Author Mae Clair is October’s Featured blogger in this, the second re-boot of my monthly featured blogger post.
In our interview, Mae shares some of her history and ideas about writing and success.
In your profile, you say you like to blend genres; does it happen as you write?
It developed as my writing progressed. I never liked being pigeon-holed to a certain genre, so my early books were a mash-up of mystery and romance. The romance eventually fell by the wayside and mystery took center stage. I do, however, blend that up with elements of the supernatural, paranormal, and psychological aspects. One book also included a bit of sci-fi with UFO sightings and Men in Black.
You wrote your first story at six; what was it about?
I don’t remember the content. What I do remember is being given the assignment and my classmates scrawled out a few lines while I produced a few pages. Everyone said “Have Mae read hers.” I think it had to do with the people who lived in a city. I do remember The Night Dog which I wrote when I was eight. It was about a girl who kept seeing a ghost dog out of her window each night when she went to bed.
What is cryptozoology and when did your interest in it begin?
Cryptozoology is a pseudo-science devoted to the study of things that may exist but have not been proven to exist. Think Bigfoot, Loch Ness, or—my personal favorite—the Mothman. I’ve always been attracted by creatures and monsters from the time I was a kid. As an adult, I became fascinated with myth, urban legends, and folklore. I love the “what if” possibilities. I’ve made two research trips to the area where the Mothman was spotted by approximately 100 people in 1967. Doing that helped me add an extra level of authenticity to my Point Pleasant series of novels which blend the legend of the Mothman with historical elements and my own fictional twist.
In your profile, you mention that you enjoy reading almost anything
about Robert Kennedy. Why Robert Kennedy?
I never knew anything about him until I caught a movie that was done somewhere in the early 2000s. It intrigued me enough to seek out more information. I started watching documentaries and devouring books about his life. He wasn’t a saint, but he had noble ideas that crossed boundaries of race and class, reaching out the downtrodden and migrant farm workers. When you read about his family dynamics—his relationship with his parents, brother John, his wife and kids—he was so much than a politician. He was also the same man who made Hoffa squirm and was ruthless in going after organized crime as Attorney General. When he was campaigning in 1968 he said “there are guns between me and the White House.” Sadly, he was correct. We’ll never know how the country might have been different had he made it to the presidency.
Who are your favorite mystery writers?
There are several big name authors who are auto-buys for me. The writing team of Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child top the list. I go fan-girl over their Aloyisus Pendergast novels. I’m also a big fan of Kevin O’Brien, Tana French, Jennifer McMahon, P. J. Parrish, and—most recently—Shari Lapena.
How do you stay disciplined and organized?
I don’t know that I am, LOL. I feel completely disorganized, always treading water to keep up. When it comes to writing, I try to devote my weekends to my latest WIP. That’s a habit I developed years ago, and for the most part, I’m pretty good sticking with it. When you do something often enough, it becomes routine.
Which is your favorite book and why?
Of the books I’ve written? It’s a tie between A Cold Tomorrow, book 2 of my Point Pleasant series, and Cusp of Night, my most recent release. A Cold Tomorrow is focused on the Mothman but also delves deeply into the mythology of UFO flaps, flicker phenomenon, and cross dimensions. The research was fascinating. It’s also research that draws me to Cusp of Night. The story has two timelines—one in the present, and one in the late 1800s—with both converging at the end. For the 1800s, my research was focused on the Spiritualism movement, table tilting, ghostly rappings, and sham mediums. That’s a rabbit hole I’d definitely go down again.
What advice do you have for writers who want to use their blogs to market their books?
Don’t overdo the marketing. Our blogs are the place where we can market and not feel guilty about it, but there’s more to blogging than self-promo. Mix it up with fun and interesting posts about things you love to do. About your writing journey. Invite other authors to do guest posts and provide them promo spots when they have new releases. The blogging/writing community is an awesome one. Visit your fellow/sister bloggers, learn about them, and become friends. Writing is just as much about connecting as putting words on paper. Don’t neglect that side of it.
How do you define success?
That’s a tough question, because I measure different levels of success. As a kid, my dream was to be a published author. I’ve achieved that. I wanted to be read by others. I’ve achieved that, too. Locally, I’m starting to garner recognition and have been invited to guest speak at community events (I have another engagement coming up in November). I am not, however, earning enough to write full-time which is my ultimate dream. I’m very happy with the levels of success I’ve achieved, but I have an A-type personality, so I’m still chasing dragon tails and the brass ring. If nothing else, it’s an enjoyable journey!
Will you share something from your most recent novel?
I’d love to. Thank you for asking. And thank you for inviting me to visit your blog, Rob! I hope your readers enjoy this short excerpt from Cusp of Night:
Maya walked home, keeping to the main road. With the lack of traffic and city sounds, surrounded by old buildings and cobbled sidewalks, it was easy to imagine herself in Charlotte Hode’s era.
The groan prickled the hair on the back of her neck. She froze at the mouth of an alley, primed for flight.
The croak came again, sluggish and low, the unmistakable sound of someone in pain. Maybe it was some stupid kid playing a game.
“This isn’t funny.”
Her stomach lurched to her throat. If someone really was hurt and she did nothing, she’d never forgive herself. It was a passing motorist who’d called for help when her car had careened off the road.
Cautious, she inched closer to the mouth of the cutaway. The illumination from the nearest street lamp only carried a few feet, barely edging into the dark maw. “Is someone there?”
Slipping her hand into her pocket, she felt for her cell phone. One call to 911 would bring help or keep her safe if the situation deteriorated. A few steps more and she could discern a man slumped against the side of a building.
“Sir, are you hurt?” God help her if he was drunk. She kept a safe distance, and activated the flashlight on her phone.
The man shifted, angling toward her. Something large loomed up behind him, a shadow rising from the ground. It took Maya a moment to realize the thing had been squatting there all along, silent in the nightscape—a monstrosity shrouded in black with a pulpy head and eyes that burned white cinders.
The creature ran, deft as a whistle of air, swallowed by the bloated shadows of the alley.
Recently settled in Hode’s Hill, Pennsylvania, Maya Sinclair is enthralled by the town’s folklore, especially the legend about a centuries-old monster. A devil-like creature with uncanny abilities responsible for several horrific murders, the Fiend has evolved into the stuff of urban myth. But the past lives again when Maya witnesses an assault during the annual “Fiend Fest.” The victim is developer Leland Hode, patriarch of the town’s most powerful family, and he was attacked by someone dressed like the Fiend.
Compelled to discover who is behind the attack and why, Maya uncovers a shortlist of enemies of the Hode clan. The mystery deepens when she finds the journal of a late nineteenth-century spiritualist who once lived in Maya’s house–a woman whose ghost may still linger.
Known as the Blue Lady of Hode’s Hill due to a genetic condition, Lucinda Glass vanished without a trace and was believed to be one of the Fiend’s tragic victims. The disappearance of a young couple, combined with more sightings of the monster, trigger Maya to join forces with Leland’s son Collin. But the closer she gets to unearthing the truth, the closer she comes to a hidden world of twisted secrets, insanity, and evil that refuses to die . . .
You can find Mae Clair at the following haunts:
Interview with Mae Clair Rob Goldstein, 2018