2020 Conversations with Colleen: Meet Author, Mae Clair, @MaeClair1

Introducing Author, Mae Clair and a discussion of the Hode’s Hill Series

Reading is one of my favorite pastimes. There’s a plethora of books out there to choose from, and not all books stand out. In fact, you don’t want to know how many books I read and don’t review. So, when I find an excellent book or series, I like to spend some time with the author, picking their brain. I want to know where they get their ideas and how they think.

Today, please meet my friend and author, Mae Clair. I thought her Hode’s Hill Series was one of the best dual timeline mysteries I’ve read. I ranted and raved my way through the reviews, which you will find links to, below.

Mae Clair

A member of the Mystery Writers of America and International Thriller Writers, Mae Clair is also a founding member and contributor to the award-winning writing blog, Story Empire. She has achieved bestseller status on both Amazon and Barnes & Noble, with several of her novels chosen as book club selections. 

Mae writes primarily in the mystery/suspense genre, flavoring her plots with elements of urban legend and folklore. Married to her high school sweetheart, she lives in Pennsylvania and is passionate about cryptozoology, old photographs, a good Maine lobster tail, and cats. 

Discover more about Mae on her website and blog at MaeClair.com

It’s a pleasure to be a guest on your blog today, Colleen. I’m delighted to be here, discussing my Hode’s Hill supernatural mystery/suspense series. Your enthusiasm for the three books in the series, and my style of writing was a joy to discover. Thank you for your wonderful reviews of Cusp of Night, End of Day and Eventide.

Welcome Mae. Please describe your Hode’s Hill series.

All three books use dual timelines (one in the past and one in the present for each novel), intertwining two separate mysteries together at the end. As I recall, that was one of the aspects that intrigued you the most.

That’s correct. The complexity of combining the two time periods to mesh with the plot must have been difficult. How did you come up with a dual timeline structure?

Cusp of Night was my first experience attempting to write a book with dual timelines. Months earlier, I’d read The Night Sister, an amazing novel by Jennifer McMahon. It was the first time I’d encountered a book using two timelines, and I was hooked. Hooked!! I devoured several of her books in a row, thoroughly enthralled by the way she wove two separate mysteries together.

There is definitely an increased level of complexity and that’s a problem if you’re not a good plotter­—like me. I’m a planster. A bit of character and setting development before I start writing, then I wing it. I rarely, if ever, even know how my books are going to end.

Managing two mysteries in the same novel was a challenge. And let’s not forget both mysteries have to overlap at the end. Because my publisher was interested in a series from me, I knew if I wrote one book that way, I was going to have to stick with the style for all three. Could I pull it off? I was nervous but wanted to attempt it. The first thing I needed, however, was a story idea. Hmm.

And that was my next question! How did you come up with the idea for Hode’s Hill? All three mysteries intersect at the end. That had to be difficult!

As it happened, I hurt my back, and my doctor prescribed a steroid of some kind. I took one dose and was wired. Couldn’t sleep a wink. I remember lying in bed at night and plotting Cusp of Night in my head. Start to finish.

When 5:00 A.M. rolled around, I got up and typed out 4.5 pages of notes for my editor. The publisher loved it and committed to the series without seeing a proposal for books two or three.

Wow! That’s amazing!

Cusp of Night pretty much wrote itself thanks to that sleepless night of plotting. End of Day and Eventide were harder because I fell back into my usual means of plansting—coming up with vague ideas that required fleshing out as I wrote.

As an example, Dante DeLuca has a small secondary role in Cusp. Jillian Cley is a minor character. I think she has two scenes total. I had no intention of using either one again, then suddenly they became my leads when I sat down to write End of Day.

As I was working on EoD, I was planning on using two secondary characters for the leads in Eventide, but then Madison Hewitt popped up. I didn’t even know Jillian had a sister until my muse inserted a few lines about her in chapter one. At that point she didn’t even have a name, but apparently, she was stuck in a care center, staring at four walls.

Who knew? Certainly not the author!

Madison became my lead for Eventide.

Many authors struggle with plotting, Mae. Can you give us any tips on how to plot?

I know plansters and pansters can relate to what I’m saying, but I do not recommend working on dual timeline books this way. I’ve learned a lot while writing the three Hode’s Hill novels—foremost the benefit of plotting. I managed End of Day and Eventide without plotting, but moving ahead, I full intend to give it a go.

These books were filled with the history and customs of the time periods you cast them in. Does writing historical novels interest you?

In closing, I’m also someone who loves history and old customs. Most of that comes from my love of legends and folklore. I don’t have the dedication to write a historical novel, but I know enough about select topics to layer my books with historical aspects.

That’s why the secondary timelines in Hode’s Hill rely on past centuries. Cusp of Night and Eventide use a secondary timeline in the late 1800s, and End of Day, the year 1799. I’m fascinated by the 1800s, plus it provides such fertile ground for dipping into elements like spiritualism, which is the underlying theme in Cusp.

When you read any of my books, you’re pretty much guaranteed a contemporary setting twined with threads of history, myth, and folklore—my signature style of storytelling. Needless to say, I am thrilled when readers appreciate my efforts.

Thanks so much for sharing more about Hode’s Hill, Mae. This is one series I won’t forget.

Thanks again for inviting me, Colleen. I hope you and your readers enjoyed learning more about how Hode’s Hill came to be. Purchase links are listed above for anyone who would like to explore the books in more detail.

I also have a series about the Mothman, a creature that haunted the town of Point Pleasant, West Virginia in the late 1960s. Like my Hode’s Hill series, there are three books (all capable of being read as stand alones), that blend elements of mystery, suspense, and the paranormal. 

Unlike Hode’s Hill, my Point Pleasant series does not use dual timelines, but it does draw on historical events, folklore, and legend. Information on all of the books I’ve written is available on my website, MaeClair.com.

Hode’s Hill Series:
A Cusp of Night | End of Day | Eventide

Connect with Mae Clair at BOOKBUB and the following haunts:
Amazon| BookBub| Newsletter Sign-Up
Website | Blog| Twitter| Goodreads| All Social Media

98 Comments on “2020 Conversations with Colleen: Meet Author, Mae Clair, @MaeClair1

  1. Bravo, Mae, for successfully writing in dual time frames without the aid of plotting. As a card carrying member of the panster club, it must have been hard but obviously doable. A great interview. Thanks Colleen for letting us get to know Mae and her books better. xo

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    • Hi, Darlene! The first book (Cusp of Night) was fairly easy to write, thanks to all the plotting I did, but the other two were a lot harder. I started out a panster, became a planster, but I think moving ahead, I may need to embrace plotting a lot more, LOL.
      Thanks for visiting and commenting!

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  2. A fascinating interview. I have some of Mae’s books on my list and this has piqued my interest. Thanks, Colleein and good luck to Mae!

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    • Hello, Olga! Thanks for stopping by to check out the interview. It’s wonderful to hear it has piqued your interest in reference to my work. When any of my stories surface on your list, I hope you enjoy it/them. It’s been a pleasure to visit with Colleen today!

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  3. Colleen, it is so wonderful to visit with you today. Thank you for having me as a guest on your blog, and for all of your fantastic support of my books. You rock, my friend! I’m doing a Snoopy dance to be here! 🙂

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    • Mae, I’m so happy to share with you with the world. You are a talented writer and deserve all the support our writing community gave give you. Consider me a fan of your writing! ❤

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      • Thank you, thank you, my friend! Your support is above and beyond, and I am so thankful.
        I need to catch up with your work as well. I just bought Fairies, Myths and Magic from Amazon!

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  4. I loved both the Point Pleasant and the Hode’s Hill series. It’s difficult to pick a favorite, as Mae is such a skilled writer. I have to say, though, she masterfully handled the dual timelines. Her characters are always realistic, her plots always compelling, her use of lore consistently fascinating. But it’s her command of the language and craft that continue to blow me away. You can’t go wrong with any of her work.

    Wishing Mae all the best. Thanks for sharing this, Colleen.

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  5. A fantastic interview! It was great seeing behind the scenes of this wonderful series, which I LOVED!! The dual timelines were written flawlessly and Mae’s unique ability to weave the two together was fascinating. I loved the Hodes Hill AND Point Pleasant series! Thank you for featuring Mae here today, Colleen!

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    • Hi, Jan! Thanks for visiting me today. Colleen has been so lovely in inviting me over. It’s wonderful to see friends here, and of course, I love hearing that you enjoyed my Hode’s Hill series and the Point Pleasant books. Thank you for all of your awesome support!

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    • Thank you, Jan. I’ve been entertaining the dual timeline myself for my Sisters of the Fey novel. It’s so cool to find out how other authors plot and create. Mae has a writing gift, and I had to share it with everyone! ❤

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  6. Fantastic interview, and I shared it far and wide. Hope it drives you both a bit of traffic. I loved both the series mentioned and recommend them highly.

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  7. What a fantastic interview! Steroids do the same thing to me. What a huge positive this series came from that moment. I loved the dual timelines and how history is weaved in. I try to keep everything in my head when I write, but finding that makes for a lot of clean up. It was done so seamlessly in this series. How you brought the characters along in both times was inspired. I loved both series and have anything Mae Clair as a must-read on my list. Thanks for having Mae here, Colleen:)

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    • Wow! I am thrilled by such a wonderful comment, Denise. You have doing my happy Snoopy dance 🙂
      The experience with the steroid (I forget which one it was) was awful and weird. I went for 30-some hours without sleep. I was wired, tired, but also accomplishing a lot, if that makes sense. My mind didn’t want to shut off!

      I’m glad you enjoyed my dual time lines and the historical elements, and I’m ecstatic to be on your must-read list. Thank you!

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  8. Fantastic interview, Mae and Colleen! LOVE how the ideas come to you, Mae, and that you don’t always know who’s going to be in a book until you’re in the middle of it. 😀 And good ideas come to us in the middle of the night, don’t they? (That’s how Rabbit came into being in my mountain series, and darn if he didn’t steal the whole thing!)

    You already know I’m a big fan of your Hode’s Hill books, so I’ll just repeat that this was a fantastic interview and I’m very happy to share it! 🙂 Great job, both of you! 🙂 ❤

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    • HI, Marcia! Yep, I think a lot of writers form their story ideas in the middle of the night. Normally I may get glimpses of them, but Cusp was the first time I ever had a fleshed out book appear from start to finish. I would love for that to happen again….er, just minus the back pain and steroids, LOL.

      Thanks for dropping by to lend your support and for checking out the interview. I’m delighted you enjoyed Hode’s Hill so much!

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  9. Fascinating interview Mae and Colleen! I enjoyed reading about Mae and her writing process. I’m also a planster, but I’m plotting more and more with each book. The process is more efficient even when I change things around, and editing is not such a pain. Great Q&A❣️

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    • Hi, Vashti! Writing dual story lines definitely taught me the benefit of plotting. I plansted two of the books and don’t want to have to go through that again. I do think plotting is more efficient, and I hope to make better use of it in the future. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

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  10. I loved the Hode’s Hill Series and really enjoyed this interview with Mae. (I don’t know the steroid story.) I’m a panster/planster also. You really pulled off the dual timelines and resolved each mystery.

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    • Thanks for visiting and commenting, Joan. I’m delighted you enjoyed my series. And as one planster to another, taking those steroids turned me into a plotter for the length of a single night, LOL!.

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    • Hi, Harmony. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts on Hode’s Hill. I’m delighted you enjoyed it–and also delighted to know you’re a planster as well.

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  11. I may be too late here but must say that I loved Mae’s style in The Cusp of Night. I would call it her masterpiece. Nice to know what went behind the scenes. 🙂

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  12. I have to imagine it is doubly hard to make two plots come together, especially when you are a pantser. How Mae managed to do that is beyond me. My question is, “Do you see yourself going back to pantsing the next time you write a story with only one timeline? Interesting interview, Colleen!

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    • Hi, Pete! Thanks for dropping by and visiting me and Colleen. That is a great question and honestly, I’m not 100% certain of the answer, but I HOPE that I will make an effort to plot even when I write a story with a singular timeline. Doing Hode’s Hill taught me the benefit of plotting, though I am certain a part of me will always remain a panster at heart. Happy writing!

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  13. Yep – steroids do that to me, too! I also start off with a plan but characters develop in ways I hadn’t intended and drive the plot, via a diversion, towards something approaching the resolution I’d initially planned…sort of! I’m intrigued by the interview and by the other comments that make it clear that I’m missing out on something good here. I intend to rectify that!

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    • Hi, Trish. I was completely blindsided by the steroid. I never expected such a reaction. In many ways it was an awful night tossing and turning ,unable to shut my mind off, but in other ways it was wonderful to have the creative part of my brain on overdrive.

      Your writing process sounds similar to mine. I love the characters who pop up out of nowhere and take control. If you decide to check out the series, I hope you enjoy it!

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  14. A lovely author interview with Mae Clair, Colleen. She doesn’t share that much about herself so it was nice to read this post. I have read Mae’s Hode’s Hill series and enjoyed it very much.

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    • Hello, Robbie. This is so strange, your photo appears but your name is Anonymous. Thanks for finding this post and sharing your thoughts. You’re right. Mae deserves some attention. Hugs. ❤

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    • Hi, Robbie! It’s great to see you here on Colleen’s blog. I’m so glad you enjoyed the interview and also my Hode’s Hill series. Thanks so much for visiting and commenting!

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  15. A fun interview! I’ve read the Point Pleasant and Hode’s Hill series from start to finish and thoroughly enjoyed them. It’s funny how the process of writing has its similarities, but is also so individual. It’s why I never get tired of chatting with and learning from other authors. Have a lovely weekend, Colleen and Mae. Be well ❤

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    • Thanks so much, Diana. I do love learning about everyone’s technique as well. It helps to know if you’re on the right track or not. Stay well. ❤

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    • Hi, Diana! I am thrilled you enjoyed both of my series. I too enjoy learning from other authors, including their creative processes and how they develop their ideas. This was a fun interview to do and it’s been lovely to have so many of my friends drop by to share their thoughts on my work. Thank you for all your support!

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  16. Loved both HH and PP series, and the dual timelines were very well done. Loved how the timelines reflected each other in a way. And I love the way Mae ties a bit of urban legend and supernatural into her stories. Great interview!

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    • Hi, Julie! Thanks so much for dropping by to share your thoughts. Of course, I am giddy that you liked both series and my use of dual timelines and urban legends. Thanks so much for your support. Everyone has been so wonderful dropping by to comment. You’re a star! 🙂

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    • Hi, Julie. It’s so great to have you drop by and check out my interview with Colleen. And, of course, I loved hearing that you enjoyed both HH and PP. I’m so glad you enjoy my combination of legend and supernatural in my stories!

      Like

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