Please help me welcome author Sharlene Almond to Jemsbooks Blog segment, Interview an Author. Thank you, Sharlene, for coming today.
1. Please tell us something about yourself.
I’m from Auckland, New Zealand currently studying Body Language; while working on promoting my first book – Initiated to Kill. I’m also contacting publishers about my second book – The Legend Returns.
I think I’m addicted to studying. I’ve studied a range of things from beauty therapy, dog behaviour, Journalism, editing, Criminology, photography, Cognitive Behavioural therapy, Neuro-Linguistic Programming, and currently studying body language.
I’ve always been fascinated both with history and the criminal psyche; which is why I include both elements in all my novels I write.
I’ve written four books in the Annabella Cordova series, and Journey in Little Paradise. A New Zealand travel E-book.
Although it would be great to work full-time as an author, I’m also studying to work as a counsellor; specialising in CBT and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
2. When did you know that you wanted to be an author?
At an early age and still now, reading was something I loved doing in my spare time. Throughout primary school and into my teenage years I would write down different ideas for novels I thought one day I might like to write.
As far back as I can remember, reading and writing were regular hobbies of mine. Dabbling in short stories, creative essays, and occasionally attempting to start a full length novel.
However, time and patience kept on preventing me from fully committing to writing a novel.
It was just one day I decided I wanted to finally commit to it. Whether it be age, or the circumstances around that time, I felt I was finally ready to start writing my first novel.
3. What process do you need in order to write?
The process differs slightly for each book, but I need a place that I can immerse myself in research and writing without disruption and too much noise. A place that I can relax back and let ideas flow.
However, the other elements that help bring my novels together always start with a basic plot outline. Sometimes I might start off with researching different countries in which I want my novel to be based in, then look into the history of that place to see if anything jumps out at me that I can use as my historical backdrop.
Other times I might have a general idea of the historical aspect of the novel, so I build on the idea that way.
From there, the plot outline can be formed, outlining the main events that might occur throughout the novel.
In order to write my first novel, I used the snowflake method; although quite time-consuming, it helped me build on the major events with each step. Including writing a more detailed plot synopsis, and major character synopsis.
Once those were completed, using Word Excel, I could easily create a chapter outline by numbering the chapters along the top line, and writing a sentence or two about what I wanted each chapter to include.
I might start off with about thirty chapters, but throughout more research and actually writing the book, I gradually build on this. The end result being about hundred chapters.
This last part, I still do for every book. This element enables me to have a clear picture about what I need to research and write about each day.
4. Please share your books with us and a synopsis of each.
Initiated to Kill is a psychological thriller that is partly based on a true story; combined with conspiracy and a deaf art student. Delve into two serial killer’s psyche – one in 19th century London, and the other present-day Spain. What drove them to do it?
Annabella Cordova quickly becomes embroiled in the conspiracy involving the university she studies at. When her roommate goes missing, it becomes very personal. Her ability to read facial and body language in people leads her to discover parallels from an earlier century.
Every six days a package arrives at police headquarters, where Andres Valero gradually uncovers a conspiracy resembling one attempted centuries ago.
In 19th century London, a man, an artist roams the streets of Whitechapel for his prey. But who was this infamous serial killer? His childhood background, the man that transforms into a killer. Explore the psychological workings of a killer that was never apprehended – Jack the Ripper.
Initiated to Kill unmasks two serial killers – initiated into a powerful organisation to kill.
The Legend Returns –
In the aftermath of the deaths in Seville, Spain; Annabella Cordova is asked to join a ruthless organisation to capture, torture and kill criminals. A case comes her way that reminds her of her past. A young girl turns up mutilated, with unusual marks on her neck.
As more young girls go missing, and tortured bodies found with marks resembling bite marks; history shows itself through the similarities of a sadistic female serial killer – Countess Elizabeth Bathory.
Andres Valero and Annabella are reunited again when he is anonymously called into to investigate these deaths.
In the 16th and 17th century, two people will forever mark a nation. Vlad Drakul, a warrior for God; his power and need for revenge fortifies a legend that infects a country. And Countess Elizabeth Bathory’s obsession for blood arouses her own psychopathic need to torture and kill young girls.
As Annabella comes closer to the truth, she exposes an ancient Roma tradition lead by a sadistic murderer, a castle filled with tortured, missing girls; and two psychopaths that are linked to the history of those that made Transylvania, Romania so famous.
The Messenger is a 76,125 word novel focusing on one girl’s life after she was captured from the Jewish fortress and taken as a slave to Rome. The Romans believing that the Jews held something of great value, believing ADI is the key.
In present-day Egypt a mummified body is found in the desert, followed by more mummified bodies, each body found with two Egyptian symbols on the bodies. One man believed from a childhood ritual that he is a Messenger for God to bring the Jews justice, and reveal a secret that would change the turn of historical events.
Annabella is sent to Egypt to investigate these deaths, but as always there is an ulterior motive, sending her to her possible death as she is coming closer and closer to who her mother was, and why her mother was killed.
Andŕes Valero is called to Egypt because of a call that his brother was murdered, found mummified with two symbols branded on his flesh.
When Andŕes and Annabella meet again they work together to find the person responsible while fighting the mistrust, and the truths that will be unearthed.
How far would someone go to change the tide of history to reveal one of the greatest secrets in Jewish history?
My fourth novel is a work in progress. The main historical element that triggers off the present day events, is based on the theory that the Bubonic Plague was man-made in order to bring about major change in the world. And how the Bubonic Plague could have influenced the Renaissance era, the Reformation, and the Revolution.
The historical aspect starts where it all began – China. Throughout the novel characters bring to life how the plague spread across the Silk Road and into Europe.
In 2020, Annabella Cordova is sent to Greece by Charles to investigate the rapid spread of a plague.
Annabella’s identity completely changed, but memories haunt her that quickly rise to the surface, and her past brings her into contact with people she has been hunting for years.
5. How do you come up with ideas for your stories?
It’s usually the location or some historical event or conspiracy theory that cropped up which leads me towards the overall plotline.
For Initiated to Kill, it was simply an idea I had written down several years previously which triggered off the present day plot. I have always had the idea of the occult somehow featuring in one of my books.
When I did research on the occult, the Freemasons popped up, leading to the conspiracy theories surrounding them, and one popular theory in particular – that the Freemasons were involved in the Jack the Ripper killings.
However, throughout writing the first draft, it was merely a sub-plot. It was only when I started to edit the novel, that I wanted to delve deeper into that theory, and the history surrounding it, as well as one of the men that was suspected of being Jack the Ripper.
That’s when the historical element came into the equation, and one I have kept throughout all my novels; heavily influencing what I write about.
6. What projects are you currently working on?
Currently, I am contacting publishers for my second novel, while fine tuning my third and fourth novels. Once I have completed that, I will be looking at writing a fifth Annabella Cordova novel.
7. What do you expect to accomplish in 2016?
I would like to have my second novel at least going through the publishing process, as well as finishing off studying. That way I can concentrate on writing my fifth novel, while working as a counsellor, preferably from home, so I have more time to write and market my books.
8. What hobbies do you have when you are not writing?
With studying, writing, researching, editing and marketing, I don’t really have much time to spend on hobbies.
However, I do consider my downtime to be equally as beneficial, in which I do HIIT training – High Intensity Interval Training. I also find watching programs about history etc, can give me some ideas that I might want to include in another novel.
Spending time with my dogs, friends and family also helps me to get away from focusing too much on the marketing and writing aspect, helping to clear my head.
9. What is your target audience for your book?
My novels are generally targeted to adults; however, I would like to think that most people would like certain elements of my books.
Admittedly, there are parts in my books that are violent. So, readers that enjoy the overall thriller genre; especially psychological and horror thrillers, designed to mess with the head, stalking, and serial killings.
Another target audience is those that like to learn and read about history. I try to stay as true to what actually happened as possible, while still creating a suspenseful read. Delving into the minds of some of the most infamous serial killers in history.
Those that liked the series ‘Lie to Me’, and other similar programs will hopefully like my books as well. Because Annabella Cordova is deaf, she mainly relies on facial expressions and body language to communicate with people, and uses those fine-tuned skills to discover what people may be hiding.
10. Please share your links and where to purchase your books.
Links to my social media:
10. What advice would you give prospective authors?
Never give up, and don’t get discouraged. Unfortunately, rejections will happen over and over again. Whether it be submitting to publishers, or reviewers not liking your work.
Remember, don’t take it personally. Everyone is different, so not everyone is going to like what you write. There are so many authors out there, and publishers take a major risk when taking on a new author.
Treat writing as a hobby, and hopefully one day it may pay off. It’s a creative outlet that allows you to go into another world, see the world through the eyes of your characters.
And write what you love. It can be easy to write in a genre that is very popular, and that’s great if that is the genre you like to write in. However, if you try to fit into that certain mold, it is doubtful that you will enjoy writing.
Take a risk, and you never know…
11. Is there anything else you would like to share?
It’s not about the destination, but the journey, and the characters you meet along the way.
One of my favourite sayings, applies perfectly to writing. Yes, it’s great if you get published, but appreciate the journey you take when you write. You won’t get that experience any other way.
Thank you, Sharlene, for sharing yourself and your books with my readers and me. It was a pleasure to get to know more about you. Welcome to Jemsbooks Blog family!
Thank you, readers, for stopping by. Please take some time to look at Sharlene’s books.
Remember: Reading Gives You Wings to Fly!