Christine Young

I am a writer and avid reader of romances particularly historical romances. Please join me on my journey through time

Christine Presents ~ This Madness of the Heart by Blair Yeatts

Please welcome Blair Yeatts author of This Madness of the Heart.

Blair Yeatts will be awarding a $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

VBT_ThisMadnessOfTheHeart_Banner copy.jpg

 

This Madness of the Heart

by Blair Yeatts

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GENRE: gothic mystery/thriller

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INTERVIEW:

  1. What or who inspired you to start writing?

I’ve been writing ever since I learned to read. My older brother’s first grade reader (something about Dick and Jane and Spot and Puff) inspired my first short story, which I wrote in one continuous line, in red crayon, around the walls of our very tidy house. Like Madness’ main character Miranda, my mother considered Southern Living to be the bible of a Southern wife and homemaker: she was not amused. In first grade I went on to create stories (unfortunately never written down . . . maybe it was a shortage of available walls) about my collection of tiny stuffed animals, which I shared with all the other primary grades in my elementary school. Undoubtedly a sign of things to come! I suspect the cats in Madness may have links to these first animals.

  1. How did you come up with ideas for your books?

This Madness of the Heart was first written almost 20 years ago, in response to the outrage I felt over religious “dirty tricks” that were becoming more and more common in protestant denominational takeover attempts. I wasn’t in the midst of that uproar, but I saw my neighbors’ hearts broken, their trust abused, and faith destroyed. I watched it happen up close and personal too many times to just let it go. So my villain JJ and his cohorts are creatively fictional patchworks of scores of self-serving, glib, and power-hungry religious charlatans across the country. The college where Miranda teaches is a fictional college similar to many of the colleges caught in that crossfire. After letting Madness sit on the shelf for 15 years or so, I decided I really liked Miranda and her world, and wrote a second, and then a third, book in the series—these last two yet to be published.

What expertise did you bring to your writing?
I earned a PhD in religion, a task that will teach anyone how to write—even without the dissertation! Since then I’ve written 8 novels, several published under another name, others not yet published.

 

  1. What would you want your readers to know about you that might not be in your bio?

Actually, my bio is a bit vague—although what there is, is true—because “Blair Yeatts” is a pen name. I’ve written and published a number of novels in a different genre, and wanted the freedom to get outside my established readers’ expectations. I’ve taught religion at a number of small colleges, and Miranda Lamden is based on many women I’ve known, as well as on myself in some ways. In particular, the paranormal dimensions Miranda explores are often drawn from my own experiences, since hands-on research into unusual religious practices has been part of my work. For instance, Blackoak Manor, with its angry ghost and bizarre meteorological phenomena, is based on my experiences in the ruins of a real Virginia plantation.

  1. As far as your writing goes, what are your future plans?

I’m still writing books under my original name, as well as preparing the next two Miranda Lamden books for publication. I have to say, it’s a rather schizophrenic existence! But I’ve learned one thing, much to my distress: I should finish one book at a time, at least in draft form, before turning to a second one. Two totally separate books contaminate each other hopelessly, and the “voice” gets really mangled! I’ve had to rewrite the book I started this spring almost completely because of unconscious crossovers.

  1. If you could be one of the characters from any of your books, who would it be and why?

Although I’ve never wished to be a man, I think I’d have to pick Jack Crispen, Miranda’s significant other. I like everything about him—although not as a partner—I fear we’d be at each other’s throats. I like his complexity, his depth, and most of all the magical vision of his art that comes through in his stained glass. That’s a world I’d love to live in. I like his controlled violence, and his stubborn determination to keep it under control. And I like his ponytail. I fear I’m a hippie at heart. Maybe he’s an animus image—you know, the Jungian notion of the masculine archetype living within a woman (or anima, the feminine within a man) . . . And then he’s a carpenter. What is it about carpenters? Something sensual about the skill in their hands? Some lurking connection to Sunday School stories that cross over into assumptions that a carpenter will be kind and honest and noble? LOL Anyway, Jack Crispen. I wish I could create something as beautiful as his glass.

 

  1. If you were the casting director for the film version of your novel, who would play your leading roles?

OK, be patient with me here. Since I’ve started writing fulltime, I’ve stopped our cable TV, and I don’t often find time to watch movies, so my actor choices may need dusting off.

Miranda Lamden: Natalie Portman . . . She has the intelligence and flexibility to make Miranda’s character interesting (and of course) attractive

Jack Crispen: Christian Bale . . . he just fits the part

Marinja Baude (Djinn): Taraji P. Henson . . . an actress with many faces—she’d be great in the role

Rev. Jasper Jarboe (JJ): who else? John Malkovitch

Welby Bayless: Lucas Grabeel . . . if he doesn’t age too fast

Elmus Rooksby: Robert Duvall . . . the kindness could be real in this role

 

  1. Do you outline your books or just start writing?
    I do both. My books come like fireflies in the night: tiny blinking lights, elusive, but intriguing. Some get away, but the ones that stay gather a definite shape and form quickly. I take random notes about my thoughts for a while. Then I start doing research about possible elements in the story that I’m not expert in. More ideas come out of the research, and the story begins to get a definite feel and plot line. Then, at some unpredictable point, I just start to write. Sometimes even midway through the book I’m still not sure of how I’ll end it. My books are like plants—they’re organic and non-linear, spiraling rather than logical, with their own integrity.
  2. Do you have any hobbies and does the knowledge you’ve gained from these carry over into your characters or the plot of your books?

I don’t really think about things I do as hobbies, just things I love. Photography probably comes first, but photographing wild nature rather than people or cityscapes. I love hiking into forests, mountains, deserts, and seacoasts—anything wild—preferably alone, with my camera, and then just looking. Seeing as if I were a camera lens changes how I perceive the world. Everything takes on magic. Often I have a sense of walking a fine line in a space between worlds. If I’m lucky the photographs capture that overlap of dimensions. Sometimes I do digital collage with my photography as well—hours and hours of layers with Photoshop. For instance, Madness’ cover is one I created. All my books reflect my sense of the mystery present in wild nature.

  1. Do you have an all time favorite book?

Tough question! I’m not good at “favorites.” Then, too, they change as I change. Because of my fascination with faith, and why people believe the way they do, my favorite books almost always have something to do with spirituality. So I think I’ll have to offer a list of books that’ve been favorites at one time or another in recent years: Lois McMaster Bujold’s Chalion series, Paladin of Souls; Ursula K. Le Guin’s Earthsea series, The Other Wind; Sharon Lee’s Archers Beach series, Carousel Seas; Charles Williams, Descent into Hell; Dorothy L. Sayers, Gaudy Night; P.D. James, Death in Holy Orders. They’re all books I read and reread, worlds I enjoy inhabiting. And the list goes on . . .

  1. Have you started your next project? If so, can you share a little bit about your book?

My next book is called Blood on Holy Ground, and takes place on the grounds of a rural Tennessee convent and a tiny Native American reservation. Miranda goes there on a summer research project to try to unearth details of a local legend about the healing power of a Conicoke spearpoint. But she stumbles into a terrifying web of violence, where the overlap between ordinary reality and Spiritworld keeps shifting and tangling her feet. Miranda and Jack find themselves at the heart of a cruel firestorm, where their battle to survive fuels unexpected passion in their own relationship.

  1. Who is your favorite actor and actress?

Again the “favorite” question! (I always did badly on true-false and multiple choice tests). I’ll try for a short list, anyway: Maggie Smith, Julia Roberts, Cate Blanchett; Morgan Freeman, Viggo Mortensen, Richard Gere.

  1. Can you tell us a little about the black moment in your book?

Actually, there are two, at different levels. The first has to do with a brutal murder and Miranda’s encounter with a deadly supernatural rage stronger than any defense she can summon. She is shaken to the core by the power of this dark force and its presence on her own home turf. Her myth of the “ordinary” world—the myth that allows her to live her daily life—is demolished. In the second moment, Miranda’s failure to read the cues in the people around her leaves her vulnerable to an old and implacable human evil that seeks her death with calculated cruelty. She must summon enough strength to overcome her crippling terror and summon resources she doesn’t believe she has.

  1. Can you tell us a little bit about what it was like to write a series.

Writing a series seemed a natural thing to do. One thing that keeps me coming back to an author I enjoy is a sense that I have a relationship with her characters. So once I realized I’d created characters that I wanted to spend more time with, writing a series was the obvious next step. I’m only three books into the series, but so far I’m enjoying adding complexity to Miranda’s and Jack’s characters and seeing where their relationship will carry them. It’s fascinating picking new environments and different challenges for each book—I have all the advantages of a new novel, with the delight of revisiting old friends whose company I enjoy.

  1. Anything else you might want to add?
    I’ve had a hard time deciding which genre Miranda fits best. I finally chose the “Miranda Lamden Mysteries,” because it was as close as anything, but they really aren’t classic whodunits, with hair-tearing sessions over possible villains and motives. And “thriller” seemed a bit too bloody and action oriented. I was surprised to find that they fit into the “gothic” mold, but with endangered females, romantic males, paranormal phenomena, and exotic locations, apparently they do. So I call them gothic mystery-thrillers! I hope you’ll enjoy them.

MediaKit_BookCover_ThisMadnessOfTheHeart

 

BLURB:

 

Bad religion can be deadly. So Miranda Lamden, small-town religion professor, discovers in This Madness of the Heart. The dark hollers of Eastern Kentucky offer fertile soil for shady evangelist Jasper Jarboe, new president of Grace and Glory Bible College, as he beguiles the small mining town of Canaan Wells with his snake-oil charm.

When Miranda isn’t teaching at Obadiah Durham College, she’s investigating paranormal phenomena—or enjoying a turbulent romantic relationship with backwoods artist Jack Crispen. JJ’s inquisition-style gospel has alienated her long since, but when he announces his plan to transform her forest home into an evangelical Mecca, complete with neon cross and 40-foot Jesus, Miranda girds her loins for war. But JJ isn’t finished: he goes on to launch an attack on her friend and fellow professor Djinn Baude with an avalanche of vicious rumors. Not only does he accuse Djinn of demonic communion with the old Voudon witch whose curse killed the college’s founding family, but he also smears her with insinuations of lechery and vice.

With JJ’s urging, hate boils over into violence and tragedy, sweeping Miranda up in its flood. One death follows another as a miasma of evil overwhelms the tiny community, and only Miranda can see clearly enough to halt its spread.

This Madness of the Heart is the first in a new series of Gothic mystery-thrillers featuring Professor Miranda Lamden, whose spiritual gifts have drawn her beyond university walls to explore the mysteries of other world beliefs. Her unique vision brings her into repeated confrontations with evil, where too often she finds herself standing alone between oblivious onlookers and impending disaster.

 

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EXCERPT:

The large woman beside me slid to the plank floor with surprising grace, twitching and jerking on her back, eyes glittering sightlessly under half-closed lids. Worshippers stepped around her with hardly a thought. Her lips fluttered in prayer, inaudible amidst the tumbling chaos of sound rolling through the tiny church.

 

“Hallelujer! Hallelujer! Thank you, Lord! Thank you, Jesus! Praise-a the Lord!

 

Oooooooohhh, glory be to God, honey! Praise-a his holy name!” The preacher’s voice roared over the babble.

 

I rocked contentedly in the midst of a storm of joy. Ecstasy beat against me like a rising spring tide. I loved my work. No matter how many hours I spent observing people celebrating their faith, their joy always lifted me up—perhaps bearing me on the wings of their prayers. And Appalachian Holiness congregations had to be among my favorites. I loved their lack of pretense, their tolerance of diversity, their unselfconscious enthusiasm. I envied how easily they gave themselves up to spiritual ecstasy. Comparatively, I was a clam, tightly sealed in a riotous bed of wave-swept anemones.

 

Several white-shirted men carried cardboard boxes into the center of the floor while the worshippers danced close around. One by one, two by two, three by three, coiling copperheads, cottonmouths, and rattlesnakes were scooped from the boxes and passed from dancer to dancer, man or woman, whoever held out a willing hand.

 

Panic knocked the breath from my body like an adder’s sudden strike. My gut clenched, writhing with the coiling snakes. Tremors shook my hands. Shadow threatened to overwhelm my sight. I’d forgotten myself, relaxed my guard, let slip the rigorous discipline I wore like a second skin in my field studies.

 

 

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MediaKit_AuthorPhoto_ThisMadnessOfTheHeart

 

AUTHOR Bio and Links:

 

Blair Yeatts grew up in the midst of a large, old southern Virginia family, much like the family of her main character. She followed her parents into a career in academia and taught religion at the college level in Kentucky for many years. Her special areas of expertise are psychology and Earth-based religions, in which she has done considerable research.

 

From childhood, Ms. Yeatts has been a fan of mystery fiction, starting with Nancy Drew and moving through Agatha Christie to twentieth century giants like Dorothy L. Sayers, P.D. James, and Nevada Barr. She is fulfilling a life’s dream in writing her own mysteries.

 

Ms. Yeatts shares her home with her photographer husband, two cats, and a dog. She has a lifelong love of wild nature, and prefers to set her stories in rural areas, where threads of old spiritual realities still make themselves felt. Her first three books take place in different parts of Kentucky and Tennessee.

 

Buy Links:

 

This Madness of the Heart e-book will be free during the tour.

 

http://www.amazon.com/Madness-Heart-Miranda-Lamden-Mysteries-ebook/dp/B01DEC2GOS/

 

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/624868

 

(CreateSpace will be up on May 1)

 

 

Author/Book Links

 

blog/website: http://blair-yeatts.com

 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BlairYeatts/

 

Twitter: @blair-yeatts

 

Booklife: http://booklife.com/project/this-madness-of-the-heart-14158

 

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/29611895-this-madness-of-the-heart

 

Linked In: https://www.linkedin.com/in/blair-yeatts-21325911a?auth

 

 

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GIVEAWAY INFORMATION and RAFFLECOPTER CODE

 

Blair Yeatts will be awarding a $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

 

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/28e4345f1735

 

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33 comments on “Christine Presents ~ This Madness of the Heart by Blair Yeatts

  1. lilallykitten
    June 20, 2016

    Congrats on the new book and good luck on the book tour!

    • Blair Yeatts
      June 20, 2016

      Thank you, Lilally! I appreciate your good wishes. 😀

  2. nikolina84
    June 20, 2016

    I really enjoyed reading your interview, thank you!

    • Blair Yeatts
      June 20, 2016

      You’re very welcome, Nikolina! I hope you’ll check in for the rest of the tour!

      • nikolina84
        June 20, 2016

        Sure will! 🙂 🙂

  3. Blair Yeatts
    June 20, 2016

    Thank you, Christine, for hosting my book tour! Your blog is beautiful. 😀

  4. Blair Yeatts
    June 20, 2016

    Update from the author:

    * “Madness” is only free on Smashwords (Kindle wouldn’t let me do it)
    * My Twitter handle has a typo: it should be @blair_yeatts

  5. achristay
    June 20, 2016

    Welcome to my blog. I hope you have a great tour.

    • Blair Yeatts
      June 20, 2016

      Thank you, Christine! It’s off to a great start!

  6. Thank you for hosting

  7. Peggy
    June 20, 2016

    Who are some of your favorite authors; what strikes you about their work?

    • Blair Yeatts
      June 20, 2016

      I always have a terrible time picking favorites–there are so many! At the moment I can’t narrow it to less than six: P.D. James, Dorothy L. Sayers, Elizabeth Peters (Amelia Peabody), Sharon Lee (Archer Beach trilogy), Lois McMaster Bujold (Chalion trilogy), and Ursula K. LeGuin. I think they all share characteristics that I find essential in an author: complex, articulate characters who appear across several volumes; beautifully detailed worlds that I love becoming part of; skillful writing and conspicuous love of words; mostly traditional narrative story line; engrossing action as well as analysis; and spiritual depth undergirding the story and the characters’ lives–there’s nothing so off-putting to me as shallow characters with dead-end lives.

  8. Victoria
    June 20, 2016

    Sounds like an awesome book, thanks for sharing!

    • Blair Yeatts
      June 20, 2016

      You’re very welcome, Victoria! I hope you’ll take advantage of Smashwords’ free download!

  9. Danielle Corrow
    June 20, 2016

    I can’t wait to be able to read this book!

  10. James Robert
    June 20, 2016

    Thanks for the interview, excerpt and giveaway. All are appreciated

    • Blair Yeatts
      June 20, 2016

      You are very welcome, James. I’m pleased to be able to offer it!

  11. Rita Wray
    June 20, 2016

    I liked the excerpt, thank you.

    • Blair Yeatts
      June 20, 2016

      Thank you, Rita! Try the free download from Smashwords. 🙂

  12. sherry1969
    June 20, 2016

    I enjoyed the post and think this sounds like a very interesting book.

  13. Becky
    June 20, 2016

    What comes first for you–the story or the characters?

    • Blair Yeatts
      June 20, 2016

      Hmm. You know, Becky, I think I’d have to say characters, although with “Madness” it was the situation of abusive religious authority that came first. The story just boiled out–almost intact. Of course, since I decided to write a series of Miranda Lamden books, Miranda and Jack will always be in the center now. Even so, I think it was the emergence of an especially unique figure in both the 2nd and 3rd books in the series that gave those stories their impetus. In Blood on Holy Ground, it was the villain’s bizarre psychosis that wove the story together. In Red River it was a saintly Welsh priest. But that’s not true with lesser characters–sometimes they just emerge without warning as I write. I think the same is true of books I’ve written under my real name: they are definitely character-driven!

  14. CJ Soyer
    June 20, 2016

    As someone who grew up in a religious environment, this book looks like something I am really going to enjoy! Because I know both sides of it… Great interview and excerpt! 🙂

    • Blair Yeatts
      June 20, 2016

      Thank you, CJ! I hope you’ll let me know what you think!

  15. Cali W.
    June 20, 2016

    Thanks for the giveaway; I like the excerpt. 🙂

    • Blair Yeatts
      June 20, 2016

      You’re welcome, Cali! I hope you enjoy the book.

  16. Ree Dee
    June 27, 2016

    I really enjoyed the interview and the excerpt. Thank you for sharing.

    • Blair Yeatts
      June 30, 2016

      You’re very welcome, Ree Dee!

    • Blair Yeatts
      June 30, 2016

      You’re very welcome, Ree Dee! I hope you’ll go on to read the book!

  17. James Robert
    June 30, 2016

    Thanks for the excerpt and giveaway

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