My guest today is the debut author of the recently released supernatural thriller: Mirrored.
Blurb: Christine Albright was drawn into the center of an eight year old double homicide while furnishing an old Thibodaux, Louisiana plantation house under renovations. The only survivor of the attack on her family, then eight year old Celestine Badeau is now sixteen and being pursued by the demon sent by the voodoo woman Old Tre intent on killing her. The mystery of these murders exposes Christine’s dark past, being possessed by a demon as a teenager. The accidental meeting between Christine and Celestine sets into motion horrors straight out of Hell. Their only defense is their faith in God.
Alright Fred, could you tell me a little about how you found Astraea Press, and what made you decide to go with an e-publisher?
“On the (RWA) Southern Magic loop in early Aug. 2011, they mentioned that publisher Stephanie Taylor of Astraea Press would be attending Southern Magic’s Readers Luncheon that Nov. I just took a chance and queried them. A week later, they offered me a contract.”
Wow. I guess that's just how fast things can change.
How have you liked your experience with Astraea thus far?
“Stephanie Taylor and the entire staff at Astraea Press have been wonderful. As a debut author, they saw something in my writing that 100 other publishers and agents didn’t see. I’m the most blessed author in the world to be with Astraea Press.”
Looking back at all you've undergone regarding publication, what would you have done differently?
“I would have followed my own instincts instead of listening to people who gave advice but never attempted to get published themselves.”
I understand that you did a good bit of research as you were writing 'Mirrored'. What did this research consist of, and what was the most interesting thing you came across in that process?
“I drew upon my 40+ years of genealogy research and searched the web studying towns, people, and reading books authored by actual exorcist priests.
The most interesting part of my research was also the scariest. I read at least 4 books written by exorcists and the forms of possession that demons take while possessing a person just made me have nightmares. The other thing was that most often demons don't possess people so much as oppress them. Demonic oppression takes the form of aggravating a person's health issues, or exaggerating a person's imagination.”
On that note, I'd like to take this opportunity to offer a sneak peek excerpt from Mirrored:
October 1997, Birmingham Alabama
While the events of that day were far from ordinary for the fourteen-year-old girl tied to her bed, for Father Victolini they were all in a day’s work. His calm, however, did little to ease the mind of the girl’s mother.
Although only thirty-nine, lines of weariness and distress etched Cynthia Albright’s cheeks, and she grasped the priest’s arm in a gesture both pleading and full of fear. “Father Victolini, do something.”
His hand covered hers, white against the austere blackness of his sleeve, as it clutched him, and he squeezed gently in a gesture of reassurance.
“Cynthia, I promise I won’t give up until Christine is freed. But I caution you, cases such as your daughter’s often take days to resolve.” He looked over at her husband. “Robert, take your boys downstairs, and don’t let them back up tonight!”
The older boy, seventeen-year-old Bobby, protested as he pulled his arm free from his father’s restraining hand. “No! She’s my sister, and I can’t leave her, not while she’s like this.”
Father Victolini caught Bobby’s eye, his look stern yet compassionate as he spoke to him. “Tonight will be too dangerous for you and your family. Take your brother, Steve, and stay downstairs. No matter what you hear, do not come up here! Do you understand me?”
Bobby knew by Father Victolini’s tone that he had no choice but to obey. Stubborn reluctance etched on his face, he led his brother down to the sitting room, followed by their father, and the three of them sat without looking at one another. Robert quietly instructed them to take out their rosaries. As the sound of their strong voices lifted in prayer, the hallway lights outside Christine’s bedroom suddenly went out, leaving Cynthia and Father Victolini temporarily blinded by the unexpected darkness.
From inside Christine’s room, an unnaturally deep, coarse, guttural male voice said: “Come in Priest. I have been waiting for you.”
Cynthia looked at the priest, tried to say something to him, but the shock of that unearthly voice stunned her senses and prevented her from getting a sound out of her throat.
Father Victolini sighed and let his eyes adjust to the darkness as he slowly entered the room.
Once inside, he heard the bedroom door slam shut behind him and whirled around to grab the door handle, turning it as he attempted to open the door. It jiggled but remained, to all intents and purposes, firmly locked.
“Father, open this door! Why did you shut and lock it?” Cynthia’s frantic voice rose in evident fear, then she called out to her husband. “Bob, get up here. Father Victolini has locked himself inside Christine’s room.”
Bob Junior and Steve bolted past their father, headed for the stairs, but their father’s stern command stopped them in their tracks. “Hold it, boys. Stay down here, and keep praying. I’ll take care of this.” Robert ran up the stairs to his wife’s side and attempted to open the
door. “Father, unlock this door now!”
“I didn’t lock the door. Get the key, and try to open it.”
Bob rushed to the end of the hall and into the master bedroom. A moment later, he came back with the key and inserted it into the lock. The key turned easily but the tumblers did not, and he scowled his bewilderment and rattled the handle in frustration. “Father, the door is unlocked.”
“Be patient, Bob. The door will open soon.” Father Victolini turned to the figure lying in bed. He knew it was Christine, but it did not look like her. Staring up at him was a voluptuous blonde in a nightgown with her hands and feet tied to the bedposts. The figure spoke with a soft and seductive tone.
“Father, come closer. You like what you see; you used to. Come closer and untie me so I can give you what you’ve not had in years. You loved it and took it as often as you could. Don’t you still miss it? You can have it again.”
Father reached for the crucifix hanging from a cord around his neck. “May God rebuke you for tempting me and possessing this innocent girl.”
The thing that controlled Christine’s body ignored Father Victolini’s commands. “Innocent? Who is innocent? Look at me, priest. This is what you crave. You couldn’t get enough when you didn’t have that collar around your throat.”
The thing had the appearance of sensual lust and Father Victolini struggled within himself to resist its temptations. “In the name of Jesus Christ, I command that you depart from her now!”
At these words, the figure in bed changed back to Christine and called out to her mother. “Mommy, come here and help me. It’s gone, and I’m okay now.”
The bedroom door instantly opened, and Cynthia saw her little girl. She looked tired but appeared normal. Cynthia rushed past Father Victolini to her daughter’s bedside.
“Mommy, untie me, and let me hug you.”
Cynthia began loosening Christine’s right wrist.
“No, don’t; get away from her!” Father Victolini shouted a warning, but too late. Her right wrist freed, the figure in bed struck Cynthia across her face and blood welled from a long scratch to run down Cynthia’s left cheek. She looked bewildered, and small wonder. Her daughter would have never done such a thing.
Repulsed, she jumped away with her gaze fixed upon Christine’s face, which was suddenly dry and covered with fine scales, having a serpent’s open mouth with fangs ready to strike.
Well, that's an intense way to jump into a story!
Did you work with critique partners?
“No. I tried that several times before and they all quit and left me to finish the work all alone.”
That's unfortunate. I know it can be a tough business, finding someone to work with. I'd liken it to speed dating a less-than-indulgent American Idol judge. >.> But I digress.
What book or movie would you claim as your favorite supernatural thriller?
“Midnight Bayou by Nora Roberts. It’s the closest thing to what I write out there.”
What do you have in mind for your next project?
“Mirrored is the first of a planned 12 book series. They are set in three groups. The first three, then 4, and then another 4. Currently I’m about half way into the second novel in the series.”
Irrelevant, nonsensical questions:
If you could have any Disney sidekick animal as a manifestation of
your muse, which one would you pick?
“The dog Scotty from Lady and the Tramp.”
I'd love my muse to have a sassy Scottish accent.
Paper, plastic, or BYOB (bring your own bag)?
“Paper, later you can wrap a package with it.”
Ah, such an economical answer! I'll have to remember that. Alright, last but not least...
If you were left stranded on an island infested by zombies, what one item would you want to have with you?
“A gun, definitely a gun with unlimited bullets.”
I see you are well versed in zombie protocol. Touche', sir!
And thank you for humoring your interrogator. ^_^ I wish you all the best in your future endeavors.
Bio: Frederick J Arceneaux grew up in St. Petersburg, Florida. After two
years of college, he entered the insurance industry, selling, and
teaching. At age fifty, a severe back injury forced him to retire on
disability. He and his wife Christine moved to north Alabama and in
2003, Fred began writing as a pastime. Using his knowledge of
genealogy, he developed his signature style in the genre of
supernatural thrillers. In August 2011, he sold his first novel
“MIRRORED” to Astraea Press.
Learn more about Fred:
Check out Astraea Press here: http://www.astraeapress.com/
Please feel free to leave any questions or comments for Fred. This is my first interview, so we're all learning as we go here. ^_^