Thursday, May 3, 2018

Christine Evelyn Volker: The IAN Interview



Christine Evelyn Volker became intrigued by foreign cultures at an early age, which propelled her to study Spanish, German, and Italian. After securing a BA in Spanish and an MLS at University at Albany – SUNY, followed by an MBA at UC Berkeley, she was drawn to international banking and became a senior vice president at a global financial institution. Her career brought her to Italy, where she immersed herself in the language and made frequent visits to Venice. Venetian Blood, marking a return to her roots in the humanities, just won the Sarton Women’s Book Award for contemporary fiction.

She is currently polishing her second international mystery, this one set in the rainforest of Peru, an excerpt of which was a finalist in the 2018 San Francisco Writers Conference Contest.

IAN: Please tell us about your latest book.

Christine Evelyn Volker: Struggling to forget a crumbling marriage, forty-year-old Anna Lucia Lottol comes to Venice to visit an old friend―but instead of finding solace, she is dragged into the police station and accused of murdering a money-laundering count with whom she had a brief affair. A US Treasury officer with brains and athleticism, Anna fights to clear her name in a seductive city full of watery illusions. As she works to pry information from a cast of recalcitrant characters sometimes denying what she sees and hears, she succeeds in unleashing a powerful foe bent on destroying her. Will she save herself and vanquish her enemies, including her darkest fears?

A captivating tapestry of love, betrayal, and family. Venetian Blood is the story of one woman’s brave quest for the truth—before it’s too late.


IAN: Is your book published in print, e-book or both?

Christine Evelyn Volker: I’m pleased that it’s available in print, e-book, and was just released as an audiobook with an award-winning narrator, Gabrielle de CuirAmazon.com   BarnesandNoble.com   Indiebound.org

IAN: What inspired you to write Venetian Blood?


Christine Evelyn Volker: My visceral love of Venice combined with a painful period in my own life, resulting in my intense desire to tell a story and leave a mark. That’s how Venetian Blood was born.

IAN: Did you use an outline or do you just wing the first draft?

Christine Evelyn Volker: The first draft took off, crashed, was dusted off again, retrofitted, and I ultimately learned how to fly. Not using an outline meant doing it the hard way.

IAN: How long did it take to write Venetian Blood?

Christine Evelyn Volker: If I were to have consistently worked on it—around six years. Life and love intruded, the manuscript was put in a drawer, taken out again, changed, put back—you get the picture.  That added 20 years. This speaks to my persistence.

IAN: How did you come up with the title?

Christine Evelyn Volker: The book’s a murder mystery taking place in Venice, Italy, so blood is spilled, and it’s Venetian blood. There’s at least one other interpretation—you’ll have to read the book to figure that out.

IAN: What do you hope your readers come away with after reading Venetian Blood?

Christine Evelyn Volker: Appreciation, and maybe even love, for the miracle of Venice and its history. (Imagine, Venice was a republic for one thousand years!) But more importantly, I hope readers gain insights into characters and cultures different from their own, the need for equilibrium, and respect for all creatures that share the earth.

IAN: How is Venetian Blood different from others in your genre?

Christine Evelyn Volker: Generally, mine has more complexity and nuance. It’s a mystery within a mystery, which includes a protagonist, Anna, whose life is hanging in the balance. She has a big backstory which pervades her disastrous vacation. The setting is not just the mention of a few place names and menu items, but a site appealing to all the senses, one that has a rich past, and is almost a character. I use setting to foreshadow, reflect moods, add mystery, romance, and immerse the reader in the location. This also includes liberal use of Italian.

IAN: Do you have to travel much concerning your books?

Christine Evelyn Volker: Yes, and traveling to the setting of my books is a delight. I’ve been to Venice at least 12 times, mostly when I lived in Milan. I absorb the location – like osmosis. For Jaguar Moon, my next book, I’ll need one more trip to Peru to make sure I’ve gotten everything right.

IAN: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Christine Evelyn Volker: Thank you for taking time to read my work. I’m grateful that I can share my imaginary worlds with you. I hope you enjoy the journey!

IAN: Tell us about your next book or a work in progress. Is it a sequel or a stand-alone?

Christine Evelyn Volker: I’m currently polishing Jaguar Moon, a stand-alone international mystery taking place in Cusco and the Peruvian Amazon. In 1993, thirteen-year old Marisol and her younger brother, Raul, escape from the family home in Peru the year after a coup, and flee for their lives. They enter the United States illegally and will live with an aunt who adopts them. More than a decade later, Marisol returns to Cusco, intent on discovering what happened to her parents, and reconnecting with her grandmother. A journalist, like her father, she’s assigned a story about the Amazon rainforest, but the photographer working with her goes missing there.

Marisol’s dangerous journey takes her through the cobbled streets of Incan Cusco, to the winding Sacred Valley, to the lushness of the rainforest and its dark secrets. Exploring the far corners of her country, grappling with nightmares, facing the plight of native peoples, will she be as fearless as her father in seeking the truth?

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Carl Lakeland: The IAN Interview

Carl Lakeland


I live in Australia. A one horse sleepy town called Snake Valley, roughly 35 clicks south of Ballarat. You may’ve heard of it. Ballarat is famous for the gold rush of the mid to late 1800’s. I enlisted into the military at the age of seventeen, which the time I’d spent in there gave me much juice to write about. But after leaving the military, I spent my life doing average things and living an average life. Find a girl. Get in a rock band and do some gigs. Make some money and lose it again. Make mistakes. Make the same mistakes. Lately though, I spend time with my wife and my horses, and my manuscripts that mostly live in my head until I get them out into the world. I never had any big dreams for making it in the crazy world of the big time players. I just like to write and the process of doing it makes me happy. I also get a kick out of watching my wife’s face all curl up when she’s reading my latest drafts.


IAN: Please tell us about your latest book.


Carl Lakeland: Eagle Shield was supposed to be the prequel to Project Amber (My first book)
But I changed my mind and I now call it book #1. It is a military spy thriller. However, my writing style takes me to other places and the story can easily fit into other genres. Yes, it has blood and guts. A whole lot of profanity. I write honestly and I make no apologies. It’s not for everyone and I wouldn’t give it to my kids to read. (they’re now reaching their twenties…) And the story is set in Australia’s outback with all its wonderful locations, flora and fauna. It is very fast paced. And I wrote it with a purpose to be easy to read. Readers will be left panting for breath, so, there’s no point stumbling over complicated words when everything is cracking past, half the speed of light. I have put a lot of effort into giving my characters a voice all to their own. You’ll meet classic outback Australian individuals with their slang and dialect. You’ll meet city folk who speak with an educated tongue. You’ll meet soldiers, cops, intelligence officers, and even someone who is not from this world. If someone was to ask me to describe this story in one line, I’d say, “You’d bloody-well better put your seatbelt on…” 

IAN: Is Eagle Shield published in print, e-book or both?

Carl Lakeland: Yes. Project Amber is in both formats now. Eagle Shield is in print at the time of this writing but will be in ebook very soon. I actually have a ebook on my desktop right now, ready to upload.

IAN: Where can we go to buy your books?

Carl Lakeland: You can grab a copy from links I have on my website. https://carllakeland.com There are too many buying options to list here. You will be spoilt for choice.

IAN: Did you use an outline or do you just wing the first draft?

Carl Lakeland: I’ve completed a few writing courses before I wrote my first book. In fact, Project Amber was born out of one of the courses I graduated from. The answer to this question is, yes, I wing it. We call it ‘writing into the void’. I have at least attempted to be a good boy and ‘structure first’ but it never worked for me. But I must admit, for me at least, I already have an entire novel in my head before I start to write. Just the way I am.

IAN: How did you come up with the title?

Carl Lakeland: I didn’t have a title until I was well into both books. That’s one thing I tend to leave alone. The reason is that the title is something not to take lightly. A good title will help sell a book. Message to everyone out there, do not write a title straight away. It will come to you when you least expect it. Don’t get all hung up on it. That said, I think I read a book once that was actually called, ‘Untitled”. True.

IAN: What do you hope your readers come away with after reading your books?

Carl Lakeland: A feeling that never leaves. Or at least lasts a long time.

IAN: How is Eagle Shield different from others in your genre?

Carl Lakeland: I wanted to read a spy thriller set in Australia. About ASIO and ASIS. About lies and secrets. I couldn’t find one. So I wrote one.

IAN: If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?

Carl Lakeland: Mathew Reilly. Or, Andy McNab… Or, Lee Child. No… Mathew Reilly. Really…

IAN: What book are you reading now?

Carl Lakeland: Ahem… If only I had the chance. But, I’ve been really into a book called The Hills of Mare Imbrium by Carleton Chinner. A fantastic moonscape sci-fi. Sci-Fi fans won’t be disappointed with this one. Let me tell you…

IAN: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.

Carl Lakeland: The Australian Writers Centre. A great bunch of guys to hang out with.

IAN: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?

Carl Lakeland: It’s a good question and as all writers are, we’re never completely satisfied with our final draft. There’s always something lurking. It’s a matter of letting go, I suppose.

IAN: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

Carl Lakeland: Yes. I was thirteen. I wrote a short story for a school competition. And I won. But I was never any good at reading. I was slow and still am to this day. Dyslexia. Even though there must’ve been a whole bunch of spelling and grammar issues, it was the story by itself that got the attention. My very first thriller, you could say. I was thrilled.

IAN: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?

Carl Lakeland: Mathew Reilly. No fluff. No bullshit. Just in your face writing.

IAN: Who designed the covers?

Carl Lakeland: My covers were designed by Alisha at Damonza.com. But with my input and my choice of fonts. Later, Simon Critchell who was appointed by Aurora House changed a couple of elements. And I was still able to give my own input. I made sure the covers reflected what’s going on in the story. After you read it, you’ll make the connection with tiny clues of imagery included on the cover. I get most annoyed if I pick up a book to read and the cover is all wrong, not reflecting anything.

IAN: What was the hardest part of writing your book?

Carl Lakeland: The chapter called Presence in Eagle Shield. It was very hard and very sad to write. I was in tears as I wrote it. (Absolutely the truth.) I stumbled over it so many times. I even scrapped it and re wrote it. But every time I re wrote it, it ended up the same. It ended up just as hard to write as the others I attempted.

IAN: Do you have any advice for other writers?

Carl Lakeland: The one thing I can offer is this. Don’t give up. Always believe. The universe gives only to believers. The more you believe, the more the universe makes things happen. Read lots. Write lots. And believe in what you’re doing.

IAN: Tell us about your next book or a work in progress. Is it a sequel or a stand-alone?

Carl Lakeland: I briefly mentioned Project Amber which is book #2 and it is available now. Book #3 is now in the final stages of the first draft. The Lost Ones. This one is a little relaxed compared to Eagle Shield and Project Amber. And I’m afraid if I mention anything about this book, it will be a major spoiler. And I don’t want to give away any spoilers, folks. 


Sunday, February 4, 2018

B. Roman: The IAN Interview



B. Roman (aka Barbara Roman) is the author of 6 books currently available through Creativia Publishing/Amazon and has been a performing artist for decades, as well as a writer of fiction and non-fiction. “Since childhood, I've been torn between two worlds:  writing and singing.  It's difficult to serve two masters, as they say, but I was compelled to do so.  When I was not singing, I was writing and vice versa. I've learned, for me, that one creative expression nurtures the other.  After writing non-fiction books and articles about the power of music to influence our lives, I embarked on writing fiction where music found its way as an integral part of the plot, particularly in my YA fantasy fiction and children’s stories.” While music and performing still hold a special place, Roman now focuses primarily on “writing the best fiction I can, and with each new book strive to meet my own high expectations.”

IAN: Please tell us about your latest book.

B. Roman: Actually, I have six books:  A trilogy of YA fantasy adventures, The Moon Singer series about a deaf teen who acquires three sacred artifacts that conjure up the mystical ship Moon Singer which transports him to places beyond this world where he creates transforming miracles for everyone he loves. 


In contrast, there is Whatever Became of Sin? - a suspense thriller about a heinous baby-switching scheme rooted in greed, racial bigotry, and political conspiracies.

And two children’s books:  Hubert in Heaven - a hi-tech angel gets his wings about a hologram in a video game who is accidentally booted to heaven where he must find his purpose and earn his angel wings.  And my latest, Alicia and the Light Bulb People in Star Factory 13, a whimsical story - I call it a cosmic Alice in Wonderland -  about realizing your star potential through the magic of believing. 



IAN: What format can we find your books published in print, e-book or both?

B. Roman: All of my books are available in e-book and print editions.  Hubert in Heaven is also produced in audiobook (Audible) format, with original music, sound effects and professional character actors.  Two books are available in foreign languages:  The Crystal Clipper is translated into Italian and Spanish; Whatever Became of Sin? is also in Portuguese.

IAN: Where can we go to buy your book?


IAN: What inspired you to write your books?
B. Roman: In The Moon Singer trilogy the emphasis is on deaf teen David Nickerson’s anger over his mother’s death and his feelings of abandonment.  He desperately tries to communicate with her through his crystals and his mystical time travel adventures.  After writing those 3 books, I realized there was one important story that was not completely told:  the story of David’s mother.  She is such an integral part of the Moon Singer books, and is David’s primary focus as he deals with many other issues that plague his family.  So I delicately pieced together her life story from her youth to her love affair with David’s father and her untimely death in a car crash - and then to the afterlife where she is faced with the challenge of accepting her fate or finding a way to return to her family.
IAN: Do you use an outline or do you just wing the first draft?

B. Roman: I don’t use an outline in writing fiction, unlike non-fiction which requires it.  I usually “hear” ideas in my head, throw them on paper, move them around, follow them where they go.  Eventually the story takes shape and must follow a structure. And I use extensive “comment” notes in the margin so I know where to add in more detail and make corrections later on.

IAN: How long does it take to write your books?

B. Roman: It took me about a year from start to finish, with many rewrites and refinements along the way.  Although I had the trilogy to give me a good deal of plot threads, I had to do deep research, especially on the afterlife and on classical music pieces (Billie is a classical pianist and her son, David, is a music prodigy). I’m not a very fast writer (because I also work a day job) and it took me about 30 years to write 5 novels, 6 children’s stories, two non-fiction books and 50 songs!  I’m currently working on a new suspense thriller; there’s about a year of work ahead of me on that.

IAN: Do you have a specific writing style?

B. Roman: I tend to write mostly in the present tense.  My novels all have large segments of flashbacks which are written in the traditional past tense.  I feel that present tense adds to the immediacy of the stories and the characters’ conflicts.  I also find it easier to segue between time periods this way. M
y style does have a “feminine energy” to it.  There is no explicit sex or overt violence in my books, and only a smattering of expletives (in the suspense fiction only).  My books also reflect my own personal feelings about ethics, the environment, compassion toward others, and a metaphysical belief in some higher power within ourselves that we can all invoke; I do my best to weaves these and other philosophies into entertaining stories without being heavy-handed or proselytizing.
IAN: What do you hope your readers come away with after reading your books?

B. Roman: I hope they find that, with all the amazing stories and writings about the Afterlife, how it differs from what we have heard and read; to realize just how much power spirits have over their own destiny.  Of course, one must suspend all disbelief when reading about such things, and embrace the “Impossible” as “possible.” As a writer, my goal is to appeal to a higher consciousness, everyone’s search for life’s purpose and meaning.  I believe readers love magic, mystery, seeing ordinary people in extraordinary situations, selfless acts of heroism and courage.  
IAN: What books have most influenced your life most?

B. Roman: I’m what I call a “head in the stars, feet on the ground” kind of person which I guess explains my intense interest in spiritual/metaphysical issues on the one hand, and in contrast, a penchant for suspense fiction with a legal/political bent.
Although not similar to my books, I have been inspired by metaphysical fantasies like “The Alchemist,” “Little Prince,” “Jonathan Livingston Seagull,” etc. because of their ethical and philosophical components. I like John Grisham books, legal and political thrillers, plot driven novels with lots of twists and surprises. And just good family sagas like “The Thornbirds,” and Anne Perry’s magnificent Victorian mysteries.

IAN: What book are you reading now?

B. Roman: Winter’s Tale by Mark Helprin - a daunting book to read (700+ pages) because of its lyrical beauty and exquisite detail. All in all, it is a timeless love story ensconced in a glorious fantasy.

IAN: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?

B. Roman: At this point, no.  However, ask me in five years. As I go back and read each book, there will probably be lots of areas I could improve or expand on.  But I can’t think about that now. It’s written, it’s done and I move on. 

IAN: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

B. Roman: I can’t really recall when it happened, because I began writing little essays and poems in grade school.  I read voraciously as a kid: poems, novels, the Great American plays, fiction and fairy tales.  Maybe it was my love of lyrics - I knew about 1,000 songs by the time I was 14, and can remember all the words today. I started writing songs and lyrics at a young age as well. Eventually the interests melded together, and I’ve written songs for my children’s books that would probably make wonderful sound tracks! (a dream of mine)

IAN: Who designed the book covers?

B. Roman: The covers for my novels were created by Cover Collection, but are a collaboration.  I find an image that I feel represents the content of the book and the designers work their magic.  My children’s books were illustrated by artists I found on Fiverr.  I’ve also had all of my book covers animated (gifs and videos) by C.K. Dawn Animations.

IAN: What were the challenges (research, literary, psychological, and logistical) in bringing your books to life?

B. Roman: All of my books entail intense research.  Sometimes pages and pages of research just to write a paragraph so it is credible.  Even writing fantasy - magical realism, for example, you can’t just make everything up; a basis in “fact” helps make the story substantial.  I have to be “in love” with a story and my characters.  They must compel me and hold my interest from start to finish.  I haven’t a clue how to write for “the market” which changes as we speak.  I think my strengths are my love of the story, finding where the heart is and the universal emotions that might also appeal to readers.  My weakness could be that I write short books - about 150 pages - because endless narrative and detail is not my milieu, which I admire in other writers.  Maybe it’s my fascination with stage and screenplays - they get to the point, tell the stories, reveal the characters and come to a satisfying conclusion fairly quickly.  I could never write a 700 page book.  I’m not sure I have that many years left and I have many stories yet to write.

IAN: Tell us about your next book or a work in progress. Is it a sequel or a stand-alone?

B. Roman: My WIP (soon to be published) is called, “Before the Boy” and is a chilling prequel to the inspiring Moon Singer Trilogy. The plot theme: Even in death a mother guides her son through triumphs and tragedies to his true destiny. 

Billie Nickerson must accept her own mortality as the only way she can assure her son will receive the intuitive gifts he was born to inherit, to save her family - and perhaps the world - from a disastrous fate. But learning that she has died too soon creates a Karmic crisis as Billie tries to escape the afterlife and return to her loved ones.  Though Billie’s life is fraught with danger and dark spirits, and the power that her son David acquires places him in grave jeopardy, the story is an illustration of a mother’s love and devotion that transcends the boundaries of the here and the hereafter.


Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Anita Dickason: The IAN Interview

Anita Dickason
Award-winning author, Anita Dickason is a retired Dallas Police officer and served as a patrol officer, undercover narcotics officer, Dallas SWAT team/sniper, and advanced accident investigator.

As an author, her fictional works are suspense/thrillers. Characters with unexpected skills, that extra edge for overcoming danger and adversity, have always intrigued her. Adding an infatuation with ancient myths and legends of Native American Indians, and Scottish and Irish folklore creates the backdrop for her characters.

Anita has established a new business, Mystic Circle Books & Designs, LLC. As a publisher and consultant, she provides manuscript and graphic design services to assist other authors in publishing their novels.  


IAN: Please tell us about your latest book.
Anita Dickason: Sentinels of the Night and Going Gone! were both published this year.
Sentinels of the Night is the debut novel for a new FBI unit: Code Name—Trackers. Each agent has a special gift, one that defies reason and logic. Tracker Cat Morgan is pitted against a serial killer who plans to make her his ultimate sacrifice.
In Going Gone!, Tracker Ryan Barr, the unit profiler, and Kerry Branson, an ex-homicide detective turned private investigator are on the hunt for the kidnapped children of high-ranking politicians. They uncover a plot that has the drug cartels and terrorist cells lined up to cash in.
IAN: Is your book published in print, eBook or both?
Anita Dickason: The books are available in paperback, hardback, and eBook versions.
IAN: Where can we go to buy your books?

IAN: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
Anita Dickason: After retiring, I started an accident reconstruction business. A California film company found my website and contacted me regarding a new reality TV series that dealt with unsolved mysteries. Lee Bowers was a witness to the Kennedy assassination and died in a car crash in 1966. Over the years, the conspiracy theorists have claimed he was killed because of what he saw the day Kennedy was shot.
The packet I received included a video of a Geraldo Rivera episode filmed in the middle 90’s on the same topic. A man stood in the southbound lane of a divided highway south of Dallas and pointed to a bridge where Bowers was killed. This location was the same one the film company intended to use. It only took a few seconds to realize everyone had the wrong bridge. It didn’t exist in 1966. In fact, the land for the highway expansion wasn’t purchased by the state until after Bowers was killed.
I found the right location in time for the film company to switch to the new site. In the process, I became so intrigued with the project; I decided to attempt a reconstruction of the accident. Talk about the ultimate cold case; this was it. Every single detail had to be evaluated by the standards and procedures that existed in 1966. I wrote a book, JFK Assassination Eyewitness: Rush to Conspiracy, that details my research and conclusions. The book jump-started a new career as an author and publisher.
IAN: What inspired you to write the book?
Anita Dickason: I wanted to entwine the mystique with what I know, crime and cops. What better way than to set up an FBI unit with paranormal abilities.
IAN: How are your books different from others in your genre?
Anita Dickason: The difficulty with genres is that sometimes a book just never seems to fit in one niche. I know mine doesn’t. My plots are a cross of thrillers and suspense with a dash of paranormal and light romance.
My background adds credibility to my novels. I know how cops think, act, and what it takes to run an investigation. Some of the reviews I have received agree with my assessment. I know how to make the plot believable. My paranormal elements have a unique twist, which adds another layer of intrigue. The combination makes for an unusual story.
IAN: How much of your books is realistic?
Anita Dickason: The plot, characters, and some of the locations are entirely fictional. What they do and how they do it is based on my law enforcement experience.
Early in my career, I crossed paths with a man convicted on multiple counts of murder. I have never forgotten the dead look in his eyes. That memory became the basis for the serial killer in Sentinels of the Night.
In the opening scene in Sentinels of the Night, FBI agents are chasing a suspect in a railroad yard. That happened, except I wasn’t chasing a serial killer. A thief had bailed out of a stolen vehicle and decided the railroad yard was a good place to ditch the cops who were chasing him.
In both, Sentinels of the Night, and Going Gone!, many of the scenes and events are based on my experiences.
IAN: How did you come up with the titles?
Anita Dickason: In my research, I came across a woman, Alice C. Fletcher (1838-1923) who was an ethnologist, anthropologist, and social scientist who studied and documented American Indian culture. Her background and experiences are remarkable. She translated many of the myths and chants used in ceremonial dances. The plot in Sentinels of the Night is based on one of her translations.
Excerpt: “The night season is mine. I wake when others sleep. I can see in the darkness and discern coming danger. I have power to help the people to be watchful against enemies while darkness is on the earth. I have power…(Alice C. Fletcher, 1900)
Owls are the guardians of the night and the messengers of death. Their screech is considered to be a signal of a violent death, even murder. When a person dies, they cross over the owl’s bridge. This became my paranormal element in the book. The owls are the Sentinels of the Night.
The title Going Gone! depicts the stark reality of child that has been kidnapped and alludes to the motive for the kidnappings.
IAN: Who designed the covers?
I designed the cover for each book. Sometimes, I am more proud of the cover than I am the book. I love working on a new design, whether it is a cover, bookmark, bookplate or any other promotional item for books. I can spend hours tweaking a design.
Multiple layers were used to create the colors of the sky for the Sentinels of the Night cover. The eyes of the owls’ link to Tracker Cat Morgan’s unusual paranormal ability. The two sets of eyes at the top of the cover and the owl in front of the moon connect to scenes described in the book. The moon sinking into a red sea relates to the dream sequences Cat experiences throughout the book. The cover truly depicts the plot.
In Going Gone!, I wanted to portray the agony over a missing child. The sole focus is a woman’s eye with a single tear. I kept the color to black and white to add to the sense of desolation. Time drives the plot. I overlaid a red digital clock on top of the pupil to heighten the intensity of the role time plays in the agents’ desperate search.
IAN: Do you use an outline or do you just wing the first draft?
When I started writing, I joined a couple of writing groups. An award-winning author was the guest speaker for one of the meetings. During her presentation, she stressed the importance of an outline before starting the book.

I had written about twenty or so pages for Sentinels of the Night. I thought, okay if I need an outline, I’ll write one before I go any further. OMG, what a disaster. I got so hung up on trying to stay with the outline that I lost track of my plot. Something would occur to me as I wrote a scene, but if it didn’t mesh with the outline, I had to revise it. It seemed I was spending more time on the outline than on the book.

So now, I just write. Even though I have a general idea of the plot, how it develops depends on how I set up the characters. It’s not unusual to change midstream, and add another section or go in another direction based on a character’s actions. For me, the process is similar to an investigation. When connecting the dots, you never know where they will lead.
IAN: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
I use multiple POVs (point of view). The shifts are more than just between a couple of characters. While the Tracker novels are standalone, not a series, the entire team is involved. Part of the team is in the field, and the remaining agents are in Washington D.C. I started the technique in Sentinels of the Night and expanded on it as it seemed a natural extension of the investigation in Going Gone!

I like the depth the technique adds to the plot. It lets me bring in more of the personalities of the characters. It is, however, complicated and risky. With the give and take, the back and forth, who knew what and when creates many details to track. If I miss one, I know there will be an eagle-eyed reader out there who will spot it.

I keep a notepad by my computer and jot down notes as I type. I also use the navigation bar to help out. I’ll add notes at the beginning of a paragraph or the start of a chapter, and set it as a heading. I have found this is very useful to keep track of time or days.
IAN: What books have influenced your life most?
Growing up, I was an avid reader, mysteries, investigations, and sleuths. Without a doubt, Sir Conan Doyle was at the top of the list. I have read every Sherlock Holmes mystery he ever wrote. “Watson, the game is afoot.” As soon as you read those words, you knew. The story was headed into the depths of an improbable investigation with twists and turns designed to boggle the mind. Doyle was a master at the understated, subliminal hints and clues that Holmes always understood and left Watson in a muddle.

Along with the Holmes mysteries, I have to add Perry Mason and all of Agatha Christie’s works. Anyone see a trend here? The heroes were super sleuths, connecting the dots and solving the crime.

It’s not surprising that from an early age, I wanted to be a police officer. What I learned along the way is that police work is all about connecting the dots, much like my childhood super sleuths. 

IAN: How long did it take to write the book?

Sentinels of the Night took close to two years to complete. I took online courses in writing and submitted chapters to different websites for critique and evaluation. I joined a local writing group. The title even changed. The original was Blood Moon. I wrote, rewrote, and rewrote again. I lost track of the number of drafts. With each change, though, the book improved.

The trials, tribulations, and growing pains paid off when I wrote the next book, Going Gone! It took about ten months to complete. I am working on a third Tracker novel that I started three months ago. I am hoping to have it ready to publish by January/2018. 

IAN: Tell us about your next book or a work in progress. Is it a sequel or standalone?

Anita Dickason: I am the middle of writing the third Tracker novel. I use a popular technique that involves a group of characters. I like the continuity and the depth it brings to the plot. My books, however, are not a series, each one is a standalone novel. I don’t have a title for the new one yet. My titles come from a word or phrase in the story. So far, inspiration hasn’t struck. The setting is
Texas, and an ATF agent disappears. Tracker Adrian Dillard is sent to Laredo to investigate. What he finds will send shock waves through the law enforcement community and the White House. 

Monday, October 16, 2017

​Sweet Temptation: The Agony and the Ecstasy of Passion by Sarah Stuart

Romantic Suspense

Evie Taylor is a highly-paid detective who works all over the world. She has broken off contact with her family, who disapprove of her, and takes lovers who don’t expect commitment. Evie is not one of the “people who need people”. The only gap in the defences around her heart is a secret passion for a sexy superstar as unattainable as the moon, even though she does wear the gold bracelet he gave her and never, ever, removes it.

Michael Marsh, The Diamond Superstar, has retired from show business and is bored and lonely, and he hasn’t forgotten the girl who clinched the case against his beloved wife’s killer. He persuades Evie to move in with him, only to have an attack of conscience about the age gap and a young woman’s natural desire for children.

The stand-off ends when Evie is taken to hospital hovering between life and death and her mother doesn’t want to know. Michael loves Evie and will move heaven and earth to keep her, but if she recovers will she forgive the secrets of his past? Not all Michael’s offspring are what the media, and particularly a journalist known as The Spy, have been expected to believe.

Teenage Greta, jealous of the time her father spends at the hospital with Evie, joins an adult chatroom in search of a boyfriend. The contact she makes is a sex-trafficker, and he offers Greta independence, fame, fortune, and freedom from school bullies. A tempting cocktail of bait for a girl whose life is ruled by an over-protective father and his bodyguards.



“Michael Marsh and his unconventional family have long suffered the consequences of his disastrous relationship with his eldest daughter. Life is complicated further by Evie, Michael’s new love after two lonely years. When Evie falls desperately ill, he is left fighting a media troll who wishes to destroy him and his family, and an evil future mother-in-law, while trying to save the life of the women he loves.”