C.J. Gabriel Interview

I am delighted to be speaking with C.J. Gabriel today. Thanks for taking time to speak with me today C.J.!

No problem! Thanks for inviting me on over to chat with you!

To start, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Sure can. I'm a wife, mom of two, an avid reader, a cautiously optimistic writer, a mediocre artist, and a reluctant jogger/runner, and probably one of the most forgetful/clumsy people you will meet. All in all, I'd say that I'm pretty "Average Joe".

Can you tell readers a little bit about your current release To Stand with Angels?

Oh yes! I love my new novel. In part, because I think I found a "key in which to sing" with this story, my niche in writing, so to speak, and also because I adore the characters. "To Stand with Angels" takes place in the late 1800s, is set in the Wyoming Territory (a hauntingly beautiful landscape for those who have never been), and tells the story of a woman hiding from a crime she committed in New Orleans, an ex-gunslinger who is hunting for revenge, a cruel cattle baron who is anything but a legitimate business man, a saloon mistress who's torn between the man of her dreams and a jealous lover, and, last but not least, a six-hundred-year-old demon who's come searching for the one soul capable of destroying him. I purposely started the novel focusing on the immediate problems between some of the characters and as the novel proceeds, I shift the focal point from all the "normal western issues" to a demonic/ horror plot line. (So you readers are fair warned-This novel has a huge twist!!)

Did you have the title for To Stand with Angels from the start, or did that evolve with your writing?

No. I couldn't decide on a title right up until I had finished all the drafts and editing… but, when I reached the point of starting the submission process, I finally made myself sit down and start working on a title. My husband actually came up with part of it by suggesting "On the Side of Angels", which later was morphed into "To Stand with Angels". On a side, he is also the major reason that this novel was completed. He got so into the story, that he made me feel guilty if I didn't get the next chapter done. Every Friday it became our tradition to have a glass of wine while he read the next finished chapter. Kept me motivated, I'll say that! (Thanks, honey!)

How long have you been writing?

I started writing as soon as I could hold a pen or pencil. When I was little, I drew picture stories. I really got excited about writing in the 6th grade when a teacher made us read "A Wrinkle in Time". At that point, I was reading "The Sweet Valley Twins" books, the "Babysitter's Club", and a whole slue of YA horror by R.L. Stine and Christopher Pike. My first "novel" was about twin sisters, who were babysitters for a family who lived in a haunted house (real original, right?). After that, I spent a lot of time writing short stories and trying to write about people as I saw them in real life. My mom found some of my childhood writing a few months back and we both had to laugh. There was some funny sh*t in those stories. It's amazing what kids pick up on from their POV, I tell ya what!

What satisfies you about your writing?

The fact that my little brain could come up with a story that is most definitely NOT your run-of-the-mill romance novel, that my fingers could type it, and when it was all said any done, my hard work was accepted for publication. That is a satisfying feeling to be reckoned with, and I'm guessing a sensation that is pretty hard to beat.

Who has influenced you the most in terms of developing your personal writing?

I love Stephen King and Poe. They're works have shaped a lot of my POV. But really, I think life in general has been the biggest contributor to my writing.

What's one thing you would like your readers to know about you?

That I love anything shocking, in fact the movie "From Dusk 'til Dawn" is a good depiction of what I try to aim for in my own writing. There has to be an element of surprise in anything I write; it always gets me excited and brings out my creativity. My novel, "To Stand with Angels" reflects that "shock value" factor very well, I think.

If you could meet any one person (past or present) and ask them only one question - Who would it be, and what would your question be?

Michelangelo. I'd ask to watch as he painted "The Last Judgment" on the alter wall of the Sistine Chapel. That has been a most inspiring piece of artwork to me. Of course, I probably wouldn't have the patience to sit there for the four years it took to paint it, but I would give it my best shot.

It's been a long week of writing, editing and coming up with new ideas. Now the weekend is here and you can actually relax how would you spend the next 24 hours? One restriction, you're unable to pick up a book!

I'd take a bubble bath! It's one of those simple pleasures that I don't get to enjoy nearly enough these days!

What can readers expect from you in the next 6 months?

I'm hoping that I'll have most of my new novel "At the Devil's Right Hand" (the sequel to "To Stand with Angels") completed and well into the editing process. My fingers are crossed…but I guess I'd better uncross them and get to typing, eh?

Is there anything else you would like to share with us?

How about a little titillation from my novel, "To Stand with Angels"; a small excerpt to whet the appetite and spark some interest?

Perpetual rain, falling in a sheet of icy nails, hammered down from a sky as black as Bradyn's mood. He figured that even if the angel Gabriel had the mind to stop the storm, he probably couldn't have; so strong was its fury. The onyx heavens and chilly precipitation lent themselves to an eerie, fiendish atmosphere. An atmosphere that was conducive to the burial of the two men who had come to murder Bradyn, only to meet their Maker themselves in the end.

He was leading the wet horses carrying Tex and Buddy's bodies into the side-yard when Rian walked out onto the porch. He watched her run to the barn in the rain, feeling that same perplexing, gut-ache swell inside him. If only she were less than perfect. Maybe if she were not so honest and kind or so courageous and intelligent, it would be easier to tell her that he was leaving. Perhaps if she wasn't so damnably beautiful he wouldn't be having so much trouble trying to convince himself to leave this place.

When Rian returned, she was dragging two shovels with one hand and holding the lantern in the other. Bradyn didn't say a word to her. He just took the shovels and hoisted them over his shoulder. Soundlessly, she followed his lead as he headed, once again, for the creek bank. The two of them walked down the hill side by side. They made a grotesque parade, him leading the horses and Rian carrying the lantern. The flashes of lightning illuminated their faces with a peculiar, stark-white cast and distorted their shadows into long, black ghoulish aberrations that scurried along the ground beside them with lives of their own.

Neither spoke. He supposed she was reminiscing the last time they'd been to the creek together. It was a bleak memory of death. Her prayer had gone unanswered. They were burying again, not one man this time, but two. He wished he could have spared her this circumstance.

He found his mind in a place of agony. He hated the indecision that weakened his resolve. A part of him wanted to send Rian away, to tell her to leave him to bury the men in peace. To make her stop getting more involved in this ugliness than was necessary, from getting more involved than she already was. He wanted to tell her she was not obligated to help him in any way and that as soon as these two murderers were put in the ground he was riding out and she would never see him again.

The other part of his mind reprimanded him for being irritated at her silent gesture of help. Everything she had done, all actions of kindness or courage, had been forced upon her by no one other than him. She was no more a part of this entire debacle than the moon was a pebble, and yet she had become integrally embroiled in the whole mess out of pure fate. That part of him wanted nothing more than to let her be the one. The one he opened himself to, the one he told everything to, the one he could run to and lean on. That One.

And, finally, for the hundred-thousandth time, Bradyn Preston cursed his life. A life that had been twisted and warped with all the ridiculous choices he had made and immoral accomplishments he had achieved. He hated the day he had laid eyes on Liam Briggs. He vowed then and there on that muddy path destined for the creek bank and another tasteless burial, that he would not rest until Liam Briggs was dead. Dead and in Hell, paying for his many transgressions and iniquities. And if Briggs managed to kill him first, it would be good riddance. He was ready to pay for his own sins. To hell with living a half-life, shrouded by the past and the evil he had summoned on his soul.

If you'd like to read more about C.J. please visit her website and blog.

Interviewed by: Tammy