Jeannie Wycherley’s Beyond the Veil, Excuse Me While I Fangirl

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Crone BragI have a very long and ever-growing “To Be Read List”. Many months ago I added a book called Crone by Jeannie Wycherley after she graciously agreed to be spotlighted on this blog for Women in Horror Month, read that post here.  I was just about to read Crone when I saw on FaceBook that Jeannie was releasing a new book. With an interesting premise and amazing cover, my attention was hooked, and I began reading the second it hit my iPad.

 

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I am now a devoted Jeannie Wycherley fan. I tossed my current Stephen King read on the floor of my office and read Beyond the Veil every chance I got. My family had to eat pizza and hot dogs for a couple nights because I Could. Not. Stop. Reading. And I’m not even the least bit sorry.

An unlikely trio, a cop, a near-death experiencer, and a physic girl who lives in a cemetery are thrown together in the midst of a horrible crime. United in grief and horror they must face a terrifying soul warrior who will stop at nothing to collect a wayward soul, even murder! The creep factor is a solid ten, the characters (I adored them!) are a 10, the plot with eerie twists is a definite 10!

This book does everything right. From deep, believable characters to story pacing, to spinetingling suspense, and outright terror!

If you like spooky, suspenseful, mysterious tales with characters that you will be immediately invested in, this is the ticket for you!

Jeannie stopped by to answer some of my burning questions. Excuse me if I squeal in delight.

I have been stalking…er…I mean following you on social media for some time now. So, I hope this isn’t creepy, but can you tell us more about yourself?

I’m a Brit living on the coast in East Devon in the south west of the UK. Previously I worked in education, and I have a PhD in modern and contemporary history. I’m married with three dogs, love cop shows and spy movies (James Bond, Bourne and Mission Impossible) and popular sci-fi (Star Wars and Star Trek). I enjoy cooking and make a lot of one-pot meals (curry, chili, soups, etc.). I have an obsession with the forest and love British wildlife.

What led you to become a writer?

I always wanted to write, but somewhere along the line I thought that being a grown up meant holding down a soul-destroying and energy sapping career. I was in a creative wasteland, and after some counselling realised I needed art in my life more than I had supposed. I had some time off sick over the summer of 2012 and enrolled in a writing bootcamp with The Writer’s Playground. It was fantastic and started a habit of writing every day.

The things I wrote were pretty bad in the beginning, but the feeling of exploring the world using words totally fulfilled me. I kept at it and when I was offered redundancy I accepted– mainly so I could spend more time with my dog! I didn’t have much luck finding alternative work I wanted to do, so I began copywriting. I wrote for clients in the morning and myself in the afternoon, and that’s how it all started!

I had a long apprenticeship – writing constantly – and had numerous short stories accepted here and there, before embarking on novel writing. I queried a few agents for Crone, but I’m ridiculously impatient and the process is so slow, I opted to self-publish.

One of the reasons I choose self-publishing as well. I read across genres and was curious what genre or genres you write in. 

Horror and dark fantasy is where my heart lies. I love the weird, and I totally relish venturing into shadowy places – both within the mind, and in a given locality or environment. I have also written some erotica and a little erotic horror (as Betty Gabriel), and have ventured into dystopia (which I love). I also wrote a love story earlier this year. It’s a great story, but I doubt I’ll write many more of those.

I don’t want to be pigeon holed and I see myself as a story teller, but I do appreciate people who read my work may get a little confused if I genre hop too much.

What is it about those genres that intrigue you most?

There is so much about the world that is scary, and so many infinite scenarios to battle the monsters that lurk within us and around us. Plus I really love to put female characters into dicey situations and see how they react. Women are so much stronger than horror tropes (both literary and film) would have us believe. I want to work with strong women characters and find something unique that readers haven’t come across before.

I absolutely loved Beyond the Veil. It is such a unique premise with amazing characters. Where did you get the idea for the story and the characters?

Beyond the Veil grew from a sad situation. A wonderful friend of mine passed away far too young after a brave battle with cancer, and her husband made the announcement by telling us she had ‘stepped beyond the veil’.

That expression wouldn’t let me go, and I explored it for a while. I had a wonderful image in my head of a veil curtain, and I wondered what would happen if someone attempted to step back through. But also, is there just one door to the beyond? Doesn’t it get crowded? What happens if there is a mix-up? Is there anyone controlling who goes through? I did some free writing around that (some of which ends up in the prologue), and the plot came to me quite quickly. Originally I envisaged a novella, then maybe 60,000 words, but the story took over and I ended up with a full-length novel.

The characters were interesting to me too. Originally, while plotting, I had Heidi as my main character, but the problem was her injuries (terrorist attack) meant she needed to be incredibly vulnerable. I couldn’t make her strong enough to carry the story and keep the essence of who she was and what made her tick.

I played with a female detective instead but the plot didn’t work. Also the Dan character was a young woman originally, but when I started exploring the relationships I knew I needed Adam Chapple as my detective, and to explore the father-son dynamic. I wanted some real multi-faceted and dynamic characteristics of them as individuals and within their relationship. Adam has a wonderful nurturing side that is real – no toxic masculinity here! Adam is a red-headed whisky drinking, running detective and is based on my brother!

So that brings me to Cassia Veysie. Wow. Where did she come from? I have found on several occasions that I’m writing away happily – sticking to my plot sheet – and a character pokes their head up, waves, and says, “Your story needs me!” It happened with Mr. Kephisto in Crone, a character by the name of Phineas in the forthcoming The Municipality of Lost Souls, and of course here we have Cassia in Beyond the Veil.

She totally steals the show. She was the strong and weird character I needed to balance out Adam’s rational common sense approach to the world. She’s also flawed in so many ways, over confident at the beginning, reduced to a bit of a mess after she bungles the séance. Over the course of the novel her mask breaks down, metaphorically and figuratively, as we see her losing the dramatic goth make-up and stepping into her powers.

I don’t know whether there will be a follow-up to Beyond the Veil, but certainly Cassia, Adam and Polly – another character I loved (I modelled her on the actress Gwendoline Christie who is my girl crush) may find themselves resurrected because I feel like there’s more to do with them.

I am going to hope for a follow-up. I agree with you, I ended the book feeling like there was more of the character’s stories to be told.

Past me pestering you for a follow-up (please don’t block me on FaceBook LOL) what’s next for you?

A slightly mixed bag. I spent a few months experimenting earlier this year. I wrote a loveWW1 promo story (Keepers of the Flame) and I wrote a cozy witch mystery. My editor loves the cosy so much that she’s persuaded me to write a series. The first in the series is The Wonkiest Witch and will be out in October (pre-order up soon). I am plotting the second, The Ghosts of Wonky Inn, and will write that in September.

My next dark novel is The Municipality of Lost Souls, slated to go to the editor on September 1st for an October release, HOWEVER I want to make sure it’s perfect so may delay that release. It has a complicated ensemble cast so I need to make sure it works. I don’t want my readers to get confused – it makes sense to me, but then it would, wouldn’t it? Ha!

The Municipality of Lost Souls is a fantastic story – my favourite so far. It’s a kind of Daphne du Maurier’s Jamaica Inn meets TV’s The Walking Dead but with ghosts instead of zombies (of course – because I love ghost stories). It is a bit of an homage to Charles Dickens (my literature hero) and it is set on the rocky coast of Durscombe (the same as Beyond the Veil) but in the autumn/winter of 1861 rather than now (I knew my background in history would come in useful one day LOL). We get to meet Cassia’s foremothers.

It’s a story about how social cohesion can rapidly break down when we look the other way and follows the fortunes of three ‘witchy’ cousins, Agatha Wick, Sally Parrett and the inimitable Amelia Fliss.

It’s such fun! In a scary Mary kind of way, of course.

Those sound amazing! See, now I’ll be too busy reading these to pester you too much for a follow-up to Beyond the Veil! 

Being a horror author, I keep a running tally of things that scare people, so I have ideas on how to spook readers. What kinds of things scare you?

Politics. Brexit anyone? What a mess.

Ugh. It seems like a global time of political dumpster fires.

Heights! I freak out just climbing the stairs LOL. The first novel I wrote explored the whole height fear thing I have. I haven’t redrafted it yet, because it is a nasty piece, shocking in parts, but at some stage I will do some serious work on it, and publish it. It needs an audience.

Crowds and noise. I’m very introverted and get tired and stressed in social situations rather too quickly. I’m happiest in my study with only a snoring dog or two for company. My idea of hell is doing a presentation or a book signing. Happy to leave that to other authors. I know it’s not a particularly great idea to self-publish and hide your light under a bushel but I prefer to let my writing do the talking.

I hear you. I’m ridiculously shy. Doing all that mingling with folks is on my list of things I’m scared of, too!

Jeannie, I adore your writing and will try to wait patiently for anything and everything you write. Crone is my now current read, Stephen King will just have to wait. Where can readers find out more about you and your work?

Stalk me!

http://author.to/JeannieWycherley

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jeanniewycherley/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Thecushionlady/

I will stalk away and if you are a fan of strong female personas, interesting characters, dark stories, and other assorted deliciousness you should stalk her too!

Until next time, Never Turn Off the Lights!

 

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Women in Horror Month a Peek Behind the Pages: Women Who Create Nightmares, What I’ve Been Reading

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One of the best ways to improve the craft of writing is reading. I read a new book about every six weeks, sometimes I have one or two going at the same time. If it’s one I really love I can devour it in a few hours! I read across genres but my favorite is horror, of course!

Zombies are one of my favorite escapism and in the past few months, I have read some amazing zombie horror by women and even had the opportunity to interview some of these nightmare makers. Here is a recap of two indie-published zombie writers that I believe you will enjoy.

 


Infected Waters: A Titanic disaster

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Alathia Paris Morgan

What a great premise! I always wondered how in the heck the Titanic ran into a giant iceberg, now I know! Knowing how the story goes, the tension is already high before you even begin to read, but then Alathia Paris Morgan ratches it up and keeps the pages turning. The characters draw you in and I found myself googling facts about the Titanic in hopes that my favorites would have a chance at survival! Such entertaining story-telling. I am definitely looking for more from this author and am going to share this one with my reluctant teen reader. I think he’ll love it!

Click here to read the interview…


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Dottie Daniels

This book has such a unique twist to the familiar zombie-survival tale that I could not put it down once I started reading! The author has a way of surprising the heck out of you just when you think you have it figured out! The main character, Seanna, is a twenty-something paramedic that we meet just as a mysterious and violent outbreak is gripping her city. She’s smart and strong like other female leads in the genre, but make no mistake, she’s quite different! The story is told from her POV and Ms. Daniels does an excellent job of bringing us into Seanna’s head and body…you have to read to see what I mean! It’s tense and funny and terrifying and moving in all the right measures. When I hit the last page I scrolled back several times to be sure it was over because I was so into it! I’ll be waiting for the next installment!

click here to read the interview…

Up next…Author Jeannie Wycherly! Until next time, Never Turn Off the Lights!

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Author Alathia Paris Morgan Explains a Historic Mystery: It was Zombies!

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To warm us up going into February which is Women in Horror Month, I got to chat with author Alathia Paris Morgan. I picked up her book Infected Waters: A Titanic Disaster after I saw it on twitter and it was recommended in a Facebook group I belong to. Not only was it a great read, but it explained a question about history that has always bugged the heck out of me: how did no one see the giant iceberg that sank the Titanic? Well, Ms. Morgan has given me the most plausible explanation yet, it was zombies of course! Screen Shot 2018-01-30 at 8.02.36 AM

Knowing the story of the Titanic, tension was already high before I began to read, but then the author twists the screws and I could not stop reading, I had to find out what happened. I even found myself googling facts about the Titanic to try and guess if my favorite characters would have a chance at survival! Zombie outbreaks are pretty intense when you can run away, but try that on a ship at sea and see how far you go and how long you survive! Now I’m questioning a variety of other historic disasters and I think I’ll blame zombies for a vast majority of them.

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Alathia, I am so excited to have found your work! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Well, I’m an avid reader. I have about 4k books and have always dabbled in writing. With three children and a hubby my life got crazy busy. I started Avon as I finished college and it was a great way to be flexible with kids and make money for us. Then some unexpected life changes happened and I realized that life was short, I couldn’t wait to become a writer when I retired. I had stories that needed to be told now. So I started during a NaNoWriMo camp in April of ’14 and I finished it after the July camp. Since then I’ve been writing and learning a lot and hope to continue writing because I keep getting more ideas with every story that actually gets written.

Life has a way with us, doesn’t it? What led you to pursue writing?

I had written some in high school, but the need to write wasn’t there. Now, I have to write because the voices in my head need to find a way out onto the page. Some stories jump to the front wanting urgent attention while others wait quietly until it’s their turn. So this is why I’m a writer because the world so obviously needs one. (Wink Wink) 😉

Well, I for one certainly enjoyed your story and look forward to reading all the others. What genres do you write in?

So, the two genres I write in are zombies and mysteries. I hope to branch out as time goes on into other areas.

Two of my favorite genres! What about the zombie genre intrigues you the most?

While the zombie thing has been done a few times, I wanted to give zombies a new twist. Put some reality into the end of the world, where are all the children? What happened to the military? Why are there no babies born? Or are there?

Sounds intriguing!

Your book “Infected Waters: A Titanic Disaster” is brilliant! Where did you get the idea for the story?

My daughter loves Titanic and she said, “Mom wouldn’t it be fun if there were zombies on the Titanic?” So I asked if I could use her idea and it took about six months to get it right. Along with watching the movie for atmosphere while writing, I’m good with not watching the movie for a few years.

I could see your story being made into a movie. Do you hear that Netflix or SyFy? Zombies. Titanic. Need I say more?

I keep a running tally of things that scare people so I have ideas on how to spook readers. What kinds of things scare you?

Unlocked doors. Unexplained noises.

Thank you! Filed away.

What’s next for you?

I am working the 3rd book in my Nova Ladies Adventures for Nano and I have the 2nd book in the Against Zombies series featuring the Military.

Where can readers find out more about you and your writing?

Alathia Paris Morgan Stalker Links:

Author page: www.facebook.com/apmorganbooks

Twitter: www.twitter.com/alathiamg

Street Team: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1442476186066361/

Book Launch: https://www.facebook.com/groups/533488213404927/

Website & Newsletter signup: www.alathiamg.wix.com/books

 Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8611387.Alathia_Paris_Morgan

Thank you so much Alathia! Keep the books coming and have a happy Women in Horror Month!

Until next time, Never Turn Off the Lights!

Dottie Daniels’ Affliction is Infectiously Entertaining!

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Back to my Summer of Great Reads!

The minute I saw the cover of Affliction by Dottie Daniels I knew I wanted to read it! I love a good zombie romp and enjoy seeing how different authors attack *get it?* the subject. Most all have a unique spin, but this one was one of my favorites!

The main character, Seanna, is a twenty-something paramedic that we meet just as a mysterious and violent outbreak is gripping her city. She’s smart and strong like other female leads in the genre, but make no mistake, she’s quite different! The story is told from her POV and Ms. Daniels does an excellent job of bringing us into Seanna’s head and body…you have to read to see what I mean! I don’t want to give too much away because it is such a cool twist that I want you to discover it yourself!

It’s tense and funny and terrifying and moving in all the right measures. The characters are diverse and well developed, I got really invested in what was happening to them right from the start. When I hit the last page I scrolled back several times to be sure it was over because I was so into it!

As with my other summer reads I am so lucky to have actually been able to chat with Dottie about her book!

Hey there Dottie! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Thank you for taking the time to interview me, I really appreciate it! I’m a thirty-something zombie genre-loving woman who works in a busy surgical services department at a local area hospital by day and has aspirations of writing many books in the future. I enjoy traveling and also getting to know my other fellow writers.

What led or inspired you to become a writer?

A little over ten years ago I survived a brain aneurysm. After the surgery and coma and everything else that entails, I struggled with memory loss and it took me a while to recover. I feared I would never be able to retain information. While everyone assumed I would write about surviving that experience, once I was able- I began to write about another type of harrowing experience; the zombie apocalypse. I don’t know if I felt it was more interesting or what, it was what piqued my interest at the time. I never thought I’d want to write when I was younger, in fact, I was always intimidated by huge writing assignments in school.

Oh my! Dottie, we are so glad that you survived! What an ordeal! I think your experience enhanced your storytelling. There were many passages in Affliction where the feelings of distress was real I had to take a breather!

Why do you write in the horror/zombie genre?

For me, as a writer, there’s something special about the horror genre, zombies in particular. There’s a certain feeling of overwhelming desperation that can really draw a reader’s attention if written properly. I guess it would be the equivalent to a character vying for someone’s affection in a romance novel or the amount of adventure required in a fictional bank heist. The desperation of surviving (or not) in the world of the undead is what does it for me. It holds my attention the longest whenever I read someone else’s work or when I’m writing my own.

Well put!

Speaking of harrowing experiences and desperation, I don’t suppose much scares you, but is there anything that gives you pause?

Honestly, it’s indecent and uncaring people. You know, the alive ones. Seriously. I was told as a kid it’s never the dead you have to worry about- be wary of the people walking around.

I was told the same thing. Sadly, it’s true.

People, myself included, are always fascinated by the creative process. Do you have any unique writing rituals?

I don’t really have many rituals anymore other than I write whenever I have time and I’m always in need of more time. I prefer to write in the middle of the night or early morning when all is quiet. My thoughts seem to be more clear then. A lot of times I’ll light a candle too. Oh, and sometimes I’ll have classical music playing in the background. I have to sit in my office chair too because it’s comfortable and have a cool, sweet beverage and the ceiling fan on low. Yeah, so I guess I have a few rituals- ha!

I like the candle!

Your book Affliction has a very cool POV and twist on the zombie tale. Where did you get the idea for your story?

Up until then, I hadn’t read many books in the genre with a female main character. There are some out there but then I hadn’t come across any that were biracial or of color. I wanted to challenge myself and bring a few of those attributes into the story and see how well it all plays in a typical apocalyptic storyline. I wanted to write the kind of book I would expect to read and enjoy. A lot of the writing and style is intentional and I feel plays very well into the details of the story. The flashbacks the first-person writing, almost as if she’s explaining to you herself. It was all a challenge for me to entertain my readers.

Challenge met! I was deeply entertained. Being bi-racial myself, I appreciate seeing more characters with diverse backgrounds in all media, but horror in particular. Nice work, Dottie!

What’s next for you?

Well, Affliction is definitely set up for a sequel. I’m aiming to get it completed this year. As a published author you too understand the many hats you wear (writing, promoting, actually selling) and then everything else that life itself requires. I hope to pull the strings together again and get back in the routine of getting the sequel ready. It can mean less promoting and less selling but then again nearly every author has to make that sacrifice if they want more book titles on those shelves.

Too many hats at times! I’m looking forward to the next book, I have to know what happens!!!

Where can we find out more about you and your writing and keep tabs on that sequel?

I’m on most of the larger social media outlets that are older than 5 years. Twitter, Screen Shot 2017-09-28 at 9.21.18 AMFacebook, Goodreads, and WordPress. I enjoy interacting with other writers and readers. In fact, I purchased a couple of copies of your novel Dread that I’m going to include in a giveaway this Fall as we near the Halloween season! I always follow back (unless it appears Spammish). Thanks again Joy for the opportunity let others know I exist! 🙂

 

Facebook   https://www.facebook.com/authorddaniels/
Twitter       https://twitter.com/AuthorDottie
WordPress https://dottiedaniels.wordpress.com/
Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34209033-affliction

Thanks so much, Dottie! It was totally my pleasure. Hear that kids? Follow Dottie for the chance to win a copy of my novel Dread! Check out her book Affliction for an entertaining and zomberific read!

By the way, look for more opportunities to win a signed paperback copy of Dread from me in the coming weeks! If you can’t wait and want to get your Halloween scares started early, the eBook version is on sale from now until midnight October 31!

Until next time, keep your survival instinct on high, and Never Turn Off the Lights!

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