Thursday, October 18, 2012

Jessica Haight and Stephanie Robinson brought some Halloween goodies!

Cate: Welcome to the Halloween madness, Jess and Stephanie! Can you share a bit about yourselves?

Jess: I was born in CT and grew up in Southbury. I am an only child, and thus had some pretty fascinating games that I created when I was a kid. One of my favorite past-times involved my grandmother’s fancy perfume bottles. She had the most amazing collection- every color, shape, and size you can think of. I can’t exactly recall the details of the actual game, however, I know that each one represented a person in a royal court. The green bottle with the crystal top was the queen, and there was a really cool orange and cream colored tall pitcher that was the king. My parents told me that I would sit, sometimes for hours, just mumbling and moving the pieces around in front of the picture window. Today, I am 38 and live in New Fairfield, CT with my wonderful fiancĂ©, James, my dog, Jack, and cat, Bill. I still live in a dream world, only now I move words around, while mumbling quietly to myself.

Stephanie: I was born and raised in Connecticut and lived in Ohio for a few years of my early childhood. I loved playing outside and reading as a child. Climbing trees was a favorite pastime- though now I am scared of heights. I am currently a 5th grade teacher and live with my husband in a quiet town in Connecticut, though not as quaint as Ashpot. When I am not working, I spend my time writing, reading, and traveling.

Cate: Very cool, Jess! You sound a lot like me as a kid, Stephanie.
What do you love most about Halloween?

Jess: Everything creatively spooky! I just love it all- carving a Jack O’ Lantern, the candy, and I especially enjoy the truly inspired costumes.  : )  

Stephanie: Candy! I love candy- especially chocolate. It is so nice to have an assortment to choose from on Halloween. I also think it is great to see all of the festive decorations everyone puts up.

Cate: Do you have a favorite memory of a Halloween past?

Jess: My favorite Halloween pasts all included the really well put together parties, where everyone really gets into it, and showing up without an original costume isn’t even an option!

Stephanie: When I was growing up there was always a big Halloween event at my elementary school. There were dangling donuts, cake walks, a haunted house, and all kinds of Halloween contests and activities.  Of course, there was candy, waxed fangs, and lots lot creepy music.  Everyone would wear their costumes and walk the halls of the school participating in various activities. I looked forward to it all year!

Cate: Have you ever had an unusual experience you couldn’t explain?

Jess: My spookiest memory is when I was about 9 years old. My stepsister, Lisa, had this ancient looking crystal ball that had a rusted metal bird claw attached to it. It was one of the most bizarre things I have yet to come across, and I have no idea where she actually found it, but (since she was about 8 years older and loved to scare the pants off of me) she told me that she found it in a graveyard, on top of an old gravestone. One Halloween night, she set up her bedroom with candles and put on a black cloak with a hood, and then invited me in. She whipped out the Ougi board and we set ourselves in position to play. It was fun- I remember she was playing the Thriller Album by Michael Jackson, and then the phone rang. This was way back in the day when phones were actually attached to a cord and usually found in the kitchen. She got up and went to answer it. I sat in the room, watching the flickering candles and staring at the creepy crystal ball. And, in an instant, the shades all flipped up and a breeze blew through the bedroom. Then, just as the door slammed shut, a piece of the crystal ball chipped off and flew across the room. Scared me half to death, and I ran out as quickly as I could. True story!  : ) Creepy, no?

Stephanie: A few years ago I had an experience that left me feeling very unsettled. I was in my house alone and all of a sudden my grandmother (who had passed away 5 years earlier) was there and she was talking to me and giving me advice. It only lasted for about a minute, but I could see her vividly and hear her loud and clear. I called my mom afterward and told her about the whole experience. It made me emotional and I even cried a little. Nothing like that has happened since.

Cate: I love that so many people have had weird experiences! What frightens you the most?

Jess: Truly, I think the scariest thing is the feeling of being afraid, or watching someone else who is afraid. The Dementors from Harry Potter are quite terrifying, especially when it’s not in their nature to feel compassion or reason- that is the scariest thing of all- an opponent not capable of understanding these two very important qualities.

Stephanie: My imagination! I used to live in a house out in the woods and would imagine people (zombies) under my deck as I would race up the stairs so they couldn’t grab my ankles. The craziest part was- I was never afraid being in the house at night alone. Just those stairs and what I imagined to be hiding beneath them. 

Cate: Ever gone on a ghost tour? Or ghost hunting on your own?

Jess: Ah yes, a passion of mine, actually. My very favorite haunt is the blue house on Main Street in Newtown, CT. The story is fascinating, and I have been dying to get a glimpse inside it for years. We will be clueing our readers in on some of the interesting history about this spooky house during the month of October on Fairday’s Blog! 

Stephanie: I have never been on an actual ghost tour, but during high school and college my friends and I visited many old cemeteries and places around Connecticut with ghostly lore.  We would scare ourselves silly each and every time!

Cate: Any favorite Halloween recipes you’d care to share?

Jess: No one wants me to cook. That would be the scariest thing of all! For me, it’s all about those treat size candy bars- Reeses, Snickers, Nestle Crunch- YUM! (Kept in the freezer or fridge to add a little more chill to the treat.)  

Stephanie: I don’t do any cooking or baking. I think if my husband saw me cooking he would actually be afraid that I was possessed. Still, at this time of year I love all the creative cupcakes and cookies decorated to look like spiders, pumpkins, and ghosts!

Cate: Too funny! Tell us about your latest release, and where readers can find it online.

Jessica and Stephanie: 
Fear not the unexpected.

The Begonia House keeps its secrets. Everyone knows that. Everyone that is, except for clever eleven-year-old Fairday Morrow, whose family has just moved in. Being the Senior Investigator in the Detective Mystery Squad, more commonly known as the DMS, she’s ready to uncover the mysteries hidden within the strange manor. As the investigation gears up and the pieces of the puzzle begin to fall into place, the DMS enters into a world where anything is possible, and the danger is most definitely real. Follow along with Fairday and her friends, as “spooky” meets “lovely” in this twisting tale of dark secrets and hidden pasts.

We decided to pursue the traditional route for publishing The Secret DMS Files of Fairday Morrow. Although we both love writing, we work other jobs to pay our bills. We understand that self-publishing and marketing your own work is a full-time job, and at the moment we don’t feel we have the time to devote to publishing ourselves. We are lucky enough to be working with a wonderful agent and hopefully we will find an editor to publish our book.

Others can learn more about us at our blog, website, fan facebook page, and our twitter account. Right now The Secret DMS Files of Fairday Morrow isn’t available for purchase. We do however sponsor giveaways on our blog and we are also willing to send a copy of our book to fans who are interested in reading Fairday’s story.

Cate: Love the premise. And your artwork! Care to share a blurb or excerpt?

Jessica and Stephanie:  Excerpt from Chapter 5 of The Secret DMS Files of Fairday Morrow

Fairday did not sleep well her first night in the Begonia House. She had tossed and turned in the giant, wooden bed for a long time with her eyes wide open, listening to the amplified sounds of her new surroundings. The old house clanged and groaned restlessly, as the wild, whistling wind wrestled the old willow tree in the bright moonlight outside her bedroom window. Its twisted limbs banged into one another, casting monstrous looking shadows all along the walls. At one point, she thought she had heard the mysterious bagpipe music again and sat straight up in bed, anxiously grabbing the high-powered flashlight, which she had strategically positioned under her pillow. Fairday shined the luminescent high beam all around her room and over the long maroon drapes, (which did give the appearance that someone or something terrifying was hiding behind them, but Fairday had sneaked over, forcefully yanked them back, and shoved the flashlight into the empty space behind them so many times that she had to convince herself to stop obsessing over it). Each time she invoked the power of the flashlight and illuminated the room, it proved to be completely void of all intruders, except, of course, for herself.

Cate: What inspired you to write about the theme?

Jess: The initial story was partially created by my grandfather. When I was a kid, I stayed with my grandparents for a while and they lived in a spooky house in Ridgefield, CT. Sometimes it sounded like someone was walking around upstairs when there was no one up there, and my grandfather used to tell me it was Ruby Begonia clomping around in her high-heeled sneakers. I spent years trying to catch her, but never did. Ruby’s story took shape as I grew up. When I was in my twenties, I wrote the children’s poem, Ruby Begonia and the High-Heeled Sneakers. One day, I thought how cool it would be to turn the poem into a chapter book and the name, Fairday Morrow popped into my head. I thought to ask my best friend and book buddy, Stephanie Robinson, if she wanted to co-author it with me, and happily she agreed. Stephanie and I both love books; we love to read and talk about the stories. So, we started writing and talking about Fairday and the adventures of the DMS.

Stephanie: After Jess asked me to work with her on changing her poem into a story the ideas began emerging from all over the place. We would meet, talk, brainstorm, and dissect each other’s ideas. Each time one of us shared something we would spark new ideas in the other person. Some of the elements of Fairday’s story have appeared in my dreams and others have happened in my everyday life.

Cate: Anything else you’d like to share?

Jess & Stephanie: Thank you so much for hosting us on your wonderful blog! And, thanks to all our readers for their support! Remember…fear not the unexpected!

Cate: Woo hoo! Stephanie and Jess have a giveaway!

Jess & Stephanie: 1 signed paperback edition of The Secret DMS Files of Fairday Morrow

Cate: A wickedly wonderful treat! Don’t forget to leave your email address when you comment!

Thanks for sharing in the Halloween fun, Jess and Stephanie! Have a spooktacular Halloween.

Your story reminded me of a song relating to the unexplained and mysterious. It seemed appropriate for the occasion. Enjoy!


Cate Masters said...

Welcome Jess and Stephanie - a double treat today. :) Thanks for sharing your spooky experiences, and your wonderful book.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Very cool - I know Jess! And her creepy story wins.

Angela Brown said...

How very cool that the inspiration for this story started with something so hauntingly interesting. From poem to book, I do wish Jess and Stephanie the best in searching for an editor to take on the project and a publishing house to give it everything they've got :-)

DMS said...

Hi Cate! Thank you so much for hosting us on your fabulous blog! We had fun being a part of the Halloween Bash! Wishing you and your readers a truly spooky Halloween : ) Remember, fear not the unexpected! ~ Jess & Stephanie

DMS said...

Hi Alex & Angela,
Thanks so much for stopping by! Alex, the incident with the crystal ball was extremely creepy- lol! Angela, we appreciate your kind words and have our fingers crossed : ) ~ Jess & Stephanie

DMS said...

I forgot to add that I LOVED the song! It's perfect! Thanks so much : ) ~ Jess

Marva Dasef said...

I'm hunting you down, Jess. You're the winner of an ebook from my visit on Cate's blog.

ellen_levickis said...

I love the responses to the recipes question!

DMS said...

@Marva- I am glad we got in touch! Your books sound great!

@Ellen- I am glad the recipe questions were appreciated. :) ~Jess