I met S.E. last fall at a writer’s retreat and discovered we have a mutual love of all things horror – books, movies, etc. That’s just the natural direction our minds travel when given the freedom to wander. So she’s good people. Today I’m so excited to have her as a guest on Books & Such because it’s release day for her first novel, Much of Madness! Is that a gorgeous cover or what?
Seraphina Pearce doesn’t know what’s more frustrating: her magic’s affinity for death, her best friend’s transformation into an albino Sin Eater, or that simply touching a guy she loves means someone’s headed to the morgue.
After a sin-eating job goes awry, she casts a risky spell and butts heads with a handsome stranger in order to win an infamous grimoire.
Marceau L’Argent is the last person she should confide in because the occult cat burglar has a mysterious past, and he’s made it no secret he also wants the grimoire. He recognizes her dark magic and offers his unique help as a rare curse breaker. If all that weren’t enough, Marceau causes butterflies in her stomach—a feeling she’d long thought dead.
Seraphina was only trying to break her curse—not piss off Death himself.
MUCH OF MADNESS is a Southern Gothic Horror story about loyalty, sacrifice, and maintaining hope no matter the odds.
Tell us about your writing background.
I started reading and writing at the age of three and books have been my sanctuary ever since. I spent years writing bits of stories in notebooks, but never putting in the work to see one through. Fear, single-parenthood, and feeling as if authors were some sort of perfect magical beings anointed by thesauruses and unicorn horns. In truth, I lost someone very close to me and it rocked my entire world. After months of depression I forced myself outside and went to my first book fair since books were the only escape from my grief. Within a couple weeks, I was drafting Much of Madness. I’ve spent three years educating myself on the craft, writing new tales, and revising the suck out of this story.
What gave you the idea for Much of Madness?
I live just outside of Nashville, TN. My husband decided for his birthday, he wanted to “play tourist” to celebrate and go to some of the attractions locals generally skip. In the Country Music Hall of Fame, there is a huge steel radio mast that descends from the ceiling in the rotunda. I was spinning in the middle of the room (as one does while visiting in the middle of the day) and looked up at that sharp structure pointing straight at my skull. Bam! I knew exactly what scene would happen there. The rest of the day, scene after scene hit me. Nashville is an unspoken character in my story. My husband’s birthday happens to be on November 1st and I’d won my first NaNoWriMo by the end of the month.
Which characters were the most and least difficult to write and why?
Most difficult: Maximilian (my villain) and Khatereh (a stripper with an interesting pedigree) both gave me trouble. Max needed to have his own motivations and to believe wholeheartedly that his story was the more interesting to tell. Khatereh needed fine-tuning after I decided to not only keep her around, but make her an essential character. My original idea was to behead her around halfway in and torture my Sin Eater with her loss!
Least difficult: Rolf. He’s a rambunctious little ghosty who died as a young wolfboy while in a traveling freakshow. From the first moment I imagined him, he was playfully bouncing around in my head and yelling lines. If I’d listened, there would’ve been less kissing and more poltergeist pranks.
Are you a plotter, panster, or somewhere in between?
Much of Madness was a heart pounding, no clue what I was doing, all-out pantserfest… and took revision after revision to fix. I learned to plot by stacking colorful post-its at a Cherry Adair (Romance Author) workshop and my mind was blown. Before that weekend was over, I’d fully plotted a complex seven POV serial storyline. Watching Cherry’s reactions to my impeccably created plot board and as I explained my demented horror plot is one of my treasured memories as a writer. I’m now a self-professed Plotter McPlottypants.
If you could erase one horror cliché, what would it be?
Hmm, great question. Non-starting cars, sex equals automatic death, and running upstairs to escape a killer are all so tempting. But I choose hitting/stabbing/shooting a killer once, then assuming they are dead… while usually dropping your weapon. I’ve warned my family that if ever pushed to the point of fighting for my survival it would devolve into a vicious, batshit crazy, gorefest. I’ve watched and read way too much horror to think beasties go down after even the tenth strike.
Fav horror book and movie?
Book would have to be by Stephen King, but how do you choose? I’d give a different answer every time I was asked, so today I’ll go with It. Movie would be the entire Universal Monsters collection. They were my childhood introduction to frights and my most beloved.
Tell us 5 random facts about yourself.
Love spicy, ethnic foods – Indian & Thai the most.
I’m 5’11, so I’m always asked to reach *all the things!*
I’m obsessed with octopuses (octopi is WRONG!) and bats.
My Southern accent is so thick Siri cannot understand me.
I’ve been a vegetarian for over fifteen years. Tofu is my jam.
If you could have any super power, what would it be?
Time manipulation/travel. I’d love to be able to spend time with lost loved ones, write endlessly when the words are flowing, and make humanitarian changes to history. Also let’s just be honest here, I’d gut punch a jerk from middle school who had it coming. Haha!
What are you working on right now?
Drafting the sequel to The Conexus Chronicles, More of Sin.
Editing for of the Debut Collective anthology series publishing in June.
Revising a YA horror serial releasing sometime this year.
Where can fans find you?
Buy Link for Much of Madness: http://amzn.to/20xvRGv
S.E. Summa lives in Tennessee with her husband and a menagerie of spoiled pets. Growing up in Nashville, she always felt the city’s unique culture and landmarks would be the perfect setting for monsters to play.
A PRO member of the Romance Writers of America (RWA), Shantele serves as the Volunteer and Membership Coordinator for her local chapter, the Music City Romance Writers (MCRW). She graduated magna cum laude with a BBA from Belmont University.
S.E. started The Debut Collective, a supportive online tribe of authors (both published and aspiring), editors, formatters, and cover designers working together to foster a new generation of stories and authors. The Debut Collective is publishing a series of five anthologies in June 2016.
Multiple upcoming releases in 2016:
MUCH OF MADNESS, The Conexus Chronicles, Book #1 – February 29, 2016
MORE OF SIN, The Conexus Chronicles, Book #2 – TBD
Four short stories for following The Debut Collective anthologies releasing in June 2016: Act of Bravery, Underdog, Insurrection/Hostile Takeover, and Secret Identity
*The Underdog & Secret Identity stories are tie-ins for The Conexus Chronicles and will feature characters from Much of Madness.