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Author Q&A ft @authorkodonnell | Girl Gone Home Book Tour and $50 Amazon GC #Giveaway | #Psychological #Thriller

Girl Gone Home (Twisted Crime Book 3) by Kathleen O' Donnell is on virtual book tour. The psychological thriller stops at ...

Girl Gone Home (Twisted Crime Book 3) by Kathleen O' Donnell is on virtual book tour.

The psychological thriller stops at Readeropolis with an excerpt.

Be sure to enter for a chance to win the giveaway for a  $50 Amazon GC and follow the Silver Dagger book tour (for other dates see the link at the bottom of the post).

1. What is something unique/quirky about you?

Normal people scare me. I love the weirdos, the outcasts, the people on the fringe. The ones who’ve been broken but you can still see their cracks. The weirder the person the better I like them -- for some reason they like to tell me everything. Unbidden. They start talking and don’t stop. I should’ve been a cop. I definitely would’ve been the closer. I also have an irrational fear of being buried alive, sandwiches made in grocery stores and eggs cooked by someone other than me. I don’t like the word “of” or “that” and commas get on my nerves. Don’t start me on exclamation points.

2. Where were you born/grow up?

I was born in Tainan, Taiwan and adopted by American parents when I was born. My adopted father was in the Navy and they were stationed there and couldn’t have children. I grew up all over the world, but my most formative years were spent on a highway town in the middle of nowhere. That’s where I learned to love the eccentrics. I consider that place the village that raised me.  I couldn’t wait to leave but I love going back. It always feels like home and I’m always welcome there.

3. Who is your hero?

My eleven year-old granddaughter, Adelia -- she’s been disabled and declining since she was two -- with no known diagnoses despite years of tests. Last year they discovered her brain stem was atrophying, for still no known reason but they do know it’s terminal. She has been in hospice care for the last year. She never complains, never feels sorry for herself. She tries harder and is tougher than any adult I’ve ever known. She lifts, and breaks, my heart all at the same time. Her body fails yet her spirit thrives. Her life and her illness have made me realize how important leaving a legacy in the written word is. I write about her literally and will write about her figuratively. I don’t want her bravery and exceptional life to be forgotten.

4. When did you consider yourself a writer?

Not until I got published. Before then I’m not sure what I thought I was other than someone who spent a lot of time in my pajamas behind a laptop.

5. What are your top 10 favorite books/authors?

I could name way more than ten, but here’s a good start.

Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders
Beloved by Toni Morrison
A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery
All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque
Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood
We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver
A Man in Full by Tom Wolfe

6. Do the characters all come to you at the same time or do some of them come to you as you write?

I usually start with one or two characters. Then add as I go. But usually I delete characters as opposed to add before all is said and done. I’ve never once had a story all worked out in my mind before I start. I just write. Whatever story I start with is rarely what I end up with.

7. Advice you would give new authors.

Don’t listen to anyone who loves you. They are not your truth telling critics and they won’t help you write a decent book. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve heard say, “everyone (friends, family) tells me I should write a memoir because my life is so interesting.” It’s probably not. That might seem like tough advice but it’s true. Or, “everyone (friends, family) tells me I’m so funny I should write a book.” You might be funny as hell but making that into a story that sells is a whole other thing. An interesting life and/or a great sense of humor does not a novel make.  

Learn your craft. Take classes. Read. Develop a very thick skin. Write. A lot.  Get comfortable with the Delete key -- it’s your best friend. No one is born a great writer. You can make a decent writer into a really good writer but great writers are rare indeed. And rarely does a bad writer become a good one. It’s like most other things. You’ve got a bent for it or you don’t.

Writing a novel is hard, hard work - a slog a lot of the time. It can take years to get it right. Especially if you want to get it right. Yes, you need an editor - a story editor - a good one. Preferably one who’s had experience at a large publishing house.  They’re expensive. They will hurt your feelings. They might tell you to get rid of one of your favorite characters (kill your darlings). They will delete that sentence it took you five days to write. They’ll cut entire chapters. You will probably cry. They might even tell you writing isn’t your strong suit. 

Learn to listen to those who know better than you. And when you first start that’s just about everyone who has written anything at all.

8. Describe your writing style.

It’s direct, to the point, as spare as possible. I say what I mean without preamble. I don’t use ten words when four will do. No matter the subject matter there’s always humor. I write like I live. There aren’t many situations in life that you can’t find humor in. Even tragedy. In fact, sometimes all you can do is laugh. There will be plenty of time to cry.

9. Do you try to be more original or to deliver to readers what they want?
What readers want evolves, like anything else, what’s popular in fiction changes. Faulkner wouldn’t get out of a decent writer’s group alive. His style is old fashioned now. Charles Dickens puts me to sleep.
My pet peeve is trying to write what’s popular. When The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo came out the word “Girl” appeared in every title of countless novels. It worked though. I get asked all the time if I’m going to write a series. From a publisher’s point of view, a series, if it’s a good one, will sell.  Even mediocre ones sell. But I don’t say to myself, “I’ve got to think of a series so it’ll sell.” I write the story I’ve got. So far, none are series material.

Following the crowd has never been my style. I think being an only child cemented that trait. I didn’t really have a crowd to follow. I don’t try to write one particular way or the other. I don’t try to write characters a certain way. They are who they are, as am I. I will warn you though that “different” is often a tough sell to an agent or publisher. The idea is to make money. Marching to the beat of your own drummer writing wise is risky. Finding a publisher willing to take the risk is tough going. Italics Publishing is brave to take on my quirky, different novels.

But they’re all I’ve got.

Girl Gone Home
Twisted Crime Book 3
by Kathleen O' Donnell
Genre: Psychological Thriller 

The Best Book I've Read This Year! I just finished it and I loved it! It has more twists and turns than a roller coaster. This book would make an amazing movie, but the book will always be better. I can't wait to see what she writes next! – Rena, five-star review on Amazon.

From two-time Book of the Year finalist and Thriller of the Year Award winner Kathleen O’Donnell comes a gripping psychological thriller filled with quirky, unexpected twists.

A girl in serious trouble

Delilah Diamond had it all, the popular cooking show, a dream house, and a great romance with her producer, until the producer’s wife gets wind of it all. Delilah loses her show, her job, and her house. She’s forced to go back to her hometown where everyone has skeletons in their closet—or worse.

A home not like any other

She arrives just in time for the unfortunate death of her high school crush, but senses something's wrong with the story of his demise. Before she realizes it, she's knee-deep in a past that almost crushed her years before, and could very well crush her now, for good.

A mother who keeps sordid secrets

Local law enforcement is a homegrown drunk, and useless, so someone higher up the food chain sends a big city detective who starts sniffing around her classmate's suspicious death and her mother’s past. Delilah’s protective hackles are raised. She knows her mother has shameful secrets, but the more she learns, the more she realizes she doesn’t know the whole story.

A hometown that comes together, even in crime

In small towns, you protect your family and your neighbors come what may, but will Delilah be able to protect her mother without exposing her own sins? The ones she worked so hard to cover up? Will she be able to deter the detective away from the truth?

You can't go home again. Or can you? Should you? How safe is home when you know where the bodies are buried?

Girl Gone Home is ultimately a story about love, family, loyalty and circling the wagons no matter what terrible crime's been committed. It’s quirky, heartfelt, and reminiscent of Dolores Claiborne and the works of Kate Atkinson, Jane Hamilton, and Janet Evanovich.

Kathleen O’Donnell is a wife, mom, grandmother and a recovering blogger. She currently lives in Nevada with her husband. She is a two time Book of the Year finalist for her debut novel The Last Day for Rob Rhino. You can find short stories and blog posts on her website.

Follow the tour HERE for special excerpts, guest posts and a giveaway!


“Willy Wally came to a bad end,” Fran said. “Just like I predicted.” 
“Only you’d gloat over the dead at a funeral.” I’d just walked in, looked at my watch. My mother irritated me in less than sixty seconds. A record. 
“We don’t do funerals, Delilah. The stiff puts a real damper on the festivities.” 
“Right. Memorials after the fact only.” 
“Who even knows where the nearest funeral home is?” Fran said, unimpeded by the Marlboro in her mouth, long ash miraculously still intact. “Okay, I know where it is, but who gives a highfalutin crap? Potluck and booze give whoever croaked a fine send off—this is a bar for Chrissake. You’re back on the Highway. Better forget those fancy city ways.” 
From my spot bellied up to the bar I watched the sea of cowboy hats attached to heads full of rampage and Coors from the tap. They went whole hog at these things. The only commercial enterprise for as far as the crow flies, Vi’s Place teemed with quasi-mourners spilling through both front and back doors to the overflow outside. The middle of nowhere meant good business for anyone with stuff to sell. 
“No idea why I let you drag me to this thing,” I said. “I’m still knee-deep in unpacked boxes.” 
“Still? You move in geologic time. It’s the food. That’s why you came. You’ve always been a sucker for the highway potlucks. Besides, won’t kill you to show some respect for a guy you went to school with. Dead just like that.” She’d have snapped her fingers if they weren’t already occupied with the whole cigarette/ashtray/coffee cup situation. 
“Nothing says respect like eating beanie-weenies while drunks heckle the bereaved,” I said. “Good times.” 
“Good turnout.” 
“I should hope so. Willy Wally wasn’t even forty.” I stopped when I noticed Fran paid a lot of attention to my words. “Never mind.” 
She flicked her ash into the ashtray. “Doc Bates won’t show. Accident or no, tough to look your daughter in the eye after you shoot her husband.” 
“Isn’t Doc in jail?” 
“You know he’s not. Investigation’s still on. Doubt it’ll turn up anything criminal. Shit happens out here.” 
“Like there’s gonna be a real investigation.” I rearranged my butt on the hard stool, scooted it closer to hear Fran over the hootin’-and-a-hollerin’. “Unbelievable. What a fiasco. Whole thing’s terrible.” 
“What do you care? You didn’t even want to come.” 
“I don’t and I didn’t. Well, that’s not altogether true. Of course, I care. It’s sad isn’t it? A young man killed?” 
“Culling out the herd. You see Wally’s widow, Wanda? Jesus, Mary and Joseph try to say that three times fast.” 
“I don’t know. Probably wouldn’t know her if I did.” 
Fran slipped her cigarette into the slot on the ashtray on the bar. “You’d know her all right—still two-bagger ugly. Wanda and Willy Wally Watkins. Why on earth poor Willy Wally didn’t strangle himself with his own umbilical cord, I’ll never know, with that dumbass name.” 
Nothing sordid happened that Fran didn’t know about in great detail. Whatever the backstory, and there was always a backstory, she knew it and loved to tell me about the whole mess. I got zippo this time. Fishy. 
“What do you know about this, Fran? You know something. I can tell.” 
“You obviously can’t, since I know zilch, other than Willy Wally and Doc went hunting like always. Doc accidentally shot him. Makes sense to me. Willy Wally’s schnoz made him look like a moose or some such.” 
“You’re talking a mile a minute. Like you do when you’re dancing around the truth.” 
“Shit happens around here.” 
“I’m aware. Fran, you—” 
“Dee, aren’t you a sight.” Vi amputated my interrogation with a voice that sounded like someone dragged a cheese grater over her vocal cords. Her familiar shortening of my name gave me a warm fuzzy. “Been trying to get over to this end to say hey, but this crowd, no patience.” 
“Not much changes on the Fifty-Three,” I said. 
Including Vi who still looked like a jack-o-lantern left too long on the porch. 
“If it did, I’d know it. Been behind this bar fifty years if you can believe that. But look at you. You’re fresh as peach pie. Damn shame your TV show got cancelled,” Vi said. 
“Yeah, well thanks. TV shows come and go.” 
“She can still cook like the dickens though. What with that cooking class.” 
“Cordon Bleu is hardly a cooking class, Fran. I—” 
“Now you’re back home where you belong.” Vi wiped down the bar with a snake-tattooed hand, pulled a frothy topped beer. “Where in Jesus’s name are those good-for-nothin’ bums I hired to help me out today? Goddamn-lazy-bastard-shit-for-brains . . . ” She carried the mug to the other end, insults trailing. 
“Is she wearing the necklace I gave you for your birthday?” I said. 
Fran brushed crumbs off the front of her “Smooth Move Ex-Lax” t-shirt. 
“Oh, that little bauble? Well, yes. Vi went on and on about how much she wanted it. I didn’t—” 
“Do you know how much that little bauble cost?” 
Fran gave zero fucks about the cost. 
“Never mind.” I put a sock in it. 
“Lord a mercy, Delilah.” Margene Cox made a beeline, heaped plate in hand. “I liked to fell out when I heard you’d come home. Wondered when we’d finally lay eyes on you.” 
“Only been back a couple weeks,” I said. “Still settling in.” 
Margene draped the silk sweater around her shoulders that I’d bought Fran last Christmas. 
“Nice sweater,” I said. 
The sharp stab of Fran’s elbow to my ribs shut my mouth. 
“Fran give it to me. She’s generous as always. Only fits if I don’t wear it. So hot out here the devil up and left, but still cools down like the dickens at night.” Margene stuffed a whole jalapeno popper into her mouth. I felt mildly surprised most of her teeth looked intact. “You out at the old Winston pig farm?” 
“Mm hmm. No pigs anymore.” 
“You missed Jefferson Davis.” Margene licked her greasy fingers. “Dadgum it. He’s dyin’ to bend your ear about that farm.” 
“My loss.” 
“You know Willy Wally passing the way he did near tore my heart in two.” Margene wiped a nonexistent tear. “You dated him didn’t you, Dee?” 
“Mercy no,” Fran said. 
“Well, I swanee,” Margene said. “Dee nursed a crush on Willy Wally ya’ll could see from space back in the day.” 
“Emily dated Willy Wally,” Fran said. 
For once I didn’t mind Fran’s poking in. 
“Oh, right. Emily. Land’s sake.” Margene pushed her plastic fork through the turkey tetrazzini on her paper plate. 
“Where’s Arthur?” I looked around for Margene’s husband. 
“Oh, honey, had his memorial right here a couple years back.” 
“Lots of memorials the last few years,” Fran said. “I told you about Arthur’s.” 
She probably did but I hadn’t been listening. 
“Not the same without Blanche and Edith, is it?” Margene squeezed in closer, set her plate on the bar. “Blanche dyin’ of the cirrhosis after Earl died in that car wreck, drunk. Too many memories. And Edith with the Alzheimer’s over to her sister’s in Portland.” 
Before she could run on any more, Willy Wally’s father hushed the gathered to thank everyone for coming. I wandered away from my lunch, Fran, and Margene’s census update. A drunk blocking the exit got a free swat from me. Heat plus the pissy sour outhouse smells slapped me hard. Came as no revelation Vi still resisted indoor plumbing. 
“You look just like you do on TV,” a man said two seconds after I got out. 
The sun glittering off the rows of cars lined up on both sides of the highway made me squinty. I got closer. Strange man held out a too elegant hand, flashed a badge with the other. 
“I’m Billy Dale,” he said. “You’re Delilah Diamond from Fork in the Road. Am I right?” 
“Billy Dale what?” 
Name like that usually preceded a Jim Bob or Buck Dee. 
“Just Billy Dale.” 
“You’re not from around here then,” I said. 
“Nope.” He withdrew his unshaken hand. 
Billy Dale’s kick-my-ass-why-don’t-you ensemble cheered me somewhat. His slicked-backed hair, GQ chin stubble, casual Friday Brooks Brothers khakis and pink polo made me want to open the bar door, throw him in to see how he fared. The small crowd milling around outside to avoid the teary farewells inside dispersed as if they smelled an unfamiliar no good cop. Nothing like stranger danger to speed folks along their way. Billy Dale peered over the top of his sunglasses, looked past me at the open vista, dirt, and sagebrush. 
“Jesus,” he said. “You could seriously get off the grid out here.” 
“What do you want?” 
“Just making inquiries about the shooting incident.” 
“At a memorial? Willy Wally’s barely cold.” 
“When I drove up didn’t realize this, whatever this is, was going on.” He gestured toward the food covered picnic tables. 
I kicked up a puff of dirt with the toe of my Converse, shifted my weight from one foot to the other. Billy Dale studied the fly-infested open jar of mayo on a nearby table, waiting, silent, doing that let-them-talk-to-see-what-spills cop thing. He flicked an imaginary something off his shirtsleeve. His blank face and open-too-wide eyes gave him a real dimwitted appearance—the kind of guy who moved his lips when he read. 
“Where’s Rusty?” I said. “He’s been the law out here forever.” 
“On a bender probably.” 
“No doubt.” 
“Mind if I do some asking now?” he said. 
I let that hang like a corpse from a noose. 
“You know,” I finally said after the silence got too awkward even for me. “I just came back here. Moved away eons ago.” 
“So I heard.” Billy Dale leaned against a clean sedan that must’ve been his. “Some say they’re surprised to see you back.” 
“None more than me.” 
“You came back for the—this—potluck thingy?” 
“No. Coincidence.” 
“Coincidences give me cramps,” Billy Dale said serious as all get out. 
Like I cared about his bowels. 
“Willy Wally your old high school boyfriend?” He went on. 
“Christ, no. He dated my friend. Emily. She—” 
“You all right?” Billy Dale said. 
I’d swayed to one side. The beer I’d chased lunch with gurgled its way up the back of my throat. I beat it back, steadied myself. 
“I’m fine. This heat, outhouse smell, I’m not used to it anymore.” I pulled away from the hand he’d gripped my arm with, snooty-like. He probably did it to help, but too bad so sad. 
“Right. Well, Jefferson Davis told me you—” 
“Oh you’re already on a first name basis? Jefferson Davis and I haven’t so much as cast shadows near each other in twenty years.” Droplets popped up above my top lip. 
“Right. Well, speaking of names. You call your mother by her first name?” 
“Always have,” I said halfway lying. “Fran is her name.” 
I’d replaced Mom with Fran when we moved to the highway, when she went full wacko, to distance myself from her in the only way I could then, to get under her skin. Joke was on me since her skin proved unyielding, but it stuck. 
“Fran knows Doctor Bates well?” Billy Dale said. 
“Everybody here knows everyone else well.” 
“Willy Wally too?” 
“Yes, but they didn’t exactly run in the same circles since Fran’s old enough to be his mother.” 
We stared each other down. I wondered if he could see me sweat. 
He blinked first. “Can you think of any reason Fran would’ve called Willy Wally the day before he got shot and the day of?” 
“Who knows? It is a small town,” I said. “Why don’t you ask Fran?” 
“Did. Said she doesn’t recall.” 
“She’s no spring chicken. Memory’s going.” I twirled one finger near my ear. 
“Fran called Willy Wally four times the day before he died, twice the next.” 
“She’s a talker,” I said. 
There it was. 
Fran did know more than she’d admitted. I crossed my arms over my chest, shoved both hands under my dripping armpits, worked hard to keep my face from going funky. 
“Not to mention six calls to Doctor Bates.” He’d taken out a notepad, which I guess meant business. 
“I’m sure for harmless reasons.” 
I turned on my heel. Eat my dust sucker. 

Billy Dale hollered at my back, “I’m sure I’ll find out.”

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