Monday, October 3, 2016

The Gal's 62 Days of Horror Day 3: AMONG THE STACKS: C.R. Richards


The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Hello, C.R.  Welcome to The Gal's 62 Days of Horror.  It's wonderful to have you here today.  Tell us a little bit about yourself.

C.R. Richards:
My perfect Sunday (Simon Pegg fans will get the reference) is spent walking under beautiful Colorado skies with the dogs whilst secretly plotting dark scenes for my next book.  I love ghost stories, murder mysteries and the freedom of fantasy.  All of these ingredients are in the mix for my dark fantasy series, Heart of the Warrior.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What are five things most people don't know about you?

C.R. Richards:
  1. I sometimes take long weekend trips just to stay at historic haunted hotels.  I'm a ghost hunter!
  2. I'm a closet ABBA fan.
  3. I have a Funko Pops addiction.  Here's who I have so far: Sherlock and John Watson, Deadpool, Captain America, The Flash and The Arrow.
  4. I still have a jacket I bought seventeen years ago at Costco for $20.  The zipper is broken, but I still wear it.  Best jacket ever!
  5. I've never seen Game of Thrones and go out of the way NOT to see trailers, etc.  I can't watch  movie or TV show based on a book until I've actually read it.  The books are still on my "To Read" shelf.
The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What is the first book you remember reading?

C.R. Richards:
The Hobbit was the first "grownup" book I read by myself.  It took me several weeks, but I tackled the mammoth book.  The adventures of Bilbo, Frodo, Sam and friends remains one of my favorite tales of all time.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What are you reading now?

C.R. Richards:
I'm hooked on a British TV Mystery series called Midsomer Murders.  I was curious about the original stories so I've started reading the books by Caroline Graham.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What's a book you really enjoyed that others wouldn't expect you to have liked?

C.R. Richards:
I'm not a huge reader of romance, but the novel Agnes & the Hitman by Jennifer Cruise and Bob Mayer continues to be one of my all-time favorite books.  It mixes spicy romance, snort out loud comedy, tough guy action and mystery in a fantastic story.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What made you decide you want to write?  When did you begin writing?

C.R. Richards:
When I was a kid, I'd sit under the big tree in our backyard, staring up at the stars in the summer sky.  Sometimes I would day dream about living on one of the distant planets overhead.  Other times I'd entertain my little nephews with stories of pixies living in our tree.  I've always had one foot in my fantasy world.  It surprised me to find that other people enjoyed listening to my stories as much as I enjoyed making them up.  I decided to write them down, so I could continue to share them with other whimsy enthusiasts.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Do you have a special place you like to write?

C.R. Richards:
I travel quite a bit while managing projects around the country, so I've had to train my creative brain to write no matter where I am: airport gates, hotel rooms and lobbies, random restaurants.  I'll admit, I do love to sit at the desk by the window in my home office.  It has a beautiful view of the neighborhood girls with mountains in the background.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Do you have any quirks or processes that you go through when you write?

C.R. Richards:
Having my music playing in the background when I write is a must.  What type of music depends upon the book I'm writing at the time.  The Lords of Valdeon was based on the Spanish countryside and the San Antonio, Texas area.  I've chosen Spanish and Gypsy Jazz with a wee bit of Llewellyn thrown in from time to time.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Is there anything about writing you find most challenging?

C.R. Richards:
I started writing The Heart of the Warrior series (The Lords of Valdeon is book one) back in 2004.  Taking the entire series from beginning to end, I didn't stop work until the drafts of all six books were finished.  Ten years later, I'm hard at work rewriting the drafts.  The hardest part of the writing process is cutting out your "pet scenes" or what I call "the author's meanderings throughout the world."  It's heart breaking sometimes to cut scenes or characters that just don't make sense anymore.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What's the most satisfying thing you've written so far?

C.R. Richards:
I'm currently working on The Obsidian Gates, book two of The Heart of the Warrior series.  The Lords of Valdeon (book one) set up the world and introduced the characters to my readers.  Book two dives into the danger and intrigue of their world.  As I work on the edits for The Obsidian Gates, finishing the entire series has started to seem like it's really going to happen.  Having a tangible end to my goal is very satisfying.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What books have most inspired you?  Who are some authors that have inspired your writing style?

C.R. Richards:
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's beloved character, Sherlock Holmes, challenged the beliefs I held for myself.  This amazing character showed me that if I trained my mind and remained tenacious, I too could achieve anything I wanted in life.
            I've studied the techniques of several wonderful authors, both classic and contemporary: Agatha ChristieJim ButcherErnest HemingwayDouglas Preston, and Lincoln Child... the list goes on.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What do you think makes a good story?

C.R. Richards:
It starts and ends with the characters.  Your plot could be as simple as an old woman spending the day at a carnival.  If she is a gripping character that makes you feel empathy at some level, then you have a good story.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What does it take for you to love a character?  How do you utilize that when creating your characters?

C.R. Richards:
A beloved character is someone you can relate to, even if it is at the most basic level.  Not many people can keep up with Sherlock Holmes, but I think we can all relate to his passion.  Frodo Baggins, in contrast, is relatable to everyone.  He is willing to sacrifice himself in order to save his shire.
            I examine each of my characters to reveal that one characteristic I can empathize with.  It helps me to build their world and share this insight with my readers.  Xavier the Wolf (The Lords of Valdeon) is a man who loves his family and his country.  His identity relies upon his duty and his sense of humor.  When faced with a horrible responsibility he'd never anticipated would be his to bare, he stays and tries to make things right.  I believe readers will empathize with his determination to protect country and kin.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Which, of all your characters, do you think is the most like you?

C.R. Richards:
In The Lords of Valdeon, one of my main characters has a best friend named Riley Logan.  He's a down-to-Earth, straight talking, loyal friend.  Riley isn't easily impressed and often questions authority.  He and I share several traits, including our dislike of farm life!  I drew on my hellish time mucking out stables at a horse ranch in Colorado for Riley's character.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Are you turned off by a bad cover?  To what degree were you involved in creating your book covers?

C.R. Richards:
You have a very small window (a few seconds at best) to capture someone's attention in this AD crazy world.  Very few - me included - are going to pay attention to a bad cover.  There's just too much eye candy out there.  I don't do my own covers because I'm horrible at the visual arts stuff.  My covers are done by the wonderful folks at ebooklaunch.com.  I send them a paragraph or two about settings and characters.  They do their magic and the book covers come out beautifully.  If you know you aren't good at something or simply don't have time to commit to doing a good job, hire it done.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What have you learned creating your books?

C.R. Richards:
Through success and failure, I've learned everybody has an opinion about how you should be doing your art.  Try it one way and you don't get your desired results.  Try it another way and you still don't get your desired results.  Bottom line: Writing is a gamble.  Trust your gut and stay true to the story.  You may not make a million dollars, but you'll find fulfillment in the story you've created.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What has been the hardest scene for you to write so far?

C.R. Richards:
I have, or should I say "had," a scene in The Lords of Valdeon which survived several years of edits.  I allowed my emotional attachment to my precious pet get the better of me.  Weeks went by as I tried to get this [expletive] scene to work in the newest version of the story.  The tone was all wrong.  It just didn't fit anymore within the new plot line.  Finally, I stayed objective and did what I had to do for the sake of the story.  Cut!  Cut!  Cut!

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What makes your books different from others out there in this genre?

C.R. Richards:
In the prologue, I explain our current world was destroyed by a cataclysmic event.  The Jalora and the Sarcion were formed form the residual energy of positive and negative human emotions.  Despite knowing how the world ended and humanity's inability to band together to stop it, I theorize the new inhabitants of Erthe begin again.  We don't create a Utopian society.  Instead, we fall back into the same patterns of greed and hate.  There are exceptions.  Those who serve the Jalora hold tight to honor, loyalty and dignity.
            As a reader reaches certain scenes, especially the ones in the Valedonian court, I believe they will recognize familiar issue taken from our headlines: racism, political corruption and murder.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
How important is the book title, how hard is it to choose the best one, and how did you choose yours (of course, with no spoilers)?

C.R. Richards:
Selecting the right book title is a difficult process for me.  I end up changing titles at least four times during the creation of the book.  The first step is to spill out keywords, characters, places, etc. on a page.  I make a list of titles that basically gives the reader a peek into the plot of the book.  Saving my top four or five favorites, I jog over to Amazon and start thinking like a marketer.  Which one has way too many siblings by the same title?  Do the titles fit in with my genre?  Is the title easily recognizable?  I finally chose The Lord of Valdeon because it describes the storylines of the two main characters.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What makes you feel more fulfilled: Writing a novel or writing a short story?

C.R. Richards:
If you see me at a party, you may notice I'm not very chatty.  My creative brain, however, is incredibly verbose.  I love digging in deep to those long epic novels.  They give me a chance to play around in the world and build meaningful lives for my characters.  I find writing short stories incredibly difficult.  I was able to write and publish a horror short, Lost Man's Parish.  It was fun, but hard work.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Tell us a little bit about your books, your target audience, and what you would like readers to take away from your stories.

C.R. Richards:
Despite focusing on the darker side of human nature, I try to encourage hope channeled through the character who stands against impossible odds.  This character might not be a pillar of civic pride, but they continue to strive for good no matter the hardships.
            Through storytelling, I'm trying to reach lovers of fantasy who are exploring alternatives to the traditional status quo.  My message is simple.  One person can be a catalyst of change.  Through their actions and attitudes, the catalyst can spark others toward a positive direction.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Can you tell us about some of the deleted scenes/stuff that got left out of your work?

C.R. Richards:
In the Lords of Valdeon, one of my favorite characters is Riley Logan.  I had a few cut scenes with him and Beatrice, the girl who pretends to give him a hard time.  They're actually quite smitten with each other.  Unfortunately, those scenes would have taken me off into a tangent.  It's best not to add any fluff that clutters the plot.  Stay to the point.  It was still hard to take them out.  I'd grown fond of the exchange between Riley and Beatrice.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What is in your "trunk"?  (Everyone has a book or project, which doesn't necessarily have to be book related, that they have put aside for a 'rainy day' or for when they have extra time.  Do you have one?)

C.R. Richards:
The Hounds of Perdition is a paranormal horror novel sitting in my trunk.  I'm also working on a nonfiction project based on my membership session with new writers and project manager.  I'm itching to start book three of The Heart of the Warrior as well.  Has anyone seen my clone?

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What can we expect from you in the future?

C.R. Richards:
I'm diligently working on the second book in The Heart of the Warrior series.  Several of my readers have asked for a sequel to my urban fantasy, Pariah.  And then there's the paranormal novel I discussed in an earlier question, The Hounds of Perdition.  I do a great deal of mentoring for junior project managers as well as writers.  I have a nonfiction guide in the works which captures some of my lessons I share with my current mentees.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Where can we find you?  (You know, STaLKeR links.)

C.R. Richards:

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Thanks again for stopping by today.  I love these interviews because I get to find out how much I have in common with people I consider my "heroes" - I have a Pop! collection as well, always have to read a book before I watch the movie or TV show it's based on, AND absolutely LOVE LOVE LOVE Midsomer Murders.  We must connect and talk further.
            One more thing before you go: Do you have any closing words for your fans or anything you'd like to say that we didn't get to cover in this interview?

C.R. Richards:
I want to thank my fans for their encouragement and support over the years.  The Heart of the Warrior series has been a favorite literary project of mine.  I hope you enjoy reading the books as much as I've enjoyed creating them.


About the author:
A huge lover of horror and dark fantasy stories, C.R. Richards enjoys telling tales of intrigue and adventure.  Having began writing as a part-time columnist for a small entertainment newspaper, Richards has worn several hats: food critic, entertainment reviewer, and cranky editor.  She has now published a handful of books, including book one in the Mutant Casebook series, which took home the EPIC eBook Award for Fantasy in 2014.  Richards beat out entries from the US, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, and other English speaking countries.
            The youngest of five army brats, Richards was born on a military base in Utah.  She spent much of her childhood in the back of her family's sky blue station wagon on trips to see her grandmother, who would show her how to spot "all of the faeries in the backyard," says Richards.
            Her most recent literary projects include the horror short story, and the newly-released dark fantasy thriller.  She is an active member of Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers and the Horror Writers Association.
            In January, Richards releases her epic fantasy novel, the first installment in the series.  Through her storytelling, Richards aims to reach lovers of fantasy who are exploring alternatives to the traditional status quo.

About the books:
The epic tale of two men begins.  The first - a man of honor trying desperately to turn his country from civil war.  The other - a boy struggling to discover his destiny before agents of evil find him first.
            Coveted by two ancient enemies of a long forgotten age, the continent of Andara holds the key to victory in an endless struggle for dominance.  Eight hundred years have passed since the god-like Jalora struck a bargain with the first King of Valdeon.  The Lion Ring, symbol of the covenant and conduit of power, gives its bearer incredible abilities.  The ring's borrowed magic protects the people of Andara from covetous evil, but there is a price.  As with most predators, the Lion Ring must feed.  Only the blood of the D'Antonie family line will satisfy its hunger.
            A rival for Andara's treasures, the Sarcion has waited impatiently for its time upon the lands.  Whispers of treason in the right ear aid its treachery.  The King of Valdeon mysteriously disappears, leaving his lands in danger of a civil war by the hand of a murderous usurper.  His Lion Ring is lost and the covenant is broken.  The Jalora's power begins to seep away from the land.  Evil's foot hold grows stronger.  Can the Lords of Valdeon, Sacred Guard of the covenant, stop the tides of war?  Or will Andara fall into chaos?  The future rests in the blood of a boy...


Millennia have passed since the corrupt of Seelie society were banished from Otherworld.  Abandoned in the Human Realm, their Descendants keep to the shadows, secretly controlling criminal organizations and swaying governments.  Jin, a Seelie Descendant, refuses to swear allegiance to any Clan.  Marked as a pariah, he is banished from their society.  One ill-fated evening, Jin breaks the rules to visit the family he left behind.  A chance meeting with an old enemy draws him into a murderous plot that could propel the Human Realm into a bloody war.  His warning of insurrection goes unheeded.  Determined to keep the plan secret, the conspirator summons an ancient demon with a taste for Seelie blood.  It's reward?  A pound of Jin's fish.
            On the run with a Death Mark on his head, Jin is desperate to find the cunning spider behind the conspiracy.  With the help of Gracie Berry, a pre-cognitive with a hidden past, Jin searches for their allusive enemy before his ruthless hunters find their target.


Gideon, a half-breed mutant with a surly temper and rotten luck, struggles to escape a living as a tracker in the desolate territory near the gateway to the human world.  Business seems to be picking up when Gideon is approached by a powerful dark elf with deep pockets and a serious problem.  Human miners at the dark elf's plant are being taken by an elusive predator.  Gideon is pressured to find the killer before word of the disappearances reached the human world, endangering the tense relationship between their two races.  But, nothing is simple this close to the conduit between worlds.  Archangel, a ruthless mercenary operating in the secret sectors of mutant society, has set his own deadly game in motion.
            Surrounded by savage wilderness and cut off from contact with civilization, Gideon must find a way to protect his friends and survive to collect his bounty.


Sentenced to life imprisonment for murder at age fifteen, Bill Dolan has become one of the most feared convicts in the Lost Man's Parish Territorial Prison.  Devoid of hope, it is a place of survival of the meanest and most amoral.  For thirteen hard years, he has survived and thrived among other violent offenders.  In a last act of vindictive spite, Bill's grandmother uses her influence to condemn his little brother to life at the Parish.  Andy is a peculiar boy with unsettling powers.  Tales of Andy's miracle quickly spreads among the greedy convicts.
            The specter of the Parish, a presence of pure evil, hungrily sniffs out the new residents.  When the purity of Andy's child-like innocence threatens to bring about change, the specter is desperate to destroy him.  Bill must find a way to get Andy out of the escape proof prison, before they both succumb to the evil living within its walls.




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