Alex and Kat are excited to welcome their new baby, even though kat is in the middle of her first trimester, which means morning sickness and other crazy symptoms (been there sister), she’s eager to get the nursery painted and set up for their sweet new edition. When the couple discovers mold underneath the wallpaper in the baby’s room, Kat worries that she may get sick or it could possibly hurt the baby, but when she starts to hallucinate, hear noises in the night, and feel a presence that isn’t there, she may have more to worry about than a little mold. Cleaving Souls by Chauncey Rogers is a creepy, fast-paced thriller that will surprise you.
First, it was the sense that her husband was snuggling in bed with her, but then Kat notices that Alex was still out of town at the time that this happened, so who was in bed with her? Or was she just dreaming? Then Kat starts to hear the floorboards creaking when no one is there, and after he husband goes away for work, she senses that the television is actually watching her. Kat’s descent into madness is terrifying, but it’s like a car crash, you can’t look away. Her feelings are palpable and intense, and the fact that you don’t know if Kat is imagining this or if it’s really happening is what completely freaked me out.
Finally, Alex returns home from working as a truck driver, only to discover that the house is in disarray and Kat is in the midst of a breakdown. That’s when he decides that they need a little break, and they head to the cabin that they stayed in when they were on their honeymoon. Alex hopes that the secluded cabin will help Kat relax and enjoy her pregnancy a little more, instead of freaking out all of the time. Well, Alex thought wrong. Whatever was happening at the house is happening tenfold at the cabin, even the beloved dog that they share is in the middle of the battleground. Then, a kind, half blind mystical lady named Suzzane finds Kat and tells her that there is a dark aura on her shoulder, and she needs to get rid of it before it’s too late. Maybe Kat imagining this after all? The crescendo that follows this fateful meeting will have you weak in the knees.
The way that Chauncey writes is just so believable yet extraordinary, that it makes for such a wonderful and fun story to read. Even though it creeped me out, I still loved every second of this book. The characters are so real to me, and the way that Chauncey creates a dialogue between these characters makes them feel like genuine conversations, instead of words in a book. This is the second book that I’ve read from this author, and I swear they keep getting better. If you’d like to check out my first review, go here. I’m looking forward to the next book he puts out, but this one gets a 5 out of 5 stars from me.
Where do you find your inspiration to write such richly developed, yet diverse stories?
Thanks for the compliment! My inspiration comes from different places. Home To Roost is based almost entirely on things that happened around me, just expanded and connected into a coherent plot. Cleaving Souls was inspired by a single line from a movie–a romantic comedy, actually! My next novel, Happily, came from my three-year-old daughter asking me to write her a Cinderella story. In each case I thought about the story very critically to make sure that it had its own originality, but like most things, they’re all based on something I already knew.
That’s where the spark for each story comes from. The development takes place other places–some happens while researching online, some in conversations with friends and family, and some (perhaps the most important bits) come from taking long showers and letting my mind wander.
When you start to write a book, do you have it already plotted out or do you write as you go?
My first serious writing project, which I called The Last Pan, was only loosely plotted. What began as a relatively simple story about Boy Scouts going to Neverland ended up becoming an inter-dimensional struggle pitting demi-gods against one another with the fate of the universe hanging in the balance. Since then, I’ve always been sure to plot things out from start to finish.
What has been the most surprising character you have created?
Brutus the dog. He’s a throwaway character that makes two brief appearances inHome To Roost. And yet, for some inexplicable reason, I’ve had multiple readers express to me how much they loved him. I think it might be because he’s a lighthearted character in the midst of a bunch of serious chickens. The character wasn’t surprising per se, but I’ve been very surprised by people’s attachment to him.
Who are some of your favorite authors?
This is always such a tough question for me, and my answer changes depending on when I’m being asked. Today, I’ll say Frances Hodgson Burnett, the author ofA Little Princess and The Secret Garden. Those stories are both beautiful, and they make me so happy.
Ask me on another day, and I might just tell you it’s Thomas Harris, for giving us Hannibal Lecter. Or James M. McPherson, for his incredible history of the American Civil War. It changes.
How long does it take you to write a book?
This is the great question of my writing life. The rough draft forHome To Roost I kicked out in about two months. Angela of the Stars, an as-yet unpublished novel, took closer to six, but is about the same length. The editing process varies for each as well. I suppose I’m faster than George R.R. Martin, but slower than R.L. Stine.
Have you ever started writing a story that you thought would go one way, but ended up in a completely different direction?
Sort of? There’sThe Last Pan, which I already mentioned. But when I was originally working on the idea for Cleaving Souls, it was going to be a paranormal romance. That sure changed a lot! But that was all in the planning stage. Once I start actually writing, I stick pretty close to my plan.
Do you have any more books in the works? If so can you give a synopsis?
My next on the docket is Happily, which I plan on releasing early next year. I haven’t written up an official blurb for it yet, but I’ll take a whack at it.
Mistakes were made. The prince shouldn’t have fallen in love at the ball. The king shouldn’t have made his brash announcement about the glass slipper. Luc shouldn’t have gotten involved with this reckless urchin girl. And Laure–like ‘door’ with an L–should have left the Kingdom of Alyster when she had the chance. But what’s done is done, and now it’s a dangerous race against everything to fool the king and steal away the happily ever after.
There’s no magic in it, but it’s set in a fictional kingdom, so I suppose I’ll class it as fantasy.
After that it’ll be Angela of the Stars, a book that’s already written and just needs some editing. I’m hoping to have it out next spring. That one is a space opera–not magical enough to be fantasy, but not scientific enough to be SciFi.
I have the next novel picked out after that, too, but it doesn’t have a name yet. I’ll just say it’s a bit of a mind-bender and I’m quite excited about it. After that, we’ll see! I have sequel options for Cleaving Souls, but plenty of original novel ideas too.
If Cleaving Souls were made into a movie, what actors could you see portraying the characters?
Most any, actually! I really tried to avoid detailed character descriptions in this one. You may not have noticed, but I didn’t ever really describe the main characters. Hair color, eye color, skin color–it’s all left up to my readers’ imaginations. I believe in revealing characters through what they do and say, not what they look like. I think I’d be too thrilled by a movie option to care who they cast, anyways!
Do you ever add attributes or characteristics of people you know to your characters?
Guilty! While I don’t copy and paste people, I do borrow some things. Kat’s nervousness about pregnancy were heavily influenced by my wife’s behavior when pregnant. Alex has some similar characteristics to one of my friends, who is himself a trucker, just like Alex. Suzzane and Doyle also had their real-life counterparts, but those ones I won’t mention.
What motivates you to keep writing?
I love it. I also think I’m not too bad at it! More than that, though, I feel like it’s what I’m supposed to do right now. I want to create books that are good. Not just compelling, but good. Books that you could give to your mother or grandmother to read, without worrying too much about any objectionable content.
Yes, there is still some violence, a smidgen of language, and the rare innuendo, but I feel like the world needs more PG and PG-13 books. I want to help provide those.