Ellie Coulter made a deal with the devil, and now it’s time to pay the price. Little did she know, the shadows that have swirled around her life since her parents’ death were not a coincidence. As Ellie’s destiny is revealed, it comes with the knowledge that her fate is the lynchpin in a far larger, and more dangerous game. And the one who found her has no intention of ever letting her go.
Ellie walks a fine line between keeping up the appearance of acceptance while gathering the information she needs to escape. Along the way, she has to decide who to trust and that includes the man she loves. As facts give way to lies, Ellie begins to question everything.
With her true intentions on the verge of being discovered, Ellie must find a way to defeat her captor before she becomes a shadow herself.
Where were you born and where do you call home?
I’m a Midwest girl. I was born in Wisconsin, spent 8 years in Iowa during my teenage years, and then moved to Minnesota in 1995. I’ve been here ever since.
What or who inspired you to write? And how long have you been writing?
I’ve been writing since I was twelve. I have been an avid reader since I was very young, and somewhere around that time I started thinking to myself as I read some stories “I can write that better.” That’s what got me started.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I won a state journalism award my senior year of high school. Up until that point I don’t know that I took myself that seriously. But after that, I definitely thought of myself as a writer.
What is the name of your most recent book and if you had to sum it up in 30 or less words, what would you say?
Shadows Deep (Shadows #2) is the continuation of our heroine’s journey. Ellie had to make a deal to save herself and the guy she loved, and it’s time to pay the piper.
I love reading the warnings on the blurbs for many books. If you could write a warning label for yourself as a person or an author, what would it say?
I’m not afraid to go into some pretty strange or creepy places with my writing. That makes some people very uncomfortable.
What does your protagonist think about you? Would he or she want to hang out with you, the author?
I think that Ellie is really ticked off with me at the moment. She had built up some big walls around herself and her life, and I’m doing nothing but knocking those down. I’ve pushed her way outside her comfort zone- and I’m not done yet.
Do your characters try to make like bunnies and create ever more convoluted plots for you? Or do you have to coax them out of your characters?
In Shadows Deep, I outlined every chapter- which was a completely new approach for me. I’m usually a pantster. Well, I got to chapter 15, and then the characters were done with playing by those rules. Then they went off in their own direction and dragged me along.
How did you come up with the title?
Shadows Deep is a continuation of the Shadows Series, so it was important to me that the word “shadows” was part of it. In this book, Ellie goes much deeper into the mystery that is the Bradford mansion- and she’s not coming out any time soon.
Do you have plans for a new book? Is this book part of a series?
Yes, I am planning to release the third book in the series by the end of the year. I hesitate to say it will be the last book because I’m still not sure it will be yet. There’s a lot that would need to be wrapped up in it.
Who designed the cover of your book?
I worked with Dafeenah at IndieDesignz. A-M-A-Z-I-N-G. I’m still creeped out by my cover. 🙂
Is there an Author that you would really like to meet?
I know he’s many people’s idol, but I’d love to meet Stephen King. His work was a huge influence on me at an early age.
Do you prefer ebooks, paperbacks or hardcover?
For fiction books, I prefer ebooks. For the non-fiction stuff that I have to read for work, I prefer hardcover or paperback.
Are you a self published (Indie) Author or big trad published?
I’m self-published and proud of it. The experience of bringing my work to readers has been amazing, and I really couldn’t see not having full control over my writing destiny.
What can we expect from you in the future? ie More books of the same genre? Books of a different genre?
The Shadows series is actually one of three series that are in process for me right now. I also have the Bloodtruth series (vampires) and the Twisted Souls series (zombies).
How do you market/promote your books?
I have a blog but I am more active on my Facebook page. I feel like readers are more comfortable popping in and interacting on Facebook. I also am on Twitter, but I think that’s more for chatting with people than selling books.
Have you ever suffered from a “writer’s block”? What did you do to get past the “block”?
I’m not sure I really buy into writer’s block. If I am struggling with a character or scene, I try writing the complete opposite of what I think should happen, and that always reminds me that I have total creative freedom. Things realign themselves again pretty quickly after that.
Have you ever read a book more than once?
Yes, although not in a long time. I usually do this when I have to catch up on a series as the next book release is coming up.
Is there a particular movie that you preferred over the book version?
I can honestly say that I’ve never had this happen to me. I’ve seen some movies that have stayed true to the book and were an excellent representation, but for me the book has always been better.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
There are a lot of tips out on there on writing, but I’d say don’t forget to pay attention to what’s going on in the industry as well. This is a great time to be an author and to be creating, but the way we are delivering our products and interacting with readers is changing everyday. It’’s important to understand that so you can continue to be relevant.
Do you write under a pen name?
Yes, I do. With the last name of “Smith” I had to do something a bit creative to standout from a branding perspective. So I jazzed up my initials.
Cats or dogs?
White wine or red?
Depends on the season.
Coffee or tea?
I’m a big fan of orange blossom tea right now.
Vanilla or chocolate ice cream?
What are 4 things you never leave home without?
My iPhone, my wallet, chapstick/lipstick, and a pen.
Laptop or desktop for writing?
Where and when do you prefer to do your writing?
I write whenever I have a free moment, but most often it’s late at night after the family is tucked away in bed.
An actor you have a crush on –
What is a movie or TV show that you watched recently and really enjoyed?
I love, love, love, The Vampire Diaries. I started watching it on Netflix earlier this year and was completely sucked in.
Letting go was one of the hardest things a person could ever do. Ellie knew that. What happened when she let go of the idea that reality as she knew it was merely a cover on a rabbit hole? She had willingly taken the cover off and fallen down into the unknown darkness. She’d surrendered. Somehow it felt easier that way. But the Voice kept picking at her even though she was deep in her hidey hole. It wouldn’t leave her alone.
“What was it like for you when your parents died?”
Ellie had answered some variation of that question what seemed like a million times over the years, but her response always paled in comparison to the effect of that one event on the rest of her life. How could she explain the depth of pain she felt when the two people who she loved most were ripped out of her life? Or the excruciating, almost debilitating sense of loneliness that followed when she finally comprehended that she was completely alone in the world?
“I was eight,” Ellie replied. “I had no other family. One minute I was surrounded by love. In the blink of an eye I was an orphan. What do you think it was like?” No one could understand what she had been through, and eventually she gave up trying to explain. Her parents’ death was just something that happened to her a long time ago. Ellie preferred to leave that buried there.
“I am sure it was difficult. But you obviously learned to cope, even thrive.”
“Thrive isn’t the word I’d choose,” Ellie said. “I learned how to survive. Eventually I learned ways to be happy again, but I did that on my own. I never felt like I belonged anywhere again.”
The Voice was silent for a while and Ellie was relieved. When it wasn’t poking at her, the darkness was peaceful. Ellie was used to being alone.
“Tell me about your ability. You’ve linked that to your parents’ death.”
Ellie was tired of the questions. They had covered the same ground over and over again. But it was like the Voice was missing some nuance, and so it all started again. Combing through her life. Looking for clues. “I noticed it the first time at the funeral. I was standing there in the cemetery, looking at their caskets, with the social worker beside me. I kept looking around for more people, but it was just the three of us: me, the social worker, and the minister. And then I noticed that the longer the minister spoke, the more these colors seemed to grow out of him. It didn’t make any sense at the time. The colors were deep purple and blue and they got more vivid every time he made eye contact with me. It scared the hell out of me. I didn’t know what to do.”
A familiar cloud of sadness fell over her thoughts as she remembered that lost little girl. “When the service was over, I wanted to kick and scream and lash out. I wanted to push over those caskets because I convinced myself they were empty and it was some elaborate hoax. Any minute they would appear to take me home. But it wasn’t a hoax. My parents raised me to think that showing emotion in public wasn’t ladylike, so as desperately as I wanted to throw a tantrum, I knew they wouldn’t approve. I looked at the social worker and she had a glow of white tinged with yellow around her. Even though I didn’t know what it meant, the colors were soothing. I had to accept that I was left with nothing but this woman to take care of me. I was naive and automatically assumed that she was kind and that she’d be good to me.”
Ellie sighed. “After twenty-five years of reading auras, I know now that she was indifferent. She probably saw a dozen kids just like me every week. Her aura meant that she was at peace and even slightly happy, but it had nothing to do with me. I was part of her job, and while I was watching my parents be buried, she was probably thinking about getting a manicure or going home and having a glass of wine. Me, I had no home left.”
“You went into foster care.”
“Yes, and in foster care I stayed until I applied for emancipation when I was sixteen.” She remembered the day that the court approved her request. It had been bittersweet.
“Your ability must have been advantageous in that kind of hostile environment.”
“If you mean it helped keep me out of trouble, then probably it did. But I was always a good kid. I studied hard, got decent grades, and generally stayed out of everyone’s way. I never gave my foster families any reason to really concern themselves with me. I wanted to be invisible. I was pretty good at it,” Ellie said. She had closed herself off from anyone who tried to reach her. It was a defense mechanism that worked well. Perhaps too well.
“Until you met Veronica.”
A face flashed in Ellie’s mind. A pretty blond with infectious laughter. Whereas her parents’ faces had faded over time, Roni’s was vivid and seemed so real that Ellie almost thought her friend was there with her in the darkness.
“Roni just wouldn’t take no for an answer,” Ellie said. “She saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself. And for some reason she wanted to be my friend. I owe her a lot.” It was strange talking about Veronica. Those memories were under strict lock and key for a reason.
Cege Smith is a Minnesota based writer who is addicted to lattes and B-rated horror films. She had been crafting spooky stories since she was twelve years old. She lives with her husband, two adorable stepsons, and mini long-hair dachshund, Juliet in the suburbs of Minneapolis