I find it delightful to learn about authors. Everything from their published books to blogs to struggles and successes, their journey is unique. I try to have my own ideas and thoughts and respect the individuality in the people who cross my path. Today my visitor is best-selling author Mae Clair.
Mae is a new author for me. Read anything of hers and you’ll recognize her writing is an investment in fun, heartthrob, and chills. The best-selling moniker is a well-earned title, and to think she started at six. Wow.
Thank you, Mae for taking time to visit today and opening up the covers of the real you—sharing between the lines. Let’s begin with you sharing some of your background in life that launched your writing journey.
Rox, thank you so much for inviting me to be on your blog. I’m delighted to be here! My writing journey started in grade school, so it’s been a lifelong adventure. I never had a time where I stopped writing for a few years, then picked it up again. I can honestly say I’ve been crafting stories non-stop since childhood.
My father was an artist who dabbled in writing in his younger years, and my mother was an avid reader. When I was a child, they took me to the library every weekend. My love of books and words grew from that exposure and their encouragement. I was also fortunate to have several teachers throughout my school years who encouraged me as well. In 2012, I submitted my first manuscript for publication, and here we are today. 😊
Mae, I am curious about which of the genres you write in was your first story avenue?
I’m firmly entrenched in the mystery/suspense genre with a few side forays for indie pubbing. My first published books were romantic mysteries with a 50/50 ratio of romance and mystery. The books I’m publishing today have male and female leads, but the focus is on the two lead characters working together to solve a mystery, not about attraction. Prior to being published, I dabbled in everything—fantasy, science-fiction, magical realism, inspirational, western, and gothic.
Was there an event in your life that drove you to that genre initially and do you still write these types of stories?
I’ve always been attracted to mysteries. Even when I was writing in other genres, a good portion of the story was focused on a mystery thread. Several reviewers of my early books complained the plots were too complex with too much mystery and not enough romance. Probably why I made the switch to writing mysteries, LOL. I can trace that love back to my childhood reading.
You are a member of a few great groups. How do each of these groups shape your writing as you move forward?
I maintain memberships in the Mystery Writers of America and International Thriller Writers. Both lend authenticity to my work and provide excellent resources. I’m currently querying for agent representation and believe those two groups add an extra layer of professionalism. I’m also a member of Story Empire, an online writing blog compromised of a group of talented authors. We pull our knowledge, learn from each other, and strive to help other writers by posting craft-related topics. All three groups help me to grow as a writer and continually polish my work.
One of the passions you’ve mentioned in other places is your research of cryptids. For those readers who aren’t familiar with this term, I believe these are animals which cryptozoologists believe exist in the wild but mainstream usually considers myth. Think of Yeti or Loch Ness as examples. How much study time have you spent investigating the unusual and how do you incorporate these into your stories?
A perfect description of cryptozoology, Rox! How much time do I spend investigating the unusual? Hmm. That part of me is always “on.” I’ve had a passion for most things odd since I was a kid. I love folklore and legends and am always on the prowl for more. I read online articles, collect books devoted to folklore, and have been known to delve deep into specific topics.
I’m drawn more to cryptids than the supernatural and won’t venture into realms of anything remotely demonic. I always say I’m a wuss because you’ll never catch me at a séance, touring a haunted house, or doing a ghost walk—even though I routinely write about all of those. The two topics I’ve researched more than others are the Spiritualism movement of the 19th Century, and the Mothman. I made two physical trips to Point Pleasant, West Virginia to do on-site research on the Mothman and have given local talks on the Mothman and other creatures of folklore.
Do you have a favorite cryptid that you honestly hope proof of its existence will emerge in your life?
My favorite cryptid is the Mothman. I could talk for hours about the mythology and history wrapped up in his legend. I also love the Loch Ness Monster and some lesser-known creatures like the Squonk. In ALL cases—as much as I’m curious as to whether they really exist—I would never want any to be discovered. Imagine the hoopla that would create! I prefer the what-if possibilities of the mystery.
At one point you were the president of the Central Pennsylvania Writers Organization. Is that the region of the country you reside in or do you have multiple places you call home?
You’ve done your homework! 😊 Yes, I reside in Central PA. It’s been my home all my life. The Maryland and Delaware shores are secondary homes. My husband’s family had property there for decades, so I spent most summers traveling back and forth on weekends. I always say “the shore” is my backyard.
On your website you have a list of 12 weird facts (which I recommend folks visit). One item is the trips you have taken to locate the legendary Mothman. Can you share some detail about the trips and this fascinating cryptid?
The TNT area where the Mothman was first sighted was an interesting experience. Originally part of a WWII munitions site (hence the TNT name) it’s now a wildlife area of overgrown wilderness, murky ponds, ragged cutaways, and the ruins of old buildings and igloos once used for artillery storage.
My husband and I got a hand drawn map from one of the locals to the igloo where the Mothman was originally seen. We never did find it but got to experience the TNT. The man who gave us the map also showed us some photos his wife had taken inside the igloo, and the “orbs” she’d captured there. The man told me that people believed there was a presence in the igloo and that sometimes “if you ask a question, you might get an answer.” I ran with that idea and spun it into a plot thread that carries through all three books. It turned into one of my favorite threads in the series.
Your covers are genre appropriate and yet each is a stunning individual. How do you come up with the covers for your stories?
Thank you for the compliment. Most of my work was produced by Kensington Publishing. For the covers, I would provide them with a concept, then their art department would run with the idea. I was truly blessed to have such a talented team working on my books.
Do you have a favorite book you created and explain a bit of why you choose that one?
I have a few personal favorites, but the one that stands out most for me is A Cold Tomorrow, book two of my Point Pleasant Series. Not only does it focus on the Mothman legend, but I also wove in UFOs, Flicker Phenomenon, and Men in Black. Most people don’t realize the term “Men in Black” originated in Point Pleasant and was coined by the late author, John Keel, who used it to describe the mysterious men who descended on Point Pleasant following sightings of UFOs and the Mothman. The chapter one “star sh*t” scene in A Cold Tomorrow is still one of my favorite pieces of writing. It was fun and creepy to write!
What was your path to earning the best-selling author status and can you offer advice to others on what worked for you?
I was fortunate to have my publisher promote my books on the right platforms at the right times. I piggybacked on their promo, and we hit paydirt. A Thousand Yesteryears (book one of Point Pleasant) has hit bestseller status more than once. Myth and Magic, a romantic suspense was a bestseller on both Amazon and B&N. BookBub, coupled with a huge blog blast worked for A Thousand Yesteryears, and a combination of paid promo and Halloween delivered for Myth and Magic. The book is Halloween-themed, so the timing was perfect. It really came down to the backing of my publisher and the $$$ they dumped into promo. I spent promo dollars too, but not at the level they did.
Are you self-published or small press or a mixture?
A mixture of both. Most of my books are through Kensington Publishing, but I have a single novel (Eclipse Lake), three novellas, and a collection of short stories that are indie published. I also have short stories in various anthologies.
You have two different series available Hode’s Hill and Point Pleasant. What is the difference between these series?
I categorize Point Pleasant as mystery/thriller and Hode’s Hill as mystery/suspense. Hode’s Hill also features a dual timeline in each novel—one set in the present, and one in an earlier century. Point Pleasant is set in 1982-1983 with flashbacks to 1967, when the Silver Bridge collapsed and the Mothman was sighted.
Is it imperative that readers consume the books in your series in order?
No, each book is designed so it can be read as a standalone. Ideally, the books should be read in order but only because there are broader themes in each that carry from book to book, but each novel has its own set of characters and plot.
I suspect you write every day. Is there a special way you start your day to remain so creative?
Actually, I have a day job, so I’m only able to write on weekends. My normal routine is to write for several hours on Sunday afternoons. I’m not as disciplined during summer months, but otherwise I stick to that pattern on a regular basis.
Do you have a process you might share on your story creation method?
Characters come to me first. I spend a lot of time thinking about them, their backstory, and what motivates them. When I have a handful of characters, they lay the groundwork for a barebones plot (that rarely if ever includes an ending). I wing it from there and let the story unfold as I write. I create in a linear fashion, scene by scene, chapter by chapter. I also edit as I go, so by the time I finish my draft, I have a fairly polished manuscript.
Are you a fan of getting in front of fans and potential readers through festivals and book signings? And do you have any upcoming events where people can meet you or get a signed copy?
I enjoy doing book signings and also guest speaker presentations. I’ve done several in the past but haven’t done anything in person since the pandemic. I did a few online events in 2021 and hope to get back to in person events in the coming year. I already have a local bookstore owner who said she’d like to host me as soon as they get back to holding in-person events. Regardless if I sell books, those events are always fun!
How do you manage social media presence across genres? Do you have a favorite vehicle to get the news out of a new release?
It’s hard staying on top of social media. I love using my blog and visiting other blogs. That’s about all I have time for, though I do like Twitter and try to fit it in where and when I can. I left Facebook years ago and never looked back. As both an author and an avid reader, I also really like BookBub, but I consider it more of a resource then social media.
Do you publish multiple books per year?
With Kensington—especially when I was writing series novel— I pubbed two books a year. I don’t have deadlines any longer, so now I publish one a year. Although if all goes well, I hope to have at least two releases in 2022. Yes, there are plans, LOL!
Like other authors I know you read. Who are one or two of your favorites this year? Do you prefer consuming your stories in a specific media?
I love to read! Non-fiction I read in print because I like to highlight passages and make notes. For fiction, I go back and forth between my Kindle and print books. I have a waterproof Kindle, but I especially love fat paperbacks for poolside or beach. There were so many good books this year, it’s hard to pick just two, but I thoroughly enjoyed Leave the World Behind by Rumaan Alam and Chasing the Boogeyman by Richard Chizmar.
Are there two authors you absolutely want to accept an invitation to lunch and get answers to nagging questions you have about them. Who are they and what is the burning question(s) for each of them?
I always say I have so many online friends I would love to sit down and chat books and writing with them over lunch. Of authors I don’t know personally, I’d choose the writing team of Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child, creators of Aloysius X. L. Pendergast—a special agent with the FBI, whose cases always border on the bizarre or supernatural. I’d be curious which of their books they’d like to see transition to the big screen. (Ignoring the fact Relic was made into a movie—minus the lead character!! Such a travesty for Pendergast fans!).
What is the next story your fans can look to see and when? A little sneak peek would be perfect.
I’m working on a book called The Ghosts of Wingate Hall. It’s a haunted house/ghost fiction mystery, which hopefully will see the light of day in 2022. I’m also currently shopping a mystery/suspense novel called The Keeping Place for agent representation. Fingers crossed that one will find a home.
Are reviews important to you and do they impact your writing?
I believe reviews are important for most authors. They certainly are for me. I appreciate when a reader takes the time to review one of my novels. Even if it’s only a few lines, that review potentially helps me reach new readers. In that respect, reviews have a strong impact on my writing. With or without them, I will continue to write (I can’t imagine ever stopping), but they’re a nice treat. And yes, I’ve had my share of unfavorable reviews, too. It goes with the territory.
For a new budding author at the age of six, what advice would you want to give them?
The same advice my father gave me—embrace the “what-ifs” and the “might-have-beens.” Never lose your sense of wonder or your curiosity. Give voice to your creativity, and let your imagination find expression in words. Most of all, never stop chasing your dreams.
Where can folks find you and follow you.
Connect with Mae Clair at BOOKBUB and the following haunts:
Amazon| BookBub| Newsletter Sign-Up
Website | Blog| Twitter| Goodreads| All Social Media
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