Friday, November 21, 2014

The Dreamer of Downing Street & Interview with Roberta L.Smith

Title: The Dreamer of Downing Street
Author: Roberta L. Smith
Series: The Mickey McCoy Series (Prequel)
Genre: Paranormal/Mystery/Romance/Historical
Publisher: Self Published
Release Date: Aug 23 2014
Edition/Formats Available In: eBook & Print

In 1944 Denver, twenty-six year-old Franklin Powell is doing what he does best, helping clients with his psychic gift. Then his brother causes the past to come crashing into the present and a memory Frank has kept buried since the age of six surfaces. Now his life is in an uproar. He must prove that what he remembers is true or his mother may spend the rest of her life in prison. But even if he succeeds, it appears there is a powerful someone behind the scenes who could care less if she is innocent. Why? Because of a seething hatred for Frank. To make matters worse, the woman he loves needs his help with a serious problem of her own—a problem that could get him killed. Frank can’t let that stop him. He dives right in and while his psychic gift doesn’t seem to be doing him any favors, it’s a good thing that a couple of newly-acquired ghosts appear to be on his side.

Leadville, Colorado - 1924

I COULD FEEL Mother’s anxiety the moment she took my hand to pull me out of the canvas top touring car. I landed with a squishy sound as my boots hit the sloshy ground and I righted myself. The sight before me was forlorn to say the least: a couple of cabins―shacks really―a privy, shed and the hoist frame of a mine shaft no longer in use, all dusted with snow. It was spring, but just barely. And it was cold.
“You’ll be all right with the boy,” our driver called to my mother from his seat inside the car, arm outside the window, finger pointed. “Just remember what I told you. Call her Mrs. Tabor. She don’t like when people address her as Baby Doe. Show her respect. If she opens the door with a shotgun in her hand, just talk real nice. She guards the Matchless like a rabid dog and don’t trust people much. I ain’t sayin’ I blame her, just that’s how she be.”
Mother nodded and started toward one of the cabins, my hand in hers. I nearly cried out that she was hurting me, her grip was that tight. But I thought better of it. A tongue lashing would most likely result and that would be more painful. I stuck my free hand in the right-hand pocket of my coat and grabbed hold of one of the toy cars I kept there.
My heart beat rapidly. I was anxious, too. Not because of where we were or who we were about to meet. I was concerned for Mother because I’d never seen her in such a state. She paused for a moment and took several deep breaths as she stared at the small, one-room shack ahead of us. It cast a friendless feel out here on the hill amid the other wooden structures that were all part of the derelict mine. Constructed of planks that had weathered many winters, it wasn’t exactly ramshackle, but it was close. Not that I would have thought of that word at the time. I was six.
After a few more steps, my anxiety left me and the happiness I felt at being on a trip with Mother—just me, not my older brother Bobby nor my older sister Jane, just me—took hold. My siblings got most of Mother’s attention at home. With only me in tow, I would be foremost in her mind.
I looked at the front door of the cabin and “knowings” hopped into my head. Back then, that’s what I called the psychic thoughts that came to me. I knew we were about to meet an old woman who had been beautiful at one time. So beautiful that other people had been jealous. I knew that she was hated and that she lived alone.
I will just have a talk with that woman. So what if she’s peculiar, if they say she’s lost her marbles . . .
I glanced up at Mother. “Here, Mama,” I said, offering her a fistful of aggies and cat’s-eyes I kept stashed in my pocket along with the cars.
“What?” Her brows knit together as she looked at the contents of my hand.
“You said she lost her marbles. She can have these.”
Immediately my mother’s face turned to granite. I’d responded to something I thought she’d said aloud. “Why do you like to torment me?” There was a frantic undercurrent to her tone and the lines around her mouth deepened.
My heart seemed to freeze as it always did when I said something wrong and she glared at me with disapproval. La-la-la-laa. La. La . . . I sang in my head to block any more of her self-talk.
Mother took another step and the front door creaked open a few inches.
“Stop!” a sharp, clear voice rang out. “What do you want? Who’s that boy with you?”
Mother stalled. The word “ostracized” came to me. My brain changed the word to “ostrich-size” which made me think the woman we were about to meet was big like an ostrich.
Mother’s voice cracked when she spoke. “This is my son, Franklin.”
The door opened farther and my jaw dropped. We were in the presence of the old woman I had seen last night amid one of the strangest experiences that had ever happened to me.

Where to find: The Dreamer of Downing Street

Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Where do you live, etc.? When did you start writing?*
I was born and raised in Southern California. Our family never moved. In fact, my home life was so stable, my sisters and I still own the home we grew up in now that our parents have passed. I graduated from the University of Redlands with a liberal arts degree. I’m married and live in Apple Valley, California. I wrote short stories as a teenager, and did write a children’s play that was produced by the city of Downey when I was seventeen.  But I didn’t get serious about writing until I was an adult. I studied screenplay writing and wrote about seven of those before I turned to novel writing and joined a writers club.

Do you write full time or work outside of the home?
Writing is my full time passion. When I’m in the middle of a book, I get up and run to the computer. Everything else comes second.  The story rattles around in my head all day and I go to sleep thinking about it. That’s why the story and the writing are freshest in the morning.

*Tell us a little about the book and where did you get the idea to write this story.*
The Dreamer of Downing Street is a prequel to my Mickey McCoy Paranormal Series.  The idea came because I wanted to write the story of the father of my character, Mickey McCoy. That meant the story had to take place in the recent past, in this case 1944 Denver. I also wanted to include Baby Doe Tabor in my book. She is a real-life person and an extremely interesting Colorado pioneer. Her life story is well-documented. I don’t want to say too much because a full explanation will involve spoilers.

Do you have a character in one of your books that continues to haunt you at night or surprised you when you wrote the book?
The character of Bessie Stanbridge in “Dreamer” does not haunt me, but she did surprise me. Originally she was only going to be in the first chapter. She remained a supporting character, but turned out to be important and shows up throughout the book.

Do you write a novel straight through? Or revise as you go? Plan a whole series in advance? Or does the series evolve?
I never intended to write a series, but the character of Mickey McCoy was endearing and subsequent novels involving him were a natural. My “method” for writing a novel involves developing my characters first and mapping out the story before I ever write a chapter.  I edit some as I go along, and my map is “loose” so it evolves, but mostly I allow the writing to flow and don’t worry about perfection in order to get the story down and complete the novel. Then I rewrite many, many times. 

Do you use Beta or Post readers?
I don’t hire a Beta reader, but I am in a critique group. Actually, I’ve joined a second one.  That means eight sets of eyes will be reading my latest book as it comes alive. I will listen to what my fellow writers say and make the adjustments I agree with.  After a book is finished, I give five proof copies to friends to read. They find errors and give their opinions.  I also hire a professional editor and pay the big bucks for his/her edits and input. I then rewrite accordingly.

Have any of your characters ever ended up completely different than you’d intended? 
Maybe a little different, but I know them pretty well by the time I start the story.  Only Bessie turned out completely different.

Anything unusual you had to do for research on this book?
Unusual? I went to places where the story took place, but that’s not unusual. Something unusual happened to me when researching Dreamer.  It could be called a coincidence if you believe in that sort of thing.  I tell that story in my Author’s Note at the end of the book.

What is next? Any new titles we should be looking for?
I’ve just begun my next book.  It doesn’t have a title yet, but is the story of “Dreamer’s” granddaughter.

Anything else you would like to share with our readers?
Just that Dreamer is fast-paced and full of surprises. It is part paranormal, part romance, part historical, and part mystery. My character, Franklin Powell, breaks the rules of 1944 and so do the women he loves.

Roberta L. Smith was born and raised in Southern California.  She is a graduate of the University of Redlands and lives in the High Desert with her husband.  She is an active member of the High Desert Branch of the California Writers Club.  Roberta had always been intrigued by the unexplained.  Her favorite stories growing up involved ghosts and sometimes the macabre. As a child, she wrote a letter to Boris Karloff telling him she knew he didn’t mean to kill the little girl in “Frankenstein,” so it’s no surprise that the four novels she has published thus far are in the paranormal genre.

Where to find: Roberta L. Smith

Other books by Roberta L. Smith
The Mickey McCoy Paranormal Mystery Series
One of Life’s Distorted Moments
In His Shoes and The Miracle #2 & #3 {2 in 1 Book}
Stand Alones

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