Sunday, May 18, 2014

A Conversation with Mystery Author G.G. Collins

Omnimystery News: Author Interview with G.G. Collins
with G.G. Collins

We are delighted to welcome mystery author G.G. Collins to Omnimystery News today.

G.G.'s second paranormal mystery to feature medium Rachel Blackstone is Lemurian Medium (Chamisa Canyon Publishing; December 2013 ebook format) and we recently had the chance to catch up with her to talk about the series.

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Omnimystery News: Introduce us to your mystery series.

G.G. Collins
Photo provided courtesy of
G.G. Collins

G.G. Collins: There is a Hopi ritual to return the dead; however, it's not a literal return but one of remembrance. But for story purposes, I went for a literal return to knock Rachel off balance. After attempting this, Rachel discovers she has some extracurricular talents and a wolf following her. I had so much fun writing Rachel Blackstone as she stumbled around trying to determine why her dear departed dad stayed in the afterlife and how on earth was she going to send back this atrocity that once passed as a human being. After finishing book one, I liked her so much I wanted to write another book chronicling her adventures. In the second book, Lemurian Medium, she's out on the town at an art opening when her friend vanishes into a painting! Unable to find her using normally accepted methods, she must travel the astral plane in search of her.

OMN: How do you see your characters developing over the course of the series?

GGC: Rachel and Chloe (her best friend) will evolve over time. Rachel will always be reluctant about this New Age stuff, as she sees it, but her skills will sharpen with experience. Yet, as a fact-based person she will always be cynical and look for real answers, even if she can't always find them.

OMN: Into which mystery genre would you place your books?

GGC: I call them paranormal mysteries, but particularly in the second one, there is an element of fantasy as I describe the lost continent of the Pacific: Lemuria. The third one will involve time travel to the 1940s during the Manhattan Project. It may even include a little revisionist history. And there's a small dose of horror, laced with humor. Instead of a crossover, they may be more of a pretzel!

OMN: Have you included any of your own personal or professional experience in your books?

GGC: Oh yeah! I use a lot of reporting experiences in my books. While they aren't the actual interviews, I certainly borrow heavily from the experience. One character in my second book is a real person, fictionalized with her permission. No, I won't say which one. You'll have to guess.

Real events? Yes, in the third book in the series my characters will find themselves in the middle of the Manhattan Project during WWII. I'm researching for as much authenticity as possible.

Now about that "how much of you is in your series," well, hmm. That's kind of sneaky. Okay, I'll fess up. There is a little of me in Rachel Blackstone. She is sarcastic (one of my best qualities) and cynical (always good in a reporter). But I'm not a fast-food addict (I eat more like Chloe). I don't break and enter (well almost never).

Most importantly — and this is good counsel for anyone — I wear shoes I can run in! Always.

OMN: Describe your writing process for us.

GGC: I know many writers spend time writing character studies and lavishly outlining every event and nuance their book will contain. But for me, by the time I did all that, I could have written the book. And I'm afraid — for me — it would ruin the spontaneity of a new direction that seemingly comes from vapor. Sometimes my characters have minds of their own and voilà, they do something funny, out of character, smart or truly stupid.

OMN: Where do you usually find yourself writing?

GGC: Anywhere and everywhere. I don't have to have a perfect office all set up with everything at hand. I can sit cross-legged on the sofa (and often do) and write away the night. I can write at "home" or anywhere I happen to be. Chocolate is very helpful.

OMN: You mentioned researching your next book. How do you go about fact-checking the plot points of your stories?

GGC: It's difficult to fact-check a paranormal book, but I do research the heck out of them. In fact, I love research. The vast amount of my study is found in books and aboard the internet. When delving into a new subject, I almost always get ideas from that exploration. For instance, while reading about Lemuria I learned about Lemurian Seed Crystals that are reputed to contain the entire history of the universe! A big order to be sure. A wonderful friend who already knows a great deal about crystals gave me one. I haven't looked back. Crystals and their properties add so much to Rachel Blackstone's development as she becomes more secure in her new-found abilities, although still reluctant.

OMN: How true are you to the "real" settings of your books?

GGC: I take liberties. If I need a grungy motel in downtown Santa Fe (there aren't any), I make one up. I rearranged Tent Rocks to work with my story. But I also use real places. I don't worry about one closing. If heaven forbid, The Shed ever closed, I would sadly find another hangout for Rachel and Chloe. The real places in Santa Fe are part of its allure. Many of my readers like to learn about it through my books and I'm happy to show them around, warts and all. Rachel is part of Santa Fe; therefore its ambiance is important to the story. She may revel in the light that has lured artists from every part of the world or grouse about tourista traps or the latest water-guzzling golf course, but she always loves the City Different.

OMN: If you could travel anywhere in the world, all expenses paid, to research the setting for a book, where would it be?

GGC: Peru! I'd hike the Inca Trail, take photos and scribble notes in my sleeping bag via my headlamp. Rachel Blackstone would have yet another out-of-body experience ending at Machu Picchu. The Inca Trail has sheer cliffs to fall from (or be pushed) and caves to get lost in (or hide bodies); what a swell time she'd have. And maybe me too.

OMN: What are some of your outside interests? Have any of these found their way into your books?

GGC: I'm especially fond of horses and cats. Rachel finds a cat comes with the house she buys. Of course, the cat is psychic (aren't they all) and sometimes knows they have "company" before Rachel does. About the only time Rachel goes gooey and soft is around that cat. And "auntie" Chloe spoils her with Evian water and an automatic litter box. Rachel also discovers she has a spirit animal, a wolf, who alerts her when she's in danger and helps out in a pinch.

I'm writing a stand-alone novel that involves a family struggle to save a horse farm. Two cousins, one who stayed on the farm and the other who became a news correspondent and traveled the world, try to rescue the stable from economic hardship while working out dirty family secrets. The backdrop will be equestrian three-day eventing.

OMN: What is the best advice you've received as an author? And what might you say to aspiring writers?

GGC: It doesn't hurt to have a thick skin whatever you do. But some book reviewers, particularly on social media and blogs, use their anonymity to be hurtful. Fortunately, I haven't had that happen, but I've sure read them. No one sits down to write a bad book. Ed Gorman who is an award-winning author and former editor-in-chief of "Mystery Scene Magazine" once said: "You have to give the writer something." Not just because that author may someday become famous, or that word will get around about your reviews and publishers will avoid you, but because it is the kind thing to do.

I'm not a fountainhead of great advice, but honestly, for those who are just beginning, the best thing to do is keep writing. You've got to get the butt-in-the-chair-hands-on-the-keyboard time. There's no way around it. Journalism is great training for the fiction writer. Reporters have to learn quickly and write faster because there is NO EXCUSE for not making a deadline, short of being dead yourself. Set deadlines for yourself and keep them.

To be a writer means you must be self-starting, self-motivated (all those self things). It's not like punching a time clock. No one makes you write. And, you do all that work with no assurance that you'll make any money. Like any of the arts-related fields, you have to really want it and be willing to cope with the insecurities and incongruities of the whole weird wonderful world of writing.

OMN: Give us a couple of examples of reviews that you like most … and least.

GGC: Least: The 3-star review from a woman who said this wasn't the kind of book she usually read, so because of that she was knocking off two stars. Say what?

Most: "This book kept me up way too late. I can't wait for the next one!" Love it!

OMN: What kinds of books did you read when you were young? And what do you enjoy reading today?

GGC: Early on, I read Hardy Boy books. I was a tomboy, probably still am, and didn't want to read sissy girl books. Boys seemed to have all the fun. A mystery fan already, I branched out to a book by Shirley Jackson, We Have Always Lived in the Castle. Wow! I loved it. After that it was Helen MacInnes, Mary Roberts Rinehart, Phyllis A.Whitney, Mary Stewart, Mary Higgins Clark and Agatha Christie. These are all the classics of mystery writing and so worth the read. When Stephen King arrived on the scene, I was ready. I also enjoy Edna Buchanan, Lia Matera, J A Jance, Nevada Barr and Swedish writer Liza Marklund. I read Pat Franks' Alas, Babylon repeatedly. I believe Chaim Potok walks on water. How's that for irony?

These days I read mostly nonfiction to research my books. Topics like Mesoamerican deities who like to snack on humans, reptilian extra terrestrials, lost continents, entry portals, ancient First Nation ceremonies and time travel are regular visitors to my reading list.

OMN: Create a Top 5 list for us on any topic.

GGC: Here are two lists:

Top 5 places include Santa Fe, Paris, Santiago de Compostella, Prague and Bangkok. They all have rich histories that make for good storytelling.

Top 5 foods include Carne Adovada, Green Chile Cheese Burritos, Green Chile Enchiladas, Flan and wash it all down with a margarita (technically not a food).

OMN: What's next for you?

GGC: Atomic Medium is my current project. I'm hip-deep in the Manhattan Project and time travel. It's going to involve photons, crystals, Nazis and aliens. Here's the sneak peek:

A time warp has opened in a popular Santa Fe retail store. The building was the main office of the Manhattan Project during its development in the 1940s. Evil is using the portal to give the Germans the upper hand during WWII. Only one person has witnessed the entry of two dangerous men through the doorway to the past. If they can't be stopped, history will be changed. For Rachel and Chloe, it's no small task: just save the world.

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Walking several beats, reporter G.G. Collins racked up a lot of column inches, a few awards and a writing fellowship at Duke University. She never met a story she didn't like, although some interviews were challenging, a few obnoxious. But reporting is always exciting, exploring the rooftops of skyscrapers, meeting in clandestine locations, getting an exclusive story, and occasionally being a tad alarmed at someone's behavior.

But there was another side lurking, just waiting to write its way out. This side of her personality is fond of the strange, the frightening, the metaphysical. The day she discovered the Hopi ceremony to call back the dead, she just had to ask the question: What would happen if the wrong spirit came back? The "Reluctant Medium" series resulted.

For more information about the author, please visit her website or her author page on Goodreads.

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Lemurian Medium by G.G. Collins

Lemurian Medium
G.G. Collins
A Rachel Blackstone Paranormal Mystery

Rachel thought: "Oh brother, she really was ill-equipped for this, but too late for remedial space alien protocol. Worse yet, she was the alien!"

Reluctant Medium Rachel Blackstone watches in horror as a friend vanishes into a painting at a posh Santa Fe gallery. Unable to find her by normal methods, the reporter must look for her via the astral plane. There she will meet her most frightening nemesis and defend herself on the Terror of the Threshold. Will it be the Mesoamerican deity who enjoys human snacks or the evil spirit she crossed paths with before? What she doesn't expect is to land in an ancient civilization intent on keeping her — and her unproven powers. Part of this territory is inhabited by gentle people, flora and fauna that communicate telepathically. But the other residents are decidedly ruthless. Legend says the lost continent of Lemuria sank eons ago. Rachel's visit must be brief or she could be caught up in the cataclysm. She employs crystal power to help her communicate with friend Chloe back home in New Mexico and to defend herself from cosmological attacks.

In Santa Fe, Chloe and soul navigator F Dominic Magellan search frantically for the body of their friend in its altered state. They must return it to the art gallery so she can reclaim it. That proves difficult when they run across someone, or something, who will do anything to stop them.

On the astral plane, Rachel has to multitask, coping with earthquakes and volcanoes as the end of the long-lost culture is set in motion, all while staging the rescue of her friend. Catching the red-eye home to the 21st century could prove difficult as she desperately looks for a way to escape a violent society. They must find Rachel's silver cord or they cannot return.

Can Rachel become a successful astral-naut? Or will she be forever lost in the cosmos? Print/Kindle Format(s)

1 comment:

  1. Thank you Omnimystery News. My blog has been smoking all day and books are flying off the electronic shelf. I appreciate the space. G G Collins


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