Today I am talking to author Candace Mountain who is originally from Nova Scotia which is in the eastern part of Canada, right on the Atlantic Ocean. It really was a terrific place to grow up and you may just find some of that maritime influence in her books. She is currently living in Calgary in the western part of Canada and it is a beautiful city, though she does often miss home. She have lived a very colorful life and the journey from Nova Scotia to Alberta has been filled with many interesting experiences which she can draw on when she is creating stories.
Books & Writing: Do you remember the first story you wrote?
Candace Mountain: When I was a kid I wrote a story in elementary school about a family dealing with the tragedy of losing a family member when they fell through the ice and drowned at the local hockey rink. After I submitted the story, my teacher informed me that there wasn’t any water under the ice at the hockey rink but rather cement. I learned that research was very important from that first story.
Books & Writing: Were you inspired by someone or something?
Candace Mountain: I think inspiration comes from everyone I meet and everything I see as I pull on everything to make my stories come to life. Obviously, there are fragments of people that I have met in some of my characters, but that is not always the case. The Burned One, for example, has some elements of my father in him as well as some elements of me when I go to a darker place.
Books & Writing: How do you overcome writer’s block?
Candace Mountain: I like to dance in a room by myself when I need to work out a story or plot piece. I crank up the music and then enter into an almost day dream state where I let the characters do their thing. Amazingly, some of my most brilliant story arcs have come out of this dance.
Books & Writing: Can you tell us a bit about your book “The Daughter of Man”?
Candace Mountain: ‘The Daughter of Man’ is classified as horror though to be honest it is not a scary book in the normal sense. It is more of a thrill ride than a jump out and scare you story. The action sequences in the book are very plentiful and in a way possess the same sort of pace you might expect from an Indiana Jones movie. The story is very plot driven and you can expect some twists that you will not see coming.
The major theme of the story is good vs. evil though that boundary is often not so clear in some of the characters. Gerald Beck, for example, is one of the main good guys who will often cross a line or two that you may not expect to see from a hero. In his case, it is his desperation not to lose his daughter that motivates him to dismiss any sort of ethical approach to his plan to save her.
Books & Writing: How did you come up with the idea for the book?
Candace Mountain: I had been toying with the thoughts of The Burned One for years and knew that I had the makings of a great villain. I also had a bit of an obsession with hurricanes as they truly fascinated me and the idea to have a big bad controlling weather and creating the ultimate storm felt right. Once I decided that The Burned One was going to somehow control a hurricane, Florida became one of the obvious locations for the setting.
I spent an entire summer in Florida researching the settings that my characters would be coming to life in and during that time a lot of the story began to flesh itself out in my mind. The alligator scenes were born as well a few of the back stories. The rest came to me as I was writing and the story began to take on a life of its own. I originally had a climax in store and it does happen about a hundred pages before the book ends as the climax turned into an opening salvo in an ending that takes 100 pages to tell.
Books & Writing: Can you tell us something about the main character Nora Beck?
Candace Mountain: Nora Beck is a different sort of hero as she dies within the first few pages of the story. However, her ghost is very influential in the story as she tries to uncover the plot against her family. At the same time, she is attached to a seemingly ordinary girl named Jennifer who is being dragged into the conflict between her husband Gerald and The Burned One. Nora knows that there are many things going on behind the scenes that she has to try and sort out and then find a way to communicate them to Jennifer and Gerald.
Books & Writing: What attracts you in Horror?
Candace Mountain: I like the genre a lot as growing up scary movies and books were a regular part of my diet. I have always come up with some sort of supernatural slant on my stories and it is almost natural for me. Someday I plan to write a really scary book that will make people afraid of the dark again. I have ideas already though I have a few stories I need to get out before I force all of my readers to sleep with the lights on.
Books & Writing: Where do you see yourself in a couple of years in relation to writing?
Candace Mountain: Right now I am working on my next novel which is set in the same universe as ‘The Daughter of Man’. The next book is tentatively called ‘Polly Woggins and the Nanobot Nightmare’ and it is essentially a vampire story with a huge spy subplot. After that, I have another Polly Woggins book to do before I begin to write ‘The Daughter of Man: Phoenix Rising.’
Books & Writing: Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?
Candace Mountain: Read and write constantly, it is really the only way to become great at writing.
Books & Writing: Which author inspires you?
Candace Mountain: Stephen King is one of my influencers and there is a little bit of him in my writing though we greatly differ on the speed of plot advancement. Stephen likes to take his time while I tend to move plot much faster.
Books & Writing: What is the last book you read?
Candace Mountain: The last book I read was called ‘The Thirteen’ by Susie Moloney. I enjoyed it quite a bit and would recommend it as well as ‘The Dry Spell’ one of her older books that I absolutely adored. I had always been a fan of hers since that book and I was really delighted one day when I discovered that she followed me on Twitter.
Books & Writing: Where can people go and read your work?
Candace Mountain: My book is available exclusively through Amazon as a trade paperback, kindle version, or as part of Amazon Prime.
Books & Writing: Where can people find you on internet?
Candace Mountain: I am all over but the best thing people can do is visit my xeeme to see my full footprint and decide how they want to connect to me from there.
Books & Writing: Is there anything else you want to share with the readers?
Candace Mountain: I love feedback in the form of reviews, tweets and even emails. Please feel free to connect with me as you never know maybe you will be that next interesting person that inspires me to create a character based on a fragment of you.
Below is an excerpt from her book "The Daughter of Man "!
Prologue One: The Death of Nora Beck
The clouds thickened and bellowed up towards the heavens in the characteristic anvil shape that was a common afternoon feature in the summer skies over Florida. These afternoon thunderstorms were not at all out of place. They were as normal as the constant heat and humidity that stalked the long summer months in the ‘Sunshine State.’ These storms tended to roll in very fast and then let out their fury in the form of lightning and near torrential rains. They would then dissipate almost as fast, leaving a lovely clear and vivid blue sky. If you were lucky, the storms would cut the humidity down a little bit and even then it was only a temporary reprieve.
Nora Beck glanced casually at the darkening sky as she left the small coffee shop. She had just enjoyed the rare treat of catching up with her old friend Henry Stanton. Henry was a professor at the University of Florida, a fairly well known, especially to college football fans, university located in Gainesville. Nora lived in Orlando with her husband and their daughter Julia and this meant that she did not get to see her old friend very much as Gainesville was about a two hour drive north.
The not so distant sound of thunder echoed in the darkening sky which focused Nora’s attention back to the approaching storm. She smiled briefly as she thought about how much Julia would love to be there to watch the storm develop. Her daughter was currently in Gainesville studying meteorology and for all she knew she was enrolled in one of Henry’s classes, though neither of them mentioned anything to her about it. There was a chance that Julia wouldn’t mention it because she was often a little private with her life which was a trait she definitely inherited from her father.
There was a bright flash and then another crack of thunder followed almost instantly indicating the storm was really close. Nora felt a drop of water hit her hand and she knew it was going to rain sooner than later. She glanced around quickly to see if there was any place she could duck into for shelter as she did not particularly want to get drenched from the rain. She was not really concerned about the lightning as there were enough tall buildings nearby that made better targets than someone on the ground.
Most lightning strikes were completely preventable with a good amount of common sense which sadly enough not everyone seemed to possess. You would expect people living in Florida to be very weather wise when it came to storms but that was not always the case. Nora had known since she was a little girl that you simply avoided open areas such as a golf course or any other field. Your car was the safest place you could take shelter as a lightning strike would travel along the outside of the metal and then ground through the tires. It was referred to as a Faraday cage at least she thought that was what Julia called it.
Nora first suspected that something was not quite right when her perception changed and the rain seemed to be falling in slow motion. It was odd to see the precipitation moving so slowly through the air as if it was in no real hurry to reach the pavement. She wanted to figure out what was happening except something else began to captivate her attention. She was feeling a tingling sensation on the top of her scalp that almost felt like the pins and needles you experience when your foot falls asleep but less sharp. The tingle quickly grew stronger and she knew on some level that she was in serious trouble but yet she could only be fascinated by what was happening. She also knew that she should be afraid but she didn’t feel any fear as she recalled a conversation she had once had with Julia.
“So what did you learn last week?” Nora asked.
“Oh Mom, it is so cool. We really got in depth on lightning,” Julia replied with a small sparkle in her green eyes. “Did you know that it actually starts on the ground?”
“I may have seen something about it on the Discovery channel,” Nora replied as she tucked a strand of her red hair behind her ear.
“Well, it starts as a charge called a positive streamer that actually reaches up towards the sky,” Julia stated. “The thundercloud has a negative charge that reaches down towards the ground called a stepped leader.”
“Let me guess the streamer says, ‘take me to your leader’,” Nora said with a playful tone.
“Yup, when the two meet they form a closed circuit and boom,” Julia said with an emphasis on her last word.