ST: How did you get into writing?
BD: First of all, I’d like to thank Sara for this opportunity!
I have been writing, in some form or another, all my life. It was something that attracted me early on and has yet to let go. I have been making a living at it since my senior year of high school, more or less, and that was a while ago.
ST: What is your favorite thing about being a writer?
BD: The main thing is that it’s simple. You don’t need a lot of tools, you don’t really even need an audience (although having one is nice). To be an actor, someone has to hire you to act. To be an athlete, you need a team. To be a writer you just need some paper, a pencil and a bit of time. It’s faster with a laptop, though.
ST: How do you come up with ideas for your stories?
BD: I just like to think about the possibilities presented by various stories. At any given time I have a half dozen or so ideas in various stages of gestation. Some of them can take years to come to fruition, some never amount to anything. Eventually, when one becomes solid enough, I start plotting it out more carefully and begin to “meet” the characters in my head.
ST: What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced with being a writer?
BD: Just staying with a particular story can be hard, especially when it can take months or even years to finish. There is limited time to pursue multiple stories, at least for me, so I have to be careful to try to pick ideas that I can live with over a long period of time.
ST: How did you choose the genre you write?
BD: I’ve always been interested in monsters and the paranormal, so it was pretty easy to move into that neighborhood. I have written some other things outside the paranormal genre, but they generally weren’t as much fun. I find the paranormal world to be more flexible in enabling writers to hold up a mirror to the real world.
ST: Do you do a lot of research prior to writing your stories?
BD: Yes, usually, or I at least pick locales and situations I’m somewhat familiar with. For “Mama Lona’s Man” I did a good bit of research on both zombies and Navy SEALS, although, to be truthful, I threw a lot of it out the window for the sake of the story. If I’m trying to write something entertaining, I don’t always try to make it as accurate as a documentary.
ST: How long does it take to finish a book?
BD: Anywhere from eight months to a year. I write fiction in my spare time and I tend to do a lot of rewriting, so it takes me a while.
ST: What are some of your favorite hobbies?
BD: Photography is the main one. I like to take pictures wherever I go. I have also gotten into indie filmmaking, which kind of combines my interests in writing and photography.
ST: What is in your to be read pile?
BD: Well, I just got a book about Vivian Maier, a fantastic street photographer who photographed for decades but got no attention until after she died. It’s mostly a book of her photos, but contains some information about her life as well. And I just started reading the “A Song of Ice and Fire” series. I’m taking my time sinking into that one, I have the feeling I’ll be living there for a while!
ST: Could you name one favorite quote?
BD: My favorite literary quote is from Paul Bowles’ “The Sheltering Sky” — “Because we don’t know when we will die, we get to think of life as an inexhaustible well, yet everything happens only a certain number of times, and a very small number, really. How many more times will you remember a certain afternoon of your childhood, some afternoon that’s so deeply a part of your being that you can’t even conceive of your life without it? Perhaps four or five times more, perhaps not even that. How many more times will you watch the full moon rise? Perhaps twenty. And yet it all seems limitless.”
Again, thanks to Sara for this opportunity!
Mama Lona’s Man
The Straw Man Series Book One
Brett O’Neal Davis
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Number of pages: 219
Word Count: 74,000
Cover Artist: Cate Meyers
Mama Lona’s Man combines a Caribbean love story with a zombie thriller. It’s a bit James Bond, a bit “How Stella Got Her Groove Back” and a dash of “Night of the Living Dead.
The leading man is a ex-Navy SEAL controlled by a witch doctor. When he meets an American girl caught up in island intrigue, they fall in love even though he’s been dead longer than she’s been alive.
Extended description from Smashwords
“Mama Lona’s Man” is a fast-moving, funny, sometimes bittersweet tale about a young woman who meets the love of her life, only there’s one hitch: He’s lost his life and become a zombie. As Rolling Stone once said about Jim Morrison, the title character of this novel is hot, sexy, and dead.
Abigail Callisto is a brilliant, troubled college student living in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. When her father’s shadowy government employer sends him to the Caribbean to tamp down a pending coup attempt on the small island nation of Petit Royale, she goes along so he can also keep an eye on her and keep her out of trouble. She thinks it’s a lark; she has no idea her life is about to change forever.
Petit Royale is governed by the jovial but corrupt Marcos Verriera, whose brother, Abraham, has long sought to replace him as president. Abigail’s father has operatives on the island; they tell him that Marcos has gone around the bend and is kidnapping children, possibly for sex trafficking. What the operatives don’t tell him is that they are actually working for Abraham and they are the ones actually doing the kidnapping. The children aren’t harmed, but are held so Abraham can pretend to release them and be a hero.
To try to sway Abigail’s father to their side, the operatives decide to kidnap Abigail. They drug her in the night and carry her to the gates of the presidential mansion, where they set her down. They know that Abraham’s militia is moving in that night and they want Abigail to be among those rescued. It doesn’t quite work out that way.
Petit Royale has its own special version of the bogeyman: A spectral figure known only as Mama Lona’s man. He’s a ghost who has been known to deal murderous vengeance on those who abuse children. The plan is for Abraham’s men to dispense with Marcos Verriera and blame his disappearance on Mama Lona’s Man.
Abigail is discovered by the presidential guards and brought into the mansion, where President Marcos Verriera himself questions her. He knows what his brother is up to, and he knows that having a kidnapped American girl in his house is not a good thing for him. Suddenly shooting erupts and he runs away, leaving Abigail to fend for herself. She crawls into the interior of the mansion, trying to get away, only to find herself in the middle of a gun battle between Marcos’ men and Abraham’s men.
She’s trying to figure a way out of it when something amazing happens. A man walks right through the fight, as if it’s not happening, and begins looking for Marcos Verriera. Abigail watches as he gets shot several times and not only survives but barely seems to notice. He’s a good-looking young white man, not much older than her own 20 years.
He sees Abigail, and, recognizing a damsel in distress, takes her along as he searches the mansion. Abigail is amazed to see him shot a couple more times as he makes his way in pursuit of Marcos Verriera, who has fled down a secret hallway that leads to the ocean. The man manages to catch his boat just before it leaves, and he quickly blows something in the president’s face that knocks him out cold. He does the same to Abigail, only she doesn’t inhale and only pretends to be unconscious so she can study him. He leaves her on a public beach and takes the president away.
She makes her way back to her hotel where her father is angry that she has been out, suspecting her of partying. When she tells him her story, they realize she has seen the mysterious Mama Lona’s man, something akin to spotting Bigfoot. He wants to find the shadowy Mama Lona and discover if her man really did kill the president. Abigail just wants to see him again.
About the Author
Brett O’Neal Davis is a native of Florence, Ala., and attended the same high school as Sam Phillips, who discovered Elvis Presley. He studied journalism at the University of North Alabama and the University of Missouri, writing about music whenever possible. He also briefly “fronted” the one-man punk band Screwhead. Despite clearing $1.50 in profit on consignment sales of the band’s lone album at Salt of the Earth Records in Columbia, Mo., he turned to the slightly more stable world of aerospace and defense journalism, working today in the field of unmanned systems and robotics in Washington, D.C.
He is the author of four science fiction and fantasy novels, all published by Baen Books. The first, The Faery Convention, was listed among the best fantasy novels for 1995 by Science Fiction Chronicle, and Two Tiny Claws was named to the 2000 Books for the Teen Age List by the New York Public Library. An occasional panelist at area science fiction conventions, he also has discussed fiction writing at National Press Club events and at literary festivals, including the annual T.S. Stribling celebration at the University of North Alabama. Mama Lona’s Man is his first foray into paranormal romance, but it won’t be the last.
I got the chance to review this book as part of the Bewitching Blog Tours event. The title intrigued me and I decided to give it a chance. I can admit it was nothing like what I’d expected. The first scene of the book had nothing to do with the plot of the book. I spent the entire time trying to figure out why the author would open with that scene. I understand the relevance of trying to show what Mama Lona’s Man is like, but it didn’t fit with the overall story line.
Another thing I noticed pretty soon into the book is that the author expects the reader to know more about the story than he’s provided. I’m assuming he’s meant to have the story be intriguing by leaving some secrets hidden, but the overall effect didn’t come off very well. The story line is a good one. I love voodoo and zombies, yet the idea of a woman falling so quickly into love with a zombie really turned me off. Not because he was a zombie, but because the author goes into such detail on how dead-like the man is. It was kind of creepy.
The story progressed awkwardly for me. There was no intrigue. The author provided the answers for each problem just shortly after it arrived, without allowing the reader time to adjust to the situation. The plot itself seemed a bit boring. We’re thrown into a civil war, without knowing anything about the place that’s being destroyed, and without any reason to care about the people who are causing such trouble. I also found the double agent scenes a bit out of reach. The author throws in random surprises, but it doesn’t help build the story up. It rather just gives the reader too much coincidence.
If I had to rate this book, I would have to give it a 2 and a half. It would be a great story, with a lot of rewriting and tightening of the plot, dialogue and character development.