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Pipeline and The Listener: Intense Paranormal Thrillers from Chris Carrolli

chriscarrolliParanormal novels come in many shapes and forms. At one time they seemed to all be about vampires who found it hard to keep their clothes on, but the genre is maturing and diversifying now. There is still the chick lit/erotica escapist end of it, and always will be, but there is a deeper, darker, thought-provoking side too. It’s in this range of the spectrum that you’ll find Chris Carrolli’s books.

Chris has written two outstanding paranormal novels in his Paranormal Invesigator series. I reviewed the first of these, Pipeline, on this site a couple of months ago. I loved it. And The Listener is every bit of good. I’ll share my review of it in a moment, but first we need to hear from Chris. I talked to him about his writing.

Tell us briefly about Pipeline and The Listener.

Pipeline is the story of Tracy Kimball, a young nurse who survived a car accident that killed her fiancée. Now, she’s plagued by a series of paranormal incidents concerning him. She seeks out a team of paranormal investigators, who discover some surprising things about the nature of his ghostly contact. The story deals with a non-fictional paranormal phenomenon known to ghost hunters as “The Pipeline effect.” It is the term used for ghostly communication through means of technology.

The Listener begins where Pipeline ended. It doesn’t continue the story of Tracy Kimball, but the investigators, who have now taken center stage. An incident in Pipeline occurs that leads to the events in The Listener. In this book, I explore a form of telepathy known as clairaudience, or listening and speaking with the dead, as well as remote hearing.


What’s the story behind the stories? Why did you write the books?

Well, after a few strange occurrences in my own life and being fascinated with the “Pipeline effect,” the idea of Pipeline formed in my head. As I started writing it, I assumed it would be a short story, but after introducing my investigators, I realized I had a short novel on my hands. The Listener started off as what happened next, and I decided to write about another paranormal aspect that I was fascinated with, clairaudience.


pipelineWhat do you enjoy most about writing about the paranormal? Do you ever scare yourself?

There are unlimited aspects of paranormal to write about. It’s not hard to see why it’s a new and upcoming genre since so many of those aspects have rarely been written about or pondered before. What was once Taboo is now being written about freely, and I’m glad to be a part of that.

Yes, I have scared myself already writing the third book in the series, which makes me excited about it.


Which of the characters you’ve created are you most like?

Actually, I’ve given each of my characters some trait that belongs to me, whether it’s a candy bar addiction or having seen a ghost. So, they all have some aspect of me that I’ve incorporated. I doubt I could pick one.


Did you design your covers yourself? What was your aim in the designs?

No, not exactly. We as authors are encouraged to choose a photo that best represents our story and to mention any ideas that we have. I’ve been fortunate enough to find two pictures that really hit home. I mention things like colors or certain small details. But, the end result of my covers is the brilliant work of Melange Books’ Cover Artist, Caroline Andrus. She has an amazing history of excellent covers.


When did you first realize you wanted to be an author?

I was a teenager. I knew after reading my idols, Stephen King, Anne Rice, Sidney Sheldon and many others.


What one snippet of advice would you give to aspiring self-published authors?

Always remember to market your work. Look for publishers, agents, magazines, etc, that are requesting the genre or idea that you’ve written about. Don’t think there aren’t any; there are. And if you can’t find them in the Writer’s Handbook, you can find them on the internet.


listenerWhat books are you reading at the moment?

Right now, I’m reading Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood. I’d read it some years ago, but it’s such a great work of true crime by Capote that I decided to pick it up again, especially after learning that it is the most rated book on Goodreads.


What books are you writing?

I’m wrapping up the third book in the Paranormal Investigator, titled, The Third Eye of Leah Leeds. In this book, paranormal investigator, Leah Leeds, returns to Cedar Manor to confront the memories that continue to haunt her many years later. It looks like a 2013 release, but I’m not sure what month yet.


How do you keep sane as an indie author?

I just stay writing as much as possible. There is more work involved as an Indie author because you alone are promoting your book. So, there is a great deal of extra time involved, but it’s all for the better.


Do you have any writing rituals?

I try not to keep rituals by the hour, since anything can happen. But, I write in the day, and then I write at night also.


And finally, anything else our readers need to know about you?

My readers are always free to share with me their personal paranormal experiences whether though facebook or my email that’s listed in the book. I am always interested in hearing about those experiences. It doesn’t mean I’ll use them, but hearing them helps me to know what people can and cannot relate to, what they think is real, and what they think is over the top.

My review

Here’s what I thought of The Listener.

The Listener by Chris Carrolli is the second in his Paranormal Investigator Series, following on from Pipeline. Sidney Pratt, a member of the investigating team, is found unconscious and taken to hospital. While he undergoes surgery he enters the realm of ‘white light’ and he travels into his subconscious and his past, revisiting some of his long dead relatives. He hears the voice of boy that had been buried within his memories. He needs to remember what he was told as this is the key to the team’s next mystery.  There is a kidnapping to solve and the menacing Roman to deal with, but he turns out to have a strong tie to the team which is going to complicate matters as they battle with the case.

All the characters develop further from the first story but if you’re meeting them for the first time, you can quickly get under their skins. You understand why they do what they do. Like Pipeline, this is an extremely exciting and well written book. The plot is intricate and ingenious. There’s tension, mystery and moments of horror. You quickly get drawn into the action and have to keep reading until you reach the unexpected ending. It’s not always a comfortable read as Carrolli doesn’t hesitate to shock us but he’s a master of entertainment and has us under his spell from the first word. Every bit as good as its predecessor, The Listener confirms that this series will be a truly breathtaking one.


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Helens of Troy – Original Paranormal Fiction from Janine McCaw

I’m delighted to be featuring the very enjoyable Helens of Troy by Janine McCaw today as part of the author’s virtual book tour (with Virtual Book Tour Café).

First up, a quick synopsis. Helens of Troy is a quirky, well written and very original paranormal novel. There are three Helens – daughter Ellie, mum Helen and grandmother Helena. Goth teenager Ellie has a busy first day when she moves to the small town of Troy. She has a row with Helen, meets a hunky boy and then finds a corpse on Helena’s porch.

Helen is also having a tough time. She knows that her daughter is having vision-like dreams, since she’s had them too. But she’s not telling anyone. And also, like her daughter, she’s been attracted to dangerous men.

And there’s Gaspar Bonvillaine to deal with too. He’s a teen vampire and catches Ellie. Should he kill her or keep her with him forever?

To overcome the threats around them, Helen must recognise and use the gifts she has. Helena must learn to be there for her family. And Ellie must make a choice. Is she ready to grow up and become another in the line of the Helens of Troy?


I interviewed Janine to find out more about her and her writing.

 1.            What inspired you to write Helens of Troy?

The title came to me first. The original Helen of Troy we all know popped into my head, and I thought…what if there are more of them…and what if they have supernatural powers. Three Helens, living in a town called Troy.

2.            Which character from the book are you most like – Helena, Helen or Ellie? Or Gaspar the vampire?

(Laughing) … I think at some point in my life I have been Helen and Ellie and I’m working my way towards Helena…never a Gaspar. At least not in this life.

3.            Helens of Troy has a great cover. Did you design it yourself?

I had their house in my head, and luckily a friend mentioned that another acquaintance lived in a house that fit what I was looking for. A few emails later and I got the go-ahead to shoot his home, so I grabbed my camera and shot it on a snowy day. My brother Tom Photoshop’ed the third floor and did some artificial landscaping, and voila, the LaRose home came to life. We played with some fonts for the title, and I found the talent on Shutterstock. It was a godsend to find a Goth-Chic with a bear in her arms.

4.            Deep down, would you like to have supernatural powers?

Wadda ya mean would I like? (smile). Yes, of course. But it’s probably just as well that I don’t. From time to time I do have premonitions, and I do believe that I have seen ghosts. But I have no control over any of this. I wouldn’t want to be able to read people’s minds, that would just be too disturbing, but I wouldn’t mind a little super-human physical strength from time to time.

5.            How many more books will there be in the series?

There are at least two more books in the series. Helena thinks she’s having a quiet Thanksgiving dinner alone with her girls, but we know that’s not going to happen. And they’re headed off to England for Christmas to meet Helena’s mother, Elaine.

6.            I love hearing from the characters themselves on the website! Do they get many emails from fans?

Yes. Teenagers chat with Ellie and the rest of the world chats with Helena. Helen is a bit pissed-off about this, but she’s busy looking for a job anyway and doesn’t have a whole lot of time to respond. However, there was one mom who wanted some advice about dealing with a daughter who was going through a Goth phase…

7.            Another book you’ve written is Olivia’s Mine. Can you tell us a little bit about that?

Olivia’s Mine is based on a true story. In the early 1920’s, there were a series of disasters in the tiny mining community of Britannia Beach, BC. There were fires, and floods and the flu epidemic, but one night, the side of the mountain came down, killing hundreds as the town washed out into the sea. I spun a story around those events, and I’m quite pleased that the BC Museum of Mining carries the book in its gift shop.

8.            Which authors or books are you reading at the moment?

I have to confess that I am a big fan of Janet Evanovitch’s Stephanie Plum series. I also recently read Liisa Ladoucer’s “Encyclopedia Gothica”, partly as research for the next instalment of the Helens. I also like biographies.

9.            How has your background in film and television influenced your writing?

I write the dialogue first. That part of my writing comes from writing scripts. The narrative is harder for me, because of course, in scripts, it’s rather simple. Helena’s bedroom. Day. In my opinion, the dialogue in “Supernatural” is some of the best on TV, and I strived for that type of talk back and forth between the characters.

10.          When did you first realise you wanted to be an author, indie or otherwise?

When I was ten and reading Nancy Drew. I started my own mystery series with a little dime-store notebook. It lasted one book. I wasn’t big on follow-through when I was ten.

 11.         What one snippet of advice would you give to aspiring self-published authors?

Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do it. Someone said to me, “What makes you think you can write a book?” And I said “What makes you think I can’t?” If you want to do it, do it. The sense of accomplishment is amazing.

12.          What’s the best thing and the worst thing about self-publishing, in your experience?

The best thing is you get the job done. It doesn’t cost an arm and a leg like it used to. The worst part is getting the word out. Not that I think authors that go the traditional route have any easier of a time with publicity. There is no right or wrong way to do it anymore. The work will stand on its own feet. Know your audience and target them. Give them a good story and hope they come back for more.

13.        Enough of the serious questions. What are your three favourite foods?

1. Spaghetti. I can wolf down a bucket of it in one sitting. 2. Fresh Florida cantaloupe. I can smell it a mile away.  3. Celery. Go figure.

14.          What do you like to do for fun?

I like to grab my camera and head out and see where the day takes me. Luckily my husband is a big planner, and I get to just go along for the ride. I have a permanently packed get-away bag, so we can be spontaneous. A couple of years ago we rented an RV and drove to Alaska. It was the trip of a lifetime.


Thanks Janine! Do treat  yourself to this fabulous book. You can get it from Smashwords here and from Amazon here. It’s very reasonably priced at $2.99 and you’ll definitely enjoy it.