The Queen of Urban
Mystery & Suspense, Mae Clair has kindly accepted my invitation to be interrogated..
er… Interviewed (innocent smile) about what makes her tick her influence
So, Mae, having read
your books, I can’t help but wonder what it is that draws you so deeply into
fantasy mystery & suspense. Is it some sinister force that
beckons you in such a compelling manner that you lose complete control of your
pen and awaken from a stupor feeling exhausted to find the story completed and
written in the blood of Hode’s Hill’s latest victim? (Deep breath.)
LOL! Well, to be honest, I don’t think of my work as urban fantasy. You won’t find wizards, the Fae, magic spells, werewolves, or witches. What you will find are threads relating to established folklore or old legends. I like mysteries and suspenseful tales, but I also like creatures and elements of the unexplained. I weave those into my novels, usually with a good dollop of history.
The past fascinates me. When you poke around in dusty legends, there’s usually a historical element involved. Believe it or not, the catalyst for Cusp of Night, the first book in my Hode’s Hill Series, was Spring Heeled Jack. The newspaper accounts and eye-witness sightings got me thinking about a creature that roams the dark alleyways and rooftops of Hode’s Hill. I split the book into two timelines—one set in the late 1800s and one in present day—then built to an ending that ties the mystery of each time period together. It was like writing two books in one. I had a blast with it—and my creature. 🙂
Going back in time, when I read your Point Pleasant Series and spoke to you about it, you talked about your research and bunking it out in the TNT. What really happened to you there? I ask because anyone who knows anything about you knows that you did not come back the same. For example, you stopped wearing your hat. (I loved that hat.) Did you meet the Mothman?
Oh, that hat! I still have it, you know, but thought it was time for an updated photo. As for the Mothman, no he didn’t show, but I did get my picture taken with his statue. Does that count? 🙂
It was eerie in the TNT—and that was during the day. No way would you get me to go there at night! When I told my cousin about it, she said, I guess you’ve never seen the movie Wrong Turn? That got me thinking about all the things that could have gone wrong. Not a place you want to get a flat tire or have your car stall out. There’s one road in particular, where cars are said to stall for no reason. Fortunately that didn’t happen. I guess you could say I developed a strong love of “odd” while there. 🙂
Thank goodness you still have that hat! Now I can relax in the knowledge you came back from the TNT completely unscathed. (Phew!) Many who have dared venture into such dark places are not so lucky! As for your picture taken with the Mothman’s statue… That definitely counts!
Coming back to the present, did you do any similar kind of research for your Hode’s Hill series as you did for your Point Pleasant series?
Hode’s Hill is a fictional town, so I couldn’t visit any locations but I still did a ton of research. The part of the book set in the late 1800s involves a woman who gets caught up in the Spiritualist movement and passes herself off as a medium. I spent a good deal of time learning about table tilting, home circles, spirit trumpets, ectoplasm, and other tricks fraudulent mediums used. I also read a good deal about Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Harry Houdini. Conan Doyle was a strong believer in Spiritualism, while Houdini made it his mission in life to expose fraudulent mediums. Strangely, the two were friends. Do you know Houdini once performed a trick for Doyle that so unnerved Sir Arthur, Houdini never performed it again? It was fascinating research!
I didn’t know that about Sir Arthur and Houdini, Mae! It’s amazing what you can discover while doing research.
In addition to Spiritualism and Spring Heeled Jack, I also spent a good deal of time reading about the traveling carnivals of the 1800s and sideshow attractions. The final element was a rare genetic disorder that turns the skin blue. There is nothing I like more than combining, history, present day, and folklore!
What can we expect next from the Queen of Urban Mystery & Suspense? Is there an upcoming release?
Well….truthfully, my current WIP is pure mystery/suspense. No creatures or aliens, not even a sideshow freak. But—there will be a legend woven into the book about an unfortunate woman and what became of her. I won’t ever abandon my love for folklore entirely, but my next series won’t play up dark creatures like the last two did. Hopefully, readers won’t be disappointed!
Oh no! I do so love the dark creatures! However, I’m sure your new mystery/suspense novels will be just as intoxicating. I cannot possibly imagine anyone being disappointed with anything you write, but this brings me to the last question I wanted to ask you.
Having loved all your urban mystery & suspense series to date, I’ve wondered what kind of a read I would get if you wrote a British Urban Mystery & Suspense series. I can see it now at a setting in rural England, Kev’sphantomville, Yorkshire. (Okay, I made up the kev’sphantomville bit, but you could always change that part.) Is this something you would ever consider doing?
Aww, thanks for those kind words. As for rural England? That’s a writer’s dream! Your country is so rich in folklore—you’ve got standing stones, barrows, old churches, ley lines, funerary paths—yes, I could have a field day! The United States is such a young country by comparison. We haven’t had time to build up the wealth of folklore and legends England has. If I trusted myself with the culture, setting (and even the language!) I’d do it in a heartbeat. Who knows….maybe someday. 🙂
Kev, thank you so much for the great interview! I enjoyed myself immensely, and it’s always a pleasure to be on your blog. I’m delighted and honoured that you invited me to be a guest. This was wonderful!
It’s been great fun, Mae. Thanks for popping in!
More About Mae and Her Books:
HODE’S HILL SERIES
POINT PLEASANT SERIES
Connect with Mae Clair at BOOKBUB and the following haunts: