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.
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.