Today’s special author guest is thriller author Ann W. Jarvie. We’re chatting about her new novel, The Woods of Hitchcock.
During her virtual book tour, Ann will be awarding a $75 Amazon or Barnes and Noble (winner’s choice) gift card to a lucky randomly drawn winner. To be entered for a chance to win, use the form below. To increase your chances of winning, feel free to visit her other tour stops and enter there, too.
Ann W. Jarvie has a B.A. in journalism and twenty-five years’ experience as a writer in advertising and public relations agencies, in Chicago and South Carolina. Her debut novel, The Soul Retrieval, received four literary awards, the highest score by Writer’s Digest e-Book Awards’ judges (5 out of 5 on all points) as well as myriad positive reviews. She currently lives in Arizona with her husband, their boxer dog and boxer mix rescue.
Welcome, Ann. Please tell us about your current release.
The Woods of Hitchcock is a thriller about a psychically gifted Chicago copywriter and victim of violence who returns to South Carolina’s equestrian country to solve a riddle involving murder, the metaphysical and the secrets of her eccentric family. It is the sequel to my first novel, The Soul Retrieval, although both novels stand completely on their own.
Thematically, The Woods of Hitchcock could be described as a Hero’s Journey of a woman running away from the literal ghosts of her past until she discovers the secret gifts of spirit within herself.
What inspired you to write this book?
When I was growing up in Aiken County, South Carolina, and first heard the name “Hitchcock Woods,” which is a real place, even as a young teen, I honestly thought it sounded more like a suspense novel than the enchanting equestrian forest preserve that it is. Perhaps I was seeing into my own future. While I was living in Chicago and started writing novels, I kept coming back “home” and to Hitchcock Woods, walking and riding horses in it with family and friends, eventually realizing it, as well as Chicago, would be the ideal settings for my fictional character, Suzanne Clayborn, and her suspenseful Hero’s Journey.
Excerpt from The Woods of Hitchcock:
From Chapter 1, Line 1:
Suzanne Clayborn woke up in darkness, mouth taped shut.
Jerking only made the ties around her wrists and ankles tighter, but it wasn’t just the bindings holding her down. Her muscles weren’t working right, like her whole body had fallen asleep. All she could do was lie there on a floor, heart pounding in terror, listening to the eerie bangs of pipes hidden somewhere behind the shadowed walls.
Her body trembled, despite an overwhelming heat, heavy and putrid, falling on her face and neck like the terrible breath of a monster. She had no memory of what had happened to her or where she was now. She only knew she was immobilized, maybe paralyzed, and every inch of her head ached. She might’ve welcomed another blackout, but the fumes were acting like smelling salts, forcing her to remain awake.
Yet she preferred consciousness—she didn’t want to die. It wasn’t that she feared the afterlife. That was actually the only good thing about the tragic accident years ago, when she was thirteen, when she’d felt her soul float away in bliss. It was the coming back that was the scary part. What she’d seen and felt when she’d woken up, and almost every day since then, could not be unseen or unfelt. It was a secret horror, her life irreversibly altered with strange, new abilities she didn’t need or want. Still, she didn’t want to die—not now, not like this—because she was struck in this dark moment with an awful knowing, a bothersome niggling in the deepest part of her soul about something important she had to finish in this life.
What exciting story are you working on next?
I’m working on the third novel in my “Henrietta Series,” although each story stands on its own.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I started to find my voice in high school. I was fortunate to have a wonderful high school teacher who saw something she liked in my writing, selected me as yearbook editor, and encouraged me to write and become a journalism major, which I did. I am eternally grateful for her and all great teachers like her.
Do you write full-time? If so, what’s your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
Yes, I write fiction and articles as my “full-time” work. I like to write in the mornings until about noon. I’ll use the afternoons to edit or just do life.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I was classically trained in ballet, which gave me an appreciation for classical music. I like to listen to it while I’m writing because it helps me get into a flow. I then started to realize there is a fascinating rhythm and cadence to writing. For example, action scenes are like a Mozart staccato and must be written with short sentences, sharp verbs and jabs. Descriptive writing is slower and flowing and plays in my mind, much like a Tchaikovsky waltz.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be the editor of Good Housekeeping magazine, which my mother received. I suppose journalism appealed to me long before I knew what it meant. Although this magazine sounds a little old fashioned today, I loved it as a child, mainly because it featured a monthly short story, which I read faithfully.
Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Lisa, if you or your readers happen to be in Arizona tomorrow on Feb. 12, 2022, we can continue our conversation in-person. I’m excited to say I’ll be signing The Woods of Hitchcock and The Soul Retrieval in an in-store Book Signing Event at the Barnes & Noble at Desert Ridge Marketplace in Phoenix. This is one of the first such events in the country (since things shut down). Thanks again for having me here today to discuss one of my favorite subjects: Writing!