20 Questions With...

20 Questions with…Kate Spitzmiller

 

It wasn’t long ago that I first heard Kate read two of her pieces and I was instantly brought back in time.  As a fan of ancient Greece and Rome I find myself falling in love with her characters along with the history that surrounds them.

Not only have we been awarded by Spider Road Press, but we both have pieces included in Approaching Footsteps which are definitely worth the read until her debut novel is released on Dec. 1 from Spider Road Press.

Even if historical fiction isn’t your thing the characters that Kate creates are so unique yet identifiable that you’ll have to find out what happens to the next.

So without further adieu I bring to you award-winning author Kate Spitzmiller.

Kate Author Photo

Twenty Questions With…Kate Spitzmiller

 

  1. Every writer has that one book that made him or her want to be a writer, what’s yours? I think it would have to be a toss-up between Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness and Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s The Story of a Shipwrecked Sailor.  Heart of Darkness taught me about the power of a single word, the weight just one word can carry, while Shipwrecked Sailor—a much shorter work—taught me about brevity and how much emotion and conflict and tension can be squeezed into a novella. They both taught me how important it is to write about the human condition.

 

  1. How old where you when you started writing? I don’t even remember. My Mom has stories I wrote in first or second grade. The first big project I remember writing formally was in eighth grade. It was for an assignment in social studies class. We were supposed to take on the persona of a representative from the Continental Congress and write a letter from their perspective. I wanted to write from the perspective of John Adams’ wife Abigail. I got a lot of grief from my teacher for that, because Abigail was a woman and not even at the Congress, but I fought my teacher on it and won out. I wrote a great letter!

 

 

  1. Name four authors that you’d love to have lunch with. Stephen King (definitely!), Joseph Conrad, James Michener, and Maya Angelou

 

  1. What would you eat? Well, I’m gluten intolerant, so something gluten-free. Maybe sushi. Or some nice mussels or New England clam chowder.

 

 

  1. How do you plot out your work? I’m a bit of a pantster, not a plotter. As an historical fiction writer, usually the scaffold of the story is there for me already, and I can just fill in the gaps with fictional aspects. But some of my best work has come from just having an end goal and then sitting down at the computer and letting the characters working it out on their own. For example, in my upcoming novel Companion of the Ash, I had two characters who had never met before but I needed them to become allies. They were already in an awkward position due to family issues. I had no idea how the conversation was going to go. So, I put them together in a room and just let them talk. The scene ended up being great. Sometimes you just have to let your characters lead the way.

 

  1. Do you write in the morning or evening? I usually get going around four or five o’clock in the afternoon and write until about midnight. I’m a night owl. Occasionally, if I’m working on something that has my head going a mile a minute, I’ll wake up early before work and write.

 

  1. Is there music on? Sometimes. It depends what I’m working on. I have a novel in the works that is set in Vietnam. When I’m working on that, I play Motown music for inspiration.

 

 

  1. What inspired your last story? Weirdly, one of my last published stories was inspired by a dream. I had a dream one night that my husband was a German spy during World War II and everyone hated me for it. I woke up and immediately took notes on the dream. The story, The Song of Saint George, ended up being about a woman who has to be convinced by British Intelligence that her husband is a spy. No one hates her (yet), but the basic element of her being married to a German spy is there.

 

  1. Name three books so good you wish you wrote them. I suppose it would be cheating if I listed three Outlander books, so I’ll say the first book in the Outlander series,Continental Drift by Russell Banks, and The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley.

 

10.  What television shows, movies, or albums do you believe are written well? I think Game of Thrones is exceptionally well written. If you watch the bonus material after each episode and hear what the show’s creators have to say about each episode, you get an even greater sense of the meaning behind the writing. It’s good stuff. As for movies, generally speaking, I think anything directed by Ridley Scott is written well. He has a habit it seems of getting great screenwriters. I particularly liked the writing in Gladiator andThe Martian. In music, I am a huge Eagles fan, mostly because of their lyrics. Don Henley and Glen Frey tell great stories with most of their songs. “Lyin’ Eyes” is my favorite. It’s a very sad and poignant tale about two people who love each other but who can only be together very briefly because of circumstance.

 

 

11.  Which actor would you cast in the protagonist role of your most recent piece? For A Song of Saint George, I’d need a British actress for the role of Mrs. Ridley, so I might cast Sophie Turner fromGame of Thrones. She’d have to cut her hair, though, as the story is set during World War II.

 

12.  Which of your pieces was the hardest to write? In one of my scenes in my upcoming novel, my main character is sexually assaulted. This was a very difficult scene to write from an emotional standpoint. As writers, we get very attached to out characters, and I hated putting her through that. She’d already been through hell, and it was just awful to write. But it was necessary for the story.

 

13. Which was the easiest? I wrote A Song of Saint George in an afternoon—probably three hours—with very little editing. It’s a short piece, and mostly dialogue, but it just seemed to really flow. It’s the easiest thing I’ve ever written.

 

14.  Which of your pieces did readers ‘get’ when they told you their thoughts on it? I think The House of Special Purpose, which is my story about Olga, the oldest Romanov daughter during her last days before the family is executed by the Bolsheviks. Even people who didn’t know the original historical story “got it,” and I was even told by a few that they learned something from it. A lot of people said they cried at the end—so I suppose that means they really “got it.”

 

15.  What are you working on now? I’m finishing up a novel set in the Roman Empire, 121 CE. It’s a historical with a romantic twist. I have one chapter to go and then the final edit. The novel is about two people—non-Romans—and their experiences as outsiders living within the Empire. There’s a lot of action and plot twists. I’ve done quite a bit of research for this novel, having traveled to Rome twice and northern England once to gather materials, notes, and photos of places and artifacts related to the time period and the story. Now I just need to get the novel finished!

 

  1. What story do you have to write before you die? Ever since high school, I’ve had an idea for a novel set during the Vietnam War. It’s been buzzing around in my head for months now, and I work on it every now and then. It’s going to be a huge project—Michener-sized. But I see it as my one big work. The entire story is already laid out in my head, I just need to get it down on paper. That’s the story I need to tell before I die.

 

  1. What’s your best fan story? I don’t actually have any fan stories.

 

  1. What sentence have you written that you feel encapsulates your style? From my Roman novel, in the epilogue, when the main character is describing the life she is living with her husband after their journey across the Roman Empire to freedom, she says: “Daman and Aeneas may both be men who traveled far and honored the will of the Fates, but Daman chose a different path in the end — the path out of darkness; the path of humanity and light.”

 

  1. Have you ever based characters off of real people? Other than my historical characters (like Olga Romanov), one character was based on a person I know. I did that once. S/he is to remain nameless.

 

 

  1. Who’s your favorite character? Andromache, the main character in my upcoming novel Companion of the Ash. I didn’t create her, Homer did, but he made her out to be weak and rather pathetic. My version of her is brave and tough and vulnerable all at the same time. She is also able to forgive. I admire her for that.

 

 

You can find out more about the author on their blog katespitzmiller.com and purchase their work in Spider Road Press’s Approaching Footsteps from Amazon.

Companion of the Ash releases December 1, 2018.

But if you can’t wait until then take a look at some great reads-

The House of Special Purpose

The Song of Saint George

 

U-156

 

My Girl

 

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Mad Girl's Publishing, Unseen

A Thrilling Playlist for ‘Unseen’

I love music.

Well maybe love isn’t strong enough a word, because it has been instrumental (pun intended) in my personal writing process.

So to all the musicians out there-thank you.

Below are the specific songs that were integral to the writing of my romantic thriller ‘Unseen’; which introduces you to Samantha Locke, a volitive assassin, and Matthew Burke, a straight-edge spy, while they work for Erebus a nefarious agency headquarterd in Washington D.C.

UNSEEN EBOOK

 

 

The titles which have a (+) after them mean that from now until the end of time when I hear that song I’ll instantly think of a man’s final wish (Precious), when we first meet Lilly (Boys Wanna Be Her), or Matthew walking through the streets of D.C. (The Tune). 

The songs with an (*) are far fewer and what I like to call inspirational if you will.  The songs were written long before I started the novel, but when I hear them I feel as if they were composed specifically for me to create ‘Unseen’. 

Titles that are italicized are either directly or indirectly mentioned in the novel ‘Unseen’.

During the early stages of writing ‘Ava Adore’ by Smashing Pumpkins resonated strongly with me, so much that if I were to give the entire novel one song to sum it up, that would be the song to do it. 

So get on your favorite music app and listen to some great music while reading a thrilling book.

 

Jack

-Precious by Depeche Mode+

Recruitment

-Boys Wanna Be Her by Peaches+

-Hurt by Johnny Cash

The Test

-The Tune by Wax Tailor+

-Strawberry Bubblegum by Justin Timberlake

-Bad Girls by M.I.A.

Stiff

-Bury Me With It by Modest Mouse

– The Letter Edged In Black by Johnny Cash

-Over and Over by Hot Chip

-Criminal by Fiona Apple

The Last Time

-Bang Bang Boom Boom by Beth Hart

– Wandering Star by Portishead

Locke’s First Mission 

-Rollercoaster by Bleachers

-This Is A Trick by (Crosses)+

End Of The Line by Sleighbells+

Looking Glass

Written In Reverse by Spoon

King Night by Salem+ 

-Man In Black by Johnny Cash+

-Dirt Off Your Shoulder/ Lying From You by Jay Z & Linkin Park

Bad Blood by Taylor Swift

– Terrible Lie by Nine Inch Nails+

Three Women

No You Girls by Franz Ferdinand

Summertime Sadness (Lana Del Rey vs. Cedric Gervais) by Lana Del Rey & Cedric Gervais 

– Wasted Time by Best Coast

Truth or Truth

– Philosophize In It!  Chemicalize With It! By Kishi Bashi

– You Go Down Smooth by Lake Street Dive

– Ava Adore by Smashing Pumpkins*

Ghosts n Stuff (Nero Remix) by deadmau5

– When I’m Small by Phantogram

Paris

– 6 Underground by Sneaker Pimps+

– Hong Kong Garden (with strings intro) by Siouxsie & The Banshees

– Let It Fall by Lykke Li

Elevate by St. Lucia

Young Blood by The Naked and Famous

Night Terrors

– Harlequin Dream by Boy & Bear

– Every Day Is Exactly The Same by Nine Inch Nails

– Gooey by Glass Animals

Damaged Goods

– The Cat With the Cream by Belle and Sebastian

– Cut It Out by Kitten

Seven Cards

– Devil’s Spoke by Laura Marling

I Walk The Line by Johnny Cash+

– No One’s Gonna Love You by Band of Horses

The Broken Promise

– Highly Suspicious by My Morning Jacket

– Devil In Me by Gin Wigmore

The Arc

– Ink by Coldplay+

– Killer Bangs by Honeyblood

– Black Out On White Night by Sage Francis

– Crown On The Ground by Sleigh Bells +

Skin and Bones

– Lead Me Home by Jamie N Commons

– Something Is Not Right With Me by Cold War Kids

– I’ll Believe In Anything by Wolf Parade

– Always by Blink-182

Video Games by Lana Del Rey

Somplace by Jake Bugg

– Breakin’ Dishes by Rihanna+

Maggie’s/Saul’s Night 

– Black Tongue by Yeah Yeah Yeahs

– Phazing by Dirty South Featuring Rudy

– I Told You I Was Mean by Elle King

– It’s All Over by Johnny Cash

Locke’s Last Mission

– Female Robbery by The Neighborhood*

– Sing by Travis

Bullet With Butterfly Wings by Smashing Pumpkins

– Tell ‘Em by Sleigh Bells

– Magic by Bruce Springsteen+

– Good Lookin Out by Kurt Vile

– Gamma Ray by Beck

– Why Do You Love Me by Garbage

– In Circles (Remastered) by Sunny Day Real Estate

Bleach 

– Tennessee Whiskey by Chris Stapleton

– Lady Luck by Richard Swift

– No Below by Speedy Ortiz

      Christina by Kitten

Friends With Benefits 

Bad Girls (feat. Missy Elliott & Rye Rye) [Switch Remix] by M.I.A.

– Animal (Switch remix) by Ke$ha+

– The Lament of Pretty Baby by Cursive+

Gasoline and Matches 

– You Don’t Get Me Twice by Sleigh Bells

– Knives Out by Radiohead

Video Games by Lana Del Rey

– Army of Me by Björk *

– Bitter Rivals by Sleigh Bells

I Know by Fiona Apple+

Golden State

– To Hell With You by Sleigh Bells+

Mad Girl's Publishing, Unseen

Find out what’s ‘Unseen’

I’ve always loved a fast paced thriller, so back in 2015 I figured I’d write one that included everything that I wanted to read in a book.

Ater months upon months of typing at the keyboard, the trials of publication, and finally starting my own company and self-publishing I’m happy to announce that ‘Unseen’ the first book in The Greater Good Series is available now.

She is a volatile assassin driven by revenge.
He is an ex-Navy S.E.A.L obsessed with the greater good, tasked with being her handler.
Both Samantha Locke and Matthew Burke are under the watchful eye of a cryptic agency, Erebus, headquartered in Washington D.C.
‘Unseen’ takes the good-hearted spy, and vicious killer across the globe as they search for the murderers of their love ones.
Even if it costs them their lives in the search for the truth.

 

Just to give you a taste of the wild ride that you’ll take I’ve included the first chapter of ‘Unseen’ below….be warned it’s rated R.

 

Unseen

a novel by Melissa Algood

Chapter 1- Jack

“Where is she?”  

The question was followed by a right hook to Jack’s jaw.  The fist attached belonged to an olive-skinned, hook-nosed man.  A man Jack had once trusted with his life. 

Jack didn’t answer, even though he knew full well that not answering meant the beating would continue. Another punch turned Jack’s head into a buzzing machine, and would have knocked him over if the restraints tying him to the chair hadn’t kept him upright.

In the corner of the room, another man cleared his throat.  He was older, with age spots on his hands and silver hair.  He moved closer to Jack and his assailant.  

“This isn’t how it’s supposed to be, son.”

Jack spat on the floor of the barn, a single tooth fell, and blood stained the wood.  “You’re not my father.”

The older man moved closer, staying hidden in the shadows of the dimly lit building, but Jack knew his identity.  After all, he was the one that had made the job offer.  He wanted Jack on the Erebus team so badly, he’d been willing to hire Jack’s best friend, Matthew, too.  Jack felt a twinge of regret at having dragged Matthew into all of this. But then, Jack hadn’t known the full scope of Erebus’ plan when this all started.  

Jack knew he was going to die in this barn and Matthew would be his only hope to finishing this game right.  

“Genetically, you’re correct, but aren’t I the father you always wanted?  Picking you up out of that drunken stupor.  Your mother and I brought you on the team…”

“She’s not my mother.  You’re both lying sacks of shit.  Telling me I’d be saving lives by stealing and killing from the people that planned on ruining our country.  It was all bullshit!  If either of you think I’m going to work with Erebus, or with her at Lumos, then you’re fucking insane.”

The old man gave hook-nose a nod, and the beating began again.  The hook-nosed man grabbed Jack by the collar of his shirt, pulling him up, chair and all. Then he proceeded to shake him.  Jack supposed it was an attempt to keep him from losing consciousness.

“Just tell us where Lilly is,” hook-nose hissed.

“What, too afraid to say her real name?”  Jack taunted.

Landing another punch on Jack’s jaw, the assailant queried, “Why are you protecting some half-breed whore that you only met once?”

“Because she’s my blood.  I’m not going to hand over my sister to save my own life.  You know it.” Jack nodded toward the old man. “He knows it.  You’re wasting your time, because I’ll never talk.”

The old man sighed.  “Your mother…”

“She’s not my mother anymore,” Jack hissed,  “Not once I found out what she did to my sister.” 

Although he couldn’t see the old man’s face in the dark, nor make out his facial expressions through the film of blood that now coated his face, Jack heard the smile in the old man’s words.  “We created Erebus and Lumos years ago, your mother and I.  Your mother wanted to keep you in the dark. But now it is time to see the light.”  The old man moved even closer to Jack.  Sunlight from the slits in the barn door sliced across his withered face.  “Now you’re ready to take over Erebus.  It’s what your mother always dreamed of, you fighting alongside her.”

“If you just want me, then what do you need my sister for?”

“Your half-sister has skills we can use. Plus, she’s the key to exacting our revenge. As you know, we never forgive, and, for us, there is no forgetting.” He started pacing, occasionally glancing towards Jack.

Jack chuckled, although it proved painful due to the pounding his body had taken.  “You think she’s going to tell you anything?  You think she’s going to just give up someone who cares about her just because you ask?”

“We’re not going to ask.  She’s going to work for us, because we know who killed her father.  And you’re going to be her handler.”

Despite his broken ribs, Jack laughed again.  “I know who killed her father, too.”

The old man paused in mid-stride.  He turned toward Jack. “We’re talking about the rest of your life, Jack.  You would be in charge of all of Erebus, working alongside Lumos, and your mother. You would pick the targets. Defend the nation you love so much.”

“I won’t say it again, she’s not my mother.  And you can do whatever you want to me.  I’ll die before I tell you where Lilly is.”

“Such a waste.” The old man nodded at hook-nose again.  

This time the hook-nosed man walked to a long table to the right of Jack.  He rolled open a canvas satchel.  Jack didn’t have to see it to know that it housed implements of torture.  Returning, his sadistic assailant held up a pair of pliers for Jack to see.  

Jack felt his heart race, but all he could think was “please save her Matthew, find my clues, and save my sister; I couldn’t.”

Hook-nose moved to stand behind Jack, pulling on one of his cuffed hands.  Positioning the rusted metal pliers around Jack’s ring finger, he prepared to apply the pressure and cut off the digit. 

The barn door opened, a woman framed in the entrance. The sun made the woman’s red hair look like fire.  

“I found her,” the woman said.  Her Scottish accent reverberated in Jack’s brain.  “I found her for ya.”  She came towards the old man, handing him a piece of paper.

Lifting his face from the paper, the old man came to stand right before Jack as he instructed, “Bring her here.  We’ll have the place cleaned up before you get back from Baltimore.”

The woman left the barn, along with any hope that Jack had of saving his half-sister.

Hook-nose had removed the pliers from Jack’s captive finger. Turning to the old man, he asked, “What do we do with Jack?”

The old man looked at Jack, “What I’ve ascertained from our exchange is that you refuse to work with us any longer if your mother and I continue down this path to destroy a man that stole from us.”

“If it involves Lilly, then, yes, you’re correct.”

“A shame,” the old man shook his head.  Then, glancing at hook-nose, he ordered, “Follow protocol.”

In a last ditch effort, Jack asked.  “My mother is okay with you killing me?”

“Your mother and I started all this with the agreement that, no matter who was in our way, we would follow protocol.  If you refuse to work with us, then you are against us.  And you know what we do to our enemies.”

“Any last words?”  hook-nosed man asked.

“Fuck you!” 

The last thing Jack felt was cold steel on his forehead and his last thought Lilly.

 

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