Q and A: Novels

Book Discussion:

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What inspired Seeking Samiel?

I love a good, scary thriller. It seemed to me that most women in the thrillers were stupid or victimized. I wanted to write about an intelligent woman who personified evil while making the story as realistic as possible.

This novel is about the perils of desire—wanting the wrong things for the wrong reason. Who hasn’t ever been bitten by that little demon? I wanted the story to be a horror/thriller because that’s what I like to read, but I’d found a lot of those stories were either over the top or just not relatable. So my response was to make the story relatable with “desire” and to make it as realistic as possible with a cool twist. Demons, in my belief, are real. My twist was making Eva, the main bad girl, the anti-Christ.

If Eva was going to be the anti-Christ, then I wanted to make her a demon. The only female demon I’d ever heard about was Lilith–Adam’s first wife before Eve. And then I stumbled upon Lamia, a female demon who is half serpent, half human. Eva is both Lilith and Lamia; she is the reincarnated offspring of the first female and the serpent.

 

Who is Samiel?

He was once an angel, the iel meaning “of God”. Samiel was the serpent in the Garden of Eden, the one who first tempted Lilith, then Eve. Ultimately, he was trying to get to Adam. He failed to get to Adam with Lilith, though she suffered the fate of banishment from the garden and confinement to the African continent. Samiel and Lilith had a child together, and that child reincarnates as Lilith every time she gives birth. Eva is the reincarnation of Lilith, the tree demon. In The Book Seller’s Secret, Jeffrey’s daughter is Lilith reincarnated as Nora.

 

Is Eva Lilith or Lamia? 

She’s one-in-the-same; both.  (SEEKING SAMIEL p. 48 and pp.243-244)

 

Why make the woman the anti-Christ?

I thought it was a unique twist on the anti-Christ cliché.

 

Have you ever been to South Africa or England?

Nope. I’ve wanted to go for many, many years. They are on my to-do list.

 

Which one of your characters would you invite to dinner?

No way am I inviting Eva. That’s like inviting Hannibal Lector to dinner—I’d be the main course!

Nkumbi’s experience as a supernatural investigator would be fascinating. I’m really sorry about what happened to him in SEEKING SAMIEL.

Mason would be another character I’d invite, before he arrived in South Africa. He was a wealth of information and a reporter, and would have made great conversation!

 

Years from now, when your grandchildren’s generation picks up your books to read, what effect would you like the stories to have on them?

When my grandchildren read my stories, I’d like them to sit down and ponder what the story said/meant to them. My stories are intended to make people think. I enjoy a good lazy read like everyone else, but I also value a stimulating read. My novels and short stories warn about decisions and consequences; you can call yourself victim or beneficiary–it’s all about perspective and choice.

As a side note, reader who was involved in something secretive and a little seedy told me my SEEKING SAMIEL spoke as a warning, to rethink what was going on in his/her life. I found that most interesting.

 

Which character had the biggest impact on you?

Jeffrey. He started off wanting to be a good guy; he never did anything bad. He had a bad thing happen to him when his father embezzled, but Jeffrey was still a good person. But is being a good person enough? He was hit with a whopper of a situation—he had lost so much; money, position, power, family.  What would you be willing to give up if you could have it all back and more?

 

Did Jeffrey make free will choices, or were choices made for him?

Free will. He may have been tempted, but he was never forced. (SEEKING SAMIEL bottom p. 157)  “Choose me as I choose you. Don’t shake your head. You have a choice. I never forced you. I may have coerced you a little, lied a little, told you things you wanted to hear, but I didn’t force you.”

 

How did Eva see Samiel in Jeffrey?

What she really saw was his lack of genetic flaws. He had no living siblings, and because he was Middle Eastern descent, and she found that alluring, as she was created in the Garden of Eden, which is believed to be modern day Iraq. He lacked the moral strength to resist her, coming from an unstable family, as was wanton and easily tempted. All those traits combined to form a package and a host for Samiel, who had slowly started working on Jeffrey as soon as he drove onto her property. (SEEKING SAMIEL p. 154)

 

In Seeking Samiel, were Caroline and Jeffrey victims?

They were both victims of desire. That’s exactly where I started SEEKING SAMIEL on page one.  “Some people chase desire wherever it leads. Warnings won’t help. Not even if you tattoo them on the forehead, or write them in a golden book and call it The Bible’s Book of Wisdom. They’ll still follow that disaster wherever it goes.”

 

How important was the location setting?

Very important. South Africa has a history with magic and violence.  (SEEKING SAMIEL p. 108) “Africa is full of wealth and superstition—perfect for her. There is a folk tale that says Satan landed on Africa when he fell from Heaven.” I wanted my novel set in a worldly location where a woman like Eva could live unnoticed. New York and New Orleans came to mind, but I wanted somewhere different. Also, while in church one day, a vising priest from South Africa said his country was a breeding ground for evil due to witchcraft being the fastest growing religion. I Googled South Africa and researched Cape Town and Llandudno, and considered the wealthy, quite suburb the perfect setting for my novel.

 

You flip back and forth through POV.  Who told the story?

Ultimately, this is Jeffrey’s story, even though he is an unreliable character, once you consider the second book, THE BOOK SELLER”S SECRET. Spoil alert!—Jeffrey becomes perfectly possessed and inhabited by Samiel. Jeffrey knew what he was doing when he called on Samiel, and wanted it, regardless of the consequences. POV changes throughout so the reader can get a good account of what is going on through reliable characters, like Nkumbi, Lindsey, and Father Charles, even Eva. I purposefully saved Eva/Nora for last in both books so you see the motivation, summation, and ultimate plan in her eyes:  “Hey you out there. This is what’s really going on. This is what I intend. This is what’s going to happen, like it or not. With salutations, ‘Your evil foe, Lilith’”

 

Why did Jeffrey fall in love with Eva?

It was a bit of magic, temptation, and pride.

 

Where does Eva get her servants?

I touched on that with Mena’s chapter in SEEKING SAMIEL pp. 198-201

 

How does naming, or not naming her, stop her from reincarnating? 

There is power in the name. Her original partner was Adam, and he had the power to name all things, and those names allowed him control. It works the same way for Eva/Nora.

 

Why were demons in Eva’s book?

Her book was the gateway to Hell, it was her, in essence, and she loaded it with demons and evil, like Pandora’s box.

 

Why was Eva’s house so hard to find?

She wanted to be hard to find; she is the house. People don’t want to hear, see, or speak evil. We are in denial in regard to the devil and his antics, and Eva hides within denial. She doesn’t exist, and neither does her house!

And, knowing there are those who are aware of who she really is and want to destroy her, she must hide from them as well.

 

How did you pick the names of the demons?

They are hints of real demon names. Lilith and Samiel are the only actual ones I used. I found their names in a book of demonology that I paged through at a book store.

 

Why was Granger in the walls?

Eva confined Granger in the walls as punishment for taking on a personal agenda.  Also, Eva is the house, and so she walled Granger up within her, as she is the host for many demons. And the house is the portal to hell, as is Eva.

 

 

Why did Granger help Jeffrey?

That answer is two-fold. One, Granger at first helped Jeffrey fall into Eva’s trap. Two, Granger helped Jeffrey destroy her because as Eva had stated earlier in the book, the demons are not trustworthy, and often have their own agenda. Granger’s agenda: Granger did not believe Eva was the foretold anti-Christ, but thinks it is really Jeffrey.  In the second novel, Granger again acts as Jeffrey’s aid, yet the demon has an ulterior motive.

 

Why was human cooked with their meals?

Eva is a cannibal, figuratively and literally. She possess humans body and soul, and eats and drinks flesh and blood as a bastardization of Christ’s command for us to “eat my flesh and my blood, in order to have life within you.”

 

In Seeking Samiel, why didn’t Jeffrey leave when he knew he was on the verge of trouble?

I wanted to make his conundrum compelling, and there are several reasons he stays with Eva:

1.) Eva threatens Jeffrey, (p. 156) saying she will destroy him and leave him, or she will grant his every desire; 2.) Jeffrey wants so desperately to regain his former wealth, esteem, and place in society (what he had lost when his father embezzled and evaded taxes) that he is willing to go to extremes (see p. 168-169);  3.) Although he fears Eva and her house, she keep wooing him back with what she has to offer (p. 182) AND what she has to take away; 4.) He feels guilty about what has happened to Caroline, and agrees to live with Eva if she’ll help Caroline (p. 188-191); 5.) Eva uses magic, binding him to her with her necklace (p. 197); 6.) Eva ultimately gives him a child, and he can’t bear killing a baby, his own daughter, an innocent in his clouded eyes.

 

You mention black masses in the novels.  What went on in those black masses?

That was an area I didn’t want to tackle. I never mass give details because it’s such a gruesome event. I researched enough to know I didn’t want to know anymore.  Torture, consumption of human flesh, pedophilia, murder, cruelty to animals, and the bastardization of the catholic mass are events rumored to take place during black masses. Again, it wasn’t something I wanted to write about. I thought it was enough to say Eva conducted and took part in them.

 

In The Book Seller’s Secret, why didn’t anyone notice Eva’s father—a public figure—was  missing?

Police officials noticed, but the corrupt ones were bought off, and the rest (all knowing on some level who Eva is) were willfully ignorant. They convinced anyone who might have asked that Edward was retired and living a quiet life in his home with his daughter.  However, those working for the Unit knew better. They had no success convincing anyone otherwise because their department was never taken seriously by the country or its officials.

 

Who is the Book Seller’s Secret?

The Book Seller is Granger, Eva, and the sangoma. Their secret is the fact that the book is a portal to Hell, filled with demons who possess you the moment you open and start to read. The book claims to hold the secret to bringing the dead back to life, turning base metals to gold, love potions, and more.

 

 

Regarding The Book Seller’s Secret, when was Caroline turned into a zombie, and for how long was she a walking dead?

Caroline was brought back from the dead by “the girl”—his daughter—as soon as Jeffrey named her Nora:  Caroline’s ashes were dug up, Nora spilled her blood on the ashes, and Caroline’s body reformed.  However, Caroline is animated by a demon; she is not Caroline reincarnated.

Caroline was a walking dead for about 7 months:  Mason arrives in South Africa in January, and writes his articles May- July. Mason meets Jeffrey outside a restaurant, and Jeffrey brings him back to the house. It is there (p. 59, and Jeffrey’s admission p.199) when Jeffrey realizes he lost his battle with “the girl” and makes a deal with the devil, calling upon Samiel to inhabit him.

 

So, Is William McPhee on his way back to America as a zombie?  And Is Nora following him?

Yes, William is on his way back to New York as a zombie. But Nora cannot follow him to America; she’s bound to the African continent. She is only following him to the airport, to be certain he gets on the plane.