IndieView with Michael Meyerhofer, author of Wytchfire

Wytchfire-800 Cover reveal and Promotional

 

But part of the breakthrough I mentioned earlier came when I decided to make the story’s central protagonist more of an everyman.

Michael Meyerhofer – 26 June 2014

The Back Flap

In a land haunted by the legacy of dead dragons, Rowen Locke has been many things: orphan, gravedigger, mercenary. All he ever wanted was to become a Knight of Crane and wield a kingsteel sword against the kind of grown horrors his childhood knows all too well.

But that dream crumbled—replaced by a new nightmare.
War is overrunning the realms, an unprecedented duel of desire and revenge, steel and sorcery. And for one disgraced man who would be a knight, in a world where no one is blameless, the time has come to decide which side he’s on.

About the book

What is the book about?

Wytchfire is a dark/epic fantasy novel set in a world where magic is despised and those born with the ability to use it are reviled throughout the continent… sometimes, for good reason.  In an effort to combat centuries of murder and oppression, those born with magical abilities—the Shel’ai—have banded together and hatched a desperate scheme to utterly annihilate their many, varied enemies.  However, there’s unrest in the ranks.  Some of the Shel’ai think they’ve gone too far.  Others think they haven’t gone nearly far enough.

As the Shel’ai fight their oppressors, as well as each other, Rowen Locke—a common man with no magical abilities of his own—finds himself caught in the middle.

Rowen is a failed squire, a former sellsword turned aspiring Knight of Crane.  Only he was expelled by that prestigious order as much for the color of his skin as for his inability to surmount their grueling training.  Now, disgraced and penniless, he finds his loyalties tested on all fronts as the machinations of the Shel’ai unfurl around him.

When did you start writing the book?

I first started this book in high school, believe it or not.  It’s had several incarnations over the years as I went back and revised the storyline, tweaked the characters, etc.  I’m very hard on my own writing so it took a while before the light bulb came on and things finally started to fall into place.

How long did it take you to write it?

I probably started on the final version of Wytchfire about four years ago.  It was tough because I was also teaching full-time, writing and publishing poetry, and serving as the Poetry Editor of Atticus Review, so I had to just work on Wytchfire in the evenings and weekends, a little bit at a time.  But about four years ago, I finally had a major breakthrough that helped me map out not only what would happen in Wytchfire, but what would happen in the sequels.  That sped up the process tremendously.

Where did you get the idea from?

I suppose the original idea came to me when I was a kid.  I loved X-Men comics, as well as pretty much any fantasy novel I could get my hands on, and always wanted to write a medieval-type fantasy series with some similar themes of oppression and revenge. But part of the breakthrough I mentioned earlier came when I decided to make the story’s central protagonist more of an everyman.  After all, Rowen Locke isn’t a Shel’ai.  Nor is he anything close to perfect.  He’s not the strongest or the fastest guy on the battlefield, either (a fact of which he’s well aware).  But he does have a tragic past of his own, which grants him some affinity for the plight of the Shel’ai.  The character of Rowen Locke allowed me to incorporate into my fantasy some of the same themes I was writing about in my poetry: my experiences growing up very poor, for example, plus what it felt like being continually bullied and picked on for birth defects we didn’t have the money to fix.  From there, I found myself addressing some other social issues through the other characters and conflicts.

Were there any parts of the book where you struggled?

As I put more and more of myself into my characters—first, Rowen Locke, then the others, including the villains—I panicked a little bit.  Did I really want to be this vulnerable in my writing? Luckily, I’d been fairly blunt in my poetry (often seasoned with some dark humor) so I was able to get over that relatively quickly.  The reader gets the final say, of course, but I hope that’s made my fiction stronger.

What came easily?

I’m something of a history and philosophy nerd so when I got the idea to pattern the Knights of the Crane after Japanese samurai, my knowledge of Buddhism really came in handy.  Gradually, I changed that portrayal here and there so that instead of flawless, honorable warriors, the Knights of the Crane were portrayed in a more realistic manner: skilled, sure, but also ambitious, political, and as prone to bigotry as everyone else in the world of Wytchfire.  Especially when I was writing the Codex Lotius (a kind of poetic/philosophical rule book that the Knights are supposed to follow), I had a lot of fun incorporating some elements of Zen.  I also got to weave in some tidbits from the Greek philosopher, Democritus.  Oh, and battles! I won’t say that writing fight scenes is easy, but it’s definitely one of the most fun aspects of writing fantasy, I think.

Are your characters entirely fictitious or have you borrowed from real world people you know?

You know, it’s funny because I didn’t realize until I went back and started to revise, just how many of my characters were at least somewhat based on people I’ve known personally.  Especially with the supporting cast, so to speak, I kind of subconsciously patterned a lot of them after people I’ve met over the years, either in factories or grad school classrooms (or *cough* family reunions).

We all know how important it is for writers to read. Are there any particular authors that have influenced how you write and, if so, how have they influenced you?

Ha, I’m trying not to mention George R. R. Martin every single time I answer that question but… yeah, George R. R. Martin.  Since I read both “speculative” and “literary” stuff all the time, though, I hold a pretty eclectic roster of authors close to my heart.  Here are just a few of the authors to whom I owe everything: Ernest Hemingway, J.D. Salinger, Raymond Carver, Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, Flannery O’Connor, Dorianne Laux, Richard Knaak, Sharon Olds, Li Po, Chiyo-ni, D.H. Lawrence, Tony Hoagland, Yusef Komunyakaa, Brandon Sanderson, Raymond Feist, and Terry Brooks.  In terms of how they’ve influenced me, I think every good writer provides a slightly different way of looking at the world, not to mention a unique aesthetic on the writing process.  More specifically, I owe a lot to Hemingway’s brevity, Whitman’s passion, O’Connor’s dark wit, Carver’s symbolism, Olds’ guts, etc.

Do you have a target reader?

You know, having written poetry, book reviews, creative nonfiction, and a little bit of literary fiction before Wytchfire, I sometimes feel like I’ve targeted—well, tried to target—pretty much every type of reader by now! I’ve also heard it said that writers should just write the kind of books that they’d personally like to read. Let me see if I can provide a less tap-dancing answer, though.  I guess I’d have to say that I prefer readers who are fueled not just by passion for the written word, but by curiosity for the unknown.  There’s an element of escapism to reading, sure, but I also think that a good book—any good book—is good in large part because it gives us a fresh way of looking at the world, our country, ourselves, etc.  Pickiness is fine, too.  I like readers who will happily suspend disbelief and give themselves over to a story, but only when the author has genuinely earned it.

About Writing

Do you have a writing process? If so can you please describe it?

 It kind of depends on what I’m writing.  If it’s poetry, for example, I might just jot down some ideas or a couple lines here and there (between classes, waiting at the airport, standing in line at the coffee shop, etc). With fiction, though, I’m much more regimented.  I sit down, usually in the evenings or late afternoon, with some music, plus some sort of vessel that contains more caffeinated beverage than should be legally permissible, and tell myself that I won’t move from that spot until I’ve done A, B, and C. I don’t necessarily do that every day, but when I do, I make sure I’m staying on track and getting stuff done.  I also recall a passage from Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast, about leaving something in the well when you stop writing.  I try to call it a day when I still have some idea of what I’ll do the next time I sit down to write, rather than writing until I’ve completely exhausted all my ideas.

Do you outline? If so, do you do so extensively or just chapter headings and a couple of sentences?

Part of the reason why Wytchfire took me much longer to write than the forthcoming sequel, The Knight of the Crane, was that I didn’t start extensively outlining until relatively recently.  It’s been a lifesaver, though.  Now, I come up with a good paragraph of synopsis for every chapter, as detailed as possible.  Even though I inevitably wind up making huge changes as I go, that takes some of the logistical pressure off and lets me concentrate on the fun stuff, aka the actual writing.

Do you edit as you go or wait until you’ve finished?

This is another thing about which I’ve changed my philosophy over the years.  I used to edit as I went, which slowed me down considerably and also made completing the manuscript seem a lot more daunting than it should have been.  Then in grad school, I received this advice: don’t edit (at least, not much) until you have your first draft done.  After all, that first draft is just about creating your novel’s skeleton, so to speak.  Revising and editing is when you actually put flesh on the bones.  I’ve had a lot more work, and a lot more fun, with that strategy.  One other strategy I’d like to share: the past couple years, I’ve tried listening to my own manuscript with headphones, read back to me by a voice reader, so that I can follow along and make corrections, or pause the reading and spend some time basically rewriting any passage that just doesn’t sound right.  That’s really helped me to get a different perspective on my stuff, as well.

Do you listen to music while you write? If yes, what gets the fingers tapping?

I love listening to music while I write but I find that I get distracted if it’s anything with lyrics.  So over the years, I’ve tried writing to classical, jazz, Indian classical, ambient, etc.  Really any instrumental music (besides muzak) can work, depending on my mood.

About Publishing

Did you submit your work to Agents?

This may sound strange but since my first few books were poetry, and almost no poets have literary agents, it honestly wasn’t something I spent too much time thinking about at first—though I’ve been thinking about it a lot more lately, now that I’m about 2/3 through the Dragonkin Trilogy and have actually started a second, separate trilogy, plus a different stand-alone YA fantasy novel.  I’ve only done a little research into agents so far but it’s been a real eye-opener in terms of just how competitive this business is.  Then again, I suppose that’s a good thing.  Anything worth doing should have a strong measure of difficulty to it.

What made you decide to go Indie, whether self-publishing or with an indie publisher? Was it a particular event or a gradual process?

I think my past publishing history made me extra receptive to indie publishers, but what really cinched it for me was when I kept hearing about Red Adept’s professionalism.  They’re known for working really hard to help their authors make sure their books are as good as they can possibly be, and that’s something I really appreciate and respect.  I’ve had one or two bad experiences in the past (the less said, the better) so working with Red Adept has been a real privilege.  Obviously, every author would love to see their books on the shelves of every major bookstore in the country (and beyond), but in this ever-changing and ultra-crowded publishing world, I think if you can find a committed editor who really believes in your book, you’re ahead of the game.

Did you get your book cover professionally done or did you do it yourself?

Red Adept was kind enough to have the book cover done professionally, though as a further testament to their character, they also made sure I was involved in every step of the process.

Do you have a marketing plan for the book or are you just winging it?

Honestly, a bit of both.  I had some ideas when I started out, thanks to my past experience.  However, I’m finding that promoting fiction is very different from promoting poetry, so I’ve ended up revising my marketing strategies about as much as I’d revise the rough draft of a manuscript!

Any advice that you would like to give to other newbies considering becoming Indie authors?  

Make sure you find a press that genuinely likes/believes in your writing, somebody you’ll be happy working with.  The easiest way to tell the quality of a press is to look at a couple of the books they’ve published, then also do some online research and see what (if anything) they’ve done to help promote said books.  At the same time, understand the financial limitations of small presses.  Weigh that against the cost and possible stigma of self-publishing, in which you’ll do all the work and be entirely by your lonesome, but get all the royalties (such as they are).  Also, regardless of your publication strategy, the most important thing is just to make sure you’re writing the best book you possibly can—not just out of respect for the craft, for this crazy business of writing with its history that goes back for millennia, but as a sign of respect for readers.

About You

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Osage, Iowa.  It’s a small but really pretty farm town in the extreme north of the state, surrounded by green hills and broad, golden cornfields.  It tends to be really hot in the summer and North-of-the-Wall cold during the winter, though I’d like to think the extremes in climate help keep us honest.

What would you like readers to know about you?

Well, I’m not just a writer, but a lifelong reader.  So as cheesy as this sounds, I’ve always had a deep and abiding respect for the leap of faith one takes when they check out a new book series, let alone a new author.  I’d probably still be writing even if I were trapped on a deserted island, with nothing to do but stash my manuscripts in hollowed-out coconuts. But I still have great appreciation for anyone who gives my stuff a chance.  Let’s see, what else… Oh, I’m also a crack shot with a blowgun.

What are you working on now?

I alluded to this earlier but I have quite a few new projects going on right now.  I’m very self-critical when it comes to revising, but I also absolutely love the writing process, so I tend to be very prolific.  Obviously, my priority is finishing up the Dragonkin Trilogy, and I’m very excited for people to see what happens in the sequels to Wytchfire (tentatively called The Knight of the Crane and The War of the Lotus).  In the meantime, I also have a good start on a completely different trilogy, plus a stand-alone novel.  I’m still writing poetry whenever I can, too.  I easily have enough poems (many of them published in magazines) to fill two or three more books.

End of interview:

Get your copy of Wytchfire from Amazon US (paper or ebook), Amazon UK (paper or ebook), or Barnes & Noble. And be sure to enter the giveaway below.
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IndieView with J. Leigh, author of Tangled Paths

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I guess it was spawned from me reading a lot about metaphysics, string and M theory at the age of 11, and I thought, “Wow, wouldn’t it be neat to make a magical system using that?”

J Leigh – 22 June 2014 Continue reading

IndieView with Chris Wimpress, author of Weeks in Naviras

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The only thing worse than editing is not editing.

Chris Wimpress – 19 June 2014 Continue reading

IndieView with Rebecca Patrick-Howard, author of Windwood Farm

Windwood Farm

 

I grew up on the campus of an abandoned boarding school in eastern Kentucky. I got to play in the gymnasium, auditorium, empty classrooms, and dorm rooms. It was the best backyard ever. 

Rebecca Patrick-Howard – 15 June 2014 Continue reading

IndieView with Lisa Beth Darling, author of Kindoms of War

Kingdoms of War

 

My work is for those who boldly venture into the dark and gritty and not for those who enjoy a sweet fluffy read.

Lisa Beth Darling – 12 June 2014 Continue reading

IndieView with Len Joy, author of American Past Time

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As a father and as a son, I had this notion that the worst possible thing that could happen to a man would be to lose the respect of his son or daughter or wife.  I wanted to explore what happens when the trust is lost.

Len Joy – 8 June 2014 Continue reading

Allirea’s Realm, Coffee and Conversation with Edward Lorn

Allirea's Realm

 

What a wonderful surprise for me when Edward Lorn agreed to this interview.  If you are into horror, Edward should be at the top of your “want to read” list.  As we got to know each other, I also found that he could branch off into comedy!  It was a fun interview.

The most important question! Are you a coffee drinker?

I’m a little more than a coffee drinker. I’m a caffeine addict. Most kids can’t stand the taste of coffee, but I started drinking it around fifth grade, without my parents’ permission. I’d smuggle a mugful from the carafe to my room every morning. This backfired, though, as I was soon diagnosed with ADHD after my teacher requested I be tested due in part to how I bounced off the walls of his classroom then became borderline zombified toward the middle of the day.

What is your favorite coffee drink?

I like French roast, but my current favorite is Pike Place Roast, which is available in K-cups for the Keurig. It’s under the Starbucks brand, but I don’t care much for their coffee overall. Still, Pike’s a delicious medium roast that perks me up better than ice cubes on my nipples.

How many books have you written in your career?

This is an interesting question because I can answer one of two ways. If you mean novels I’ve published, the answer is four. If you’re talking about in my lifetime, I believe the total is close to thirty now. I only publish a tenth of what I write, and that percentage is based on short stories, novellas, and full-length outings combined. It’s all practice until you hit that publish/submit button.

What genre is your favorite?

It’s a tie between literary fiction and horror. When combined, I’m in readers’ heaven. Stephen King, Robert McCammon, Kealan Patrick Burke, Marisha Pessl, and Joe Hill will always be favorites of mine. Genre horror (horror novels without any literary flair) is fun, but it tends to lack the emotional depth I look for in fiction. Point in fact, Jack Ketchum writes terrifically gory, nausea-inducing books, but his word choice and sentence structure is stripped down to its simplest form. This doesn’t detract from my Ketchum fanboy status, though, as sometimes, I just want a little dumb fun. Action over depth, and all that. This is why Michael Bay movies are so successful.

I see you write horror.  What got you interested in writing in that genre?

My sisters (who’re twelve and fourteen years older than I am) were huge horror fans. They’d be allowed to stay up nights to watch the thrillers and chillers on cable, and I would watch with them, albeit from the crack of my bedroom door, where I could see the living room television down our short hall. When they moved out, I jumped into my mother’s rather extensive horror novel collection: King, Saul, Straub, Koontz, Laymon, and the list goes on. Reading horror fiction changed the way I saw horror overall. In the movies, the killer was always the focus (Freddie, Jason, Michael Myers, Pinhead, Leatherface), and rarely did I ever have an emotional connection with the victims. They were simply stalks in a corn field to be sliced through, whereas most literature values character development over story arc, at least the good stuff does, anyway. I soon found that I appreciated getting to know the cannon fodder, and my love for books was born. Overall, though, I believe I’m just a thrill seeker, and if I wasn’t throwing words together in an attempt to scare the masses, I believe I’d be a roller coaster engineer.

What is the most embarrassing thing you have done?

This one time, at band camp…

Hmmmmm..I really want to ask for you to continue, but I am just a little bit afraid to!

Describe your writing in one word?

Fictitious.

What would be your dream vacation?

 I’m too out of shape for this, but I’ve always wanted to do the Horror Campout. You’re given a tent and supplies, and told to survive the night. Those that stay in their tent are certain not to survive, and there’s multiple “killers” roaming the woods as well. Either that, or Hawaii. Yeah, Honolulu sounds nice.

 I think I would pick Hawaii.

What is the most dangerous thing you have done?

I once called a woman The Pensioner. Long story…

We will leave that story alone, I have a feeling it could get you into MORE trouble!

Are you married?

Yup. I’ve been married to the same woman for thirteen years. She’s my best friend, and she loves video games. I really couldn’t have found a better match.

Do you have any children?

My daughter Autumn is eight, and my son Chris is two. Autumn is proving to have her father’s love of storytelling and reading. As far as Chris is concerned, he loves Netflix and Thomas the Train toys. I have high hopes that he’ll one day rule the world with those qualities.

When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I had all the normal career wishes: doctor, policeman, fire fighter, sailor wrench, and so on. But writing was always a part of those things. I wanted to be a doctor who wrote medical novels, a cop who wrote crime fiction, that kinda thing. My love for the written word started early. Shortly after I learned to read I became obsessed with being the one who wrote the stories. I started my illustrious career by lying, because it was much easier than grammar and spelling and junk, but no one appreciated my lies as much as I appreciated books. I suppose this was because people know going into a novel that the story didn’t happen, whereas I never prefaced my lies with, “This is a piece of fiction.”

Sailor Wrench, huh?  

Describe your outlook on life in one word.

Mercurial.

Do you like reality TV programs?

I don’t watch much television these days, but when I do, I try to steer clear of those train wrecks. Still, I’ll stumble across one every now and again, and I find myself ogling, like any normal person passing a terrible car accident, to see if there’s blood, if there’s a Reebok sticking out from under the sheet that blankets the motionless lump on the gurney. But, like a ten car pile up on the interstate, I try my best to avoid them, and when I can’t, I think little of myself after having rubbernecked

I was going to ask which one is your favorite, but after THAT answer, we will just move on. 

What’s the most unusual conversation you’ve ever had? (besides this one)

I was sitting in a Coffee Kettle in Troy, Alabama (the knock-off Waffle House has since been torn down and a Popeye’s erected on the site), when an older man in a mechanic’s jumper sat down next to me at the bar, which overlooked the cooking area. He ordered breakfast and a coffee, nodded a hello to me, and began rolling a coin across the back of his knuckles with fluid ease. I told him what a nifty trick I thought that was, and he smiled. “I learned it in prison,” he said. Having never been in the joint, I didn’t know it was improper to ask a con (ex or otherwise) what they had done, so I inquired as to what landed him in the clink. He shrugged, told me I shouldn’t ever ask a question like that, then added that he was a “short eyes”, and that he hadn’t faired well inside, but he’d eventually made a friend, and this friend had taught him several coin tricks, one of which was the quarter-over-the-knuckles routine he was currently performing. I had no idea at the time what the hell a “short eyes” was, nor was I going to ask, seeing as he’d just told me how rude that was, so we continued talking. He knew card tricks as well, but didn’t have a deck on him, so he proceeded to instruct me without visual aids. I forgot everything he told me mere seconds after he stopped talking, but I assured him that I’d try when I got home. We spoke for another hour or so about how I was an aspiring author, and how he’d always wanted to write a book, but didn’t think anyone would like to hear his stories. I remember very clearly asking him if he thought prison had taken, if he felt he’d been rehabilitated. He offered me a broad smile and shook his head. “It wasn’t all for naught, though,” he said, still grinning. “I learned these new tricks, and the kiddos love tricks.” I figured he was talking about his own kids, and we lapsed into a silence until his food arrived, and I left. It would be four years before I found out that “short eyes” was prison slang for “child molester.”

As an Indie author, how do you promote your books?

I don’t do much in the way of marketing, other than a free promo or giveaway or a blog tour here and there, but I don’t purchase ads or spam potential readers. I figure I’ve made enough of a name for myself by now, and people are either going to read me or they’re not. I’ve always felt that the best tool for any author is word of mouth, and if my writing is good enough, my readers will talk about it.

Do you always wear identical socks?

Who wears socks anymore? They’re so last year. When I do use foot gloves, I make sure to wear open-toed sandals as well. It’s very chic.

To get the total look, make sure the foot gloves are black.  Just helping you out, I am sure your wife will appreciate it.

Tell me the one character in your books that is most like you.

Larry Laughlin, from my novel Hope for the Wicked and its upcoming sequel, Pennies for the Damned. He’s one of the easiest characters to get into because he’s me. Well, aside from all the murder and mayhem he gets into, anyway. I have the same sarcastic sense of humor, and we share thought processes, which makes him that much easier to write about. I simply ask myself, “Well, E., what would you do in this situation?” And BAM! we’re off.

When did you first, without hesitation, call yourself an author?

Probably after I finished Life After Dane, the novel Red Adept Publishing released in July of 2013. While writing that book, I felt the first stirrings of author status. I know that sounds weird, being that Dane was my fourth novel, but what I’m getting at is, I felt I’d finally found my own voice. Life After Dane is damn-near perfect in my eyes, and I wouldn’t change a single thing about it. I can’t say that about anything else I’ve ever written. My newest project—a serial novel entitled Cruelty—is coming close to being my new favorite, but it’s not entirely finished yet, and I believe a good ending makes or breaks a story. Episodes One through Four are currently available on Amazon.com for $0.99 each, and Episode Five should be released within a day or two of this post going live. Imagine a slasher film as a literary novel. If that intrigues you, give Cruelty a go.

Last question, Have you ever danced in the rain?

Done more than just dance. I love the rain. There’s something cleansing about it, and not just in the literal sense either. Stand outside in a downpour and take a deep breath. It’s invigorating, as if you’re being detoxed and intoxicated all at the same time.

Ed, this has been a blast.  Thank you so much for taking the time to do this interview.  Best of luck to you and I think I will pick up Cruelty.  I will let you know how it goes.  If I am afraid to come out from under the covers, it was a success.

I hope you enjoy it! Thanks for having me!

Get Edward’s books from Amazon US, Amazon UK, or Barnes & Noble.

IndieView with reviewer Anna Marie of Reading Between the Lines

RBTL BLOG TOURS

 

Reading is something I have done all my life. Even growing up you could and would find me with a book in my hand.

Anna Marie – 3 June 2014 Continue reading

IndieView with John Kenny, author of The Spark

The Spark

 

My secondary goal, after telling an exciting and entertaining story was to give the reader a realistic insider’s view of what being a firefighter is really like, both in the station and at an emergency: the merciless heat and blinding smoke; the camaraderie and conflict between men and women who place their lives in each other’s hands; the moments of grim hilarity, unexpected grace and heartbreaking tragedy that are part of life in the fire service.

John Kenny – 1 June 2014 Continue reading

BookView with Kate Moretti, author of Binds that Tie

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I keep meshing my genres a bit. I think true thriller fans will be disappointed with the level of characterization, backstory, and relationship details. I think women’s fiction fans might be turned off by how flawed the characters are.

Kate Moretti – 29 May 2014

The Back Flap

A new book from New York Times Bestselling Author Kate Moretti

Love ties. Murder binds.

Maggie never felt as though she belonged until Chris Stevens showed her what true happiness meant. Ten years into their marriage, miscarriages and infidelities have scarred them both. Despite their perfect-couple image, Maggie can’t look at Chris with anything but resentment. When a charismatic stranger offers the opportunity for a little harmless flirtation, she jumps into the game.

But charm soon turns to malice, and a deadly split-second decision forces Maggie and Chris onto a dangerous path fraught with secrets, lies, and guilt. With no one else to turn to—no one she dares trust—Maggie will ultimately learn just how binding marital ties can be.

About the Book

What is the book about?

Binds That Tie is about a couple, Maggie and Chris, whose marriage is on the rocks. When they accidentally kill a man, they have to work together to avoid prosecution for murder. Binds That Tie explores what this crime does to their marriage, their relationship and each other. To me, it’s about how far you can push someone until they break and how normal, everyday people have the capacity to be truly self-serving, almost to the point of evil. I loved the idea of putting my characters in the position to choose between their spouse and themselves. How would they fare?

When did you start writing the book?

I started Binds That Tie right before my content edit on Thought I Knew You, so March 2012.

How long did it take you to write it?

The rough draft took about nine months to complete because I tend to write very slowly. I have a day job and two kids and I fit writing in while I can. I took many breaks writing this book, I wasn’t pushing myself or in a hurry. I took vacations and I took a very long break when Thought I Knew You was released in September 2012. I finished editing it by the end of January 2013, submitted it to Red Adept Publishing in February or 2013.

Where did you get the idea from?

I read a book a long time ago (that also became a movie) called A Simple Plan, by Scott Smith. Three guys find a crashed plane and a duffel bag full of millions of dollars in the woods while hunting and decide that if no one comes looking for it, they’ll keep it. What starts out as a casual we’ll do it if we can attitude turns into this desperate need to keep the money at all costs.  I love this book, I love the devolution into madness. I love the fact that two very meek, horrifically average people could commit such violence in the name of self-preservation. I love how Smith exposes what powerful motivators can do to good people; how it can turn even church-going accountants evil. And I thought the end was just brilliant (Spoiler alert!): The fact that it was all for nothing. I wanted to take a lot of these themes and write about a marriage. An average, albeit unhappy marriage, but in the way many marriages are unhappy, only sometimes. Throw them into a horrific situation, a murder, and see what they do to stay afloat.

Was there any part of the book that you struggled?

With the end. For a long time I had a placeholder in my outline that said INSERT SOMETHING BRILLIANT HERE. I wanted a truly gasp worthy ending. I sent it to my editor with a very weak, half-finished ending and asked for brainstorming help. I was almost done with my content edit before the idea came to me, during my commute. I don’t know if it’s brilliant or not, but I’m very happy with it.

What came easily?

The characterization. I feel like I had Maggie and Chris in my blood. I love writing about human nature, all those messy, dark, deeply buried desires that people tend to gloss over and pretend they’re not there. How good people are selfish. How honest people lie. How, if pushed, a pediatric nurse can become a murder just like that.

Are your characters fictitious or have you borrowed from the real world people you know?

I think to some extent you’ll always borrow from the real world. You only know the people you know. Alternatively, you can borrow from movies or television or other novels. For Binds, I really wanted to delve into characterization and honestly, I tried to invent Maggie and Chris from scratch. I started with stereotypes (cold wife, construction worker husband) and tried to tweak them enough or give them enough conflicting traits to make them human. To me, they felt very real. I still think about them. I’ve always had a soft spot for Maggie, who seemed to be a perpetual victim.

Do you have a target reader for this book?

I keep meshing my genres a bit. I think true thriller fans will be disappointed with the level of characterization, backstory, and relationship details. I think women’s fiction fans might be turned off by how flawed the characters are. While I still consider this to be a book club book, there’s plenty to discuss, it’s not going to be a “beautiful story” that moves anyone. My hope is that I keep you up all night because you just have to know. While Binds That Tie was in editing at Red Adept, I read The Silent Wife. I was a bit shocked by the similarities. Both stories are dual point of view, with unsympathetic characters. I think if you liked The Silent Wife, you’d like Binds That Tie.

How was writing this book different from what you’d experienced writing previous books?

My debut novel, Thought I Knew You, was easier to write. The characters were loosely based on the people in my life. That’s a one-time use trick though. With Binds That Tie, I had to learn how to believably “make a person”. I like complicated characters, those that maybe act one way in one situation but unexpectedly in another. I like conflicting characters. I loved experimenting with them, giving them a soft side, and then making them hard or cold. I think this is how people are. Maggie says throughout the story that she loves Chris more when he’s not around. She forgets about the things that irritate her. When she’s alone, she thinks almost lovingly of her husband but when they’re together, she’s caustic and biting, driven by resentment that bubbles up in his presence. I loved the dichotomy of this.

What new things did you learn about writing, publishing, and/or yourself while writing and preparing this book for publication?

I learned that I’m a darker person than I thought. Thought I Knew You wasn’t a dark book. It wasn’t a walk in the park, but I frequently hear that it’s realistic. Binds That Tie was much more fun for me to write because of the psychological exploration of the characters. Both Chris and Maggie have memories from childhood, interwoven into the narrative, that tap into deep wells of loneliness and isolation. This was fun for me! I seem to learn more about writing with every book I write, and I love that. My editors are simply amazing and every time I go through the process, something clicks. I would write “She looked sympathetic” and Michelle would comment: How does this look on her? Through her I learned to dig deeper and expose emotion through action, not narrative. In other words, show, don’t tell.

End of Interview:

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