Friday, October 15, 2010

Caitlyn Hunter's Storm Shadows

It's always a treat to interview a North Carolina writer, this week, Caitlyn Hunter.

Welcome. Tell us a little about yourself, Caitlyn.

I live in the Blue Ridge Mountains of western North Carolina with my husband and our two dogs, Des and Fletch. I write mostly romance, paranormal to contemporary, sensual to sweet, novels to short stories. I’m part Cherokee and all of my paranormal romances are based on one or more of the legends of my ancestors. When I’m not writing, I like to garden, can, quilt and like all writers, I’m an avid reader.

Tell us about Storm Shadows.

Storm Shadows is the second book in my Eternal Shadows series. The hero, Marcus, like his three brothers, was cursed hundreds of years ago by the Shamans for shirking their responsibilities to their tribe. As a result of the curse, they’re shape-shifters, have various psychic abilities, and they’re immortal—or so they think until Marc starts doing some research into Cherokee legends and beliefs.
Marc’s been having visions for a number of years that involve a woman. Because of the outcome of those visions, when the woman shows up on his mountain, he’s caught up in a fight or flight scenario. Should he let her into his life and risk the possibility of his visions coming true or stay as far away from her as he possibly can?
Betty Sue considers herself the ultimate plain Jane. She’s klutzy, shy, and woefully lacking in self-confidence. When her friend Nathan, Marc’s brother, offers her the opportunity to stay in his cabin on Eternity Mountain she jumps at the chance. After a few days exploring the mountain, she meets Marc and is instantly attracted to him. It’s obvious he’s interested in her too, but why is he doing everything possible to drive her away and what secrets hide behind the sadness she sees in his eyes?

Caitlyn, do you think your writing has improved since your first attempt? If so, in what way?

Oh definitely. My first book, which is no longer available (thank goodness!) was full of head-hopping. Of course, all the POV jumps were fixed in the editing process but I still have a tendency to head-hop. I'm getting better at staying with one character during a scene, but I still have to remind myself constantly which character’s POV I’m in while I’m writing the scene. I've even been known to stick a post-it note on my computer with the character's name on it.
I also have a tendency to tell instead of show which as you know, is a cardinal sin for writers. I blame it on the fact that I grew up listening to my dad tell stories about his childhood in the mountains of North Carolina. I still love to "hear" a good story and it doesn't bother me when an author "tells" more than "shows" but I know that's bad so I try to avoid it. It’s a tough battle—and a constant one for me!

Were any of your books more challenging to write than the others? If so, why?

Oh yeah, Storm Shadows. I don’t usually use an outline for my books; instead I start writing and let the characters drive me where they want to go. But with Storm, I actually had an outline. It was rough but I knew exactly where I wanted the book to go and how it was going to get there. The heroine, unfortunately, had other ideas. The whole time I was writing the book, I tried to stick with the outline but Betty Sue did some shape-shifting of her own, turning into a scene-stealing monster and refusing to follow my directions. She took me on a wild ride, down roads I’d never considered going, leading to places I’d never imagined. We argued constantly—and yes, I carry on conversations with my characters—and she came very close to driving me crazy before I finished the book. I happy to say I got through it but I really hope the heroine in the next book doesn’t present the same challenge.

How does your environment/upbringing color your writing?

Most of my stories take place in the mountains of western North Carolina. When my husband and I decided to move back to the South after living in Maine for eight years, we settled on western NC because it’s close to our families in east Tennessee and I had spent quite a bit of time here as a child visiting my dad’s family. Eternity Mountain, where the Eternal Shadows series takes place is based on childhood memories of the mountain where my grandmother and great aunt lived.
My first book and two of my short stories, however, were written when my husband and I lived in Maine and they both take place there. I also have a couple of YA fantasies I wrote while I lived there that are set in Maine.
As you can see, environment plays an important part in my writing and recently my upbringing has come to the forefront because my sister, Christy Tillery French, and I are co-writing a book about our great aunt’s life growing up in the historical town of Hot Springs, North Carolina. We’re doing our best to incorporate all those wonderful stories we heard from our dad when we were kids.

Yes, I've visited Hot Springs many times and wrote about it in one of my novels, Just North of Luck except that I have a serial killer on the loose in that little town.
Any current projects?

I have another paranormal romance, Winds of Fate, coming out soon. This one’s based on the Native American legend of the Blowing Rock in North Carolina and also includes elements of the Cherokee beliefs on reincarnation.

As I mentioned above, my sister and I are writing a book, Whistling Woman, about our great aunt’s life. We're very close to finishing the manuscript and hope to meet in Hot Springs for several days to edit and revise before we start the submission process.

What a great place to do that. I'm envious.

I’m also working on the next book in the Eternal Shadows series, Sun Shadows, which tells the story of the third Tassel brother, Luke. And I’m about ninety-five percent finished with a novella about an older, very professional woman who gets involved with a younger man, tentatively titled Strict Policies. Also, I recently pulled out one of those YA books and am playing around with it, hoping I’ll have the nerve to submit it…someday!

Wow! You're certainly a busy lady. Where can folks learn more about your books and events?

On my website, Romancing the Legends… at, or on my blog, Cait-Tales at I also have a page on Author’s Den, Facebook, MySpace, and various other networking sites, all of which can be found through my website. I’m one of the Dames of Dialogue, a group of women writers who can be found at

Caitlyn, I hope we meet in person soon. Continued success with all that you have going on.
Thanks, Susan

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

S. Michael Wilson

I welcome S. Michael Wilson, author of Lugosi.
Tell us a little about yourself.

Born in Rochester, New York in 1973, I was transplanted to New Jersey at the tender age of eight, and have yet to make my escape. My generation was the first to grow up with twenty-four hour cable channels spewing nonstop movies, and so I grew up with an appreciation for film. In my adult life I have been employed as a postal worker, production assistant, warehouse manager, theater manager, underground fuel tank technician, stockroom clerk, office manager, projectionist, and even a lowly comic store clerk. During all of these various occupations, however, I have always been a writer. I was also named after a song, but I’m not telling which one.

Tell us about Performed by Lugosi.

Performed by Lugosi takes a closer look at the life and work of iconic horror actor Bela Lugosi by examining the classic literary origins of seven of his films, selected from various points in his career. Each section includes the complete short story that the film was based on, a detailed synopsis of the film, the origins and history of both, a comparison of the differences and similarities between the two, a look at Lugosi’s life and career at that point in time, and my own thoughts and reflections on his performance and the film.
The scope of the book is a little ambitious on my part, an attempt at an amalgam of literary criticism, film theory, biography and movie review, which is hopefully not nearly as boring as it sounds. I wanted to write something about Lugosi that was more than just historical documentation and anecdotal reminiscing; I wanted to show how I view and appreciate films, the different ways that films and performances are influenced, and the similar origins that can often yield vastly different results. I also wanted to show that you can have a love or an appreciation for performers or films without turning a blind eye to their obvious faults and shortcomings, so I don’t just spend the entire book praising Lugosi and his films.

Is it available in print and e-book formats?

Performed by Lugosi is available in print form from, really cool local bookstores. My publisher is currently working on making it and my previous book (Monster Rally) available on the Kindle as well as other electronic e-book devices.

How do you determine voice in your writing?

I think the subject matter and my connection to it usually determines my voice more than I do. I have rewritten entire articles I originally felt demanded a serious tone, yet upon review came off as boring and sterile. Performed by Lugosi was just the opposite. I started the project with the intention of writing a snarky and comical look at Lugosi’s films and career, but the more I researched and immersed myself in his work, the more I discovered that I respected it too much to treat it that way, and so my approach became a bit more measured and clinical. In the end, I think it all comes down to that intangible “Whatever feels right” mantra, which is one of the aspects of writing that can make it so frustrating, yet ultimately rewarding.

Do you have specific techniques you use while writing?

When it comes to film theory and criticism, I like to keep the film I am writing about playing in the background on a continuous loop. It might sound a bit simplistic, but I find that immersing myself in a film on an almost subconscious level helps me get past the first impressions and assumptions that can often influence the interpretation of a film. After the tenth or fifteenth viewing, even peripherally, the film becomes such a part of me that I begin to notice details or themes that normally would not occur to me. This is probably the reason, for instance, that I spend a whole page or so discussing the thematic implications of the missing arm of Lugosi’s character in "Phantom Ship".

What is your most rewarding experience during the writing process?

I stick to the old quote, attributed to various authors, “I hate writing. I love having written.” My most rewarding moment comes much later, when I am reading over a past project, and I come across a passage that I not only do not remember writing, but am actually surprised came from me. There is no better feeling than impressing yourself.

Any current projects?

Oh my, yes. My ongoing project/hobby/obsession is a film review podcast I co-host called "MovieSucktastic". It is mostly dedicated to bad movies, and is available on iTunes and at, with written reviews and comments from the show available on the sister blog,
As far as the books go, I am currently working on the forwards to several film novelization reprints scheduled for release by Idea Men Productions, a follow-up to Monster Rally, and a book on bad movies based on my work with MovieSuckastic. A screenplay I co-wrote, a romantic comedy involving a yard sale, is slated to shoot in the spring of 2011. I also have a short story collection and vampire novel in the works, but those are currently taking a back seat as I devote more time to my film-related projects.

Where can folks learn more about your books and events?

My official author page is There you can find the latest news about my current work, upcoming projects, and future appearances, as well as links to my Facebook and Twitter pages. My unofficial and less professional blog,, is where I post my random, unorganized, and occasionally NSFW thoughts.

Michael, thanks for an interesting interview. Best of sales!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Joe Prentis: Abraham's Bones

Joe Prentis dropped by for a friendly interrogation. Welcome, Joe, and thanks for coming over. Tell us a little about yourself and your novels, Innocent and  Abraham's Bones.

Prentis: I guess you could say that I am pretty much your average guy, which means that I have the same ambitions, desires and fears as the rest of humanity. My father was interested in almost everything, and I learned to exercise my curiosity at an early age. Our home was filled with people from all walks of life. From listening to their conversations, I learned that the world was a huge, complicated, and wonderful place. My desire to write came about because I wanted others to experience the sense of wonder that captivated me at an early age and has continued throughout my life.

Q: What are your writing goals?

Prentis: I learned early in the process of becoming a writer that the idea of being one of the literary giants of the century was an illusion that I was not likely to realize. I write for the pure joy of creating a story that will entertain, inspire, or teach. My main goal is to produce stories that someone will love in the same way I love a good story. One of the most enjoyable experiences in my life was going into a library and being drafted by the librarian to read to the children. They were especially attentive when I read the story and did all of the voices. A few years later, I attended a book signing at the same library. One of the little girls was then in middle school. She announced to the crowd that she was my number one fan. It doesn’t get any better than that.

Q: Tell us about your latest book. Is it available in print and e-book formats?

Prentis: Several years ago, I started writing a book about the Middle East. I soon realized that one book would not tell the story I was trying to tell. It soon grew into a series. I finished the first book, Abraham’s Bones, and I’m now working on the second book in the series. It has a working title of The Relic, and should be available by the end of the year. I like adventure stories with suspense and human conflict. I think Abraham’s Bones meets both of these requirements. The book is available at Amazon, both in print and e-book format.

Q: How do you develop characters? Setting?

Prentis: I am a character driven writer. Characters sometimes spring into my head fully grown and then demand that I do something to improve their situation. When I was at a library meeting that hosted five different fiction writers, I was the only one who wrote character driven fiction. Someone asked me how I could possibly write without a detailed plot. I asked her to imagine what would happen if her best friend was carjacked, threatened, falsely accused, or imprisoned. Once you know your characters as well as you know the people around you, most of the plotting will take care of itself. Writing from a character driven prospective does not involve sloppy writing. If anything, it channels the process of plotting into a logical sequence that covers all the requirements for a well crafted story. I love books that contain detailed description of their setting. It is fun and a challenge to try to find new ways to make the reader see and feel the surroundings without weighing the story down with extraneous details.

Q: What are your protagonist’s strengths? Flaws?

Prentis: There are too many books where the characters are little more than cardboard cutouts. If you think about the books that really move you emotionally, it is the ones where the protagonist is strong, yet flawed. People are a lot more complex than some writers realize. We are all tugged in different directions, and if a writer wants a book to resonate with the reader, he will make the characters complicated and conflicted.

Q: Do you have specific techniques you use to develop the plot and stay on track.

Prentis: When I start a story, I usually have little more than one scene in mind and only a vague idea where the story is headed. My suspense novel, Innocent, grew out of a brief incident I witnessed when going into a shopping mall. A police officer held the door for a young woman, then bent and picked up her young daughter’s toy when she dropped it. There was something particularly moving in the way he presented the toy to the little girl. He was a tough looking veteran, but with the tender touch of someone who loved kids. After I have captured someone like that on the page, I ask myself where I am going with the story. It is at this point where I find it possible to present this person in conflict with life and the events surrounding him. By the time I finish the story, I have a tall stack of notes, most of them involving questions I ask myself about the plot. One carefully explained detail can lead the reader to anticipate what is going to happen in the next chapter, and most important of all, the reader can feel it as it happens. I make lots of notes, and usually create a storyboard outlining the sequence of events in the story. This allows me to tighten up the plot without leaving out any essential details.

Q: Where do you write? When? What do you have around you?

Prentis: I have an office at home where I have two computers. One is the conventional set down arrangement at a desk. The other computer is setting on a cabinet where I can stand up and write if I get tired of sitting. I have the blinds closed, the television and radio off. I also don’t want to be disturbed. I have a table where I have my notes arranged in order where I can look up any detail, and my storyboard where I can glance at it without too much of an interruption. I can write at any time of the day or night.

Q: Where can folks learn more about your books?
Prentis: My blog address is:

Thanks for coming by, Joe. Continued success.