I had the pleasure of interviewing both Canadian authors, Angella Cormier and Pierre C Arsenault, about their newest release – Oakwood Island. I’m going to post their responses in separate parts so you can enjoy meeting them both: Angella this week and Pierre will be next week.
Check out my review of the book here.
1) How old were you when you read your first nightmare inducing book? Did it cause you to have nightmares?
Angella: I don’t recall having nightmares stemming from a book directly. Some might have given me the backdrop to scary dreams though. Books like Phantoms by Dean Koontz or The Mayfair Witches trilogy by Anne Rice. I do remember the movie IT, based off the Stephen King book, provided me with a fear factor large enough for me to become coulrophobic. And if you don’t know what that is, just watch the movie and look for the red balloon.
2) When did you fall in love with this genre?
Angella: I’m not sure I can pinpoint when, as it was more of a cumulative and gradual thing for me. However, I do know that it began when I was a young child. There was one large hard cover copy of The Grimm Brothers Fairytales at the St. Antoine Public Library. I must have sat at the same back table there dozens of times reading out of that book, taking in every word, my mind aflutter with visions of old witches, big bad wolves and morphing ravens. I wonder if they still have it on the shelves.
I remember reading The Adventures of Tintin and I would be enthralled by the mysteries he faced and that he had to solve. Nancy Drew Mysteries was another big one. I also loved TV shows like Unsolved Mysteries, The Edison Twins (who remembers THAT besides me?) and also the popular show Are You Afraid of the Dark.
Combine those with an overactive imagination and lots of free time and you have the beginning pieces in place for a future horror lover. I do enjoy reading mysteries and horror books that have some supernatural or paranormal elements, but I don’t limit myself to any one genre or subgenre for that matter. I especially enjoy reading stories that show how the characters will react and deal with being pushed to their most extreme limits and how that will change them after the fact, be it good or bad.
3) Who in this book do you feel you’re most like and why?
Angella: I would have to say Norah. She does what she has to do, even if it means sacrificing her own wants and needs in order to protect and care for those she loves.
4) Has any book or movie scared you yet?
Angella: Of course! Especially when I was younger. As mentioned before, Phantoms by Dean Koontz and the movie IT played a part in my love of horror, as it fed the imagination monster. Here are a few more that I can recall left me with some kind of impression:
Phantoms by Dean Koontz. This one marked me for life! Especially the oven scene. That’s all I’m going to say. LoL (I was a teenager when I read this one, mind you).
The Mayfair Witches: Taltos (book 3). When it comes to characters, Anne Rice has to be one of the best. It wasn’t so much what was happening in the book (plot), but more so what was happening to her characters that had me recoiling. From a psychological perspective, seeing the main character go through so much, left me wondering how anyone would deal with some of the things that happened to her.
The Exorcist, Christine, Pet Sematary, The Shining, Watcher in the Woods (that’s an older one, with Betty Davis!)
It takes a lot more to scare me these days when it comes to fiction. I watch a lot of horror movies and shows, and read as much as I can, but I don’t get the same sense as when I was a teen or young adult. I think the closest I get to that feeling these days is when I read or watch something in the True Crime genre. Knowing that monsters ARE real and sometimes live among us, trapped in the head of someone that could be sitting next to me on the bus or in the neighborhood is much scarier to me now than fiction.
5) I find your writing is much like the infamous and very successful Stephen King and you say he’s a favourite of yours so I wonder: What is your favourite Stephen King book?
Angella: Wow, thank you for that HUGE compliment! He is one of my favourites and picking just one book could prove difficult. I also have not read them all (yet) so this is strictly based on the ones I have read thus far. It might seem odd, but it was one of his collaborative works with Peter Straub called The Talisman and its sequel Black House that I must say I was most impressed with (so far). The genre is a bit different, as it has elements of fantasy, but still reads as a horror. Under the Dome was a great read too. As for his short stories, I really loved Big Driver. I still have quite a few of his books to read still, so these may change in time.
6) How do you write collaboratively – do you each write in sections and mash it together or do you pick up where the other gets stuck? Have you ever had any dramatic creative differences in this book or any others you’ve worked on together?
Angella: Generally speaking, when we collaborate, we get together to work on the characters, plot and story idea. We take notes and go back and forth with ideas until we both feel comfortable with the story and how it will unfold. We try to be as detailed as possible with the who/what/when/where/why’s when we are working together. Once that is completed, I take the notes and outlines and write it all out. Sometimes though I need some help with certain aspects, so it has happened that Pierre has worked on parts of stories when I couldn’t quite find the wording I needed. We then read it over, make edits together as we see fit, and then it goes to our publisher and work together on the rewrites/edit recommendations once those are sent to us.
The process can be a long one but it’s very rewarding once the story is completed. We get to celebrate the achievement together, which in and of itself, is amazing. To be able to share the love of storytelling with a good friend is very rewarding.
As for creative differences of course sometimes we have disagreed on certain things that we wanted to include or exclude in a story, but we take the time to communicate and compromise. That has been the key to successful collaborations. It works for us.
7) What’s next for both of you?
Angella: There is always something in the works, isn’t there? 😉
I’m currently working on a collection of short stories (solo) that will mostly be in the horror/mystery genre.
I am also in the startup stage of a new blog. If all goes as planned, it should be up within the next month. I will keep you and your readers posted on this new venture, as I am sure they will be interested in it. Exciting times!
8) If Oakwood Island was made into a theme park which character would you play or would you prefer to be a spectator or not go at all?
Angella: Now THAT is an idea, Sarah! If Oakwood Island was a theme park, I’d love to play Jack, the older native man. I don’t want to give spoilers, but I think his would be the most interesting to play, and the most interesting to experience as a spectator too. He is just so mysterious and yet others are comfortable around him. If ever the day comes, I’ll invite you to the maiden ferry ride over to Oakwood Island – The Theme Park!
9) Of all the animals mentioned in this book- crows, moose, werewolves, humans – which animal is your favourite?
Angella: I have an affinity for crows and ravens. I have to say the crow is my nearest and dearest animal of all in the book. They, like Jack, tend to that mysterious feeling yet they are so familiar. It is told in folklore that they can walk through the thin veil of living and spiritual worlds and can see both. If that’s not mystical, I don’t know what is!
10) Is there anything more you’d like to add?
Angella: Yes, a huge THANK YOU, to you, for having us on your blog once more. To your readers, for taking the time to learn more about us. To our readers (new and seasoned) for their support and for following us on this road and for reading our stories. We will have our official Oakwood Island Book Launch on Saturday October 8th from 1PM to 3PM, at the Moncton Public Library. For more information, contact me at Angella@MysteriousInk.ca or by visiting our Facebook page or website (www.mysteriousink.ca).
Thank you for reading!