About the Author:
Em Shotwell is the author of Blackbird Summer (City Owl Press, 2016). She lives in South Louisiana with a husband who spoils her and two mini-superheroes who call her mom. Em think the most interesting characters are the ones who live on the sidelines, and that small towns often hide the biggest secrets. She is inspired by tall tales and local legends.
When she’s not writing about misfits and oddballs, Em enjoys spending time outdoors hiking, and debating Doctor Who facts with her obsessed ten-year-old.
1. What was the most challenging thing about writing BLACKBIRD SUMMER?
The cast of characters and their abilities (magic Gifts) is very vast in Blackbird Summer. The hardest part was keeping everyone straight and not contradicting myself or leaving gaping plot holes. I think I did a pretty good job. On the less technical side, the hardest part was just finding the time…but I think that may be the hardest part for every writer!
2. Are you a plotter or pantser?
Total and complete plotter. However, I do have to often adjust my course, meaning that sometimes I will get a wild hair that totally changes a character’s ARC. When this happens I take the time to think it through and write down what this means for the story as a whole. I have pretty bad ADD so I would never finish a project if I was a panster, lol.
3. Who did you trust to read your first draft?
NO ONE! Seriously- I was terrified to let anyone have a peek. Finally, I let my husband and a few friends read that first god-awful draft. They liked it and that gave me the confidence to take it seriously. I have always written stories and done free-lance work for magazines—but a book was another beast all together. I got over it, though, and now I don’t get nervous passing around early drafts.
4. What do you like the most about living in Louisiana?
Hands down, no contest, the food. I may be partial, but I think we have the best food in the country. It is such a melting pot of Cajun, creole, and southern home-style cooking that it is hard not to pig out all the time.
5. What is the most interesting animal you’ve ever met on a hike?
I don’t know if this counts as a hike, but my mother in law has an area behind her house with a pond. One time we were fishing and my hubs caught a baby alligator (on accident). He and my father in law took it to a swamp several miles away and released it.
6. Are you a gypsy or homebody?
Complete gypsy. I’d move tomorrow if I had the opportunity. I get it honest from my Dad. I went to 11 different schools between 5th grade and my senior year.
7. What is the most mysterious place you’ve ever visited?
Hmm. I guess that depends. I have been to the old cemeteries in New Orleans, and as a kid with my Grandma I visited some really neat markets, churches, and old buildings in Mexico City. However, I think the most mysterious place was found by chance on a stretch of road on the way to Galveston Texas. My husband and I stopped at this funky little “antique shop.” (I use the quotes bc the place was pretty sketchy). We got out and walked around and I broke out in chills and my stomach immediately twisted into knots. I don’t know what was up with that place but it gave off bad vibes. When we were back in the car, my husband turned to me and asked “Did that place give you a weird feeling?” It was bizarre.
8. If you could spend this afternoon anywhere in the world, where would it be?
On a beach with my family. I am pretty easy to please. There are a lot of places that I would love to visit (ummm…like everywhere) but I am happiest in the sand surrounded by the ppl I love. But since I get to answer however I want—let’s add a babysitter to this scenario so I can relax, lol.
9. How would you describe your favorite perfume?
My favorite perfume isn’t an expensive brand. It is called “beach” by Bobbi Brown. It smells like sun screen and summertime.
Visit Em Shotwell online: Twitter / Facebook / Amazon / Goodreads / Instagram / Pinterest
When people fear the unknown, being Gifted is a Curse…
In the cornerstone of the rural south, Brooklyn, Mississippi, no one dares make eye contact with the strange Caibre family. Until the rewards are worth the cost. The townsfolk come, cash in hand, always at night, to pay for services only a Gifted can provide.
No matter the Gifts prevalent in her family, at twenty-one, Tallulah is expected to follow the path laid out for her: marriage, babies, and helping her mama teach the family home school program. She’s resigned to live the quiet life and stay out of trouble…until she meets Logan.
An outsider and all around rebel, Logan doesn’t care about her family’s reputation. Yet after a tragic loss wreaks havoc on the crumbling relationship between the Caibres and the townsfolk, Tallulah must decide if love and freedom are worth risking everything.
Read Blackbird Summer:
All Romance eBooks / Amazon Print / Amazon Digital / Barnes & Noble / City Owl Press /
iBooks (Apple) / Kobo / Wal-Mart / Powell’s
In this excerpt, Tallulah meets Logan for the first time. She had noticed him earlier in the diner where the scene takes place—but he had in earbuds and had his back to her. This was right before Myrtle, the diner owner and town busy-body, had torn her apart with terrible accusations. If you like this excerpt and want to read about their first encounter from Logan’s perspective, CLICK HERE to get a free copy of my short story, THE CHANS.
Before I could talk myself out of the whole thing, I shoved open the door and marched in.
“Myrtle I just need to…” I started, my eyes trained on my sneakers.
My heartbeat filled my ears and I dried my palms on my jean shorts.
“I just want to apologize.” I said to the floor, scared that if I looked up I would lose my nerve.
“She’s in the back,” said the deep voice from earlier.
I jerked my gaze upward. Crap. I had been in such a hurry, I hadn’t thought about the other customer. Or even Loretta, who I knew would love to see me squirm.
The man from the booth was standing by the counter near the front of the diner.
I clenched my mouth shut, embarrassed at the thought of what this man might have heard, and scared that if I talked that I would only make it worse.
The holes in my plan now stood out in my mind, gaping wide and taunting me with how dumb the entire idea had been. Things could not get any worse.
“Are you ok?” The stranger asked.
I was wrong.
The back of my neck prickled, the way it always did whenever my face decided it was a good time to turn scarlet. Something too strong to be called butterflies stirred in my stomach—it was how I imagined stage fright must feel. Both exciting and terrifying.
I breathed deep.
He was tall. As a girl who is 5’9”, I always noticed height. He had to be at least 6’2”. And slim, but not skinny, built with the long muscles of an athlete. The dark hair that had been tucked behind his ears, now hung lose around a wide face that was decorated with high cheekbones, and the kind of full lips that made women jealous.
All of these things made him gorgeous, but his eyes made him breathtaking. They were large, almond shaped, and the color of moss. Green, but not magic green, and they stood out against his tan skin. I had seen good looking men, but this man was startling. And he definitely had to be from out of town. In a place the size of Brooklyn, you learn most everyone’s faces, even if you don’t personally know them, and I was certain that I had never seen this man before. I would remember a face like that.
And he had just said something, while I was staring at him. Dangit.
“Excuse me?” I asked.
“I said that you shouldn’t apologize to her. She was rude to you. You have nothing to be sorry for.” His lips parted, showing white, straight teeth that wouldn’t have been out of place in a toothpaste ad.
Of course his smile would be as beautiful as he is. I touched my tangled pony tail, and for the first time in my life, I wished I had listened to Delia and actually fixed my hair and changed clothes before coming into town.
But he had spoken to me. That meant I had to answer. I tried to think, but every word in my vocabulary decided to vanish, leaving me mute. Mute and homely, a winning combination, I thought.
I shook my head. Good. At least I could move.
“I didn’t mean to eavesdrop, but that whole bit about the dude with green eyes? I mean come on. I have green eyes and I am not gay. I mean, there isn’t anything wrong with being gay, but I’m not. And I am not related to you either. At least I hope I’m not. What I am saying is that, I am sure your family is lovely, it’s just that, I can’t be related to you,” he paused, and nervously rubbed the back of his neck. “I mean. I know I’m not because I am not even from here. What was all that about anyway? Green eyes and your people?”
I was stupid in my silence, but his rambling was somehow adorable.
“You heard that?” I croaked.
My family’s freakiness had been on full display. And then there were those disgusting threats. Myrtle’s accusations churned in my stomach, curdling and sour like old milk. The feeling clashed against the butterflies and their eager fear, and suddenly I felt ill. I clamped my mouth shut and took a deep breath through my nose, as a cold sweat prickled across my upper lip. Throwing up would have been bad, but throwing up in front of this man, who was a million times better looking than me, and had just heard from the most horrible source on the planet about how weird I was, would be a whole new kind of terrible.
I could not be the story about that time that he met this nut-case girl in po-dunk Mississippi and she threw up all over his shoes.
Oh God. Calm down, Tallulah.
“You were explaining about your family to her. She was being a real asshole. This place is crazy. That one lady yells at you, and that other girl acts offended because I didn’t want to, I don’t know, take her in the back room. I guess here you get dinner and a show.”
He stuck out his hand, and smiled.
“I’m Logan, by the way,” he said.
I stared, open-mouthed, at the hand in front of me. Every part of me wanted to grab that hand and twine my fingers through his and keep them there forever.
Instead, I stood stock-still.
Something about him pulled at me, and I wondered if he felt it, too: this beautiful trance that wouldn’t let me turn and leave, but terrified me too much to simply reach out and shake his hand.
My heart pounded out the seconds as they lumbered by.
“This is the part where you tell me your name,” he said, dropping his hand to his side.
He stared into my eyes and his expression turned serious. “That’s so strange. I know that we couldn’t have, but have we met before? I know it’s impossible, because I’d never forget those eyes…but it feels like I know you. Like I’ve always known you.”