Character Interview: Nan Sampson’s Charlie

Over the last year or so, I’ve interviewed many of Nan Sampson’s characters. One of those characters was Charlie. If you would like to read the first interview I conducted with him, you can find it on Nan Sampson’s site here: 

In this interview, I was able to catch up with Charlie and see how life was treating him. As always, ‘Kelly’ was written by me while ‘Charlie’ was written by Nan Sampson.


Charlie McCallum sat in one of a pair of broad, chintz-covered, wing back chairs in front of the fireplace in the study of the Birches Inn, crossing one leg over the other and vice versa, drumming his fingers on the arm of the chair.  He ran long fingers through his mop of curls, which had grown overlong during his recuperation from his broken leg.  He really needed to find a place in Horizon to get it cut—maybe Per, his new landlord of sorts, could recommend a barber.

The Birches Inn was a lovingly restored Queen Anne Victorian that sat on a hill just outside the small, southwestern town of Horizon, Wisconsin.  Once the home of a mining baron, it was now the premier place to stay in the county for tourists, wedding parties, honeymooners and even the occasional temporarily displaced local.  Filled with period antiques and seamless replicas, it was genteel, elegant, and yet homey and comfortable.  He loved the place—the lace curtains, the damask wallpaper, the oriental rugs, the rich, mahogany furniture and best of all, the pocket doors.  If he ever had a house, he wanted one with pocket doors.

The study today was lit by firelight and table lamps, the pale winter sun shining ineffectually through the windows.  Outside, snow covered the ground, decorated the birches and aspens that graced the property, and the temperatures were closing in on zero again.  The study, however, was toasty warm and delightfully cozy.  It was the perfect setting and he’d asked Arabella, who owned the Inn with her husband Seth, for private use of the room today.  Since tourists this time of year were few and far between, she’d readily agreed.

He’d met his anticipated visitor, a woman named Kelly Blanchard, once before, at her little shop.  That had been almost a year ago, back when Ellie had first moved to this little one-horse town.  It had been the strangest meeting he’d ever had. 

And now, here he was, meeting with her again, and much like the previous time, he wasn’t really sure why.  But he didn’t mind.  Their conversation had been fun and, in a way, incredibly helpful in terms of his relationship with Ellie.  In fact, without Kelly’s advice, he might not even have a relationship with Ellie.  Not that Ellie was ready yet to admit they had one, but hey.  Baby steps.

He grinned, scrubbed his finger through his curls then stood to pace, trying to keep his hands off the plate of chocolate chip cookies he’d asked Arabella to bake.  Tit for tat, he thought.  Kelly had served him cookies last time, it was proper he return the favor.  His stomach fluttered nervously as he waited.  What on earth, he wondered, would they discuss today?

Kelly entered the inn and was grateful to get out of the cold. She was a Texas girl for a reason! But she did enjoy the occasional snow. The woman at the front directed her to the study, and when Kelly pushed open the door, she smiled at the warm and cozy atmosphere. “Now this is a place I could spend forever in,” she smiled at Charlie when she saw him there. She headed over to him with a plate of chocolate chip cookies she had made just for this meeting, but then she noticed the cookies already on the table. Kelly laughed. “I made these for you because I knew you liked them from our last meeting. Guess great minds think alike. But still.” She placed them on the table and shook Charlie’s hand before sitting down across from him. “So, Charlie, how have you been since our last chat?”

“Aw, you’re so sweet!  Thanks!”  He still remembered the taste of those chocolate chip cookies from their last meeting.  “I’ll save yours—I know they’ll be better, even though Arabella does a bang up job.”

He sat nervously, then stood up again almost immediately to pace.  “Things are good.”  He gestured down at his leg, which was finally cast-free.  “Leg is healing well.  I still limp some around Ellie, just to yank her chain.”  He paused.  “Oh, wait, you probably didn’t hear about that.  I broke my leg in November.  And Ellie nearly got herself shot.  One of her college friends was murdered and Ellie had to jump in to investigate.”  He shook his head.  “Girl needs to learn to wait for back up.”

“Hold up.” Kelly lifted her hand. “First off, was this another murder Ellie has solved? And secondly, she almost shot herself? How? And…how did you break your leg.” Then Kelly paused, realizing she had asked a lot of questions. She chuckled, sitting back in her chair. “And answer those in whatever order you want.”

He grinned, grabbed one of Kelly’s cookies. The things were like crack.  “Maybe I should start from the beginning.  Ellie came back to Chicago in November—she and Kate were going to meet up with their old college friend, Lacey.  But before the three could get together, Lacey turned up dead in an alley.  No one, not even me, believed it was a random street crime, so Ellie hired me to help her investigate.  In the end, we identified the killer and Ellie cornered them.  The killer had a gun, and before I could get into a position to help her, nearly shot Ellie.  As I raced to help, the killer fell and knocked me down a flight of stairs, resulting in me being laid up for eight weeks.”  He grinned.  “So just to keep my hand in the game, so to speak, I decided I’d recuperate up here in Horizon.  Gotta keep an eye on that girl.  I’m staying at her neighbors house, officially, since Per had a spare room, but I try to spend every waking moment in her cabin.  Worming my way into her affections.”  A chuckle.  “And I’m growing on her.  Like fungus!”

Kelly chuckled at his last statement, but she shook her head. “Hate to say this, but it almost sounds like Ellie attracts murder. It’s a bit dangerous to be her friend.” However she shrugged and grinned at Charlie. “But that’s why she has you there at her side.” She winked then leaned forward, took a cookie off the plate and met Charlie’s gaze. “So how are things progressing between the two of you?” She lifted her brows as she sat back in her chair and ate the cookie.

He stared out at the snow for a moment.  “Um…I liken it to the growth of a glacier.  A little progress everyday.  While it’s happening it’s hard to tell, but if you stand back and look at the big picture, you can definitely see the change.”  He rubbed his jeans, watched the fire dance.  “We’re getting somewhere.  Not sure where exactly, but somewhere.  I just need to be patient.”

“And how are you doing with needing to be patient?” Kelly tilted her head to a side. “Do you consider yourself a naturally patient individual, or is that a trait you need to strengthen?”

“Well, I’m not Yoda.  But I guess I’m more Yoda than Han Solo.  Ellie would be Han.  She needs to charge off in a direction—any direction—to feel like she’s getting somewhere.  I’m okay waiting.  One day she’s going to realize we’re an “us”, and it will have happened so gently and so naturally, she won’t feel the need to rail against it.”  He grinned.  “Meanwhile, living with her, around her, certainly isn’t boring.”  He leaned back in his chair.  “But hopefully she won’t trip over another body before spring.  I can’t remember ever being this cold.  And I’m a Chicago boy!”

Kelly tried not to laugh when he said what he said about Yoda and Han, but finally she cracked a smile. “Well, Charlie, gotta tell you somethin’. If she’s Han, then you need to be Princess Leia. Just forgo the whole golden bikini thing, okay?” Kelly laughed but then forced herself to regain her composer. “Okay, okay, I know that’s not what you meant, but just had to say it.”

He laughed, hard.  “So glad you’re one of my tribe, Kelly!”  He glanced down at himself.  “But hey, you don’t think I could pull that outfit off?  Have I gained that much weight?”

Kelly laughed again then tilted her head, giving him a thorough look. “Well, maybe you could pull it off. If you did, there would have to be pics for proof!” She grinned at him, but then shook her head still chuckling. “Okay, but back to the questions! What do you think of Ellie’s habit of stumbling upon dead bodies, and she’s not even a detective or anything. I mean…isn’t that a bit…odd?”

He paused, his expression darkening.  “Ellie…Ellie’s a magnet for shit like that.  I mean, I want to say it started with the murder of her parents.  God, what a horrific crime.  But really, based on stories I’ve heard from Kate about some things that happened back when they were in college and first learning about “the Craft”, it seems like dark stuff—woo-woo creepy stuff—has been following her around for a long time.  So the fact that dead people harass her, or that she stumbles over fresh corpses at the drop of a hat, at some level doesn’t really surprise me.  Death and tragedy seem to follow her around like Erik the Red.”

Kelly frowned. “It’s just odd…to me. But at least she has you there.” She smiled at him. “Are you still working for the police?”

He ducked his head, looked away.  “Um, no.  No, I’m freelancing now.  I got my Private Investigator’s license over the summer.”

This caused Kelly to furrow her brows, and she leaned forward. “What happened that caused you to leave the police?”

“It…the…the job just wasn’t what I thought it was going to be.  Dan says I’m just being a flake, a spoilt prima donna.”  He gave a shrug.  “Maybe he’s right.  Maybe I’m just better off working for myself, doing my own thing.”

Kelly narrowed her eyes, and she regarded him for a long moment. “By all the ‘maybes’ you’re saying, it sounds like you’re not convinced yourself. Leaving your job like that isn’t something you just wake up one day and decide to do. It’s a decision that takes time to process and think through before committing to it. Did something trigger it? Did justice not get served on a case?”

He jerked upright, met her eyes, looked away again.  How did she do that?  “It wasn’t a knee jerk decision, I’ll tell you that.  As for justice…”  His tone became bitter.  “Well, apparently justice is a subjective thing.  Contrary to what I’d always been taught, it doesn’t apply equally to all people.  Whore, junkies, minorities, all those disenfranchised folks at the bottom, they don’t get justice unless it fills a quota or it helps someone’s political ambitions.”  He stood, paced back to the window.  “Hell, it isn’t even just the poor who get the shaft.  Look at Ellie.  Her parents’ were solid upper middle class and their murders were never solves nor will they be unless someone like me…”  He pressed his lips together, shook his head before finally turning to face her again.  “I still support the Force.  There are damn good cops, damn good men putting their life on the line every day.  But justice, the kind with a capital J?  Looking for that these days is like going on a snipe hunt.”  He shrugged again.  “So I got out.  Now I can give justice to people on my own terms, or at least kill myself trying.”

“And justice is supposed to be blind, but sadly it isn’t.” Kelly shook her head, but she leaned forward, intertwining her fingers as she locked eyes with Charlie. “But is it right for you to take justice in your own hands? You may be right on all accords, but…there’s a very thin line between the vigilante and the villain in all spheres of life.”

He clenched his jaw, forced himself to relax.  “Look, I’m no vigilante.  When we cornered Lacey’s killer, I had a cop buddy of mine with us.  He did the Law and Order thing.  I don’t intend to be judge and jury.  But I want like hell to make sure the alleged criminal gets to trial.  That’s all.  I just want to give Truth the chance to be spoken.  What happens after that is in the hands of the system.  I still believe in the system.  Just not some of the people who fancy themselves in charge of it.”

Kelly stared at Charlie for a long moment. She could feel his irritation with her questions, but that only probed her to dig deeper. When she spoke, she spoke with a soft voice. “What was the case that has troubled you so much? Is it Ellie’s parents’ case being unsolved and that is troubling you because you are getting closer to Ellie? What was the case that finally made you take that step?”

He sighed.  She wasn’t going to give up.  And maybe, just maybe, he was ready to talk about this.  “No, it wasn’t Max and Serena Gooden’s murders, although I haven’t given up on that case.  I have the files and one day…”  He ran his fingers through his hair.  he felt sweaty, nauseous.  “There was a young girl.  A young Asian girl.  Fifteen.  She was turning tricks in around Chinatown.  I knew her from working the beat there, knew which pimp she worked for.  I’d even tried to talk her into getting out, getting her into a shelter, but sometimes these kids can’t see the forest for the trees.  Anyway, she turns up in a dumpster near Ravenswood area—hell and gone from her normal haunts.  She’d been raped, strangled and tossed into a dumpster behind shop like a piece of trash.”

He paused, swallowed.  Felt the lump in his throat, the bile rising.  “There were no wits, very little in the way of physical evidence, at least in the official file.  My partner and I worked it hard for three weeks, but every day that passes, more cases pile up on your desk and she was just a girl, just a low class run-away hooker.  She didn’t rate. So we had to let it drop.  Officially.”  He glanced up at Kelly.  “But I couldn’t.  I knew her.  She was a sweet kid.  So I kept digging, on my off time.  And eventually I turned up a witness, someone who’d seen her getting out of a fancy car and heading into a building on the arm of a man.  A very well-placed man.  I took the evidence to my superior…”  He fell back against the chair.  “Well, you can guess what happened.”

“He told you to drop it, and you couldn’t, so you left the force,” Kelly guessed, but allowed him to confirm this or correct her.

“Basically.  I tried going over his head, to the DA, but got shot down there too.  The guy was untouchable.”  He rubbed his face.  “The hell of it is that I’ll bet money this wasn’t the only girl this guy killed.  And I can’t do anything about it.”  Outside, snow was falling again.  A white blanket, covering over the ground.  Hiding all the defects in the landscape.  “So yeah.  I left.  I suppose that makes me a coward, part of the problem.  But I just couldn’t face it.  Plus, by doing what I did, I’d pretty well screwed my chances to advance anyway.”

“Charlie, it doesn’t make you a coward.” Kelly shook her head. “You hold to a higher standard than most people, especially when it comes to justice, and when other people won’t adhere to your standard, you have to move on. It is better to do that than to compromise and lower your standard because if you did *that*, years from now you would look in the mirror and not recognize the man you have become. But standing firm on what you believe, *that* takes strength.” She gave him a reassuring smile then sat back in her chair. “However, have you thought about encouraging Ellie to get her PI license too? I mean, she’s the one who keeps stumbling upon the dead bodies. You two might as well be a team.”

He grinned but shook his head.  “Oh, no.  No, no, no.  I want Ellie to stay a civilian.  She’s a great business woman, and she makes a mean latte, but law enforcement would drive her absolutely crazy.  She’s not exactly a rule-follower.  Even as a P.I., there are a ton of rules to follow.  Besides.  Her getting a PI license would just mean she’d get into even more trouble.  And I don’t think I could take that.” He considered a moment.  “Besides.  We’re already a team.  She just hasn’t realized it yet.”

Kelly laughed at that then reached for another cookie. “Fair enough, and true, I would say you two make a good team.” She smiled at him and broke off a piece of the cookie to eat while she contemplated her next question. Once she had swallowed, she asked, “Now though, you are a PI, so you have other cases than just Ellie’s, right? Have you taken a break from all of that while your leg heals, or how does that work?”

He blew out a breath.  “To be honest, paying cases are hard to find.  I’ve been kind of coasting since I broke my leg.  I mean, it’s not like I’ve actually moved up here.  Not for real.  Most of my stuff is still at Dan and Kate’s – I’m sort of between formal addresses at the moment, since apparently being a PI doesn’t really pay very well and I lost my lease.”  He scanned the room, the book cases, looking anywhere but into Kelly’s penetrating gaze.  “I’ve sort of been helping the local Chief of Police out with a couple of things.  And once in a while I get tagged by a friend of mine who works for the Feds.  But really, at the moment, I’m on, um, oh, let’s call it a sabbatical.”

“And are you enjoying this sabbatical? or are you going stir crazy yet?” Kelly smiled at him.

“God!  Stir crazy doesn’t even cover it.  Especially now that the leg feels better.  So I had Kate send up some of my files – the ones from Ellie’s parent’s murders.  I know if I keep digging I can turn something up, despite how long it’s been.  But I’ve got to do that on the sly.  She’d kill me if she knew what I was doing.”

Kelly furrowed her brows. “She doesn’t want you looking into that?”

“You gotta understand, Ellie is a really private person.  And she has this thing about law enforcement.  They totally bungled the case and put her through hell over it. Because I used to be a cop, I’m sort of painted with the same brush.  If she knew I were looking into it—without her permission, without her asking me to – she’d probably break my leg on purpose.  And leave me out in the snow to freeze.”  He gave a rueful grin.  “She’s got a temper, our Glenda Goodwitch.”

This made sense to Kelly, so she nodded, but it only brought up another issue. She set her chin in her palm and raised her brows. “And what are you going to do when she does eventually find out because she will.”

“Ah.  Heh heh.  Yeah.”  He rubbed his hands on his jeans.  “That’s, um, going to be interesting.  I’m hoping I can find a good time to spring it on her.  Some nice, quiet moment.  After she’s had two or three mojitos maybe.  Or has been sedated for surgery?”

“Yeah, I can totally see you randomly saying something like, ‘Hey, will you marry me? Oh and I’ve been looking into your parents’ case…’ Not sure which of those statements would surprise Ellie the most.” Kelly shook her head, chuckling at the thought.

“I think either might be lethal!”

Kelly gave him a wicked grin. “Well, I guess you’ll just have to wear a bulletproof vest and stay a safe distance from her when you break the news. Hopefully she’ll be stunned for a moment, giving you enough time to get a little of a headstart to run away.” Then Kelly sat back in her chair. “But anyway, you will figure out what to say when the time comes. Hopefully you can tell her yourself rather than her finding out and confronting you. That would be bad.”

“Yeah.  That’s the plan.”  He sighed.  “Pretty sure the guy who wrote the book on relationships never counted on an Ellie Gooden.  She’s unique.  But I can’t imagine spending my life with any one else.”  He glanced up at Kelly.  “I’m sunk.”

Kelly smiled when he said this. She liked that he knew who he wanted to spend his life with but that he wasn’t forcing Ellie into a relationship. “Just be patient, Charlie. You’ve done well as far as I can tell. When the time is right, you’ll be able to tell her what she means to you, and I really hope both of you the best.” Then Kelly glimpsed at the clock on the wall and sighed. “Well, my time here is about done.” She looked back at Charlie and smiled as she rose to her feet. “It was great chatting with you again. Thanks for agreeing to meet with me.”

He stood as well. “No, the pleasure was mine.  I, uh, I haven’t talked about the thing… the reason behind my resignation, with anyone before.  I really appreciate you listening.  And uh, you were right.  About the fine line between vigilantes and villains.  I’ll keep that in mind, especially when I find the a-holes who killed Ellie’s parents.”  He stuck out his hand.  “So.  Thank you.”

Kelly shook his hand and smiled. “It was my pleasure. And some time another, you’re gonna have to be honest with Ellie. Honesty is very important with any relationship. For now though, I need to go. Enjoy the cookie!” With one more smile and a wave, Kelly turned and headed out.


Nan Sampson’s third novel in her Coffee and Crime series, ‘Forest Outings’ is now available. You can find it, along with the other books of her series, at the following links:

Amazon Link to Restless Natives, Book 1 in the Coffee & Crime Mystery Series:


Amazon Link to Office Heretics, Book 2 in the Coffee & Crime Mystery Series:


Amazon Link to Forest Outings, Book 3 in the Coffee & Crime Mystery Series:







Amazon Author Page:


Author Interview: Nan Sampson

For this interview, I actually met with an author who I’ve interviewed several years ago. Since then she has released a few new books, so I thought I would check up with her. Her name is Nan Sampson, and she writes MYSTERY. If you’re interested in her first interview, you can find it here: However, this interview we discuss her mystery series and get caught up to date. As always, ‘Kelly’ was written by me, Kelly Blanchard, and ‘Nan’ was written ’Nan Sampson’.


Kelly dusted off shelves in her Muse Shop as she waited for the timer for her cookies to go off. A few minutes passed, and she heard the timer sound, so she put down the dusting cloth and went to the kitchen in the back of the shop to pull the cookies off the cookie sheet.

She had just finished plating the hot cookies on a plate when she heard the door to her shop chime. Taking the plate, Kelly made her way back to the front and she smiled widely when she recognized Nan Sampson. “Nan!” Setting the plate of cookies on the kitchen, Kelly went to Nan and embraced her then pulled back. “You’re just in time! Just finished baking some cookies.” She turned back and grabbed the plate. “Care to sit at that table and chat?” She gestured to a table near the front window. “Afterwards, you’re welcome to meander about the shop. So how have you been?”

Nan grinned.  “Oh, my gosh.  I could smell the cookies out on the sidewalk.  I’ll bet they draw a lot of customers inside!”  She took a seat at the table and smiled warmly at Kelly.  “I’ve been great!  It’s so good to see you again!”

“It’s great to see you as well! By all means, have cookies!” Kelly sat down across from her and took a fresh cookie too. “So, before we talk about your writing and books, catch me up briefly. How have you been in life? Everything going well?”

“Gosh.  It’s been…an interesting year.  The day job has been particularly demanding, I suffered a rather ridiculous fall that took me down for about eight weeks, and my teenager is, well, a teenager.  But really, on the whole, we’re blessed to have the life we live.”

Kelly winced when she heard about the fall. “You doing okay though? I mean, after the fall? That can knock anyone back for a bit. And yeah, teenagers will be teenagers!” She chuckled, shaking her head.

“I’m good.  The broken nose was just humiliating and the broken hand has mended.  The real damage was to my pride!  Sooooo embarrassing as it happened at work!  The trick now is getting back to my publishing schedule.  I had a rather ambitious schedule back in September and the fall sort of… forced me to revise that.” Nan grabbed a cookie off the plate and savored it.  “OMG, these are so good.”

Kelly smiled. “Glad you like them! And on the bright side, at least you can write about having a broken nose!” She shrugged. “Okay, so, catch me up on your writing endeavors. You’ve recently published another book. Is this the second or third one of the series? I think when I last interviewed you, you had just released the first book. I’m not sure how far behind I am.”

Nan relaxed back in her chair.  The atmosphere of the shop was so beguiling.  You couldn’t stay anxious here.  “I’ve just released the third book in the Coffee and Crime series titled ‘Forest Outings’.  I think it’s my favorite so far.  I’m STILL in draft mode on the Steampunk novel, as well as the first book in a space opera trilogy.  Those were supposed to get finished in November and December respectively, but now will get pushed back until late spring.”  Her stomach fluttered.  It felt so odd talking about ‘her’ novels.   She was proud of what she’d accomplished, but sometimes talking about her own work felt a bit like bragging, which she’d been raised to believe was rude.

“Well, I hope you get to publish those steampunk and space opera books. I’d love to hear about them. However, I think we need to focus on the book you have published. Since it has been a while since our last interview together, remind me again, what is the Coffee and Crime series about? And how has it progressed since Book 1?”

Nan eyed the plate of cookies, then mentally shook her head.  Maybe later.  “The Coffee and Crime series features marketing manager turned coffee shop owner Ellie Gooden.  In the first book, Restless Natives, we see her moving from Chicago to a small town in southwestern Wisconsin to open her shop, The Sacred Caff, and getting embroiled in a murder.  Book Two, Office Heretics, has her returning to Chicago for a visit and to help solve the murder of an old college friend.  And Book Three, Forest Outings, takes place back in Horizon, Wisconsin, where a dear friend’s son is accused of murdering a colleague from Madison.  There is an element of the paranormal in the series—Ellie frequently encounters the shades of the dead— and then there is the ongoing mystery of who killed Ellie’s own parents, which won’t be resolved for quite some time.”  She plucked nervously at the hem of her flowing purple Boho blouse.  “Why does it never sound as interesting when I say it aloud as it does when I’m writing?”  She looked back up, gave Kelly a grin.  “Haven’t quite perfected my elevator speech yet.”

Kelly laughed when she heard Nan’s last statement. “I know. Summaries never sound as good as we come up with in our head once we say them aloud, but you’ve done well. Don’t worry.” She sat back in her chair, smiling at Nan. “Now, are these books surrounding the same original murder from the first book? Or was that was solved already and Ellie just got roped into solving yet another murder?” She tilted her head, curious.

“All separate and unrelated murders.  Each one gets solved by the end of each book.”  Nan laughed.  “Just call her Jessica Fletcher of the midwest! Pretty soon, people will run when they see her coming, knowing someone is going to die.” She considered.  “I guess that’s a trope of amateur sleuth mysteries.  You have to suspend disbelief there.  I mean, most cops don’t see as many murders as these amateur sleuths do.  But that’s also part of the fun!”

Kelly nodded. “She’s not an actual police detective though, right? That’s what makes this whole series interesting. But she has Charlie with her, right? And he’s with the police? I can’t remember the details!” She shook her head, chuckling. It had been about two years since she interviewed Nan last, so she was rusty on the details.

“No, she’s no cop.  She can’t stand the cops, after the way they bungled the investigation into her parents’ murders.  And yes, Charlie is there, although he’s a P.I. now.”  She couldn’t help grinning.  “Is it bad for a writer to have favorite characters?  I mean, as a parent, you can’t have ‘favorite’ children, but Charlie has got to be my absolute favorite character ever.  I love the sparks between he and Ellie.  Not just the romantic ones, but the snappy patter.  They’re oil and water and yet they work so well together.”

This caused Kelly to grin, and she leaned forward, setting her forearms on the table. “So, how have the characters evolved over the last few books? Have they surprised you? Are they what you expected? Or a bit of both?”

Nan took another cookie off the plate and bit into it before she even realized what she was doing.  Dang magic cookies.  “Oh, the relationship between Charlie and Ellie definitely heats up over the course of the series.  That’s another fun element, that romance.”  She pursed her lips, thinking.  “Originally, during the inception, Charlie was just a one-off, a bit part.  I had envisioned Ellie taking a different path in her relationships.  But leave it to Charlie—he can worm his way into anyone’s heart.  That really surprised me.  And the way Ellie is growing…I hadn’t anticipated some of what is happening.  Especially the way things are starting to go with the riddle of who killed her folks.  It’s evolving and morphing, but in such a great way.  As a writer, you gotta love it when the work takes on a life of its own!”

“Yes, when the story takes a life of its own, and all you can do, as the writer, is hang on for dear life—that’s the best.” Kelly grinned then took another cookie and sat back. “So this third book, was it just the next natural step for the series? Or did something specific give you the idea and inspire it? If that makes any sense.” She shrugged and ate the cookie.

That made her stop and think.  “You know, I don’t really know where the idea for Forest Outings originated.  There’s a certain pattern, or rhythm I’m working towards in the series, where the books take place alternately in town or someplace else.  So I knew I needed a murder in town, but I just wasn’t ready to kill off a townie yet.  And I had just read an article about some eco-warriors doing some tree-sitting in California, and then things just kind of jelled.  The next book, however, which doesn’t have a tile yet, will take place in the Wisconsin Dells and was inspired by a trip a couple of friends and I took up there for a mini-writing retreat.  We all got plot ideas from that trip!”  A movement from one of the shelves caught her eye.  Something had scurried or slithered or flittered or something.  She wouldn’t have been a bit surprised if it had been the Golden Snitch, there were so many fabulous curiosities in the shop.  Focus, Nan, focus.

“Sounds like a wonderful time.” Kelly smiled. “So, you said you have another book already in the wings. Any idea how many books will be in the series, or will you just see where it takes you?” She lifted her brows.

Nan giggled.  “Oh, I have so many ideas in the wings, the inside of my head looks like the skies over O’Hare!  As for this series, I have no particular number in mind.  I’ll let the series take me wherever it wants to go.  As long as readers are still enjoying them and I’m still having fun writing them, I’ll continue.”  She took one final cookie.  “But there are so many other things I want to write too.  We’ll just have to see where the journey takes me.”  She brushed crumbs off her ample bosom and onto a napkin, thinking her bosom would be less ample if she could just stop eating cookies!  Oh, what the heck.  Life was short and these were magic cookies anyway.

Kelly saw Nan’s conflict and grinned as she scooted the plate of cookies toward her. “Enjoy them.” She smiled. “However though, in addition to this series, you want to write and publish other series! How are you going to split your mind with all those different stories? I can’t even imagine doing that!!!”

Nan thought briefly.  “Actually, it’s not really that hard.  I have a different set of musical tracks I end up associating with each series, each world I create.  Music is hugely important to my creative process.  So when I want to get “into” a particular world or character, I just play that set of tracks and BAM, I’m there.  And to be honest, I’m kind of ADHD.  I can only really concentrate on one book for about two months straight.  So I do a two month draft process, set the book aside to, um, ferment,” she chuckled, “and either start the draft of something completely different, or work on a revision of something I’ve already drafted.  I usually have about three WIPs going at any given time, in various stages of either drafts, first pass revision (the hard one), or outlining.”  She rubbed at her temples, grinning.  “And people wonder why I can’t remember where I’m supposed to be most days.”

Kelly chuckled when she heard this. “Well, I am glad you can manage that because I know I couldn’t. Fantastic for you!” Then a clock on the wall chimed, and Kelly looked up at it then frowned. “Our hour is up.” She looked back at Nan. “Unfortunately I need to get back to work, but I’ve really enjoyed catching up with you.” She smiled as she rose to her feet. “If you’d like, you’re welcome to take a look around. Be careful though. Got plot bunnies lurking that like to jump out and bite people.”

Nan stood, thrilled at the opportunity to rummage around in the shop.  She reached out a hand to Kelly.  “Thanks so much!  I loved catching up with you as well, it’s always a blast talking with you.  And remember, O Great Muse, if you’re ever in Horizon, Wisconsin, stop into The Sacred Caff for a cuppa.  Ellie wold love to treat you!”  Then, abruptly eschewing a handshake in favor of a brief, heartfelt hug goodbye, she let Kelly go about the rest of her day and headed straight for the shelf where she’d seen movement earlier.  Plot bunnies beware, she announced mentally, Nan was on the hunt for inspiration!


Nan Sampson’s third novel in her Coffee and Crime series, ‘Forest Outings’ is now available. You can find it, along with the other books of her series, at the following links:

Amazon Link to Restless Natives, Book 1 in the Coffee & Crime Mystery Series:


Amazon Link to Office Heretics, Book 2 in the Coffee & Crime Mystery Series:


Amazon Link to Forest Outings, Book 3 in the Coffee & Crime Mystery Series:







Amazon Author Page:

Character Interview: Adam Priestley’s Lazarus Sinclair

Earlier this week, I had the honor of meeting with Adam Priestley to discuss his not yet released novel, ‘Lava Lounge Nights’, which is a blend of many genres—sci-fi, romantic mystery and thriller with a futuristic edge. However, in this interview, I was escorted into the story world of ‘Lava Lounge Nights’ and met, Lazarus Sinclair, one of Adam’s characters. ‘Kelly’ was written by me, Kelly Blanchard, and ‘Lazarus’ was written by Adam Priestley.


Kelly was woken by the telephone constantly ringing. She rubbed her eyes and looked at the clock. It was 4AM. As she answered the phone, a gruff voice she didn’t recognise greeted her. “Ello darling a car has been arranged to take you to the Lava Lounge Night club, the boss Lazarus Sinclair would like a word. His wife went awol last night and the only person he’s prepared to talk to is you. I hope your not a bleedin’ reporter, I take it your not afraid of flying!”

Kelly barely had time to get dressed before there was a knock at the door. She opened the door to a blanket of white. It had been constantly snowing all night. A stranger in a sharp suit and a scar down his left cheek ushered her into the back of a stretched Rolls Royce. She held on tightly. Kelly heard the noise of the hover jets roar to life as the car took off into the night sky.

Kelly was quickly ushered into the club straight up past the punters. A cat like singer on the stage eyed Kelly suspiciously. Kelly’s eyes set on the mighty Sagosian Taunogh standing guard outside of Lazarus’ office. His stag like antlers almost scraping the ceiling. He bellowed down his nose as he saw her approach.

“It’s alright, Tauny.” She heard the gruff voice she recognised from her phone call. “This is Miss Blanchard. Mr Sinclair is expecting her.” Taunogh stood aside to allow Kelly access into the room.

Lazarus sat at his desk looking at a locket as saw the door open he quickly put it back in his pocket. He looked up and smiled as he saw Kelly enter. He steepled his hands in front of him. “Ah, Miss Blanchard. I am so pleased you could make it.”

Kelly greeted him with a nod. “Thank you for the invite. A little more notice would have been nice, but I work with what I get.” She smiled at him then glimpsed around the office. “It’s quite a place you have here. How long have you been running this business?” She raised her brows as she glanced back at Lazarus.

Lazarus smiled. He stared straight at her with his piercing blue eyes. “I’m sorry where are my manners.” He stood up to shake her hands. “My boys can be a little over zealous. i just needed to talk to you. You see I need someone I can confide in, there’s a lot going on at the moment and I need someone outside of the picture i can rely on.” He gestured to the chair in front of his desk. “Please sit down, would you care fior a drink?” He paused for a moment, the muscle in his jaw clenched. “Ah yes you wanted to know how long the Lava Lounge has been mine. Now let me think was it before Italy or after, yes, yes that was it. We, that is Angelica and myself took over the club in 2073 just before little Aaron was born.” He glanced at the holographic picture of his eldest son Aaron sitting on his grandmothers knee and smiled.

Kelly sat when he offered the chair, but she declined the offer for a drink. She nodded when she heard his answer, but the first part of his response had caught her attention. “What sort of things did you need to confide in someone?” She furrowed her brows.

Lazarus sat back down in his chair, pulled open the desk drawer and took out a tumbler of Rybekian brandy. As the dark red contents splashed into the glass, silver sparkles swirled in the light. “All this.” he sighed. “It’s been all over the holovids. My wife angelica disappeared last night.” He started to ramble, the words just falling out of his mouth. “My lovely, gorgeous wife. Some one  just took her, someone.” A hard lump started to form at the back of his throat and he struggled to continue.

Kelly tilted her head to a side as she observed his emotion of the situation. “And yet I understand you were with a mystery blonde last night. Is it an understanding between you and your wife that you have such…entertainment on the side? Or is this unique to last night?”

“Who told you that!” he snapped. “Nothing happened, we’re just friends. I loved….” He stuttered and corrected himself. “I love my wife dearly I would never do anything to hurt her, you have to believe me. I asked you here Kelly because I, I need someone to believe me.”

“Lazarus, let me explain to you how this works…” Kelly leaned forward and locked eyes with him. “Whether or not I believe you is irrelevant, but I do believe that you believe you are right, and I’m not here to judge you. I’m here to make you think, and some of the things you think about and realize might not be something you like, but it’ll be the truth. And the good thing about me is, after today you won’t see or hear from me again, and I won’t be spreading any rumors about you at all. I won’t speak a word of this conversation to anyone, so you can trust me, but I need you to trust me.” She made sure she had his attention before continuing. “You don’t love your wife anymore. I caught the use of past tense a moment ago. When did that change?”

Lazarus stood up and walked to the window, he gazed up at the stars through the glass doors of his office leading out into the hover car parking lot. He sighed heavily, as he glanced back over his shoulder at Kelly. “It’s no that I don’t love her anymore. I will always love her. She is the mother of my children.” He crossed back to his desk and took a big swallow of his drink. The brandy stung the back of his throat. “Okay.” he sighed “So I’ll admit I did have company last night but it’s not what you think and no I can’t name her, it would put her in danger if I did. But I did not kill my wife. You have to understand the stress I’m under at the moment. The club is crawling with filth, all of them certain I have done something.” He paused and glared at her. “Which I did not, no matter what anyone says. I wanted you hear because somebody has to know the truth. The press are going to have a field day with this one. Do you know how many years they have been waiting for me to slip up. Every little thing they are at me like a blood hound trying to get the big scoop and why because I’m a little bit more successful than some.” He sat back down, heavy in his chair. “Do you want to know the real reason i used past tense?” Not really giving her time to answer he fixed her in his sights with his penetrating blue eyes.”Well?”

“Why did you use the past tense?” Kelly raised her brows but listened.

Lazarus sighed, not for the first time that day. He ran his hans through his hair, desperate to have something to do with herself. “Because I think she was murdered, and I think I know who did it!”

Kelly wasn’t surprised by this because he specifically said that he hadn’t killed her, and until that moment Kelly only thought she had been missing. Nevertheless, she nodded and continued to listen. “First of all, why do you think she was murdered?”

“The only possible reason.” He breathed down through his nose. He thought everybody would know. It just made sense to him.  “To get at me. Why else would anybody just grab a mother of two. When the police have had enough of torturing the innocent they’ll realise the same thing.”

“And what has happened to the children? I understand they were with her when she was taken.” Kelly watched him. “Are they home now?”

“No.” Lazarus looked away. “As the police suspect that I am guilty of murdering their mother. They have been taken into overnight care. They said something about safe guarding. What do they need to guard them from. I’m their father.”

Kelly nodded when she heard this. “And you said you believe you know who is responsible? Who might that be?”

“Thank you, that’s the question I’ve been waiting for someone to ask all day. The person, in fact the only person the police should be talking to right now is.”

The doors to Lazarus’ office suddenly hissed open and Lazarus twin sister, Lydia, walked in. Kelly noticed how identical they actually were, despite the obvious gender difference. They both had the same jet black, hair, mesmerizing blue eyes and thin aquiline nose, That on Lydia reminded Kelly of Audrey Hepburn. “I heard we had company.” Lydia said as she entered the room. She glared at Kelly as she walked across to the desk. She picked up the bottle of Rybekina Brandy. “Bruv, are you drinking again. You know how lethal that stuff is.” She turned to look at Kelly, sizing her up, glaring deep into her eyes, trying to psyche her out. “So who do we have here?”

Kelly just met Lydia’s eyes unbothered, and she even offered her a smile. “Hello, Lydia. I’m Kelly, and your brother was just about to tell me who he thinks supposedly killed his wife.”

“Was he now? Let me guess–Hartman.” She snorted. “You’re going to have to forgive him he thinks everything that goes wrong in his life is Wolfric ‘bleedin’ Hartman.

“If you don’t mind, I would like to hear it from your brother.” Kelly shifted her attention to Lazarus. As long as Lydia didn’t keep interjecting into the conversation, she didn’t mind her presence, but if she started answering the questions and such, Kelly would have to ask her to leave, but she understood the siblings were close.

Lazarus glared at his sister. “What do you want, Lyds, I was hoping for a private conversation.”

Lydia shrugged. “I’m trying to look after you bruv, you know what your like letting everyone in on all the dirty little secrets in your life. Do we even know who this Kelly is, I don’t know her from Eve.”

“Kelly is a friend of mine. Now if you don’t mind I’d like to talk to her alone.”

Lydia glared at him. “No bleedin chance, you’ve got cops all over the place down there and your up here having a nice cosy little chat with her.” She glanced over her shoulder at Kelly, who just shrugged and smiled.

“And yes, Lyds, yes, I do think Hartman killed Angelica. If you don’t mind I’d like to talk to Kelly for a while alone. Now get out.” Lazarus stared at Lydia. “Or I’ll have to get security in here to chuck you out.”

“Fine. but you just watch what your saying and don’t keep drinking that stuff you know you can’t control your moth when your on that muck.” Lydia gave Kelly a dirty look as she left the room. As she got to the door. “Brothers.”

As Lydia left the room Lazarus turned his attention back to Kelly. “Sorry about that, now where were we?”

Kelly nodded. She understood siblings all too well. “Hartman. I understand he’s been a rival of yours for a long time. Why would he take the chance to kill your wife?”

Lazarus sighed heavily and then looked up at Kelly. “Because it’s him, because he can.” He shook his head and reached for the bottle of brandy picking it up. He looked at it before deciding to put it down. “Me and Wolfric go years back, hell, we once even worked together once. Well for his dad anyway. It all used to be hunky dory, we’d hit a few securicor vans, split the dosh and go on our merry ways. then she came on to the scene.” He smiled as fond memories came into his head. “You know whatever he says she was mine first.”

“Sounds reasonable, but…too easy.” Kelly shook her head. “Yes, I know you two have a feud, and I’m sure both of you would like to possibly put the other in the ground—or out of business—but still, I say it’s too easy. You’re the obvious target for your wife’s death, and people would expect you to blame him. As I said, too easy.” Kelly sat back in her chair. “I’m not saying he didn’t have a hand in it, but…I think it’s more complicated than that. Think harder. Think back to the last time you saw your wife, and the last interaction you had with her. Did she let on to anything? Did she seem uneasy about something or someone?” Kelly felt more like a detective than an interviewer, but that was all right. If it opened him up and got her answers as well as possibly brought a bit of peace to him, she was okay with that.

Lazarus sat still for a moment, quietly contemplating what Kelly had just said. “She was at her parents all last week and what with running this place we didn’t really have that much contact. To be honest I didn’t even know she was back in the country until the Police rang. It all came as such a surprise. The only thing I do remember is that before she left she was banging on about some diamonds, called the Kadam stones or something. To be honest I thought she was just dropping hints as to what she wanted for Christmas presents.” He ran his hand shakily through his hair, thinking again. “You do know her mother hates me right. Whether she had an argument with her parents i don’t know but I wouldn’t trust her father as far as I could throw him.”

“I doubt either of her parents would kill their own daughter to get to you. There are other ways to hurt you than killing her.” Kelly pointed out then rose to her feet. “You don’t mind if I meander about, do you? Helps me think.” And she began moving around the room, looking at different things. “These diamonds though…that sounds like a lead. Have you looked into that?” She turned back to Lazarus with raised brows.

“No, like I said I just thought she was trying to give me an idea about what she wanted for Christmas.” He turned to look at her. “Feel free to have a good nosey around, Christ everybody else whose come in here today had. Why should you be the exception?” He looked absentmindedly out of the window again. “I wouldn’t rule her father out though. He’s no saint. Have I told you he once asked me to shoot somebody for him.”

Kelly wasn’t walking around to be nosy. To be honest, her mind wasn’t on what she was seeing but whether many other possibilities. “You think he would have killed his own daughter?”

“Christ, there was rumours he killed his own mother.” He looked at her with a straight poker face. “The thing you need to know about Roberto Accorsi is that he plays from his own rule book and boy does that one hold a grudge. Like I said he once asked me to shoot somebody for him. A business rival I think. I told him straight to forget it. Despite what anybody says i’m not a gangster.”

Kelly turned to look straight at him. “Have you killed anyone before? I’m not asking because I think you’re guilty of this, but depending your answer, I want to make a specific point.”

Lazarus shrugged. “What can I say stuff happens, but I’ve never killed anybody who didn’t deserve it.”

“Now, with that in mind, would you be able to kill your own children just to hurt someone you don’t like?” Kelly locked eyes with Lazarus.

Lazarus looked stunned. “No of course not.” Lazarus laughed. “I see what your driving at but hell I’m not Accorsi.”

“I’m not saying he’s not innocent. I’m merely giving you a different angle to look at. You can’t just pin it on someone you think is guilty.  You need to have people out there digging and trying to find the truth because right now, everyone thinks you’re responsible, so they’re not going to look any further than that.” Kelly stepped up to Lazarus. “But at the same time, you can’t control this to paint the target on someone else’s back. If you want to catch her killer, I suggest your people find the crime scene and work from there. Of course, if the whereabouts of that is unknown, someone needs to go to her last known location and backtrack her every movement. Have you done that yet?”

“That’s the police’s job, but I promise you I’m not exactly going to sit back and let them pin this on me darling, but what can I do I’m just a man in a sharp suit.” He poured himself a large glass of brandy. “You sure you don’t want one?”

“You may be a man in a sharp suit, but you have people, don’t you? Because, like you said, you’re not the kind of man to just sit back. It might be the police’s job, but how much do you trust them–really?” She raised her brows as a small smile tugged at the corner of her lips. “I’m sure they’d just love to put you away, so who’s to say they’re investigating wholeheartedly? Who’s to say they want the truth? Who’s to say they care about it? But you do, don’t you? You want to know what happened to the mother of your children, and you would like to see the person responsible for it punished. So…use your resources.” Then Kelly shrugged as she came around a chair and sat down once more. “That’s my suggestion anyway, but I’m really not here for the investigation. I’m here to discuss you. You said you have children. Tell me about them. What are they like?”

Outside of the room Eddie the gruff voiced man was stood outside of Lazarus office, trying to listen in on the conversation. When the cat like singer sashayed across the room towards him. Her amber eyes sparkled. “Darling, I never had you down as a gossip.”

“I’m not.” Eddie flushed. “But what’s going on in there? First Angelica goes missing, which I’m still not sure she just didn’t run off with another man.”

The cat like Singer glared at him, “Angelica wouldn’t do that. Then the place is crawling with cops adamant that he’s guilty as sin. Then he secludes himself with some mystery girl. I don’t like it I don’t like it one little bit.”

Inside the office, Lazarus smiled. “Oh honey don’t worry I’m not just going to sit here, curl over and die. I just don’t want to get you implicated in all of that.” He shuffled nervously in his seat. “I purely asked you here so that I could give you my side of events. To answer your question about my family. i couldn’t wish for better. I notice you keep looking at your watch when you ready to leave you can, say the word and I’ll have my guys drop you back home or anywhere else you’d like.”

“I have a few more minutes, but yes, I will be having to leave soon.” She smiled and nodded. “But answer me this, Lazarus…is there anything in your life that you would have changed if you could? That you would have done differently?”

“Never let my wife out of my sight.” He sighed. “My poor boys having to grow up without their mother.” He looked down at his glass. “You know what i really don’t need this.” He picked up the glass, walked to the widow and threw it out into the cold night. “I really do appreciate you giving me these two hours.” He said glancing over his shoulder at Kelly. “Especially when everybody else think I’m as guilty as hell. I promise you one thing Kelly I’m innocent and my boys are not going to grow up without their father.” Kelly smiled as she left the room, as she opened the door she almost tripped over Eddie who was still trying to eavesdrop. “Ah Eddie.” Lazarus smiled. “Please be a good chap and make sure Miss Blanchard gets home safely, won’t you?”

“Sure boss.” Eddie grunted.

“Goodbye, Kelly, and thank you.”

Kelly watched as the doors hissed shut behind her, leaving Lazarus alone in the confines of his office.


Adam Priestley’s novel, ‘Lava Lounge Nights’, is not yet published, but there is a taster chapter of Adam’s forthcoming story available on Wattpad:

Author Interview: Adam Priestley

I had the honor of meeting with Adam Priestley to discuss his not yet released novel, ‘Lava Lounge Nights’, which is a blend of many genres—sci-fi, romantic mystery and thriller with a futuristic edge. In this interview, I sat down to get to know the author behind the story. ‘Kelly’ was written by me, Kelly Blanchard, and ‘Adam’ was written by Adam Priestley.


Kelly ran through the rain to the coffee shop, and she let herself sigh in relief once she was out of the rain and in the warm confines of the shop. Maybe by the time her interview actually began it would have stopped raining, but for now she stepped inside and up to the counter, ordering hot chocolate to ward off the cold of the rain.

Once she got her drink, she went to a table near the front windows of the shop and sat down facing the door. Here she could watch people, and watching them run through the rain was always entertaining, but she was watching for a specific individual.

Adam opened the door of the taxi cab and stepped out onto the high street in front of the coffee shop. Typical it was raining, and he had left his umbrella at home on the side of the sofa where he had discarded it last time.

The rain was coming down so hard he would be drenched by the time he was inside. He could see the girl he was meeting, sitting waiting patiently for him. He started to walk towards her and then froze as his nerves got the better of him.

Telling himself off, he looked across at her and smiled. Plucking up the courage he opened the door and went inside. As soon as he opened the door he was met by the welcoming, tantalising smell of coffee and pastries. He resisted the urge to go get himself a drink and walked straight towards kelly. “Hi.” he smiled, nervously. “Hope you haven’t been waiting long?” 

Kelly shook her head as she rose to her feet to greet him. She reached out her hand to him. “Adam, it’s great to meet you. I haven’t been waiting here at all. If you’d like to get something to drink, go ahead and then you may join me here.” She motioned to the table and smiled at him.

“Thanks” he said accepting her hand, he smiled. “I see you’ve already got a drink so I’ll get you your next one. I’ll just be a sec.” Adam walked to the counter, thankfully there was only a small que. As he waited he glanced over his shoulder at Kelly and smiled again. He hadn’t done anything like this before. He ordered a traditional cappuccino, no chocolate sprinkles as he was watching his weight and walked back towards Kelly. He buzzed with excitement ready to begin the interview.

Once Adam returned and sat down, Kelly smiled at him. “So, tell me a bit about yourself. I know you’re a writer, but do you have a job other than that? I find writers come from all walks of life, and it’s quite interesting.”

“Yeah I do. It’s not that exciting, certainly not what I trained at university for but it pays the bills and I’ve met some good friends along the way. I’m what the company calls a key operative, others call the position a charge hand. At a meat factory, specialising in hams.

Kelly nodded when she heard this. “Well, writers do what they have to to make ends meet, don’t we? Definitely not what we likely went to university for, but as you say, it pays the bills.” She took a sip of her drink before continuing with a smile. “So, when did you first become interested in writing?”

Adam smiled as fond memories circulated in his head. “I think my interest started at a very early age I would always have my nose in a book as a youngster and used to love playing out my own scenes from the books. But my best memory was when I was seven and as part of a school production I had to read out one of my stories called Turkeys Revenge.” He let out a blissful chuckle at the memory. “It was about Turkeys who decided they weren’t going to be eaten for Christmas and attacked the farmer. The audience loved it and even to this day if I go back to the village I grew up in some of the old residents always talk to me about it. At secondary school there was a bot of a lull as I set my heart on becoming an actor. This is what I dreamed of being and went away to study at university.”

“You wanted to become an actor?” Kelly lifted her brows. “That’s pretty awesome! If you had the choice between writing and acting, which would you choose? I know, unfair question, but still…” She shrugged and smiled at him.

“N,o it isn’t as they were part and parcel of the same thing. I used to write a lot of my own material. I was in a production of Scrooge as Scrooge and I even played Snow White in an off beat comedy.” He smiled. “But this isn’t really answering your question. If you had asked me ten years ago I would have said an actor, but these days I much more prefer creating the characters and learning about them.” He shrugged. ” I think maybe when i am writing I am actually acting all of the characters.”

“And as a writer, you have the ability to be all the characters at once whereas with an actor you’re limited to one or two characters,” Kelly pointed out. “But what made the shift in you from acting to writing? Why did you change your mind?”

“To be truly honest. I really haven’t got a clue.” He laughed. “I think its time when I started working where I am ten years ago i was still involved with my local ma dram group trying to get them to put on one of my plays. then I started working at the factory where I have to get up at 4 every morning, and it was like if I can’t have the time to be an actor, I’m going to focus on my books and enrolled on an open learning course.”

Kelly nodded as she listened to this. “It sounds quite grilling, but you found your way back to writing.” She smiled at him as she leaned back in her chair, getting comfortable. “So, tell me about your writing. We can only discuss one story at this time, but you get to pick! I’d love to hear it.” She grinned at him because she loved hearing the new stories every writer had, and she knew they loved those stories with all their beings. That made her happy.

“Well,” he smiled, “That’s easy it would have to be Lava Lounge Nights. This has kind of grown out of the play I was trying to get my old am dram group to produce.” He loved talking about this story. It had been with him for a very long time and although it had evolved to him it was still the same thing. “It’s set in the future and about a night club caught in the middle of a turf war between two rival families. In the play version there was going to be this whole Romeo and Juliette style thing but as it’s evolved that kind of now feels so cliche.”

“This sounds very intriguing.” Kelly leaned forward, setting her elbow on the table and her chin in the palm of her hand. “So, who are the major players in this story?”

“Lazarus Sinclair, is the owner and he’s been with it every step of the way, although in the present version he has become a lot younger. He’s the eldest son in the main gangster family.” Adam took a swallow of his coffee, and Kelly smiled as it left a foam mustache.

Kelly motioned to his mouth, indicating to the foam, but she smiled nonetheless. “Okay, you have Lazarus, but who else?”

Adam flushed with embarrassment before wiping his face. “Then there is his wife Angelica, who is hiding some dark, mysterious secret and has been forced to make a late night runner from her parents house. She hates herself for dragging her kids on a red eye flight full off drunks and undesirables but she feels as though her hand has been forced. Through the whole journey she is feeling uneasy as though she is being watched. After she lands in the car park she is suddenly abducted by masked men.”

Kelly arched her brows when she heard this. “And I suppose you can’t tell me what happens to her, eh?” She gave him a look but then smiled as she sat back in her chair. “Guess I’ll just have to read the book! So, what inspired this story idea? You mentioned it was a play of your originally which has evolved since then, but what gave you the idea for the story?”

“I think I wanted to create a sci-fi that didn’t have the stigma of only being for sci-fi fans Lava Lounge Nights has a bit in it for everyone. From romance to aliens. I think the main inspiration comes from mixing together everything I like but also with scifi there are no barriers. One last character I really ought to tell you about is is Lydia, Lazarus Sinclairs twin sister. Like the Krays one is more damaged and prone to violent outbursts. In Lava Lounge this is Lydia. When we are first introduced to her she is in the middle of a bar fight.”

Adam looked at his watch he was enjoying this, there was so much more to tell but the real world outside wanted their characters back. “Sorry Kelly, I’m going to have to go, but I really have enjoyed this, maybe another time.”

“No problem! Thanks for meeting with me and showing me a bit of your world.” Kelly smiled as she rose to her feet. “I need to get going anyway, but I can’t wait to meet whichever character you’ll have me meet.”


Adam Priestley’s novel, ‘Lava Lounge Nights’, is not yet published, but there is a taster chapter of Adam’s forthcoming story available on Wattpad:

Character Interview: Yasmise Jameson’s Marisol

(Kelly was written by Kelly Blanchard. Marisol was written by Yasmine Jameson.)

Marisol watched the door waiting for Kelly Blanchard to come into the diner.  The rest of the crew was already at the next table. They were meeting for an update on the case.  Louis did not want to talk until they were all here. And Darwin agreed.  Marisol said that she would join them after her interview with Kelly.  The baby started to chirp. She had a happy daughter.  Always smiling (probably gas) she was only a couple of weeks old.  She stared at the door and thought she saw Kelly come inside.  Then she looked at Abdul.  She was still mad at him this morning.  They had a fight prior to coming to the diner. They had been married for 10 years and it had been hard especially with Abdul in prison.  Ah yes it was Kelly Blanchard.  Marisol stood up and said loudly, “I am right here Kelly. I have a menu you can look at and order anything you want.  The studio covers the charge and so does the police department. “

Kelly smiled when Marisol greeted her, and she went over to the table. “Oh, I’m fine right now. Maybe I’ll get a little appetizer, but really I’m here to talk with her.” She grinned at Marisol and noticed the baby near her. “Your daughter? What’s her name?”

Marisol beamed at Kelly.  “Abdul and I named her Mayra.  She is a beauty isn’t she? The food here is good. I recommend the home fries instead of the eggs.”

“Sounds like a plan.” When a waiter came, Kelly ordered the home fries and then focused on Marisol once more. “So you’re married to Abdul? How did you two meet?”

As she sips her vanilla shake, Marisol thought on how they met.  She said, “I met Abdul when I was friends with Darwin. I had been having some legal problems and Darwin was the paralegal at the time.  Part time as an intern.  It was part of her community service deal.  Anyway, she was dating Darius at the time. They took me out to dinner and introduced me to this fine tall black man.  And that was my Abdul.  We started to talk on the telephone and graduated to actual in person dating and then we ended up getting married in secret. I wasn’t pregnant but he was going to prison.  So we decided to get married before he went in. Now we have our little one”

“Very interesting.” Kelly smiled at little Mayra once more before shifting her gaze to Marisol. She knew what she wanted to ask next, but suspected it would be a sensitive topic, so Kelly approached it with care. “But what happened? Why was he sent to prison?”

She shook her head and smiled sadly at Kelly. “Kelly, the stupid man got in trouble.  And yes, I call him stupid for that. Because he is friends with some people who are into drugs.. He thought he could help them out and acted a courier to transport money with an armored truck. The truck got stopped and robbed on the way somehow.   He wouldn’t say that he knew the guy who did it. They got Abdul; on the charge of  drugs on him. 

Kelly shook her head when she heard this. “Well, at least you’re upfront with him and don’t mind calling him out on it.” She smiled at Marisol then saw the waiter bringing her fries, so she sat back and thanked him then tried the food. She nodded at Marisol. “This is really good! Anyway, back to the questions, so I hear he’s out of jail now and is back with the band. Tell me about this band. I don’t know anything about it.”

Marisol cracked up.  She said, “The band is as old as the members almost. They started singing in junior high. A little group at school for events and school dances.  Then moved on to contests and eventually a record deal in high school.  They did it through college. The band is made up of friends, Abdul, Marquis, Marcus, Lou, John and Darnell. They have been friends forever.  The broke up soon after college ended, say a couple of years because of problems of the individual members. And also Abdul went to prison. He was their song writer.  No one else at the time was writing. They all write now. It is how they make their money. The band is at the next table over. Do you want to meet them and the crew, Kelly? I believe Darwin just came in with the girls.”

Kelly raised her hand, shaking her head. “Maybe once we finish here. Otherwise we’ll get sidetracked from the original purpose of our meeting.” She smiled at Marisol. “Now though, you said they broke up, but…obviously they’re back together again.” She motioned to the band. “What brought them back together?”

Marisol tilted her head and thought.  She stayed that way for awhile and the she spoke softly.  ” I think they wanted a comeback album.  And so did Abdul. He wanted to have the band sing his songs and help move his career. He is currently writing songs for a couple of new artists. Not well known. “He got an opportunity to work with a friend out of college who works with the likes of Joe, Sananda and Dr. Dre’s proteges.  So he sent to Marc and Joe a couple of songs that he wrote for the band.  Marc approached Louis and asked him to listen because he knew that they spoke.  Louis said that they were the songs that Abdul had told him about.  They are excellent for the band.  When asked if he could work with and the band could work with him Louis thought and said it might not be a problem.  Approach the band. So he did and now they are working. Sad about the break in and the attack on Marc.  Plus the new single got stolen. “

Kelly furrowed her brows and leaned forward, setting her elbow on the table and her chin in the palm of her hand. “What happened exactly?”

Marisol said, “Well, Kelly, I don’t know what happened.”  She sighed. “I know that Marc was in the studio by himself.  And he had locked up the building when the assailants came into studio and knocked him and stabbed him with a knife.” She stopped and thought for a while.  “All we knew at the time was that Marc had been stabbed.  Then we found out that the single had been stolen. ” “All of sudden the police and Darwin appear. Darwin is their go to for private investigation.  I don’t really like Darwin because she has always been my friend-nemesis.  You have one of those, Kelly?  But I wouldn’t have another person do this investigation. She will treat Abdul fairly. The police have already been around to question him.  It was hard during my pregnancy.”

Kelly nodded when she heard this, but she tilted her head to a side. “So what’s the story between you and Darwin?”

“OH my God, let me tell you.  Darwin and I have a love hate relationship.  I told you I met Abdul through Darwin right?  At the time she was with Darius and I didn’t know that. I thought she had eyes for Abdul but she didn’t.  And he wasn’t my type either.  He was not tall and light skin and built. He was tall but dark skin, skinny and scrawny.”  She looks to the other table and sighs, “Look at him now. Prison huh?”  Marisol thought some more. Then Marisol continues on and says, “When I first the met the band  they had a practice of investigating the girlfriends. So  Darwin got me into trouble big trouble while she did that.  I didn’t appreciate that and had a lot of questions to answer at home and at work. Needless to say I wasn’t friendly to afterwards. But she is an excellent investigator. And she actually did help me out of a situation during the investigation with an abusive boyfriend. Like I said, she got me in a lot of trouble.  Don’t ever get involved with an abuser.  I was about to leave him when I met Abdul.  Back to Darwin, I wouldn’t have any other person/persons of than Darwin and the girls do this investigation.”

Kelly nodded when she heard this. “Wow, quite interesting! You two certainly have a lot of background together, but you trust her with this investigation? Why?” She raised her brows.

“You would think I would not trust her right?”

Kelly shrugged. “Well…let you said, she got you into a lot of trouble. It’s hard to trust someone who’s done that to you.”

Thinking before she answered, Marisol finally said, “I do trust her because if it wasn’t for her, I might still be involved with that abusive boyfriend.  She got my mother and my friends together to get me into a program that wouldn’t allow him near me. I got housing, a new job, a permanent restraining order, and Abdul.  My mother and family stopped worrying. My health got better.  And I gained a network of friends that helped me out.  Thats the love. The hate comes in because she puts me through hell in the process.  And Abdul and I have been through that for so long. We just want to not have it anymore. We just lost Abdul’s Mom and had a baby. We would like some time and peace.”

Kelly nodded her understanding. “It’s an interesting friendship, that’s for sure.” Then she paused and tilted her head to a side. “You mentioned your mother. I understand there’s tension between you and her, and even maybe between you and Abdul’s mother?” She furrowed her brows. “I’m not sure what the facts are, but what’s that all about?”

“Well you know mothers never good enough for her son.I am always lacking.  When she died, we were arguing the three of us about the baby and responsibility. My mother on the other hand, is worried of a repeat because Abdul has a temper.  But he has never ever hit me and he never will.  And Kelly I don’t doubt that. I have seen him put a fist through a wall and I have seen him bend metal when he is angry; we been in the hospital to because of that; but he will never hurt me.”

“I hope you’re right.” Kelly shook her head, hating the thought of Marisol getting hurt. “Have you, by any chance, taken some kind of self-defense classes though? Never hurts.”

She mimicked kung fu at the table and upset the baby. Mayra starts to cry. she quickly picked her up to settle her down. “I have as of this weekend a brown belt in karate. However they made me register as a lethal weapon because of a fight I had prior to my pregnancy. But now that I am not pregnant I can finish my program. All I needed was to be awarded my brown belt.  I can do that this Saturday.”

Kelly smiled at her. “Good for you! How’s that experience been?” She watched as Marisol calmed down the baby.

“Karate? I liked it. It kept me in shape and it also kept me focused.  It taught me how to control my anger. It helped with work and this situation. I get so mad at the guys because they don’t see the risks to themselves.  And I hate that.”  She started to rock Mayra because she was still fussy. Then she called over Abdul. She said to Kelly, “I am sorry I breastfeed her.  I brought bottles today so we wouldn’t disturb the interview.  I will be right back. I just have to set them up.”

“Sure thing.” Kelly nodded and let her do what she had to do. While waiting, she continued eating the fries.

Marisol and Abdul walked away towards the back booth. She set him up with the baby  and stayed for a bit to make sure she took the bottle. Then she walked back to the booth with Kelly.  Sitting down she said, ” I am so sorry for that.”

“No problem at all.” Kelly reassured her with a smile. “So, I have to ask, how’s life as a mother? Is it what you expected?”

“I love being a mother Kelly. It is the most rewarding experience in the world.  Mayra is growing and she is healthy despite the multiple problems i had during the pregnancy.  She is also the reason I get up in the morning and not mind Abdul’s bad mood or my problems.”

“What’s up with Abdul’s bad moods anyway?” Kelly jutted her chin toward Abdul. “I mean, I understand his friend’s been attacked and such, but…it sounds like it’s more than just that.” She shifted her eyes back to Marisol.

“He is worried about us. About the theft. They are looking at him as if he is the responsible party because it came soon as he brought the single. And his old cronies (translation-criminal friends) also started hanging around the studio more often. So he gets mad at the police. He started boxing to get rid of his anger. “

“That’s one way to deal with the anger.” Kelly nodded. “And his anger does seem quite reasonable. Things sound shady for sure.” Then she paused and happened to catch a glimpse of the clock on the wall and sighed. “Well, Marisol, our time’s almost up. It’s been two hours already, can you believe it?” She shook her head. “But before I go, tell me, what are your hopes for the future? For your daughter, for the band, for yourself, for Abdul?”

Abdul brought the baby back to the booth and gave her to Marisol.  She started to go to sleep so the band didn’t want her over there.  She took the baby and responded to Kelly’s question. “My daughter is the most important  person outside of Abdul and my family as of right now.  Our hopes are the same for the future.  My hope for my daughter is that she grows and develops into a beautiful women with a brain. It is important to have a brain. That she is able to take care of herself and won’t get into legal trouble.  My hopes for the band is that we find out who did this and Abdul is absolved of all the suspicion.  For myself and Abdul, we want to just raise our baby and live our lives in peace. “

Kelly smiled when she heard this. “Well, I hope all those come true, and I hope you the very best. Now though, it’s time for me to leave.” She rose to her feet. “Thank you for meeting with me. I’ve quite enjoyed this conversation!”

Marisol stood up and pushed the baby to the side and promptly got a finger up her nose.  So she pulled the baby’s to her nose and washed off her finger and hand. And then shook Kelly’s hand.  She said “Thank you for the interview.”

She shook her hand. “My pleasure. You take care!” With that and a final smile, Kelly headed out the door.


Yasmine Jameson’s story, ‘Dreaming:  A Music Mystery’ is not yet released, but follow her on social media for more updates!





Author Interview: Yasmine Jameson

(Kelly was written by Kelly Blanchard. Yasmine was written by Yasmine Jameson.)

Kelly stepped into the small town coffee shop and smiled at the warmth the place presented. She ordered a drink then took a seat near the front window with a view of the door. While waiting, she pulled out her laptop and began to work.

She got several paragraphs in when the door chimed, and Kelly lifted her head to see a woman walk in and glimpse around. When they made eye contact, Kelly smiled and lifted her brows. “ Yasmine Jameson?” When the woman nodded, Kelly rose to her feet to greet her properly. She reached out her hand. “Hi, I’m Kelly. Fantastic to meet you! You’re welcome to order something to drink and then join me here.”

Yasmine walked to meet Kelly and accept her outstretched hand.  “Hi, Kelly, yes I am Yasmine.  Pleasure to meet you!  I definitely need a cup of coffee.  I will be right back.”  Yasmine lay her coat on the back of the chair  and then walked to order her coffee. Light and sweet with cream was her favorite.  As she waited, she glanced around the coffee shop and noticed that it is filling up already.  She also had her laptop as well.  She was planning to do some writing after the interview.  Her name was called out by the barista to pick up her coffee.  She got her coffee and walked back to the table to sit down.

Kelly smiled at Yasmine as they sat across from each other. “So, Yasmine, tell me a bit about yourself. Are you a full-time writer? Or do you have a day-job?”

“I am not a full time writer yet, only when not working. I had a job as a paralegal but had to leave it.  That was my day job.  I took it after I stopped substitute teaching.  But  I maybe back at it soon. I am new writer although I have a couple of publications to my belt. Most of it is blogs and book reviews.  And I have an anthology and also a self published book of poetry.  Writing keeps me busy and on my toes.” She sipped her coffee and asked Kelly if she needed anything else to drink. She offered to buy it for her.

Kelly shook her head. She already had a drink, and she focused on the conversation. “And when did you begin writing? I mean, you said you’re a new writer, but have you always have an interest in it, or did something recently spark it?” Kelly tilted her head to a side as she observed Yasmine.

Yasmine thought for a while so as to give her a complete answer.  Then she smiled and said, ” Kelly, I have always loved to read.  I think that writing is an extension of that desire to read.  When I was young I used to write extra assignments because I could get some extra credit. I joined the newspaper as to have an in to the New York Times.  But  I didn’t actually decide to write as a career until recently.  I had some down time in between jobs and started to write poetry. Then I had decided that I wanted to be a mystery writer because I loved to watch mysteries and figure out who did it. Plus if you want to know the truth there was an underlying motive. I had thought that if I could learn how they wrote the novel it would help me solve the mystery.”  “Does that answer your question Kelly?  Yasmine leaned a little heavier on her arms that were on the table.

“Writing mystery novels! That is one genre that is hard for me to write, so I applaud you!” Kelly grinned at Yasmine. “So, have you had anyone who supports you with your writing, encourages you? Inspires you or even challenges you to write more?”

Yasmine laughed. “I have to admit although I like Sherlock Holmes I have mostly seen his mysteries on television.  I have read Agatha Christie and the like.  But what really got me into mysteries”- Yasmine looked around and said a little sheepishly, “I got into mystery through reading romance novels. Most of the authors that I read also wrote mysteries. Authors like Nora Roberts who also writes as JD Robb, Jayne Ann Krentz who also writes as Amanda Quick and of course Janet Evanovich. So I read their novels when I can faithfully and try to solve the crimes.  More recently I decided I liked PD James and some other newer authors.  Who supports me?  My friends support my writing.  They believe that I am good at it and like to read.  They give killer critiques. My family supports me but they are like you need to be more well spread out and known. So this mystery is my entry into it. Hoping for some good responses.”

Kelly smiled when she heard this. “I’m glad you have such a wonderful community of people around you to encourage you. That is fantastic. So, tell me about your story–whichever story you’d like to talk about. What is it about? I’m assuming it’s a mystery novel.” As she said this, Kelly sat back in her chair, smiled at Yasmine, then took a sip of her drink as she listened.

Yasmine smiled and said ” I love to talk about my mystery.  Yes it is a mystery. I started it in a writing course not really sure what I wanted to write about. What do you know about musicians?  A lot – a little?  And what do you know about when they write?  What you see on television or see in the biographies right?  Well  this novel is actually set behind the scenes of the musician’s life.  You know when they are actually making the album and deciding what to do with the album. You know tell a story and the like.  The main characters of the story are a band that is staging a comeback.  There manager is hurt when someone comes to steal their about to be released new single. An old band member had approached them with the idea to re-start his career as well and he had some songs that he thought would be good plus a deal with another label to sell them.  But he wanted to work with his old band again.  Despite their misgivings they band agrees. As soon as the single is stolen the band hires a group of private investigators- an entire firm of women.  ( I love the idea of women being in charge and investigating.)  “The head of the firm Darwin has friends in the police department like Peluso who help her and her friends with what they need to solve the case. By the end of the novel, old relationships are renewed, more music is made and they find out who stole the single and hurt their manager. Of note, I try not to kill anyone in the novel. Just hurt them. I have had good feedback on that technique.” She looked at Kelly and waited.

Kelly listened to all this and had to smile. “I like it that you didn’t kill anyone because that’s overdone and can become predictable. Having someone get hurt is different, and the possibilities are endless.” She then leaned forward, thinking more of what else Yasmine had said. “So, just curious, are you into music too? Or was it just what the story wanted to be able?”

She said in response, “I like music. But my tastes are varying depending on my mood.  When I was younger I was into and still am into R&B,some pop, some country. As I have gotten older I am into some jazz and some alternative.”  She looked at Kelly and asked, ” What type of music are you into?”

“As for the second question, I had originally set my story on a college campus with a much younger detective who thought she could set the world on fire.  But it didn’t seem to go anywhere. But this story did. So yes it went where it wanted to go the story.  I am not sure how crazy that sounds but it is kind of how I feel about the story.”

“Music is great. Sometimes it can be complicated, but it’s great!” Kelly grinned at Yasmine. “Okay, so…tell me about the characters of this story. Who are they? What are their main conflicts/struggles?” With this, she sat back in her chair.

“Kelly, these are my babies.  The band is made up of six members, Darius, John, Marcus & Marquis-twins,  Darnell and Louis.  And each brings their own unique brand to the music. All come from similar background experiences  and have managed to be friends.  The older member who wanted to come back was Abdul.  He served some time in prison which was part of the reason for the band letting him go.”

“Tell you about their conflicts and struggles. Let me think.”

“Without giving away to much  Louis is the space cadet of the group.  He appears to be elsewhere but when he is looking at you then you know he is paying attention.  He is the one that the band uses to scout out areas and venues to play at. John is the slow and deliberate one. He is their method man.  He will lay out a plan and follow it. The remainder of the band,  Darius, Marcus, Marquis, Darnell and Abdul all come from the similar background of the street growing up in the projects wanting to do better for themselves and make their mother proud.”

“The biggest struggle right now for them isn’t so much the music- that is the easiest part.  They have always been together when it came to the music. It was the outside world that had caused them problems.  With Abdul it was the drugs and the crime.  With Louis it was his family. With the twins it was finding their own identity.  With John it was not being seen as an opportunist. All of them have families to support meaning girlfriends or wives. Not all have children.  But they all want to find out who did this to their manager and also why they stole their music. Not trying to give anything away, each has their own theory as to who was and is responsible for the theft and event.”

Kelly smiled. “What I like most of that is how realistic it sounds, so good job on that.” She nodded at Yasmine. “So, what inspired this story?”

“Ah good question and one I have thought about.  I think I just wanted to write a story that I liked and could to relate to on some level.  Not that I am a part of the industry itself but I like a good mystery as much as the next. I like to see behind the scenes with the musicians life. I am a faithful watcher of certain shows. But also I think the background that I was in at the time when I started was listening to music.  My family had been interested in starting a company with family and friends. So it kind of fit. Would you start a company with your family and friends- and what would you like it to be?”

Kelly shrugged. “My family runs several businesses, and I’ve started this one—with interviews—on my own.” She smiled at Yasmine. However, she caught a glimpse of the clock on the wall and frowned. “Our hour is almost up! Can’t believe how quickly time flies!” She shook her head and gave Yasmine an apologetic look but speaking, “But before you go, what is one thing you’d like your reader to remember, to think about, to keep in mind even after they’ve read your book? if anything, that is.”

“Oh time has flown by Kelly.  I have enjoyed this interview.  What is the one thing that I would like my readers to think about and keep in mind even after they have read the book?  Interesting question. Let me think.” She said, ” I want the readers to remember that  as long as its a good story- no  matter where it takes you a clue will always lead you to solve it.   Because that is how I solve the mysteries I read and I am hoping that thinking will help them solve this mystery.”

“Thank you so much for this interview Kelly, I really have enjoyed it. And hopefully once my book is out all those who buy it will enjoy it and recommend it to others.”  Yasmine smiled and finished her cup of coffee.

Kelly smiled as she rose to her feet. “It was wonderful meeting with you, and I loved hearing about you and your story. What is it titled, by the way? So my readers can look for it if they want.”

Yasmine stood as well and reached out to shake Kelly’s hand.   “The title of the novel is Dreaming A Music Mystery.”

“I love it.” Kelly grinned. “And I’m looking forward to meeting whichever character you will have me meet in the next interview. For now though, I need to go. It was wonderful meeting you!” She gathered up her computer and put her bag on her shoulder. “Keep writing, okay? The world needs good mystery stories.”

Yasmine smiled and said to her, ” I agree.”

“Have a good day, Yasmine! Stay in touch!” With one final smile, Kelly headed out.


Yasmine Jameson’s story, ‘Dreaming:  A Music Mystery’ is not yet released, but follow her on social media for more updates!





Character Interview: Amy Hopkins’ Charlie

(Kelly was written by Kelly Blanchard. Charlie was written by Amy Hopkins.)

DCI Charlie Greyson arrived at the tea shop a little ahead of schedule. After unlocking the door and calling out a quick hello to anyone who might be in, he tossed the borrowed keys on the counter and pulled out a small pot. Grimacing, he realised there was no way to heat the water. Of course, Emma, the shops proprietor, would use magic, not a good old fashioned electric kettle. He tried not to be irritated. She had after all offered up her shop for this interview.

Greyson wiped sweaty palms on his trousers, wondering why on earth he’d agreed to this. He was busy, far too busy for this nonsense. That was all… he wasn’t nervous, just had better things to do.

He started as a lumbering creature opened a side door and came lumbering through.

“Officer man, you be wanting tea? Lady said Gibble be making man feel homely.”

“Ahh.. yes thank you Gibble. Tea would be lovely. You can…?” Greyson gestured at the pot he’d left out. Gibble shuffled over and filled the pot, then placed a hand on it. When steam started to rise from the spout, he used large hands to delicately take down a cup and saucer and set to making tea.

“Officer man be looking nervous. Gibble be making tea for that. Must be doing good for the visitor Lady.”

Handing Greyson the hot tea, Gibble left him alone again. Frowning—he wasn’t nervous, Greyson settled in to wait for his meeting to start.

The door chimed as Kelly pushed it open, entering the unique tea shop, and she took in her surroundings with a smile. She always loved these places. Looking across the way, she saw a lone man sitting at a table with a cup of tea in his hands, and she drew near to him. “Detective Greyson?” She lifted her brows then offered him a smile. “I’m Kelly Blanchard. I believe you are expecting me.” She offered her hand for him to shake as he rose to his feet to greet her. She shook his hand then took a seat at the table across from him as he sat down once more. She smiled at him. “Thank you for meeting with me. Now, how should I address you? Detective? Greyson? Charlie? Which would you prefer?”

He was a little taken aback by her ease and charm. “Greyson, I suppose. That’s what everyone else calls me.”

She smiled warmly at him then nodded. “Very well, Greyson. Please, call me Kelly. So, why did you become a detective?” She sat back in her chair to observe him as he answered.

“Well it was that or end up on the other side, if you know what I mean. Wasn’t much good at school – my marks were alright but wasn’t hanging with the best crowd, see. When I finished up I got into some trouble. The Bobby that pinched me told me to straighten up and I thought this would be the easiest way. Give me somewhere to focus my energy, so to speak.”

“What about your family? Your parents? Do you have any siblings?” Kelly lifted her brows.

Geyson pulled a face. He hated these kinds of questions, they always led down a path that’d get a man in trouble.

“There’s me dad, and my brother. Joe’s a bit older, wasn’t so lucky when he left school. Last I heard he’s in lockup for a poorly attempted bank robbery. Never was too bright, a man should know better than to set up with one a’ those gnomish rings. Ahh, not that any kind of criminal activity is very bright.”

Kelly tilted her head when she heard this. “And what happened to your mother?” At the look Greyson gave her, she just gave him a look in return. “I’m supposed to be asking questions like this. That’s why we’re meeting, but not to worry, I won’t be telling anyone else about the contents of this conversation. Consider it a time to just talk freely.” She gave him an encouraging smile.

“She’s dead. I was a kid.” His looked brooked no further discussion on the topic.

Kelly nodded at this, taking the hint, so she shifted in her seat slightly and glimpsed around for inspiration of her next question. A smile touched her lips, and she looked back at Greyson. “So, what’s it like working with Emma?”

“Oh. It’s good I suppose.” The colour in his cheeks suggested it was a little more than ‘good’. He cleared his throat. “I mean, she’s clever, and she has a good heart. She’d fit right in on my team. Brave too.”

Kelly noticed the color in his cheeks but decided not to press with those questions yet. Instead, she wanted to understand something else a bit better. “You’re building a team? To do what exactly?”

“To keep the city safe—all of the city. My team and I are going to make the OCU something to be proud of!”

Kelly tilted her head to a side and furrowed her brows. “I’m not from around here, so you may have to catch me up to speed, but my understanding is that some…half-breeds are being killed or something, and you’re trying to solve it?”

Greyson watched her closely for a moment, wondering if she was baiting him by calling half-bloods ‘half breeds’. Hid gut told him she was sincere, so… to hell with it.

“Yeah. Half-bloods, those with a Talent parent and a mortal parent. Bloody Lords up in their city think they’re not worth looking after, and the normal people, like you and me, they can get a bit scared of them because of the magic and all.

“Emma solved the case. Took the guy out in fact, after fighting him off longer than anyone else managed to. No thanks to me. I tried to help, but it’s magic, right? She wouldn’t let me put a detail on her, insisted she had it under control. I guess she did.”

Kelly made the note that they were half-bloods and not half-breeds. Good to know, and she nodded. “So, the case is solved now? But you mentioned you’re building a team to keep the city–all of the city–safe. Safe from what exactly?”

Greyson sighed. Sometimes they’d get tourists in from out of the way places. Often, they just didn’t understand the mechanics of living so near the port-gates, and having so many Otherworlders inhabiting the city.

“Well, same as the normal departments. The Otherworld Crime Unit deals with anything relating to the Others- the gnomes, kobolds, piskes and faskes, though they rarely get into trouble. Not the Fae so much, they get to hobnob with the alents so they stay outta our way. But anything else is ours. Like last week, that hobgoblin that went diving for a penny under a moving truck? That was us on the scene. Lots of theft thanks to those damn gnomes, though they mostly keep to the small stuff. Sometimes it’s just the usual things- noise complaints against a half-blood, or from one, and the regular departments refuse to deal with it.

We give ’em someone safe to turn to, right? ‘Cos no one else is looking out for them.” The passio in Greyson’s voice had held through and he was leaning forward earnestly. Coming back to himself, he sat back, self-conscious at the vehemance he’d displayed. He fumbled him cup and realised belatedly he hadn’t – and couldn’t – offer Ms. Blanchard a cp of tea. That disconcerted him more than anything.

Kelly observed him as he described all this, and she had to smile. “I think you’ve found your calling, and I’m sure you’ll make the OCU an outstanding unit. Now though, I hear that, at the moment, the OCU doesn’t have a good reputation.” She shook her head then met Greyson’s gaze. “What exactly are your plans to improve things with the OCU?”

He glowered, though not at the interviewer.

“The last DCI in charge… well, the last half dozen of them, were put in the position as a punishment. You know how well an officer performs when they’re put in a position like that? Not bloody well. There were rumours of corruption, but I think I’ve weeded all that out. I’ve still got a lot of the old department, but they let me bring in four of my own. We’ll get the rest on track, show ’em how to take pride in their jobs again. Thats all it takes really, a bit of respect and old fashioned work ethics.”

She offered him a kind smile. “I’m certain you will do an outstanding job and make the OCU someplace people actually envy to get into.” Now though, she decided to change the open. “So, how did you meet Emma?”

Greyson thought back to the first time he saw her. “Well, it was before my transfer. I’d landed a homicide, didn’t realise it was a half-blood. I kept the case instead of kicking it to OCU. Emma came to the crime scene to talk to the victims dad.” He looked uncomfortable then. “You’re sure this is confidential, right?”

Kelly nodded and leaned forward, resting her forwards on the table. “Quite confidential. Why? You have something more to add?” A warm smile tugged at the corner of her lips. “C’mon, you can tell me.”

He nodded, then continued. “Well, she could tell as well as I could that bad magic was involved. Something big, bigger than the police force could handle. Of course, regulations prohibit us from sharing case details, but I might have bent the rules a bit. Dropped some files off for her to look at – just to keep her safe, right.”

Kelly nodded as she heard this. “And you realized that you two work well together?”

He gave a small, sly smile. “You could say that.”

She had to smile at his smile, but then she quieted her voice to ask the next question, “You like her, don’t you?”

His blush rose again. “Well. She’s very nice.” Greyson fumbled with the teacup in his hands, clearly out of his depth.

Kelly chuckled. “She sounds nice. Have you asked her out? And hey, be honest with me. You can talk to me. Like I said, I’m not going to tell anyone else anything, and this will likely be the last time you’ll see me, so….” She trailed off to let him pick up if he wanted to.

Greyson was now a vibrant shade of red. “Well, she did say yes… we’re having lunch next week. Just as, ahh, colleagues. Only not really. Friends, maybe? Ah Gods, I’ve been out of this game longer than I can even remember! Do you think I should take flowers, or is that not done these days?”

“Okay, first of all,” she raised a hand to calm him then smiled kindly as she met his gaze. “What is the impression you want to leave on her? Do you want it to remain as ‘just friends’, or do you want it to be more?”

“Well I don’t want to scare her off or anything” Greyson said. Clearly, he wanted the date to go well. “I mean I’m not really… I mean…” He sighed in defeat. “I’m married to my job, there’s no other way. I can’t let anything get in the way of it, there’s too much at stake. Is it too much to ask for a bit of friendship, a few dates now and then? Maybe it is. I don’t think she’s the kind of girl that takes things lightly.”

Kelly sat back in her chair and pondered her response. After a moment, she finally shook her head. “If I were you, I wouldn’t bring flowers. That might be too much too soon. If you just want to be friends and have a fling on the side, then remain casual. However, do know that if she’s ever having a bad day, do surprise her with flowers. You don’t have to explain yourself when you do it.” She smiled at him, but then she had to ask. “So what do you think of Harrod and Martin?”

“She said she wasn’t—Oh, you mean… ok. Harrod, then? Well, mister high and mighty with the magic could stand a few lessons on how to treat a lady! Oh I know he thinks he’s right, but she’s not made of glass, she can make her own choices right? And he can’t seem to see that. Annoys the living soul out of her it does.

Still,I suppose its good he;s around. He’s strong, I’ll give him that.” He noticed Kelly’s querying look. “In the magic I mean. Got a lot of power and knows how to use it, and quick too.If she even did get into trouble with him around, he’d look after her, as long as he could get his foot out of his mouth long enough to do it.”

Kelly had to chuckle when she heard his rant. “All right, back up. Check me up. What’s the deal with him? And I get the feeling you don’t like him much.” This amused Kelly, but she sat back, folded her arms, and smiled a little as she waited for his answer.

“What? I like him!” Greyson said defensively. “I just think he’s a bit of a pratt, that’s all.”

Realising the contradiction, he laughed at himself. Settling into his chair more comfortably, he said, “Look, I’m sure he’s a nice guy and it does seem like he’s doing good things for the half-bloods. He’s just a toff, that’s all. Raised in riches and power with no clue how the real world works.”

“So you’d like to show him how the real world works someday? Would like to see how he’d survive without his magic?” Kelly lifted her brows then jutted her chin. “How do you think that would go if suddenly he discovered he had no magic…at least for a day or so.?”

Greyson barked a hearty laugh at that. “Oh wouldn’t I love to be a fly on the wall for that! The man wouldn’t last five minutes without it. Oh I wouldn’t want to see him come to any harm, but he couldn’t work a light switch without that wand of his.” Clearly he liked Kelly’s idea.

Kelly laughed. “I wonder if there’s some kind of magic portion that would temporarily take away his powers…just so he would come to respect how people like us have to live. I bet it’d be hilarious.” She gave Greyson a wild grin but then returned to the actual conversation. “So what about Martin? What can you tell me about him?”

“He’s alright. Nothing like his brother, can hardly believe the two are related. Bit of a ladies man, I hear he’s been playing around with the Fae too. That might not be the most sensible thing he’s done, but there’s no accounting for the heart, is there?” Greyson was at ease now, and was finally warming up to the conversation.

“Well, at least he’s not terribly troublesome then.” Kelly nodded but then paused, trying to think of where to take the conversation now. “So…growing up, did you know magic existed? I’m not sure how it works here, Or if the two worlds are completely separate.”

“What?” Geryson seemed surprised at the question. “Well of course I knew, everybody knows don’t they? We don’t see much of it outside the Inner City – well, we didn’t back then anyway – but everyone knows about it.” He shook his head, bewildered at the thought that there may be people who didn’t know about magic; or, even more boggling to the mind, worlds where it didn’t exist. He brushed that from his mind. That would be like imagining a world without physics, it was just impossible.

“It’s different in my world,” Kelly explained. “So, I’m assuming magical creatures roam freely among humans, but what is your first memorial memory of encountering someone with magic?”

“You mean a human?” Greyson asked.

Kelly shrugged. “Whichever….maybe both. Depends on the answer.” She smiled.

“Well…” His face was serious, eyes downcast. “I went with Dad to the healing centreonce. We took Mam there when… well, at the end. The surgery and the medicine they gave her didn’t work. It was too late though, the old bastard should ave taken her there months ago. They traced a few spells on her to ease the pain, but they couldn’t do much else.” His voice sounded hoarse and he blinked, trying to brush away old memories. “Oh, before that, I think the first time I ever saw magic up close was in school. Must been first year, a hobgoblin raced through the school letting of firecracker illusions. Blimey, that was a lot of fun.”

Kelly smiled at the thought of firecracker illusions, but she wanted to go back to what he said about his mom. “What happened to your mom? I know it’s a sensitive topic, but…I  think you need to…let it out, at least once. Like I said, you’ll never see me again after this, so….” And she trailed off to see where he would pick up.

“There’s nothing to say.” He turned his face away from her. “If everyone wasn’t so bloody scared of the healers, she’d still be alive. Can’t blame Dad, they’d only just started practicing on us mortals and the doctors told him not to take her there from the start. Selfish bastards.”

“So she was ill?” Kelly kept her voice soft, but she continued to press, watching his body language to determine if she should indeed back off.

“Yeah.” He sighed. “Cancer.” Greyson stood and took his long-empty cup over to the tiny sink. He rinsed it set it down carefully on the bench before returning to Kelly. Sitting back down, and looked her in the eye.

“Do you know how much suffering could be avoided if everyone could just play nice together?” His voice was soft, but serious.

“You know it’s not that simple. Yes, everyone should work together, but…those with magic might get the idea that they are more entitled and start pushing the limits. The last thing you need is a war to break out between humans and magic users.” Kelly pointed out but then softened her voice. “I’m sorry about your mother though. What is your favorite memory of her?”

Greyson gave a wry smile. “Happy? Nah, I was always in some sort of trouble. She was always bawling me out, or smacking me upside the head for something. Still, I’ll never know what it could have been like.”

“Okay, but still, you must have some kind of favorite memory growing up. Something that really impacted your life.”

Again, he smiled. “Probably her smacking me upside the head. When she did it, she always told me I was better than whatever I’d just done to deserve. ‘Charlie’, she’d say, ‘you’re supposed to be the smart one, you start acting like it while you still got a chance and you’ll do good, so stop screwing it up.’ She meant it – I was the smart one, I kept screwing up… but she still believed in me.”

She smiled. “Well, she was right. What would you tell her right now if she were here?” Kelly tilted her head to a side.

“Thanks, I suppose” Greyson had a faraway look in his eye as if he were really speaking to her ghost. “I;d tell her thanks, for not giving up on me.”

“Mothers never give up on their children, and she would be very proud of you.” Kelly nodded with a sure smile. Then she glimpsed around, thinking for a second before meeting his gaze once more. “What’s your biggest regret?”

“Not asking Emma out sooner,” he said instantly. He started as if surprised he’d said it, then chuckled under his breath.

Kelly smiled at him. “Well, you were a bit busy trying to solve a case, weren’t you? And at *least* you asked her out, so there’s time to see how things develop. However though, what’s your greatest fear?”

“Failing. Letting people get hurt, not getting there in time. It’s the first thing I think about in the morning and the last thing before I go to sleep at night.”

“And that’s why you do the job you do?” Kelly asked quietly.

“Nah,” he said. “The job came before the responsibility, not the other way round. No knight in shining armour here I’m afraid.”

“Well, at least you got the responsibility part figured out.” Kelly offered him a smile but then glanced up at the clock on the wall and sighed. “Unfortunately, our time together is coming to an end.” She looked back at Greyson. “That means you don’t have to put up with anymore of my nagging questions.” She smiled. “But I do appreciate you taking the time to chat and answer my questions. It looks like you have your hands full with the OCU, with Emma, and even with Harrod, but be patient, and you’ll do well.” She rose to her feet. “Thanks again for meeting with me, Greyson. I hope you the very best—with everything.”

“You’re welcome. And ahh, if you see Emma… put in a good word for me hey?” Greyson gave Kelly a wink and a grin as he stood to show her out the door.

“Of course.” Kelly grinned at him and walked to the door. She paused, and looked at him. “Bring flowers if you’re traditional, and if you want to. If she misreads anything, you can just say that you’re trying to be nice, but I trust everything will go well. Don’t worry about it. You take care!” And she left the tea shop.


Amy Hopkins’ book ‘Dream Stalker, Book 1 of the Talented series.’ Is available on Amazon. Be sure to follow her on social media for more updates!



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Character Interview: OJ Shafer’s Vernell

(Kelly is written by Kelly Blanchard. Vernell is written by OJ Shafer.)

The small log cabin on the lake was quiet. There were no sounds except for the occasional chirp of a bird, and the rustling of small animals as they scurried trough the woods. Vernell Genesee sat on the porch that faced the lake in a rocking chair. She rocked slowly and watched the water. It was still. Taking a deep breath, her nerves began to settle. She was expecting a visitor and she didn’t want to seem too nervous. Vernell told her author that the visitor could come to the cabin on the lake. It was peaceful there, and she would enjoy the company.

Kelly smiled as she walked through nature to the cabin she was directed too. It reminded her of home. In her hand, she carried a plate of chocolate chip cookies as she had promised to bring.

At last, she saw the cabin near the lake, and she drew near and knocked on the front door then waited.

Vernell heard the knock at the front door and smiled. Opening the sliding door that led into the house from the back, she went inside. When she opened the front door, she was happy meet her guest, and was quite pleased to see the plate of chocolate chip cookies in her hand. “You must be Kelly.” Vernell said. She was trying not to stare at the plate. “Thanks so much for agreeing to meet me here at the cabin. Come on through. I’m on the porch in the back. I’ve got an extra rocking chair back there so we can chat. Hope you don’t mind, it’s really old. But it’s sturdy.”

“Sure. It sounds lovely! And here,” Kelly offered her the plate of cookies and smiled. “Freshly made! I thought you might like them.”

Vernell giggled. She absolutely loved chocolate chip cookies. “Thank you. These are my favorite.” She said. “Can I offer you something to drink? Or some cookies?” Vernell took a cookie from the plate as she led Kelly through the small cabin to the back porch.

“I personally think it’s wrong to have cookies without a glass of milk, so I’d love that.” Kelly grinned but then glanced around at the cozy cabin. It felt warm and friendly—which struck Kelly as odd she knew Vernell was the antagonist to this story, so she was quite curious how all this worked together. “This is really a lovely place. Do you live here, or is it a vacation home?” She glanced back at Vernell as she followed her to the porch.

“This is my writing retreat.” Vernell said. “Have a seat. Let me get us some milk.” Vernell went to the small fridge and pulled out a brand new carton of milk that he been purchased for her trip. She reached in her cabinet and took out to tall glasses and poured the milk. “Thanks again for the cookies. They won’t last long. I’ll never be skinny since I love them so much.” Vernell laughed at herself as she handed Kelly the glass.

Kelly laughed at this as she accepted the glass. “Be glad you don’t live with me. I have to make them at least once a week—maybe twice a week because my family demands it. That’s when they’re not wanting me to bake brownies or chocolate cake.” She selected a cookie, broke off a bit of it and dunk it in the milk. “So this is your writing retreat, so that means you’re a writer. I’m one too in my own world, so I can totally relate. What do you write about?” She knew Vernell also had an unusual habit, but she’d get to that soon enough.

“I wish I did live with you.” Vernell laughed. “I’m a horrible baker. I’d love cookies and brownies once a week. Any time you want to send some my way, I’m all for it.” Vernell took a sip from her glass of milk and then selected another cookie. “I write romantic suspense.” She said quite proudly.

Kelly raised a brow but with a smile, “Isn’t most romance suspense anyway? I mean, ‘Does he/she love me? Oh wait, what if they hate me, and I’m completely misunderstanding??'” She chuckled but then shrugged. “That’s what it feels like in real life, at least.” Breaking off another piece of her cookie and dunking it in the milk, Kelly looked across at Vernell. “So, while i’d love to interview you as an author, I understand you have a rather….unorthodox habit….of killing people. Please excuse my directness, but is that true?” She then put the cookie piece into her mouth as she observed Vernell.

“It’s true.” Vernell said after she finished chewing her cookie. “I kill people.” Vernell paused, took another cookie, and then bit it. She was wondering how she would be able to explain why she did what she did to Kelly. And she decided that her best bet would be to be honest. She swallowed, and then said, “Certain people.”

“And what kind of certain people?” Kelly reached for another cookie.

Vernell sat back in her rocking chair and looked at the lake. It was still. “I kill the people who seem to be doing what I’m doing. Getting away with murder. I know that sound weird.”

Kelly tilted her head as she furrowed her brows. “So…” She tried to calculate exactly what Vernell was saying. “How does that work? Do you hunt them down after they’ve killed someone, or do you know they’re going to kill someone but let them do it to see if they get away with it?” But then she added, “Or is there a huge serial killer community?Which would be very interesting in a story actually especially if they’re not your traditional assassins…” Her mind wandered off think of all the possibilities, but then she snapped back at Vernell and gave her an apologetic smile. “Sorry, like I said, I’m a writer too. “

Vernell laughed. “No apologies needed.” Vernell took a deep breath as she thought about her answer. Be honest. She said to herself. “There’s just something weird about the town that I live in.” Vernell said. “It wasn’t always like that. Willingboro, NJ used to be a nice little normal suburban town. Then, it was like the people snapped. A while back, a judge went on a rampage killing the residents that had anything to do with the “corruption” of his daughter. He was beheading people directly involved with his daughter who just happens to be in the porn industry. He almost killed one of the investigators because she figured out he was doing it. Then, there were the three women who had a high school pact to kill any man that they were ever involved with during high school.” Vernell frowned and shook her head. “They killed quite a few men. And from what I hear, they won’t be spending much time in jail. But I need to check my sources.”

Kelly nodded slowly as she took all this in and sat back in her chair. “So, how do you go about this? Is there a list you create of your targets, or how exactly/”

Vernell smiled. “There is a list.” She said. “But I collect my information very carefully. I have a few connections in the Willingboro Police Department, and in the Burlington County Courts. I’m trying to get a little closer to one of the homicide cops too. He was on both cases that I mentioned. His investigator friend is a writer too. She writes crime. I know for a fact that she uses her experiences with them to write her books. I’ve talked to her. I’ve compiled an extensive list of people in my town who have gotten away with murder, and are still walking the streets. I didn’t realize how many there were.” Vernell said. “And all of this information I got while doing some general research for a book I was writing.”

“And what book was that?”

“It was for my first book Mayhem.” Vernell said. “I was just looking for information on crimes that people can easily get away with. It didn’t occur to me to see what was going on in my own neighborhood. But when I did, I was shocked. I called in some favors, and got more information. I started making a list of names to use for the book. As I researched the names, I researched the crimes. I’m still shocked to see what people can get away with on a technicality.”

However, Kelly furrowed her brows as she considered the woman across from her. “But to kill someone…that’s a bit extreme. When did you decide to go that far?”

“There was a husband and wife couple on my list. I was a causal acquaintance with them for a few years.” Vernell said. “They always said things that just made me feel a bit weird when I was around them. Inappropriate things. Somehow I managed to be at a social even with them and they both had a few too many drinks. They mentioned one of their crimes against a teenager, but in a joke. I took it serious and went to a friend about it. The next day I had information about their case, and why they were still on the streets.” Vernell paused for a moment. She took a sip of her milk and then took a breath.  “I was angry for the parents of that teenager. So I just decided that I’d help the system along. I did some research on a few poisons. And during another social even with them, I slipped it to them. She died that night. Autopsy said heart attack. He died two weeks later. Heart attack.”

“And how did that make you feel? When you realized you took not one but two lives?” Kelly tilted her head. She disapproved of Vernell’s methods, but she could understand her reasoning.

Vernell thought for a moment and then looked at Kelly. “If you’re asking me if I like killing I don’t.” Vernell said, “But when the news hit, there was a weight lifted off of my shoulders. I was satisfied that they were gone, and that they wouldn’t hurt another child or teenager ever. Even the parents looked relieved when I saw them.”

“So you were satisfied that you had done a good deed in a very…wrong way, and that convinced you to do it again?” Kelly lifted her brows. “Or how did you come across your next target?”

“My next target was a woman.” Vernell said. “Her sheet read like an James Patterson Alex Cross book series. Honestly I’m surprised she hadn’t been committed. But that was what she wanted people to think. She wanted people to think that she was crazy. She executed other women. Her reasons were because the other women thought they were better than she was. So she drugged them, tied them up, and shot them in the back of the head. She was walking the streets because of a technicality in courts. She knew people in high places. I got a hold of a recording. She didn’t know that she was being recorded. She admitted that there was nothing wrong with her. She admitted that she wasn’t crazy. She admitted to knowing right from wrong, and she knew that killing the women was wrong. In her words she said, ‘I knew exactly what I was doing.’ I sent her a bottle of wine laced with some special stuff. And the outside had a little something on it too. So it was absorbed into her skin and she ingested it. Autopsy said alcohol poisoning. I was happy to see her go. I knew three of the six women she killed.”

“I live in a freakin’ community of serial killers and I’m one of them.” Vernell said running her hand over her face.

“The City of Serial Killers—where everyone gets away with murder. Sounds like a story.” Kelly mused but then leaned forward, setting her elbows on her knees as she clasped her hands together and regarded Vernell. “And do you like being a part of that community? Or do you think you could bring people to justice in a more upright and moral manner?”

“Sounds like a good story.” Vernell said. Then she thought about Kelly’s question. “I don’t know Kelly.” She finally said. “What’s so moral and upright about these people who don’t pay for their crimes? If they had gone to jail, and were paying for what they did, they’d be alive right now. I guess the same will be said of me if I get caught. But right now, they are looking for a man. And they aren’t looking hard enough.”

Kelly paused. She had several ways she could take this conversation, but she sensed her time here was already up. She needed to bring this to a close sooner than later because she had another interview to do elsewhere. However, she allowed herself a few more questions, “And you’re disappointed in them? That they don’t suspect you? That maybe they’re failing in their duties because they can’t catch you?” She raised her brows.

“No. I’m not disappointed.” Vernell said. ” Cause I’d like to date that detective for a bit before I get caught. But I think they aren’t looking that hard because the people that are dying, are…” Vernell paused. “bad people.”

“So you’re basically a vigilante, but you go so far as to take the law into your own hands?”

“I hate that word.” Vernell said. “I’ll just say that I like to help the justice system in extreme cases. It’s just too bad the extreme cases always land in my neighborhood.”

Kelly nodded. “I can see your point. I don’t agree with it though, but I can see it. I have many more questions I wish to ask you, but unfortunately I am out of time.” She rose to her feet. “Thank you for agreeing to this chat. I learned quite a bit, and it was nice talking with you.” She then paused to consider Vernell before finally speaking what was on her mind. “And if your home town is so bad that it’s making you kill, you might consider moving.” She shrugged. “Just an idea. Those bad people will answer for their crimes, but doing what you’re doing…” she shook her head. “You’re becoming no better than them.”

Vernell rose. “You’re right.” she said. “Maybe when I’m done, I’ll move. If I ever get done.”

“And by that time, what will be left of you as a person?” Kelly locked eyes with Vernell, but she wasn’t expecting an answer. “I’ll show myself out. I think you have some things to think about. Thanks again. it was nice meeting you.” With that, she nodded to Vernell once and then left.


Note: Orlandrea’s book is titled ‘Good Night Garfield’ and is due to be released before the end of the year. For more information follow her on social media:




Author Interview: OJ Shafer

(Kelly is written by Kelly Blanchard. Orlandrea is written by OJ Shefer.)

Kelly sat on a low branch of a tree in the palace garden of Cuskelom, and she leaned back against the trunk of the tree and closed her eyes. Even though this entire place was her imagination, in this way she was able to be everywhere at once. She saw Theran in a brawl in Athorim with Vixen standing back twisting her knives—waiting for the right time to intervene. In the king’s chambers here in Cuskelom, Heldon counseled his brother, the king, over a game of chess. Erita walked through her underground chambers beneath the Cuskelom palace, lighting candles and prepping for her evening ritual into the realm of magic.

No matter where Kelly looked, she couldn’t locate Lorrek, but he had the ability to cloak himself from her. Yes, she could sense him, but simply couldn’t see him.

Suddenly, magic shifted in front of her, and Kelly opened her eyes as she saw a portal open in the clearing. A smile touched her face. Even though she couldn’t see Lorrek, she knew he was just as aware of her and everything she was doing as she was aware of him. That was why he opened the portal here since he knew someone from her own world would be seeking passage here.

Pushing herself off the branch, Kelly landed lightly on her feet and stood in front of the portal as it rippled and Orlandrea passed through. She greeted her with a warm smile. “Hello! Welcome. I trust you’re well today?”

Wide eyed and slightly unsure of what just happened, Orlandrea smiled at Kelly and quickly glanced at her surroundings. “Whoa. I mean hi. Thank you. I’m great. Lorrek did that didn’t he?” She waved her arms around trying to indicate the portal that she had just passed through.

Kelly beamed. “Yep! He’s around. Don’t be surprised if he makes an appearance.” She winked but then motioned to their surroundings. “Care for a walk through the gardens? Mind you though, these aren’t your ordinary palace gardens back in our world. If you’d like, I can show you something really beautiful! We can talk while we walk.”

Orlandrea wanted to be polite and look at Kelly when she answered, but “uh huh” was all that came out of her mouth as she continued to look around. Her curiosity was going to get the best of her.

Kelly chuckled and motioned for her to follow. “Come on! There’s so much more to see.” She wondered if she would have to grab Orlandrea’s arm and drag her along, but then her visitor moved to follow her, and Kelly reminded herself to walk slower–didn’t want what happened in the last interview to happen again.

“So…” she glanced over her shoulder at Orlandrea as they walked down the beaten paths of this enchanted woods. “Tell me about yourself. What is it that you do? How does it tie into you being a writer?”

Orlandrea grinned realizing that she needed to keep up with Kelly’s pace. “Oh. I’m a homeschool mom.” She said quickly “But I’m in between jobs right now. Divorce kinda does that to you.” She laughed. “But I’ve been writing since 5th grade. My teacher made the mistake of giving me a pass to write whatever I wanted in my journal. I made up a story about a storm, and she got caught in it. She wasn’t too happy about that, but that story was when I realized that I could tell a good story. I couldn’t stop after that.”

“That is awesome! I wish teachers these days would let kids do that in classes.” Kelly shook her head, thinking of the twins she tutored who just finished fifth-grade–one of whom always begged if she could write a story rather than do homework.

Shaking her head, Kelly thought on what else Orlandrea had said, and she smiled, “Being a homeschool mom is a full time job! I was homeschooled, and I’ve helped other homeschooling moms, so yeah–it’s awesome that you’re doing that, but sorry to hear about the divorce.” She shook her head again but then went on to the next question in her mind. “So are you just finally writing toward publication?” She snuck her a glance. “Is that your hopes with your writing?

Orlandrea’s paced slowed just a bit. “I’ve self published a…” her voice trailed off as she looked up into the trees. “Was that?” She stopped for a beat, and then caught up with Kelly. “I’m so sorry I’m being so rude. It’s just so pretty here. And I could have sworn I saw Lorrek appear and then disappear near that tree. But anyway. I’ve self published a novel and two short stories so far. I guess I don’t have the patience of most writers. I don’t want to shop my stories around. And the introvert in me hates rejection.Oh and by the way, its so cool that you were homeschooled too.” Orlandrea smiled. “I wish I was. But at least I get to give it a go with my daughter.”

“Hey, my books are only self-published, and I don’t have any of my books in stores or anything, so—totally relate!” Kelly offered her a warm smile but then glanced around. Lorrek was around—trying to get her attention, but Kelly was ignoring him because she had a guest here, but she promised Orlandrea, “Trust me, you’ll meet Lorrek. Just wait.” With a smirk and a plan in mind, Kelly led the way up the hill in the woods—a path being well beaten by all her previous treks through here.

Finally they came to the top of the hill, and Kelly motioned below. “The Garden of Ruins.” Castle ruins spread out through the forest opposite of the hill—walls half broken and covered with vines and moss. Pillars and archways stood where halls used to be. It didn’t take much to fill in the imagination of what this place used to look like.

Kelly smiled at herself then glanced at Orlandrea for her reaction.

“How awesome is that!” Orlandrea said. “I like meeting other authors who self publish like me.” Kelly brought her to the top of the hill and Orlandrea figured the gardens must be magical, because she never gets to the top of any hill without needing her asthma inhaler. But when Kelly motioned below, Orlandrea’s voice got stuck in her throat. She felt her mouth open, but all she heard was a soft gasp. Nothing in Orlandrea’s wildest dreams could have prepared her for the beauty that was in front of her. To say the moss was just green would not be sufficient enough of a description.  “I don’t think that I’m a good enough writer to describe this type of beauty.” Orlandrea finally said.

This caused Kelly to laugh. “C’mon, you haven’t seen the best part yet!” She then led the way down the hill slowly and carefully. As they walked, Kelly asked yet another question, “While I’d love to hear what your published books are about, what are you working on right now?” Finally, they reached the bottom of the hill, and Kelly let Orlandrea gaze wide-eyed about before gesturing for her to follow her through the ruins

Making sure to take in every single moment while following Kelly through the ruins, Orlandrea tried to keep up and tried to remember to speak when spoken to. “Right now I’m working on a few different stories. I have a fifteen book series of short stories that is loosely based on where I grew up in New Jersey. It was such a little boring town. I’m trying to put a Criminal Minds spin on it. I’m also working on a Sci-Fi fantasy type story which is still in my head. And I’m working on a few romantic stories. I tend to work better with multiple stories floating around. I just have to make sure to keep them organized. Wouldn’t want the alien showing up in my crime stories.” Orlandrea laughed. She made a mental note to find out if she could come back to the ruins with her AlphaSmart. It would be an awesome spot for inspiration.

“That’s a lot of work!” Kelly looked at Orlandrea impressed then shook her head. “I have no idea how you keep it organized.” She then approached a darkened doorway that in the side of a hill and glanced at Orlandrea. “Hope you’re not afraid of the dark, but it’ll only be briefly. Trust me, you will LOVE what’s on the other side. Besides, I’ll do this.” She snapped her fingers and conjured a fire orb above her palm then shrugged at Orlandrea. “Perks of being the author in my own world. C’mon.”

She slowly led the way through the damp, darkened passage and even reached her other hand back to grab Orlandrea’s just to make sure she didn’t get lost. Holding up the glowing orb, Kelly let the light pass over the walls, revealing runes carved deep within.

However, the end of the passage came too quickly, and Kelly closed her fist, extinguishing the fiery orb. She stepped out of the way and let Orlandrea see what stood before them—an entire abandoned throne room with high arching ceiling but broken glass windows.

Finding it easy to trust Kelly, Orlandrea silently wished she could conjure a fire orb as they came to the end of the passage. As Kelly stepped out of the way, Orlandrea’s eyes widened almost to the size of the fiery orb. She gasped again, but this time it was louder. “Isn’t this where Lorrek taught the forbidden magic to Mordora and Moren?” Orlandrea grew excited. “Is he here?”

“This is still Cuskelom. The place you’re talking about is in Nirrorm. As for if Lorrek is here…may~be!” Kelly gave her a wide smile. “Oh, come on! I need to ask you more questions, and if I allow you two to talk, I’d never get to finish our conversation!” Kelly laughed but then moved through the throne room, loving the majestic but haunting feeling of it.

Finally, she turned back to Orlandrea with a smile. “I promise you may speak with Lorrek but you answer only a few more questions of mine, deal?” She raised her brows.

When Orlandrea nodded eagerly, Kelly voiced her first inquiry. “So you said you have a lot of stories you’re working on, but is there a specific one that you’re focusing on? If so, what exactly is it about?”

Orlandrea walked around the throne room in amazement. And her childlike grin widened as she plopped down in the middle of the room, and folded her legs. “Well, my main focus is the series. The town where I was born, raised, and where I currently live is called Willingboro. It’s in South Jersey. The town has little divisions called parks, and there are fifteen of them. Each park has its own book with its own serial killer or killers, or something strange. Most of the characters in each book are real people who live or have lived there. Well, except for the antagonist(s). They are usually people that I have made up.”

Kelly nodded as she meandered around the throne room, looking up at the partly broken ceiling while Orlandrea spoke. When she finished, Kelly cast her a glimpse. “Is there a new character with each new book of the series, or do the follow the same main characters? If so, tell me about them.”

“The main characters are constant throughout the series. There is crime writer names Jasmine Lester. Everyone calls her Jae. There is also detectives Mike Bailey, and Troy Williams. And Mike’s wife and Jae’s best friend, Connie. Jasmine or Jae is really me, Mike and Connie are friend’s I went to school with, and Troy is my fiancé. But not in the books.” Orlandrea giggled. “Jae starts the series by finding a decapitated body while going on her morning jog. She ends up being an ‘unofficial’ investigator with the Willingboro Police Department. It’s really all a fluke that she ends up doing this in every book. But she lends an eye to each investigation that the detectives wouldn’t be able to see. As a crime writer, their boss thinks that she can do the job like Richard Castle. Needless to say, in the first book, Jae nearly dies by getting her throat cut, until Troy saves the day.”

“Hey, you don’t want to give away too many spoilers!” Kelly smiled at Orlandrea but then considered what she had said. “Quite a cast you have there. So she’s like a female Richard Castle? That’s neat. I love Castle!” Kelly then looked around and frowned. “As much as I want to keep asking you questions, unfortunately our time is up, and I have another interview to prep for. However, I did promise you can meet Lorrek, so…” She turned and called out to the empty room. “You may come out now!”

In an instant, wind whipped am around the room, sweeping up dust as tearing at cobwebs, but just as quickly it died, and Lorrek stood before them.

Kelly smiled and glanced at Orlandrea. “Lorrek, this is Orlandrea—my most recent guest, and I get the feeling she’s a huge fan of yours!” She winked at Orlandrea. “And I don’t think I need to tell you who this is.” She motioned to Lorrek who drew near to them and bowed.

“Greetings, Lady Orlandrea. It is an honor to make your acquaintance.”

Orlandrea didn’t want to giggle like a school girl, but she did. “It’s you.” She said. He was everything that she thought he would be.

“So…Orlandrea, how would you like to have a chat with Lorrek?” Kelly grinned as she glimpsed between the two. “I do have to go, but he can easily open a portal that’ll take you home. You can stay and chat with him if you’d like. You wouldn’t mind, would you, Lorrek?” She raised her brows at him, but he shook his head.

“Not at all. She is welcome to stay if she so desires.” And he offered Orlandrea a small but warm smile.

“I would love to stay and chat with Lorrek.” Orlandrea smiled. “Thank you so much Kelly for inviting me here. This place is amazing. I’d love to come back with my AlphaSmart and just write if that’s ok.”

“Unfortunately you can’t bring anything from the real world into this world…unless it’s taken through my mirror portal at my Muse Shop.” Kelly gave Orlandrea an apologetic shrug, but then she gestured to Lorrek with a smile. “Have a great chat!” With that, she magicked away knowing that her character would keep Orlandrea safe and bring her back to the real world at a good time, but for now, Kelly had another interview to do.


Note: Orlandrea’s book is titled ‘Good Night Garfield’ and is due to be released before the end of the year. For more information follow her on social media: