I’m excited to welcome author Tori L. Ridgewood to Ancient Children. Tori, please tell our readers a little about yourself.

I am in my mid-thirties, tall, and I can never make up my mind on what colour I want my hair to be! Married since 1997, I have two school-aged children and I am a full-time secondary school teacher. I get completely tongue-tied around anyone remotely famous, met my husband at a Star Trek club (that he started to meet girls), and I have three tattoos. I also write under a pen name — I find it helps me to tap into my creative side, helps a little with separating my writing life from my professional life, and it’s just a lot of fun.

That’s a great story about meeting your husband. Guess his plan worked. Tell us about your book.

Wind and Shadow: Book One of the Talbot Trilogy is a paranormal romance with elements of horror. A good witch must do battle with a malevolent vampire, and she must convince a skeptical police officer in order to help her. It’s my love letter to things supernatural: witches and witchcraft, vampires and magick.

What was your inspiration in writing Wind and Shadow?

There was an incident in the former mining town of Cobalt, Ontario, about twenty-five years ago. A sinkhole opened up in the middle of a street, a gap big enough to swallow a car, and it happened because the miners of the early 20th century had tunneled everywhere under the community. The timbers holding up the tunnels were starting to rot, so there was a big push to have the mines reinforced. When I was ten, I lived near Cobalt, and I remembered that some enterprising individuals advertised the event as the world’s largest pothole! About seven years ago, while I was on parental leave with my baby daughter, I started thinking about that giant pothole, and what else might have caused the street to collapse. What if it was some kind of imprisoned creature working itself free? What creature is most likely to be lurking underground to begin with? Add that to my love of vampires, and of witches, and I began to build the story.

The cover of your book is very eye-catching. Tell us about the cover design. I’m also wondering how the book came to be titled.

The cover was designed by the lovely Caroline Andrus, and it represents the protagonist, Rayvin Woods. She’s a natural witch with great power, but she can’t always control her power as well as she’d like. The pentacle refers to a charm that Rayvin wears, an inherited piece from her mother and grandmother. It helps her to focus her energies when casting spells.

I had a difficult time finding an effective title for this book. During a period of writers’ block, I wrote a prequel novella for the Talbot Trilogy called “Mist and Midnight”, which explains how the vampire became imprisoned in the first place. I wanted the first full novel of the trilogy to have the same type of title, something three words that referenced natural elements. Earth, air, fire, water, and spirit are significant parts of magick in the novel, as well as the passage of time, so I wanted a title that would help to reflect those aspects.

I also needed something that would reflect the autumn setting, and that would lend itself to a continued pattern of three words in the second and third books of the trilogy. A former student of mine, also a writer, suggested using a formula that involved counting up to a certain number of words in the beginning of the first three chapters. The formula brought me to the words “wind” and “shadow”. It just felt right. Rayvin encounters gusts of wind at fortuitous moments, almost as though nature or another force is trying to warn her. “Wind” also represents her choice to run away from her problems when she was a younger woman, and how she is trying to change her life to make it better. (I do love “Winds of Change” by The Scorpions!) And then, “Shadow” represents not only the darker parts of her life that are making her unhappy, and the coming of winter, but also the evil nature of the vampire stalking her. I love the way the title just seemed to fall into place and belong to the story.

I love the name of your main character. Give us an insight into her.

Rayvin Woods is petite, curvy, redhaired, and tough. She lost her mother at a young age, and never knew her father, but she grew up in her best friend Andrea’s household. She’s a natural witch, in the sense that she manifests psychic and telekinetic abilities and can cast spells very effectively, although not always with a lot of control. Sometimes, Rayvin will work some magick that follows its own path, providing a result that she wants but not necessarily in the way she meant it to, kind of like Schmendrick in The Last Unicorn.

Rayvin’s had a lot of heartbreak and loneliness in her life. She had few friends in high school, always on the fringes of her community, and after she was accused and acquitted of attempted murder, she left her hometown to build a new life in the big city. Her efforts fell apart and she was forced to go home, even though it was the last place she wanted to be. I think that takes an extraordinary amount of courage to face one’s demons like that. And then to encounter something nearly demonic upon arrival, and be able to stand against it—she has a lot of strength, though that may come from her refusal to admit that she often feels weak. She’d rather do things herself, whenever possible, but she doesn’t see asking for help as a threat to her independence. I like that.

What is the best advice you’ve received as an author? What advice might you give to aspiring authors?

I have excellent writer friends who have suggested, through experiences of their own, not to rush the process of developing a novel and polishing it. Rushing means making mistakes, and you want to be true to your story and your voice. It’s important to write what you know, because it’s familiar, but if you don’t know what you need, do the research. Write something every day, no matter what it is, and never, ever delete or throw out your notes—you never know when it will be useful.

And write what you love. If you follow your passion, that love will shine through your words, and others will love it too. But have a thick skin, because as much as there will be readers who enjoy your work, there will be those who don’t like it, and that’s fine. Writing is an art and it’s subjective. Do it because you love it.

Excellent advice. I agree wholeheartedly that it’s a mistake to rush the process of writing. What are your interests outside of writing? Do any of these activities find their way into your books?

I enjoy handicrafts, mostly as gifts for friends and loved ones. I cross-stitch, do little quilting projects, embroidery, and appliqué. I love making miniature furniture out of twigs and bits of broken jewelry, rolling my own beeswax candles, calligraphy, and craft painting. I love traveling, whenever I can. And of course, I’m an avid reader. Some of these hobbies do appear in my writing, and some of my wishes to try different things, like making my own soaps and scented oils, appear there too.

What’s next for you?

The second book of the Talbot Trilogy, Blood and Fire, is set to be released at the end of February 2014. I’m very excited as there are a number of readers who enjoyed Wind and Shadow, and want to know what happens next. This installment introduces new supernatural characters with shapeshifting abilities. It also sets up the final conflict in Book Three: Crystal and Wand, which I’ve begun writing for release in July 2014.

Which author would you say your writing most resembles?

I’d like to think my writing resembles the work of Nora Roberts, as she’s who first inspired me to write a paranormal romance in trilogy form. I’d also like to believe that my style is a little like Stephen King’s, in that it can be gritty, raw, and creepy. But I’m definitely biased, and those two writers are very far apart on the spectrum.

Where can we buy the book?

Wind and Shadow is available as a paperback for traditionalists through the publisher, Melange Books.

It’s also in Kindle format via Amazon.

All other formats are available through Smashwords.

Thanks very much for the interview!

About the author:

After her first heartbreak, Tori found solace in two things: reading romance novels and listening to an after-dark radio program called Lovers and Other Strangers. Throughout the summer and fall of 1990, the new kid in town found reading fiction and writing her own short stories gave her a much needed creative outlet. Determined to become a published author, Tori amassed stacks of notebooks and boxes of filed-away stories, most only half-finished before another idea would overtake her and demand to be written down. Then, while on parental leave with her second baby, one story formed and refused to be packed away. Between teaching full-time, parenting, and life in general, it would take almost seven years before the first novel in her first trilogy would be completed. In the process, Tori finally found her stride as a writer.

At present, on her off-time, Tori not only enjoys reading, but also listening to an eclectic mix of music as she walks the family dog (Skittles), attempts to turn her thumb green, or makes needlework gifts for her friends and family members. She loves to travel, collect and make miniature furniture, and a good cup of tea during a thunderstorm or a blizzard. Under it all, she is always intrigued by history, the supernatural, vampire and shapeshifter mythology, romance, and other dangers.

Tori L. Ridgewood’s new book Wind and Shadow: Book One of the Talbot Trilogy, published by Melange Books, was released on June 20, 2013. For more information, visit Tori’s website.


Lu Jakes, the protagonist of my thriller TALION, is being interviewed today at World Literary Café. I hope you’ll take a few minutes to drop by and meet this extraordinary fifteen-year-old girl who must fight to save herself and her friend from a serial killer.

World Literary Café is a wonderful site for authors and readers to connect with each other. I appreciate their hosting Lu. Special thanks to Stacy Eaton for organizing the interview program, writing such terrific interview questions, and putting together the posts.

The first time a blogger requested a character interview to promote my novel I felt a mixture of annoyance and dread. The concept seemed bogus. I thought turning my villain, Rad Sanders, into a pitchman would make him less menacing. But I wasn’t about to pass up the opportunity. After some false starts, I figured out a couple of ways to make the interview interesting to readers and valuable to me.

Of course  the character has to speak in his or her voice. With a first-person narrator, the voice is already fully developed and ready to go.  But even in third-person narrative, the character’s voice exists in dialogue and thoughts.  I built on those. I found that once I had Rad’s voice, everything else followed. He couldn’t deliver a canned synopsis; he could only tell the story from his perspective.

Then I threw in some conflict. Just as it does in the novel, conflict drives the action and keeps readers interested. Since I could write my own questions, I invented a scenario in which Rad highjacks the interview. He berates me for cutting one of his scenes from the novel and refuses to hear my explanation. He becomes sarcastic and aggressive. It turned out to be a lot of  fun, and I actually got to know my character better.

Lu is far more decent, so she tries her best to explain her world to readers who have never visited such dark places. And Stacy’s questions sound like an adult gently coaxing a shy teenager out of her shell, offering her the acceptance she needs so much. I hope you’ll enjoy reading the interview as much as I enjoyed doing it. You’ll find it here.



Today it’s my pleasure to interview Ricki Wilson, an independent author and professional educator from Oklahoma. Growing up among genuine cowboys, Ricki learned at an early age to appreciate the true value of a good horse and a faithful dog. Maggie’s Fall, Wilson’s first novel, is a tribute to both. The Kindle Book Review describes Maggie’s Fall as “A true-to-life family saga set in the contemporary west that is both endearing and well written.”

Hi Ricki. Thank you for being here today.

Thank you for inviting me. I’m honored.

It’s rare today to find an author who does nothing but write for a living. Do you have a day job other than writing, and if so, what is it? What are some other jobs you’ve had in your life? Have they influenced/inspired your writing?

I am a professional educator. I teach English in a public high school by day, and I teach Composition and American Literature in a local junior college in the evenings. I am currently teaching 5 days and 4 nights a week and spending my weekends grading and planning. This schedule is leaving me no time for writing, a situation I intend to rectify at the first opportunity. I love teaching, and I don’t want to give it up, but in my dream world, I would write full-time and teach part-time.

 What compelled you to write your first book?

Some people paint, some crochet, or bake, or play golf; I write—often for the same reasons that I read, to escape, to discover something beyond my physical world. Writing Maggie’s Fall began as an experiment to see if I could create the reading experience from the other side, to see if I could record a story as I was imagining it. The process was arduous and exhilarating in equal measure. Following the age-old adage to “write what you know,” I chose familiar subjects (stray dogs, horses, and cowboys) and wove them into a story.

I loved Maggie’s Fall. The characters are so sympathetic and true to life, and life on a horse ranch is shown so memorably. Tell us briefly about your book.

Maggie’s Fall is about Maggie McClellan, a single and single-minded woman whose sole purpose in life is to protect the M-Bar Ranch and the M-Bar Ranch family: her son, T.J., Martha and Jonah (who have lived on the ranch as long as Maggie), the M-Bar horses, and one stray dog who knows all Maggie’s sorrows.

Maggie is smart. She knows how to run a ranch and how to keep her guests happy; she knows when to stay out of Martha’s kitchen and not to leave Jonah’s tools lying around; she knows how to soothe a frightened colt, and that T.J. worries too much for a little boy, but she doesn’t know how to stop an anonymous investor from buying out her leases. Maggie will not lose everything her parents built. Saving the M-Bar is the only way to keep her parents’ memory alive. When the pressure of holding everything together weighs too heavily, Maggie breaks a long-standing rule: she rides off alone across the M-Bar pastures without telling anyone where she’s going.

Witt McCreigh has been Maggie’s best friend her whole life. When Maggie never returns to the ranch, Witt saddles Maggie’s best mare, abandons the formal search party, and follows his heart. Witt rides with one hope—to find Maggie alive, and one regret—that he has never told her how much he loves her.

What are you working on at the moment?

 I am working on the sequel to Maggie’s Fall when I can make the time to write. Around mid-summer, I thought I was close to being finished, but when I stopped to re-read, I realized that I had not put my best voice on paper. I trashed 201 pages and started over. I would rather delay publication of the sequel than insult readers with a mediocre effort.

Do you have a favorite character? Why is s/he your favorite?

I do not have a favorite character from Maggie’s Fall; I love them all. However, I do have a least favorite character, Bronc Weller. It’s a very odd feeling to create a despicable character, but I had fun doing so.

If you could live in one of your books, which one would you live in?

There are elements of Maggie’s Fall that I would like to experience, such as the warmer winters of West Texas, or having the opportunity to be around my horses all the time. I guess I do create settings that hold appeal for me. I have two novels in their infancy. Once centers around the drag racing scene and the other is set in a farming community. I have a weakness for old hot rods, so that would be fun, and I already live in a small farming community, so I know the joys of small-town life firsthand.

The main characters of your stories—do you find that you put a little of yourself into each of them or do you create them to be completely different from you?

 I’m sure this will seem like an odd answer, but I don’t feel as if there is any part of me in my writing. Other than being the writer, I simply don’t factor in. I am an omniscient writer, in that I watch the story play out and I record what I imagine, but I do not play a part in the story. I’m always hopeful that I’ll find a way to better explain this.

When growing up, did you have a favorite author, book series, or book?

 The first “big book” that I remember reading was Anna Sewell’s Black Beauty. If memory serves, I was in the second grade. I still have the book. I have always been an avid reader. In elementary school I read Trixie Belden, Nancy Drew, The Black Stallion series—one of my favorites was Cinchfoot (another horse story). I read Gone with the Wind in the sixth grade. I’m sure I didn’t grasp it, but I remember the feeling of being swept away in the saga. I discovered Vonnegut in high school, and I was blown away.

What about now: who is your favorite author and what is your favorite genre to read?

 Discovering the literary canon fueled my addiction for words. I can now barely read anything without a pen in my hand for recording quick annotations (I love the “notes” feature on e-readers.), and, for me, The Great Gatsby is the finest novel in existence.

My reading tastes have become far more eclectic in recent years, and I try to divide my reading time between pleasure reading and literary fiction. Because I began Maggie’s Fall as a pleasure writing experience, I wrote it to be in the pleasure reading category; however, I would love to attempt a work of literary fiction one day.

It’s always difficult for me to choose one favorite (with the exception of Gatsby), but literary works I treasure include Kingsolver’s The Poisonwood Bible, Steinbeck’s East of Eden, Martel’s Life of Pi, O’Brien’s The Things They Carried, and, more recently, Amor Towles’ Rules of Civility and Jeffrey Eugenides’ The Marriage Plot.

On the other side of the fiction coin, I’ll read just about anything (except blatant erotica). I often read a book at a student’s request (The Book Thief, The Perks of Being a Wallflower) or a friend’s recommendation (Stephanie Plum), but lately I’ve been finding some great reads through my Indie Author connections. Your work, Talion, is at the top of my list, along with the John Reeves novels by Kirkus MacGowan, the Olivia Hart series by Alana Siegel, LiaFairchild’s In Search of Lucy, and one book I really liked that’s not getting much notice is Stephen Shea’s The Not So Simple Life. I have no shame in admitting that I practically inhaled the Twilight series, and while I’m neither Team Jacob nor Team Edward, I am most definitely Team Stephenie. I had students in my classroom who had previously read nothing longer than a Facebook status and they were devouring the series. For that, I say “Thank you, Ms. Meyer!” In writing these lists, I fear that I’ve been disloyal in my forgetfulness. I have a list of books on Goodreads .

What advice would you give aspiring authors?

 I would advise those who aspire to publish to be avid readers, to educate themselves about the current and ever-changing trends in the publishing field, and to prepare themselves for the reality that the writing is the easiest part. A year ago I never would have dreamed that I would have to build a dedicated Facebook page, that I would need to be on Twitter, that I would need to develop a website — all for the purposes of promoting Maggie’s Fall and making contacts. I am no good at self-promotion, and I don’t enjoy it, but it hasn’t been all bad. Indie authors are extremely generous in helping one another, and, thanks to social networking, I’ve been helped along my way by those more experienced. Because I abhor promoting myself, I choose to promote my fellow Indie authors through my blog, Indie Spotlight.

Where can readers buy Maggie’s Fall and connect with you online?

Maggie’s Fall is available for Kindle, Kindle apps, and in paperback from Amazon and Amazon UK.

Maggie’s Fall is also available from: Barnes and Noble,  Smashwords, and iTunes.

I welcome readers and fellow authors to join me on Facebook and Twitter.

My website celebrates Maggie’s Fall, and my blog, Indie Spotlight features Indie Authors. Any author who would like to be showcased can find the details on my website.