Today, I interview the lovely Ann Noser about her book How to Date Dead Guys.
College sophomore Emma Roberts remembers her mother’s sage advice: “don’t sleep around, don’t burp in public, and don’t tell anyone you see ghosts”. But when charming Mike Carlson drowns in the campus river under her watch, Emma’s sheltered life shatters.
Blamed for Mike’s death and haunted by nightmares, Emma turns to witchcraft and a mysterious Book of Shadows to bring him back. Under a Blood Moon, she lights candles, draws a pentacle on the campus bridge, and casts a spell. The invoked river rages up against her, but she escapes its fury. As she stumbles back to the dorm, a stranger drags himself from the water and follows her home. And he isn't the only one.
Instead of raising Mike, Emma assists the others she stole back from the dead—a pre-med student who jumped off the bridge, a desperate victim determined to solve his own murder, and a frat boy Emma can’t stand…at first. More comfortable with the dead than the living, Emma delves deeper into the seductive Book of Shadows. Her powers grow, but witchcraft may not be enough to protect her against the vengeful river and the killers that feed it their victims.
Inspired by the controversial Smiley Face Murders, HOW TO DATE DEAD GUYS will ignite the secret powers hidden deep within each of us.
How To Date Dead Guys Purchase Links:
About the Author:
My to-do list dictates that I try to cram 48 hours of living into a day instead of the usual 24. I’ve chosen a life filled with animals. I train for marathons with my dog, then go to work as a small animal veterinarian, and finish the day by tripping over my pets as I attempt to convince my two unruly children that YES, it really IS time for bed. But I can’t wait until the house is quiet to write; I have to steal moments throughout the day. Ten minutes here, a half hour there, I live within my imagination.
Like all busy American mothers, I multi-task. I work out plot holes during runs. Instead of meditating, I type madly during yoga stretches. I find inspiration in everyday things: a beautiful smile, a heartbreaking song, or a newspaper article on a political theory. For example, a long drive in the dark listening to an NPR program on the SMILEY FACE MURDERS theory made me ask so many questions that I wrote HOW TO DATE DEAD GUYS to answer them to my satisfaction.
I’d love to have more time to write (and run, read, and sleep), but until I find Hermione Granger’s time turner, I will juggle real life with the half-written stories in my head. Main characters and plot lines intertwine in my cranium, and I need to let my writing weave the tales on paper so I can find out what happens next.
First question: Are you a plotter or a pantser?
I don't even know how to answer this question. Every book happens so differently for me.
How to Date Dead Guys developed chapter by chapter. I knew where each chapter should start and end, and just needed to flesh out the middle. Then refresh and repeat. I knew Bernard had to show up somewhere in the second half, but I'm not even sure where Jake came from¾although I'm delighted he did! J
My current WIP is a YA Dystopian entitled Dead Girl Running. (It appears that all my titles will have the word "dead" in them. Is this a bad sign?). This book started as a computer file of scattered plot idea blurbs. Some were just a word long, others a whole paragraph or conversation. Eventually I organized them in order of how they'd appear in the book. Some I tossed, most I kept. This story line just flowed for me, the most effortless of anything I've written. Not that it didn't take time and dedication, but there just weren't any difficulties a twenty-minute walk with the dogs didn't fix in my mind. What a well-behaved storyline! J
Follow up question: How do you write? Are you someone who can sit down anywhere or do you have a certain ritual, if you will?
I have two children, a house to clean, a day job as a veterinarian, and two dogs who bore easily. What that means is that I write when and where I can. I try to play calming music and sit in a comfortable chair. I don't even have a desk or office. There are no rituals, just a prayer for peace and quiet for at least ten minutes in a row.
Let's just say there are a lot of distractions in my life, not that I don't love them all. They just don't make things easy to focus on the task at hand.
WARNING: BIG DISTRACTION BELOW
What made you start writing?
That depends on the topic. I wrote a fairy tale saga as a reaction to my bear-mother, overprotective attitude after the birth of my son. I didn't even recognize myself, and was uncomfortable with the strange changes in my psyche.
The Pet Vet newspaper column came out of my frustration. Why do people wait years to ask an actual veterinary professional about their cats peeing outside the litter box? They will ask Aunt Bertha, Dr. Oz, and the Pope…why not me? I might actually be able to help before so much time passes that the cat has developed some very unpleasant and unsanitary habits. I pitched an article on proper litter box care to the local paper. The column went on from there. I just want to educate people.
Describe How to Date Dead Guys in one sentence.
When Mike drowns in the Chippewa River, Emma will do anything to bring him back, even if a few dead friends come along with him.
You've said that your book is inspired by the Smiley Face Murders? Can you elaborate?
The controversial Smiley Face Murder theory was proposed by two retired NYPD detectives, Kevin Gannon and Anthony Duarte. They investigated numerous unexplained drowning deaths of college-aged males in the Midwest. What they discovered led them to believe that the victims were murdered, then disposed of in the river to wash away evidence.
The basic plot for How to Date Dead Guys formed as I listened to a radio program on NPR discussing this controversial theory. The "what ifs" racing around my brain were just too numerous to be ignored.
What makes your NA Urban Fantasy different from all the others?
I'm not the only one writing in this style now, thank goodness, but this book is "clean New Adult". At times, I was told that only romantic/sexually detailed NA would sell. I'm glad to see that the NA category is finally expanding. New Adult is just an age category. There's so much that can be done with it.
What writing projects are you working on now?
Book Two of the Under the Blood Moon series, entitled How to Ditch Dead Guys is currently with beta readers. I hope to submit it to the publisher by the end of the summer.
The YA dystopian mentioned earlier resides in the alpha editing stage, but I feel like the skills I learned writing previous books are evident, which is wonderful.
Fill in the blank: "If you liked How to Date Dead Guys you'll also like _______"
Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the Joss Whedon TV series
Ghost, the Patrick Swayze movie
Destruction, a book by Sharon Bayliss (Note: my review of Destruction will be coming next week)
Lastly: What advice do you have for aspiring authors?
Be hopeful, determined, and realistic all at the same time. It takes work and time to get anywhere. Much, much more work and time than you expect. Appreciate the smaller goals, because it means you are improving, and you have something to put on your query/resume.
I can't say this enough: JOIN A CRITIQUE GROUP. Don't wait. Do it now. Then make sure the group is a good "fit" for you. Are you receiving helpful advice and edits? Be sure to give the same in return. Bribe with food and drink if you must.