Book Feature and Author Interview – Spirits of the Heart by Claire Gem


An addiction counselor & a security guard struggle to free two, lost spirits trapped inside an abandoned mental asylum.
Laura Horton returns from college to move in with an old friend & start her career. But her homecoming is jarring. Her friend’s moved out, leaving Laura alone with the gorgeous but intimidating ex-boyfriend—in a house that snugs up to an ancient graveyard.

Officer Miller Stanford is a man with a shattered past. His alcoholic dad destroyed their family, a weakness Miller is terrified will consume him too. The last thing he needs is a sexy, blonde addiction counselor watching his every move. When he begins to see specters in the dark, he starts questioning his own stability.

But Laura sees her too—a pathetic child-spirit searching for her father. Can they unravel the mysteries of Talcott Hall without jeopardizing their love—and lives—in the process?




Author Interview with Claire Gem

When did you first realize that you wanted to be a writer?

When I was in the seventh grade and writing essays and term papers became my favorite activity.

How many books have you written?

A memoir and five novels.

How long does it usually take you to write a book?

I have written a book (complete first draft) in 30 days. For other titles it has taken me as long as three years. It depends on the book and what I have going on in my life.

How did you come up with the idea for your book?

We lived for a short time in western North Carolina, at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains. It was such a magical place, I felt I had to set a novel there—so I did.

Who are your favorite authors?

Susanna Kearsley, B. A. Shapiro, Simone St. James, Juliet Blackwell

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

Coming up with a great idea, plot premise, all the characters, and the ending…then figuring out how to get from the beginning to the end.

Where is your favorite place to write?

In a library. Libraries (and museums) are where my muses live.

When you develop characters do you already know who they are before you begin writing or do you let them develop as you go? 

I usually know everything about my protagonist from the beginning. The remaining characters develop as I go.

Do you aim for a set amount of words/pages per day?

I should write 2000 words a day. I try to write 1000. I’m lucky if I average 500/day.

What is the hardest thing about writing?

Getting my brain into “the zone.” Turning off the rest of my life and allowing my mind to dive into the story.

What is the easiest thing about writing?

When I’m in “the zone,” it’s a high like no drug could match.

Do you use images to develop your character’s looks?

Definitely! I usually look for my character’s “portraits” online and post them right on my character interview sheets.

Are your characters based on people you know?

Sometimes they are. Mostly they are combinations of several people, so no one ever “recognizes” themselves in my books.

Do you use your experiences in your books?

There is a little piece of my own history in every one of my novels.

Do you ever get writer’s block?

I’m not sure if it’s block or failure to commit the time and energy needed to keep going.

What do you think makes a good story?

A good story is an intense emotional journey for the reader, one that leaves them “missing” the characters when it’s over.

Does writing energize or exhaust you?

Writing energizes me. Editing exhausts me.

What has been one of your most rewarding experiences as an author?

I did a signing onboard a dinner cruise ship in Lake George, NY last summer. The book was set in that town, and the staff treated me like a famous celebrity. The book sales were also off the charts!

What do your friends and family think about you being a writer?

They think it’s an illness for which there is no known cure. They’re not sure whether to be proud of me or check me into an insane asylum.

What do you do when you’re not writing?

I also still work full time for Tufts University, in scientific research. In addition, I’m an equestrian, and my horse, Samson, provides me with the outdoor activity and animal bonding that keeps me fit and centered.

Do you like music or silence when your write?

Music, definitely. I always have soft instrumental music playing while I write.

Do you outline or do you just write?

Usually, just write. But lately I’ve been trying to outline more to streamline the process and keep me from getting stuck in that “muddy middle.”

Do you prefer pen and paper or computer?

Computer all the way. If I used a pen and paper I wouldn’t be able to read what I wrote!

Do you write as routine or do you write when you feel like it?

I should write every day, at the same time, for a certain amount of time. I try to write every day. I usually end up putting in three or four hours during the week, and then bigger chunks of time on the weekends.

What do you love best about your current book?

My latest release is the second of my Haunted Voices novels, and is a story set in the town where I grew up. There’s an abandoned mental asylum there that has always creeped me out. Now, since I’ve released “Spirits of the Heart,” the rest of the world can be creeped out as well.

What is your next project?

“Pigments” is a story about a DNA analyst who is also psychic. She has psychometry, the ability to connect with the memories of people through their DNA, from the cells they leave on anything they touch. But the elixir of oil and pigments is her biggest trigger, so she has an uncanny ability to access the memories of the artists of oil paintings.

It’s different from my previous projects because it hovers on the border between genre and literary fiction. I call it “supernatural suspense.”

Meet Claire Gem

Claire is a multi-published, award winning author of five titles in the genres of contemporary romance, supernatural suspense, and women’s fiction. She also writes Author Resource guide books, and presents seminars on writing craft and marketing.

Her supernatural suspense, Hearts Unloched, won the 2016 New York Book Festival. Her contemporary romance, A Taming Season, is a HOLT Medallion Award finalist, and her women’s fiction, The Phoenix Syndrome, is a finalist in the National Reader’s Choice Awards.

A New York native, Claire has lived in five of the United States and held a variety of jobs, from waitress to bridal designer to research technician—but loves being an author best. She and her happily-ever-after hero, her husband of 39 years, now live in central Massachusetts.


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