A 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: http://amzn.to/1zjpIjM
Purchase Book 1 in the Element Trilogy, A Human Element: http://amzn.to/1mNcyCO
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About the Author
Donna 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.