Absolute Author Interview
Tell me about yourself and how many books have you written?
I am an American Author best known for my series, The Keystroke Killer which has six parts. Part I – Transcendence published on Halloween in 2018.
I grew up a very small town called Emory, Texas and earned an Associate Degree from Kilgore Junior College, my B.S. Degree in education from the University of Texas at Tyler, my Master of Education degree from Stephen F. Austin and my PhD from New Orleans University. I live in New Orleans, LA with my wonderful husband and two cats. We have three daughters who blessed us with eight grandchildren.
When did your fascination with books begin?
I wrote my first novel in the seventh grade called Sunshine My Love with my best friend, Anne Danielson and never looked back. I started reading at the age of three and loved to read ever since. I was more than a bookworm. I’ll never forget those book clubs in elementary school where you could order your first chapter books, you know the ones that looked like your mom’s and dad’s novels because they had chapters in them. The first thing I always did when they were delivered to the classroom and handed to me was to hug it, then I had to open the pages and smell them. Don’t ask me why, but I love the smell of a new book. I guess that is why I fought for so long not to have any of my books in E-Book form, but I did give in.
Do you have any unusual writing habits?
Absolutely. The first thing in the morning I make a large pot of coffee and begin writing. I usually begin with writing down the dream or dreams I had the night before as many of my scenes, screenplays and novels are come from my dreams or nightmares. In other words, I get it out of my system and shake it off.
From there, I write something for my blog even if I don’t intend on publishing it that day, at least I always have back-up content.
Then, I start either writing or editing my next novel which is called Never Stop Running. which was published on January 19, 2019. To my surprise, it debuted as the #1 New Release on Amazon. Now, here is where the unusual habits come raging through. Every time I get up to go to the bathroom, or to eat or get something to drink, I do some kind of chore around my house. It could be putting in a load of laundry, making the bed, sweeping or dusting. I do something not only, so my house can get cleaned but to use my muscles. I only do it about fifteen minutes at a time, sometimes, not even that. The goal is to do something and move. I find, that whatever I had just written, I think about it and develop it while I’m doing this which is a benefit because when I sit back down to write, I have clarity.
What are you working on now?
I am currently in the process of fine tuning my next novel Never Stop Running. This book is based on a true story of one woman’s incredible journey. This is the mini synopsis -Waking up from an eight month coma, Jackie cannot remember anything about her life suffering from Retrograde amnesia. David, her husband, convinces her to seek the help of a hypnotherapist only to remember her past lives. Her journey is a mental time travel across the ages with a psychological twist. Based on a real-life story. A must read novel.
Here is the intriguing book trailer.
I am also writing at the same time my next novel A.D.A.M. which was inspired by the NASA finding by Dr. Felisa Wolfe-Simon of a microbe in Mono Lake, CA that thrives off arsenic. That’s the real part that inspired this novel. I took her scientific discovery to the science fiction level after I had a dream about it. Think about this book in terms of the movie The Shape of Water. A.D.A.M. is an acronym that stands for Arsenic Driven Astrobiological Microbe.
Here is the short synopsis about it – Meet Dr. Sandra Eve Bradford, an astrobiological researcher in charge of the A.D.A.M. Extraction Team who discovered a microbe which thrives off of arsenic on the bottom of Mono Lake in California. General Anbar, Chief in Charge of the U.S. National Defense, orders his team to confiscate the samples and her research. Dr. Bradford enlists her fellow researchers, Dr. Greg Peterson, and her undergraduate assistant, Jessica Parker, to retrieve a new sample setting of a series of events and consequences. In a government research facility, the microbe transformed into something alien. Once it becomes apparent to General Anbar, the life form presents a national security risk, her orders his to kidnap Dr. Bradford and holds her captive in an underground facility to continue her research. The life form over a seven-day stretch, morphs into a human lifeform aging every moment toward death. His journey makes him What is life? What is love? What is hate? And, is there a God? This a story of possibilities and raises the questions-Are we alone in the universe? What else could be out there?
What inspired you to write The Keystroke Killer: Transcendence?
About eight years ago, I wrote a short film which was produced. I had no idea at the time that people would become fans, but they did. Before I knew it, people were begging me to write the screenplay. So, I did. I wrote The Keystroke Killer, pilot screenplay, with the expectations of getting it produced. I had a serious setback with my health and basically shelved the idea. Then, during my recovery, I just started writing and before I knew it, I had sixty-seven episodes written for television. Whoa! I got a bite on it, got funding, then disaster, my funder died of a heart attack. So, I was back at square one. Then, I was encouraged to turn the screenplays into a novel series. THE KEYSTROKE KILLER: TRANSCENDENCE PART I covers the first thirteen screenplays or if it were a series, Season 1. The entire inspiration for the book came as a result of that short film.
Why did you want to become a writer?
I think I’ve always been a writer since I learned how to print my name. I wrote my first book when I was in the seventh grade with my best friend. After that, I just kept writing. I love being able to travel and go places anywhere in the world my mind takes me. I am not bound to the here and now, rather I can time travel and go to outer space. That’s why I wanted to be a writer.
What was the hardest part of creating The Keystroke Killer saga?
The hardest part for me was two-fold: adapting from screenwriting and editing the final version. I had worked years on the character’s and the plots and had everything down in screenplay format. But, learning how to write like a novelist is like comparing apples to oranges. Although you can each both pieces of fruit, they are nothing alike. It took me awhile to get into learning how to write like a novelist, but I took classes and read just about everything I could.
It only took me two months to write KSK, but it took ten months of editing. Between the focus group and beta readers, from the line/copy editor, I did everything possible to make KSK the best. I think the time was well worth it.
What do you hope people gain from reading it?
Entertainment value and a desire to want more. The novel itself is very dark, twisted and deep and it contains adult situations that portray what happens in today’s society. For example, the darkness of the scenes dealing with the serial killer are dark. I wanted it real. In order to do that, I interviewed four serial killers on death row and six survivors from serial killers. It was difficult to hear and listen, but it needed to be right. So, if people get anything out of this besides the entertainment value, I would hope it would be to step in and help if someone is getting kidnapped or if you suspect someone is involved in sex trafficking. Both of these subjects are hard to take; but are realities. I hope I can open someone’s eyes.
Why should we buy your book?
This may sound weird for an author to say, but I wouldn’t say this book is for everyone. If you are faint of heart and have nightmares easily, don’t buy it. But, if you love psychological thrillers, mystery and crime or novels on serial killers, then this one is for you. I’ve been told by my beta readers that THE KEYSTROKE KILLER makes SILENCE OF THE LAMBS and FIFTY SHADES OF GREY look PG. With that said, it is for mature audiences only. It is not recommended for teens or below. I won’t even let my grandchildren read it until they are eighteen.
Do you have a book trailer for your books?
Yes I do. I have two trailers and flipbook trailer for The Keystroke Killer: Transcendence and one trailer for Never Stop Running. Readers may watch them here just click on the title of your choice.
Are you traditionally published or a self-published author and why did you choose?
I would say I am a hybrid author. My first books were traditionally published, but all of my novels will be self-published. I chose to self-publish because basically after twenty years of writing, I had a great grip. However, I still invested in a professional editor, professional cover creator and professional marketers.
Tell me how writing The Keystroke Killer: Transcendence the novel was different from writing one of your screenplays?
Let me begin by saying it is like taking a bite of watermelon and expecting it to taste like an orange. Oh my, I didn’t know what I was in for turning my screenplays into novels. The two styles of writing are not the same. In fact, I had a huge learning curve in the transference. For instance, in a screenplay I could simply write – INT. MATTHEW’S APARTMENT – NIGHT. Then maybe a couple of scene descriptions. In a novel, I had to bring the reader into the apartment, what it smelled like, what it looked like and well as Matthew’s guest impressions. Whoa! A huge difference. The same thing with dialogue. In a screenplay, I just left the dialogue alone and let the actors and director interpret it. In the novel, I got to express every thump of their heart, the tension in their body, facial expressions. I had to learn to do this by taking courses, studying, joining groups etc. But, in the end, I am very happy with the results of my new book. It was honestly the most challenging experience in writing that I have ever had which means a lot since I have published dozens of nonfiction books.
Tell me a little bit about your next novel Never Stop Running.
Waking up from an eight month coma, Jackie cannot remember anything about her life suffering from Retrograde amnesia. David, her husband, convinces her to seek the help of a hypnotherapist only to remember her past lives. Her journey is a mental time travel across the ages with a psychological twist. Based on a real-life story. A must read novel.
You will discover:
- a mental time travel where my main character discovers past lives that take you events from 1200 BC to 1942 and of course present day.
- The stories behind the stories and what makes Jackie who she is today.
- Epic historical events through the eyes of commoners and the wealthy which can be as far back as the Black Plague up to War World II.
- A story that will leave you wondering if this is real because it is based on a true life story. Only you can decide.
AVAILABLE ON AMAZON – BUY NOW
I want to hear more on Never Stop Running. How did you decide to write this and how much of it is true?
First, it is true based on a real life story of a very brave a courage woman’s past life regressions. She shared with me the tapes or her sessions with a renowned hypnotherapist and simply put, they were remarkable. I did some fact checking on the stories she recalled, and they were accurate. I mean things that there was no way she could have known.
Who are your target audiences?
This answer is tricky because I honestly have to say not everyone should read The Keystroke Killer. It is really dark, deep and twisted; whereas Never Stop Running is intriguing and examines reincarnation. In researching NSR I interviewed a Catholic Bishop, I interviewed a Buddhist Monk and several regression hypnotherapists. Because I wanted to make sure I balanced the concept of reincarnation factually as did Jackie, my main character when she was on her discovery path. I also interviewed several people who experienced past lives in their regression sessions. It was an amazing experience.
Now, on the other end of the spectrum, for KSK, I interviewed scientists and physicists including the great Stephen Hawking who spoke his head off to me on his M-Theory and his theory of the universe having multiple dimensions. I wanted that part of KSK correct. I also interviewed three serial killers on death row, six sex trafficking victims and victims of a serial killer who escaped. I needed to get that right too.
So, my target audiences are different for the two books. Yes, someone who loves KSK can get excited that I have another novel and read NSR and find themselves asking is it even the same author. Because NSR is that dark, deep twisted psychological thriller. To sum this up, I’d say the audience for KSK would have to be those who love psychological thrillers, crime and mystery, and serial killer books or movies and I’d say sci-fi lovers. It has just enough sci-fi to be sci-fi without it thrown into your face. It’s a great coupling.
The audience for NSR would include people who have experienced past lives, experienced de je vu, have interest in the subject, and also who like to read historical novels. I’d also have to include those who doubt reincarnation because of the religious bantering inside the novel. I don’t tell a reader what they have to believe, but I do balance both sides of the equation.
How much of Never Stop Running is true?
I think you have to ask me how much of The Keystroke Killer is true too. So, I start with the first one. Many of the scenes I included in KSK are based off real events that either occurred in my life or to someone I know. I’ll start with an easy example that won’t be a spoiler alert. The scene from the chapter The Great Escape, where Milo hitchhikes to Kenner, LA after escaping from Angola Prison, the truck driver who picks him up, Mr. Bill, is actually based around my father. He was a truck driver for years. When I was five or six, he was a prison guard at Folsom Prison, yes, the prison where Johnny Cash was imprisoned. He guarded death row. That made my father different. When I became an adult and authored my book Crisis Alert System Implementation or CASI for short, a book on establishing crisis response teams for schools, I talked with my father a lot about those days he guarded death row inmates and serial killers. I wanted his ideas on safety measures. If it worked for a prison, it had to work for a school for juvenile delinquents. So, back to that chapter and Mr. Bill. The entire conversation between Mr. Bill and Milo Evans, the serial killer is based from my father’s stories of picking up hitchhikers. He also had a very dry sense of humor and told jokes all the time that I never thought were funny. So, I combined all of that into that scene and while I was at added real life facts about my family. For instance, the part where his two older children died from cancer and getting hit by a train really happened to my beloved brother Dennis and my sister, Livia, was killed by an Amtrak train. Oh, I named the character Livia, after my sister. I channeled her for the character.
There are dozens of examples from my real life in KSK. You’ll have to join my blog to read more stories like these at www.drmelcaudle.blogspot.com
Now, for NSR, all of the past lives recalled in this book came from real past live regression sessions. The main character Jackie, who I based this book from, wasn’t a third grade teacher, but was a teacher, then became an assistant principal. The relationship between her husband and mother are real, but he didn’t work at Higgins Shipyard. I made that up. The Family Antique & Treasures store is real, but it is my families store. But, the antique scene is real. In fact, it’s very hard for the real Jackie to even go into an antique store anymore. Just a couple of months ago, we went to one. She picked up an item, clutched it, and her eyes swelled with tears. When I looked at her, she said, “This was mine.”
I’ll tell you a freaky incident that happened to me with my daughter Jamie. Last summer, I went to spend the month with her and her family and went camping in Canada. Great trip by the way. Now, I had just finished the first draft of Never Stop Running, gave it to Jamie to read as she serves as my developmental editor. Back to the scene in the book with Jackie and her mother. When they first enter, Aunt Susie greets them. She tells Jackie that she can have one item free of charge and that she’ll know it because it will speak to her. This scene was based from the woman who inspired the novel. But, here is the freaky part. Jamie and I went antique hunting, something I love to do because I collect antique marbles and my family has an antique store. Jamie and I passed an antique store, it called my name. I had to go in. She pulled over and we went in. The owner greeted us, “Good morning.” Then she said, “You can have one item free that speaks to you.” I almost fell over and had to catch my breath. My daughter and I got chills because she had already read NSR and knew what was in there. So, coincidence or fate or destiny. That really happened. I walked away with a marble that I have never seen, and I own probably 40,000 marbles and can identify them. It called my name. My daughter walked away with a beautiful ring with a tiny wizard holding a crystal ball.
With all that said, as a writer, I tap into my life and my environment and right about what I know. I guess, a lot of my writing I’d call faction.
Let’s talk about the Elephant in the room, the #METOO movement and your graphic scenes of murder, rape and sex trafficking. Are you afraid they are going to come after you and accuse you of glamorizing violence against women?
I’ll say this much, as a society we can’t turn a blind eye against these horrendous crimes and I certainly will not. I have several friends who have been raped and I know women who escaped from sex trafficking. These crimes were not their fault. So, by me using scenes in my book in this manner, I hope that I can bring light to the fact that these things really happen. When we hear these crimes in the news, we don’t get the details or how they felt or what these women went through. When you listen to them, it is gut-wrenching. I felt it important to put these in there for authenticity and just maybe, it will get somebody upset enough to get involved and help someone if you suspect a girl or boy is about to get kidnapped or is involved in sex trafficking, do something. As for serial killers, they can be your neighbor, the deacon of your church, your spouse. Look at the serial killer Dennis Radar, the BTK serial killer, who bludgeoned, tortured and killed for more than thirty years. He had a family, a wife, children and was a leader in his church. Everyone was clueless. I live in Louisiana, which by the way, is rank seventh for having the most serial killer deaths. And, even closer to my home, Todd Lee, Sean Vincent Gills, Jefferey Guillory and Ronald Dominique. All killed within a 100 mile radius of my home. The scary part, the Jennings 8 serial killer who killed just outside of Baton Rouge is still at large. So, If I bring attention to the forefront serial killers are out there, that sex traffickers are out there and make people aware, then I’d say, I have written the right thing for the right reason. That was my point in the first place, I wanted people to know what really happens. How do I know, I interviewed the victims and I interviewed serial killers who loved to talk about how they killed someone and took their last breath?
DO you have any advice for new authors?
Boy do I. I’d have to say I’ve been there done that and made many mistakes with my first books. The first advice is to edit, edit and edit. Then, edit, edit and edit. Then edit once again. Next, send it to a copy editor. After you receive that back, edit, edit and edit and then send it to a line editor. I hope they get my point. New authors tend to rely on their friends and family to edit. That simply won’t work.
How may readers find you on social media?
Donate $5 to Keep Absolute Author Going
Absolute Author provides free interviews and subpages for authors to introduce themselves. Help us keep the site active and donate today.