Our interview today is with Aiden James the author of Cades Cove (4.2 stars, 64 reviews, $2.99). Before we get to our interview with Aiden, a quick book description of Cades Cove: Buried deep in a ravine in the picturesque Smoky Mountains is a very dark secret. David Hobbs, vacationing with his wife Miriam, inadvertently stumbles upon a small cloth ‘keepsake’ bag and a broken tooth. A human tooth. Miriam begs David to hand the bag and tooth over to park officials, but he ignores his wife’s pleas and secretly keeps the ‘harmless’ items. The action opens a doorway that had been closed for nearly a hundred years and unleashes hell on earth, or at least hell in the lives of David and Miriam.
Following the brutal murder of his best friend in Denver, and an aborted attack on his oldest son, David desperately seeks to understand why a mysterious teenage girl has chosen to terrorize him and the males closest to him. To prevent further devastation to his family and end the wanton bloodshed, he returns to the enchanted hills of eastern Tennessee, where a terrible truth awaits discovery…one that forces him to face the consequences for the unpaid sins of his ancestors.
Interview with Aiden James
1. What was unique about the setting of the book and how did it enhance or take away from the story?
Aiden: Cades Cove is a magical place and is part of the Great Smokies National Park. The remaining cabins, homesteads, and churches draw hundreds of thousands of visitors from around the world every year. Not to mention that the scenic beauty throughout the area is breathtaking. Having these elements present in the story has struck a strong chord of familiarity with readers who are familiar with the area.
2. What specific themes did you emphasize throughout the novel?
Aiden: Revenge for a terrible wrong and the power of love and selfless determination to atone for ancestral crimes are the themes that drive the story along.
3. Do the characters seem real and believable? Can your readers relate to their predicaments? To what extent do they remind your audience of someone they know?
Aiden: The characters are based on people I have known well or at least had some interaction with—both in Colorado and Tennessee (the two settings for the book). For anyone who has dealt first hand with paranormal activity, the predicaments will seem very real. In fact, most instances are based on actual experiences of people I know well. Of course, for skeptics of that sort of thing (the supernatural), they might feel differently about this aspect. I have received several emails from readers stating to me that the characters in the book remind them of people they have met before.
4. How do characters change or evolve throughout the course of the story? What events trigger such changes?
Aiden: The Hobbs family undergoes a series of changes that specifically relates to the violence of the ghost (Allie Mae). David is the most profoundly affected, and without giving away key elements to the plot, his determination to make peace with the spirit is key to his entire family’s survival. We watch him go from a pragmatic skeptic to an ardent believer, but at a huge personal price. Allie Mae’s violence is directed at him and the males close to him.
5. In what ways do the events in the books reveal evidence of your world view as an author?
Aiden: Although I take a skeptical approach to investigating the supernatural, I firmly believe in ghosts. Some of the events are based on either things I have personally witnessed or have gathered from my investigative research.
6. What research did you have to perform to back up your story? Any research which really opened your eyes or gave you new respect for a topic or profession?
Aiden: Even though I had personal knowledge of both Colorado and Tennessee, as a resident in both states, I did spend quite a bit of research on the history of Cades Cove. Also, there was extensive research into the customs and magic of the Cherokee. Learning about the Native American outlook on life has given me a broader view of our purpose as human beings here on earth.
7. What is your method for writing a book? A certain amount of hours every day? A certain routine? Are you character/story builder or an outliner or some other method?
Aiden: I try to write something every day. Even if it’s just a paragraph, in order to keep a story moving along. Sometimes I spend several hours writing, and other times maybe an hour at most. It depends on how inspired I feel, or when the ideas are rolling in like an unstoppable train. Of course, life doesn’t always cooperate with the goal of writing every day, and there have been times when I might not write anything for up to a week. Especially, if I am on vacation—I don’t work at all, if that’s the case.
Normally, I start a book with an outline. It begins as a very sketchy idea and then I will fill in details. After the outline is complete, I’ll put it away at that point, except for the first chapter. This keeps things fresh for me in the creative state, and once I’m done with that chapter, I’ll take a look at chapter two, and so on. This method often leads to some nice surprises. If I veer too far off the course of the original outline, I’ll take a day to revamp the remaining chapters to flow with what I have written thus far.
8. How do you get past writers block or distractions like the internet?
Aiden: Writers block is usually not a problem for me, although if I do feel uninspired I will listen to some music to get the juices flowing. The internet, on the other hand, is a beast that is hard to control. This is especially true since part of a modern author’s survival demands some interaction on the social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, and Linked In. Not to mention maintaining blogs and keeping an eye on how things are progressing with our books on Kindle, Nook, and other outlets. The best thing to control the internet distraction is stick to an allotted time to be online, and then log off. Otherwise, time to serious things—like write your next book—will slip through your fingers.
9. Favorite book from childhood.
Aiden: I wasn’t much of a reader growing up (sports and music). Really, it wasn’t until high school that I read anything for pleasure. Stephen King’s “The Shining” has always stayed with me since I first read it during my senior year (a long, long time ago). I guess that would make it my favorite book as a kid.
10. What’s on your desk? Can you see your desk? Describe what you see when you look around.
Aiden: My ‘desk’ consists of a small stand that holds my MAC. That’s where I store almost everything ‘bookwise’ that I own. I have a briefcase lying at my feet and it contains a few notebooks that are filled with details from my vampire novels (research and character sketches), as well as research for my second Judas Chronicles installment coming out in May. The room itself is a small living area that contains a pair of bookcases and an antique writing desk that I will never use. But to look around me (as I sit in one corner of the room), my surroundings inspire me to do the thing I use this room for: to write…and jam on a little rock n’ roll.
Aiden James Bio:
An author fascinated by Gothic history and the supernatural, Aiden James presently has written nine novels with many more to follow–including three novels slated for release by the end of 2012. Two novels have reached the upper echelon of Amazon Kindle’s Bestseller lists: “Plague of Coins” and “Cades Cove”. Aiden resides in Tennessee with his lovely wife, Fiona, and their two sons, Christopher and Tyler. An avid researcher of all things paranormal, Aiden spends much of his time investigating haunted locales throughout the Deep South.
Twitter page: https://twitter.com/#!/AidenJames3