Updates From Past Meet & Greet Authors 4/8/23

Writers are a prolific group! In this segment, you will find UPDATED information from authors who have previously appeared on the Meet & Greet. They would like to share new, current, and/or modified information.

Any authors who would like to “update” their information/re-do their interview/post about their NEW work – please contact me at srovens@yahoo.com (and put UPDATE in the subject line). THANKS!

Updates from Pat Camalliere (4/8/23)

Your name: Pat Camalliere

Genre: Mystery, historical, amateur sleuth

Titles/Year Published:

The Miracle at Assisi Hill, 2022

The Mystery at Mount Forest Island, 2020

The Mystery at Black Partridge Woods, 2016

The Mystery at Sag Bridge, 2015


Camalliere is the author of the popular, five-star rated and award-winning Cora Tozzi Historical Mystery Series, which is set in Lemont, where she lives with her husband. A resident of Lemont for over twenty years, Camalliere wants to introduce readers to the unique places and history of the area through her character-driven mystery novels. She serves on the board of the Lemont Public Library District, manages the archives of the Lemont Area Historical Society, and is a member of the Society of Midland Authors, Chicago Writers Association, and Sisters In Crime. She speaks locally on a number of topics, and writes a blog about Northern Illinois history. Visit her web site at www.patcamallierebooks.com.

Why do you write in the genre you do?

One summer between seventh and eighth grades out of boredom I searched our attic and found an entire box of Perry Mason mysteries. My mother reluctantly allowed me to read them—forty-some before school started, and I’ve been hooked on mysteries ever since. After I retired, I decided to see if I had any writing talent. At my age I knew if it was ever going to happen at all, I had to focus right away on the things I loved: the community I lived in, my love for mysteries, an interest in the past, and the unique and oddball sides of life. So, I threw all of that into my first novel, The Mystery at Sag Bridge, about a retired historian who had recently lost her mother and was being haunted by the ghost of a young woman tortured by the child she left behind when she was murdered in 1898. The mystery was to find the ghost’s killer as a very cold case, set in a real historic graveyard in a forest preserve in suburban Chicago.

The book was popular locally, and my fans loved the characters, the things I revealed about the area, and the touch of the paranormal. I couldn’t disappoint them by eliminating any of these elements in my following books.

How has writing changed/altered your life?

My goal was to share my love of the community I live in, so of course I wanted my writing to be read. That meant spending vast amounts of time not only writing and perfecting my work, but pursuing ways for readers to find it. Even if a writer is writing only for pleasure, though, the result must be something to be proud of. That requires a great deal of thought, study, and revision. The bottom line here is that writing not only takes a lot of time, but it can be close to an obsession.

For me, I’ve never been one to take the easy road. Because I like new interests rather than repeating, each of my novels features a different topic and a different time, although they are all set in Lemont. That has required an average of two years of research for each book. Fortunately, I enjoy the research part of the process almost as much as the writing.

Because I am interested in history, I write a blog on local and Northern Illinois history. I never thought I would enjoy public speaking, but I do. It’s a very satisfactory way of sharing my experience as a writer as well as the knowledge I gained through research.

Perhaps my biggest pleasure is that I have met so many wonderful and supportive people that I would never have known if I weren’t a writer, and their honest respect of my work has been personally rewarding.

Who are your favorite authors and why?

Surprisingly, I read in my genre, but when I read for pleasure I turn to police procedurals, crime books set in Western United States, and legal thrillers. I have a variety of favorite writers: Elizabeth George, C. J. Box, Jo Nesbo, Scott Turow, Georges Simenon, Craig Johnson, William Kent Kreuger, Nevada Barr, and Ken Follett.

How much does personal experience play in your written work?

A lot! My personal memories are scattered through my books, often with changes for effect. I enhance backstories or give the experience to different characters. My characters can be based on people I knew, but are blends. I use a lot of dialog and I role-play that to make conversations more realistic.

Probably the biggest impact of personal experience comes into play in showing the story’s emotional impact on the characters. It is easier to write emotion that you have lived. There’s a quote—historians tell you what happened, but a novelist shows you how it felt. Something like that. That’s the power of story, and to develop that power I have to put myself in that character’s place. Often the best way to do that is to take myself into a similar emotionally-impactful memory, or go where the experience took place, to get those feelings on the page. The writer is always looking for her character’s reaction, analysis, and decisions. Those are driven by emotion, even for logical-minded characters.

My first book, The Mystery at Sag Bridge, started from some poltergeist-type experiences I had had throughout life. I asked myself: What if these are not coincidences but there is a presence behind them? What might that look like? Those experiences and questions formed the basis of my plot.

My most recent book, The Miracle at Assisi Hill, began as a means of helping cancer patients by writing about my personal experience with tongue cancer. However, during research of a convent in Lemont that was featured in the story, I discovered a real person, the Venerable Mother Theresa Dudzik, who is about to be named a saint. She became the focus of the story, and much of my cancer experience had to be cut. I now plan to write a memoir, rather than a novel, about my cancer.

 Where can people find you and your work?

Please visit my website, www.patcamallierebooks.com. You can also view my blog there, where I have written many articles about local history, focusing on quirky and little-known events. Please leave a comment; I love to engage with readers.

My books are available in paperback, hardcover, and Kindle at Amazon. Here’s the link to my newest release : The Miracle at Assisi Hill: Camalliere, Pat: 9798987162408: Amazon.com: Books

In addition, my books can be purchased at local stores, and I sign books at frequent speaking engagements, book club discussions, local festivals, and the like. My speaking schedule can be found on my website, www.Patcamallierebooks.com.

Other things I’d like to say?

I’m fortunate to live in a very interesting place, and it’s a big advantage to be able to pull stories from the area. Lemont, unlike other areas in suburban Chicago, is semi-isolated, sitting on a bluff and bordered by the Des Plaines River, surrounded by woods and farms rather than subdivisions and shopping centers. Not only is the geography interesting, but the history is quirky. And the area is noted for its ghost stories, rich in ideas for mystery writers, and my fans love that I am taking them to places that are familiar. My books allow them to see where they live in a new way.

My books combine the genres of mystery, history, the paranormal, and faith. They are strongly character-driven and have a common theme of solidarity between families and friends, and they explore the profound connections in relationships. In particular, all four books deal with the importance of motherhood in some way, interweaving dependencies between past and present. In The Mystery at Sag Bridge, the main character is grieving the loss of her mother, and the ghost who is haunting her is grieving the loss of a daughter, which creates a bond between the two. In The Mystery at Black Partridge Woods, a Potawatomi mother is searching for a killer in order to free her son from imprisonment. In The Mystery at Mount Forest Island, a blind and friendless woman is searching for the mother that deserted her when she was a teen. In The Miracle at Assisi Hill, the main present-day character receives support from her son, and the main historical character is focused on the kid sister she raised like a daughter. None of my books begin with that theme, but as the story develops mothers are always involved in an important way. I can already see that pattern taking place in my next book.


Updates from Brian Finney (5/10/21)

Your Name: Brian Finney

Genre(s) of your work: Psychological suspense novel

Titles/Year of Published Work(s):

Dangerous Conjectures,  March 25, 2021


Brian Finney is a writer and Professor Emeritus of Literature at California State University, Long Beach. Educated in England, he taught and organized extra-mural courses for the University of London. Since immigrating to the US in 1987 he has taught at UC Riverside, USC, UCLA, and California State University, Long Beach.

He has published eight books, including Christopher Isherwood: A Critical Biography (1979) which was awarded the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, Terrorized: How the War on Terror Affected American Culture and Society (KDP 2011/2018), Money Matters: A Novel (2019), a Finalist in the American Fiction Awards, and Dangerous Conjectures (2021).

He is married and lives in Venice, California.

Why do you write in the genre that you do?

Both this novel and my previous one (Money Matters) are actually a mix of genres. Both connect a personal narrative to a specific political background – the mid-term election of 2010 in the first novel and the 2020 primaries in this novel. In each case the major character is affected by political events. This reflects my belief that all of us are impacted in a variety of ways by what is going on at the national level. So in Dangerous Conjectures the government’s refusal to take the spread of Covid-19 seriously leads Julia, one of the two major characters, to resort to increasingly dangerous personal choices in her attempt to allay her fear of dying from the virus. Meantime Adam, her husband, is investigating the QAnon conspiracy which has secret ties to the White House.

How has writing changed/altered your life?

I have taught literature for most of my adult life – here and in London. It was only after I retired that I took to writing fiction, a genre I’d discussed and analyzed all those years. It proved surprisingly liberating. It also gave me an insight into what factors lead a novelist to write what he or she does, how the fictional world takes on a reality that demands that its creator stay within its boundaries. This is something I paid much less attention to as a literature professor. In particular I found that I loved writing dialogue where what one person says seamlessly calls up a response that itself stimulates a specific kind of reply– and so on. It makes me wonder whether I shouldn’t try writing a play or screenplay which is largely dialogue.

Who are your favorite authors and why?

I have always been drawn to writers who use inventive language to offer a unique take on life. A lot of authors qualify. But my favorites are D.H. Lawrence, Virginia Wool, William Faulkner, Christopher Isherwood, James Baldwin, Samuel Beckett, Saul Bellow, Haruki Murakami, Salman Rushdie, Angela Carter, Jeanette Winterson, and David Mitchell. Some of these writers have diminished as they grew older, but all of them understand the importance of voice and tone. A sentence and a paragraph should possess a rhythm and flow, something I try to imitate from their example.

Do you believe that audiobooks are the wave of the future, more of a passing fad, or somewhere in between and why?

I like audiobooks and have published an audio version of each of my novels. Of course you need a narrator who can interpret the different voices and moods. I was happy to find in Almond Eastland such an expert reader, and she has brilliantly narrated both my novels. The demand for audiobooks in the US has increased and now represents over eight percent of book sales. In an  age of TV and YouTube many Americans find the act of reading tougher than that of listening.

What is your opinion of mainstream/corporate bookstores?

Print sales of books in 2020 have increased eight percent over 2019. The real competitor to independent bookstores since the outbreak of the pandemic has been online bookstores, especially Amazon. Independent bookstores last year responded by competing with their own online sales and offering curbside sales. With the end of lockdown in sight local bookstores are optimistic, looking forward to restarting author readings, which have been a major source of income for them in the past. Unfortunately my book is coming out before an author’s reading was feasible. That’s too bad. But I think the indie bookstores will largely survive.

Do you believe writing should be censored – that some topics should remain taboo?

This is a tough question. In general I believe that no books should be banned unless they overtly promote illegal activities such as pedophilia. If you look at US prisons all kinds of books are banned for bizarre and inconsistent reasons. For example the state of Texas has banned from its prisons over 10,000 books, including Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses and Alice Walker’s The Color Purple (which I regularly taught at my university). What this means is that I have to accept the right of individuals to publish online, especially on social media, opinions and false facts that I believe are harmful to us as a society, that can even lead to acts of insurrection like that on January 6. As John Milton argued almost 400 years ago, “What wisdom can there be to choose . . . without the knowledge of evil?”

Where can people find you and your work?

I have an extensive website where all my positions and publications are listed and described, with links to where my books (including Dangerous Conjectures) can be bought: www.bhfinney.com Please look it up.


Updates from Beth Hildenbrand (3/7/21)

Name- Beth Hildenbrand 

Genre- Horror/Dark Fantasy and Poetry 

Titles- Cain Heretic Son 2019

The Path of Temptation 2021


Beth lives in Ephrata,Pennsylvania with her family. She is the mother of five sons. She has four grandchildren.  Beth enjoys concerts, heavy metal music, and reading books by her fellow Indie Authors.

Why do you write in the Genre you do?

I’m a dark soul. I’ve loved classic horror and fantasy since I was a little girl in pig tales. My first comic book was Vampires. My favorite movies were anything with Vincent Price.

How has writing altered your life? 

It’s made me realize I can accomplish anything. It has brought me a wonderful extended family in the Indie community.  I have even started a group for women. The Phoenix Sisterhood.  It is amazing. Women reaching out to each other and raising their Sisters up. It’s very interactive. Women bonding and forming friendships.

Who are your favorite Authors, why?

Right now I’m only reading Indie Authors. I love stories.  Indie Authors are amazing storytellers.  Terry McRae, JA Stone, Marcee Corn…I could go on and on.

Do you believe audiobooks are the way of the future, more of a passing fad? 

Personally I love a book in my hand. I have a Kindle and I read ebooks. I’m all for any form of reading. With today’s busy world I can see why alot of people are turning to ebooks.

What is your opinion of mainstream/corporate bookstores?

Anything that gets a book in someone’s hand. I know alot of people would argue with me. I would love to see them start carrying Indie Authors. Readers who buy mainstream are missing out on alot of talented writers.

What have you found to be a good marketing tool? A bad one.

Social media seems to be the way to go. There are so many platforms and you can reach a multitude of people. So far I haven’t found a bad one.

Do you believe writing should be censored-that some topics should be taboo?

Absolutely not! Everyone should be allowed to create. I want to know what other writers think and feel. No one should be silenced. If I dont care for their work I still applaud their vision.

Where can people find your work? 

My new book of poetry is available on Amazon. My novel Cain Heretic Son will soon be re released by Rushmore and available in stores and online.I do have a website on wordpress, Beth’s Heretic Pages.

On Facebook Beth Hildenbrand. Amazon link below.