As with most writers, Roma has a day job. She is a project manager in the IT field, working in various industries. She has a BS in Electronic Engineering, MBA in Technology Management and a Masters in Project Management.
Her book, Gray Shadows Under a Harvest Moon, an anthology of six trick-or-treat thrillers, is available on Amazon and most other book sellers. Her cat Nicky is featured in one of the stories. She has recently completed her novel, The Hunted Tribe: Declaration of War, which will be published by J. Ellington Ashton in Spring 2016 (estimated.)
She co-coordinates with friend Kat Gracey an online Book Club, "Authors Meeting Readers," where readers review a new group of books every three weeks and get to meet and interact with the authors who wrote the books.
Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/authorsmeetreaders/
Tell us a bit about Gray Shadows Under a Harvest Moon
Gray Shadows is an anthology of six complete Halloween-style short stories, that are also each part of upcoming novels or novel series. The collection also includes interviews with the characters in which they discuss their upcoming novels. The purpose of Gray Shadows is to give the reader the same thrill, the same frightening rush, that I experienced on Halloween as a child.
A synopsis of the stories:
- Feast on Fat Tuesday: During Mardi Gras, a vampire realizes he has become the prey.
- And Then Everything Changed: The discovery of Atlantis changes the world in ways no one could have ever anticipated...or wanted.
- Summer Vacation: A teenager discovers that not only is black magic real, it’s also very unpredictable.
- The Invisible Carrier: A deadly plague is spreading throughout the Pacific Northwest, but no one can figure out how.
- Unnatural Disasters: Governments are isolating disaster sites from the rest of the world. What are they trying to hide?
- Will the Real Monster Please Stand Up? It turns into a very strange night when archeologist Alistair Black encounters a rampaging mummy, two insane cats, and a secret government agency.
These are also an introduction to some of your longer works that you hope to see out in the future, tell us a bit about what made you decide to do this collection, both as a teaser for those novels and on their own merits.
This is actually a good story: one I think might be a help to many would-be authors. I have always wanted to write a book, but like many people, never got around to it. I would come up with ideas for novels, and then email them to myself so I could file them in an email folder marked "writing." The problem was, that's as far as it ever went. Well, one day I noticed a fellow writer had published a book of four short stories and I suddenly decided that I was an idiot. If she could publish four short stories, I had no excuse not to publish at least a small book with a handful of stories. So, before I could change my mind, I decided then and there I would publish a book by Halloween. It was August 13, so it was an extremely aggressive schedule! Again, I didn't want to give myself the chance to chicken out.
My first problem was that I didn't have any short stories. I had a folder full of ideas for a novel. Once again, to prevent myself from getting cold feet, I told myself "then work with what you have!" Suddenly, I realized that if I did it with style and a little humor, I could make this book more than a simple collection of stories. It would be different, fun, and unique. That's what gave me the idea of interviewing the main characters about the short stories and upcoming novels. Sort of a "Reality TV" twist, something completely original and definitely unexpected! I even took one step further and let my readers vote on the order in which I would publish my books. Seventy-six people voted and the short story "Summer Vacation" came out on top, making the book "The Hunted Tribe: Declaration of War" my first book to be published.
I didn't quite make my deadline (published in March), but in the end, that didn't really matter. My book has received favorable reviews, a strong fan base, and I came away with an added benefit. Not only did I force myself to write the first book, I'm now committed to finishing six novels. This was the best thing I've ever done and has completely changed my life for the better. So if you're reading this and you've been putting off publishing, just sit down in your chair and get it done!
Which of the 6 stories are your favorites and why? Are they also some of your favorites in the longer novels?
That's tough, kind of like picking between your kids. But, if I have to choose, my favorite is "Feast on Fat Tuesday." It will always be my favorite, because that one changed my life. I hadn't written anything for several years. For all of you writers out there, you know what a long, hard road it can be. Mine was especially hard because I grew up in a family who absolutely HATED my writing and my friends don't like the horror/sci-fi genre. I really had zero support at the time. I was just pulling my courage together again when I joined this writers' group. Well, they invited me to a Halloween party and I was required to write a short story, the first one I'd written in probably a good five years. I remember getting that first sentence down was so, so hard. I was really terrified!
The day of the party arrived, I read the story and, to my utter shock, they loved it! Better yet, they asked to publish it in their upcoming anthology, "Darkness Brewing." This was my first published story and is now the first chapter of the first novel I ever finished, "The Copper Lining: Red." This book is actually the third book in the "Hunted Tribe" series.
Tell us about The Hunted Tribe which was recently contracted by JEA. What inspired it and the planned sequel? Will there be other books in the series?
The Hunted Tribe: Declaration of War is about Sean Wolf, a sixteen-year-old Native American witch. As a child, he was part of a medical experiment to breed the ultimate witch to defend his tribe, the Dwanake, from an ancient, malevolent spirit, called the Grishla. The Grishla is the animal spirit of a dinosaur who is hunting down and killing members of the tribe because, five hundred years earlier, the Dwanake witches tried to enslave it. Adding to Sean's problems, the experiment made him too powerful, and he can't control his own magic. He is, in many ways, as much of a threat to the tribe as the Grishla. Unfortunately for Sean and the tribe, he is their only hope of freedom from the five-hundred-year curse.
What gave me the idea for the book is that it is actually the prequel to the first book I wrote, "The Copper Lining: Red." I can't say too much or I'll end up giving away the ending to the Hunted Tribe series (a second book follows, The Hunted Tribe: Rockets' Red Glare.)
Regarding whether there will be any sequels, there will be two books in the Hunted Tribe series, which leads into the Copper Lining series. For this series, I am planning on eight novels.
These are horror novels and Gray Shadows Under a Harvest Moon contains stories of that genre too, do you ever write outside of genre or ride the line between them? Does this help or complicate things as a writer?
When I was planning Gray Shadows, I gave this a lot of thought. This book, after all, was my introduction to the world, declaring to my potential audience what they could expect from me. The stories pretty much ride the line between spooky, action-thrillers, horror and science fiction. I call them "Trick-or-Treat Thrillers," because it occurred to me that the only common thread is that they all have a Halloween-flavor about them.
In regards to helping or hurting, I think it keeps it open enough for me to remain intellectually challenged, but still simple and fun enough to appease the little kid inside of me. I suppose it would be a problem if I ever wanted to write a story outside of the Halloween theme, but I've never had any interest in writing anything else. As far as I'm concerned, every day should be Halloween.
How do you try and make your writing stand out from others? What makes it more interesting?
I think I touched on that a bit in my earlier answer. I try to make it interesting enough for an adult (unexpected twists, added complications, occasional emotional tugs on the heart strings), while still trying to satisfy the little kid in all of us (spooky, action, creepy ghouls, etc.)
What makes mine different is that I think people are either sci-fi (space ships/aliens), or they are horror (serial killers/monsters), or murder mystery/thrillers (spies/murderers) but I'm Halloween. This allows me to dip into all of these areas and then add a spooky, haunting flair. I'm also one of the few Halloween writers that is for young adults and adults, not little kids. People love the old Goosebumps books, but once you get to your late teens, those stories are just too young to keep you interested. My books and stories are designed to give both the young adult and adult audience something intelligent and complex to fill that gap.
Another element to keep in mind with my books, is that I love stories that are complex, with layers. That's why you will almost always see a cliff hanger at the end of my stories or books, leading somewhere else. My favorite story is one that takes multiple books to tell. If you love stories that give you plenty to think about and explore, that's my writing.
You've recently started as an anthologies editor at JEA, tell us a bit about the differences between working at a press versus editing for yourself. Any projects you've enjoyed out of both so far?
I started this position right after editing The Hunted Tribe, so mentally I was in the right place. It's different, though, because my job as an editor for JEA is to correct mistakes, but not to interfere with the author's voice. So, in a way, it's easier, because I'm only doing half the job I did on my book. I can't put my personal stamp on it, which I think is wonderful, because on my book I must have rewritten every line a dozen times!
It's also great fun reading these stories. I love seeing all of the creativity that's out there. I'm in awe of our writers, they're the best. :)
In the future, what titles and projects can we expect to see you involved in? Would you like to tell us about any of them?
Wow. I could write a list, but it would terrify you. I currently have 31 books (novels and collections) in my backlog and that doesn't even count the short stories. So, I'll just list what I have planned for the next twelve months.
Novel series: Hunted Tribe: 1&2
Novel: The Doomsday Cycle:
In ancient times, Atlantis had a war with an underwater dolphin-like species called the "Threesh" and the two groups annihilated each other with horrific doomsday devices. In modern times, Atlantis was discovered and the Threesh doomsday weapon, a zombie plague, was accidentally released on the world's population. As a result, the surviving humans fled to cities on the bottom of the ocean.
One hundred years later, archeologists have discovered the Threesh city and, once again, have accidentally re-activated the doomsday device that destroyed the city, this time sent down by the people of Atlantis. No one knows the true nature of the Atlantis device, except entire cities are going dark. In the meantime, the zombies on the surface have evolved and adapted and are making their way down to the cities on the bottom of the ocean. The human race must now battle and defeat two doomsday devices from ancient times in order to survive.
Short Story in anthology Jurassic Attacks: A T-Rex for Xmas
A teenage witch brings a T-Rex toy to life to murder her family, told from the eyes of her seven-year-old brother.
Short Story in anthology Twisted Tales Tea Party: Trap Door
Trapped on a small farm during an apocalypse of giant, trap door spiders, can a father give his little girl a happy Christmas?
Short Story in anthology A-Z: Love Letters
Being chased by a homicidal ex-husband, will a pregnant woman find her salvation—or her destruction—in his old love letters?