Author Ann Gimpel discusses one of her favorite reviews, why her background in mountaineering has been important, and her Transformation Series.
Tell us a little about your Transformation series.
The Transformation Series is about a Jungian analyst and her British flight attendant boyfriend, Trevor. Like many psychologists, Lara is quite the introvert and doesn’t spend much time attending to current events. Trevor, on the other hand, is worried. Frequent power outages and sharply escalating food and fuel prices have him convinced things are going to hell. Lara has always had “the sight”. It allows her to read auras and she sometimes has visions of future events. Ambivalent about her magic, she’s forced to come to an uneasy détente with it after one of her patients targets her for death.
I named the series because analysts say we transform our inner selves through the process of analysis. It’s not analysis, but events spinning out of control that transform Lara and Trevor. Celtic magic and the Sidhe play a role as do demons that are out to drain Lara’s power. In some ways, this is urban/paranormal fantasy. In others, it’s a romance, but without a Happy Ever After ending.
Do you base any of your writing on your own experiences?
Oh my, yes. One of my favorite reviews of Psyche’s Prophecy likened it to In Therapy. The reviewer actually said he felt as if he could be a therapist from my descriptions. For the first two books of this series, there are many scenes that I needed my psychology training to write and have them ring true. There are a few other chapters that draw on mythology and archetypes, which were part of my Jungian training.
And on a general level, I believe that sitting across from patients for many years has helped me understand how human beings tick, what they want, and why we can be so resistant to change.
On an unrelated note, several of my short stories take place in the backcountry. My background in mountaineering has come in handy for those.
Which character was the most fun to write?
I think Lillian. She’s a take-no-prisoners Sidhe, steeped in Celtic magic who sort of adopts Lara as the daughter she never had. Lillian is practical and crusty and ever so stubborn.
When naming the characters, did you give any thought to the meanings behind their names?
Well, I wanted a British name for Trevor, and a Celtic one for Lara. Raven, Gren and Elidora are named after obscure Celtic gods. So, I guess the answer to your question is yes. In another novel, I actually changed the protagonist’s name after writing 100K words. Her original name just wasn’t right, and the new one, Aislinn, was perfect. Character names are really important. I think they help readers resonate with the character and his/her core values.
Is there an underlying message in the series that you hope readers grasp?
Uh, yes, there are actually several. In some sense, to voice them would be to direct how people read, though. I think people will have different take-home messages from these three books and I’d rather not taint anyone’s perception with my suggestions.
Are you working on any other projects?
Yes, I have two other novels making the rounds hunting for a publisher. Both made it past the “first round” in a couple of places, so I’m waiting patiently. I also started writing paranormal romance novellas and have two coming out from Liquid Silver Books before the end of this year. Then there are always my sort stories. I like them because they allow me to experiment with things like hard SF. To find out where to find my short fiction, check my blog or my website.
What is your ideal writing environment?
Either sitting on the couch with my laptop in the living room, or at my desktop in the upstairs study. I also get a lot of writing done when my husband and I are on the road with our motorhome.
Do you prefer to plot out your story or see where your characters lead you?
I usually begin with a scene or two in my mind an then I let the characters dictate where the story goes. I write until my brain is empty, then I go for a hike (or a ski in winter) and the next few scenes just sort of show up. It’s a fascinating process.
What are your thoughts on self-publishing vs. traditional publishing?
I haven’t gone the self-pub route, but I can see some advantages like total control of the product. I think trad publishers are scrambling. The Big Six are all adding digital lines.
Basically, I think there’s a place for all types of publishing. For me, by the time I paid a copy editor, cover artist and someone to do the set up for all the e-formats and the print format, I’m money ahead to have a publisher. For others who aren’t quite so technologically challenged, self-publishing is probably right for them. The only funds they’d have to put up would be for copy editing. (Btw, having a good copy editor is crucial. I write for several publishers, so my stories go through lots of sets of eyes. And I still find mistakes in the final pdf after the ms has passed back and forth amongst us for weeks. I think error-free manuscripts probably aren’t possible, but it’s good to aim for that.)
What is something people would be surprised to know about you?
I love packing up my backpack and heading out for long trips in the backcountry. My best stories come to me during long, solitary hours being overawed by mountain scenery.
About Psyche’s Prophecy (Transformation Series #1)
What if your psychotherapist could really see into your soul? Picture all those secrets lying hidden, perhaps squirming a bit, just out of view. Would you invite your analyst to take a peek behind that gossamer curtain? Read your aura? Scry your future…?
Classically trained at the Jung Institute in Zurich, Doctor Lara McInnis has a special gift that helps her with her patients. Born with “the sight” she can read auras, while flirting with a somewhat elusive ability to foretell the future. Lara becomes alarmed when several of her patients—and a student or two—tell her about the same cataclysmic dream.
Reaching out to the Institute for answers, Lara’s paranormal ability sounds a sharp warning and she runs up hard against a dead end. Her search for assistance leads her to a Sidhe and ancient Celtic rituals blaze their way into her life. Complicating the picture is a deranged patient who’s been hell bent on destroying Lara ever since she tried to help his abused wife, a boyfriend with a long-buried secret and a society that’s crumbling to dust as shortages of everything from electricity to food escalate.
About Psyche’s Search (Transformation Series #2)
Born with the sight, Laura McInnis is ambivalent about her paranormal ability. Oh it’s useful enough some of the time with her psychotherapy patients. But mostly it’s an embarrassment and an inconvenience—especially when her visions drag her to other worlds. Or into Goblin dens. In spite of escalating violence, incipient food shortages and frequent power blackouts, Lara is still far too attached to the comfortable life she shares with her boyfriend, Trevor, a flight attendant who lost his job when aviation fuel got so expensive—and so scarce—his airline went out of business. Forced to seek assistance to hone her unusual abilities in Psyche’s Prophecy, Book I of this series, Lara is still quite the neophyte in terms of either summoning or bending her magic to do much of anything.
Reluctantly roped into channeling her unpredictable psychic talents to help a detective who saved her from a psychopathic killer, Lara soon finds herself stranded in the murky underbelly of a world inhabited by demons. The Sidhe offer hope, but they are so high-handed Lara stubbornly resists their suggestions. Riots, death on all sides, a mysterious accident and one particular demon targeting her, push Lara to make some hard decisions. When all seems lost, the Dreaming, nestled in the heart of Celtic magic, calls out to her.
About Psyche’s Promise (Transformation Series #3)
The Transformation Series is about finding out who we truly are when the chips are down. About what is real and what is illusory. About what matters and what doesn’t. It’s easy to show our best side when everything is going well. How about when the world is disintegrating around us? What happens then?
In this final book of the Transformation Series, Lara and Trevor’s relationship undergoes stresses that threaten to annihilate them. Constantly hungry, besieged by dark forces, they need every resource they’ve developed as a couple to keep from ripping each other apart. With Lillian and Raven— two ancient Celtic Sidhe— off fighting their own war against Goblin hordes, Lara has only herself and her half-baked magic standing between survival and certain death for herself, her love and their child.
The remote location that was supposed to solve all Lara and Trevor’s problems has done anything but. Though she works diligently, Lara’s crash course in magic proves woefully inadequate. When Trevor is captured by demons, Lara curses her decision to leave Seattle. “If only I’d known,” she cries, convinced she can’t go back. Or can she?
About the Author
Ann Gimpel is a clinical psychologist, with a Jungian bent. Avocations include mountaineering, skiing, wilderness photography and, of course, writing. A lifelong aficionado of the unusual, she began writing speculative fiction a few years ago. Since then her short fiction has appeared in a number of webzines and anthologies and she has published three novels, Psyche’s Prophecy, Psyche’s Search and Psyche’s Promise. A husband, grown children, grandchildren and three wolf hybrids round out her family.