Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Saige's Stage - Interview with Lisa Kuehne

Saige:  I would like to welcome Lisa Kuehne, author of True Intentions!  So Lisa, what was your inspiration behind the plot of True Intentions?

Lisa:  I really wanted my first novel to be a paranormal romance and my hero to be the type of boy all of us girls find irresistible. After all, who hasn’t been attracted to the one guy who’s bad for us at least once in our life? Hence, Samuel Perry was born. He’s a seventeen year old immortal dark angelic soldier on earth to cause temptation. My main heroin, Ava O’Brian, was inspired from a combination of my two younger sister’s personalities. Her sense of humor, stubbornness, and several other quirky characteristics come directly from them. I also wanted my nieces and nephew to feel special, so each one of them has his/her name used as a character in the series.

S:  I also use people I know to inspire my characters and their names.  It very rear when I use a random name and if I do, it’s because the name means something or has a greater purpose, so I can understand and appreciate what you’re saying.  What was the first thought that ran through your head when you completed your first novel?

L:  Is it really done!?!?!?  Of course… then the fun process of editing began. It almost seemed as if I spent more time making edits than writing the entire book!  Back in college, I would cringe at writing a three or five page paper and now I actually completed an entire novel!

S:  Ah, yes, the dreaded editing!  It must feel like you’re reading your book a thousand times by the time the editing is over.  *laughs* Tell us about the first thing you ever wrote and how much your style has changed since then.

L:  Wow… the first thing I ever wrote. To be completely truthful, when I was in my pre-teen years I began keeping a journal and writing down my thoughts. I rambled on about things such as: my first day of high school, my crush on the new kid in the neighborhood, etc. A few years ago I came across my old journal and couldn’t stop laughing. I was sooooo over-dramatic back then. We often forget how we look at things differently throughout stages of our lives. While picking apart my journal, I would have thought my break-up with my first real boyfriend was more horrific than a national tragedy. Even to this day, a few times a year I still write in a journal. It’s a great place to vent and to look back and see how I felt at the different moments of my life. Luckily for my readers, my style has dramatically changed since my pre-teen years.

S:  I remember writing (at about the age of 7) how I didn’t want my diary to tell anyone, but that my older sister, who is ten years older than me, called her boyfriend “Baby.”  I thought this was the funniest thing on Earth at the time.  *laughs* Speaking of sisters, what does your closest family and friends think of your accomplishments?

L:  My two sisters are by far my biggest supporters. They have constantly given me feedback and constructive criticism along the entire project. Although I think my husband is still in shock, he and our three children have been my inspiration to reach for the stars in all that I do. Honestly, I can’t think of anyone important in my life that hasn’t been supportive. I must have really awesome family and friends. J

S:  What advice can you give to aspiring authors?

L:  The two pieces of advice I would give are #1.Don’t give up!!! I recently heard a great quote on the radio taken from Robert Kennedy. “Some people see things as they are and ask why. Others dream things that never were and ask why not."  It’s so true.  Life isn't just about finding yourself; it’s about creating yourself.  So, why not be your unique self? If you want to experiment with writing an article, book, or whatever—why not try?  Sometimes we become our own worst enemy and don’t go after our dreams because of the fear of rejection.

#2. READ first! Read different genres and lots of different authors. When you find books you really like, ask yourself “What was it about this certain book that kept my interest?” It may have been the characters were so believable they came to life in your mind or the suspense scenes made your heart race with each turn of the page. Whatever it was, write it down. That way, when you go to write your first book, you’ll have a better idea what specific characteristics you want your book to possess. Personally, I love the adrenalin rush I get when I read suspense, so I definitely wanted my novel to give my readers that feeling. What emotions do you want your reader to have when they read yours?

And finally, go back to tip #1. Don’t give up!!!

S:  Well, Lisa, it’s been a pleasure talking with you.  You have some great insight and I look forward to reading your book, as YA is my favorite genre!


True Intentions, is the first in a series of character-driven Young Adult Paranormal Romances involving Ava O'’Brian, a sixteen-year-old dealing with more than a teenager’s typical temptations of sin or right verses wrong. Ava is unaware she possesses a rare and unique gift, a soul that has the ability to influence mankind toward virtue instead of sin and Satan is willing to stop at nothing to gain control of her special ability.

Ava’'s faith is seriously shaken when she is the sole survivor of the car accident that kills her twin brother and dad, so when she relocates and faces the ultimate temptation in Samuel Perry--her  mysterious classmate living on earth as a soldier of Satan since 1798 to tempt and damn mankind—-- Ava isn’t sure she can do the right thing—; resist. Knowing Satan wants Ava to give up her soul or plans to kill her if she won’t comply, Sam must choose if he will lead her straight into the devil’'s trap or place his immortal existence on the line in order to keep Ava alive. 
What ultimate price is Ava willing to pay for love? …What if it means giving up her life or turning over her soul straight into Satan'’s hands— for the boy of her dreams?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Saige's Stage - Interview with Leanne Dyck

Saige:  This week I would like to welcome Leanne Dyck to Saige’s Stage.  She is the author of The Sweater Curse.  So, Leanne, how long did it take you to write The Sweater Curse from the time the idea was conceived?

Leanne:  The Sweater Curse took five years to write. I was writing other things during that time—both large and small projects--, but I kept coming back to this story.

S:  Who was the first person you told when you found out you would be getting published?

L:  My husband.

S:  What was the number one inspiration behind writing The Sweater Curse?

L:  There were many inspirations including giving voice to a culture I cherish, but my number one inspiration was to expand the body of knitting-themed literature to include one of my favourite genres—thrillers. 

S:  As a reader, what genre do you prefer to read?

L:  I don’t follow authors or genres—I follow story. That said, in my early teens I was a devoted Agatha Christie fan. Agatha led me to Steven King and John Grisham. Last October I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Girl Who Played with Fire.

S:  What advice can you give to aspiring authors?

L:  Make a daily comment to write, to read and to promote your business, don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone, share your writing with those who will appreciate it, and keep writing fun.

S:  That’s great advice.  I’ve heard a lot of authors say to make a commitment to write every day and I’ve actually used that one for myself.

Well, thank you for joining us this week, Leanne!  I hope to have you back sometime.


Click the banner to visit Leanne's website

Click the book cover to go to the purchase page


Aspiring knitwear designer Gwen Bjarnson is stuck in Purgatory. To escape, she must re-examine her life, journey through her past and right a wrong.

But which wrong?

Young and in love, she works to establish her career, except fate has different plans. One rash act and she loses everything. Never resting, always seeking, and yearning for what she can no longer have, Gwen faces the truth: if she remains, others are destined to die. How will she solve the mystery before it is too late?


This isn’t Heaven. It isn’t Hell. And I’m not alive.
Picture this: a bus stop, tons of people packed into the same small space, all waiting to continue their journey. Many buses stop here. Some passengers get off, others get on. Young children with sickly white complexions huddle together in the shelter. Teenagers with rope burns around their necks get off the bus. Old men with bullet holes climb on.
Throughout this confusion, the only constant is me. I remain alone.
I don’t know, but I must find the reason. I must examine my life to discover the momentary lapse. The wrong I’ve committed. The task I’ve neglected. It’s my only means of escape.

Please leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of Leanne's book, The Sweater Curse!


Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Saige's Stage - Interview with Kelly Yeakle

Saige: Here today, I have the wonderful Kelly Yeakle, author of The Legacy Keeper’s Treasure. The book takes place in one of the most fascinating countries to me, Ireland.

So Kelly, at what age did you start to take an interest in writing professionally?

Kelly: I started writing with a career in mind at 27. I met a fellow author, Robin Wright, online by playing Vampire Wars and soon discovered we had a lot in common. She introduced me to Textnovel, a site where I could post my writing projects and get feedback from other authors and readers. People began to respond to what I was posting, and the feedback was good. I thought, wow, maybe I’m actually good at this. J So I pushed myself and wrote an entire novel in about four months. Then, thanks to Robin’s encouragement in my life and seeing the great progress she was making with her own writing, I thought about sending my stuff to a publisher. I met another friend online through Textnovel and started watching her Facebook page closely to see what she was up to. I saw a link posted one day for Decadent Publishing, so I checked them out, got interested and sent them The Legacy Keeper’s Treasure. About two weeks later I was offered a contract, and screamed for two days straight after calling everyone I knew to share the good news that I had sold my first story! I’m still floating on that cloud.  :)

S: That’s got to be one of the best clouds to be on. It’s exciting and quite an accomplishment in life!

What about genre preferences? Is there a genre that you haven’t yet tried to write that you think you might in the future? If so, what is it?

K: I had never read anything Sci-fi until Samantha Gail’s Sentinels of Redemption and it sparked an interest from me. I will have to do a little research to ensure a good read, but I think I’d like to try something from the Sci-fi genre in the future, get my space on! Haha. J

S: *laughs* I’ve not read too many sci-fis myself, but more so paranormals, like vampires and witches and stuff. It would be interesting to see what you’d come up with!

I know that your family means the world to you, but besides being a wife, mom and a writer, do you have other hobbies that you enjoy? If so, what are they?

K: I love to sing! I enjoy going out with friends and dancing all night long. I like to take long walks and just enjoy nature, and baking is something that helps relieve stress for me. J

S: I love to sing as well. Unfortunately, I’m terrible at it. *chuckle* I’m not much of a baker or a cook either, so I’m no fun. LOL

So, this question is from me personally. I’m always curious as to what the answer is for various authors! Did you know when you were writing your first novel that you wanted to get it published, or was it something that you decided after the book was complete?

K: The first novel I completed is in a three ring binder, in two versions (first person and third person) but it isn’t good enough to be published. As I wrote it, I was in love with the story, but going back now after knowing what editors and publishers look for, I can honestly say it isn’t ready for anyone else. I’m still proud of it, and maybe someday I’ll pick it up again and fix all the kinks, but right now I’m happy to be pushing forward with new projects and seeing what the future holds. J

S: Lastly, what advice do you have for aspiring authors?

K: Write because you enjoy it, not because you are looking to get rich and famous, you’ll stress yourself out if you’re only concerned about having your name out there and money in your pocket. You have to love the craft of writing, have stories to tell, and be willing to take criticism.

S: Well, Kelly, thank you so much for stopping by this week and I hope to see you around again. It’s been a real pleasure getting to know you!


Here’s a little more about Kelly and her book The Legacy Keeper’s Treasure!

Click Banner for Kelly's Website!

Click Picture to go to Purchase Site
When Alexa took a job in Ireland searching for the lost O'Shea treasure, she had no idea what she signing up for. Between vivid dreams, ghosts, and the old Irish legend that surrounds the castle, she is overwhelmed.

When she finds out the man she's been working so closely with is actually the heir to the O'Shea fortune, she is upset that once again a man has surrounded her with lies. Their relationship is further tested when a friend from the United States comes for a visit and Liam believes she's been telling her own tales.

Will their love prevail? Will Alexa find the missing treasure and discover her heart's desire?

Liam stood watching for her arrival. He had been anticipating meeting the her ever since his phone conversation with his father, and seeing her at the pub had peaked his interest even more. Yes, she had churned up feelings inside him he knew would be trouble trying to contain.

When his father first mentioned that someone was coming to pick up where the last guy left off at the castle, Liam had expected someone older. He imagined a little old lady with graying hair and years of experience. He imagined someone he would have no trouble staying away from.

He’d done his own research on her, Alexa Malone. He still had the copy of the magazine with her picture on the front open to the article about her find in South America on his coffee table. He’d seen her beauty in print, but he hadn’t been prepared for how breathtaking she was in person.

He’d known who she was the moment she walked in with Marilyn at the pub. He was glad she wasn’t what he’d originally expected, but he knew her presence would mean trouble for him, he could feel it. He’d already fallen for her face, and if her personality matched her beauty, she have the walls he built around his heart crashing down in no time.

Liam had watched her dancing the night away with her long dark mocha hair, and soft gray eyes. He’d noticed the heels she wore were high enough to give herself a few more inches in height. He’d also noticed she caught him watching her.

He had wanted to go approach her, introduce himself, but the moment passed as quickly as it came. People tended to treat him differently when they knew who his father was. It was better to keep his namesake to himself for the time being.

It’ll be hard to keep it from her for long, Liam thought, but he had a few weeks before his father would be back in town.

That should be enough time to befriend her, get her to see him for Liam the person, not Liam the heir to a fortune. It was a good plan.

Liam heard the gravel move beneath the tires of her car, a rental from his cousin’s lot, he could tell by the sticker on the back bumper. He braced himself, knowing she would recognize him as the silent stranger from the pub. He was prepared for whatever she might hurl at him.

He watched her, dressed in blue jeans, a white tee covered by a purple flannel, and work boots. It wasn’t the type of outfit that should have a man’s stomach doing flip flops, but it was doing a number on him. Yes, she was definitely going to be trouble.

Liam watched as she pulled a huge bag from the trunk, it looked heavy, but she carried it with ease. She stopped by the passenger side of the car long enough to pull out a smaller bag and thermos. Then, gathering everything skillfully into her hands, she came walking through the gate and up to the front door of the castle.

Without the heels, she was rather short, maybe five-two. She was petite, but looked like she could handle herself well.

He walked away from the window and into a small room directly off the main entrance. He didn’t want her to find him standing there watching. They’d already played that game once.

Make sure to leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of Kelly Yeakle's book, The Legacy Keeper's Treasure.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Saige's Stage - Interview with AB Gayle

AB: Hi Saige, thanks for having me. My apologies if I get long winded here. I do tend to rave on.

Saige: Oh, it’s no problem. We light long answers. They mean more! So, what do you think makes a good story?

A: That’s not an easy question and my answer probably varies depending on the last book I read.

I like a story that can carry me along with where ever it wants to go. This has to happen from the first few sentences. Along the way, I’m willing to suspend disbelief if the author’s craft and voice has “blinkered” me and is leading me by the nose. I can even cope with characters I don’t inherently “like” if the author has a good enough reason to make them that way in the first place.

I like a story to have a “point” to it. There should be some underlying reason the author put pen to paper. People have been telling stories and writing stories even before written languages evolved. In fact, it’s interesting that many cultures eg the Maori never developed writing, everything was passed down orally.

Given this huge time frame, it’s hard to find something “fresh,” however I like a story to have added something to the whole writing “scene”. For example take a common theme: “Can two people from different backgrounds overcome years of family animosity and have a happy future.” (Romeo and Juliet – they couldn’t, LOL) but what if… and this to me is the story - The What If.

Perhaps this is one of the many reasons I’ve gravitated to m/m romances. Thirty years ago, the concept of two men being able to have a HEA was almost unheard of. Being gay in practice was a crime. It’s interesting exploring ways this can happen now given different scenarios.

There are other elements that need to be present: goal, motivation and conflict. The first has to be interesting enough to make me care, the second has to be consistent enough to make me believe the story as I’m reading it and the third has to be present or the reader stops caring whether they reach their goal.

S: How do you want readers to feel after they read your stories?

A: I want them to feel they haven’t wasted their time and money for starters!

If they come away with a smile on their face I’ll be happy. If they immediately turn back to the beginning and re-read the book, I’ll be ecstatic. I’ve done that with my favorite books “Finders Keepers” was a case in point. The author, Linnea Sinclair, had crafted the book so well, I was prompted to go back after my initial “swept along with the story” read to see exactly what she’d done and how. Linnea is a great writing workshop teacher, so it wasn’t a fluke. I’ve learnt a lot from her.

I also love it when I’ve made the reader think or follow up on an aspect I introduced. For example with “Mardi Gras” I wanted to ensure readers had some understanding of the gay movement and what Pride Parades are all about. After reading the book, one reviewer went on line and did more research. So that was a win. “Caught” also deals with photography and mentions Ed Stieglitz. I’d love it if readers again felt prompted to do some follow up reading on him.

S: What is your favorite character from one of your books and why?

A: I love Daniel, probably because I needed to be so careful when I wrote him to do him justice. I wanted to write a story with a non-Anglo hero. Although he has spent all his life in either Australia or the US he is still very influenced by the traditional values of his Chinese heritage. He is a “banana” ie yellow on the outside and white in the middle (as one Asian reviewer said), however, I didn’t want to just have the only foreign aspect being his looks. I’ve had a few people with Asian backgrounds comment that I got him “right” which was a huge relief.

They always say “write what you know” but I believe if you research enough (I’m in daily contact with similar people) and are respectful, you can write any character, location, scene.

S: Can you share a bit about your current work?

A: I’m putting the finishing touches to a non-fiction book “In Search of the Perfect PinotG: Mornington Peninsula” then I have two full length novels I have to rework ready for submission. One was the first thing I ever wrote and needs fixing because now I see where the mistakes are. The other “Red+Blue” was perhaps too ambitious a format and needs re-thinking and re-writing. It’s dual first person POV with overlapping timelines.

I’m a plotter by nature, so I have a number of other projects in the pipeline including sequels to “Caught”, “Mardi Gras” and the next installment of Cedric the Sex Slave Cyborg. I need a clear head and clean slate to write. Hopefully in the New Year!

S: How did you begin writing and when?

A: I attended the inaugural Australian Romance Readers Convention in Feb 2009 and met a stack of Aussie authors and discovered that thanks to the advent of ebooks, it was a lot easier to get published. I’ve always been a dreamer and seen whole scenes in my head. I’ve worked out that that’s how I write. It’s a bit of a cross between plotting and pantsing (getting your characters and almost letting them write their own story). I know basically what I want to happen. Then I get the characters and see the scene evolve almost like a movie director, complete with dialogue and then I can sit down and write it. Sometimes, I think they’ll say one thing and the scene doesn’t flow until I switch something around.

S: I’ve said numerous times that I feel the same way when writing, like a movie director.

So, AB, I’m wondering what advice you’d give to aspiring authors?

A: Never give up! Follow your own gut instinct to a certain extent, however be prepared to listen to criticism. If you get a bad review or comment from a beta reader. Don’t give up, walk away for a while, then come back to it and see what you can glean from their comments. Perhaps before doing anything, send your story to someone else. It may just be one person’s opinion.

You also need to have cheer leaders out there. Writing can be a very lonely craft and it helps to have people encouraging you. Having a writing mother should be a plus for you.

There’s great craft stuff out there to learn the techniques, but in the end the story has to come from your heart.

S: Having a writing mother came very in handy when I was writing my first completed book. If not for her, I don’t think I would be where I’m at in my new career, so I agree that having your friends and family as your cheerleaders is especially important.

Well, AB, I would like to thank you again for joining us here this week. I was an honor meeting you and getting a chance to get inside your head a bit.

I will see you around soon!

Click the banner to visit AB's website

Click book to go to purchase page for Caught

When Daniel's invalid landlady asks for his help preventing a possible suicide from the clifftop near their home, he doesn't want to disappoint her. So he grits his teeth, picks up his camera, and goes out to play the Chinese tourist. He's done it before: befriended the lonely, lured them away from the danger zone, acted as a safety net.

This time, the figure staring out to sea is way out of his league, his complete opposite, the sort of man Daniel's always admired from afar. Then the attractive Taylor turns the tables and lures Daniel out from behind the safety of his camera, and as Daniel finds himself fighting off an attraction he can't deny, he realizes he's in danger of being caught. Will the camera expose truths about himself that he wants to keep hidden?


“What do you think, Daniel?”

I peered through Connie’s binoculars and adjusted the viewfinder. From this angle all I could see was the back of a bald man sitting on a wooden bench facing the sea. “How long has he been there?”

“An hour,” she said. “Fifty minutes too long in my book, and he’s hardly moved the whole time.”

“He could just be waiting for someone.” The lines around her mouth tightened. Maybe her crippling arthritis was causing her grief? No, it was more than that. She was close to tears. Bad memories? She’d mentioned some anniversary this morning but hadn’t gone into details.

She sighed. “If he was expecting someone, you think he’d glance around whenever a car pulled up or check his watch, but he hasn’t done either.”

“Do you want me to go down?”

Connie took the binoculars from me and winced as she settled back in her wheelchair. “If you’re not too busy…. He might just be waiting ’til it gets dark, and it’s nearly five p.m. now.”

“Okay. I’ll go get changed.” It wasn’t as if I had anything else to do. Saturday evenings had been nonevents ever since I’d told two-timing Timothy to go suck his own dick, so tonight’s highly anticipated entertainment had been staying home and playing the latest version of “Street Fighter” on the Xbox. I ran down the steps to my ground-floor, one-bedroom apartment and pulled off my red “I’m only two people short of a Ménage à Trois” T-shirt. Unfortunately that and my carefully frayed designer jeans wouldn’t suit the part I needed to play.

After switching to tan flared dress pants, dark brown polyester button-up shirt, and matching dark brown dress shoes, I grabbed my camera bag, cell phone, and wallet and headed out the door. Normally I wouldn’t be seen dead in gear like that, but the majority of Asian tourists dressed conservatively, so if I wanted to pretend that I was one, I needed to do the same. My long ponytail might look out of place, but no way was I cutting that off. Eccentric Chinese geek was the best description Connie and I could come up with to describe my disguise.

For once the sound of air brakes being applied was music to my ears. Most mornings I felt like wringing the bus drivers’ necks as they pulled up and disrupted my beauty sleep. But that was what I’d learned to deal with ever since moving into the old brick house opposite one of Sydney’s popular tourist destinations.

My cell phone vibrated as I waited for a break in the traffic. I checked the ID—Connie.

“Perfect timing, Daniel. You should be able to watch him without being noticed. He’ll just think you’re part of the tour group.”

Most of the dismounting passengers were honeymoon couples in their midtwenties. I snorted. I’d blend in with this lot, no sweat. They were from Korea, but most Australians wouldn’t detect the difference.

After inserting the earpiece, I merged with the tourists. If I remained silent, everyone would assume I was listening to an MP3 player.

Connie’s familiar tinkling laughter followed. “From up here you all look like fish schooling around their leader.”

I could see what she meant. The tourists were following the guide around as he pointed out the city skyline and the top of Sydney Harbour Bridge visible behind a distant headland. “Stand near the ones having their photos taken against the cliff edge railing,” she said. “You should be able to see the man better from there.”

I didn’t need to check the upstairs window to know her binoculars were trained on me. We had some prearranged hand signals. A quick swipe across the bottom of my nose was a no, rubbing my jaw meant yes, and scratching my head indicated “I don’t know” or maybe.

To make sure I didn’t look like a flea-ridden monkey, she’d worked out the best way to phrase her questions in our one-sided conversation.

I did what she suggested and caught my first front-on glimpse of the target. He was ignoring the exotic specimens of Foreign touristae, as Connie liked to call them, and he hadn’t spotted me. Good. My cover was still working.

A deep scowl creased his forehead, and his hunched shoulders and tense posture screamed go away.

“How old is he?” Connie asked. “Under twenty?”

Ever since I’d started helping her, I’d found the younger ones much easier to approach. They usually succumbed to my lures after a few minutes of casual chatting, allowing me to reel them in without too much difficulty, particularly those who were gay. Been there, done that, I’d tell them. After you realize in your mid-teens that you fancy the quarterbacks more than the cheerleaders, your future can seem pretty fucked up.

I’d managed to convince a few desperate kids to hang on to life and talk to their parents. Pity I’d never managed to do the latter. My parents still didn’t accept my sexuality. In the end flight had been easier than fight.

No, this guy was definitely older than twenty. I gave my nose a quick swipe.

“Over thirty?” she asked.

Hard to tell. He had those high cheekbones that looked good into old age; plus he’d shaved off all his hair. Camouflaging early-onset baldness, or a fashion statement? I scratched my head.

“Over forty?”

I swiped my nose again. Definitely not, thank goodness. The older ones were the hardest to help. So many triggers could send them over the edge, literally. They were also more wary of my motive for speaking to them.

“What do you think, Daniel? Was I right to be worried?”

The all-important question—was the guy on the seat contemplating suicide?

I scratched my head. If she was right, my task was to make a connection, a line: linking the target to life. But what would make a guy like him take such a drastic step?

Connie started with the first of our standard questions. It helped to get some idea of motive first. “Could he be having money problems?” she asked.

I checked my target out while around me, couples and groups lined up to have their photos taken against the backdrop of the Pacific Ocean.

Tight-fitting, denim-clad legs were stretched out straight in front, and his tan R.M. Williams elastic-side boots were crossed at the ankles like a fish’s tail. His body filled out his jeans to perfection. Hm, not bad. I gave myself a mental slap over the wrists. Down, boy. You’re supposed to be checking out the clothes, not what’s inside them. Okay, they were neat but not expensive. Somehow I couldn’t imagine him worrying about possessions. I wiped my nose.

“Any sign of a wedding ring?”

After switching to my zoom lens, I turned to capture the view back up the hill. Now I could check the guy out without being too obvious.

His crossed arms emphasized the bulge of his biceps as they strained against his black T-shirt. His left hand was exposed, meaning the chances he was left-handed were high. I rubbed my jaw, then wiped my nose. A pale circle on his third finger indicated he’d worn a ring for a long period of time but not recently, because the faded section nearly blended with his tan. Drat, the guy must be straight.

“He was married, but not now,” she said.

I rubbed my jaw again. She snorted, and I grinned. We were getting good at this.

“Does he look… sick?”

Sick? Yeah, as in totally sick, dude. The guy could have posed for one of those Sexy Bad Boy apps on Facebook. If he was in the terminal stages of some incurable illness, there certainly weren’t any symptoms showing. I wiped my nose.

“What else might bring him here? Depression?

Connie and I had discussed this over dinner one night, soon after I started acting as her assistant. “How would I be able to tell?” I’d asked her. Although she wasn’t a psychiatrist, she had been trained as a volunteer counselor for Lifeline.

“You can’t,” she’d replied. “Often they hide the condition from their partners and family. All you can do is encourage them to talk, and once they do, you have to listen to what they’re really saying. The second you feel concerned, signal me so I can contact Emergency Services.”

I scratched my head as I stared at the guy. Most people suffered from depression in one form or another over time. Connie dealt with hers by volunteering for different charities—things she could do from home, such as making regular phone calls to elderly people who lived alone to ensure they were okay and, of course, watching the cliff top.

When life got me down, I buried myself in my work or blew the crap out of aliens or thugs in my computer games. I would have preferred sex, but ever since I’d broken up with Timothy, that had been virtually nonexistent.

The guide came close to the railing. Even though I couldn’t speak Korean, I knew what he was talking about. This stretch of coastline with its sheer hundred-foot cliffs was notorious because of all the suicides and murders over the years. Despite the fact that the edge was fenced along its entire length and had sections covered by 24-hour CCTV, desperate people still found their way over or around the barrier.

The tourists craned their necks to see. From our high vantage point, the waves surging below didn’t seem large, but they would hit the jagged rocks at the bottom and send spray high in the air before the shattered droplets fell like glistening diamonds. Sandstone may be soft and quick to erode, but for anybody thrown against its unforgiving surface, whether by the force of a pounding wave or falling, the result was the same.

Why had he stayed here so long? He didn’t fit the profile. No signs of nervousness or the effects of drugs or alcohol. Just a typical Aussie: confident, self-assured. Most I’d met were obsessed with football of one kind or another and cricket. Two subjects I found dead boring.

The chatter around me increased, so I took the opportunity to talk to Connie. “I don’t think I can do this. This guy’s way out of my league.”

“Nonsense, Daniel, stop being so negative. He’s just a man, same as you are. Look out. The tour party’s going. Talk to him. See if you can work out what his intentions are. If you want to land a big fish, be prepared for a duel, but you can do it. Patience and persistence are all you need.” She ended the call, and I turned back to survey my target.

Ever since I’d arrived, the slight scowl hadn’t left his face, but as soon as the bus left, his expression changed. The annoyance disappeared to be replaced by bleakness, as if something vital had broken inside and life had no purpose anymore.

Suddenly I felt as if someone had punched me in the gut. This guy might have been pretending to be in control, but inside he must be hurting like crazy. The other frequent trigger for jumping was a broken heart. Was that the problem? Had he loved someone so much that losing them made life no longer worth living?

I turned to stare out to sea. A stiff easterly wind had whipped up whitecaps on the choppy swell, but apart from a container ship in the distance, the ocean was empty. You could so easily lose yourself in the vast expanse. Was he thinking the same thing? Had he stood here earlier and glanced over the edge at the crashing waves below?

My movement must have attracted his attention, for when I turned to check on him, he glared at me briefly before turning away. I ignored him, walked farther along the fence line, and leaned over. Areas covered by water at high tide had a slimy, dark green tinge, but the wind-scoured surface of the rest had the beautiful orange, yellow, and pale gray hues so typical of Sydney sandstone. Even though the clifftop had such a terrible reputation, I never tired of finding the beauty here. While gathering courage to make the approach, I took a couple more shots.

Okay, Dannii, you’ve set the scene…. I spun around with my camera ready. He was watching me now, almost as if he could see me as clearly as I could see him, although I knew most of my face would be hidden.

What sort of bait would he respond to?

I let the SLR digital camera fall onto its neck strap and slowly walked over until I stood ten feet away. Not close enough to make him uncomfortable, but near enough to make contact.

I opened my mouth to begin speaking in my usual fake-accented broken English, but something in his expression made me pause. His eyes seemed to bore right into me, exposing everything inside. I changed my mind and spoke in my normal voice.

“’Scuse me. Someone told me there’s a lighthouse around here. Is it very far?”

His brows rose, and I stifled a smile. My American accent often had that effect, especially when someone had me pegged as an Asian tourist.

“No.” After that initial glance of surprise, he’d dropped his gaze. I could hear air passing through his nose as his breathing grew shallow, impatient.

The quiet type, huh? If I was going to make that connection and lead him away from the vicinity of the cliff, I needed to get him talking, to address me instead of his boots. “No… there isn’t a lighthouse?” I asked. “Or no… it’s not far?”

He snorted. “Yes, there is a lighthouse, and no, it isn’t far.”

“Oh.” Still not biting. “How far is not far?”

He let out a deep sigh that almost rivaled the air brakes on the bus. “About a kilometer.” He jerked his head, indicating the direction.

Each time after he spoke, he switched his gaze back to his boots.

“A kilometer? I’m sorry. I just can’t seem to get a handle on all these Aussie measurements. How long would it take to walk there?”

He coolly assessed me, starting at my head and ending at my feet. “You’d probably manage it in ten minutes.”

Wow, settle down, Dannii, he’s just looking at you. “Great, it’s not far, then.”

The toe of his boot started tapping a slow, deliberate beat. Getting to you, am I, buddy? Good. If he thought I’d give up that easily, he had another think coming. “You see, I have a problem. I need someone to take my picture with the lighthouse in the background. I’ve tried the old hold-the-camera-in-front-point-and-click method, hoping for the best, but I always end up with half my head cut off. Maybe I should have bought a simpler camera.”

He flashed a glance of annoyance at my Pentax. Strange reaction.

“Why didn’t you get your mates on the bus to help you?”

“I’m not with them. Just seeing the sights on my own. Anyway, I don’t speak Korean.” I didn’t move and kept my most clueless smile pasted on my face.

He was handsome enough when he scowled. What would he be like if he smiled? The wedding-ring mark suggested he wasn’t gay, or was he? His gaze had lingered on my body during the tip-to-toe scan. Almost appreciative.

I ignored his obvious reluctance to become involved. This first connection was always the hardest. “My mom has this thing about me and lighthouses. If there’s one around, I have to have my photo taken. She’s got a picture of me standing at Dunnet Head, the extreme northern tip in Scotland, and lots of others: Peggy’s Cove in Nova Scotia, Cape Foulwind in New Zealand. I need one in Sydney to add to the collection.”

This time he actually looked at my face. I’m good at keeping my thoughts hidden. The speculation in his gaze showed he was probably asking himself, Is he a bullshit artist? Does he still live with his mother? Has he really been to these places?

I could almost tell what he thought the answers would be. Yes, yes, and maybe.

He was dead wrong. They were yes, no, and no.


Make sure to leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of AB Gayle's book, Caught!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Saige's Stage - Interview with Kimber An

Saige: This week I’d like to welcome Kimber An, the author of Sugar Rush (The Ophelia Dawson Chronicles). I just have a few questions for her today.

Does your love of children influence the way you write, in a content sort of way?

K: Yes, absolutely, in every imaginable way. Children are the most basic and most beautiful of humanity. Knowing and loving children provides insight into human nature. Regardless of the characters’ species, they must be human enough for readers to relate to and enjoy. One of my most human characters is Brandon who is an Oldblood. In my fictional universe, the Oldbloods founded the vampire myth while the Newbloods are recent arrivals who are trying to exterminate them and usurp the myth. Brandon was turned against his will and at too young of an age and by his insane father after a very isolated childhood. Although he’s sixteen and a vampire, he’s very childlike. I’ve received the most reader feedback on him, all positive so far. I think a lot of us were kicked out the door into a cold, cruel world, at least emotionally, as young people and we can relate to Brandon’s pain, as a result.

S: Have you always wanted to be solely a YA author or do you think that you would ever branch out into another genre?

K: When I first started out, I had no idea what my writing was best suited for. It was my critique partners who nudged me towards Young Adult because of my storytelling ‘voice.’ Right now, I’m very much preferring romantic tension, first love, and exploring the many different kinds of strengths.

S: YA is actually my genre of choice as a reader and I’m hoping to produce a couple books in that genre as well. For me, it feels so close to how I am still living. I’m twenty-six and although quite mature, I can still remember being a teenager and the hard times related to that, so I can feel that connection and understand it, as I haven’t found my true adult love yet.

Next, what is your favorite aspect of creating a character?

K: Watching him or her come to life and grow. Oftentimes, a character will just pop out of my head fully grown and armed for battle like Athena out of the head of Zeus. Sometimes, I need a certain kind of character and I’ll start him, but then he’ll take off. Like Brandon. I threw him into Sugar Rush because, thanks to Stephanie Meyer, I didn’t think I’d achieve publication if I didn’t have a blood-sucking dead guy in my story. Well, he was just kind of a placeholder and it did not make sense to me, as a former childcare professional, that a person could go from average human to super-intelligent and sophisticated vampire overnight just because he got bit. It seemed to me there must be some sort of childhood vampires go through, and adolescence. In my fictional universe, vampires are just another humanoid species. There’s no magic and evil is not defined by one’s physiology. It’s defined by choices and actions. So, I gave Brandon a childhood and he just took off and blossomed into this real, multi-dimensional person in a way which felt quite independent of my efforts.

S: Do you use names that are important to you or do you just pick them out on your own?

All the names are carefully chosen because each comes with previous meanings and connotations. Brandon, for example, is a very boyish sounding name and my Brandon is very much a ‘little boy’ character. Ophelia was a Shakespeare heroine who was undone by family deaths and romantic heartbreak. My Ophelia goes through similar tragedies, but digs down deep, learns her strengths, fights back, and wins.

S: Lastly, what is your advice for aspiring authors?

K: Write! Also, being a blogging book reviewer has taught me an enormous amount of stuff I’ve found extremely helpful. First of all, an aspiring author needs to read constantly in his or her genre/subgenre in order to learn the form and what’s hot. Book reviewers get sent most of their books for free! Reviewing has brought me into contact with agents, editors, publicity people, and authors. A lot of those authors have been extremely generous with their advice. For example, I stumbled onto Susan Grant’s blog early on, because of my love of her book The Star King. She gave me great advice, but she also led me to Linnea Sinclair whose novel, The Down Home Zombie Blues, is one of my favorites too. Linnea provided tons of wonderful tips, but she also led me to Jacqueline Lichtenberg who helped save the original Star Trek and who has a huge backlist of published novels, including ones with scientific vampires in them. And Jacqueline provided me with the most enormous advice of all! On top of that, when it was time to upgrade my web presence in preparation for my first novel releasing, I easily snagged lots of guest bloggers from among the authors I’ve reviewed for over the years. So, my advice is to go with your strengths. If you enjoy blogging, go for it! If don’t enjoy it though, it won’t work for you. Try something else. I have a Writers’ Resources page on my main site where I list everything that’s helped me the most.

Click Book Cover to Go to Purchase Page

Running and screaming will have to wait. A blood-sucking dead guy may be a vampire to you, but he’s an alien/human hybrid to Ophelia and she really must examine his olfactory nerve under a microscope first.

Ophelia longs to be free, free of diabetes, free of her ex-boyfriend, free to live. Something transformed Martin and made her his drug. If he has his way, she’ll never achieve the freedom to learn his true nature and origin.

Adrian’s the new guy in school. He faked his identity to get close to Ophelia, knowing the monsters who took his diabetic sister would try to take Ophelia, too. Then, he’d have them. But, he knew better than to get too close.

Oh, yeah, he did. Seriously.


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