Today’s guest on the blog is indie paranormal author Cege Smith, who very kindly interviewed me last week on her blog, The Paranormal Bookbeat. Cege has four novels out, ranging from YA to romance to thriller, all paranormals, and today she’s sharing some of the elements that go into the creation of her stories. Enjoy! 🙂
Recipe for Paranormal Stew
I think I may have been a chef in another life. I love to browse cookbooks and watch the Food Channel, but I have never quite found the motivation to move that interest into doing anything in the kitchen. My path led to me to writing, but that hasn’t stopped me from admiring the culinary field from afar. To help appease my foodie spirit, I’m going to share with you today my simple recipe for a good paranormal stew…erg, novel. J
The first step is brainstorming ideas for a new book concept. Just like prepping for any recipe, you have to consult the pantry and cupboards to see what ingredients are readily available. But it’s important to not make the same thing all the time. Readers, like diners, enjoy new spins on old standbys to keep things fresh.
First, I start digging into my mental pantry for a visual inspiration image. Usually this image ends up being the location of where the new story takes place.
With the Shadows series, I started with an image of a lovely lakeshore mansion. That image was stored in the pantry for a long time. I knew that house had a dark past that was a stark contrast to the lovely visage it presented on the outside. (For me, finding an ingredient with a rotting inside was a good thing.)
For the Bloodtruth series, which begins in Heiress of Lies, I had an image of a deep ravine that ran for miles. It had jagged outcroppings all over the walls that could allow someone to watch people traveling along the bottom without being seen.
In the Soul Garden, which is the prequel for the Twisted Soul series, I found a lush green garden set up as a topiary maze. This garden though was special in that it grew not only plants, but also housed displaced souls.
The second ingredient in our paranormal stew is the characters that inhabit the location. If your location isn’t the paranormal element, then there’s a good chance that your character will be, so handle these folks with care.
Ellie, the main character in the Shadows series, is a normal woman in almost every way. She’s dealing with a divorce and rebuilding her life. But Ellie has a secret: she can see people’s auras.
In Heiress of Lies, the crown princess Angeline is kidnapped and initially held in that deep ravine. Her captor? A handsome rogue named Connor, who also happens to be a vampire.
The people who are called to the Soul Garden are witnesses to an ambush of epic proportions. The disruption of the sacred magical ceremony they were attending brings about a second apocalypse and the beginning of a race of zombies.
So you can see that I like picking all sorts of new ingredients for my stews.
So we’ve got a location plus our character(s). That’s all pretty cool, but that won’t necessarily make a cohesive and flavorful stew. We could still get bored with just those two ingredients. We need to add the final critical ingredient: the action.
Every motivation, new location, secondary character, and subplot add those necessary elements that make our paranormal stew different from every other paranormal stew out there. The action that we add is driven as much by our genre selection for our stew as anything else.
You may wonder why I mention genre, and what it really boils down to is reader expectations. If you order up a beef stew, you’re expecting chunks of meat, potatoes, carrots, onions and other vegetables. You’d wonder what the heck happened if you got a bowl of broth with some pasta noodles in it. As an author, if you decide to align to a subgenre, like “paranormal romance”, there are a few additional elements that readers expect to be there, like an HEA (happily ever after).
You do this because you don’t want your stew to get sent back, or worse yet, toppled over your head.
I classify the Shadows and Twisted Souls series as paranormal thrillers. The action is fast paced, and I made a conscious effort to move the story forward in every scene; hopefully throwing in enough twists and turns that the reader isn’t quite sure what’s going to happen next.
In the Bloodtruth series, Angeline is 18 years old and there is a strong romantic subplot between her and Connor, so that I list that as a YA paranormal romance.
So there you have it: are all the essential ingredients that I play with to create my paranormal stews. Slow cooked together, I hope to create a stew that my readers want to eat over and over again.
ABOUT CEGE SMITH
Cege Smith is a Minnesota based writer who is addicted to lattes and B-rated horror films. She had been crafting spooky stories since she was twelve years old. She lives with her husband, two adorable stepsons, and mini long-hair dachshund, Juliet in the suburbs of Minneapolis. If you’d like to connect with Cege, you can do so here: