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Interview with Alicia Singleton author of suspense novel ‘Dark Side of Valor’

We have a great interview for you today!  Please welcome the lovely Alicia Singleton, author of the suspense novel, Dark Side of Valor!

Born and raised in Philadelphia, the Howard University graduate embraced the written word at an early age. She credits this to her loving, older sister whom, while they were youngsters, made the author eat lotion on a regular basis. Realizing the need to sound-out the ingredients on the lotion label, Alicia stopped the lotion-eating practice, but continued to read the labels of the concoctions her sister brought for her to try. This early necessity to read flowered to a passion; hence, a writer was born.

The award winning author resides in Maryland with her wonderful husband and son.  Still an avid reader, label or otherwise, Alicia is hard at work completing her next suspense novel.  Her latest book is the suspense novel, Dark Side of Valor.  Visit Alicia’s website at www.aliciasingleton.com.

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About Dark Side of Valor

Child advocate Lelia Freeman saves children for a living. As the director of ChildSafe Shelters, she ventures to abandoned squats and crackhouses to rescue teens from the hellish streets of Los Angeles. When she is summoned to Washington to serve on a committee that aids the children of a war-torn African nation, Lelia is kidnapped and becomes a political pawn in a sinister conspiracy. Oceans away from everything she knows, she must trust a mercenary to save her life, or die in the clutches of a psychopath.

Hunting, combat and staying alive are Elijah Dune’s specialties. Vengeance is his passion. Haunted by past demons, he’s travels to the Motherland to collect a debt. A debt that demands one payment. Death.

Caught in the crosshairs of a madman, Lelia and Elijah must survive the jungles of Zaire and the horrors of their pasts or be forever consumed by the DARK SIDE OF VALOR.

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The Interview

Q: Thank you for this interview, Alicia. Can you tell us what your latest book, Dark Side of Valor, is all about?

Dark Side of Valor is about a former teen aged runaway, turned child advocate, Lelia Freeman.  When she is summoned to Washington to serve on a subcommittee that aids children of a war-torn African nation, she stumbles onto sinister political secrets.  She’s kidnapped oversees and must depend on a tall, dark handsome stranger to save her life.  But he has secrets of his own.

Q:  Can you tell us a little about your main and supporting characters?

Lelia is a very strong, courageous, street-smart woman.  She grew up with an alcoholic mother and by the time she was 18, she’d run away from home and was living homeless on the streets of Los Angeles.

Elijah Dune is a mercenary by trade; hunting, combat and staying alive are his specialties.  What woman wouldn’t feel safe in his care?  Gasp and swoon, ladies.  Your dark knight has arrived.

My favorite characters in the book were Aunt Lou and Romeo Jones.  Aunt Lou grew up in the jungles of Zaire, but traveled the world as well.  She’s outrageous.  Bright yellow tee-shirts, neon orange basketball earrings, high top sneakers and a kente cloth skirt match her boisterous, outspoken personality.  Romeo Jones is a cab driver who loves himself very, very, very much.  Who doesn’t know a brother or sister who spends more time looking at themselves in the mirror then they spend breathing.  Both characters where extremely fun to write.

Q: Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?

To me, assessing real people, their traits, their flaws and their vulnerabilities then infusing those characteristics into characters makes the characters more authentic and empathetic.

Q: Are you consciously aware of the plot before you begin a novel, or do you discover it as you write?

I am consciously aware of the plot prior to beginning a novel.  The plot may change slightly along the journey, but basically its set from the start.

Q: Your book is set in Los Angeles, Sudania(Sudan) and the jungles of the Congo.  Can you tell us why you chose these locations in particular?

Each location had a particular value or significance.  I chose Los Angeles because of the high population of runaways living in that area.  Sudania is fictitious, however, it was based on the Sudan.  The cruelty and injustice inflicted on the people of that region pulled at my heart.  Why the jungles of the Congo, you ask?  What a fabulous place to explore, hide from a mad man and be frightened out of your mind.

Q: Does the setting play a major part in the development of your story?

Oh yes!  Setting can add tension, a sense of happiness or doom to any storyline.  A creepy, hunted house, a sparkling lake, an avalanched, snow covered mountain top can all add conflict to a storyline.

Q: Open the book to page 69.  What is happening?

The heroine, Lelia Freeman, has come to an abandoned squat to save one of her runaway teens.  The girl bolts and Lelia is plagued, once again, with unresolved feelings of guilt from her past.

Q: Can you give us one of your best excerpts?

Joella thought hell was missing her parents.  Cousin Daryl had other thoughts of hell. He shared them with her daily.  Open-handed cuffs across the face, kicks to the ribs.  The thrashings.  Still, no hell he executed terrorized her more than the darkness.  Cousin Daryl always locked her alone.

In the darkness.

Grandma Dell tried to stop him, but he hit her, too, forced her in her room.

Joella could still hear Grandma calling through her bedroom door, begging him to stop.  She still felt fire scorch her skull from his fingers clenched in her hair, still remembered half screeching, half choking on fear as he drug her to the barn. Taught her her lesson.

Sprawled on her stomach, her back ripped raw. Tears puddled mud under her cheek.  Dirt and sweat throbbed in her busted lip.  Blood and bile sullied her tongue. Unable to move, she lay in the blackness, hushed her sobs, scared he’d hear.  Scared he’d come back to teach her more lessons. Those were the times her safe burrows surrounded her, pressed insanity to the fringes of her mind.

One night she ran away from Cousin Daryl while he was sleeping off a high.  She’d helped Grandma Dell to Granddad’s old truck, and drove off.  Her feet barely reached the pedals. They hit a couple of ditches, but they’d made it.

A family friend in the next county took them in.  For a few weeks hell disappeared.

It resurfaced when Cousin Daryl tracked them down.

Joella took off, never looked back.

Some nights Cousin Daryl still found her, stole into her dreams, locked her in darkness. Memories of Daddy or Mama didn’t keep him from hurting her, remembering Grandma Dell’s kind words didn’t hold him at bay. Only Lelia’s soft voice broke through the death dream to save her.

Now Lelia needed saving.

Her friend knelt in front of the candlelit muffin.  Zombified, she stared at the burning wick.

Comfort was the only thing Joella could offer.  She shrugged the rough quilt off her shoulders, then wrapped them both in it.  She rocked like Grandma Dell used to do.  It felt like forever.  The hardwood dug into her knees, the candle burned, she kept rocking.

For once, Lelia needed her.  No matter what, she’d be Lelia’s light, ’cause no one should be left in the darkness.

Q: Have you suffered from writer’s block and what do you do to get back on track?

I have to say, yes.  One of my wonderful writing teachers, Robert McKee, teaches that writer’s block is a result of the writer not knowing the world he or she has created.   When the writer is an expert at their fictitious world, then writer’s block does not occur.  If I get stuck, I take his advice, go back and dig deeper into my characters, plotting, motives and conflicts to cure my writer’s block.

Q: What would you do with an extra hour today if you could do anything you wanted?

I would save the extra hours until I had a month of extra hours then kidnap my husband and escape to a resort in Bora Bora or Namale in the Fiji Islands.

Q: Which already published book do you wish that you had written and why?

Although The Fall of the House of Usher isn’t a novel, its one short story I’d love to say I’ve written.  Indicative of Edgar Allan Poe’s works, it’s so lyrical. The beautiful, sensory-rich descriptions are brilliant and the suspense is nail-biting.

Q: What kind of advice would you give other fiction authors regarding getting their books out there?

Learn the craft of writing and learn it well.  Always seek ways to educate yourself on how to become a better writer.  Trauma surgeons, professional ballerinas, electrical engineers, classical pianists, Olympic gymnasts and architects don’t learn their crafts in a weekend.  Neither can great writers.  Again, educate yourself.

Q: Thank you so much for this interview, Alicia.  We wish you much success!

Click here to enter The Dark Side of Valor Contest for chance to win $125 in Visa Gift Cards!

Order Dark Side of Valor today at:

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Indie Bound

or wherever books are sold.

Email Alicia at: alicia@aliciasingleton.com

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A Conversation with Gregory Earls, author of “Empire of Light”

When Gregory Earls isn’t eating at Roscoe’s House of Chicken and Waffles, he pays the bills by taking up space at 20th Century Fox in the Feature Post Production Department. He’s a proud graduate of Norfolk State University and the American Film Institute, where he studied cinematography. He’s an award-winning director who has amassed a reel of short films, music videos, and (yes) a wedding video or two. Steadfastly butchering the Italian language since 2002, he hopes to someday master the language just enough to inform his in-laws how much he loves their daughter, Stefania, who was born and raised in Milan, Italy. Gregory currently resides in Venice, California where he goes giddy every time he spots that dude who roller skates and plays the electric guitar at the same time. During football season, he can be found at the Stovepiper Lounge, a Cleveland Browns bar in the Valley where he roots for the greatest football team in the history of Cleveland.

Visit his website at www.gregoryearls.com.

Q: Thank you for this interview, Gregory. Can you tell us what your latest book, Empire Of Light, is all about?

A: Empire Of Light is kind of a coming of age novel. It revolves around an insecure film school student named Jason and his first trip to Europe. His voyage flips into mad adventure when his vintage Brownie camera magically unleashes all the sex, violence, religion and humor captured on canvas by the infamous artist, Caravaggio. During the journey, he finds the tools he needs to become a confident man and an artist.

Q: Can you tell us a little about your main and supporting characters?

A: Besides Jason, there’s his film school mentor and Cinematography Dean, Howard Edgerton. Edge is an old Hollywood cameraman, and he reminds Jason of an older silver-haired, Cary Grant. He also talks and thinks fast, like he’s in a Howard Hawks film. His idiosyncratic trait is that he’s always tipping Jason a twenty, in hopes that he’ll use it to improve his crappy wardrobe.

Q: Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?

A: This effort is a bit autobiographical; and it definitely references celebrities behind the camera and in the art world. However, this is an aberration for me. Most of the time, my characters are made up.

Q: Are you consciously aware of the plot before you begin a novel, or do you discover it as you write?

A: When writing screenplays I’ve been hyper aware of the plot, mostly because you have to be conscious of production logistics (depending on the project). I was a bit loose with having the plot nailed down before beginning Empire Of Light. After being pigeon holed all these years, it was nice to let the plot somewhat develop organically.

Q: Your book is set in Los Angeles, Paris, Rome and Naples. Can you tell us why you chose these cities in particular?

A: Don’t forget Cleveland! Ha! This reminds me of that famous Willie Sutton quote. When asked why he robbed banks Willie replied, “Because that’s where the money is.” Caravaggio doesn’t have a large body of work, but these three cities seem to have the most of ‘em. If I do a sequel, I might have to include Texas, Dublin and Sicily.

Q: Does the setting play a major part in the development of your story?

A: Jason is a fish out of water, but he’s trying to evolve and grow some legs. He’s not the “Ugly American,” because the guy attempts to speak the language, even though he butchers Italian like it’s a side of beef. It’s funny and awkward to see him stumble through a new world and try to come out on the other end intact. His life, eventually, depends on him accepting his lot in life and embracing it.

Q: Open the book to page 69. What is happening?

A: Jason is on the plane headed to Paris. A rude Frenchman sitting behind him has just shaken the hell out of Jason’s headrest in protest of him reclining his seat too far back. A gorgeous flight attendant is on the scene to apply justice.

Q: Can you give us one of your best excerpts?

A:

“There’s my little pyromaniac!”

Goddamn it. Edgerton is here.

Edge has been visiting sets all year, making sure we don’t do anything stupid (i.e. illegal Power Box tie-ins). I turn around and find him leaning on the camera, dressed as if he’s going to visit Hef at the Playboy mansion, fifty years ago.

“Tell me son, just what the hell are you wearing?” he asks, referring to my Flaming Carrot t-shirt.

“The Flaming Carrot? He fights crime while wearing this giant carrot mask with a huge flame shooting out the top of his head.”

“Why you little pervert. I know you little Neanderthals won’t wear ties on set anymore, but do you have to advertise your sick little desires on a t-shirt? This is the AFI! Leave the latent cock imagery for the hippies at NYU. What the hell did you do with that twenty I gave you?”

“You expected me to buy—”

“Would it kill you to wear a pair of chinos and a nice oxford?” he interrupts. “It could be a pink oxford if that turns you on.”

“I’m not gay.”

“Not my business and that’s the whole point, isn’t it?”

Q: Thank you so much for this interview, Gregory. We wish you much success!

A: Thanks so much for the opportunity! Hope we can do it again someday soon.

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