it is being considered by several publishers at the moment.

RAVENS has been picked up by kNight Publishing and will be available 2-11….here’s their website:

What is the hardest part of writing for you?

I can’t write of my own will, the ideas have to come to me. Writer’s block gets to me and there’s nothing that I can do to break it. I can have ideas and know where I want to go, but if I force it, the story will sound forced and it won’t be a good read. On the other end of the spectrum, when I get going, I really get going! It’s like a parasite in my mind that I have to get down otherwise it consumes me.

What do you enjoy the most?

When it comes to writing, I enjoy hearing the excitement in readers after they’ve read one of my stories. Even if I never make it big or if I’m not able to quit my day job for a writing career, the important thing to me is that fans get to read a polished novel in print. The thing that I enjoy the most in general is the simple ability to sit around and enjoy the company of the people that I’m so fortunate and blessed to have in my life such as family, friends, and co-workers.

Does your muse require anything special or are you a favorite of hers?

I’m a favorite of hers, that’s for sure! I bend and contort in every way for her. I never call upon my muse and actually expect it to come to me, but rather, she beckons me and I have no choice but to submit or let a good story painfully go.

Pet peeves?

I don’t like being touched. If I had it my way, I would live in a bubble. No handshakes, no kiss on the cheeks, no hugs, no pda’s. In my daily life, I’m always meeting and greeting and I’ve offended many along the way, but the bottom line is that I don’t like being touched.

There’s days I feel that way myself….Being Southern it doesn’t last long though.  We tend to hug & be kinda touchy feely with each other. *S*

If you were Empress of the Universe what would you change?

Oh, so many things, but to name a few I would make everyone behave nicely, create affordable healthcare, and bring plaid back.

I’ve been seeing a lotta plaid lately and manners are always welcome….

Is there anything you’d like us to know that I may have overlooked hon?

Weres in the City 2 is now available through Midnight Showcase Fiction, and keep an eye out for upcoming releases in the next few months. Readers can find me on Facebook and at

Thanks so much for being with us today Kaylie, I’ve really enjoyed it…

Thank you, I’ve truly enjoyed it as well!

Y’all be sure & visit Kaylie at her new website~


Y’all keep in mind that Melbourne is 14 hours ahead of us so if there’s a lag in answering any questions, please remember the time difference.

Thank you so much for being with us today Mr. Brian.

Thank you for the opportunity. Much appreciated.

You’ve won some impressive awards for your film work.  What are the biggest differences between the film work and the mystery writing?

I’d start with the similarity; that is telling a story. Both actually are visual. One is being experienced on a screen as originally perceived by a writer, but filtered through the visual concept of a director and a production team. The other is a more direct route from writer to reader. Quite apart from the quality of the writing and the use of language, the novel becomes visual to the reader – not always the same imagery in every case – but essentially visual as the reader creates for him/herself, the scene described.  So, as my background has been visual but always story telling, the difference to me was not that great. People imagine that a film script is full of technical instructions. That is not so. Giving camera instructions is not the writer’s prerogative; that belongs to the director. In many ways a good script is a slimmed down version of a novel, in as much as it gives pertinent character details, motives and emotions, plot and actions only as required, the majority of a script being taken up with dialogue and/or action depending on what type of film is to be made. It serves as a blue print for the director and crew as well as the actors. Writing mystery novels then, for me, became an exercise in expanding an idea; fleshing out the detail.  It allowed for more characteristics of the ‘cast’ to be displayed as well as expanding on description of locale and, if necessary, the impact this has on the plot, mood or atmosphere. Creating word pictures.  But there again, I didn’t feel the need to over-emphasize the physical attributes of the characters, unless the plot requires it. I like to give just enough to allow the reader to join in by contributing to the creation of the personality aided and abetted by their behaviour in the story. What’re important are the thought processes that need to be conveyed to the reader, a skill that in film is communicated by a (hopefully) good actor.

Most of my film work has been in the editing process, so I have drawn on that experience in my approach to writing, by being aware (again hopefully) of dead wood and keeping the story moving and retaining the reader’s interest, always carrying them forward.

Was the transition from film to mystery writer difficult or just a natural progression/expression for you?  If not, what prompted it?

As I said, story telling has been my background in film. In some ways it probably was natural progression, but the fact is that at one point a few years back, work on film, for me, began to be limited. This was partly due to my age, partly to a down turn in the industry and partly due, I suppose, to my disenchantment with the type of films that were being made, plus a willingness to explore other creative avenues.  To fill in time while waiting for film projects to get up, I started writing. I began with a romance, which I thought would probably be easy to get published. I enjoyed the writing but not the genre and as I’ve always enjoyed mystery novels, it seemed logical to pursue that possibility. I lean towards ‘cozy’ although I’m not really happy with that appellation, at least in regard to my books. Certainly they are not hard boiled but neither are they ‘lavender & lace’ (a popular misconception made by some, in regard to cozies). My books could probably best be described as ‘who dunnits’. I set out to write a mystery that has good, interesting characters, a plot that intrigues and a balance between drama and humour. It’s up to readers to decide if I achieved my aim.

Can you please tell us a bit more about Canterbury Crime your latest release out Oct. 21st?   Fourth in the Belinda Lawrence series.

All of the stories in the Belinda Lawrence mysteries, although contemporary, are based around some historical event or artifice. History is a favourite subject of mine, English history in particular. Capable of Murder, the first book in the series, concerns a garden that was designed by a famous English landscaper. The Embroidered Corpse has to do with a mystery surrounding the Bayeaux Tapestry, the ancient design recording William the Conqueror’s attack on England. The third book, Bloody Ham has historic (and haunted) Ham House as a background.

Some years ago I spent a week in Canterbury in Kent. I knew the history of the City and of the killing of Archbishop Thomas Becket in the Cathedral in 1170, so it was fascinating to be on the actual spot of the murder. Armed with my knowledge of the city and the historical events I was able to develop what I believe is an entertaining whodunit.

The walled city of Canterbury has held many secrets over the centuries but none more mysterious than the death of Professor de Gray. Called in to evaluate the contents of his Tudor Manor House, Belinda Lawrence, Hazel Whitby and Mark Sallinger are confronted with a number of suspects who would benefit from the book the Professor was about to publish; a book he promised would re-write the history of St Thomas Becket.

The unfriendly secretary Miss Mowbray, the live wire student Tommy, the volatile amateur historian Peter, the respected publisher Sir Justin, and Quentin the upstart publisher, prepared to obtain the book at any price. Add to them the local Doctor and Funeral Director and the cast of suspects is complete.

Confirming the Professor was murdered proves to be a challenge and gradually as they get to know those associated with the Manor House, Belinda and Hazel discover another murder and an intricate web of secrets that leads them to life-threatening danger and finally to the killer.

I have used actual locations in the city although the Manor House is fictional, as is its location in Canterbury, but the structure of the house is loosely based on Great Dixter house in East Sussex.  In 1910-12 Sir Edwin Lutyens altered the old house and incorporated a 15th-century timber-framed house transported from Benenden, Kent, so there is a Kentish connection to the fictional House.

Do you plot the mysteries out or go with the flow?

I have what I call a ‘road map’, which is roughly the outline of the story. I set off on the road but I don’t always stick to the main thread. Side roads prove to be interesting and I prefer to keep the writing fluid, in as much that I like discoveries along the way. After all, the book should be a revelation to the reader and so also to me as the writer. To have a hard and fast direction doesn’t allow for unearthing fresh and surprising incidents.

Who’s in control, you or the characters?  If the latter have they ever surprised you?

Pretty much the characters. I’m there to see that they don’t get out of control, but by and large I set the scene and let them tell me the story. In the first book, Capable of Murder, Hazel Whitby was just a minor character but it became apparent that she knew more than she was letting on, with the result that I got to know her better and she became Belinda Lawrence’s close friend in further adventures. I hadn’t set out to write a series but as the characters strengthened I realized that they had other stories to tell.

Quite often a minor character is introduced, for whatever reason, and then I realize that they know something that is relevant and so become an essential part of the story. They often surprise me and reveal aspects of the story that I hadn’t foreseen. In all but the first book, I didn’t have a clear idea who the murderer was and in A Canterbury Crime, I set out with a number of suspects and it wasn’t until the end of the book that the murderer was revealed to me! And it was a surprise.

My characters are alive – at least to me. I often see letters from would-be authors bemoaning the fact that they can’t get started or have got one or two chapters completed and can go no further. That’s probably because their characters are not genuine. Learn to get to know you characters and let them tell you more about themselves; after all, if they are not real to the author they will not be real to the reader.

I think that’s so intriguing that you didn’t have a clue.  How fun is that?  It’s these tidbits that I find so interesting and that make a book even more appealing.

Did you have certain people in mind when you created Belinda and Hazel or are they amalgamations?

With Belinda, no one person but she’s probably a combination of several women that I’ve been close to who have had strong and attractive personalities. Belinda, in the first book, has traveled to Europe from Australia to spend time there after finishing University. There has been a culture in Australia, for at least the last sixty years, for young Australians to do this; experience the world before settling down to a career or family life, so it was natural for Belinda to have done this.

Hazel is entirely fictional but I suspect I may have been influenced yet again by some flamboyant women I have known – and possibly some men!

Too funny, I enjoyed the trailer clips where Belinda & Hazel chatted a bit.

Approximately how long does it take you to write a book?

Hard to say as I don’t always sit down and write until it is complete; often I will go for weeks before resuming. I find that helpful as it allows time for ideas to percolate. But I guess, with research and editing etc., about six months in total as an estimate.

Do you have favorite authors ~ past and present?  Did anyone in particular influence you?

I tend towards English authors. But over the years these are the authors I liked, in no particular order.

John Steinbeck

F.Scott. Fitzgerald

Muriel Spark


Evelyn Waugh

Iris Murdoch

Agatha Christie


Simon Brett

Peter Lovesey

Hazel Holt

And many others, including Fergus Hume who wrote Mystery of a Hansom Cab in 1886.

I believe they have all influenced me in some way, but Christie and E.F. Benson the most.

Christie because of her plotting and Benson because of his acerbic wit in observing human foibles.

Favorite fictional character?

Hard to tell. I have to say probably two. Mapp and Lucia by E.F.Benson. Because they are outrageously funny.

Favorite book?

There again, hard. So many. But I have a fondness for Mystery of a Hansom Cab, as it was written in and about Melbourne, Australia my home town, at a time when Melbourne was booming after the gold rush and was such an international success. It predated Sherlock Holmes and was the biggest selling mystery book in the world until Christie’s, The Mysterious Affair at Styles.

I’ve added a couple names and title to my TBR mountain.  Mysteries are my first love and I’ve never heard of Mystery of a Hansom Cab.  I’ve also never heard of E.F. Benson.  I’ll be rectifying that ASAP….

3 Pet Peeves?

1. Readers who are cautious of eBooks. I appreciate how comforting it can be to have a paper book in hand, but reading is reading and eBooks are just another way to do that.

2. Those who don’t search out small press publications and only pursue big name authors and slavishly follow the best-seller list. The technology now available has allowed so many good writers access to publishers who are caring and nurture their authors; something that the established publishers are often careless about, unless an author lays golden eggs.

3. Authors (particularly self-published) and publishers who fail to edit and proof read their text before publication. I realize that sometimes a typo can slip through but it annoys me when a book hasn’t been proof read and is full of all kinds or errors, from wrong characters names to unintentional gender change and sloppy syntax. This includes authors who themselves are not critical enough of their work and fail to edit out the dead wood before submitting.

I’ve stopped reading & gotten shed of some big names because the characters weren’t growing, it was repetitive.  I’ve  found some excellent keepers, yours included, that I’d never have discovered if I hadn’t taken some chances.   By all means there’s no need to limit yourself.  Do a little scoping out on the internet, it’s amazing all the great books and authors I’d never heard of.   I’m like a kid in a candy store!

Are you currently reading anything?

I recently purchased a Kindle and so find that I am reading much more than I had been. One of the joys is of course the classics that are available free, so it is a chance to catch up with books that I’ve always intended to read but never got around to doing so. I often found the layout of 19th century books hard to read but with Kindle the layout is more contemporary and therefore easier to read. But I am also exploring some of the newer mystery writers and revisiting Christie and other old friends.

Anything you’d like to let us know that I might have missed?

Only that I’m pleased to hear from readers who have enjoyed Belinda and Hazel’s adventures and am always happy to hear from more. There is a guest book on my website where readers can contact me.

Thanks so much for being here with us today Mr. Brian, I’ve really enjoyed it and I’m looking forward to Canterbury Crime, available October 21st at BeWrite books.  No date yet on Amazon availability.


Eve, thank you so much for taking the time to be with us at Manic Readers and satisfying our curiosity about a few things.

Thanks so much for having me. I’m excited to be here.

The third and final book in your Otherkin trilogy, SINS OF THE FLESH, is out this month.  Can you please give us a brief rundown of the series?

These books are about love and loyalty. Honor. The bonds of family. The pain of deceit. The strength to overcome adversity and loss. The heroes are strong and complicated; the heroines equally so.

The series involves layered worldbuilding with an Underworld that is divided up in much the same way criminal elements of a city are divided by turf. All the Underworld gods, want their piece of the pie. And to a degree, they band together to balance the vast power of the lord of chaos and evil, Sutekh.

In an effort to further his power and extend it more fully to the human realm, Sutekh sired four sons on three different human women. He raised those sons in different worlds until they were grown and could take their rightful places as princes among his army of soul reapers. Dagan was trapped in the Underworld, raised by demi-demons, never learning of his human heritage until he was grown. That left him with a few problems with emotion. He’s the hero of book 1, SINS OF THE HEART.

Alastor was raised by a wealthy, titled, human family. Then one day, dear old dad blew in like a storm and ripped Alastor’s sheltered, privileged world to shreds. Which left Alastor with a fetish for order. He likes to be in control. He’s the hero of book 2, SINS OF THE SOUL.

In contrast, Malthus lived in abject poverty. He learned to fend for himself early on and took to petty thievery, then pirating. Mal hasn’t changed much in the centuries since. Some habits are hard to kick. He has a fondness for the adrenaline high and for walking way too close to the razor’s edge. And he’s the hero of book 3, SINS OF THE FLESH.

These are definitely on my TBR mountain.  Just not enough hours.

What inspired the trilogy?  How much research do you do for your books?

I was inspired by a number of different things: By the question of whether or not villains could be heroes, and by the rich tapestry of mythology I found as I began researching Underworld beliefs and lore of different cultures.

I did a ton of research for these books. I followed endless links and purchased numerous texts. My local museum actually had a rare and wonderful exhibit of the Book of the Dead and I had the opportunity to pore over it first hand and marvel at the beauty and wonder. But the mythology in these stories is not limited to Egyptian. There are elements of others cultures and civilizations and I researched those as well.

How fortunate was that?  I’d have a large time poring over that too…very lucky you, Eve.  *S*

Do you have everything plotted out or just go with the flow?

I definitely go with the flow.

Who’s in control, you or the character?  If the latter, have they ever surprised you?

My characters take me on crazy rides, and I love that. If they head in a surprising direction, I let them. After all, I can always hit the delete key if it doesn’t work out.

Do you have a favorite book you’ve written? Characters?

As I write each book, those characters are my favorites. I immerse myself in their personalities and let them fly. It’s hard to let go. But when I begin the next story, I fall in love with the characters in that book.

Have your reading tastes changed over time?  Genres you now read? Abandon any?

I’ve been a sucker for fairy tales and the happily-ever-after since I was a little kid. I used to devour all the fairy tale books I could get my hands on. As a teen, I discovered romance and I was enthralled. Oddly, I’ve also always been drawn to dark stories with a hint of the macabre. Edgar Allen Poe was a fave of my teen self, as was The Picture of Dorian Gray and a quirky tale by Henry James—The Beast in the Jungle.

I read almost all genres, and have abandoned none. A great book is a great book…and I love a great book, whether it’s one of the classics, or urban fantasy, women’s fiction, horror, YA, thriller, romance. I’ll read it if it’s a story that grabs me.

Me too!  The dark definitely appeals to me.  I read a broad range also, less chance for burnout that way!

You haven’t given up your gothic tinged historicals have you?  I love gothics, grew up on them.

I loved writing my historical suspense stories. I’m not contracted for any at this time, but you never know what the future holds.

I’ll keep my fingers crossed.  I always recommended them as “the new gothics”.

3 pet peeves?

I’m not really a pet peeve kind of girl.

3 current favorite things?

Fave game: Boggle (followed closely by Scrabble and Sudoku)

Fave candy: Swedish berries

Fave wine: White zinfandel (yes, I know it’s the wine of choice for those who are not wine connoisseurs)

I love those games too!  I can rarely get anyone to play.  Have you ever played Swoggle?  I highly recommend it!

If you were Empress of the Universe…?

I’m very Pollyanna at heart. As Empress of the Universe I’d wipe out poverty and hunger, war and hate. I’d eradicate disease. And of course, I’d make sure that all book lovers had an infinite book-buying budget 😉

That would be lovely…budgets are hard on a biblioholics heart.

Is there anything you’d like to mention that I may have overlooked?

SINS OF THE HEART, SINS OF THE SOUL and SINS OF THE FLESH complete the story arc and answer the question of who murdered Lokan Krayl. But I’m not quite ready to leave the world of the soul reapers and the Otherkin. The fourth book set in this universe, BODY OF SIN, will be out in June 2011.

Thanks so much Eve for coming today & for your generous offer of a signed copy of SINS OF THE FLESH.

A random, meaningful comment will be chosen as the lucky winner of the signed copy of SINS OF THE FLESH.  Y’all be sure & visit Eve at the following:



Join me in welcoming Cynthia to Manic Readers.  Almost a year ago she was gracious enough to grant me an interview.  Today she talks about broadening her horizons…

Trying Something Different…

Hi, everyone! Thanks so much to Ivy for inviting me over to chat today!

My very first Christmas anthology released last week, so, right now, I’m in a bit of a holiday frame of mind.  J Normally, I write stories about serial killers or demons (or, if I’m feeling particularly perky, serial killing demons), but this time, with this novella, I was able to try something entirely different.

My contribution to THE NAUGHTY LIST is a novella called “All I Want for Christmas”—and there is not a demon or a serial killer anywhere in the story!  What?! I know…it was scary at first for me, too. But…there is a very sexy Santa cop in the tale (I couldn’t totally get away from my love of law enforcement guys), and I finally had the chance to write about a toy inventor heroine (I’ve always wanted this job in real-life).

When my editor first called and asked me to participate in this anthology, I didn’t have any hesitations. Sure, I hadn’t written a straight contemporary holiday story before, but instead of being worried about the process, I was thrilled. You see, I love trying new things. I think it’s great to branch out into other writing areas—it keeps my mind fresh. Exploring something different can be exactly what a tired brain needs in order to recharge.

Different is good. That’s always been my philosophy. I mean, really, do you want the same thing, in and out, everyday? Or do you want to experiment a bit with life?

I’m all for the challenge of a new day…or for the challenge of a new writing journey.

So tell me…have you tried something “different” lately? It could be something as simple was watching a new TV show or reading a new author or even trying a new food. Let that “different” take you away, and enjoy the ride!

One random commenter will win an autographed copy of the Naughty List, so please, share your trying-something-different tales with me.

Have a great day.

Cynthia Eden

THE NAUGHTY LIST—Available now from Kensington Brava

ETERNAL FLAME—Available 11/30/10 from Kensington Brava

OK Y’all, it has to be a meaningful comment, sharing your “trying something different tale”.  I’m sure you have one!

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