Interview with John Tucker – Multi-genre Author

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Welcome!

Highly popular multi-genre author John Tucker is our guest on Author CenterStage for a round of questions on his writing experience. John has published titles ranging from action-adventure, erotica, mystery, suspense, young adult, thrillers, and maybe a couple in between. His versatile fiction has entertained readers through many nights! John, thanks for joining us and answering questions!

John: Thanks for having me, Candi.

Candi: I’ve gathered several frequently asked questions from readers to share with you. So, let’s begin with a couple of key ones: How did you arrive one day with pen, ink and paper in your hands as you began your first novel? What tipped the balance scales of your motivation to write the first word, the first page?

John: I’d written several things in high school, mostly short stories, but stopped when a new wife and a couple of kids kept me focused on life rather than literary pursuits. Two wives and 25 years later, I was bored and needed an outlet to entertain me. So, I started on a novel that had skimmed the edges of my mind for all those lost years. After being told I had a good story but awful mechanics, I took a few community college classes and bought a few English textbooks to refresh my brain about proper grammar and the differences between an adverb and a gerund. Now, five years later, I’ve just finished my twelfth book.

Candi: John, there are many authors who will relate to your determined and inspiring writing journey. What was your first novel, and what were the early challenges you faced in writing and publishing it? What were your feelings the day you published it?Romancing the Fox

John: My first novel was Romancing the Fox – a bloated 500,000 word magnum opus that was a literary mess. After I took the aforementioned classes, I put ‘Fox’ aside and started a murder mystery with a charming sociopath who loved destroying matriarchal families with dysfunctional issues. That was Divisive. My first published novel. The day I published it I was so stressed, mostly about the marketing aspects of having a book. Now, I’m just as stressed but with a dozen babies to take care of.

Candi: A dozen published books is a problem envied by many authors, John. LOL. How far back does your history go with books and reading? How old were you when you first noticed your desire to put words on paper to tell a story? What were early influencers, books, people?

John: I’ve read books as far back as I can remember. My mother bought me a series of literary classics that were offered by a grocery store every other week – Robinson Crusoe, Treasure Island, Call of the Wild, and so on. I wrote short stories from the age of twelve and up but really had no early mentors other than the books themselves.divisive (2)

Candi: Currently you have 12 published titles listed on your Amazon Author Page. What are the details that led you to write and publish in multiple categories or genres? Do you have a favorite genre?

John: I’ve always been a chameleon when it comes to life and people. I like all kinds of music, most book genres, and movies ranging from comedies to documentaries. I’m the same way when I write. My first book was a thriller, my second a YA Mystery, the third an adult contemporary romance. Since then I’ve penned three eroticas, three more thrillers, and a series of Celestial Romances featuring Muses, Sirens, and the mortal caught between them. Something for everyone!

Candi: How many of your books are set in your home state of Georgia, USA? Have you experienced any particular backlash from local citizens? (I’m thinking of Thomas Wolfe and his novel, Look Homeward Angel, that was set in his hometown, Asheville, North Carolina.) I’ve read your explosive Splits in The Skin. How does that novel figure with this question?

John: The majority of my books are based in Georgia, mostly in small towns but several take place in Atlanta. I’ve had one alternate between Los Angeles and Manhattan, and another take place in Bel Air, California. It stems from a love I have for my state, the people in it, and the misconception that most of us are tobacco-spitting rednecks. My novels are also graced with characters who have deep accents, especially in The Little Girl You Kiss Goodnight. Splits in the Skin is a mixture of action and romance with a healthy helping of James Dickey’s Deliverance. A hunky bounty hunter, looking for a bail-jumper, comes across a small village who has been inbreeding since the Civil War. While I only skim the consensual incest the village accepts as natural, I took the opportunity to explore the differences between the religious and sexual mores represented by the villain’s relatives and the ‘normal’ people trying to capture him.splits

Candi: John, I admire authors who are proud to craft stories from their geographical roots! I read Splits in The Skin and I’m familiar with Georgia. Your writing is authentic! One of the most popular fiction genres today is the thriller category. I’ve also read the very powerful Divisive, which I believe you have planned as a trilogy. What are the ingredients or elements that turn a plain vanilla thriller into a mystery suspense thriller?

John: As in any novel, you have to have a good plot, a balls-to-the-wall villain, and the gritty hero who tries to make sure good triumphs. Like real life, sometimes the bad guy wins in my novels. Divisive introduced Dennis Rask as a charming sociopath with an amped-up sex drive and a mission to kill particular people. In the second book, The Fifth Game, he has a young woman who survived his wrath in the first book helping him destroy a wealthy family. While the book relates Rask’s evil doings, the sub-plot takes a look at the woman’s compliance and her difficulties in assisting the man she loves. The third novel – The Eighth Family – will be started by the end of the year.

Candi: I never give away an author’s plot; I’ll just say Divisive is boiling hot with conflicting characters and agendas. Excellent! What is a typical writing day like for you? When does it begin and end? And do you use a lot of expensive equipment or materials in writing your novels? Can you write with background noise or do you prefer quiet?cf3861265656b63d9ef93fc3976647a3_we

John: I spend 4-5 hours a day writing, mostly at night. I’m comfortable using Microsoft Word 97/2000 and the internet for any research purposes. I play music while I write or edit, usually seventies classics or easy-listening from today.

Candi: A frequently asked question for authors is: Have you experienced writer’s block, and how do you deal with it or prevent it?

John: I deal with bouts of depression from time to time that curtails a novel or two. I usually start another book if that happens. If I get too down, I’ll take a week off to refresh my mind, usually watching comedies or action-driven movies to take my mind off the bad feelings.

Candi: Your writing journey is remarkable! To what extent do your story characters shape your novels? What do they add? Isn’t it enough to just tell the story sort of like a newspaper article? You know, just lay the facts out? What distinctions do characters bring to a story?

John: I like ‘gray’ characters. No out-and-out heroes or villains. In Divisive, Rask is a charming guy, protects the young daughter of a woman he wants to kill, and romances her almost eighteen-year-old daughter. He also chases off a pedophile intent on molesting the little girl, and does a very bad thing to a cute, cuddly animal. My characters have faults, merits, vices, and plaudits. To me, there’s nothing more boring than a cookie-cutter guy or girl with enough redeeming qualities to make you sick.

Candi: How do you conceptualize or layout the plan or your approach to the plot for a novel you’re about to write? What’s the time sequence like? Is it scribbled on a napkin over a cup of coffee or over a period of days or weeks? And what are the particular challenges of the process of solidifying and nailing down the plot? What are the challenges facing an author when doing research for writing the book?

John: Once I have the plot in mind I’ll map out each chapter of a book in a notebook (usually over a few weeks) and include the plot points I want to happen in each. It changes over the course of writing, but essentially sticks to the path. Then I create the characters – physical description, attitudes, quirks, goals. I never start a novel without a beginning and an end. You gotta know where to start and where it ends up. I cringe just thinking about how writers had to do research before the internet. Haunting libraries for several hours a day must have been tedious. Thanks to computers, research for a novel is a breeze.

Candi: How long does it take you to write and publish a book, from start to finish? It must be easy and simple with all the advanced technology available today. Are there any major ups and downs during that process?

John: Two Days to Passion took 60 days. Vergene’s taken a year. Divisive three months. I never know how long my books will take to finish. Outside difficulties play a part, extra thinking about the plot is a factor, and mechanical issues like a crashed hard drive are just obstacles to avoid and get over.41xhxz52wWL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-v3-big,TopRight,0,-55_SX278_SY278_PIkin4,BottomRight,1,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_

Candi: So you’re saying writing and publishing are not confined to a particular model or framework? So, what advice do you have for a person, let’s say my neighbor down the street, who says she wants to write a book? She’s got this great idea for a bestselling novel. Should she enroll in the nearest college writing class, buy 10 books on writing, or what?

John: College writing class absolutely. Hone your skills, familiarize yourself with the mechanics of literature. Then join a critique group to vet your work. Get Stephen King’s ‘On Writing’. That’s the only how-to book you need. One last thing – grow a thick skin. You’ll need it. Trust me.

Candi: I’m glad you mentioned the thick skin. Rhino skin is definitely the first requirement for a writer. Since the advent of digital capabilities and technology related to publishing and the rapid changes within the publishing arena, what do you see as the top two or three challenges facing writers today, and how are they to overcome them?

John: Discovering which new technology helps you create a novel, market, and enhance it. Also the financial difficulties in keeping up with new literary tools. Your mind and your money.

Candi: Another entertaining novel of yours is Twelve Doors to Ecstasy which is your first entry into the erotica genre. What were the challenges in writing that novel? In general, do men and women have different views or perceptions of erotica, and how so?12 doors

John: Before Twelve Doors, my sex scenes were usually the start of the sweet lovemaking, then cut to or open with the aftermath. Breaking a sexual encounter down into its sensual bits was equally embarrassing and enlightening. Things you don’t think twice about when you’re with a significant other – touching them, their scent, the way they look during the experience – it’s remarkable. Most of my reviews have been from women and they’ve been well-received. Surprisingly the three men who have read and reviewed my book didn’t like it as much. Since women are the majority of erotica readers, I haven’t really taken the time to dissect the male’s opinions.

Candi: It’s been reported that Amazon has over ten million titles (books) listed on their website. What are the challenges for readers in selecting “goodreads” from that many choices? What’s your best advice for readers on how to choose an entertaining/interesting book?

John: I try to include out-of-the-box plot-lines in all my books. Everyone will have a moment that is guaranteed to drop a reader’s jaw. When I advertise on Facebook, I concentrate on these things, insert an excerpt, and try to include a catchy picture with the post. Lastly, don’t publish a book unless you have it edited. If your book has great characters, an awesome plot, and several mistakes in the first five paragraphs, people will drop your book like a hot potato.

Candi: If you could start your writing career over what two or three things would you do differently and why?

John: Save up plenty of money for tools and advertising. Just because you write ‘The End’ on a novel, doesn’t mean you’re finished with it. Read the Chicago Manual of Style once. Take what you like from it, and screw the rest. Don’t change your style to mimic other writers.

Candi: From what I gather, many years ago (think post early printing presses) authors and readers rarely connected or communicated. A reader was lucky to just read the written book. But today the Internet is one huge gathering place where authors and readers communicate freely. How do you feel about those dynamics and how do both authors and readers benefit from that kind of environment? How do you enjoy making and keeping in contact with your readers?

John: The internet has definitely opened up the world to writers, especially with research and promotion. Your book is accessible to people in France, India, Japan, and small towns in Georgia and Alabama. You can chat with readers, get their thoughts, battle trolls, and organize small groups of people who love your work.interracial-couple

Candi: What are the advantages of the Kindle, Nook, and other e-reader devices? Isn’t there something to be said about a real paper and ink book in hand as one sits by the fireside of home and reads?

John: Either one is fine with me. But you can fit a few hundred books on your Kindle and free up several bookshelves for other important things. Some people use both. Others are paper and ink purists. I’m slowly leaning toward the electronic book.

Candi: Another challenge question: According to various surveys the average American reads less than 10 books per year. Which of your books would you recommend they read next, and why that book?

John: My most accessible book is The Little Girl You Kiss Goodnight. A mystery novel with a linear plot, a likable heroine, and a happy ending. That being said, it’s probably my most ‘innocent’ novel. No cursing, alluding to sex, but a feel-good relationship with the book’s main characters. The rest of my books, other than the Bemused and Bedeviled series, are dark and disturbing reads.

Candi: What can readers look forward to from the writing studio of John Tucker in the next 12 months?

John: I’m about to publish an erotic thriller called Vergene. After that an erotic paranormal book titled Violetta’s Voyeur, eTernalMates – an adult-contemporary romance, and the final book in the Rask Trilogy.

Candi: John, thank you for taking time to share your interesting thoughts and giving us an inside look at your fascinating and inspiring writing world.

John: Thanks for having me, Candi. We should have drinks in the future.

Candi: Sounds great; let’s celebrate writing and reading with the South’s iconic drink, sweet iced tea, and we’ll spike at will. LOL!

Here’s how you can experience the entertaining writing of John Tucker, author of multi-genres.

John’s Online Links:

Facebook Author Page —-http://www.facebook.com/hutt1234
Twitter — @Hutt1234John

Interview with Meb Bryant – Mystery Suspense

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Highly popular mystery and romantic suspense thriller author Meb Bryant is our guest on Author CenterStage for a round of questions on her writing experience. Meb has published titles in mystery suspense and romantic suspense. Her fiction has entertained readers through many nights! Meb, thanks for joining us and answering questions!

Meb Bryant: Thank you, Candi, for the flattering introduction. I’m excited to share my writing experience with you and your readers on AuthorCenterStage. I wish I’d made the decision to become a writer much earlier.

Meb Bryant, Author

Meb Bryant, Author

Candi Silk: You’ve got plenty of company on “starting earlier.” I’ve gathered several frequently asked questions from readers to share with you. So, let’s begin with a couple of key questions: How did you arrive one day with pen, ink and paper in your hands as you began your first novel? What tipped the balance scales of your motivation to write the first word, the first page?

Meb: My dream of dreams from an early age was to become a writer, but I hid the idea in my heart and never shared it with anybody. After a hospital visit that ended with me in the intensive care unit, I decided to start marking items off my bucket list before it was too late. When my health returned, I sat my derriere in the chair and started typing.

Candi: So after that kick-start, what was your first novel, and what were the early challenges you faced in writing and publishing it? What were your feelings the day you published it?

Meb: My first novel, Harbinger of Evil, is set in 1963 New Orleans’ French Quarter. It’s about the murder of a wealthy businessman and the generational secrets that lead up to his death. Throw in hard drinking NYC Detective Richard Mobey, Alaskan oil, CIA operatives, the Mob, the JFK assassination, and add an erotic twist for a spicy literary gumbo.

Trust me, I’ve had several challenges, but the most difficult was learning to use a computer for something other than rudimentary functions. At the time, the learning curve almost broke my spirit, but I was determined.HarbingerOfEvil

The first time I held a printed book with my name on the cover I clutched it to my chest like a long lost friend. I think I cried. Creating a novel is like giving birth…without the anesthesia.

Candi: That’s a wonderful description of the agony and ecstasy of writing. How far back does your history go with books and reading? How old were you when you first noticed your desire to put words on paper to tell a story? What were early influencers, books, people?

Meb: I learned to read at an early age when Santa Claus brought me a record player and records with accompanying books. I would sing along and read the words. Many times during the writing process I wonder if I should’ve been an opera singer. My mother bought record player needles by the dozen.

Right after I learned to read, I decided to begin my writing career by carving MEB into my parents’ new furniture. Being an only child at the time, I was the primary suspect. After being interrogated for hours, I finally confessed to the crime with the stipulation that I not be spanked. They weren’t pleased with my first autograph but they sure bragged about it.

Candi: Ahh, now I understand how your crime scenes are written with the voice of experience. LOL! Currently you have 5 published titles listed on your Amazon Author Page. What are the details that led you to write and publish in the mystery suspense thriller and romantic suspense genres? Do you have a favorite genre?

Meb: I love to read in the mystery/suspense/thriller genre and appreciate a bit of sexual content thrown in for good measure. As a legal secretary, I typed almost a hundred words per minute. When I write fiction, my WPM slows down considerably, but when I write sex scenes, my fingers sail over the keys. Know what I mean, Candi?

Candi: Oh, yes; keys are permanently scorched! How many of your books are set in your home state of Texas, USA? Have you experienced any particular backlash from local citizens? (I’m thinking of Thomas Wolfe and his novel, Look Homeward Angel, that was set in his hometown, Asheville, North Carolina.) I’ve read your explosive Killing People. How does that novel figure with this question?

Meb: With the exception of Harbinger of Evil, all my works are set in Texas, particularly around Houston and The Woodlands. So far, thank goodness, nobody has complained about me bringing mayhem and death to their imaginary neighbors. Several readers have mentioned they identify with the locales I’ve written about and find it surreal when I know which direction the sun sets or what flowers are in bloom. Write what you know.

Candi: And readers are good at catching the smallest of details. One of the most popular fiction genres today is the thriller category. What are the ingredients or elements that turn a plain vanilla thriller into a mystery suspense or romantic suspense thriller?

Meb: I don’t usually write about blood and guts, but I do try to tap into a reader’s fear to produce a visceral reaction. For example, our society is vulnerable through our children, who are helpless and unable to defend themselves. When faced with that threat, the fear is palpable.SPELLING V_2

I’ve noticed that humans have a natural aversion to snakes and I like to tickle that terror. Several of my friends say they will not go into a dark bathroom after reading Harbinger of Evil.

Candi: No wonder Harbinger of Evil is so popular! What is a typical writing day like for you? When does it begin and end? And do you use a lot of expensive equipment or materials in writing your novels? Can you write with background noise or do you prefer quiet?

Meb: I don’t have a typical day of writing. Wish that I did. My husband and I have owned a small corporation for many years, and I work full-time at that job from my home. That said, I’m my own boss which means I can write all day if everything aligns. Though I like to write in my pajamas, our customers prefer that I dress. I can only write when my muse shows up and she’s a cranky old biddy who likes to play tennis.

I write on an HP computer with a large monitor for easier reading. With the exception of a ringing phone, I’m able to block out all noise, including a TV that sits a few feet from my desk.

Candi: Sounds like my kind of writing studio. A frequently asked question for authors is: What has been your experience with writer’s block, and how do you deal with it or prevent it?

Meb: I’ve lived in writer’s block my entire life and try not to panic when the creative juices get dehydrated. I’ve learned to accept my limitations, realizing I can write only when I’m in a creative mood. Of course, I’m more creative when my behind is at my desk and not on a tennis court, but I need the exercise to keep the muse happy. If the muse ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.

Candi: To what extent do your story characters shape your novels? What do they add? Isn’t it enough to just tell the story sort of like a newspaper article? You know, just lay the facts out? What distinctions do characters bring to a story?MONSTER SPRAY Amazon html_BC82CFAA_1

Meb: We’re told that stories are either character driven or plot driven. I find my stories are a hybrid since my characters drive the plot, especially the flawed characters. When you ask about the facts, I think of the old TV show Dragnet, “Just the facts, ma’am.” I believe ‘just the facts’ works for true crime, but not so much for genre fiction.

My characters drag their human frailties around like a ball and chain. It’s my job as the writer to set them free to succeed or fail. Bad guys don’t always do bad things and good guys don’t always do the right thing.

Candi: You just described the mosaic of humanity. How do you conceptualize or layout the plan or your approach to the plot for a novel you’re about to write? What’s the time sequence like? Is it scribbled on a napkin over a cup of coffee or over a period of days or weeks? And what are the particular challenges of the process of solidifying and nailing down the plot? What are the challenges facing an author when doing research for writing the book?

Meb: Writers fall into two categories: plotters or pantsers. Plotters plot a story from beginning to end before writing the first word. Pantsers fly by the seat of their pants and create as the muse unfolds. I once plotted an entire novel on a board with color-coded notes and pens. It’s a lovely piece of art, but I can’t find the creativity to finish the piece. I fear my muse took offense to the plotting concept. I’ll finish that piece when my muse goes on vacation.

After completion of a project, I move on to a new idea and imagine the story’s start and ending, like I’m watching a motion picture. Then, I set the muse free to help me connect the dots. I’m unable to remember creative thoughts when I’m away from my desk, and will write on anything so as not to lose an idea. I try to keep a pen and scratch pad in my purse, car, den and bedroom. After the ideas are typed on a Word document, I trash the bits and pieces of paper (and napkins).

When I read a book for entertainment, I also want to learn a few facts. I love to do research and share what I’ve learned with my reader, but find it challenging not to write an info dump. If you find that I have, please forgive me.

Candi: I believe you’ve had experience with writers’ groups. Is that something you would recommend to beginning writers and why?

Meb: Definitely. I’m a member of International Thriller Writers, Mystery Writers of America and Romance Writers of America. Of the three, I think RWA provides an excellent source of information for the mature writer as well as the new writer. Even though I don’t write romance novels, I try to include a strong romantic element or sexual content in each story.

Candi: Your writing is seasoned just right! How long does it take you to write and publish a book, from start to finish? It must be easy and simple with all the advanced technology available today. Are there any major ups and downs during that process?

Meb: From the time I start writing a book to the day I publish is usually about a year, provided the muse cooperates and life doesn’t get in the way. Novellas and short stories are quicker. With today’s technology, there’s really no reason not to write a story if a writer has the talent.

For me, trying to land a literary agent was an exercise in futility and frustration. With the introduction of e-readers, sales of printed material has dropped drastically. I believe thirty-three percent of book sales are now electronic. Literary agents are feeling the pinch. Once I abandoned the querying process, I set my sites on starting my own publishing company and haven’t looked back, although I find discoverability a major challenge.

Candi: So you’re saying writing and publishing is not 100% easy. So, what advice do you have for a person, let’s say my neighbor down the street, who says she wants to write a book? She’s got this great idea for a bestselling novel. Should she enroll in the nearest college writing class, buy 10 books on writing, or what?

Meb: I don’t think I know the correct answer for anybody who wants to write a book. Just write the story. Research the Internet and read everything you can find on how to write, how to query, how to indie publish.Doubles-Match-022814_kindle

Personally, I feel writing is a God-given talent that needs constant exercise. No matter how long I stay in writing, I plan to continue sharpening my skills through workshops, reading material on writing, and attending conferences with knowledgeable speakers. Keep learning your craft.

Candi: Great advice! Okay, time for a challenge question: You’ve just been notified that you’ll be teaching a university course entitled: Writing Your First Romantic Suspense Thriller. What 3-4 points or pillars would you consider essential to the course?

Meb: Goal, motivation, conflict. The two love interests should have a goal, motivating factors, and conflicts hindering the success of this goal. Placing one or both parties in peril contributes to the novel’s suspense. A multi-layered antagonist intent on doing harm sharpens the suspense. It’s imperative that the story concludes with an HEA (Happily Ever After) ending.

Candi: Let me know where you’re teaching; I’ll register right away! You’ve pulled me in with the HEA. So, what are the biggest challenges facing new writers today? Sources vary, however it’s been reported that Amazon has over ten million titles (books) listed on their website.

Meb: Due to the volume of e-books on the market, I find the biggest challenge for writers, except for big name authors, is discoverability.

Candi: What are the challenges for readers in selecting “good reads” from that many choices? What’s your best advice for readers on how to choose an entertaining/interesting book?

Meb: When I’m looking for a good read, I rely on word of mouth or search the Kindle Store categories. When I find a book that looks interesting, I read a sample before purchasing.

Candi: That sample can be a determining factor. If you could start your writing career over what two or three things would you do differently and why?

Meb: If I knew then what I know now, I wouldn’t have spent a year searching for an agent. I would have started a mailing list earlier.

Candi: That seems to be a frequent discovery and realization. Okay, isn’t it enough for a writer to simply have all the facts for her story and just write it and publish, or to what extent does the writer’s imagination play a part in crafting a page-turning novel?

Meb: A writer’s imagination is the source for the writer’s voice. Unique.

Candi: Some have said writing is not an end result, but a journey that never ends. Do you agree or disagree with that and why?

Meb: For me, writing is my way of leaving a footprint behind after I’m dead. A baring of my soul. When I finished my first novel, I handed the typed pages over to my grown daughter, an English major. She took the pages and promised to carefully read every word. Moments later, we were both surprised when I snatched the pages back. For some reason, I couldn’t bear to part with my work. We did this back and forth a few times until I finally felt comfortable giving my baby away.

Candi: Your writing has your fingerprints and impressions from your heart all over it! From what I gather, many years ago (think post early printing presses) authors and readers rarely connected or communicated. A reader was lucky to just read the written book. But today the Internet is one huge gathering place where authors and readers communicate freely. How do you feel about those dynamics and how do both authors and readers benefit from that kind of environment? How do you enjoy making and keeping in contact with your readers?

Meb: I draw energy from my readers’ enthusiasm. I’m always surprised when they discover something in my characters that I didn’t. I get excited when they love, or hate, the characters I’ve built with a blank page and a keyboard. I love my readers, especially the reader who takes the time and energy to write a review or send me an email.

Candi: What are the advantages of the Kindle, Nook, and other e-reader devices? Isn’t there something to be said about a real paper and ink book in hand as one sits by the fireside of home and reads?

Meb: I’ve been a reader a lot longer than a writer, and reading a paper book is a sensual act for me. I love the feel of the page, the smell of the ink, the sight of the words on the paper. That said, I can’t afford to purchase too many print books. I’m a voracious reader and appreciate the affordability of e-books. Cheaper prices mean I can buy more reading material.

Candi: Meb, you apparently have a varied background and one rich with many experiences, including the business world. How has that contributed to your writing?

Meb: As a child, I had the privilege of being exposed to many adventures while living across the Deep South and Alaska. As an adult, I enjoyed employment as a legal secretary and real estate agent until my husband drug me off the tennis court to start his own company. Dealing with the public is fodder for writing fiction.Killing-People-092713_kindle

Candi: Another challenge question: According to various surveys the average American reads fewer than 10 books per year. Which of your books would you recommend they read next, and why that book?

Meb: If the reader knows where they were when JFK was assassinated, I think they’d enjoy Harbinger of Evil set during the ten days surrounding his death. If the reader enjoys a more contemporary read about vigilantism and snipers, Killing People might be a good choice. I’ve written short stories and novellas for the reader with limited time.

Candi: Both of those themes tap into current day popular tastes in books. Now for the big question: What can readers look forward to from the writing studio of Meb Bryant in the next 12 months?

Meb: The muse and I are pounding away on the sequel to Killing People. The bad guy is scaring my critique group and me. The printed book and e-book should be completed by the fall.

Candi: Since I enjoyed your novel, Killing People, I look forward to reading the sequel! Meb, thank you for taking time to share your thoughts and giving us an inside look at your fascinating writing world.

Meb: Candi, I’m flattered you invited me to AuthorCenterStage, and hope I’ve given a morsel of information to your readers and future writers. Thank you for having me.

Candi: Here’s how you can experience the entertaining writing of Meb Bryant, author of mystery suspense, and romantic suspense thrillers:

Meb’s Online Links:

Website: http://www.mebbryant.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/MebBryant
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/meb.bryant
Google+: https://plus.google.com/111887894189711102924/posts?cfem=1

Interview with Maggie James – Psychological Thrillers

Author-CenterStage2-2Welcome!

Highly popular thriller author Maggie James is our guest on Author CenterStage for a round of questions on her writing experience. Maggie’s published novels are: His Kidnapper’s Shoes, Guilty Innocence, Sister, Psychopath, and The Second Captive. All are full-length, stand-alone psychological thrillers that work extra hard entertaining readers all through the night! Maggie, thanks for joining us and answering questions!

Maggie James: Thanks, Candi! It’s a pleasure to be here.

Candi Silk: I’ve gathered some frequently asked questions from readers to share with you. So, let’s begin with a couple of key questions: How did you arrive with pen, ink and paper in your hands one day as you began your first novel, His Kidnapper’s Shoes? What are the details that led you to write and publish psychological thrillers? Were there any particular experiences or interests that influenced you?

Maggie James: His Kidnapper’s Shoes came about through the frustration I experienced as a result of approaching my fiftieth birthday and having done nothing to achieve my ambition of writing a novel. A travel-holic, I had an epiphany whilst staying in a small town in northern Chile. I was browsing the website of a fellow writer, someone whose work I very much admire, and her prolific outpourings humbled me. I felt His Kidnapper's Shoes 1602333embarrassed and annoyed that so far in my life, all I’d done was procrastinate about becoming a novelist. Oh, I had all the excuses! Not enough time, lack of confidence – you name it. None of them held a drop of water. I resolved to change things, and fast. I travelled to Bolivia, found a hotel in the gorgeous city of Sucre, and wrote every day until I’d finished the first draft of His Kidnapper’s Shoes. The result was a behemoth of 146,000 words, requiring lots of pruning, but I’d produced my firstborn at last. Such an emotional moment, pure magic. I still get tearful when I remember it.

As for pen, paper, and ink, they didn’t come into it. I was travelling with my laptop, so everything happened in cyberland. Once I had the original idea for His Kidnapper’s Shoes, I jotted down a few notes in Microsoft Excel, and typed the novel in Word.

What led me to write in this genre? The workings of the human mind fascinate me. I don’t have a lot of time for conventional psychological theories, as they tend to change every decade, but human behaviour provides fertile material for novelists. Especially when it’s bad behaviour! I can’t say there were any particular experiences that influenced me; my books arise out of my passion for fiction twinned with my interest in psychological issues.

Candi: What a wonderful first-novel experience, and inspiring! How old were you when you first noticed your desire to put words on paper to tell a story? What were early influencers, books, people?

Maggie James: I’ve always had the desire to write, in particular novels. When I was a child, I never doubted that I’d be a novelist one day. Oh, the hubris of youth! Fast forward to my adulthood, and a chronic lack of confidence, along with an absence of self-discipline, ensured I didn’t even try for several decades. Now I kick myself for having wasted so much time. These days, I’m far more confident, and my self-discipline isn’t bad either.

Maggie James, Author

Maggie James, Author

Early influencers? I’m one of those people who can’t remember learning to read, as I could do so long before attending primary school. For that, I have my father to thank, as well as for my love of books. He was always a voracious reader, in particular the classics. As for books, every one I’ve read, whether good or bad, has influenced me in some way. The good ones inspire me to improve my craft with every word I write. The not-so-good ones help me to spot what mistakes to avoid. It’s all a giant learning curve, and I’ll never stop climbing it.

Candi: Well, your top-quality novels reflect your passion and your command of the writing craft. One of the most popular fiction genres today is the thriller category. What are the ingredients or elements that turn a plain vanilla thriller into a psychological thriller?

Maggie James: I think it comes back to human behaviour, and the fascinating way that people conduct themselves. ‘There’s nowt so queer as folk,’ as we say in the UK! A thriller’s plot needs something dark and twisted for it truly to thrill; there has to be a strong element of human weirdness. For example, even though I dealt with the topic in my fourth novel, The Second Captive, the phenomenon of Stockholm syndrome still baffles me. Half of me understands how a victim can empathise with his/her abuser, and the other part of my brain can’t get to grips with it.

Candi: I agree, Maggie. It’s the multi-sided issues or situations in a novel that challenge the characters and entertain readers. So, what is a typical writing day like for you? When does it begin and end? And do you use a lot of expensive equipment or materials in writing your novels?

Maggie James: I’m a night owl by inclination, but sadly that doesn’t work for me when it comes to writing. For some perverse reason, I’m at my most creative in the morning. At present I’m trying a new regime, whereby I get up at 6 AM each day and either start work by 7 AM, or 8 AM if I go to the gym first. I’m finding I get much more done that way although it’s a Herculean effort for me to prise myself from under the duvet at such an ungodly hour. I work until midday, then break for lunch and a walk. I begin again at 2 o’clock and work through until 5 PM. Mornings are spent on writing work, whether that’s plotting, editing, or actual writing, with the afternoons involved in marketing and social media activities. My website contains a fiction blog, which I update every Wednesday. I’ve really taken to blogging, and love crafting my weekly post.

I’m easily distracted by Twitter, Google Plus and the like, so I need to focus when I write. I unplug the phone and don’t switch on my mobile. Tweaking my website can be another huge time sink for me.

I often take the weekends off to recharge my creative batteries. As for materials, I use the marvellous (and inexpensive) software called Scrivener for all stages of the process, whether it’s plotting, editing or writing. Scrivener also formats my final documents seamlessly into Kindle and e-book format for me. I’ve often said that, were Scrivener human and male, I’d marry him in a flash! It’s that great.

What else do I use? Well, I’m dictating the answers to these questions via voice recognition software. I’m an appalling typist, and whatever gives my wrists a rest is good for me. Sadly, I find it impossible to use such software for creative purposes; my brain won’t work that way. If it did, I’d probably dictate my novels rather than type them.

Candi: I’m glad you mentioned your blog; I enjoy each time I visit there. Another popular question is: Have you experienced writer’s block, and how do you deal with it or prevent it?

Maggie James: In the past, I’ve sided with those who believe writer’s block doesn’t exist. After all, you never hear of lawyer’s block, or truck driver’s block. It helps that I plan my novels beforehand, so I always have an outline for what comes next. It’s not restrictive; if I want to write out of order I do. With the outline in place, though, it’s hard to get blocked.

Having said that, I’m now more of a believer in writer’s block, as a form of it afflicted me during my recent trip to Asia. Following computer failure, I had to resort to pen and paper, which doesn’t work for a technophile like me. I was getting some great ideas for the plot of my fifth novel, but couldn’t bring any of them to a satisfactory conclusion. I’m still working on unblocking myself!

Candi: I have every confidence you’ll crash through any blocks or barriers. To what extent do your story characters shape your novels? What do they add? Isn’t it enough to just tell the story sort of like a newspaper article? You know, just the facts? What distinctions do characters bring to a story?

Maggie James: Characters bring a novel to life! As you’ve said, without them, the storyline would just be a recital of facts. Many humans are insatiably nosy and fascinated by others’ behaviour. It’s not enough for a novelist just to list the bare bones of a situation. Facts are the clothes, and characters are the body on which the writer drapes them. Given compelling characters, the reader will engage with them whatever the storyline. Charles Dickens is renowned for his characterisation; what would his novel ‘Nicholas Nickleby’ be without the wonderfully named Wackford Squeers? Or take Hannibal Lecter. He’s a Guilty Innocence 2686223cannibalistic murderer, rendered unforgettable by Thomas Harris making him a connoisseur of culture. A seeming contradiction, yet it works. Pass me some fava beans and Chianti…

I’ve loved creating my characters. Mark Slater in ‘Guilty Innocence’ posed a particular challenge. He’s flawed in so many ways, yet I hope I’ve made the man worthy of empathy. Yes, he was involved in a horrific murder, but the circumstances are extenuating. Besides, he does his best to redeem himself and the situation. (Redemption was a key theme in the novel). In the end, he emerges from his trials a better, stronger person.

Candi: Maggie, I have found your characters well-developed and they were like familiar neighbors as I read from chapter to chapter! I noticed the setting for each of your novels is your hometown area. In what way was that a help or a hindrance? Were there any particular responses or repercussions from local citizens?

Maggie James: Setting my four novels in my home town of Bristol has helped me enormously. Location has not been a huge factor so far; my books could be set in Manchester, Glasgow, or Birmingham. The story would be the same. Thus it made sense for me to base them in Bristol, the city I know so well, as it cut the amount of research required. I’d far rather spend my time delving into the psychological issues that underpin my themes, than checking out locations via Google Earth or whatever. There have been no particular repercussions either way – so far!

I’m a huge travel fan, so it’s likely that future novels may be set in other places, either in the UK or abroad. It’s fair to say, though, that plotline and characterisation will always be more important to me than location when it comes to writing.

Candi: How do you conceptualize or layout the plan of your approach to the plot for a novel you’re about to write? What’s the time sequence like? Is it finished over a cup of coffee or over a period of days or weeks? And what are the particular challenges of the process of solidifying and nailing down the plot?

Maggie James: I always start with an idea I’m keen to examine, summarising it into a sentence. Next, I use Randy Ingersoll’s Snowflake Method to flesh out that sentence into a full-blown outline. It’s a great system for a natural planner like me. You expand your idea, making it ever more complex, similar to a snowflake, until it’s fully formed.

Once my snowflake is complete, I draft a rough sequence of events via a timeline, aimed to fit in thirty or so chapters. That’s flexible, of course, but it gives me a starting point.

As I mentioned before, I do all this in Scrivener, which allows me to chop and change things as I choose. What I love about the software is that I can store my research notes in there, instead of having to reference separate files on my computer. The other benefit is that as I write, I’m able to split my screen so that my notes are at the bottom, always within view. It keeps me on track with what I intend to produce that day.

As for the time sequence, it’s never finished over a cup of coffee! It takes me a week before I arrive at a good working outline with which to start. Then I use Scrivener to check that the storyline flows well and that I’ve tied up all loose ends. However, nothing is set in stone, and I often find that once I start writing, things don’t turn out the way I’d planned. Perhaps I’ve allocated a chapter to something that merits no more than a scene, or vice versa, or else a character takes the story down a different route. That’s fine – I’m never rigid about my outline, and if things have to change then so be it. All part of the fun of being a novelist!

Candi: How long does it take you to write and publish a book, from start to finish? It must be easy and simple with all the advanced technology available today. Are there any major ups and downs during that process?

Maggie James: It takes me at least six months. Of that, a month is spent planning, two writing, and three polishing, editing and formatting. In the middle of the process, after writing the novel, I set it aside for a month, to go ‘cold’ on it. That way, when I edit, I can approach what I’ve written with a fresh eye.

The writing time is intense. That was particularly the case for my second and third novels (Sister, Psychopath and Guilty Innocence), which I wrote for the annual NaNoWriMo competition. What’s that, you say? Well, it’s a madcap event which involves writing at least 50,000 words of a novel during November each year. It’s great fun; I’ve entered twice SP3342107_orignow, and will do so again. Why? Because it concentrates the mind on writing, whilst providing the fun of entering a global contest. The camaraderie and support amongst fellow NaNo-ers is incredible! And if you can manage 50,000 words in one month, it’s not so big a stretch afterwards to zoom towards the finish line.

You’re right; new technology and developments have facilitated publishing enormously. Amazon’s platform is a breeze to use, and has delivered many writers from the grind of query letters and being tied to the pitiful rates paid by the old-style publishing houses. No agents’ cuts, either. E-books have revolutionised an industry that needed a thorough overhaul.

The ups and downs? There aren’t many. Life intrudes at times, but writing is a joy. I’m privileged to be able to indulge myself this way, thanks to my wonderful readers, who have been so supportive.

Candi: So you’re saying writing and publishing is not 100% easy. So, what advice do you have for a person, my neighbor down the street, who says she wants to write a book;? she’s got this great idea for a bestseller book. Should she enroll in the nearest college writing class, buy 10 books on writing, or what?

Maggie James: Both are good ideas; I’m not in any writers’ groups or classes myself, but I know other authors praise them as a means of getting support and feedback. Rather than groups/classes, books are my preferred way of learning, and there are many stellar ones available for wordsmiths. Take Stephen King’s ‘On Writing’, or anything by K M Weiland or Roz Morris, for example. Newbies need to study plotting, characterisation, and arcs, along with punctuation, spelling, etc., if those are weak areas for them.

One of the most important things is to devour fiction like it’s chocolate cake. I believe it’s been shown that most great writers are voracious readers. Provided the books are well written, there’s something about reading that makes you absorb the basics of the craft.

Having said that, I guess it’s common for many people to declare ‘Oh, I’d love to write a book!’ and for it to be a pipe dream. Let’s be clear – writing a novel is a wonderful experience, but it’s a long hard slog. You need to be prepared for a marathon rather than a sprint. Take the annual NaNoWriMo competition – only 15 to 17% of entrants stay the course and complete their 50,000 words.

Candi: Great advice, Maggie! Okay, time for a challenge question: You’ve just been notified that you’ll be teaching a university course entitled: Writing Your First Psychological Thriller. What 3-4 points or pillars would you consider essential to the course?

Maggie James:

1. I’d advise my students to read as much fiction as possible in the psychological thriller category. They need to know what other novelists have written, how they advance their plot, keep the reader’s interest, etc. Reading widely in the genre is essential.
2. I’d teach the basics of the craft – plotting, characterisation, etc.
3. Where to get inspiration. How to identify viable ideas.
4. The mechanics that underpin creating a novel. Identifying when and where the students will write, how much time per day they will spend on the craft, the practicalities of writing (via computer, longhand, dictation, whatever), setting a timescale for completion, and daily word count goals. Good routines and the right mind-set are crucial elements.

Candi: What are the biggest challenges facing new writers today?

Maggie James: One of the biggest problems is visibility. With the advent of e-readers, and the popularity of Amazon’s Kindle programme, the market has flooded by new writers. How do you stand out in such a crowd? There aren’t any shortcuts, and overnight success happens only to a select few. If you want to be successful, you have to stop thinking of novel writing as a hobby and treat it as a business. Act like a professional. That means getting to grips with marketing, as well as social media, budgeting, etc. None of that comes easily to many authors, who simply yearn to get on with their writing. They’re reluctant to worry about search engine optimisation, creating a website, or blogging. That’s understandable, and I can relate to such feelings. It’s not enough to write a book, though, no matter how good. If nobody knows it exists, it’ll sink like the proverbial stone. Marketing is key.

It’s the best time ever to be a novelist, but the profession isn’t an easy route to riches.

Candi: It’s been reported that Amazon has over ten million titles (books) listed on their website. What are the challenges for readers in selecting “goodreads” from that many choices? What’s your best advice for readers on how to choose an interesting book?

Maggie James: Word-of-mouth recommendation always works well. If I know that a friend who has similar interests in reading has enjoyed a particular book, I’m more likely to try it. Online reviews are also important, once you weed out ones left by Internet trolls. They’re usually easy to spot, given their brevity and vitriol. Goodreads is a haven for book lovers; joining one of the thousands of groups on the site can bring a wealth of new material to a ‘to be read’ list. So many books, so little time…

Candi: Let’s take a look back for a moment. If you could start your writing career over, what two or three things would you do differently and why?

Maggie James: Oh, that’s an easy one! I’d be more of a planner right from the start. I shudder now to think of the way I wrote His Kidnapper’s Shoes, with little forethought or organisation involved. If only I’d known back then that sitting at a computer and waiting for one’s muse to visit isn’t a great idea. Not for me, anyway. I guess it’s understandable that a beginner hasn’t a clue where to start, though. I’m still tweaking my technique and the way I streamline my working life. There’s always room for improvement! I wish I’d had Scrivener from the word go, but it wasn’t available (apart from in beta form) when I started writing novels.

I also made the classic rookie mistake by writing a novel without a marketing plan or website in place. If I was starting over, I’d get a blog going, learn the basics of marketing, and explore the various distribution channels first. That way, once I’d finished the book, I’d be able to move seamlessly into promoting it, and expand the blog into a full-blown website for my fiction. Ah, the joys of hindsight…

Candi: I hope all wanna-be-a-writer visitors are listening and taking notes. Maggie, some have said writing is not an end result, but a journey that never ends. Do you agree or disagree with that and why?

Maggie James: I both agree and disagree. For me, for individual books, writing is a journey that does have an end, on the final page. For example, The Second Captive dealt with the theme of Stockholm syndrome. It’s a fascinating topic I badly wanted to examine TSC 23565397via my fiction, but now I have, I can put that issue to bed. On the other hand, writing as part of life’s journey never ends. I learn more with everything I create, but have so much farther to climb up the learning curve!

Candi: From what I gather, many years ago (think post early printing presses) authors and readers rarely connected or communicated. A reader was lucky to just read the written book. But today the internet is one huge gathering place where authors and readers communicate freely. How do you feel about those dynamics and how do both authors and readers benefit from that kind of environment?

Maggie James: I think it’s great! I’m active on social media, particularly Google Plus and Twitter, and I love connecting with my readers. Otherwise, I’d be writing in a vacuum; meaningful communication between my audience and me is essential. I’ve found blogging a joy, and it’s a wonderful way to connect. I take pride in my posts and in making them look good. Unlike many authors, my blog is geared towards readers, not writers, as they’re who I aim to reach.

For readers, it’s made writers much more accessible. Gone are the old days when authors were shielded behind publishing houses and agents, seen only at book signings and other public appearances. I still get an odd reaction sometimes when I tell people I’m a novelist; it’s as if they know such creatures exist, but never expected to meet a live, breathing one!

Candi: What are the advantages of the Kindle, Nook, and other e-reader devices? Isn’t there something to be said about a real paper and ink book in hand as one sits by the fireside of home and reads?

Maggie James: I think there are pros and cons either way. I read physical books, but I also own a Nook. Because I’m an avid traveller, books always accompany me on my journeys, but I prefer to travel light. It makes sense for me to load my Nook with lots of novels before I hoist my rucksack onto my shoulder and head for the airport. That being so, curling up with a Nook isn’t the same as with an actual book. There’s something about printed pages that’s both timeless and wonderful. A well-stocked bookcase brings a room to life in a way that no e-reader ever can.

Candi: What can readers look forward to from the pen of Maggie James in the next year?

Maggie James: Good question – it’s something I’m pondering at the moment! I’m considering a series of psychological thriller short stories, to give myself a break from the long haul of writing a novel. The Second Captive burned me out, especially getting it published before my two-month trip to Thailand and Cambodia. Besides, it’ll be fun to write in a shorter format again; prior to my novels, I cut my teeth on various fanfiction offerings, of lengths between 1,800 and 27,000 words.

Also in the pipeline is my fifth novel, perhaps as part of the annual NaNoWriMo competition in November. NaNo is always such fun!

I’m also considering non-fiction offerings. What I’d love to do is encourage newbie writers by penning a guide to getting started. So many people have told me they yearn to write a novel, but find the idea daunting. I did too, for decades. If I could help anyone overcome that, I’d be delighted.

Candi: Maggie, I believe anything you would write for newbie writers would be useful in every respect. Another challenge question: Which of your psychological thrillers would you recommend to a first-time reader of your genre?

Maggie James: Hmm, difficult one! I think I’d say The Second Captive, because I think out of the four novels I’ve written, it’s most representative of the genre. Also, because it’s my most recent offering, I’m very excited about it, and keen to introduce the novel to new readers.

Candi: For me, The Second Captive was an excellent read, and your unique voice added depth to the theme of Stockholm syndrome. Maggie, thank you for taking time to share your thoughts and give readers an inside look at your fascinating writing world.

Maggie James: You’re welcome! Thank you for hosting me on your blog.

Candi: And now for a challenge assignment for Candi Silk’s Rebel Readers: Go to Maggie James’s Amazon link below and sample the first 10% of her psychological thrillers. That’s how I discovered Maggie’s talent. I was hooked after the first few pages, and I think you will be also!

Candi: Here’s how you can experience the entertaining writing world of Maggie James, author of psychological thrillers:

Maggie James’s Online Links:

Facebook: http://en-gb.facebook.com/pages/Maggie-James-Fiction/191644207648375

Twitter: https://twitter.com/mjamesfiction

LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/maggie-james/64/381/727

Google+ : https://plus.google.com/101511690389687930651

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/828751.Maggie_James

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/maggiejamesfict/

Amazon: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Maggie-James/e/B00BS9LVMI
http://www.amazon.com/author/maggiejames

Authorgraph: https://www.authorgraph.com/authors/mjamesfiction

A captivating, striking, and resonating thriller!

In The Second Captive, author Maggie James weaves an intriguing psychological thriller based upon the psychology of the Stockholm syndrome which was highlighted during a real event that took place in Stockholm, Sweden in August, 1973. However, James’s fine-tuned fingers of fiction tap out an absorbing account of much more than a rehash of a journalistic or historical rendition of a harrowing real life event. The author seems to have a fondness for taking the reader further than simple reality. And that she does with The Second Captive.TSC 23565397

James puts a modern day spin on her novel, and broadens it with deep layers of twisting suspense that ripple beyond the central character of Beth Sutton. The author cleverly coaxes the reader into a believable scenario of the “syndrome” becoming a harsh reality to an ordinary person. It is that possibility painted by the pen of James that puts the reader on the edge of one’s seat as well as the edge of reality. Scary, but that’s the rush that comes from anything James writes.

Protagonist Beth Sutton could easily be your family member, or even you, as you will discover when reading The Second Captive. James is masterful in crisscrossing the emotions and agendas of the protagonist, and antagonist, Dominic Perdue, as her novel proceeds. And Dominic wants something far beyond one’s imagination. What seems unthinkable and most unlikely, suddenly becomes all too real for all of James’s characters. And that alone peels back another layer of human relations, revealing the underlying fragility. James has a way of presenting her characters in full dimension, reflecting easily the connection between characters and reader. And that’s the point where a story becomes real, believable.

Maggie James, Author

 

My reviews never divulge story elements, but I’m more than glad to let potential readers know you won’t be disappointed with The Second Captive. James does not allow her story to drag, and neither does she fill it with fluff. Every chapter is saturated with substance. Her word choice, and plot pacing will keep your pulse pumping, as you pant and fret along with her characters, begging for some kind of resolution and relief. Proof again that the excitement James spreads with ink is felt within the emotions of readers. You don’t just read a book by Maggie James, you experience it, emotionally!

Rather than hold my gold stars captive another moment, I gladly award 5-Stars for The Second Captive! Keep writing winners for your readers, Ms. James!

Maggie James’s Amazon Author Page.

A tempting tangle of psychological thrills!

Psychological thriller fans will be in their comfort zone when reading Sister, Psychopath, a mind-stretching novel by author Maggie James.

Initially the author introduces the reader to some seemingly ordinary polite individuals. That lasts for a few pages, and then things become a little off-center. As James’s characters unleash their personal agendas driven by deep-seated motivations, the reader is very likely to hug the edge of their seat, maybe even gnaw a couple fingernails to the quick. Remember Sister, Psychopath is a psychological thriller. It’ll mess with your mind, and I loved it!

Maggie James

James has mastered the craft of developing stand-out characters, whether the likable heroines or the despised villains. The author has a way of letting her characters tell the story to the reader in such a way that the full force of those characters comes alive on the pages of her books. Her characters could easily be the reader’s next door neighbor or in the case of Sister, Psychopath, the characters could be the reader’s family members, or one of the characters could easily be the reader. Yes, you! But that’s the chilling backbone of a psychological thriller, realizing there are no boundaries when it comes to thoughts and motivations of the human being.

Sister, Psychopath is a perfect example of short-circuiting motivations that seem to be plentiful with James’s characters. No one has a corner on deceit, and no one has a monopoly on revenge. Neither does one individual have a lock on greed or scheming. But most important no one owns the process of rationalization which is rampant and rife in Maggie James’s novels. It’s that full-throttle quality that is an enjoyable hallmark of her books. Her characters generate maximum conflict and tension from their rationalizing, thus providing a harvest of psychological thrills for her readers.

When I finished Sister, Psychopath I was tempted to book an appointment with the therapist down the street, just to get my head straight. But I decided against that idea; thought I’d wait until I read Maggie James’s next psychological thriller, The Second Captive, according to James’s website. Then I’ll be ready for some serious mind-straightening therapy.

It only takes a little rationalization for me to give a Five-Star rating for Sister, Psychopath. A mind-bending read and hours of entertainment! I’ve cleared more space on my reading shelf for another Maggie James novel. Well done, Ms. James!

Maggie James’s Amazon Author Page.

Maggie James – Five-Star Author

A riveting psychological suspense thriller!

If you’ve ever tried to separate the variety of flavors swirling together in a fully-loaded ice cream sundae, dripping with succulent tastes, you know the impossibility. Well, Maggie James does something equally impossible with Guilty Innocence, her psychological suspense, in which she separates an intricate mosaic of the human psyche. And she succeeds.

James serves the reader a shocking event in the first few pages of her novel. But rather than leave you with a simplistic journalistic version, she meticulously peels off the layers of complex psychological connections between and among the characters. The author gives the reader plenty of time to know the full dimensions of her intriguing characters.

Guilty Innocence 2686223

The story of Guilty Innocence slowly wraps the characters in a web of emotion and deliberation that catches the reader off guard. Keeping the reader guessing is a hallmark of Maggie James as she comfortably exposes her story, while stripping the psychological cover-ups from the souls of her characters. Yes, you’ll see everything, up close, as if sitting in the jury box of a courtroom.

Be prepared to find yourself in a dilemma, as you deliberate the deeper meaning of Guilty Innocence. The author gives the reader all the pieces, but as judge and jury you’ll still be pondering the “what ifs” long after you turn the last page. That’s what I enjoy about Maggie James’s books, her stories continue to resonate.

With that in mind, as a reader, I’m “guilty” of enjoying Guilty Innocence, but I innocently award it Five Gold Stars. Another splendid piece of writing, Ms. James!

Maggie James’s Author Page.