by Marilyn Meredith
& Lorie Lewis Ham
This week we have the pleasure of reviewing Photographs by Kingsburg author James Garcia Jr., and we have an interesting interview with James. Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a signed copy of the book, and a link to purchase it.
Photographs By James Garcia Jr.
Review by Marilyn Meredith
This is a story of a haunted house—a most unusual haunting.
It begins with something that happened long ago, but quickly jumps to present time, and the heroine Joanna, a relator, who has been given the task of readying a beautiful old house for sale.
The huge home is located on the prestigious Huntington Boulevard in Fresno. Joanna immediately falls in love with the property. In fact, she is so compelled by the house and learning about its history, she ends up spending hours discovering that the house is indeed haunted. Doors open and shut on their own, and lights turn off and on for no reason.
Despite feeling threatened at times, she moves into the house, determined to learn more about the house and one of the original owners, Allison Belle, a former movie starlet. The discovery of old photographs of Allison and her friends, which include many old movie actors like Ronald Reagan and Cary Grant, contribute to Joanna’s curiosity. She has vivid dreams of what went on in Allison’s life, seeming real and unsettling, but mesmerizing.
This is a classic and most unusual tale of a vivid haunting that becomes life-threatening as Joanna begins to unravel more and more about Allison and her life in the Huntington Boulevard mansion.
Highly recommended for anyone who loves a fascinating mystery intertwined with ghosts, intriguing characters, vivid memories, and a brave, and sometimes foolish, heroine.
Interview with James Garcia Jr.:
KRL: How long have you been writing?
James: I started writing when I was a teen. I wrote into my early twenties and then stopped. For about fifteen years I didn’t write a single paragraph. It was only after I had turned Thirty-Eight that I really began to feel the regret I was facing should I never write again. It was precisely the motivation that I needed. In the past decade or so I have written and published five novels, with number six awaiting its turn.
KRL: When did your first novel come out? What was it called? Can you tell us a little about it?
James: My first novel was entitled Dance on Fire. It was published in 2010, and is Book One in my edgy vampire series. It is the series that explores whether a vampire can be used by God for good. It is definitely not Christian fiction. It was simply my way to tell vampires in a fresh way that hadn’t been done ad nauseum. There are now three books in that series. At some not too distant point I will write book four.
KRL: What genres have you written in?
James: I have written horror and paranormal, usually with an edgy slant. My latest novel Photographs is women’s fiction. It has dark elements to it, of course, but not enough to overshadow what it is at its heart.
KRL: What brought you to choose the setting and characters in your latest book?
James: In my youth I wrote a terrible little horror novella. It had demons that were attempting to bridge their world to ours. It will never see the light of day. You’re welcome, by the way. (laughs) but what it did have was Allison Belle. I adored her, and she deserved to be rescued then as much as she does now. Photographs tells her story. As to why I chose Fresno as the setting, I usually use the California central valley as my settings. It’s what I know, so I keep using it.
KRL: Do you write to entertain or is there something more you want the readers to take away from your work?
James: I just love telling stories. Perhaps at some point I will write something bigger than that, but not so far. Actually, the next book will be a bit deeper. There are still decisions to be made with that one. I hope to begin draft two in early summer.
KRL: Do you have a schedule for your writing or just write whenever you can?
James: Since I have a day job, that only leaves weekends, holidays, vacation time, and whenever I find a free moment.
KRL: Do you outline? If not, do you have some other interesting way that you keep track of what’s going on, or what needs to happen in your book when you are writing it?
James: Picture a cook with several pots simmering on the stove. That’s how I write. Whichever pot smells the best is the one I focus on. Once I choose, I then allow that story to simmer in my head until it begins to make itself known to me. At that point I begin doing a general outline. I don’t do binders on secondary characters or anything like that. I just want to see the meat and potatoes of the story in paragraph form. Finally, I begin writing. Photographs only took a couple of months to complete the first draft once the outline was finished. At that stage it basically writes itself.
KRL: If you had your ideal, what time of day would you prefer to write?
James: In a perfect world I would write every morning. When my sons were teenagers it was the only quiet time there was. Now that we are empty nesting, I still find mornings to be the most conducive for being creative.
KRL: Future writing goals?
James: There are several more pots on that stove: another chapter in my vampire series; I have the next book which will be another female protagonist; there’s a crime drama in me.
KRL: Writing heroes?
James: Since I write horror most expect me to list Uncle Stevie. There are plenty of novelists that inspire me; however, my favorite didn’t write anything remotely scary at all. My hero would be the late Pat Conroy. There was just something about his prose that was musical. The words flowed because they were strung together beautifully. A lesser author would have you tripping over their words. Not him.
KRL: What kind of research do you do?
James: I’m lazy with research. When I’m ready to write I want to write. Don’t make me stop! I usually just fake it until the first draft is done, unless I really have no clue what the heck I’m talking about. I want to take you on a journey. I’ll worry about the little details later.
KRL: What do you read?
James: I read mostly horror, paranormal and thrillers. I will give myself a break if I happen to find a good drama or mystery. I read the occasional biography, usually related to a musician, rock band or Hollywood legend.
KRL: Favorite TV or movies?
James: Last year I began binge-watching. It began with Stranger Things. My sons got me hooked on that. I then found Lucifer, which is really just silly. Then my wife and I found Outlander. Her and I then visited and completed Downton Abbey. I just finished Dracula.
KRL: Any advice for aspiring or beginning writers?
James: The first stuff that comes out of you is garbage. Remember that and don’t be deterred. The trick is to keep writing until it isn’t. Whatever it is that you want to do, don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do it. Have no regrets.
KRL: What is something people would be surprised to know about you?
James: The writing thing is typically the surprise, beyond that, there aren’t many mysteries.
To enter to win a signed copy of Photographs, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “photographs,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen March 14, 2020. U.S. residents only, and you must be 18 or older to enter. If you are entering via email please include you mailing address in case you win, it will be deleted after the contest. You can read our privacy statement here if you like.
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