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Today I’m honored to share with you all, a glimpse into the “other worldly.” Book cover Dead Letter DayOne lucky person who leaves a comment below will receive a copy of this awesome book! (Look right.)

My special guest today is Eileen Rendahl, author of Dead Letter Day, the most recent installment in her Messenger Series. In the Messenger series, heroine, Melina Markowitz, is a kick-butt kind of girl who serves as a go-between for paranormal/supernatural creatures and the human world. She is a regular human with, let’s say “heightened sensitivities,” who communicates with other-worldly beings but she has no real super powers of her own (other than those “heightened sensitivities”).

I’ve asked Eileen a few questions regarding her recent release. Here’s how our interview went:

Me: Melina practices martial arts. Do you personally practice some form of martial arts? If so, what form, and if not, how do you get your information on the subject?

Eileen: Years and years ago, I took about a year’s worth of martial arts. I remember almost nothing. My main source for the fight scenes was Stacy Desideri. Stacy was my sons’ 5th grade teacher and she happens to be a black belt. She spent hours with me helping to choreograph fight scenes and gave me a lot of information to help me write about them in the future. I also will watch fight scenes on DVD and slow them down as much as possible to see the movements. What I loved about Stacy’s input is that she would give me the “why” as well as the “how.” It certainly made it richer in my head and I hope it made it richer on the page.

Me: The Messenger series is set in the greater Sacramento area. Being familiar with that area myself, I’m wondering, what specific landmarks you had in mind when writing some of the scenes in the Messenger books?

Eileen: Well, Melina lives in Mansion Flats. Her parents live in the Pocket. The hospital she works in is located around where Mercy Hospital is located. I actually spent some time with a map of the delta trying to pick a specific island for the mermaid in Dead Letter Day to leave near. I usually try to pick a specific location for where she’s going and what she’s doing. That said, sometimes I do just make stuff up. The town near the wolf pack in Dead Letter Day is basically Mount Horeb, Wisconsin transported to the Sierras.

Me: I’d love to meet Melina, she sounds really cool. She has a very human roommate, a sexy human boyfriend, a werewolf guy pal, a vampire co-worker (at a hospital no less where there is an endless supply of fresh blood), and she has encounters with ninjas, kokopelli and other mystical creatures and gets entangled in voodoo and other dark forces. Tell me, what surprises can I expect to find in Dead Letter Day?

Eileen: I’m so glad you like her! I feel a little like she’s the little sister I never had.

Dead Letter Day has a lot of Norse mythology. I don’t want to give too much away, but that was definitely my main focus for this book. There is also a mermaid, some dryads and a few other beings thrown in here and there.

WDW 2011 076

The Tree Lady (Animal Kingdom Park – WDW)
Photo by P. Rickrode

Me: One of my favorite parts of Don’t Kill the Messenger, the first book in this series, is this combination of two partial paragraphs: “. . . (ninjas) who seemed to materialize out of nowhere and proceeded to kick the crap out of me. That may not seem like a great feat. I am merely one not terribly large girl. Five foot seven in my stocking feet and my weight is none of your damned business.” What is one of your particularly favorite parts of Dead Letter Day?

Eileen: There’s a dryad that figures in Dead Letter Day. I’m quite fond of Melina’s first meeting with her. They start out on a somewhat adversarial footing and become friends.

Me: The first two books in the series, Don’t Kill the Messenger and Dead on Delivery, both have similar covers, primarily reds, oranges and golds with an Asian flare and a warm glow. (Yeah, despite the use of Kill and Dead in the titles, I get a feeling of a warm glow from the covers and honestly, that scares me a little, too.) Dead Letter Day; however, is a beautiful shade of royal blue with black birds, dark trees and a cold sense of impending doom. Why the drastic change in color scheme and cover art?

Eileen: I have no idea what made the publisher change to the blue colors, but I do like it. I also really like the crow and the netting and the trees. I wish the woman on the front looked a bit more like the woman on the front of the first two books, but you can’t win them all.

Side note:

Me: Shows you how much I know about working with a publisher. Excuse me a moment – (Note to self, I may not have absolute control over my book covers unless I self-publish.)

Okay, back on track.

Me: Writing a series of books that involve the same location, characters, etc., is much more involved than writing a single title book. Are you a plotter or a pantser and how does writing a series effect that style.

Eileen: I’m a plotter, but only book by book. Plotting is very difficult for me and the idea of having to plot out multiple books all at once makes my head swim. I guess I’m forcing the series to be worked out the way I work out all my books rather than the other way around. It is fun, however, to know that the end of the book doesn’t have to be the end of the story. I like knowing I can come back to my girl and grow more with her.

Eileen headshotMe: In addition to this paranormal series, you also have several contemporary chick lit and single title romantic suspense books published under a different name (Eileen Carr). Which do you prefer writing?

Eileen: The chick lit books and the Messenger books are very similar in tone. They’re also all first person. The Messenger books have a lot more plotting to them, though. From the beginning, I’ve wanted them to be a little like those old hard-boiled detective novels. Instead of a dame walking into the office, it’s a dryad or a gnome or something else unexpected. Honestly, they’re fun to write. First person for me is like slipping on my stretchy pants. I’m comfy with it. 

The romantic suspense books are a lot harder for me. They’re in 3rd person which means I have a lot more voices to create and a lot more threads to keep track of. I kind of groove on the challenge, though. 

So I guess I don’t know what I like best! I think it’s good to have both comfort and challenge in my life. It makes me a better writer.

So there you have it. I hope you’ll all check out Eileen’s books. She has a sharp wit and great talent for weaving intricate and interesting tales. While I’m not a huge fan of paranormal fiction, I absolutely LOVE Eileen’s Messenger series. The writing is gritty, witty and . . . I can’t think of another rhyming word.

Eileen Rendahl was born in Dayton, Ohio. She moved when she was four and only remembers that she was born across the street from Baskin-Robbins. Eileen remembers anything that has to do with ice cream. Or chocolate. Or champagne. In addition to the Messenger series, Eileen Rendahl is the award-winning author of four Chick Lit novels. Her alter ego, Eileen Carr, released her first romantic suspense, Hold Back The Dark, in 2009. She has had many jobs and lived in many cities and feels unbelievably lucky to be where she is now and doing what she’s doing.

Send Eileen an e-mail any old time. She’d love to hear from you! Eileen@Eileen Rendahl.com. You can also connect with Eileen at EileenRendahl.com; on Twitter or Facebook. Her books can be found at Amazon.com or your local bookstore. If it’s not on the shelf, request that it be put there.

Don’t forget to leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of Eileen’s book. You’ll be glad you did.

I leave you with this thought-provoking question – what do you read when you read out of your comfort zone? Have you been pleasantly surprised when you ventured into that world? I’d love to hear about it.

Word of the day:  Tabula rasa

Fun fact about me: I know the 12 Days of Christmas (the song) in order. You know, lords leaping, pipers piping. I know the right order.

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