Author Wednesday – Christoph Fischer


typewriter.jpgWelcome to Author Wednesday. I’m pleased to welcome back Christoph Fischer to my blog. Christoph writes historical fiction and recently published the third book in his Three Nations Trilogy, The Black Eagle Inn. The Luck of the Weissensteiners, Sebastian, and The Black Eagle Inn are set in Europe during either World War I, World War II, or the post-war period. They offer a unique view of wars that pulled apart countries, cultures, and religions. Christoph uses the individual stories to narrate his historical perspective.542568_135806279903679_1569303214_nSebastian_Cover_for_Kindleb3-front-sm

Welcome to Author Wednesday, Christoph. It’s always a pleasure to have you drop by for a chat. You’ve written a trilogy so I wonder about the similar messages and themes you used in all three books. What message are you trying to convey to your readers?

I try to write about new historical aspects, but also the human factor and how people deal with the trials of their lives. I hope that the importance of families, love, and tolerance shine through my pages. My motivation to write stories derives from a fascination with my chosen subjects, such as a particular era of history, Alzheimer’s, or mental health. I want to pass on what I have learned in the process, and I hope that what was new or intriguing to me will also be that to my readers.

Those are very important themes to express. To get to this point, who or what has the most influence on your writing?

The influences on my writing are more or less in this order: The reviewers and their invaluable feedback; my editors whose critiques can never be tough enough to help me improve; literature teachers in my past whose encouraging words saw me through waves of self-doubt; and great writers whose amazing books make me both jealous and ambitious.

You’ve stated you do have common themes throughout all of your books. What motivated you to write about those things?

I lost both of my parents when I was fairly young, and I guess that is why I am so prone to write about large families rather than about lovers. I had a huge support network at the time and that shows in the set-up of my stories.

Losing your parents at a young age is certainly something that left a mark on your life. You’ve chosen to use that in a positive way through your writing, which is admirable. Is there a broader message you’re expressing since the plots of all three books are in the context of the larger world that have created the individual angst and triumph.

In the widest sense, I am writing about the concept of Nations in my three books. Being a German from the Sudetenland made my father a bit of a foreigner in the eyes of some, and with my odd accent in Bavaria, I felt like that, too. After twenty years of living in the UK, I am branded a German there, but I don’t feel as if I belong to either of the Nations completely. In the first two books, it is the drawing of new borders, establishment of new governments, and blatant racism that help create new and bigger or smaller nations—multi-ethnic or not. In the third book, The Black Eagle Inn, I focus on the personal and how people choose to draw their own borders, and the foundations for all policies that exclude. Above all, it is about how a Nation can and must change.

I was very curious to learn more about post-war Germany, something not covered in our history lessons, yet a most important lesson for a country with such shame and guilt to deal with. I was trying to put into context the many contradictory experiences and comments (racist, chauvinist, or humble and riddled with guilt) which I had picked up in my childhood. By putting myself and my characters through the research and the writing experience, I hope I have come up with something that has interest and relevance for others, too.

What I love about the two books I’ve read is the knowledge I gained about the wars and the individual stories that you created. We don’t understand the impact of the global actions until we look at the individuals who live it. Do you have a favourite character that you created?

I love almost all of my characters, and all for different and valid reasons. Right now, I am thinking of Markus in The Black Eagle Inn. Initially, he is a misguided and selfish gay man who gradually becomes more aware. I was often asked if he is me, and I always rejected the idea because I never did what he does in the book. On longer reflection however, he served as a great tool of reflection on my life. I left a small town because I could not see myself living a gay life in a small and potentially judgmental environment. Like him I chose the safety of a big city instead of fighting in my corner, and like him, I too had irresponsible phases in my life. I thought that Markus was not a character I had put my heart in when I wrote him, but the longer I am reading him, the more he is growing on me.

I’m sure Markus came through your subconsicious in some ways. I always say that a little bit of me exists in all of my characters. What is the best thing said about any of your books by a reviewer?

“I loved Sebastian. A truly inspiring read for anyone!”

The best reviews are short and sweet. What is the one sentence pitch for The Black Eagle Inn?

A great family saga set in post war Germany about political and religious division, revenge, reformation, and redemption.

Those are some of my favorite themes in my books, too. What is the best thing that someone could say about The Black Eagle Inn?

A gripping family saga with an interesting setting of post-war Germany with great characters and some fascinating historical facts and insight.

How was the book conceived in your imagination?

A scene in the Oscar-nominated German film, The Bader Meinhoff Complex, stuck to my mind. It showed the hate of some of these post-war born terrorists towards their parents. I started to imagine life in post-war Germany:  the guilty and the innocent living together, the bystanders, the blind witnesses and their offspring. Since much has been written about the Nuremberg Trials, I focused on the people not directly involved but were not totally innocent either. Then the first few characters came to life and soon the story followed.

Who would play you in a film about your life?

Ewan McGregor, please.

Good choice. What are you reading right now?

The Changeling by Christopher Shields, a fantasy story about Fae.

How did you come up with the title The Black Eagle Inn?

The Black Eagle Inn is a restaurant and hotel business in my book. When I remembered that there is a Black Eagle emblem on the official German Flag and also an Eagle on the speaker’s desk in the German parliament, this “accidental symbolism” seemed the perfect choice for a title. The bird theme began on the cover of Book 1(The Luck of the Weissensteiners) and continues in this saga of a blackened bird rising from the ashes.

I’m looking forward to reading it. Is there a book or an author that acts as standard bearer for your writing?

Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts is one of my all-time favorite books with great multifaceted and developing characters. I wonder with all of my characters if they could be part of his books. Lionel Shriver (We Need to Talk About Kevin) has a bite and raw honesty that I also aspire too in my books.

Christoph, it’s always a pleasure. Thank you for writing such important historical pieces.

922159_10151345337037132_1303709604_oAbout Christoph Fischer: Christoph was born in Germany, near the Austrian border, as the son of a Sudeten-German father and a Bavarian mother. Not a full local in the eyes and ears of his peers, he developed an ambiguous sense of belonging and home in Bavaria. He moved to Hamburg in pursuit of his studies and to lead a life of literary indulgence. After a few years, he moved on to the UK where he still resides today. Besides the Three Nations Trilogy, he has written several other novels which are in the later stages of editing and finalization.




#Civil War – From Detroit to Pittsburgh

Civil War Kindle Cover@PCZick

I love this excerpt from my great grandfather’s Civil War Journal. He joined the Union army two weeks after the first shots at Fort Sumter and became a member of the 2nd Michigan Infantry. This is his description of the first days of travel to reach Washington, D.C. for orders. Since I was born seventy miles west of Detroit and now live twenty miles northwest of Pittsburgh, I very much enjoy his descriptions.

By Harmon Camburn from Civil War Journal of a Union Soldier

“June 7 – Landing at an early hour, coffee, bread, and meat were served to the men while standing in the street.

Many citizens of the place came to see the Michigan boys and give them words of encouragement.

A company of juveniles, fully armed and equipped, paid the regiment a visit. The little fellows conducted themselves in true military style and gave the 2nd Michigan three rousing cheers as a send off.

Leaving Cleveland by the Pittsburgh Road, we passed through Hudson, Ravenna, Wellsville, and other places where large crowds of people had congregated to meet and cheer us on our way. At all stopping places, the patriotic Ohio ladies were present with coffee, pies, cakes, sandwiches, lemonade, fruits, bouquets and whatever their loyal hearts suggested would be encouraging to those they regarded as their defenders. A day of excitement among these Ohio towns, relieved by long rides past oil derricks and iron foundries, terminated in the evening at Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Here great crowds of people were ready to do anything that seemed necessary, and many things that were unnecessary. Pocket books were open to buy whiskey to fill canteens or bread to fill haversacks. Open generosity was the rule. Real wants were not calculated. To express a wish was to have it gratified on the spot. The need of caution against the universal desire to do something for the boys was very apparent, and the road to Harrisburg was taken with very little delay.

June 8 – This bright and beautiful morning dawned upon us amid the Allegheny Mountains. To boys who had been reared in the comparatively level state of Michigan, the wild and rugged scenery, and the towering hills of Pennsylvania were something to gaze at with awe and wonder. In the presence of these majestic piles of earth and rocks, the individual man shrinks into nothingness, and the immensity of the universe is increased in our estimate.

A little west of Altoona, the railroad runs on the mountainside in the shape of a horseshoe. On the inside of the curve, there is a sheer descent of three hundred feet, while on the outside the rocks rise perpendicular to a great height. Coming upon this spot without warning, with the train rushing along at full speed, one instinctively clutches the hair on his head as if to keep it from flying away.

The ever-varying landscape, as the train sped past lofty mountains, through green valleys and over flashing streams, beguiled the time till Harrisburg was reached in the afternoon.

The Pennsylvania Buck Tail Regiment had a camp here called Camp Curtain after the governor of the state.

Each member of this regiment wore in his hat the tip of a deer’s tail, and was supposed to have killed the deer himself.

At Camp Curtain, our tents were pitched for the first time. Here we spent our first night under canvass. The regiment had brought guns from Michigan, but no cartridge boxes or munitions. Both of these were issued to us here, completing our equipment. Camp duties being all attended to everybody went for a cool bath in the Schuylkill River. Thus refreshed after our long ride in the cars, we slept soundly regardless of our, to us, novel positions.

New Release from Christoph Fischer


Today I am pleased to announce the publication of Christoph Fischer‘s book, The Black Eagle Inn, the third book in his Three Nations Trilogy. b3-full bookI reviewed the first book in the series, The Luck of the Weissensteiners, earlier this year. I’m currently reading the second book, Sebastian and plan to review it soon. He writes historical novels and provides a perspective unique to me and what I was taught in my history classes in the United States. I love stepping out of the box and discovering how other nations, religions, cultures, and individuals viewed the two World Wars of the Twentieth Century. His books provide a history lesson, but before the dip into simply a world history textbook, he adds the characters who lived through those wars.

Watch for another interview with Christoph on Author Wednesday, October 30.

Here’s what Christoph Fischer has to say about his new release, The Black Eagle Inn.

Why I wrote The Black Eagle Inn

Early feedback to my third book in the Three Nations Trilogy stated that it would probably be of most interest for people with a German heritage. As author I had to ask myself: Could this novel hold relevance and interest for other people and non-German readers?  The answer is yes.

I was born in Germany twenty-five years after the end of the war. Our history lessons at school ended with the year 1945. One of the most urgent and important questions remained unanswered for me: How did a country with so much shame and horror in its past recover and move forward? How could it? I don’t think anything can ever make up for what has happened, and nobody can forgive or atone for the collective guilt. But can the new generation ever deservedly rid itself of the stigma the previous generation has brought to the country?

Apart from the actual family story in my book, I hope a great point of interest will be the way different characters carry on with their life and develop their philosophies, outlooks, and politics. De-nazification, restructuring of a political landscape, and implementation of new state leaders are issues the book touches upon. Only ten years after the end of the war, a wave of Italian and Turkish Immigrants filled the hole in the German employment market, but how did the nation respond to those foreigners (named Gastarbeiter)? Ten years after that, a new right wing party formed and threatened to tip the political balance and bring new shame to the nation.

The sixties brought the Bader Meinhoff Complex, student revolts, and many family conflicts instigated by the generation born after World War II. Many of them were disillusioned with politics and turned violent. It took a new generation of politicians to instigate a modernization of German society.

The year of my birth, Chancellor Willy Brand famously fell on his knees in Warsaw, humbly honouring a monument for the victims of Warsaw Uprising, an important symbolic gesture after previous governments tried too hastily to move on from the dark past.  My book, The Black Eagle Inn, covers a lot of ground about post war Germany and should be interesting for those whose knowledge of Germany also ends with 1945. We know about the Nuremberg Trials and the Nazis on the run in South America, but what about the little man, guilty or not? What does he do with this broken country?

I grew up with the first generation of children of mixed marriages and Gastarbeiter families, and I experienced them being treated badly by some but also very welcoming by others. I grew up in times of a United Europe, exchange students, and pop music from Italy, France, Britain, and America. For me, other nations and cultures were never anything but an exciting cultural enrichment, and I adored the people in my generation who had a similar vision and worked hard to make such a mentality part of a modern Germany.

Of the three books in the Three Nations Trilogy, The Black Eagle Inn is the one that is closest to my own life experience, although I was born around the time the story ends. While all three books deal with family sagas vaguely similar to some of my ancestors, this story takes place in an environment and times that I know almost first hand. Yet, there were an awful lot of facts that I only learned about while researching the foundations for the book. I hope it helps to understand more about the path of the German people from its past to the current state.

The book is by no means a glorification of the German nation. As much as I love my place of origin I am happy where I live now. By having written a somewhat political book about post-war Germany, I hope to paint a more balanced and more complex picture about its past and its people. Like every country in the world Germany should remain a work in progress of continuous development and improvement.

Christoph and Molly

Christoph and Molly


Christoph’s Background: Christoph Fischer was born in Germany, near the Austrian border, as the son of a Sudeten-German father and a Bavarian mother. Not a full local in the eyes and ears of his peers, he developed an ambiguous sense of belonging and home in Bavaria. He moved to Hamburg in pursuit of his studies and to lead a life of literary indulgence. After a few years, he moved on to the UK where he is still a resident today. The Luck of The Weissensteiners was published in November 2012; Sebastian in May 2013. The final book in the Three Nations Trilogy, The Black Eagle Inn was published in October 2013. He has written several other novels which are in the later stages of editing and finalization.

Author Wednesday – Michele Shriver


Welcome to Author Wednesday. Today I welcome back Michele Shriver who has just released her fourth novel, Finding Forever, a contemporary romance. Finding forever coverHer other novels, After Ten, Sixth South, and Aggravated Circumstances fall into the category of women’s fiction. Michele last visited Author Wednesday in May, and I reviewed After Ten soon afterwards.

It’s a pleasure to welcome you back to Author Wednesday, Michele. You’ve been very busy since you last visited. Let’s talk about who has most influenced your writing.

I have a two-part answer to this. One of my earliest writing influences was my sixth grade teacher. She gave us an assignment to write the first chapter of a book. I did, but I didn’t want to stop there. I wanted to write the whole thing. Her response:  “Go ahead!” It was great to have that kind of encouragement from a teacher, and I think that assignment was what first sparked my desire to be a writer. I am still in contact with my former teacher on Facebook, and she’s a regular reader of my books, which is very gratifying.

As far as writer influences, I would say Debbie Macomber. She is a gifted storyteller who creates memorable characters that readers can easily connect with. Anytime I am traveling by plane somewhere, I want to have one of her books to read because I know I will immediately be drawn into her story and feel connected to her characters.  It would be the ultimate compliment for readers to say the same about my work.

That’s a wonderful story about your teacher. I’m sure she’s very proud of you. Tell us something about your current projects.

I have several projects going on. The first is a romantic story titled Leap of Faith, which features a character from my first book, Tracey, who is finally going to get her happily ever after. It won’t be an easy journey, though.  I also have a family saga about couple experiencing marital strife. It’s been harder for me to write, but I still plan to finish it. After that, I am developing a romance trilogy about three sisters who start a vineyard to honor their deceased father’s wishes.

You certainly don’t lack ideas.  They all sound very interesting. You mention that one of your stories is set in a vineyard. How does setting play a role in your books?

I think setting can be an important factor in drawing a reader into a story. For example, if the setting is a real city that is known for unique culture, attractions, etc. New Orleans is my favorite city, and while I have never set one my own books there, I love reading stories set there. My current release, Finding Forever, is set on the West Texas border with Mexico, and the border violence and immigration controversy is a backdrop to some of the action. I think it helped to enrich the story.  Leap of Faith takes place in and around  Chicago, a city with all sorts of culture, history, and attractions that can enhance a story.

Chicago is a great city to use in a novel. Since you’ve already published three novels, I’m wondering how you handle any bad reviews you might receive. What advice can you give to other writers about receiving a bad review?

I think writers are generally a pretty insecure lot, and of course, we want everyone to love our work. It’s impossible to please everyone, though, and bad reviews are part of the process. I try to just walk away, go for a walk, and not dwell on the negative. It can also be good to go read the bad reviews of some famous, hugely successful books, just to put things in perspective. The worst thing you can do is respond to them.

I agree on both counts. I always seek out my favorite writer’s reviews to help me take it less seriously. Also it’s very important to remain uninvolved with any of the reviews. What’s your one sentence pitch for Finding Forever?

Sometimes life offers a second chance at first love, but only if you have the courage to take it.

Explain how Finding Forever was conceived in your imagination.

This one came about during a conversation with a writing friend. She said to me “I’ve always wanted you to write more with Jordan.” Jordan is the character from my first book, After Ten, whose life is most in chaos at the end. I always intended to do more with her, but the plot didn’t come to me until that urging from my friend. She got me thinking about Jordan again, and I decided to bring back a man from her past, and this book was born.

I look forward to reading about Jordan. She was one of my favorite characters from After Ten. Without giving us a spoiler, tell us a little bit about your favorite scene in Finding Forever.

My favorite scene takes place after the biggest challenge to Jordan and Jake’s romance, and Jordan’s stability in general. She’s unsure of her future and whether she can trust Jake and has had a falling out of sorts with her best friend, Beth. She calls Beth to meet her at Jake’s hotel for a little sting operation on an unwanted guest to try to get some answers. It’s a funny scene, and I think it really highlights the friendship between Jordan and Beth and what they would do for each other.

What else do you want readers to know about your new release?

Just that I had a great time bringing Jordan and Jake’s story to life, and I’m excited to share it with the world. I hope people enjoy getting to know them and reading their love story.

I’m sure they will. Thank you for stopping by today, Michele. I hope you’ll come back when you release your next book.

About Michele Shriver: Michele lives in the Midwest U.S. where she maintains her law practice, in addition to pursuing a writing career. In her free time, she enjoys Zumba fitness, bicycling, and the NFL and NHL.

Buy links to Finding Forever:

Michele on Social Media:



Twitter: @micheleshriver

Facebook Page: Author Michele Shriver


Why I’m Not Participating in #NaNoWriMo, Maybe

Sketch of P.C. Zick by Jae at Lit and Scribbles

Sketch of P.C. Zick by Jae at Lit and Scribbles

It’s that time of year again when the blogs will be filled with progress reports from writers participating in National Novel Writing Month from November 1-30. NaNoWriMo encourages authors to create a 50,000 word novel during November. It provides author feedback and a forum for cheerleading writers to go ahead and get that first draft down.

I followed several writers last year as they wrote blog posts about the process. The posts made me want to participate, but as with last year, the timing is not right for me to drop my current projects and start a new one.

I already have 100,000 words written on the first draft of my next novel. It’s really in outline form now. Next week I start the hard work of fleshing out characters, developing the plot threads and connecting them into a tapestry I’ve entitled Native Lands. The book is another Florida Environmental Novel but will be more suspenseful and mysterious than any of my previous novels. The jump from outline to a manuscript ready for beta readers requires my full attention. Some days, I’ll be researching and not writing. Other days, I’ll be deleting and adding and fine tuning.

However, the buzz for NaNoWriMo started a couple of days ago on some of the blogs I follow. Jae over at Lit and Scribbles plans to participate so she can get motivated for her next novel. Her post the other day almost sent me over to the website to sign up. I got as far as the enrollment page when I decided I didn’t need motivation, but rather I needed my desk cleared to begin smoothing the cement on Native Lands.

So I’m not participating this year.

Yet there’s an idea for another novel niggling at my brain. I’ve already started the notes for the main characters and the plot. It’s about the stage of life after the children have grown, husbands have died or grown fat, grandchildren are the topic of many a late night conversation, and marriages disintegrate into divorce or worse. It’s about turning sixty and finally maturing into adults.

Maybe I should take the challenge of writing 2,000 words a day on the idea. I could still find time for Native Lands, couldn’t I?

See this is my problem. I always do this and marvel with envy at folks who can concentrate energies on one project at a time. Now it’s my time to focus. I dub my month of November Patricia Novel Draft Month.

PaNoDraMo begins right now.

Author Wednesday – Leona DeRosa Bodie

typewriter.jpgWelcome to Author Wednesday. Today I’m pleased to welcome Leona DeRosa Bodie, author of an Amazon bestseller thriller-suspense novel, Shadow Cay. Cover_SC5Leona and I met years ago when she was first drafting Shadow Cay, and I did the first editing of the novel. I’ve followed her success with this novel, and was excited to see that she was working on a historical novel with another Florida writer, G. E. Gardiner. The two collaborated to create Glimpse of Sunlight, which will be released in 2014. I must disclose that I also edited this novel recently. Cover_Front_300_1

Hello, Leona. I’m so happy you dropped by today to talk about your books and life as a writer. Who has most influenced your writing and why?

I write about what I know. Since I’ve lived in Miami for thirty-five years, it’s a natural for me to write about South Florida. The fact my husband has been a forensic expert for twenty-one years and worked on 37,000 cases influenced me as well. It means that I have a ready resource to ensure the police procedurals, the forensic science, and quality assurance aspects are accurate.

Although the story bounced around in my head for fifteen years, I actually wrote Shadow Cay in three months on a 34-foot Morgan Out Island Sailboat in the Bahamas in the Southern Exumas. Imagine 700 islands, like a string of beautiful gems to treasure. Imagine no interruptions, pristine water, white and pink sand beaches, uninhabited islets, dramatic ocean, and bay views.

What a wonderful way to write a book. Now I know why the descriptions in Shadow Cay are so spectacular. Let’s talk about what you’re working on today.

I just completed my next two novels: Seas of Fury, a high-octane prequel to Shadow Cay, and Glimpse of Sunlight, a collaboration with  author G. E. Gardiner. It’s book No. 1 of a historic suspense trilogy based on Jonathan Dickinson’s life. Both of these books will be published in February 2014. Every book I write regardless of genre is picturesque and fast-paced with lots of action. Our newest trilogy is a perfect example. It has a tropical storm, hurricane, tsunami, landslide, and cannibal Indians, and it’s all true!

What role does setting play in the creation of your novels?

My settings are always an integral part of my stories. I create word pictures to make the settings as believable and authentic as possible.

Do you have a favorite character that you created?

Of all my characters, I truly admire Madeleine Nesbitt (Shadow Cay) the most. Her bravery is unique. Although young, sheltered, and naive, she’s stronger than she realizes. Even when her world falls apart, she manages—despite the odds—to pull her life together. She’s one of the strongest female characters I’ve seen in ages.

I agree that Madeleine is a strong character. What’s the best thing said about Shadow Cay by reviewers?

Bella Online Mystery Editor Edie Dykeman wrote, “Her work sets a strong pace from the start with riveting action and dialogue. The beautiful Bahamas background adds contrast to the frightening action and gritty texture of her story.”

Naomi Blackburn, a top Amazon reviewer and Goodreads administrator for the “Sisterhood of the Traveling Books” said, “The story flowed like liquid gold!”

Every book I write regardless of genre is picturesque and fast-paced with lots of action.

Let’s talk about Glimpse of Sunlight. What is the message conveyed in your book?

Ever since the Spanish conquered the peaceful Arawaks in the early sixteenth century, Jamaica has endured a painful history tinged with an undercurrent of violence. A Glimpse of Sunlight is an epic tale of resistance to tyranny and passion for freedom. This action-adventure trilogy transports you from Africa to Ireland and England to “The Wickedest City in the World” and ultimately shipwrecks you on the Florida shores. It shows how one pacifist and three freedom fighters and the perseverance of the Jamaican people, leave a multi-cultural imprint on the global community that forever captures the power of the human spirit.

What type of research did you do in the writing of this book?
It was extensive! It took my co-writer Glenn Gardiner and I the better part of year to research everything from locations, culture, food, dress, religion, politics, and historic characters who actually lived and breathed.

It’s been my pleasure, Leona. I hope you’ll come back after Glimpse of Sunlight is published next year. My best to you in your next endeavors.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAbout Leona DeRosa Bodie: Leona is a New Jersey native whose family’s seafaring roots inspire her tales. She attended Fairleigh Dickinson University and began a career teaching high school English before relocating to Miami. Eventually, after twenty years in private industry, she decided the novel churning around in her brain for fifteen years really deserved her attention. So she left her job to write full time. Since her emergence on the thriller-suspense scene in 2010, Leona has been praised for her ability to create action and intrigue in her novels. She’s a past vice president and current Treasure Coast Regional Director for the Florida Writers Association, and the founder of the Palm City Word Weavers.

Leona wrote three children’s books before she shifted to the dark world of suspense and sea adventure fiction. There’s no doubt being married to a forensic specialist influenced her. When not writing crime fiction, she spends time in the kitchen. Leona also enjoys her family and boating.

Social Media Links
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Links to Books
Amazon (Kindle edition) U.S. 
Amazon (Kindle edition) U.K.
Amazon (Kindle edition) Ca.
Amazon (Paperback) U.S.
Amazon (Audio Book)
Audible (Unabridged Audio Book)

A Lethal Legacy Interview

P.C. Zick: “A Lethal Legacy” (via

“A Lethal Legacy” by P.C.Zick was a real surprise-find and treat for me. Knowing this superb author from her award nominated environmental novel “Trails in the Sand” I was not prepared for a psychological thriller so incredibly well written…

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Author Wednesday – Staci Troilo

typewriterWelcome to Author Wednesday. Today I’m very excited to host a very special friend. Staci Troilo and I have been following each other’s blogs for more than a year. Not only is she the author of an awesome blog, but she’s also from the area where I now call home. Her love of Pittsburgh and her family permeates all of her posts. This past year she published Mystery, Ink.: Mystery Heir, obviously a mystery. mystery heir cover better copyMystery, Ink.: Mystery Heir is the story of a young woman who lives in a cursed town plagued by murders and mystery. However, the actions of the main character, Naomi Dotson, result in dire consequences for a young boy, a sick mother, and her own family.

Welcome, Staci. I’m very pleased that you could stop by today. Please tell us a little bit about the messages or themes  you try to convey to your readers.

Hi P.C. and P.C.’s readers. Thanks for inviting me to be part of your blog. I’m honored to be here, discussing the craft I love with a fellow Pittsburgher and a good friend. About my messages or themes… I think my author tagline says it all. It’s “Getting to the Heart of the Matter” because regardless of the genre I’m writing, I always default to the importance of love in a person’s life. Despite Mystery, Ink.: Mystery Heir belonging to the mystery genre (I know, with a title like that you were thinking sci-fi or western, right?), the overriding theme in the book is the strength love plays in family relationships. I most often write in the romance genre, where I still hold that family relationships are vital; I just pair them with blooming love between two people.

I’ve heard that love is the most powerful emotion of all, so it’s certainly a worthy topic for both your blog, where you often write about your family, and fiction, where there’s a multitude of opportunity for expressing the importance of all kinds of love. What are you working on now?

I’m currently working on a four-book paranormal romance (alchemy, not vampires or werewolves). Book One, Bleeding Heart, is complete and with my agent. I’m now working on Book Two, Mind Control. Each book in the series has an overarching theme (heart, mind, body, and soul), but the entire series focuses on relationships. These are love stories, so of course there is a romantic element, but it goes beyond that, to the love between family members and the love between friends. This series is especially dear to me because the idea spawned from my grandfather’s ancestry. It’s changed and grown wildly since the beginning, but my grandfather’s roots are there.

I love your stories of your family on your blog, so I’m sure this series will be outstanding. What is it that intrigues you most about this theme of family and love?

In both Mystery, Ink.: Mystery Heir and my romance series, I focused on love because that’s what I feel is most important in the world. I know I wouldn’t be the person I am without my husband, my children, my extended family… even my dogs. I enjoy exploring lives where love is abundant, where it is absent, and all the permutations in between. St. Paul said it best, I think: “Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.”

Beautiful and so true, Staci. Are you planning to continue writing in the same genre?

I have no definitive plans past my current WIP. I have a long list of ideas, so it’s just a matter of choosing the project that speaks to me the loudest. Mystery, Ink.: Mystery Heir spoke to me because the character was so darn spunky. The series I’m working on now has a hold on me because of its ties to my grandfather’s heritage. I can’t wait to see which of my many ideas grabs hold of me next. (But I have to finish this series first!)

How did you choose the title of your current work?

I didn’t choose this title; the editors did. The original title was Daddy Issues, because there is a strong father-child theme running through the book. I suppose Daddy Issues didn’t sound very mysterious, so the editors went a different way. And that’s fine; maybe the new title will make the book marketable to a more diverse reading audience. If I have the opportunity to reach more readers simply by changing the title, it’s worth it. So writers, be warned! Don’t grow attached to your title, because it might not be the title that gets published.

That’s very good advice. I don’t think I’ve ever had the original title go with the final published book. Without giving us a spoiler, tell us a little bit about your favorite scene in this book.

This is a hard question to answer, because I have several favorite scenes. So instead, I’ll choose one that exemplifies the relationship between the two sisters. Naomi gets into one scrape after another in the book, and her sister Penelope constantly tries to rein her in. Normally there is sarcastic banter, but sometimes things get serious. Too serious for Penelope. After one of Naomi’s harrowing escapes, Penelope breaks down, and they have an emotional discussion about their parents’ deaths. She confesses that she can’t lose Naomi, too. It’s a real eye-opening moment for Naomi.

That’s a great scenario. Those family relationships can be loaded with land mines, and it’s always a great jumping off point as an author. Do you listen to music when you write?

I go back and forth on the music thing. Sometimes I just need quiet, so I turn everything off. Sometimes I need to breathe life into a scene, and I find it’s helpful if I’m writing somewhere with a lot of activity, like a local coffee shop. But most times I need mood music. I play the Rocky soundtrack for fight scenes, love songs for romantic moments, or classic rock or classical music (yes, I know these aren’t similar styles) when I just want some sound in the house. It’s pretty easy for me to tell that music helped me get past a barrier, because I’ll realize I’ve moved on to a different scene but not notice that I need to change the music to something else.

That’s very interesting. Most of the time when I write, I need either silence or music without lyrics. I’m always curious about where authors write, so where do you write?

All of my prior homes (and there have been a lot of them over the course of four states) had private offices, but when we moved to Arkansas, that was one luxury I had to give up. I have a desk in the corner of my family room, which works fine when the kids are in school. When they’re home, I sometimes take my laptop to my bedroom, but I can sit on a bed and type for only so long. Sometimes I’ll take my laptop outside. We have a pool with a waterfall, so it can be quite soothing out there. And as I’ve mentioned before, sometimes nothing beats writing at a coffeehouse.

I agree about coffeehouses. Even though I do have a dedicated office for my writing, I also write in different places in the house or in a public place, such as a coffeehouse or library. It all depends on what I’m doing. I love to hear that you do the same. It’s been a pleasure to have you drop by today, Staci. You’re an inspiration because I know you have two growing children, but still manage to write thoughtful blog posts and create fiction with important themes. My best to you on your next endeavors.

Thanks, P.C. I had a great time visiting with you and your readers.

hastings alteredAbout Staci Troilo: After receiving creative and professional writing degrees from Carnegie Mellon University, Staci Troilo went on to get her Master’s Degree in Professional Writing, and she worked in corporate communications until she had her children. Now she is a freelance writer living in Arkansas with her husband, son, daughter, and two dogs. When writing fiction, she creates dark, dangerous heroes; strong, capable heroines; and complex, compelling villains, weaving their lives together into a contemporary tapestry of tantalizing romance.

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Author Wednesday – Elaine Cougler


Welcome to Author Wednesday. Today, I welcome Elaine Cougler the author of The Loyalist’s Wife, an historical novel set during the Revolutionary War years. The Loyalist's Wife_cover_Mar18.inddHere’s a blurb about the book taken from the back cover: “With vivid scenes of desperation, heroism, and personal angst, Elaine Cougler takes us back to the beginnings of one great country and the planting of Loyalist seeds for another. The Loyalist’s Wife transcends the fighting between nations to show us the individual cost of such battles.” 

Welcome to Author Wednesday, Elaine. I’m intrigued with your book already. Before we delve into the specifics about The Loyalist’s Wife, I’d like to know more about you as a writer. When were you first able to call yourself a “writer” or “author?”

The term writer was easy to use as soon as I started writing for real. That means as soon as I set myself the goal to write a novel. Of course, my whole life I’ve been writing, but I was a student, a teacher, a mother, a singer, a friend, a wife, a lot of things that I easily called myself while never thinking of myself as a writer. The term author, however, was a harder label to give myself. In the spirit of fake it till you make it, I set up a Facebook Author page labeled ElaineCouglerAuthor a couple of years before publishing my first novel. Now author slips out really easily as in my own mind I’ve earned that label.

I am a firm believer in faking it until you make it. Good way to start visualizing your path. What’s going on with your current projects?

The Loyalist’s Wife was released in June; The Loyalist’s Luck is slated for next June (2014), and The Loyalist’s Legacy for the year following. Along with my research for my novels, I am creating a book of my own family’s history to leave for my grandchildren. This will be a photo book with pictures of tombstones and my ancestors themselves, where I have them, as well as anecdotal comments and explanations. This is taking way more time than I thought, but it is exciting as the research meshes very well with the research for my Loyalist series.

It’s so important to leave a record. Right now I’m in the process of formatting my great grandfather’s Civil War journal. It’s the only record I have of his life, and I’m very grateful to have it. You’ll have three historical novels when you’re finished. Why have you chosen to write about the beginnings of the United States and Canada?

I love reading historical fiction and have known of my own Loyalist background all my life so that writing a book about that just seemed natural. It has been a surprising journey of learning about the times of the American Revolution in general and then more specifically of my own family’s background in Canada.

That is very exciting and gives you even more motivation to share your family’s history with your grandchildren. Are you planning to continue writing in the same genre for your fiction?

Another book that is running around in my head is a memoir. This will be the story of a young girl growing up in a large family made up of way more boys than girls in rural Ontario with exceptional people for parents in a time of great growth and change in our world. And beyond that, I cannot think. Someday I may retire, I suppose. 🙂

We have a lot in common, except I grew up in Michigan. I’m curious about how you chose the title for the first book in the series. Has it been the title from the very beginning?

My working title, which I took to a writing conference, was Loyal to the Crown. I was dissatisfied with it, and my group of about twenty came up with another title, which just jumped out at me. The Loyalist’s Wife encompasses the Loyalist idea, the fact that there is a wife, and she’s pretty important, and the fact that there is a husband who is a Loyalist.

I like the current title. I also like that you asked for help in giving your “baby” its name. I’m sure you had to research quite a bit for The Loyalist’s Wife since it’s a historical novel. What type of research did you do?

My computer was a useful and convenient place to start researching with the library a close second. Then I visited local museums and bought books of the period. The best research, however, has been in visiting the actual places where many of the scenes in my novel take place. With my husband, I have taken day or two-three day trips to many forts in New York and the Niagara area, both on the American and the Canadian side of the border.

That makes the research much more interesting I’m sure. I did something similar this summer when we drove through many of the battle areas from my great grandfather’s journal. It made it all seem so much more real. You mention you took the trips with your husband. How does your immediate family feel about your writing life?

Support is what a writer needs, and that is what I get. My wonderful husband has been with me through all the ups and downs. My two adult children are clever and intuitive people to access when I want to ruminate about details or plot or history as they are both avid readers. The short answer is that they are appreciative and supportive, a pretty wonderful combination.

I agree. My grown daughter is one of my beta readers. I trust her because we read many of the same books and since she was very young we’ve discussed and shared our books with one another. My scientist husband thinks I’m the best writer he’s ever read. It doesn’t matter that he doesn’t read novels very much – it’s the support that counts. You are a very fortunate woman indeed. I’m very pleased you stopped by for a visit today, and I wish you the best in your endeavors. I hope you’ll come back when the next Loyalist book is published.

6203edit (2)About Elaine Cougler:  A native of Southern Ontario, Elaine taught high school and with her husband raised two children until she finally had time to pursue her writing career. She loves to research both family history and history in general for the stories of real people that emanate from the dusty pages. These days writing is Elaine’s pleasure and her obsession. Telling the stories of Loyalists caught in the American Revolutionary War is very natural as her personal roots are thoroughly enmeshed in that struggle, out of which arose both Canada and the United States.