I’m happy to present my interview with Nessie Strange. Her book Reaper Madness is the second book in the exciting Living Dead World series! Here she talks about her writing and the characters in Living Dead Girl, the first book of the series. But don’t take my word for it. Here’s some praise for Reaper Madness from reviewers:
“This book is just amazing… It’s got a bit of mystery, a lot of insanity, a smidgen of some steamy scenes, and one whopping fantastic, awesome story. I would recommend this HIGHLY.” –Books n Pearls
“Sexy and fast paced… My only complaint is that I have to wait for number 3. I love it!” –Dark Side of Romance
“From the very first page this book will grab you and doesn’t let go. You feel such a connection with the characters… I still can’t say enough good things about this book!” –Paranormal Romance and Authors That Rock
(blurb and excerpts below)
Hi, Nessie. Thanks for stopping by to talk a little about your paranormal series! Tell me a little about the characters and the conflict in Living Dead Girl.
This is the story of a young woman, stuck in a rut with life and clinging to a relationship that’s no good for her, who meets someone that turns everything she ever believed about life and love completely upside down. They begin a relationship and find happiness, but it ends tragically with her untimely death. What follows, is her unwillingness to let go of it all after death, and some of the (rather unfortunate) decisions she makes in the process.
Were your characters difficult to write, or did they seem to spring easily from your mind to the page?
The characters were surprisingly easy to write. They just kind of took over and developed lives of their own. Living Dead Girl, however, was an extremely difficult story for me to write. When I first came up with it, I originally envisioned Jen’s death scene and the sequence of events that followed. Her love story with Jack kind of grew by accident. I felt I needed to show that progression of the relationship to make her return from the dead more powerful. The result is a story that doesn’t really fit a set genre, or follow a typical path, and I think that makes some readers uncomfortable.
What I discovered as I got deeper into their story was that Living Dead Girl is just a beginning. There’s a whole other ‘world’ beyond their lives on earth and a much bigger picture that’s developing. In book two, we’ll continue a few months after book one ends. We’ll see why certain characters were motivated to act certain ways, and a lot of things are tied together. Now that I’ve got the ‘bigger picture’ of this series in my head, I feel like I’ve got all these interconnected threads tangled up and crisscrossing each other. I hope that readers will experience the same ‘a-ha’ moments I did as we delve deeper into Jen and Jack’s journey.
How often does your muse distract you from day to day minutiae?
When I’m in the zone and really wrapped up in a story, I think about it all the time. I don’t plot “on paper”, or outline or anything. It’s more of an organic process where I’m constantly visualizing scenes and working out how they would be resolved. I like to think of it as productive daydreaming. It’s also how I get myself excited about telling a story, because in this process I’m getting to know the characters, I’m growing attached to them. I’m imagining their world.
Are there specific challenges that writers face as opposed to other artists?
I went to art school (Rhode Island School of Design) and have strong ties to the visual arts as well, so I really think it’s a case of same problems different delivery. Ultimately artists, whether they’re visual artists, musicians or writers, have to solve the issue of translating something that’s inside the mind as an abstract idea into something tangible that others can appreciate. Whether it’s paint, or musical notes, or words, how it’s all put together is important. We still have to solve the problem of selecting which elements will best translate those ideas. Word placement, in that sense, isn’t much different from a visual art composition. Sometimes it works, and others not so much.
Thanks again for stopping by, Nessie! Readers can discover more about Nessie Strange here:
Living Dead World Book Two
Genre: Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Romance
Word Count: 71,385
Page Count: 334
Release Date: 11-21-2014
This isn’t the afterlife she expected…
Jen MacLellan can’t get the hang of being a reaper. She’s been separated from Jack, the man she loves, and is stuck with an annoying telepathic link to her ill-tempered mentor, Sam. Now Death is breathing down her neck, promising to remove that annoying link if she gives him what he wants. But when reapers begin to disappear back on earth, leaving behind walking, talking dead people, Jen and Sam are thrust into a dangerous mission to recapture the souls, and a passionate physical relationship that complicates everything.
Jack Norris has no memory prior to waking up on the half-demon Nulcifer’s couch six months earlier. As he begins to investigate his past, he discovers a string of past lives tied together by a beautiful, mysterious brunette. Who is she? And why does finding her seem like a life or death proposition?
When Sam falls victim to fate during a routine visit to earth, Jen’s devastated. Desperate to get him back, she runs smack into the man she never thought she’d see again—Jack. She tries to keep her distance, but there’s no time to be awkward if they want to save Sam. When sinister plots are revealed, and betrayals threaten everything, she’s forced to make some tough choices—and learns that life is just as difficult when you’re dead.
Buy Reaper Madness here
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Living Dead Girl
Living Dead World Book One
Genre: Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Romance
Word Count: 63,386
Page Count: 294
Release Date: 1/17/2014
Jen MacLellan has hit a dead end…
Jen knows tattooed, blue-haired Jack Norris is trouble the minute he opens his front door. And being a mortician in the avante garde East Side of Providence, Jen has seen a lot. Jack has recruited Jen’s teenage brother Drew to play drums for his less-than-respectable punk band, and Jen has no choice but to follow their gigs to keep her little brother out of trouble. But when Drew goes missing, she finds herself in the awkward position of asking for Jack’s help. Shocked that he agrees, Jen decides she may have misjudged him. Worse, she might even like him.
But when Jen is brutally attacked, she awakens in the hospital where a Sid Vicious look-alike greets her with the news: she’s dead, and he’s the reaper assigned to take her away. Yeah, not so much. Refusing to leave, Jen’s spirit watches helplessly as her loved ones suffer, powerless to ease her family’s grief or prevent the police from accusing Jack of her murder. Desperate to help them, Jen convinces the reaper to bring her back. But reanimating corpses isn’t as easy as it looks, and neither is finding a killer before it’s too late…
Buy Living Dead Girl here
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Or read on Scribd
An Excerpt from Reaper Madness
Sam wasn’t kidding when he said I had no idea what I was getting into. And now, as I stared Death in the face—literally—from an uncomfortable black leather executive chair, it occurred to me for the first time that I was in way over my head. Between the pinstriped suit and dark, slicked-back hair, he resembled a character from The Godfather more than a deity who ruled over the dead and dying. Death was one scary motherfucker. And he was smiling.
“Care for a drink, Jennifer?”
I shook my head, but he rose anyway, retrieved two glasses from the cabinet behind him, and filled both with amber-colored liquid. “Relax, I’m not going to bite.”
That wasn’t what I was worried about.
“Now, how long have you been with us? About six earth months?”
I cleared my throat. “Ah yes. About that long.”
“I find it intriguing,” he said. “You have been telepathically linked to one of my reapers this entire time, yet you really demonstrate no capability when it comes to this job. One would think that would give you an edge, hmm?”
“You’d think,” I laughed. OK, I sucked at it. It was only recently I’d been allowed to travel back to earth to help retrieve souls. Sam did most of the work, while I trailed behind, like one of those ankle-biting little purse dogs. What I wanted to know was why he’d insisted I do the job in the first place. I’d never asked to be a reaper. It wasn’t like I wanted this.
“The occupation listed from your most recent incarnation on earth was a mortician, was it not? So you should be accustomed to working with the deceased and the sensitivities that go along with it.”
“These two jobs are absolutely nothing alike.” Shit. I’d reacted again, lost my cool because of something he said. Now that my brain had caught up with my mouth, the fire snuffed out and with it went my nerve. I needed to learn to bite my tongue. Considering the habit crossed over with me from my last life, maybe that was wishful thinking. “Well, I mean, because when I was a mortician, those people didn’t talk back to me.”
Death studied me. “No, I don’t imagine they did.” He scrunched his lips up, his brow furrowed—the only hint of emotion I’d seen from him—but it quickly faded. “What exactly is it that’s holding you back or hanging you up? I’m just trying to understand here.”
“Well, I guess some of it is that I feel bad for them. I want to make things easier, but Sam’s all about scaring them and intimidating and manipulating them. It doesn’t seem right. I mean, we’re their first point of contact with the afterlife; why does it have to be frightening?” I was doing it again. OK, I needed to breathe. “I just… I see the fear in their faces, and it tears at me. It doesn’t feel right. It’s not me.”
“Fear makes them more pliable. Which in turn, makes your job easier when it’s time to collect.”
“But I don’t…”
He held up a hand. “I don’t like excuses, Jennifer. You may not agree with all of the methods you have been taught, but you still need to learn them and be able to utilize all of them. Years down the line, when you actually have some experience, perhaps then you can develop your own strategies. For now, as a rookie in the division without a single reaping under your belt, you are obligated to follow the instruction of your mentor. Do you understand?”
“I also hear that you’ve been visiting the civil records bureau every day, searching for the whereabouts of a human soul that you arrived with.”
I twisted the glass between my fingers. Jack and I had been separated soon after our arrival, and I hadn’t seen him since. We’d been a couple on earth, but since arriving in purgatory he’d all but vanished. “I had no idea that was against the rules.”
“I suppose it isn’t, technically. Though I do wonder if some might construe it as an abuse of power. Your position as a reaper gives you access to a wealth of information beyond what the general public can see, but it is meant for research and job purposes. Not personal business.”
Did this guy even blink? He drummed his fingers on the glossy black surface of his desk as he watched me. I braced myself for the inevitable punishment.
“Jennifer, I have a proposition for you.”
I squirmed in my seat. Was I in trouble or what?
“Sammael is one of my oldest reapers, and he’s very dear to me, but I fear he may be up to something. Something illegal or nefarious in nature. I’ve overlooked a great deal with him in the past, but it’s getting to the point where I won’t be able to do that anymore. I’ve no idea what he’s up to. I want you to find out.”
Death leaned forward so that his elbows rested on the desk. “Or have you already learned things? Come now, you must be close. A telepathic bond like this is quite intimate. Surely he’s shown you something.”
Intimate? More like a pain in the ass. Like having a voice in your head, intruding when you least welcomed it, and always listening. “Um…no. Not really.”
“Might I remind you, that he’s unable to hear you while you’re within the walls of this office?”
I paused. “Sam is very guarded with his thoughts. Most of the time I don’t hear anything, well, other than what he wants me to hear.”
“As I expected he would be.” He sipped his drink. “Do I sense some hesitation on your part? You once said you loathed being attached to him. That his thoughts invading your head were like the worst kind of infestation. What happened to that fiery little bitch who marched in my office and demanded to have this bond severed?” His smile returned. “One would think you’d do everything you could to get away from that. Unless you’ve changed your mind.”
I sank back into the chair, cringing at the memory. One of the many times Sam had pushed my buttons a little too far. I’d gone to Death’s office without even thinking about it—a knee-jerk type reaction.
“I tell you what. You find out what he’s up to, and I will personally make sure that link is removed. Then we can decide whether or not you will continue working for me, or perhaps whether schooling or a different apprenticeship would be more beneficial. At least until your contract with me is completed. How does that sound?”
“Well…” I frowned, considering it. Did I want Sam out of my head? Hell yeah. But I didn’t want to have to rat him out to do it. As far as I was concerned, whatever he did was his own business and the less I knew, the better. Besides, how would I pull something like this off? He plucked thoughts from my head when I least expected it, even when I thought I was being clever and concealing them. I couldn’t imagine trying to hide a secret of this magnitude. “I don’t know.”
“Could it be you have changed your mind about him?”
“No. Absolutely not. It’s just, I have no idea how I’d keep this from him. I mean, he’d know right away. Even if I manage to hide the thought, he’ll know I’m hiding something, and he won’t let up until he finds out what. It wouldn’t work.”
Death looked thoughtful. “Have you tried any of the masking techniques I taught you?”
“Well, yeah, but they only work if I concentrate.” And who the hell could concentrate all hours? I was already getting paranoid. I needed to tuck this little piece of knowledge somewhere deep inside and hope that Sam wouldn’t feel the need to pry. Yeah right. I might as well have had a live bomb lodged in my skull.
“I see.” Death swirled the liquid in his glass before taking a healthy gulp. “Be that as it may, you are now a reaper, even if by title only.”
At least he was honest.
“And with that job comes great responsibility. I had such high hopes for you when you first joined us—a bright, intelligent, level-headed woman, someone who could perhaps reel Sammael in before he strayed too far from my reach. But even on a base level, your grasp of the job is subpar at best. I’ve always handpicked the finest individuals. Because of your unique circumstances I believed I’d found a gem. Unfortunately, the honeymoon is over.”
This was new territory for me. I’d never been called incompetent before. During my last life on earth I’d been an honor student in school, then I’d gotten a job I loved and was good at.
“I need results, Jennifer. You must complete a reaping during your next assignment. I need something to prove that first instinct wasn’t wrong, because I”—he sipped his drink again, his gaze never leaving mine—“hate being wrong.”
Death placed his glass on the desk.
“Do I make myself clear?”
I offered a quick, jittery nod and gripped the armrests of the chair. Fuck, how was I going to keep this from Sam?
“Good.” Oh God, he was smiling again. He placed both tips of his forefingers together in an inverted V in front of his nose. “You may leave.”