Today we are featuring another of Booktrope's authors, A.J. Aalto.
She is the author of the Marnie Baranuik novels Touched and Death Rejoices.
The novella featured today falls just after Death Rejoices and before Last Impressions, not yet published.
A.J. very kindly answered some interview questions for me, and some of her answers had me laughing.
Before she vanished, few people knew what paralyzing fear Rachel Houseton battled every single day. Can Marnie Baranuik — professional psychic and amateur dunce — muster her resources to confront the face of Rachel’s terror and find her before it’s too late? Joined by her newly undead brother Wes and her revenant partner Lord Guy Harrick Dreppenstedt, Marnie dives into a new case that serves as a grim reminder that DaySitters aren’t the only ones living shoulder-to-shoulder with Cold Company."
About the Author
A.J. Aalto is an unrepentant liar and a writer of blathering nonsense offset by factual gore. When not working on her novels, you can find her singing old Monty Python songs in the shower, eavesdropping on perfect strangers, stalking her eye doctor, or failing at one of her many fruitless hobbies. Generally a fan of anyone with a passion for the ridiculous, she has a particular weak spot for smug pseudo-intellectuals andnarcissistic jerks; readers will find her work littered with dark, imperfect creatures, flawed monsters and oodles of snark.
A.J. cannot say no to a Snickers bar, and has been known to swallow her gum.
Review of Cold Company by Fiona Wilson
This is a short story which fits between book 2, of the Marnie Baranuik series, Death Rejoices and the as yet unpublished Last Impressions.
Marnie Baranuik is a dual-talented forensic psychic. She has the ability to feel the emotions of people and see things from objects which they have touched or been near. Her talents mean that Marnie is in high demand. In this novella she is called to help with a disappearance in Ontario, Canada.
She has help in the form of her bonded revenant, Harry, and her recently undead brother, Wes. Together they try to find out what happened to a missing person, Rachel Houseton.
But all is not as it seems, lies have been told, information withheld. Can Marnie decipher truth from lies and figure out what happened? Or will the truth prove to be her downfall?
Marnie is a sassy, foul mouthed person who has become my hero! I wish I was half as quick witted as she is when dealing with the police in this story. For such a short story the humour within it was just right, the content great and the story held my attention and had me wanting more!
The author has written a story which can be read as a standalone, but it would definitely benefit the reader if they had already read the authors previous full length stories in the series.
This is a great addition to the Marnie Baranuik series and a credit to the author for producing something which will keep the reader riveted.
What is the most important thing about being a writer?
I feel like I should have something deep and inspirational to say here. I can't take the pressure! No, seriously, if you want to be a writer, it's important to understand that you will sit in front of a computer (or a pad of paper, if you're old school about it) by yourself for most of your day and pour forth the word-slurry of your soul. It will be hard and exciting and nerve-wracking. Sometimes, your body will seize up from being in your chair so long. Sometimes, you'll forget to eat. (Side note: you'll never forget to drink. Booze seems to be a required tool for surviving this job.) Then you'll share your precious little creation, and fret when nobody notices, and you'll force yourself to find that line between self-advertising and bragging. Your creation will sit there waiting for accolades or wedgies. Other people will either ignore it, or stomp on it, or pat you on the head. And then you'll do it again the next day and the next and the next, for little to no money at all. That's called being an artist. But one day, someone you've never met will say "hey, I kinda liked that. Maybe I liked it a lot." Your heart will explode, and you'll spend the next few hours spread-eagle on the floor fantasizing that you can hear the imaginary cheers of your adoring fans. Not that I do that. Heh heh.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
I like to laugh at life, and mostly I enjoy laughing at my own mistakes and ridiculousness. I try not to take myself too seriously. I am a gigantic goofball. It's a good thing I'm not a lawyer or a doctor, because the urge to do silly things is just too overwhelming, and I'd end up doing the bunny hop across the courtroom or using a dude's stomach as a hand puppet to do a comedy routine for the anesthesiologist. My inspiration comes from making fun of myself and those closest to me, and watching them bumble through life right along with me.
How do you cope if you get a bad review?
That depends on what kind of bad review it was, and there are several. If it's fair and constructive criticism, I take it to heart and respect their opinion. I look at what I could do to improve my skills and not disappoint in my next project. On the other hand, if the book is just not a good fit for that reader, I don't take it too personally. "I hate the paranormal!" they'll say ... okay, fair enough, but then why are you reading a book about a psychic who lives with a vampire, sillypants? Then there's the third kind, and my personal favourite: the "I hate you, you're a big stupidhead, kill yourself immediately" comments. Those amuse me. I don't like lima beans, but you won't find me grabbing people in the grocery store and showing my rage face about it. "I HATE LIMA BEANS, THEY'RE SO STUPID! ARRRGHHH!! NO, DON'T BUY THEM!!! DIE LIMA BEANS DIE!" Actually, I should start doing that. Sounds like a fun way to get arrested, and then I can scratch "get tackled by the cops" off my bucket list.
How do you choose your characters names?
It takes me forever. I scribble names all over, roam through baby name books, search internet databases, go through the phone book. It makes my brain melt. On the odd occasion, I may meet someone with a great first or last name and go "squeeeeee, can I use your name?"
Occupational hazards about being a writer?
Bad eyes, bad knees, poor diet (I don't leave my desk often enough, clearly), permanent chair-butt, sore knuckles, neck problems, and an overwhelming compulsion to correct people's grammar that easily could get you punched in the throat.
What book or film character would you say you were most like?
If I say Hannibal Lecter, can we still chat? No? Okay, then how about Richard Castle, without the money, looks, power, connections, penis, or very cool apartment....
What makes you laugh?
People's innocent blunders, their well-meaning goofiness. People are adorable when they screw up.
Which book has been the hardest to write?
Death Rejoices was more difficult for me than Touched, because my internal editor kept demanding to know whether or not I even had another book in me. Maybe I couldn't do it again. It was taking longer. It wasn't going as smoothly. Everything seemed more difficult. The characters didn't want to play nice. The only thing that kept me going was the subject matter: I love me some zombies.
Any hints as to what lies ahead for your characters?
Marnie returns home to Canada once again, this time to work alongside an exorcist. It's a strange pair-up, and it's not at all comfortable for either of them.
While I do love Marnie, she'd be exhausting to hang out with. Harry would be equally so. I'd spend too much time trying not to embarrass myself in front of Batten, so he's out. I think Gary Chapel and I would get along swimmingly; he's calm, confident, protective, supportive, forgiving. I can't imagine Chapel giving up on anyone. He's endlessly patient. What's not to love?
I don't enjoy Wesley Baranuik. A unpredictable, newly-dead Telepathic twenty-year-old baby brother who's young enough to still be an arrogant douchebag? Pass!
Which character would you like to meet in real life?
That would be Harry, or Lord Guy Harrick Dreppenstedt. In small doses, he'd be charming and gentlemanly.
Your favourite authors?
Ann Rule, Martin Amis, Terry Goodkind, David Eddings, Stephen King, Janet Evanovich, Jonathan Kellerman.
What genres of books do you read?
Fantasy, horror, mystery, true crime.
Fungus the Boogeyman by Raymond Briggs. I believe it's still available. LOVED that book.
Did you ever dream you would become an author?
Yes, since I was thirteen. Before that, I wanted to be a chef or an architect. Or a dragon.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Sitting on a nice bookshelf. Not literally. I hope to have maybe ten books by then. Seven more in five years? I should be able to handle that.
Random questions -
There's a shade of turquoise that's been catching my eye lately. Lovely.
Greek. Oh, yum. Also a big fan of steak. And bacon. And tea.
Best childhood memory?
Being up at the cottage on the lake with my family, curled up in a lawn chair with a blanket, a pack of digestive cookies, and tea, and the Belgariad series by David Eddings. We still go to the same exact cottage, 40 years later. I love it there.
Best ever purchase? Can be something big or small.
Putting the covered wrap-around porch on the front of my house. That was the best money I ever spent. I spend a lot of time out there reading, working, visiting, thinking.
Best memory as an adult?
Getting fan mail. Real paper-in-envelope fan mail, about my work, from a stranger, to my house. AWESOME. And also, a little creepy, because I'm fairly certain I've never given out my address, so what the hell? But I'm a fan of creepy, so bring it on!
Is there a person, alive or dead, you dream about meeting if you could?
Yep.!!Tom Waits. But in my fantasy, I'm clever and charming. In reality, I'd be a babbling idiot and make a total, slobbering fool of myself. "I, uh, really like your lyrics, Mr. Waits, and uh, yeah, I listen to your stuff...inspirational, and man, so deep and wow...yeah." Derp.
We have 2 ecopies, via Amazon, of Cold Company to give away. For your chance to win a copy leave a comment on this blog post and tell us what power you would like to have and why.