Posted by Sarah Andre
Dear Kiss and Thrill Reader: I Double-Dog-Dare you!
Pick up or download The Restorer, the first book in The Graveyard Queen Series by Amanda Stevens. Read the first chapter, especially that last sentence! Then put the novel down and walk away without ever reading the rest.
Don’t feel bad…I haven’t met a suspense reader yet who can walk. (And FYI, you’ll break a land-speed record buying the next two novels to see what happens!)
Here’s a quick rundown: Amelia Gray lovingly restores old, overgrown graveyards by day. At twilight, when the veil between our world and the spirit world thins, you’ll find her desperately seeking refuge indoors or on hallowed ground…because even as a child Amelia has been able to see ghosts.
Her father, who also has this ability, has repeatedly warned her: if she ever makes direct eye contact with one, the parasitic spirit will cling to her forever–leaching her energy and stealing her warmth in a desperate attempt to reconnect with the land of the living.
Now put yourself in Amelia’s shoes: Try not to shiver in the freezing presence of a hovering ghost or he will know you can see and sense him! Keep perfectly still and expressionless as his chilled fingers sift through your hair…
Yeah…the Graveyard Queen series is addictively creepy, beautifully written and filled with unique twists. You’ll gobble up each of these Southern Gothic stories feeling the same unsettling shock and awe that you did the first time you watched M. Night Shyamalan’s: “The Sixth Sense.”
And each novel sinks you even further into Amelia’s tangled world of small Southern town secrets, troubled spirits, eerie gravestone symbols, unexplainable mysteries and horrific murder. All this mayhem is uncovered during her deceptively simple graveyard renovation project! Oh, and one final challenge: don’t fall for the handsome, haunted, delectably mysterious hero, Detective John Devlin.
Meet my absolute FAVORITE romantic suspense/thriller author: Amanda Stevens!
Sarah: Welcome to Kiss and Thrill, Amanda. I heard a rumor the Graveyard Queen series may be picked up for TV. What’s the status?
Amanda: It has been optioned by ABC TV, but I don’t know anything beyond that. I’m keeping my fingers crossed.
Sarah: In pulling up your website it’s evident that you’ve been in the industry a long time. (Dear Reader: Her backlist is so long she divides them into genres: Romantic Suspense, Paranormal, Thrillers and Short Stories!) When did you first begin writing novels and why?
Amanda: My first novel was the result of a challenge by one of my college English professors. He offered an A to anyone who could get published during the semester. Since writing was always something I wanted to do, I decided to take him up on the challenge. I sold my first book to Silhouette Intimates Moments in 1985, and I’ve been writing professionally ever since.
BLURB from The Kingdom: My name is Amelia Gray. They call me the Graveyard Queen. I’ve been commissioned to restore an old cemetery in Asher Falls, South Carolina, but I’m coming to think I have another purpose here.
Why is there a cemetery at the bottom of Bell Lake? Why am I drawn time and again to a hidden grave I’ve discovered in the woods? Something is eating away at the soul of this town–this withering kingdom–and it will only be restored if I can uncover the truth.
Sarah: Did you mean to channel Edgar Allen Poe in your second Graveyard Queen novel: The Kingdom? For example, I kept picking up similarities in the creepiness and wordplay of Asher House with “The Fall of the House of Usher”, and your unsettling bird theme with “The Raven.”
Amanda: Actually, no, but now that you mention it… 🙂
I did use the Fisher King story as inspiration—the maimed king, Pelles whose impotence affected the fertility of the land. Pell Asher is based on this legend.
I read something once about Alfred Hitchcock using bird imagery in a number of his movies to signify disruption of the natural order of things. Given everything that happens in Asher Falls, I thought the symbolism appropriate. 🙂
Sarah: Oh yeah, ‘disruption of the natural order of things’ is very much an underlying theme in all three novels! What creeps YOU out?
Amanda: I’m pretty freaked out by ghosts even though I’ve never had a close encounter. One of my friends had some truly terrifying things happen to her when we were little—I’m talking Poltergeist level of creepy. In fact, there’s a scene in The Kingdom that was inspired by one of her experiences. I get goose bumps just thinking about it.
Sarah: The picture you sent of rootworking (part of the plot in your third book: The Prophet,) is of a doll being stuck with pins. You called it hoodoo, but it sure looks a lot like voodoo! What’s the difference between hoodoo and voodoo?
Amanda: The simple explanation is that voodoo (vodun) is a religion and hoodoo is folk magic.
Voodoo has a hierarchy and belief system while hoodoo is an unorganized set of traditions passed down through generations. At its most basic, hoodoo is about having a need met through the use of spells and medicinal conjure. Using roots, stones and other natural objects, a root doctor can help one tap into supernatural forces to gain power, luck, money, love, revenge and/or health.
The Voodoo Doll has its true roots in the Southern conjure arts rather than vodun.
Over the years, there have been many books and movies that reference rootworking, most notably Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. I’ve also enjoyed The Skeleton Key and Eve’s Bayou. Check them out if you have a hankering to visit the Deep South. 🙂
Blurb from “The Prophet”:
With quaintly named spells and elixirs like law-keep-away dust, pay-me sachet, and come-to-me oil, rootwork is mostly a benign practice that has been passed down through generations. But make no mistake. There is a dark side to conjure and much truth in the old saying that power corrupts.
Dr. Darius Goodwine is an ethnobotanist whose knowledge of roots and herbs has sent him down a dangerous path. He’s one of only a handful of men who have been granted access to gray dust, a powerful extract that stops the heart and allows an initiate to enter the realm of the dead. But what happens when the user brings something back from the other side?
Poor Amelia is about to find out.
Sarah: If this becomes a TV series (or movie) who do you see playing the part of Amelia? Devlin?
Amanda: Matt Bomer in the movie “In Time“ conveys the same dark, haunted look that I envision for Devlin, and for Amelia, I like Amanda Seyfried’s dreamy, ethereal beauty. Dr. Shaw is Donald Sutherland. 🙂
Sarah: What is the strangest gravestone symbol you’ve come across in person or through research?
Amanda: The Sicilian Triskelion is pretty freaky. (http://www.flickr.com/photos/nataliemaynor/125623991/)
Also, some of the soul effigies featured on Memento Stones look like space aliens. (http://mementostones.blogspot.com/2010_04_01_archive.html)
Sarah: What authors/genres jump to the front of your TBR pile?
Amanda: I’m reading tons of Young Adult. On my desk at the moment are Daughter of Smoke & Bone, Beautiful Darkness, and The Replacement.
Sarah: What advice do you have to your fans who now want to tour through cemeteries with “new eyes”?
Amanda: Enjoy the beauty, appreciate the history and at the end of the day, take nothing and leave nothing behind.
Sarah: Dear Reader, if you’ve read her Graveyard Queen series, you (like me) are biting back a shiver at her “advice.” If you haven’t read her series then believe me, she just gave you a friendly warning. Favorite movie ever is…?
Amanda: I have a three-way tie: Dazed and Confused, Waiting for Guffman, and This is Spinal Tap.
Sarah: Thanks for joining us today, Amanda. I also want to share your thrilling news with our readers: you recently signed another 3 book contract to continue the Graveyard Queen series!VISIT AMANDA AT HER WEBSITE: http://www.amandastevens.com/
Click below to ask Amanda a question, leave a comment or (if you’ve read any of the 3 books) give us your reaction to the hauntingly beautiful series! One winner will be announced on Thursday, May 10th and Amanda will give away one of the books in her Graveyard Queen series–winner’s choice!
(I recommend beginning with the first book: The Restorer. Remember: I double-dog-dare you to try to walk away after that hair-raising first chapter!)