Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Ocean Isle

Today's special guest is Kevin Pickell. We sat down with Kevin for an interview and a look inside his book, Ocean Isle.


Tell us about the backdrop of your book. Is Ocean Isle, North Carolina a real place? If not, what was the inspiration for the location?

Ocean Isle is very much real. The locale is southeastern NC, along the coast. It is a piece of the beautiful Brunswick County beaches that include Holden Beach, Ocean Isle, Sunset Beach, and the town of Shallotte. Ocean Isle is a place where I sometimes vacation, and the place where I was first inspired to become a writer. I decided I would set my first story there in the island. And so I did.

Tell us about Emma. Without any spoilers, why is it important for her to be in an out-of-the-way place where she can hide and blend in?

Emma is a stunningly beautiful revenant girl. She comes from a fictional place called Grand River, a dystopian and esoteric locale that you won’t find marked on any map. She is on the run, having escaped some dark and evil forces back in Grand River. Emma is described as having hair as black as licorice, her eyes green like emeralds, and her lips ruby red. She has a gothic aura about her that most men would find erotic and irresistible. In fact, her bewitching and seductive beauty is one of the underlying themes of the novel.

Does Emma meet Alex at Ocean Isle, or were they in a relationship before they located there?

Together, Alex and Emma came to Ocean Isle from Grand River. They had been drifting like vagrants, when a bartender in Fayetteville, NC told Alex about the little island along the coast. He told Alex that Ocean Isle was hidden away. Isolated. Accessed only by a tall bridge over deep water. A place where murderers could go to hide and never be found. Those words resonated with Alex, and he decided that he would go and hide there with his Emma. After all, he was Emma’s caretaker. He was her protector and servant. And they were also very much in love. 

How did your own work as a writer factor into Alex' character, since he is also a writer?

It was minimal. I think Alex being a writer helped form a link to Archie Andrews, one of the bad guys in my novel. Archie was an avid reader of the kind of fiction that Alex wrote, and he had read all of Alex’s novels. It was through the reading of these books that Archie became suspicious and curious about Alex Shaw. This was the genesis of big trouble ahead. But it starts with the reading of those novels. Also, Alex is described as being intensely introverted, and It seemed to me that him being a writer fit his personality well. It is a profession that one could do from any locale, the kind that could be done by someone on the run. So it fit him and the story so perfectly. He couldn't have been anything else but a writer for this novel.

Can you give us a glimpse into what happens that takes Alex and Emma from an idyllic location to encountering a threat to their lives?

After Alex and Emma first arrived at Ocean Isle, things—at first—seemed too good to be true. They settled in, and Alex was able to start working on his next novel with uninterrupted calm. This short, calm period in the narrative gave me a chance to pack in some of the island's wonderful atmosphere into the story. But all the while some dark and evil forces were out there coalescing in the background: the psychopath Archie Andrews for one. And then there is Wayne Hawksworth, who is a recently furloughed prisoner. There is a ghost named Jessie Densmore, whose soul cries out for vengeance. And finally a coven of revenants that come from Grand River, and who are led by the vile and sinister Dr. Hallberg. It is Dr. Hallberg who is most scorned by Emma’s escape from Grand River, and who will not rest until she is found. 


When Alex and Emma take refuge at Ocean Isle, an idyllic and picturesque island along the North Carolina coastline, it all seems too good to be true:

It is a place where Alex, a writer, can settle down and finish his novel. It is a place where he and Emma, the gothic beauty he is protecting, can hide and blend in. They can become faceless . . . safe.

Their one and only worry is whether or not the tiny island can contain Emma's insatiable and forbidden hunger.

And now the deadly forces they so desperately tried to elude have at last tracked them down. Alex and Emma won't be happy to see them coming . . . but they're coming just the same.


EMMA STARTLED ALEX when she swung the door open and came inside.
“The waters here are blood-red, all of the waters. The waterway across the marsh, the ocean, all of it is bloody red. The stars and moon have also gone red. It’s time, Alex, I must go,” Emma said, morosely. She had just come into the house after having been out in the rain most of the night, her hunger now satisfied. Her dress was bloodstained. There were slicks of blood on her face and her hair was wet and matted—a horrific tale best left untold. Alex was unmoved by what he saw.
It was 5:30 AM. Alex had gotten an early start on the writing. He had wanted to go out for a morning run, but had been deterred by the rain, and by Emma’s absence. Alex was now sitting at the kitchen table, typing away at his keyboard—working on the next novel. He stopped typing and sat in awkward silence, sensing that Emma knew what she was saying. And a part of him agreed with her, that there probably was some real danger now lurking here on the island. He had learned, over time, to appreciate her sensitivity toward trouble, to give her intuitive foreboding the respect it deserved. She had proven before that her senses were extraordinary, something not to be ignored or taken lightly. Finally he spoke, breaking an unsettling cloud of quiet.
“Okay . . . I will pack up today while you sleep. We don’t have much to pack, anyway. We will go, but where . . . I don’t know. I’ve got to get this novel finished, and fast. The money is almost gone, all of it.”
“I’m sorry, Alex. I’m so sorry. I do love this place. I wish we could stay, but someone is here with us now, I’ve been telling you, someone with malign intentions. Anywhere but here, Alex, that’s where I’ll go.” He didn’t like her calling him Alex. It made him feel insecure. He wished for something like: my love, or my dear—terms of endearment. Her calling him Alex felt sterile and indifferent to him.
“Okay, Emma; get yourself cleaned up, and sleep. I’ll be ready when you awaken, and the van will be packed. We will travel by night and you won’t have to stay in the box.”
“Maybe we can come back here someday? That would be nice, wouldn’t it, Alex? This is a beautiful place.” There it was again, he thought, she had called him Alex once more, as if that wasn’t his name to begin with.
“Go, Emma,” he said, and waved a dismissive hand. She turned and went to the bathroom for her shower.


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