Sunday, September 1, 2013

Chasing Nightmares by Deb Donahue: Interview and Excerpt

 







Tell us about your favorite restaurant.

There is a little café in the town near me that I intend to feature in the mystery I am writing now.  It’s just a cozy place nestled among the boutiques and antique shops that attract big city folks from Chicago down to the area.  It has homemade soups and specialty sandwiches and a country décor, but the best part is the absolutely delicious (!) homemade pies they bake daily.  And we’re taking at least ten varieties a day, mind you.  I’ve taken to following them on Facebook where they post the soups of the day and the lengthy, tasty list of pies.  I wish I could go there every day and had room in my tummy for one slice of each!

What is the next big thing?

I’m am hard at work on a cozy mystery which I hope will be first in a series I am calling Coffman Cozies.  Or sometimes I think of it as Coffman’s Country Art Colony Cozies, but that seems like too much of a mouthful, don’t you think?  Through the series, I am living out a fantasy of mine but adding in a fun quirky murder mystery to spice things up.  For years I lived in a little house in the country right next to a huge farmhouse and outbuildings that was the family home where twelve friends grew up with their parents.  When the place went up for sale, I really wished I could buy it and turn it into an artist’s retreat, complete with farm animals in the barn.  The first book in the series is titled A Bull By The Horns, and you can find out more about it if you like at the website I started.

If I came to visit early in the morning would you impress me as being more like a chirpy bird or a grumpy bear?

Grumpy bear, definitely.  I have my little routine down: feed the dog, brew an espresso, walk the dog, eat breakfast.  It’s odd that I used to be an evening person who liked to sleep in and stay up late.  Because now I’m a zombie by ten at night and can’t sleep in no matter how much I want to.  That’s doesn’t mean, however, that I am a productive morning person, unfortunately.  I do usually manage to get to the computer by eight or nine in the morning, but until them I am a slug with my coffee and Good Morning America.

What books have most influenced your life?

Mysteries!  Fondest memories from childhood include Hardy Boys and Bobbsey Twins (though I never did get into Nancy Drew for some reason).  Then I moved on to gothic romance mysteries by Mary Stewart and Victoria Holt and the like.  The first “book” I ever wrote in high school was a handwritten, very bad imitation of a Mary Stewart novel where the main character goes to Paris on vacation and ends up governess to the niece of a very handsome stranger she meets in a café.

What do you do to unwind and relax?

When I remember to take time to do it, just sitting outside and taking it all in is the best medicine. Once I calm my mind and take a few deep breaths, I can feel my muscles unclench.  Then I can notice the small magical things around me: the rustle of the leaves, scudding clouds, squirrels scolding me.  I lived on the west coast for a while and the most refreshing view was whenever I could just gaze out over the ocean, especially if there were mountains in the background.
 
 
 
 
  
Dr. Charles Levine despises his younger half-brother with a hate that even death can’t destroy. So why should he let Gordon’s demise prevent him from exacting revenge? His weak-minded nephew, who resembles his father in so many ways, would serve Charles’ purpose perfectly.

With romance, suspense, and a touch of madness, Chasing Nightmares tells the tale of Anne and Lee as they struggle to conquer the terrors that have haunted their dreams since childhood. Terrors that Charles exploits with finesse and specially concocted pharmaceuticals.

Will Anne’s nyctophobia keep her from saving herself and Lee from the Doctor’s insane plans? Can Lee escape the yoke of addiction his uncle keeps pressing upon him? Or will their nightmares become their reality and devour them in the darkness?



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Her spirits dive-bombed at her first sight of the house. Silver Creek Ranch was deserted.
“Fool,” she hissed, hitting the steering wheel with her fist. “What an idiot I am. Pat was right.”
Then she saw him. Standing in the shadows by a corner of the sagging white frame house, his faded blue jeans smudged with gray clay, Lee Taylor stood and looked at her. He wore a long sleeved shirt.
For a few seconds, she was unable to open her door. Lee made no move to come to her, either. They simply watched each other. If he recognized her, it didn’t show in his face.
 Then she finally stepped out of the car, calling to him.
“Lee. Hi.” Her voice sounded too bright to her ears, too phony. “Remember me? Anne Hayward, from Professor Peterson’s class.”
She rehearsed her opening sentence as she walked up to him, but when she got there, she didn’t say a thing. There was no need to ask him how he was. His face told her he wasn’t well.
“What are you doing here?” he asked finally.
“You mentioned in class once where you were from. I thought it would be nice to stop and see how you were.”
As if he just lived around the block. But how could she say, I dreamed you were dead so I came to see if it was true. How could she explain why she had come when she didn’t even understand it herself?
Her eyes fell to the cuffs of his shirt, wishing for a little of the famous x-ray vision. Lee put his arms behind him, fingers tucked into his back pockets.
 “I don’t live here anymore,” he told her. “I just came to… see the old place.”
“Then it’s lucky I ran into you. Have you been here long?” She chattered breathlessly. “Maybe we could go somewhere and talk for a while.”
“I don’t have time.”
“Well, we can at least sit in the shade and visit a few minutes, can’t we? Or I could give you a ride somewhere.”
 “Look, I walked up here. And I don’t feel like talking about old times. Especially when there aren’t any to talk about.” He began to turn away.
“Lee.”
She grabbed him automatically, an instinctive grasp to stop him from leaving. Her fingers gripped his forearm and as he twisted to get free, the sleeve slipped up and there finally was the evidence she had been seeking. The surgical bandage was blinding white in the brilliant sunlight.
They were both startled by the disclosure. Then Lee pulled away from her nerveless fingers.
“I don’t know what your game is,” he said. “I don’t even know why I should remember you. But I don’t want to talk to you. And that’s final.”
She let him go this time. She couldn’t have stopped him if she’d wanted to. She was too astounded, too confused to do anything but stand there with her mouth open as he disappeared behind the house.
It had happened. He had actually tried to kill himself. There could have been another reason for the bandage, but Anne knew the truth.
Now what? Anne raised her eyes to the cloudless sky as she tried to decide. Should she go back and tell Pat that she had been right for once?
She almost laughed hysterically as she pictured herself rushing after Lee and begging to photograph him and his bandaged wrists. See, I have to show my roommate that I’m not neurotic. You understand, don’t you?
 Anne took a hesitant step forward. Well, she had found out what she came to find out. She could get back in her car and head straight for the airport. Straight back to Los Angeles and Pat.
She shivered as a chill wind sprang up. Slowly, she walked around the house. At the edge of the back yard stood a huge oak tree. The land sloped steeply behind the oak, offering Anne a view of purple mountain tops hazy with a summer glaze.
When she reached the tree, she saw Lee again. He had reached the bottom of the slope and was walking toward a modern ranch house set in the valley.
That must be where he was living. And if she wanted to talk to him again, that would be where to go.

 




Deb Donahue knows all about country living in the Midwest.  She spent her early married years tending a huge garden and preserving the contents to keep them through winter.  She and her husband raised and butchered their own beef, pork and chicken which she then prepared using delicious recipes from her Grandmother’s cookbooks.

Her first son was born in the heat of summer, when the strawberries were ripe and needed picking.  Her youngest arrived during the worst blizzard in years; during the drive to the hospital her husband had to watch the line of fence posts to make sure they remained on the road.

Living in the country was never boring because she had books to keep her company.  Romances and mysteries by authors like Victoria Holt, Mary Stewart and Dorothy Dunnett.  Is it any wonder that these are the themes she chose to write about when she finally decided to fulfill her childhood passion for writing?



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Enter for a chance to win a Print or digital copy of Chasing Nightmares.
2 winners.
 





 

2 comments:

mel said...

some of my favorite authors are Danielle steel, Phillipa Gregory, george r.r. martian to name a few.

brandy davis said...

Ann Rule, Stephn King, and clive Barker are a few of my favs.