Interview with Author J.E. McDonald

My guest today is J.E. McDonald. Hello, and welcome to Writing in the Modern Age! It’s such a pleasure to have you here.

Thanks for inviting me!

Of course!

Can you give us a brief one or two sentence description of your latest book? When did it come out? Where can we get it?

Ghost of Gamble is a romance pitting a ghost hunter with a skeptic. Set in Wickwood, a city where strange things happen, the two main characters are thrown together by bad luck. Bree loses her job at the beginning of the book, and with an eviction notice in her back pocket she needs to find a job fast. That’s when she runs into Zack, a paranormal investigator searching for an assistant. Because Bree speaks without a filter, and Zack is the strong silent type, personalities clash while the chemistry sparks, all amid an investigation of one of the most haunted houses Zack has ever encountered. While Bree struggles with the need to expose the paranormal investigation company for a scam because ghosts aren’t real, Zack battles internally on whether or not to trust Bree enough to reveal his secret.

It's kind of like the first few seasons of Supernatural (before they got super dark) with a splash of Bridget Jones’s Diary. It came out in June of this year and it’s available at most digital retailers, including Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, and Barnes and Noble.


Is there anything that prompted this book? Something that inspired you?

I love to read and write romance, and one of my all-time favorite things is the clash of opposing personalities. With this book, Bree is the skeptic while Zack knows ghosts are, indeed, real. Bree is bubbly and speaks without thinking, while Zack is introverted and doesn’t like to speak unless he needs to. I love to see the sparks fly.

Oh, me too! ;)


Let me ask a different question.

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

When I was a kid, I always made up stories in my head. As the youngest child of five siblings, I was often left to entertain myself and created imaginary worlds at the drop of a hat. In school, I would’ve much rather written an essay test than a multiple choice so I guess that urge to write has always been there.


I know just what you mean...

Do you have any favorite authors yourself, J.E.?

Absolutely! I grew up devouring Nora Roberts and Julie Garwood. More recently, I have fallen in love with Alyssa Cole, Sarah MacLean, Tessa Dare, Farrah Rochon and Helen Hoang. And honestly, I could keep going. The books coming out right now are penned by fierce women, indeed. And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention all the great authors at City Owl Press! I’m so fortunate to be a part of a small press with such fantastic writers.

Okay, great!  I also love Tessa Dare and Nora Roberts, and I recently read a Garwood romantic suspense. She has a great writing style!

Let's switch this up a bit...
So, do you write in a specific place? Time of day?

I used to be a nocturnal writer. I’d put my kids to bed and write until my eyes wouldn’t stay open. Now, since the past year has done a number on my regular routine, I wake up at five in the morning to get my hours in before my kids get up for the day. I used to have an office, but when we had our third child, I gave that up. Now I have a corner of the dining room. Adapting to new circumstances seems to be a theme for my family these past couple of years.

I see.

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

If writing is something you love, if being a published author is one of your goals, then don’t quit. Keep going. Taking a break might be necessary, but taking a break doesn’t mean you’re a quitter. Everyone’s path is unique, and what works for one person might not be your thing. Be flexible. It might be a matter of changing the time of day you write to give you that push you need to finish your book. 


This world is a strange place right now, and all of us can use a bit of positivity in our lives. Reaching out to other writers is sometimes the lift we need to conquer those obstacles.

Such fantastic advice!


How do you come up with your book ideas? Are you the type of writer who plans everything out in advance, or do you just let the story develop naturally?


When I first started writing, I was definitely a pantster. I’d know the beginning of the story, then a vague idea of the ending and off I’d go. I think as a beginner, that was what I needed to hone my craft and just get going. Now, because I’m connecting books together in a series, there’s much more planning involved. I still like the creativity of seeing where a story takes me, but I consider myself a planster now—half pantster, half planner.


All right.
We'll go for a different tactic now...
Name three quick words which describe you.

Instead, I’ll name three quick words that describe my booksfunny, steamy, and mysterious.


Right up my alley! ;)


I know it's hard to choose, but tell us if you can. Who is your favorite character out of all your books?


Oh, my goodness, that’s a hard question. If I had to choose, I’d say Bree from Ghost of a Gamble because she’s such a fun character. I love how she says what she means instead of beating around the bush. She also embraces the simple pleasures in life and I really think that’s what living is all about.

True! write romance. Do you find that challenging, or does it come naturally to you?

I grew up reading (and loving) my mom’s Harlequins so it comes naturally. I always need a happy ending and I love seeing two people overcome obstacles to be together. 


Will there be more books like your latest in the future?

Yes! Book two of the Wickwood Chronicles, Ghost of an Enchantment, releases on January 26th, 2021. It’s set in the city of Wickwood, but revolves around two different characters: Stella, who comes from a long line of witches, and Lucas, who is her opposite in a lot of ways. We see both of the characters briefly in Ghost of a Gamble. Their story starts off on a dark and stormy night and people can read a sneak peek of the first chapter on my website,




Besides writing, give us a random talent or hobby that you have.

I like to quilt. It’s a family tradition, and my grandmother taught me when I was a teenager. Now that she has passed on, I sew with my mother sometimes, and I love how creating a quilt is a lot like writing a book. Piece by piece, we work at it until it makes a beautiful and complete story. (But it’s a lot more comfy to sleep under a quilt than a book.)



I'm sure readers are curious about your next big project. Can you tell us what you've got cooking up now, or is that a secret?

It’s not a total secret because it’s book three of the Wickwood Chronicles, but I don’t want to give too much away. I will say that the main character is someone we’ve seen before and her love interest is someone who’s been mentioned in both book one or two. It’s gearing up to be the spookiest of the three novels.

Thank you so much for stopping by Writing in the Modern Age!  It was such a pleasure to have you here!

Readers, this is the blurb for Ghost of a Gamble.

There’s something extraordinary hidden beneath Wickwood’s picturesque façade.

Bree Tisdale is a jack-of-all trades blogger whose work history is nothing but tragic. When she lands a job with a supposed ghost hunter—the mysterious Zack Liller—he threatens to upend her world.

With an eviction notice in her back pocket, she doesn’t have much of a choice. Yet, as the mysteries pile up, the impossible suddenly starts to seem possible…

…Even trusting in Zack and the fire he lights inside her.

Zack Liller grew up with ghosts and has little time for fun and games. Reservations that Bree will be a good fit for his sister’s company plague him, but one day spent with the vivacious woman ends up convincing him Liller Investigations can’t do without her.

Or at least, that he can’t.

But, as things heat up between them, he is forced to wonder if he can trust Bree enough to be honest about his abilities.

When the house they’re investigating turns out to be one of the most active he has ever experienced—and the most dangerous—he realizes he may not have a choice.

Here is an excerpt.

The door chimed behind her as she left the yeasty smells of the bakery. Bree inhaled the crisp air of the street, people-watching as they bustled around her, trying to focus on anything but the unease in her chest. She sipped her coffee and winced when it burned her tongue.

Rubbing the sting away on the back of her teeth, she strolled the five steps to the advertisement board. From beneath the half-wall, she saw someone on the other side in combat boots and black jeans. Bree scanned the ads. Most were college students searching for roommates. Others were for concerts coming up in the Wickwood area.

The hard knot in Bree’s chest mutated into a hot burn. She really needed a job.

Thunk. Thunk. A stapler hit the other side of the board. She straightened. Thunk. Thunk. Slowly, she edged to the side and peeked around the board to check out what Mr. Combat Boots had posted. Probably looking for a roommate.

She noticed his hair first. Brown with a hint of red, it swept across his forehead to stop below his chin. A dusting of stubble showed through his tawny skin, but nothing you could call a beard. And his clothes matched his boots. All black. He’s cute. Her heart did a double thump. Really cute.

Straightening, she stepped around the board to get a better look at his flyer. His golden eyes tracked her, then quickly looked away. He stepped back to admire his handiwork, and she stood beside him, shoulder to shoulder. Her body hummed. Acting casual, Bree took a cautious sip of her coffee and read the flier.






She pursed her lips. “What do you do? Make pornos or something?” She wouldn’t want to star in a porno—not that she didn’t have the skills—but taking a leap into adult entertainment wasn’t a life goal. She wasn’t a prude and could probably be an assistant.

“What?” He turned so abruptly, he hit her elbow. She managed to hold onto her coffee, but some splashed out of the lid and landed on his jacket with a splat.

“Oh, my God.” Bree set her cup on the ledge of the advertisement board and dug around in her tote for a tissue. “Are you hurt? Are you burnt?”

Eyes wide, he shook his head.

“I’m so sorry.” Bree kept digging in her bag. There must be a napkin or something in here. “Not that it was my fault, mind you, since you hit my hand. But I am sorry I poured coffee on you.” She found a used, crumpled up tissue, stared at it for a full two seconds, shrugged, and wiped at the front of his jacket. “At least I didn’t get your boots wet.”

As she turned to reaffirm her coffee was secure on the ledge, she hit the cup with her tote. The cup tipped, tipped…she reached…and it fell to the ground with a dull thud. The lid flew off and coffee splattered her sneakers and his boots.

“Oh my God, I can’t believe I did it again.” Easy come, easy go. That’s how it was with free pity coffees. She went to a knee and swiped at the moisture on his boots. The embarrassment ringing in her ears made it hard for her to hear.

“Please stop,” he said, the words finally making it through.

She peered up to see his wonderfully beautiful face twisted in distress. Glaring at the tissue, she grimaced, and shoved it in her tote before hopping to her feet.

“Sorry,” she muttered. Had she ruined her chances?

Most likely.

She glanced at the flyer. She really needed a job, but if he was wanting a fluffer, that was probably a deal breaker.


“So, um, you’re needing a field assistant? I’m actually looking for a job.” Best not to mention she’d been fired five minutes ago.

Instead of saying yes or no, he stared at her with bewildered eyes. She cleared her throat. No change in his expression. She cocked her chin to the flyer. “The porno thing? I haven’t worked at a porno shoot before.”

“Porno thing?” That snapped him out of it. “What? No.” He shook his head. “No porno thing.”

From the completely shocked look on his face, she knew he had to be telling the truth. She swallowed hard. But was it something worse? Her mind scrambled to fill in the blanks left by the flier. Grave digger? Grave robber? Neither fit.

No matter what it was, she worried at her bottom lip, believing she might have just ruined her shot at making sure she didn’t end up homeless.

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Wow, it looks like such an intriguing tale!

What are people saying about Ghost of a Gamble?


Canadian author J.E. McDonald makes her literary debut with GHOST OF A GAMBLE, the first installment in her projected series the Wickwood Chronicles. Her genre – romance comedies with a paranormal twist, romantic suspense, and far future romance. ‘Wickwood’ is a ’sleepy little city pulling in tourists form all over the world with it charming architecture and historic sites. But there’s nothing ordinary about the history of occult hidden beneath its picturesque façade. Wickwood’s citizens know little of what lies beneath the surface – until its cracked open.’

And with that artful invitation McDonald introduces her main character Bree Tisdale – chronically late whirlwind without a filter who needs a job fast. When a ghost hunter advertises for an assistant, she jumps at the chance to work with the hottie, even though she knows ghosts aren’t real.

McDonald’s delightful writing style opens her new work with a description of that momentous meeting. Mood established, the plot develops well and proceeds. This is a fine romance comedy suspense novel that immediately establishes J.E. McDonald as an author of importance. The Wickwood Chronicles merit a following, as GHOST OF A GAMBLE suggests. Very impressive debut novel!
 - Grady Harp, Amazon TOP 50 Reviewer

Lighthearted, romantic, humorous, and even, at times, suspenseful, Ghost of a Gamble is a fun read for anyone looking for something new. No reader need worry this book to be another young adult paranormal fantasy for McDonald has a more mature audience in mind to entertain and makes her story much more believable for a modern audience. McDonald’s strength most certainly falls in her writing style as it is fluid and carries the reader through her story with ease. Another strength lies in her use of descriptive detail, namely her use of scents. The reader is always aware of his or her surroundings.

Another of McDonald’s strengths lies in her characters for they are all fun, quirky, and realistic.
The first in McDonald’s Wickwood Chronicles proves to be an enjoyable start to a brand new paranormal romance series. With realism, humor, and even a bit of suspense, readers will enjoy Ghost of a Gamble. McDonald’s fluid writing style and her realistic characters are to be commended and welcomed into the writing community. Even when she focuses on the more haunted aspects of the characters’ job, she grabs and holds the reader’s attention with her descriptive detail.  - Alicia C. Smock, Amazon
This book made me laugh out loud so many times my other half asked what I was reading. The naturally developing romance is sweet and compelling, and the thrills of ghost hunting add a dangerous element that kept me turning the pages. Bree is absolutely hilarious, and Zack is adorable and just enough of a tortured soul that I celebrated every step toward happiness that he took.  - H. McCorkle, Amazon 

Save it on BookBub or add it to your Goodreads bookshelf, readers!

We'll be sure to check out this paranormal romance with a touch of humor!


Author Bio

J.E. McDonald is a writer of paranormal romance, romantic suspense, sci-fi romance, and contemporary romance. Born and raised in Saskatchewan, Canada, she lives with her husband and three rambunctious daughters who keep her on her toes. An avid reader and Minecraft junkie, when she’s not plotting her next story, she’s avoiding dust bunnies while plotting her next story.


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