This weekend sees another promotion run by Renee Pawlish and has a solid selection of Mystery and Thriller titles available for the discounted price of 99c/99p and equivalents. The offer's open till Sunday night, so take your time and give it some thought. Happy reading.
ME: You are definitely a survivor in the ever-changing publishing world. Published since 1982 with over 70 novels? So how old are you?
AUTHOR: I don’t answer that question, and if I did, it would be fiction. I’ll just say I am in the baby-boomer category. I taught two years at Ohio State (good-old Freshman English) and 15 years of high school English before I began to write full time both contemporary suspense and historical novels.
ME: Don’t you need a split personality for that?
AUTHOR: It does take a brain transplant to switch from one genre and era to the other, but I love doing both. The historicals about real British women take more research, but each of my suspense novels hinge on something that takes background reading. I’m currently researching cryonics and butterflies—yes, there is a link. I guess, even in writing entertaining fiction, I’m still trying to teach about interesting things.
ME: Since this is an interview, do you interview your characters before you start to write a book? I know some writer friends who do that.
AUTHOR: I used to write bios of my main characters, but I have learned to let them “grow as I go”—that is, develop and speak and come alive on the page. Likewise, I let the plots develop as I write much more than I used to. It probably drives my editors crazy when I hand in the required proposal and tell them halfway through it, and this is what might happen…maybe this is how it will end. Of course, with the historicals, I stick to what actually happened in the lives of some amazing women.
ME: So do you start with character?
AUTHOR: Actually, I start with a setting or location I know and love and then develop the story from there. (I was honored to meet the famous British author P.D. James and was really excited to hear she started with place too.) My current SOUTH SHORES SERIES is set mostly in South Florida where I lived for 30 winters. I’ve used Appalachia and Amish Country, both locations I often visit. My history ('her story') novels are usually set in either Tudor or Edwardian England. I’m a rabid Anglophile and have been to ‘Merrie Olde’ many times. Have laptop, will travel!
ME: What are the benefits and drawbacks of a long writing career?
AUTHOR: Drawbacks--stamina and flexibility are needed. Benefits: I have made many friends among other writers, in various pub houses and in my longtime literary agency. I’m blessed to have great editors, especially at this time. I belong to some national writing organizations and some local, so that’s double-dipping with business and pleasure. I have seen so many changes in publishing, but I must admit it’s much easier not to have to use a typewriter and not to have to schlep heavy manuscripts to the post office, then back and forth for revisions and proofreading. Now, I just hit the ‘send’ key on my laptop. As much time as it sometimes takes away from writing and research, it’s great to have a Facebook page and website to be able to more easily keep in touch with my readers. I love to visit libraries for talks, also, and the photo of me with the tiger (a tiger is in SHALLOW GRAVE (US) story) was taken during such a talk. Thanks to Sea Minor for this outreach opportunity!
1. This interview thing is a little awkward. What made
you think this was a good idea?
At least this time, there’s no intimidating
tape recorder. And I can skip the hard questions, right? I’ll just exclude them,
and no one will be the wiser. We’ll do eight – that’s a significant number for
Ella in Black Flowers, White Lies, my
young adult thriller (published by Sky Pony Press).
2. Why is the number eight significant?
Ella’s father was born on August 8th,
and when she was eight years old, she could have died, but didn’t.
Here’s more about the story:
Her father died before she was born, but Ella
Benton knows they have a connection that transcends the grave. Since her mother
disapproves, she keeps her visits to the cemetery where he’s buried secret. But
when Ella learns that her mother may have lied about how Dad died sixteen years
ago, it’s clear she’s not the only one with secrets. New facts point to his
death in a psychiatric hospital, not a car accident as Mom always claimed.
When a handprint much like the one Ella left
on her father’s tombstone mysteriously appears on the bathroom mirror, she
wonders if Dad is warning her of danger, as he did once before, or if someone’s
playing unsettling tricks on her. But as the unexplained events become more
frequent and more sinister, she finds herself terrified about who—or what—might
Soon the evidence points to someone new: Ella
herself. What if, like Dad, she’s suffering from a mental breakdown? Ella desperately
needs to find answers—no matter how disturbing the truth might be.
3. Why did you become a writer?
Growing up, I was an avid reader. There’s a
certain joy to losing yourself in a good book. That love of story inspired me
to write, because it allows me to recreate that experience for other readers.
In college, I double majored in computer
science and English, but it wasn’t until after I graduated and left my corporate
job that I decided to seriously focus on writing. I transitioned by writing
about technology first, followed by more general nonfiction, but creating a
novel was always my ultimate goal.
4. Why write fiction for young adults?
It’s an interesting age to write for and
about, because the teenage years are filled with both potential and
uncertainty. It’s also what I enjoy reading.
5. I’m an adult. Will I like your YA fiction?
That depends. If you enjoy other young adult
novels, or you like reading stories set during the main character’s teen years,
then it’s more likely you’ll like this story as well. There was an interesting article in The Atlantic in December about the general appeal of young adult
6. Black Flowers, White Lies is set in
Hoboken, NJ. Are all of the places mentioned real?
I used to live in Hoboken, and it was fun
incorporating real restaurants, landmarks, and trivia into the story. Ella and
her family live in the 77 River Street building, and I put her boyfriend in an
apartment on Bloomfield. There are also scenes set at Stevens Institute of
Technology, The Brass Rail, and the PATH station.
But I did fictionalize some aspects of the
city, adding a cemetery, an animal shelter, and a bookstore on Newark Street.
(The story was written before the arrival of Little City Books.)
By the way, I created a collection of my Hoboken photos on Pinterest which I referred back to as I was writing
to remind me of specific setting details.
7. Are there themes that you think are common to all of
I’m drawn to the idea of creating scary
situations in our ordinary world. For example, in Black Flowers, White Lies, a series of unsettling events occur
during an otherwise normal summer. This book also combines the frightening and
the ordinary when Ella starts to question her perception of reality. When I
wrote Pandemic (about a deadly
contagious outbreak), it seemed natural to use the town where I live as the
setting, because it underscored the idea that disasters could happen in regular
places. I did rename the town in the novel, because it felt like bad karma to
unleash deadly bird flu on my neighbors, even fictionally.
8. Last question: Tell us about the Black Flowers, White Lies cover. Did you have any input?
The cover images were inspired by the final
book title. (It was originally called In
the Dark, but my editor and I realized there were already several books out
with that name, so we changed it.) I loved the cover concept, created by Sarah
Brody for Sky Pony Press, since its inception. My small bit of input was to
suggest more tombstones in the cemetery at the bottom of the cover, since an
early version only had one. The paperback cover is
essentially the same as the hardcover, with a different blurb and the addition
of the award seal (the 2017 Independent Publisher’s Gold Medal for YA fiction)
on the front.
That’s a wrap!
Excellent! If you’re interested in more
information, you can learn about me and my books at YvonneVentresca.com.
In the first, we get to see her working alone to maintain
holiday accommodation and preparing for the arrival of a big storm. She’s
independent and isolated and her main social contacts come through the dope
dealing that allows her to make ends meet. As the storm approaches and a couple
of odd characters are hanging around her flats, we get to see May as a strong
survivor who leaves in her wake the sense that she’s vulnerable and brittle.
The second strand tells us the story of May’s growing up. We
get to watch her trip as she steps across the threshold into the world of the
young adult and witness her parents allow her to crash without attempting to
break her fall. The cruelty within her
family is painfully cold and brutal, the hurt that May feels utterly palpable.
These elements fit together nicely as one builds with
suspense and the other becomes so raw that it’s unbearable. The history
helps to put the older May into perspective and adds to the building desire to
see her make it through when the clouds darken, the winds get up and those
hungry for her wares tire of sniffing at the door.
I really enjoyed this book, particularly in the section
dealing with the troubles of her teenage years. The images are vivid and the
swirling angst of the isolated adolescent spins hard and fast like the imminent
storm itself. It’s the kind of book that can make you wince and cry and shout
out at the injustice of it all. As chapters close and you enter quiet moments
of reflection, you can be relieved that this is simply fiction in the way you might experience relief when realising that the nightmare you just had isn’t real
If you’re a regular here, it’s likely that May is going to
be right up your street. If that's not enough, another reason to recommend the read is that this
book left me with the sense that Marietta Miles is going to write something
truly amazing in the near future. You want to be on the journey with her when
she arrives at the next stop, so get on board now and enjoy the scenery.
'Great descriptions of people and power. Read it!' Jeremy Corbyn MP (Leader of the Labour Party)
When a woman takes on the vested interests in politics and football, a city is forced to take sides. We Know What We Are is a gritty contemporary political thriller, with a strong female protagonist who battles corruption, power and prejudice in a quest for a fairer society. It's set in a Midlands city.
A girl searches for her missing brother, a council leader fights to hold on to her principles and a chief executive battles to hold back the tide of cuts. Over them all looms a threatened football club and the sinister shadow of its chairman. As identities shift and allegiances are tested, how much will each of them risk to save the city, the club – and themselves?
The novel explores how our sense of ourselves affects our ability to make change, to determine the future for ourselves.
'Authentic and wise. We Know What We Are (US) is proof that local politics is as ruthless as anything that happens in Westminster.' Erin Kelly (Broadchurch)
With the death toll at the Phoenix Festival rising, Jesse is one of the lucky ones. Unfortunately he can’t see things that way. As soon as he regains consciousness, there’s only one thing on his mind – REVENGE. He enlists Danny’s help to find the men who killed his girlfriend and intends to deliver justice in the old-fashioned way.
Danny goes along with him, but only on the condition that Jesse doesn’t get his hands dirty when they’re on the job. Unfortunately for Danny, even the best made plans can go awry.
The explosive and final instalment of the Jesse Garon series. Closing Time (US)is 99p/99c today and over this weekend.