Alex Elson, 20, was the victim of more than a decade of brutal child abuse. Now he can see others' auras and hear their dark thoughts and painful memories.
Last summer he was hospitalized for alleged schizophrenia. This year he's become the prime suspect for a series of murders. Will Jane continue to stand by him, or will she be drawn to a man who might have dark secrets of his own ...
With touches of early Mary Higgins Clark and Kay Hooper's Special Crime Unit series, Dianne Hartsock's novel ALEX (Solstice Publishing, 2011) is a psychological thriller you won't soon forget. For a chance to win a copy of this book, please see the end of this post. And now, I'm delighted Dianne is here today to share some behind-the-scenes details about ALEX.
Dianne, how did the idea for ALEX come to you?
The first novel I attempted was a fantasy/adventure, which is still looking for a home. As I became more involved in the life of my main character, I began to wonder how he would fair in a modern setting. In his world, this character is considered a magic user. What would he be labeled in today's society? Would he be accepted or forced to live away from others? Would he have been born with this "gift," or would it have developed over time?
I found these questions intriguing and began my research into psychic abilities. Most people seem to develop their talents in their late teens. I wanted to show how Alex had been born with his gifts and how the trauma of his childhood brought them out even stronger than is usual.
What was the most challenging part about writing this book?
Abandoned by Alex's father, his mother raises Alex in isolation, physically and emotionally abusing him as she tries to drive the "badness" from him inherited from his father. With no one to show her differently, they both suffer under her emotional confusion.
It broke my heart when I researched child abuse. The horrible things people do to their children. It hurts to know that a child is suffering even as I'm writing this down. I made it through the research somehow, but no matter how bad things got for Alex, it's nothing to what some children endure every day.
What is your favorite marketing tip?
Have fun! There are millions books out there on marketing strategies, but honestly, you're in here for the long haul. Do what you enjoy. If you love to blog, find bloggers in your genre or with similar tastes. Exchange Web addresses. Make friends. Love Facebook or Twitter? Apply your energies there. Otherwise, marketing will become a dreaded chore, and your lack of enthusiasm will be reflected in your posts.
What do you like best about your publisher, Solstice Publishing? And how did you find one another?
What's not to like! I found Solstice Publishing while looking for an ePublisher for several short stories I've written. Their bio sounded promising, and their rating on P&E was good. So I gave them a try.
I'm so glad I did! My experience has been wonderful with them, and my favorite part, besides holding my first published book in my hands, is their marketing. Both their marketing and promotional directors have gone out of their way to help with blog tours and promoting on social networks. I couldn't ask for more.
What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?
Being a newly published author, I haven't really received much criticism, except on my short stories, which people wish were longer.
My best compliment? My goodness, readers have been extremely kind! I've gotten praise on storyline and character development and they seem to enjoy my writer's voice. But the compliment that touched me the most was from Donald Ford, who wrote, "This is as near as I have come to someone else's beating heart." That sums up exactly what I was trying for with ALEX.
Can you share a little about your current work with us?
Of course! At the moment I have a fantasy/adventure novel being considered by one of the more "traditional" publishing houses. I have the sequel to this book written and am in the midst of edits and revisions. Also, I've been jotting down ideas and am about to start on the sequel to ALEX. I'm excited to spend time with him again. He's been keeping us updated on his activities on his blog on Fridays, but it will be nice to immerse myself in the magic of his life again.
What is something about you or your writing that might surprise your readers?
I don't think this would surprise anyone who's met me, but besides being a Star Trek geek, I'm also a huge Tolkien fan. When I like something, I give my whole heart to it! My very first published story was a Fan Fic I wrote for The One Ring.
It's about what happens after Frodo leaves middle earth. In fact, it was right after I'd written this story that I began on my fantasy novel. I wanted to create a hero in the line of Frodo and Sam, who gave everything to save the home they love.
MORE ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dianne grew up in California, spent the first 10 years of her marriage in Colorado, where ALEX is set. She now lives in the Willamette Valley of Oregon with her "incredibly patient" husband and two children. Dianne works as a floral designer in a locally owned gift shop, which she says is the perfect job for her. When not writing, she can express herself through the rich colors and textures of flowers and foliage.
Visit Dianne on her blog, Facebook or Twitter.
ALEX is available in both paperback and Kindle versions.
WIN A COPY OF ALEX
Would you like to have your own copy of this paranormal thriller? Here's how you can enter:
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+1 Post this on your Facebook wall.
Then comment on this post with your point total and e-mail address! The contest will be open until midnight Nov. 12, and the winner will be announced the week of Nov. 13. Good luck!
AND NOW FOR A TEASER FROM ALEX
Her skin was soft under his fingertips. Her bare shoulders, the curve of muscle in her arms, her slim fingers; all so soft. Her breath caressed his cheek as he stared at her lips. He wanted to kiss her. It was a risk, he knew, but he ached for someone to break the loneliness. He bent his head and ran his tongue tentatively over the sweet fullness of her mouth. Her tongue met his but he was unprepared for the fire that tore through him. She pressed against him to deepen the kiss and a wild madness surged through his blood.
Something was wrong. She cried out as she struggled in his arms. Her nails raked across his neck. He let her go and watched in bewilderment as she scrambled away, her breath coming in sharp gasps. He reached out a tentative hand, wanting to explain-apologize, but she stepped hastily away from him.
"Freak!" she spat and quickly fled.
He jerked as the word struck him, his arm dropping to his side. The pain of her rejection flooded him. He touched his mouth and wondered desperately what she'd seen as he'd kissed her.
She stopped at the end of the bridge and looked over her shoulder. He couldn't make out her expression, but he hoped to God it wasn't pity. He took a hesitant step toward her but she tore her eyes away and rushed off.
He watched her follow the road back to town, hurrying as the sun sank. The far side of the road was already lost in darkness. His shoulders slumped in defeat when she disappeared into the gloom.
Dejected, he sat on the edge of the bridge and dangled his feet over the swift current. The sound of the rushing water echoed under him, filling his ears. It dulled the edge of his pain, making him forget his humiliation as he listened. He could almost make out a voice in the resonance.