by H.L. Cherryholmes
Date of Publication: June 7th 2017
Cover Artist: Keri Knutson
Tagline: A detour down memory lane wakes up the ghosts.
The Book Junkie Reads . . . Interview with H.L. Cherryholmes
What are some of your writing/publishing goals for this year?
To finish the first draft of the current book I’m working on, which is a “bridge” between my fantasy series called “The Lizard Queen” and what comes next.
Do you feel that writing is an ingrained process or just something that flows naturally for you?
Hmm. I guess I would have to say flows naturally. I’ve always considered myself a storyteller and have been doing it for a long time in various forms. I’m always making up stories in my head, even mundane ones like, Why is that guy driving with his windows down when it’s 98 degrees outside?
Do you have a character that you have been working on for a long time that still isn't quite ready, but fills you with excitement to work on the story?
No, but I do have trouble with letting characters go. After I finished my nine-part fantasy series I swear I went into mourning for a month before I remembered that I had set up a way to revisit them, if I wanted to. And I wanted to.
Curtis Aisling has literally dodged a bullet. At least he thinks he has. But he wonders whether that bullet still has it out for him when he leaves his ex-fiancé and Los Angeles behind for Coronado, New Mexico to borrow some much-needed money from his sister.
The small dilapidated desert town of Coronado has exactly one mansion, belonging to 92-year-old Veronica Meeks. Curtis’s sister, Dia, and her partner, Araceli, are Veronica’s live-in caretakers and while they are delighted to have a visitor, Veronica doesn’t even know he’s there.
In the final stages of what the locals call “the reminisce,” she is no longer aware of her surroundings. But when Curtis starts seeing things that no one else does, he’s not convinced that the old, unresponsive woman is as disconnected as everyone thinks. At times what should be empty rooms within the huge house appear filled with furniture, and music emanates from a dusty radio that has been packed away for ages. Tales of Veronica’s associations and connections with the occult lead Curtis to believe she is causing the ghostly occurrences.
But when people begin to appear in those phantom rooms—people from her past including Veronica herself—he’s no longer certain it is her doing. Each vision pulls Curtis further and further back, each one detailing a consequential moment in Veronica’s long life, until he begins to fear he could become lost in her past. And then there’s that bullet…
Dia returned her attention to the old woman and took her bony, veiny hand. “Veronica, honey, this is my brother Curtis. You’ve seen his picture in our bedroom, remember? He came for a visit.” She looked up at Curtis. “Veronica was quite smitten with you the first time she saw your picture. Couldn’t take her eyes off it and she would just smile and smile.”
Curtis knelt next to his sister. Greeting the old woman seemed pointless, since it was obvious by her vacant stare that she wasn’t aware of her surroundings. But his sister was right; introducing himself was the proper way to behave regardless of her condition. “Hello, Miss Meeks. I’m Curtis Aisling.”
The old woman’s wispy gray hair was short and pulled back by small butterfly barrettes. Her thin face was pinkish-white, wrinkled, and haloed with brown age spots. The eyes that seemed to be looking at something no one else could see were a cloudy gray-blue. Her small frame was covered in a clean pink nightgown and she wore blue slippers.
“How old is she?” Curtis asked.
Dia stood up to help Araceli gather the tray with Veronica’s barely touched lunch on it. “Ninety-two.”
Remaining crouched before her, Curtis continued to look at the old woman. He found it difficult to imagine that the slack face in front of him had once been young, but he searched for signs of it anyhow. If there was life in her dull gaze, Curtis was sure he would find it there. A strong hot breeze rattling the palm fronds behind the gazebo hit him in the back. That’s when Veronica blinked and looked right at him.
“Finally,” she whispered.
H.L. Cherryholmes, author of The Lizard Queen Series, The Reminisce, Come Back for Me, and A Slight Touch was born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico but has spent most of his adult life in California. He has a BFA from University of New Mexico and a Master's degree in Playwriting from the University of California, Los Angeles. Currently, he lives in SoCal with his husband, Ron Cogan.