Blog Tour: A Hidden Element by Donna Galanti

A Hidden Element 2A secret commune is ripe ground for character conflict, and it’s a setting that’s been getting a lot of interest by agents on #MSWL lately. Donna Galanti is already there. She’s with us discussing her second book in the Element Trilogy, A Hidden Element.


Evil lurks within…
When Caleb Madroc is used against his will as part of his father’s plan to breed a secret community and infiltrate society with their unique powers, he vows to save his oppressed people and the two children kept from him. Seven years later, Laura and Ben Fieldstone’s son is abducted, and they are forced to trust a madman’s son who puts his life on the line to save them all. The enemy’s desire to own them—or destroy them—leads to a survival showdown. Laura and Ben must risk everything to defeat a new nemesis that wants to rule the world with their son, and Caleb may be their only hope—if he survives. But must he sacrifice what he most desires to do so?


From the synopsis, I can tell this is an exciting, intriguing world. What more can you tell us about this secret community and the unique powers of the members?

Over the years this secret community hidden deep in the Oregon wilderness has swelled to hundreds, but unrest hides within the compound over forced breeding, communal living, and harsh punishments. And a pilot community amongst the outside world has failed. The community’s leader, Adrian, is driven by his hunger for power to oppress his people and lead them to someday rule Earth. With the community losing faith in Adrian’s leadership many members flee, widening the crack in this insulated compound and opening it to increased dissension–and death.

Tell us a little bit about Caleb. What makes him someone to cheer on in the trilogy?

He is my favorite kind of character, the tormented hero. I fell in love with him while writing him so much so that he became the main character. I loved taking him to the darkest of depths and even there, he still sacrifices his own desires to help others. He has a full heart brimming with love just waiting to be given away, yet has no one to give it to. Caleb lives an oppressed life. He has sons he can’t be a father to, he can’t choose who he loves, and he must carry out despicable acts just to survive. Yet Caleb finds he is pushed to the wall even further and must risk the very things he desires to save those he loves. Caleb is also a Watcher in a way, and Watchers are some of my favorite characters to write. Read an article I wrote about these kind of characters.

Are there any paranormal creatures in this story world?

There are no creatures, but there sure are some paranormal characters with creature-like features! Here are some features of the villain: milky white skin, yellow eyes, bulbous limbs, flattened nose, Neanderthal forehead, and steam shovel mouth.

This is the second book in The Element Trilogy. Second books can be tricky–they’re not the set-up, and they’re not the resolution. What have you done as writer to ensure this book has the momentum to take us from book one to book three?

The story of Ben and Laura’s destined coming together is what propels the Element Trilogy from book 1 and carries it through into book 3. Yet, as new characters come into play and they all re-write their own stories we begin to see that perhaps destiny is not so certain and maybe they will find a way to rewrite their own place in the world, no matter their genes or upbringing– and whatever world they belong to.

Are there elements grafted from multiple genres in this book?

Book 1, A Human Element, has been called a “genre-bending thriller with a huge yearning heart” and likened to the work of Dean Koontz. I am thrilled to be compared to the master of suspense, and especially as Koontz is a genre-breaking writer who blends science fiction, horror, romance, and paranormal all together. The Element Trilogy is, above all, a paranormal series that blends these same genres all together. Reviewers who don’t normally read horror or science fiction have been drawn to book 1 for this very reason, and I hope to book 2, A Hidden Element, as well.

Let’s imagine for a second that each book is a star in the universe. What other books would be in a constellation with yours? What image might they form?

Watchers, Twilight Eyes, The Fun House, and Night Chills all by Dean Koontz. Let The Dead Sleep by Heather Graham. The Stand by Stephen King. They would form a man with his arms stretched outward, ready to claim the world, a knife drawn in his hand to fight any who resist him.

If you could, which paranormal creature would you be for a day and why?

I would love to be a Trickster! They get to pull pranks of people, be hilarious, and just have fun – although they can be evil in their mischief at times, but not intentionally evil. They can also be cunning and foolish all at the same time, and break and bend the rules. I am definitely a non-conformist and all about breaking the rules, so it’s perfect for me!

Whose ghost would you summon if you had the chance and why?

I would love to summon Roald Dahl and have a conversation with him. His books shaped my childhood imagination. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Danny the Champion of the World, Mr. Fantastic Fox, The Story of Henry Sugar…to mention my favorites. I would love to discuss how he wrote them in detail and about his life before he began writing living through years in British boarding schools and war.

What’s your best Halloween costume ever?

In high school I was in love with Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings books. I dressed up as Aragorn ‘Strider’ (or what I envisioned he would look like at the time before the movies!). Of course no one knew who I was in my cape and boots and hidden face. Then there was the time my best friend and I designed our own Alien Siamese Twins costume and were attached at the hip all night!

What are you reading right now?

Dean Koontz: A Writer’s Biography
by my friend, Katherine Ramsland. She lives local to me and her background in psychology enriches this story into more of a psycho-biography. It’s a fascinating look into the life of Koontz. Katherine also wrote the biography for Anne Rice, which is next on my list to read!


Purchase Book 2 in the Element Trilogy, A Hidden Element:

Purchase Book 1 in the Element Trilogy, A Human Element:

About the Author

Donna GalantiDonna Galanti writes murder and mystery with a dash of steam as well as middle grade adventure fiction. She is an International Thriller Writers Debut Author of the paranormal suspense novel A Human Element, A Hidden Element (August 2014), the short story collection The Dark Inside, and Joshua and The Lightning Road (Books 1 and 2, 2015). She’s lived from England as a child, to Hawaii as a U.S. Navy photographer. She now lives in Pennsylvania with her family in an old farmhouse. It has lots of writing nooks, fireplaces, and stink bugs, but she’s still wishing for a castle again—preferably with ghosts.

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Watch or Don’t: The Possession

Some bigger names came together to make The Possession, when it comes to horror, name does not guarantee a quality final product. That’s why it’s a great field for indie filmmakers.


After a recent divorce Clyde (Jeffrey Dean Morgan, a.k.a. John Winchester!) buys his daughter Em (Natasha Calis) a creepy old box at a garage sale. The box contains a demon that possesses her, but Em’s mom Stephanie (Kyra Sedgwick) thinks Em is just depressed from the divorce and eventually, that Clyde is abusing Em. Clyde must call in a rabbi’s son to perform an exorcism (Matisyahu).

Where It Went Wrong

Here’s the deal: I liked the use of a Jewish demon and the conversation about how divorce affects kids, but ultimately the movie was typical. And while this is probably a small detail, Stephanie divorces Clyde because he’s too busy as a basketball coach, but now that they’re divorced he spends quite a bit of time with the girls and seems like an amazing dad. It didn’t add up. The girls weren’t resentful toward him, and there were only one or two scenes of him coaching what looked like a small private college basketball team. Horror hinges on caring about the characters, so when the set-up is suspect, it pulls me out of the story. All I wanted was for everyone to start treating John Winchester with the respect he deserves!

What to Watch Instead

  • The Exorcism
  • Supernatural
  • Evil Dead
  • The Awakening
  • Let the Right One In
  • The Ring
  • The Conjuring
  • 6 Souls
  • The Insidious franchise

Verdict: DON’T WATCH

Watch or Don’t: 13 Sins

13 Sins is a thriller premise in a horror body. The ending was a little underwhelming, but let’s check it out.


Elliott (Mark Webber) has way too much on his plate: unemployment, debt, a wedding, a brother with special needs, and an evicted father. When he receives a text to play a game that will award him with money, he goes for it, but as the tasks demanded by the game grow in cruelty, it becomes harder for him to stop. If he stops early, he’ll lose all the money he’s won and go to jail for his crimes.

Entertainment Value

  • The escalating stakes make you ask what the next sin will be.
  • An empathetic main character. Any one of the financial pressure’s that Elliott faces we could understand. Taken all together, we can’t help but root for him to find freedom.
  • Elliott’s brother, Michael (Devon Graye) has some great one-liners.

Dark Muse Value

The film asks:

  • How does financial obligation shape our concept of freedom?
  • How far would you go for the ones you love?
  • If circumstances can justify crimes, do huge circumstances justify larger crimes?

Verdict: WATCH

Spooky Shot: Monarch Butterfly

On my way to the beach volleyball court the other day, I saw this.

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Yes, this butterfly is dead and half-buried in sand. There has been a significant decrease in the monarch population over the last twenty years, so this was a miserable sight.

But what pushes it towards spooky?

I’m standing on a beach court in the middle of town, straws and cigarette butts littered around the edges. This juxtaposition–city and nature–highlights this corpse. What have we ruined simply by living? What will we regret unwittingly losing? What about the times when we know we’re going to lose something, and we go forward anyway?

Spooky Shot: Isolated Ground

0731141943Over the summer I stayed in a college dorm during a conference. My husband and I quickly moved our mattresses to the floor, because the beds were so awful (it’s amazing what college kids–and what I years ago–considered awesome accommodations). We uncovered this outlet while rearranging the furniture.

These outlets reduce electrical noise, especially in public buildings with lots of electronics, but they are also used in homes. The reason why it’s orange and has a little green triangle on it is to let you know to PROTECT THE OUTLET FROM DANGER. Apparently, the safety record on these dudes is a little lower than your typical outlet.

With that information, let’s wax symbolic, shall we? It’s spooky to be on isolated ground–cut off. The upside is the silence. No noise means contemplation. The downside is you’re alone, and when you’re isolated, there’s no getting away from it.