Interview: Alex Bledsoe, author of The Hum and the Shiver

Thanks to my friends at PR by the Book, I had a chance to get a bit more information from author Alex Bledsoe around his new book The Hum and the Shiver

1. What inspired your book, The Hum and the Shiver?

It was a conjunction of three things: Appalachian folk music, Celtic faery folklore, and the stories of the Melungeons of East Tennessee. Briefly, the Melungeons are an isolated ethnic group who legend says were already here when the first Europeans arrived in Appalachia. No one knows for sure where they came from or how they got here, although DNA evidence has gone a long way toward solving the “where” question. I thought, “what if they were a secret race of faeries hiding from history and minding their own business?” So I created my own isolated society, the Tufa.

2. Who are the main characters in the story?

The protagonist is Bronwyn Hyatt, a twenty-year-old Iraq War vet who was injured in combat and rescued on live TV. Now she’s back home in the mountains among her people, the Tufa, confronting both her recovery and all the issues that led her to leave home in the first place. There’s also a ghost waiting to talk to her, omens of death that seem to be targeting her mother, and her dangerous ex-boyfriend lurking around.

Craig Chess is a newly-graduated Methodist minister trying, in his easy-going way, to make some inroads in the Tufa community. When he meets Bronwyn, unexpected sparks fly. Don Swayback is a part-Tufa reporter who’s lost enthusiasm for his job, marriage, and pretty much everything else; his assignment to get an exclusive interview with Bronwyn causes him to reconnect with his Tufa heritage.

The antagonists include Bronwyn’s old boyfriend Dwayne Gitterman, a devilish old man named Rockhouse, and brutal state trooper Bob Pafford.

3. You grew up in the Tennessee area, how did your childhood determine the setting of the story?

Since two of the three major inspirations came from Appalachia, I couldn’t imagine setting it anywhere else. The beauty, mystery and magic of the Smoky Mountain setting seemed so appropriate that I kept it, and the rhythms of Southern speech are second nature to me. And while the issues that the characters face are universal, they’re expressed in a uniquely Southern way.

4. What special research was involved in creating the story line?

I listened to a lot of music, the real old stuff that was sung in the mountains for generations before anyone ever thought to write it down: “Shady Grove,” “Barbara Allen,” and so on. I also listened to the music being made in that area today, because it’s a thriving tradition. I read about musicians, and how they felt about music and what it meant in their lives. I researched faery folklore and discovered that they were far from the harmless little sprites we think of today. And I thought a lot about how “family” and “religion” are defined in the South, and how they affect every aspect of life.

5. You describe your book genre as “gravel-road fantasy”. Can you provide additional information surrounding the genre?

It’s “urban fantasy” in a rural setting. In UF, the magical elements appear in the mundane world of cars, skyscrapers and crowded nightclubs. In my book the setting is still modern, but it involves tractors, small-town convenience stores and barn dances.

6. The main character, Browyn, is a strong, attractive heroine. Did you rely upon an actual person to develop the character and why?

Her ordeal was inspired by the experiences of Jessica Lynch at the beginning of the Gulf War. But the character herself is entirely drawn from scratch. I wanted her to be someone who had endured a lot, but never let herself be a victim; as a teenage hellraiser she’d been nicknamed “The Bronwynator,” and deep down that’s who she remains. Now she faces a bunch of decisions she tried to avoid, and must figure out a way to be true both to her people, and herself.

7. Do you have a website where our readers can learn more?

www.alexbledsoe.com. The site includes my blog and information on my other novels.

I’m also on:
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Author-Alex-Bledsoe/176299128296
Twitter: @AlexBledsoe
Google+: http://plus.google.com/108152096052245851555/about

8. Who do you think would enjoy The Hum and the Shiver and why?

It’s “urban fantasy,” but in the country instead of the city. So if you can conceive of a world where Charles de Lint and Rick Bragg co-exist, I think you’ll enjoy this book. Anyone who ponders what faeries would be like if they lived among us, understands the magic found in songs and music, and/or likes stories of people trying to do the right thing in a situation where “the right thing” isn’t always clear, will enjoy it.

9. What is the reception you’ve gotten to the book so far?

The pre-publication reviews have been excellent; Publishers Weekly even called it a “masterpiece of world-building.” But more importantly, I’ve gotten e-mails from readers who received advance copies and who explained, in detail, how much the book meant to them. I’ve never gotten that kind of response before.

10. How can our readers purchase your book?

It will be available in all the usual online and brick-and-mortar locations, and for all the popular e-readers. There will also be an unabridged audio version.

A big thank you goes out to Alex himself and Babs at PR by the Book for permission to reprint this Q&A. And be sure to check out my review of The Hum and the Shiver for my take on the book, but I strongly encourage you to find and read this amazing story!

–Fitz

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Interview: Dr. Laurence B. Brown – author of The Eighth Scroll

Hi all!

One of the books in my queue to read and review is The Eighth Scroll by Dr. Laurence B. Brown. Though I haven’t had a chance to dive in, it’s been described as a thriller in the vein of The DaVinci Code from Dan Brown, so I’m definitely curious to check it out.

In the meantime, I was granted permission to post an interview with Dr. Brown to get a bit of insight into his thought and writing processes…

Q: One of my favorite things about your novel is that you write great action scenes. What would you say is the key to writing a great action scene?

You have to write an action scene as if you are living it. The most important trick is to show the scene, not tell it. Telling the scene (i.e., narration, like this: “Jack turned to Jill, who pointed her gun directly at him.” *yawn*) kills action, whereas showing the scene (i.e., painting a word picture: “Jack turned to give Jill the good news, and stared straight down the barrel of her gun. Her eyelids were squeezed shut and her face turned away. His heart first skipped a beat, then pumped hammer-blows into his brain.) turns the written page into a movie in the audience’s mind. Remember to tickle all five of the audiences’ senses, always throw in some unexpected twists, and never let the scene end the way the audience might expect it to end.

Q: Your story could easily be described as a page turner. What would you say you did consciously to achieve this?

To me, writing a page-turner is all about dramatic pacing. If the pace of the novel is too fast in the beginning, you lose your ability to ramp up the action toward the end. You have to hook the audience with each scene, end each chapter with a cliff-hanger, build tension throughout the book and bring it to a head-spinning, knee-buckling climax at the end. To enrich the story I interweave multiple subplots, each with its own dramatic pace. Then I bring all of these subplots to a crashing crescendo so each page of the ending brings a new shock or surprising satisfaction. It’s kind of like having multiple . . . uh . . . donut holes. Yeah, donut holes, each of a different and shockingly good flavor *smiles and waves* “Hey, kiddies, you all like Dunkin Donut’s, don’t you?” *whispers aside to the older members of the audience* “You know what I’m really talking about, right?”

In any case, you’ll see what I mean. And by the way, although I joke, one of the things I take pride in is writing clean. In the words of one reviewer, “My congratulations to Dr. Brown for writing an exciting and thought-provoking book that is suitable for the entire family. The book contained no obscene language and no scenes that could be considered “adult situations.”

Q: Your “modern period” takes place in 1987. Why did you choose that period instead of the 21st Century?

The “modern period” begins in 1987, but follows the characters through their adventure into present day. If I had started in the 21st Century, the timeline would have been too compressed to be workable.

Q: Where can we get a copy of your book?

You can find The Eighth Scroll for sale on Amazon by clicking HERE.

A big thank you goes out to Dr. Brown and to Jeff Rivera, Editor-in-Chief at the Gatekeeper’s Post for hooking me up with the book and the interview.

I’m looking forward to checking out The Eighth Scroll this summer!!

–Fitz

p.s. Check out this book and other thrillers below!

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Interview: Thomas Emson, author of Skarlet and Maneater

Hi there!

After reviewing Thomas Emson‘s novel Skarlet last month (you can read the review here), I asked Emson if he wouldn’t mind an interview. Luckily, he agreed and has been most gracious in answering my questions.

Q) After reading Skarlet and reading the excerpt from Maneater, I was struck by what might be a shared world in your novels. As a roleplayer, I was exposed to the “World of Darkness” setting from a company called White Wolf back in the 1990s which had a similar approach to a shared setting for a variety of creatures from the dark. The first two series of game books they published were for vampires and werewolves, which is why the parallels struck me. Have you considered doing crossovers between your own series? Or do you consider them to be linked?

A) I don’t think I would do a crossover – I can’t see Laura Greenacre doing battle with Kasdeja and Kakash. I regard the novels to be linked in so far as they take place in real settings. Both Maneater and Skarlet exist in a modern Britain that is real. There are scenes in both books which take place in London, the same London, but there would be no reference in one novel to the other. What I try to do is put very unreal monsters into a very real world and see what happens. I don’t want the characters in my real world to be comfortable with monsters, I don’t want them to know they exist and then make an effort to live with them – having vampires and werewolves appear on your street would be utterly shocking and unexpected.

Q) In addition, I’m quite fascinated by the resurgence of urban fantasy these days in the fiction market. I’m an avid reader of The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher, another author who mixes magic and the supernatural worlds to create a compelling setting. Do you have plans to expand beyond your The Vampire Trinity and Maneater series? If so, what might be on the horizon for your fans?

A) I have an eight-book deal with my publisher Snowbooks, and the books include standalones which are not part of The Vampire Trinity or the Maneater series. After I hand in Prey (the sequel to Maneater) I’ll be writing Zombie Britannica – I think you can guess what that’s about. There’s also a Jack the Ripper novel called Pariah, and a book about a massive shopping mall in London where terrifying creatures dwell. That’ll be called Colossus.

Read the rest of the interview here

Again, I want to thank Thomas Emson for agreeing to answer my questions and turning around this interview so quickly as he finishes up Prey. I for one look forward to his future books and need to go read Maneater before Prey is released so I’m caught up!

–Fitz

p.s. Be sure to pick up Skarlet and Maneater at your local bookstore or on Amazon!

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