Thursday, August 04, 2011

Guest Blogger, Tori L. Ridgewood, reporting in!

Introductions:  I am proud mother to two beautiful, intelligent, crazy kids, ages five and ten.  I have been married for fourteen years to my high school boyfriend.  I am a high school teacher, coming into my tenth year as an educator.  And I am a writer.  I make up plays for my students, mostly, and I recently returned to some unfinished manuscripts and ideas in order to fulfill my childhood dream, which was to be published.  (Thank you, Melange Books (formerly Midnight Showcase).

My first professionally published work is the novella, Mist and Midnight, which is in July's release, Midnight Thirsts (Melange Books).  The story is about Charlotte, an artist who is also a witch, who is being stalked by a vicious, sadistic vampire, and who gets involved with a hunky prospector named Pike.  It takes place in the present-day, in a fictional town called Talbot which is based on the real small former mining town of Cobalt, Ontario, and its neighbouring municipality, Haileybury.

I wrote Mist and Midnight in three intensive days last year while taking a break from the full-length novel I am currently completing.  As it turns out, Charlotte and Pike's story is a prequel to the crisis that Rayvin and Grant must overcome in the novel I am working on now.  I'm very excited to see it coming together, but I also have a much better idea of what I'm up against -- the full tale will hopefully be told in a trilogy, in the manner of Nora Roberts.

So, you ask, what made you want to write (yet another) story with vampires and witches?  Well... For starters, I am a witch and a Wiccan.  I write what interests me and what I know.  And I have had a thing for the paranormal since I was old enough o rent movies by myself at the video store.  Vampires, zombies, aliens, cryptozoology, time travel -- whatever the sci-fi fantasy world can give me.  Horror films?  I eat them for breakfast!  Ouija boards?  Okay, I stopped playing with those when I was a teenager, way too creepy, but ghost hunting I am definitely into.  There is more in the world that we don't understand than what we do.  This is what I believe.  Mysteries intrigue me.  One of the first novels I ever read that really scared me, and which I loved, was Stephen King's Salem's Lot.  There's a little of that going on in the novel I'm doing right now.  But the trilogy itself was inspired by an actual event that occurred in Cobalt about twenty years ago.  (I am a history teacher - pay attention, please, class!)

Cobalt, like Talbot, is riddled with mine shafts and tunnels, both outside of the town proper and under the town itself.  It was the silver capital of the province many years ago.  However, some of the tunnels followed veins of silver that ran close to the surface.  Over time, without proper maintenance, some of the ceilings of these tunnels weakened with the regular freeze and thaw of the seasons.  One day, the roof of a tunnel collapsed, right downtown, in the middle of highway 11b (what was once the original highway through the northern part of the province).  It took weeks to fix it, and while it was there, something like 60 feet deep, the locals got to calling it the world's largest pothole.  It became a temporary tourist attraction; they even put a sign up on the highway advertising it!

So one day, after my daughter was born and I was on mat leave, I got to thinking -- what if that cave-in had not been an accident?  What if a monster of some kind had been trapped down there, and the cave-in was really it, escaping?  What kind of creature would be lurking in dark tunnels in a small northern town?

Bingo: Vampire.

I started writing down ideas in one of my several spiral-bound notebooks, a little at a time.  But being a busy mom, full-time career woman, etc., it was a pet project that I wasn't able to make any real headway on until this summer.

My goal is to finish the first full novel in the trilogy before the school year begins.

I live in northeastern Ontario, in Kirkland Lake.  When I mentioned to my students that I was working on a novel and looking forward to having a novella published, they were rather insulted that I had not set the events in our home town!  So, the short novel I Am going to submit for the Hallowe'en Treats anthology is based on this town, although I changed the name to Dark Lake.  I find it easier, and more fun, to use anagrams and base locations off of real ones.  Then I can really let my imagination fly!

But back to Mist and Midnight (Midnight Thirsts Anthology, Melange Books)...

To give you an idea of some of the events that take place in Talbot, Ontario, I have included some newspaper clippings from the area newspaper, the Talbot Talker:

Talbot Welcomes New Artist-in-Residence!

Ada Harold, Chair of the Talbot and Area Cultural Committee, was on hand at this morning's introductory art class in the Margetson Art Gallery to officially welcome Toronto artist Charlotte Fanning to the community.  "Ms. Fanning is here to run art classes for a variety of age levels and abilities," Mrs. Harold stated.  "She specializes in water colours, but also works in oils, chalks, and clay." Having arrived two weeks ago to prepare her curriculum, Ms. Fanning said it was a joy to explore the area and make new friends.  "I do get inspired by the beauty of the region in the fall," she said, as her students were getting ready for their first lesson in perspective.  "It's easy to see how painters like the Group of Seven spent so much time in the bush.  I should have left the city long ago!"

Currently on display in the gallery is a selection of Fanning's works.  When asked why she accepted this year-long position, she told the Talker that "The timing was right."

Schedules and other information for the art classes and the annual Fall Gala are available at...

Diamond Drilling a Dream Come True for Talbot?

The Talbot Town Council and Chamber of Commerce held a welcome supper for renowned prospector, Pike Mahonen, last night in the Legion Hall.  The enthusiasm for Mahonen's prediction that diamonds will be found in the area's ancient volcanic pipes was easy to pick up on in everyone's conversations.  Mayor Ken Roy told a packed audience that "Talbot's future is sparkling clear."

Mahonen has extensive experience in the industry, having aided in the discovery of diamonds in Canada's Arctic, as well as other nations around the world.  He is confident that his research will be fruitful, and is looking forward to joining the community for the time being.  "Yes, I've already noticed the friendliness of the people here," he said.  "I cannot think of any other place I would rather be.  If I can help Talbot to prosper again, I might never leave."

Mysterious Disappearances -- Police Mystified
A senior citizen on a bus tour, and two seasoned hunters were reported missing recently, all within a twenty-four hour period.  No traces of these men were found, and police have no suspects.  If anyone has any information on the following individuals, or has a tip, they are asked to come forward or to call Crime Stoppers...

And here's an excerpt from Mist and Midnight itself (Midnight Thirsts, Melange Books)

When the train slowed and shuddered to a halt without any warning, Charlotte was able to stop her artist’s portfolio from sliding off the vinyl seat opposite with one rapidly and strategically placed foot. Protecting her prints and unfinished work took highest priority, which was why she whipped one long limb, clad in a thinly banded silk knee-high sock out from under her, before thinking to grab the slim-line smart phone that just as swiftly rocketed onto the floor. Bracing the portfolio more firmly with her grey calfskin satchel, she cursed softly as she reached down to find her hopefully still-intact phone and her knee-high Marc Jacobs black suede and leather button boots.

Charlotte craned her neck when she bobbed upward from her search, trying to see through the patches of early morning September mist outside the 360 degree concave plexiglass window. A sign made bleary by the fog read North Bay. She sighed with frustration, and then again with growing anxiety, chewing on her upper lip. Only a few hours remained of the long journey north from Toronto, where she would finally be safe from the malevolent being following her every move and they were stopped again!

The loss of momentum did nothing to ease the nagging feeling that something not right, not natural, was still lurking just out of sight. She shivered, finally locating the mobile under the adjacent seat. Checking its functions, she gave up for the moment on her boots to fish instead for hand sanitizer and a lipstick. After removing floor grit from her fingers, she began to carefully reapply colour to her lips—the light plum shade would do nothing to protect her from her stalker, but somehow made her feel better, like psychological armor.

The light outside the passenger car was dim enough still that the glass beside functioned as a mirrored surface. It also enabled her to unobtrusively scan her surroundings, while she cast a search-and-protect spell around herself. Just as the magick dissipated, rippling into the air, without detecting any immediate peril, her eyes caught the amused gaze of a man in a dark brown jacket. Pausing, before slowly putting a final coat on her full lips and pressing to blot she  registered not only that he was scanning her in return, he was grinning appreciatively at her—and holding her boots.

It was no wonder her guard went up, with a man like this nearby. Of course, he wasn’t nearly as threatening as the vampire who’d stalked her from the shadows for over a year, but he was putting her on edge, just the same. How long, exactly, had he been observing her before she’d noticed him? Long legs clothed in clean, worn denim led to a battered, dark chocolate brown leather bomber, straining over broad shoulders; the high shearling collar was opened, exposing a collarless blue linen shirt.

His grin widened as she turned and he held up her Marc Jacobs. Charlotte was startled by the beautiful strangeness of his eyes—silvery grey irises bordered by a fine line of deep blue. For a moment, she wondered how it might feel to touch the mahogany hair curling slightly over his forehead and just under his ears, to brush her palm over the dark caramel stubble on his jaw—would it feel deliciously coarse and masculine, or soft and velvety like a cat? He ran the tip of his tongue over his upper lip, and Charlotte shivered with a sudden wave of longing, bringing her back to herself. She couldn’t afford to fall for anyone, she knew, or even to have a friend—it was still too dangerous. Swallowing the unintentional reaction, she narrowed her eyes, and held her hand out for the boots.

Thanks so much for having me, Mila!  It was a real pleasure to be a guest on The Mystique!
Please stop by my own blog,, or email me at, or follow me on Twitter @ToriLRidgewood, or REALLY make my day and friend me on FaceBook (tell me you read me here!)



Tori L. Ridgewood said...

This is awesome! Entirely thrilling, to be part of such a beautiful site, sharing creativity. Thanks again for having me, Mila! Yours, Tori

hotcha12 said...


linda b

Mila Ramos said...

Completely agree Tori!! I have been loving so far all the posts. You guys (all the Melange authors) are honestly amazing.

hotcha12 said...