Friday, October 21, 2011

Interview with Gretchen McNeil & Spooktacular Giveaway Hop

Interviewed by JeanBookNerd

Spooktacular Hop October 24th to 31st
and co-hosted by TheDiaryofaBookworm

When the world is wrapped in slumber
And the moon is sailing high
If you peep between the curtains
You'll see witches riding by.

The clock is striking midnight
The witch her spell has cast
All fairies, ghosts and goblins
Will be conjured from the past

If with one puff you blow out the light,
'tis a sign you'll marry this year;
If with two, or three your chance is slight,
And if more, give it up for the night.

I am bobbing for an apple,
A shiny red apple,
I am bobbing for an apple,
But no apple can I get.

Yowling, prowling, growling cat
Why do you switch your tail like that?
Why do your eyes flash gold and green?
Could be--must be--Halloween!

Slinky, inky, blinky cat,
Why do you arch your back like that?
What scary creatures have you seen?
Could be--must be- Halloween!

Oh Boy! Oh Boy!
It's Halloween Night . . .
My, oh my . . .
What an interesting sight!
It's glowing . . . it's gleaming . . .
I think I'm in fright!
It's howling . . . it's leaping . . .
Come share my delight!
by Cissy Ramirez

Trick or Treat! Trick or Treat!
Give me something good to eat.
Give me candy. Give me cake.
Give me something good to take.

We mask our faces
and wear strange hats,
and moan like witches
and screech like cats,
and jump like goblins
and thump like elves,
and almost manage
to scare ourselves!

There's a goblin as green
as a goblin can be.
Who is sitting outside
and is waiting for me.
When he knocked on my door
and said softly, "Come play!"
I answered,"No thank you,
now please,go away!"
But the goblin as green
as a goblin can be.
Is still sitting outside
and is waiting for me.

Just wait until daybreak on Halloween Day,
when you know all the ghouls and ghosts are away.
They hate the daylight, "it's no fun," they say.
So just please, please wait
to Trick or Treat on Halloween Day.

I hope you had enjoyed your journey through The Vintage Halloween Images. 
I had the utmost fun putting it together for all of you.

And now for my BookNerd Halloween Author Interview.

Gretchen McNeil is an opera singer, writer and clown. Her YA horror/paranormal POSSESS debut with Balzer + Bray for HarperCollins, August 23, 2011. Her second novel, TEN – YA horror/suspense about ten teens trapped on a remote island with a serial killer – is tentatively scheduled for a Fall 2012 release. Gretchen is a former coloratura soprano, the voice of Mary on G4's Code Monkeys and she currently sings with the LA-based circus troupe Cirque Berzerk ( Gretchen is also a founding member of the vlog group YARebels ( where she can be seen as "Monday."

Where were you born and where do you call home?

Born in the San Francisco Bay Area, currently residing in Los Angeles.

As a child, what did you want to do when you grow up?

A tap dancer. Then a singer.

What is the name of your most recent book and if you had to sum it up in 30 or less words, what would you say?

My debut novel is called POSSESS and I have the perfect two word pitch: teen exorcist.

What or who inspired you to write? And how long have you been writing?

I've been writing for about four years and I was inspired, oddly enough, by the combination of divorce and Anthony Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential. I have no idea how those two things resulted in YA fiction, but there it is!

How did you come up with the title for your book?

The original title was BANISH but for various reasons we needed to change it. My agent, editor and I brainstormed and POSSESS was the clear winner!

Who designed the cover of your book?

Sarah Hoy, at HarperCollins. I heart her.

If you gave some of your characters an opportunity to speak for themselves, what would they say?

Hector would thank me profusely for writing the choir rehearsal scene because, frankly, he loves to be in the spotlight. But then he'd be pissy because he didn't get enough screen time. Matt would ask me to stop describing his hair as "floppy" and Bridget would just stand there and roll her eyes at me.

What was your favorite chapter to write and why?

My favorite chapter was the aforementioned choir rehearsal scene for two reasons: (a) "Hip Hop Hallujah" and (b) the fact that the mood changes from light to terrifying in an instant.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned in writing Possess?

Process-wise, I think the greatest writing lesson I learned was how to craft a tense, scary scene without dragging the thing on forever.

Do you ever come up with anything so wild that you scare yourself, that leaves you wondering where that came from?

Heh. Yes. I'd tell you but I'm saving that creeptastic idea for a future novel…

What question are you never asked in interviews but wish you were?

I wish someone would ask me about my shoe collection. I could go on and on and on and on and…

Has a review or profile ever changed your perspective on your work?

No. Honestly, there's a point where you have to decide whose opinions to trust on your own work. I have great critique partners, an amazing agent and editor, and I trust that they love my books as much as I do.

How do you feel about the horror boom of the 80’s and early 90’s?

I'm a bigger fan of old school "horror" like The Omen and Rosemary's Baby, and the horror/suspense of Alfred Hitchcock. I think the first Friday the 13th movie was brilliant – and one of the scariest things I've ever seen – but the 80's fad for multiple sequels really made me roll my eyes. I mean, how many Jason, Freddy, Michael Myers and Jaws movies do we really need?

What about the horror genre interests you?

I love crafting a moment in a book where someone actually squeals out loud because they're scared or shocked.

Do you have any fun Halloween experiences you can tell us?

My favorite Halloween was years ago when some friends and I rented out a reconstructed Vaudevillian magic theater and screened one of my favorite movies of all time – Clue. And everyone came dressed as a character from the movie. I was Mrs. White. "Flames, flames from the side of my face. Heaving, breathless, heaving breaths…"

What was the first horror book/story you remember reading?

There's an old story compilation called Scary Stories to Tell In the Dark. I still have all three volumes from when I was a kid.

Are there any tips you would give a book club to better navigate their discussion of your book?

While I'm not particularly religious in any way, I think some discussion of the history of exorcism in the Catholic church – the Rituale Romanum and the St. Benedict Medal in particular – might be helpful.

Any recent appearances that you would like to share with us about/any upcoming ones?

I have just finished a slew of events in California including signings, library events with teens, as a couple of book festivals. Next, I'll be touring in Southern California and New York with Stages on Pages ( in October and November, where our in store appearance will include performances by the authors, including me.

What books have most influenced your life?

Anne of Green Gables, Pride and Prejudice, Little Women – as a kid I read a lot of books with strong female characters and I think they really showed me the kind of woman I wanted to be.

What, in your opinion, are the most important elements of good writing?

There's a great book called Self-Editing for Fiction Writers in which I learned the most important lesson about writing – Resist the urge to explain. That concept single-handedly changed my approach and made me a better writer.

Are you working on any books/projects that you would like to share with us?

My next book is a stand alone horror novel called TEN about ten teens trapped on an island with a serial killer, scheduled for Fall 2012 from Balzer + Bray. After that, super secret project…

What are you reading now?

Wildefire by Karsten Knight and Towards Zero by Agatha Christie

White wine or red?


Coffee or tea?


Favorite food?

Is champagne a food? Good. Champagne.


Fifteen-year-old Bridget Liu just wants to be left alone: by her mom, by the cute son of a local police sergeant, and by the eerie voices she can suddenly and inexplicably hear. Unfortunately for Bridget, it turns out the voices are demons – and Bridget has the rare ability to banish them back to whatever hell they came from.

Terrified to tell people about her new power, Bridget confides in a local priest who enlists her help in increasingly dangerous cases of demonic possession. But just as she is starting to come to terms with her new power, Bridget receives a startling message from one of the demons. Now Bridget must unlock the secret to the demons' plan before someone close to her winds up dead – or worse, the human vessel of a demon king.

When I came upon Gretchen McNeil’s Possess, I was immediately drawn by its cover. It led me to believe that it would be a dark and creepy adventure and it couldn’t be truer as I got myself in between the pages. All of my expectations from this genre as most paranormal YA is normally dominated by vampires, faeries, angels, ghosts, and witches were absent. It was entirely different than what I thought it was going to be. Possessions by demons are not new but very refreshing with the current fad of today’s paranormal YA. I am happy it turned out that way because I absolutely loved it. 

The main character, Bridget Liu, is very likeable and just seems normal.  McNeil created this character perfectly as she is very easy to relate to. The book progresses emotionally without being over-the-top. Although Bridget experiences inner turmoil as she discovers all of the secrets of her past, she was not portrayed as being too much of a depressed character. 

Although there are scenes of exorcising demons and other dark events, the story is more about Bridget’s great effort of figuring out who she is, and what her new powers meant. I absolutely loved the adventure that Bridget takes you on as she ultimately meets her faith and becomes who she was meant to be. Her journey to discovering all of the secrets of her past is just half of the excitement. 

All of the ingredients of this book were a perfect combination. The plot was mysterious and it progressed quickly. Elements of intense creepiness and suspense only helped to how awesome the story was. The book was so creepy that there were times I had stop reading to remind myself that it was just a story. As soon as I realized it wasn’t real, I immediately placed myself back into the story because every page was entirely captivating. 

Gretchen McNeil’s story-telling is absolutely amazing and I recommend Possess to anyone that likes creepiness in YA. It has everything that will satisfy all audiences. Possessions, murder, mysteries, and hidden family secrets are all there. And let’s not forget that it also has romance. If you enjoy reading creepy books and tired of your average paranormal book, Possess will not disappoint you.

You can purchase Possess at these following retailers.
Click LINKS below:

Have you read Possess? If not, please JOIN US for our Halloween BNC (BookNerd Choice). >>>CLICK HERE<<<
Every participant will receive a Bridget Liu Bookmark.

And now, the giveaways!!

1 Signed copy of Possess by Gretchen McNeil
1 Signed Possess Bookmark
4 Possess Tattoo
3 Signed Bridget Liu Art Bookmarks by James Vallesteros
3 Bridget Liu Super Sized Art Bookmarks by James Vallesteros
*Please Thank the Artist James Vallesteros for his Donations*
Click the Links Below:

More Awesome Giveaways
Gretchen and I also chose 3 more Signed Bookmark by Gretchen McNeil & 3 Bridget Liu Art Bookmarks by James Vallesteroswinners for Possess by Gretchen McNeil Giveaway:
Possess Bookmarks
Martina Koleva

Bridget Liu Bookmarks:
Mary Ellen Thompson

Email me:


  1. Once when i was a child, i woke up ina silent house, nobody was there....i was terrified ( i was so young^^;;)
    In fact there has been an car crash in front of the house and my father as a secourist when to help with my mother ^^;;

    i thought they disappared ^^

    thanks for this giveaway ( international i hope)

  2. i was sleeping, was 5 /woke up/did n't c my parents/was scaried as heck/was late/tough they been abducted by emails{crazy imagination) there at the american neighbours /they werre cool kind ppl,moed aftr 3 yrs

    thanks for this giveaway ( international i hope)

  3. Hmmmm my scariest moment.....ummm.....when I was 15, on halloween, me and my friends decided to play hide'n'seek in an abandoned house. They all knew how scared I was and that I'm scared of the dark too. It was their time to hide, so I covered my eyes to count. What I didn't know was that they all went outside and left me in there alone. So when I was looking for them, I heard all these creepy noises and as I have a bit of an overactive imagination, I completely lost it ans screamed the place down lol until they had to come in and get me. They still tease me about it lol

    I loved the interview and the review!! I really need to read this book, its been on my TBR pile since I saw it on goodreads =)

    Thanks for the giveaway =)

  4. My scariest moment would be when im having a nightmare where i see everything thats going on around me but i cannot move..i wanted to speak, to scream, to move but my body is cannot. It happened to me a lot of times already! One i cannot forget was when i slept in the hospital with my mom. A cousin of mine was confined. I fell asleep on one of the beds. Then i opened my eyes, saw my mom sitting beside the bedside of my cousin. I was trying to call her but my no voice was coming from my mouth.Cant even move. i tried and tried but no luck! Then i woke up panting! i was so tired and sweating. I opened my eyes and saw my mom the same position i saw in my nigtmare and i told my mom what happened!

    Now im scared. lol!hope i dont get nigtmares tonight!
    Tanks for the giveaway Jean! And nice interview! Another author added to my list!


  5. Hi!
    hummm one of my scariest moment was when I got lost in the wood. I was like 12 years old and I told my parents that I went for a walk and I got lost in the wood near the lodge. When I couldn't find my way back I started to scream and cry! I was so scare that I never see my parents again! Finally I heard my daddy's voice (screaming my name to help me find my way) and after a few minutes I could see him: the look on his face.... I think he was as scare as I was!


  6. My scariest moment was when I recently went to see Paranormal Activity 3. That scared the crap out of me! I was freaking out all night long and could barely sleep! Films rarely scare me but this was freaked me out! Ha does that count? :)

  7. While I was taking night photos of lights, and I was checking to see if I should delete some stuff for space, I saw that the photos were very strange, so I went home directly and uploaded the photos, only to see a glowing ghost of a girl and a message in every photo with words I couldn't understand. I was freaked out all night, especially when I looked through old newspapers to find that a girl who looks like the ghost girl died in that street 5 years ago!! Freaky or what?!

    And I would love to get an autographed copy of Possess!! :)

  8. My scariest moments was watching Poltergeist. I was in high school and I had to sleep with my mom that night because I was so friggin' scared. I will never watch another scary movie because of that!


  9. hmmmm i scare myself on a regular basis lol.
    i think the scariest moment has to be when i was a kid and i walked into our bathroom and saw the ghost of an old solider, its the one and only time i saw him and it scared the crap out of me
    thanks for the contest

  10. Well my scariest moment would be when I watched the Exorcism of Emily Rose.Man!! it scared the crap out of me.I wasn't able to sleep that night.

  11. Mostly in dreams, dont know why but sometimes happens that i want to open my eyes but i cant then, the panic starts, my heart bit goes crazy, i want to scream, and i cant either! it feels horrible, like your death alive! it had happen to me tones of times, and everytime i cant wake up quicky, I pray!
    Thanks for the giveaway! :)


  12. OMG I've wanted this book so bad! I didn't know she sang!! I like your(eating)habbits Gretchen lol!
    thanks Jean for the awesome interview!and review, had so much fun!
    ~sigh~ my life is boring in the scary department...though I do have to tell you...waking up one day without knowing where the H*** I was, was scary...then I remembered I crashed at my grams and was in her bed ^-^ hehe
    thanks for the giveaway also!!

  13. Omg!! I can't wait for this book to get here!!! I am dying to read it!! Great interview as well! I liked some of your answers Gretchen! :D

    Me and my fiancee went to a haunted house yesterday... it was so much fun! I was so scared when we went in lol but it was so awesome and fun! There was an asylum and zombie paintball too!
    Hope to do it again next year :)

    Thanks for this amazing giveaway too!!
    Good luck everyone!!!

  14. This comment has been removed by the author.

  15. My scariest moment is when a group of friends and I went on a ghost hunt at a local penitentiary, and we heard voices and door slams from the room right next to us when there was no one there.

  16. When I saw the A Nightmare on Elm Street I was very little and I still remember I could not sleep for a days. I saw Fred Krueger everywhere.
    Now I am afraid anytime I'm near to insects, I think that happen to me a heart attack.

  17. Hi Jean...another great giveaway missy!...well lets see, scariest moment for me? hmmm....when I saw Halloween. Jeez, I'm still can't look at those movies without having nightmares.

  18. My scariest moment was when I watched Chucky. I'm a scaredy-cat, and I'm easily frightened.

    aikychien at yahoo dot com

  19. My scariest moment was when I got a phone call in the middle of the night of someone yelling nonsense at me.

  20. Scariest moment that I can remember is when I was like 9 and my best friend and I thought we would play ouija. Five minutes in my room got super cold and my mobile on my light started spinning super fast. Needles to say we slept in my living room!!
    Thank you once again for the amazing prizes (you always have the most amazing)!! Also once again I am amazed with James Vallesteros book marks. They are extremely well done as usual!

  21. Look up 'the slender man'. My scariest moment in recent years was when for some reason I became convinced that he was in my attic with me! It was just one of those instant feelings where you can't control your reaction before your brain kicks in!

  22. I never really had those kind of scarey moments. I live on a large farm, so going out in the woods, and dark were a very occurring thing for me... Hmmm, however, I have had scares when birds fly at my head in the dark, or one of the farm animals comes out from behind a tree, or once when I was chased by a crazed oppossum. hahaha :)

  23. hmm I'm not sure if is scariest moment, but one time at night my brother enter my bedroom and I didn't hear him until he talks to me, he scared the hell out of me.

  24. My scariest moment was going to the Barn of Horrors. At the very end of it it's really dark and you have to feel your way out for a few seconds. Suddenly the barn doors burst open and by the farthest door is a guy holding a fake chainsaw. He's supposed to be Leatherface and he chases you with it out of the barn

  25. thinking that I lost someone dear to me [kidnapin,etc]

    finally found him safe though


  26. My scariest moment was when I went to a Halloween Horror Nights with my mom at Universal Studios and it was CRAZY scary!!

    I LOVE THE interview it was awesome!!! Great Job girls!!;)


  27. Dolls like the ones Mary Shaw had in Dead Silence movie. And i Clowns scare me..I think theyre creepy!
    Tanks for the interview and giveaway Jean!


  28. My scariest moment was when I came home from school to find no one there except some strange man sitting on the porch. I was in the 3rd grade..i took off running down the road(we lived in the boonies)to a neighbors house and as it turned out..he was a friend of my dads and was there to get me because my dad had been hurt....At least I knew to run!


  29. My scariest moment was being lost in the woods, trying to find my friends and a party. I was late due to a flat tire and without a flashlight. Luckily it didn't take me too long to fnd them, but I was petrified for a good while, walking through the dark trees.

    I just read my library's copy of Posssess this past weekend and loved it!! Happy Halloween :)


  30. Ahhh that would have to be when I lived in 817 Barn st in Jacksonville NC....That house i swear was haunted....doors opened and shut by themselves, the lights did their own thing...and the screaming...the neighbors used to call the cops thinking something happened to one of us...and we weren't even home!!!I was so freaking happy to move from that place!!!!

  31. Scariest moment. When my niece got rushed to the hospital.

  32. Spookiest moment was when my husband and I were watching The Strangers, we ended up turning it off probably half way through and went to bed. That night our doorbell rang at 4AM just like in the movie!

  33. My spookiest moment was when I saw feet walking in the reflection in the glass of my fireplace doors!

    Thank you for the giveaway!!

  34. Scariest moment would have to be after watching a scary movie as a child( can't even remember the name of the movie, just the terror that followed) then thinking as I tried to sleep that either I was going to get taken or attacked. Let's just say the lights had to stay on for awhile after that.
    Thanks so much for the awesome giveaway!

  35. When I was about 9 years old, I was bitten by a dog. But that was my own fault, I shouldn't have tried to stroke an unfamiliar dog, he was simply scared of me.

  36. One of my scariest moments was when I lived in an English Basement, there was backyard but no real easy access to it. The bedroom had a door that lead out to the yard and the bed was right by the door. So I was home alone, my husband was in Nicaragua for work, and all of a sudden clear as day right by the door someone said Hello. I was so scared I didn't know what to do. I freaked out an called my husband in Nicaragua and of course his response was, "well what do you want me to do about it?"

  37. I don't know if this counts or not, but I was originally going to spend the night next door at a friend's house when I was a lot younger and she and I decided to come back to my house for the night for some reason or another. To save a long story, about a few hours later her house burned down. So, I guess it was a good thing that she and I decided to not stay over there. lol.

    Suz @ A Soul Unsung

  38. When I was 15 years old, I got mugged, he took all my jewelry I recieved at my 15 birthday party. :(

  39. I guess my "scariest" moment would have to be when my newborn was asleep in his crib and I was in the livingroom watching TV alone, a voice came over the baby monitor saying " Dont touch him, you will wake him up"... Yes, I like to have broke my neck getting to the nursery just to find a sleeping baby all alone.

  40. My unsettling moment would be when I continued to live in a house someone had just died in. It always felt like someone was watching me. Freaked me out.

    Great interview.


  41. Funny you should ask about scary memories. Tonight I added one to my long list of being really scared. I was in the basement (three corridors all dark and scary with lots of doors) of our building because I needed something and just as I was locking our door on my way out and some strange squeaky noise came from somewhere, like a door. I did my best to lock the door and got out of there as soon as possible. Lets just say that I'm not going down there alone anytime soon!!!
    Thank you for the great giveaway (I hope it's international!)

  42. One of the scariest moments that just popped into my head was when I heard my Husbands dead father whistling. He died on our farm from a tractor roll over and on the 1 yr anniversary I was home alone and heard him whistle really loud. Hubby later told me that his dad would do that when he needed him. weird.

  43. My Mother was gone when I woke up one morning. No one would tell me where she was. 6 days later she came back - with the spawn of the Devil. A new baby brother.


  44. My scariest moment is being at work with a crazy person. Thanks
    GFC holly wright
    Hollybwright atcomcastdotnet

  45. My scariest moment is back in my teenage years when I felt someone shaking my body in the middle of the night, but I didn't see who since I had my head under the covers. In the morning, I asked my family but they said they didn't do it! I freaked out!

  46. My scariest recent moment was when my husband was in a car accident. He called me from a borrowed cell phone from the scene and didn't sound like himself. He said he was in an accident but he was mostly all right. Then he said "The ambulance is here, I have to go". I didn't here anything else for almost an hour. I didn't even know where he was or where the ambulance took him. Very Scary. He was bumped up but not seriously hurt so it all worked out but it was very frightening.

  47. My scariest moment was waking up and thinking that spiders were crawling under my sheets. I had to strip and search the bed before I could sleep again.

    Thanks for the giveaway!

  48. Scariest moment was lying in my bath and a spider fell in beside me... eeeeek

  49. Great giveaway!! My scariest moment for me isn't anything spooky, but it was the time my oldest, when he was two, took off and hid in the racks at the mall. He thought it was funny, but I thought someone had taken him. I had never been so scared in my life

  50. dayle b at telus dot net
    thanks for the spooky giveaway blog hop
    Just love the Halloween pics that you
    have on your unique and well designed site.
    My scary moment is when my sons scared me
    when then jump out of the bush in a dark
    night walk.

  51. My scariest moment was when I was a teenager and my friends and I went to take a walk through the forest at night. After a few minutes, we thought someone was following us so we started running like crazy.


  52. I've had multiple scary moments in my life... my Mum says even as an infant I had weird things happen around me all the time (strange I know). I don't really want to mention anything specific, but I do scare pretty easy now. lol Thanks for the giveaway!

  53. Thank you Jean :) I just got my bookmark! Check my blog: