My special guest today is Heidi Cieciura to chat with us about her newest supernatural crime novel, The Obsidian.
Heidi Cieciura is a mystery, thriller and suspense writer. She published her first novel Affliction in September 2014 after four years studying for a BA (Hons) in English Language and Literature. She was 36 when she graduated, but has wanted to be a writer since she was five years old. She credits the movie Ghostbusters and the board game Cluedo with her love of mixing crime thrillers with the supernatural. She is a mother to three devilish children and one partially sighted Border collie and lives in Gloucestershire in the UK.
Welcome, Heidi. Please tell us about your current release.
The Obsidian is the second book in the Hunter Cade crime thriller series. Hunter wakes up in an abandoned hotel on a remote island and discovers he isn’t the only captive. Detective Jesse Rider, also from the first novel Affliction, is drawn into the investigation to locate him.
Hunter is a mystery writer who can connect with the dead. He has been struggling to come to terms with this his whole life. He’s an orphan and has a dark edge that makes us question his hero-status. The Obsidian is fast paced, a bit claustrophobic and scary. It’s essentially a ghost story.
What inspired you to write this book?
About ten years ago I read a book by Tim Rifat, a non-fiction book called Remote Reviewing. I found the topic of psychotronic warfare - psychotronics being a term for the study of parapsychology - simultaneously fascinating and frightening. The idea that as far back as the 1920’s scientists and governments were investigating the potential of ESP to be used as a weapon seems farfetched, but is quite a prolific area of study in many countries including the US, China, Russia and the UK.
The Hunter Cade series as a whole was born from the information I came across in that book. The Obsidian isn’t about remote viewing per se, but is another step in Hunter’s journey towards self-development and self-understanding. I love abandoned buildings, and knew I wanted to set the novel in a derelict hotel, but I also knew I wanted to play with layering the present with the past Silent Hill style.
Excerpt from The Obsidian:
The sharp sound of glass bottles smashing made Hunter sit up straight; he lowered the tumbler and listened.
In his chest, his heart thudded. His breath caught. He was reminded of another situation when a loud crash alerted him to an unwelcome presence in a friend’s house.
See, still on edge. The guy dropped a box of cheap house wine or something. No one’s being attacked.
All the same, he placed the tumbler on the table and made his way behind the bar.
‘Marco?’ Hunter entered the dim corridor. ‘Everything peachy?’
The door to the street was wide open. A cold breeze had blown a few stray, dead leaves over the threshold.
The white van stood partially up on the kerb; at the top of the steps down to the cellar stood the upright trolley. A single box remained on the base plate.
‘Marco! Answer me! This isn’t funny!’
Hunter slowly inched his way down the stairs, stopping midway.
You’re being stupid. Nothing’s happened to Marco. Nothing’s happened to the delivery driver. Somebody dropped a box, that’s all.
And even when he saw Marco sprawled out on the cellar floor, a pool of burgundy liquid and broken green glass littering the flagstones, Hunter supposed he was being foolish. Then his attention turned to the back of Marco’s head where his hair was matted with a sticky red substance.
But before his thoughts could catch up with what his eyes were seeing, an arm appeared around Hunter’s neck, pressing against his throat and yanking him backwards.
A plastic mask clamped over his nose and mouth.
Hunter jerked forward, then backwards, trying to throw his assailant off balance, all the time breathing deeply, taking great breaths to give himself the oxygen to fuel his fight.
But it wasn’t oxygen he was inhaling.
A substance was pumping through the mask, an inhalable substance which caused his tongue to tingle and his brain to quickly become less effective.
As he struggled to breathe inside the plastic mask, as oxygen in his lungs became replaced by whatever gas was expelled into the facial covering, his ability to think clearly was subdued.
Hunter stopped battling, relinquishing himself to the sudden overwhelming urge to close his eyes. Relax.
His body went slack. He relaxed back, into his attacker, and felt himself being gently laid down before everything went black.
What exciting story are you working on next?
I’m presently working on the third book in the Hunter Cade series, called Hunter, and this follows on from a novella I published called Let the Snow Fall. I’m also working on a standalone romantic thriller titled Don’t Forget Me.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
When I was five I wrote my first series of books. Non-fiction. Crayon. Mainly pictures. Birds; Flowers; The Woods, because I lived opposite a fantastic wood. I have always considered myself to be a writer. I have written poems, stories, anything and everything since I started school and realized I loved to learn about the written word. I’m fixated and writing has not always been a positive aspect of my life. For example, I’d probably have a good career in a “proper” job now if it wasn’t for my obsession with becoming an author.
Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I write full time in that writing is my day job, but I’m also a mother to three children all still at school and as any mother knows, this is a full time job before you even begin with anything else. Typically, I write from 9 am (after the school run) until 2 pm when I have about an hour to unwind before I collect my youngest from school and the house stuff invades. Weekends I’ll get several hours in when I can. I work seven days a week on my books and blog posts, when I’m not actively writing I’m thinking about plot development or characterization or some such thing (I said I was obsessed). That said, I don’t get as much time to write as I would like although this keeps the fire lit underneath me, always feeling as if I’m being kept away from my work in progress makes me eager to get back to it when I can.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I have to have a cappuccino to get me started (I hand froth the milk with a whisk and a bit of skill). Also, I can only edit properly if I have the entire manuscript printed out. I find it easier to read thousands of words at a time if they are in hard copy form.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A writer. Although I also wanted to be a vet.
Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
My surname is Polish and is pronounced ch-chee-ora. And readers can sign up to mynewsletter if they want to hear about my new releases and other stuff. Thank you for having me.
It’s been my pleasure! Happy writing!