Category: My Books

My Interview with Author Vanessa Ravel

My Interview with Author Vanessa Ravel

Vanessa Ravel, Author – Four O’Clock Alice

 

 

A little girl. An ancient enemy. A shared past.

Alice Davies wouldn’t hurt a fly, but death seems to follow her everywhere. And as the body count rises, people in Dolwicke start to whisper.

If you like ancient myths and portal fantasies, you’ll love this surreal tale that will pull you down the rabbit hole for the adventure of a lifetime.

 

Hello Vanessa, thanks for the interview!

I just finished Four O’clock Alice and I have so many thoughts. I found it suspenseful with Alice Davies one of the most fascinating, engaging, and endearing characters I’ve read in a long time.

Now, most of us know the story of Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, but yours is a different kind of Alice and I’m still not sure of the reference between the two stories. Would you please explain?  And also, if you don’t cover this, I’d love to know where you got the idea for this amazing story!

Vanessa – Thank you for inviting me to chat, Ingrid! I’m so happy to hear you liked Four O’clock Alice. It was my first novel—my baby, if you will—so I’m really pleased to know that she turned out okay! Like most first-time parents, I wasn’t quite sure what I was doing (I’m still learning with this next one, but I like to think I’m getting the hang of it!)

The relationship between my Alice and Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll is nuanced. I wanted to create a character with the same kind of curiosity and wonder as Lewis Carroll’s Alice, so I peppered my book with allusions to Carroll’s story. I also wanted to use Alice in Wonderland to establish exposition and setting (Edwardian England) and to show that the book was contemporary (though Carroll published his work 50 years earlier).

As it turns out, those superficial allusions opened a Pandora’s box of hidden connections between mine and Carroll’s story that, thanks to your great question, I just noticed. For example, both stories can be considered coming-of-age stories. In each story, the girl learns about herself and the world around her, and experiences fabulous and frightening things. She physically grows (and shrinks!) and for better or worse, Alice goes on the adventure of a lifetime.

Of course, it’s all subjective—some may see Alice in Wonderland as a political allegory and my book as a paperweight, but that’s what’s fun about literature analysis, isn’t it? The meaning is in the eye of the beholder.

A lot of people have asked me where I got the idea for Alice, and unfortunately, the story is really not that interesting! I don’t know how often this happens to other authors, but in 2012, I sat down to write a completely different book (I’m not really an “outliner”). Yes, the main character was a little girl. Yes, the genre was gothic/dark fantasy. But that’s pretty much where the similarities ended.

What happened was I wrote myself into a rabbit hole and instead of trunking my beloved first novel, I dug deeper and found Alice on the other side. Moral of the story: sometimes you have dig through mud to find clay!

– I really like that! “Moral of the story: sometimes you have dig through mud to find clay!” Kind of reminds me of your field “epidemiology” where you must dig through all the cases to find the “clay” so to speak. Right? Or am I way off base here?

Vanessa – Nope, you’re spot-on, that’s what epidemiologists do. They dig through a bunch of data to uncover the hidden associations between exposures and diseases. And then they write papers about it! (Clearly my favorite part about being an epidemiologist is writing the papers)

I – And like all readers who enjoy getting lost in the next big adventure, I’m not going to ask you about the ins and out of your story or your characters. Though I must say, I did marvel at how your story unfolds. Well done!! It was a crazy and wild ride and I’m so very glad I had the pleasure!

Vanessa – So glad you enjoyed your trip down the rabbit hole!

I – I must ask why gothic/dark fantasy?

Vanessa – I didn’t choose this genre; it chose me. Judging by my reading track record, I would probably have chosen something more steeped in horror (which is what I’m writing now) or at least supernatural. However, that isn’t to say I don’t like dark fantasy; most of my favorite films fall into this genre (Pan’s Labyrinth, Edward Scissorhands, The Devil’s Backbone, etc.).  The Gothic part kind of snuck up on me too. Even though I don’t have much experience reading those kinds of books, for some reason the Edwardian setting really spoke to me for Alice. There’s a certain romantic appeal to the period around the time of the Great War, something about not having antibiotics I guess, that’s both horrific and enchanting. It would be cool to visit that period—though not without a pocket full of Azithromycin.

 I – Okay, so can you give us a sneak peek at what’s next for Alice?

Vanessa – Alice is a standalone novel, although now that you mention it, maybe there’s more story to tell…

I -I certainly hope so! Alice is truly a great character. So, what’s next from Vanessa Ravel?

Vanessa – Speaking of series, I do have one planned down the line. I’m hoping to start on it after my upcoming release, Demon Dance. This gritty short horror story collection is a big departure from Alice, and came from somewhere completely other within me. I think the strangeness of Alice is still there, though, and if you dig deep enough, so is the heart, but it’s surrounded by a lot of barbed wire.

 I – Sounds great! I love a good horror story!

 

Okay, time for some fun! You can answer any questions below you want to answer:

Where would you love to take a hot-air balloon ride real or imaginary?

Vanessa –Assuming you could tranquilizer dart me and drag me into said hot-air balloon (not a fan of heights), it would be nice to visit the past. Back when I was five and my only worry was how long I was going to get to play on the swings before it was time to go home.

I – I love your attitude, your strength, reading your bio on your website you really are amazing! Aside from writing, what are your other creative pursuits, goals, dreams, what have you?

Vanessa – I do declare, that’s probably the nicest thing anyone has ever said to me! I don’t have much time to do anything creatively but write nowadays, but I do like to draw and make stuffed toy animals. I used to make them as Christmas gifts. I should get back to doing that!

Vanessa w Dudley before he passed in 2014

I – Stuffed toy animals, what a great gift idea!

What are your other passions?

Vanessa – Aside from writing, I’d say my passion is animals. Specifically, dogs, if my Facebook profile is any indication. I have five at the moment, but there’s always room in my heart (though not necessarily in my house) for more. I’d love to have a big plot of land to build a rescue or sanctuary. Better get working on that next book…

I – Please do! I think your readers and the homeless dogs of this world would much appreciate it.

Favorite genre to read? A genre outside your norm that you’d like to read?

Vanessa – Definitely horror! I’m a major fan of Stephen King. I actually love how boring his books are. It sounds strange, but I think the true King fans will know what I’m talking about—at least I hope so… for all I know, they’ll want to burn me at the stake for calling their idol boring. In any case, what I mean is that for me, the best parts of his work—short stories and novels alike—are the exposition, where basically nothing happens. Gives you a chance to fall in love with the characters before you even get to the story. It would be interesting to read a science fiction book, but I’m afraid I just wouldn’t ‘get’ it!

I -I totally get what you mean about the “boring bits” in Stephen King books. I LOVE those!! Mainly because you know he’s introducing you to his characters and then there’s the sudden buildup that you just weren’t expecting but, “Bam,” it hits you square in the face like a really scary snowball. I LOVE Stephen King with John Saul a close second, oh, and Ira Levin’s Rosemary’s Baby was awesome. And my absolute favorite book ever so far is “IT.”

What’s your favorite flavor ice cream?

Vanessa –That would have to be pistachio

I– Flip flops or sandals?

Vanessa – Flip flops all day long. I’m an L.A. girl, after all!

I– Favorite place to veg?

Vanessa – Being a vegetarian, it’s hard to find “acceptable,” let alone edible food at non-vegan restaurants apart from side salads and French fries and mozzarella sticks. We just discovered that Fatburger sells the Impossible Burger, which is an impossibly awesome meat-free, plant-based burger that tastes exactly like meat. So, my boyfriend and I have kind of been living at Fatburger on the weekends. Don’t judge.

I – I asked where you like to veg? Sorry, that’s probably a generational thing. I meant relax, hangout, unwind, but the food thing was awesome, didn’t know you were a vegetarian until then. 🙂 I’d like to include both if that’s acceptable to you.

VanessaOh, LOL to the generational thing. You know, I should know what that means. The first time I heard that was in the movie “Clueless” when they were talking about “vegging” out on the couch all day long. Duh. It’s actually what I thought about when I read your question! But circuitously, what I replied with actually makes sense, because I really don’t veg out except when I go out to eat. I’m kind of a shut-in! Since I’m super shy, I don’t really go out and do things apart from car rides and walks and hiking in the forest and desert (not really “vegging out” – kind of the opposite LOL). So I guess Fatburger and the local vegan place is where we kind of loiter/”veg.” And the couch with the dogs, of course!

I – Your earliest happy memory?

Vanessa – Seeing Santa in my house! I know now that it was a false memory, that there was no fat man in a red suit in my house (no wonder my mom kind of freaked out when I told her). But it sure made my four-year-old self happy!

Your favorite horror movie actor?

Vanessa – Interesting question! I’ll give two answers to this one: my female favorite would be Sigourney Weaver (gotta love the Alien movies) and the male favorite is Anthony Hopkins (Silence of the Lambs is in my top 5 movies and is my favorite book!). Of course, there are a ton of great character actors that totally make the genre but those are my two big-name actors.

I – Your favorite horror author(s)?

Vanessa – In case you hadn’t noticed… Stephen King, I also like Dean Koontz. Sadly, I don’t read enough to be able to scrape up a real list.

I – First movie or first book, both 😊

Vanessa – My first book was a picture book called Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain by Verna Aardema about an African shepherd boy that must find a way to end a drought that threatens all the wildlife in the plain. I think first movie that really left a mark on me was Killer Klowns from Outer Space. I was about four and already into scary stuff. Easy to do when your sister is ten years older than you and it’s the late eighties, i.e., the era of bad horror films!

I – Killer Klowns from Outer Space! Hysterical!

Any question I didn’t ask during the interview that you want me to ask?

Vanessa – I can’t think of anything… you were very thorough, Ingrid!

Thank you, Vanessa, for the interview. It’s been an absolute pleasure!

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Fantastic News!

Fantastic News!

Hello my Friends,

Just a quick note to let you know I’m off to a fantastic start writing-wise in 2018. I just released my novel, My Father’s Magic, in print form. It’s currently available for purchase on Amazon.

Also today thru Sunday, my short stories, “Fresh Meat” and “A Home for Rose.” are both free on Amazon. In addition, the price on the eBook version of My Father’s Magic has been reduced. Or, you can get it for free when you buy the print version!

I’ve done all this in preparation for my upcoming new books! Later this year, I plan to release book two of the Esme Bohlin Suspense Series, Revenge of the Dark Queen. And, in 2019, I plan to release Dark Desert Tales: The Collection. Featuring three brand new Dark Desert Tales and alternate endings for A Home for Rose and Fresh Meat.

Needless to say that after a problematic year in 2017, I’m so glad to be busy doing what I love, writing. Thanks for reading and I hope your 2018 is phenomenal!

 

 

My Father’s Magic – Sneak Peek!

My Father’s Magic – Sneak Peek!

Hello! and thank you for visiting my page,

On a side note, I have more on my old blog, Ingrid Foster’s World, and we’re in the process of moving…but that’s not why you’re here… 

One of my favorite quotes, by Arthur Miller, “The best work that anyone ever writes is the work that is on the verge of embarrassing him, always,” has never been truer for me than with this book. So much of me is poured into its pages.

During the process of writing of My Father’s Magic, I laughed, I cried, I felt embarrassment and pain, and even elation… My entire goal in this process was to write a book that I would enjoy reading.

So with that in mind, I hope you enjoy reading this book as much as I enjoyed writing it…

Thank you, again, for visiting my site. 🙂 I hope you’ll come back often…

“Albion, where strangers become family and “family” turn psychotic…and it all starts w an old key…” 

Prologue

He took a sip of amber liquid as his eyes shifted once more to the report. I should have known, he scoffed. The warning signs were all there.

But as the words of a former mentor returned to haunt him, Drake Hermanus set the glass down on his leather-capped desk. After all these years, could the old wizard have been right? Could I really have been such a fool?

“Father?”

Shielding his thoughts, he looked across the dark expanse of his office at the young woman silhouetted by the hallway lights. My God, in this light she could be her mother. “Yes, Esme?”

“I was just about to go home. Do you need anything before I leave?”

Tell her, Drake. Tell her. “No. Thank you. I’ll see you in the morning.”

She remained there, another second, two.

“Was there something else?” He grimaced as his words hung in the air.

“No. Good night, Father,” she said and turned away.

As he watched the door close, there was so much that needed to be said, but, as usual, the timing was wrong. With a sigh, Drake opened a hidden panel in the front of his desk and extracted a small brown envelope labeled, “Hermanus House.”

After emptying its only content, a skeleton key, he wrote, “Highway 13 to FR 190, right on Hermanus Lane,” on the front of the envelope. Then, replacing the key, he laid the envelope inside his center desk drawer.

His backup plan now in place, Drake removed several sheets of private stationary from a side drawer. It’s time, he decided. This can wait no longer.

* * *

The grandfather clock in the front hallway chimed two o’clock when Tom Delaney, dressed in a velvet bathrobe and corduroy slippers, led his friend into his study.

“How about a drink to warm you up?” he asked as he headed for the cherry hutch he used for a bar.

Drake sat down on the burgundy leather sofa and placed his briefcase on the coffee table in front of him. “No thanks, Tom. I’ll need a clear head tonight.”

Stopping in mid stride, the middle-aged lawyer turned to face his friend of more than twenty years. “Drake, what the hell is going on?”

Drake allowed his briefcase to fall open. “What do you mean?”

In an effort to steady his hands, Tom picked up his pipe from a nearby ash tray and began stuffing it with tobacco. “First, you call me this late at night, something you haven’t done in what, eighteen years?”

Drake paled, but allowed his friend to continue. “Then you show up, frazzled, something you never are, and with a five o’clock shadow, again, something you would never allow,” he paused to light his pipe. “So, tell me, Drake. What is going on?”

A pensive smile curved Drake’s full lips as he rubbed the coarse stubble on his chin. In answer, he pulled a folded paper from the inside pocket of his tailored suit jacket and laid it on the coffee table. “I think you need to read this.”

Taking a seat in a leather armchair, Tom returned his pipe to the ashtray and read the paper. Seconds later, he handed it back. “You need to tell Esme.”

Without pause, Drake slipped the paper back into his pocket. “You read the report, Tom. It’s pure speculation. Someday, I will retire leaving Esme and Geoff in charge. My planting unproven accusations inside her head would not make that any easier, for either of them.”

His lips pressed together, Tom reclined in his chair. There were many arguments he could have given, but as he looked at his friend he knew it was pointless. “So, what are you going to do?”

Drake’s eyes took on their usual cold semblance of steel. “When I leave here, I will return to the office. I have it on good authority that my apprentice and future son-in-law will still be there.”

Tom grew more uneasy; his pipe forgotten. “There’s nothing I can say to talk you out of this?”

“No, but there is something I need you to do.” Drake removed a rectangular, wooden box from his briefcase and set it on the coffee table. “In the unlikely event of my death, I need you to give this to Esme. There are a few letters, a copy of my will, and some other things I want her to have. But this box and all it contains is for her eyes only.”

“Drake, this is foolishness.” Tom said as he leaned forward. “If there’s any possibility that Geoff could retaliate or harm you in anyway, you must tell Esme. You must warn her.”

Drake smiled. “Tom, the boy is my apprentice. I will simply confront him. If I don’t like what he has to say, I will order him to resign and refrain from all contact with my daughter. Geoff is not foolish enough to cross me.”

“And what if he does?”

“I’m a master sorcerer, Tom,” Drake said as he leaned back against the sofa. “You worry too much. Now, if you’re still offering that drink, I’ll take it.”

Chapter One

Breathe, Esme, breathe. I willed myself to calm down as I wrapped the blanket around me. “It’s a dream. It’s only a dream.”

A quick glance at the bright numbers on my alarm clock, 5AM, he should be up by now.

I reached out telepathically, expecting one of two responses, both instantaneous. Either I’d hear my father’s voice, finding him awake and well into his day. Or I’d feel a wall, my father’s mental version of a “do not disturb” sign. Instead, I got nothing.

Nothing? What the heck? My telepathic connection with my father, something we shared genetically, had always been consistent. But now that connection was just a big, empty void.

As a wave of panic threatened the edges of my concentration, I reached out again. “Nothing?! No. That’s not possible.”

I grabbed my cell phone from the nightstand and jumped up from my bed. With a deep, calming breath, I told the phone, “Call Father’s mobile.

“Please answer. Please, please answer,” and pressed the phone harder against my ear.

As the call rang out and went to voice mail, I tried to think of a message, any message. But as I heard the loud beep, all I could say was, “Father, please call me.”

Still holding my now-silent phone, I started pacing. I need to go over there. I need to check on him.

But still, I hesitated. What if I’m wrong? What if I go over there and he’s pissed because I interrupted his morning routine. No. There’s got to be another way. I continued my pacing.

Wait. What about Geoff? Maybe he knows… Calling my temperamental fiancé at five in the morning was not my idea of fun. But we were both business partners with my father, so maybe Geoff knew something I didn’t.

And my sense of intuition, one of the few things my father prided me on, told me to call him. So, braced for whatever nasty reaction Geoff might give, I told my phone, “Call Geoff’s mobile.”

Three rings later I got, “Esme. I’m glad you called.”

What? If it weren’t for my dream, that felt more like a nightmare, I would have died of shock. But priorities being priorities, “Geoff, I can’t reach Father. Do you know where he is?”

“Yes,” he said as he lowered his voice. “I’m at the morgue. Your father had a heart attack.”  Long sigh, “He’s dead, Esme. Drake is dead.”

As his words registered, the first of many tears began to fall. “Please tell me I’m dreaming and that this is all part of a nightmare.”

Silence, and then, “I’m sorry, Esme. For your sake, I wish I could.”

* * *

According to the coroner, my father had died earlier that morning and according to Geoff, they had both been at work. I had thought to ask him for more details. Like why was my father, who seldom worked past midnight, pulling an overnighter?

But at that point, it didn’t matter. Father was dead and no amount of questions would bring him back. Apparently, even a master sorcerer can’t stop a heart attack.

Two days after his death, we had my father’s funeral during the morning. It all seemed so quick, so hurried. But I had asked Geoff to make the arrangements, so I had no right to complain. Besides, with my father gone, I was lucky to still have my fiancé.

That afternoon, I was on my way out of Cascadia, the large, sprawling city we all called home. “A much needed bit of time off,” my now very-much-in-charge fiancé had called it. On some level I knew Geoff was getting me out of the way, but I didn’t care. One of my other gifts, my ability to read minds and emotions, was in complete overdrive.

In truth, I was a basket case. I was so drained from my father’s death that being able to block other people’s thoughts was impossible. As much as reading Geoff’s mind might have answered some of my questions, I was grateful that he had finally mastered the ability to keep me from reading him. At least I didn’t have to worry about his dark thoughts.

I needed some time alone and wandering around Hermanus Enterprises, the company my father started, and Geoff and I had inherited, wasn’t helping. So, after finding an old key labeled “Hermanus House,” inside my father’s desk, I decided this unknown house bearing my father’s family name was as good a place as any to start.

But first, I needed to tell my mother that her husband was dead.

My Father’s Magic