It is a pleasure to have Karen Vance Hammond as my feature author today – bestselling author of the paranormal fiction book titled Shoe Marks.
Ms. Hammond is giving away a paperback print copy of Shoe Marks to one lucky reader. For details on how you can win, please read all the way to the bottom of this post.
Now I’m not one to hog the spotlight, so let’s jump into this interview!
Q: I have to ask this question, Karen, and I'm sure that many have asked the same one: Did you ever have any doubts that you could write a novel being diagnosed with dyslexia and a reading disability?
Karen: Of course, I had my doubts. You have to understand I failed the first, second, and third grade. I could not even write my name, read, or spell correctly. Children were reading Dr. Seuss books, Dick and Jane, and Where The Wild Things Are, I could not even do that. My parents placed me in a special elementary school that had a learning center. From that moment on, I was placed in special education classes including college. The college that I went to, University of the Ozarks had a special learning center. So you better believe I had my doubts. I questioned if I could even be a writer. But I knew that if I didn't try the answer was always going to be a 'no.'
Q: How did you know that you found your calling?
Karen: It only took me six weeks to write the first draft of Shoe Marks. I fell head over heels in love with the craft of writing. I could lose myself in the characters, as they become family to me. I knew right then that this is the career I was meant to do.
Q: When did you find out that you were a number one bestseller?
Karen: I found out on a Saturday afternoon. Shoe Marks had not been on the market for a whole year. I walked around the house crying. I couldn't believe it. I wish my special education teachers and parents could see this. Very soon, I'm going to go to my parents’ grave and tell them all about it.
Q: I understand that Shoe Marks is now in select local middle and high school library shelves across the United States.
Karen: Yes it is! It is also in Florida classrooms as well as classrooms in the country of Japan. Young people and adults are crazy over Shoe Marks. They can't get enough of it. So many readers have asked me if I'm going to write a sequel. I must tell you, I am definitely considering it.
Q: I understand sci-fi channel’s Ghost Hunters affiliates have endorsed Shoe Marks along with Peace River Ghost Trackers in Florida. Can you tell us who else has endorsed Shoe Marks?
Karen: Neal parks, Paranormal TV Network with Bob Kelly and Ian Hicken, Deborah Perkins Paranormal Radio Show, USA paranormal Radio, Kevin Smith from the Kevin Smith show, Texas Book Reviews from Jeanette Ramsey, and the list goes on. If you go to my website which is www.KarenVanceHammond.com you will see other endorsements as well.
Q: Okay, let's get into the meat of Shoe Marks. I'm sure that readers want to know how you came to write this incredible true story.
Karen: A few years ago, I was having coffee at Starbucks with a friend of mine named Jennifer. She and I were sharing events about our lives. That is when she relayed to me that her father who was wounded in operation market garden and at Utah Beach in World War II bought a Texas Homestead that had horrific paranormal activity and it. I have to tell you, I was very intrigued by this story. This is not your everyday paranormal activity where you just lay in the bed with a camera waiting for something to happen. It took me two years of investigating, research, and spending time in the famous Horton House. My goal was to get the story right. After the manuscript was finished, I took the third draft of Shoe Marks to Jennifer. With tears rolling down her eyes she said, "Karen, you have it right. This is what happened."
Q: What was some of the paranormal activity that was going on in the house?
Karen: Footsteps, balls bouncing, chandelier swaying, cold and hot spots. One of the events that I have clearly written in the book is where Jennifer's mother Laura, who was pregnant at the time with Jennifer’s baby brother, went down the stairs, flicked on the light switch, and let out the most horrific scream. Right there in front of her pots, pans, dishes, silverware, were scattered all over the kitchen. The cupboards were open and the stove was red-hot. Another time after Jennifer's baby brother was born, her mother walked into the nursery and found her six month old suspended in air in front of a movie rocking chair. I actually got to see this chair and sit in it.
Q: How did you come up with the title Shoe Marks? I understand it has significance.
Karen: You've heard of walls bleeding. I'm sure that those that have seen A Haunting the television show, they know what I'm talking about. Paranormal investigators all over the world have experienced this type of phenomenon. In Shoe Marks when Maggie Horton succumbed to her untimely death, she left behind her shoe marks in the wooden plank floor in the house. To this day when there is paranormal activity the Shoe Marks bleed. When I investigated the home, and when I saw the shoe marks, I felt like I needed to have a minute of silence.
Q: Jennifer's father, Jeremy Stone, plays an important role in Shoe Marks. Can you tell us more about that please?
Karen: Sure. I did feel that it was very important to add the fact that Jeremy Stone had just returned from World War II in England. Not only was he dealing with daily post-traumatic stress disorder and terrifying paranormal activity, but he was also a new daddy. So, he had multiple things to deal with all at the same time. Back in World War II in the 1940s people here in the United States were encouraged to have what is called 'Victory Gardens' because was there so much rationing in World War II. Jennifer's father Jeremy, while digging the victory garden, once again lost himself in the war and accidently dug a foxhole 6 feet deep in their yard. When he came to reality, he found Maggie Horton's bones in the hole. I have this depicted in the book.
Q: How did Maggie Horton die?
Karen: According to the generations of people that have lived in the small town of Ellenvsville, Texas, the town's people knew very well of the Horton house. James Horton, Maggie's husband, homesteaded this piece of land and built his house from the ground up. He was also known to have a hellacious temper. Anything would set him off. After Maggie had her firstborn son, three days later she was dead. Her husband told everybody that she died from dehydration and exhaustion, which was a downright lie. After the funeral, Jeremy Horton gave his baby son to the neighbors and he left the Horton house leaving everything behind.
Q: Now that Shoe Marks is a number one bestseller, have you been contacted by any movie producers or screenwriters?
Karen: Yes I have! I have been contacted by two movie producers and I am waiting to hear from them. I don't know if anything will come of it. But I can tell you, that as we speak Shoe Marks is now being written into a screen play. I pray it is accepted.
Q: Can you tell us what other novels are coming out in the future?
Karen: The Monastery Murders will be available very soon. The sequel Identity will follow along with The Cross Roads, and The Stone. I have multiple contracts through Syenrgebooks.
Q: Where can Shoe Marks be found?
Karen: Shoe Marks, can be found in e-book, paperback, CD-ROM and PDF formats at http://www.synergebooks.com/ebook_shoemarks.html, Amazon, Barnes & Noble.com, fiction wise.com, books on board.com, and all other major online booksellers as well as Baker and Taylor for store distribution.
Q: Do you have a blog?
Karen: Yes I do. If you go to my web page it is under Karen's blog.
Thank you so much, Karen. This has really been a lot of fun. I wish you much success in the future.
Karen: Thank you, it's been a pleasure.
About the Author:
Adopted at birth, Karen Vance Hammond was born with an ear disfigurement and learning disability. In the third grade, she was unable to read and was placed in Barrett Elementary Reading Center in Shreveport, Louisiana. By the time she was eleven, Karen could barely get through an easy reader. Math and science were also difficult. Dyslexic, she was inadequately diagnosed as borderline mildly retarded. In addition, she stuttered horribly, and could barely get through a sentence.
In the fourth grade, Karen went through three grueling surgeries to correct her disfigurement. Tenacious, Karen continued to fight the battle and eventually learned to read, write, and do simple mathematics. Placed in special education classes all her scholastic grammar, middle, and high school years, she graduated in from Southwood High School. Today, special education is now referred to as “content mastery, life skills, or alternative learning.”
Her parents employed at Louisiana Vocational Rehabilitation worked with the disabled. Not wanting her to fail, they too questioned if she could even make it through college. Her peers called her stupid, good for nothing, and slow. Those who knew about her past told her to go find a simple job and be done with it. Karen was not willing to do that. Resilience combined with will power, Karen pressed to go to college. After extensive testing, she was accepted into the University of the Ozarks in Clarksville, Arkansas and The Jones Learning Center. Given the tools, and direction, Karen graduated with a double major in psychology and sociology.
In addition, she was the first Jones Learning Center student to be crowned Miss University of the Ozarks and went on to the Miss Arkansas Pageant where she was one of the top ten in the talent competition. She was a soprano for the Shreveport Opera for several seasons.
* University of the Ozarks is one out of several U.S. universities that provide educational services for those diagnosed with various learning styles.
Not allowing her disability to hamper her love for the written word, Karen questioned if she could write like the pros. After completing her first novel, Shoe Marks, she began to submit her manuscript to agents and reputable publishing companies. With countless rejection letters, Karen was losing all hope that her manuscript would ever be published. After a year, she received a call from the editor at Synergebooks, a traditional eBook and trade paperback publishing company. The editor requested to see the first three chapters. Three weeks later, the editor contacted her again and wanted the rest of her manuscript. Thinking this could be it, Karen waited with much anticipation. Then, on a Monday morning in January, she received yet another phone call; one she never would have imagined. Shoe Marks, a paranormal inspired by true events that took place in Texas was accepted for publication. All the hard work paid off. She owes her reading and writing abilities to the ones that helped her. Never a day goes by that she doesn’t think about Julie Jones, James McCain, Georgina Scott, Helen Hoeffer, Diana McCormick and Betty Robinson and the University of the Ozarks. Shoe Marks is now available in EBook or paperback at Synergebooks.com or at www.karenvancehammond.com, Amazon, B&N, Fiction Wise and Baker and Taylor (whole sale distribution)
Shoe Marks, is now the #1 bestselling title at Synergebooks and Amazon.com.
Her other two novels, The Monastery Murders, and its sequel Identity, (court drama, mystery, paranormal and romance) will be available in the near future through Synergebooks. Currently, she is writing Surfside Erosion, and The Cross Roads Trilogy. Karen has started her own biography entitled Karen’s Story.
Not only is Karen a published author, but a public speaker and motivator. She speaks to public and private school students, universities and or colleges. She encourages others who have learning disabilities or alternative learning styles to never, ever quit. Those who listen will be touched! To contact for her for a speaking engagement please visit her website at www.karenvancehammond.com or karenvancehammond@yahoo. You may also reach her at 713-376-1550.
* * * * GIVE AWAY!!! * * * *
The Winner is...Peggy Sharp!!!
Congtrats, Peggy! Please email me at
with your mail address
so that I may foreword it to Karren. :)
Thanks everyone for stopping by
and supporting our guest author.