Interview with Author Dianne Hartsock

My guest today is Dianne Hartsock.  Hello!  Welcome back to Writing in the Modern Age!  It’s such a pleasure to have you again.

Can you tell us a little bit about your latest book? When did it come out? Where can we get it?

ALEX, the first book in this series, is the story of a twenty-something year old psychic who's having gruesome visions of the victims of a serial killer in the area. Through a summer of mental anguish and physical pain, flashbacks of a tortured childhood and the rallying of close friends, Alex wins through and helps the police catch the killers.

THE SHED picks up immediately from where ALEX leaves off, but where ALEX is told from his point of view, THE SHED is told mostly from the perspective of his mental health specialist, Scott Reid. Dealing with the scars of his own childhood, Scott is in the unique position to empathize and help Alex as he learns to control his visions rather than blindly following them.    

Though THE SHED is mostly about the kidnapping and brutalization of two young men and the heroes' drive to try and save them, it also has the underlying stories of Alex's battle to have a normal life and Scott Reid's attempt to give love one more try with Art Peters, a local art dealer.

THE SHED came out on June 10, 2014 from Solstice Publishing.


Is there anything that prompted your latest book? Something that inspired you?

When I first wrote ALEX I hadn't planned on a sequel, but have you ever had that one character who just wouldn't let you go? That lurks in the back of your mind until you need to revisit them?  That's my Alex. A beautiful, complex man, a psychic, who had a need to tell more of his story. And honestly, I was happy to oblige him. It was fun seeing my old friends again.

As Alex's counselor, Scott Reid was an important character in ALEX and I enjoyed filling out his role a little more in THE SHED, giving everyone a glimpse of his kind, lonely heart and letting you see him the way I do. I think you'll like him. 

I know what you mean about characters that won't let go.

When did you know you wanted to write?  Or has it always been a pastime of yours?

I've always been a storyteller, starting with the bedtime stories I used to tell my younger brother and sister. It wasn't until first grade that I wrote one of my stories down. It was about a giraffe who made new friends. My teacher and classmates loved it and it was pinned on the board for a week. I was hooked! I started writing out all my stories. Then when my seventh grade creative writing teacher encouraged me to enter a writing contest with the local newspaper, and I won, I knew I wanted to keep writing for the rest of my life.

Ah, so you got started at a pretty young age as well.

Do you have any favorite authors?

Too many to name! But I like C.J. Cherryh for fantasty, Ray Bradbury for Science Fiction, Dean Koontz for horror, Robin Cook for the medical thriller, Poppy Z. Brite for romantic suspense, a whole slew of m/m romance writers… so many others!

Do you write in a specific place?  Time of day?

Let's see, my kids have both moved out of the house to attend college, so I've converted one of the spare rooms into my writing room, with stuffed bookcase and art on the walls and a huge picture window overlooking the flower garden. I'm up an hour early for work every day to get some writing time in, then try for two hours in the evening to write, promote, and the millions of tiny details involved with having a published story.

Sundays are for family and friends, and though I might get a little writing in, it's mostly spent doing things with them. Oh, and every evening I spend with the family before I get to my writing.

Thursdays, my other day off, is strictly for writing. I need that day to just immerse myself in a story or I'd never get anything done! What it comes down to is that I love writing and so make time for it, wherever I can.

I know what you mean.  :)

Are there any words you'd like to impart to fellow writers?  Any advice?

The best advice I've ever been given and would like to pass on, is to be true to yourself and your writing. Don't try to write like anyone else. Simply put the words that come to you down on paper. It's the only way to find your own unique writing voice.

And never give up! Write something every day, even when you don't feel like it. Soon those hundred words will be a thousand, ten thousand, then before you know it you'll have that novel down. Another quote I remember, though not who said it, says that you can always go back and edit bad writing. You can't edit a blank page. Keep writing!

That's great advice, Dianne!

Readers, here is the blurb for THE SHED.

As a Certified Mental Health Therapist, Scott Reid has his share of interesting experiences, though nothing compares with the time he spends with the psychic, Alex Elson. Plagued by terrifying images and dreams, Alex turns to Doctor Reid in the hopes of learning to control his visions. Instead, Scott is pulled into Alex’s world, where dreams and reality mix and nightmares are real.

Two young men, brothers, have been abducted from the lake outside of Oakton without a trace of who took them. That is, until Alex receives a silver pocket watch in the mail belonging to the elder brother, a taunt from the kidnapper for Alex to come find them. Alex’s visions turn at once into nightmares. Images flash in his mind of an abandoned well and a terrified, lonely boy slowly dying at the bottom. The shed looms close by, holding a horrifying secret, a dark place Alex’s frightened mind refuses to go.

With the help of Scott Reid, Alex endeavors to control his visions and find the brutalized victims before death claims them. But the watch is ticking away and time’s running out.

Here is an excerpt:

“Hey Alex…” Justin’s voice trailed off, and he put the coffee pot on the warmer and went over to him when the man didn’t respond. Scott joined them, leaving his computer on the table as he passed. Alex’s eyes were wide, unfocused as he stared out the window. His breath came quickly and sweat beaded his forehead.

“What do you see?” Scott asked, voice mild, placid.
“It’s hot here. Grass is dry.” Alex’s whispered words sent a shiver through Scott. He sounded…detached. “The forest is dark across the way. Crows circle above the trees.”
“Alex, where are you right now?” Scott made the question a demand.
A shudder ran Alex’s lean frame. “I’m in your office, Dr. Reid. I see the garden through the window. But I’m also here, in this empty field. Talk to me! I want to come away from here.”
Scott touched his hand. “Come home, Alex.”
“It’s hard. Something’s drawing me to the forest. God! I don’t want to go in there.”
“Jane would want you to come home,” Scott said firmly, using the ace up his sleeve. For a second he didn’t think even the deep love Alex had for his wife could draw him back, but then he blinked his eyes into focus, and gave Scott a slight smile.
“Thank you. That’s a terrible place.”
“Is it a real place, do you think?”
Alex’s expression turned bleak. “Yes,” he whispered. “The crows were the ones from my dream this morning, and they had this.” He pulled the soft cloth holding the silver watch from a pocket and showed it to Scott. “It came in the mail a few days ago. No note. And now it shows up in my dreams. There’s a connection…somehow.”
He turned the watch over and showed Scott the engraving on the back. “There’s a picture of a man and woman inside as well, but no way to identify them.” Alex made a discouraged sound. “Who would send this to me? God, Scott, I don’t want go through this again. Can you make it stop?”
Scott drew a quick breath, feeling panicked, out of his depth. Was Art Peters right? Could he help this special man or would he cause even more emotional damage? He swallowed a sigh. There was no one else and Alex desperately needed hope to keep him sane during the madness of his visions.
He exchanged a look with Justin, who poured them all coffee while Scott pulled a chair from the table for Alex. Alex sat and tangled a hand in his hair, dragging the bangs down to cover his eyes. He snorted when Scott brushed them to the side as he sat beside him.
“Janie doesn’t let me hide, either. I suppose you want details.”
“If you feel up to it.”
“Hell with that.” Justin took the chair opposite Alex and leaned toward him, saying firmly,
Alex nodded. “The dreams are different but I’m sure it’s the same place. In this one I was standing in that field looking at the forest. The one this morning, I was in the forest.”
“And?” Justin prompted when Alex stopped and they watched a shiver run through him.
“And the crows led me along a dark path. I smelled something rotten, found a child’s grave. And something else. An old shed that terrified me for some reason.”
Justin’s eyes narrowed. “What are you leaving out?”
“Hell, Justin! Let me tell this my own way.”
Scott watched the two friends. Alex glared, clearly furious, but Justin gave him a cool look in return, unruffled. Slowly the flush left Alex’s face, leaving it pale, his blue eyes enormous. “Bastard,” he muttered, but his voice lacked heat. “The child tugs at me. The grave would suggest he’s dead, but I don’t think so. Oh fuck, Justin. I thought it was over! I thought I could give Jane a normal life, be a good husband to her. If the visions are coming back…”
Alex covered his trembling lips and looked away from them. Scott’s heart squeezed with pity but before he could say anything Justin slammed his hand on the table, making them jump.
“We’re not playing it this way, Alex,” Justin informed him. “You tried to push us away two months ago. You’re trying again. Pre-emptive strike. But I’m not going for it. I know Jane won’t either. Now man up and we’ll see what the good doctor here suggests we do next.”
Scott blinked as two sets of eyes turned to him, hope in one, caution in Justin’s. What did they expect him to do? He wasn’t a detective. He couldn’t solve a crime, if any had been committed. The pain when he bit too hard on his bottom lip recalled him from the edge of panic.
“First things, Alex,” he said gently. “Just now at the window, did anything warn you that a vision was coming on?”
The strain left Alex’s face and he tilted his head, thoughtful. “I think so. These last few times I’ve noticed that everything becomes clearer, more focused, sometimes almost painfully bright.”
“Any scents involved? A certain odor?”
Alex looked startled, then shook his head. “I don’t think so, though I can smell as well as touch the things in the vision, as if I’m really there.”
“Maybe you are,” Justin put in.
It was Scott’s turn to be surprised by an idea, but Alex scoffed. “Hardly, Justin! Let’s not add astral projection to my weirdness.”
“You’re not weird,” Scott and Justin said in unison, then the three of them burst out laughing, easing the tension that had been building in the room.

Sounds riveting!  Thanks for visiting us today, Dianne!

Author Bio 

After growing up in California and spending the first ten years of marriage in Colorado, Dianne now lives in the beautiful Willamette Valley of Oregon with her incredibly patient husband, who puts up with the endless hours she spends hunched over the keyboard letting her characters play.

Dianne is the author of m/m erotic romances, both contemporary and fantasy, the psychological thriller, and anything else that comes to mind. Oh, and a floral designer. Which is the perfect job for her. When not writing, she can express herself through the rich colors and textures of flowers and foliage.



 Are there any words you'd like to impart to fellow writers?  Any advice?
Are there any words you'd like to impart to fellow writers?  Any adv


  1. Thank you so much for having me back, Marie! It's been fun. Hugs!

    1. It's been an honor, Dianne! The book sounds fabulous! :)


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