For those of you who read the Rachel Blackstone Paranormal Mystery Series, you’re familiar with the adobe style magazine office of High Desert Country where she works. It’s located in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Recently, Julian Brazos, the magazine’s founder and publisher added a second story. It’s the rooftop meeting place where we find Collins and her characters. The sunset is washing the Sangre de Cristos red. The margaritas are made. The bowls of salsa and tortilla chips are placed around the table. We should start before the sipping commences.
Publisher of High Desert Country, Julian Brazos will conduct the interview.
Julian: For readers who haven’t yet met the irreverent reporter Rachel Blackstone, this will get you up to speed. Rachel used a Native American ceremony to return the dead. She was hoping to have one more conversation with her father who died mysteriously. Instead, another spirit returned and it was up to no good. Something about the experience opened her intuitively. Yes, Rachel began talking with ghosts, including a white wolf. Since then, it has been one paranormal experience after another. Fortunately, she’s still making deadlines.
Today I’ll be interviewing:
G G Collins: Writer of the Rachel Blackstone Paranormal Mystery Series; journalist and blogger. I understand she is a fan of Supernatural, especially Dean Winchester.
Rachel Blackstone: Senior reporter for High Desert Country and newly minted psychic—but I’d advise not calling her that.
Chloe Valdez: Rachel’s long-time friend, successful real estate mogul and true believer in the metaphysical. She’s in charge of fashion for journalistic stake-outs.
Mari-Lynn Alo: Pot retailer from Colorado and crystal expert. A gypsy Bohemian with Hopi heritage. Her last name, Alo, means spiritual guide.
Alien: Yes, from another planet. You’ll have to decide if you believe. No, he doesn’t have a name.
Julian: First question: GG, what made you write Atomic Medium?
GG: As you know The Manhattan Project office was here in Santa Fe and housed at 109 East Palace, just steps from our famous Santa Fe Plaza. It’s the same building where you now find the Shop of the Rainbow Man. It’s sometimes referred to as the building that changed the world. With this in mind and the 70th anniversary of the first atomic bomb in July 2015, I wanted to write a story including both of these elements.
Of course, I had to add a paranormal twist and that’s where the portal to another time comes in. Rachel Blackstone, my protagonist, is a little bit psychic, albeit reluctantly. She’s in the shop when two men cross the time threshold that has formed in the shop. Rachel is the only witness. The men are enraged and threaten her.
Julian: Rachel, this is your third outing as a, shall we say intuitive, how are you adapting to this new found ability?
First, thanks Jules, for not calling me a psychic. As you know I’d rather spend all my time interviewing and writing, but GG won’t give me a break. This episode was tough, because Chloe and I had to go to a place that was heavily guarded during a time when people were distrustful and frightened. We blundered a couple of times. Hanging was the penalty for treason so we wanted to avoid suspicion. But I wouldn’t give up the experience for anything. It was life-changing.
Chloe: Yeah, Rachel’s right, but as usual she left out the clothing we bought to help us blend in—so we could avoid suspicion. You wouldn’t believe what I paid for those clothes! Almost nothing. Of course, it would have been convenient if Rachel could drive a stick shift. We almost missed our rendezvous in the Atomic City. We had a date with two mad men.
Alien: Who are you calling mad? Why is the so-called space alien always the bad guy to Earthlings? We need to organize. We have rights.
Chloe: Hey, ET wasn’t bad.
Alien: I was not even given a name. (Ignoring Chloe’s comment.) Did I not deserve a name? The other “mad” guy had a name.
Rachel: Would you two stop. You’re driving me crazy.
Alien: Clearly, that ship has already sailed. (Rachel frowns.)
Julian: Okay folks, back on subject. This journey must have been interesting. (He leans back in his chair tenting his fingers.) Tell me how.
Mari-Lynn: What journey? I only got to go to Colorado Springs. From Pueblo, that’s about a 45-minute drive. I provide the protective crystals for Rachel and Chloe so they can travel great distances. Then I stay at home, have terrifying dreams, but can’t do a thing about them. I need to meditate.
Alien: At least you have a name. (He folded his Brooks Brothers clad arms over his chest. His grey hands had only four digits.)
GG: Would you knock it off with the name thing. If I’d given you a name, you wouldn’t have liked it. Why can’t you just enjoy being a good villain? I mean, you’re evil and you were good at being evil. (The Alien smiles ever so slightly.)
Julian: Chloe as Rachel’s best friend, how do you like the way your character is evolving?
Chloe: Well, that doomsday prepper thing kind of surprised me, but I was thrilled to go along with Rachel this time, except for a few horrifying minutes. Since she steadfastly refuses to carry a cell phone—her and one old guy in a mountain shack—it’s essential that I have one of mine at all times. Yes, I have four cell phones. Does anyone want to make something of that?
Julian: Mari-Lynn, you mentioned the crystals you provide. How do you know which ones to use?
Mari-Lynn: Ever since I met Chloe and touched her hand, I have had visions which give me clues as to what she and Rachel will encounter. Sometimes there are visitations from people on the other side where she is needed. After years of experience and study, I choose the most beneficial stones for her to keep her safe.
Alien: Even I know how you make your real money! She sells marijuana.
Mari-Lynn: It’s legal in Colorado now. Don’t you know anything? (She glares at the Alien.)
Julian: GG, before things go south, why should people read Atomic Medium?
GG: Why for the shower scene alone. Rachel does a nudie while she tangles with technology.
Rachel: Only my cat saw me! Thank gawd. It was humiliating.
Julian: Anything else GG?
GG: While it’s an entertaining story with action, adventure and some humor thrown in, it’s also respectful of the men and women who worked under extreme conditions during a terrifying time. And they came through, using slide rules and blackboards! There were no wireless connections or tablets—other than the kind you write on. At the time, computers were people who made computations.
The service men and women at the Atomic City couldn’t tell their families where they were. Nor were they told where they were going by the government—only that they had overseas orders. They were quite surprised when they disembarked the train in the middle of the New Mexico desert. No palm trees or beaches.
I researched right down to how the building interiors looked in Los Alamos during the mid-1940s in an effort to bring authenticity to a paranormal story. The accounts of the bomb blast were riveting. My characters experience the heat and wind much as those who witnessed what happened when the first atom was split.
Rachel continues to grow as a medium—as much as she doesn’t want to. She is more accepting even though she’d still rather not do this. And as a journalist, her need to know and understand won’t let her walk away; even as her need to fact-check keeps her skeptical. Although her personality sometimes hides it, she really cares and is moved by what she learns.
I’m writing pieces for my blog (reluctantmediumatlarge) that detail some of the behind the scenes during The Manhattan Project. I’ve also added a bibliography at the end of Atomic Medium for those who want to know more. This all happened before my time, but I found it fascinating. These were people who stepped up during a time of intense fear and horror. They had the right stuff.
There is a plaque at Rainbow Man dedicated to those who developed the bomb, but it there is no sign to mark it as a historical place. You have to ask where the plaque is. Pssst, go to the back of Rainbow Man’s lovely courtyard. It’s on the wall under the porch.
Julian: Okay everyone; drink up before the fighting starts.
Links to the Rachel Blackstone Paranormal Mystery Series,
available on Amazon.
Atomic Medium – Reluctant Medium – Lemurian Medium
As told to author G G Collins
1. Returning the dead? Really, what were you thinking? “I admit that my judgment was impaired on that occasion. My father died in a car accident a few months earlier, but I thought there was more to it. The Santa Fe PD couldn’t find proof. Then I remember the Hopi ceremony to return the dead. A kindly shaman, Joseph, told me about the ritual in an interview about his people. Things went badly, even though I followed the steps carefully. Maybe it was because I have only a small amount of Native American heritage in my family. You know, kind of a built-in fail-safe for people who have no business performing it. At any rate, my father didn’t come back, but someone did, and he was evil.”
The lobby of La Fonda Hotel in Santa Fe.
The famous and the infamous have walked these Saltillo tiles. Rachel & Chloe try to have quiet meetings here. Copyright G G Collins
2. Why did you become a reporter? “My father was an award-winning journalist for the Albuquerque Journal. He died working on a story. It turned out my father’s story was related to the evil spirit. I guess reporting is in the family blood, although my brother, the mayor of Santa Fe, must have had a transfusion.”
The Shed restaurant bar, where Rachel & Chloe do their best plotting and drinking. Copyright G G Collins
3. You and your friend, Chloe, seem like opposites. How does your friendship work? “Well you got me! She likes boots with high heels and I always wear shoes I can run in. Never know when you might need to make a quick exit. Chloe drinks the most gawd-awful herbal teas and vegetarian meals. I love green-chile-cheese-burritos. (This is New Mexico, green chile is king!) Chloe sells real estate. She’s a multi-million-dollar agent. She co-owns the hottest agency in town. Me, I make terrible money, but even she admits my job is more fun. Chloe’s always ready for a journalistic stakeout. And no matter what you’ve heard, we don’t smoke all that much pot. So are we yin and yang? I think we’re more about tolerance and knowing when not to go there. Somehow we manage to work in quite a lot of fun.”
The Palace of the Governors.
Rachel meets a man here who tells her about astral travel in Lemurian Medium. Copyright G G Collins
4. What’s this about you having a spirit animal? “With the botched ceremony, a sea change occurred. I was chasing an evil presence. Next thing I know, other apparitions appeared. They included a wolf. At first, I thought it was a living wolf (And well, I support the New Mexico Lobos!), but this was something different. It was white and sometimes it glowed. I was afraid at first, but it always seemed to appear when I needed a heads-up. Native Americans believe that animals are endowed with powers. The wolf is considered a pathfinder and is represented by Sirius, the Dog Star, home to ancient teachers. The wolf finally got a name inLemurian Medium.”
St. Francis Cathedral.
Rachel finds the first clue here in the disappearance of her brother, Santa Fe’s mayor, in Reluctant Medium. Copyright G G Collins
5. Why are you a reluctant medium? “Oh good heavens, that’s been blown all out of proportion. Have you been talking to Chloe? She buys into all things New Age. You see a couple ghosts, and people start calling you a medium. There were some odors I picked up on. That depraved spirit had all kinds of disgusting smells. But I’m a journalist, and we are a fact-based crowd. Just because things happen we don’t understand, doesn’t mean there isn’t an explanation. Unfortunately, I haven’t found it yet, so I’m proceeding with caution and a healthy dose of skepticism.”
The mercado has a prairie dog farm where Rachel finds another clue in the “treasure hunt” to find her brother. Copyright G G Collins
6. What’s the secret to mixing humor with horror? “You’ve heard of black comedy? That’s not quite me, but in real life we all have events that trigger fear, despair and shock. Sometimes in a horrific moment, even if it’s wildly inappropriate, a little humor can sneak in and lighten up a bad situation. But mostly, I’m unconventional and so things that are sacrosanct to others, are fair game to me. Regrettably, I’ve found myself in a few hairy circumstances for which there was no other reaction than all out terror.”
La Fonda, exterior of the Inn at the End of the Old Santa Fe Trail. Copyright G G Collins
7. Tell us about Lemurian Medium. What’s this about a dragon? “First, a friend Stella Dallas—yes, her mother liked actress Barbara Stanwyck—disappeared into a painting at a stylish Santa Fe gallery opening. Next thing I knew, I had to go rescue her via the astral plane. (No, I’m not kidding. G G stays up nights coming up with the strangest ideas possible. But she only has to write them, I have to do all this mind-boggling stuff.) No rest for weary me. There are no maps of the astral plane, it’s all hunt and peck. I didn’t know how to tell who was wearing the white hats. And yes, the rescue plan included a dragon! I’m still sore from that wild ride (Or maybe it was the tree climbing?). One mistake and I could have been forever lost in the cosmos.”
Tent Rocks, New Mexico.
The location of the climatic scene as Rachel faces off with the evil spirit in Reluctant Medium. Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons.
8. What is your author cooking up for your next adventure? “Atomic Medium (Pub date: January 2015, Amazon), is a mix of space aliens and Nazis. I will be traveling to 1945 during The Manhattan Project. This time, Chloe is goes with me. I can just see her now; sans smart phone (She carries four phones!). Evil has once again slipped into Santa Fe using a time warp in the building where The Manhattan Project office was located. Two men are using the portal to give the Nazis one last chance of gaining the upper hand during WWII. Only one person has witnessed the entry of these dangerous men through the doorway to the past. Yup, that’s me. If we can’t stop them, history could be forever changed. It’s no small chore: just save the world.
“Did you say there were scones?”
Find out more about G G Collins HERE.and find her now on TWITTER.
Author of Reluctant Medium & Lemurian Medium, the Rachel Blackstone Paranormal Mystery Series
G G Collins Talks About Rachel Blackstone, the Reluctant Medium.
From Chris the Story Reading Ape’s Blog (UK)
Guest Author G G Collins talks about Rachel Blackstone the Reluctant Medium
Posted on August 3, 2014
What does a fact-based reporter do for fun? Write paranormal fiction of course.
I couldn’t help it. Once I discovered the Hopi ceremony to return the dead, the story almost wrote itself. Keeping in mind that questions are the basic tools of journalists, I just had to ask, “What would happen if the wrong spirit returned?”
Well, a lot can happen, most of it bad. The spirit Rachel Blackstone wanted to see was her father, who had died mysteriously. But she inadvertently calls back one who is not so nice—and it has a score to settle. Further, she’s suddenly endowed with talents she didn’t possess before and doesn’t want. Rachel is befriended by a Hopi shaman who guides her on the perilous quest to send the ghost packing.
Reluctant Medium was to be a stand-alone book, but writing it was so much fun I decided to make it a series. When I created Rachel Blackstone I made her a reporter (write what you know), but she needed to be vulnerable so I gave her the kind of life most of us have: complicated. Her best friend Chloe is a successful real estate entrepreneur who loves “slumming” with Rachel on journalistic stakeouts—which she caters! The new age fascinates her and unlike Rachel, Chloe loves dabbling in the paranormal. Rachel’s brother is Santa Fe’s mayor. He dabbles in women and lives close to the edge. It’s been a rough few months for Rachel who ran away from New Mexico and her husband when it all got to be too much. Unfortunately, it gets worse.
Having worked at a book publishing house, I had insider knowledge of how the publishing industry works. I did the math and found I could publish the indie way and make more money. Since most publishers only promote a handful of books, it seemed likely I’d have to do most of it anyway. Why not keep total creative control? I’ve never looked back. While I admit it can be a roller coaster ride with sales up and then down, it’s much like life (practice and all that).
The Rachel Blackstone Paranormal Mysteries can be found in categories such as Mystery>Women Sleuths; Mystery>Werewolves & Shifters; Fantasy>Paranormal & Urban; and Mystery>Cozy Animals. But keep in mind cozy readers there is some mild horror and profanity in my books. There is also humor. Some readers have said “laugh out loud” funny. Another said “…get ready to hold your breath to the end.” I love it! It’s just what I want, for readers to have an entertaining adventure.
The path to the supernatural realm was in the cards. I loved reruns of Twilight Zone and began looking for some new reading material. Stephen King came to the rescue. Oh yeah, King filled the bill nicely. But he only led to the hard stuff: Supernatural (I admit, partly to look at Jensen Ackles!), Medium, Ancient Aliens and anything on the Bermuda Triangle or Area 51. Yes, definitely in over my head.
This fiction writing thing has infiltrated my entire life. When I travel it’s always with one ear to the ground for the weird, the unexplained—any oddity will do. My reading material has gone to extremes with books on man-eating Mesoamerican deities, Hitler’s fascination with space aliens, time travel and Native American spirit animals. I manage to work in some reporting experiences throughout the narrative. Of course, there is plenty of Santa Fe local color—the good and the bad of a destination locale. And it had to happen; one of my pets has become Rachel’s companion. Yup, you guessed it, the cat is psychic!
Lemurian Medium followed. This time a friend disappears into a painting at a gallery opening. When she can’t be found by normal methods, it becomes apparent that Rachel may have to find her another way. The next thing she knows, she’s planning a trip to the astral plane. On arrival she realizes she has landed on an ancient continent doomed to slip beneath the sea. It becomes a race to catch the red-eye home before it’s too late. I believe a dragon was utilized for transportation (work with what you have).
Currently under construction is Atomic Medium. Evil has once again slipped into Santa Fe. A time warp has opened in a popular Santa Fe retail store on Palace Avenue. The building was the main office of the Manhattan Project during the development of the atomic bomb in the 1940s. They are using the portal to give the Nazis another chance to win WWII. Only one person has witnessed the entry of the treacherous men through the doorway to the past. If they can’t be stopped, history will be changed. For Rachel, it’s no small chore: just save the world.
And so it goes for Rachel, who remains the Reluctant Medium.
with G.G. Collins
We are delighted to welcome mystery authorG.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.
— ♦ —
Omnimystery News: Introduce us to your mystery series.
Photo provided courtesy of
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, Babylonrepeatedly. 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.
— ♦ —
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 herauthor page on Goodreads.
— ♦ —
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?
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. (Know where the exits are!) It’s all in a day’s work. Of course, there’s the ever present question of how to dress: jacket for the interview with the visiting entertainer or jeans for the aviation hangar story? Forget wardrobe, make sure there are notebooks, recorders and extra batteries.
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. An avid reader since childhood, she began her reading career with Shirley Jackson’s “We Have Always Lived in the Castle.” Later, she couldn’t wait to get home after school and watch “Dark Shadows.” From there, Stephen King was but a small leap.
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? “Reluctant Medium” resulted.
Besides writing and reading, Collins enjoys travel, hiking, movies and arts. Most days, she lives above the northern Horse Latitudes.
What inspires you to write?
For years, it was an editor or contacts who would send me looking for a story. For fiction I find inspiration in books. For “Lemurian Medium” (due out in August 2013), I’ve been reading accounts of the lost continent of Lemuria, MesoAmerican ancient history, astral travel. I also enjoy watching TV shows such as “Ancient Aliens,” “Supernatural” and anything on the Devil’s Triangle, the Dragon’s Triangle, Area 51, the list goes on and on.
For my next book, “Atomic Medium,” I’m already beginning to read nonfiction about WWII and time travel. Ideas can come from the most unexpected places.
Tell us about your writing process.
I am not one for outlines, except in the briefest sense. Once the idea is there, I research. Books I read will have many stick notes marking passages. Information from Web sites I’ve printed off are highlighted with notations and questions added. But honestly, I only go back a few times because I soak it up the first time. I know there are many writers who write elaborate character profiles and detailed outlines, but for me, I could have written the book by the time I finished all that. However you prefer to do it doesn’t matter. Writing is as individual as the person creating the story.
My outline is in the form of a single paragraph synopsis and a few notes as to the order I want events to happen and short (a few lines) describing each character. I enjoy writing without a map.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
My characters surprise me all the time. And sometimes a filler character suddenly turns into someone who changes the lives of my protagonist and her friends. I prefer to allow any character suggestions to play out. If it doesn’t work, I can always change it, but it usually does work.
Since there are elements of myself in my lead characters, I understand them best. But those who require research and more imagination can develop ideas of their own.
What advice would you give other writers?
Keep writing. Being a journalist even for a short time at a local paper or magazine can help you develop your research, interviewing and writing skills–all important to the fiction writer too. And deadlines are great for keeping you motivated. If you’re writing fiction, you can set your own deadlines. Then keep them.
If you don’t have those “self” skills such as self-starting and self-motivating; learn them. With no one looking over your shoulder, it’s real tempting to put off until tomorrow.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
I’ve worked for book publishers and print media. Although I’m sure there are authors who love their publishers, overall the bulk of promotion falls to the writer. I did the math and found the author makes about $2 on a $20 book. I make more than that every time I sell my $2.99 eBook on Amazon. With the knowledge I would be doing the lion’s share of marketing and promoting anyway, I took that path. I love the control over my own success. You will fail from time to time, but just learn from it and go on.
Do use an editor and a formatter so your book looks and reads professionally.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
There are going to be a lot more trees making it to maturity. Digital has arrived. It’s no longer weird. I travel a lot and I see many people reading their Kindles along with me. I don’t think the bricks and mortar publishers are cringing in their boots, but the sea change is well underway.
What do you use?
What genres do you write?
paranormal/fantasy/mystery; astral travel; time travel
What formats are your books in?
Author Home Page Link
Link To Author Page On Amazon
Link to Author Page on other site
Your Social Media Links
FILED UNDER: INTERVIEWS
TAGGED WITH: ASTRAL TRAVEL
, EVIL SPIRITS
, FRIENDSHIP. COMING SOON: LEMURIA
, G G COLLINS
, MILD HORROR
, NATIVE AMERICAN
Here we are again. It’s interview day! This week I’ve got G G Collins, author of Reluctant Medium, stepping up to the plate… er, sitting in the interview chair. Let’s see what she has to say.
1. Please tell us about yourself.
When I’m not writing, I love to travel. I travel low to the ground, using public transit and staying in neighborhoods off the beaten track, especially when they have great indie hotels and restaurants. Some of my favorite places: Queen Anne in Seattle, Rue Cler in Paris, northwest Portland (the one in Oregon). Every week finds me at the movies. I see the good, the bad and the ugly (gosh, that sounds like a movie title). Usually I proclaim one or two movies truly good every year.
I hate to drive, love margaritas (especially at The Shed in Santa Fe), and despise shopping. Except at Jackalope (also in Santa Fe) where I can wander for hours. Don’t forget the say hello to the prairie dogs. The “dogs” graciously played a role in helping my character find her brother.
And someday I hope to have my own apartment and save the world. Now I’ll do my death-defying fire-breathing twirler dance.
2. What’s the name of your newest or latest book and what’s it about?
“Reluctant Medium” is a paranormal mystery.
Reporter Rachel Blackstone has a nose for news, but she never expected to be a newsmaker. While summoning her dead father with a Native American ceremony, an evil spirit slips through. Her efforts to return the spirit uncover a scam involving both the quick and the dead. Rachel discovers the wisdom of a Hopi shaman may help her, but she must discover her own power first or die trying.
3. Is this book part of a series or standalone?
“Reluctant Medium” is the first in the Rachel Blackstone series. It can stand alone.
“Lemurian Medium” is the next installment, scheduled for publication in June 2013.
In “Lemurian Medium” Rachel watches in horror and disbelief as a close friend disappears into a painting at a posh gallery in Santa Fe. Was the mysterious artist involved? Or was it just the run-of-the-mill haunting? Rachel must travel the astral plane to rescue her friend. Why she was lured to this strange land becomes more apparent as she learns about the ancient culture. Can she accomplish the rescue and return from the astral plane before cataclysmic events cut off escape? If not, she will be forever lost in the cosmos.
Returning from “Reluctant Medium” are best friend Chloe, the gang at “High Desert Country” magazine, her psychic cat and her spirit animal, the wolf.
4. How long have you been writing?
Full time: about 20 years. I began writing press materials at a book publisher. Then I was offered my dream job of reporter. I began as a general reporter where I learned a little something about a lot of things–just enough to be dangerous! Later on, I was named Arts Editor. This was a great job because I could combine my love of the arts with writing. While doing this, I was invited to attend a Duke University dance critic fellowship sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts. When I moved on, I picked up “Reluctant Medium” and completed it.
I’ve added two blogs to the mix. One is “Reluctant Medium at Large in Santa Fe” which is a companion to the book. We explore the metaphysical, walk around Santa Fe, learn about the city’s ghosts and just have fun.
The other is a general reporting blog called “Parallel Universe: Perspectives at Large” that includes interviews, reviews, reporting and commentary. I just couldn’t give up the serious side of writing. A sampling: comment on Newtown, movie review, interviews with creative people, water shortage in the US, a new series on staying local while traveling and health related articles.
I can’t imagine doing anything else.
5. >From where or whom do you draw inspiration?
From odd places. I tend to be an eclectic reader. I ran across the Native American ceremony to return the dead while reading. Couldn’t stop asking: What if the wrong spirit returned? My library is filled with metaphysical books and I enjoy watching TV shows such as “Ancient Aliens,” “Ancient Discoveries,” and anything on the Bermuda Triangle, the Dragon’s Triangle, ley lines and power centers. I never miss “Supernatural!” I’m a Jensen Ackles fan. Currently, I’m researching astral projection, Mesoamerican deities and the lost continent of Lemuria. During my reporting days, I participated in a ghost hunt with serious investigators. It’s all fodder for stories.
6. What advice would you give new or aspiring writers?
Write, write, write. You can’t become a writer without putting your butt in the chair and hammering out words. Over and over. Read a variety of books and use them as lessons in style. You will develop your own style as you study what other writers do with their words. Early on, it doesn’t hurt to go to writing conferences or belong to a critique group–as long as it’s a kind group. But mostly beginning writers go to these to get the fundamentals and move on. You don’t want to become stuck with the wannabes.
I highly recommend reporting for a weekly or daily publication as a great way to learn your craft. Deadlines have a way of pushing a writer to learn fast. If you work for a weekly you’ll be writing 3 to 5 stories a week, depending on length. You’ll learn to manage your time. Schedule your interviews during the first half of the week if you expect to meet that Friday morning deadline. Reporting tweaks your research and interviewing skills which you’ll likely need for fiction books–and definitely need for nonfiction.
If you aren’t the reporting type, set your own deadlines–then keep them. If you have trouble beginning your book, write scenes you already have outlined on paper or in your mind. Just write. No excuses.
7. Who do you see as your ideal reader?
Probably female, but I have received good reviews from three men (thanks guys!). “Reluctant Medium” readers will enjoy exploring the paranormal. My story does include some mild horror effects–but if you read Stephen King, you’ve got nothing to fear from my horror elements. It’s also funny (one reviewer said “laugh out loud funny”) and it has a great friendship at its core between the two lead characters that readers like. Reviewers have also said after reading “Reluctant Medium” they want to visit Santa Fe. I’ll try to keep that local color coming. Still others have expressed an interest in the reporting aspects as Rachel does her job, and the spirit animal who becomes an ally.
8. Tell us about your writing process. Are you a planner or outliner?
In reporting you don’t have time to outline. I keep most of it in my head, but do write the highlights down. But it’s nothing detailed. I know some writers create lengthy outlines, character descriptions, background information. To me, by the time I did all that, I could have a finished book. I enjoy the surprises my characters spring on me. But really, there are as many methods to writing a book as there are writers. Do what works for you.
For research, I’ll read a couple books on the subject, use a lot of sticky notes to mark what I want to use. I also check out Web sites for additional information. I’ll be doing more research for my third book “Atomic Medium” in which Rachel will time travel to the 1940s US during WWII. I want to get the details correct. No cell phones! No computers! Get out the slide rule–what?!
9. Some people feel indie authored books are of lesser quality than those that go through the traditional publishers. Do you agree with them? If so, how can independent authors raise the bar and remove this stigmatism?
Of course I don’t agree. Having worked for a publisher, I have some insight. Even when we expressly asked an author to submit his/her manuscript, it might lie around for months. Then one day, with the editors and publishers in a tizzy, we’d receive word that everything was to be returned with the standard rejection letter. Not fair! But that’s what can happen.
Publishers often have a connection to a group of writers (probably they were in writing groups with them), or their connections can be political or business. Where do you think stories you see on your local TV news or newspaper comes from? People the reporters, editors, camera operators know or know about. You meet a lot of people in the news business and if you keep a good contact list, it’s not difficult to come up with an expert or someone who has the disease of the week.
The submissions process is so antiquated many good manuscripts slip through the cracks. There are biases for and against young writers, middle-age writers, “older” writers, women’s books, men’s books; not another book on unicorns! People run publishing companies and they each have their own ideas of what makes a good book–if they even get around to reading the manuscripts on their desk, the floor, the closets, the hallways….
The best way to increase respect is to write well. Prove them wrong. If we each write to the best of our ability–wherever we happen to be in our creative evolvement–then we have contributed to raising that bar. Have your manuscript edited professionally. It’s difficult to catch all of our own errors, as many of you already know. And just to go on record: Not every book a bricks and mortar publisher releases is a well-edited, well-constructed, interesting book worthy of several hours of a person’s life. We’ve all read books and scratched our heads over a deplorable editing job.
10. Any pets? If so, tell us what role they play in your writing, if any.
Yes, my character has a cat. She is inspired by a cat I had until a few years ago. Now she’s waiting at the Rainbow Bridge, but I can enjoy her every day as I write about her in “Reluctant Medium.” She’s psychic of course, but not reluctant about it.
11. Which retailers or others sites can readers find your work at?
12. Where can readers find out more about you?
G G Collins can be found lurking on Shelfari, Goodreads, Library Thing and Book Blogs. You can see for yourself my, sometimes weird, reading material. I write a book review from time to time and check in with my favorite threads. See you there!
Working as a general reporter is one of the most educational jobs. Where most people specialize in a specific area, it’s the job of a reporter to ask questions, learn quickly and write even faster about many subjects. In one day, you can cover a fundraiser for MS research, meet an entertainer in town for a weekend performance and attend a press conference for a local brewery. The next day, it’s the new heart center at a hospital, getting a first grader’s take on saving a historical building and welcoming the new sharks at the aquarium.
The result of thousands of interviews, press conferences and performances is that journalists learn a little bit about many things. It was Alexander Pope who wrote, “A little learning is a dangerous thing.” He also authored in the same poem: “Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.” That could be applied to reporters as well, many of whom rush to breaking news sites that could be the results of a terrorist attack, a landing hurricane or a bank robbery.
So is this woman dangerous? Only to the characters in her book, or is she…?
Shaping Destiny: a quest for meaning in art & life
My guest today is G G Collins. G G is an artist and an author. Her views are fresh, personal and a delight to read. Here’s what she has to say about herself:
“If I’d been born with a Crayola in my hand it wouldn’t have surprised me. For the first 25 years of my life I painted in several mediums, did pencil drawings, dabbled in pastels and even fired a few ceramics. After marriage, it took a few years, but the writing bug bit hard. When I snagged my dream job of journalist, I was thrilled when promoted to arts editor. The best of both worlds; writing about art! That resulted in a few journalism awards and a fellowship at Duke University. These days, I’m writing my Reluctant Medium series and creating my own book covers. In my spare time (smile), I write posts for my blog. That’s fun because I get to explore some subjects that aren’t, well, mainstream. Recently, I’ve begun taking photos for it. And I promise, I’ll get better!”
To find out more about G G, visit her Blog at:https://reluctantmediumatlarge.wordpress.com
From where do you draw inspiration?
When I was reporting, I would find my inspiration in my research and interviews. Oddly, now as a fiction writer, that is still true. The difference is that I follow my interests now instead of an assignment editor. For instance, while working at a book publisher I ran across a Native American ceremony to return the dead. The instant I read about it, I asked, what if the wrong spirit returned? I’ve had a few strange experiences which might have been paranormal so I began researching these phenomena. I even accompanied a ghost hunting group on one of their investigations. It was fascinating! My character, reporter Rachel Blackstone, tries to return her dead father in Reluctant Medium, but an evil spirit slips through the portal she opened. I’m also interested in animal communication, so I added a spirit wolf to the storyline.
In my forthcoming book I’m once again following my inquisitive nature—something I haven’t been able to shake since I was a three-year-old child. But instead of asking why the sky is blue, lately, I’ve been studying astral projection and the lost continent of Lemuria. Yes, you’ve guessed it; they’ll be a part of the story.
What is the hardest thing about your creative process?
Honestly, getting the words right. I love to write, but when I’m working on the rough draft of a project, I just want to get it down. Rewriting is where I really pay attention to the words I use. I ask myself, how many times have I used that particular word? Is there a better way to describe this scene? Should I tell this through dialogue? Should this be suspenseful or can I interject some humor?
Now that my first book is out, I find it more difficult to write because of all the marketing. But there is a rhythm I’m beginning to pick up. It’s becoming easier to balance the two.
Do you work everyday, or only when inspiration strikes?
I work every day, although I do try to take off most weekends. When you’ve been meeting newspaper deadlines for many years, you learn to write with a headache or a heart ache. You write whether there is inspiration or not, because the paper has to come out—will come out, regardless. I don’t believe in writer’s block. We just have to sit down and start stringing words. If you can’t think of a lead, then write what comes easier and come back to the opening. I do the same thing with fiction. If I’m really stuck on a particular scene, I take a walk. By the time I return, things are percolating again. Writing is less inspiration and a great deal more perspiration.
How do you feel about the current art market/art climate?
As an arts editor, I was encouraged about the art market and climate, despite the Great Recession. There always seemed to be a new wrinkle in the art world as ideas and mediums developed. Having begun my life as an artist and later an art major, I found I needed that art background when I morphed into indie author. In fact, I used some of that capacity to create my book cover. The backdrop is a painting from my college era with items placed in still life and photographed.
The publishing field is changing at light speed. The traditional bricks and mortar book publishers are diminished. The system for choosing writers and their projects was so antiquated that many good writers were falling through the cracks. With the arrival of eBook technology, some of those writers are finding their way out of anonymity and establishing rewarding careers as indie authors and publishers.
If you could change one thing about the art world today, what would it be?
The lack of interest in the arts is troubling. The US is experiencing a 12-year low in attendance; after gains were made prior to 2007 (Americans for Arts, National Arts Index).The arts lag near the bottom of the public’s interest. I know of one newspaper who polled its subscribers and arts came in last! Whether it’s visual art, performance, books or theatre, there is a much smaller audience than say for a football game, a shopping trip to a mall or a “reality” show on TV. With that said, if I could change anything, it would be to place arts back in all schools so kids can have more choices. You will never want to dance, if you don’t see dance.
Talk a bit about your current project and why you decided to embark on it.
Embark is the right word. Astral travel is definitely a voyage to unknown parts. Having set sail on the Reluctant Medium series, I of course had to write the next installment. The action begins in a Santa Fe art gallery with a painting that has powers (and the first chapter, albeit early draft, is available to read on my blog). Once the painting has worked its magic, a friend of Rachel’s disappears. The trip to rescue her is out of this world.
How does being a woman impact your work?
This question is really making me think. Since I’m not a man, I don’t know how a male would approach this type of story or even if he would. And I’m an unconventional woman at that: no children, known to travel alone, don’t have a conventional job and practiced yoga before it became ubiquitous. But it’s important to the arts that women come from many experiences and each voice is heard. We are stronger, and more interesting, when our differences merge. And even in a book such as mine that is purely entertainment, readers watch as Rachel becomes stronger with each attempt she makes to overcome the malevolent being she inadvertently unleashed. Women have always been strong, but we are now found in power positions that the average woman in the l800s couldn’t dream of, let alone achieve. I believe the contemporary changes more of us are experiencing are reflected in the books we write and the art we create.
If you had the chance to address a group of young girls, what would you say to inspire them?
I used to carry pencils with the inscription: “Girls can do anything!” I wish I could find them again. When I saw a young girl having a bad day at an airport, I handed her one of the pencils. She read the message and gave me a smile. It was as if we had a secret, just the two of us. I’m not a mother, so I don’t know what advice or inspiration mothers give their daughters in this era. But I hope it amounts to “Girls can do anything!”
Why go indie?
Why not go indie? I worked at a traditional book publisher and observed the way writers were treated. Even solicited manuscripts would sit around in stacks for months. Much of the time they were never read. One day frustration would take over the office and they were all returned, unread with a rejection card. Those authors who were lucky enough to make it to a pub date were mostly ignored after publication—unless the author was a self-promoter. We would send out a handful of advance galleys in the States to places such as Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, Kirkus, The New York Times. Sometimes we would assist the author in getting a few interviews on early morning TV in their community. That was it. If the book didn’t sell, it was remaindered.
With this in mind, I decided to publish Reluctant Medium via the indie route. Yes, it’s time consuming, but you know, it’s mostly fun. Really, it can be fun marketing and promoting your own book. I like the control I have over things like cover image (which I did myself—art major) and in setting up my blog and reaching out to readers.
How do you define indie?
It’s the self-service of publishing. You write, edit, create your cover, upload to retail outlets, then market and promote it yourself. I didn’t think I’d like reading books on a Kindle, but I did! That’s when I knew, I’d publish my paranormal mystery as an eBook. I haven’t looked back. Indies are the future of publishing. It’s likely the brick and mortar publishers will perish like the dinosaurs.
The important thing for indies to remember? Quality. Take advantage of professional editors, cover designers and formatters for the best possible results.
Summarise your writing style in 100 words or less
Fast-paced and fun; throw in some suspense mixed with a dash of horror; add a buddy story between two women friends; whip in a cynical fact-based character in a situation that cannot be explained; beat a couple people to death with a supernatural being and you’ve got reporter Rachel Blackstone in over her head. Servings never run out and seconds are welcome.
Who do you feel has influenced your writing the most?
It all began when I read my first mystery, Shirley Jackson’s We Have Always Lived in the Castle. I was a kid reading my first grown-up book and, wow, what an ending. I was hooked. A few years later I discovered the metaphysical watching Dark Shadows. From there, Stephen King was the natural choice. As an adult, I was introduced to Shirley MacLaine. Her book, Out on a Limb, changed the way I perceived a lot of things. Along the way, I’ve read some great authors like Chaim Potok. My Name is Asher Lev was assigned reading in college. What a terrific storyteller!
Do you aspire to be like any ‘trad’ or indie author?
No, I’m an original and I’d like to remain me, with all the quirks, flaws and other characters who reside in there. (No, I don’t know how many there are.)
Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Write. Never give up. Don’t believe in writer’s block—I don’t. Working on newspaper deadlines will knock that notion right out of the park. There is no shame in trying the traditional route to publication, but neither is there any reason not to go the indie path. There is a steep learning curve at first, but you can do it.
List your top five websites for publishing, marketing or writing:
My new favorite is Smashwords.com. Once in their premium catalog, the world really opens for your book. Even Amazon, also a fav, doesn’t reach as many countries as Smashwords. But Amazon’s KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) is an easy way to begin.Goodreads and Shelfari are great for reaching readers, learning what they enjoy and making a few friends along the way. You can also pick up reviews there. A few bloggers who have been wonderful to me are the Paranormal Book Club, Chompasaurus Reviewsand Kindle Book Promos. They’ve all done interviews and/or reviews. Book bloggers who feature authors and reviews are the way to go for indie eBook authors. Without them, eBooks might be forever lost in cyberspace.
I’d like to add Indie eBooks. You are my first interview in the United Kingdom and I appreciate the introduction. I’ve had quite a bit of traffic from the UK to my blog (https://reluctantmediumatlarge.wordpress.com/) and your visits are appreciated. I’ve been amazed at the number of countries that have found my blog, which I admit, sometimes leans toward the weird. But it also has a lot of information about Santa Fe if you’d like to visit, along with area ghost stories. I also post about publishing. My thanks to all my visitors and especially my followers.
Where can we find you, and what books do you have out now?
Reluctant Medium is my first book. It’s a paranormal mystery about reporter Rachel Blackstone, the reluctant medium. It can be found at Smashwords and at Amazon.
I’m currently working on the next in the Reluctant Medium Series called Lemurian Medium which I hope to release early next year. In this story, Rachel takes to the astral plane to save a friend and solve the mystery of the strange artist who has come to town. The action takes place again in Santa Fe, New Mexico—except while taking wrong turns on the astral freeway.
Check in anytime at my blog if you have questions or comments. You can also find me on Goodreads and Shelfari.
Why did you choose the theme you did for your book?
Ah yes, returning the dead; just as commonplace as making up the shop list. I ran across a real ceremony for bringing back the dead. Well, the first thing that pops into my mind: What if the wrong spirit returned? Before I could go beyond a few points scratched out on a napkin, I found my dream job—that of a reporter. But when my column inches were filled and my stories filed, I would write about a reporter who learned about the ceremony in an interview with a Hopi shaman.
As you’ve likely guessed, the wrong spirit returned. Not the father she hoped to talk with one last time, but an evil spirit intent on revenge. Rachel’s ill-equipped to return it. But she and friend Chloe give it their best shot.
Despite persistent rumors, the two women don’t smoke all that much pot, but it does help them over the rough spots and Chloe will keep her silver box handy. But it may not be enough for our intrepid reporter as she tries to put the genie back in the bottle.
A seasoned reporter, G G Collins has 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. (Know where the exits are!) It’s all in a day’s work. Of course, there’s the ever present question of how to dress: jacket for the interview with the visiting entertainer or jeans for the aviation hangar story? Forget wardrobe, make sure there are notebooks, recorders and extra batteries.
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? “Reluctant Medium” resulted.
Besides writing and reading, Collins enjoys travel, equestrian activities, hiking, movies and arts. Most days, she lives above the northern Horse Latitudes.
Posted in Interview with an indie author
| Tagged Chaim Potok
, Dark Shadows
, G G Collins
, Shirley Jackson
, Shirley MacLaine
, Stephen King
| Leave a comment
Kindle Book Promos
Reluctant Medium (Reluctant Medium Series)
by G G Collins
Fiction/Horror/Ghost on On Kindle
5 rating with 5 reviews
Meet the author:
A seasoned reporter, G. G. Collins has racked up a lot of column inches, a few awards and a 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 a scoop, and occasionally being a tad alarmed at someone’s behavior. Know where the exits are! All in a day’s work. Of course, one never knows how to dress: jacket for the interview with the visiting entertainer, or jeans for the aviation hangar story? Forget wardrobe, make sure there are notebooks and extra batteries.
An interview with G G Collins:
1. What inspired you to write this book?
Reading about a real Native American ceremony to return to the dead. I couldn’t help but ask what would happen if the wrong spirit came back?
2. How was the main character conceived?
Rachel Blackstone is a reporter (not a stretch for me as a long-time reporter). She has a nose for finding trouble in even the simplest assignment. She has a little bit of me in her, but I would never break and enter–well, there was that one time.
3. What can readers learn from this story?
TI hope they just have a great ride. If they really want to make it a learning experience then, no, they should just have fun.
4. What do you hope to achieve with this book?
No one writes a book just for the money. It’s way too time consuming and difficult. But it’s very satisfying to create something that’s all yours, right down to the cover. I even enjoy the marketing. For readers: I want them to enjoy the experience. “Reluctant Medium” is a fast read, the characters are fun and it’s a little creepy. I hope readers will come back for the forthcoming “Lemurian Medium” just to see if this reluctant heroine can pull it off again, even when she’d just as soon stay home.
5. What did you learn about yourself in writing this story?
I’ve been writing for a couple decades, mostly as a reporter. Changing to fiction was fun, but the hard work, research and interviews: the basics, are the same. I love the entire process. But I did learn that I can do a whole lot more on a computer than I ever thought, including “building” a blog. You can check it out athttps://reluctantmediumatlarge.wordpress.com/
6. Where can people buy your book?
G G Collins, Author of Reluctant Medium(Paranormal Mystery)
A seasoned reporter, G. G. Collins has racked up a lot of column inches (1200 published credits), a few awards and a 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 a scoop, and occasionally being a tad alarmed at someone’s behavior. Know where the exits are! It’s all in a day’s work. Of course, one never knows how to dress: jacket for the interview with the visiting entertainer, or jeans for the aviation hangar story? Forget wardrobe, make sure there are notebooks and extra batteries.
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. An avid reader since childhood, she started her reading career with Shirley Jackson’s “We Have Always Lived in the Castle.” Later, she couldn’t wait to get home after school and watch “Dark Shadows.” From there, the works of Stephen King was but a small leap.
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? Read it for yourself.
Besides writing and reading, Collins enjoys travel, hiking, equestrian sports, movies and arts. Most days, she lives above the northern Horse Latitudes.
Annie K. Johnson – What do you want readers to take away from your book?
G G Collins – Fun! I want my readers to have a good time reading Reluctant Medium. Yes, there is suspense, and a bit of horror, but reporter Rachel Blackstone always does her best to interject some humor, however dark it may be, into most situations. Her persona is one of impatience and exasperation, but with a dash of self-deprecation. Her cynical personality is somewhat balanced by her friend Chloe who is a little more polished, but when angered, swears loudly and in French. Chloe mothers Rachel a bit by urging her to eat healthy and do yoga. I wanted more than a mystery with paranormal elements; I wanted a buddy story too.
These two women are suddenly caught up in something they don’t understand, and at least in Rachel’s case, she doesn’t want any part of, but it’s her doing that caused the turn of events in the first place. Rachel learns through the kindness of a Hopi shaman that she can rise to the challenge of this evil spirit. I want readers to cheer Rachel on when she needs it and laugh with her when she freaks or gets clumsy, and to admire her when she does her job well. I hope they can like her when she’s human and screws up. But on that last page, I hope readers will feel like they’ve found a new friend, one who showed them a good time.
AKJ – Why did you choose the theme that you chose for your book?
GGC –Ah yes, returning the dead. Just as commonplace as making up the shopping list. I was working at a book publishing house when I ran across this real ceremony for bringing back the dead. We had a lot of interesting stuff come across our desks. Well, the first thing that pops into my mind: What if the wrong spirit returned? Before I could go beyond a few points scratched out on a napkin, I left that job and found my dream job—that of a reporter. But when my column inches were filled and my stories filed, I would write about a reporter who learned about the ceremony in an interview with a Hopi shaman. As you’ve likely guessed, the wrong spirit returned. Not the father she wanted to talk with one last time, but an evil spirit intent on getting revenge. And now our intrepid reporter has to figure out if she can put the genie back in the bottle. She’s ill-equipped to return it. Then she is faced with the age-old quandary of good vs. evil. And I’m afraid it gets worse in the forthcoming Lemurian Medium.
AKJ – Are there things that you refuse to write about? What are they and why?
GGC – Romance, sexual encounters. I am perhaps one of the least romantic women on the planet. I never had the fantasy that any man—on a white horse, or not—would rescue me from anything. While I have read a couple bodice-rippers, I didn’t enjoy them. I’m not someone who peaks into people’s windows and I just feel uncomfortable reading, let alone writing, scenes like that. Nor would I be good at it. This is a disappointment to my friend Cherie who loves romances, but she does like my paranormal bent.
I can just see it now: the romance is heating up, clothes are being torn off, the couple is in an embrace, he sits her lovingly on the edge of the bed, he’s about to cover her body, and oops, they both slide off the bed onto the floor where she breaks her arm! You see, I do not have it in me—and oh my, did I really say that?!
AKJ – What has been the most fun part of being a writer?
GGC – It has to be the research and interviews. Writing is a life-long learning process. If you don’t want to learn new things, for heaven’s sake, don’t take up writing. As a journalist, I simply couldn’t believe the interesting things I’ve learned or the happy experiences I’ve had. There was that flying trip to another state for a rah-rah city tour in one day, I was allowed to pet a shark, been privileged to hear people’s true stories of hardship and traumatic experiences they’ve suffered and survived, and seen dreams come true for those who never gave up.
While writing fiction isn’t quite the same when it comes to research, I have had similar experiences in preparing my blog posts, and doing location interviews. There’s nothing like a story from an insider, that little tidbit that makes a scene really sing.
AKJ – What do you consider to be your most ideal work environment?
GGC – A small casita on the Costa del Sol with a sea view would do but lacking that option, I can really go for a quiet place. Often I have to wait until the wee hours to write. As I work on this interview it’s about 4:00 a.m. I doubt I’m much different from other writers, many of whom have day jobs. I have a nice desk, but I admit I do most of my writing on a laptop sitting cross-legged on the sofa. I practice yoga when I need to give an idea time to percolate. Yoga takes my total attention and allows me to stop thinking about where do I go from here? If I need to work on plotting or characters, I go walking. It’s a amazing what a good walk can do.
AKJ – What are the most important lessons you’ve learned in life?
GGC – That I don’t have to learn something from every lousy thing that happens to me nor does that thing define me. Sometimes awful, frightening to the core illnesses, accidents or violent attacks happen to people. I’ve had my share. I decided that I could handle them one of three ways: kill myself, crawl into a corner and wait to die, or I could soldier on.
We women seem to be really awkward at endings. We want to stay friends or at least courteous acquaintances. We just can’t call it quits. There are all kinds of endings. Sometimes the person or situation fades away but other times, the door slams in our face! And yet, we still want a peace treaty. Sometimes it’s over, kaput, done. There are times when we just have to move on.
AKJ – What book has been the most influential to you?
GGC – My Name is Asher Lev by Chaim Potok. This was assigned reading in college. I picked it up reluctantly. Began reading unenthusiastically and was raving about it within a couple chapters. At the time I knew nothing to speak of about the Jewish people. Here was this young man who was a talented artist (I too was an artist from a young age.) and he struggled to overcome the boundaries of his faith and the expectations of his parents and his community. Even in my 20s, I knew I was reading a great author.
I wanted to be a writer like Potok. Of course, I’m not. My experience is quite different from Asher Lev’s and the man who created him. I draw from different wells. But Potok inspired me to try and that was what I captured and kept from the book. Jacob Kahn, Asher’s mentor tells him, “As an artist you are responsible to no one and to nothing, except to yourself and to the truth as you see it.” It seems like good advice to writers as well, even those of us who write fiction, or maybe especially fiction writers. A lot of ourselves go into a work of fiction, we don’t pull it out of the air, but from our souls.
AKJ – What do you consider your most core philosophy of life?
GGC – Everything seemed simple when I was a child. My parents and all those other “big” people knew everything. And now I laugh because those people were in their 20s and 30s and couldn’t possibly have known everything.
Life gets a lot more complicated as we get older—and it’s not just computers, smart phones and multiple e-mail accounts. As science learns more and passes it on to us worker bees, we’ve learned that Pluto isn’t a planet after all, and geez, there is more than our little solar system in the universe, there may be billions of solar systems, galaxies, black holes and worm holes—which might be the future of time travel. There’s so much to learn about our ever expanding cosmos. If only Star Trek’s transporter had already been invented. Sigh. There are even scientists who believe that parallel universes are possible. And if you watch the History Channel and its ancient astronaut theorists, it may be that Chariots of Fire, published first in 1970, may have been closer to the truth than anyone ever thought. Even the Vatican astronomer Guy Consolmagno has said: “Any entity – no matter how many tentacles it has – has a soul.” This opened a door that likely can’t be closed. And until we know if it’s true, it makes for good storytelling.
AKJ – Have you gotten emotional while writing? If so, what has been the most emotional part of your book to write?
GGC – When I was working full-time as a journalist there were many emotional aspects to my writing. One day I’d be talking with a young man facing the challenges of HIV, the next a woman who had lived through a brutal rape. But there were happy moments as well. Sometimes I’d sit watching a dance performance, tears welling, as I observed a beautiful dance movement. There were more than a few gasps as the dancers turned the theatre into a magical place.
Fiction also lends itself to emotional responses. One is when your character finally gets it, knows what to do and does it, even though she is frightened or feels incapable of what she must accomplish. And there are the quieter scenes when something is coming to an end in your character’s life. We all know about endings. I feel one coming on now.
Reluctant Medium at Large in Santa Fe blog
Guest Blog Post for Paranormal Book Club
How to Become a Reluctant Medium
It had been a rough few months for reporter Rachel Blackstone. First, her father was killed while pursuing a story for the Albuquerque Journal. The Santa Fe police eventually classified it as an accident, although Rachel wasn’t buying it.
One night in despair, she left her husband and her job–which she loved–bought a heap and drove right out of New Mexico. She stopped driving in Tulsa, and within a few days found she had taken the freeway to poverty. Even the two part-time jobs she found only landed her in a once stately part of town on the fast track to slum.
In desperation she remembered a ceremony to return the dead, one she had been taught by a kindly Hopi shaman she met working on a story for High Desert Country. By the glow of her lava light, she prepared to call her father back to the earthly plane. But you know how one moment of inattention can alter your life forever? The neighbor’s dog barks, your train of thought breaks, and before you know it, something has gone terribly wrong.
The next thing she knew, a spirit was in her living room, but it wasn’t her father! The ghost standing before her was more of a ghoul and up to nothing good. In fact, it was intent on revenge and seemed to know her and her family. She fears for them as the evil one exits her house in an uncharacteristic fashion.Rachel is certain she must return to Santa Fe to protect her family and find some way to right the terrible wrong she caused.
But everything seems to have changed. She is confronted by other specters on the road to home. Confused, frightened and completely out of her depth, she drafts her best friend, Chloe Valdez, to help her fight something she never knew could exist and hasn’t a clue how to return.What the two friends uncover is an earthly scam linking both the quick and the dead–and may even involve her brother, the mayor of Santa Fe.
To save him, she must play a dangerous game of treasure hunt which leads to a powerful climax of earth, wind and fire. Rachel must discover her own powers or die trying.
This is a real ceremony to return the dead. I learned about it while working for a book publisher. I immediately had the question pop up: What if the ceremony went awry and the wrong person returned? And what if that spirit was evil?
Later when I began reporting, I remembered the ceremony. When my column inches were filled and my assignments were filed, I would work on this story little by little.But I wanted more than just a paranormal mystery, I also wanted a buddy story, so I created Rachel’s friend Chloe—and by the way, despite rumors to the contrary, they don’t smoke pot all that often, but they are fond of margaritas. Chloe prefers pomegranate margaritas, because they are healthier. Ooookay.Chloe also likes to cater stake-outs and wear the latest in cat burglar fashion when she and Rachel do a little “investigative” research.
Oh, and me? I’m G G Collins. I’ve been writing for, shall we say, awhile. I’ve piled up about 1200 published credits, a writing fellowship at Duke University, and a few awards along the way. I thought reporting was the most fun I’ve ever had, but I’m finding fiction to be just as entertaining.I “built” a blog: https://reluctantmediumatlarge.wordpress.com/ .
Stop by for a visit to Santa Fe. We’re learning all about the city, the locations where the story took place, and retracing Rachel’s steps through the wicked “treasure hunt.” There are historic places, shop ‘til you drop Jackalope “village,” excursions outside of Santa Fe, favorite restaurants, landmark hotels, and ghost stories galore. And, you are invited to test your psychic skills. If you’re an aspiring writer, there are tips for that too. You’re welcome to sample a chapter from the Reluctant Medium. See you there.
Interview with Rachel Blackstone, the Reluctant Medium
by author G G Collins
Returning the dead? Really, what were you thinking? “I admit that my judgment was leaning towards insane on that occasion. My father died in a car accident a few months earlier, but I didn’t think it was all that accidental. The Santa Fe PD couldn’t find proof either way. Then I thought about the Hopi ceremony to bring back the dead. A kindly shaman, Joseph, told me about the ritual when I interviewed him about the Hopi nation for my publication. Things went bad, even though I followed the steps carefully to perform the ceremony. Maybe it was because I have only a small amount of Native American in my family. You know, kind of a built-in fail-safe for people who have no business performing it. At any rate, my father didn’t come back, but someone did, and he was up to no good.
Why did you become a reporter? “My father was an award-winning journalist for the Albuquerque Journal. He died working on a story. I guess it was in the family blood, although my brother, the mayor of Santa Fe, must have had a transfusion. I enjoy telling people’s stories. It doesn’t matter whether you’re writing a profile, an arts preview or hard news, they all involve people—and everyone has a story. They are all challenging in different ways. Some interviews are anxious and you have to help them relax, trust you. It’s the boring ones that eat your lunch, but I have a way to cope with that. I make a show of taking notes; keep my head down so they don’t see the twisted look on my face.”
You and your friend, Chloe, seem like opposites. How does your friendship work? Rachel laughs. “Well you got me! She likes boots with high heels and I always wear shoes I can run in. Never know when you might need to make a quick exit. Chloe drinks the most gawd-awful herbal teas and mostly vegetarian meals. I love green-chile-cheese-burritos. I mean this is New Mexico, green chile is king! But back to our friendship. Chloe does real estate; I mean does it well, a multi-million-dollar agent. She co-owns the hottest agency in town. Me, I make terrible money, but even she admits, my job is more fun. Chloe’s always ready for a journalistic stake-out. And no matter what you’ve heard, we don’t smoke all that much pot. So are we yin and yang? I think we’re more about liberal tolerance and knowing when not to go there. Somehow we manage to work in quite a lot of fun.
What’s this about you having a spirit animal? “You know, when I brought back what can only be called an evil spirit, some things changed in a hurry. Damn! Funny, Chloe swears in French. When she lets loose, you really do have to pardon her French.” More laughing. “Me, I just swear. And that’s pretty much what I was doing after I lost my mind and tried to return my father. I was chasing that spirit. Next thing I know, other apparitions appear. They included a wolf. At first, I thought it was a living wolf and well, I support the New Mexico Lobos, but this was something different. It’s white and sometimes it glows. And while I was afraid of it at first, it always seems to appear when I need a heads-up. No, I haven’t named it.”
Why are you a reluctant medium? “Oh good heavens, that’s all been blown all out of proportion. Have you been talking to Chloe? She buys into all things New Age. You see a couple ghosts, and people start calling you a medium. There were some odors I picked up on. That depraved spirit had all kinds of disgusting smells. But I’m a journalist, and we are a fact-based crowd. Just because things happen we don’t understand, doesn’t mean there isn’t an explanation. Unfortunately, I haven’t found it yet, so I’m proceeding with caution.”
What’s the secret to mixing humor with horror? “You’ve heard of black comedy? That’s not quite me, but in real life we all have events that trigger fear, despair and shock. Sometimes in a horrific moment, even if it’s wildly inappropriate, a little humor can sneak in and lighten up a bad situation. But mostly, I’m unconventional and so things that are sacrosanct to others, are fair game to me. Regrettably, I’ve found myself in a few hairy circumstances for which there was no other reaction than all out terror.”
What has your author cooked up for your next adventure? “This is truly weird. First, a friend, Stella Dallas—yes, her mother liked Barbara Stanwyck–disappears into a painting at a gallery opening. Next thing I know, I’ve got to go rescue her from the astral plane. No, I’m not kidding. G G stays up nights coming up with the strangest ideas possible. But she only has to write them, I have to do all this far out stuff. But no, she doesn’t listen to me. But back to the upcoming book, Lemurian Medium, well, you can probably tell from the title, I won’t be getting any rest until I can find Stella, if I can find her. There are no maps of the astral plane, it’s all hunt and peck. It’s not just unmarked trails, there are evil entities staging psychic attacks. I don’t know how to tell who’s wearing the white hats. For sure, it’s serious, one mistake and I could be forever lost in the cosmos.
Did you say there were doughnuts?”