Debut Author Spotlight is a Saturday feature at Book Chick City. We will be showcasing a debut author each week from the genres of horror, urban fantasy and paranormal romance. We will give you all the relevant book information as well as an insight into the author.
Melissa Olson was born and raised in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, and studied film and literature at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. So…culture shock. Never one for beer or cheese, anyway, Melissa came to love her new city, especially the climate, the movie-watching opportunities, and the food, pretty much in that order. After graduation, and a brief stint bouncing around the Hollywood Studio System, Melissa proved too broke for LA and moved to Madison, WI, where she eventually acquired a master’s degree from UW-Milwaukee, a husband, a mortgage, two kids, and two comically oversized dogs, not at all in that order. She loves Madison, but still dreams of the food in LA. Literally. There are dreams. (Photo © Tyler Lane)
RELEASE DATE: October 2012 | PUBLISHER: 47North | GENRE: Urban Fantasy
Scarlett Bernard knows about personal space: step within ten feet of her, and any supernatural spells or demonic forces are instantly defused—vampires and werewolves become human again, and witches can’t get out so much as a “hocus pocus.” This special skill makes her a null and very valuable to Los Angeles’s three most powerful magical communities, who utilize her ability to scrub crime scenes clean of all traces of the paranormal to keep humanity, and the LAPD, in the dark.
But one night Scarlett’s late arrival to a grisly murder scene reveals her agenda and ends with LAPD’s Jesse Cruz tracking her down to strike a deal: he’ll keep quiet about the undead underworld if she helps solve the case. Their pact doesn’t sit well with Dash, the city’s chief bloodsucker, who fears his whole vampire empire is at stake. And when clues start to point to Scarlett, it’ll take more than her unique powers to catch the real killer and clear her name.
What’s DEAD SPOTS about?
Dead Spots is an urban fantasy about a young woman, Scarlett, with a very unique talent: she neutralizes the supernatural world whenever she comes in contact with it. Vampires, werewolves, and witches all become human again if they get too close to her. Scarlett finds herself using this ability to help a young LAPD officer solve a grisly murder.
Tell us a bit more about the hero/heroine in DEAD SPOTS
Scarlett makes her living cleaning up supernatural crime scenes before the police arrive, ensuring that the supernatural world stays hidden from the human world. As the book opens she’s also kind of stuck in a rut – she’s going through the motions of her job and her life, wracked with guilt over the death of her parents. Then Scarlett arrives late to a murder scene one night, and finds herself pulled into both a police investigation and touchy supernatural politics.
How did you research DEAD SPOTS?
I lived in LA for five years, so a lot of the research was just knowing my way around the city. I spent a lot of time on the history of vampire and werewolf mythology, as well as evolutionary theory, which plays a part in my book’s mythology. I also did some research into the real crime-scene cleaning business—and promptly realized that almost nothing in the real world would apply to Scarlett’s job. In reality when you clean up a murder scene, it’s done after the police have gotten what they need and taken the body away. Those cleaners are thinking about germs, sanitation, and eventually aesthetics. When Scarlett cleans a scene, it happens before the police arrive, and the only thing that matters is making sure it doesn’t lead back to the supernatural world in any way. So she’ll steal evidence, get rid of corpses, even set the occasional fire, if that’s what it takes.
Is DEAD SPOTS the first is a series or a stand alone?
Dead Spots is the first in a series. The last few pages of the book lead straight into a sequel, which will be called Trail of Dead. It will be released sometime this spring.
When is your favourite time to write?
Very late at night. I know a lot of writers who work early in the morning, and that would certainly make a lot more sense, given that I’ve got two little kids at home. But I can’t help it, I’m just programmed to be a night person, so when I’m working on something I’ll stay up into the wee hours.
Where is your favourite place to write?
Coffee shops. I have a nice desk at home, and I love working there, but I usually get interrupted a lot. I like going to a coffee shop where there’s a bit of background noise, and usually delicious baked goods. For some reason, that’s where I can focus better.
What was the last book you read and enjoyed?
In addition to urban fantasy, I read a lot of mystery, and I just finished A Question of Identity by Susan Hill. I’m also listening to the audiobook of Monster Hunters International, by Larry Correia. I can only “read” more than one book at a time if they’re drastically different.
Which authors do you admire?
It’s interesting that you used the word “admire” instead of “influence.” There are plenty of writers that have inspired or captured me, but I definitely admire Jim Butcher for his incredible world-building, John Sandford (another mystery author) for his series longevity, Gillian Flynn for her embrace of darkness (though she breaks my heart with every book), and Josh Bazell for his flat-out wackiness.
Describe yourself in five words
Writer, mommy, television addict, disinterested housekeeper. That’s actually six, but in my defense this is a really hard question.
Trail of Dead comes out in the spring, and I hope to do a third Scarlett book after that. In the meantime, I’m working on some short stories set in Scarlett’s universe, which is really fun because I get to focus on supporting characters.