Welcome to Clarissa Johal, my fellow author at Musa Publishing, whose novel Between has just been released through Musa’s Thalia imprint!
Congratulations on your new release, Clarissa! Could you start with telling us a bit about your background?
I was born in Los Angeles, California but moved yearly as a child. I’ve lived in several countries and more places than I can count. In school, I studied drama for about seven years, dance for another fifteen, earned a degree in English literature with a minor in anthropology, and somehow ended up in veterinary medicine and zoo-keeping. Go figure. But I’ve always had a passion for writing and story-telling. It was a way to make a connection with other people.
When and how did the writing muse first call you?
I’ve had things published throughout my life, short stories, plays, poetry, articles, but it never occurred to me I could make a career at it until after the birth of my first child. While she nursed or slept in my lap, I wrote. It took me a year to write the first draft of my fantasy PRADEE and another ten years to complete it. Once both my girls were in school, I started the second book in that series. One day, I was hit by two characters that didn’t belong and could not get them out of my head. I ended up setting the series aside and started writing BETWEEN, a story of the paranormal. I had the first draft written in a month and a year later, it was finished. I’ve been pulled into the Otherworld permanently now. I love writing paranormal and horror and the ideas come faster than I can get them down.
I love your novel’s title Between. It immediately raises questions; between who? Between what? And who or what is ‘between’? What inspired your choice of title?
The title represents the main character’s life and situation. Lucinda sees spirits and is essentially caught between two worlds, the spirit realm and the physical. She’s also caught between two men that come into her life. One seems to want to protect her at all costs, which can be a double-edged sword. The other feels dangerous to her, though she’s drawn to him and can’t figure out why. There are circumstances surrounding the two men where the title applies to them as well—but I won’t ruin that for you!
Please don’t! I know you have a keen interest in the paranormal and the spirit world as a writer. Was this interest sparked by personal experiences or has it stemmed from a more general curiosity?
I’ve had personal experiences that I can’t explain. I was raised in a very non-believer household. My mom is an atheist and my father was an agnostic. In university, I took lots of courses in cultural anthropology, mythology and religion and found them fascinating. When it comes down to it—we are a product of not only our upbringing, but our personal experiences. And oftentimes, those experiences are in direct opposition with our upbringing or what society accepts. In BETWEEN, Lucinda says, “I know what I see. I don’t know what I believe,” which pretty much sums it up.
What are your writing plans from here? Do you have more novels in the pipeline?
I’m working on my next novel, a paranormal horror titled STRUCK. I’ve finished the first draft but had to rewrite the ending because my antagonist was having a hissy over it. I plan to have it done by the beginning of next year, if my characters cooperate with me.
by Clarissa Johal
How far would you go to redeem yourself?
As a young girl, Lucinda was able to see spirits, a gift that didn’t come without its problems. Now, a dedicated young veterinarian, she is committed to the idea that every life can be saved.
After a devastating accident, Lucinda tries to escape her past by moving to a small town. There, she meets a newcomer and feels an immediate connection with him. But there is another mysterious stranger to the small town, one that stirs within her a mixture of unease and desire.
As Lucinda is drawn into a bitter tug-a-war from the forces around her, she is likewise pulled into a dangerous twist of past and present events. Forced to make difficult choices, she finds that the two men are locked in not only a battle for her life…but a battle for their salvation.
A young woman stood beside the bed, anguish on her face. She looked vaguely familiar, though Lucinda couldn’t place her. The forgotten colors of her blousy dress had faded into indistinct shades of grey. The woman grasped Lucinda’s hand and pressed a key into it. Lucinda felt the jagged, metal edges pricking her skin. Somewhere in the distance, a car engine roared to life. The woman’s lips moved but the growling engine drowned out all other sound. The sound became louder.
Growling. Darwin was growling.
“Darwin?” Lucinda woke with a start.
The shepherd growled again and hopped off the bed, padding into the living room.
A quiet knock sounded from the front door. Lucinda rolled out of bed to answer it.
Pushing Darwin aside to open the door, she peered sleepily into the moonlit night. A breeze blew across the clearing, stirring the grass. Confused, she shut the door before the breeze could make its way inside.
“Come on back to bed, Darwin. Nobody there.”
As she pulled the blanket up to her chin, the knocking started again.
Lucinda slipped out of bed and walked back into the living room. The sound clearly came from the other side of the door, faint but unmistakable. She slid her hand quietly over the knob. At once, the knocking stopped. Turning the knob slowly, she pulled the door open a crack, heart pounding in her chest.
“Hello?” An icy breeze slipped by her thigh as the scent of ozone assailed her senses. Her heart beat erratically. “Darwin, no!” The dog tried to push past her, growling once more. Rattled, Lucinda closed the door with a bang and locked it.
Lucinda lay in bed and shivered, unable to get warm. A chill slipped under her covers, stealing up her spine. The smell of roses clung to her blanket, the warmth from their scent seemed to be at war with the cold. An hour passed and she finally dropped off to sleep.
For the remainder of the night, the two unseen presences in her room remained at an impasse.
Clarissa Johal has worked as a veterinary assistant, zoo-keeper aide and vegetarian chef. Writing has always been her passion. When she’s not listening to the ghosts in her head, she’s dancing or taking photographs of gargoyles.
Clarissa shares her life with her husband, two daughters and every stray animal that darkens the doorstep. One day, she expects that a wayward troll will wander into her yard, but that hasn’t happened yet.
Thank you for stopping by, Clarissa. All the best for Between…and I expect to see a troll or two strolling (blundering?) through the next one!
You can find out more about Clarissa and her writing here:
Author website: http://clarissajohal.com/
Author Blog: http://clarissajohal.blogspot.com/
Author Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/clarissa.johal.9
Between is available from: