Tell us about your book.
16 year old Alice Parker has just moved to Pacific Grove, California with her father and little sister, Sophie, after her mother’s passing. Deathly afraid of the water, Alice is determined to conquer her fear by getting involved with her high school Kayaking team. During one particular outing, a strange fog rolls in and Alice becomes disoriented and eventually thrown from her Kayak. Struggling to reach the surface, Alice begins to drown when a mysterious stranger rescues her. Against all rules, they begin to see each other. Thus begins an incredible journey and romance that transcends the boundaries of the fourth plane.
If this book is part of a series, tell us a little about it?
The Haunting of Alice May is the first book in a series featuring Alice and her ability to communicate with the after life and slay ghosts. In the next book, Alice begins to fully realize her powers and it will be a very exciting time for her, as her enemies in the first chapter seek vengeance. She will also continue her relationship with Henry and discover new and exciting things about him and what it means to be a ghost and to be human.
How do you develop your plots and characters?
I write a detailed synopsis of the book, breaking down the chapters, looking at the story beats, cliffhangers and turning points. As I specialize in mystery and suspense novels, I wrote another book titled Alfred Hitchcock’s Moving Making Masterclass. This is a filmmaker’s and screenwriter’s manual, which breaks down scenes, composes loglines, examines dialogue, character development, and the use of location and props to advance the plot.
What was the hardest part of writing this book?
The first three chapters are usually the hardest parts of a novel to write, because I find I am continually rewriting them. They are crucial to hook your readers, and are often the first chapters you send to agents and publishers. These chapters were continually rewritten, not only to entice others to read the story, but for me to have the confidence to want to publish and market the book. If you’re absolutely certain you have a good story that needs to be told, I believe you will succeed.
What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why?
My favorite part of the book was writing the chapters when Alice and Henry fall in love. Capturing the excitement of a teen, getting to know someone for the first time, sharing experiences and enjoying the beauty of nature are all essential parts of our human DNA, and capturing those on the page is very rewarding as a writer. Combining these with my personal experiences of living in Monterey, the novel is surprisingly autobiographical.
Was this book inspired by something in particular?
I lived in Monterey Bay for two years, as I was working for National Geographic Television. I’m very familiar with Monterey, Pacific Grove and the Big Sur where the novel is set. In fact I lived at the very address on Forest Avenue in Pacific Grove where Alice lives. I often wonder about the Afterlife, as I’m a zoologist and psychologist by training. My scientific pragmatism is at odds with my romantic nature, but I think it would be disappointing if there were only blackness after we died. More than that interest, I wanted to chart the relationship of two young people falling in love, and the joys of being alive.
Is any part of the book based on someone you know or events in your own life?
Although I’ve never fallen in love with a ghost, many of the events are incredibly personal to me. As well as living in Monterey, the experiences that Alice goes through are very familiar. From her childhood fear of drowning, to an interest in the afterlife, to losing a parent, as well as the more routine character traits such as a love of books, literature, coffee shops, nature, rock pools and being by the sea.
Can you share a little of your current work with us?
I have three other novels I’m seeking to publish. The first, is a middlegrade story about an alien boy who is stranded in New York City and has twenty-four hours to return home, else he will be stuck on Earth forever. Two other books follow the adventures of actress/sleuth Catriona Benedict in New York City and Italy, which are murder, mystery and suspense novels. I’m also writing a very revealing biography on the film director Alfred Hitchcock. I’ve written three books about him in the past, so his work has been a big influence on my writing.
I have a website dedicated to Ghost Maven http://www.ghostmaven.com and for my Alfred Hitchcock books http://www.alfredhitchcockbooks.com. Plus I have a personal website http://www.tonyleemoral.com. I also run a production company for my television and documentary work http://www.sabanafilms.com