It's time again to meet another fantastic author. This week's guest is Cheri Vause, who writes in the dark and mysterious side of fiction.
Good morning, Cheri! How do you take your coffee?
CHERI: Coffee, coffee, coffee, coffee, espresso, cappuccino, latte, java, joe, with cow, without, breve (half n' half), Arabic, Irish, Italian, French, Spanish, Hawaiian, African, Dark Roast, Medium Roast... Just not from a Cat's butt, thank you, very much. Did I mention freshly ground and put through a cafetière? Or an Irish coffee, or...
Ally: LOL. I guess I can't miss. While I pour, why don't you introduce yourself to readers?
Chéri Vausé spent more than twenty years teaching theology and volunteering. She decided late in life to change careers and begin writing novels. With all her children grown, she turned her dining room table into a desk and research center, and now she serves up murder on an icy platter rather than meals.
Chéri lives on a small ranch in Central Texas with her husband and two dogs; Scully and Mulder. Scully is a Coydog (half-beagle and half coyote). Mulder is a Great Pyrenees. And two ducks; Doggett and Reyes.
Something unique/unusual that isn't in your regular bio: "I'm the mother of two sets of identical twins born on the same day fourteen years apart. The news went out over the (AP) Associated Press and hit all the newspapers around the world, including Stars and Stripes (the military newspaper). I received postcards from Australia telling me there was woman with the same name who gave birth to twins the month before. I just found that absolutely fabulous, and kind of freaky."
Book Site: http://www.authorcherivause.wix.com/noirthrillers
CHERI: Noir Mystery Thrillers, Gothic Horror, and I'm working on a science fiction. I like to think of myself as a female Michael Crichton. I'd say the heat ratings are hot to me. I like to keep my actual sex off-screen. Imagination, the brain is the greatest sexual arousal organ, and I like to make great use of it. My characters kiss, but the sex is always in the reader's mind and not on the page. I'm more interested in telling a story than the erotic nature of humans.
Ally: Which is your favorite genre, and what makes you prefer it?
CHERI: My favorite genre is Mystery, although I've written in several other genres, like horror, science fiction, and literary. My mysteries have a tendency to be truly dark, or what I believe is very noir. I don't mean Hannibal Lector kind of villains, but chilling ones, and the darkness surrounding them is palpable, that things go very wrong when confronting the evil. Although, I do have an ending where things are resolved, my heroes must learn the worst kind of lessons. (I do have a cliff-hanger planned for the third book in my series, Girl in the Shadows.) I feel that a noir thriller is the perfect place for a life's lesson, a spiritual one, to make someone think about their decisions in life and the consequences. I want people to know that all their decisions should come from a core of goodness, to be selfless, rather than grasping and solipsistic. Extremes are the perfect vehicle for relaying an important theme. The Trial has become a part of our vernacular. Think of when we speak of a Kafkaesque bureaucracy or law or pattern we're facing. Kafka gave us an extreme situation, and it was a warning. It's a lesson we keep forgetting, as we make law after law and infringe on our freedoms. For that reason, I prefer noir.
Ally: Which of your characters is the most satisfying to write and which is the most fun?
CHERI: Esther Charlemagne is the most satisfying. I've written her with many of the same events I've experienced, or those close to me. She is the most cathartic for me, but Aiden “Mac” McManus (Esther's husband) is much more fun. He's the man I love with all his foibles; his excessive love for Esther, his willingness to protect his family, his bore-sightedness, and his strength. He's also a man of secrets, which people won't find out until the third in the series, although it's hinted at. He leads with his fists, even if he tempers it as much as possible for Esther's sake; an alpha male, a warrior of the best sort. Although, I love all my male leads, I'm completely in love with Mac. He's patterned after the only man I've ever loved, adding a few of my own inventive characteristics. I even put a touch of my father in him. He was a Golden Gloves boxer in the Navy, and he walked like a boxer; up on his toes, his arms bowed slightly against his body. I made Mac a Golden Gloves boxer, and that's the way he walks.
My father was also the alpha male, the warrior type. He served in the Navy during WWII in the Pacific Theater, and did what Lt. Cable does in South Pacific. I wrote Mac as serving in the European Theater as a UDT man, the precursor to the Navy Seals, but he also works with the Résistance to gather intelligence for his team.
Ally: As a reader, what do you look for in a book? Do you consciously think about those criteria when you do your own writing?
CHERI: I look for writing that sparks my imagination, beautiful and intelligent phrases, and characters I can love. I hate anti-heroes, and a cast of people I wouldn't want to know in my personal life. The villain should also have something unique and interesting about him, not be cartoonish or one dimensional, or too similar to villains already written. I want to root for the hero, not hate him. I read a book a few years ago that everyone was talking about, and the so-called lists had that book on every one. The writer is considered a literary master, but I hated the hero so much, I had to force myself to finish it, even though the writing was beautiful and very engaging. Even the plot was a bit over reaching, and the characters so immature and ego-maniacal. The protagonist was vile, and without any integrity, and that made me feel that there was something wrong with me in spending any time with him. In the end, he learned nothing. That forced me to be very selective about the books I read, because my time is valuable. I don't judge a book I might want to read by bestseller lists, or even if it's won any awards. I trust my instincts in selecting what I read.
Yes, I do think about that criteria when I'm drafting a plot for a new book. And more importantly, I try to write with an idea behind my stories. It's not fully fleshed out without that idea. The Night Shadow is about what makes a true marriage. I contrast the marriage of the heroes to their clients in order to show how a true marriage withstands the worst that can happen, that I believe some people are meant to be together. The Touch of a Shadow is a continuation of that theme, but discusses the origins of their relationship. The next book, Girl in the Shadows, (I'm still working on it) discusses how little we know about the person we love, that each human being is a secret world to us, but we should marvel at the idea that there is something always to be discovered about the person we love.
When I read, I want to learn something about myself, about humanity, to touch goodness, and feel something that touches my heart, that even slaps me in the face or gives me that “Aha” moment. It's the same when I write. I cannot help but write with a Catholic view of the world, much like Graham Greene, or Flannery O'Connor, or G. K. Chesterton, or J. R. R. Tolkien. It's a part of who I am, and I write from that core, using the language I love, which is the language of faith. I find myself bringing a touch of mysticism to every story. A character may sense something, or even have a dream, or that evil lives even beyond the death of a villain. It can be a shadow following a character. My background in theology informs my writing in many more ways than I'm aware. Sometimes I discover the phraseology I've used when I'm editing and I'm surprised by it. I like to be surprised by an author's writing, to find the unexpected.
Beautiful writing is not enough. Tell me a great story, with characters who pop out from the book, and who I want to invite into my home for the length of the story, and if it's a series, will I love them continually for the run. They must be real or I'm turned off. Even villains should be realistic, have something likable about them, or they become very one dimensional.
Ally: If you could change one thing in this world, what would it be and why?
CHERI: If everyone would go to elocution school my ears would be happy. There's nothing that grates on my nerves more than people speaking through their nose when they don't have to, or they have a strident tone. I didn't like my own voice when I heard a recording, and trained it to be more melodic. Think Singing in the Rain. I find my mind wandering off when I'm forced to listen to the grating voices of some on television, or short clipped phrases that seem to be popular with some actors and newscasters, especially women. My mind wanders because it wants to hide from the annoyance. When I hear Professor Higgens singing, “Why Can't the English Learn to Speak”, I cheer. I adore the line where he says, “the Americans haven't spoken it in years”, and, unfortunately, he's too right. The other is using there for their or they're. Pulleeze, get a dictionary. It makes me wonder what all those high school teachers are teaching people these days.
Ally: What's your current work in progress?
CHERI: The Portrait of Lilith is a Gothic Horror story, set on the Cornish coast in 1865. The book is scheduled to be released on August 22. The story concerns a young lord whose father has died under mysterious circumstances. One morning the young man finds that he can see into the spiritual world, and it terrifies him, until he realizes he must follow these prescient feelings accompanying his visions to discover the reasons why his father died in order to end the haunting of his family.
Ally: Get ready for some quick answer questions:
- a. high heels or sneakers: Sandals, and sometimes, sneakers. Never high heels. My feet would scream at me. I leave the heels for the young.
- b. favorite kind of dessert: Coffee with dessert. Puddings: crème brûlée, or a dark chocolate soufflé, or crème anglaise. YUM!!
- c. favorite meal: This is way too difficult to answer. I'm the Will Rogers of food: I never met a food I didn't like. Maybe Roast Lamb dripping in butter and rosemary, with roasted New Potatoes, Asparagus, & Spring Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette or Sliced Tomatoes with crumbled blue cheese, followed by a Crème Anglaise over Blackberries and Raspberries, and a cappuccino, of course. Isn't coffee a dessert?
- d. a person you would love to meet (living or dead, real or fiction): G. K. Chesterton and Daphne du Maurier equally. Maybe Einstein and Sir Isaac Newton.
- e. favorite drink: Toss up between a Cappuccino or a Brunello (a thick, red, and scrumptious wine from Italy)
The first four years of the 1960's had been filled with violence and heartbreak for Esther Charlemagne: Divorce from her alcoholic husband, the death of her thirteen year-old son by a drunk driver, the assassination of President Kennedy, and fighting breast cancer. She and her former partner on the New York City Police elite Homicide Squad, Aiden "Mac" McManus, left the Big Apple to open a private investigation firm in Los Angeles to begin a new life. After a slew of peep jobs for distraught husbands and wives suspecting their spouses of cheating, Esther decides to investigate the circumstantial death by fire of a young ballet dancer, against the advice of her partner Mac. Little does she suspect that it would engage all their skills learned while detectives on the NYPD, and that it would force them to face their feelings for each other as they follow the suspected killer to New York City.
International Amazon Buy Link: http://authl.it/B00O3L6Z92
E-book & Hardcopy Amazon US Buy Link: https://www.amazon.com/Night-Shadow-Chéri-Vausé-ebook/dp/B00O3L6Z92
Book Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5-4h313xKwk&feature=youtu.be
Esther Charlemagne and Aiden “Mac” McManus have settled into their brownstone in Manhattan, enjoying their newlywed bliss, when a knock at the door sends them back to a grisly murder case they worked five years earlier, in 1959, while serving as detectives on the elite homicide squad of the NYPD. The FBI secures a very pregnant Esther, along with others involved in the case, in a safe house in Virginia, while Mac returns to NYC, employing a cousin and a couple of rookie cops he's grown to trust to help him find the killer who has threatened to murder his beloved Esther.
International Amazon Buy Link: http://authl.it/B00SGQ4A4M
E-book & Hardcopy Amazon US Buy Link: http://www.amazon.com/Touch-Shadow-Chéri-Vausé/dp/1910603023
Book Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qu877jM8a8Q&feature=youtu.be