– ‘The Magic of Wor(l)ds’ blog is a hobby, reviews and other bookish stuff on this site are done for free. –
Today I’m on the ‘Whispers in the Dark’ blogtour, organised by R&R Book Tours.
To promote this book I have a Q&As post, but b
About the Author :
Laurel Hightower grew up in Kentucky, attending college in California and Tennessee before returning home to horse country, where she lives with her husband, son and two rescue animals, Yattering the cat (named for the Clive Barker short story) and Ladybug the adorable mutt. She definitely wants to see a picture of your dog, and often bonds with complete strangers over animal stories. A lifetime reader, she would raid her parents’ bookshelves from an early age, resulting in a number of awkward conversations about things like, “what does getting laid mean?” She loves discovering new favorite authors, and supporting the writing and reading community.
Laurel works as a paralegal in a mid-size firm, wrangling litigators by day and writing at night. A bourbon and beer girl, she’s a fan of horror movies and true life ghost stories. Whispers in the Dark is her first novel, though there are always more in the pipeline, and she loves researching anything horror related. She can usually be found working on the next project into the wee hours, sometimes as late as ten at night, as long as her toddler allows. Follow her on social media, even though she’s really bad at it, and she’ll follow you back. Plus you’ll be rewarded by pictures of cute dogs and kids.
Title: Whispers in the Dark
Publication Date: December 7th, 2018
Genre: Paranormal Thriller / Horror
Rose McFarland is a trained killer–a Memphis S.W.A.T. sniper with a secret. Her team knows about the burn scars that lurk under her clothes, a legacy of the house fire that killed her father and brother sixteen years before. Her supervisors know that she spent two years in a rehabilitative facility, healing and learning to cope with the emotional trauma of the fire. But no one knows about the visions that drove her there, angry spirits that consumed her childhood, alienated her from her family and made her doubt her own sanity–the Whispers.
When Charlie Akers, a half-brother she never knew, ends up on the wrong side of Rose’s rifle, she unwittingly sets off a chain of events that puts her family in the middle of increasingly dangerous paranormal visitations. Charlie won’t stay dead, and soon ghosts from Rose’s past are creeping back into her life. People she’s killed in the line of duty, family she thought long buried, every one of them under the influence of Rose’s greatest fear, the Whispers themselves.
As the walls between our world and the world of the dead grow thin, Rose will have to face her old nightmares to stop the Whispers from breaking free. If she can’t, it won’t just be Memphis that falls to the dead–there will be no safe place left on earth for the living.
First of all thank you very much for taking the time to answer my questions, I really appreciate it. Here we go! 🙂
Can you, for those who don’t know you already, tell something about yourself and how you became an author?
Sure! My day job is as a litigation paralegal, and I love it. I put myself through college while working full time, so for a long time I didn’t have much head space for creative work, but in the midst of all that I kept getting the urge to start writing fiction. I did it little by little, and once I graduated and only had to work, I had lots of time to write. It’s a family tradition, actually – my mother is a published writer, and she supported us as a single mom with her writing. It means I got put through the paces with my writing, from kindergarten on up, and even now she’s tough on me, but I learned a lot.
Which books did/do you love to read as a child/now as a grown-up?
There were so many – I read anything I could get my hands on. Mostly I loved going to the library and getting every book I could find with a ghost on the spine – I always loved scary stories, and they’re still my favorite. What Eric Knew was excellent, Rose Madder was one I read over and over, and I actually read a lot of Georgette Heyer – she was the Queen of Regency Romance, and created the most loveable and entertaining characters I’ve ever encountered. As an adult, it’s still horror and mystery – I recently read Inspection, by Josh Malerman, and was blown away. Also loved The Luminous Dead by Caitlin Starling, and anything by Paul Tremblay or Stephen Graham Jones.
Is there a writer whose brain you would love to pick for advice? Who would that be and why?
Great question – there are so many! If I had to choose one I’d say Neal Stephenson – you can tell from the way he writes that his mind is just always working, looking at things from all angles, and he’s so funny. I’d love to sit down with him and hear how he plots things out. I also hope if we’re ever in an apocalyptic situation that someone puts him in charge.
If you could, which fictional character (from your own book(s) or someone else’s) would you like to invite for tea and why?
John Rebus, from Ian Rankin’s Rebus novels. He’s always been such a fun character – rogue copper, funny, with a wealth of knowledge and an interesting history. We’d end up putting whiskey in our tea and talking music and books, and I’d ask him to repeat things in his Scottish accent. Not that I’ve planned this out or anything.
Do you have some rituals or habits whilst writing?
It seems like no matter how many desks are in the house, I always end up writing on the couch, hunched over my laptop, preferably with a fall scented candle burning, even in July. I like to listen to music that matches the ambience of the scene I’m working on, which since I write horror means my husband thinks my musical tastes are pretty dire. He might be right.
Where do you come up with your idea(s)? Do people in your life need to be worried? 😉
Mostly I start with a character, someone who starts to take form in my head. Sometimes it’s obvious early on what their conflict will be, other times I have to look for a situation to put them into. Some ideas come from nightmares I’ve had – the ones that stick with me after I’ve woken up, and still give me a sense of dread. Those are fantastic fodder for a horror writer. And no, I’ve never written about anyone I know, although sometimes I’ll give my characters the name of someone I like. I do love that Anne Lamott quote, though – “If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.” When I was little and being bullied by girls at school, my mom used the bullies’ names for unpleasant characters in the book she was working on. It was like a fun, secret revenge, and I can see myself doing that when my son gets older.
Are you a plotter or do you go with the flow, as a pantser?
I’ve been both, but I’m a converted plotter now. Flying by the seat of my pants is what made me end up canning the first novel I ever wrote, and cost me so much time in revisions on Whispers in the Dark. I draft a bare bones scene plan so I have a clear idea of the story arc, and I go from there. I deviate from it all the time, but it helps so much to have an initial sense of direction.
Can you give novice writers some tips (do’s/don’ts)?
Yes! I feel like this is something I have so much to say about right now, since I’m new to publication. In the writing stage, I’d recommend plotting, even if it’s minimal. Remember no writer is ever too good for editing, but also create a coping plan for yourself when you receive feedback. It can be brutal to the ego, and a kneejerk reaction can be to ignore the edits – it’s better to give it some time before making decisions on revisions. Never let anyone obscure your voice as an author, but be open to change. Be supportive of other writers, whatever their stage in the game may be. And keep this in mind – getting published isn’t the end of your responsibility. You still have to hustle – get your name out there, get reviews from trusted sites, get your stuff in front of the people who’ll want to read it. And never, ever let anyone tell you there’s no room for you at the table. Yeah, there are lots of writers and lots of books. But as readers, and as writers, we’re all richer for it – if you have something to say, work hard and get it out there!
What are your future plans as an author?
I have my second novel with my agent now, awaiting word on whether it needs more revising before sending it out to publishers. Book three is with my first Beta reader, and I’m in the midst of something new for me, a straight thriller with no supernatural elements. I hope to keep getting published, but I think I’ll always write, even if it’s just for me. Writing is my happy place.
Last, but not least : Can you give my readers one teaser from your book, which is featured here on my blog, please?
His heart thudding again, Zack tried to hold his breath, peering into the gloom. He didn’t have to wait long. Another shuffle, something dragging against the grit. A shadow, darker than the rest of the night. It moved, swayed. Waited.
No answer, but Zack thought he could hear breathing now. Labored, wheezing. The way Matt had sounded toward the end. He took a step closer, stopped. “Matt?”
“Zack.” A whisper. Tired, but an uptick of hope at the end.
Zack swallowed. Matt had been waiting a long time. For the first time, Zack wondered if his brother would be angry.
More dry dragging as Matt moved again. He was close now, almost close enough to touch. Zack coughed, his asthma tickled by something in the dry air down here. What was that? What did it smell like now?
“Zack?” A hand reaching out, slow, tentative.
Zack smiled tremulously, reached out too. Clasped the hand he’d waited thirty-seven years to feel again. Felt it pull him closer, into a shaft of moonlight coming through a broken window high on the wall. He looked up, into his brother’s face. Faltered.
No, Zack realized with regret as the bony clutch tightened and pulled him close. Not Matt at all.
Isn’t that a great reason to pick up this book and to find out more?!
Thanks once again for this lovely interview, Laurel Hightower.
The Magic of Wor(l)ds
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P.S. Are you an author (or publisher) who also wants a FREE interview like this? You can always contact me via e-mail!