A Strange There After (Savannah Shadows #2) by Missy Fleming-Review and Interview with the Author
ABOUT THE BOOK: Release Date March 26, 2014
Ghosts exist. Quinn Roberts knows this because she is one – kind of. The spirit of a dysfunctional ancestor, Catherine, has evicted Quinn from her own body, forcing her to live in a world with the paranormal. No one can see, touch or hear her, except the ghosts she grew up with and the bane of her existence, a self-centered paranormal investigator named Boone.
Forced to watch the growing bond between her boyfriend, Jason, and the body snatcher, Catherine, Quinn delves deeper into the history of her family in search of a way to reverse what’s been done. What she finds is a dangerous entity more terrifying than anything she’s encountered before. He’s willing to grant all her desires…for a price.
As Quinn faces painful decisions and makes unlikely alliances, she learns how far she will go to get her life back. Desperation is a wicked thing and she soon realizes that recovering her body may only be the beginning of her end.
REVIEW: A STRANGE THERE AFTER is the second instalment in Missy Fleming’s contemporary, young adult Savannah Shadows paranormal storyline focusing on a centuries old curse that has followed Quinn Roberts family through the generations. As the sole surviving Roberts family member, Quinn has become the target of ghosts and spirits avenging their death at the hands of Quinn’s ancestors. Now that Quinn’s spirit has been forced from her own body, she must find a way to let everyone know that the spirit inhabiting her body is not Quinn but someone who hopes to make the switch permanent.
Missy Fleming continues the world building from book one where Quinn’s life read like a Cinderella fairy tale including the wicked step-mother and step-sisters but in A STRANGE THERE AFTER the fairy tale takes on a more sinister note. With her extended family out of the picture, Quinn will discover that not everything they did was under their control. With the Savannah, Georgia area notorious for hauntings and magical incantations Quinn, along with the help of her best friend and a young psychic with connections to the other side, Quinn sets out to find a way to reverse the curse set upon her family for hundreds of years.
A STRANGE THERE AFTER is a young adult storyline (written in first person POV) with all the hallmarks of the genre-a love triangle; absent parents; misguided and misunderstood youth; villainous adults; and the requisite mean girl who pushes Quinn from her body and takes over her life as well as her boyfriend. Quinn’s friends try desperately to find a way to reverse the curse but Quinn takes it upon herself to make a deal with an otherworldly spirit only the Devil himself would love.
The storyline is well paced; there is mystery and suspense; perceived betrayal and broken hearts. The secondary characters are colorful but Quinn’s long suffering boyfriend plays only a small role in the second storyline. The reader is pulled into a story where voodoo, magic and revenge have crossed hundreds of years to finally come full circle with the last of the cursed family. Once Quinn is out of the picture, what’s an angry spirit to do for fun?
1. Happily Never After
2. A Strange There After
Copy supplied by the author.
Reviewed by Sandy
TRC: Hi Missy and welcome to The Reading Café. Congratulations on the release of A STRANGE THERE AFTER.
WE would like to start with some background information. Would you please tell us something about yourself?
Check out Missy’s Website
Missy: I live in beautiful Bozeman, Montana, not far from Yellowstone National Park. Being outside, especially in summer, is a bit of a necessity, so that often leaves me with less time for writing than I’d like. I love traveling, am an adoring aunt, and spend a lot of time with my family. When I’m writing, I always have to have something on in the background; music or the TV. For some reason, I am not the type who does well with silence.
TRC: What or who influenced your foray into writing?
Missy: As much as I hate to admit it, I’d have to say it started with Stephanie Meyer. If it weren’t for Twilight and the craze causing me to pick the book up, I might not have fallen as hard and fast as I did for the Young Adult genre. Although I grew up reading Nora Roberts, I find it MUCH harder to write adult books. My other biggest influence is my critique/writing partner. She has been amazing at giving me tough love, helping me become a better writer. I will always be thankful to her.
TRC: A STRANGE THERE AFTER is the second installment in your young adult, paranormal Savannah Shadows series. Would you please tell us something about the series and book premise?
Missy: Quinn Roberts has grown up in the shadow of her stepsisters, often neglected by her stepmother, and can’t wait to get away from them, even if it means leaving her beloved childhood home. Quinn is a sensitive, meaning she can hear and see ghosts. But there is something evil in her house, affecting her stepmother. The further she delves into the history of her family, the more disturbing things she finds. And as the series progresses, she winds up in a position she never imagined, fighting for her life and to get back all she has lost.
TRC: The first book –HAPPILY NEVER AFTER- followed the ‘Cinderella’ outline. What was the deciding factor to use an established fairy tale formula for the introductory storyline?
Click HERE for our review of Happily Never After
Missy: Personally, I love fairy tale retellings and I love ghost stories—much like what Marissa Marr has done with her Cinder series. Putting those beloved stories into a modern setting makes them relevant to new readers, makes them more relatable. I wondered what it would be like if the fairy godmother was a ghost and the prince, an actor. In the second book, I kind of flirted with the whole Rumplestilskin tale, about trading favors and making good on a contract or partnership.
TRC: Why Savannah, Georgia? Do you have a connection to the town and the people?
Missy: Savannah is steeped in history, especially the kind centered around the paranormal. It is said to be the most haunted town in America. It seemed to be the perfect place to set the story. The town has always fascinated me.
TRC: What challenges or difficulties (research, logistics, background, history,etc) did you encounter writing this particular story and series?
Missy: Believe it or not, I have never been to Savannah, so I have to always consult maps and visitor guides. In book two, I had a whole new set of obstacles. I won’t spoil it for anyone who hasn’t read the first, but involving Quinn became nearly impossible. I had to get inventive and introduce new characters to make it work. It frustrated me to no end, but I am extremely happy with how it turned out.
TRC: How many books do you have planned for the series?
Missy: Three. I will be starting the third book very soon. Been jotting down notes and ideas so it’s time to make sense of them.
TRC: Why your interest in writing ‘young adult’ storylines? Have you considered writing other genres? Adult storylines?
Missy: I love the younger voice. The stories come easier to me. It’s hard to explain. I have an adult/women’s fiction I’ve been trying to tweak for years, but it never feels just right. While I can pop out a YA book in a few months. I think I may venture into New Adult eventually, but right now, I am happy where I am. I love the genre and I think it still has a lot of places to go.
TRC: If you could virtually cast the leading characters (Quinn, Catherine, Abby, Jason, Boone) in this storyline, which models or actors best represents your ideal image?
Missy: To me, Quinn has always been either Victoria Justice or Vanessa Hudgens. They both have the same look as Quinn and I’d totally cast either of them.
For Abby, I would choose Taylor Swift. I think she’d be great in that part, feisty and determined.
Jason is a tough one. Maybe Brant Daughtry from Pretty Little Liars or Chase Crawford.
Boone was based off of Zak Bagans from Ghost Adventures, a little embarrassing to admit, but I can’t see him being cast as anyone else. Maybe Zak wants to try out acting!
TRC: How do you keep the plot unpredictable without sacrificing content and believability?
Missy: I like to think of the least predictable road, what would be the least cliché option. I don’t want to ever be just another paranormal. I want to be different. It can take a couple tries, but eventually you find something that fits and it feels good.
TRC: When writing a storyline, do the characters direct the writing or do you direct the characters?
Missy: The characters direct me. There’s been plenty of times I am surprised by where the story has gone, how a certain character has evolved. I never intended to bring another love interest into the story for Quinn with Boone, but it happened that way. I wasn’t sure how this experience would change her but it does. She surprised me and I love it when that happens.
TRC: The mark of a good writer is to pull the reader into the storyline so that they experience the emotions along with the characters. What do you believe a writer must do to make this happen? Where do you believe writer’s fail in this endeavor?
Missy: Sometimes, I think writers try too hard, they overreach, have the characters react to something and go overboard. To me, emotion comes from the simple things, from a struggle the everyday reader can relate to. And it has to feel real.
TRC: Writer’s Block is a very real phenomenon. How do you handle the pressures and anxiety of writer’s block?
Missy: I don’t force it. Even if it puts me behind schedule, I don’t force it. It will only make me more frustrated. Often, I will switch to some other project for a bit or lay in bed at night working through it in my head. Walking away is often the best medicine.
TRC: Many authors bounce ideas and information with other authors or friends and family. With whom do you bounce ideas?
Missy: My sister is a good one. She’s read most of my works in progress. The best person I have is a fellow writer. We write and edit together and I have learned so much from her. She’ll tell me exactly why she doesn’t like something and often, I have to mull it over to realize she is right. We have our routine down to an art.
TRC: On what are you currently working?
Missy: A historical Young Adult set in the 1860’s gold rush in Montana. While that may not sound like something a lot of teens would read, I’ve added the whole Hatfields & McCoys element, or more recognizable, Romeo and Juliet. It’s about a girl who has lost everything and takes a chance to go west, leaping into the unknown, and is caught between two warring families. It does have a love triangle and the gold rush town it is set in actually still exists today. The boom and excitement of instant wealth is just the backdrop to the story. It’s my first historical and I’m really happy with how it’s turning out. Well, I still have to figure out the end, so we shall see.
TRC: Would you like to add anything else?
Missy: Thanks for this opportunity! As an author, I am still learning the ins and outs of marketing myself. Sites like this have helped immensely. I am that writer, and reader, who gets so caught up in their current project, they often forget the real world exists out there. I’d love to hear from any of my readers so feel free to contact me through Goodreads or my (very neglected) website.
Love any kind of seafood. And popcorn. That’s my go-to snack.
A certain chocolate cake of my mom’s. And angel food cake.
Favorite TV Show
Once Upon a Time – go figure – and Scandal. Also ADDICTED to Game of Thrones
Last Movie You Saw
New movie? I’d have to say that would be Frozen. And I am in love with it.
Dark or Milk Chocolate
Favorite Song (at the moment)
Happy by Pharell. It’s just a happy song. How can anyone hear it and not want to smile or move?
Secret Celebrity Crush
Ian Somerhalder. Not only is he hot but he is into environmental awareness and an animal lover. Whole package
Last Vacation Destination
Just got back from Orlando two days ago. It was a work thing, but we spent a couple days extra going to Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom. Lots of people but something about that place is amazing. So much to see and do.
Oh wow. Not sure. People who think they are entitled to certain things. Like on an airplane. Just because you get on first doesn’t mean we’re leaving any sooner, so stop pushing your way through the crowd!
TRC: Thank you Missy for taking the time to answer our questions. Congratulations on all of your success. We wish you all the best.