Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Today's Mystery Author Guest: Jennifer Harlow

As promised yesterday, fellow Midnight Ink mystery author Jennifer Harlow is visiting my blog today. To read her bio and see her photo, please page down to yesterday's post.

Above is the cover photo for the first book in her F.R.E.A.K.S. Squad Investigation mystery series, titled Mind Over Monsters. The sleuth, Beatrice Alexander, is no ordinary schoolteacher—she can move objects with her mind, an embarassing skill she has yet to master or embrace. After nearly killing her brother in an accident, she joins the F.R.E.A.K.S. Squad, the Federal Response to Extra-Sensory and Kindred Supernaturals. This top secret branch of the FBI combats ghosts, ghouls, and other monsters threatening humanity. With her teammates—among them a handsome fomer-detective werewolf and an annoying vampire hell bent on seducting her—Beatrice investigates her first case. Disgustingly dismembered bodies have turned up, bearing the bite marks of the undead. Someone—or something—is raising a horde of hideous, bloodthirsty zombies. Armed with Bette, her trusty machete, Beatrice takes on the master of the flesh-devouring corpses who’s guarding a horrifying secret…

Shudder! Doesn't this sound like a fascinating read? And there's a lot of humor in it, so it's fun, too. Below is Jennifer's interview with Beatrice. Please leave a comment for either one of them, and if you have a question of your own for either, ask it!

An Interview with Special Agent Beatrice Alexander
By Jennifer Harlow

Through some of my Pentagon contacts (thanks Daddy and Uncle George W.) I was given exclusive access to the clandestine branch of the FBI known as the F.R.E.A.K.S. or Federal Response to Extra-Sensory and Kindred Supernaturals. Their newest agent, former schoolteacher and telekinetic Beatrice Alexander, agreed to meet with me under the cover of night at a coffee shop somewhere in the Midwest. (It rhymes with “Ansas”)

So, thanks for agreeing to do this.

BA: It’s okay. Gave me an excuse to get away from a pest. As long as I’m home in time for The World of Henry Orient. I love Peter Sellers.

I understand you just got back from your first case in Colorado. Killing zombies must be a far cry from finger-painting with fourth graders.

BA: Totally. Though about the same amount of biting involved.

What made you decide to make such a drastic career change?

BA: I, uh, almost killed my brother one night. He was saying awful things about me and I snapped. Almost blew out a vessel in his brain. I never had much control over my curs—sorry, gift, they insist we say that, and the F.R.E.A.K.S. offered me a chance to learn about it. Get that control.

Have you always been telekinetic?

BA: Ever since I was a kid. My mom’s boyfriend was about to hit her, so I sent a plate across the room flying right into his head. There were…other incidents too, but I don’t want to talk about them if you don’t mind. (pause) I don’t really like talking about what I can do full stop. Sorry. For years only three people ever knew, my brother, Nana, and friend April. She only found out because my first and only sleepover her stuffed animals were dancing in the air. She thought it was cool.

Most people would love to have your gift.

BA: Then they’re morons. Would they love to wake up and find their bed levitating? Getting angry and almost killing someone without lifting a finger? Knowing that if you tell someone what you can do they’ll run for the hills? Being called a freak, an aberration? (scoff) No, it is nothing to love.

Did you know that there were others out there like you before you joined? Others with gifts?

BA: No. God, no. If you came to me three months ago and told me Dracula and the Wolfman were alive and sharing a house, I’d have called you nuts. Like everyone else I thought they were all made up. Now I have a werewolf living across the hall and a vampire in the basement, among others.

Who else is in the Squad?

BA: There’s Carl, he touches things and knows all about their history. Uh, Andrew is a medium, Irie a pyrokinetic, and Nancy can teleport. She’s not big on privacy and locked doors. (a private smile; turning red) Then there’s Will. He’s the werewolf. Oh, and Oliver.

Was it hard joining such a tight knit group?

BA: Well, I moved around a lot as a kid, so I’m used to being the new girl, but still. Yeah. We had some growing pains, to say the least, but…we stopped the necromancer and all the zombies. Together. I think they’re warming to me. At least I hope they are. Time will tell. (face falling) Oh, crud. Not again.

When I turned to see what had gotten her so annoyed, my jaw dropped. Sauntering into the shop was the most gorgeous man I’d ever seen. The picture I viewed did not do him justice. I recognized him from my dossier as Oliver Montrose, another F.R.E.A.K. A vampire one. He slid into the booth right next to Beatrice but flashed me a smile that scrambled my brain. Thank God I had the tape recorder still running.

OM: Well, well, well, what do we have here? Who is your new, delectable friend here, Trixie?

BA: (shooting daggers with her eyes) None of your business. What are you doing here? Are you following me? Again? Because this is getting close to stalkerish. I’m beginning to feel like I’m in a Lifetime movie. (to me) He does this. All the time! I turn around, and there he is with that stupid grin on his face!

OM: My grin is not stupid. (to me; grinning to show fangs) Do you find my grin stupid, my dear?

BA: Oh, leave her alone! Now you’re just being childish. We’re trying to do an interview here. Go away.

OM: (cocking an eyebrow) An interview, you say? Fantastic. I do not mind answering a few questions about fair Trixie here. Perhaps your readers would be interested to know some nights she sleeps in nothing but a towel.

BA: (mouth dropping open) I do not…we have not…will you shut up? Get out of here or I’ll…

OM: What, tell Will? (to me) Our team leader has such a soft spot for Trixie here. If she asked him, he would stake me without a second thought. He almost did in Colorado. But my darling Trixie would not let him. (growing serious) She saved my life, you know. She saved us all.

BA: He’s exaggerating.

OM: No…I am not. She was magnificent. Truly.

Their eyes met, almost cooling her anger, replacing it with nervousness. She looked away.

BA: Just go away, okay. Please?

He stared at her face for a moment, almost sad to see she was serious. He rose.

OM: As you wish, my dear. See you at home.

He walked out of the café, and she shook her head.

BA: I am so sorry about that. Sometimes he’s really great and sometimes he’s…that.

It’s alright. So, how did you save his life?

BA: He’s exaggerating. He, um, the necromancer did something to him and he attacked me. Will wanted to stake him, but I wouldn’t let him. It wasn’t his fault. And as you can see he’s fine now. Relatively speaking.

Did this cause a problem with you and your team leader?

BA: Um, no, We’re fine now. Great. He’s actually, um, teaching me some more martial arts. (turning red again) Among other things. He used to be a police officer in D.C. so he knows a lot. He’s just…wonderful.

So far what do you like best about the job? Besides your team leader.

BA: Well, I really liked the whole investigation part of it. Interviewing people, finding clues, getting to the truth. I love mystery novels and now it’s like my life has become one. (sweet smile) Though I felt more like bumbling Stephanie Plum than Sherlock Holmes.

So all in all are you happy with your choice to join the F.R.E.A.K.S.? No regrets?

BA: (laughing) Of course I have regrets. What happened in Colorado was horrible. People died. I had to chop up two zombie hordes with a machete. I have literal scars from the whole ordeal. And it was my first case. But...a large part of me loved it. I’ve faced monsters and won. I can be myself here, warts and all. I need that. I never realized how much until I got here. I’m not alone anymore. That…makes it worth it.

Her cell phone rang. As she listened to the other end, she grew grave before standing up.

BA: I’m so sorry. There’s a golem on the loose in New Jersey, I have to go. Nice meeting you.

She ran out the door off to face another monster. I for one feel safer knowing she’s out there.

Thanks, Jennifer! Please visit Jennifer Harlow's website to read her blog “Tales From the Darkside” and to get the soundtrack to the book. You can also friend her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter at jenharlowbooks. Now, who has a comment or question for Jennifer or Beatrice?


Shannon Baker said...

Nice interview. Beatrice, what's the worst thing and best thing about having your powers?

Anonymous said...

Very cute and entertaining interview. Thanks for sharing

Jennifer Harlow said...

Best-You don't need a remote to change the channel on the TV.
Worst-You get angry and accidently explode someone's head. Literally. Not cool.

Beth Groundwater said...

Thanks for your comments, Shannon and mystichawker! I hope we get some more today.

And thanks to Jennifer for such an entertaining post!