The NightShade Forensic Files

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Author Interview – A. J. Scudiere on the first book in The NightShade Forensic Files: Under Dark Skies

Published October 9, 2015 by bibliobeth

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A.J. SCUDIERE – A BIOGRAPHY

It’s AJ’s world. A strange place where patterns jump out and catch the eye, very little is missed, and most of it can be recalled with a deep breath. It’s different from the world the rest of us inhabit, but anyone can see it – when we read. In this world, the smell of Florida takes three weeks to fully leave the senses and the air in Dallas is so thick that the planes “sink” to the runways rather than actually landing.

For AJ, texture reigns supreme. Whether it’s air or blood or virus, it can be felt and smelled. School is a privilege and two science degrees (a BA and MS) mean less than the prize of knowledge. Teaching is something done for fun (and the illusion of a regular paycheck) and is rewarding at all levels, grade school through college. AJ is no stranger to awards and national recognition for outstanding work as a teacher, trainer and curriculum writer.

AJ has lived in Florida and Los Angeles among a handful of other places. Recent whims have brought the dark writer to Tennessee, where home is a deceptively normal looking neighborhood just outside Nashville. Visit her at her website – http://www.ajscudiere.com

Click on the books to get to their description on GoodReads!

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And The Sin Trilogy, two of which are available now:

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Interview with AJ Scudiere

I’d like to welcome AJ to bibliobeth today and thank her for her time in giving this interview.

1.) Your novel, Under Dark Skies is a thriller with a difference. You write about a “special” section of the FBI known as the Nightshade division. Do you secretly believe that there’s a lot about the FBI we don’t know about?

I actually do believe there’s a lot that we don’t know, although I’m certain the CIA is much more covert than the FBI. I picked the FBI because I wanted Eleri and Donovan working within the US borders. I wanted them to have and believe in rules and in science, and to struggle with that. Personally, I’m a firm believer that today’s magic is tomorrow’s science. So why not have a special division of the FBI?

2.) We have some terrific main characters in Eleri and Donovan who have some “special” secrets of their own. Did you know the whole of their back stories before writing or did the ideas come to you while you were writing?

I have a deep love/hate relationship with vampires and zombies and, of course, werewolves. Though I enjoy watching some of the shows, I shake my head at the scientific implausibility put forth. When I saw werewolves on TV, I always found myself yelling at the screen, “Conservation of mass!.” How does a 200lb man become an 80lb wolf? And where did his clothes go? Why are they folded under the tree? I had been working on a plausible werewolf for a while – a handful of years! The characters of Eleri and Donovan had been bouncing in my head while I tried to figure it out. So I did know them both very well before I started writing and because of this, I’ve been able to hint at a lot of things to come. You may have noticed there are clues about Eleri’s background – she has some more to figure out over the next several novels. While Donovan is maybe ‘weirder,’ Eleri has skills yet to develop.

3.) Eleri and Donovan are investigating the leader of a religious cult in this novel. Did you have to do a lot of research to explore this theme? If so, what kind of things were you looking at?

I have a bio and psych background in my education and have always found the idea of following a charismatic leader very intriguing. Following a benevolent leader, a group can accomplish great things. Follow a tyrant and people will do horrible deeds under the guise of great work. There have also been recent psychological studies showing that some people are pre-disposed to want to be in a cult – there’s a level of community there beyond the norm. So I’ve always read up on the topic whenever I can and I found it was a natural fit for Eleri and Donovan’s first case.

4.) What kind of novels inspired you to write Under Dark Skies and are you a big fan of any author in particular?

I love Michael Crichton and the way his science fiction was more science and less spaceships. I always like to look at my stories and say “it could happen.” I’m also a huge Nabokov fan. I love the way he could say so much with just a paragraph and how his characters were never what they seemed. I’ve really taken that to heart and my good guys and my bad guys are rarely just one or the other.

5.) This novel looks to be the start of a series for The Nightshade Division. (hooray!) Are you working on anything at the moment and can you tell us a little bit about it?
I’m actually writing and editing at the same time right now. I just finished the third and final book in the SIN Trilogy (Vengeance, Retribution, and Justice)–another series where the lines between the good guys and the bad guys blur quite a bit! And I’m midway through the second NightShade book (oh yes, it’s a serious series!) In the second book, Eleri and Donovan follow up on the call they get at the end of Under Dark Skies. The second story is called Fracture Five, and the case is set in Los Angeles. This is a huge problem for Donovan, who’s not a fan of live people. It’s a case that the two of them aren’t really ready for; when they start pulling threads, those threads lead to some very disturbing places and people.

Now for some quick fire questions!

E book or real book?

E. I like real, but my kindle is a whole portable library. I will admit, if I hate a book on my kindle, I can’t throw it across the room. So that’s not as satisfying.

Series or stand alone?

Both.

Fiction or non-fiction?

Fiction definitely. The latest research is showing that fiction readers score higher on EQ tests and often on IQ tests, too.

Online shopping or bookshop trawling?

Online. I read the reviews!

Bookmarking or dog-earing?

Neither. I’ve always just remembered where I was.

Once again, a big thank you to AJ for her efforts in making this interview possible. Under Dark Skies was published on the 4th of November 2014 by Griffyn Ink as a Kindle edition and you could always check out her back catalogue too!

 

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The NightShade Forensic Files: Under Dark Skies by A.J. Scudiere

Published October 8, 2015 by bibliobeth

23568050What’s it all about?:

In NightShade nothing is as it seems . . .

Eleri Eames didn’t think she’d ever be allowed to work for the FBI again, so the special FBI division of NightShade seems like an amazing opportunity. But all too soon, her chance to start over starts to disturb her.

When the FBI offers Donovan a chance to leave his job as a medical examiner and try his hand at something new, he takes a chance on the NightShade division. Somehow, he has to try to escape from his shadows, but can he trust Eleri with the truth?

Thrown together on their first case, Eleri and Donovan must deal with a charismatic cult leader and his true-believers. The cult is mixed up with several decade-old kidnapping cases and the missing daughter of a prominent FBI Agent. As Eleri and Donovan dig deeper, they discover that NightShade’s mysteries aren’t coincidence.

Their secrets will save them . . . or destroy them.

What did I think?:

First of all, thank you very much to Jessica Henkle of MBM Book Publicity and Griffyn Ink for letting me read a copy of Under Dark Skies in exchange for an honest review. It is the beginning in a series for author A.J. Scudiere and the first opportunity that I’ve had to read her work. Of course I was instantly intrigued by the synopsis of the story which led me to believe it was gritty crime fiction with a slice of the supernatural thrown in for good measure. On this count I was not disappointed at all and in fact, was surprised about how much I genuinely enjoyed the novel. Well…the supernatural can be done in two ways – quite poorly with a hint of “cheese,” or very well where you actually believe supernatural powers can exist. Wait a minute, they do don’t they?!

The first of our main characters is Eleri Eames who has been pulled out of some “time off” and specially selected to head a team known as The Nightshade Division, a lesser known and mysterious branch of the FBI that keeps its secrets between as few people as possible. Her partner in crime is rookie agent and former medical examiner Donovan Heath who has just graduated from the FBI program and again, was head hunted to be part of this particular case. The case itself involves the members of a religious cult, The City Of God who are suspected to be involved in a multitude of kidnappings, some a decade old. The action is ramped up a notch however when a child of a fellow FBI agent is abducted and a murder occurs of which the cult are strongly suspected to be responsible.

Eleri and Donovan reach a milestone in the investigation when they are able to get hold of people that were part of the cult but managed to escape in some way. In this way, the team are able to analyse the movements of the cult much more easily and begin to collect the crucial evidence that they require in order to see the perps, and in particular the leader of the cult, brought to justice. However, they are not able to solve the puzzles presented to them without calling on some deep-seated and occasionally unknown abilities of their own which not only makes the Nightshade Division an exclusive club to belong to but a very perilous one as the investigation threatens to endanger their lives.

If you like a bit of supernatural and fantasy in your crime fiction, this is definitely the book for you. I have to admit to being a bit sceptical at the beginning and I did actually guess Donovan’s “secret,” but it did not hamper my enjoyment of the story one bit. The characterisation was terrific – I loved how we got to see both the gruff and soft sides of Donovan and Eleri just fascinated me from the start. I have a feeling there is a lot more we are going to find out about both her back story and her special abilities in the books to follow in the series. The plot was interesting and very readable and the action sequences at the very end had me hovering on the edge of my seat in excitement. I’m now eagerly anticipating the second book for The Nightshade Division to see what Eleri and Donovan get up to next.

Please visit bibliobeth tomorrow where I will be interviewing A.J. Scudiere and finding out the answer to the question we all want to know… does she dog ear her books?!

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

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