She has to deal with two kinds of spooks: spies and ghosts.
But which one is trying to kill her?
Jen Kirby has seen ghosts since she was a teen, but she can’t talk to them or help them cross over. And, after a violent death in the family, she doesn’t want to see them anymore.
In her role as ghostwriter, Jen joins a Canadian Arctic expedition to document and help solve a forty-year-old mystery involving an American submarine station lost during the Cold War. The trouble is, there are people—living and dead—who don't want the story told, and they’ll do anything to stop her.
Now Jen is haunted by ghosts she can’t avoid or handle alone. That means confiding in the one man she doesn’t want to dismiss her as “crazy.” But can he help? Or is he part of the problem?
I stared at the table. I could barely see it. That was all right. What I wanted to see was the vision from my dream.
I never heard ghosts, but I sometimes I could see their memories, some of their memories, in dreams. I was hoping for a waking dream now.
Minton, the journal writer, was spying on the group. I was seeing through his eyes.
Four men sit around the table. There is coffee, no cards, no chips, no flask being passed from man to man. The faces wear expressions ranging from worried to belligerent. Doc Dawes is tapping a finger as he listens to Boreman, who is punctuating his statements with table thumps. Kant is fiddling with a cigarette pack, turning it over and over in his hands. Golanger seems worried. He keeps looking around and gesturing Boreman to keep it down.
Commander Shore enters the room he says a few words. Boreman and Golanger leave. Then Dawes takes the Commander aside. Shore nods towards the storage area, towards me. Towards Minton.
Where is Naire? Where is Margolo?
“You're not sleeping are you?”
“I don't think so.”
I hesitated. What did I want to admit to? Who could I trust?
“You can trust me,” he said, as though I had voiced the last comment aloud. Had I?
“No offense, but you’d say that if I couldn’t trust you—especially if I couldn’t trust you.”
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Alison Bruce will be awarding an ebook copy of Deadly Season to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.
Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I’ve been writing stories since I was about twelve years old. A lot of what I wrote in my teens was fan fiction. I would have had a hard time admitting that at one time, but now I think it’s a useful stage for a writer, like an artist’s student who copies the master until he can do his own masterwork.
I’ve been working professionally as a copywriter and editor since 1991. I’ve also been a ghostwriter of sorts, but never had a job nearly as exciting as the one my character Jen Kirby gets. On the other hand, I’ve had a wide variety of jobs, travelled to many interesting places and had a few of my own life-threatening adventures that have become grist for the writing mill.
Do you have a day job as well?
Currently I am the executive director of Crime Writers of Canada. I also work as an adult school crossing guard which, in addition to the pay has the benefit of forcing me to get out from behind my desk twice a day.
What do you do when you’re not writing?
When I’m not writing, or marketing my books or researching the next book (and don’t forget the day jobs) I relax by reading, watching murder mysteries, or playing Animal Crossing.
When did you start writing and when did you finish your first book?
I started writing my first book in Nutrition at university. I got so I could make it look like I was taking notes instead of writing a story. I lost that novel in the woman’s washroom when I left my clipboard behind.
The first full length novel I completed was started in hospital while recovering from surgery. The first draft was, at best, novella length and illegible in parts since I was on pretty heavy painkillers. The second draft was started while I was recovering at home and more drafts followed. I started and finished three other novels but that first one, Under a Texas Star, was my first published novel.
How did you choose the genre you write in?
Settling on one genre is not one of my strong suits. Under a Texas Star is a historical western romance. I wrote that one for my father. My second book, Deadly Legacy and its sequel, Deadly Season are detective procedurals with a dash of science fiction. They were inspired by my mother. A Bodyguard to Remember is romantic suspense, which I think I can safely say is a genre that seeps into everything I write. Ghost Writer combines the elements I most enjoy reading myself: mystery, romance, suspense and a ghost story.
Do you ever experience writer’s block?
I never experienced writers block until I was a published author. Typically I am writing one book while promoting another. So, sometimes I suffer writers block and sometimes I suffer marketing block.
Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?
There are so many books that influenced me it’s hard to narrow the field. I started reading Georgette Heyer’s historical romances when I was twelve, I think. In any case I’d become a diehard fan by grade nine because I kept asking my history teacher social history questions that he couldn’t answer. Heyer’s attention to historical detail, as well as her light touch when it came to romance, was a big influence on me. I never really thought about it at the time, but her strong-minded female characters also influenced me.
Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published?
My biggest challenge to getting published was myself. A couple of rejections were all it took to discourage me. It took decades before I tried again. Fortunately, I kept writing and improving my skills.
Have you written a book you love that you have not been able to get published?
Ghost Writer was it. And now it is not. I have an urban fantasy novel that I’d like to put back on the market someday. I’d need to polish it up though. My standards are higher these days.
Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?
When Jen talks about seeing her grandmother after she died, that happened to me. I didn’t have the dream Jen had later, but my grandmother did come to say good bye and tell me to behave. Like Jen, I suffer from sea sickness on open water and was afraid of sailing.
Besides personal experience, I used stories from my father, who was in the Royal Canadian Navy, military blogs and researched everything from scuba training to weather in the Arctic Ocean.
Are there certain characters you would like to go back to?
I fell in love with several characters when writing Ghost Writer, including one that got written out. There are a couple of ghosts which may haunt Jen for some time because I enjoy writing about them.
What has been the toughest criticism you’ve been given as an author?
Fortunately, most of the criticism I get is constructive and given before the novel goes to the publisher. The toughest to deal with is that I have too many characters and some of them should go.
What has been the best compliment?
Alison Bruce writes history, mystery and suspense. Her books combine clever mysteries, well-researched backgrounds and a touch of romance. Her protagonists are marked by their strength of character, sense of humor and the ability to adapt (sooner or later) to new situations. Four of her novels have been finalists for genre awards.
Copywriter, editor and graphic designer since 1992, Alison has also been a comic book store manager, small press publisher and web designer. Currently she is the Executive Director of Crime Writers of Canada.
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