Hi everybody! It’s Into the Unknown time again. Today I have an interview with Hank Edwards, a blurb for his Critter Catcher series, and a blurb and a snippet from book four of the series, The Devil of Pinesville, so keep reading and let’s see what Hank has to say.
The first question I have centers on names. I spend considerable time on character names and usually use a variety of methods until I find the ones that resonate with me. For my book Doll Baby, the first initial of the couple’s names came to me right away, and then I had to go searching for names to match the initials, lol. Do character names come to you magically, from people you know, from baby name books or sites, or some other method?
I write using Scrivener, and the program has a really great Name Generator tool. It’s located under Edit in the top menu, you can click on Edit -> Writing Tools -> Name Generator. Click the little wheel cog icon to see the settings. You can look for male, female, or both, and include many different countries of origin. This tool has helped me come up with a number of fun names. For my Critter Catchers series, however, I came up with the main character names on my own for specific reasons. Demetrius Barnaby Singleton was decided on because I liked the name Demetrius and knew his best friend, Cody, would be the only one who shortened it to Demmy, everyone calls him Demetrius. Barnaby was a fun name I remember from a TV show I watched growing up: “Barnaby Jones” (yes, I am that old!). And Singleton is a nod to one of my favorite book characters, MaryAnn Singleton, from the Tales of the City series by Armistead Maupin. Cody Duran Bower just sort of spilled out on the page. The name Cody makes me think of a high school football star, which is what Cody is, and Duran was given to him as a middle name because his mother loved Duran Duran (readers will learn the interesting middle names his four brothers have in another book).
OMG. Barnaby Jones! Starring the milk-drinking Buddy Ebsen. I hate milk. Not that I would hold that against Buddy Ebsen. I’m actually feeling nostalgic right now and think I’d like to see that show again because I remember liking it. Which brings me in a roundabout way to my next question. We all have different likes and dislikes, but one of the difficult parts of being an author is being on the wrong side of a reader’s opinion. So, how do you deal with that? Are you a masochist? Ha, ha. Or, in other words, do you read reviews of your book?
Ha! Great question. And, yes, I read most of the reviews. Some I read with one eye squeezed shut, but I try to look for the constructive criticism in any reviews. The good reviews are, of course, a nice boost. The critical ones give me things to consider. And the mean ones just make me shake my head and roll my eyes. When I leave a review I try to be kind and, if there are any negatives, be constructive and understanding about them.
Yes. Absolutely. Reviews are not always constructive, and I know that for some writers, reviews can have a detrimental effect on output. They really are for readers in my opinion, so moving forward with my work—my writing—is important, and for me, that means social downtime. Other than cats, I write in solitude. What about you? Do you write alone or in public?
I have developed a pattern over the last couple of years that has helped me put a lot of words together. At my Evil Day Job (EDJ), I use my lunch hour and take my personal laptop to a table in a hallway away from my desk and write. I have one hour, and the time limit helps me focus and get about 1,000 words done. When I’m at my desktop computer at home, I tend to check Facebook or Twitter or Tumblr or something, but at work I avoid those distractions and just write.
One of the difficulties of the EDJ is finding time to write, so good job on doing that. I always wrote in the evenings and weekends, and my output was always fairly consistent, but there is very real pressure to produce content. The last few years have seen a huge influx of books on the market and competition is huge. Do you take the market into account when you write your stories, or is it all from your heart?
The majority of my books are all stories I would like to read myself. I don’t make enough from my writing to support myself, but I do love when I connect with readers and find out they really enjoyed something I’d written. I’ve had a few ideas for more “marketable” stories, but I just haven’t been able to finish writing them; my heart just isn’t in it.
I understand that feeling when your heart isn’t in the more marketable ideas, but I can also say that writing for love definitely has its compensations. Nevertheless, it can be hard to persist when you aren’t writing those more popular stories because it’s more difficult to get your name and your books front and center. Considering that writing is a pretty tough gig on most levels, do you think writers need loads of confidence or a big ego to make it in this business?
This is a tough business. An author needs to have confidence in his/her stories published, but also a good sense of humility. An author needs to be able to withstand criticism and the occasional negative review without losing sight of why he/she started writing in the first place.
One of the “business” and artistic decisions a writer in romance needs to decide is whether to write sex or let those scenes fade to black. If you write erotic/explicit scenes, what is the most difficult part of that process for you?
Coming up with different ways to describe the scene. The emotion involved is, of course, integral to the scene, but the descriptions and positions all need to be unique and fresh. Sometimes it’s tough to think up a new or unique way to explain the coupling, but hopefully I manage that all right.
I’m sure you do, lol. Thank you so much for stopping by. I’ve really enjoyed our conversation.
And now, keep reading for information about Hank Edwards’ release The Devil of Pinesville: Critter Catchers Book Four and snippet from the book for you to enjoy, as well.
It’s business as usual for Critter Catchers Demmy and Cody, with one pretty major change. Now, they’re not only juggling their animal control business and decades of friendship, but the beginnings of a romance as well. Cody’s always put a time limit on his past relationships, and he’s certain he’s going to mess things up with Demmy. For his part, Demmy is pretty sure Cody will, too. But trouble arrives in the form of one of Demmy’s ex-boyfriends who contacts them about a case they might be able to handle in Pinesville, New Jersey. Sensing not just physical but romantic danger, Cody makes certain to accompany Demmy on the trip.
In Pinesville, they meet up with a handful of residents just as colorful, if not more so, than those in Parson’s Hollow. And both are surprised to find they have some competition on this case, namely the Critter Ridders, a pair of very competitive women operating their own animal control business.
As the case intensifies, tempers flare and loyalties are tested, bringing Demmy and Cody to the point where they must decide if they’re willing to save the business, their friendship, or their romance.
Even though Demetrius Singleton and Cody Bower are polar opposites, they have been best friends since kindergarten. Cody is tall, handsome, athletic, and straight, and Demetrius is gay, average height, more attractive than handsome, with a tendency to overthink things. Tired of being stuck in dead end jobs, they open Critter Catchers, an animal control business with heart. As they adjust to their new roles as business partners as well as best friends, they find themselves involved more and more often in jobs that stray into paranormal territory, both in their small town of Parson’s Hollow, and elsewhere. Spooky, sexy, and laugh out loud funny, get to know Demetrius and Cody as they stumble across monsters — and Cody’s extensive list of pissed off ex-girlfriends — all while trying to keep their friendship intact.
Excerpt (meeting Oliver’s Grandma)
The screen door on the back of the house banged open. A short, spry woman with her hair pulled back into a long silver braid stepped out onto the very small slab of concrete that acted as a back porch. She wore a man’s red and blue plaid quilted barn coat with the sleeves rolled up several times, a pair of faded and patched jeans, and bright yellow Wellington boots.
“Oh my…” Demmy whispered.
“She’s a colorful gal,” Cody whispered back.
“Which of you is which?” the woman hollered at them.
Cody raised his hand. “I’m Cody Bower, ma’am.”
She snorted. “Ma’am? You may as well have just called me a bitch to my face. I’m Eileen.” She looked at Demmy. “You’re Demetrius.”
“That’s right,” Demmy said, eyes wide and his tone just a little shy of being a question.
Eileen stomped down the two concrete steps and approached. The Wellingtons squished and squashed with each step. Her gaze was fixed on Demmy, and she marched right up to look into his face. She was a full head shorter than Demmy, which meant she was about two feet shorter than Cody himself. If she wasn’t such a force of nature and more assertive than his high school football coach, he might have laughed.
“You’re skinny.” It was a statement, almost as if she had simply said his eyes were blue.
“Oh, um…” Demmy threw a quick look at Cody, then focused again on Eileen. “Thanks?”
“It wasn’t a compliment.” Eileen moved to stand in front of Cody and craned her head back to look up at him. “You’re a tall one. You a gay, too?”
Cody’s eyes went wide and a sudden cold spot spread across his chest as his cheeks heated with a blush. “W-What? Why…why would you ask me that?”
“Grandma!” Ollie had rounded the front corner of the house. “I’ve been looking for you.”
Eileen waved at him over her shoulder without taking her gaze from Cody. She had brilliant green eyes that Cody figured got her a lot of attention in her younger days. Hell, they probably still did.
Before Cody could formulate an appropriate response to her blurted question, Ollie came up alongside her.
“I see you’ve all met,” Ollie said.
“Which one were you shacked up with?” Eileen asked.
She finally dropped her fierce gaze from Cody’s face, and he found it a little easier to breathe.
“We didn’t live together,” Ollie said with a heavy sigh. “I told you, we dated for a few months.” He gestured to Demmy. “Demetrius and I dated.” He waved toward Cody. “Cody is Demetrius’s best friend and business partner. They’ve known each other since elementary school.”
“Right,” Demmy said. “Over twenty years.”
Eileen blew a short raspberry. “I’ve got underwear older than that.” She looked between them again. “What makes you two think you can track down the Devil?”
“We’ve got experience with animals like this,” Demmy said.
“Yeah?” She squinted one eye and crossed her arms. “Like what?”
“I told you about the wolf man case,” Ollie said.
Eileen nodded, but didn’t look away from Demmy. “Right, okay. So you nabbed a wolf man. How’d you do it?”
“Silver bullets,” Demmy said, and gestured at Cody. “It was Cody’s idea.”
Eileen turned her intense gaze on Cody once again. “From what I hear, you thought my grandson might’ve been the wolf man.”
“Grandma…” Ollie said.
“We did suspect him, at first,” Demmy replied. “But then we realized the wolf man’s true identity and we took care of it.”
“You killed it,” Eileen said.
Demmy nodded. “We killed it.”
“Feel bad about it?”
“I didn’t feel good about it,” Demmy said, and Cody detected a slight hitch in his voice. “The wolf man was only part wolf, and I felt badly for killing the man who had been bitten. He hadn’t chosen that for himself, and it ended up killing him.”
“Sounds like he deserved it.” Eileen looked between them before taking a step closer to Demmy. “From what I understand, he killed several people.”
“That’s right,” Cody said, pulling her attention from Demmy and feeling that sharp, green-eyed gaze drill right into him. “And because of that, we did a good thing. But it came at a cost.”
“You two sound like some kind of liberal animal lovers.” She looked at Ollie. “I thought you said they were tough?”
Ollie rolled his eyes. “They are tough. I worked with them to track down the chupacabra.”
She made a face. “Kimmy Cabra? That another one of those damn Kardashians?”
A quick bark of a laugh slipped out before Cody could help it, and he tried to cover by pretending to cough.
“No,” Ollie said. “It’s like a scary kind of dog-like creature.”
Eileen looked back at Demmy. “Did you kill it, too?”
Demmy looked over at him, and Cody could see that he was quickly wearing down under Eileen’s scrutiny. He needed to step in and give Demmy a chance to catch his breath.
Hank Edwards is a curious mix of practical realist and feral dreamer. He is a fan of absurd comedy, as evidenced in the sizzling and hilarious Charlie Heggensford Fluffers, Inc. series, as well as Plus Ones, his wacky rom-com. He also loves a good mystery and suspense story, which inspired his Up to Trouble series, featuring FBI Agent Aaron Pearce and his lover Mark Beecher who met during one case and have gone on to solve others. His love of chills and thrills prompted him to create the Venom Valley series, which combines vampires and zombies with Old West cowboys, and the humorous paranormal Critter Catcher series, with best friends Cody and Demetrius tracking down monsters. He has also written a number of standalone stories, such as the humorous murder mystery Repossession is 9/10ths of the Law, or the sexy crime thriller Buried Secrets, as well as the chillingly spooky Wicked Reflection, and medieval time travel romance, Destiny’s Bastard.
Amazon Author Page: amazon.com/author/hankedwards
Hank Edwards Facebook page: www.facebook.com/hankedwardsbooks
Young Adult fantasy gay romance Facebook page: www.facebook.com/authorrgthomas
Venom Valley Series Facebook page: www.facebook.com/venomvalleyseries