Q&A with Tori L. Ridgewood & Excerpt

Categories: adult, excerpt, interview, paranormal, romance, The Talbot Trilogy, Tori L. Ridgewood

Wind and Shadow (The Talbot Trilogy #1)

  • By Tori L. Ridgewood
  • Editions: ebook
  • Published: June 2013 by Melange Books
  • Genre: Adult Paranormal Romance
  • Rayvin Woods, photographer and natural witch. She just wanted to start her life over again after a series of misadventures. She didn’t count on rekindling a lost love when she came home to Talbot…or battling a malevolent vampire and his coven for her life.
    Grant Michaels, police officer. He thought Rayvin was a murderer. He will do whatever it takes to protect the community he loves from danger…but will he learn to trust his heart, and the word of a witch, before it’s too late?
    Malcolm de Sade, cunning vampire, imprisoned underground for a year by Charlotte Fanning and Pike Mahonen (“Mist and Midnight”, Midnight Thirsts). His accidental release unleashes his hunger and ambition on a small, sleepy town…
    ***
    Facing the past can be a nightmare. It’s worse when a vampire is stalking you.
    ~ Goodreads

    Amazon


    Excerpt

    From Wind and Shadow: Book One of the Talbot Trilogy by Tori L. Ridgewood

    “Rayvin’s teeth were grinding together. The pretty little waitress, her head cocked while

    she smacked her gum and smiled saucily, didn’t know with whom she was dealing. Rayvin’s

    hand itched to wipe those too-red lips off her freckly face; her magick boiled inside her, making

    the room spin slightly with its intensity. Maybe the little bitch wanted those braces to be

    permanently glued to her teeth? Or every freckle to spontaneously morph into ugly, enormous,

    oozing pimples?

    Rayvin had had enough of being nice. She had held her tongue while Asshole Wilson had

    made his insinuations, in front of everyone. She had been good, waiting with utmost patience

    while Grant Michaels, of all people, had risen somewhat to her defense. He had impressed her,

    just when she didn’t want to feel or be impressed, which put her in even more of a bad mood.

    Everyone kept assuming they knew everything, just like this dumb bitch behind the counter, who

    had smiled blandly when Rayvin had tried explaining her relationship to Andrea.

    “Sorry, I don’t know you, I wasn’t on shift last night.” She snapped her gum. That particular

    habit had always driven Rayvin crazy. “I could lose my job if I let you have the necklace.”

    “Is the assistant manager here?”

    Snap. Chew. “Nope. Sorry. She’s busy.”

    “Look, maybe I haven’t made myself clear—” Rayvin checked her name tag. “Susan.”

    “Suzie.” She smiled brightly, flipping a long brown pigtail over her shoulder and thrusting

    her shirt forward.

    “Whatever. You don’t seem to understand—”

    “Hey, there, Suzie-Q!” Michaels eased his way between Rayvin and the counter. Inwardly,

    she seethed at his interference and at herself for feeling relieved. She had already fought this

    battle with herself; she did not need his help. So why was her breast still tingling where his chest

    had brushed against it while moving her aside?

    As he smoothly explained the situation, again, Rayvin crossed her arms and scowled at the

    patrons watching with interest. Once more, she was getting attention that she neither needed

    nor wanted. Tapping her foot to focus some of her negativity, she looked away as Michaels

    continued to flirt with the girl behind the counter.

    Susie was now leaning against her arms to reveal her assets at their best angle, beaming up

    at the tall dark off-duty cop who had to be twice her age. Her giggles clawed up Rayvin’s back.

    She saw a dimple flicker within the light dusting of bristle on Michaels’ face as he grinned down

    on the little girl.

    She couldn’t look away. She’d seen him grin like that before, for his friends, but not for her.

    Her heart ached, remembering a flash of a grin she’d thought was directed toward her in high

    school. And the crushing embarrassment when she’d realized he was looking at someone behind

    her. It was ridiculous, really, that the man had this ability to affect her in this way, after ten years.

    Stupid.

    Impatiently pacing to the door and back, she couldn’t decide what irritated her more; the

    entirely age-inappropriate crushing going on, or her reaction to it. Her hackles had gone up

    in a decidedly defensive manner. It shouldn’t matter that he wasn’t interested. He’d made the

    boundaries in their relationship painfully clear. She shouldn’t even use the word, ‘relationship.’

    She was essentially a subject in an investigation, and the enemy of his best friend. And yet she

    needed him to get what Andrea needed. Michaels could talk to people in a way that she could

    not, and it was clearly working. She grudgingly appreciated the effort, on Andrea’s behalf, but

    still . . . did he have to be so obvious?

    As long as he was able to get the necklace, then they could go their separate ways, and she

    wouldn’t have to watch him smiling at a pretty girl. She wouldn’t have to pretend that he might,

    in some small way, want to move forward. His offer of coffee had felt like a truce of sorts, and

    for a moment she had nearly believed that they were just two ordinary individuals, catching

    up after years of separation. But as much as she wanted to believe in the possibility and enjoy

    something of a reunion, or something more, because she had to admit that the man made her

    weak in the knees and always had, she knew it could never happen. There was too much history

    between them. Now, there was too much at stake. Whatever heartache and loneliness she might

    feel, she would have to bury it, for Andrea’s sake.

    Rayvin swallowed her feelings, and resumed her post behind Grant, glowering at her former

    high school crush and the flirtatious waitress.

    The door opened again, this time admitting an icy wind as well as an individual in dirty

    jeans and a torn and grimy black jacket. He pulled the door shut firmly against the breeze.

    Rayvin couldn’t see his face for the curtain of greasy black hair under his dismal grey trucker’s

    cap.

    The patrons closest to the entrance reacted to the unexpected gust of cold air, grabbing for

    their coats and scarves. The newcomer stood by the door, rubbing his grubby hands vigorously.

    It was a hint of the winter to come, Rayvin reflected, shivering through her own thick woollen

    sweater. If it was as cold as that wind suggested, she was going to have an uncomfortable

    journey home, whether it was walking or riding with Officer Michaels. Constable Michaels.

    Whatever he was called now. She rubbed her arms, waiting for the brief burst of chill to dissipate

    with the warmth of the restaurant.

    It didn’t.

    In fact, as waitress Suzie twirled her hair around her finger and dipped below the counter to

    retrieve the necklace for Michaels, Rayvin noticed a distinct odour pervading the room. A couple

    behind her left off eating their soup, noses wrinkled wrinkling in distaste.

    “Does it seem darker in here to you?” Michaels asked.

    Before Rayvin could respond, Suzie called out, “Do you have a penlight or something? I

    can’t see down here.”

    Obligingly, Michaels removed the tool from an inner coat pocket, and turned around.

    Rayvin had noticed that the lights seemed dim, and the small votive candles on each table

    were giving off faint blue hues. Not that any of the diners picked up on their supernatural glow;

    they were putting on coats or sweaters against the chill that continued to spread, or using menus

    and napkins to try wafting away the stink that ruined their appetites.

    She stepped toward the stranger who had walked in, sensing the source of the problem. For a

    brief instant, as he lifted his chin, her eyes met his in the shadow under the brim of his filthy hat.

    Suddenly, it felt like the walls were closing in; the world tilted around her, her head

    pounded, and her vision exploded. Sickening lights and horrifying, demonic faces leered at her

    as the floor slanted under her feet. The breath left her lungs in a whoosh, as though she’d been

    punched in the stomach. Rayvin reached out, blindly, hands grasping for something solid, and

    found Michaels’ arm.

    “We have to get out of here, now,” she whispered, clutching his wrist.

    She turned her head away from the shadows and that elongated and loomed over her

    to gesture at the door, where the decorative lights shimmered and stretched into a matrix of

    fantastic threads snaking through the air to bind and trap her. They blinded her against the dark

    figure, but she could hear his malevolent laughter. It echoed all around her, drowning out the

    words she knew Grant was speaking; she could feel his chest against her back, an island of

    stability in the chaos, rumbling gently as he spoke. Her knees trembled, nearly giving way under

    the onslaught. The arm encircling her waist took her off-guard, and she fought against it at first,

    until touch revealed it to be Michaels’ muscle, sinew, and bone holding her steady.

    As one, they moved toward the entrance. His grip tightened as Rayvin staggered under

    the weight of the malevolence bearing down on her. Black, dark, evil energy sank down along

    her shoulders and spine, cloaking her with icy tendrils and muffling her senses even as her feet

    shuffled toward the threshold, until she felt the contours of the door under her palms. The vile

    blanket lifted from her with the first brushes of crisp, fresh air against her face; she tilted her

    chin up, letting the calming breeze wash over her eyelids, her nose, and her lips. Exhaling, she

    let him steer her down the sidewalk a few paces. She felt like a swimmer who’d barely escaped

    drowning. Stopping at a low stone wall, Rayvin leaned her elbows against its frosty, pitted rough

    surface, and immediately missed the warmth of Michaels’ touch when his hand let go of her

    body.

    “What the hell happened in there?” Michaels was standing a step away, his hands fisted on

    his hips.

    She looked up, rubbing the back of her hand against her forehead. The pain banding her

    skull from temple to temple was starting to ease, but when she opened her eyes, halos of energy

    stood in bright relief around the living entities and made her head ache anew. Michaels moved

    into her field of vision. She flinched, but instead of the burst of agony she was expecting, his

    aura flooded her with calm. He stepped closer, and with relief, she felt herself opening to his

    vibration, warm and healing. She felt his concern, his confusion and frustration, and more.

    “I . . .” Rayvin hesitated, unable to hold his gaze. She looked back the way they had come,

    down the sidewalk at the seemingly ordinary restaurant. Another couple was just coming through

    the doors, holding hands and laughing, oblivious to whatever had attacked her.

    “It’s hard to explain. I felt something . . . wrong, really wrong. Something powerful, that

    came at me, like it was attacking me, or about to. It wasn’t safe to stay. I couldn’t see, couldn’t

    breathe . . .” She shuddered, bowing her head, and felt him move a step closer.

    “Well, I thought you were going to faint,” Michaels noted. “And you’re still pale. Are you

    on anything? Any medications, herbs, or . . .” He cut off when she glared at him blearily. “What

    you experienced could logically be the result of a hallucinogen of some kind.”

    Cradling her chin, he pulled out the penlight again to check her pupils. She jerked her head,

    trying to get away, but he refused to let go. The touch of his hand made her breath come more

    quickly. The sensation of his fingers brushing against the sensitive skin, just below her jawline,

    weakened her defences. Or was it his nearness, the way his eyes met hers, his lips so close to her

    own that hers trembled in response? Rayvin’s stomach was still clenching in reaction to fear, and

    her fingers were numb with shock; her instinct was tearing her in three directions. She wanted

    to run back in and fight the creature. She wanted to run for her own life. And she wanted to stay

    right here in the safety of this man’s arms.

    She would never know who moved first.

    Her eyes closed as his mouth covered hers, yielding to the hand that cupped her face and

    tilted it back. Her fingers touched his chest, exploring the contours of the warm muscle hidden

    under the soft flannel work shirt. Heat blossomed between her thighs as she felt his heartbeat

    quicken. He moved closer, settling into the space between her legs as their kiss deepened.”

    Q&A


    1. If you were to describe your e-book/book in only one word, what would it be?

    Intense. A lot happens in a very short period of time.

    2. What would you say inspired you to write it?

    Wind and Shadow was inspired by a combination of things. It started when I was remembering an event from my youth. My family lived in the small northern town of Haileybury for three years, five minutes away from the even smaller community of Cobalt, which had once been known as the Silver Capital of Canada because all of the mines in the area. In the early part of the 20th century, tunnels had been dug into the cliffs, in the bush, and even under the town itself. When the price of silver fell, most of the mines shut down and the population dwindled. Without regular maintenance, the pilings rotted, and one day, a section of tunnel running close to the surface collapsed, opening a hole in the street that was big enough to swallow a car. While engineers worked to solve the problem and investigate the rest of the tunnels, to make things safe, some enterprising individuals billed the gap as the World’s Largest Pothole. I’ve always had a morbid fascination for disasters, and this relatively minor event caught my imagination. As an adult, living in the region kept the memories fresh, and when I went on maternity leave with our second child, I started wondering what else might have caused the cave-in. What if a creature had been trapped down there, and the sinkhole had been caused by its escape? And what better creature to find itself trapped in the dark, underground, than a vampire?

    Recent, local history was as much an inspiration as was my love for all things paranormal: vampires, witches, ghosts, etc. I’m a student of witchcraft and Wiccan, so I wanted to write a book that reflected the positives of being a witch, with strong characters based on fictional women like Sally Owens in “Practical Magic”. But I also felt that my writing would include shout-outs to my favourite horror and romance authors — Stephen King, Nora Roberts, Anne Rice, and Bram Stoker. And much of the book was inspired by vampire films that I enjoy: “30 Days of Night”, “The Lost Boys”, “Daybreakers”, and “John Carpenter’s Vampires”. It really was a work of love.

    3. What was the source of inspiration for your protagonist? What about your antagonist?

    Rayvin Woods was inspired in part by Sally Owens in “Practical Magic”, with her honesty, her talent, her strength and her vulnerability. Her looks are based in part on one of my cousins, who has gorgeous long red hair I’ve always envied, and she’s petite because I’m tall — I wanted to make sure she wasn’t me, but her own person. At the same time, many of her experiences were influenced by my own feelings of being an outsider throughout my school years, and her knowledge of witchcraft is based on my own.

    Malcolm de Sade is very much based on two figures, one historical figure and two from fiction: the Marquis de Sade, the character of David from “The Lost Boys” (played by Kiefer Sutherland), and the character of Jimmy Angelov from “Practical Magic” (played by Goran Visnjic). I looked to these men to build his charm, malevolence, cunning, cruelty, and his skills as a lover, plus the way that his facial features morph into those of a demon when he is about to feed.

    4. Have you ever been hit by the infamous “writer’s block”? What did you do to escape it?

    Oh, yes. About a third of the way through Wind and Shadow, I hit the wall and didn’t have a clue what to do next. A few things helped me to find the way around it: I organized the school’s yearbook, as part of a media course I was teaching that year, and I wrote a prequel novella to answer some of the questions that had arisen over the vampire’s situation. The yearbook gave me confidence, since I ended up writing and designing most of it myself, and the prequel novella, “Mist and Midnight”, was accepted by my first and main publisher, Melange Books. The latter not only gave me a little more confidence in my ability to finish the work, having found the answers to my questions, it also motivated me to keep going to the end and make the trilogy happen. It also helped that through process, my children were getting a little older and a little older, giving me just a bit more flexibility with my time to be able to explore the characters and flesh them out, as well as the plot and its potential.

    5. Your all time favorite book?

    Anne of Green Gables, by L.M. Montgomery, but it’s a close tie with Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell, The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley, and Salem’s Lot, by Stephen King. It’s difficult for me to pick a favourite, actually!

    6. What made you pick that one above all others?

    Anne carried me away and made me want to step out of my life for a while. It wasn’t the first novel I’d read on my own — that was The Blue Sword — but it was utterly romantic, at times hysterically funny and other times devastating, with beautiful descriptions and gorgeous use of language. Montgomery painted word pictures that I simply adored, clearly expressing her love for a certain place and time in her past. And I identified with Anne Shirley’s knack for getting herself into awkward situations with her overly-dramatic personality and imagination.

    7. What’s the longest time you’ve spent working on a project?

    Wind and Shadow took me seven years to complete, working on it a little at a time. There were many moments when I thought it would never be done, just another unfinished project on my shelf.

    8. Would you say becoming an author has changed you? In what way?

    I feel stronger and more assured in my own abilities. I’ve always had issues with self-esteem, but just being able to write a story, from start to finish, and have a publisher accept it has been a dream come true. In fact, when I was cleaning out boxes of journals this summer, I found reflections from when I was 13 that articulated my dream of being a published author! I’m less shy about showing my work to others, and although I still feel guilty about tooting my own horn, for fear of seeming egotistical, it’s a lot of fun to see how readers react to my writing. I’m more determined than ever to keep writing.

    9. What does your day-to-day life consist of? What else do you do, aside writing?

    I’m a full-time high school teacher as well as a parent and a spouse, so generally my days are busy. My husband currently drives a taxi full-time, and is out the door before 6 am, so getting the children out the door on time for school can be a challenge, although it’s become easier over the past year. At work, I’m usually on the go for most of the day, with a little down time during my lunch and/or prep period, but I also supervise extracurricular activities frequently during the week and sometimes student play rehearsals on the weekends. Both of my children are involved with after-school activities, although we’ve cut back on those since the fall to avoid burning out. In my off-time, I like doing cross-stitching and small quilting projects, making my own rolled beeswax candles, gardening (though the plants are better off if I just leave them alone), reading, and watching movies. I also tend to use social media a lot, as I like feeling connected to people, and I enjoy computer games.

    10. How do you deal with bad reviews or acid criticism? What would you advise other authors to that effect?

    After I get through my initial knee-jerk reaction of feeling hurt and off-put, I remind myself that writing is an art, and it’s subjective. I know that there will be those who won’t like my style, my content, or my descriptions, and there will be others who love it and ask me for more. And my writing isn’t perfect. I’m my own worst critic, never quite satisfied with how it’s turned out. Sometimes, seeing a reviewer point out flaws in the style or description that I’ve noticed as well is actually a bit of a comfort. It gives me motivation to improve my writing with the next project. Writers are artists, sculpting images with words — it’s a continuous process of learning and experimentation, feedback and reflection. For the most part, I accept a bad review with thanks, because at the very least, the reviewer took the time to read my work, and then I move on.

    11. Is this title part of a series? Without giving us spoilers, of course, what can we expect from the next e-books/books in the series?

    Wind and Shadow is the first complete novel in the Talbot Trilogy, yes. In Book Two: Blood and Fire, Rayvin believes herself to be alone in her battle against the growing vampire coven, but she gains allies: a pair of vampire hunters with supernatural shapeshifting gifts of their own — Marcy, a wood-nymph, and her partner Siobhan, a gargoyle — will join forces with our red-headed witch, as will Charlotte and Pike on their return from their honeymoon. The struggle will reach its height in the third and final book, Crystal and Wand, when hard choices and sacrifices will lead to the redemption of these imperfect people.

    12. What do you have stored for us in the future? What are you working on/planning on next, aside this title/series?

    I’d like to work on some young adult novels, both fantasy and drama, and expand on short horror stories about my community for an anthology. I’d also like to write more poetry, working with iambic pentameter.

    Fun facts:

    1. If you could wish for any one thing, and it would immediately come true, what would you wish for?

    That’s a dangerous concept! I’d have to be careful — you know what they say about getting what you wish for! I would likely wish for enough money to wipe our debts clear, pay for my children’s education, and renovate or rebuild our home, with time to enjoy it, and without having the wish harm anyone or anything else.

    2. If you were stranded on an isolated island, what’s the one book you’d absolutely wish to have with you?

    The Stand, by Stephen King. Nice and long and involving while waiting for my rescue!

    3. Name your favorite fruit.

    Bananas!

    4. Coffee or tea?

    Tea, with sugar or honey. I’m supposed to avoid coffee on doctor’s orders, to prevent aggravating my anxieties and chronic depression.

    5. Favorite season?

    The opposite of the season I’m typically experiencing? I enjoy the heat of summer but dislike sweating; winter is picturesque but requires so many layers to be comfortable; spring is lovely but messy, and fall is over too quickly, its beauty fleeting and sometimes as messy as spring.

    6. How about fav time of 24 hours?

    Midnight — the witching hour!

    7. Were you a boyscout/girlscout?

    I was a Brownie and a Girl Guide for several years, yes.

    8. Favorite food for breakfast?

    My husband drives taxi, but for years he worked as a professional chef. He makes the most delicious French toast, with thick bread, whipped cream, and a sautéed apple topping with a hint of cinnamon and orange juice . . . Best breakfast ever!

    But most days, it’s regular toast with peanut butter and raspberry jam.

    9. Latest book you’ve bought and read?

    Cinderella’s Secret Diary: Book 1 — Lost, by Ron Vitale

    10. Do you collect things, like stamps, or key chains, or shoes?

    I collect and make miniature furniture.

    11. Favorite color, you know you want to tell us!

    Usually it’s purple, but I also like pink, red, black, and blue.

    12. Drama or comedy?

    All depends on the mood I’m in.

    13. Have a fav quote or personal motto?

    “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.” Rhett Butler, Gone with the Wind

    14. Cats or dogs?

    I love cats but I’m badly allergic to them, so I enjoy them in picture only.

    15. Dinner by candlelight or a night out clubbing?

    Clubbing — I love to dance!

    Thanks so much for having me on Butterfly-o-Meter!

    Giveaway

    About the Author & Links:

    Tori Headshot 3
    After her first heartbreak, Tori found solace in two things: reading romance novels and listening to an after-dark radio program called Lovers and Other Strangers.
    Throughout the summer and fall of 1990, the new kid in town found reading fiction and writing her own short stories gave her a much needed creative outlet.
    Determined to become a published author, Tori amassed stacks of notebooks and boxes of filed-away stories, most only half-finished before another idea would overtake her and demand to be written down. Then, while on parental leave with her second baby, one story formed and refused to be packed away. Between teaching full-time, parenting, and life in general, it would take almost seven years before the first novel in her first trilogy would be completed. In the process, Tori finally found her stride as a writer.
    At present, on her off-time, Tori not only enjoys reading, but also listening to an eclectic mix of music as she walks the family dog (Skittles), attempts to turn her thumb green, or makes needlework gifts for her friends and family members. She loves to travel, collect and make miniature furniture, and a good cup of tea during a thunderstorm or a blizzard. Under it all, she is always intrigued by history, the supernatural, vampire and shapeshifter mythology, romance, and other dangers.
    Tori is currently working on Crystal and Wand: Book Three of The Talbot Trilogy. She lives in Kirkland Lake, Ontario, Canada with her husband and two children. She is a full-time teacher at a local high school.

    Website | Twitter | Goodreads

    The_Butterfly_Livia

    The_Butterfly_Livia

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