Today I welcome Joyce Mangola to the hot seat, author of the young adult paranormal novel, Ghosts in the Mirror, recently released with Lycaon Press.
Welcome, Joyce! What author do you most admire?
David Morrell. It’s the detail in his books. Granted, I will say that I’ve found a few that I didn’t care for but all in all…wow. The fact that he learned a lot of what he writes by doing too…I’m amazed and a bit envious that he has the means to do it. Also, though most are extremely action packed (he’s the author that created the character Rambo!), he also has ones that are thrillers in other ways. Each has a different layer and it’s not a cookie-cutter plot.
I’ve never read anything by him, but now I’ll have to check him out. Are there any other fantastic novels waiting to burst free from your imagination in the future?
Oh I have plenty in the old brain pan. There’s a few more with Jeremy swirling in my head. With the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg battle and me basing The Harborer of Souls series in PA, I’ve got some wickedly good plans for him. Ghosts in the Mirror just touched the surface of what he can do. I’ve also got one that involves a boy who has clairvoyance he tries to suppress until a high school bully pushes him too far. That one might be my next project. There’s also a series that is a lot darker involving a teenager dealing with a mother who can’t seem to stay clean and off drugs, putting him into a situation where he’s got to fight just to get out of the world she’s thrust him into.
Sounds awesome. Tell us about your road to publication. Was it short and sweet? Long and winding with many bumps?
Wow. It’s been a long and winding road. Mostly, it’s because I was too scared to try and get published. It wasn’t even the rejection I was afraid of, I didn’t think I was any good. My friends pushed me to try. In fact, I started sending things out when you still did it by snail mail. I still have the few rejection letters for that. What that taught me, though I didn’t figure it out until several years later, was what I sent wasn’t good enough. Oh boy, it was bad now that I look at it. The best thing I ever did was share my stuff in a private forum for feedback. That led to me finding Scribophile. From there, I learned a lot of what is ready to send out and what still needs work. Nothing is ever truly complete. The first step for me, honestly, was getting serious as a writer. That, alone, took me twenty years to realize.
And we’re so glad you did! How much of you is in your hero?
Jeremy is me if only for the bullying he received. It’s a tough blow to go through that but just like me, he learned to overcome it in his own way. He didn’t give in to the psychological battle in your head when a bully wears you down. It’s a strength I wish every child could have.
True. It seems to be a part of every kid’s childhood now. Kind of sad, isn’t it? What kind of high school personality were you? Band dork? Jock? Loner? Brainiac?
Band dork big time. I even got the award at the banquet for being the most gung-ho. I even spent my first few paychecks when I got a job to buy myself a piccolo.
Oh yeah, another hard core band dork. Funny how many authors are former flute/clarinet toters. What does your dream house look like, including an ideal oasis from which to write your masterpieces?
The house I’m in now comes close. Ideally, I’d love to live deep in the woods but that’s not very good for internet connections. My writing room overlooks a nice little patch of mature trees and every manner of creature frolics there, to the dismay of my two cats who can’t get to them. I even have a few hawks in the area.
Yes, the woods! a girl after my own heart. Have you ever done something so crazy and reckless you think back on it and wonder how you lived to tell us about it?
I used to ride my bike down this hill. It was a low grade but you went really, really fast. No helmet or anything as there wasn’t any laws saying I had to wear one. There was a stop sign at the end of the hill I ignored. All that speed…I didn’t want to stop. One day, I went flying down and at the end there was a car coming. I jammed the brakes and slid. I missed the car and it missed me. I never did it again. I figured I was going to get a second chance.
Oy, yikes! Crazy kid! 🙂 I think we all have a few moments in our lives that would have turned our parents’ hair white if they’d been there to watch. I know I certainly have a few. What’s your proudest moment so far? (It doesn’t have be about writing.)
It’s still got to be the birth of my son. Even though he’s 19 now, I still tear up thinking about that little warbling cry and waiting forever in the recovery room so I could see him. That was the only thing about having to get a c-section. I didn’t get to hold him right away. I went in at high noon and didn’t get to meet my precious package in person until almost 7PM at night. He will always be my baby boy…even at 6’3″.
Ah, great answer. I feel the same about my wee girl, too. 🙂 If I opened up your purse/handbag right now, what would I find in there?
My Kindle, packed with all sorts of reading material, Wii Zumba (good place for it, right?), my wallet, of course. It’s actually pretty clean because I just bought a new one.
Ah, yes. The Kindle. That’s the important item, right? 😉 Thanks for stopping by today, Joyce. And now for the pretty!
Back of the Book
Sixteen-year-old Jeremy Riggs has lived his life in and out of the hospital. While the doctors are clueless as to why he lapses into comas, he is well aware of his unique ability to merge with a wandering spirit. With his own soul too weak to sustain life, it’s the only thing keeping him alive.
Waking up from a coma a year after being found at the county dump—next to the remains of the last spirit to inhabit him—Jeremy finds the newest spirit is nothing like the previous ones. It’s bent on revenge and has the will to take control over his body. With the police lining him up as a murder suspect and an ancient evil pursuing him, Jeremy must help the ghost hitching a ride in his body find eternal rest without seeing his own soul snuffed out.
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A chill swept through his body, and Jeremy lurched up. Cold tendrils of breath seeped out of his mouth. Across the room in the dresser mirror, the ghostly visage of Beverly stared back at him.
The image wavered, and he tilted over to the side of the bed. Thick deep orange ectoplasm poured out of his mouth and into the bucket beside the nightstand. The nausea hit again, and his snack from earlier vacated his body. Frost formed on his fingers, the tips whitened crystal. He fought the urge to scream and buried himself in his blankets for warmth. He burrowed his face into his pillow to muffle the cries of pain. The sting of muscle spasms ran the length of his body. Sweat mingled with the melting ice coating his body, soaking his bed.
Had she left his body and returned?
His shaky hand grabbed the pill box and opened it up. Pinkie nail sized blue and white tablets rattled. He shook out the pills—one for pain and one to lull him back to sleep–and ate them, their grainy texture rolling on his tongue. He poured water down his throat to wash away the awful taste.
“Please stop it.” If Beverly heard his pleas, she didn’t listen. A whimper escaped the confines of the pillow. A clear vision popped into his head. He closed his eyes tight and snuggled deep in the blankets, pleading for his pills to knock him out. The spirit inside him revolted, and a kaleidoscope of colors exploded in his head. He blinked, the neon glow of the clock reading one in the morning.
Jeremy thrashed under the sheets. Flaring pain prickled his skin, a thousand needles poking and prodding him. His right hand ripped the blankets away leaving him exposed. He fought to catch his breath and sat up, his reflection shimmering in the mirror.
A halo of white surrounded him, ghostly fingers urging him to stand. Jeremy shook his head.
“No. I don’t want to,” he cried. His hands shot to the side of his head, the searing ripples of a migraine rocking his senses. He gasped as the image of a little girl, eyes wide in terror, sprang to life in his head.
“Help me,” her wispy voice pleaded before she vanished in a rain of black mucus splattering to the floor.
He staggered out of bed. His arm flailed to fend off an unseen force.
“Help me.” Her plea came again, and Jeremy jerked forward. His fingers brushed his nose, and crimson stained them. One foot flopped in front of the other, and he staggered to the basement. The door groaned in protest as he opened it. He eased down the steps and grasped the banister as one leg gave out. Cold enveloped him, and his teeth chattered. Down at the bottom of the steps, he collapsed to the floor.
“Please let me go,” he cried. “I don’t want to do this anymore.”