Archive for the ‘Author Interviews’ Category

mary collins2On today’s edition of Talk Radio with NO Radio we are going on location to find Contemporary Romance author Mary H Collins.  We’ve been trying to get together for about a month now to do this interview but between writing, work and family, she just hasn’t been able to get away, so we are going to her.  This will be a complete surprise, she is not expecting us so, you, delightful reader, get a rare insight into the real person behind the books.  Right now, my husband is driving and we are almost there so take a moment and check out Mary’s website while we get situated to barge in on her:

Wow, did you see all those books she’s written?  Amazing and I bet you didn’t know that Mary has been a photographer since 1991?

So picture this, my husband has rigged up an old video camera, you know the old, really huge ones that weigh a ton.  He got the main light working, has taped one of those laser pointers for the red record light just under what has to be a 75 watt bulb and did some clever craft work on the lens part to extend it and make it look really big.  It looks like a huge TV camera if you look at it from the front.  The idea is to walk in, ask for Mary and get a huge reaction from everyone so everyone knows how famous she is, or should be!  So here we go, my husband is behind me with the camera and I have my big fake microphone as usual.  Opening the front door and action!

Debra: Hello! <lady at the front desk is wide eyed and her mouth hangs open as my husband shines the light right on her face>  Hi, I’m Debra Hartmann here with Talk Radio with NO Radio looking for Mary H Collins, I just need a few minutes to ask her some questions, is she here? <flips microphone forward for her to respond directly into it>

Receptionist:  <leaning into the microphone> Yea…really?  Who did you say you’re with?

Debra: Talk Radio with NO Radio, it’s a live show?  Have you seen it?  Is Mary here?

Receptionist:  No, I haven’t seen that, you’re filming this? <she tries to fix her hair, her face still shows such confusion it’s all I can do not to laugh> Uh, <picks up the phone and dials> Mary, there’s a camera crew here to see you and they are filming live, can you come up here, right now?

Debra:  Thank you!< turns to camera and speaks into microphone> Ladies and gentlemen we are just waiting for Mary to come out and we should be able to ask her some questions any moment now, just stay with us, live on Talk Radio with NO Radio.

Mary: Oh my goodness, what is all this?! <Mary has come through the door behind the receptionist desk with a number of people following her and is just as wide eyed as the receptionist now?

Debra: Hi, are you Mary H Collins?

Mary:  Yes, I am.  What is all this?  Who are you?

Debra:  Mary, it’s my pleasure to finally meet you. <extends a hand to shake and holds back laughter> Debra L Hartmann, host of Talk Ra-

Mary:  Debra!  I can’t believe it’s really you!  Wow, and you came all this way, the interview, but what’s the camera for?

Bob:  I guess I’m done now…<flips all the lights off and lowers the heavy contraption, is laughing after holding that in for the last 5 minutes or so>

Debra:  Mary, this is my husband, Bob, we thought we’d surprise you and come in with a big bang to get everyone’s attention. <laughter finally bursts through>

Mary:  <is looking around the room and busts out laughing too, points at the receptionist, still fixing her hair> Well, you certainly did cause a fuss!  Everyone, this is Debra, she wrote a book review on one of my books and I have been meaning to go see her to do an interview but-

Debra:  We came to you, you are always so busy, and don’t you guys ever get a day off? <points and snickers at the wide eyed group of people surrounding us now>

Mary:  This is Ron, my boss, Stacie and Judy, marketing, Rhonda, Louise, Gerald and Mike, photographers, everyone say hello, oh and that’s Tonya, our receptionist.

Debra:  Hi everybody, sorry for disturbing your work day, I hope we didn’t get Mary into any trouble.

Ron:  No, not at all, it’s a quiet day and this is quite exciting.  So why are you here again?

Debra:  Don’t you know that Mary is a published author of 7 great books?  I am here to interview her for my Talk Radio with NO Radio show.

Ron:  You don’t say?  We knew she wrote a bit but had no idea!  Mary, you’ve been holding out on us!

Mary:  Well, I, um, well-

Debra:  Ron, can we borrow Mary for about half an hour?  I’ll bring her right back, I swear!

Ron:  Sure, sure, in fact you can use the break room if you like?

Debra:  Mary, does that work for you?  We could sit and do this interview and then get out of your hair?

Mary:  Yes, that would be fine.  I’ll take you there, just follow me.

<We, and I mean my husband and all of the people that Mary introduced us to, head through the doorway in search of the break room>

Mary:  Hey, guys, a little privacy?  This is my big interview, scoot, all of you!

Crowd: Oh! Yea! Sure!  Sorry!  <they turn and head back to the reception area>

Bob:  I’m going outside for a smoke and leave you two ladies alone to do your interview.

Debra:  Thanks babe!  Be out soon.  Mary, are you mad, did we get you in any trouble?

Mary:  No, not in the least!  I can’t believe you came all this way just for me and what a hoot of a surprise, we will be laughing about this for the next week.

Debra:  Oh good, I was so hoping you’d be thrilled and get a kick out of some movie star treatment.  Your books are just wonderful and I think everyone should know more about you!  So, can I start by asking you to share something about your work here?  Tell our audience about some event that was particularly fun or exciting, besides today, of course? <settling into comfortable chairs at a round dining table after filling two paper cups with coffee>

Mary:  Hmmm, let me think, oh, this is good.  Years ago at Portraits Plus, which is the company I started with in 1991, the owner had the idea that we could photograph animals, as easy as people. We hooked up with some lady in Cleveland, TN, who ran a place called Pampered Pets, I think it was.  We did two or three shoots with everybody bringing their pets in, mostly dogs but some cats, birds and 1 snake. Another photographer and I shot it. You wouldn’t believe the chaos. We had dogs humping other dogs, dogs chasing cats, cats trying to get to the birds, and much, much more. The snake was huge and when the owner released it from its cage, it slithered away from him. Talk about 2 photographers running out the door, along with several other people. I think that was the last pet shoot we did.

Debra:  Oh, I would have been running out the door too!  I know you had shared with me that you are ready for retirement and just helping out a little longer here?

Mary:  Yes, I want to focus completely on my writing and enjoy my retirement.  I’m going to be 66 years old in July and I am done working for a living.  It’s about time for me to just relax and I have always wanted to write full time.

Debra:  Well, I do hope you get to do that soon!  I know I’d love to read some more of your books.  Let me jump right into the questions your fans have for you then, let’s see.  <flips through notes>  Ah, here we go, can you remember the moment when you logged into your author account and discovered you had made your first sale?

Mary:  Actually, I never checked it. Melissa Miller, at Hearts on Fire Books at the time, emailed me and told me My Sister’s Keeper was selling well and had made the Best Seller List. I didn’t expect it to start selling that early.  After that, I began checking the Amazon Rankings several times a day, it was like an obsession. <laughs> I’m now checking Amazon/UK Rankings, seems my books are selling better there than here. Right now, My Sister’s Keeper is 23,480.mysisterskeeper_maryhcollins

Debra:  Wow, congratulations.  Here’s one, about the book I just reviewed for you, Deception.  If it was made into a movie, who would you want to play the main character and why?

Mary:  Jodie Foster would be perfect to play Jillian.  She’s one of my favorite actresses. I’ve seen all of her films. She is so versatile and has portrayed so many different characters in many different genres. While writing the book, Jodie’s face came to mind. That’s how I pictured Jillian looking.

Debra:  Oh perfect, I can see that and I love her as an actress too!  Oh, here’s a good one, if you were to write a story featuring a fictional character from another author’s novel, who would you choose and why?

Mary:  I’d choose Blue Bailey from Susan Elizabeth Phillips’ novel, Natural Born Charmer. I listened to this book on audio, while on a trip to Oklahoma about 8 years ago. It’s probably my favorite romance novel ever… Blue Bailey was hitchhiking in a beaver suit when a famous football player, can’t remember his name, picked her up, took her to his summer home and in the end they fell in love, as usual. I may have the book somewhere. It’s one of those books that you want to read again and again.

Debra:  I’ll have to find that one, it sounds good.  If you could invite one character from your novel(s) to a dinner party who would it be and why?

Mary:  I think it’d be Kevin Richards from Out of The Blue. I developed him to be my kinda guy, rough and rugged with a sense of humor. In the book, Kevin got a bad rap for leaving Erika for her sister. But in real life that happens sometimes and my books are all about what happens in real life. Unlike most romance novels, where boy meets girl – they fall in love – and live happily ever after, my stories run closer to what might actually happen in life.

Debra:  Very interesting.  I read Out of the Blue also, can I come to that dinner party or should you two be alone?out of the blue_Maryhcollins

Mary:  No! You can’t come. That’s how he met Erika’s sister. LOL!

Debra:  Ha!  Of course, I forgot!  <refills their coffee cups, notices box of donuts on the counter, snags one>  Would you rather sell 1000 books at $10/£10 each or 2000 books at $1/£1, what gives you the greater sense of satisfaction; overall earnings or overall sales?

Mary:  I’d rather sell the 2,000 at $1. I don’t write for the money. I get more satisfaction from knowing more people are reading my books. A while back my brother mentioned my name to one of his friends and her daughter requested him to get my autograph for her. She had read all my books and knew my brother well but didn’t know that we were related.

Debra:  Very neat!  That must have been a great feeling, knowing someone loved your writing so much!  What do you think stimulates sales the most; positive reviews or advertising?

Mary:  I’m sure it’s advertising. My Sister’s Keeper began selling well when it was first released in 2007 with Hearts on Fire Books, and is still selling more than all my other books combined, yet it had the most 1 star reviews. Yesterday I checked and it was 53,000 in the rankings. Of course it doesn’t go as low as it used to, but it’s holding its own.  I’m thinking about writing a sequel to it.

Debra:  You just never really know I think.  Even 1 star reviews are reviews and can have a positive impact on sales.  One theory is that it makes people even more curious than a great review.  I’m curious, Mary, how do you see the publishing industry changing over the next few years?

Mary:  I think more authors will self-publish. I’ve thought about self-publishing, Of course it’d be more royalties for me, but, Melissa over at Solstice Publishing is so good to her authors, I wouldn’t want to leave her. I’ve been with her since 2007. I don’t know how she manages all the stuff she does, plus taking care of her husband and two young boys who suffer with Asthma.

Debra:  It’s rare these days to hear an author so pleased with the relationship with the publishing house.  The world of publishing has changed so much!  Are there any book blogs or websites which you would recommend for an author looking to find potential reviewers for their book?

Mary:  Well, I always refer them to your site Debra. There used to be a site called, Ghostwriters Reviews, but they must have closed down or changed their name. They did several reviews for me. I wish I could locate them, but I’ve searched all over the web and can’t find them.

Debra:  Oh, so you are the one that’s been keeping me so busy!  Thank you for that Mary, I do love writing the reviews and doing these interviews.  I get free books to read and I get to meet some amazing people.  We still on for that flea marketing adventure over near Pigeon Forge soon as the weather allows?

Mary:  I can’t wait!! We’re gonna have so much fun. I’ll bring a gentleman friend of mine along and make it a foursome.

Debra:  Sounds good, weather is finally warming up for us so do let me know when you can take off for the weekend and we’ll just come right back up and make a day of it.  There you have it folks, real people, just like you are writing the books you love to read.  So support your favorite authors, write a review, comment on their blogs and web posts and watch for their new releases!  To wrap up, here’s a list of where you can find out more about Mary and all of her wonderful books.  Thanks so much for indulging me today, Mary, I’m so thrilled to finally meet you and I wish you all the best success!

The Talk Radio with NO Radio show is a fictitious skit written around the actual interview with the author, designed to capture the truth of the person behind the books and is accomplished through collaboration via email with the author.  Once written (by Debra L Hartmann, exclusively) the author has the final say on the skit content before it is published as a final check point that the written material truly reflects the authors dialogue and accurately represents them in skit.  To learn more about getting on the show, contact

Debra: Joining me today in the studio for this edition of Talk Radio with NO Radio, is author Rachel Beam, straight from beautiful Key West off the tip of Florida and probably a bit relieved by our cooler climate for a change?7-Mile Bridge 2rachelbeam

Rachel:  Relieved? Oh, hells no. I only ever feel truly alive when I’m on the verge of collapsing from heat stroke. It is nice to be wearing pants for a change though.

Debra:  Oh lord, more power to you…I would melt and be completely miserable.  We lived in FL when I was a kid for a few years and then I also lived in SC for a few years in my twenties…loved the beaches at that age, partied a lot, so glad to be home now, cooler climate, snow men and snowball fights in the winter…oh yes.  Rachel, I was so thrilled you agreed to make the trip for this interview, I loved your book Hear Him Cry, obviously by the review I wrote for you.  What’s next?  And when?

Rachel:  Thanks much for the invite. I was thrilled for an excuse to take a road trip. My husband, DJ, was equally thrilled to be able to hit up Sonic several times along the way, those limeades are addictive. Glad you liked HHC, but I’m sure you didn’t have nearly as much fun reading it as I had writing it.  Then again, your review was positively kickass, so maybe I’m overestimating my sense of fun. I honestly don’t know what’s next or when.  It took about thirty years for me to start writing HHC and then it just kind of happened on its own.  I have, however, been kicking around the idea of trying my hand at writing erotic short stories.

Debra:  I’m hooked on their new BLT sandwiches myself and the M&M Sonic Blasts!  So those questions were more for me than our audience, sorry, but I am anxious to read more from you!  Oh!  I’m such a bad hostess, I forgot to grab us something to drink and some snacks before you got here, what would you like to drink and I have a delicious fruit and cheese tray for us? <has bounced up and is headed for the kitchen, Rachel is staring at the microphone and has this look of “what am I supposed to do now” that seems a bit devious, almost plotting>

Rachel: Feel free to open this dusty bottle of wine that I snuck out of the house.  We’ve been saving it for five years, but I’m sure it’ll take DJ less time than that to forgive me.  I think.  <She gives DJ a chuckle and facial expression that says “we’ll talk about this later”, he smiles back knowingly.  Rachel jumps up, grabs the mic in both hands, passionately, speaks in her best, sexy and husky tone of voice> I suppose you’re wondering why I’ve asked you all here tonight.  Shhh…don’t speak. It’s so much better when you’re mute. I wanna tell you about Texas Radio and the Big Beat. Oh, look! Gouda!

Debra:  <has come back to the sitting area with wine glasses and a tray of fruit and cheese, catches Rachel goofing on the microphone and busts out laughing> You are a trip, I love your sense of humor and so wish I was filming this instead, YouTube, can you picture it?!  So, tell us about you, Rachel, tell us what kind of music you listen to?  <is pouring three glasses of wine, all are enjoying the cheese and fruit tray>

Rachel: In no particular order of importance… Classic rock, Motown, disco, new wave, punk, metal, grunge, blues (Delta & Chicago), classic jazz, ragtime, big band, classic country, folk, 70’s pop, 80’s pop, Brit pop, funk, electronica, classical, anything that features a sitar…did I miss anything?  I just dig the MUSIC, man.  And, yes, I dig The Music Man.

Debra: Wow, that is a really wide variety of music, so let me guess, your mood drives your listening choice from one minute to the next?

Rachel: One might think that, but one would be wrong.  The running stories in my head are what drives my listening choice.  I can’t write without music.  Not odd.  The cool thing is that I always end up listening to songs that compliment whatever it is I happen to be writing in some form or another.  Everything has a soundtrack.  The soundtrack for HEAR HIM CRY can be found on my website,  There are 45 songs that I can no longer listen to without thinking about “Henry” and “Tessa”.

Debra: I also must have music while I write and I have to be careful what I listen to, it has to work with what I am writing, it definitely influences it.  I love when authors do the playlist that goes with the book, I have thought about doing that, but that would require me writing it down and listening to a specific list of songs, I am more random with it….  Tell us about what influenced or inspired you writing this book?

Rachel:  I’m not exactly sure. I’ve had a lot of friends over the years who were victims of molestation and I’ve read a lot of books written by victims of molestation. I suppose I wanted to see if it was possible to turn the perpetrator into a multi-layered, sympathetic character; someone who could be both pitied and despised.  I had a friend from high school who had decided to turn her experiences as a stripper into a novel. She was the one who pushed me to write HEAR HIM CRY when I told her what the idea was. The main character, “Henry”, was somewhat inspired by David Strathairn’s character in the film Blue Car.  It was his face that was in my head throughout the entire writing process.

Debra: Interesting!  I always associate characters with a movie face when I read and I had him as he looked in The River Wild for Henry.  It was your description of the gray hair at his temples that made him click in mind.  How very cool!  How long did it take for you to write it, take us from the idea to the moment you published and share any quirks about it all that might be funny or interesting to our readers today?

Rachel:  Before I answer that, I must say…Yes!  The River Wild!  Exactly!  Was that automatic for you?  If it was, I think you’re my new BFF.  Okay, so back to your question.  I wrote the first page of the second chapter before anything else and quickly gave up. I think that was somewhere around the end of 2005 or beginning of 2006. I sat down and got serious in September of 2006 and had the first draft completed by March of 2007. The entire process was completely nonsensical.  I began with what I thought was going to be the most uncomfortable chapter to get through and worked my way out.  Basically, I wrote the middle first, then the beginning, then went from the end of the middle to the beginning of the end, then back to the end of the beginning and wrote to the beginning of the middle and then, finally, the end.  It’s difficult to say how many actual drafts there were.  The original manuscript was fairly short, so it was more about adding stuff here and there, as opposed to making changes.  Except for the ending, that is.  I wrote at least four distinct endings for HEAR HIM CRY before I started querying agents around December of 2007.  I don’t remember how long it was before I halted the process, but I was inspired to cut about 30,000 words and re-write the last third of the book, this is actually when I had the most fun.  I started shopping it around again after that, but gave up after querying a total of fifty agents and publishers.  I decided to self-publish in the summer of 2010.  That December, the woman who convinced me to write it in the first place, by then we were no longer friends, reached out and suggested I hit up Solstice Publishing because they had taken an interest in her work.  So I did.  I was e-mailed a contract on February 15, 2011, the day after my brother-in-law passed away.

Debra:  Yes, The River Wild was instant, movie stars in a specific role just seem to be a natural progression of the movie forming for me as I read.  Yea, I have a new BFF!  Woo hoo!  <clink of the wine glasses and chug, chug, chug, we both need a refill!>  Sorry for your loss, what a way to remember the date by.  <pause>  Rachel, I find it so surprising that you had such a garbled approach to the writing, it was so well written and very eloquent, like you’d expect from someone that studied writing for years and had several best sellers by now!  Just goes to show, creativity is an individual thing and there is no formula, whatever works for you is what works.  What do you think makes your book special, what’s the hook that will have readers not wanting to put it down?

Rachel:  It’s a little subversive. From the very beginning, the reader knows that Henry did something horrible. I think they’ll keep reading to find out exactly what it was.  I think they’ll continue reading after they find out what it was because people just love train wrecks.  I do anyway.

Debra:  Honestly, that’s half of why I kept reading, I had to know what the something was and you cleverly held it back as long as possible so that I couldn’t guess, I had a list of possibilities going on in my head and as I read on, the list narrowed down.  The other half was just how well written it was, if I see a movie in my head while I read, you have me hooked, period. <both laugh>

Rachel:  If I don’t see a movie in my head while I write, then I’m doing something very wrong.  My educational background is in screenwriting, so it kind of goes with the territory.  That’s why everything I write has a lot of dialogue in it.  It actually makes me feel a little silly to admit that I have such a useless degree.  The most valuable thing I took away from that program was my favorite instructor, the great Richard Wesley, saying that it’s okay to break the rules as long as we know what they are and how to work within them first.

Debra:  Interesting point about those rules. While interviewing freelancers for my editing service, I was surprised at how many editors that are still so old school, with so much change in the industry, and they did not believe in breaking the rules, ever.  Head hopping for example, if they said NO, you should never head hop no matter what, they were a no right off the bat!  You have to break the rules sometimes, how can you truly be creative and develop a piece of literary art otherwise?  You head hopped in your book but did so very skillfully and I thought it made it all more three dimensional.  You allowed the reader to experience the scenes from Tessa’s and Henry’s POV and I never once wasn’t sure whose head I was and that is the whole point.  If the book was made into a movie who would you want to play the main character and why?

Rachel:  Making sure it was clear whose head the reader is in at all times was a challenge. Anyone who’s read the book and knows me personally, knows that both Henry and Tessa kinda sound like me. That’s just something I couldn’t avoid; the alternative wouldn’t have been organic. I think rule sticklers need to get over themselves. Like I said, the rules of writing, or storytelling, can be broken as long as the writer knows how to work within them first. I know how to work within them, so you can pretty much bet that I’ll always break them. If it works, it works and if it sucks, it sucks, but I’m not going to limit myself simply because someone said ‘no’ to me, especially when that someone didn’t come up with the rules in the first place. These people are lemmings and I have no respect for that kind of mentality. Switching POVs throughout was entirely necessary in this particular situation. Yes, it’s mainly Henry’s story, but it’s Tessa’s as well. That being said, it was entirely appropriate to give her the podium, so to speak. She was never meant to merely be some mysterious object, whose inner self was left up to the reader’s imagination.  That would’ve been a cop-out.  Well. That was long-winded, wasn’t it? I’ll keep my answer to the second part of your question short and sweet. David Strathairn, circa 2000. That’s just the way it is.

Debra:  A little reader perspective on your point about Henry and Tessa sounding like you…I found their similarities made sense and emphasized their both being from the same northern area and ending up in the Keys.  Especially, by the time he saw her and ran away…I knew there was a connection and they both were not from there and the similarities started to make sense and were, for me, key to the individual character development since they came from the same place and were finding their way back as the truth came out, so to speak.  The fact that you imagined him as Henry while writing makes that a no brainer so not my smartest question today.  Hey, this is my first NO Radio show ever, I am learning as I go!

the many faces of rachel 003Rachel:  Oh, please, you know you practice in front of a mirror late at night when you think no one is watching.  We all do it.  It’s okay.  I don’t really know how to expand on the Strathairn thing.  I’ve been kind of obsessed with him for nearly a decade now.  DJ thinks it’s hilarious and had a really good laugh at my expense when we finally met him and I was all star struck.  I don’t get star struck.  Ever.  Cool as a cucumber when I met Keith Richards.  Didn’t think it could happen with anyone if it didn’t happen with him.  I think the big draw with David Strathairn, or “Dave”, as DJ refers to him, is his versatility.  He’s one of those actors who doesn’t get nearly enough credit for the broad range of characters he’s played over the last 33 years. There’s an indescribable depth to each one of his performances that most actors nowadays simply can’t produce.  He’s also bloody gorgeous.

Debra:  I am a fan of his work as well, he is a completely different person in each role and you just totally believe he is the character.  I’d argue Sam Elliot is way hotter though!  Without being too specific and without revealing too much about the plot, have you ever killed off a character who you felt particularly attached to and if so was it an emotional experience writing the relevant scene?

Rachel:  I killed off two.  The first death didn’t affect me at all.  I still find myself in mourning over the second.  It had to happen, though, so it was all too easy to write.  Probably took me all of five minutes and I didn’t change a single word of it.

Debra:  There ya have it folks and that will only make sense after you read the book.  Then you will go OHHHHHH, wow, Really??  No way!  <laughs, Rachel is patting herself on the back> Who are your favorite authors, who inspired you?

Rachel:  For some bizarre reason, I always have difficulty answering this type of question. I suppose it always comes back to Nicholson Baker, author of The Fermata, one of my favorites, and Vox. I don’t know if I’d call myself a fan of John Irving, but I always found the density of his work to be breathtaking. I can’t cite Cathy Coote as an inspiration because I’d never even heard of her until about a year ago, but her novel, Innocents, is definitely one of my top three favorite books of all time. I was blown away not only by the story, but by the fact that she wrote it when she was just 19 years old.

Debra:  Oh wow, I’ll have to check that one out myself!  What are some of your favorite quotes from reviews that you’ve received?

Rachel:  I’m just going to go ahead a quote both of my favorite reviews, just because I can.

“The reader of this book is inserted into the minds and souls of two lost people as they both weave through the debris of their shared catastrophic previous sexual encounter. In the end, they both reach a very different peace and closure. This is a dark, yet not depressing novel. I couldn’t put it down. The writing is tense and compelling — a real page- turner. It is one part a road book — think Thelma and Louise, one part Victorian novel — think Pride and Prejudice, and one part horror story — think of the Pit and the Pendulum. A warning: it is not for the prudish.”

“Hear Him Cry is a titillating, fresh, and wonderfully disturbing novel that confronts, or shall I say assaults, the reader. In the Jungian sense, Beam’s character’s shadows are on full display: Henry, the middle-aged, mild-mannered sociopath, and Tessa, the youthful, sharp object of his illicit desire. Written in crisp prose, the plot is a feminist Nabokovian meditation: Henry violates and captures Tessa. Henry and Tessa wrestle with authority and domination, sadism and masochism. Tessa does not capitulate.”  

Debra:  Wow, I am impressed, not just by the reviews but by the fact that you were able to quote them, like you were reading them, and she’s not, I swear!  I wouldn’t have made it past the first three words without notes!  <laughs> What other book would you regard it the biggest compliment to have your own work compared to and why?

Rachel:  I have read those two reviews so many times, the words are permanently inked on my brain.  Actually, speaking of inked, it’s not the worst idea for a tattoo, but the six I already have are probably enough.  But I digress.  What was the question?  Oh, yes, we were talking about me.  A few people actually compared it to LOLITA.  That blew my mind for obvious reasons.  The book’s a freakin’ classic and a daring one at that.

Debra: That is a huge compliment!  That novel is regarded as one of the best known and most controversial examples of 20th century literature and has been the inspiration for many writers, operas, plays and so on.  Originally written in English by a Russian author and published in the mid-fifties but I can’t remember the author’s name actually right now.  That’s terrible…getting old!

Rachel: Vladimir Nabokov.  And was his son ever pissed at the author who thought she could re-write LOLITA from Lolita’s perspective.  I won’t even honor her book by mentioning the title.  It sucked.

Debra: Oh, interesting, do tell me later, I like trivia like that.  That’s all we have time for today, Rachel, thanks again for coming and for doing this interview with me.  I want to share some information with our audience for you, links and such to find your book and learn more about you and then I’ll see you off, unless you want to stay and shoot a game of pool and finish a bottle of red, red wine with me?

Rachel:  Unless I want to stay?  DJ and I ain’t sleeping in the car, woman.  You’re pretty much stuck with us for the night and I feel bad for you because we are not quiet people.  If you think you like me now, you’ll absolutely hate me in the morning.

Debra:  Well, you’ll be delighted to know, this studio doubles as a guest room with all the amenities and you must let my husband and I take you folks out for dinner and show you downtown Asheville.  And, my house is several hundred feet away so you won’t be bothering us!  Thrilled to have you both stay over, well, you have to what with us being new BFF’s and all!

Be sure to visit Rachel’s links and let her know what you thought of her interview!  A special thank you to Rachel Beam for all her help in writing this skit – everything is fiction remember – though we captured how funny and witty Rachel really is and her dialogue is all her own.  It may be on the screen in front of you and never happened in the studio, but we absolutely talked through all of this content to bring you the real Rachel Beam behind the book.  Thanks so much for playing along Rachel! Grill 2_rachelbeam

Welcome to another edition of Talk Radio with NO Radio!  On location and broadcasting remote and straight to you from St. Martin, we will be joining author CLR Dougherty for a Book Release Celebration party, and hopefully, I am going to scoop an exclusive interview for you today!

kimshabeachI’ve just arrived at Kim Sha Beach at Simpson Bay; Charles couldn’t have picked a nicer place for this shindig.  This is quite the party site, too.   St. Martin’s huge annual bash for the Heineken Regatta was held here just a couple of months ago.  Between the restaurants, bars and resorts surrounding this amazing beach, I am going to enjoy my stay…I jumped at the invitation to come to this event, St Martin, come on, who wouldn’t?  This is also a long-overdue romantic getaway for my husband and I — but business first.  Let’s go find Charles and see if we can get that interview!

We are walking down the beach towards a huge tent.  It’s about 4 in the afternoon and a comfortable 82 degrees, complimented by a lovely warm breeze…just makes you want to pop into any one of these little beach bars and ask for a Mojito!  <stops, turns to the water, lifts chin to soak in the sun’s rays with closed eyes, sighs a deep release of tension and breathes in, as if to absorb the entire experience in one breath> 

Wow!  This place is amazing.  I wish I could have brought you all here with me!  The water is the most stunning shade of blue I have ever seen.  There are a couple dozen sailboats anchored just off shore, bobbing gently on this tranquil edge of the ocean.  <walks to water’s edge and gazes out to sea>  Standing here, just at the edge of the water, is the perfect place to take it all in and enjoy the warm, soothing waves as they spread up onto these white sandy beaches and tease our toes.  <Shakes off the dreamy thought of staying in this paradise forever and looks down the beach, takes husband’s hand and refocuses>

Off we go then.  Let’s get to the celebration and find Charles.  I see quite a few people milling around on the beach around the tent.  Right there on the side of the tent is a banner, “Blue Water Ice Book Release Celebration” and “Congratulations C L R Dougherty!” is a on a flag that is waving ever so gently from one of the tent poles in this wonderful breeze.  The tent is set up open air; the sides are pulled to the corners and tied back with rope.   I see tables inside, displaying a long buffet of appetizers and fruit baskets, an ice sculpture and a champagne fountain.  We’ll make our way through the crowd here and ah, there in the corner near a table filled with books, appears to be the guest of honor!  Let’s go introduce ourselves…

DH:  Hello!  You must be Charles.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACD:  Yes.  Hello.  Judging by the microphone, you must be Mrs. Hartmann, all the way from North Carolina to join our celebration.

DH:  Absolutely.  Thank you so much for inviting me!  It’s a great pleasure to meet you.  Please just call me Debra or Deb.  This is my husband, Bob.  Today, he’s my roadie, of course. <Charles extends a hand, but Bob’s hands are full and he rushes to set the bags down and accept the handshake.  We all laugh, and the ice is broken.>

CD:  It’s wonderful that you came all this way just to do this interview.  Thanks!  I have a signed copy of Bluewater Ice set aside for you.  I hope you enjoy it enough to make the trip worthwhile.

DH:  Oh, thank you.  I wasn’t expecting that but I certainly will treasure it.  I have a few signed books, it’s a hobby really to collect them, but only from authors that I have met so they truly have some meaning.  You know this sets you up for another book review too!

CD:  Well, I hope so!  <Grins ear to ear and gestures for us to take seats behind the book signing table with him> So, join me here and we can talk and do that interview.  It may get a bit loud when more guests start to arrive.

DH:  Brilliant!  And then I, well I mean we, can focus just on the celebration afterwards!

CD:  I’m planning to slip out before it gets too crazy.  I left big bashes like this behind when I bailed out of the corporate world.  We’ll have a mob of locals and tourists showing up for the free booze.  I’ll leave a couple of folks here to make everybody welcome; maybe they’ll even sell a few books.  Maybe you and Bob could skip out with us and have a sundowner on the boat.

DH:  You mentioned having your boat just off the beach when we spoke a few days ago.  Can I see it from here?clrdoughertysailboat

CD: <Standing up, gesturing toward the bay> Sure.  She’s the little green one just to the left of that big white one.  See it? With Play Actor across the stern?

DH:  Wow! What a beauty!  Are you always anchored in such lovely spots?

CD:  Most of the time, but all of the islands are different.  Some are a lot prettier in terms of their natural beauty.  St. Martin’s unique because it’s split down the middle, politically.  The northern part is a department of France and the southern part is a Dutch colony.  This is one of our favorite hangouts; we’re sitting here on the border between the French side and the Dutch side, a ten minute dinghy ride from some of the best French restaurants in the world.  And then there are the beaches…

DH:  So is this why so many of your books are set in the Caribbean and feature sailing?

CD:  Yes.  It’s hard to be here and not share it all in a story or two.

DH:  It is getting a little loud already.  Can we walk for a few minutes and talk?

CD:  Sure.  Let’s walk down the beach a bit—

<Microphone tap, tap, tap sounds out, and the crowd’s heads turn towards the source.  A loud squeal comes over the speakers on tripod-like stands in the two corners facing out to the beach.  Positioned dead center between the speakers and just in front of the buffet table is a petite woman with short, curly blond hair.  She’s holding a microphone.>

PA system:  Welcome, everyone!  Welcome.  My name is Dani Berger; I’ll be your hostess this evening.  Thank you all for coming!  We are here to celebrate the release of a new book by Mr. Dougherty over here <waves for Charles to join her, “excuse me” Charles whispers to me and then walks toward the announcer>  Come on over here Charles.  Everyone, this is Charles L R Dougherty, author of the Bluewater Thriller Series as well as some other great novels, but we are here tonight to celebrate his latest release, Bluewater Ice, the fourth in the series, and, well, I wouldn’t even exist if not for this man’s wonderful imagination!  Let’s give him a big hand, everyone!

<Clapping overtakes the crowd, making the number of people in attendance more obvious…at least a hundred people are shoulder to shoulder inside the tent now and another hundred or so have gathered around just outside, all facing Dani and listening attentively.  The din of clapping hands fades as Charles accepts the microphone from Dani.>

CD:   Thanks, Dani.  Is your sidekick here tonight?

Dani:  Liz?  She’s here somewhere.  This is all about you, though. <”Hey!  We love you Charles!” resounds.  From deep in the middle of the crowd a hand rises above and waves frantically.>   Oh, there she is.  Liz and I can’t thank you enough for our parts in your story and of course we wish you much success with the latest release!

<Another round of applause breaks out. The frantic hand in the crowd still waves but moves ever closer to Dani and Charles.  Another blonde about Dani’s size continues to wave as she breaks through the front of the crowd and steps up to join them.  At a little distance, the two women could be mistaken for sisters, except that Dani is blue-eyed where this new woman has flashing green eyes.  They’re dressed alike; both wear white T-shirts with a large picture of a sailing yacht on the back and the word Vengeance emblazoned prominently across the front.  Knee-length khaki shorts and deck shoes without socks complete their crew uniforms.  The newcomer takes the microphone.>

Liz:   Hi!  I’m Liz Chirac.  Dani and I are thrilled that you could make it tonight–

<She’s interrupted by the crowd.>


“Great party!”

Liz:   Thank you!  Thanks for coming.  We want everyone to enjoy their time here with us tonight; it sounds like you are already.  Dani and I will be at the book-signing table <waves toward corner where we first met Charles and now wait for him, so we wave back at the crowd like the two goofballs we are> for a bit while you all enjoy the buffet.  Stop by and get your signed copy of Bluewater Ice and say hello.  Drinks—

<She’s interrupted again.>

“Yea!  Free booze!”

Liz:  Yes.  Free Booze – always a must at a party, right?  Just over there <points to the corner opposite the book-signing table> is where those with the personal invitations should gather in two hours.  Dani and l will be taking you out to the Vengeance by way of those small boats along the beach for a sunset cruise after the party.

CD:   Thanks, Liz and Dani, for all your hard work in putting this together, and thanks for being in the books, as well.  Dani said you wouldn’t be here except for my imagination, but we wouldn’t be having this party except for you letting me tell your story.  <He shakes their hands and returns to the corner where Bob and I are waiting to continue our interview.>

DH:  Well, you have quite the following out here Charles.  They seem to know you so well here on the island.

CD:  I think they know the free booze better! <smiles knowingly>

DH: Shall we take that walk then?  I sense you’ll be needed at this book-signing table as soon as glasses are filled and plates of food devoured.

CD:  Could be, but I signed books for the last two days so that I wouldn’t have to stay.  Liz and Dani will take care of everything.  Let’s do the rest of that interview and then we can all kick back and enjoy the evening.

DH:  Brilliant!  Lead the way.  <We slip through an opening behind the table and next to the corner where the tent sides are tied back in a bundle.  We work our way through a few groups of stragglers waiting to get closer to the event as they sip drinks with umbrellas sticking out of them and laugh.  As we walk by, some of them point and stare.>

CD:  Tourists.  They came in droves when Dani and Liz started posting the signs by the pools of the two big resorts earlier today.

DH:  Such a good turnout for so little advertising.  That’s great. <now walking side by side, microphone in hand, Bob trailing behind with the remote box and the binder with Deb’s notes and a beer he swiped on this way out of the tent> So, Charles, my first question for you is this. Obviously we all know the name of the latest book now, but could you explain to us just briefly what it is about?

CD:  Actually, you just met two of the main characters.  Dani Berger and Liz Chirac own and run a 60-foot charter yacht named Vengeance.  The whole Bluewater Thriller series is about their escapades.   In Bluewater Ice, Connie Barrera is their guest and she’s just run off with $10 million in diamonds that she ‘found’ in Nassau; the people who lost them are chasing her.  Neither the thugs who are after Connie nor Connie herself have any idea what kind of people Liz and Dani are.   Dani has family friends scattered through the islands, and most of them will come to her aid in a pinch.  Dani and Liz are resourceful in their own right, and the Bluewater Thrillers are filled with bad guys who came to grief by underestimating the two of them.

DH:  Do you have plans for more books in the series?

CD:  Yes, I already have preliminary ideas for the fifth and sixth books, so I think it will go on for quite a while.  Part of the fun of a series is watching the characters grow and change as a result of their experiences, and that doesn’t get old.  The evolution of the relationship between Dani and Liz is as fascinating as the predicaments that influence their behavior.

DH:   I haven’t read any of these books but I did so enjoy your book Twisted Love.  Having come here and seen your inspiration and met the ladies, I must read this series!  It sounds very interesting and exciting!  Tell me though, what do you think makes a great story?

CD:  Beyond the basics, I think it’s important to have well-developed characters with whom the reader will empathize.  Even villains should evoke an empathetic response some of the time, if they’re realistic.  Giving the reader a clear picture of the environment is important, too, because it shapes the characters and puts them in context.

DH:   Absolutely.  It’s often said, “A good book makes you feel.”  For me, that is half of what affects my written book reviews, what I feel, how much I feel, etc.  I’m curious.  Which kind of reader do you think will enjoy this Bluewater Thriller series?

CD:  The target audience is made up of people who like action / adventure thrillers with a strong female protagonist – that’s Dani.  There’s a good bit of sailing, and a lot of local color, as well, so there’s a special appeal for readers who like to be transported to exotic locales while reading a fast-paced, realistic thriller.

DH:  Alright, so how about a little background about you Charles.  When you first started writing, how did you write?

CD:  I wrote Deception in Savannah, my first novel, with a pen, working in a loose-leaf binder.  I didn’t key it into a computer until about the fourth or fifth rewrite.  At the time, I could write much faster than I could type.  That’s changed over the course of the last eight books.  Not only has my typing improved, but I’ve developed a process that speeds up my writing.  I spent a couple of years working on that first novel; I wrote Bluewater Ice in eight weeks, from start to publication.

DH:  Are any of your characters based heavily on people you know or have met from real life and if so, would they regard it as a compliment or an insult to discover they were the inspiration for the character in question?

CD:  I recently received an alarming email from an old friend who had just finished Twisted Love.  She said something to the effect that she had really enjoyed it, especially since it was about people we both knew.  You just reviewed the book, so you can understand why that comment rattled me.  All of my characters are composites, made up of traits that I find interesting in people that I meet.  None of my characters is based substantially on any one person, so I wrote my friend back and asked her to elaborate.  Her answer was absolutely fascinating to me; none of the people that she thought she recognized were people that I consciously considered when I was writing the book.  I’m pretty sure that no one would feel complimented to learn that they inspired some of those characters.

DH:  Just goes to show you, you really can’t anticipate all the ways that people can identify or relate to different aspects of your books.  It’s a crap shoot really but well written books can have a wide range of effects on a wide range of readers and that is a great measure of success!  Have you ever written a supporting character who took on a life of their own or turned out to be far more popular than expected and if so do you have plans to feature them as the lead character in a story of their own?

CD:  Yes.  I’ve had that happen more than once.  Two characters from Deception in Savannah come to mind.  One was Connie Barrera; I found her to be an interesting person.  She was a survivor who fought her way up from her humble beginnings; she was led astray by situational ethics and narrowly escaped becoming an out-and-out crook.  She features prominently in Bluewater Ice.  The other character from Deception in Savannah who begs for his own story is Donald Tompkins, a would-be con man with attention deficit disorder and a photographic memory.  He’s going to show up in a book of his own one of these days.

DH:  Why did you start writing?

CD: <laughs and still grinning widely he answers>  I keep asking myself that question.  I couldn’t tell you why I started smoking or drinking, either, but I was able to give up those two vices.  Writing is a different kind of addiction, I suppose…

DH:  Now about that free booze <points back to the party> will you join me in a quick drink and a toast to your success?

CD:  Do you think we are going to be able to get back in through that crowd?

DH:  Maybe not!  The music is blaring, everyone is dancing and having a blast, what a great party but I too left my party days behind me years ago-

CD:  Won’t you both join me for a night cap on the boat?  The dinghy is just right there, and I have some snacks aboard, too—

DH: Oh that’s very thoughtful but we don’t want to intrude and I already had to get on a plane this week.  I don’t want to push my sanity and include a boat at this point!  I am a land lover, I’ll admit it! <shrugs and smiles>

CD:  Ah, another time then, I am going to slip away though, it was so great to finally meet you in person and thank you so much for coming.  I hope you will enjoy your stay on the island, how long will you be here?

<the light reflecting off the water shimmers and the temperature and fragrance of the air changes slowly, yet drastically as Debra awakens from a nap on her sofa near the picture window in her studio, high in the mountains of Asheville, NC.  Cobwebs clear away and leave the memories of the wonderful conversations shared with C L R Dougherty earlier today, about the interview and about how much he loves the time he spends in St. Martin.  She reflects on their conversations, the wonderful pictures he shared and realizes she needs to get the interview written, as promised for publishing today and is running late now because she dozed off.  Looking over the notes, Debra realizes the interview and the skit are done but is quite foggy about how or when that happened exactly…>

Find out more about Charles Dougherty:

From his web page: or his author’s page on Amazon:

Links to his books on Amazon:

Deception in Savannah  

Twisted Love

Bluewater Killer

Bluewater Vengeance

Bluewater Voodoo

Bluewater Ice

Dungda de Islan’

Life’s a Ditch

Author Bio:

Charles Dougherty wrote quite a bit of fiction before publishing Deception in Savannah, his first novel. Most of his earlier fiction works took the form of business plans, written to secure funding for projects and startup ventures during his corporate and consulting work, but he put all of that behind him when he wrote Deception in Savannah, a tongue-in-cheek crime novel.

Since Deception in Savannah was published, he has written a number of other books. Bluewater Killer, Bluewater Vengeance, Bluewater Voodoo, and Bluewater Ice are the first four books in his Bluewater Thriller series. The Bluewater Thrillers are set in the yachting world of the Caribbean and chronicle the adventures of two young women running a luxury charterSunset in the lagoon, Ste. Martin, FWI yacht in a rough-and-tumble environment. Book five of the Bluewater Thriller series will be published in the second half of 2013. His most recent book before Bluewater Ice was Twisted Love, a psycho-thriller, published in February, 2013.

He has also written two non-fiction books. Life’s a Ditch is the story of how he and his wife moved aboard their sailboat, Play Actor, and their adventures along the east coast of the U.S.  Dungda de Islan’ relates their experiences while cruising the Caribbean.

He resides with his wife aboard Play Actor, sailing wherever they fancy and the trade winds take them.