by Kathleen Costa
This week we have a review of a fun paranormal, cat related, mystery by Vicki Vass called Bloodline, and an interesting interview with Vicki. Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a copy of Bloodline and a cool mug from Vicki. We also have a link to order it from Amazon.
Bloodline: A Witch Cat Mystery by Vicki Vass
Review by Kathleen Costa
Salem, Massachusetts 1692
“‘Run, Terra,’ Elizabeth’s screams reached me from within the barn. I could see the lanterns flickering like fireflies through the woods. ‘Run, run, Terra, now.’ Her frantic voice followed me as I darted through the thicket. Brambles cut through me, slashing at me as I pushed my way down the hill toward the stream.”
Chased through the woods outside Salem by angry witch hunters with hounds, seventeen-year-old Terra Rowan doesn’t understand what has happened worrying about the safety of her friends…Betrayal? She follows the river to mask her tracks knowing it leads to the ocean. Hiding quietly in a cave, hearing the angry voices coming nearer, fingering the potion in her pocket, she feels she has no choice…she drinks it. Darkness!
Asheville, North Carolina 2017
Terra is safe, but in what form has been difficult to get used to. Terra had morphed into a cat, and for the last 325 years, she has been searching without success for the potion or spell that would return her to her human form. She has made friends who look out for her, offering food and shelter, like Mrs. Twiggs, owner of The Leaf & Page, an exotic tea shop and vintage bookstore, who seems sympathetic to a Wiccan lifestyle, but no matter how Terra tried (Morse Code blinking), to Mrs. Twiggs she is still just a cat. Then there is Lionel, a homeless man who loves chess and music, whose most prized possession is his guitar, who plays a tune to which Terra feels oddly connected, and who Terra believes has magic in his past. He talked of ‘crossroads,’ the turning point in one’s life. His, he says, is Asheville.
Through unfortunate circumstances, Terra becomes acquainted with ‘Abigail girl,’ who has been struggling all her life with hearing voices, and now, it includes her surprising ability to understand Terra the cat. She thinks she is crazy, but Terra calms her fears and begins to share her world and the idea that Abigail, with an ancient scent to her aura, just might be part of the Oakhaven bloodline of witches that dates back well before the Druids. Could this be a link that saves them both? Complicating Terra and Abigail’s connection is the murder of a close friend, coming across possible Wiccans, opening bloodlines, uncovering disturbing memories, additional deaths, of course, and discovering something evil lurking nearby…
I was extremely entertained by this first book in Vicki Vass’s new series a Witch Cat Mystery with the premise of a witch-turned-cat as the heroine exciting, and to me, unique. It is not juvenile hocus-pocus, but an engaging paranormal cozy which intertwines events in the past and present with a murder mystery and a fascinating look into goddesses and white witches of legend and lore. This page-turner intricately weaves together contemporary events with Terra’s memories of the fateful events surrounding her life in Salem during the witch trials. That part of the story is just as compelling and important to the events surrounding Abigail in the present. I enjoyed the growing BFF connection between Terra and Abigail along with the exploration of herbs and potions and knowledge of Wiccan folklore. Vicki has created several intriguing characters (favorites are Terra, Abigail, and Mrs. Twiggs) who develop well throughout the story, but I love Pixel. If I were a cat, that would be me…eat and sleep all day long with bursts of loyalty and support for friends. You’ll love the climatic conclusion, which provides a cathartic “Take That!” wrap up. Read the interview to see if Vicki ‘spills the beans’ on the next Terra story.
Bloodline: A Witch Cat Mystery earns 5+/5 Witchy Felines!
Our Guest…Vicki Vass
Author of Bloodline: A Witch Cat Mystery
KRL: It is great to have with us Vicki Vass celebrating the release of Bloodline: A Witch Cat Mystery. Can you give us a mini biography of ‘Vicki Vass’? Who is she and what influenced her to become a writer?
Vicki: Thanks for having me. I started my career as a journalist and for a number of years worked for the Chicago Tribune covering city government, school boards before moving to features where I wrote about shopping. I can never remember a moment when I didn’t want to write. I wrote short stories in grade school before writing half-finished novels in high school. I went into journalism at the urging of my uncle who was a long-time editor for the Chicago Sun-Times.
KRL: I love having a little magic or marvelous creatures in my ‘cozy’ stories, and including a connection to the Salem witch trials is engaging. What influenced you to veer into the paranormal and write this magical mystery? Did you find challenges writing a paranormal theme?
Vicki: I have been fascinated for years by the Salem witch trials, particularly after reading The Crucible. Writing a paranormal stemmed out of watching two of my main characters on a daily basis and pondering what went on in their heads every day. This story rather wrote itself, evolving as I moved it along.
KRL: What research or influences did you rely on to write about witches, magic, and other magical creatures?
Vicki: I spent hours reading a scientific book about Appalachian folk medicine and reading books about the Salem witch trials. I also researched ancient goddesses. The magical creatures mostly came out of my head as I was writing, evolving as the story evolved.
KRL: Do you have a favorite paranormal story, movie, or television show from your childhood or currently as an adult? Have you had any experience with magic…or witches or Wiccans?
Vicki: I loved Bewitched as a child. I thought the show very clever. I cannot think of any other magical influences. I read Harry Potter through book four and enjoy watching movies about mythical creatures such as How to Train Your Dragon. I haven’t had any personal experience with magic or witches. . .that I know of.
KRL: Are any of your characters based on real people…friends or family? Names changed to protect the innocent, so to speak. Of course, I love Terra Rowen in and out of her cat form and Abigail Pierce and her journey, but my favorite character is Pixel. Are you like Terra or Abigail in some way? Is there a character with whom you identify?
Vicki: I think every character is loosely based on real people. Terra and Pixel are based on my real-life cats. Watching their antics is what propelled me to write about a witch cat. Abigail is based on my niece. I don’t think I am necessarily like either one of my characters. If I identify with any of them, I would have to say Terra because she is resourceful.
KRL: How did you go about getting published? Did you try self-publishing or a publishing house? Do you have any anecdotes to share about getting your work published?
Vicki: I have been published with two independent publishers and found that I still had to handle all the marketing, so I decided to self publish this work. I am also in the process of self publishing my other books after taking them back from my publisher. I can teach a course in what not to do in publishing—about 20 years ago I submitted a romance manuscript to Harlequin. I received a nice rejection letter back personalized with recommendations on how to fix the manuscript. I threw them in a drawer where they sit to this day.
KRL: Writing is often a very personalized activity. How do you go about writing? What is your process? Do you outline, keep notes, just start typing? Do you have a writing team or editors that are part of the process?
Vicki: As a former journalist, I try to set deadlines. I aim to write at least two pages a night and ten on each weekend day. I do not write an outline so the stories often take quite a bit of editing as I have to move things around. My husband is my writing team. He and I sit down together, brainstorm ideas and plot. He is much better at plotting than I am.
KRL: We know you write, but what do you read? Is there another author who inspires you or one you might consider a professional or personal hero?
Vicki: I read constantly, and I have several writer heroes, including Jane Austen and Margaret Mitchell. Right now I am reading the history of the Romanovs, a fictional biography of Mary Todd Lincoln, and the Gift Shop by Charlotte Armstrong, an old mystery that I enjoy.
KRL: What can we expect from you in the future? Any sneak peeks for Book 2: A Witch Cat Mystery?
Vicki: Now I don’t want to give anything away, but Book 2 is tentatively titled The Witch’s Apprentice and will reveal more of Abigail’s background as well as continuing Terra’s quest. I am currently working on Book 5 in my Antique Hunters Mystery series featuring my real-life best friends, and then Book 2 in my Gem Hunter series. There’s never enough time.
KRL: So many authors say writing is all encompassing, but do you have any favorite movies you like to watch? Any television bingeing? What about music you enjoy or hobbies that take up what free time you may have?
Vicki: Too many to mention. In terms of movies, I am addicted to romantic comedies as well as musicals. I have been known to binge watch a series. I recently watched all of Season 1 of Goliath on Amazon followed by Sneaky Pete. I watch Homeland. I am a huge fan of the Crown on Netflix, Victoria on PBS, and of course, Downton Abbey. I enjoy all sorts of music from country to rock to pop. My other hobbies include playing with my two Australian shepherd puppies and of course, shopping.
KRL: What is something people would be surprised to know about you?
Vicki: I have an interest in gemology myself. I’ve searched for gems, including rubies, emeralds, and hiddenite in North Carolina. I found a 10-carat citrine, 0.50 carat emerald, and several rubies. I also scour antique stores and estate sales for antique and vintage jewelry. I am still waiting to find that perfect tiara (I was named after Queen Victoria, true story).
KRL: This has been fun. Is there anything you would like to add?
Vicki: Thanks, this has been fun!
Thank you, Vicki, for joining us and sharing a little about yourself and your books.
To enter to win a copy of Bloodline and a mug from Vicki, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “bloodline,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen June 17, 2017. U.S. residents only. If entering via email please include your mailing address, and if via comment please include your email address.
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