Lisette has generously offered me space to guest blog about my latest book, Stranger at Sunset, so before anything else, I want to thank her for hosting me.

I’m very happy to be here because I’ve known Lisette for some time and have recently started to delve into her work. I have enormous respect for her as an author as she writes in multiple genres—from YA to literary fiction to romantic comedy.

I’ve always maintained that any writer with a talent for words can create a story. A genre is merely made up of ideas dropped into a funnel. If enough elements fall out of it under a specific category, that’s how the book will ultimately be labeled. There are no hard rules, and many novels stagger multiple genres.

As an author, I don’t have any great attachment to whether my book is labeled a mystery or thriller or suspense. Labels give readers an idea of what to expect and they help marketers promote books. I started as a writer of erotica, and then took a hard turn to pen Stranger at Sunset, a psychological mystery/thriller. It helped that I had written flash fiction and short stories in multiple genres previously. It’s been a challenge but not impossible to gain acceptance into a new genre.

As a reader, you might be asking: What is a psychological mystery/thriller? And what can you expect from Stranger at Sunset?


In brief, it is not a traditional mystery because although there is a crime, you will not know who the victim or perpetrator is from the start. It’s not a “whodunit?” There is no detective.

The story stimulates mood with a focus on moral conflict. I use unreliable narrators to drive the psychological tension in unpredictable ways. What I’m exploring are the characters’ motives and how they view the world, which is different from how you and I may see it. Multiple characters are revealed via changes in point of view and scenes that involve each separately.

The “psychological mystery” part reveals a battle of wits between the characters, and more importantly, a struggle within individual minds. The themes of identity and raison d’être are important.

The “thriller” part defines how the reader rides along with the protagonist, Dr. Kate Hampton, experiencing things as they happen to her. You will be just as surprised as she is when the “monster” jumps out of the closet.

Suspense is essential, and it builds between characters in a place where you would not normally have conflict—a tropical resort in sunny Jamaica. It’s the antithesis of where you would expect to find human foibles such as intolerance, inhibitions, and insecurities.

And of course, there is always the element of a twist ending, just because I love twist endings. 😀

I hope this synopsis gives you an idea of what Stranger at Sunset offers. I would love to answer any questions or discuss thoughts about genre barriers or writing a psychological mystery/thriller, so please don’t hesitate to comment.


* * *


Thank you, Lisette, for giving me this opportunity to share with your readers. I really appreciate all you do to connect authors to an audience.

My pleasure, Eden. As you know, I’ve read Stranger At Sunset and just loved it. You write beautifully and your characters were wonderfully complex and intriguing. I’m very much looking forward to the next in the series.

For readers who may have missed your interview at my writers’ chateau in December, 2012, it can be read here.





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Jaidis Shaw Author

Jaidis Shaw currently resides in South Carolina with her husband and two beautiful daughters. With a passion for reading, Jaidis can always be found surrounded by books and dreaming of new stories. She enjoys challenging herself by writing in different genres and currently has several projects in the works.

Jaidis also owns and operates Juniper Grove Book Solutions, voted Top Five for Best Promotional Firm, Site, or Resource in the 2014 Preditors & Editors Readers’ Poll. In her spare time, Jaidis maintains her blog, Juniper Grove, and can found frolicking on various social media platforms. One of her main goals in life is to encourage her daughters to let their imaginations run wild.

Time to chat with Jaidis!

I hear you have some very exciting news! Can you share it with us?

I do! My first self-published book, a YA paranormal romance titled Destiny Awaits, was recently picked up by Crushing Hearts and Black Butterfly Publishing and was just re-released on July 19th! I’m so excited and nervous at the same time. The book originally came out in 2012 so it has been around awhile, but it feels like I’m starting the whole process over again.


Is your recent book part of a series?

Yes, Destiny Awaits is part of a series, but it’s standalone. The series is titled Juniper Grove Chronicles and will feature a few volumes. The main characters from Destiny Awaits, Alayna and Jayden, will only make a brief appearance in volume two, whereas a minor character named Violet will be the focus of that one. All volumes take place in the same town, Juniper Grove.

What are the special challenges in writing a series?

This is a great question as it deals with my response above. I chose to go the route of a standalone series because I find it extremely hard to write a series where each book is a continuation of the story. I am currently working on a paranormal thriller that is a continuing series and I’m terrified to see if I am able to finish it.

What else have you written?

I started my writing career when I had a short story picked up by a small indie publisher. It was a retelling of Rapunzel that I titled The Tower. It appeared in the Twisted Fairy Tales Volume II by Wicked East Press.

My next adventure was being selected to take part in an anthology by the same publisher that is mentioned above. All authors that were selected to take part were given certain elements of a story to build around. I was given a topic that included my character either being deaf or blind, the climax of the story had to occur during a thunderstorm, and it had to be a suspense story. That’s all I had to go on and at first I was terrified, but after I worked out how I wanted the story to go, I was excited. I enjoyed the main character, Molly, and now that I have the rights to that story back, I have plans to expand on her story. The original story is titled Blind Justice and can be found in Wicked Bag of Suspense Tales.

I also wrote a western-themed short story to appear on the Railroad! blog while the storyline was on an intermission. My story, Pure Harvest, was written back in 2012 and the first time I dabbled in the western genre. I enjoyed writing it! You can check it out here if you’re interested.

How often do your characters surprise you by doing or saying something totally unexpected?

Do you know how authors are always talking about how their muses changed the story, how they’re surprised at where the characters decided to go, or how their characters are talking to them? I’m so jealous of those authors! My characters don’t talk to me. All of my books start with an idea, usually occurring in a dream, and I outline from there. I know every major scene in my story, when it will take place, approximately what chapter it should appear, and so forth. If I stray from that path, I become lost and panic until I’m back on course.

Some authors, like me, always write scenes in order. But I know some people write scenes out of order. How about you?

With Destiny Awaits, yes I wrote it in order. I always start with an outline of the entire story so I know exactly where I should be heading and what should go into each chapter to keep the story moving. However, that changed with the book I’m currently working on because there was a particular scene that I found difficult to finish. I had worked myself into a corner and strayed from my outline and so I was lost. I skipped ahead and wrote the upcoming scene so I knew how it would play out and then was able to go back and fill in the gaps. Only time will tell if I’m able to skip ahead again or if I prefer to stick to outlines.

Some writers edit excessively as they write; others wait until a novel is finished to do the bulk of the editing. How about you?

I have to do a little editing as I write because I’m always going back and reading over what I’ve done so far, especially if I’ve taken a break from the story for awhile. As I’m reading over it, I always find a few things to edit so I’ll fix them before I forget. After the whole story is complete, then I go back and do a deep edit.

Have you ever written characters that you truly despise?

There has only been one character that I didn’t particularly enjoy writing, and that’s Steve from my short story Blind Justice. You know those people who just make your skin crawl, even if you don’t know why? Or those that if you were to see walking toward you on a sidewalk, you’d cross the street just to create more space between you? That’s Steve.

How much research was involved in writing your book? How did you go about it?

For Destiny Awaits I didn’t have to do any research for the actual storyline. The only research I did do, was that which was needed to actually publish the book. Even then it really wasn’t much as I contacted a friend of mine, who is also an author, and she talked me through the publishing process via the phone so that I did it right.

The paranormal thriller that I’m currently working on, The Stager, is different however. There are certain elements in it that I felt needed to be realistic and so I’ve had to seek out a couple of weapons experts so that the main character, Amelia, knows her stuff.

Do you allow others to read your work in progress, or do you keep it a secret until you’ve finished your first draft? Can you elaborate?

I used to allow a select few to read my work as I was working on it because I was in need of opinions. As time has went on, and I saw the number of authors having their ideas ripped off grow, I decided that it may be better to wait until it is complete and published before allowing anyone to read it.

Having our work out there to be judged by strangers is often daunting for writers. Do you have any tips on handling a negative review?

Negative reviews are a part of every author’s life. If you publish a book, you will get a negative review. Period. You need to go into the process knowing that negative reviews are inevitable and also that there is nothing you can do about them. Don’t respond to the reviewer. Don’t post to your Facebook or Twitter about the terrible review you received and ask people to go dislike or down vote it. Definitely don’t call the reviewer out by name and trash talk them because you weren’t happy with their review. Everyone is allowed their opinion, good or bad. In almost all cases, responding negatively to a negative review will always be worse than the review itself. You want attention on your book for the story, not because of the temper tantrum you threw. If you get a review that gets under your skin, just be an adult and walk away. Let it go. If you’re proud of your work, that’s all that matters.

Do you have any special projects you’d like to share with us?

Yes! I’ve recently launched an exciting book review program. The JGBS Review Library strives to offer an ever-growing list of books that are seeking honest reviews. Readers simply browse the virtual library, request the book that interests them, and I send them an author-approved ebook — for FREE. After reviews (positive or negative) are posted to Amazon within six weeks, readers are eligible to download new books to review.

Where do you live now? If you had to move to another city/state/country, where might that be?

I’m currently living in South Carolina. I was originally born in Anaheim, CA but we moved around a lot so I’ve also lived in Illinois, Indiana, and Michigan (twice). Having to move around a lot of a child really took its toll and so I’m here in SC and I plan to stay here. No more moving for me.

Trains, planes, automobiles, or boats?

Boats for sure! I love the water and being on the water.

What’s your favorite comfort food? Least favorite food?

I am currently pregnant so asking me this question is unfair. You should be ashamed, Lisette! However if you must know, and I’m totally blaming my unborn daughter for this, my favorite comfort food at the moment is chips and salsa. I’ve went through seven jars of salsa so far in this pregnancy.

As for my least favorite, that’s easy. I refuse to eat anything that swims so all things fishy are absolutely out of the question. Blecch!

If you could be invisible for a day, what would you do?

Abso-freaking-lutely! Who in their right mind would pass that offer up? I’d totally use it to be a fly on the wall so that I could get some juicy details. It would also be great to just tease people and move things around a bit, make them a little crazy.

If you had a million dollars to give to charity, how would you allot the funds?

I’d split it three ways. I’d give part to the Epilepsy Foundation to help further their research on finding a cure for epilepsy. I have epilepsy so it’s a cause near and dear to my heart.

I’d give part to the Save the Manatee Club. Humans are quickly making these adorable mammals, which happen to be my favorite animal, disappear and we need to do what we can to bring them back from the brink of extinction and help to preserve their natural habitat.

The other part would be put into a fund that would be used to help various reading programs and libraries. It breaks my heart every time I hear kids, and even some adults, say that they don’t read and have no desire to do so. We don’t do enough to encourage our youths to read the written word and it only results in those youths growing into adults who are illiterate. I know people personally that don’t know how to read, or can’t read above an 8th grade level. That is absolutely unacceptable.

What simple pleasure makes you smile?

Just seeing my daughters happy and smiling is enough for me. Even when I’m having the worst day, all they have to do is start singing or dancing, talking to their imaginary friends, or reading a book, and it brightens my day immediately.


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ChrisDavisChristine Davis is the best-selling author and illustrator of three of Amazon’s top 10 pet-loss books. Her latest release Breathing Fire charts a new course — that of offering adult survivors of childhood abuse a way of reclaiming the passionate lives they were born to live. A victim herself, Davis’ awe-inspiring story invites readers to become apprentices on an epic journey of slaying dragons, manifesting miracles and healing body, mind and spirit.

Chris, a native of New York City, lives in Portland, Oregon, with her cat, Molly.

Time to chat with Chris!

What is your latest book?

My newest book is Breathing Fire, a book it seems I was destined to write and yet never could have imagined doing so.

Breathing Fire

Do you write under a pen name?

No, Christine Davis is my real name.

Tell us about Lighthearted Press.

I started Lighthearted Press in 1997 after the loss of my forever dog, Martha. I’d been looking to leave the corporate workplace and was hoping to create a new career that would embrace both my passion for animals and my connection to that mystical, magical, just-beyond-the-veil world that had called to me since I was a child. I thought Martha would be with me during this change in my life, so her unexpected loss left me devastated and unsure how to continue on without her.

I began meditating and studying Shamanic journey work. It was while drumming that I heard I was supposed to write a book titled For Every Dog An Angel and was given a simple outline for the story. Without any knowledge of writing, illustrating or publishing I took out some money from my retirement account and Lighthearted Press was born. Soon after that For Every Dog An Angel was published. That was the beginning of my writing career.

You’ve told me that your latest book, Breathing Fire, has taken you in a direction you never imagined. Can you tell us more?

I’ve always been passionate about creating books and gifts for animal lovers. I thought I’d be writing in that genre forever until something extraordinary happened to me in the summer of 2012. I found a show on BBC America called Merlin. Like many people I was a fan of the Arthur legend and loved stories about Camelot so I thought this might be something I would enjoy. I recorded two seasons of Merlin and, to my delight, I discovered this was the perfect show for me.

I worked my way through twenty episodes and came to episode 21, which I was watching in my bedroom at about 9:00 at night. In the last few minutes of the show Prince Arthur (the future King) rides back to the castle and unleashes his uncontrollable rage upon his father, King Uther, who has deeply betrayed his son. Arthur disables his father and holds the King at sword point, intending to kill him. It is the wizard, Merlin, who rushes in and convinces Arthur to drop his sword.

At the moment Arthur burst through the doors of his father’s chambers my life changed forever. I found myself screaming on the other side of my bedroom, digging my fingernails into my palms and shaking the post of my bed so hard the top rails fell off. My rage mirrored Arthur’s rage. When I could scream no more I dropped to the floor and sat still, trying to breathe. In that instant I knew what had happened to me. Arthur’s fury had released decades of unexpressed rage I’d carried inside after years of sexual abuse I endured at the hands of my father when I was a child. In fact, my brain interpreted what I had seen as Arthur raging at MY father on my behalf. I’d never forgotten my father’s abuse—it was the rage I’d stuffed inside.

Breathing Fire is the story of all the unimaginably glorious things that happened to me after watching that episode. With my rage gone, I found myself flooded with joy and began passionately pursuing the life of my dreams. I took sword-fighting classes and commissioned a blacksmith to forge a sword that had been calling to me throughout my life. Twenty-five years of spinal pain disappeared, apparently due to the re-wiring of my brain in the instant my anger was released. I lost 30 lbs. in three months without trying to because I no longer craved dairy products and sweet foods and only ate when I was hungry.

I knew I was meant to write this book to inspire others who’ve survived trauma or have lived, as I did, under the spell of unworthiness.


I hear you have some very exciting news! Can you share it with us?

I’m thrilled to be doing two events at one of my favorite bookstores in Portland. I’ve seen many authors I admire there, including Richard Bach, so being asked to speak and present a workshop in that store is an honor for me. The workshop is about learning to dance with our dragons so we can reclaim the passionate life we were meant to live. I’ll be bringing a pop-up wizard tent, a large stuffed dragon and my sword. I named the sword Clarity and had the words “Always Follow Your Heart” etched down the blade. For a woman whose company is named Lighthearted Press the heart is very important to me.


Is it important for you to know the ending of a book before you write it? The title?

I was writing Breathing Fire as my wild odyssey was unfolding. I didn’t know how it would end or when it would end. About four months before I completed the book I was sitting at the computer one evening working on what I thought would be the last chapter. I’d skipped over a few sections because I was drawn to write the ending, even though it was out of sequence. I typed the final words, heaved a sigh of relief, sat back and read what I had written. Was this really the ending? It didn’t feel like it was.

Suddenly my fingers went back to the keyboard and, without any intention from me, resumed typing. They were on a mission that didn’t involve me. Another author had taken over, delicately tapping the keys as words flowed onto the page.

Then the fingers stopped. I brought my hands to my lap and stared at the monitor. On the screen was a two-page epilogue. It was perfect—a breathtaking, exquisite, mystical ending for my book—and I had no idea who had written it.

It wasn’t until many months later, when I did the illustration for the epilogue, that I fully understood what those magical words meant. To this day I feel there was some higher plan at work that led to all the astonishing changes in my life. I can’t help feeling that same benevolent force played a role in allowing the epilogue to flow through me and find its place in the pages of my book. It brought Breathing Fire to its proper conclusion.

As for the title, I always wanted it to be Breathing Fire followed by a sub-title. In the end I let the sub-title go and just used Breathing Fire.

Do you allow others to read your work in progress, or do you keep it a secret until you’ve finished your first draft? Can you elaborate?

This was the first time I ever let anyone read my work in progress. In the past I would tell people I was writing another critter book and I’d be sure to send them a copy when it was done.

With Breathing Fire, one of the most important lessons of my journey was learning I was worthy of asking for help when I needed it…and I REALLY needed it! I’d never written anything like this, and because the book jumped around in time and space I wanted others to tell me if they could follow the story or if it was confusing. I had a core group of readers whose input was invaluable.

Were you “born to write” or did you discover your passion for writing later in life?

Actually, I was born to sing, which is how I made my living back in New York City where I was born and raised. I let that go when I came to Oregon in the late 1970s. It wasn’t until I lost my dog, Martha, and heard a book title while drumming that I began writing. I loved writing my critter books, but they were small gift books and there weren’t many words. Breathing Fire gave me the chance to write consecutive paragraphs! I also found my voice—and it was funny. I loved that.

Do you feel your latest book is your personal favorite or one of your previous novels?

I’m not the first author to think of my books as my babies and, like any good mother, I love them all. There is a magical component to each of them, because that’s where I like to live—in the magic. It would be impossible to name a favorite. That said, I’m in awe of how my writing career took a 180 degree change in direction without any intention on my part. The Universe truly works in mysterious ways.

Where do you live now? If you had to move to another city/state/country, where might that be?

I’ve lived in Portland, Oregon for the last 37 years. I haven’t travelled much, but I would love to spend some time in the United Kingdom. In addition to my Camelot/King Arthur connection the author of my favorite book of all time—Watership Down—is English author Richard Adams. I’ve always fantasized about travelling through the downs and seeing if I could find my Watership Down. Many of my other favorite authors, including J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, are from that part of the world.

I was raised on Broadway musicals and would love to experience the London theatre scene, too – I’ve heard it’s spectacular.

If you had a million dollars to give to charity, how would you allot the funds?

I know many people in animal rescue who give everything they have to caring for critters in need. I would spread a significant portion of the funds among those special earth angels.

If you could add a room onto your current home, what would you put in it?

An art studio, with the hope I might be able to leave my art supplies out and they’d be ready to use whenever I wanted to paint.


What simple pleasure makes you smile?

I live in a wooded area that is filled with an enchanting variety of wildlife. I find great joy in going out on my deck and feeding the birds, squirrels, chipmunks and any other creatures who wonder into my yard. There’s always food out for them, but when I sit outside in their presence and they come up to me and eat from my hand I am overwhelmed with a deep sense of peace. In those moments it feels as if all is right in the world.






Amazon Author Page




Julie Mangano has been involved in the publishing industry since 1989 as a publications manager, writer, editor and art director. Braha is her first mystery. Born and raised in Southern California, she now lives in Round Rock, Texas with her husband. Mangano is currently at work on the sequel.

What is your latest book?

My book is called Braha, a mystery that is a blend of contemporary and historical fiction. It is a carefully-crafted tale of two unforgettable women, born centuries apart, whose lives of secret parallel danger coincide in a suspenseful saga, reaching down through the ages following decades of intrigue, spying, and murder.

Linden St. Clair is working overseas when she learns her beloved grandfather has passed away under suspicious circumstances. Returning home, she discovers he has left her an old family journal, as well as clues to an explosive family secret. The journal, written by Leena Weiss, Linden’s great-great grandmother, recalls the woman’s early years as a German girl living in a small Russian village. Leena’s life is turned upside down when a Russian army officer turns her into his object of affection. Caught in a difficult situation, Leena soon finds herself living a life one the run, pursued by the Okhrana, a secret police organization and predecessor to the KGB. A century later, Linden peels back shadowy layers, exposing clues and secrets. Despite having professional security services, she and her family remain pawns in a deadly game that extends beyond borders and crisscrosses the globe.

Most people recognize the book by the distinctive cover, a close-up of a sheep’s head. The sheep represents the innocence of the main characters in Braha. In addition, the nickname Leena Weiss is “my little lamb.”


Tell us a secret about the book that most people don’t know.

One of the key elements in the book are the carved flagstones that say: F ♥️ P. This is ripped straight from my family’s history. My grandfather had his and his wife’s initials carved out of stone, along with a heart. He installed them on one of the risers of the stone steps in front of his house, so everyone would know of his love for my grandmother. I’ve always thought that was such a wonderfully special way to proclaim one’s love through the ages, so I knew I had to somehow include it in this book.

Is your recent book part of a series?

Braha is the first in a series and lays the foundation for the books to come by introducing a host of characters in two distinct components: historical and contemporary. Linden St. Clair is the present-day main character who discovers some unsettling things about her family’s past. Leena Weiss is Linden’s great-great grandmother, born as a German in Russia in the late 1800s. Understanding the turbulent socioeconomic times in for both Germans in Russia and Imperial Russia in the early 1900s is important to the story line. Decisions made then have affected Leena Weiss’s family and kept them in danger for generations.

What are the special challenges in writing a series?

While each book needs to be a complete, stand-alone project, there are important details from earlier books that needs to be recapped for new readers. I am cognizant of the need to keep the review succinct yet complete, so that someone who has missed reading an earlier novel in the series is not confused by the events that occur in the follow-up novels. Many mystery writers already do this quite well: Harlan Coben, Nelson DeMille and Sue Grafton, for example. What separates Braha from the books these authors have written is the historical component. In this regard, Braha is more similar to The Baker’s Daughter by Sarah McCoy, with the exception that Braha is a mystery.

Some authors, like me, always write scenes in order. But I know some people write scenes out of order. How about you?

Usually I am a very linear writer, almost to a fault. Braha was different because of the historical and contemporary components. Generally, I wrote the historical section first, writing the scenes in order of occurrence, and then the contemporary section. Later on, I added sections to each, which is kind of messy because you then need to do a quick edit to be sure the flow and details are updated accordingly. Near the end of the project, I deleted some scenes, which required the same detailed reviews. By far, the hardest part was then integrating the historical chapters in with the contemporary chapters. I spent so much time looking at them as separate books that blending them together was completely chaotic. For the next book in the series, I’ve already started writing little snippets and sections as I do my research. When it comes to the nitty gritty writing, however, I think I will be back to fleshing out the scenes in order.

Some writers edit excessively as they write; others wait until a novel is finished to do the bulk of the editing. How about you?

I do tend to edit as I write, and I edit sections or chapters after I finish them. But that is nothing compared to the many, many edits the book goes through after I’ve finished with writing the story.

How much research was involved in writing your book? How did you go about it?

The historical component of my novel needed to be as accurate as possible when describing the little known group of Germans who lived in Russia, so it required a great deal of research not only about this group of people, but about Imperial Russia at the turn of the 20th century. I happen to know quite a bit about the Germans from Russia because I am descended from them, but I am the exception rather than the rule. It was because there was so little known about these people that I decided to focus on them in Braha.

My maternal grandparents and their families were born in Grimm, Russia, a small village on the Volga River. They emigrated from Russia to the United States in the early 1900s. They had family members who stayed behind, some of whom lost their lives when the Germans were driven out of their villages and forced to relocate in Siberia. My grandfather used to speak around the country about the Germans from Russia, and he left us a recording about his family’s history and where they originally came from in Germany.

Forty years later, I have an extensive collection of genealogical materials in my home library. Much of that information is from a group called the American Historical Society of Germans from Russia. It includes maps, photos, pedigree charts, books, and more. I used those materials for much of my research, as well as various sites on the Internet.

Part of the book takes place in Finland, a place I’d never been to but heard about from a childhood friend. Her stories captivated me, so I decided that Finland would be another location in my book. I meticulously researched Finland and started a private Pinterest board where I posted photos of the countryside there.

Do you allow others to read your work in progress, or do you keep it a secret until you’ve finished your first draft? Can you elaborate?

As a rule, I never let others read my work in progress. Part of it is my own insecurity. I want to make sure I’ve reviewed my and edited my work well, making it as perfect as possible before I let others have a look at it.

The first people I allowed to see my manuscript were my husband and my mother. My husband seems like a biased reader, but he writes and edits for a living, so he was able to use his skills to help me polish my work. My mother was a teacher for many years, and after that, she edited Bibles, so she is also a professional who would look at my work with a critical eye. She was also an important reviewer because her parents lived the life that Leena Weiss did as a young child. She knew more about her parents’ lives in Russia than I did. It was important to me that she thought I described the German people and their way of life accurately and that the story was believable.

In addition, I included some details that I knew my mother would recognize: the village her parents came from was called Grimm, the greble and chocolate cake recipes were from her mother, and her grandfather was forced into the Russian Army and served on the Tsar’s security detail, much like one of the characters in Braha.

Have you received reactions/feedback to your work that has surprised you? In what way?

I chose to get a Kirkus indie review and a Clarion Foreword review for Braha. The biggest surprise was that the Clarion Foreword reviewer liked the historical section and the Leena Weiss story best. He felt she was the heart and soul of the story. The Kirkus reviewer preferred the Linden St. Clair part of the story best. It just goes to show you that people’s opinions vary. Just because one person likes or dislikes something doesn’t mean others will feel the same way about it.

Is it important for you to know the ending of a book before you write it? The title?

I’d like to say it’s important for me to know the ending of a book before I write it, but I actually changed my ending as I was writing in order to add more twists. I hate it when a book is predictable. Every time I felt like what was coming up could be easily deduced by the reader, I changed it.

I thought I had my title from the start and was very firm about it: The House on Nordahl Road. When it came to designing a book cover, however, the title made it difficult, almost demanding a literal interpretation. No one had my vision. Once I decided to change the title, everything fell into place.

Interestingly, the name Braha, where Leena Weiss lived for three years, is a fictional town, with the name based on the real city of Raaha, Finland. I wanted to use find a one- or two-word title that was easy to pronounce and used a letter near the beginning of the alphabet. I came up with the name Braha for the town, and eventually used it for my book title.

Were you “born to write” or did you discover your passion for writing later in life?

Writing is in my blood. My great grandfather and grandfather loved to write, as did one of my father’s aunts. My father was a Journalism major and spent his early career as a newspaper reporter. I learned to write before I started Kindergarten and can’t remember a time when I wasn’t writing stories or keeping a journal. It didn’t seem possible for me to have a career as a writer, without starving in the process of becoming successful,so I took the long road before finally giving in to my passion. Along the way, however, most of my jobs had some element of writing involved in each of them.

Are you an early bird writer or night owl? And do you have any must haves like coffee, chocolates, wine, music or something else?

I prefer to write at night, the later the better. Some of my best writing happens in the wee hours of the morning. During the daytime, there are too many distractions. I may force myself to write when it’s light out, but it’s not when I’m most prolific. Editing, however, is a good, daytime endeavor.

Where do you live now? If you had to move to another city/state/country, where might that be?

I currently live in the Austin, Texas area. I hope that one day I can live back by a seashore. I’m not picky, but I love the Atlantic coastal area. If I could move out of the country, I would love to live in England in a manor house in the country. I would also love to live in Scandinavia. My husband would battle me for Spain or Portugal, though, so we’d probably have to split out time between two places.

What’s the coolest surprise you’ve ever had?

For my 30th birthday, my parents arranged for one of my favorite teachers, my second grade teacher, to come over for dinner. I hadn’t seen her since the middle of the second grade, when she left to take a job as a principal at another school. My dad knew her professionally and had kept up with her over the years. When I opened the door and saw her standing there, I was shocked, but I knew exactly who she was. We had a lovely dinner together.

What’s your favorite comfort food? Least favorite food?

I love anything starchy, especially sourdough bread, mashed potatoes, and dumplings. I hate avocados, mushrooms and bananas.

Have you ever played a practical joke on a friend? Ever had one played on you?

I haven’t played a practical joke on someone since I was in high school, and I can’t even remember what it was. When my kids were young, however, one night I told them they were eating broccoli balls instead of peas. I made up a very elaborate story about how NASA invented broccoli balls for astronauts because they were more compact that broccoli stems and florets, and the kids bought it. Broccoli balls became their new favorite food until I ‘fessed up. Now that they know the truth, they once again hate peas.

If you could have one skill that you don’t currently have, what would it be?

I would love to be a great chef. Nothing about cooking comes naturally to me. Even simple recipes can turn out disastrous. My sister inherited all the good cooking genes, and thankfully she hosts many special occasions at her home. At our house, my husband is the chef and he keeps us healthy with many wonderful concoctions.

What might we be surprised to know about you?

I was bullied and assaulted in the 7th grade. It changed my life.

What makes you angry?

Unkind people. There is no reason to ever be unkind.

What kind of music soothes you?

Deep down, I’m really a James Taylor kind of girl. I can count the concerts I’ve been to on one hand, and two of those have been James Taylor concerts. Today I find myself drawn to Sting’s latest project, “The Last Ship.” It’s actually a musical that will be out later this year, but the album is already available. I fall asleep listening to it

If you are a TV watcher, would you share the names of your favorite shows with us?

I love mysteries and quirky shows. Some of my favorites are Lilyhammer, Wallender, Hunted, Orphan Black, Downton Abbey, The Americans, Wire in the Blood, and almost any British spy series I haven’t already mentioned.