6Ws, Author Interview

6Ws with Author Mary Kendall

Mary Kendall is the next author featured in my 6Ws series. She used her life-long interest in history to write two novels, The Spinster’s Fortune and her latest, Campbell’s Boy, which was released this week. Like many authors, Mary has been inspired by her own experiences, including growing up in haunted houses. Really. Here, I will let her take over.

Who is author Mary Kendall? 

Mary Kendall lived in old (and haunted) houses growing up which sparked a life-long interest in history and story-telling. She earned degrees in history-related fields and worked as a historian for many years. Her fiction writing is heavily influenced by the past, which she believes is never really dead and buried. Fueled by black coffee and a possible sprinkling of Celtic fairy dust, she tends to find inspiration in odd places and sometimes while kneading bread dough. The author resides in Maryland with her family (husband, three kids, barn cat and the occasional backyard hen) who put up with her mad scribbling at inconvenient hours. 

Her debut novel, The Spinster’s Fortune, is a historical mystery. Her second novel, Campbell’s Boy, a coming of age historical fiction, was released Nov. 22. She is also a contributor to Darkstroke’s anthologies for charity with short stories included in Dark Paris, Dark New Orleans and Dark Venice.

What is your latest book? 

My second novel, Campbell’s Boy, was released this month through Moonshine Cove Publishing! It is coming-of-age historical fiction that crosses over into biographical historical fiction. The novel is the result of eleven years of research into a family genealogical puzzle in my ancestral line and centers around a real-life probate court case in the small town of Colusa, California, in the late 1800s. You can find it here: https://www.amazon.com/author/mary-kendallh

Here’s a quick blurb:

After the death of his mother on the wagon train out west, young Emmet Campbell struggles to find his place in the world. Fighting off town bullies, an evil Irish stepmother and his own learning disabilities, he mostly fends for himself in the boomtown of Colusa.  While struggling to find his footing, he never loses his curiosity about the world around him and the people in it. Scuffling and skylarking along the way, Emmet eventually discovers family and identity in places he could have never imagined. With equal measures of the dark and the light, Campbell’s Boy is a tender tale about what it means to be human.

When did you begin writing? 

Define “writing”? If little stories as a child count, then from age sixish on. The teen angsty years that followed could also be termed the emo journaling years. In my 20s, I dabbled with short stories. Attempts at novel writing began in my 30s but came to a screeching halt when three kids arrived. Enter the 40s and some breathing room where I picked it all back up. Now, in the ripe and mature decade after that (ahem, we don’t need to name it), I am about to see the publication of my second novel.

How do you write? 

I need both writing in long hand and typing on the laptop. It’s a combo that works for me in different ways. For example, editing is almost exclusively laptop. If I am stuck on a plot line, it’s picking up a notebook to experience the physicality of pen to paper.

Where do you write? 

I just recently got a private little den (sad when kids leave for college but it can come with a perk or two). Prior to that, my computer was in public space in the middle of household action. I made it happen but now it is so much better to have “a room of one’s own” — with a door. I also have a lovely outdoor area that overlooks my rose garden. The writing magic happens between those two spaces.

Why do you write? 

To untie the knots. By that I mean it is how I process and digest the ways in which life happens to me.

More about Mary Kendall: Parting words and social media contacts

I reached out and connected with our hostess, Joan Livingston, a couple of years ago, prior to signing up with our mutual publisher, Darkstroke. Joan is a wise woman and gave me some sage advice that has stuck with me ever since: “there is writing and then there is the business of writing.” Truer words never spoken.

That advice led me to the successful publication of my debut historical mystery novel, The Spinster’s Fortune. It also steered me in the direction of moving forward with the writing, both aspects of it. Thanks for having me on your blog, Joan … and thanks also for your wise words.

To learn more, check out https://www.marykendallauthor.com.

Twitter @MaryLavin49



The Spinster’s Fortune is available for purchase at mybook.to/fortune and short stories at mybook.to/DarkWorlds.

6Ws, Author Interview

6Ws with Gary Kruse

The next author in this 6Ws series is Gary Kruse from the UK. I so enjoy getting to know my fellow authors and what they are willing to share about their writing. How’s this? Gary wrote the majority of Badlands on his phone during his lengthy work commute. Up next? Bleak Waters, a supernatural mystery. But I will let Gary take over this post.

Who is author Gary Kruse?

I’m a writer of novels, short stories and flash fiction from Hornchurch in Essex. I’m married with two sons, and in my day job, I work in the educational/charity section as an Administration Manager. I like rock and alternative music and play guitar, enjoy football and tennis and love reading, cinema and theatre. 

What is your latest book?

My latest published book is my dark thriller Badlands, a story of deception, betrayal and conspiracy inspired by and set on the wild rugged coastline of North Cornwall. 

Perfect for fans of Lisa Jewell, Jane Harper, James Herbert and Robert Goddard, it’s the story of Willow, a runaway who’s dragged back into the life she fled when she gets a call for help from her estranged sister. 

When she returns to the Cornish coastal village of St. Agnes where she grew up, Willow finds that her sister was involved in a local scandal, but has since gone missing. 

To dig into the secrets of her sister’s life, Willow must confront her own mistakes and with every revelation Willow finds herself dragged deeper and deeper into a murderous conspiracy who’s roots lie a lot closer to home than she realises. 

It’s a story of sisterhood, broken families, smuggling and hidden identities with a hint of social commentary and even a dash of the paranormal. 

My current WIP is called Bleak Waters. It’s a supernatural mystery set in Hickling on the Norfolk Broads. 

Twenty-five-years after a young woman went missing in broad daylight, a stranger turns up asking questions about the disappearance. 

Lost in her own grief, the stranger’s arrival is a welcome distraction for twenty-three-year old local girl, Lily West, but when she starts uncovering the web of secrets and lies surrounding the disappearance, Lily realises that she’ll have to choose between protecting the people she loves, and uncovering the truth.

When did you begin writing?

I began writing in 1996. I went to see the Craft in the cinema, and I’d recently seen the Lost Boys, and in the days that followed I started thinking what would happen if the girls from the Craft met the Lost Boys? From there, I began writing a series of short tales about the conflict between a gang of witches and a vampire crew, and this eventually became my first (and gratefully unpublished) novel, Blessed Be

How do you write?

These days it’s mainly on laptop, but I wrote the majority of Badlands on my phone on my commute to and from work. I used to commute from my home in Hornchurch, to my job in Hampstead, North London, which was an hour and forty minutes each way, which meant I had around 3 hours a day of solid writing time. 

Where do you write?

We did a loft conversion a couple of years back, and now I have a writing space in the corner of the loft. But at the minute most of my writing is done in the local library on my lunch break from the day job. Occasionally I’ll write in coffee shops too. 

Why do you write?

To tell the stories that I want to read about the places I love, but that I can’t find in bookshops. 

More about Gary Kruse: parting words; links to your books; social media

Thank you, Joan for hosting me! Readers can find links to all my social media, my mailing list, website and published works through this link: www.linktr.ee/garykruseauthor

Badlands is available from Amazon on kindle, kindle unlimited and in paperback: http://mybook.to/badlandsdarkstroke

6Ws, Author Interview, Darkstroke Books

6Ws with Author Jennifer Worrell

Jennifer Worrell, a Chicago-based author, is the next one featured in this 6Ws series. I found it interesting she wrote her suspense/crime novel, Edge of Sundown, sitting on a lawn chair while balancing an iPad on a retaining wall. Jennifer has a whole lot more to say about her writing, so I will let her take over.

Who is author Jennifer Worrell?

I’m a pen and cheese enthusiast from the States (Chicago) with an unofficial goal of writing in every genre before I die. I’m forever trying to catch up with my TBR list, but since I work at a university library, I have zero chance for success.  I live with a husband and a kitty, neither of whom understand the zeal for pens, but they do understand the cheese thing, so we get along quite well.

What is your latest book?

Edge of Sundown is a suspense/crime novel published by Darkstroke Books.  It tells the tale of Val Haverford, an aging author whose dystopian universe of covert invaders eliminate “undesirable” members of society—something that could never happen in modern-day Chicago—until it does.  What started as a chance to revive his career and reconcile dark events from his past becomes a race to save himself and the people he loves.

Though we never seem to learn much from history, and it always comes back to bite us, I had no intention of writing anything political when I started writing Sundown in 2014.  It came about purely from asking ‘what-if’ questions.  That’s what I get for taking more than six years to write a book. 

Many stories are about loss, but lost opportunity feels more devastating to me, so I wanted to share that perspective.  It’s a recurring theme in other pieces, including my next project: a sci-fi novel about a rather shady radio exec with a particular talent for traveling through time.

When did you begin writing?

Since kindergarten, but not seriously until I was in my mid-thirties.  Looking back, I’m a little ashamed that I pissed away so much time.

How do you write?

Messily.  With lots of coffee.  I tend to write the scenes that compel me most and the essentials to convey plot and theme.  Then I put them in some kind of order, figure out what needs to happen in between so things make sense, and tie it all together.  I believe this is called the quilting method.  Sometimes I feel detached from the project until I throw myself into research, so I visit towns that inspire my settings, even live like my characters.  For instance, I hosted a radio show based on a weekly theme so I could more accurately portray my current protagonist.

Where do you write?

After the pandemic hit and we were forced to work from home, I set up a nifty little table against my living room windows.  I’m usually there, but I love working “offsite”.  Coffee shops, parks, lobbies of theaters—it really refreshes the mind to get away from routine.  I wrote Sundown sitting on a lawn chair while balancing an iPad on a retaining wall.

Why do you write?

It’s such fun.  It’s my outlet.  Some people draw, others make music…this is what I do for pleasure and escape and to occasionally torture real-life foes without those pesky social mores getting in the way.

More about Jennifer: Parting words; links to her books; social media

I’m the slowest writer ever but I have some stuff for you to read in the meantime.  

Edge of Sundownmybook.to/edgeofsundown

A novella and short story by my alter ego, for you grown-ups:  https://www.jenniferworrellwrites.com/behind-the-beaded-curtain

Facebook: facebook.com/JWorrellWrites

Twitter: twitter.com/JWorrellWrites

Website: jenniferworrellwrites.com

Everything, everywhere, all at once (assuming you open all the links in one go): linktr.ee/JenniferWorrell

6Ws, Author Interview

6Ws with Author PJ McIlvaine

PJ McIlvaine is this week’s author featured in my 6Ws series. She and I share a keen interest in the Titanic, a storied shipwreck that happened for real. But her character, Violet Yorke, a feisty survivor of that tragedy, has a lot more she’s dealing with like her ability to see ghosts and the demands of her rich family. I will let PJ take over and tell you about her writing, including Violet Yorke, Gilded Girl: Ghosts in the Closet.

Who is author PJ McIlvaine?

I’m a prolific Jill of all Trades in several genres: picture books, middle-grade, young adult, and adult. About the only genre I haven’t tried is porn, but there’s still time.

What is your latest book?

My latest book is Violet Yorke, Gilded Girl: Ghosts in the Closet (darkstroke books, 2022), a middle-grade supernatural historical mash-up about a poor little rich girl who sees ghosts and gets into all kinds of mischief and mayhem in 1912 Manhattan. It’s a high-spirited mystery adventure for all ages. 

When did you begin writing?

Since I was extremely young. The first thing I wrote was a neighborhood newsletter with my brother. I’d do the articles and he’d draw the cartoons. Later, I wrote poems, short stories, song lyrics, essays, books, etc. Maybe it’s in my genes as I was always told I’m distantly related on my maternal grandmother’s side to the French writer/feminist/philosopher Simone de Beauvoir. 

How do you write?

Well, with two hands…lol, I write by instinct and the seat of my pants. I don’t outline. I have it all in my head. I write every day, even if it’s only a sentence. Writing is like everything else, the more you do it, the better you get at it. 

Where do you write?

Mentally, I’m always writing. Physically, I write in my office (when my hubby isn’t occupying it) and at the dining room table. 

Why do you write?

Keeps me out of the wine bottle. No, I write because I have to. It’s like breathing to me, as much a part of me as my arms and legs. And at this stage of my life, I’m too old to join the circus. 

More about PJ McIlvaine: parting words; links to your books; social media

Writing is 75% waiting. This is not a quick-get-rich scheme. You need the patience of Job and the hide of a rhino. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. 

PJ lives on Eastern Long Island with her family and furbaby Luna.

PJ’s social media links:

PJ’s website: https://pjmacwriter.com

Twitter: @pjmcilvaine

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pj.mcilvaine

Instagram: @pjmcilvaine 

6Ws, Author Interview

6Ws with Author Stacey L. Pierson

This week’s featured author for my 6Ws series is Stacey L. Pierson, whose genre is horror. (With a nod to my years as a journalist, I opted for the 6Ws of the business: who, what, when, where, why and how, which counts as it ends in W.) Stacey, a fellow darkstroke books author, says she loves to scare readers and take them on a “wild ride.” Her debut novel, Vale was published in July. Here, I will let her take over this post.

Who is Stacey L. Pierson?

Stacey L. Pierson is a Young Adult and Horror Writer, living in Louisiana. She collects horror memorabilia, which sits right next to her as she writes. From reading to watching, there’s nothing like a good scare or mystery to keep her on the edge of her seat. And spice, she loves spicy anything. She loves taking Louisiana traditions and incorporating them into breathtaking new worlds full of mystery, conflict, and the taste of revenge, taking readers on a dangerous ride alongside my characters and leaving them walking the line between reality and the unknown.

What is your latest book?

Her latest and debut Young Adult novel, Vale, is a bayou murder mystery centering around a missing girl and someone walking the dark tree lines of the bayou sending letters to the girl’s closest friends. As they rush to hide their secrets, they keep them buried as they sink further into the bayou.

When did you begin writing?

At age nine and traveling the states as a military brat, Stacey used her imagination and escaped into the worlds where anything was and still is possible. She started writing poems and won the Editor’s Choice Award along with being published for, ‘When I was Ten’ and then published for the second time for ‘My Little Dragonfly’ in Collected Whispers, The International Library of Poetry in 2008. Also, she writes horror and dark comedy screenplays. The more sarcastic the better, Stacey says.

How do you write?

During the day she takes tons of notes from post-its to filling notebooks, which she has in every room, acts out possible scenes in chapters, and then “I come alive at night,” Stacey tells people. Panster? Plotter? She can be either. It depends on the type of story she wants or is writing. Vale is a plotted-out YA series, while a few of her horror stories she is writing are ‘open the laptop and see where the character wants to say kind of day.’

Where do you write?

She has a small desk in her bedroom with a coffin sitting on it. As Stacey says, it’s the perfect spot next to her horror collection. If there is a time she is stumped or blocked on anything, she looks over, smiles, and knows that each one of the writers could have had the same thing before writing the amazing characters that she loves. Many writers have been an inspiration to her from the beginning as a child to now. And they are on her horror shelf as well.

Why do you write?

“Writing has always been an escape, but more than anything I love to scare and take readers – or anyone who reads my words on a wild ride. Secretly, I hope readers have racing hearts, chilly spines, feel uncomfortable and become so sucked into my stories, they are the characters. 

“It’s all about the vibe. Sometimes you have to get out of your own head and let your characters take you on their journey. They know what they want to say, so let them. There are times I’m shocked at what is happening. But it’s the best of being a writer. You can be all these different personalities and get away with it.”

More on Stacey L. Pierson

VALE is available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble


Twitter: @SuperStacey318 

Instagram: @superstacey318