I was invited by fellow author and HWA and ITW member Brian Pinkerton to participate in this blog Q&A about the new book (or books) we are working on.

I am supposed to link to 5 other authors.

Yesterday, I took part in a Southpark Mall (Moline, IL) signing with 15 authors present, and I distributed the directions to many of the authors present. None took me up on it, but I’m waiting for Cathy Scott to get back to me. Aside from Cathy, who does not live in this remote area on the border of Iowa and Illinois, and possibly Cathy Mitchell (who lives in Canada), I spent a fair amount of time explaining what a Virtual Tour was to three of the authors present, so it is perhaps not too surprising that nobody jumped at my offer to participate in The Next Big Thing.

So, far, I have ZERO authors to link to, but I would like to give credit to Brian Pinkerton, whose novel “Rough Cut” is truly good(yes, I have read it, and I liked it), and whose new one (which he writes about on the Goodreads blog below) is, no doubt, equally good.

Here is a link to Brian’s post:


And author Cathy Scott will be posting on this blog the first week in December: http://www.womenincrimeink.com/

Question 1: What is the working title of your book?

The working title of the second book in a 4-book series is “Red Is for Rage.” The first book, “The Color of Evil,” came out in paperback in March and is the winner of an E-book Award from Jenkins group, as well as a Silver Feather from IWPA (Illinois Women’s Press Association). The second book in the series is “Red Is for Rage.” There will be two more books, the way I have it currently planned.

Question 2: Where did the idea for your book come from?

The basic story premise of a small boy with the power to see “auras” around others that tell him whether someone is good or evil was contained within a short story in my first “Hellfire & Damnation” collection, which won an ALMA (American Literary Merit Award) award. Tad McGreevy can see colors around others and, at night, he has nightmares in which he vividly relives the crimes of the evil-doers. However, he has no way to harness this power and it is not necessarily “predictive,” as he doesn’t know if the crimes are happening now, about to happen, or have already occurred in the past. The original story title was “Puffer-Fish.” That was changed to “Living in Hell” when I used the story within the first of my “Hellfire & Damnation” (www.HellfireAndDamnationTheBook.com) series. I felt guilty at leaving Tad in a bad place, so I decided to jump him forward 8 years from his 8th birthday party ( he is completely recovered and is a junior in high school) and give him a fighting chance to survive in this battle of Good versus Evil.

Question 3: What genre does your book fall under?

My book is variously classified as dark suspense, thriller or horror. I prefer dark suspense. It is a YA (Young Adult) novel aimed at older teenagers who are at least juniors in high school or older and on into the early twenties. It is currently “recommended” on a preliminary ballot in the YA Novel category for the Bram Stoker (R) which means nothing, since there are many others similarly “recced.” Still, it is nice to know that someone liked the book, and I was interviewed by Cyrus A Webb for his radio show, indicating he had read (and enjoyed) the book. I am currently a member of both ITW (International Thriller Writers) and HWA (Horror Writers Assocation).

Question 4: What actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

I would let the casting directors find fresh, young new talent. This is a novel about high school-aged protagonists and I’m sure there are plenty of new Megan Foxes and Tara Reids just dying to play a role like Tad McGreevy (the hero), or Jenny SanGiovanni (his blonde crush) or Stevie Scranton (a role not unlike Stifler in “American Pie”).

First proposed cover, some of which has been cut off…no idea why.

Question 5: What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

“Carrie” meets television’s “The Medium” meets “The Fury.”

Question 6: Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I am represented by AAA Agency (Nancy Rosenfeld) of Chicago, but the last book I self-published after a major house sat on it for ONE FULL YEAR, so I’m inclined to self-publish the sequel, as well. I’ve already contracted for the cover art, and I’d really like readers to let me know which of the two covers I picture here is “best.” Write me back and let me know which one you prefer. Both are by Paula Phanback, who is working with me on the covers for the remaining books in the series.

Question 7: How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
It took me about a year to write “The Color of Evil” and I’m 15,000 words from being “done” with “Red Is for Rage.” Since the best output I can hope for is 4,000 words a day, I have to finish “Ri4R” before we get on a plane and fly to Sydney to visit our daughter in Australia and New Zealand. That is January 12th, so the second book will be done in a year, also, and out in early 2013 (some time in Jan/Feb./March). The Beta readers are poised and my editor is standing by.

Question 8: What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

I can only report that reviewers have compared my writing to Philip K. Dick, Stephen King and Dean Koontz. I am trying to write the way I write, and to do the best job I can do, after teaching writing for 33 years, so I’m just trying to be the best “me” I can be. (Which sounds like an Army recruitment slogan!). I do not have any other book I can point to that reminds me of this, except, as mentioned, the “Carrie,” “The Fury” type plots of early King.

This is Proposed Cover #2. Let me know which you prefer. I am not sure why it is cutting off some of the cover (the part with my name, mainly) but if it is just losing my name, it is a small loss.)

\Question 9: Who or what inspired you to write this book?

I taught writing for 33 years at various colleges and at the junior high school level, and I started writing for my hometown newspaper (the Independence Bulletin Journal & Conservative) at the age of ten. I am very familiar with students this age and with the area in which the book is set (Cedar Falls, Iowa and towns nearby) plus I interviewed Sam Amirante (John Wayne Gacy’s attorney) for various quirks of serial killer John Wayne Gacy’s speech, since there is a Killer Clown in the story that Tad inadvertently meets on the occasion of his 8th birthday party.
I’ve also had 5 students on Illinois’ Death Row at the same time, so I have a pretty good feeling for the less desirable students and how they might act and think. Plus, I grew up in a small town in Iowa that housed the largest mental institute in the state (Independence Mental Health Institute).

Someone once said to me, upon learning this, “You were just born to write this stuff, weren’t you?” I laughed, and then I thought about it and answered, “I guess so.”

Question 10: What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

If what I’ve written above doesn’t pique your interest and you aren’t interested after visiting www.TheColorOfEvil.com, you probably aren’t my audience, but keep reading. There are other writers I may be linking to who write completely different things. And please be advised that THE COLOR OF EVIL will be FREE as a Kindle download on Amazon on December 10, 11, 12, 13 and 14.

I should also add that my writing does not dwell on gore for the sake of gore. It is more psychological horror, a la Hitchcock, with “Sixth Sense” endings something I strive for in short stories. You might wish to try reading the 99 cent short story “The Bureau” online (e-book) or the collection of short stories just out, “Hellfire & Damnation II,” which has received good reviews, if you’re not willing to commit to the long haul with Tad McGreevy and friends in 4 novels. There’s also a lot in the book about tetrachromacy, whcih I will not attempt to explain here, but let’s just say it’s something that has just been discovered and was fascinating to me when I learned about it.