|Groundhog L. J!|
*Hi, L. J., thanks for stopping by. I think you'll fit right in here at "Twisted Tales."
Thank you Stuart, for having me. I'm honored, and I'm blushing. Thank you for your generous description.
*In your story, "She's Gone," you've written one of the best mystery set-ups I've read in some time. Tell our readers a little about it.
This is a story about a man who comes home from work at the end of the day, expecting to find his wife and her cat waiting to greet him and his life to be what it was yesterday,
the day before and so on...but it's not. The house echoes with
its emptiness. There's no sound of life, no scents of dinner being made. It like he's walked into a tomb of the home he knows. A quick search tells him something is wrong...very wrong. His wife is gone. Her side of the closet is empty, but he can't wrap his head around it. Before leaving for work that very morning they'd made passionate love. So where is his wife? Backtracking he starts to see odd things slightly out of place and begins tallying up the clues...but the solution nearly drives him to his knees.
*What I like about the plot is it's so simple, yet brilliant. I defy anyone to not finish the tale! In fact, I think it'd be a great tale to teach in a creative writing course. You could withhold your ending, see what your students come up with.
I love writing stories with surprise endings. Most of my short stories have surprise endings that haunt and surprise me, the author, and those who've read my work. One of my best surprise endings takes place in another short I wrote called FOREVER WITH YOU. No one has ever anticipated the ending to that one.
*It's hard to talk about the story without giving away the ending (NOT what I expected). But it's a powerful ending. Without getting into specifics (it's hard, I know), does the ending hold special significance for you?
Yes, but as you said, talking about it would give it away.
*The writing is deceptively simple, yet clever. It develops its own rhythm, almost free-form jazz style. The recurring refrain "She's gone" almost plays like a drum riff punctuating the protagonist's thoughts. Was this intentional? Or, um, do I have a lot of spare time on my hands?
No you're absolutely right. I wanted the continual reciting of the title and of course the dilemma and mystery he's facing to ratchet up the tension.
*Having read "She's Gone," the first thing that struck me is I bet you'd write a great mystery noir, full of tough guys, double-crossing women, and snappy patter. Have you ever given this genre any thought?
I actually never thought I could write any kind of mystery. I'm a big Agatha Christie fan. She was brilliant. The way she incorporates the clues throughout the story so you really don't catch on who she's aiming her finger at until you reach the very end and then go back and reread it takes my breath away. I don't think of myself as clever enough to do that.
*Let's move onto "Twilight Comes." What starts out
as an interesting character study about a rather self-involved stockbroker soon turns into, um, something quite different. Almost did a spit-take with my morning coffee! Thoughts?
Yeah...this is one of the hardest stories I've ever written and the most difficult for me to figure out how to promote and/or discuss, but life is filled with things that are hard to discuss...but we can't run from them either. It is a very powerful story, and one I'm very proud to have written.
*Then there's "Life's Journey." The tale details a woman, perilously close to death, who is guided through her past life by her grandmother's spirit. Then she has a tough decision to make. Now your protagonist certainly had a tough life. My question to you is how much of it is autobiographical?
99%. The only fiction is the leg injury. I did not lose my leg.
*What's your personal take on the afterlife?
I've had several surgeries throughout my thirties and forties. I don't do well under anesthetics and have had a few cardiac arrests while on the table. I also drowned when I was four. To date, I've had three Near Death Experiences, and each one showed me another aspect of the After-Life.
I know there are those who will say what I experienced was caused by lack of oxygen, and they may be right...except, what I experienced changed me, and if lack of oxygen can bring peace and absolute belief in a Father/Mother capable of loving me the way I felt loved, give me more lack of oxygen, please.
Because of my experiences, I don't fear death, but I also know I'm here for a purpose and that is to be the best me I can figure out how to be.
*Do you feel your protagonist made the right decision?
Since it's about me...and I DID make the decision, sometimes yes, sometimes no.
*What compels you to go to the "dark side?"
The same thing that drove me to get my Bachelor's Degree in Psychology. I was married to a very violent, controlling man who carried a Federal Badge he thought gave him absolute rights over everyone. It took me eleven years to find resources willing to stand behind me in the legal system so I could get myself and my children away from him. I needed to understand how a human being could say he loves me and do the things he did. I'm STILL trying to figure it out. Through writing about the darker side of life, I'm able to explore all kinds of motivations, and I'm hoping to make the path easier for someone else.
*How much of your life is reflected in your writing?
It depends on what I'm writing about, but a great deal of who I am comes through in the journeys I have my characters go through. At least 85%.
*What's up next for L.J?
I have four releases coming out between now and the end of this year. Two of them are sequels...the first coming out in September is a sequel to a story I wrote tongue-in-cheek for our Publisher here at Muse It Up because I wanted to cheer her up. It's erotica with humor and called SUC-U TOO. (Book One is SUC-U).
Another one I wrote again, tongue-in-cheek and is coming out in October is DIAMONDS FROM THE ROUGHAGE. Ever wonder where diamonds REALLY come from? Well, I tell all.
In December I have TWO releases...the first is the final book in my Christmas Miracles Series called CHRISTMAS GOES GREEN with a heroine who's half leprechaun-half witch, and a hero who's half elf-half human. My first in this series, SANTA IS A LADY amazed when it won the 2010 Preditors and Editors Readers Poll. It took fifth place in its category less than two months after its release. I'm hoping CHRISTMAS GOES GREEN will be as well received.
My second December release is a short called THE END OF TOMORROW and is somewhat dark...but does have a Happy Ending.
There you have it, folks. Thanks, Lin, these are great answers and you're a very interesting person. Please do seek out her tales, they're well worth your time.
Here's her Muse-It-Up Publishing page: http://museituppublishing.com/bookstore/index.php/search?keyword=L.J.+Holmes&limitstart=0&option=com_virtuemart&view=category
And Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/L.J.-Holmes/e/B004U347U2/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1379871450&sr=1-2-ent