Saskatchewan local, J.E. McDonald. She likes to write paranormal romantic comedies and I can’t wait to find out what’s lurking within the pages of her new book.
1. Hi, J.E. so lovely to have you on For Writing Out Loud. Tell us a bit about yourself and the Wickwood Chronicles.
Thank you for having me! I’m a mom of three energetic girls ranging in age from three to ten, and I love to write steamy romance, or what my girls like to call “kissing books.” I’m a music and Minecraft addict. In the summer my husband and I love to take our girls camping, which is looking more and more like glamping as we get older.
The Wickwood Chronicles is my paranormal romance series set in the fictional town of Wickwood, where strange things happen to ordinary, and not so ordinary, people. The first book in the series, Ghost of a Gamble, is about Zack Liller, a paranormal investigator who likes to keep to himself, and Bree Tisdale, a vivacious skeptic who thinks it would be a great idea to expose him as a scammer. Hilarity ensues, and of course, feelings get in the way.
The second book in the series that just came out in January, Ghost of an Enchantment, follows Stella Camfield, a witch who also works for the same paranormal investigation company as Zack. Everything turns topsy turvy for Stella when her best friend accidentally opens a portal to another dimension. And of course, there’s romance!
2. Sounds like a whole lotta fun and just enough kissing lol. Paranormal, romance, and comedy are three genres that might seem drastically different, but as a fan of mashups, I love the sound of that. If you had to describe the Wickwood Chronicles in culinary terms, what would be the main dish, sides, what would you pair with it, and what would be for dessert?
Well, anyone who knows me knows I love food, so this question is awesome! The main would have to be beef bourguignon, a classic French dish because I can’t seem to stop myself from including a bit of my French heritage into every book I write. It has a bit of everything, just like Wickwood, onions, potatoes, carrots, beef cooked to perfection, and it’s saucy, just how I like my characters. Now, most people might want creamy mashed potatoes as a side, but let’s do something surprising, just how I like my plots. Our side is going to be avocado, grapefruit and fennel salad, a mix of sour and savory. We’ll pair that with something to tickle our taste buds and funny bone, a bubbly red wine like a Rathfinny Blance De Noirs Brut. Such an unexpected and bubbly choice, but the pinot noir base would pair well with the beef.
For dessert, let’s remain on the French side of things with classic crème brûlée. This would be the prefect end to the meal because you need to crack that hard surface to get to the decadence underneath. In the third book of the series, Ghost of a Summoning, coming out in the fall of 2021, readers will learn more about what’s hidden beneath Wickwood’s quiet façade.
3. Damn…Now, I’m hungry. :) Wonderful descriptions and you’re definitely on my “Let’s share a meal” list of authors lol. Let’s go on, though. It’s odd to me that romance is such a polarizing genre, yet at the end of the day, a well written book exists beyond its genre. What draws you to romance? What are some challenges you’ve faced? And seeing as fans in the genre are pretty rabid, what do some of your biggest fans think of your work?
I wasn’t really drawn to reading much as a kid until I discovered romance novels. My mom was always reading them, so she’d have them lying around everywhere. I picked up my first one at age eleven or twelve and fell in love. (Pun intended!) Happy endings are something that I can’t seem to quit.
A challenge at first was shedding the stigma about romance novels I inherited without realizing it. Even back then, I didn’t admit to any of my friends how much I loved reading them. Now I absolutely don’t care who knows that I love reading and writing romance. It’s such a diverse and influential genre, empowering, especially for women.
I’ve had such great feedback from fans. They love that I tie my paranormal stories to realty. They love that I include humor. It fills me with contentment to know that my books helped someone escape for a little while, that I helped them laugh and feel good.
4. If it gets people to read, why not? And the whole snooty attitude many people have probably means they just haven’t read a good romance. Though not my go-to genre, I’ve found a couple of good romance books. Anywho, BACK to the interview because if we branch, we’ll need to send for help lol. Ghosts play a big part of your story, including paranormal investigations and unique abilities. What draws you to the paranormal, when would you say was the first time this clicked with you, and how important is it to your stories?
I guess the reason I love paranormal romance is because it’s such a freeing genre. Anything can happen to anyone. Any person from any background can be touched by the extraordinary. I can let my imagination run wild with these stories. I like creating characters who need to balance the normal with the supernatural.
I read my first paranormal romance decades ago, right before the big explosion of success for the genre. I think Sherrilyn Kenyon was the first author I picked up, and I loved how she interwove mythology in her stories, which is something I’ve also been drawn to. From the time I read excerpts of Homer’s Odyssey in high school (which everyone else seemed to loathe, but I loved), I’ve enjoyed mythology. Fairy tales, things that go bump in the night, it all appeals to me.
5. I love letting imagination run amok so cheers to that. I also enjoyed the Odyssey (the Iliad not so much). And hey, surprise! Your work has inspired a sandwich or pizza at one of your favorite haunts (yay paranormal puns). What’s on/in it, how does it taste, and does it include a free haunting?
Oh! Another food question. Awesome! Let’s go with pizza. Because of the ghosts in my books, we’d need to start with a white pie base: ricotta, mozzarella, and Romano cheese seasoned with oregano and thyme. And because all my love scenes have a heat level of spicy, we’ll top with slices of garlic and chorizo, then sprinkle with crushed red pepper flakes as garnish. Ta-da! Wickwood Pie, the perfect accompaniment to a slumber party at a haunted house. The garlic will even keep the vampires away. Ghosts not included.
6. What can I say? I love food and this is evident on what I post on social media. And MAN did I pick the right person for food questions. Anyways, you were brought up in Saskatchewan, Canada, which I didn’t know was called the Land of the Living Skies. How does your environment inspire/influence you and your work?
Daydreaming and open spaces affected me deeply as a child. We had this big hill in the yard of my elementary school. My favorite thing to do was lie face up on the top of it so the only thing I could see was the sky. It was like floating in the clouds. I made up stories in my head all the time and I think the openness of my surroundings, the prairies and the ever-present domed sky, only helped with that.
Topographically speaking, I’ve set Wickwood in a landscape similar to my hometown. There’s a river that cuts the city in two with lots of bridges. There’s farm land and rolling hills instead of mountains or a seaside. What’s unique to Wickwood that my city doesn’t have is two downtowns. There’s an area called new downtown that’s all about skyscrapers and business, then there’s old downtown that’s more about tree-lined boulevards and quaint little shops.
7. Ha! I like the idea of a new downtown. Also, it seems that Wickwood is quite the picturesque place…so let’s play off that word. If an artist painted a landscape of Wickwood, what would be in it and would Stella be in the picture? If so, what is she doing?
If we include Stella in the picture, she’d be surrounded by trees. She loves connecting with nature in a very tangible way. There’d be the river of course, and an oak or a magnolia tree. She’d be touching the tree to connect with it, and the wind would be whipping through her hair. The finished product would be very dynamic.
8. I like those subtle cues and Stella definitely seems super likable. Back to writing though. Like many authors, you have a daytime routine and your superhero writer at night alter ego. What does The McDonald Cave include, what is your super hero vehicle, and how does your family influence your stories?
The McDonald Cave is a chaotic vortex of screaming children. (That’s why I need to write while they’re sleeping!) Our thirteen-year-old super hero SUV is held together by optimism and wishful thinking, as well as a bit of spit and polish. My girls are full of imagination and energy, and on my darkest days, they lift me up and give me purpose. I’ve even used some of their inventive ideas in my books, but I draw the line at them picking character names. They’re horrible at it.
9. Ha ha ha. Hey, we all have our skills. Zak Bagans from Ghost Adventures calls you up and says, we’re doing a lockdown and you’re in it. Where will he meet up with you, what will you investigate, what’s so important about that place, and what’s on the belt buckle he’s taken specifically for this lockdown?
That would have to be at the Gravelbourg School in Gravelbourg, Saskatchewan. It used to be a convent, then was converted into a school. The ghosts of a woman, a boy, and a girl have all been reported. My dad went to school there, but insists it isn’t haunted. I’d love to prove him wrong. And with this being a former convent, I bet Zak’s belt buckle would be religious-influenced. I saw one with silver angel wings once and I think that would suit him to a tee.
10. Huh…Never noticed. I normally focused on how out there they were. Will have to give a closer look to see what other details I’ve missed. And voila, we have made it to the other side of this sit down. Thank you so much for your time and for swinging by our little nook of the net. Now, how’s about you share some links so people can tag along for the ride.
Thank you so much for having me! It’s been a lot of fun. Readers can connect with me through my website at www.jemcdonald.net and at some of their favorite social media sites:
As you can see, beyond a fun story, J.E. is definitely likable and man, if you need food recommendations, I think she’s definitely a go to person. Thanks for reading and feel free to connect with J.E. on her links. Til next time,
Peace, love, and maki rolls.