been a welcomed guest twice before on the Scribbler. On her first visit way
back in 2015, we were treated to an excerpt from Book four in The Gift
Legacy series. See it HERE. At that time, it
was titled Penance.
Legacy series continued, BUT… changes were made to new and exciting titles and
bold covers. The stories remain the same. In 2018, she returned to explain why.
See it HERE.
she is back and has kindly agreed to a Branching Out Interview. There is a new
book on the horizon, changes in her marketing strategy and lots of good news.
She is also sharing an excerpt from just released novel—Blood Mark.
We are overjoyed to have
you return, Jo-Anne. Thanks for taking the time to be with us this week. Before
we talk about writing and your stories, please tell us about Denman Island,
your homelife, and perhaps something we didn’t know about you before.
|Sunset from Denman Island.
Jo-Anne: Thanks so much for having me back!
I’d love to tell you about the island I call home. Denman is one of the
northern Gulf islands. It’s situated about halfway up the eastern coast of
Vancouver Island in the Strait of Georgia. The island is 50 square kilometers
(20 square miles) with a population of 1,100. It’s rural, comprised largely of
farms, but there’s a thriving artist community as well. We’re ferry-bound, so
living here isn’t for everyone, but it’s a popular summer destination for
crossing from Buckley Bay to Denman is just 1900 metres (1.9 kms/1.2 miles) and
takes a mere ten minutes, our ferry, the Baynes Sound Connector, is the longest
salt-water cable ferry in the world (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MC1d_VA_hDk).
has a 113-yr-old general store (https://visitdenmanisland.ca/listings/denman-island-general-store/),
which is also the post office, the gas station, and the liquor/beer outlet for
the island. We also have a bookstore (!) Abraxas bookstore and café (https://visitdenmanisland.ca/listings/abraxas-books-gifts/),
and an artisan-run craft shop (https://visitdenmanisland.ca/listings/denman-craft-shop/).
Denman has a medical clinic, a dental bus (yes, a converted bus), a fitness
centre, two community halls, and much more. But I’m beginning to sound like the
tourist bureau. You can read more about what else Denman has to offer through
the website https://visitdenmanisland.ca/.
have ready access to freshly baked bread and pastries, organic vegetables,
eggs, poultry, beef, lamb, and pork. Given the abundance of food available, we
don’t need to make the trip off island often, but every two weeks or so, we’ll
head into Courtenay and Comox. They are the closest cities to us at about a
twenty-minute drive north on Vancouver Island. Most of the big-box stores are
there, as well as banking, insurance, and anything else we can’t get locally.
people may not know is that my husband and I have lived on Denman for twenty+ years
(where does the time go?). The house was our cottage for ten years prior to
moving over full time. When we first moved here, we thought we’d miss the
bustle of the city; I’d been a city girl most of my life, first in Toronto,
where I was raised, and then in Vancouver, where I attended university and
lived for ten years. But as it turned out, we didn’t miss the city at all. When
we have an occasion to be back in Vancouver, the few days of city life are wonderful.
We get our fill of restaurants and shopping, and then can’t wait to get home to
the quiet countryside again.
Allan: Exciting times, Jo-Anne. A new novel
recently released – Blood Mark. Please tell our readers what to expect
when they pick up their copy. Is there a dramatic change from your earlier
Jo-Anne: Exciting indeed! Although Blood Mark is
my eighth book, it’s the first book outside of The Gift Legacy series. For that
reason, it feels very much like my second book. I know readers will compare the
books and I hope Blood Mark holds up to their scrutiny and they love it as much
as the legacy series. What readers can expect is a wild ride with fresh and
unpredictable plot twists.
the teaser: What if your lifelong curse is the only thing keeping you alive?
Jane Walker survives the back alleys of Vancouver, marked by a chain of
blood-red birthmarks that snake around her body. During her tortured nights,
she is gripped by agonizing nightmares when she sees into the past. It isn’t
until, one-by-one, the marks begin to disappear that she learns the deadly
truth: Her marks are the only things keeping her alive.
E.E. Holmes, award-winning and best-selling author of The
Gateway Trilogy has read it and says: “Featuring a fearless, badass heroine and
plot twists that will leave readers breathless, J.P. McLean's Blood Mark is a
gritty, sexy, fast-paced thrill ride from start to finish.”
Eileen Cook, award-winning author of You Owe Me a Murder
calls Blood Mark “An explosive new series that combines mystery and magic into
a can’t-put-down thriller.
hasn’t changed with the new book is the contemporary Vancouver setting, and the
inclusion of supernatural elements. But Jane Walker, the protagonist in Blood
Mark, is very different from the protagonist in the Gift Legacy. Jane walker is
a scrappy orphan who’s been raised in group homes. She’s had to cope with the
stigma that comes with looking different and struggles to make ends meet. Likewise,
the best friends in the two books are quite different. Sadie is Jane’s best
friend and roommate in Blood Mark. Sadie is a beautiful woman who works as a
waitress by day, and a hooker by night.
Allan: I’ve had the pleasure of reading Secret
Sky, Book One in the Gift Legacy series and I’m anxious to get into the
series again. You have published seven other novels. I won’t ask you to pick a
favorite because it’s a tough question but I’m curious of which was the most
difficult to write? The most emotional?
Jo-Anne: You’re right about how hard it is to
pick a favourite. As for the most difficult book to write, I’d have to say it
was the first, Secret Sky. Not only was it difficult from a writing perspective,
because I was learning the craft, but it was the first time I’d exposed my
creative work to public scrutiny. It felt a lot like stripping naked in public.
emotional book to write was Burning Lies because in it, the protagonist loses
something very dear to her heart. I left my own tears on the keyboard writing that
Allan: Please share a childhood memory and/or
Jo-Anne: When I was very young, perhaps six or seven years old, I loved windy days. I remember racing with the wind at my back and my arms held wide and jumping into the air, hoping against hope that the wind would lift me off the ground and I would fly. I’ve long been captivated by the notion of flying. In fact, for as long as I can remember, I’ve had recurring dreams of flying—dreams I have to this day. I can’t wait for personal flying aircraft to become a reality. It’s no wonder my first series centers around a secret society of people who can fly!
Is there a bit of
Jo-Anne McLean in any of your characters? Do you find inspiration from real
people or is every character a total figment of your imagination?
Jo-Anne: The protagonist in the first series,
Emelynn, had two of my foibles: zero sense of direction and unruly hair. I
didn’t plan it that way, it just evolved. Using something I was so familiar
with made it easier to bring the character to life. For example, I was able to describe
what it felt like to get lost, or the frustration of map reading. Likewise, I
knew Emelynn would need hair elastics and a big-toothed comb.
my characters have bits and pieces of real people in them. Sometimes it’s just
a physical trait, like the way a character flips their hair away from their
face, or an unsteady gait. Other times, it’s a personality characteristic I’ve
observed, like genuine empathy, or callous indifference.
challenge to keep the characters fresh and different from one another. That’s
why people-watching is so fascinating to me. My observations often end up as
character details in my stories.
What draws you to the
supernatural or paranormal genre?
Jo-Anne: It’s the possibility that these
phenomena might exist. Like that little girl inside me that was convinced I
could fly if only I could run fast enough. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you
could move objects with your mind or communicate with your thoughts? It may
seem far-fetched, but scientists are actively working on these possibilities.
supernatural or paranormal genre is also the genre that I most enjoy reading.
For me, its pure escapism, an indulgence. I readily suspend my disbelief, get
lost in the story, and lose all track of time when I’m reading.
You have recently signed
on with the publicity firm, Creative Edge with Mickey Mikkelson. Can you tell
us about this new direction?
Jo-Anne: Publicity is a necessity if you want
to find and grow your readership. It’s one of the building blocks of a writer’s
career. But I always felt out of my depth with publicity, not knowing who to
reach out to, or how. So I was very excited to learn about Mickey and Creative
He’s taken a huge weight off my shoulders. I’ve been working with him since
January. Not only has he gotten me interviews with influencers and put me in
front of people who are interested in my genre, but he’s organized reviews for
my books. He’s helped me up my game and I’m tremendously grateful.
Allan: Favorite book? Author? Movie?
Jo-Anne: Haha! Favourite book? I’ve got
dozens—I read a lot—so if you ask me tomorrow, it will change. Today’s
favourite is Spirit Legacy by E.E. Holmes. It’s an interesting take on ghosts. The
intrigue just kept building with unanswered questions, dubious motives, and
strange phenomena. Is it the ghosts who have deadly intentions? Or the
protagonist’s friends, her family? Holmes kept me guessing right to the end.
One of my favourite authors is Charlaine Harris. She wrote the Sookie Stackhouse books which became the True Blood TV series.
She also wrote the Midnight Texas books,
which became a TV series, and the Aurora Teagarden books, many of which have
been made into TV movies. Harris writes with a keen sense of humour, which I
love, and her characters are people I’d like to know and hang out with.
movies, I’m at a bit of a loss. I’m not a movie buff. My husband and I have
different tastes, so what we watch are movies where our interests intersect,
which are thrillers and action flicks. My favourite of those is probably the
Bourne Identity based on the Robert Ludlum book and starring Matt Damon.
favourite dessert? SO many to choose from. In winter, I’d say butter tarts or
butter-tart bars. In summer, it would be ice cream (mint chocolate chip, or
Allan: Anything else you’d like to share
Jo-Anne: Just my thanks, Allan. I really
appreciate the care you take to elevate the profile of authors and champion
their work. I feel very lucky and grateful to be included.
***Thank you for saying that, Jo-Anne. It’s great guests such as
yourself which makes this all worthwhile and so enjoyable for me.
from Blood Mark.
is held by the author. Used with permission)
Mark came out on
October 19th. It’s the first book in a brand-new supernatural
thriller series that I’m excited to share with your readers.
an excerpt (you can also download the excerpt here: https://jpmcleanauthor.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/Blood-Mark-Sneak-Peek-for-website-preview-2021-06-02.pdf)
Walker might have been the only person in Vancouver not afraid to be in a
downtown alley at half-past midnight. Shadows clung to fissures and corners,
morphing into nightmare shapes as she passed. A warm breeze stirred the scent
of rotting garbage along with her gag reflex. Rescuing Sadie was getting old.
One of these nights, Sadie’s unique way of punishing herself would be the death
of them both. And maybe Jane’s bike.
parked next to Ethan’s Fat Boy in the hopes his reputation would spill over and
protect her cherished Honda 500. But the caged bulb above the back door worried
her. It bled a weak circle of light that pooled near the bikes. It was a
toss-up whether it would draw attention or act as a deterrent. She said a
prayer for the latter and removed her helmet. A slamming door punctuated a
heated argument drifting down from a nearby apartment. She raked her long hair
forward to hide the worst of the birthmark on her face then walked around the
corner, bypassing the dregs of Riptide’s nightly queue.
she knew manned the door. His steady gaze slid sideways at her approach. Boos
from the lineup he held at bay prompted him to inhale, emphasizing the girth of
his chest. He flexed biceps larger than her thighs, tipped his chin, and let
nodded her thanks and stepped inside. A cocktail of perfume and stale sweat
assaulted her. Thumping music reverberated in her chest as she scanned the bar
for Ethan Bryce and found him pouring shots. A seasoned bartender, he worked
the room like a ringside bookie at an illegal fight, smiling with one eye and
watching for trouble with the other.
for calling,” Jane said, pressing into the bar. “Where is she?”
held her gaze a moment longer than necessary then swiped his head to the left.
Jane followed his line of sight to the dance floor, where her roommate swayed
out of step with the music. Sadie had gone with tasteful tonight, wearing her
LBD, as she called her little black dress. Her client must have been a high
roller—unlike the ’roided-up jockstrap now keeping Sadie upright with a hand on
her ass and a sure-bet smile on his face.
strode through the dancers and stopped short of her. “Sadie?” she shouted over
lifted her head from Jockstrap’s shoulder and struggled to focus. “Narc?” She
blew at a stray blonde curl. Jane winced at the nickname Sadie rarely used in
her?” Jockstrap asked.
Tim, meet Narc. Dance with us.” Sadie reached for Jane. Her mascara had
smudged, leaving charcoal shadows under her eyes. It’s what two lines of coke
and a few too many vodka chasers looked like.
her hand. “Let’s go home.”
with me tonight, honey,” Jockstrap said, tugging Sadie’s arm away from Jane. He
looked down to Sadie with a smarmy smile. “Aren’t you, baby?”
squinted up at him. When she looked back at Jane, sparks of awareness surfaced.
She pushed against his chest. “I gotta go.”
don’t gotta go,” he said, dragging her back. “Stay with me, baby. We’re having
fun, aren’t we?”
about I bring her back tomorrow?” Jane said. “When she’s not wasted.”
stumbled as Jockstrap twisted to put himself between the two women. “I’ve made
an investment here.”
Jane thought, recoiling from his stale-beer spittle. She was quick in a fight
and had the advantage of being sober, but Jockstrap had a hundred pounds on her
and a hard-on with a destination.
Ethan wouldn’t tolerate her pulling a knife in Riptide, so she’d have to
dissuade Jockstrap some other way. She looked to the floor. For Sadie, she’d
expose her marks. Only for Sadie. An eyeful of ugly often gave her a
split-second advantage. He was already wobbling—shouldn’t be too hard to knock
him on his ass.
shifted the grip on her helmet, widened her stance, and drew in a calming
breath. Then, in one swift motion, she swung the curtain of hair away from her
face. “She’s going home,” she said, pressing upward into Jockstrap’s personal
space to ensure he got a good look at the thick blood-red birthmark that
slashed an angle from her forehead to her temple. It looked like the work of a
back with a familiar snarl of revulsion. Already primed, Jane was ready to
launch when a firm hand landed on her shoulder, halting her.
all right here?” Ethan asked, squeezing harder than he needed to. Jane felt a
pinch of resentment at his interference.
gaze darted to the figure standing behind Jane. Ethan wasn’t big, but his
reputation was. You didn’t cross him unless you had generous sick-leave
nostrils flared. He pinched his lips. Neither man moved. Long seconds later,
Jockstrap faltered and blew out a deflating breath. His bravado and sure-bet
attitude faded along with his hopes of getting laid. He released Sadie with a
little shove. “Go on then,” he said. “Take out the trash.” He stalked away and
called over his shoulder, “And it’s Tom, not fuckin’ Tim.”
Jane mumbled, “not fuckin’ Tom, either.” With a shake of her head, Jane settled
her hair back into place. She wrapped a steadying arm around Sadie’s shoulder
and turned her around, bumping into Ethan, who stood in their path.
okay?” he said, but his expression was a warning. She’d forced his hand and he
didn’t like that.
Watch my ride? I’ll come by in the morning to pick her up.”
keep an eye on her,” Ethan said, before he swaggered back to the bar.
faith in the stubble-faced panhandler who hung around the bar was a mystery to
opened Sadie’s purse and fished out her keys.
Atkins kept his back to the dance floor and gazed at Sadie’s reflection in the
mirror behind the bar. Not that Sadie would recognize him in glasses and a full
beard, but vigilance had served him well to this point. He wouldn’t tempt fate
when he was so close to his endgame.
watched the woman who called herself Jane flash her markings like a blowfish in
the face of the predator shark who groped at Sadie. Jane had no inkling of the
damage she was capable of inflicting. But not for long. Rick downed his beer
and slinked out the door.
for being our guest this week, Jo-Anne. Wishing you continued success with your
For all you
cool readers and visitors wanting to discover more about Jo-Anne and her
writing, please follow these links:
Twitter: @jpmcleanauthor https://twitter.com/jpmcleanauthor