Author Interview: ‘Spine Chillers’ by Q.L. Pearce

About the Book:

The town of Saltlick Bluff is famous for an urban legend. Does the spirit of a young girl wait on a misty cliff-hugging highway for her ride to the prom?In the house on Beech Street a terrible tragedy occurred. Now neighbors won’t look at the place as they pass. Those who live nearby draw their blinds and shutter their windows after dark. What are they afraid of?

Hale Hallow Woods seems sinister and menacing even in the light of day. Does a thirst for revenge beat near its dark heart?

The answers lie within these pages, just waiting to send a chill up your spine!

“Spine Chillers: Hair-Raising Tales is a unique blend of fear and fun – a collection of haunted worlds you’ll find yourself returning to again and again. Pearce reveals her secrets masterfully – and each one packs a spookier punch than the last.” ALISTAIR CROSS, BESTSELLING AUTHOR

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Purchase Links:

Amazon – UK / US

Author Interview:

1: Tell us a little about yourself and what got you in to writing?

I’m Canadian-born to British parents. I spent my infancy in Baranquilla, Colombia, my early childhood on an island in Florida, my teen years in Palm Springs, California, and my early adulthood in New York City. Currently, I live in California with my wonderful husband, two very spoiled dogs, a talkative bird and a bevy of fish. My daughter recently graduated from college and now lives in San Francisco.

I’ve loved writing since I was a child. I won my first school writing contest in third grade and my first city sponsored contest at age eleven. I actually got into a little trouble when I was a kid for telling scary stories that frightened my friends.

As an adult, my first paid publication was an activity book about dinosaurs. I have since written more than 120 books including educational, nonfiction, biography, and fiction for all age ranges. My absolute favorite is scary fiction for middle grade to YA readers. Scary Stories for Sleep-Overs, my first collection of short stories, was published as a middle grade series by Price, Stern, Sloan.

2: Do you have a favorite time and place where you write?

When I write I usually sit at my dining room table. I have a home office with a desk, but my dogs prefer the main room and I like to work with them close by. I begin my day with meditation even before my first cup of coffee. I start reading and research by mid-morning then spend two or three hours writing. My dogs take me out for walks a couple of times a day and I use that time to brainstorm. I usually write for another hour or so at the end of the day.

3: Where do your ideas come from?

Ideas come from everywhere…magazines, newspapers, travel. An offbeat article about Scottish castles or crop circles might catch my eye and suggest a story. I might see a strangely shaped tree while on a hike and wonder what lurks at its roots. I enjoy prowling through antique stores for curious objects or photographs that might spark an idea, or hiking around in new environments to use as settings. My dear friend, author Tamara Thorne, and I sometimes take road trips. We visit haunted hotels, abandoned buildings and ghost towns, all for inspiration.

4: Do you have a plan in your head of where the story is going before you start writing or do you let it carry you along as you go?

For nonfiction I work with an outline. For fiction I loosely sketch out the beginning, middle, and end of each manuscript, get to know my characters, then start writing.

I don’t accept writer’s block without a fight and I never just stare at an empty screen. When I’m working on a first draft I try to keep going. I write anything as long as words are on the page. I try not to self-edit too much until the general manuscript takes shape. Once I have something to work with I can go back and edit and tweak. Sometimes that approach can take your work in surprising directions that really work.

5: What genre are your books and what drew you to that genre?

As a reader I am drawn to plot-driven books that have a mystery at the core. I have found that good paranormal tales keep me turning pages. As a writer, middle grade to YA horror, sci-fi and mystery are my favorites. I enjoy the world building and the suspension of disbelief required in a ghost story. Things that go bump in the night are part of my British heritage and I enjoy researching creepy tales and urban legends.

I remember reading one of Stephen King’s early books, Salem’s Lot. It terrified me! It’s a vampire novel and I was so caught up in the lore I felt safe reading it only during the day. For weeks after I finished it I kept a nightlight on in my room because I was so creeped out.

6: What dream cast would you like to see playing the characters in your latest book?

Since Spine Chillers, Hair-Raising Tales is a collection of seven short stories about tweens and young teens, the cast would be young and there would be quite a few of them. If I could pick from child actors of any era my dream cast would include: Natalie Portman, Jaimie Bell, Quvenzhané Wallis, Chloe Moretz, Roddy McDowall, Abraham Atta, Rory Culkin, Catinka Untaru, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Billy Mumy, Patty McCormack, Natalie Wood, and the entire child cast of Goonies.

7: Do you read much and if so who are your favorite authors.

I read a lot. My list of favorite authors includes Neil Gaiman, Philip Pullman, Margaret Atwood, Christopher Moore, and James Howe. When it comes to horror, I love Shirley Jackson’s work, particularly The Haunting of Hill House. As a child of the Twilight Zone age I prefer tales with unusual twists and turns rather than stories that are gory.

Ray Bradbury is one of my heroes. I love his writing style and he was the master when it came to short stories. I had the opportunity to hear him speak once. He was just as wonderful in person. One of my favorite quotes of his is, “We are cups, constantly and quietly being filled. The trick is knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the beautiful stuff out.”

Roald Dahl wrote some wonderful children’s books, like The Witches and The Twits. His work could be sweet and sentimental, whimsical, scary or darkly humorous. Sometimes all in the same book.

8: What book/s are you reading at present?

I just finished Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead. Now I’m starting Missing, Presumed by Susie Steiner. Next in line…Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders, A Field Guide to Awkward Silences by Alexandra Petri, The Sellout by Paul Beatty, Hallelujah Anyway by Anne Lamott, and Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman.

9: What is your favorite book and why?

That’s such a difficult question! I suppose out of everything I have ever read, Animal Farm by George Orwell made the biggest impression on me. Something Wicked This Way Comes, Coraline and The Graveyard Book are also on the list.

10: What advice would you give for someone thinking about becoming a writer?

The advice I give to working writers is finish what you start. I have several manuscripts that are sitting in a file folder because I didn’t push through when I hit a weak spot. Once that happens I start second-guessing and lose momentum.

The advice I would give to those who enjoy writing horror is to let the readers do some of the work. The unknown is deeply emotional. Provide the story, the characters, atmosphere, the dread, but don’t fill in every detail. Leave some room for the reader’s imagination to personalize the fear.

11: What are the best Social Media Sites for people to find out about you and your work?

I have a website at www.qlpearce.com

Amazon Author Page: www.amazon.com/Q.-L.-Pearce

YouTube: www.youtube.com/watch?v=db4aQLSyKMg&feature=youtu.be

Facebook: www.facebook.com/ql.pearce

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/q-l-pearce

Excerpt from Spine Chillers:

Prom Date

The Roller Grille was the real deal. An authentic drive-in restaurant with car hops on roller skates delivering trays of burgers and fries to people parked outside. It had been in business for decades. Other than a fresh coat of paint now and then it hadn’t changed from the day it opened.Tyler, Andy and Jacob threaded around the cars and pushed through the glass doors to the diner. A hostess dressed in a fuzzy sweater and a poodle skirt guided customers to booths covered in red vinyl. A candy-colored jukebox blared from a corner. The laughter and chatter of the crowd was louder than the music. Tyler noticed Shay jammed into a booth with her friends. He raised a hand in greeting but she ignored him.

Andy pointed to the long soda fountain. “There’s room over there.” Tyler nodded and they each claimed a stool.

“What’ll it be?” Randy, the soda jerk adjusted his black bow tie and gave them a toothy grin. The boys ordered shakes.

Andy whirled around once on his stool and stopped to face Jacob. “So do they have any place like this in Phoenix?”

“No. This is pretty cool.” He looked around and his eye settled on a wall of photographs. “Who are those people?”

“Those are the prom kings and queens from the high school,” Tyler answered.

“Wow there’s like a hundred of them. What’s the deal with those two?” Jacob pointed to a black and white photo that was larger than the rest.

Tyler slipped into telling the story that everyone in town knew by heart. “That’s Johnny Tonnarro and his girlfriend, Samantha. He was like a rock star a long time ago. He got killed in an accident off Yetter Point.”

“It was a foggy night. He drove his car off the cliff and got squished like a pancake,” Andy added. “His girlfriend waited for hours in the cold for him to show up. She was all dressed for the prom and crying like a baby.”

Jacob gazed at Samantha’s sweet face. “That’s sad. What happened to her?”

Tyler lowered his voice for effect. “She drowned a year later on the anniversary of the accident. She was down on the jetty throwing flowers out into the ocean, those stinky white ones…gardenias. A wave swept her off the rock. Some people say they’ve seen her.”

“Seen her? What do you mean?”

Andy took up the story again. “Every year around this time her ghost waits out on Thorne Road near Highway One for Johnny to pick her up. Just standing there crying.”

Randy placed the shakes in front of the boys and joined in. “This time of year the evenings are usually foggy,” “They say she waits just off the edge of the road in the mist – lavender gown, white gloves, and gardenias in her long, blonde hair.”

Jacob’s mouth dropped open and his eyes grew wide. “Really? A real ghost? You’ve seen her?”

Taylor and Andy couldn’t hold back their laughter. “Nobody’s seen her,” Andy snickered. “It’s all made up. Not the accident part but the ghost part.

Jacob frowned. “So Samantha didn’t really die?”

“Oh, yeah. She died alright. She drowned. But only little kids and tourists swallow the ghost story. You have to be a real lamebrain to believe it. Last year the town newspaper offered a ten thousand dollar reward for anybody who could get a photograph of her. There were a lot of fakes but nobody’s earned the money yet.”

Still grinning, Tyler turned to take a sip of his milkshake and caught a glimpse of Shay. She was staring toward the entrance. If looks could kill, her eyes were lethal weapons. Tyler followed her gaze.

“Uh oh,” he whispered and his smile faded. His brother was holding the door open for Anilla Jacoby, Shay’s arch-enemy. Anilla beamed up at Lane and slipped her arm through his. The couple slid into a booth. Shay stood and stormed toward the door without looking at them.

“This isn’t good,” Tyler muttered.

A moment later his phone beeped. He read the text. Come outside now. We need to talk. Shay was waiting for him as he pushed open the door.

“I thought I would die of embarrassment. I can’t believe he would show up here in front of everyone with that airhead hanging on him like that. Now I know why he’s been avoiding me.” She turned on Tyler. “How long has this been going on?”

“Don’t ask me. This is the first time I’ve seen him with Anilla.”

“He needs to pay a price for humiliating me like that. I want to embarrass him in front of all of his friends!”

Tyler shifted nervously. “Shay I don’t want to…”

“Think of something!”

“Look, Shay. Maybe you should just let it go. He’s my brother. I can’t …”

“I’m not going to let this go, Tyler.” She leaned in and growled. “You’re with me or against me. And trust me, if you want to survive high school you don’t want to be against me. I can make your life miserable.” Shay turned and stomped away.

Excerpt from Spine Chillers, by Q.L. Pearce
Copyright © Glass Apple Press 2016.

About the Author:

Q.L.Pearce is the author of more than 120 books for young readers, from picture books to YA, as well as film tie-in books for the Fox animated film Titan AE and the Universal animated series Land Before Time. Red Bird Sings: The Story of Zitkala Sa (Carolrhoda Books, with co-author and illustrator, Gina Capaldi), received several awards including a Carter G. Woodson Book Award gold medal from NCSS and a Moonbeam Children’s Book Award gold medal. Her fiction includes the popular middle grade series, Scary Stories for Sleep-Overs italisize (Price, Stern, Sloan). Q believes strongly in the value of scary books for young readers. When asked what credentials she has which qualify her as an expert in this area she replies, “I was a child once. That was very scary.”

 

Author’s contact info: contact@bamliterature.com or http://www.qlpearce.com/contact

Books by Q.L. Pearce

Mysterious Encounters: Mysterious Disappearances

Mysterious Encounters: Mothman

Mysterious Encounters: Reincarnation

Mysterious Encounters: La Llorona

Mysterious Encounters: Ghost Hunters

Scary Stories for Stormy Nights

More Scary Stories for Sleep-Overs

Still More Scary Stories for Sleep-Overs

Even More Scary Stories for Sleep-Overs

Super Scary Stories for Sleep-Overs

The 25 Strangest Mysteries in the World

50 Scariest Places and Strangest Mysteries

Blood Moon Harbor (co-author Francesca Rusackas)

Gross Science Experiments

Monsters: Wendigo

Monsters: The Furies

Red Bird Sings: The Story of Zitkala-Sa, Native American Author, Musician, and Activist

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