Prism Book Alliance would like to thank Sarah Madison for taking the time to talk with us today.
Title: Walk A Mile
Author: Sarah Madison
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Paul Richmond
Genre/Sub-Genre: Contemporary, M/M Romance
Prism recently reviewed Walk A Mile. You can find the review here.
Six months after starting their hunt for a serial killer who is still at large, FBI agents Jerry Lee Parker and John Flynn are partners in every sense. But Jerry has serious doubts about their relationship and whether they would even be together if not for the way Flynn changed after touching a mysterious artifact in a museum.
Flynn hates the extraordinary power bestowed on him by the artifact and wants nothing more than to have a normal life again. Jerry fears that without the unusual connection they forged, Flynn will no longer want or need him. Chasing after a similar artifact takes them back to Flynn’s old stomping grounds in Washington D.C., where his newfound abilities uncover long-buried secrets, the kind people would kill to protect. But they aren’t the only ones looking for these powerful relics, and what they discover will threaten their relationship—and their lives.
We are here today to talk about Walk a Mile. What can you tell us about it?
Well, this story was a long time coming. The first in the Sixth Sense series, Unspeakable Words, was the first major piece I’d ever published. I had this idea for a 3-4 story arc, but the truth be told, I got caught up in writing some other novels, and by the time I came back to the series, I found myself questioning the original plan. What was I thinking? I had this wacky idea for a series of improbable stories and clearly I’d lost my mind! I dithered for far too long, coming close to ditching the paranormal aspect of the series, when finally I realized that these were my stories to tell. Mine. No one else’s.
It was an important realization for me. I can’t write stories to please other people. I can only write the stories I want to tell and hope other people enjoy them too. I think in the beginning, I was a little too worried about what other people thought. My skin has grown thicker and I’ve learned that I’m the only one who can tell my particular story. I love it when something I’ve written seems to strike a cord with readers—that’s the best feeling ever. I’m not ever going to write the kind of story that is a mega bestseller or gets turned into a movie, but readers tell me that my stories help them get through a bad day, or forget about their own problems for a little while. That’s pure gold to me.
Tell us more about Flynn and Jerry.
Ah, Flynn and Jerry! I confess, I love opposites attract stories (even though most of us know that opposites would drive us up a wall!). I like the idea of two different personalities complimenting each other, and I like the sparkage and banter than comes from such a pairing. John Flynn is a maverick and a lone wolf. He’s charming when he wants to be, devilishly handsome, cool under fire—a real action hero type. Jerry Parker is very much by-the-book. He’s fussy and precise; respected by his co-workers but not particularly well-liked. In the first story, Unspeakable Words, Parker is assigned to work with Flynn when he returns to the area for a new lead on a cold case. Events force the two men to work more closely than expected, and a bond is formed between them as a result. The artificial nature of the bonding leaves this wide open to speculation and interpretation, however. Jerry can’t help but have doubts that they would be together, were it not for the strange circumstances of their coming together romantically. That paranormal event takes the series outside the realm of ‘two hot FBI guys’ into something different.
It’s the extraordinary power that Flynn develops that shapes the relationship in the series. A driving force for him is to do anything necessary to reverse his ‘gift’ and go back to having a normal life. Jerry fears that doing so would tear them apart—while Flynn believes not doing so will destroy them instead. *rubs hands together with an evil grin*
Walk a Mile picks up about 6 month after the events of Unspeakable Words. What challenges are Flynn and Jerry facing on their personal and professional lives?
Ah, this is where the hand-rubbing comes in! When Walk a Mile opens, things are somewhat strained between the boys. Jerry feels Flynn holds all the cards in the relationship, and he’s so afraid of being abandoned he’s policing his thoughts and actions in the hopes of appeasing Flynn. John, on the other hand, is angry over Jerry’s guarded behavior, and has demons from his past he hasn’t dealt with yet. The main concept of ‘walking a mile in someone else’s shoes’ is about seeing the other person’s viewpoint, and understanding what it is like to have their set of problems to manage. In Walk a Mile, the boys will learn the hard way exactly what this means!
It has been 4 years since Unspeakable Words was published. How do you keep characters consistent through a story? Do you write out extensive character bibles?
Oh, don’t remind me! I should have tackled the remainder of these stories a long time ago. It was a little difficult to find their voices at first, which is why I am working on the third book in the series now (well, that and the little matter of the cliffhanger ending…). An extensive character bible would be useful, wouldn’t it? In the past, writing any sort of outline was a real story-killer for me, and while I have to stay cognizant of the fact my style works for me for the most part, I am striving to improve as a writer, so I’m gradually incorporating new skills. Part of me recognizes that perhaps if I did character bibles or outlines, I wouldn’t have to throw out great chunks of story that no longer works. It’s an evolving process, to be sure!
I re-read Unspeakable Words several times before starting Walk a Mile. A dear friend had created a playlist to go with UW as well, and I listened to it constantly. I wrote scenes as I saw them, rather than in linear fashion, and moved them around until I had the opening I wanted. From there, the story just flowed. It was like my guys had just been waiting for me to notice them again, and then they had all kinds of ideas about the way they wanted to be written!
What is the nicest thing a reader has said in a review or via email/social media?
I once wrote a story about a main character with a significant disability. A reader wrote to me, saying that she’d been hesitant to read the story because it would be so easy to get that wrong, and that this was what she lived with every day. This was her life. All it would take would be to get one little thing wrong and it would have thrown her out of the story. She read it, however, because she said she knew my writing and she trusted me to get it right. That comment made a huge impact on me. It made me realize (research notwithstanding) what enormous hubris I’d shown in tackling such a topic. I hadn’t even realized what a ballsy thing it was to do until I’d done it! It made me recognize my responsibility as a writer to not be afraid to take on matters outside my ken, but to make sure I did my homework.
I’m glad I did. The reader and I became friends over that feedback, and I was able to meet her in person a few years ago when I travelled to the UK for the first time.
If you could give one piece of advice to aspiring writers, what would it be?
Readers are like stray cats. If you feed them, they will come. Not only will they come, but they will tell other stray cats where to find you. But you must feed them. Forget 80% of what you learn about social media and building a platform and pleasing your audience. Write. Write like a mo-fo. Write every day. Write until your eyes bleed and your fingers cramp, and then write some more.
If I had to do it over again, I’d write more and chat less. I’d shut the browser, turn off Facebook, close Twitter, and write.
Now that there are so many books being released in the genre, what can a new writer do to stand out from the crowd and produce something fresh?
Well, I think it’s important to write the story you want to write—the one you want to read. Don’t worry about standing out from the crowd or producing something fresh. Write the thing that is in your heart.
When I set about writing Crying for the Moon, I knew nothing about vampires or werewolves outside what I’d seen in cheesy horror films growing up. I’d never read a vampire story or shifter story. I started to research the genre, intending to take in the classics (such as Interview with a Vampire), when something stopped me. I decided rather than immerse myself in a genre that I’d never read, I’d create a universe that made sense to me. Some people disliked Crying for the Moon because it didn’t follow the tried and true ‘rules’ of the genre, but more people commented on how original and refreshing my take on the trope was for them. That’s how you stand out from the crowd—by being yourself.
Rapid Fire Time
- Electronica or Jazz? Jazz!
- Coke or Pepsi? Oh, I was a Pepsi addict until caffeine decided to try and kill me. Sadly, it’s neither now. Giving up caffeine was the hardest thing I’ve ever done.
- Train or Plane? Train. When I graduated from college, I wanted to see as much of the country as I could for as little money as possible. I took a cross-country trip via train. It was a wondrous, magical time. Five days in a travel car, sitting upright in a chair, making friends out of strangers and watching vignettes unfold before your very eyes. Every state had its own distinctive color and look to it. I went from the Appalachians to the Pacific Northwest, down the California coast and back across the canyons and prairies of the Mid-West. I hiked in the Rockies and ate Chinese food in Seattle. I saw a grizzly, and antelopes, and mule deer. I rode a ferry and sat in Grand Central Station. Amazing trip.
- Love Story or Thriller? A thriller that’s a love story.
- Sausage or Hamburger? Hamburger!
- Fire or Ice? Oh. Tough one. I love ice and snow. I spend hours out in it, walking with the dog and taking pictures of the horses with ice crystals in their manes and along their eyelashes. I love the sunlight glittering on the snow and the heavy silence that comes just before snow begins to fall from leaden skies. But the best part of the snow is coming in to a crackling fire in the hearth.
- Sweet or Sour? Hmmm. I need contrasts in tastes. Too much of anything has me reaching for its opposite.
- Handcuffs or Rope? Rope. I can get out of rope easier than I can get out of handcuffs.
What are you working on? What is next?
I am working on book three in the Sixth Sense series, mostly so I won’t leave readers hanging for as long as I did this last time. I do apologize for that. I regret doing that. There’s a fourth book as well, but that might take a while…
I have planned sequels in mind for Crying for the Moon, too. I want to tell Peter and Nick’s backstory, and of course, evil Vicktor isn’t done with Alex, either!
I am planning a series of M/F stories in which the protagonists investigate supernatural events In the 1950s. My hero is the scientist; my heroine is the brute force—only 1950s America expects her to bake cakes and be a happy homemaker. She can’t cook. She was a secret agent during WW2 and the role she is forced to play doesn’t sit well with her. I’m in the research phase of that series now, and am learning all kinds of fascinating things about the society of that time.
In the ideal world, I’d write full time. Unfortunately, I work long hours in a demanding profession, so I don’t always have the energy to write at the end of a long day. My idea of the perfect vacation would include hours in a quiet cabin where I wrote like a fiend, interspersed with great food, long walks in the woods with the dog, riding the horse, and hanging out on the front porch with the boyfriend while sipping lemonade in frosty glasses. There are no mosquitoes in my fantasy vacation.
Jerry returned his attention to the tableau unfolding in the aisle. Flynn was making his way casually toward Jerry; he yawned, taking his time. 15-A hesitated; Jerry could see that he had stepped into the aisle, but was thinking of sitting back down again. Just then, the door to the toilet opened and the toddler came out into the aisle. Picking up on the air of tension, the child immediately started to wail.
15-A snapped like a wire stretched beyond its tensile strength. Whipping off his sunglasses, he reached into the pocket of his hoodie and pulled out a glass vial. Holding it up high over his head for everyone to see, he shouted, “Everybody stay where you are!”
People glanced up and turned around in their seats, startled and immediately alarmed. 15-A looked around sharply, making sure that no one was trying to rush him. Several people had started halfway up out of their seats to see what was going on; Jerry knew they were remembering United Flight 93.
15-a moved his hand in a broad semi-circle so that everyone could see the vial tucked in his palm. “I have Sarin!” he announced. “If anyone moves, I break the vial. Someone make that child shut up!”
About the Author:
Sarah Madison is a veterinarian with a big dog, an even bigger horse, too many cats, and a very patient boyfriend. She is a terrible cook, and concedes that her life would be easier if Purina made People Chow. She writes because it is cheaper than therapy.
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
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