In Their Words: Q&A with Emily Ross (@emilyross816), author of Half in Love with Death

About the author, Emily Ross Emily Ross

Emily Ross received a 2014 Massachusetts Cultural Council finalist award in fiction for HALF IN LOVE WITH DEATH. She is an editor and contributor at Dead Darlings, a website dedicated to discussing the craft of novel writing. Find out more at or follow her on Twitter @emilyross816.

HALF IN LOVE WITH DEATH was inspired by the disturbing case of Charles Schmid, ‘the Pied Piper of Tucson.’

Connect with Emily

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Q&A with Emily

Tell us about you. If every five-ten years of your life had a chapter heading, what would it be? What are the highlights (or low points) of each chapter?

  1. School Days and Death

In elementary school I dreamed of being a pathologist or a ballerina, though I was weirdly squeamish and couldn’t dance. But after my cat died and my friend’s sister drowned, I had the awful realization that I wasn’t immortal. It was like I’d fallen down a well.

  1. A Teenager in Love

By the time I got to high school I no longer wanted to be a pathologist or a ballerina or anything. I hated homework and loved clothes and boys. Not sure which I loved more, maybe boys, though clothes made me happier. I still remember my white boots, fishnet stockings, herringbone mini-skirt, navy blue pea coat, and my first bell-bottoms and suffering greatly from unrequited love.

  1. Student teaching hell
  2. Emily's Workspace

    Emily Ross’s workspace

The only thing I could figure out to do with my English degree was to teach high school. During student teaching, I developed a hacking cough that didn’t go away until I was done. When one of my students picked me up and spun me around, it became pretty clear that teaching wasn’t for me. I had no idea how to support myself but a friend told me if I passed a test, an insurance company would train me as a computer programmer. I barely knew what a computer was, but I did pass the test and began a career in IT.

  1. Married with Children

I did a lot of things that I’d never done before—got married, bought a house, and wrote my first story when I was pregnant with my first child. Each of these things was exciting, surprising, and harder than I expected. Being a parent was the most rewarding and hardest thing of all. I was totally exhausted most of the time, but I did discover that the world is lovely and spectral at 4AM.

  1. Writing While Working and Married with Children

I juggled a demanding job, raising kids, my writing, and dropped a lot of balls. I spent a lot of time driving kids to dance lessons or soccer games while worrying about work. But it’s the dance lessons and soccer games I remember now. I’m glad I made time to try to do everything even if life was a little chaotic. Somehow I finished my novel in the midst of all of this.

What gets you to sit down with a computer (or pen and paper) and start writing? What keeps you going?

I force myself to put my butt in the chair and write at least a little every day. Once I’m there in the chair and have gone through my usual distractions (Facebook, Twitter, etc) the words and thoughts suck me in. My inner editor keeps me going. I might think I’m done but there’s this voice that keeps saying it’s not right, go back, fix it, and I do go back obsessively tweaking things. On a good day I make some forward progress.

Half in Love with Death was inspired by a true story. Can you talk a little about what drew you to that story, and how the book grew from that spark of inspiration? 

Charles Schmid, the charismatic young man known as ‘the Pied Piper of Tucson’, murdered three teenage girls, and buried them in the Arizona desert. He was popular with his teenage friends, and had many girlfriends. Though clearly a psychopath, he didn’t appear all that different from many boys I’d known in high school. I began to see him as a metaphor for the illusions teen girls have about love. Ultimately I had to put a lot of the facts aside in order to write my book, but this true crime led me to a story about sisters, lies, and a love that feels utterly real but may not be.

The story of Caroline’s search for her sister and the story of her falling in love with Tony are interconnected, but there wasn’t an exact moment when I decided to tell two stories. It just seemed likely to me that when her sister’s disappearance forces Caroline to step out of her quiet life into Tony’s exciting world, it would be inevitable that she would fall for him.

Half in Love with Death is both a YA and a period novel. (I’m hesitant to call it historical since it takes place in extremely recent history). What were some of the specific challenges and rewards of writing YA, and of setting the story in such a specific time and place?

I loved exploring the fashions, songs, and little details I needed to make that era come alive. One challenge was that most of the technological devices that define teen life today hadn’t been invented yet, so I had to think of aspects of the sixties that today’s teens would relate to. I felt they would be interested in the philosophy behind the sixties drug culture and, of course, love never goes out of style.

My biggest challenge was that some agents and editors thought there wasn’t a market for YA set in the sixties. I received a lot of pushback and this undermined my confidence in my choice to set my novel in this era. I actually removed a lot period references, and then on another revision put many of them back in. I second-guessed myself a lot – but deep down inside I knew I had to set this story in the sixties.

What one thing would you want readers of Half in Love with Death to take away from the novel?

I hope that readers will be moved by my teen narrator’s story. I also hope that they will come away with an understanding of how important it is for teen girls to find their own strength when navigating the murky waters of love and emotion.

My experience has been, as I think I said when I reviewed your book, that YA novels tend to have a lot of the strongest female characters and most provocative storylines in contemporary fiction. Do you agree? If so, why do you think that is?

I agree that YA novels have some of the most provocative storylines, and strongest female characters. Perhaps this is because the genre attracts innovative writers who are willing to take risks, and also because YA is about teens: an age group that’s volatile, creative, and that breaks rules. I think it’s great that YA authors tackle many of the issues facing teens today including rape culture, sexuality, and body image problems. Though these aren’t exclusively female issues, many YA authors recognize how important it is to provide teen girls with strong female characters as role models.

Writers, of course, are also readers. What are some of the books or authors who have influenced your life? What’s the most recent thing you read that really hooked you?

Raymond Chandler introduced me to noir. The voice in his polished prose is infectious and his books showed me that detective fiction can also be fine literary fiction. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier showed me how an absolutely compelling psychological thriller can be built around a quiet main character. I’m also a huge fan of Tana French and Gillian Flynn.

The most recent book that really hooked me was The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins. I couldn’t put down this novel, whose maddeningly self-destructive and unreliable narrator glimpses a scene from a train window that unfolds into a twisty and unpredictable mystery.

If you were going to offer your 15- or 17-year-old self a piece of advice, what would it be?

Believe in yourself and don’t let love blind you. If someone is making you unhappy forget about him. There are no soulmates, no loves that are meant to be. You make your own destiny. Focus on yourself. Be strong.

What will your next project be?

I’m writing a novel about an aspiring ballerina who must prove that her Russian immigrant boyfriend and dance partner is not the mythical butterfly killer who murdered the captain of the high school dance team. The story takes place in my hometown of Quincy, a city that combines the charm of a small town with the gritty darkness of the inner city. I’m having fun writing about dance and murder!

About the book, Half in Love with Death Half in Love with Death

  • Print Length: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Merit Press (November 6, 2015)
  • Publication Date: November 6, 2015

It’s the era of peace and love in the 1960s, but nothing is peaceful in Caroline’s life. Since her beautiful older sister disappeared, fifteen-year-old Caroline might as well have disappeared too. She’s invisible to her parents, who can’t stop blaming each other. The police keep following up on leads even Caroline knows are foolish. The only one who seems to care about her is Tony, her sister’s older boyfriend, who soothes Caroline’s desperate heart every time he turns his magical blue eyes on her. Tony is convinced that the answer to Jess’s disappearance is in California, the land of endless summer, among the street culture of runaways and flower children. Come with me, Tony says to Caroline, and we’ll find her together. Tony is so loving, and all he cares about is bringing Jess home. And so Caroline follows, and closes a door behind her that may never open again, in a heartfelt thriller that never lets up.

Buy, read, and discuss Half in Love with Death

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In their Words: Interview with Anna Castle

Murder by Misrule

Last month, I reviewed Anna Castle’s historical mystery Murder by Misrule. Anna was kind enough to also grant me an interview, which we conducted via email. As you can see, she’s funny, interesting, and as unique as the book (series, actually) she’s created.

Melissa A. Bartell (MAB): Before we talk about your novel Murder by Misrule, let us get to know you. If you had to pick an historical figure to represent every 5-7 years of your life, who would they be and why?

Anna Castle (ANNA): This question is too hard for me! First, I’m not a navel-gazer; there are a hundred things I would rather think about than my personal history. Second, as a writer of historical fiction, it’s my job to uncover the complex layers of the people of the past, not to sum them up with short labels.

Anna Castle

It does sound like a fun game to play with the clan after Thanksgiving dinner, though. You could put historical figures on cards and let people draw one and decide who it matched, at what period of their life. (OK, I’m going to patent that idea, but I’ll split it with you, since it was your question.)


MAB: What draws you to historical fiction? What draws you to write at all?

ANNA: The time-traveling: writing stories is my way of working through the past and figuring out how a person could live and work and play back then and over there.

As for writing, when it’s going well, it’s the most fun thing there is. It’s like building and exploring at the same time, without any sharp things nicking your fingers or clouds of mosquitos swarming around your head.


MAB: You chose Francis Bacon as the lead in your novel; what about his story made you want to put him in a mystery?

ANNA: He’s the natural choice. Bacon was the most articulate advocate of inductive reasoning: study the facts, formulate a hypothesis, test, and refine.

He didn’t actually do much in the way of either scientific or criminal investigation, but he spent a lot of time thinking and writing about how such investigations ought best to be pursued.

All I do is put him on task by giving him urgent problems to solve.


MAB: There’s a big difference between contemporary Texas and Elizabethan England. What challenged you the most in creating your version of that period?

ANNA: The weather! Summer in Texas lasts from May through October. It seldom snows in Austin. We do not have fog. We rarely get that chilly drizzle that is so typical of English weather, nor that sweet, soft, delicious spring rain. Love that rain! Mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the summer sun; maybe made cats and Texans go out in the winter rain.

One of the main reasons I go there is to inhabit their climate, see where the sun stands and how the wind blows. It surprises me every time that I can walk outdoors in a wool sweater in June and not be hot. I’ve even gotten sunburned in England! Who’d’ve thunk it?

MAB: Were there any cultural similarities that surprised you when you were doing research? If so, what?

ANNA: Not so much. Sixteenth century England is the root of both our cultures, after all. I’m as much like the people of Bacon’s time as a modern Englishwoman; more, maybe, in terms of dialect. I’m there to study the past, so I only pay enough attention to contemporary culture to keep from getting run over by a bus.

It does seem to me that English and American cultures are in many ways reconverging, since we swim in the same big media pool. I am sometimes surprised by the depth of familiarity with American history that crops up in British television. Like one detective saying to the other, “Houston, we have a problem,” or “Not quite ‘How did you enjoy the play, Mrs. Lincoln?'” Tiny bits, but ubiquitous.

Murder by Misrule

MAB: This novel is set in the period of Misrule. Tell us a bit about that, and why you picked it as the perfect time of year for a murder mystery?

ANNA: I remember thinking of the first murder as a demented chase scene through the yew labyrinth in the Queen’s garden, drunken retainers from a pageant at the nearby Accession Day festivities chasing a sore-footed barrister. I liked the topsy-turviness of that scene. It got cut somewhere around draft 3, but it was the seed from which the rest of the story sprang.

I connected it to Gray’s Inn when I learned that they used to make a big deal of the season of Misrule. Young law students were obliged to remain in residence over the Christmas break, both to keep them from coming back late for the January term and to give them some of the social polish their parents expected them to acquire.

These restless young gentlemen had to be entertained. Why not bump a few of them off to make things more interesting?


MAB: Aside from Francis Bacon, do you have a favorite character in your novel? If so, who, and why?

ANNA: I love all my characters, even the villains. Even the walk-ons and the snivelly ass-kissers. So I don’t have a favorite, but I do have an avatar, so to speak — Mrs. Anabel Sprye. She’s me, which is why she’s writing a book.


MAB: Is there a specific scene in the novel that you’re particularly proud or fond of? Can you share it with us?

ANNA: This is one of those questions that’s easy to pose and impossible to answer. Pick a scene, any scene — I sweat them all. Far easier to point out the scenes that fell short of my grandiose dreams, but that would be foolish and self-defeating and we don’t go there.

MAB: Francis Bacon spends a lot of time reading. Similarly, the writers of our own time are also readers. What are some of your favorite books and authors? What are you reading now?

ANNA: All writers are readers first. If not, they shouldn’t be writing.

On my desk at this moment: John W. Weatherford, Crime and Punishment in the England of Shakespeare and Milton (proof that I couldn’t invent anything half as wacky as the truth); Anthony Esler, The Aspiring Mind of the Elizabethan Younger Generation (a fascinating if somewhat strained 60’s psychological analysis of my main guys); and my Kindle, on which I’m reading Eric Mayer & Mary Reed’s 10 for Dying; Katie Graykowski’s Perfect Summer; and Shakespeare’s Works.

MAB: What’s a typical day in the life of Anna Castle? Take us through one.

ANNA: I get up a little after daylight and screw around on the net for 30 minutes or so while drinking that all-important first cup of coffee. Then I write through lunch. Then I do chores or similar, go to the gym, come back and do writing biz for as long as it takes. And then my day is done.

Sometimes I break early to have lunch with a friend, which I like better than going out for dinner. Sometimes I blow it all off and go hiking.

MAB: Writing can be a solitary activity. How do you deal with it?

ANNA: Writing is most assuredly a solitary activity. That’s one of the things we like about it. If we wanted a busy environment, we would get jobs. I like the solitude. I like the silence. I like living in the past inside my head.

MAB: What advice would present-day Anna give to her sixteen-year-old self?

ANNA: Do not smoke that cigarette.

MAB: Will there be more Francis Bacon mysteries? What’s next for you?

ANNA: There will indeed be more. Book 2 is due to my editor on Sunday. Plot-a-thon for book 3 is slated for August, but probably going to get slipped to September because I think book 2 needs a lot of editing. Then again, I always think that at this stage.

I have another series of humorous regional modern mysteries in the sub-genre formerly known as ‘cozy’ which I plan to launch sometime in the coming year, as soon as I can think of a tagline that doesn’t sound like Prince’s new name.

And there are short stories leaping up and down in the back of my mind clamoring for attention. I’m looking forward to getting back into my newly rehabbed house and writing up a perfect storm.

Connect with Anna

Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter

Buy, read, and discuss Murder by Misrule

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MisssMeliss Interviews Meg Lacey

Yesterday, I posted my review of Meg Lacey’s latest novel, The Sparrow and the Hawk. Tomorrow over at ALL THINGS GIRL, you can read my interview with her. The direct link is: Author Insight: Meg Lacey. It goes live at 7:30 AM US EDT.

Here’s a preview:

MAB: Is there a particular scene or passage from The Sparrow and the Hawk that you’re particularly proud of? If so, please share it with us, or describe it.

ML: I love the party scene because of the outrageous cast of characters and their conversations with each other.

I love the fact that the party starts as a get together and is full of party manners and dialogue, but eventually deteriorates into something else, something dark and evil, rather repellent. But through the entire scene there is a lot of humor. The humor comes from the characters initially and then evolves into black humor created by the situation that develops.

You can read the review here.

In Their Words: Author Kyra Gregory talks about SECRETS CLAD IN LIGHT

When I sat down to read Kyra Gregory’s novel Secrets Clad in Light I wasn’t sure what to expect, but her unconventional 19th-century romantic thriller hooked me fairly quickly. (Read the review here.) Today, Kyra answers my questions about the book, among other things.

Kyra, tell us a little bit about who you are and what hooked you on writing.

I’m a young writer on the island of Malta. I’m quite an introverted personality but I love putting everything out there into a story.

It started out very simply; at a point in my life when I felt like I had nothing I wanted something that was my own. It had to be something I created that nobody could touch or try to take away from me. Writing came quite naturally to me, I still don’t quite know exactly how it started but when a friend of mine found out he pushed me to keep doing it because he said my words made people feel something.

Kyra Gregory (provided by Kyra Gregory)

Secrets Clad in Light is set in the 19th century. What about that period inspires you? Why choose that period for this story?

I’m not sure what it is that I love about that period. It’s so different to now in so many ways but the 19th century was when some things really began advancing, such as medicine. The clothing, the speech, the setting; I think it’s all so beautiful and interesting.

I wanted to write a story in that period for a really, really long time but it was killing me trying. When you write a story set in the past you have to be really committed to the history; you can’t easily blow up a building or something to that extent without needing to provide some sort of explanation as to why we don’t know of this. Unless, of course, you’re writing fantasy. Still, I’m not one to easily give up so I thought I’d try one more time; I was successful finally.

The lead character in this book is in love with another man. Did you set out to write a gay love story, or do you think of it as a love story in which the characters happen to be gay?

Before I started publishing I always saw what I wrote as simply a romance novel or love story, regardless of who the characters were in love with. It was only once I started publishing that I paid more attention to this; to me, it’s still just a love story and the characters happen to be gay.

In addition to romance, Secrets Clad in Light is also a mystery/thriller, and I don’t think Sherlock Holmes would have felt out of place in this story (or at least his Baker Street Irregulars wouldn’t have). Are you a fan of the mystery/thriller genre in general? Did those elements of the story make it more difficult to plot than if it had been JUST a romance?

I do really enjoy the mystery/thriller genre, but I never had any faith in actually writing it. I don’t think there was a week growing up where someone in the house didn’t watch a Sherlock-Holmes-type mystery. I never planned on writing one, but Mary was just so stubborn that she was pushing the story in that direction. I chose to go with it. That direction caused me quite a bit of trouble but I love to experiment with new things so the challenge was fun.

Your characters, particularly Henry and Mary, are very vivid, complex people, each with their own set of secrets. Did you base them on people you know, or are they entirely your own creations?
They developed all by themselves; I gave them a few traits as the story started, but before I knew it they had completely developed.

Henry remained quite similar to what I had first imagined him to be, although he wasn’t really inspired by anyone I knew. Mary, though, became something entirely different; I still look back sometimes and wonder, “What happened to you?” Even as I ask that though, I have no longer have a clue what it was that I had expected from her.

Henry’s love-interest, Seth, is injured when we meet him, and spends the vast majority of this novel recuperating and essentially mute. Did your decision to effectively deny him any dialogue cause any challenges when trying to define his personality?

I often asked myself if I had made a mistake doing that. I really and truly enjoy writing dialogue, so when it came to him I did begin to wonder what on earth possessed me to do something like this.
Then I would remember how much conversation between people is more body language than actually spoken word and it made things a bit easier.

I still feel that there is a certain part of his personality that would have shone better had he been able to speak, but also if that were possible I feel like the story would have been very different.

We, the reader, are doled out pieces of Mary’s story in tiny bits, as she warms up to Henry. As the author, do you have a fully-developed backstory for her? Is there any chance of another book with Mary’s story expanded?

For quite some time while writing, I only knew as much about Mary as Henry did. Now, I can say that I have a bit more of her past, and her personality, figured out. That being said, I’m not too sure if it will ever be revealed. There’s something appealing in keeping it a secret. I’m not too sure though; maybe if I can come up with a story on Mary’s terms she’ll allow me to reveal what I know. I’m sure she’ll find some new secrets to keep from me by that time.

I really loved the two main settings in the novel – the sewer lair where this unconventional family coalesces, and the abandoned bakery they move into later. What inspired you to use the sewers?

Something interesting about the 19th century is the distinct line between the different classes. Most recently we often see the 19th century, and similar periods, as quite extravagant and I wanted something different.

I thought it suited the characters also. In the sense that on the surface late 19th Century London was seen as something thriving, improving, but a lot of people forget what was beneath the surface of it all; that there were still plenty that were poor, hungry and living in slums. The characters are similar; though they appear to be one thing to the social circles they form part of there are layers to their personalities that were kept hidden for the sake of those ideals.

Is there a specific passage in Secrets Clad in Light that you particularly love? What is it?

I truly enjoyed writing the scene between Mary and Henry in the church. It was a moment in which, unexpectedly, Mary and Henry opened up to each other a little about their pasts, their fears and hopes. It felt very easy to write and there was something about it that really touched me.

This is your second direct-to-Kindle publication. What made you decide to publish your work this way?

Although I had never thought of trying to make a career out of my hobby a few years ago I sent a manuscript out to a few publishers just to challenge myself as a writer and see what kind of feedback I would receive.

I got a few rejections, one no-answer and one acceptance. That acceptance was on the condition that I changed the gay romance into a straight one. I’m a control freak and, while I appreciate people’s opinions and advice, in the end I just want to do things the way that suits my vision the best. I don’t like being told a project can’t go the way I want.

For this, self-publishing was the way to go. I started with Kindle to test the waters and I hope to branch out a little more soon.

What should we look for from you in the future?

I want to keep trying new things because I love the challenge. Very soon I will be re-writing and extending a series that I started a few years ago so there’s that to look forward to. I have quite a few projects lined up and hopefully it won’t be too long of a wait.

Social media is a key part of promoting any book these days; where can readers connect with you on the web? How about Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest?

I try not to have too many sites and such; it’s difficult to keep many up to date constantly but I’m always on twitter and recently started a page on facebook. Of course, there’s also my blog.
Twitter: @Kyra_Lyrical
Facebook: Kyra Lyrical
Goodreads:Kyra Gregory

In Their Words: Author Bo Briar talks about MORGAN HALL

Bo Briar Just yesterday, I posted a review of the marvelously moody, spectacularly spine-tingling Morgan Hall, a modern gothic novel by Bo Briar. Ms. Briar was gracious enough to spend some of her writing time doing an emailed interview with me. I can tell she’d be a great person to share a mug of tea with while spinning stories on a rainy afternoon.

Bo, please tell my readers a bit about you: Where are from, and what led you to become a writer?
I was born in Hong Kong. My Dad was an architect and my Mum was an avid horse rider. I also have one brother. After being sent to school in the UK, I lived there for over 20 years. – worked, married and had children. I’m a single parent of two lovely children, a boy and a girl ages 9 and 10 respectively. I’m a professional writer and editor.

I think I’ve always just had a tale brewing within me. As a child I was always fascinated by ghost stories, classical architecture, historical places and drawn to heroes that were a bit dark and mysterious such as the classical Heathcliff and I would have loved the modern day Lestat. I’ve always had that romantic gothic inclination. Then as you grow up, you meet certain people, experience intense emotions both good and bad and get thrown into situations out of our control; basically life is one big story. Together with a creative imagination and much life experience Morgan Hall just evolved naturally within me until I had to write it down on paper and transform it into novel.

Morgan Hall is a modern gothic. Have you always been drawn to that genre?

Yes, definitely, I’ve always been drawn to the gothic atmosphere and characters. Then my interest was sealed when I read Wuthering Heights.

The descriptions of places (houses, grounds, York, London) in Morgan Hall are particularly vivid. How much of that comes from research, and how much comes from your imagination?

In fact all of that comes from experience. I write about places and situations I know and know of, and my fictional places are reality with a creative twist, but most of them are based on real places. I’ve lived in London for 20 years so know it very well and what you saw is “my” London, and I’ve also been to York many times. The descriptions and feel of those places are very real. The villages and towns are all based on real places with a creative twist.

Morgan Hall the house is itself an amalgamation of different stately homes that I have visited, including my old boarding school. My father was an architect so I know architecture pretty well. The outside of the hall is English Jacobean in design, but as with many of these old houses they have been renovated throughout the centuries, hence the different styles within. From decades of having visited many of these historical houses around the UK and Europe and having lived in one too (school), I have in my mind exactly what Morgan Hall looks like inside and out. The same applies to the other houses in the book, Belerion and Forton Park. It’s a mixture of my tweaking reality to maximum effect.
The scene where Christie and the Boys (and yes, I do realize they’re all adults) draw a Ouija board with marking pens took me back to my own school days. Did you draw that scene from a real memory?

Yes, like you we used to do that too! A whole group of our friends used to sneak out of our dorms and meet in the middle of the night right at the locked entrance to the basement (a hallway). Our school was built in the early 18th century with foundations dating all the way back to the early 13th century, so beautiful as it was, you can imagine how scary it could be.

We prepared the Ouija board just as Christie and the boys did in the book. Spooky things really did happen. Questions were answered and the heavy ginger-pot lid that we used moved effortlessly. We did it a few times until one night the lid started spinning, literally spinning on the spot round and around and it was increasing in speed. That was horrifying. Since then we never touched it again and we burnt the Ouija board and discarded of the ginger-pot lid.

Morgan Hall is wonderfully moody – as a gothic should be. Did you use any special tricks to help sustain that moodiness (drink a special tea, listen to music, etc.)?

It was very natural because when I write, I’m totally there. I actually feel myself living and breathing the place and environment that I am writing about. I see exactly what the characters see and feel what they feel. Sometimes I do have some music playing in the background though for added effect.

Many writers have a personal soundtrack that goes with each of their books, either the music they listened to during the writing process, or the music that inspired scene, tone, etc. Are you influenced by music? If so, what five songs are your personal “Morgan Hall Mix?”

I love music and I am always influenced by music. It’s amazing how hearing a tune can bring you right back to that exact moment in time when you used to listen to it most – when it meant a lot to you. For Morgan Hall it would be quite an eclectic mix of music and songs.

In the early days of writing Morgan Hall I did often have Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons” on, the Nigel Kennedy version because his is very powerful and passionate which suits Morgan Hall. Sometimes I’d also play the Bach Violin Concertos. Classical music tended to inspire the scenery and feel of the places.

But to inspire the scenes between the characters there was “Somewhere Only We Know” by a British band called Keane. “These Dreams” by 80’s rock band Heart. “You’re the Inspiration” by Peter Cetera (ex-Chicago) the 1997 “new” version. The cover version of “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” by the British rock band Muse. And my favourite, “Love Walks In” by American rock band Van Halen.

I know that when I’m reading (or writing, or acting in) something particularly dark or eerie I often scare myself. Have you ever been frightened or disturbed by something you’ve written?

Yes definitely. Morgan Hall has been edited quite a few times. The original version was much scarier and I used to have to look over my shoulder sometimes as I’d suddenly be spooked while writing certain scenes. And I guess it didn’t help that I used to do a lot of my writing late at night.

Writing is, by nature, fairly internal. What do you do to shake things up when you’ve been living inside your own head for too long?

I’ve always been able to separate fiction and fantasy from reality. After having become a single parent, even more so. You just can’t afford to live in a dream world all the time. You’ve got to be on the ball.

What’s next for you? What Bo Briar title should we all be looking for?

I am working on the sequel to Morgan Hall and plan on creating a series. Like with Morgan Hall, the characters are passionate, dark, romantic, deep and intriguing. This time the story is very contemporary and takes the characters (new and old) from the UK up to the icy mountains of Switzerland and half way around the world to Hong Kong in the mystical East. The villain is even worse than the last! The sequel is much scarier. I get chills writing it.

Where can readers connect with you? Twitter? Facebook? Pinterest? Anything?

Email me at:

I am very happy to receive emails from readers and anyone interested in Morgan Hall and it’s good to meet new people. I always reply.

My website: is under construction.