Tag Archives: mystery

Wednesdays with Writers: Lori Rader-Day talks about her summer plans to teach at distinguished writing institutions, her latest book, THE DAY I DIED, and how it got it’s start at a writer’s workshop nearly 10 years ago, handwriting analysis, what she loves (and hates) about being a novelist and so much more

Standard

By Leslie Lindsay 

THE DAY I DIED explores the fascinating and unique aspects of handwriting analysis to help track down a killer/kidnapper told in a dark, glimmering prose. 

DayIDied PB
Lori Rader-Day burst onto the literary scene in 2014 with her debut mystery, THE BLACK HOUR, which won the Anthony Award for Best First Novel and was a finalist for the Mary Higgins Clark Award. And then her second book, LITTLE PRETTY THINGS, won the Mary Higgins Clark award and was named a 2015 “most arresting crime novel” by the notoriously cranky Kirkus Reviews.

That’s nothing to sneeze at. Now, with a new publisher, William Morrow, Lori returns with THE DAY I DIED (April 11, 2017), an unforgettable tale o f a mother’s search for a lost boy.

Anna Winger is on the run. We know she has secrets, but what exactly are they? This is part of mystery #1. The second is that there’s a 2-year-old boy missing from the town in which she and her 13 -year-old son are currently living. The sheriff calls her in, asks if she can take a look at some handwriting samples to discern where this young child is and perhaps who may have taken him.

And there’s more, too. Why is there a dead nanny in a bathroom stall? And who killed her?

Anna is working so, so hard to cover up this past of hers, the one she’s running from and trying her best to shield her son from.
But the current events with the missing child is dredging up some dark memories.

Told entirely in Anna’s POV, we travel from small town Indiana to a Wisconsin lake, from present to past, and back again. Rader-Day’s skill lies in writing so authentically about the Midwest, getting into the heads of her characters, and weaving a tangled web of possibilities.

Please join me in welcoming Lori Rader-Day back to the blog couch.

Leslie Lindsay: Lori, it’s great to have you back. I always think of one of our first chats in which you told me that you could write anywhere, and that you once amassed many pages on a cruise ship. What are your summer plans this year?

Lori Rader-Day: My plans include writing, writing, and more writing, but probably not on a cruise ship. I’m teaching at Yale Writers’ Workshop (I’ll be in New Haven when this post launches) and Antioch Writers’ Workshop this summer, traveling to Mackinac Island to do a library talk and stay at the magnificent Grand Hotel, and did I mention writing?thumbs_grand-hotel-mackinac-island-americas-summer-place

L.L.: I understand THE DAY I DIED was written as a short story during your creative writing program nearly a decade ago (I’m going to come back to that soon), what was it then that was the seed for this story?

Lori Rader-Day: I needed something new to bring to my workshop, so I went to a library and trolled around for inspiration. I found a book on the shelf, facing out, about handwriting analysis and thought, “Well, I don’t anything about that.” The short story is still in the book, though it’s bookended by a new beginning, some new scenes, and about 350 more pages after the story “ends.”

L.L.: And so THE DAY I DIED didn’t become your first published book. Or your second. Sometimes I think our best ideas take time to percolate. Was it that way for you, or something else?

Lori Rader-Day: The idea for THE DAY I DIED was a good one, but it was a complex one and one that I was not ready to perfect. When I finished the first full draft in 2009, I was in the middle of a day-job career transition and I think what I needed was distance from this story. I also needed something new to write in the mean time. The new thing turned into my first published novel, THE BLACK HOUR. After I turned in LITTLE PRETTY THINGS, I thought to return to THE DAY I DIED, to see if I was a good enough writer to make it what I had hoped it would be. The distance I had given it worked really well. It had been about six years by that point, and I was able to see where I’d set myself up badly. Revisions still took time, but at least my vision for the book was clear.

L.L.: I love, love the idea of handwriting analysis.[graphology]. As I was reading, I told my family about the premise of the book and got a few raised eyebrows, much like Sheriff Keller’s view of it being ‘woo-woo.’ What can you tell me about this practice? And I’d love to hear a few ‘truths,’ about handwriting styles, too. Have you ever had yours analyzed?

Lori Rader-Day:  I don’t have the training that Anna Winger does in the book; I’ve only done a little research in order to do the book. That said, I learned a few things, enough to intuit some vague ideas about someone’s handwriting. I have also had the chance to meet a couple of handwriting experts since I published the book; one of them did my Chicago launch event with me. We talked about the book a little, but then I interviewed him about his work and learned enough to do a sequel! He analyzed my handwriting for the audience, which was fun. (And he was kind, maybe suspiciously so.) One story he told that I’m fascinated by was one in which he worked with a farmer who claimed a contract with his “X” on it had not been signed by him. notebook-letter_300His X—he meant this literally—had indeed been forged, and this expert could tell just by the way the fibers in the paper showed the direction of the pen on each hash of the X. One letter, and this guy could tell that the X had indeed been forged. I’m not sure what I think of handwriting analysis when it gets into psychological attributes. I’m probably with the sheriff on this one. [there are several self-tests on handwriting on the Internet, which may be of interest. Here are my favorites. From Reader’s Digest, RealSimple.]

L.L.: Lately, I’ve been curious about life paths and how things end up. Fate, I guess. Happiness, too. And if we’re doing what we’re ‘supposed’ to be doing with our lives. Big deep questions. So…how it is being a novelist? What about the job are you wild about and not-so-wild about?

Lori Rader-Day: I’m definitely doing the thing I should be doing, but even so, I know what you mean. It’s a lot of work for a person who likes to sit around and read books, so even I have my doubts. Being a novelist is both fantastic and challenging. I love the writing and I hate the writing. I love the promotions and I hate the promotions, mostly because it’s exhausting. But then I’m the one who sets up my promotions for the most part. I’m the one in charge. I should just control my calendar a little bit more, right? But it’s been a joy to travel around talking about my book and meeting new readers. Oh, and seeing friends in each city. That is a real perk.

“Beautiful prose and tack-sharp observations round out this slow-burning but thought-provoking meditation on the ravages of domestic violence.”
— Publishers Weekly

L.L.: There’s part of me that sort of kind of feels THE DAY I DIED could be a series. Do you ever think about tossing your characters from one book into a new story?

Lori Rader-Day: I’m not sure I could do it. For each book, someone says it could be a series. Sure, I could figure it out. But the writing is what I enjoy, and part of why I enjoy it is because it’s a new puzzle of character and plot. I love series books and admire those who do them well, but I’m not sure when or if I’ll decide to continue one of my characters because I love the fresh new story so much. It started when I was writing during my lunch hours at a very demanding full-time job. If the story hadn’t been new and compelling to me, I would never have finished the book.
girl-writing-stars
That said, I did get some ideas for a follow-up from that handwriting expert I talked with. Never say never! My next book, however, is another stand-alone. I love stand-alones.

L.L.: Anna is all about staying off social media, the Internet. But there’s some digging that has to be done in the story. What was the last thing you Googled? It doesn’t have to be literary.

Lori Rader-Day:  Hmm. I was Googling author websites this morning to a link to a book cover for a June release I added to Mystery Writers America Midwest Chapter. I’m the chapter president right now, but also apparently the web mistress. Yesterday I went through all my saved links looking for story ideas and organizing them into things I had saved for writing certain projects. I think that’s called procrastination.

L.L.: Lori, it’s been a pleasure. Is there anything I should have asked, but may McGulpin-Point-Lighthouse_72dpi.jpg-nggid0273-ngg0dyn-220x190x100-00f0w010c011r110f110r010t010have forgotten?

Lori Rader-Day: Most people want to know about my next project… As yet untitled mystery set in a dark sky park in Michigan, out from Harper Collins William Morrow in spring 2018. (I’ll let you all Google “dark sky park.”) Thanks, Leslie!

For more information about the book, to connect with Lori via social media, or to order your own copy of THE DAY I DIED, please visit: 

Rader-Day_Lori-lo-221x300ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Lori Rader-Day’s debut mystery, The Black Hour, won the 2015 Anthony Award for Best First Novel and was a finalist for the 2015 Mary Higgins Clark Award. Her second novel, Little Pretty Things, won the 2016 Mary Higgins Clark Award and was a nominee for the Anthony Award for Best Paperback Original. Little Pretty Things was named a 2015 “most arresting crime novel” by Kirkus Reviews andone of the top ten crime novels of the year by Booklist. Her third novel, The Day I Died, will be released by Harper Collins William Morrow on April 11, 2017. She lives in Chicago.

 

You can connect with me, Leslie Lindsay, via these social networks:

LOVE IT? SHARE IT!

[Author and cover image courtesy of WilliamMorrow/HarperCollins and used with permission. Other images as follows, all on 6.9.17: McGulpin Point Lighthouse Dark Sky Park  MI retrieved from http://www.darkskypark.org, image of exterior of Grand Hotel from grandhotel.com/galleries. Letter and flower from Pinterest, no source noted.]

WeekEND Reading: What if a dream propelled your story into action? That’s just what happened with Gian Sardar’s luminous debut, YOU WERE HERE, plus past lives, a mystery, Minnesota, & more about this story of the unseen.

Standard

By Leslie Lindsay 

Debut novelist Gian Sardar takes us on a journey through the murky world of dreams where the past weaves with the present in a chilling crime, told in a gorgeous lyrical prose.

YOU WERE HERE Jacket

I have such a fascination with dreams–nightmares, too–and wonder just what they reveal about our conscious selves, and most of all–our past. That’s what YOU WERE HERE seeks to do; it pulls us into that dream world and reads almost as if you *are* in a dream, but not quite.

Abby Walters is originally from Minnesota but living in L.A. with her screenwriting boyfriend who’s a bit (okay, a lot) commitment shy. She works at an estate jewelry shop appraising and selling antique baubles, yet no ring for her. Like all good stories, we get called away from the known and thrust into the world of the ‘unknown.’ So when Abby starts having those old dreams, the ones she only had in Minnesota, she is called back home to attempt to uncover their meaning.

Unbeknownst to her, there are a grisly slew of rapes and murders happening in her home state. It makes national news within a day or so of her arrival. Her longtime crush from H.S. is there, working now as a detective. But don’t jump to conclusions just yet. YOU WERE HERE is a multi-layered, literary mystery that sweeps you into its arms, pulling you into a sleepy spell.

Back in 1947 there’s another mystery brewing. We learn about several characters from this time period: Claire, Edith, Eva, William and how they are all tied to the present. Or are they? I really enjoyed this piece of the novel–and almost always do in these split-time frame stories.

YOU WERE HERE is at once a mystery, but it’s also a crime novel, literary historical fiction, a love story...it’s a gorgeous melding of several genres, because life just happens to be that way. 

I’m thrilled to welcome Gian Sardar to the blog couch. Pull up a seat and join us.

Leslie Lindsay: Gian, I am so, so fascinated with dreams. I almost always remember mine and will tell them to anyone who will listen. Okay, not really. My hubby, mostly. Are you the same? And was there a dream that started YOU WERE HERE?

Gian Sardar: YES, I am for sure the same, and my husband definitely hears way too many of my dreams. There were actually a couple dreams that were the seeds that in many ways became YOU WERE HERE – but to talk about them I might have to go a bit back in time. When I was twelve I had a dream, one of those dreams when you’re you but you’re not you. Have you had one of them? You know the setting, you know the people, you are YOU and you identify as you, but it’s a you that you don’t know. So I had one of those dreams, and in the dream I was running through a forest with a little boy, a person I knew was my (actual) brother. It was during a war. The sky was bone white, leaves on the ground, trees bare. We were running from something, but stopped at a barbed wire fence. And there, when we turned, was a soldier. We couldn’t see his face since he was bundled up in the cold, but we knew he was there to help us. When I woke up, I opened my eyes and he was in my room. Now, I’ve had a strange life, so this wasn’t toooo crazy….so I just blinked my eyes. And he was still there. I blinked again, and he was still there. Finally he was gone, and I just passed it off as a figment of my imagination, or decided I might have still been asleep. Well, fast forward about a year and my mom decided to take me and my friends to a psychic for my 13th birthday. An odd choice, I now see, but like I said I’ve had a bit of a strange life. While we were there, this woman held my hands and said, “You and your brother have been brother and sister in a past life. I see you in a forest, during a war, and you’re running and then you meet a solider.” Of course then I stopped her, and said, “I just had that dream. When I opened my eyes, he was in my originalroom.” She didn’t look surprised (she was psychic after all), and just said “I know, he’s coming back into your life.” Even now, I wonder, who was it? My son? My best friend? My husband? I have no idea, but the idea that perhaps we’ve been here before, that perhaps we’ve known the people in our lives before, was a concept that just seemed right and stuck with me. When I was in my twenties, I was still fascinated by this idea, and decided to try and ask who I was in the past, every night before going to sleep, since I’d read that sometimes a name could come to you.  Over and over I did this, and then one night I had a dream, and it was just a name, repeated again and again. Now, I’m a bit ashamed to say I’ve never investigated the name, but I didn’t know where to begin – what continent, what year, what anything. But it made me wonder, what if a character had a dream of a name, and had just enough to go on? What could she find? In the most basic way, right there, the book was born.

 L.L.: So I have to ask about Minnesota. It was home for a few years. I can clearly see Rochester’s Silver Lake and the Chain of Lakes in Minneapolis where the historical part of the story took place. I’m less familiar with Abby’s hometown. But Minnesota, literature-wise is not so well-known. Or is it? Are you aware of other books set there? (Oh wait—I know one: THE LOST GIRLS by Heather Young). And how did you come to this decision to set the story there, being an L.A. girl yourself? 

Gian Sardar: I’ve read some books that are set there, or in the Midwest, not much. What inspired me was my experience in Minnesota. My mother’s side of the family is all from there, and so growing up we’d spend summers there – both in Marshall (where my grandmother lived) and also camping in other parts of the state. Not only did I see how varied and beautiful the landscape is, but I always held the small towns we explored in a rather romanticized, childhood-golden light. Later I Small-Town1.jpglived for a bit outside of Minneapolis, and even later the visits I made there as an adult just sealed the deal: I had to write about it. There are vast, endless plains, which are both breathtaking and haunting. There are forests and lakes and so much that I knew I could have incredibly diverse settings – all within the same state.  And I knew that my almost vintage, romantic, yet slightly haunted remembrance of the small towns would lend itself perfectly for the part of the story that takes place in the past.

 L.L.: There’s a hint of ghosts and reincarnation in YOU WERE HERE. I don’t want to give away too much, but can you talk about how these pieces came into the story?

Gian Sardar: I mentioned the dreams, which is where everything started. But for me, I was always fascinated by the past we can’t see…whether it’s our own past, or even someone who lived in our house a hundred years ago, or someone who took their last breath on the sidewalk where we stand. I love the idea that we are in a living, breathing history, and that maybe we get glimpses of the past – a random feeling in the corner of the room, or an arbitrary thought that we pass off as nothing – glimpses that we ignore because we don’t know their significance. And so showing the past with the present was the perfect way for me to capture and expose one of the layers that composes the current world. images (10)

L.L.: Ultimately, YOU WERE HERE is a story of the unseen. It’s a little obscure, even occult, with flavors of Gothic ruin that might resemble a Poe story and maybe even a little of GONE GIRL [I know, I dislike the comparisons, but there’s a character that just might remind reader’s a bit of GONE GIRL’s Amy]. Can you share with us a bit about how these characters ‘presented themselves’ to you?

Gian Sardar: I love that – “a story of the unseen.” Yes! The characters all evolved as I was writing, but Abby, with her fears and dreams, was definitely inspired by my own worries and dreams. I tend to imagine accidents and horrible things, but not nearly to the degree she does. But it seemed like an interesting jumping point for a character, so I took that and blew it up and created her. I think the rest are people I’d love to know. I love Eva with her brave hope, and her dreams. And I love Claire with her reluctant hope, and her sadness. William and Aidan, the men in the book, they’re completely fictional as well, but again, both are people I would love to know.

L.L.: So, shifting a bit to the more technical elements of writing: do you outline or follow the muse? How many drafts (did you keep count?!) of YOU WERE HERE did you work on? 

Gian Sardar: Oh boy….as far as how many drafts, I don’t even know! It was a lot. For me, so much is discovered in the editing process that I love to have a lot of drafts, because it’s an indication of the evolution of the story. I usually start out with a basic idea of opening and ending, and then I try to loosely fill in the rest in a very basic outline form – but then I just have to wait, and trust that the real meat of the story will appear to me as I’m writing. And it does, and is usually born from the characters that after a while begin to live and breathe and take over.

L.L.: And you are a screenwriter as well? How does that style of writing differ from novelist?

Gian Sardar: I’ve done some screenplay work and worked with an incredible writer or years. For one, with a book or short story I could spend hours on a paragraph, trying to get the description right, finding metaphors and the best way to capture the moment – but with a screenplay you write it just enough description to help set the tone (and show the director etc to your vision), but not too much. Everything is in the choices of what you’re showing, and every line of dialogue better count. You’ve got a fraction of pages to work with, and no one will know if you had a lovely description of the house the characters live in.

L.L.: What do you hope readers take away from YOU WERE HERE?

Gian Sardar: I hope they wonder about their own lives. About the people they know with whom they always had a connection, or a dislike. Or the places they were drawn to, perhaps places they’ve never been. I hope they start to wonder if maybe it’s not all random coincidence. And I hope they see that in people’s lives there was always a before – reasons for actions, dislikes, and beliefs, reasons we may never know. And sometimes it’s interesting to wonder what those could be, and just how far back they might stretch.

e88e4e8dc9fc1a3ff9d52e9b11f6b647L.L.: What, from your own life might make a compelling mystery?

Gian Sardar: Definitely the story of the dream and the war and the mystery soldier. One day I’d like to write something about him, and about that girl in the forest.


L.L.: What’s next for you? Are you working on another novel?

Gian Sardar: I am! I don’t want to say too much, as it’s early and I don’t want to jinx it.

L.L. I so get that; kind of in the same boat now. Thank you, Gian; really enjoyed chatting.

Gian Sardar: Thank you, I did as well!

For more information about YOU WERE HERE, to connect with Gian via social media, or to purchase your own copy of the book, please see: 

Author Photo_Gian Sardar (c) Joseph Schwehr.jpgABOUT THE AUTHOR: Gian Sardar studied creative writing at Loyola Marymount University and is the coauthor of the bookPsychic Junkie. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, son, and insane dog.

 

 

 

You can connect with me, Leslie Lindsay,through this various social media sites:

LOVE IT? SHARE IT!

[Author and cover images courtesy of Putnam/RandomHouse and used with permission. Image of ‘dreams’ retrieved from hypeorlando.com, small town minnesota retrieved from minnesotanewcountry.com, old house and girl in forest images retrieved from Pinterest, all on 6.6.17]

Wednesdays with Writers: What happens when you sleep? Could you be capable of murder? Chris Bohjalian explores this and more in his latest novel, THE SLEEPWALKER, plus rising early, following characters onto the page, being a teen magician

Standard

By Leslie Lindsay 

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Guest Room comes a spine-tingling novel of lies, loss, and buried desire–the mesmerizing story of a wife and mother who vanishes from her bed late one night.

Psychologically astute rift with family secrets, mystery, and a terrifying sleep disorder, THE SLEEPWALKER is at first a family portrait swallowed in the throes of grief.

9780385538916

With an author like Chris Bohjalian, you’re in good hands; expert hands, in fact. When I learned about THE SLEEPWALKER, I knew I had to read it: missing people, mothers especially, are a fascination of mine. So too is sleep and dreams. Toss in a lovely flawed family portrait and I am putty in your hands.

When Annalee Ahlberg goes missing, her children fear the worst. Annalee is a sleepwalker whose affliction manifests in ways both bizarre and devastating. She once spray-painted the front hydrangeas silver, and yet…things always work out just fine.

But this time it’s different. This time, she can’t be found. Days turn to weeks. An investigation ensues. Speculation swirls. What happened to Annalee Ahlberg, a healthy, fit architect?

Infused with lovely snippets of research about sleep and their accompanying disorders, THE SLEEPWALKER is a gorgeously written family drama.

Join me in welcoming Chris Bohjalian to the blog couch.

Leslie Lindsay: I’ve long been a fan of your work, Chris.  Your books cover a lot of ground…YA, historical, mystery, gothic, literary suspense. I’m always curious: why this book, why now? What inspired THE SLEEPWALKER?

Chris Bohjalian: Originally I thought I was going to write a book about dreams, that great Freudian abyss. And so I went to have lunch with a sleep doctor to understand the physiology of the brain when we dream. He had just come from a patient who was a sleepwalker, and our conversation rather naturally went. We discussed how people sleepcook, sleepdrive, sleepjog, sleepsex, sleepmurder – and I was hooked.

Check out THE SLEEPWALKER’S book trailer: 

L.L.: Your research into sleep disorders is evident. Can you talk a bit about that process?

 Chris Bohjalian: I always love my research, but this was especially interesting because sleep study is such a new field. The term “arousal disorder” wasn’t even coined until 1968. Medicine didn’t begin to categorize parasomnias until 1979. And forensic sleep medicine, the investigation of sleep crime? As a discipline, it only dates back to 2007.

L.L.: I personally love to sleep! I find it’s a great place to flesh out some of my creative download (8)processes. The best is when I fall asleep reading. My brain sort of takes over and creates a whole new story. Do you ever dream about your works-in-progress? Do you ever get ideas for novels this way?

Chris Bohjalian: I think you’re on to something. I have heard that sleep really does recharge creativity. Now, I don’t precisely dream of my books, but I know that I have to go directly to my desk when I awake at 5:30 or 6:00 in the morning.  I do almost all of my writing then. It’s far and away the most productive time of the day for me, and I believe that is not merely because I am most rested: I believe it is because of my mind’s connection to sleep and the subconscious.

L.L.: Let’s talk character for a bit. You do a beautiful job of ‘getting into the head’ of a 21-year old college female. How did you make the decision to tell the story from Lianna’s POV, and not…say, her English professor father who might be more aligned with you as a male author?

Chris Bohjalian: My daughter, a young actor in New York City, once said to me after reading a rough draft of one of my novels, “Dad, take this as a compliment, because I mean it that way. But I think your sweet spot as a writer is seriously messed-up young women.” She’s right. Just think of Laurel Estabook (“The Double Bind”), Emily Shepard (“Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands”), Serafina Bettini (“The Light in the Ruins”), or all the young female survivors of the Armenian Genocide in “The Sandcastle Girls.”

There are a lot of reasons why sometimes I write across gender. Originally, “The Sleepwalker” was a traditional, third-person Jamesian novel. But about halfway in, it began to feel to me a lot like a story of mothers and daughters and loss. And so I tried it from Lianna’s perspective and liked where the book seemed to go. I liked the wistfulness of first-person past in this case.

L.L.: Lianna is an amateur magician, giving magic shows for kids’ parties, etc. How did that piece of her character develop? Is it a sort of metaphor for the overall narrative? Appearance/disappearance themes?

Chris Bohjalian: Yes. You nailed it. She can make anything reappear except her mother. Also? I was a teenage magician. Everything in Lianna’s set was in my set. I did those children’s birthday parties.

“Scary, limiting and downright dangerous, sleepwalking inspires a hard-to-put-down story that also mixes sex and a mystery in a polished package. . .Bohjalian is on top of his already stellar game with The Sleepwalker.”
— Amanda St. Amand, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

L.L.:  For you, does structure follow plot points or is it more character-driven?

Chris Bohjalian: Well, I never know where my stories are going. I have no plot. I have only a premise and a character. I depend upon my characters to take me by the hand and lead me through the dark of the story. It is – to paraphrase E.L. Doctorow – driving at night. You can only see 200 feet ahead of you, but you have the confidence that eventually you will get where you’re going. 

L.L.:  Do you have any writing rituals or routines? A few  “Chris facts?” 

Chris Bohjalian:  I begin my day by skimming a dictionary for an interesting word or two. Then I watch movie trailers for ten minutes, usually enjoying three or four. They instantly catapult me into the right head space. Usually they have nothing to do with the book I’m writing in terms of subject. It’s all about the emotion.

L.L.: What question should I have asked, but may have forgotten?

Chris Bohjalian:  These were great. Thanks!

For more information, to connect with Chris via social media, or to purchase a copy of THE SLEEPWALKER, please see: 

Chris Bohjalian.jpg ABOUT THE AUTHOR: CHRIS BOHJALIAN is the author of nineteen books, including Close Your EyesHold Hands; The Sandcastle GirlsSkeletons at the FeastThe Double Bind; and Midwives. His novel Midwives was a number one New York Times bestseller and a selection of Oprah’s Book Club. His work has been translated into more than thirty languages, and three of his novels have become movies (Secrets of EdenMidwives, and Past the Bleachers). He lives in Vermont with his wife and daughter.

You can connect with me, Leslie Lindsay, via these social media contacts. Love to see ya ’round!

LOVE IT? SHARE IT!

[Cover and author image courtesy of Doubleday. Collage of previous works from author’s website. Image of ‘sleep and creativity’ from YouTube, all retrieved 3.16.17]

Wednesdays with Writers: Can Someone Really Reinvent Oneself? Kate Moretti talks about that; her latest obsession with serial killers, secret passages, being a ‘mix’ of plotter vs. pantser, her newest novel THE VANISHING YEAR & so much more

Standard

By Leslie Lindsay 

THE VANISHING YEAR (Atria Books, September 2016) is a stunning domestic psych suspense by Kate Moretti, one that delivers a modern, urgent, cutting-edge slightly different than her contemporaries.

How is it different? Well, for one it’s a bit rags-to-riches where other, comparative titles are not. Zoe Whitaker is living a charmed life in NYC. She has a ‘golden boy’ wealthy husband, a marble penthouse, all the fancy clothing and jewels a girl could want…but she’s not superficial; her character comes across as very personable, yet flawed–you know the girl has secrets, but what are they?

9781501118432.jpg

No one knows, but five years ago Zoe’s life was in danger. Back then, Zoe wasn’t Zoe at all.

Now her secrets are coming back to haunt her. As the past and present collide, Zoe must decide who she can trust before she—whoever she is—vanishes completely.

The beginning pages read beautifully, I was enthralled with the world Zoe resides, her ‘secret,’ and the words Moretti strings together.

Join me as I sit down with New York Times bestselling author of four books, Kate Moretti.

Leslie Lindsay: Kate, thanks so much for taking the time to chat about your latest book, THE VANISHING YEAR. I’m always intrigued by what sparked an idea into a full-fledged book. What was haunting you when you sat down to write Zoe’s story?

Kate Moretti: The ending came to me first. Without spoilers, I wanted to write a story that centered around this idea that in a whirlwind marriage, both people come into it with a whole backstory that neither of them knows. That you can’t reinvent yourself and your past will always come back for you. Most of my books have centered around this theme, so you might say I’m a bit obsessed with it. I’m hoping to move on, one day.what-dissociative-fugue-definition-healthyplace

L.L.: I want to talk about the title for a moment. My first thought was, ‘woman leaves for a year; a fugue state.’ But that’s not exactly the case. She spends a year as Henry Whittaker’s wife—(I hope I’m not giving too much away!)—but then she sort of finds herself. Did you start out with a title and build a story around it, or did the title come after?  

Kate Moretti: I usually come up with my titles around the halfway point. THE VANISHING YEAR means a few things to me. The year she was married to Henry, she slipped into being this person he wanted her to be, and she says it happened so slowly she hardly noticed it. More directly, it relates to the year she literally did vanish – from Hilary Lawlor to Zoe Whittaker nee Swanson. I liked this concept so much, that the events of one year can completely alter who you are. I played with it a little bit in the idea that Tara (Henry’s deceased wife) vanishes a bit, too. She goes from having friends, a life, a job, to being almost sequestered. It worked on a few levels for the book. Titles are tough!

L.L.: There’s so much of this story that is about finding oneself, about coming to terms with the ghosts that haunt our own pasts. Can you talk about that, please?

Kate Moretti: I think everyone, even regular, average, boring people like me, who don’t have these turbulent past lives still have regrets and mistakes and things they’ve done that they partly wish they could undo. I say partly because I’ve learned so much from my slip-ups that even though they’re painful to think about, they become such a big chunk of who I am today. I think, on some level, this theme is hugely relatable, which is why there are so many books like this! Without the confines of reality, you can expand on these mistakes and make them larger than life. I love diving into that place, where moral people do amoral things: where is that line and how hard do you have to push for your character to cross it? The best part is, all my characters are different, so I can explore this in every book, until I’ve exhausted myself.

L.L.: Some reviewers have compared THE VANISHING YEAR to a modern-day REBECCA (Daphne Du Maurier). I see that…rich husband one barely knows…phantoms of a time long forgotten (we hope), but yet there are some key differences. Was REBECCA in any way an inspiration for you?

Kate Moretti: THE VANISHING YEAR was my love letter to REBECCA. Rebecca was the first adult mystery novel I ever read and I read it pretty young, maybe 14? There was a lot I didn’t understand and re-reading as an adult, I couldn’t remember what my young self thought. daphnedumaurier_rebecca_firstBut I fell in love with the atmosphere, the slow unwinding of the plot, the reveal of Mrs. Danvers, and the final plot twist. I’d read Nancy Drew and Christopher Pike and RL Stine but nothing got me the way REBECCA did. THE VANISHING YEAR is my first real attempt at a woman-in-peril mystery. I wanted my character to be a bit sassier than the new Mrs. De Winter, I wanted my Mrs. Danvers to be unexpected, I wanted Henry to be a slight echo of Maximilian. Even the opening line was a hat tip: Last night I dreamed I went to Manderley again vs. Lately, I’ve been dreaming of my mother.  The plot is, of course, all very different. A few early readers caught the resonance pretty clearly and that made me happy.

L.L.: There’s a strong element of one’s family of origin in THE VANISHING YEAR, a bit about adoption, as Zoe is on a quest to find her birth mother. I think this is an important piece to discovering who we are. Yet, in the end, we’re just floating…could it be that sometimes ‘our family’ becomes not who we expect?

Kate Moretti: I think family is whatever you make it. Your family, simply put, is your people. The people you surround yourself with, not always just the people who are blood related. Growing up with a large extended family, we called second cousins aunts and uncles, we called friends of the family cousins, there was a great deal of fluidity around familial vernacular. We have good friends that my kids call their cousins, so I’m happy to see that be passed on. In VANISHING, Zoe is propelled by this idea of having a tether to the world. Henry feels very free-floating to her, she’s semi-isolated in his life, her only good friend is tired of her flightiness. She seeks out her birth mother, hoping this can bring her some much needed grounding. I couldn’t even imagine this kind of isolation.

L.L.: There are a good deal of twists and turns in THE VANISHING YEAR, plenty of seedy secrets, and a darkness that pervades. Was this intentional, or did it transpire more organically? Are you a pantser or a plotter?

Kate Moretti:  I’m a mix of both. For VANISHING, I did plot pretty heavily, with spreadsheets. I think for a suspense novel, to wind all the pieces together, you either do an enormous amount of rewriting or you plot heavily and braid the plot together before you start. I do a mix. I plot, then write, then re-outline (because I always veer off), then write, then plot, then write. Repeat as necessary.

L.L.: What’s obsessing you these days? Any chance it’s an old house with a secret 511tho7i9il-_sx332_bo1204203200_passageway?!

Kate Moretti: My current obsession is serial killers. I’m such a pleasant addition to holiday dinner parties these days! The book I’m drafting, called THE REMAINDERS, is about a woman whose mother was famed serial killer. I have to learn how serial killers work. I’m reading Confessions of a Serial Killer by Katherine Ramsland, which is the untold story of BTK [bind, torture, kill; a.k.a. Dennis Lynn Rader].

I’d would really love to find that house. I live in a 150 year old farmhouse now, but through the years and various remodels (before we bought it), it’s been fairly gutted so I’m not sure there is a secret passageway. There is, however a little room. Our house has a turret, and from my attic office, you can go inside. It’s dark in there, I’ve only ever 19cov-infogallery-pix-custom6-v2looked in it. It could be haunted! [image to left retrieved from this NYTimes article on secret passages in NYC]

L.L.: What question should I have asked but may have forgotten?

Kate Moretti: I’m always happy to talk about what’s next! My next novel, THE BLACKBIRD SEASON is out September 2017. It’s about a teacher accused of an affair with a student, who then goes missing. It’s very different from VANISHING because it’s multi-POV, more character driven, less plot heavy. To me, there are books that are building to a big surprise and then there are books that are about the journey of the story. VANISHING was building, BLACKBIRD is about the story. I love both, but Blackbird was much harder to write. I think it’s a bit more nuanced, a bit deeper in terms of relationships.

L.L.: Kate, it was a pleasure chatting and getting to know THE VANISHING YEAR. Thanks for popping over. And have a restful holiday season.

Kate Moretti: Thanks for having me!

For more information, to connect on social media, or to snag a copy of THE VANISHING YEAR, please see:

Kate Moretti_Please Credit Pooja Dhar at PR Photography.jpgABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kate Moretti is the New York Times bestselling author of Thought I Knew You, Binds That Tie, and While You Were Gone. She lives in eastern Pennsylvania with her husband and two kids. Find out more at katemoretti.com, or follow her on Twitter (@KateMoretti1) or Facebook (KateMorettiWriter).

To connect with me, Leslie Lindsay, please see: 

LOVE IT? SHARE IT! 

[Author and cover image courtesy of Atria Books and used with permission. Image of REBECCA retrieved from Wikipedia. Image of Confessions of a Serial Killer retrieved from Amazon, both on 12.2.16]

 

Writers on Wednesday: The challenge in developing empathy and rendering complex characters, the allure & mystery of lake water, a 1930s Minnesota cabin, decades-old mystery, and so much more in Heather Young’s THE LOST GIRLS

Standard

By Leslie Lindsay

It was the lake house in Minnesota that drew me to THE LOST GIRLS (William Morrow/Harper Collins, July 2016), the spellbinding debut from highly talented debut novelist Heather Young. Having lived in Minnesota briefly as a newlywed and then new mother, I eagerly dove into a narrative about the place I called home, about a place that shaped my early adulthood. In that sense, THE LOST GIRLS was wonderfully atmospheric, I felt the strong to-your-bones frigid winds whipping at my face, saw the thick, opaque ice forming over the lake, and felt the goose flesh on my arms as I imagined the faulty seals on the windows in that lake cottage.

hi-res-jacket-image-lost-girls-1

In the summer of 1935, six-year-old Emily Evans vanishes from her family’s vacation home on a remote Minnesota lake. Her disappearance destroys her mother, who spends the rest of her life at the lake house, hoping in vain that her favorite daughter will walk out of the woods. Sixty years later, Lucy, the quiet and watchful middle sister, lives in the lake house alone. Before she dies, she writes a story of that devastating summer in a notebook she leaves, along with the house.

And then we meet Justine, the grand-niece of Lucy who has recently been gifted the lake house in Lucy’s will. Ready for a change—or perhaps running from her past—Justine flees California for Minnesota, what results is the bifurcated narrative of two storylines, two time periods, yet one family trying to piece together the past.

Young writes with a skilled hand. Her prose is lyrical, haunting, and atmospheric. It’s ultimately a tale of sisters, the price of loyalty, secrets, and coming-of-age.

Grab a cup of coffee and sit a spell. Perhaps wrap yourself in that musty throw from the lake house and watch the waves crash along the frigid shore as we welcome Heather Young to the blog.

Leslie Lindsay: Heather, I am thrilled you could stop by. I’m curious what was haunting you when you decided to write the story of Emily’s disappearance. Was it a single event, place, or something else that propelled the story?

Heather Young: Thank you for having me, Leslie! I’m happy to sit a spell. What haunted me when I wrote this book wasn’t the disappearance of a little girl, terrifying though that idea is to me as a mother. It was the relationships among her family, especially between her two sisters, 19A-Little-Winnie-Resort-cabin-1930s.tiff.jpgand how the secret of what happened to her slowly destroyed them all. I find family dynamics fascinating, and I wanted to write a story about a family whose bonds, already fraught, are placed in a crucible of loyalty, betrayal, regret, and unhealthy love, and explore how that plays out over decades.

L.L.: Let’s talk about water for a moment. There’s something so life-giving, yet tumultuous and mysterious about water.  It is at once life-giving and primal, yet disaster lurks. Can you talk about that, please?

Heather Young: I’ve always been fascinated by water, especially lake water. When I was a girl, my family spent a month each summer at a lake in northern Minnesota. It was very deep, and though its water was so clean you could drink it, its depth made it look nearly black. At its edges it was a place to play and swim, but at its heart it was so melancholy and full of secrets it felt as if it were alive. I loved the idea of setting a story beside a lake like that, that could become almost a character in itself.

“[T]he delicacy of [Young’s] writing elevates the drama and gives her two central characters depth and backbone…For all the beauty of Young’s writing, her novel is a dark one, full of pain and loss. And the murder mystery that drives it is as shocking as anything you’re likely to read for a good long while.”
— The New York Times Book Review

L.L.: In many respects, THE LOST GIRLS is a family saga spanning a least three generations and sixty years. Each character is sort of haunted by the disappearance of Emily, but for different reasons. Did these characters come to you fully formed, or did they require some careful crafting?

Heather Young: Since this is my first novel, there was a steep learning curve in everything, but especially character. Initially, every character was flat, defined by the one or two traits I needed them to have to service the plot. Yet when I read, I’m drawn to stories with complex characters, so my inability to create characters like that was frustrating. Eventually, I came to see that every character has a personal and specific point of view that needs to be honored. Once I began to honor that point of view, I was able to empathize with them — even pity them — and that helped me shade them in ways that made them more complicated and, hopefully, interesting.

L.L.: …And now I have to ask if there was any one character you had a particular affinity for? I know, a tough question!

Heather Young: It is a tough question! I love all my characters, but if I had to pick one, it would be Melanie, Justine’s ten year old daughter. She has a quiet strength about her, and bears her fear and loneliness with dignity and a complete absence of self-pity. She’s taciturn and prickly and fierce and very hard to love, but, unlike the generations who came before her, she will never find her life diminished by an inability to save herself. So I think she’s pretty cool.

L.L.: As a title, THE LOST GIRLS encompasses so much and has multiple meanings. Of course, the obvious is that Emily is missing, but there are others who have sort of lost their way. Can you speak to this, please?

Heather Young: It’s true, there are many “lost girls” in this story. Emily’s sisters, Lucy and Lilith, spend their lives at the lake where Emily vanishes, surrendering dreams of adventure and quieter hopes of love and family. Lilith’s daughter Maurie is lost in a more literal sense, wandering from town to town looking for the gilded life she thinks she’s owed. Maurie’s daughter Justine is so emotionally stunted she can’t connect with anyone, even her own children. However, even though the book is in many ways a meditation on loss, some of these lost girls do manage to be “found” in the end.images-1

L.L.: What do you hope readers take away from this story?

Heather Young: Well, mostly I hope they love it and tell all their friends to read it! But more seriously, I hope it makes them think about their relationships with their own family, and about how those relationships cast shadows, for good and for bad, into the generations that come after.

L.L.: Switching gears a bit, I understand you are a former lawyer-turned-writer. How did your earlier career prepare you for that of a novelist?

Heather Young: When I first started writing, I thought my only relevant lawyerly skill was the ability to string coherent sentences together. Then I realized there was another skill I’d been cultivating all those years. As a lawyer, your job is to tell your client’s story. Usually, that means telling a story that makes a deeply flawed person relatable, and maybe even forgivable. It’s excellent training for being a novelist.

L.L.: What’s obsessing you nowadays? What’s captured your interest?


Heather Young:
At the risk of dragging this lovely literary discussion sideways into the muck, I’m obsessed with politics and the presidential election[…]It just seems that there’s so much at stake this time around. I [traveled]  to get out the vote in a swing state [yesterday], so at least I’m putting my obsession to work!

L.L.: Is there anything I should have asked, but may have forgotten?

Heather Young: You didn’t ask who should play my characters in the movie! But that’s okay, because (1) there is no movie, and (2) I have no idea who should play them. I think that’s because the characters are so specific inside my head that no living person resembles them. So I guess it’s just as well Hollywood hasn’t come calling.

L.L.: Heather, it’s been a pleasure connecting! Best wishes and thanks for chatting.

Heather Young: It’s been my pleasure as well! Thank you for having me.

Heather Young (1).jpgAbout the Author: Heather Young lives just outside San Francisco with her two teenaged children and her husband. When she’s not writing, she loves biking, hiking, skiing, and reading books she wishes she’d written. THE LOST GIRLS is her first novel.

Connect with me, Leslie Lindsay, here:

LOVE IT? SHARE IT! 

 

[Special thanks to L. Truskowski at HarperCollins/William Morrow. Cover and author image courtesy of HarperCollins. 1930s lake cabin retrieved from on 10.22.16, Lake Clearwater, Minnesota image retrieved from Wikimedia Commons, also on 10.22.16]

Writers on Wednesday: Laura McHugh on her second novel ARROWOOD, old homes, the longing to return home, memory & truth, and how she always reads the ‘crime section’ in the newspaper.

Standard

By Leslie Lindsay 

Set primarily in southern Iowa, ARROWOOD (August 9, Random House/Spiegel & Grau) is McHugh’s sophomore novel, but it’s certainly no slump. McHugh is an astute and observant writer weaving touches of Colorado, Minnesota, Illinois, and Missouri in the languid landscape (which I absolutely adored, having lived in most all of those states) in this psychological exploration of family and the stories our homes contain. ARROWOOD

Arrowood is one of the most ornate and glorious homes lining the banks of the Mississippi River in a dying town where many of the old homes are boarded up and left to decay. The town simply cannot sustain themselves any longer. The humidity is high and one can nearly hear the frogs chorusing in trees. When Arden returns from her grad school program in Colorado, it’s mostly because she struggles with finishing her history thesis, but also to inherit her family home. Not only has her father recently passed, but Arden is haunted by the need to know what happened to her baby sisters, twins, who disappeared twenty years ago when they were just 21-months old.

Determined to find answers, Arden connects with various folks from her past, piecing the story together in a page-turning, powerful story examining how our lives are shaped by memory and the need to find truth in closure.

Join me as I welcome Laura back for a second time as we chat about ARROWOOD, old houses, our Missouri upbringing and so much more.

Leslie Lindsay: Laura, it’s great to have you back! Thanks for taking the time to chat with us. I am enamored with this gorgeous cover. I know, I know…we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. Did you have any say in the visual appearance?

Laura McHugh: Thank you for having me! I love the cover, too. I’m not involved in the design process, though they do ask my opinion once the cover has been designed. ARROWOOD actually had a very different cover at first, and it was beautiful, too, but I didn’t love it. There was a young woman with long, pretty hair, and she was gazing at some sort of boathouse on a lake. It was lovely and serene, and nothing about it resembled the mood or the protagonist or the house in the book. They were great about tweaking it—most importantly, switching the house out for one that more closely resembled Arrowood’s Second Empire style—but it still didn’t feel right. I wanted to get rid of the young woman, make the whole thing darker, moodier. Later on, after the first set of advance reader copies had been sent out with that first cover, they gave it a complete overhaul. I was thrilled. This version really feels like my book. I don’t even have a copy with the original cover anymore—my only one was auctioned off at a library benefit.

L.L.: I know you grew up in Missouri and the surrounding states, so I’m curious about “the little white house on South Fourteenth Street,” you mention in your dedication, but most of all, I’m interested in the first spark that became ARROWOOD. Can you speak to that, please?

Laura McHugh: Sure. The little white house is my grandparents’ house in Keokuk, which is nothing like the grand homes in the book. My family moved around a lot, and my grandparents’ house was the one place that always felt like home. It was a tiny one-bedroom, yet whenever the ten of us (I’m one of eight kids) came to visit, the house downloadseemed to magically expand to make room for everyone. Years after my grandparents died, I went back to the house to find the door wide open, and I went inside. It was trashed. Squatters had been living there. I was scared. The entire neighborhood, which had once felt so safe, was menacing. I couldn’t reconcile my memories of this place with what it had become. In one sense, ARROWOOD is about that longing to return home, which in many ways is impossible. I also wanted to write about the decline and decay of a small town, and I combined all of that with a character who has been stuck in the past, haunted by a terrible crime. I wanted to see if she could solve the mystery and find a way forward despite everything crumbling around her.

L.L.: We absolutely have to talk homes! I am crazy about old houses, new houses, abandoned ones, and just about everything in between. In fact, I so related to young Arden with the ‘Guidebook to Area Homes’ tucked under her arm (that was me when I lived in Northfield, MN!) What is it about homes that we—and perhaps, especially writers—find so compelling? And do you have a favorite architectural style or time period?

Laura McHugh: I love the idea of a house having a history—that it’s full of stories you might never know. The first house I lived in had been abandoned for years before my parents bought it, and was said to be haunted. It was Carpenter Gothic220px-Springside_gatehouse, with cathedral windows and curved scrollwork and an ornate staircase that my mother had spent more than a year painstakingly refinishing before the house caught fire. The place was eventually rebuilt, minus the characteristic features that had made it so stunning. When we drive by it now, my mother bemoans the missing balcony, the shortened windows, the lack of trim.

I favor the various styles of the 1800’s, including Second Empire, Gothic Revival, Italianate, and Victorian, and I love to see different styles on the same block, the way you do in old towns like Keokuk. So many subdivisions now are homogenous—rows of nearly identical houses. We incorporated architectural salvage when we built our house, including an arched church window and doors from old houses that had been torn down—small pieces of history in a house with no past.

L.L.: While Arden is in a sense “haunted” by the disappearance of her twin sisters,  ARROWOOD is not exactly a ghost story, though there are definitely creepy things at play; a slight menacing effect. Was this your intention all along, or did it sort of grow organically as the manuscript progressed?

Laura McHugh: Both, I think. I knew that Arden would be “haunted,” but I like the space in between, where you wonder, is there something going on here, or is this in her head? The details came together as the story progressed.

L.L.: In that vein, do you write to plot points, or do you let your characters tell the story?

Laura McHugh:  I’ve tried it both ways. THE WEIGHT OF BLOOD was written without any upfront planning (though I certainly did a lot of organizational work in revisions). I tried to do more of an outline for ARROWOOD, but I found that it took a lot of the pleasure out of writing when I was working toward predetermined points. I do best when I let the story grow from the characters’ desires and motivations and then clean things up 9780812985337as needed afterwards.

L.L.: There’s this wonderful melding of memory with truth in ARROWOOD, something that is often present in fiction, but in real-life, too. We simply don’t always remember events as we once imagined. Can you talk about how your theme, memory and truth, often become muddled? 

Laura McHugh: I’ve read a lot of interesting material about the unreliability of memory in eyewitness accounts, and I was especially interested in the way such accounts could influence an investigation—possibly moving it in the wrong direction. I suspect part of my interest in memory stems from my own past—I’m the youngest of eight children, and while we have many shared childhood memories, there are plenty of things I can’t possibly remember as clearly as they do. I have memories of certain details and events from houses and towns where we lived when I was very small, but I can’t be sure how much of that is actual memory and how much was woven together from my siblings’ retelling of these things. Is it ever possible to separate true memory from created memory? Is it possible to go back to a case that’s been cold for nearly twenty years and find the truth? These were things that I wanted to explore in Arrowood.

L.L.:  For slightly selfish reasons, I’m a little curious about the second-book process for a published author. I would imagine there would be a good deal of anxiety involved. What’s the overall process like?

Laura McHugh: There was definitely more anxiety with the second book than the first. With the first, no one was waiting for it. I could meander and make all sorts of missteps and then fix them in subsequent drafts, and no one would ever know. With the second book, there are expectations, and other voices in your head. Plus, the first book hasn’t gone away. You want to be fully focused on the new book, but you’re still spending time promoting the old one. It’s hard to ignore all of that and just let yourself write the story you want to write. I learned a lot about what works for me and what doesn’t while I was writing this second book, and hopefully that will help me going forward.

L.L.: Can you give us a sense of what you’re working on next?

Laura McHugh: The next novel is set mainly in rural Missouri and Kansas. The protagonist is still reeling from her brother’s unexpected death when she’s sent to investigate a deadly accident that has torn apart a rural community. She soon realizes that nothing is as it seems.

L.L.: What’s inspiring you nowadays? What gets your creativity flowing?

Laura McHugh: Being still and observant. That sounds terribly dull, but that’s how it works for me. I’m a people-watcher, and I’m always making up backstories for strangers I see at the library, or I’ll walk by an interesting house and start piecing together what kind of family might live inside. And, of course, I always read the Crime Section of the news.

L.L.: What should I have asked, but may have forgotten?

Laura McHugh: Nothing! You always have great questions. Thank you, Leslie!

L.L.: Laura, it was such a pleasure chatting once again. Enjoy the rest of your summer!

Laura McHugh: You, too!

***For more information, or to connect with Laura via social media, please see***

Facebook: LauraMcHughAuthor

Twitter: @LauraSMcHugh

Website: www.weightofblood.com

Laura McHugh -¬ Taisia GordonBio: Laura McHugh is the author of The Weight of Blood, which won both the 2015 International Thriller Writers award and a Silver Falchion award for the best first novel, and was nominated for a Barry award, an Alex award, and a Goodreads Choice award. She spent part of her childhood in Keokuk, Iowa, where Arrowood is set, and now lives in Columbia, Missouri, with her husband and two young children.

You can connect with me, Leslie Lindsay via:

Facebook: LeslieLindsayWriterWP_20160415_13_21_06_Pro

Twitter: @LeslieLindsay1

GoodReads: LeslieALindsay

[Special thanks to A. Lord and M. Braeckel. Cover and author image provided by Random House and used with permission. Author photo credit: Taisia Gordon. Carpenter Gothic house retrieved from Wikipedia on 8.10.16 and does not represent author’s home, WEIGHT OF BLOOD cover retrieved from the author’s website]