Albert Camus

Don't walk behind me; I may not lead. Don't walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Inside these pages is the story... The House (Pen Pals and Serial Killers, #4) by Jo Michaels

"The House, wow. This was something else. She sure has seen more than her fair share of horrors. The idea behind this book was so original! I loved it. [...] I just want more now :-) Jo was a new to me author so I will for sure go look up her other work." Crystal, Goodreads


Release Date: June 4th, 2018

This house is cursed, and everyone who lives there is in grave danger.

Ever wonder what stories you’d hear if walls could talk? 

What if those walls witnessed unimaginable horrors?

Inside these pages is the story of one such house. What it sees, the people it meets, and what happens when a terrified spirit is invited to stay.

Story 1 – The Butcher
Story 2 – Marna, Fred, and Kimberly McDade
Story 3 – Lacy Mae Ritter
Story 4 – Mark and Olivia Cullpepper
Story 5 – The Writer

The House is a collection of short stories that ties in with the Pen Pals and Serial Killers series by Jo Michaels. You’ll find a couple of those characters named, and discover how one grew the teeth he used on the women he captured later.

Spoiler alert! You need to read Intensification (Pen Pals and Serial Killers, #3) before you read The House.


1. Why do you think people read about serial killers and why do you write them?
Wow, that’s a deep question. I think people are genuinely fascinated by the mind of the sociopath. Most humans have a remorse or empathy trigger, and we have a difficult time wrapping our minds around why someone doesn’t. We always assume there must be a reason a person does something or thinks a certain way. In reality, the sociopath has been desensitized to the particular emotional responses of regret or sorrow. Since the average human doesn’t function that way, we seek to find out what’s broken or what went wrong. Serial killers bring that note of curiosity about how they tick. It’s kinda like the freak show at those old carnivals. It was unusual, so we were drawn in.
I’ve always wanted to dive into the mind of a serial killer, see if I could truly think like one, and find out what it would take to be a legitimate sociopath. Let me tell you, it’s difficult to keep empathy at bay when writing something like this.

2. What (and why) are your preferred tools and what you will never use when writing your stories?
My preferred tools are a notebook, a laptop, and a printer. This allows me to write anywhere with sync, print research notes, and print my stuff out for a hard-copy look once I’m done. I’ll never use Scrivener. It dumped/deleted half a novel on me once. That’s my hard line for a never-again commitment.

3. After three volumes of Pen Pals and Serial Killers, why did you put together this volume of short stories?
Short stories are captivating in my opinion. I felt like I wanted to try something I’d never done before, and I knew The House would be the perfect culmination to the previous books. There are several surprises within those stories, and I’m hoping my readers will see the hilarity of the way it all fits together. It’s really a collection of shorts that tell one longer tale.

4. From fantasy to thrillers – what do all of your books have in common?
My books all have a strong theme that ask two questions: 1.) Is this acceptable? 2.) What would you do in this situation? I like to make people question their own humanity and what they’re willing to sacrifice if asked. Even with my serial killers, I put the reader in the difficult position of approving of the killings or condemning them. Are all murders bad? In my fantasy novel, Utterances, I give a young woman a book that can cure all illnesses, but the catch is that she has to give up some of her life force to do it. That puts an interesting question on the reader about what they might do in that situation.

5. You also wrote a non-fiction series “Writing Prompts”. Tell us more about it and about what do you think about the saying that the success is about 10% talent and 90% hard work”? Does this applied in art (writing), too?
Writing Prompts for Kids came about when I realized my daughter’s stories were in random notebooks all over the house. I wanted a place where she could keep them together so I could have them to look back on later in life. There was also that nugget inside me that wanted to teach her the proper way to craft a story, the elements she’d need to make it whole, and the first book was born from there. Because minds at that age work a little differently, it has places for pausing in writing to draw scenes from the story they’re working on and larger line spaces. It’s for ages 6-12.

I created Writing Prompts for Teens because that same daughter was on the cusp of hitting her teen years, and I knew she’d need something more advanced as she grew her talent. This one does a deeper dive into craft, and it provides a more detailed setup process for the actual writing of the story. There are also no doodle/scene pages and there are more lines per page. It’s for the more adept writers of ages 13-18. 

My first major in college was secondary education with a concentration in English and Theatre, so I’ve always had the desire to teach the love of the written/spoken word. Before anyone asks, I changed my major because I spent three months in a classroom. I take my hat off to all teachers. That’s more than I could handle with my introverted self. Ha! 

10% talent, eh? I’m not sure I agree with that. If it all boiled down to success only being 90% hard work, all the authors I know would be best-sellers. They work their butts off. I also don’t think talent has anything to do with it. Some of the most popular books out there fall short on imagination or some other thing, and some of the hardest working authors I know only get a few hundred sales a month, if that, and their books are stupid good to boot. I’d have to say it’s 20% marketing and 80% luck with talent having no place whatsoever. I remember asking this one author how she’d managed a best-seller with her debut novel, what she did that was different or might work for others. She shrugged and said, “I have no idea. It just exploded right out of the gate. I did no marketing whatsoever.” Then, I asked her how book two was doing. Her answer? “Not well, and I’m marketing the crap out of it.” So, there ya go. 

I think, in a traditional business, brick and mortar for example, how much you beat the streets and your level of customer service/responsiveness is 100% your bread and butter. That being said, art is subjective, so your book (or painting) might be amazing and only appeal to 5% of readers/viewers, no matter how much you put it in their faces. Thanks for the questions! I had fun with this one!

About the author:
Jo Michaels is...
Hi, I'm Jo. Let's forget all the "Jo Michaels is blah, blah, blah" stuff and just go with it. I'm a voracious reader (often reading more than one book at a time), a writer, a book reviewer, a mom, a wife, and one of the EICs at INDIE Books Gone Wild. I have an almost photographic memory and tend to make people cringe at the number of details I can recall about them and/or their book(s). My imagination follows me around like a conjoined twin and causes me to space out pretty often or laugh out loud randomly in completely inappropriate situations.

I have a degree in graphic design, and my journey to the end was one few students who begin that program ever complete. However, this was one case where my memory and OCD tendencies helped me. Graduation was one of the most amazing days of my life. But, my most amazing day was when my now husband proposed. Every little girl dreams of being Cinderella someday, and he pulled off the proposal of fantasies.

At the risk of sounding cliché, I'm going to let it out there and say how much I absolutely adore the man I'm married to. Along with my children, he's my whole world.

I've lived in Louisiana, Tennessee, and Georgia, but I've had my feet in almost every state. Traveling is something I adore, and have plans to someday see the Mongolia I've written about in Yassa.

One of my favorite things is hearing from fans! You can find me on social media most any day of the week. Connect! I'd love to hear from you.

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