Saturday, March 23, 2013

Autumn's Spirit by Natasha Bennett: Interview & Excerpt


Tell us about your current release.
My newest release is a horror novella titled 'Autumn's Spirit'. A group of paranormal investigators search a supposedly-haunted house and come up empty. But when one of the investigators named Amy goes back to retrieve a forgotten camera, she passes out and wakes up thousands of miles away covered in blood.

This novella covers two things-the mystery of what happens with Amy, and the struggling career of paranormal investigators in today's day and age.

What are your hero and heroine of the story like?

My protagonist named Terry is the leader of the team of paranormal investigators. He is very rich and business-like, but due to a terrible mistake the team is considered to be frauds. He is the polar opposite of his brother Dash, who is an alcoholic and takes a bath once a month. Terry is also in love with Amy, who is married.

Amy is a relatively strong-willed and calm individual, even in the face of her dilemma. Even though she is aware of Terry's affections, she has chosen to remain with her abusive husband for the sake of their child.

What was your first sale as an author?

I had been accepted a couple of times in free markets, but my first sale was from my first science fiction book War of the Soulites, which was published by Lyrical Press. 

How do you describe your writing style?

My writing style normally begins with characterization. I would start with a scene that I want to write, usually taking place in the middle of the book, and then I would build my story around this.

What was the scariest moment of your life?

I have always had an unnatural fear of the unknown, and I also believe my apartment is haunted, which isn't a good combination. One night I was sleeping on the couch and having a bad dream. Before I woke up, I could hear something say, 'You will die without being able to scream.' Then I woke up, and for several minutes I was so paralyzed with fear that I couldn't cry out or move, even though my husband was asleep in the next room. Definitely not a fun night!

What are the most important attributes for remaining sane as a writer?

When it comes to horror, I would argue that it is equally important for a writer to be a little insane. If everyone was perfectly sane and normal, then why do we have horror movies with excessive amounts of gore? Or play violent video games? In a sense, people are normal, but a part of our brains enjoy that kind of violence in a relatively safe environment. That outlet is usually a beneficial stress-reliever.

Similarly, if a writer was sane and normal, they would probably write something very boring. That extra bit of insanity can result in a writer coming up with something very extraordinary. 

What would we find under your bed?

Lots of dust bunnies and dirty socks. I should probably clean that area eventually.

Use no more than two sentences. Why should we read your book?

Aside from being a fun horror story, it also tackles certain subjects some might consider taboo. I dare you to read what those are!

After working for years as a paranormal investigator, Amy Belkins wants to quit. But her friend, Terry, convinces her to go on one last investigation. Lured by the promise of strange whispers in empty bedrooms, cold spots, and silenced screams, Amy reluctantly agrees to one last hurrah, for old time's sake. However, Amy and Terry are frustrated when their search of the supposedly haunted Lanson house turns up empty.

Later that night, Amy returns alone to retrieve some forgotten equipment and is sucked into a shocking nightmare. The next morning she wakes up five hundred miles away, covered in blood beside an old woman’s dead body. As people continue to die around her, Amy realizes that she is possessed by the spirit of a vengeful child on a mission to right wrongs. On the way, Amy learns a deadly lesson about violence.

As Terry races against time to save her, Amy faces a terrible choice: avenge the child’s murder and save another child's life, or surrender to the police before more people suffer a ghastly fate at the hands of Autumn’s Spirit.

Amy and Terry had stopped to grab two coffees from a drive-through.
She yawned once.  
“I don’t know about you, but I’m beat.”  
“Yeah,” Terry said. “So this was our last case.” He glanced at her. “A waste of time, I guess. For both of us…” 
Amy quickly looked over at him.  
“You never know,” she stated. “You have plenty of footage. I’m sure Dash can go through all the recordings. Maybe you’ll discover some EVPs.” She smiled at him. “You know how it is. The more hype a place gets, the lower the payoff.”  
“True, but I just wish... you could have seen something.”  
Amy tapped the brake as she switched lanes.  
“I never stopped believing in the paranormal, Terry,” she said. “But it’s like I said earlier—I have to put other things in my life first.”  
Terry remained silent.  
“It’s not like we won’t see each other. We’re practically next-door neigh—” 
“I wish you would divorce him,” Terry blurted.  
“You’re not happy.”  
“Adrian is the father of my child. I love him,” Amy said. “Honestly, I do. Anyway, why is it your business?”  
“Because we’ve been friends since grade five, maybe,” Terry replied, anger creeping into his voice. “I don’t want to see you hurt.” 
“You sure it isn’t something else?” Amy asked, studying the houses passing by so she didn’t have to look over at him.  
“Like what?”  
“I dunno. You tell me.” Amy pulled up in front of Terry’s driveway. “Your stop.” 
Terry stared pleadingly at her face. She didn’t meet his eyes and focused on the house behind him instead. Her mind drifted back to Brian. More than anything, she didn’t want to have this conversation anymore.  
He finally lifted the handle and stepped out of the car.  
“Well, we can at least hang out together at some point,” he said as he stood by the open door.  
“Yeah,” Amy agreed. “I mean, our schedules might be a little busy but, um… Facebook me, okay?”  
“Facebook. Right.” Terry looked away. “I’ll see you later, Amy. Best of luck.” He slammed the door as he turned. 
Amy watched him leave, and then drove away. She saw him in the rearview mirror, standing in the driveway. It only took five minutes to reach her house, but it felt like an eternity. She reached for the ignition, shutting off the car. She opened the trunk to grab her bag and paused. In her truck were four cameras. She and Dash both owned black Ford Explorers, and he had a habit of stowing the cameras in the wrong car at the end of a late night. Normally, Amy had no problem with returning them to Adrian the next morning, but now…  
Her cell phone vibrated once.  
“Great,” Amy muttered, and closed the trunk.  
A second later, she opened it again. Four cameras? Usually there were five.  
‘GOT ANY IN YOUR CAR?’ She texted back  
After a few minutes, her cell phone vibrated again.  
“Argh...” Amy muttered under her breath. How could she be so stupid? Normally Dash took care of packing up the equipment, but tonight Lisa had likely distracted him. Amy held herself responsible as well, since she normally double-checked the gear. Naturally, Terry had bought the most expensive cameras he could possibly find. A year ago, someone had stolen one of their cameras and sold it on eBay. Terry hadn’t talked to Dash for a week after that particular incident. I bet it’s sitting in the bedroom on the second floor right now. I remember Dash showing Lisa how it worked!  
Amy returned to her car and contemplated for a moment. Her nice, warm house stood right in front of her, tempting her to forget about the camera.  
Swearing, Amy got in, reversed the car and set off in the direction of the Lanson house. She considered calling the guys, then decided against it. No reason anyone else shouldn’t get any sleep tonight. Terry wouldn’t approve, but they had already established that no ghosts occupied the house.  
I am not investigating. I am just picking up a camera. No rules broken here.

Natasha Bennett is a Canadian author who lives in British Columbia. In her spare time she likes to play video games, watch horror movies, and help other writers on the road to publishing.

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