Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Profile: Donna Galanti, Author of ‘A Human Element’

Donna Galanti writes murder and mystery as well as middle grade adventure fiction. She is an International Thriller Writers Debut Author of the paranormal suspense novel A Human Element, the short story collection The Dark Inside, and the forthcoming Joshua and The Lightning Road.
Galanti, Donna 2An avid reader as a child, Galanti grew up in a nurturing environment, immersed in books such as The Hobbit,Little House in the Big Woods,The Island of the Blue DolphinsMy Side of The MountainCall of the Wild andWhite Fang. “My favorite author was Roald Dahl and my favorite book of his was Danny the Champion of the World,” says Galanti, whose dark imagination ran wild from the start.
From her early years in England to her later work in Hawaii as a U.S. Navy photographer, Galanti always dreamed of becoming an author. She wrote her first murder mystery screenplay at the tender age of seven. She had a career in writing for marketing and communications and ran her own resume writing service, but it wasn’t until her mother died five years ago that she began writing novels out of her grief. Eventually, that grief turned to peace, when she fully realized what it was she truly loved to do: becoming a storyteller. In addition to being a full-time author, Galanti also works part time as a freelance copywriter for an advertising agency.
“I write from the dark side with a glimpse of hope. I am drawn to writing the hero’s journey – more so the tormented hero, and tormented villain. I enjoy creating empathy for both by blurring the lines between good and evil,” states the author, whose first two books in The Element TrilogyA Human Element and A Hidden Element (Imajin Books, August 2014) are both full of murder and mystery with a dash of steam, and both have their own tormented hero and villain. “I slay my own demons through my writing – and I highly recommend it!” she says.
A Human Element, just released by Imajin Books, is the thrilling, unrelenting page-turner story of Laura Armstrong. Her friends and family members are being murdered and, despite her unique healing powers, she can do nothing to stop it. Determined to find the killer, she follows her visions to the site of a crashed meteorite in her hometown, where she eventually unravels a terrifying secret that binds her to the killer.
The book has already garnered excellent praise from New York Times bestselling author Jonathan Maberry and international bestselling author M.J. Rose.
Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000040_00067]Galanti lives in an old farmhouse – sadly, with no ghosts – with many fireplaces where she often curls up to create her page-turners. Other times she works in her office overlooking the woods. Throughout the year she meets weekly with a women’s writing group at a café where they write together and share advice and their success stories.
“When I am creating a new book I love to sit outdoors overlooking the woods with a pen and notebook and handwrite my ideas. My thoughts are slowed down this way as my brain connects to pen in hand, and it opens my mind up to brainstorm,” says the author, describing her creative process. “There is nothing more freeing creatively to journal story ideas and throw all sorts of ‘what if?’ questions out there to find the kernel of a good story you want to pursue. Then I create character worksheets and type up a ten page synopsis of the book. I do all this before I write that first word of the story. And I always create a title first! It’s what drives my inspiration for the story.”
Galanti began writing A Human Element seventeen years ago from a vision she had while driving to work one day. She wrote two chapters and shelved them for over a decade. When she finally decided to continue the story, she wrote Monday through Friday from 4:30am to 6:30am. After seven months she typed THE END.
All writers have their stronger and weaker points, and for this author, revision is her favorite process. That’s where she can make her story shine. “Knowing how important this process is has been one of my strong points,” she says. “There are many layers to a story to be found after you write that first draft, and that’s what I love to do: peel back the layers.” One area she struggled in for a long time was to slow down her writing. She can be a very fast writer, creating pages and pages of words that often would need to be trimmed down. She has since then learned to slow down her writing and craft her words with care as she writes them, so she doesn’t have to spend so much time on revision.
In an era when small presses, the good, the bad and the ugly, abound, Galanti’s experience has been nothing but positive. “My experience with Imajin Books has been amazing!” she says of her Canadian-based publisher. “Imajin Books is dedicated to working with me to help my books succeed. The owner, Cheryl Kaye Tardif, is a bestselling author in her own right.” Imajin Books was very responsive and provided in-depth editorial guidance as well as marketing plans, not to mention fantastic book cover designs. The publishing industry is notorious for being slow-moving, but in the case of The Element Trilogy, Imajin Books made the process quick and efficient.
As with many authors, Galanti finds starting a new book most challenging. The first blank page can be a scary thing, until the story takes over, propelling your main character into his new unbalanced world toward the ultimate end. However, being an author can be extremely rewarding. “When it comes to readers, there is nothing more thrilling than reading wonderful reviews about your book that you spent months, or years, creating and shaping,” she says. “It’s from that private place in your heart, where you love the most – and hurt the most – that you pour out pages to show the world. And it’s all worthwhile when you discover that others have been touched by your story, just as you were touched while you were writing it. Second, it’s rewarding to pay it forward to up-and-coming authors. There is a wonderful feeling that comes from speaking to writers about your publishing journey and sharing advice and techniques on how to find success as an author, and hope that they do.”
Galanti is currently working on the idea for the third and final book in The Element Trilogy called, A Healing Element, and gearing up to release book 2, A Hidden Element, on August 28th. A native of upstate New York, the author now lives in Southeastern Pennsylvania with her family in an old farmhouse. It has lots of writing nooks, fireplaces, and stink bugs, but she’s still wishing for a castle—preferably with ghosts.
Connect with the author on Facebook Twitter and her Blog.
This profile was originally published in Blogcritics

Interview with Aubrey Coletti, author of the Academy series

Aubrey Coletti is a singer-songwriter, dancer, and the author of Altered and Shattered, Books One and Two in The Academy Series. She can be found on her website

Connect and socialize with Aubrey on Twitter or Facebook.

Connect & Socialize!


About the Books:

When Toni, Joseph and Charlie arrive at their new boarding school, they are glad to leave their families — and respective problems — behind. Isolated as boarders, they meet a handsome senior with a personality like iced snake's blood, teachers with a penchant for physical punishment, and four other outcasts who reveal that their being brought to the Academy wasn't random at all. When the arrivals discover that their new school is engaged in "behavior modification" through electric shocks, isolation, restraints, and an ever-evolving set of methods to "fix" them, they declare war on their Academy. During their campaign of sabotage, they fight, hate, scorn, love, and begin to uncover the reasons why they were brought to the school. But as their war against the school escalates beyond their control, will they become the very things the Academy believes they are: dangerous, delinquent — and mad?

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Discuss this book in our PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads by clicking HERE

School’s in session at J. Alter Academy, and for Toni, Joseph, Ann, Charlie, and their boarder friends, that means they are still at the mercy of its draconian ways. While suffering the harsh consequences of their attempted escape, the seven teens must also contend with the formidable Headmistress and her taste for human experimentation — with the boarders as her favorite subjects. The seven friends play a delicate, dangerous game as they seek to discover the secrets behind their school and their own unique abilities. Yet as they move closer to uncovering the truth, will one of them be forced to pay the ultimate price?

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Can you tell us what your book is about?

“Altered” is the story of a group of teens sent to J. Alter Academy — a school that uses draconian behavior modification techniques to “fix” their problems — who decide to fight back. “Shattered” continues their story, as they try to figure out why they were chosen for their school in the first place, what makes them special.

Why did you write your books?

Two reasons; the characters came from the people around me, my family, and my friends. I had the characters developed somewhat even before I knew where the story was going. But it was when I found out that schools and behavior modification centers and camps existed — and still exist — that do the things detailed in the book to real teenagers that I realized I had a purpose to writing. I’m someone who deals with mental illness, who has a family history of mental illness, and who has friends with mental illnesses. And to find out, as a teenager, that there are still places where kids can be shocked, deprived of food, held in dangerous choke holds, kept in stress positions, cut off from their families, subjected to mental and physical abuse in the name of un-scientifically supported “treatment” — legally? It was horrifying. Realizing places like this exist, and exist near to where I lived, that gave me the setting for the characters. Everything grew from that.

Can you tell us a little about your main and supporting characters?

There are three characters we meet at the beginning who have been brought to the school; Toni, Joseph and Charlie. There is another who is in their same year who has always lived in the town and is starting the school; Ann. They are the main POV characters. Charlie is very quirky, cute, and intelligent, but also chronically terrified: she’s been sent to the school because all other treatments for her schizophrenia have failed. Joseph is witty, sarcastic, funny, and passionate; he has been sent to J. Alter Academy because of his behavioral problems and history of starting fires. Ann is feisty, fiery, and impulsive — because she’s also been labeled a problem child due to her drinking, she is not living in her own home. Toni is sassy, clever, and incisive; she considers herself “normal” but is hiding a secret that bubbles up in her panic attacks. Once at the school they meet Anton, Lieutenant, and Melvin, who are the ringleaders of the little group fighting back. These friends have to square off against the principal, Mrs. Carter, who believes she is doing what’s best for the children even when literally shocking them; and the Headmistress, whose reasons for creating and controlling the school are much more complex and mysterious.

Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?

Oh, definitely influenced by real people! But once you take your characters and place them in a situation different from your own, they really develop beyond what you can control or even conceive. For example, one of my oldest friends was the prototype for Toni. She was initially wary about how her character didn’t have some of the unique “abilities” of the other students. But by the end of the book my friend really loved her, and felt the character was so much her own person that she could view Toni as a separate being (albeit one who used some of her coolest lines!)

Open the book to page 69.  What is happening?

Toni and Charlie have just seen two of their friends taken away to be disciplined with skin shocks. They are trying to avoid the attention of the guard on the bus, and to sneak a look at the note Anton has slipped them telling them where to meet that night.

Is it hard to promote a Young Adult book and where do you start?

For me it is, because while Young Adult is hot right now (rightly so, I’d say, since adolescence is such an exciting, intense time, and thus is already a perfect stage for drama and change) most of the market is taken up by large, traditionally published books. And for a book published by a small press, it’s hard to make a dent. Especially with mine, I think, since “Altered” and “Shattered” involve a couple of genres; YA, thriller, science-fiction, romance. It mostly comes down to asking for reviews, and talking to everyone you know. The main way we all decide to read books is whether people we know recommend them. So you have to really let everyone you know know about your books, because you can never tell who might become a fan!

What would you do with an extra hour today if you could do anything you wanted?

Work on the third book in The Academy series! Seriously; I am always in danger of procrastinating, so any extra time I can use I spend working. Or trying to.

Which holiday is your favorite and why?

Oh, so many! But it has to go to Halloween. Dress up, candy, witches and pumpkins — all the things I love. It’s like a national cosplay day. Whee!

What do you like to do for fun?

Read! Also belly dance — I love dancing period, hip-hop, jazz, etc. But belly dance is specifically the type of dance I think I’m best at, perhaps because it already combines multiple styles of dance from many different countries and cultures. Like a delicious, tasty, dance soup. I also write songs, swim, and bake. And TV! I am addicted to TV. My favorite show of all time so far is “Nikita” and I’m on the final two episodes. I hope it ends well!

What kind of advice would you give other fiction authors?

Never be afraid of criticism from those you trust, but also have people who love your work read it to keep you going. If you can find someone who loves your work — maybe not even a close friend, but someone who appreciates you mainly for your writing — they can keep you going even when you feel stuck, or tempted to give up. Their love of your characters helps you create them, makes them feel real, and that can give you a sense of responsibility towards them that can keep you working. And remember, the ones who matter are the ones who connect with your work. We’ll all have to face the fact that not everyone will love us, because people’s tastes differ. But if you have fans of your story and characters, think of your writing as a gift to them, something you’re doing in concert with them. Because it’s the love of readers, as much as your own work, that takes words written on a page in a book and breathes life into them, and makes them feel whole, real, and meaningful.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Interview with Calinda B, author of 'Looks Like Trouble To Me'

An award-winning web designer and certified SEO specialist, Calinda B has worked in the Internet industry as a web page designer/developer since the early 1990's. She has also explored crazy adventure including rock climbing, bending rebar with her throat, breaking boards with her hand, and firewalking. In addition to writing, Calinda B creates fine art and music, and enjoys scuba diving, kayaking, and havoc wreaking. Calinda B makes her home in the Pacific Northwest with the love of her life and her two red-headed cats.

Her secret mission is to inspire the planet to be chock full of loving passion and she's doing her part by working on the fourth book in The Wicked Series, tentatively entitled A Wicked Ending, or the third book in The Beckoning Series, The Beckoning of Badass Things, or maybe those are done and she's working on.... She loves to write sexy books and does it daily.

Her latest book is the erotic romance/romantic suspense, Looks Like Trouble To Me.

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About the Book:

"Last name's Savage -- it means wild and uncontrolled," Jace, a party boy, yacht builder and skilled photographer with a quicksilver temper, tells the pretty waitress at Chica Rios. He's desperate to get laid, but there's something in the way of his driving, overactive libido and the girl standing before him - trouble...big trouble, and a whole lot of it, from the trustifarian prick who works by his side, to his messed up twin sister, to the secret hiding at his house.

He sets out to woo Marine Dubois, keeping her away from his trouble at home, encouraging her to let go of her inhibitions and live “Savage style,” riding with him on the back of his motorcycle, exploring the great outdoors in a variety of oh, so delectable and naughty ways.

He ends up with way more than he bargained for. Turns out she's the kind of woman who demands the truth...and that's just not the way he rolls. He uses his sexual experience to teach Zoe how to surrender. She leverages his love for her to get him to let her in - something he's not used to. Their passionate, erotic, romantic connection keeps them bound together while the trouble he brings threatens to tear them apart at every turn.

(Mature content for audiences 18+ only.)

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Q: Thank you for this interview. Can you tell us a little bit about your writing background?
My dad’s a super intelligent, extremely creative guy, so I must have inherited his genes. In high school, I was in Advanced Placement English, a class for smart kids. My English teacher loved the way I wrote. She told me I’d be a writer someday (and believe me, I hate to be told what to do (laughs)). Shy, insecure, angry about life, I wanted nothing to do with such a boring avocation. I chose a more adventurous life, pursuing adrenaline junkie sports in my off-time and a creative variety of jobs—working with differently-abled kids through movement therapy, teaching dance, aerobics and hip hop, teaching firewalking, working in the health industry, graphic arts, and web design—to pay the bills and keep my bright, active mind stimulated.

When given the opportunity to write, I’ve often been praised. Once, I got a job writing for a financial website called Red Herring. They were wowed by my writing. I was surprised by their Wows. I’ve written website copy for corporations, individuals, companies large and small. Still, I didn’t see myself as a writer until a few years back when I challenged myself to write a book. Once I started, I’ve never stopped. I write every day. 

Q: What fact about yourself would really surprise people?

I don’t see myself as a big deal. And, I’ve done amazing things in my life—so much so that you’d think I’d be egotistical or full of myself. I retain a heaping dose of humility and gratitude for life. One of my friends used to say, “You can’t have done all the wild things you’ve told me—you must be making it up.” I assure you, I haven’t made up my crazy, wild and passionate life. But, since it’s normal to me to live in such a manner, I don’t make it, or me, out to be anything out of the ordinary. I suffer from insecurities, doubts and sorrows, just like anybody.

Q: What scares you the most?

Since I’ve already experienced near-death (see below), I can cross “fear of dying” off the list (laughs). I can handle death – its criticism that sends me spinning (more laughter). I have to say, I hate it when a reader criticizes my work and goes out of their way to point out the flaws in a book, as if they’re doing the world a favor. It stings every time, no matter how many great reviews I have for a book—the barbs always sting. And, we’re advised, as authors, to let those snarky comments roll off our backs, that they make our work look more realistic, etc., etc. Seriously? I haven’t yet found the Teflon coating that makes criticism simply bounce from my mental musings. I can grow from useful, constructive feedback, but that snarky, negative stuff? Ouch. 

Q: What makes you happiest?

When I’m immersed in the creative process, I’m seriously happy. Certifiably happy.

Q: What are you most proud of in your personal life?

One of my personal taglines is: It’s not what happened to you, it’s what you do with it that counts.

I’ve overcome a lot in my life – two abusive relationships (one, physical and emotional, the other emotional abuse), date rape, troubled past, lots of turmoil. It’s taken intense commitment and perseverance, being willing to take responsibility for my actions, self-reflection, and hard work, but it’s been worth it.

In my worst relationship ever, married to a controlling emotional abuser, I had a brain aneurysm, in a coma for six weeks, trying to decide whether to check out or stick around. I was utterly miserable in my life. I tell people, somewhat jokingly, I tried to leave him by dying. I’m so grateful to have lived. I recovered, left him three years later, and have built a happy, satisfying life with my partner of 10+ years. I’ve got two amazing kids, both young men finding their way in life. I live surrounded by beauty in the Pacific Northwest, grateful, grateful, grateful. I’m proud of not giving up on myself, taking a chance on happiness and a better life, instead of misery. Misery can be very seductive! I continue to grow and push through whatever obstacles are placed in my way, with a good man by my side.

Q: What is hardest – getting published, writing or marketing?

Writing is easy. I get lost in the stories I create. I haven’t pursued getting traditionally published very much, enjoying being an indie author (a publisher is currently interested in my work, though, which is a great confidence booster). Marketing has its ups and downs. Sometimes, it’s extremely difficult. Since I am my own marketing team, it’s difficult to know which avenue is going to bring in the most sales. While it’s immensely satisfying to create, in the end, we’d all like to make a living selling our writing.

Q: Every writer has their own idea of what a successful career in writing is, what does success in writing look like to you? 

Success in writing comes from a multitude of factors. First, being able to write well, to tell a story that moves people and makes them think, feel, emote—now that’s an art form in itself. Since readers are moved to write both glowing and scathing reviews, I believe I can check this measure of success off my list!

Being able to earn a healthy income through writing fiction would be excellent. I’m not there yet. A recent survey revealed that 54% of traditionally-published authors and almost 80% of go-it-alone writers are making less than $1,000 a year (I make more than that). A tiny proportion – 0.7% of self-published writers, 1.3% of traditionally-published, and 5.7% of hybrid writers – reported making more than $100,000 a year from their writing. 

Q: Tell us about your new book? What’s it about and why did you write it?

Most of my books deal with a theme of overcoming inner turmoil as well as using sexual connection as a means of transformation – sort of a side effect, if you will. These have been a major theme in my life, as well. 

Looks like Trouble to Me is about a sexy guy—Jace Savage, a yacht builder, photographer and party boy. He’s had his share of trouble in his life, starting with being raised by extremely judgmental, bible thumping parents who criticized and condemned him and his twin sister, praying for their souls. They both left home at age sixteen, as a result, heading out West to live with their Aunt Molly. Jace acted out, got into more trouble, got in with a bad crowd. His sister fared worse, becoming a drug addict. 

Jace has been in love once—and got his heart badly broken in the relationship, several times. He’s a handsome man with an overactive libido, out for a good time when the book begins. When he meets Zoé Dubois, he gets way more than he bargained for—he might actually have “f-f-feelings” for her. He tries in vain to keep her from the trouble he’s got at home, and boy, does he have loads of trouble! He really wants to step up to the plate and be a stand-up guy, but his past keeps getting in the way. 

Zoé demands honesty. She’s got insecurities. She’s has a dark secret that’s prevented her from pursuing her dreams. And now, her lust for Jace Savage may be in the way as well.
The story is passionate, full of angst, romance, hot sex and loads of trouble.

Q: When you are not writing, how do you relax?

As mentioned, I’ve always been an adventure junkie and outdoor enthusiast. I find the wilderness both calms and lets me clear my mind. Currently, my sweetie and I are assistant scuba instructors. We scuba dive nearly weekend (except lately as I’m recovering from a broken foot). I love being in the water, being weightless. I also enjoy kayaking, as well. Being in and around water is my form of heaven.

Q: Please tell us why we should read your book?

My editor and I worked our tails off to create a conflict laden, edge of your seat, passionate, angst-filled, erotic book. I had to laugh when one of my critics said, “there’s too much trouble and conflict to be believable”. I took much of the book from real life incidents that I, or people I know, have experienced. Truth is often stranger than fiction!

Q: What kind of advice would you give other authors just getting their feet wet?

Learn to let the critical reviews roll off your back, savor the great reviews. By all means, don’t let the snarks get you down. I really need to take my own advice (laughs). Above all, keep writing, learning, growing. Take classes. Hone your craft. Persist.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Guest Post: The Story Behind ‘Shiloh’s True Nature’ by D.W. Raleigh

Becoming an author was something I always hoped would happen, but I never dreamt of being a fiction writer.  Many years ago, when I was an undergraduate at the University of Delaware, I discovered that works of philosophy didn’t have to be strictly boring dissertations, like something Kant or Wittgenstein might write.  It was acceptable to convey philosophical ideas through storytelling, like Sartre or Kierkegaard.  Still, I saw myself constructing the former and not the latter.
Doug Raleigh PicFor the longest time, I believed I would earn a PhD in Philosophy, teach at some university, and go on to write groundbreaking works that would change the field.  That would be my life and it would be sensational.  However, when reality hit and it became clear that teaching was not my destiny, I began contemplating a future as an author.
My first attempt at fiction began with no plan, nor anything resembling an outline.  I just sat down and tried to put something together.  Upon completion, I tried to tell myself the finished product wasn’t so bad, but that wasn’t true.  The story was weak and the writing was dreadful.
Once I accepted the truth, I realized I had a lot to learn.  Never one for doing things the easy way, I decided to jump in and give it another shot without actually addressing all the things that made the first story crumby.  The result was slightly better, but slightly terrible is still terrible.
It was at that point I realized I needed to read more fiction to help myself become a better writer.  After all, how do you create a fantastic fairy-tale if you’ve never really read one?  So, I studied every book I picked up that didn’t completely turn me off by the end of the first chapter; how the stories were constructed, the writing styles, etc.
Oddly enough, it was two non-fiction books on mythology by the late Joseph Campbell that helped me the most.  The Power Of Myth and The Hero With A Thousand Faces became my blueprints to create something wonderful.  While they provided no specific subject matter, the books explained thousands of years of successful storytelling.
Motivated by Campbell’s works, I began sorting through my notes, deciding which story ideas I thought readers would appreciate the most.  I then took those ideas and began constructing the mythological framework that would become my novel.  That process took place over the course of a couple years as the story grew and evolved.
Having a meticulously constructed outline was the most important component of the whole process for me.  People will forgive mediocre writing if they’re reading a great story, but all the flowery articulation in the world won’t save a bad one.  So, once I had the story outline completed, the next task was to convert that outline into a novel.
I found the transition from outline to novel a little difficult.  I’m a daydreamer by nature, so, while the outlining process took a while, I thoroughly enjoyed it.  The actual writing was more of a rollercoaster ride.  I frequently agonized over how to properly convey what was in the outline.  However, there was great satisfaction when I could clear a linguistic hurdle and move on to the next challenge.
When I finished the first draft, I remember having a sense of elation.  My future as an author went from highly unlikely to possible.  Even though I didn’t realize how much more work I had ahead of me, perpetual editing, finding a publisher, etc, I felt good because I had finally accomplished what I set out to…and that’s how Shiloh’s True Nature was born.
About the Book
Title: Shiloh’s True Nature
Genre: YA/Fantasy
Author: D.W. Raleigh
Publisher: Hobbes End Publishing
When 12 year-old farm boy Shiloh Williams is sent to stay with his estranged grandfather, he discovers a mysterious new world inhabited by ‘Movers’. The Movers live in symbiotic harmony with one another, except one extremely powerful Mover who has stolen the town’s most precious artifact, the Eternal Flame. Shiloh investigates his supernatural surroundings, makes new friends, and begins to think of the town as home. However, just as soon as he starts to fit in, he realizes his newfound happiness is about to come to an abrupt end. One decision and one extreme consequence are all that remain.
 About the Author
D.W. Raleigh was born in the Delaware Valley and has spent most of his life in that region. He has attended multiple colleges and universities collecting several degrees, including an M.A. in Philosophy. After toiling away for many years in various unfulfilling jobs, he began to realize that what he really wanted to do was write. Scribbling down ideas and little short stories he eventually came up with something he wanted to share with the world. Thus, Shiloh’s True Nature was born. D.W. currently resides in Newark, Delaware with his longtime love, Judy, and their two cats, Lovie and Cheepie.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Interview with Horror Author Paul DeBlassie: 'Life is an undending trip leading to one state of enlightenment after another'

PAUL DeBLASSIE III, PhD, is a psychologist and writer living in his native New Mexico. A member of the Depth Psychology Alliance, the Transpersonal Psychology Association, and the International Association for Relational Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy, he has for over thirty years treated survivors of the dark side of religion.

His latest book is the psychological/paranormal thriller, The Unholy.

Visit his website at or his blog at

Please share a little about yourself, your genres, any other pen names you use.

I am a psychologist and writer. Psychological thrillers set in the mythopoeic realm of Aztlan are my specialty. They delve into dark regions of mind where good encounters evil, battle ensues, and darkness threatens to overcome light. In The Unholy, as one reader described it, things get going and then they get going stronger and faster and scarier. That’s how I write and how I enjoy
telling stories.

Tell us a little about your latest or upcoming release.

The Unholy will be followed up by The Dark Goddess. In The Dark Goddess the question of whether bad love is better than no love is asked. It takes place in the phantasmagoric realm of Aztlan where dream, visions, and natural magic are everyday happenings!

Are you a dad (or parent)?

Kathy and I have been married thirty-six years, have four grown children, two writers and two artists who grew up with the tale of The Unholy. Each of them has said that it’s been strange reading on the page what was told them years back while the novel was in formation. They’re creative individuals with a keen eye and sharp who readily picked up on the shades, shadows, and moments of enlightenment in The Unholy.

Have you ever based your book or characters on actual events or people from your own life?

Oh my gosh…the characters in The Unholy are a compilation of so many folks. These are people who suffered under the reign of organized religion. Despair and mental torment threatened their existence. I treated them in psychotherapy, others I knew as associates and friends, and was privileged to witness the unfolding drama of their courageous lives.

Is there a theme or message in your work that you would like readers to connect to?

Yes…definitely. The theme of The Unholy is Religion Kills. This refers to the dark side of religious experience that is terrifying and can be experienced in the novel as a young woman struggles against overwhelming odds. Religion has stolen from her the very foundation of her emotional life. She witnessed her mother’s murder. Dramatically, this is enacted and stated at the end of the novel as headlines of a news publication reads--Religion Kills!

When you’re not writing what do you do? Do you have any hobbies or guilty pleasures?

The greatest pleasure for me is in my marriage and family life. Three of our children are married. Getting to know them and their spouses in a new way is an exciting experience. My wife and I are getting to know each other in a new way after having spent so many years raising them. I really dig music, play folk and blues, and am an avid yogi! Life is an unending trip leading to one state of enlightenment after another!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Interview with Michael Matson, author of The Dancing Boy

Michael Matson
 Michael Matson was born in Helena, Montana, and was immediately issued a 10-gallon Stetson and a pair of snakeskin boots. After formative years spent in New Jersey, North Carolina, New York, California, Hawaii and Japan, Michael earned a journalism degree from the University of Washington in Seattle. Following a brief military stint in Oklahoma, where he first encountered red, sticky mud, heavy rain and tarantulas, he returned to Seattle and worked as an advertising agency copywriter, creative director and video producer.

In 2007 he (regretfully) left Seattle for Mexico to have time to write and has since published The Diamond Tree, a fairytale for all ages; Bareback Rider, an inspirational adventure for children; and Takeshi's Choice, a mystery novel. His short story “Gato” was selected for inclusion in Short Story America’s 2014 anthology. His second mystery novel: The Dancing Boy, was released by Dark Oak Mysteries, a division of Oak Tree Press in April 2014.

He lives with his wife María Guadalupe (Tai), in Morelia, the colonial capital city of Michoacán, where, despite all the bad publicity given the area by U.S. news media, he has never seen a narcotraficante.

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About The Book

The Dancing Boy

Treat Mikkelson is not exactly a burnt-out case but he’s grown tired of his life as a criminologist, weary of memories of a marriage gone wrong and of his time in Vietnam. Trying to burn the bridges to his past, he finds and remodels a cabin on a small Pacific Northwest Island, settles down to enjoy fishing, setting his crab pot, digging for clams and documenting the lives of his island neighbors.

When an elderly woman in the nearby tourist town of La Conner is found dead however, the victim of what appears to be an accidental fall, Mikkelson is persuaded to look into her death. The discovery that it was murder leads to something even more shocking: the human trafficking of young boys brought into the US and Canada.

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Author Interview

Can you tell us what your book is about?

The Dancing Boy is a mystery that relies on historic fact and current realities to fulfill its objective. For more than 2,000 years some Middle Eastern countries have exploited young boys for sex. Afghanistan today still continues to commit this crime against children. There, pre-adolescent boys are trained to dance, dressed as women, to entertain men. Sometimes they are sold into sexual slavery.  The Dancing Boy uses the fact of this practice to tell a story of human trafficking and murder.

Why did you write your book?

The Dancing Boy is my sixth book and grew out of my desire to write a mystery strongly linked to locations in the Pacific Northwest using current events. Many readers from that area have commented that the book brings the locations to life and that the story brought back memories of living there. One has merely to go on the Internet to discover how current the problem of child exploitation is today.

Can you tell us a little about your main and supporting characters?

Aside from the title character, the main protagonist is Treat Mikkelson, a former criminologist, tortured by the long-ago break-up of his marriage and his memories of Vietnam.  He has retired to a peaceful life of fishing and writing on a small Pacific Sound island but is drawn into an investigation that leads to the discovery of child smuggling.

Suniko Yamada is a strong secondary character, a free-thinking, motorcycle-loving, computer whiz.

A retired college professor, an apparent burned-out drunk, plays a critical role in the story’s conclusion.

Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?

Just as all politics is local so all writing, I think, is personal and based on empirical knowledge.  All of the characters in The Dancing Boy are totally made up of whole cloth. And yet, who knows what level of personal experience created them from my shelves of dusty memory?

Are you consciously aware of the plot before you begin a novel or do you discover it as you write? 

I strongly recommend all writers thoroughly outline their stories before putting words on paper.  Other writers, that is.  I seem genetically indisposed to the idea. I generally have a good idea of the plot and of the ending I wish to arrive at, but the development of the story grows in its own way and at its own pace like some mutant plant, at times totally independent of my wishes.

Does the setting play a major part in the development of your story?

The setting for The Dancing Boy plays a central part in the story. Where the main protagonist lives and why he lives there explain his character. The island-dotted inland waters of Canada and Western Washington have been used by smugglers since the days of prohibition when rum-runners relied on them to mask their movements from the authorities.

Have you suffered from writer’s block and what do you do to get back on track? 

Most writers at one time or another reach a stalling point, I think. A “where do I go from here” moment that seems to last too long. One cause probably is that the story itself is at fault. Somewhere the writer has taken a wrong turn and is subconsciously aware of it. At moments like these, one needs to review what’s been written and resolve the conflict.

What do you like the most about being an author?

I believe writers are different than doctors, mechanics, firefighters and others.  Those are chosen professions.  A writer is a writer whether he or she likes it or not.  Just as a fish is a fish. And perhaps the answer to the question could be best answered by your finny pet. Ask your goldfish or neon tetra what it likes most about being a fish and it might tell you, “Well, I like being able to swim around and not having a boss.” That answer works for me too.  I like swimming around in my mind to find ideas to develop and, since I react badly to authority, I enjoy not having someone tell me what to do. Of course, like the goldfish, there is that bowl thing to deal with.

What is the most pivotal point of a writer’s life?

I certainly can’t speak for all writers.  Writers are individuals and I’m sure every one of them would offer some different event or life experience that they considered a prime motivational point. Some of them, like myself, would possibly cite a childhood filled with books that stirred their imaginations and inspired them to create stories of their own.

What kind of advice would you give other fiction authors?

Read.  Write. Edit. Ask friends to read manuscripts and make suggestions. Edit.  Read. Write. Edit.