Those of you that have followed my blog for awhile know that I have nothing but love and respect for the fabulous Mae Clair! I have had the opportunity to read and review her novels for the past few years and I have interviewed her previously, however, in celebration of her newest novel, Cusp of Night, I thought it would be fantastic to catch up again and share some of her brilliant insight with my readers! Enjoy!
Mae, I first connected with you when you wrote your Point Pleasant Series which included the legendary Mothman and collapse of The Silver Bridge in 1967. Is your new Hode’s Hill Series based on any “real legends?”
Hmm. Yes and no. My “creature” in Cusp of Night is purely fictional, but I had Springheeled Jack in mind when I first envisioned it leaping between rooftops and over fences. Also, as far-fetched as it seems, there is a plot thread about “blue people” in the book, and the background for that is based on fact.
If not based on any urban legends, what inspired your story about the fiend, Lucinda the blue lady, and Ford?
Several years ago, I stumbled over an article about the Blue Fugates of Kentucky. I was so intrigued I tucked the reference away, hoping for a way to be able to weave the elements into a story at some point in the future. That’s the great thing about writers. We hoard story ideas for later use. When I started reading about the Spiritualism movement of the 1800s and early 1900s the two seemed a good fit and from that—and my love of urban legends—Cusp of Night was born.
If you ask any of my friends or family, I became quite obsessed with the Silver Bridge incident and Mothman after reading your novels in the Point Pleasant Series. When writing, do you hope to inspire any true history detective work among your readers?
First off, I have to say that I’m absolutely delighted the series hooked you to that degree! I was pretty obsessed with the Mothman myself, LOL. As for inspiring true history detective work, it would be nice to think one of my novels might have prompted someone to delve deeper into the folklore or history I use in my books. I remember one reviewer who, after reading Myth and Magic, took to Google to see if the legend and first name I created for my lead character, Caithelden Breckbill, had any basis in fact. That was pretty awesome to hear.
I think I mentioned in my review of Cusp of Night that your writing blends mystery, suspense, and paranormal – however, if there is any romance, it is limited. Which is more challenging for you – including some element of romance or limiting the amount of romance to focus on the main theme of the novel?
When I first started writing, I wrote romance with mystery or paranormal subplots. I didn’t quite fit that genre because I wanted to focus more on the mystery elements rather than the romantic threads. Having made the move to mystery/suspense, I’m more comfortable as a writer. I generally have a female and male lead in my books, but that doesn’t mean there will be romance involved. The romantic elements in my Point Pleasant series are minor, and in Cusp of Night, it’s more about Maya and Collin working together. That’s the type of character relationship I prefer. I don’t think about limiting or cutting the romance, but it doesn’t fit with the way my writing has slanted.
In a world of e-books, chick-lit, etc… is it daunting to stand-out as a female writer considering that you focus on mystery/paranormal/suspense, or do you think your passion and craft gives you an edge over other female authors?
I definitely don’t have an edge. I might have a small niche in that I like to write about creatures and “odd” or “unusual” things, and those elements don’t appeal to all readers. I do think most writers who aren’t on the level of the “big names” in their genre struggle to stand out in the crowd. There is a lot of fiction to choose from. It’s a matter of connecting with readers and continuing to produce stories they look forward to reading. The great thing about the author community is that we tend to help each other and share what brings us success, no matter how small those achievements might be.
Imagine that I am a young girl and dream of writing about paranormal mysteries, what advice would you have for me to make my mark (referring to my previous question about so many female authors writing romance, chick-lit novels)?
Probably every aspiring writer everywhere has heard this at one time or another, but I truly believe you need to write what appeals to you. Do your research (if applicable), tell a good story without leaving plot holes in your wake, and craft engaging characters. Readers need to bond emotionally with the characters in your book, so give yours personal flaws and obstacles to overcome. Most of all, tell the story you want to tell and worry about the market later.
You and I first crossed paths about a little over two years ago (hard to believe 😊), how has your writing changed or grown in that time?
It’s amazing so much time has passed! My work has stayed in the same genre—mystery/suspense/thriller—but I think I’ve grown as a writer. The biggest adjustment for me has been in learning to write to publisher deadlines. That seemed a monumental hurdle in the past, but I’ve come to the conclusion its part of the life I’ve chosen. I’ve learned to adapt my daily schedule to my writing schedule and fit the pieces together without having a meltdown, LOL. That might not sound like much, but trust me—from a writing perspective, it’s huge!
Jen, thanks so much for having me as your guest today, and for sharing this interview with your readers. It’s a pleasure to be here. I absolutely loved the questions you came up with!