Author: Mary Castillo
Narrator: Mary Castillo
Length: 8 hours 46 minutes
Publisher: Reina Books
Released: Jan. 26, 2017
Genre: Paranormal Mystery
One October morning in 1932, Vicente Sorolla entered the white house on the hill and was never seen again.
Now, Detective Dori Orihuela witnesses his brutal murder in her nightmares.
Drawn to this tough but tender woman, Vicente materializes out of the butler’s pantry and asks her to find his lost love, Anna. Dori wonders if she’s not only about to lose her badge, but also her sanity. Dori has always been drawn to the mysterious Queen Anne Edwardian house in her hometown. But after a devastating injury that puts her career on the line, Dori isn’t sure if she made the right decision purchasing this rundown old mansion.
Her wisecracking Grammy Cena has waited too long for her independent granddaughter to return home. She hires a kooky psychic to banish the ghost and a handsome contractor with whom Dori has an unhappy past. With a promise to Vicente, Dori may solve a forgotten Prohibition era murder. Or she may exhume secrets someone died to protect.
A modern gothic mystery woven with suspense, ghosts, and romance, Lost in the Light was nominated for the Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Paranormal Mystery/Suspense.
Fans of Susanna Kearsley, Simone St. James, Diana Gabaldon, Mary Stewart, Kate Morton, and Victoria Holt will want to curl up with Dori on her journey to love, past and present.
Amazon Short Mystery Bestselling Author Mary Castillo loves a great startle, even though she makes her husband get up with her in the middle night after watching a scary movie!
When she’s not gardening, hiking or knitting, she’s engrossed in writing or reading a book. She only writes the kind of books she loves – chilling paranormal mysteries mixed with heartwarming romance and compelling heroines who keep her turning the pages long past her bedtime!
Her Dori O. Paranormal series kicked off in 2012 with Lost in the Light (Daphne du Maurier Finalist in Paranomal Mystery), which Mary narrated and produced herself as an audiobook in 2017. She didn’t intend to start a series but when she got to the end, she missed Dori so much that she wrote the romantic novella, Girl in the Mist and is preparing to publish the next novel, Lost in Whispers.
Mary’s debut, Hot Tamara was selected by Cosmopolitan magazine as the Red Hot Read of April 2005. Latina magazine called Mary “an author to look out for” and selected In Between Men and Names I Call My Sister for the Top 10 Summers Reads in July 2009. OC Metro magazine named Mary one of the hottest 25 people in the O.C. (the first but certainly not the last time her hotness has been publicly confirmed).
Mary grew up in a haunted house in National City, CA. She cries every time she sees The Ghost and Mrs. Muir. A graduate of USC, Mary lives in Orange County, California with her family and a black pug named, Rocky.
Q&A with Author & Narrator Mary Castillo
- Tell us about the process of turning your book into an audiobook.
- Last year, I decided to podcast my audiobook, Lost in the Light. I ordered my rig, built my sound box and started rehearsing with the software. I fell in love with narrating the book and found myself really taking on the challenge of bringing the voices for each character that lived in my head onto the recording. When I finished the last chapter, I couldn’t wait to do it again but first, I had to publish it.
- Do you believe certain types of writing translate better into audiobook format?
- If you have a story with emotionally-compelling characters and juicy conflict, anything can become an audiobook. Personally, I enjoy mystery and nonfiction audiobooks more than other genres.
- What factors influenced your decision to narrate your own audiobook?
- Many of my colleagues at Orange County Chapter RWA were sharing how well their audiobooks were selling. I had been listening to audiobooks more and more and decided I wanted to produce one, too! But they are a significant financial investment. I had my background in drama and video production and decided why not do it myself? The podcast was a challenge and I found that I loved the entire process. It also helped that at the time I was writing Lost in Whispers, the second novel in the Dori O. series. Narrating Lost in the Light reminded me of details that I’d forgotten!
- What type of narration training have you undergone?
- I’m not a formally trained narrator. But I’ve always been told what a great voice I have, especially when I’ve done readings at bookstores and events. Throughout junior and high school, I minored in drama at the School of Creative and Performing Arts in Chula Vista, CA. I can’t tell you how valuable that training has been in so many aspects of my life from creating characters, understanding body language and vocal tone to speaking to groups.
- How did you prepare to narrate this audiobook?
- I must have read and recorded the first five chapters seven times. But I did it to see if I had what it took, but also to learn the software! I also studied narration, practiced accents and performed daily “workouts” for my voice. It took about six weeks to prepare for the actual recording.
- From your perspective, how does author narration add to the overall listening experience of an audiobook?
- The narration is everything of an audiobook. Remember story time as a kid? If the reader wasn’t into it, you weren’t into it either. Some of my favorite narrators can effortlessly slip into different vocal tones and accents; others do not. But they’re all fascinated by the story – and that’s where the writer has done her bit.
- Was a possible audiobook recording something you were conscious of while writing?
- When I wrote Lost in the Light from 2010-2011, an audiobook wasn’t a blip on the radar. At the time, the goal was to write the book I’d always wanted to write but was too afraid to attempt. Narrating and producing the audiobook was icing on the cake.
- Were there any real-life inspirations behind your writing?
- Well, does it count that I grew up in a haunted house? We lived with the lady who originally built our home. She would turn the lights on and off, slam the doors and once, scared off a couple of guys who broke into our house. I knew she was around when I felt like I wasn’t alone even though I was the only person in the room! She was more like a nosey, shut-in widowed aunt.
- How do you manage to avoid burn-out? What do you do to maintain your enthusiasm for writing?
- I used to be the writer who would not move for hours until I made my word count. It was not pleasant. Now that I manage a small consulting firm, I write in 15-minute intervals for a total one hour and the rest of my day is focused on family, client work, etc. So, you better believe I make that writing hour count!For me, it’s attitude. I think of my books as little worlds where cool people do really cool, crazy stuff. That world is always available when I show up. I have a mantra when family and/or client work take over my life and I get twitchy that I’m not getting words on the page. I say to myself: The world is there. It’s ready for me when I show up.I started doing that five years ago and writing shifted from a chore to a joy.
- Are you an audiobook listener? What about the audiobook format appeals to you?
- I will drive around the block to finish a compelling scene of an audiobook! I love listening to them when driving, knitting or walking. To me, it’s like story time when I was a kid. Also, some audiobooks are more enjoyable than their ebook or print counterpart. I won’t name names but there was a very famous bestseller that I could not get into. But my curiosity won out and I downloaded the audiobook sample. I was hooked by the performances!
- Is there a particular part of this story that you feel is more resonating in the audiobook performance than in the book format?
- I really felt Dori on a deeper level and discovered why she came to me when she did. I was at a low point in my career (long story that I won’t get into) and I started writing the opening scene with her and Grammy at the cemetery. She kicked my behind out the pity party and back to work. Now when I’m faced with a challenge or doubting what I should do next, I think to myself: what would Dori do? While I might not physically take someone down to the ground like she can, I feel a bit more courageous when I imagine her standing next to me with that kick-ass look on her face.
- If you had the power to time travel, would you use it? If yes, when and where would you go?
- After experiencing childbirth, I’m very happy to stay in the 21st century!
- If this title were being made into a TV series or movie, who would you cast to play the primary roles?
- I have no idea! But if it were produced into a TV series – which I’d rather see happen – I would want actors who fall in love with these characters. My favorite part of Game of Thrones is during the credits when it reads: “Based on the novel, A Song of Fire and Ice by George R.R. Martin.” That would be so cool to see one of my books be made into a series people cared about!
- What do you say to those who view listening to audiobooks as “cheating” or as inferior to “real reading”?
- A few years ago, I participated in a local author event at the Orange Public Library. A woman walked up to me, picked up Lost in the Light and said, “I’d never read this book. I hate these kinds of books.” I smiled and said, “Well, you have plenty of other books to choose from today.”
- A year later, I was invited to the same library’s mystery book club and she was there! My first thought was, oh no here we go. But she was the first to raise her hand and she told me how much she loved the story and she couldn’t wait to find out what happened next. I was stunned. I’m sure I had the dumbest look on my face.
- The point of this story is not to react. If they don’t like it now, they might in the future. If I’d been snarky or rude when I first met that lady, she might not have given my book a second chance.
- How did you celebrate after finishing this novel?
- I always celebrate by thanking my characters and then treating myself to a glass of champagne.
- What gets you out of a writing slump? What about a reading slump?
- When the energy of a book is lagging, the story isn’t working. There’s not enough conflict or the emotion is off with the characters. I stop and ask myself why: why is this boring, why are they not getting in bed together, why does this feel forced? For me, the answer is always something in the character. Sometimes the solution appears right away, or the following week when I’m in the shower! I also give myself permission to write out of order. If scene 84 in Act III is really calling me to, I go there.
- I often have reading slumps when I’m deep into writing. So, I read nonfiction that’s related to the story at hand.
- In your opinion, what are the pros and cons of writing a stand-alone novel vs. writing a series?
- The pro of writing a standalone book, which I’ve yet to do except for a few novellas, is that the story is done! But the reason why I’m trapped in the series loop – or, at the very least characters from the book A wind up with their own stories in Books B & C – is that I miss them when it’s over. I want to know more and I hope my readers do, too!
- Do you plan on expanding this series?
- Yes, I published an ebook novella, Girl in the Mist that continues Dori and Gavin’s relationship. Later in October, I will publish Lost in Whispers, book three in the series. I have plans for a spin-off (see, I’ve got seriesitis really bad!) with some of the supporting characters. Those are in the idea stage so I won’t say more.
- Why/How did you decide to write in the Paranormal genre?
- Earlier I mentioned that I grew up in a haunted house. Unfortunately, things got “interesting” when I was 17 years old and doors began opening and slamming shut, lights flashing on and off (we could hear the light switch click) and a voice calling us from the hallway. I contacted all the cemeteries around town and on my third attempt discovered where the previous residents were buried. We took flowers to them and were stunned to see the photos of our lady ghost and her husband on the marker.
- Making that connection between disembodied voices and slamming doors to an actual human being has stayed with me throughout my life. Our ghost left behind three adult children and a sister who couldn’t let her go. I imagine she missed them and maybe she felt some kinship with us because often when my brother and I heard our names being called we may have been sneaking candy in our rooms, or playing when we were supposed to be doing our homework!
- There’s a scene in Lost in the Light when Grammy Cena tells Dori that Vicente appeared to her for a reason; that maybe she should try to help him be free of his purgatory, and thereby free herself. I like to think that when we tracked down our ghost’s resting place, she felt comforted that her humans were looking out for her.
- While I don’t go out of my way to encounter ghosts – you would never find me in a dark house provoking spirits like they do on Ghost Hunters – I respect them. And if you hear a few mysterious noises or wake up to someone by your bed (who isn’t a crazy person!), just do what I do: close your eyes and say, “Please don’t scare me.” It works. Sometimes.
- What other titles/authors in this genre influenced your work?
- I would read Susana Kearsley’s grocery list! I love her paranormal mystery/historical novels and not only read them but also listen to their audiobook counterparts! I had just finished Lost in the Light when I discovered The Winter Sea, and I was thrilled that someone else was also writing modern Gothic novels. Growing up, I loved Victoria Holt and Madeleine Brent novels.
- Have any of your characters ever appeared in your dreams?
- Not directly, but I often to return to a city where my characters live. I walk through their houses or go to the places where they work. I love it when I return to “my town” because that’s when I know I’m deep into the story.
- Have you ever had a paranormal encounter?
- In addition to growing up in a haunted house, I once stayed at a hotel in New York city where we heard a woman call out hello. My mom and I stood at the door to our room about to plug in the key when we heard her call out. We thought it was housekeeping and walked in to find that no one was there.
- What bits of advice would you give to authors wanting to narrate their own work?
- Commit to the process and get over hearing your own voice! I imagine I would’ve finished Lost in the Light audiobook much sooner if I’d invested in a narrator and producer. But I couldn’t help but see if I could pull it off! The process was demanding but I’m an organized person and I kept to my deadlines. I really got into it. I watched videos on accents, especially for the male characters. I didn’t realize that men talk differently than us: their jaws are stiffer and they don’t take big deep breaths like us ladies.
- The only thing I would have done differently is recruit beta listeners. There were some mistakes that I’d missed and while it was embarrassing, ACX was very cool about letting me fix them!
- Do you have any tips for authors going through the process of turning their books into audiobooks?
- Consider that it is a financial investment and don’t just hire anyone to narrate your book. Know your standards and wait for the right one because if a narrator can make you hear your story anew, then they will grab your listeners.
- What’s next for you?
- I’ll be hitting my studio again to record Lost in Whispers. I’m currently putting the finishing touches on Girl in the Mist audiobook and starting in 2018, I’ll be writing the next Dori adventure as well as a paranormal romance series about past lives.
What do you do when a new idea jumps out at you while you’re still working on a book? Do you chase the squirrel (aka “UP syndrome”) or do you finish your current project first?
I always finish the project at hand. If the new idea is meant to become a full-fledged book, it will in its own time. However if I hit a major bump in the road while writing, but I’m really feeling like writing a scene or chapter later in the story, I’ll jump forward. I used to be a stickler for writing in chronological order. It wasn’t fun.
Describe your writing process. Do you outline, plot and plan, or is your writing more organic?
I’ve become more of an outliner, character-designer and plotter. For a new paranormal romance series I’m preparing to write, I created a series bible with a character tree (complete with photos!), bios, book outlines…you name it, the whole world exists in this massive OneNote file. It’s so cool and I really can’t wait to get my hands all grimy and dirty with the actual writing of the series. Yes, things will change. I like to stay open to spontaneity because when I hear a character say, “Uh, no I ain’t doing this. I’m doing that” then I know the story is taking a life of its own. If I’m surprised by something, then I know the reader will be, too.
What are some books or authors that you would recommend to our readers?
I would read Susanna Kearsley’s grocery list! I love her paranormal mystery/historical novels and not only read them but also listen to their audiobook counterparts! I had just finished Lost in the Light when I discovered The Winter Sea, and I was thrilled that someone else was also writing modern Gothic novels. Growing up, I loved Victoria Holt and Madeleine Brent novels.
Tell us what you enjoy most about writing paranormal mystery.
I love watching the story grow from a seed of an idea to a full-blown world with people and their relationships with each other. I like to play with external forces interacting with internal conflicts and vice versa. You know, like real life. Except in my books, characters get a happily-ever-after.
What have you found to be most challenging about writing paranormal mystery?
The challenge or question I continually ask myself when writing paranormal mystery is could this really happen? Even in a fictional world where anything is possible, there have to be laws of gravity. So if people can be trapped in time, are they all sentient or are they residual? What makes a being sentient, where do they go when they’re not interacting with the living but if they’re “around,” aren’t they living too?
Do you identify with your main character or did you create a character that is your opposite?
Dori came to me at the right time and for the right reason. While writing, Lost in the Light I was at a low point in my career (long story that I won’t get into). The opening scene with her and Grammy at the cemetery perfectly capture how I felt about my writing career at the time! But Dori kicked my behind out the pity party and back to work. Now when I’m faced with a challenge or doubting what I should do next, I think to myself: what would Dori do? While I might not physically take someone down to the ground like she can, I feel a bit more courageous when I imagine her standing next to me with that kick-ass look on her face. Meg is who I would love to be if I were more extroverted!.
Describe the book in 10 words or less for people who are just learning about it.
Robbery detective wakes up from gunshot wound, meets ghosts. (Nine words, woo hoo!)
Is there anything you would like people to take away from your book?
I hope they feel the power of self forgiveness. I hope they think that life is much bigger than this physical experience and at the same time, cherish and make the most of this life which truly is an amazing gift we have all received.
What has been the toughest criticism you received as an author? What has been the best compliment?
The toughest criticism comes from people who are angry that I dared to write and publish such a horrible book! I have a few of those reviews. My mom raised me to keep my trap shut when I don’t have something nice to say. There have been best-selling books that I’ve wanted to toss out the window because (a) I didn’t get why it was so popular, and (b) I resented that the author became a multimillionaire for writing crap. Would I write that in an Amazon review? No. I focus on what makes me happy.
The best compliment I ever received was from a breast cancer survivor who read my romantic comedies during her chemo sessions. She said she was laughing out loud and she took the time to thank me for giving her something positive to focus on. I mean, it can’t get much better than that!
What is your favorite line from your book?
“Eighty years is a long time to go without a drink.” When I heard Vicente say that line, I knew I was onto something with the book.
Have you ever experienced writer’s block? How did you deal with it?
Yes and I’m now smart enough (it only took 20+ years of writing!) to recognize it is a sign that the story is not working. I step back and look at my characters and ask: would you really do/say that? Sometimes I know the answer and don’t want to face it. Other times, it takes awhile for the answer to come usually when I’m in the shower and not conveniently next to my notebook or PC! But the answers come. I just have to slow down and listen for them.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I hang out with my family and actually go outside and live life! I knit while they watch their macho man TV shows, hike, garden and when moved, cook elaborate Sunday dinners with dessert.
- Oct. 1st:
- Adventures Thru Wonderland
- Oct. 2nd:
- Dab of Darkness Audiobook Reviews
- Oct. 3rd:
- The Book Junkie Reads . . .
- Oct. 4th:
- Hall Ways Blog
- Oct. 5th:
- Blogger Nicole Reviews
- Oct. 6th:
- Chapter Break
- Oct. 7th:
- The Book Addict’s Reviews
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