Sunday, February 20, 2011

Meet Liz Strange

Today Toad welcomes Liz Strange to her corner. If you're interested in vampire fiction with a difference, Liz is sure to offer up a saga worthwhile taking a look into.

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

I think I knew I wanted to be a writer at about the age of three, when I started my first series of books about a bird family. I couldn’t physically write yet so I dictated them to my mother. But when I seriously thought about pursuing a career as a writer? That happened in the summer of 2008. I’d had stories and abandoned novels I’d worked on over the years, and My Love Eternal (my first published book) was pulled out of a dusty box and revised.

Was there a defining moment where you got the idea for your first published novel?

My novel was inspired by things I liked and things I didn’t like in the vampire fiction I’d read. As my readers will find, my stories are much darker than many of the others in the "paranormal romance" market, verging on being horror. My vampires are monsters and they know it, but they still have enough of their humanity remaining to be empathized with.

Why vampires? What is it about these creatures of the night that appeals to you?

I like the idea of living forever, in both an amazed and horrified kind of way. It would be incredible to experience so many things, see the world around you change, but it would also be terrible to watch those who get close to you eventually die. There is something beautiful, and yet haunting about the idea of vampirism.

If you were to go into solitary confinement for a year, which are the three books you'd take with you and why?

Oh, hard one. Ok, if only three I’ll say The Picture of Dorian Grey, Interview with the Vampire and A Handmaid’s Tale.

Describe your writing process.

I am a write as I go kind of girl. I very rarely have an outline, though I do make notes to myself as I go along about things I should follow up on. I am very serious about my research though. If I’m going to reference a geographical area, or a different time period I want to be as accurate as possible.

Care to share a bit about your upcoming projects?

I am working through the edits on the final book in my Dark Kiss Trilogy, Born of Blood and Retribution. I’ve finished two other novels and a novella that I hope to get out into the marketplace soon.

Thanks so much for having me at Toad’s Corner!

Useful links:

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Tea with Cassandra Jade

Today Toad welcomes Cassandra Jade, author of Death's Daughter.

Tell us a little about yourself and what got you started with writing?

I’ve always just loved reading and telling stories. There was something magical about being able to turn a page and be in a whole new situation and I loved creating as much as I loved experiencing. I particularly loved creating new characters and throwing them into the craziest situation I could imagine. When I was fifteen I had to write out a list of goals that I wanted to accomplish within ten years for school. I decided I wanted to finish writing a novel. From then I started focusing more on working through to the end of my stories but it has only been in the last few years that I’ve managed to find the time.

Who are your three favourite authors and why?

My favourite would have to be Traci Harding because she created one of my favourite characters (Tori Alexander from the Ancient Future Trilogy). Her mix of fantasy and history (and recreation of history) completely captivated me when I was in school and is still one of my favourite reads today.

There are so many other authors but I would have to go with David Eddings and Terry Pratchett as my next two favourites. Both write fantasy but use humour to really engage the reader. Pratchett does this in an over-the-top manner that makes you laugh out loud while Eddings seems to slip the subtle sarcasm into the narration and makes you smile.

Why do you write?

I write because I like to find out what would happen if… I’m always asking what if and by writing fantasy I can play out any scenario I like and lead the characters to a logical resolution. I think that is what really kept Death’s Daughter going. I wanted to know what would happen if everything you believed about your life wasn’t true. Admittedly, the question has been asked before but it is one of those questions where there are infinite answers depending on who you ask and how they react.

How do you go about crafting a story?

Usually I’ll start with something simple, like an outline of a character or a single scene or something that gets my attention. I’ll spend time playing with the idea in my head and add different elements to it and slowly the idea starts to take shape. At this stage I know whether this is just a passing idea or something I want to spend time developing and I decide whether I want to start taking notes on it or not.

Eventually the idea ends up in a notebook and it may stay there forever, particularly if I’m currently working on something else. If it gets to the stage where I’m going to turn it into an actual story, I will write an outline of events and do some character mapping and then I’ll start writing the first draft. Quite possibly I need to take a more methodical approach to crafting a story in the future but at the moment I like that at each stage I step back and think about what I’m doing and I can jump between ideas and notebooks.

Sum up Death's Daughter in three words.

I tried. I really did and I cannot think of three words that would sum up Death’s Daughter. The best I could come up with was: Desperately seeking escape from destiny – which is five words and more of a classified advertisement than a summary.

Useful links:
My blog is Cassandra Jade in the Realm (
My Twitter is @darkened_jade
An excerpt from Death’s Daughter can be read on Lyrical Press (

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Short Fiction: The Accident by WJ Hill

It was an accident. Daniel never meant to hit the hitch-hiker who had suddenly jumped out in front of him with his thumb held out. He slammed on the brakes and tried to swerve. The screech of tyres on the tarmac – followed by the thud of the hitch-hiker's body hitting the bonnet would ring in his ears for the rest of his life. Trembling, he got out of the car and went to look at the scene. The long, winding country road was empty. No witnesses. He swatted the idea away. Daniel Moynahan was a decent, law-abiding citizen and would do right by this person, whoever he was.

The hot summer day was drawing to an end and, despite the hazy heat, Daniel shuddered. Nausea welled up in his belly as the implications of the accident began to filter through the sense of dissociation that was taking over. On autopilot, he rounded the front of the car and, to his surprise, saw no visible damage.

The sickening thud of the hitch-hiker hitting the bonnet, followed by the brief darkening of the windscreen as he rolled over the front of the car replayed in Daniel's mind. He had just hit someone and possibly killed him. Why was there no damage to the car? He walked around to the back, fascinated and a little scared. Was he losing his mind? Had he imagined the collision?

Well, he had definitely hit the brakes. The stink of burning rubber wrinkled his nose before he even saw the twin lines where he had skidded to a halt. A feeling of being watched crept into his consciousness, nudging him to look further into this. It occurred to him to check the overgrown ditch. There should have been a smell of blood – or worse – his logic told him. If he had really hit someone, that was. Still, Daniel pushed aside all notions of just writing it off as an hallucination and decided to investigate. He knew that, if he didn't, he would spend the rest of his life asking himself why not. Besides, there was always the chance that it was just an hallucination. He had to be sure.

There was a crowbar in the back, behind the driver's seat. He went back to the car and took it out, then went along the ditch, using the crowbar to pull away the berry-laden brambles, starting from where the bonnet of the car was, and working backwards. When he reached the end of the skid marks, he almost gave up, but curiosity and a desire to resolve this compelled Daniel to continue the search for the hitch-hiker's body, which he just knew was somewhere along here. On the fringes of his awareness, he could sense a pleading to keep going, to uncover the truth of the matter, as if the hitch-hiker was standing beside him, urging him on.

Unwilling to let him down, Daniel kept walking along, poking and pulling at the undergrowth along the ditch, ignoring the cold fingers of fear that were creeping up his spine. The hitch-hiker was somewhere along here, he just knew it. A brief glimpse of dirty blond hair and intense blue eyes widened in surprise and horror flashed through Daniel's mind. The feeling grew stronger, as if the hitch-hiker was waiting for him in the ditch, ready to spring out and shout, “Gotcha!”

But it wasn't quite like that after all. The next pull at the brambles and bindweed revealed a dirty trainer and a bit of denim. Daniel gulped and pulled the curtain of weeds up anyway, and uncovered more denim, soaked, rotten and stuck to the maggot-eaten corpse. Flies buzzed up in an angry cloud as he yanked at the undergrowth. Light glinted off the frame of a pair of broken spectacles that hung halfway off the ruined face. Horrified, Daniel stepped away and threw up. He put his hand on his heart as he passed by the spot where the body lay on the way back to his car, then called the police. As he waited for them to arrive, the oppressive feeling of being watched faded, as if the hitch-hiker was glad to have been found at last.

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