Monday, January 22, 2018

Chris Chandler of Dead Scared by Ivan Blake #Ghosts, #GraveRobbers, #YoungLove

RW:   What’s your story/back story? Why would someone come up with a story about you?

CC:    I’m seventeen. I’ll be eighteen in June of next year. My dad works for Allied Paper Products of Wisconsin. He’s their hatchet man. He travels round closing their plants and we have to go with him. We’ve lived in three crappy towns in the last six years. Every one of them has been dying and dad’s job was to put the town out of its misery for good. Of course, the towns don’t see it that way. They hate Dad’s guts and by extension the rest of the family as well.

          And now we’re here in Bemishstock Maine. It has to be the worst place we’ve been. Everywhere else I’ve tried to be invisible, lay low, and attract no attention. Then today, well today I made the stupidest mistake, and now I have this feeling things are really going to go very wrong.

RW:    Can you tell us about your heroine

CC:     I guess that might be my friend, Felicity Holcomb, who lives across the road and up the old trail to the top of the mountain. She’s a widow and makes a living selling her water colors and writing articles about Maine. She’s so gutsy. Doesn’t give a damn what anybody thinks of her. She’s had a really hard life, but she’s generous and smart and, well, she’s probably my best friend.

RW:    What problems do you have to face and overcome in your life?

CC:    Well first there’s dad’s job. It’s beyond me why he does what he does. He has to know how all this travelling and the bitterness we encounter are hurting our family. Then there’s Mum. She’s always so sad. Nothing seems to help. And then there’s my teachers. They’re just like everybody else. They hate me and our family for what Dad is doing to their town. And then there’s the cops. The Chief of Police, he really has it out for me, blames me for some weird hate letter I had nothing to do with. And now, well now I really have a mess on my hands. The neighbor down the tracks, the old goat farmer, last night I think I saw him hauling a body from his cart up the hill to his barn. But can I tell anyone? No f…ing way.

RW:   Do you expect your heroine to help or is she the problem?

CC:   I’m sure Felicity would help me but I can’t get her involved. She’s already being harassed by some locals. Last thing I want to do is make things more difficult for her.

RW:    Where do you live?

CC:   Just outside Bemishstock, an old mill town at the mouth of the Roan River on the north coast of Maine. We rent the back portion of the Willard family’s farm house. Their farm backs onto Adinack Bay. The house is falling apart. My room for instance is a tiny crawl space in the attic.

RW:    During what time-period does your story take place?

A.            It’s October, 1985. The papers are filled with stories about Princess Diana, this mysterious new illness killing gay men, the rock band Queen, and movies like “Rambo” and “The Fly.”

RW:    How are you coping with the conflict in your life?

CC:     Not well. I want to get as far away from my family, this town, and Maine as I possibly can. Trouble is, a guy has to do the right thing, no? And while I know no one is going to thank me, I’m going to have to confront the bastard next door…even if it kills me.

RW:    What is your secret guilty pleasure?

CC:    I do spend a lot of time hanging out down at the Willard Family’s small graveyard near the beach. But that’s not my guilty pleasure. It’s writing stories, stories about strange places, weird creature, like Poe and Lovecraft.

RW:    If you came with a warning label, what would it say?

CC:     I think I probably do. I’ve cultivated this persona as a brooding nutcase, a dangerous dark figure on a hair trigger. I was trying to scare people off. Trouble is I’ve played this role for so long now, I’m not sure where the nutcase ends and the real me begins.

RW:    When I’m alone I like to…

CC:     When I’m alone, I hang out at the Willard Graveyard, a creepy place if ever there was one. But I get to think there and get my nerves under control after each horrific day at school.

RW:    If I could (fill in the blank) I’d (fill in the blank).

CC:    I’d do better in school. I really would have liked to have gone to college. But it’s probably too late now. Not unless a miracle happens.

RW:   What is the one question you wish an interviewer would ask you?

CC:   So tell us about Gillian Willard. Well, Gillian is this really quiet, kinda strange looking girl who lives in the other part of the Willard farmhouse. We ride the same school bus each day, but she’s a year younger than me so we never speak. And yet… I like her dignity. It’s like she couldn’t care less what anyone thinks of her. And she’s, well, sort of beautiful in this mysterious queen-of-the-Nile kind of way. And strange as it may seem, I think she may want to help me…

RW:   Those are all the questions I have for you. Thank you for speaking to me.


Author Ivan Blake’s upbringing clearly disposed him to the paranormal. He was born a mile from prehistoric Stonehenge in a small English village steeped in mystery and the supernatural, and as a child, lived in dozens of strange places including boarding rooms, old hotels, and crumbling farmhouses. He slept in attics and coal cellars and pubs and attended sixteen schools before completing grade eleven. To hear Ivan speak of it all today, he enjoyed the most wonderful and exciting—albeit bizarre and exotic upbringing.

Ivan went on to do doctoral studies in intellectual history at the University of Chicago and spend fifteen years as a university professor before transferring to the Public Service of Canada as a senior executive. He ended his career consulting on management and accountability to governments across Asia, Africa and Europe. “Terrific training,” Ivan says with a wry smile, “for an author of horror and dark fiction.”

Dead Scared: The Mortsafeman Trilogy, Book One

“Gloriously macabre” and “an intense and brooding tale that delivers.” No zombies here. In this tale of grave robbery, grotesque experimentation, and ancient magic, the dead are the victims. And their defenders? An ancient order of cemetery guardians called Mortsafemen.

An Excerpt:

Every kid in Maine’s South Portland Youth Detention Center was fighting some kind of demon. Christopher Chandler’s demon was different; she always drew blood.

Past ten on a sticky summer night, the heavy air off the land, ripe with the smell of rotten eggs from the pulp mills and fish waste from the canning plant, no one could sleep. Two hundred boys, tossing in their beds, whispering, up to god knows what; it all made for a low, irksome hum across the complex, like flies on filth.

Chris was alone in the library, reading. One of the perks of being labelled deeply troubled and dangerous—he had lots of time to himself. He heard the door open, close, and then...nothing. After a minute, he called out, “Need help?” No reply. Still, he sensed someone watching from the stacks, and twice glimpsed movement out of the corner of his eye. He knew too well where this was going.

Fifteen, maybe twenty minutes passed before he heard another sound, then footsteps, and the lights went out.

“You don’t have to do this,” Chris said. Again, no reply.

Sighing, he pushed several books into a ratty canvas bag, and stood up.
Straightening as best he could, he hobbled away toward the library door, past the darkened stacks, with only the red glow of the exit sign to light the way.

“Running away, motherf...?”

Chris stopped, bowed his head, and after a moment turned around. A pimply kid, maybe fifteen, tall, wiry, and sweating like a pig, stepped from the shadows.

Chris didn’t recognize the new arrival; they all had to learn.

“You’re the one who’s been hiding, not me,” Chris said. “You scared?”

“No, ass…, I’m not scared! But if you ain’t, you should be!”

The kid was practically shouting; nerves most likely.

“Keep it down…unless you want the guards to come.” Then Chris smiled.

“The idiots in Unit C put you up to this?”

“Nobody put me up to nothing. They say you’re tough, but you look f…in’ sick to me.” The kid was jumpy, shuffling about like he had to take a leak, and swinging a sock filled with something heavy over and over against the palm of his left hand.

“You are frightened!” Chris almost felt sorry for the kid. “First night in here, figure you’ve got to let people know you’re a real tough bastard, let them know not to mess with you. They tell you, get Chandler, and you say, sure...because you’re just that stupid.”

“Shut the f… up! We gonna do this...or you too much of a pussy?”

“All right. First though, you have to know how this will end.” Chris lowered his voice and moved toward the boy.

“You’re going to get hurt. I wish that wasn’t true, but it is. You’re going to get hurt so bad that for the rest of your time in here you’re going to be the Unit C cuddle bunny; you’re going to bend over for every horny idiot who takes a fancy to your scrawny ass.”

He moved closer still. “You’ll be so messed up you won’t be able to say no to nothing and to nobody ever again.”

Chris smiled, waited for the images to sink in then shook his head. “But if that’s what you want...”

“You don’t frighten me. You can’t even walk straight for f… sake.”

“Okay then, but I do have to say,” and Chris stepped right up to the kid, took him in his arms, kissed him repeatedly on his pockmarked and pimply cheek, and said, “Better you than me for a change.”

“Get off me!” The kid shoved Chris away. “Damn, you really are sick!”

“Yes, I probably am…and so is she.” The air crackled.


Chris pointed over the kid’s shoulder, up toward the ceiling. “Say hi to Mallory.”

The boy spun around and screamed—screamed like he’d lost his mind—as his left ear and a strip of scalp were torn away and tossed across the room to strike the far wall with a bloody splat.

Key Words/Labels:

Bullying, Coming Of Age, Ghosts, Grave Robbers, Homophobia, Ivan Blake, Mad Scientists, MuseItUp Publishing, Mysticism, Magic, The Mortsafeman Trilogy, Young Love

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Christina Weigand @CAWeigand Author of Sir E. Robert Smythe and the Lost Detective #Galactic Ambassadors Series, #Homeless, #Summer Reading Club

I’d like to welcome Christina Weigand, author of Sir E. Robert Smythe and the Lost Detective to my blog today.

RW:    How many hours a day do you spend writing?

CW:    Varies depending on the day and what else I have to do that day. Anywhere from fifteen minutes to a few hours.

RW:    Why did you decide to write? When did you submit your first manuscript and what genre was it?

CW:    After my fourth child was born and I had decided to be a stay at home mom. Even with the new baby plus a teenager and two young adults to deal with I still felt as if I needed something more in my life. I took my first writing class.

I submitted my first manuscript in 2010 and it was YA Fantasy.

RW:   Who are your favorite characters among the books you’ve written?

CW:    The twin princes, Brandan and Joachim in the Palace of Twelve Pillars trilogy.

RW:   Tell us about your latest book. What motivated the story? Where did the idea come from? What genre is it? Does it cross over to other genres? If so, what are they?

CW:   About two years ago I approached Ricci Moore. He had written a couple of scripts for a children’s series and had several plot ideas for others and was looking to age them up to Middle-grade. He was looking for an author to write the books for him. It is a Middle-grade fantasy. Sir E. Robert Smythe and the Lost Detective is the second book in the Galactic Safety Ambassadors series. The first book was Sir E. Robert Smythe and the School Bully. There will be four more books in the series that are meant to help 8-12 year-olds navigate the social issues they are confronted with.

RW:    What about your family? Do they know not to bother you when you are writing, or are there constant interruptions?

CW:   I usually write when my youngest daughter is at school, so there is no bother from her. My husband works from home but our offices are on different floors, so he tends to leave me alone also. My biggest distractions come from social media, a problem I am constantly trying to overcome.

RW:    Generally, how long does it take you to write a book? Do you have a set schedule for writing or do you just go with the flow?

CW:   Anywhere from a couple of months to a couple of years. I do not have a set schedule for writing and kind of just go with the flow.

RW:   How many books have you written, how many have been published?

CW:    I’ve lost count of how many books I have written or am writing. I have eight published with two more of the Middle grade series under contract.

RW:    After you’ve written your book and it’s been published, do you ever buy it and/or read it?

CW:  My publisher supplies me with e-copies so I don’t necessarily need to buy it, unless I lose one of them, then I will purchase it. As for reading them, the middle grade books I have yet to read again since their publication is so recent. My YA trilogy—I have read them.

RW:    Among your own books, do you have a favorite book? Favorite hero or heroine?

CW:  My favorite depends on the day and my mood. Somedays I like Palace of the Three Crosses: Book Two and other days I like Sanctuary of Nine Dragons: Book Three. As to favorite hero, it would have to be Joachim and later Brandan.

RW:    If I were a first-time reader of your books, which one would you recommend I start with and why?

CW:    Palace of the Twelve Pillars: Book One and either of the Sir E. Robert Smythe books.

Sir E. Robert Smythe and the Lost Detective

The Plot

During summer vacation, while Anna and her brother Ben along with Bridget and her brother, Sam are participating in the Summer Reading Adventure at the local library, the town council announces that they are building low income housing for the homeless. While the housing is being constructed, a tent community has been established on an old soccer field on the other side of a haunted swamp. Sam is upset by this turn of events, but his anger is only beginning.

In the meantime, unbeknownst to them, the girls befriend Zoe, one of the homeless people living in the tents. The girls spend time together tracking down clues supplied by the books they are borrowing from the library that will eventually lead to a prize at the end of the Summer Reading Adventure.
When Bridget and Sam’s grandfather dies in a tragic car accident Sam’s anger increases. It is discovered that Zoe’s father was the drunk driver in the truck that crashed into grandfather’s car. The family lawyer reveals in the will that the farm and house have been left to the community to build low income housing for the homeless.

Sam’s anger reaches a boiling point and he directs it at Zoe and hatches a plan to get back at the people he thinks are taking away everything he holds dear.

An Excerpt

“All right. Love you mom.” Zoe kissed her mom on the cheek and ran back to the camp.

She found the book on her cot in the tent and started to head back to the park. Passing the swamp she noticed Morton the Morph, the yellow toad like creature and his small blue pear shaped panngoes playing on the edge of the swamp. One of the panngoes bounced into the swamp.

“Hey, you guys shouldn’t go in there,” Zoe yelled.

“Oh don’t worry about them. They’ll be fine, just a bunch of panngoes,” Morton answered as more of the creatures bounced into the swamp.

Zoe heard some dogs barking and one of the panngoes squealing. “One of them might be hurt. Shouldn’t you go in there and check on them.” She heard another sound, children talking and laughing. “Oh no someone’s coming. I have to hide. Mamma doesn’t want me to talk to any strangers.” The swamp would be the best place to hide, so she followed the panngoes into the swamp.

One of the bigger ones had fallen in a hole and was calling out for the others to help him. Zoe followed the sound of the crying.

* * * *

Sam stomped through the kitchen door of their two-story house. “Some animal dumped the trash cans again. Why does it only happen on the days I have to take out the trash?” He snarled as he grabbed a trash bag and a pair of rubber gloves.

“Sam, stop your complaining and get it done. We’re supposed to be meeting Hunter and Anna to go to the park for the Reading Club kick-off,” his sister, Bridget said.

“Yeah, I’d rather head over to the Gullies Swamp soccer field for a quick game of soccer. I’m sure Hunter would too. I’m too old for the reading club.”

“Well, you can’t do that.” Sam’s dad said. “Didn’t you see today’s paper? They voted to take that field on the other side of Gullies Swamp and turn it into a homeless community while they build some low cost housing for the homeless.”

“Why the heck are they doing that?” Sam said. “Where am I supposed to play soccer?”

“The high school field is open and the new field at the park.” Bridget answered.

“But we always play at the Gullies Swamp fields.”

“Well I think those fields are creepy. You have to go past the haunted swamp.” Bridget said.

“It’s not haunted.” Sam said.

“But you told me…” Bridget said.

“Bridget, how many times have I told you not to listen to your brother’s stories about the swamp?” Mom said. “He does that just to scare you so you’ll stay away. Sam, finish cleaning up the trash, so you can take your sister to the library.”

Sam grabbed the broom and stomped out the door slamming it behind him.

Christina Weigand

Christina Weigand’s a writer, wife, and mother of three grown children and a teenage daughter. She is also Nana to four granddaughters. She lives with her husband and youngest daughter in Pennsylvania after a short sabbatical in the lovely state of Washington. She has three published YA Christian Fantasy novels; Palace of the Twelve Pillars: Book One, Palace of the Three Crosses: Book Two and Sanctuary of Nine Dragons: Book Three. She also has a woman’s Bible study, Women of the Bible: A Study published. Recently the first two books in a MG Fantasy series was published, Sir E. Robert Smythe and the School Bully and Sir E. Robert Smythe and the Lost Detective with the remaining four to be published over the next year and a half. Through her writing she strives to share the Word of God and help people young and old to realize the love and mercy He has for everyone.

When she’s not writing she’s active in her local Church as a lector, Bible Study, and helping children develop a love for reading and writing. Jesus fills her home with love as she shares Him through her writing.

Book Links:

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Instagram: chrisweigand1