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Haunted Seas and Hellhound Chihuahuas: An Interview with Author Ani Gonzalez

This is my post during the blog tour for Dead Man’s Hex by Ani Gonzalez, and I’m thrilled to be hosing an author interview. In Dead Man’s Hex, paranormal investigator Claire Delacourt’s working vacation turns into a cruise ship to hell and it’s up to her and her trusty hellhound Chihuahua, Pookie, to save the ship… and the world.

Dead Man's Hex Blog Tour Banner

This blog tour is organized by Lola’s Blog Tours and the tour runs from 25 till 31 October. You can see the tour schedule here: http://www.lolasblogtours.net/blog-tour-dead-mans-hex-by-ani-gonzalez 

Dead Man’s Hex (Drop Dead Witchy #2)

By Ani Gonzalez
Genre: Humorous Urban Fantasy
Age category: Adult
Release Date: 27 October 2021

Dead Man's Hex Cover

Blurb:

It’s a cruise ship to Hell. Literally.

Sun, sand, and ghosts. Sounds like the perfect working vacation, no? The supernatural cruise would be a chance to get a tan, enjoy a variety of cold drinks with colorful umbrellas, and make some money leading ghost tours along the Mid-Atlantic coast…or so I thought. I didn’t count on a seasick hellhound Chihuahua, a stowaway ghost, and a crazy cult cramping my style. Now I’m fighting Octonomicron acolytes, trying to keep myself in one piece, and save humanity at the same time. Oh, and that tan? So not happening.

Links:
– Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/58823726-dead-man-s-hex 
– Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09JM1PKBD 

The Interview

KRISTEN: First off, I love that the book’s setting is a cruise ship. That’s not a location I see explored too often in urban fantasy, and since cruises trap people in an unfamiliar place with a bunch of strangers and no possible escape, they’ve got a lot of potential for drama. What inspired you to choose this setting, and what kind of research did you do?

ANI: That’s a fantastic question. I was inspired by an old Vampirella comic from the 1960s which is set on a cruise ship. The whole Claire Delacourt series is heavily influenced by the Vampirella reprints from the 1990s, particularly Vampirella vs The Cult of Chaos, and Mortuaria’s character in Dead Man’s Hex is my own private Vampirella tribute. I loved the glamour and humor or the series and also the way the paranormal was used to explore human greed and desire. I feel paranormal stories are a lot more compelling when they are grounded on real emotion.

I loved the cruise ship idea because, as you say, it’s unusual and the isolation adds a nice creepy feel. It’s also an easy tie-in to ghost ship stories like the Marie Celeste and the Caleuche, which I also love. It also gave me the opportunity to explore the ghost stories of North Carolina’s Outer Banks, which I’ve always found fascinating. I’d love to go on a Danny Demento cruise-based ghost tour (one with a happier ending, of course), which is partly why I wrote the book.

I did a lot of research on the ghost stories of the Outer Banks, which was fun. The trickiest part was creating the trip schedule and figuring out what they would visit first and how that would fit into the plot. That was difficult because I didn’t want to just make up random ghosts that would fit the plot (although that would have been a lot easier!). I wanted to use actual stories that have been around for centuries, to fit the underlying plot of the book which is that this Lovecratian group, the Octonomicron, has been planning this for a long time. The book took longer to write than I expected, but I’m very happy with the result.

KRISTEN: While setting is important, characters are what really draw me into a story. Your protagonist, Claire Delacourt, is a witch and a necromancer. What would you say are her greatest strengths and weaknesses? Is she an easy or difficult character to write?

ANI: Claire is a powerful necromancer, but the concept for the series is that magic is changing and getting stronger, so her powers aren’t as helpful as one would think. This is hard for her to deal with because as a paranormal investigator she has relied on her powers for a long time and those are actually not as useful anymore. She thought she knew how this work and is now finding out how much she still has to learn.

So Claire’s greatest strength is actually her friends and all the contacts she has made through a long career as a paranormal investigator, particularly among the undead. I’ve been an Urban Fantasy fan since the first Anita Blake series and I’ve always been a bit frustrated by the way necromancers are sometimes portrayed. I’ve alway thought that having the power to talk to the dead (or to compel them to do things) would not be enough. You would have to be a particularly persuasive and empathetic person to be effective at the job (which, after all, involves dealing with people who have undergone horrible trauma), and that’s Claire’s strength. She has built friendships and gained credibility within the paranormal world and that’s what makes her good at her job.

She’s actually a fairly easy character to write, mainly because she has such an amazing supporting cast, particularly Cole and Pookie. The relationships she has built keep the storyline going,

KRISTEN: I can’t get through this interview without mentioning the hellhound Chihuahua. I see from your bio that you’re a dog owner. Did your dog inspire Pookie the hellhound, or do they have completely different personalities?

ANI: Completely different, my doggie is a sweetie and Pookie is not. But I love Pookie’s snarky personality. He’s one of my favorite characters and I’m now writing the third book, which had a lot to do with him. He’s a lot of fun and he’s going to have to make some hard choices in the future.

KRISTEN: Since today is Halloween, can you tell us how your characters celebrate the holiday? Do they ignore it because they’re jaded from dealing with the supernatural every day? What costumes would they choose for themselves? (Please tell me Claire dresses up Pookie.)

ANI: I’d love to see Pookie with bat wings! I keep wanting to write a scene where his full battle form doesn’t materialize, but he manages to manifest a pair of tiny bat wings. Somehow, it hasn’t happened yet, but maybe it will happen in the next book.

I’d also love to see Claire in a Vampirella costume, but she’s such a nerd she’d probably pick something obscure like the writer of the Voynich manuscript or something like that. Or she’d go as herself. After all, she is THE Celebrity Medium and she had a healthy ego about that.

KRISTEN: Finally, do you methodically plot out the Drop Dead Witchy series or just write and see where the story takes you? Can you give readers any hint of what to expect in Book #3?

ANI: I find the Drop Dead Witchy series requires more careful plotting than my cozy mystery or romance books. There are more moving parts that have to be placed in the right spots for the big reveal to work out, and there’s also a LOT more research. However, a lot of it is instinctual. When I wrote the first book I wasn’t quite sure how Claire’s family, her house, Pookie’s past, Banshee Creek, and the Octonomicron would be related, but now that I am writing the third book, I can see it clearly. I’m very excited about how seeds planted in the first book bear fruit in the third one. The third book, Hex Freezes Over, is going to explain a lot of things, so stay tuned. Oh, and it had dragons.

First book in the series:

Hex Marks the Spot (Drop Dead Witchy #1)
By Ani Gonzalez

Hex Marks the Spot Cover

“Going to Hell is easy. Going back home is a different story.”

Links:
– Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/42402070-hex-marks-the-spot 
– Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/books/hex-marks-the-spot-drop-dead-witchy-book-1-by-ani-gonzalez 
– Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07JL2SRZ5/ 

About the Author:

I’m a USA Today bestselling author of paranormal romantic comedy and cozy mystery (whew, that’s a mouthful!) set in Banshee Creek, Virginia, The Most Haunted Town in the USA. My books feature feisty, irrepressible heroines dealing with a host of paranormal critters (ghosts, cryptids, pagan gods…the sky’s the limit) and mysteries. They find love and laughter (and sometimes corpses) along the way, and readers get to follow them every step of the way. 

I love quirky towns with spooky stories, and, thanks to my books, I get to “live” in one year-around. In real life I live in a Virginia suburb (which is sadly lacking in ghosts) with my husband, three children, two cats, and one adorable dog.

Author links:
– Website: http://www.anigonzalez.biz
– Newsletter: http://anigonzalezblogs.blogspot.com/p/newsletter-signup.html 
– Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AniGonzalezAuthor/ 
– Twitter: https://twitter.com/_ani_gonzalez 
– Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14252282.Ani_Gonzalez 
– Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/ani-gonzalez 
– Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Ani-Gonzalez/e/B014HVKSYK/ 

Giveaway

There is a tour wide giveaway for the blog tour of Dead Man’s Hex. These are the prizes you can win: 
– a $25 Amazon gift card
– a $15 Amazon gift card
– a $10 Amazon gift card

For a chance to win, enter the rafflecopter here: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/1000e4f1385/

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