Something is rotten in the town of Widget, and Rags-n-Bones knows it's all his fault. Ever since he snitched that avocado from Miss Ascot's pack, things have been going wrong. Armed with a handful of memories he never realized he had, Rags-n-Bones searches for a way to put right whatever he did to Widget in the past. If only he knew what it was! Unfortunately, the only person who seems to have answers is a half-mad youth that only Rags can see.
Widget is also suffering from a ghost infestation that has the townsfolk almost as spooked of outsiders as they are of actual spooks. While Rags-n-Bones seeks answers in the past, Ascot offers the town leaders her service as an exorcist, only to be handed an ultimatum: banish the ghosts or be banished herself!
Who's meddling with Widget? To catch the culprit, Ascot and Rags-n-Bones must match wits with a shifty sorcerer, a prissy ex-governess, and a troublingly attractive captain before the town consigns itself to the graveyard of history.
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There was a hand in the forest, and it held an avocado.
“Miss Ascot bought it for me,” said Rags-n-Bones, clutching it to his chest as he ran. The dead leaves crunched softly underfoot, thick and bouncy as a crispy cloud. “That means it’s not stealing.”
On his shoulder, Nipper squeaked. Being a rat, Nipper was hazy on the concept of “stealing.” Generally, he felt if you could get something in your mouth, it was yours.
Rags-n-Bones wished he were a rat. It would make dealing with guilt much easier. I should never have rummaged through Miss Ascot’s pack, he thought, ducking around a birch. His thumb caressed the avocado’s soft, pebbly skin. If I’d waited, she, or the Captain, or Sir Dmitri, or the Mighty Terror from the Deepest Shadows would’ve awakened and given it to me. He leaped over a log, mouth watering in anticipation of the avocado’s rich, buttery flavor. I should go back right now and—
Squeak? Nipper stuck his nose in Rags-n-Bones’ ear impatiently.
Rags-n-Bones gave up. He’d take whatever punishment arrived later. Right now, the torment of not eating the avocado was too great to bear. “There’s a grove up ahead,” he replied. “Around that cone-shaped boulder. We’ll eat it there.” Avocados required privacy for proper consumption.
How could you possibly know there’s a grove ahead? asked a small part of his brain not drunk on avocado-lust. You’ve never been here before.
He shrugged. Ahead just seemed like a convenient place for a grove. A small circle of beech trees, with an old oak smack in the center, its gnarled, moss-covered roots gripping the hummock it sat atop like an old man clutching a tea cake.
A foot skidded out from under him as he rounded the boulder, kicking up a trail of wet leaves and the smell of tannin. That’s a lot of detail for a mere hunch. Why, you can visualize the oak, can’t you? That thick, knobby trunk. Those bare, crooked branches. And carved into the bark—
Six feet into the grove, Rags-n-Bones stumbled to a halt and stared vacantly at a patch of earth. Something was very wrong. Was he being watched?
He whimpered. He was being watched. A disapproving stare pressed almost tangibly on the top of his bowed head. Branches swayed creakily overhead. He watched the wind skitter a fallen acorn across the carpet of leaves.
Squeak? Nipper scrabbled at his cheek.
I have to do it. Slowly, Rags-n-Bones lifted his gaze to meet the watcher’s.
The avocado hit the leaves with a soft crunch as his fingers abruptly slackened. Punishment had arrived sooner than expected.
Today we're talking to author A.E. Decker about her latest release Meddlers of Moonshine.
A.E. Decker hails from Pennsylvania. A former doll-maker and ESL tutor, she earned a master’s degree in history, where she developed a love of turning old stories upside-down to see what fell out of them.
This led in turn to the writing of her YA novel, The Falling of the Moon. A graduate of Odyssey 2011, her short fiction has appeared in such venues as Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Fireside Magazine, and in World Weaver Press’s own Specter Spectacular.
Like all writers, she is owned by three cats. Come visit her, her cats, and her fur Daleks at wordsmeetworld.com.
Ironically, my message is “follow your own story”! I feel we get sold a lot of narratives as children, about how we should grow up, and what we’re allowed to do with our lives. What I want readers to take away—beside enjoyment—is that it’s all right to explore other options and find alternate paths to what society expects.
Was there an Author who inspired you to write?
I always wanted to be a writer. At the age of four, I think, I tried writing a series of novels, but let’s just say my attention span wasn’t there. Now that I am an author, I think the most of Terry Pratchett when I write. I don’t try to copy his style, but I do try to let his wit, humor, and spirit guide me.
How did you come up with the characters in your books?
Character are odd creatures. Some come strolling into your head and introduce themselves. Others require a bit of coaxing. My lead protagonist, Ascot, and I needed to get to know each other. It took years to write the first book, and we kind of grew together; she as a personality, I as a writer. Dmitri, Rags-n-Bones and Moony, her companions were much more open and obliging, while Catch, who wasn’t even meant to be in the series initially, sidled in, made himself indispensable, then proceeded to refuse to tell me anything about himself that wasn’t half a lie. What can I say? It’s one of the weird perks of being a writer, having people living in your head.
What are your current projects?
Currently, I’m hard at work on Into the Moonless Night, which is book three of the Moonfall Mayhem series. Book two, The Meddlers of Moonshine, ends on a slight cliff-hanger, so I have to clear that up. After I get the draft of Moonless off to my editor, I’ll go back to work on the third book of my urban fantasy series about a tomato-obsessed hitman of the supernatural.
Do you see writing as a career?
Yes. I’d love to make enough money to actually live off it someday. Oh, who am I kidding? I’d like to make as much money as J. K. Rowling! But I doubt I could stop writing even if I had to take a full-time job to make ends meet.
Do you ever picture yourself and one of your heroines? If so, which one?
No. I picture my characters as individuals. Almost friends, in a way. I’d rather meet one in person than be them, if that makes sense. I think Dmitri, my talking wolf with a taste for Russian literature would be fun to spend an afternoon with.
Do you have a favorite heroine/hero from one of your books? If so, who?
I love them all, but who I’d currently like to spend time with depends on my mood. Kay Ashuren, from The Meddlers of Moonshine, could certainly use a hug and a cup of cocoa. I put him through a lot.
What kind of research do you do for your books?
All kinds! Sometimes I look up descriptions of different types of walls or doors, just because I have a particular look for a setting in mind and want to get it right. For my current book, Into the Moonless Night, I’ve been researching various animals, because it takes place in the kingdom of the shifters, and I want to capture their mannerisms. Ever read about a Tasmanian devil-shifter before? Wait for book three!
What is the hardest part of writing your book?
Time. I wish I had three of me to do all the work. Besides that, simply fitting the plot together is the tricky bit. I like twists and complications, and all my characters, even the minor ones, tend to have motivation. I don’t like characters who simply come in to act as cheerleaders for the protagonist, or do an infodump.
If you could say anything to your readers what would it be?
Thank you for reading my books! Please feel free to contact me and ask questions.
What is your favorite Genre and why?
Fantasy—which is a broad answer, as there are so many subgenres in it. I like its potential. It mixes well with every other genre and gives you the freedom to explore all possibilities. I think it’s the only genre where writers can twist logic until it squeaks, and still have it be logical, in a bizarre way. Lewis Carroll was the master at that.
Do you prefer to write alone or do you like to collaborate with other authors?
I’ve not yet had the opportunity to do a serious (or humorous) collaboration with another author. It’s something I’ve talked about with other writers, and would certainly like to try in the future.
Do you ever get writer’s block? If so, how do you get through it?
Not really. I have so many books I want to write that I feel I have no time to get blocked. What does happen is that I get tangled up in a plot and can’t see my way out. What really works for me when that happens is to go for a drive to the store, or to the mall; someplace familiar. It frees the snarled part of my mind, for whatever reason, and I often work out the problem by the time I get home.
When you are reading a book, who is your favorite author?
I have a lot of favorite books, but the writer who wrote the largest percentage of them was Terry Pratchett. He died the year The Falling of the Moon came out, and I dedicated the book to him. I’d list my favorite Discworld novels, but it would go on a bit.
Do you come up with the cover or does someone else do it?
The extremely talented Cary Vendever has done both my covers, and I love her work. She gave me a questionnaire beforehand, asking what scenes I wanted to see, and she’s wonderfully responsive as well as a great artist. The tree on the cover of The Meddlers of Moonshine is wicked! I can’t wait to see what she does with Into the Moonless Night.
If you could change anything in your writing what would that be?
I’d be able to write faster. I envy authors who can do a clean draft, or even a finished manuscript, in a month or less. It’s a hard question. I simultaneously love my work and am frustrated beyond measure at its shortcomings. You have to remind yourself that perfection is the sun and you can only hope to hit the moon.
What book if any would you want to be made into a movie?
I suppose it would have to be The Falling of the Moon, since it’s book one and I haven’t finished any of my planned standalone novels yet.
Who would you want to play the hero/heroine?
I’d like Claire Foy as Ascot and Tom Burke as Catch. Either Jack Davenport or Richard Armitage could do Dmitri’s voice, and they could stretch Johnny Depp out very tall and thin to play Rags-n-Bones.
Everyone uses computers, tablets, phones and no one uses handwritten form or typewriters, what do you prefer to use?
I use my laptop for everyday writing, and keep a notebook on the table to scribble down the ideas that strike without warning. I never did like typewriters, but my brother collects them.
Is there a ritual you do everything before you begin your book?
Have breakfast and browse the internet while I wait for the coffee to kick in. Sometimes, I rub a Dalek. I keep a bunch of the little bastards on my desk to stare accusingly at me if I procrastinate too long.
What do you do when you finish your book and turn it in to the editor?
Smile in self-congratulations, then start working on the next book.