‘Stumptown Spirits’ (Legend Tripping #1) by E.J. Russell was published by Riptide Publishing on May 16th, 2016. The book is 270 pages long and the cover was designed by L.C. Chase.
RGR received a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. Come back on May 25th to read our review of the book.
For the last stop of the Stumptown Spirits Tour, we asked EJ Russel a few questions in our interview. There is also a cool giveaway for a $25 Riptide credit that ends TONIGHT. Leave a comment on this post for the chance to win.
What price would you pay to rescue a friend from hell?
For Logan Conner, the answer is almost anything. Guilt-ridden over trapping his college roommate in a ghost war rooted in Portland’s pioneer past, Logan has spent years searching for a solution. Then his new boyfriend, folklorist Riley Morrel, inadvertently gives him the key. Determined to pay his debt—and keep Riley safe—Logan abandons Riley and returns to Portland, prepared to give up his freedom and his future to make things right.
Crushed by Logan’s betrayal, Riley drops out of school and takes a job on a lackluster paranormal investigation show. When the crew arrives in Portland to film an episode about a local legend of feuding ghosts, he stumbles across Logan working at a local bar, and learns the truth about Logan’s plan.
Their destinies once more intertwined, the two men attempt to reforge their relationship while dodging a narcissistic TV personality, a craven ex-ghost, and a curmudgeonly bar owner with a hidden agenda. But Logan’s date with destiny is looming, and his life might not be the only one at stake.
Find out more about Stumptown Spirits
Thank you so much for stopping by at Rainbow Gold Reviews and taking the time to answer a few questions for us and our readers. It’s our great pleasure to host you today on the last day of your blog tour. Our readers love to meet new authors and we hope they will enjoy finding out more about your new book ‘Stumptown Spirits’.
Thank you for inviting me!
Did you always want to be a writer and what was the most difficult aspect of writing your first book?
I loved creative writing when I was in grade school, but in the California school system at the time, once you hit seventh grade, it was all about expository writing. I wandered off down a different path for years (decades?) and only returned to my early love of fiction after my children were nearly grown. The first book I wrote then will probably never see the light of day—and a good thing, too! I’ve learned a lot since then, but at that time, the hardest part for me was figuring out what happened next. (I hadn’t learned how to plot yet!)
How did you get the idea for ‘Stumptown Spirits’ and what kind of research did you do for it?
A couple of years ago, Entangled Publishing put out a call for stories based on urban legends. Entangled published my first book—another ghost story, which was also written in response to one of their submission calls—so I decided to go for this one too. I like to keep my stories set in Oregon (Portland, if possible), so I searched for Portland legends and found the story of the (possibly haunted) Witch’s Castle. That led me to the history of Danford Balch, the first man legally hanged in Portland, for the murder of his son-in-law. Since the story isn’t technically an urban legend, I never submitted it to that particular call, but I became fascinated by the story anyway, and determined to finish it. There are quite a lot of references to the incident, since it was historically significant for a number of reasons: podcasts, local history books, web pages—even an illustrated version!
In ‘Stumptown Spirits’, the main protagonists have to endure a lot of discrimination. There are still a lot of prejudices against LGBTQ+ people out there and some people respond hateful and even violent. How have you experienced the treatment of LGBTQ+ people where you live and why was it important for you to include those scenes in the book?
Portland is a pretty liberal town, but you can run into pockets of prejudice anywhere. My sons are both gay, and my husband and I did everything we could to make them feel safe and accepted when they were growing up—including essentially divorcing myself from my extended family, who are staunch conservatives and not in the least accepting of anyone who deviates from their idea of normal. I had a choice: my sons or them. Easiest choice ever!
In your book, one of the main protagonists works for a reality TV show about paranormal investigations. Have you ever watched a similar show and do you think a lot of the viewers really believe in the paranormal aspect of those shows or do they just watch them for fun?
I have watched some, and I think viewers probably fall into both camps, although I couldn’t speculate how evenly divided they might be!
Do you personally believe in the possibility of ghosts or other paranormal beings or phenomena, even if their existence can’t be proven with universally accepted scientific methods?
I’m personally a “null” sensitive—I’ve never experienced a paranormal event or felt the presence of a ghost, although I had a roommate once who did. A presence that she called “Paul” manifested in her apartment periodically, causing a chair to rock, and occasionally giving her boyfriend slight electric shocks. Then once, we were driving from our apartment to her parents’ house—about a three-hour drive—at night. She asked whether anyone else could see the guy in the tux hitchhiking by the side of the road. 0_0 The answer was no—we couldn’t, but she apparently did, every few miles. (BTW, I put that guy in my first book, Northern Light!)
You ask readers ‘What price would you pay to rescue a friend from hell?’ in the blurb of ‘Stumptown Spirits’. While we find out just how much Logan is willing to sacrifice, how would you respond to your own question? If you were in Logan’s situation, how long would you try to rescue your friend and how much would you risk to get him back?
That’s a tough one, because it’s so dependent on circumstance. Logan is convinced he was at fault, and is determined to make things right. Riley refers to Logan’s knight-errant tendencies a couple of times. Logan’s methods of “making things right” are personal and direct—he’s convinced he’s the only one who could or should do the work. When I have a problem to solve—although thankfully I’ve never had to deal with one quite so dire—I approach it much differently. I’m a very logical person—and also very cautious—so I’ll consider as many different options as I can until I land on one that I think will give the best results. I’m much more likely to compromise than Logan—although not when it comes to someone’s safety.
How long did it take you to write ‘Stumptown Spirits’ and what is your writing process like? Do you plot out everything first or do you create the story as you write it?
The time from the initial idea to the acceptance by Riptide was about two years, but in terms of actual time working on the story—plotting, drafting, revising, but not counting the work with my Riptide editor—it was probably about five months. With practice, I’ve gotten a bit faster since then. The last book I turned in took about two months from plotting to submitted draft.
Although I didn’t start out this way back when I wrote that first (never to see the light of day) book, I’m now a total plotter. Planning the book in micro-chunks is the way I can brainstorm with myself and figure out what happens next! Then writing the actual first draft goes very quickly. Revisions, though, always kick my butt!
How much of yourself, friends and family ends up in your books? Are there any traits of the main protagonists you share and what differentiates you most from them?
I’ll occasionally borrow a real incident (like the ghostly hitchhiker above) or snippet of dialogue, but I’ll twist it to fit the story. I don’t consciously create characters from people I know—at least not completely–but my experiences can’t help but influence my writing. For instance, like Riley, I love folklore and mythology, but unlike him, I’m not compelled to research all the minutiae. I have a theater background, so I’ve worked with actors who were nearly as narcissistic as Max (although I like to think that I wasn’t one of them!). Like Logan, I’m a “product” person—I want to get the job done—but my methods are different, less “full steam ahead” and more “let’s plan this out.”
Which scene of the book was the most fun and which the most difficult for you to write?
I had a lot of fun writing the scene where Riley and Julie deal with the drunken Max—and likewise, when Logan is winding Max up with ghost stories in an attempt to scare him off. The hardest to write was probably the climactic scene at the Witch’s Castle, simply because there were so many things to juggle—timing, choreography, plot threads, and ghosts!
What’s next for you? Do you have any interesting projects lined up you can tell us about?
This September, my mage/cyborg novella, Sun, Moon, and Stars, will be included in the Magic and Mayhem charity anthology to benefit Gay Romance Northwest. In October, look for the second book in the Legend Tripping series from Riptide: Wolf’s Clothing. The book features return engagements from some of the characters in Stumptown Spirits. (The blurb is available on the Riptide website now.) Then, in November, comes the contemporary romance, Clickbait, also from Riptide. No cover for that one yet, but soon, I hope!
Thank you so much for hosting me today, and for asking such great questions!
To celebrate the release of Stumptown Spirits, EJ is giving away $25 in Riptide credit. Leave a comment to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on May 21, 2016. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!
E.J. Russell holds a BA and an MFA in theater, so naturally she’s spent the last three decades as a financial manager, database designer, and business-intelligence consultant. After her twin sons left for college and she no longer spent half her waking hours ferrying them to dance class, she returned to her childhood love of writing fiction. Now she wonders why she ever thought an empty nest meant leisure.
E.J. lives in rural Oregon with her curmudgeonly husband, the only man on the planet who cares less about sports than she does. She enjoys visits from her wonderful adult children, and indulges in good books, red wine, and the occasional hyperbole.
Connect with E.J.:
- Website: ejrussell.com
- Blog: ejrussell.com/bloggery/
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/E.J.Russell.author
- Twitter: twitter.com/ej_russell
- Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/ejrussell/
- Google+: plus.google.com/+EJRussell