Good Morning Everyone and happy Friday once again. This week on Inside A Beautiful Mind I am going to be chatting with a fellow Canadian writer and Maritimer, Angella Cormier.
KADE: Happy Friday Angella, would you mind telling our readers a little about yourself?
ANGELLA: My name is Angella Cormier (aka Angella Jacob – I returned to my maiden name in the past year). I have lived in Dieppe, New Brunswick for the last twelve years, where I am raising my two sons, working as a freelance graphic designer, as well as a self-publishing consultant. I try to put ink to paper as often as I can too, as this is where my passion remains and probably always will.
KADE: Welcome Angella, thank you for hanging out with me today. So, tell me about your upcoming book?
Set to be released on August 23, 2016, Oakwood Island is a mystery/horror book which began as a series of short stories that I wrote, all based on this one island where mysterious events plagued the residents. Eventually, my friend and sometimes collaborative partner Pierre C Arseneault joined me in taking the stories one step further. Together we created a bigger story that eventually became the novel it is today. This will be our second book collaboration, the first being Dark Tales for Dark Nights, which was a collection of short stories published in 2013 by Artemesia Publishing in New Mexico, USA. Here is the synopsis for Oakwood Island:
There are mysterious and evil things lurking on Oakwood Island. Things so strange that the locals are left wondering if their small coastal community will ever be the same. The police are concerned when Maggie, the local waitress, shows up at their doorstep having escaped a kidnapper. The strange symptoms of a mysterious illness that seems to be growing stronger baffles her nurses and doctor.
A few locals hold some of the answers, but will they be able to save their neighbours, and better yet, do they want to? What is watching them as they try to hide? The residents are all part of a much bigger mystery than they realize.
The island holds many secrets, but will they come out in time to save them all? Caught between past and present, good and evil both find their place on the island, but which will prevail, and at what cost?
KADE: Oh I love it. Congratulation on your release date. This sounds like such an incredible story. Can’t wait to read this. What inspired you to write your first book?
ANGELLA: The first book that was published with my name on it was Dark Tales for Dark Nights, a collection of short stories in the horror genre. This book came about after having met my friend Pierre. We had always wanted to become writers, and with mutual passion for stories, dedication and hard work, we crafted a series of short stories that became our first collaborative project and publication. It would be safe to say that we inspired each other to write. As for the genre, horror and the paranormal have always fascinated me since a very young age, and so it was natural for me to write in this genre.
KADE: You are a girl after my own heart, paranormal is such an intriguing genre…it sounds like you have had a lot of fun writing this novel. Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?
ANGELLA: Most stories come from a real life seed that is planted in my mind but that my imagination runs with at full speed. For example, seeing an old truck behind me at a stop light with a couple of burly men and a young woman made my mind wander and think about who they could be and what kind of scenario the young woman might find herself in with these two men (real seed that created “The Girl from Idlewood” in Dark Tales for Dark Nights). Another good source are my dreams. I have always had very vivid and strange dreams, which helps when you write horror fiction. For this book in particular (Oakwood Island), most of it was created from our imagination (Pierre and I), but a few elements were taken from seeds that we both collected and expanded upon. One in particular was a report on CBC radio about a unique ant species. Ideas really do come from anywhere!
KADE: I guess then you probably have years of ideas just waiting to be brought forth into word. That is wonderful. What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why?
ANGELLA: Honestly I loved writing all of them, but if I had to pick just one chapter I’d have to say it would be a close tie between Chapter 5 (Norah) and the Epilogue. Chapter 5 was great fun to write as it was the one where I could really let my imagination run wild. The epilogue is also great because the very last scene at the end of the book came to me as I was writing out this last part of the book. I felt like it came together very well at the end. I’m used to writing with an outline and so this experience was very different and enjoyable for me.
KADE: I can see how that must have been really fun for you. Allowing your mind so much freedom can be very exhilarating. How did you come up with the title?
ANGELLA: Originally, the title came up when I was writing ideas for another story I had in mind, back in 2005 about an island where the forest played a big part. The trees were primarily oak trees, and so that’s where the title for Oakwood Island was born. In 2011, when I started writing the short stories (that would later become a full novel) I decided to use the same imaginary island for this series.
KADE: It sounds like the name was supposed to be, even if it was born from another project it stuck in your mind for a reason. There is just something about an island that helps to enhance the mystical lore of a tale. What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?
ANGELLA: Strangely enough, both the toughest criticism and the best compliment have been about my descriptivism in my storytelling. Some people enjoy reading short and to the point sentences, with just enough descriptions to get by. Others enjoy long and very intricate descriptions of the surroundings and scenarios. I tend to visualize in my mind a scene, sort of like watching a movie play in my mind. I then describe what I see and let my characters come out and play. It’s a technique that works for me. I’ve learned to listen to constructive criticism and take from it only what will help me grow as a writer. I have been told my writing was too flowery, just as I had been told that I gave a reader goosebumps while reading because they could really picture themselves there. So all in all, I think it balances out.
KADE: Well, that is a sticky one. I believe, that is when you just have to write for you because no matter how hard you try, you will never please everyone, so you must please yourself…and your characters since they have to live the story. Ha ha. Do you have any unique or quirky writing habits?
ANGELLA: Unique and quirky? Probably not. Unless you consider listening to haunting music to be either one of those. I usually do a search on YouTube for haunting, mysterious or dark music. It sets a perfect backdrop to the scenes I’m trying to create in my mind and fills my space with the kind of energy I need to bring to life the dark scenes I want to bring forth for my readers.
KADE: I totally understand. Music has such a powerful effect on one’s ability to create scenes in our invisible movie theaters in our heads. That is a wonderful way to keep the story moving and flowing in the right direction. What’s the strangest thing you have ever had to research online for your book?
ANGELLA: There would be quite a few things I could list here. The first one that came to mind was “What year were coffee makers with timers invented?” and “What kind of hand saw can cut human flesh?” (Did I mention my books aren’t for kids?)
KADE: Yes, those are some pretty different searches to dive into on good old Google. And thanks for the heads up about your work not being for kids. We don’t want to scare any of our future writers before they are ready for it. Give us an interesting fun fact about your book.
ANGELLA: If you pay close attention, you should find a few nods to a favourite author of both Pierre and I within the pages of Oakwood Island. If you can’t figure it out after reading the book, send me a message and I’ll be happy to discuss!
KADE: Oh that is fun. I will have to make sure I pay close attention when I do so I don’t miss it. Do you work with an outline, or just write?
ANGELLA: Personally, I always use an outline. I need to know exactly what is going to happen to my characters in advance. Otherwise, if I just wing it and write without an outline, I have found that’s when I get writer’s block. By using outlines, I prevent this problem. I have a system that I use now with index cards. Once I have the main outline established, then I break down my chapters/scenes on the index cards. It’s a process but works for me.
KADE: Totally understandable especially since it is your project. Whatever keeps the words flowing is the main thing, so if your system works for you and it is not broken then there is no need to fix it. Can you tell us about your experiences in getting your first book published?
ANGELLA: My first publication, Dark Tales for Dark Nights, was published by Artemesia Publishing based in New Mexico, USA (www.artemesiapublishing.com). When I first started writing the short stories based on Oakwood Island (and had not yet any sort of idea that we’d eventually collaborate and publish!), I was posting them on a website that we had just started (www.mysteriousink.ca). I was happy to share my stories with those who wanted to read them. Having a pre-existing connection via social media with the publisher, he started taking interest in the stories and asked to read more. So we sent a collection of short stories that both Pierre and I had collaborated together to create, and within the next year our first book was published. Once we decided to take Oakwood Island and turn it into a novel, we took down those initial short stories as we reworked them to fit into a novel format.
KADE: Wow, that sounds like a wonderful way to break into the publishing scene. How wonderful for you to have a publisher ask you for your work. Great job. When did you first start writing and when did you finish your first book?
ANGELLA: The first time I realized that I wanted to become a writer was when I was twelve years old and had written my first poem. My first official book, however, was finished in 2012, in collaboration with Pierre C. Arseneault. (Dark Tales for Dark Nights) I had always been a voracious reader as a child. I remember when I was maybe five or six years old, when I would hear a new word, I’d ask how it was spelled and I would “air-write” it with my index finger over and over until I memorized it. Odd? Maybe, but it helped me retain a lot of words from a young age. I wrote many poems as a young girl and scribbled thoughts and journaled. In December 2015, I self-published a collection of these poems in a book titled “A Maiden’s Perception – A collection of thoughts, reflections and poetry by Angella Cormier”. It was the first of what I hope will be a series of three poetry collections. This first one is a collection of some of my writing as a young girl and young woman.
KADE: It sounds like you had a wonderful beginning to your writing career as a child. That is so inspiring to see how a young dreamer can bring their hopes to fruition with some determination and courage. I am so happy for you. How did you choose the genre you write in?
ANGELLA: Having started my love affair with reading from a very young age, I also took a very passionate interest with everything mysterious and paranormal very early on. Horror and mystery is what I have been reading for most of my life, and so it was only natural for it to be the genre to explore in my writing.
KADE: Yes, that sounds like a perfectly logical choice. We normally carry our childhood interest forward with us, even if we don’t realize it right away. Imagination is such a powerful force if we give it a chance to evolve. Wonderful. Where do you get your ideas?
ANGELLA: Honestly, everywhere! From seeing something in person, to a dream I may have, a random thought or flash of a thought in my mind that I know I need to jot down, to a news report or tidbit of information I come across. All the seeds for ideas in my stories have their own story too, in that how they came about. It still fascinates me to this day when I get jolted awake by an idea that comes rushing out of nowhere into my mind. I’d like to think it’s the writer’s equivalent that jumping out of a plane to a thrill seeker. The excitement that comes with it is hard to describe.
KADE: I love it. I have never thought of it that way but yes, I think that you are absolutely right about that, the rush for a writer would totally hold up in comparison. Thank you for that insight. Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?
ANGELLA: When I was growing up I remember certain authors that I really enjoyed reading: Agatha Christie, Dean Koontz and my favorite writer Stephen King. To name just one or two books that influenced me is impossible, as each and every read is a little bit more added to the inventory of imagination that never stops growing.
KADE: Yes, I agree. Every book one picks up gets credit in building the mind you own. We are so lucky to have so many to draw from. Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?
ANGELLA: Read and write. That’s really the only advice I can give that I know without a doubt is required. Without those two things, one cannot be a writer.
KADE: Plain and simple, I like how you see it. Make perfect sense to me. What is your favorite quote or saying?
ANGELLA: “Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life’s coming attractions.” – Albert Einstein.
KADE: Oh I love Albert. He really did have a Beautiful mind. Now for silly time…Tea or coffee?
ANGELLA: Coffee (and lots of it) in the daytime and herbal tea in the evening.
KADE: Haha excellent answer…Sweet or salty?
ANGELLA: Oh my goodness, sweet all the way!
KADE: So now we know how to get on your good side. Would you like to share with us a passage that will give us a glimpse into the world you built?
ANGELLA: “Running out into the cold January night was enough to snap Maggie back into reality. Her short legs, weak and tired already, began running shakily. On her feet were a pair of oversized men’s work boots that she had grabbed in haste at the trailer. Her legs shook with each pounding step she made in the white blanket that covered the ground. She had also grabbed a large parka from the dead body, along with the boots, to ensure she wouldn’t freeze during her sprint to safety. The coldness produced little vapour clouds escaping from her mouth every time she exhaled a deep and ragged breath. She could feel her lungs hurting already, trying to get as much air in her as possible. Though her eyesight was blurry, she kept on, trying to not think too much. Keeping her focus on her heavy and strenuous steps, she ran, her long brown hair sticking to her face from the sweat that had started forming on her forehead. Her body was reacting to whatever had been done to her. But she needed to keep those thoughts out of her mind and just get help.” – Excerpt taken from Oakwood Island, Chapter 1, “Maggie”
KADE: That is wonderful Angella. I love your voice. This sounds like it is going to be an incredible story and one to watch for this August.
Would you mind sharing with us the best way to stay in touch with you and where to learn more about your books?
Facebook page: Mysterious Ink – Pierre C Arseneault & Angella Cormier https://www.facebook.com/Mysterious-Ink-Pierre-C-Arseneault-Angella-Cormier-167392516657647/Goodreads author page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6943245.Angella_Jacob (Soon to be updated with maiden name)
LinkdIN: www.linkedin.com/in/angella-jacob (Soon to be updated with maiden name)
KADE: Just want to say a big thank you to Angella for hanging out with me today. And a big thank you to all of you readers out there for taking a moment to support your Authors. If any of you know of someone who would like a few minutes of limelight Inside A Beautiful Mind with me, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and place Author Interview in the topic space.
Enjoy your Friday folks, you are awesome and please be kind to your Authors, leave a review. See you next week, Peace Out!