Thursday, July 5, 2012

Read Me Dead by Emerald Barnes: Interview & Excerpt

Romantic Suspense

Alex wants to be a normal teenager, worrying about what dress to wear to homecoming and which handsome boy to date, but as the sole witness to her parents' horrific murder, she can never be normal.

For seven years, Alex has lived with this secret that haunts her memories.  And when the local newspaper reveals her secret, Alex is plagued by the fear that her parents' murderer will soon find himself another victim -  her.

As she follows her heart, the murderer follows her.  Normal is out of the question.   Alex's life is catapulted into a race against time to save her own life and bring her parents' murderer to justice.

[Dr. Finnegan] peers at me over his glasses and smiles consolingly.  He is a handsome man, a little older than what Dad should’ve been but only by five years.  I’ve known him ever since he and Daddy started their practice together.  His brown hair is graying around his ears, and behind those reading glasses, he has rich brown eyes that compliment his golden tan.  I trust him completely, so I can’t explain why I’m having such a hard time telling him what I saw.
“I told [Matt] the truth,” I say.
“What truth was that?”
 “Dr. Finnegan?”
“Do you have the key to Dad’s office?”
“Why do you ask?”
“I’d like to see it.”
“I don’t know if that’s best.”
He bites his lower lip as he contemplates what I’ve asked of him.
Finally he sighs and says, “All right.”
He walks to his desk and grabs a set of keys out of the top drawer.  I follow him out of his office and to Dad’s.  He puts the key in the doorknob but hesitates.
“Alexia, I’m not sure what this is going to accomplish.”
“They’ve just been on my mind a lot lately.”
He unlocks the door without saying anything and lets me walk in first.  The desk, chairs and tables aren’t in the waiting room anymore.  I’m not sure where they’ve gone.  The green on the walls has faded into a lighter shade, and the air is musty.  I find it hard to breathe, but I’m not sure if it’s because of the air or because of the memories.
Dr. Finnegan unlocks the office door.  All the furniture has been left in the room, except the filing cabinets, and is covered with dust.  The last time I was here, I was hiding under the desk coloring, right before they died. 
“It was a Saturday wasn’t it?” Dr. Finnegan asks.
“But Matty and your mom weren’t there?”
“They were with the rest of the team, celebrating Matty’s baseball team’s win.”
I walk to his desk, the light from the window illuminating my way.  I rub my hand across the dusty top.  I remember his old computer, the pictures of them.  The way the room smelled of old books and Dad’s after shave.  I lean against the desk and cry.
“I saw it,” I say through the sobs.
“Saw what, dear?”
“Them killed.”
“You mean afterwards?  Their bodies?”
“No.  I saw the man shoot them.”
He places his hand on my shoulder.  He draws in a deep breath, and his body is tense.
“But you didn’t tell the police?”
“I couldn’t.  He threatened me.”
I remember the hot breath on my face as the murderer spat out the words threatening to kill me.
“So you know who the killer is.”  He seems distant as he says those words, like something else is weighing on his mind.  I nod.
“You haven’t breathed a word to anyone in all these years?”
“Not until Friday night.”
“That’s why Matt’s upset.”
“Because I didn’t tell the cops.  Because he can’t wrap his head around how I was only ten.  Or how he’s being completely selfish!  What was I supposed to do?”
“There isn’t anything you could’ve done, Alex.  Don’t let this upset you.”
“How can I not?  I thought I could trust him, but I can’t.”
“Why did you tell your story now though?”
“I thought I saw him.”
“Saw who, dear?”
“The man who murdered them.”
“Are you going to go to the police?”
“What will they do?  You know just as well as I do that it wouldn’t matter one way or another.”
“I’m not sure that’s the case here, kiddo.”  There was a strange edge in his voice.  I’d never heard it before, but I assumed it had to do with Dad’s death.  They had been best friends.
“What happens when I do go to the cops, and he figures it out?  He’ll kill me for sure.  At least right now I have a chance of surviving.  He was gone before I told them, so he won’t know I didn’t keep my secret.” 
I try to convince myself more than him of that.
He’s quiet, and I break down into tears again.  “What am I gonna do?”
“I don’t know,” he says, “I just don’t know.”

What is the hardest part of writing your books?
The hardest part about writing my books is that I’m not a planner.  I’m a pantser, and will forever be, I think.  I have gotten software to help me plan my novels.  I’ve sat down and wrote the word “Outline” on a sheet of paper and stared at it until I couldn’t see straight.  I just cannot write an outline or plan ahead no matter how hard I want to be a plotter.  Sure, I do write down ideas.  Sometimes I have to stream of conscious write in order to get my thoughts together, but aside from that, I start writing and see where my characters lead me.  I like that and hate that.  So, trying to plan out a novel is the hardest part for me.  
Do you have critique partners or beta readers?
I usually end up searching for beta readers around the second or third draft of a novel.  By then, I want a fresh set of eyes on my work because things have begun blurring together for me by then.  I want new opinions and ideas on my work.  Sure, I search for “This is the most brilliant novel I’ve ever read!” but I never get that until the finished product. ;)  I fight with being discouraged though after beta readers have torn apart – I mean – critiqued my novels, but eventually, I look at it with a new fervor and get the job done correctly.  Beta readers are very important in my writing process. 
 Do you hear from your readers? What kinds of questions do they ask?
I do!  I love hearing from my readers!  I love it when they tell me their opinions on my novels.  The question I get asked most is whether or not my novels will have a sequel.  I usually leave a huge twist at the end or leave them wanting more.  Which is good!  I love hooking readers, but I do have ideas for sequels although I cannot promise more at this point.  I just have ideas which may or may not turn into anything.   
 What do you think makes a good story? 
A good story to me is when I cannot bear to set the book (or my Kindle) down.  I want to feel like I’ve not had enough sleep because I’ve stayed up reading all night long.  I hope that I can put that into my stories.  I want my readers to blame me for sleepless nights.   
Tell us about your family.
My family is fantastic!  They are my world, especially my nieces and nephews (All under the age of 4)!  I am fortunate enough to work from home where I get to see them every day.  There’s nothing like having them crawl all over me while I’m trying to work!  But I’m close to my mom, dad and sister.  I can’t imagine my life without my family.  We’re all so close.  It’s wonderful.   
If you were to write a series of novels, what would it be about?
This one is easy to answer since I’m actually working on the series now.  It’s about a young girl, Myka, who has ended up a private school full of vampires.  They all have this secret, and when she finds out what this secret is, her world is tossed upside down.  And then she discovers that she is possibly a mythical creature she recently discovered existed.  The story follows her as she fights evil and becomes something she never dreamed she would ever be.  
What are your favorite TV shows? 
DOCTOR WHO!!  The Vampire Diaries, Bones, Teen Wolf, Castle, Dexter, and well, the list could actually go on.  I’d rather watch TV shows over movies any day!  
Use no more than two sentences. Why should we read your book? 
My book is about a young girl who strives for normality in a world that would see it otherwise.  She’s thrown into a race against her parents’ murderer who would see to it that everyone she cares about is dead, and she’s torn between her ex-boyfriend and best friend who both love her and who she loves.

Emerald Barnes resides in a small town in Mississippi (and has the accent to prove it), where she writes novels and short stories as well as blogs about writing when she isn't spending time with her nieces and nephews.  She works diligently to make a name of herself and has published two young adult books, Piercing Through the Darkness and Read Me Dead.  She has also been published by Phyllis Scott Publishing in their book Blue Legs and Other Coming of Age Stories.  She works diligently to finish more works for publication.

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