Interview with Neo-Gothic Romance Writer Maggie Tideswell

Dark, haunted castles, dungeons, stormy weather, terror, ghosts, a damsel in distress and romance. If you like all of those, you will love Maggie Tideswell’s novels…

1) Maggie, tell us about your genre?

I write romance first and foremost. When I start a new story, the plotline of the developing romance is in place before the other elements can follow. I love the idea of ‘that which cannot be seen’ and ‘nothing is as it seems’. Life is all about perception anyway. The way I see life is what makes it real. Paranormal features very strongly in my work and it has been classified as neo-gothic by a certain reviewer – which pleased me very much. I love the atmospherics of the gothic romance, you know, the thunder and lightning, the gloomy interiors with shadows cast by the candles, fireplaces the only elimination. It makes the skin tingle in anticipation. Oh yes, let’s not forget the damsel in distress.

2) Are you a pantser? (You write by the seat of your pants and the story is all there in your head.) 

Very much so. I normally know how the story is going to end before anything else has taken form. When you know how the story is going to play out, it is a simple thing to work towards that end. I don’t pre-plan other than that. I find the story tells itself as long as you know where it is going to end.

3) Do you think it’s important to write a detailed list of your character’s habits, likes, dislikes and family members? Why?

No absolutely not. When I start a story, my characters develop along with the various plot lines. It is very much a work in progress. One has a clear idea of who each character is and their place in the narrative and one writes them as such. If I had to refer to notes and lists all the time, I would find that a major distraction. These people – the character you are telling – live in your head. You don’t need a list to remind you that Donna has the habit of wiping her nose on her sleeve when she gets agitated. The characters speak for themselves.

4) What do you think today’s readers want and how does it differ from readers of the past?

Today’s reader wants action if books are going to compete with TV and the movies. We live in a very fast-paced world, where communication is instant, air travel is accessible to all and the world has become a tiny place. We as writers must not bore our readers.

5) What book do you want to feature in this post?

My new one. It’s titled Moragh, Holly’s Ghost and it will be released as soon as the editing process it over.

6) Tell us a little about it.

It could only be paranormal romance! Moragh, Holly’s Ghost is set in modern day Cape Town, South Africa. Holly is a divorcee with two children. Her well-meaning friends decided that she should get married again. They place a tiny advertisement in the newspaper to find her a husband. With friends like those, who needs enemies, right? Wrong. That little advert triggers a chain of events that changes Holly’s life forever.

) Can you tell me about your ideal reader – who do you think will enjoy your books?

My ideal reader has an open mind. Life is not necessarily as one sees it on TV news. It sometimes ripples, sometimes parts are hidden. An open mind can make sense of the quirks of life and enjoy the joy ride. I don’t necessarily write for women. Many men enjoy a good romance as much as any girl, and everybody is intrigued by the paranormal.

8) Romance readers want steamy love scenes. Do you agree? Do you think your book will meet their expectations?

They might, but it isn’t necessary to describe it in detail. If you want to capture somebody’s attention, whisper. Love scenes don’t have to be in your face to be effective and satisfying. I don’t write erotica and I am not a lover of nudity and exhibitionism, but my reader would be in no doubt when love is in the air.

9) Did you self-publish or query and hope a publisher would accept your work and how did that work out for you?

Yes, I queried many publishers before All Things That Matter Press, a small press in Maine, USA, showed an interest in my first book, Dark Moon, which they published in 2011. They will also publish Moragh, Holly’s Ghost soon. Let’s face it, rejection is part of an author’s job description. The trick is not to give up. If you have a story to tell, you only need one person to say yes.

10) What advice do you have for your fellow writers/authors?

Never give up, believe in yourself and your work and ‘see’ your success. Daydream about it. If you can dream it, you can become a published author. It’s hard work to get publish, and writing the book is the easy part. Above all, enjoy what you do and be true to the genre you choose.

11) Tell us about your next project.

My next book is called Roxanne’s Ghost. Again set in the Cape region in South Africa, it is another paranormal romance leaning strongly towards the gothic. Lots of atmospherics! It is a strange story and will be a bit confusing in the beginning, and it is a bit sad. This one might have a sequel.

12) Why should we buy your book?

My work is true escapism. I write stories for people to enjoy reading. I would like people to connect with the characters, to laugh with them and to cry with them and to love with them. The characters are ordinary people like you and me. It is what happened to them and around them that is a bit strange.

Please tell us a little about yourself:

My kids are grown up and have their own lives, yet I haven’t had time to suffer from the empty nest syndrome. I have too many characters I have running conversations with. That sounds a bit crazy I know, and I do believe writers have to be a bit of that.

I love cooking and feeding people. I love reading and I don’t think I would ever get to sleep if I didn’t read a few pages of somebody else’s excellent work. My biggest fear is that I will run out of time before I’ve had the time to read all the books I still want to.

I will never run out of stories to tell. I was very young when I told my mother that I was going to be a writer one day. She didn’t believe me, of course, and it took a long time, but I am finally living my dream. Being a writer is something like a compulsion, something I have to do.

Where can we find out more about you and your work?







First Page – No Less in Blood – D. M. Pirrone

In 1893, seventeen-year-old Mary Anne Schlegel left her uncle’s Chicago home and vanished. The discovery of her fate more than a century later upends the life of Rachel Connolly, an adoptee desperately seeking her roots. Rachel’s search for her birth mother leads her north to Minnesota’s Iron Range and deep into a shrouded family past, where she uncovers a secret kept for three generations… a secret one of her newfound kin just might be willing to kill for.
D. M. Pirrone’s debut thriller, No Less in Blood, is a complex mystery of family, greed and love that spans more than a century… The plot, with its multiple points of view and alternating timeline, is easy to follow, the narrative clearly written and fast-paced. Those who appreciate a strong, family-centric drama will be taken in by No Less in Blood.”

–Guest reviewer Betty, Mysterious Reviews, March 25, 2011

No Less In Blood

D. M. Pirrone

All he’d wanted to know was where to find Linnet. A father wanting to see his daughter—what was wrong with that? Nothing. Not a goddamned thing.
Luke glared at the crumpled body by the base of the swing set. “Why didn’t you just tell me? You always do this, Grace. The simplest little thing I want, and you won’t give it to me. You are sogoddamned stupid . . .”

He clenched his fists to stop their shaking. Talking to a corpse. He was losing it for sure. Bark crunched under his sneakers as he turned away from the body. He propped himself against the swing set with one arm and gulped the cold night air. It smelled of wet leaves and mud, plus a hint of exhaust. Drizzle stung his face. The swish of traffic echoed across the playground, unnaturally loud.
He snagged a Marlboro from the half-empty pack in his jacket and lit it on the third try. The flame warmed his fingers, which were stiffening in the chill. Lungs full of nicotine, he leaned against the cold metal of the swing set frame and considered his next move. In this part of town, the few night owls who might be lurking weren’t likely to be chummy with cops. Grace worked the five-to-one shift; this late, no one much was around. Used to work, he corrected himself, and choked down a nervous laugh.
She should have given him another chance. She should have known he meant it this time when he said things would be different. She should have let him explain. And she sure as hell shouldn’t have had those papers served in front of every waitress in the goddamned diner. He’d wanted to belt her one right there. But they’d all come up close around her, the…

First Page – Stand in Your Anointment – This Too Shall Pass

This is the author’s personal story and journey through life. One that has been strewn with countless trials and tribulations, and so much pain. But through them all recognizing and realizing that it had to be God to take her through them and give her the grace to stand, and to continue in spite of all that trouble, and allow Him to gain glory through her life as she continued to go about the work that He had set before her to do

“The devastation, sorrow, pain and grief that followed the loss of my precious husband was almost too much to bear. This was the trial that I thought I was going to throw the towel in on, until God gave me the revelation that this must be my anointing and of how I was finally not only able to recognize it, but was able to grasp and take hold of the Gift that God has given to me through the Holy Spirit, the Gifts of Healing! And of how I now stand in that anointing and am using my gifts so that God will continue to be glorified in and through my life.”

Stand in Your Anointment – This Too Shall Pass 
Louise Malbon-Reddix

                                    Dear Friend,
Surely, these are trying days for you right now.  There are some places in life where we must walk where the path just isn’t so nice to walk in.  My heart is so open to you, because I kind of know what you are going through.  At times like these, it probably feels as if you are wearing someone else’s shoes. They’re uncomfortable, you don’t know how to step in them for fear of losing them; yet you don’t want to walk barefoot either.   Life is just presenting you with some of its unpleasantness at this time. But I beg you at this time through the Scripture that can be found in Matthew’s Gospel, 

Do Not Throw Your Pearls to the Swine but Draw Near to God.

 I cannot and dare not say that I know how you feel, because we all process things differently, but I welcome the opportunity to walk beside you as you travel through this uncertain time in your life. (While we both try to find shoes that fit. Please smile.)  I want you to know that I’m here for you.  Distance makes this a little harder, but know, that in spirit, I am there with you; a phone call away. Luke’s Gospel tells us that “With God, All things are possible”.  I pray you are able to get the support that you need. I am praying for you.  I’m praying that you will allow John’s Gospel into your heart and know that the “Comforter will come and lead you and guide you into all truth”, and will be able to view these shocks to your life with love. 
I’m told that everything in our life can be viewed with spiritual qualities by bringing our love to it.  We may not understand it, fear it, and the like, but if viewed from the point of view that God has everything under His control, and can just wait; soon the understanding will come. Isaiah’s Gospel says it like this, “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength…”
 You see we wrap ourselves up in thoughts and fears; did I do enough, could I have changed anything, all the way back to thoughts of even could I have been a better child for my mother, to the point of tears.
 Grief is the word they call it.  I am ever grateful to God for being there with me through my times of test and trials, and for my friends and family who were, and are there for me.  Some thoughts that comforted and are still comforting me are that I know that Christ will reach out and does reach out and takes this wounded child; (you) into His arms and comforts me (you). I surrender and before you know it, I can again smile, and think loving thoughts.
 He’ll do the same for you, but only if you let Him.  I just want you to know that I truly do care about you.  So my friend, reach way down deep inside of you and you will find that there is a place in there where you are whole and complete, and will find a way to come to peace with yourself during this time in your life.

With Comfort, Cheer and Love

Louise Malbon-Reddix, MPC,RN-CCRN
CEO; Victory Road Wellness Center

First Page – And the Whipporwill Sang

Happy times, a sunny day, a driving drunk, eight lives forever changed. Micki and Butch face the horror every parent fears—awaiting the fate of one of their children. While sitting vigil in the ICU waiting room, Micki traverses the past…

It is a day like any other, except the intense heat wave has broken and signs of early fall are in the air. The dining room table is filled with Micki’s kids and three of their friends, gulping down a chicken dinner, until the last morsel is eaten and they take off in different directions.
     Micki laughs as the last one, whose turn it is to wash dishes, impishly offers her the sum of one dollar to cover the chore, then rushes out the front door, too excited for a hug, calling out, “Bye Mom,” as the door slams shut–and the nightmare begins.
Micki Peluso
A funny family story of love, loss and survival.

September 2, 2005
   “Oh, Mom! There she is,” Brandon says with a big grin on his face.
   “Really? Where?” his mother, Kelly asks.
   “Right there in the clouds—can’t you see her?”
   “Brandon, I can’t see anything but the sky.”
   “Never mind, she’s sitting right in the seat next to you . . . Duh. And she says you never listen to her, so I hafta tell you that she doesn’t want me to play in the street with the big boys no more.”
Chapter One

  The doctors strode into the emergency waiting room, nodding curtly to neighbors and friends, indicating that they want them to leave. The door swishes shut, entombing me with these harbingers of death, who sit in a semi-circle about ten feet from me, as if getting too close might somehow contaminate them. They introduce themselves, one by one, but their names wash over me unheard. It is the looks on their faces that I will always remember.
     “I’m sorry,” one of them says, “there’s nothing we can do.”
     The room begins to close me in.
     “You may as well let us disconnect the life support machines,” another one adds. “The spinal cord is completely severed.”
     “No,” I say, my voice sounding calm and detached, someone else’s voice. “No, I want the machines connected.”
     “Mrs. Peluso, why don’t you come with us now and look at the x-rays,” says the third doctor, sitting closest to the door.
     The room seems to grow dimmer and dimmer and the faces of these men who choose to mandate life and death are a blur.
     “I don’t want to see the x-rays. I want to see my child.”
     They flinch slightly at the cold fear inflecting my voice, and then shake their heads in agreement. Glancing furtively at each other, they rise in unison and leave. People slowly filter back into the room, and someone places a jacket over my shoulders to stop the uncontrollable shivering. Finally, a nurse comes to lead me to my child.
     When I reach the cubicle in the emergency room and pull back the gray curtain, I lose all remaining sense of reality. This cannot be the child who had run out my front door only an hour ago, too excited to give me a kiss goodbye, calling out, “Bye, Mom.” What I am seeing is some stranger, bloodied and swollen beyond comprehension, fighting for life within a mass of human destruction; shattered jaw, broken nose, missing teeth. My tears mingle with the blood that slowly trickles down an alien face that does not even vaguely resemble my child.
     “Please God,” I pray. “I’ll do anything you want if you just fix all this.”
     An orderly comes and wheels the gurney into the elevator and up to the Intensive Care Unit; and I follow.
Someone contacts my husband and he calls the hospital. I try not to scare him, but he knows me too well, and is driving the five hour trip back from New Jersey in apprehensive terror. Two of my children are with me; numbed into a silence they seem incapable of breaking. Shock, maybe, but I can barely console them. My thoughts are linked with the one in the room next to us. Ten-year-old Nicole is with a neighbor, and the other two cannot be located.
     I feel so cold and so alone, like being in a dream where something terrible is about to happen which I can avoid if I run; run fast away from it. Instead, I drift in slow motion as my senses struggle to obey my mind to hurry, to escape from here, back to the safety of a time that now seems an eternity away.


Micki asked me to make certain potential buyers know that the book is not all about the tragedy. A large portion of it showcases the happy, crazy parts of their lives — From the bizarre teenage elopement with her high school sweetheart, Butch, in a double wedding with her own mother, to comical family trips across country in an antiquated camper with six kids and a dog, they leave a path of chaos, antics and destruction in their wake. Micki shows the happy times of raising six children while living in a haunted house as the young parents grow up with their kids. She bravely attempts to be the man of the house while her husband is working out of town. Hearing strange noises, which all the younger kids are sure is the ghosts, Micki tiptoes down to the cellar, shotgun in hand and nearly shoots . . . an Idaho potato that has fallen from the pantry and thumped down the stairs. The rest of her children feel obligated to tell the world. 

First Page – Flashing my Shorts

Flashing My Shorts by Sal Buttaci is a collection of 164 flash-fiction stories that runs the gamut from humor to horror with everything in between. These quick but thought-out writes have become quite popular today.  They tend to accommodate readers on the go. 

Short fiction at its best
Drawing on his dry sense of humor and a deep sense of irony, Salvatore Buttaci has delivered a book of sparkling gems. These quick stories make us laugh, think, and at times cry. They take us to the core of reality and at other times to the wonders of fantasy. This is a book that I would highly recommend to the reader who enjoys the art of flash fiction and to the reader who likes a quick laugh. 
                       –Kenneth Weene author of Widow’s Walk
At the Miramar Café

Sal Buttaci

          Till dark I riveted my eyes on Maria and the dream-like flair of her red skirt as she tangoed with Carlos.  Accompanying my pounding heart were the whining pangs in my belly from all the crisp-skinned sardines and the fresh oysters I had ingested beyond count.
          Miramar Café was a haunt of mine since first I saw Maria and though we so far met, something in me was certain if I could not somehow pry her from the clutches of suave and debonair Carlos very soon, I would go tango-mad, be driven perhaps 
to unleash my alter ego, a not-so-amicable American from Paducah, Kentucky.
          I poured the rest of my Malbec, tossing the wine down as if it were Kentucky scotch, and then stood slowly to my wobbly feet.
          “Garçon!” I called.  My waiter lifted the corner of his thin lip the way folks do when they’re exasperated; I knew he preferred ‘Señor,’ but if I could summon the waiters in Paducah with ‘Garçon,’ sure as hell some faggy oil-haired Buenos Aires pretty boy  could skip to the loo and respond to any name I damn well chose.
          “Si, Señor, more wine?”
          I nodded, sat down again, gave him back my own sneering lip.  When he asked if the clean plate of sardines and oysters needed replenishing, I let my mouth crumble into a drunk man’s frown, my heavy head falling chin to chest for a sleep-hungry moment.
          When I looked up, Garçon was swishing towards the bar, Maria and Carlos had vanished, and San Cristóbal was just a barrio of loud diners and foul-mouthed drinkers, so I threw down an undeserved tip of eight pesos and headed out the door pretending Maria was tugging my arm towards the Hotel San Cristobal.

First Page – Angel in a Thorn Bush

Rob Fynn in Angel in a Thorn Bush recounts his life as an African adventurer and recollects the exploits of his ancestors. 

     While Napoleon marched around Europe, Rob’s forebears arrived in Cape Town and befriended Shaka, chief of the Zulu, before finally settling in Rhodesia, which became today’s Zimbabwe. 

     The story will take readers to see the good, the bad and the ugly of the colonial occupation and the ‘free’ Africa of today. This is accompanied by deep insights and first-hand experience of living and fighting to survive in an extraordinary continent that continues to baffle the world. 
     Living in the beautiful, remote Zambezi valley throughout the entire country’s turbulent ‘freedom fighter’ war years, Rob and his wife, Sandy, pioneered the first big safari lodge in Zimbabwe – Fothergill Island on Lake Kariba – where they brought up their family of three daughters.
Readers will laugh and cry, and discover through escapades that stretch the imagination how ‘doing your thing’ isn’t always smooth sailing in a world where angels fear to tread, and where thorn bushes wait to entrap the unwary.

Angel in a Thorn Bush
By Rob Fynn 
Chapter 1
A Safari Too Far

  It is September 2008, after a hot, dry, exhilarating day in the Lower Zambezi Valley, Zambia. Evening has come at last. In African fashion, we’ve cooled off with sun-downers, on the grey green greasy banks of the great river, hippos grunting, water chortling past, and now my guests are sipping liqueurs after a five course dinner under a star-spangled sky, prepared by our Italian chef, Phillipo. They are escorted to their tents by the night watchmen. Phillipo and I make our way along an unlit path to our staff tents upstream, his small flashlight barely illuminating the way ahead.  I forgot  to charge the big light I normally carry.

Nightjars shrill in the still air, distant lions roar, crazed hyenas giggle, and away to our side a leopard coughs.
The night engulfs us.
The crack of a branch up ahead alerts us to elephants quietly browsing in the dense forest. We’d better be careful, some may well be on the path, silently observing us.
“Robeen, you don’t have your light tonight,” Phillipo says, on reaching his tent. “Shall I escort you further?”
“No thanks Phillipo, I can see myself back safely (being, after all, the senior guide in camp). It’s only a few metres on. Thank you. Buononotte.
In the pitch darkness I take a few more steps down the path … then hear the shuffling of big feet … Standing dead still, I listen …
Probably a hippo making its way to its evening grazing. Is he standing watching me? Or quietly moved on, as they do…so nimbly, even for such great lumbering looking animals.
I take a few more steps…
Sound of heavy feet fills the black void ahead.
I have no idea what it is. Or which direction it’s going. But it’s close.
Suddenly, immediately in front of me, white tusks glint in the starlight…. 


Face Book page ‘Angel in a Thorn Bush’ has excerpts and illustrations from the book.

First Page – Lori’s Song

     Her name is Lori Foroozandeh, and this is her true story.

     Mohammad Foroozandeh seemed like a man she could trust, a man who would care for her and respect her. Though she knew he engaged in drug use, she ignored the warning signs and married him. Two years later, he asked her to move to Iran, promising that she could pursue her career, assuring her that the country was quite modern. For four years, Lori adjusted as best she could to the oppressive customs of the land, but as her husband grew more demanding of her, he also became more violent.
     After the World Trade Center bombings, Mohammad told her they must leave Iran. He purchased bus tickets that he said would take them out of the country and eventually to America. But before they could escape, armed guards attacked and kidnapped her. Lori was blindfolded and taken to a paramilitary POW camp somewhere in the hills.
     Then the nightmare began…. six weeks of horrific beatings, raping, torture, and starvation.

Lori’s Song
Lori Foroozandeh

Chapter 1

     The main focus of my story is about my being an American woman who was held captive in an Iranian POW camp during the time of 9/11.

     It is also about the terrible tortures that I, and others, suffered at the hands of the guards while held captive. But it is important to understand my attitudes and the events which led up to my being in Iran.
     I’ve always had a somewhat sarcastic sense of humor, but after being held captive for more than six weeks and tortured, I think these events brought out this characteristic in me even more. Thus, some people may be put off by my sense of sarcasm. However, if you had gone through all the things I did, who’se to say how your own attitudes might be affected.
     I was adopted into my family at the age of six months old. I have two sisters and one brother in my adoptive family. My dad is as stubborn and chauvinistic as Archie Bunker. He always expected dinner on the table on time, and my mother’s opinions were never given much merit. My mom, being the stay at home mother she was, had a sort of naivety about her, but it was nothing that possibly a little education might have fixed. I think my father’s attitudes had more to do with the generation he grew up in as well as my mother’s. Both my parents are wonderful people and I couldn’t possibly love or desire to have any other parents more than these two. As for my two sisters and brother, they are my parent’s natural children.
     The reason I was adopted was due to my biological parents abusing me, as well as my six other natural siblings. I was removed from their home and taken in as a foster child at first, then later adopted. From what I’ve been told, all my natural siblings were adopted out separately.
     I learned later that my birth mother was mentally ill.
Available on Amazon, paperback and Kindle:
My blog covering informational posts on PTSD, sexual abuse, domestic violence, substance abuse, disorders I suffer from:

First Page – The Thing with Feathers

In the midst of the machinations of a mad man, virtue and valor can persist. The Thing with Feathers is known to fly through wars, depressions, and natural disasters. Will the Marshall clan and the good people of Cloverdale find it in time?

      As the inhabitants of Cloverdale, Oregon, welcomed in the twentieth century, they were not unaccustomed to hard times and thorny situations. Small communities banded together for protection and hope. Heroes and villains were often difficult to decipher.
      When an itinerate Baptist preacher arrived with his baby daughter and a wife lost on the trail, there was no one prepared to suspect what lurid secrets and heartbreak he might be concealing. As the preacher sets his sights against those who might oppose him, the names, reputations, and even the very lives of the good people of Cloverdale, may not be spared.

The Thing with Feathers
Anne Sweazy-Kulju 
Chapter 1
The mule labored beneath the large man’s bulk as it trudged across the Idaho desert. The moon’s glow was thin and spare and his dark, retreating shape was growing less distinguishable to the woman walking many yards behind him. She did not appear to care. She had been walking for a very long time, quite swollen and struggling mightily with her intensifying labor pains. She stumbled again, but that time, she did not push on.

“Get up!” the mule rider hollered over his shoulder at the woman. He did not stop.

The young mother-to-be glared holes in the backside of the shadowy wayfarer. Her hatred of the man was nearly a tangible thing. Slowly, she reached down to the desert floor and grabbed up a scrap of wood, a bleached and splintered discard from wagon wheel spoke, left over from the heydays of the Oregon Trail. Still boring daggers at the distant rider, she jammed the wood in her mouth and bit down hard. Then she hiked up her dusty skirt, none too dainty, and laid herself down in the dirt.

* * *
A scream split the night. Other screams followed, of course, all of which seemed capable of tearing the very fabric of time with their tortured piercing. Two men were within a hundred miles of hearing those awful wails. One man, a good Samaritan by the name of Milton Blair, held the hand of the stricken woman and cried for her agony, not knowing what else to do for her. The other man, far less good, supposed the Oregon Trail had claimed yet another pitiful traveler. He held no anguish, though it was his wife who was dying.