Category: Author Interview

I love the paranormal…it’s a fascinating part of our world and the life we live.  This strange love of mine leads me to the most engrossing books, the best movies, quite a few interesting experiences and some really great people!  One of those people is Beth Dolgner!  She not only writes paranormal fiction, she is also a paranormal investigator!  She goes on real ghost hunts and even conducts ghost tours!  I read Beth’s first book “Ghost of a Threat” and found her on Twitter (click here to follow!) to let her know how much I enjoyed it.  I also went looking for her on Facebook.  Yeah, I sort of stalk authors whose works I really like…but I do it with the best of intentions!  I love that the world of Social Media can connect me to the authors of all those wonderful books I do so enjoy reading!  Besides, they always have the option of not accepting my Facebook friend request if they feel so inclined or to not follow back on Twitter.  Most authors, however, LOVE connecting with their readers! (I totally enjoy the interaction).  Beth also has a great website where you can keep up with her and the services she offers!

So anyway!  I contacted Beth on Facebook and asked her if she’d be willing to guest on my blog.  She not only agreed, she offered to write a post!  So, without further ado…I present to you for your reading pleasure:

Truth is Stranger than Fiction, Paranormally Speaking

A few weeks ago, I made my debut as a guide with the Roswell Ghost Tour (that’s Roswell, Georgia, not UFO territory). When we got to one of the stops, I turned my back to the circa-1840s building I was talking about and addressed my group. As I spoke, I felt someone walk up behind me.

But there was no one there.

A friend of mine was on the tour, and she is a sensitive. As soon as we left for the next stop on the tour, I asked her who had been standing behind me. Without hesitation, my friend answered, “The little girl who haunts that building. She liked your energy, and she was curious about the two little boys on the tour.”

I’m a writer by trade, but I’m also a ghost tour guide, a paranormal investigator, and a volunteer at a historic cemetery. The experiences I’ve had add greatly to my Betty Boo, Ghost Hunter series: I can inject some realism into my heroine’s paranormal investigating.

The series, which began with Ghost of a Threat, follows Betty “Boo” Boorman, a ghost hunter in Savannah, Georgia. Even my choice of city was influenced by real life: my mom lives there, and I’ve heard plenty of first-hand experiences from people who live alongside Savannah’s spirits. Betty’s team, The Savannah Spirit Seekers, find themselves dealing with everything from the spirits of children to revenants, which bear a strong resemblance to zombies.

Along the way, Betty meets a handsome demon named Maxwell, and she falls hard for him. That, understandably, comes with a whole new set of adventures and challenges for Betty.

While I don’t have any experience dating a demon, I have been able to draw on firsthand experience when it comes to writing about paranormal investigations. I’ve even included some brief scenes where there is no evidence of paranormal activity. If you’ve ever been on an investigation, you know it can involve sitting around for hours, only to have nothing happen.

Thankfully, my very first investigation was far from boring. I was researching stories for my first book, a non-fiction collection of Georgia ghost stories called Georgia Spirits and Specters. Ghost Riders Investigation Team invited me to come on an investigation of an abandoned mill, and my night was full of experiences. I was touched on the arm, I saw bright lights in my peripheral vision, and we got knocking sounds in answer to our questions.

I’ve also drawn on some humorous moments for my writing. I admit to mistaking an inanimate object for something otherworldly, and I’ve certainly made myself jumpy on occasion. I could relate to Betty’s rival investigator Carter when he mistook a dog for some menacing specter in Ghost of a Threat.

Sometimes, even paranormal events can be funny. In 2011, I got to investigate the St. Augustine Lighthouse in Florida. We were in the basement of the light keeper’s house, and I was sitting on the floor while a few others led us in an EVP session. I leaned back and bumped up against my husband’s legs. When I glanced back, I realized that my husband was about six feet away! I did a double take, and everyone cracked up. I still have no idea who or what I leaned back against.

I am preparing for the July debut of Ghost of a Hope, the fourth and final book in the Betty Boo, Ghost Hunter series. In that book, I have a slightly different tie to real events: there is a heavy metal band involved in a haunting at a club. They’re a real band, and they gladly gave their permission to appear in my book…even though they wind up on the wrong side of an angry ghost.

Things are wrapping up for Betty, Maxwell, and The Seekers, but I’m sure some of my personal experiences will wind up in future stories. The next time something unseen brushes my hand, I’ll just smile and consider it “research.”

Beth Dolgner is the author of the Betty Boo, Ghost Hunter paranormal romance series. Ghost of a Threat is the first book in the series and is available in print and digital formats at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and iTunes. Beth is also the author of Manifest, a young adult steampunk novel. Keep up with Beth at


I found a YA book series called “44” that I really enjoy and so I wrote to the author Jools Sinclair to let her know.  It’s one of the perks we enjoy in the world today…having the technology to contact an author almost instantly!  Nowadays you can “friend” them on Facebook, “follow” them on Twitter, email them directly or subscribe to their websites and blogs.  I love the connectedness of it all.  Well, at least sometimes I do!

So anyway, after reading 44 Book 3 in the series (by the way, Book 1 is FREE!), I contacted Jools and asked her if she’d be willing to do an interview.  She said, “Yes”!!  Even though she’s busy with the recent publication of Book 4 and all the hoopla involved with that AND she’s working on Book 5, she still took some precious time to answer my questions.

Before we get into the interview, I’d just like to give a bit of background on the “44” series.  It begins when seventeen-year-old Abby Craig plunges into an ice-covered lake and drowns.  She is declared dead and for 44 whole minutes remains thusly.  But then, miraculously, she wakes up and the world as she knew it is different to her.  She can’t see colors, memories have been erased, and her friends all hate her.  The love of her life, Jesse, is acting strange and as if that isn’t all bad enough, she begins to have visions of a killer.  Her life, Abby soon comes to realize, is changed forever.

Seriously, as you get into the books, you really come to care for poor Abby and are intrigued by the characters surrounding her.  It’s a decent series and I hope Jools has many more stories for Abby to endure!

I’ve always been intrigued by people who have “come back to life” after suffering through a period of death.  It surely must be life-altering.  Many people who have done so seem to develop psychic skills or spiritual connections they hadn’t experienced before their “death”.  This is really a topic right up my alley.  And because of that, I just HAD to contact Jools again and get to know her better.

So, without further ado, here’s her interview! (Gosh, a poet and didn’t know it…sorry, couldn’t resist).

Jools:  Deb, first off thank you SO much for inviting me to your fantastic blog. It is an honor to be here!

Me: Thank YOU, Jools, for agreeing to the interview!! So tell us, what inspired you to write the “44” book series?

Jools:  I’ve always been interested in stories about psychic abilities, whether it’s a novel or TV show or article or movie. I love those type of stories and I’m sure that everything I’ve read and watched over the years has inspired me in one way or another.

Another huge inspiration is living here in Bend, Oregon. Bend is such a great and interesting town. It’s a little off the radar and full of eclectic people and surrounded by lush, natural beauty. I knew it would make a great setting for a novel and a series and had wanted to write about it for a few years, even before I started the series.

And finally, I guess having a few paranormal events happen in my life probably fueled my interest in writing about such things.

Me: What kind of books do you like to read? Do you have a favorite?

Jools: Honestly, it would be hard to choose a favorite. I’m an avid reader and read in all genres (except Sci Fi!). But I will say that Ernest Hemingway has always been a huge inspiration. A few years ago I had a “Hemingway Summer,” and read all his books and short stories. I love his style, which is stark and blunt, and I love how he experienced life to the fullest and then wrote about those experiences. One of my very favorite books is Old Man and the Sea, which I reread every few years.

I love short stories too, and am a huge fan of Ron Carlson, Amy Tan, Stephen King, Antonia Nelson to name just a few. I also love mysteries and thrillers and non-fiction as well. Of course, a good ghost story is always exciting!

Me: Totally agree with you about the ghost stories, they sure can be exciting! What is your favorite movie and/or TV show?

Jools:  I love movies and have to admit that I watch a lot of them! Usually you can find me in front of my large HD TV late at night after I’ve closed the lap top and my eyes are aching and blurry from writing all day!

My taste is pretty eclectic and I’m all over the board, depending on my mood. Some nights I’m like Abby in that I want to watch old black and white movies, like Out of the Past, Ten Little Indians, Casablanca, The Stranger. But I also love Hannibal,  Gosford Park, and The Godfather. And, of course, I especially love ghost stories, with the 1989 BBC version of The Woman in Black topping my list.

There are also some amazing TV series out there too…Madmen, Justified, Game of Thrones. I’m also into Downton Abby these days, which I mention in Book Four.

Me:  I totally love Downton Abby!  Granted, it’s not spooky, but it’s epic and a great depiction of the aristocracy in an era gone by and those that served them. But let’s get back to you! How many books do you hope to write in this series?

Jools: I’m not too sure. As long as I feel there still is a fresh energy in the series and a story to tell, I’ll just keep writing them. I love the characters and what’s happening, so I’ll go as long as it feels right. I feel that there’s probably enough there for a few more years.

Me: That’s awesome to hear! I’m quite excited to read more of Abby’s adventures.  So, why did you pick the location you did for your books?

I was born in Los Angeles, raised in the San Fernando Valley, and then lived in the Portland area for a while. So when I finally got to Bend, it was incredible. I walked outside and saw seven snowy mountains in the distance. You can go kayaking on the river before breakfast, hike on a trail in town on a Wednesday afternoon. It’s just an entirely different way of living and I love it.

The small city is pretty cool as well. So I thought, why not add a little bit of a paranormal to a story based here? Plus, I like to write what I know. I know Bend pretty well now. It helps a lot living here.

Me: I think it’s great that your stories take place in your home town.  I’m doing the same thing now with my own Tess Schafer, Medium series (an idea totally inspired by you, by the way!). So, what do the “locals” think of your books?

Jools: I’ve heard from a few fans who love the books and I was invited on the local morning show, Good Morning Central Oregon, and was interviewed. The host, Kristi Miller, was amazing and a fan and once I got over my nervousness, it was a blast! So I would have to say it’s been great so far!

Me: How totally cool to have a local television show recognize you for what you are doing!  That must have been an awesome experience! So tell us, Jools, do you believe in ghosts?

Jools: You bet I do! But I’m like Abby…I keep my eyes down and make sure they don’t catch me staring at them! And I really, really believe in them about one in the morning, walking through the dark living room to the kitchen for a midnight snack! Yikes! Sometimes I just give up on the snack plan if the goose bumps get too intense.

Me:  I do wonder sometimes if writing about ghosts conjures them up.  It sure enough seems that way on occasion!  Obviously ghosts scare you, does anything else?

Jools:  Rattlesnakes, paddling in a canoe on a large lake in the wind, grizzly bears, and sharks when I’m trying to relax in tropical waters. My list used to be much longer, but I’ve learned that it’s important to move past my fear so I’ve cut down on a few of them.

Me:  That’s really pretty cool that you are cutting down on your fears.  I think it’s something many of us need to work on…fear can really have a stranglehold on our lives sometimes.  You’ve just released Book 4 in your series and you say on your blog Jools Sinclair that you are working on Book 5.  Just how often do you write?

Jools:  Well, pretty close to every day. I do take about two weeks off after I’ve finished a book, but even then I’m thinking about the next story. Since I’m working on 44 Book Five now, with a release date of August 1, I will be at the computer every day for a lot of hours until it’s published.

As the book unfolds, the hours I write each day increase. The first few weeks I’m writing maybe only 4 hours a day. Then it’s 5 or 6. And then, during the last few weeks before publication, I go into an insane mode where I’m writing and editing from morning until night. It’s a crazy time, but quite magical, because in those last few weeks I literally never leave the story or the characters. I wake up, start writing, and stop late into the night. And no matter what I do for the rest of the time, the characters and scenes don’t stop talking to me. I’m right there with them until publication.

Me:  Yeah, a writer’s life can be all-consuming! What advice would you give to the fledgling writers hoping to publish, or the newbie writers struggling to get their books noticed?

Jools:  Follow your bliss. It’s the best advice I’ve ever heard (Joseph Campbell) and it applies to everything, including becoming a successful author.

If you’re a writer, make sure you love doing it, that it calls to you from the depths of a dark night, that there is no choice whether you write the story in your head or not. That you shake when you write those emotional scenes. That you feel something very special, very intense, very satisfying deep down after putting in a long day with your words.

If those things are happening for you, if you are following your bliss by writing your stories, then you’re already there. No advice needed.

Me:  Great advice!  Truer words are not often spoken!  So, I’m quite curious, what do you do in your spare time?

Jools: I love to cook, eat great food, watch my favorite international soccer teams play (Go, Barcelona!), watch movies, go to concerts, hike up in the mountains in the summer and snowshoe through forests during winter, kayak and canoe down rivers and across lakes. I love traveling, and love the Southwest and hiking in red rock country. I also love going to Europe and even though I don’t get there as much as I would like to, I am obsessed with reading blogs about Florence and Paris and Barcelona and always have a plan for returning in the works.

But lately, spare time is hard to come by so most everything I just mentioned is on the back burner! But that’s okay since it feels incredible to be doing what I love and I’m so very appreciative that I get to write for a living!

Me: Those all sound like very nice activities!  Especially the cooking and eating great food! (smile)  I’ve been to Barcelona, Paris and Florence (while serving in the military) and all three cities are beautiful.  I too hope to return again someday. Thank you so much, Jools, for stopping by for a chat!  I look forward to all your future writing projects.  You ever have a yen to visit again, please let me know.  You are always welcome. 

Jools:  Thank you SO much, Deb, for inviting me to visit your amazing blog! I think you’ve got quite a special hometown too and love how you’re writing about it!

So that concludes my chat with Jools.  She sounds like an amazing person, doesn’t she?  You can visit her blog Jools Sinclair  and/or follow her on Twitter: Jools Sinclair.  Feel free to leave a question or comment!  I’m sure Jools would love to hear from you.  I know that I would!  Until next time, blessings to all and Peace Out!

For those interested or curious about the supernatural, writers of such books are some of the best people in which to engage a conversation!  If they aren’t reading about it or writing about it they are thinking about it!  At least they are in context of how it applies or factors in to their stories.  To write supernatural thrillers, you have to have a pretty good imagination.  Okay, okay, to write ANYTHING, you have to have a good imagination but when it comes to writing stories that include supernatural elements, you have to let that imagination take you places that might feel uncomfortable.  You have to unleash your creativity, really let it go, and set your logical reasoning aside (you know, the “this is impossible” kind of thoughts).  Writers of such books are also READERS of such books and I don’t think you’ll find a writer in existence (not a really good one anyway!) who isn’t a voracious reader.  Jeff Bennington does it all.  He writes books, he reads books, he maintains a very active, popular blog about those things and he is the founder of The Kindle Book Review which helps authors, especially INDIE authors (individuals who are publishing on their own).  As promised, here is Part II of my interview with the very cool, very imaginative Jeff Bennington!

Questions for Jeff are in Bold print and any comments I made to his answers are in Bold Italics.

You obviously write what you like to read…so what other books have you particularly enjoyed that are similar to your own stories?

Not many actually. I’ve always been a non-fiction reader. Fiction had always come in second place for me until the last few years. I’ve read a little Stephen King, a little Koontz, a couple of Scott Nicholson books. I think those authors have influenced me some, but I haven’t read enough of any of their works to have adopted their styles. I think my writing style has been influenced more by classic authors like Charlotte Bronte and Robert Louis Stevenson. The more I write, the more I desire to get to the heart of the character.

Stephen King had quite an impact on me as well.  His book “The Shining” really got my imagination going.  As for Dean Koontz, I love his Odd Thomas series in which the main character can see ghosts. But the book that really fired up my imagination was “Audrey Rose“.  That story has actually had the biggest impact on my own writing interests.  I think the books that attract and influence writers can tell readers a lot about the kind of stories you are going to get from them.

Can you share a little about how Twisted Vengeance came to be? Is there a sequel in the future? (I’m hoping!)

YES, I’d love to! Twisted Vengeance was the result of one of those WOW moments when I was driving. I remember driving with my wife into town and for no apparent reason the concept just hit me: a creepy kid haunts a cop who’s already struggling with life and as he investigates several unsolved murders, the boy leads him to the killer… but then there’s the TWIST and the MYSTERY, the WHO DUN IT and the WHY OH WHY ending. That hit me all at once and I practically crashed the car! I had to write the story line down… on anything. I think I used a napkin from the glove compartment.

I’m excited to say that there is a sequel. I’m on chapter 5 right now and plugging along nicely. I think Detective Rick Burns has a lot of potential for an extended series. The sequel is going to take Rick out of Indianapolis and bring him into New York City — Hell’s Kitchen to be exact… a place I’ve visited often and plan to revisit this summer/fall.

I’m excited you are writing a sequel to this book!  I am very intrigued with Detective Rick Burns and I can’t wait to see how his gift to see ghosts influences his work and his life!

Your book Reunion was obviously prompted from your curiosity to how victims of a school shooting would respond (with a paranormal twist to make it even more interesting), can you share how this book made you feel once you completed it?  Did you learn anything from the writing of it (exercise any “ghosts” sort of speak)?

How I felt was not what you’d think. My first book was a flop and I thought it was perfect when I published it. But Reunion was a totally different story. I knew my writing had improved significantly, but I was so scared to hit the publish button. I felt like Reunion would either propel my writing career forward or it would crush me, killing my career. I was very worried that readers would think it was offensive, that I wasn’t sensitive enough, or that the reading public was not ready for fiction surrounding a school shooting.

I was wrong. Reunion has sold tens of thousands of copies and was an Amazon bestseller, hitting #55 in Amazon’s Top 100 and #1 in Ghosts, Occult and Suspense categories. The reviews have been phenomenal and I have gained a lot of fans. THANK GOD!

Tell us a little about “Creepy“… are these stories inspired from a desire to “creep out” and scare your readers?  Why do you think people like to read or watch something that scares them?

Creepy is a collection of scary stories. Again, I’m not as much into creeping people out as the title implies. This collection includes my three supernatural experiences in detail and two of my short suspense. I didn’t think this book would go that far either, but it has been in Amazon’s top 20-40 in the ghost/occult categories for several months now. I’m surprised, but not really. The stories are real and a little creepy. But what I’m really excited about is that I am publishing CREEPY II in October 2012. CREEPY II is a collection of true ghost stories that I have been collecting from my fans and many other people from around the United States. And if I’m lucky, I might convince you and/or some of your readers to submit their stories to me as well. If you or anyone reading this would like to submit a real life supernatural experience, please contact me on Twitter @TweetTheBook or by email at

Well, here ya go all of you folks out there who have had brushes with the supernatural!  Jeff is a willing and eager audience!

Do you believe in supernatural evil? Do you think it can be overcome (is there a defense to it)?

Yes. Evil was a choice from the beginning and I believe that evil persists today in the spirit realm as much as it did from the beginning. Although I do not desire to dabble in the dark side, I am not afraid of it because I trust in the one who created all things, and He has ultimate power over evil and my soul, so I’m not worried about supernatural evil effecting my eternal position. However, because we live in a broken world, where sin and death are part of our reality, I know that I have to keep my guard up and be careful to not give evil a foothold … that’s why I’d rather stay away from the line instead of walking on it.

Have you ever been on a ghost hunt?

I have not. But I’ve been invited by an online ghost-hunting program to be a guest.

Any future projects in the works? Can you share anything with us concerning them?

I plan to publish Twisted Vengeance II, CREEPY II by October 2012, and then I’d like to continue working on the two non-fiction books I want to write before I die … Spiritually Self-Medicating and Jesus was an Alien.

You are an Indie writer, what have you liked best about being the master of your own publications?

Everything. Sounds like a great topic for my blog, The Writing Bomb.

Do you believe other writers who have yet to make the plunge, should give Indie publishing (going it on their own) a try?  You’ve written a book to help Indie authors (The Indie Author’s Guide to the Universe) on their publication journey, do you truly believe it’s worth all the effort that’s involved to self-publish or do you think it’s more for certain writers?  (a particular genre for instance)

I think Indie publishing is the best way to start your writing career no matter who you are. You’ll discover many things about yourself, your talent, your business savvy, your marketing abilities and you will test your time management skills. Then if you can succeed at this level, I think you can probably do anything, including attract the attention of national book store chains, agents and publishers. I know that’s possible because it’s happening to Indie authors already. Think of Indie publishing as the new minor leagues; some authors rise to the big leagues, some start their own team, some experience mid-level success and some get the first ticket home after publishing their first book.

Do you believe in Karma?  How can you apply that belief to your writing and publishing goals?

I believe you get what you give. Like I said earlier, my writing goals revolve around a greater purpose for me. It’s not the other way around. I feel like I was fortunate enough to discover my purpose and I don’t have any plans to abandon my post. The Indie Author’s Guide to the Universe is the result of my desire to help other authors figure this business out … right along side of me. My writing is my way of connecting with people, touching nerves, impacting thoughts, and maybe changing the way people perceive themselves and the world around them. That’s a tall order, but the last thing I want from life is to die with regrets, walking through the gray matter haunted by a wasted life.

Will you ever write anything (besides publication and writing tips!) that is in a genre other than thriller/suspense?

Yes. I already eluded to the non-fiction titles that are in the works. But I also want to write a couple literary fiction titles. One that is dear to my heart is a book called Henry Brooks and another called Martin and Me.

What sort of readers would like your books?  Who do you write for?  Why should they buy your books particularly?

The readers that love my fiction are looking for more than just a rush. They want to read stories that get to the heart of humanity and our struggles, but they don’t want to be bored either. I write for me and my family and for the God who gifted me, but I also write for readers who want to read a book sprinkled with lots of salt and hot peppers.

This concludes my interview with Jeff.  I can’t thank him enough for agreeing to “chat” with me.  I know he’s a busy man and his taking the time to answer all my questions was very generous of him.  Links to all his books can be found in Part One of this interview.  I think authors will find his blog “The Writing Bomb” a helpful and informative one that they’ll want to visit often!  His blog “The Kindle Book Review” will interest authors and readers alike!  I know he’s running a very cool contest right now for Indie authors so if you fall into this category, I highly encourage you to check it out!

Until next time … Many blessings to you and Peace out!!

I love talking about anything to do with the supernatural/paranormal.  As a writer of stories involving such phenomena, I particularly love talking to other writers of the same ilk.  To bring elements of the paranormal/supernatural into our writing, we must have a concept, some sort of idea, of what those elements are.  Personal experiences (if any), how we think, feel and believe all have an impact on the stories we create.  Given that, I am always curious to know the motivation behind writers of supernatural/paranormal fiction.  Jeff Bennington has several awesome books out that include these elements and I’m excited that he’s agreed to “guest” on my blog and chat about it!

Once Jeff agreed to an interview, I fired off a bunch of questions.  Though I gave him the option to pick and choose, he replied with “I don’t think there’s a single one I didn’t want to answer. I’ve never really considered many of your questions, so this was really a self-examination of sorts. Perhaps knowing that will make this interview a bit more interesting to your readers.”  I think you’ll agree that we did indeed get an interesting interview!  With so much to “chat” about, this post was done in TWO parts.  Part II will be published on Monday (April 30th).  Be sure to come back, for there’s lots more great stuff to share!!

So without further ado (my questions to Jeff are in bold print, any replies I made to his answers are in italics):

It is my understanding that you’ve had some paranormal experiences. Would you like to continue experiencing them?

I have had three distinct experiences over the course of my life, including one that is recurring. I didn’t seek out the spirits that I’ve encountered, although I have to be honest, I always wished I could experience something supernatural for my own knowledge. Maybe that’s what has made me open, and thereby receptive to what’s out there. But would I like to continue experiencing them? Not necessarily. Once you experience something beyond your existence, you are forced to reckon with the fact that there is more to life than what we see. Although I’ve always believed in the possibility that ghosts exist, actually experiencing this for myself was the real deal, a true gift. Yet I realized that if ghosts exist, than other entities exist as well, like angels, demons, and who knows what else. For that very reason, I’m not really that interested in diving into the occult or the dead or anything dark that could enter my home or intrude upon my family. I don’t want to give anything evil a foothold.

Do you think they (ghosts) can be helped? Do you believe they NEED help?

I’m not sure. That isn’t anything I experienced. Is it possible? Sure? Can I help a ghost? I don’t know, maybe. I’m not sure I’d really know if I helped a ghost or something else. What may seem like freeing a ghost, may release it from one location only to send it into another realm, and I’m not referring to the “light”. But then again, I have never tried to help a ghost, so I am only throwing out random thoughts.

I can understand your reservations concerning the spirit world.  My own experience has taught me that there’s a difference between a ghost and other supernatural entities and so I believe you’d know which one you were dealing with. I’ve never given it any consideration that we might have the power to banish ghosts into other realms other than the “light”.  I hope that isn’t the case!  It really makes me wonder, though, if our actions could do so with other supernatural entities … sending them somewhere we really did not want or intend for them to go. It’s an interesting thought. I can almost feel a story forming! (smile)

Have you ever tried to contact a spirit? Do you think it would be neat to do so?

I have not. Would it be neat to talk to a spirit? Maybe. But I would never really know for sure if it was a spirit of a dead soul or something malevolent deceiving me. So again, dabbling may not be in the cards for me. I’ve heard too many stories about evil entities that have come out of Ouija boards.

I have had some experience with the Ouija board actually. It’s not a game, that’s for sure. I think it’s a pretty powerful tool for opening a doorway between our world and the spirit world. Done right, though…handling it properly, it can offer some pretty interesting interactions with spirits who have passed from this life to the next (because it can also create interaction with other entities…demons and what not, I think people should know what they are doing before using the Ouija).

When writing your stories, do you ever get a little spooked?

Ha ha! That’s funny. Good question. But no, I don’t really get spooked when I write. I might get a chill down my spine, but not because I’m scared. The chill is from an outpouring of emotion. When I write, I have a pretty good idea where the story is going so there aren’t really many surprises for me, unless I have an “Ah hah moment”. The reason for this is simple: I get to view the book on both a micro and macro scale. I see the bigger picture, arranging the setting and characters as I deem fit. I also see the details, holding each idea in my hands like tiny puzzle pieces. When it’s all said and done, I’m usually surprised at how much people like what I write, because by the time I’m finished with it, I’m rather tired of it and numb to anything that could otherwise be shocking. The reader, however, is not, but that is by design. Keep in mind, I’ve probably read the book over twenty times by the time it’s finished.

I know what you mean! I think my friends and family believe that my stories magically flow out of me. I might be a couple weeks into writing a new story and they’ll be like, “You aren’t finished YET? What’s taking so long?” When I finally do finish the story, they seem to think I do nothing more than a quick read over to find any obvious errors before sending it off to the editor for a “check” and then bam…time for publishing! In truth, a lot of time-consuming effort is required to get a book ready for the critical eyes of the public! We read it and read it and read it and tweak it and tweak it and so on until we’re about tired of it already!

Do you think you stir up spirit activity when writing your supernatural thrillers?

Wow. Another good question. I never thought of that, but I suppose it’s possible. Now that you mention it, I starting writing Reunion in 2009 and encountered a very frightening spirit in 2010 and another soon after that. So was that coincidence? Maybe. Maybe not. Either way, if I do stir things up a bit, even if it’s within my own awareness, I’m not afraid because my beliefs regarding eternity promise that “He that is in me is greater than he that is in the world.”

I certainly believe that the more open you are to the spirit realm, the more likely it is that you will encounter a spirit. For example, my wife is very skeptical, and yet when I had my ghostly experience in a cabin we shared with some friends, two of us encountered the ghost on two separate occasions. The next morning we discovered that the cabin registry was filled with accounts of a ghost named “Earl”! Had I but known his name, I could have helped him. My point is, I’m open and I have seen three spirits of some kind; my wife is skeptical and she has not.

Do you fear death?

Heck no!

What do you think happens once you “cross over”?

I believe that there is a heaven and there is a hell. I also believe that both of these realms are vaguely defined in terms of where the line is drawn and exactly where these planes of eternity exist. Therefore, I believe that there is a gray area between the two that can be crossed over and that spiritual entities of all kinds can crossover from one side to the next. In fact, the bible tells us that Satan himself is free enter Heaven to report to God.

With that said, I believe that when we die we get exactly what we always wanted. If you want nothing to do with God, that’s what you get. If you want to live for yourself, that’s what you get, eternity with yourself. If you want to hurt others, that’s what you get forever and ever. If you live a life filled with regrets, that’s what you get when you die, regret. However, if you choose to serve others, if you choose to seek the God of the universe, if you choose to live a life bent on kindness, a life like the original zombie, Jesus, the ultimate ghost, then I believe you will get exactly what you were looking for.

I do not fear death. I actually look forward to it. And I hope that I am so exhausted from trying to live with purpose that that’s what I get, an eternity with purpose. I do not desire to be lost in the gray matter.

I agree with you on the idea that we get what we expect.  But, do we get it for “eternity”?  I just don’t know, but I’m hoping not!  Eternity is an awfully long time and I’d like to believe that we don’t stop learning, whether we are in physical life or in spirit.  It’s all quite a mystery isn’t it?  Our beliefs have a lot of pull in this respect.  Like you, I don’t fear death.  People shouldn’t fear it unless they are living a life they know might create problems for them on the other side.  And if that’s the case, they should change what they are doing!

How much of your beliefs are in your books?

Everything I write stems from what I believe, including plot lines and themes, all bundled up in a whirlwind of creativity that is uniquely mine. I want to write books that rate high on suspense, but do not leave a reader with a sense of shallowness. I want my books to have a depth that readers can relate to without coming across as preachy. But that’s easier to do if you do not put God in a box.

Can you give us some examples of how your beliefs have influenced your writing?

Sure.  As strange as it may seem, my beliefs about eternity have driven me to write supernatural thrillers. The supernatural is frightening and unknown to many, so its very nature stirs fear and creates suspense. But for me, its any easy medium to work with, like a canvas, the paint goes on smooth and easy. Sci-fi or fantasy, however, would feel like working with raw iron, sharp and cumbersome. I could never write in that genre. Besides, like many writers, I write what I see play out in my head, like taking notes from a movie, so I create scenes that I’d love to watch on the big screen.

You like to write horror…why?  Do you like to be scared out of your wits?

Actually, I don’t necessarily like to write horror per se. I think my suspense thrillers are light on horror, and higher on suspense. In fact, I write each chapter with an ending that begs the reader to continue, a tool I incorporated very heavily in Twisted Vengeance.

Certainly the use of the word “horror” is subjective.  Some would put my book in the horror category because it has ghosts in it but I certainly don’t think of it as horror.  Your books contain some horrifying scenes (things we wouldn’t want to happen to us!) but more than that, they are suspenseful (of the edge-of-your-seat variety!) and they do create quite the “thrill” when reading them.  For me anyway, I probably think of your books as”horror” because some scenes in them made me cringe!  In all truth, however, you have blended several genre elements very well (horror, suspense, thriller, mystery) not going overboard with one or the other.  That’s why, though I don’t read “horror” per se, I enjoy your books!

Do you write an outline or does the story just develop?

I write such a messy outline that most people wouldn’t be able to make heads or tails of what’s in my “black book” of ideas.

When a book idea hits me, I jot down the synopsis asap so I don’t forget it. Later when I have time to really think about the general plot, I write short biographies for each character and a brief summary of each chapter. I know I have a full length novel when I can come up with 25 or 30 chapters in the beginning. Those chapters usually sprout roots and grow into a full length novel.

I find it very impressive that you can come up with brief summaries for each chapter before you even write the book!  I’m sure other writers work similarly.  I have no clue what’s going to happen in a chapter or even how many chapters I’m going to have until I sit down to write them.

I love the idea of writing short biographies for each character.  I would probably find my own writing to go smoother if I’d do something like that.  A great tip!  Thanks.

Have you ever been uncomfortable with how a story has developed?

No, but I do have a two book series that I’ve written that I’d be embarrassed to let you read in its current state. But as far as story development goes, I think I have a natural feel for developing story lines that work. The good thing is I spend less time fabricating and more time honing my craft.

A sign of a true writer…where the effort to come up with the story isn’t so much the hard part as honing your craft…making the story better, the sentences stronger, the picture clearer.  It’s a lot of work!!

Have you ever experienced an “epiphany” while writing?  An ‘OMG, where did THAT come from’ moment?

YES! That is where all of my “twists”are born. I have no idea where they come from; they just sneak up on me and freak the sh** out of me. That is the only time I get freaked out. Once I know the twist, I have to make sure I fit in all the details that allow for plausibility.

I can so understand this!  I think when we are in the creative flow, those moments are bound to happen and when they do, we find them as exciting as the reader does!  I had one of those moments at the end of my book and had to go back through the entire thing and make sure it all fit together.  It’s a fascinating process.  I certainly got that “oh wow” moment when I read Twisted Vengeance! It also made me want MORE!

This concludes Part One of this awesome “chat” with Jeff Bennington!  In Part II we get more into a discussion of Jeff’s books and really, if you are a fan of supernatural thrillers, you don’t want to miss the next post!!

Please feel free to comment on the above discussion and ask Jeff anything you like.  I know he would love to hear from you!  Also, if you haven’t already read his books and would like to, here are the links  (the one on the end: The Kindle Book Review is Jeff’s blog, readers and writers alike should take a look!):

Since I love all things Paranormal and I love to read, I thought it might be nice to combine the two interests and feature other authors on my blog that also share those interests!  So, for my very first guest, I have Cege Smith, Paranormal author of Edge of Shadows, Heiress of Lies, and The Soul Garden.  I’m so excited that she agreed to be interviewed on my blog and I have to share that she did the same for me on her blog not too long ago!  In fact, Cege was the first person to ever interview me!  I can’t thank her enough for showing an interest in me and my book, Be Still, My Love.
So, without any further delay, let’s get right on into the interview!
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You say you like horror, paranormal romance and thrillers, what is it about those genres that interest you particularly?
That’s a really intriguing question, because I do think that what attracts me to each of them is something very different. My interest in horror grew from starting to wrap my mind around the idea that someone else’s reality can be much darker than my own. The psychological motivation behind what pushes the boundaries of “acceptable” behavior in those stories can be very compelling (and uncomfortable). I am more drawn to those types of elements than the blood, guts, and gore in them.
I like romance stories in general, but given my darker interests in things like vampires, ghosts, and ghouls, I find more satisfaction in those types of stories than straight romance.  Again it’s about pushing outside the boundaries of what’s “real” and finding an outlet of escape from the norm.
Thrillers like The Bourne books are a new genre for me. I love getting lost in plots about espionage and high stakes life/death situations. It gets the blood pumping! I think what draws me into thrillers are simply the requisite breakneck speed that the plot pulls you in and then doesn’t let off the gas until the end. You can experience a million different emotional highs and lows and come out feeling mentally exhausted. I love that. 🙂
Were you always interested in these genres?  What did you like to read as a child?
I’ve been reading and watching horror films since the fifth grade. Before that I was reading things like Little House on the Praire and The Boxcar Children and other lovely but fairly tame literature. Picture going from Louisa May Alcott to Stephen King- lol.  It was like a whole new world! And once I started, I couldn’t stop.
Are there any book/s and/or movie/s that particularly inspired you?  Can you share your favorites and maybe tell us why you like them so much?
Even today, Gone with the Wind holds a top spot on my favorite movie list. I have a bent in my writing toward strong female characters, and Scarlett O’Hara was a woman who knew what she wanted and would do just about anything to get it. What I found fascinating about her were the multiple layers of emotional complexity that were explored throughout the movie; she was strong but conniving, a risk taker but vulnerable. And sometimes, she got what she wanted only to wind up feeling empty. That character will always be an inspiration to me.
As far as being an artist on my own artist’s journey, the powerful The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron I think is a must read for any creator (artist, writer, actor, sculptor, etc.) who is feeling disenchanted or lost. It was because of that book that I took the steps towards publishing my work and getting it into the hands of readers- for some reason I just was emotionally incapable of doing that for years before reading that book and doing the 12-week self-paced course. It truly was, for me, a revelation.
In Edge of Shadows, your heroine is a divorcee who retreats into a “safe bubble” after her divorce, leading a quiet life.  But then she meets someone who challenges that “safe bubble” and ends up responsible for a friend’s house that “has its own mysterious past”…sounds like an interesting story!  Can you share what inspired it?  Did you plan it out…create an outline that you followed?  Did the characters always act the way you expected them to or did they surprise you from time to time?  For readers who haven’t yet read this book, why might they want to give it a try?  What did YOU like about it?
A house inspired Edge of Shadows. It was the first image in my mind, and the story and characters grew out of their interactions with it.  I wrote the first draft of Edge of Shadows for National Novel Writing Month 2004, and then tweaked it many times over the years. I’ve always been more a “pantser” type writer, so I let the characters have full rein. What’s cool about that is as a writer (and a reader) you don’t know for sure until the end who is good and who is bad. I feel like I’ve given each character that kind of depth because that is very true for all of us- we all have good and bad emotions and behaviors. It’s all about uncovering true intentions.
One thing that I think would attract readers to this book would be the emotional evolution of Ellie’s character – you mentioned a bit about that when you quoted my book blurb. Yes, there is a mysterious backdrop of the house and the blossoming of a new romance, but I think anyone who has been through a traumatic life event like a divorce will be able to appreciate learning how to cope with that sense of loss of what you thought your life was and then learning how to live and move on again.
You indicate this (Edge of Shadows) is the first in a series, when is the next one due out? Can you give us any information on it?
I am working on the sequel now and hope to be releasing it in late Spring/early Summer 2012. Although I’m very early into the story, I can tell you that readers are going to find out a whole lot more about the house and what’s been going on inside it.
In your book “Heiress of Lies” you are writing about wraiths and vampires…can you expand a little more on this for us?  What inspired this story?  What do you like best about this book?
I am a vampire junkie, but I held off on writing my own version of a vampire story until after Edge of Shadows and The Soul Garden.  This was the story I wrote during National Novel Writing Month 2011.   My main character, Princess Angeline, has been hanging around in my head for about 2 years now and I always saw the first scene where she is ambushed and is saved by a handsome vampire. That opening changed a little bit, but I am really excited about how that story turned out.
In this book, Angeline takes front and center stage and again we see a fairly significant emotional evolution of her character. But her destiny is to be Queen, and she’s got to have nerves made of steel. She’s fierce and beautiful, and the worst thing any enemy could do would be to under estimate her.  She’s a great character to write.
I see this is also the beginning of a series…when is the next one due out?  Can we get any tidbits on it?
Likely I won’t release the next book until the end of 2012. Since I’m not a plotter I don’t know much about it yet, other than it is going to cover the three days after Angeline’s ascension, which is where this book closes.
The Soul Garden sounds so very different from any book out there…would you agree?  What made you think of this story?  Did you get any surprises from it?  This is also the beginning of a series, right?  When is the next book due out in this series?  What sort of experience do you hope readers get out of this book?
I admit that I had a lot of trepidation about The Soul Garden because it is a very different flavor of book from anything I’ve written before and what I see within its genre.  It started out as an idea of a secret garden where people could go to seek wisdom about their lives, and evolved into what I’m calling a “non-traditional dystopian zombie story”. LOL.  It is a novella and it is meant to serve as the prequel to what will be my Twisted Soul series- it takes place about 2 years before that plotline will pick up and gives readers the background on what happened that blew this peaceful society all to hell.
Unlike my other books, this is written from several different character POVs, who each play a part in the climatic end that sets up what happens next. We also meet Cameron, who will be the main character in the Twisted Soul series, although here she is just an infant.  I expect to release the first installment in early fall 2012.
Can you offer any writing advice to fellow writers?  How about reader advice?  It’s hard to pick a book these days…there are so many to choose from…what process do you use to pick out a book?
For me, I need to give myself permission to sit down and write junk. For first drafts, I have to forget that any of those words may ever see the light of day because as soon as I start judging the merits of my work at that early stage, it’s all over. So that’s what I’d say to other writers- find a way to send your inner critic on vacation in the beginning stages of new work because otherwise you’ll never be able to finish it.
There are so many books out there now that it is really hard to decide what to read. As my writer network expands, I’m trying to support the indie community by reading works from people I’m interacting with online. But I am always sold on a good book blurb. I know other people will view the sample first, but I pretty much live and die on the book blurb- that’s why I tweak mine all the time.
You like the paranormal, obviously, do you believe in paranormal phenomena?  If so, why?  If not, why?
I am getting a lot of interesting questions around that from readers who ask me if I have some of the abilities of the characters I’m writing (I don’t). But I do believe that there are many things out there that can’t be explained using logical, analytical, scientific means. I do think there are things out there beyond our comprehension.  So yes, there are some paranormal phenomena that I believe in.
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So that concludes my interview with Cege!  If you’d like to check out her books, you can get to them via her blog (URL below) or there are links to them at the beginning of this post!  She would love for you to connect with her on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads as well!
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Thanks so much for stopping by, until next time, blessings to all and Peace Out!!
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