I’m pleased to have author Loretta Marion from Bristol, Rhode Island here to speak about her writing and new release, House of Ashes that’s on blog tour with Escape with Dollycas into a Good Book.
How long have you been published? What titles and/or series have you published and with which publisher? Have you self-published any titles? Please give details.
My current book, HOUSE OF ASHES, releases on November 13th and is published by Crooked Lane Books.
My debut novel, THE FOOL’S TRUTH, was independently published through a company I set up, Time at Last Books. (Fall of 2016)
Very nice. Congratulations!
Tell us a little bit about your books — if you write a series, any upcoming releases or your current work-in-progress. If you have an upcoming release, please specify the release date.
HOUSE OF ASHES is the first in the Haunted Bluffs Mystery series that takes place in the fictional town of Whale Rock on Cape Cod. The story centers on Cassie Mitchell, a thirty-seven-year old painter who is about to lose her beloved family home to mounting debt. The mystery involves the disappearance of two young people who happen upon Cassie’s property and end up staying for a while to help her out of her bind. Interwoven into the present-day story is the account of Cassie’s great-grandparents and the century-old curse that still threatens the Mitchell family. That the spirits of these ancestors still inhabit The Bluffs adds another element of mystery to the story. Why are they still there and what do they want of Cassie?
HOUSE OF ASHES has the upcoming release date of November 13, 2018. The next book in the series will be published in the fall of 2019.
THE FOOL’S TRUTH is a twisty mystery with whispers of romance, following Cordelia Richmond, a desperate young mother who becomes stranded in the backwoods of Maine. Dark secrets, deceit and danger emerge when she and her young daughter are taken in by a witch-like hermit living off the grid. THE FOOL’S TRUTH received the following awards: Finalist in two categories (Mystery & Suspense) IAN 2017 Book of the Year Awards, Honorable Mention New England Bookfest, Literary Titan Gold Book Award
Both books sound fantastic.
Describe your goals as a writer. What do you hope to achieve in the next few years? What are you planning to do to reach these goals?
I’ve never been a goal-oriented individual, but simply put, I hope to continue to write books that entertain, to hone my craft and to build a readership following for my writing,
I was told early on, the more you write, the better you become. I intend to keep writing.
That’s a great goal in itself.
What type of reader are you hoping to attract? Who do you believe would be most interested in reading your books?
As a mystery with elements of the paranormal and a touch of romance, HOUSE OF ASHES has a lot to offer. It would appeal to readers of mysteries, romantic mystery, romantic suspense and paranormal mysteries. With a main character who struggles with hardships – many brought upon herself – and evolves to become more resilient, I think the story would also be appealing to fans of women’s fiction.
Sounds like there’s a large audience for your book.
What advice would you give other authors or those still trying to get published?
Make sure you are submitting a very clean and polished manuscript to agents and editors. Continue to learn about the craft and be open to constructive suggestions. Attend writing conferences and learn how to pitch your book. Be persistent but patient and realistic. Not every book has a Cinderella story attached to it.
What particular challenges and struggles did you face before first becoming published?
Probably my greatest struggle was in determining if my writing would attract a following, which is difficult to assess until you are actually published. I struggled with the decision of whether to take one of my books to the market independently to make that determination. I ultimately took that route with my first book, which was quite a journey and a long learning curve. But I’m glad for the experience as it helped me better understand the publishing world as well as my own personal expectations.
All publishing journeys are educational.
Do you belong to any writing groups? Which ones?
Not at present but I’m looking into which would be a good fit for me and my writing.
There are many to choose from, some are better than others.
What are your hobbies and interests besides writing?
I love to travel as well as outdoor activities such as hiking, biking and kayaking. My quiet hobby is knitting, and I especially enjoy making baby blankets and scarves – nothing too complicated please!
A nice variety of interests besides reading and writing.
What do you like most and least about being an author? What is your toughest challenge?
I enjoy entertaining people with my stories and feel fortunate to have the opportunity to do so. It’s wonderful to be able to spend time with my characters. At the beginning of a project they are mere acquaintances, by the end they’ve become a part of me.
What I like the least are deadlines. It’s a different process when you are writing to serve someone else’s timetable.
The toughest challenge is probably book promotion. Although I’m proud of my writing, it’s not easy for me to tout my work. Also, finding a good balance between the writing, the promotional aspects and life can be a challenge.
I know exactly how you feel. Characters definitely grow on an author. As far as book promotion, most authors struggle with that. I certainly do.
What do you like about writing cozy mysteries?
Though a mystery, HOUSE OF ASHES would not be considered a cozy. Most of my writing involves a mystery in some form, though I didn’t start out with that intent. I was originally headed in the direction of Women’s Fiction, but that element of mystery kept insinuating itself into my writing. I must admit, there is something uniquely satisfying about plotting out the intricate threads of a mystery and then weaving them together to reveal unexpected results.
I write different types of mysteries in addition to my cozy mystery series. I also love to read them.
Can you share a short excerpt from your latest title or upcoming release?
Since the book interweaves two stories, I’ll share excerpts from both the historic and present-day accounts.
Eighty years ago ~ Whale Rock, Massachusetts ~ Cape Cod Bay
Friday, December 13th
The fire bell was ringing, and someone yelled in through the tavern door, “There’s a fire up on the north end! Battersea Bluffs. We need all the hands we can get!”
“No, it can’t be,” Percy whispered. The Bluffs was his home. He leapt from the barstool and ran for the street, bumping into a stranger as he passed through the tavern door. The man’s eyes were ominously familiar to him, but with more pressing concerns, there was no time to bring to memory why. He had to get home to Celeste.
It sickened him to see the flames as his Ford pickup rounded the top of Lavender Hill. How hard he and Celeste had worked to build this house, a grand Victorian with a widow’s walk and a proud front porch facing out to sea. Fire trucks were already there, and men he’d known these many years were working hard to contain the blaze.
As he ran toward the house, it came to him who the stranger in the tavern had been, and later one of the firefighters would recount that Percy had screamed: “Damn that lighterman’s curse. Damn you to hell, Robert Toomey!” Nobody was quick enough to keep Percy Mitchell from entering the inferno. Moments later he emerged, his clothing and hair afire, carrying a charred human form. Any man would have been delirious from the pain, but as the firefighters looked on in shocked disbelief, Percy walked with a purposeful bearing and a swift gait toward the bluffs. A few men chased after their friend, but before anyone could stop him, Percy reached the ledge and cried out, “I am not finished!”
And then, with his already dead wife in his arms, he hurled them both into Cape Cod Bay.
Present day ~ Whale Rock, Massachusetts ~ Cape Cod
September ~ three days since the disappearance
Back at home, I took a good look at my beloved Battersea Bluffs, with its towering widow’s walk, double chimneys, and impressive wrap-around porch. It had become part of Whale Rock’s lore that the majestic Victorian sitting high above the cliffs on the craggy northern end of town was possessed by the spirits of my great-grandparents, Percy and Celeste Mitchell, its original owners. The legend evolved from a rumor initiated by my father when he was trying to take back his rightful home. It had been a successful strategy, but he could never have guessed how prophetic his fable would become—or maybe he’d already sensed the mysterious aspects of the old house. To be fair, Papa and I had never discussed the lurking scents and sounds presented by the spirits sharing our home.
I unlatched the gate, to a warm greeting of soft whimpers and an exuberant tail.
“You’re missing them too, aren’t ya, buddy?” I reached down to stroke the German shepherd’s glossy black fur, those usually erect ears momentarily relaxed. I widened the gate.
I followed the dog to the ledge of Percy’s Bluffs, so named after my great-grandfather’s dramatic leap from the cliffs overlooking Cape Cod Bay. I stared down to where the waves were crashing against the rocks below. Through the years, this spot had become my refuge, where I’d come to contemplate decisions or brood over troubles. Exhausted and numb, I sank to the ground and idly fingered an abandoned champagne cork, probably left here the night Vince and Ashley moved in with me. We’d brought a bottle down to the cliffs to toast our new alliance and the home they were going to help me save. I closed my eyes to bring to memory the feel of the fizzy liquid against my tongue, the first I’d tasted in years. There’d not been much to celebrate in recent times. But that night, a sense of hope had returned to me.
Excellent excerpts. You’ve got me hooked.
Is there anything else you’d like our readers to know about you or your books?
My desire to become a writer of fiction evolved from the unlikely world of hospice. As a volunteer, I started a Legacy Story program for the patients who were still able to tell their stories. It was an incredibly meaningful experience. I credit the courage demonstrated by those patients who were facing their grim realities for inspiring me to be bold enough to step out onto that path that may or may not lead to publication. I’ll be eternally grateful for how those patients’ stories touched my heart and for the journey that resulted from the experience.
The paranormal aspect of HOUSE OF ASHES was inspired by my own experience with an otherworldly visitor.
How interesting. It’s not uncommon for authors to weave their own personal experiences into their books, and that makes them more realistic.
Please list your social media links, website, blog, etc.
Links for HOUSE OF ASHES:
Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/house-of-ashes-loretta-marion/1128856330?ean=9781683318439#/
Links for THE FOOL’S TRUTH:
I’ve enjoyed answering these interview questions. Thank you for your interest in my spotlighting my writing!
My pleasure. I’m just sorry I posted your interview late. I’ve been preparing for an author talk at my library and got caught up. I wish you the best of luck with your new release and your future mysteries.
House of Ashes: A Haunted Bluffs Mystery
1st in Series
Crooked Lane Books (November 13, 2018)
Hardcover, 336 pages
Digital Details Coming Soon
A family patriarch’s dying proclamation, an enigmatic disappearance, and a century-old curse converge in the shadows of a majestic home on Cape Cod’s craggy coast.
Thirty-seven-year-old painter Cassandra Mitchell is fourth-generation to live in the majestic Battersea Bluffs, a brooding Queen Anne home originally built by her great-grandparents, Percy and Celeste Mitchell, and still standing despite tragedies that have swept the generations. Local lore has it that there was a curse placed on the family and the house is haunted, though opinions are divided on whether it’s by malicious or benevolent spirits. Cassie believes the latter―but now she stands to lose her beloved home to mounting debt and the machinations of her dream-weaving ex-husband.
Salvation seems to arrive when a nomadic young couple wanders onto the property with the promise of companionship and much-needed help―until they vanish without a trace, leaving behind no clue to their identities. Cassie is devastated, but determined to discover what’s happened to the young couple…even as digging into their disappearance starts to uncover family secrets of her own. Despite warnings from her childhood friend, now the local Chief of Police―as well as an FBI agent who pushes the boundaries of professionalism―Cassie can’t help following the trail of clues (and eerie signals from the old house itself) to unravel the mystery. But can she do so before her family’s dark curse destroys everything in its path?
About the Author
An author of fiction, Loretta Marion’s writing bridges the genres of mystery and suspense and women’s fiction, always with hints of romance and humor, sometimes delving into the psychological and paranormal. She creates strong but flawed and struggling characters as appealing as the rich atmospheric settings in which the stories take place.
Loretta is a true bibliophile and has loved reading and creating with words since she was a young girl. And that affection for the written word followed her like a shadow throughout her life as she put pen to paper crafting marketing and advertising copy, educational brochures, and newsletters. But her passion for writing fiction evolved from the unlikely world of hospice. As a volunteer, she set out to establish a Legacy Story program to honor and preserve the rich heritage of the fascinating people who were soon to leave this world. The meaningful experience inspired her to create her own interesting characters and stories. Her debut novel, The Fool’s Truth, was a twisty and suspenseful mystery with whispers of romance. Her newest novel, HOUSE OF ASHES – A Haunted Bluffs Mystery, is the first in a series published by Crooked Lane Books.
Though born and raised in the Midwest, Loretta fell in love with New England and has made it the setting for much of her writing. When not whipping out words on her laptop, she is traveling, enjoying outdoor pursuits, or is curled up with a delicious new book. Loretta lives in Rhode Island with her husband, Geoffrey, and their beloved Mr. Peabody, a sweet, devoted and amusing “Corgador” (Corgi-Labrador cross). (www.LorettaMarion.com)
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