It's October, and as the leaves start to crisp and curl and blow in chilly gusts along the streets, it's time to revel in all that sets our hair on end.
Please join me for the first in this year's Spooky Stories Author series, running all month on Thursdays here at A Piece of My Mind.
A big Maritime welcome from Canada's east coast to Maltese author Natalie G. Owens!
1 – You write contemporary romantic suspense as well as delving into the supernatural. How long does it take before you know whether a story idea will end up having paranormal elements?
Usually straight away! It seems that most of my stories now feature heavily a mix of the Gothic, supernatural and fantasy. Somehow, that is the direction the muse is taking me.
2 – Tell us about your short story A KIND OF JUDGMENT. Do you prefer short fiction as a reader as well?
As a reader, I read everything. I love novels, but I do enjoy reading good short fiction.
A KIND OF JUDGMENT is a Faustian fantasy tale. I hadn’t thought about this when I first wrote it, but a reviewer mentioned it and something clicked in my head. Why not make it a series?
This story is about Lena, a woman whose understandable but twisted choices in her young life affect her for many years to come. The cards she’s dealt are exactly those she bargained for – but had she known, would she have made the same decisions?
3 – Your short story AN INCONVENIENT DEBT is releasing in a horror anthology on Oct. 17th called TALES FROM THE MIST. How were you brought aboard?
I’m part of a group called WG2E where I met some amazing, supportive people in my journey as an indie published author.
They are enthusiastic and hard-working people who all have the same goals – to write the best fiction they can and get it in front of as many people as possible. People like Rhonda Hopkins, Greg Carrico,Tamara Ward, and all the other participating authors are the cornerstone of this group.
The three I mentioned are always taking on big projects and sacrificing a lot of their time for everyone else. Plus – not to toot our horn (well, yes, this also :0)), but all twelve authors in this anthology have crazy talent. I’m so very grateful to have met them also because the opportunity to participate in this anthology, which features bestselling author Scott Nicholson and a foreword by the amazing Aiden James.
4- Do you ever find people surprised to find you writing horror? Do they assume you would write romance?
Possibly, even though they never told me this. I assume in the beginning it was a bit confusing and made for some tricky branding :0). However, I am who I am – essentially a romance author… but with a dark streak I cannot shake off. I think people are getting used to me now. At least, I hope!
5 – When writing spooky material, do you ever give yourself shivers?
I get very emotional when I write my dark fiction/horror because it is horror drawn from life. The situations these people find themselves in can truly happen and it can change one’s life from happy to terrifying in a split second. This is what makes it scary and yes, makes me shiver.
6 –Did you read scary stories while growing up?
Yes, I did.
What were some favorites?
Hands down, for me it was the master himself – Edgar Allan Poe! I have a collection of all of his work that I treasure to this day.
Then, there’s Bram Stoker’s “Dracula” and Mary Shelley’s "Frankenstein”, but I didn’t read these until much later.
7 –Did you watch spooky TV shows or films when you were young?
I wasn’t allowed to watch much horror growing up.
What were your favorites from the ones you got a chance to watch?
When I got to my teens, two movies that affected me (and still scare the heck out of me today) were Children of the Corn and Carrie. For months after watching them, I was scared of the dark!
8 –What are The Eternelles?
They are two immortal women who fight the evils of the world and they live in a town called Shadow Bridge, which is a very unique place indeed.
In this series I’m co-writing with the amazing and super-talented Zee Monodee – and the sister I should have had in life! – we’re having so much fun exploring many creatures of fantasy: vampires, witches, demons, faeries, immortals, etc.
There’s going to be a lot of mystery and adventure, as well as some sizzling chemistry and interaction with two of the hottest heroes I’ve ever seen :). What’s unique about this series is also the way it’s written, in that it mimics season arcs from popular TV series. I can already say that the “first season” will consist of three books. We will unveil the INESCAPABLE cover (Eternelles: Book 1) and give more information about this first book in the series in October – i.e., this very month – on our respective websites, Facebook pages and Twitter… so stay tuned!
9 –Who are the Valthreans?
The Valthreans are a group of immortals who have been in existence for over two thousand years. Their deadly enemy is the Cult of the Snake.
The members of the Cult are just like the Valthreans – with similar powers, and have the same background – but their loyalty is only to themselves and their greed. One can say that they are Valthreans gone rogue.
They stir up all sorts of trouble for the Valthreans in this series, and they’re essentially a menace for the human world, too. The basis of the Valthrean legend unfolds in the prologue to my novel.
You can read it here
The Valthreans series takes place in modern times, but the first story, AN ETERNITY OF ROSES, starts over two hundred years ago.
10 –Wow, Natalie! You’re brimming with spooky goodness! Do you prefer spooky/scary, or do you delve further into horror?
I’d say I’m a big fan of spooky/scary and not straight horror. You wouldn’t catch me watching the Saw or Hostel movies, for instance – no way, girl!
But I love stories that delve in the supernatural, such as The Sixth Sense, Rose Red, The Shining…movies that give you shivers!
I’m also a big fan of Halloween and trying to get my son into it too. He’s 3… and it seems I don’t have to make much of an effort because he loves witches, wizards and ghosts already! My favorite children’s Halloween movie is Halloweentown. I also enjoy the “fluffy” or non-scary Halloween movies like Practical Magic and The Witches of Eastwick.
11 –If you had to name your top three supernatural creatures, what would they be?
Immortals, vampires, witches.
Highlander is my favorite fantasy series! (so you now probably know how old I am, lol)
12 – Have you explored these character types in your fiction so far?
Yes, all of them (either in my released or to-be-released books)
13 –Could you provide a short excerpt from one of your spooky tales or paranormal romances?
Sure! Thanks for the opportunity!
Let me share a spooky excerpt that features my evil witch character in my upcoming novel, AN ETERNITY OF ROSES (The Valthreans, Book 1), scheduled for release in December 2012. I think it’s appropriate as we’re talking about spooky things :). Madeleine de Brandeville (who’s a Marcia Cross lookalike, by the way), a mysterious Frenchwoman with many secrets, is about to create lots of trouble for the hero and heroine – oh my!
AN ETERNITY OF ROSES
December 15, 1807.
A darkened private parlor in the heart of a cold, country mansion…
“Everything is arranged according to your instructions, my lady.”
Lady Madeleine de Brandeville kept the door to her parlor barely ajar to discourage her butler’s prying. “I trust you are right, Roth, or there’ll be hell to pay for you. The least for intruding upon my privacy.”
Everybody knew they weren’t supposed to disturb her when she was in this room. Her mouth curled in vitriolic contempt as she slammed the heavy door into the man’s panicked expression and startled gasp. Before the wood clicked into place, the air woke the fiery red curls that had broken free from the loose knot at her nape, and made her skin tingle there.
A muted laugh escaped her parched throat. She liked to keep her staff on their toes, for fear was a most loyal servant. Whenever she addressed Roth—she only had to touch him with her immuring green gaze—his sallow cheeks paled to ghostly white and his withered, gangly frame shook like Norfolk reed in a windstorm. Yet, he chose to remain in her employ rather than be cast into the streets without a scrap of food, coin or reference to his name. After all, who would want a former thief in their household?
She walked to the table and surveyed the objects laid on it. The crystal felt cool against her hand as she lifted the glass from the table to her mouth. Although it was one and the same, the rich liquor inside it seemed less dense than the fluid substance at the bottom of the large bowl that she looked upon with reverence. It slid down her throat like liquid fire, quenched her thirst with its fiery strength—and the powers that lurked within.
At this late hour, she couldn’t hear a sound. No echo of lowered voices. Not even the faintest creak of a door or distant footfall. With most of the servants gone, she wanted to relish the quiet before the storm, and finish her work without interruptions.
After she was done, she’d wait for the perfect chance to make her move. But first, she had to see, and to open the gate to her mind’s eye she needed one more ingredient. The most crucial one.
After draining the glass to the last drop, she set it down and walked toward the dark shape that squirmed and moaned in a dark corner of the room. A faint strip of light struggled through the sliver of space between the drawn curtains and fell across the feminine form huddled on a chair. It was enough for Madeline to see the raw terror in the pleading, innocent eyes that looked up at her – eyes so young that they’d likely never seen the bounty of a man’s body or the beautiful strain of his pleasure. The greater the innocence, the more intense the energy that would carry Madeleine’s visions.
Her gaze glossed over the captive. The girl's breasts were already full and round, adding value to a fair face and hale skin. It wouldn’t be long before she caught some stable hand’s eye. This was the right time.
Bound and gagged, her captive let out a muffled scream as Madeleine stopped in front of her. She continued to struggle, attempting in vain to break free from the twisted rope that bit into the milky white flesh of her wrists. Then, when Madeleine drew the dagger from her skirt pocket and let it glint against the drift of light, the begging started.
They always begged, which made her long to silence them forever.
She remembered how once the guilt would make her hesitate. How their fear and agony tugged at her heart.
That was a long, long time ago… when she still had a heart.
Madeleine ignored the whimpers. She pressed the sharp tip against the frantic pulse of the girl’s neck, drawing a thin trickle of blood and a trail of desperate tears that slid to the blade.
“So, where were we?”
© Natalie G. Owens
Coming in December 2012