1. What is the first book that made you cry?
The Doll in the Garden.It’s a children’s ghost story and the end scene was heart wrenching.
2. Does writing energize or exhaust you?
They become synonymous. It’s all-consuming to an exhausting degree, but the need to get thoughts on the screen enhances my stamina like a drug. When my muse is in town, I don’t function well outside of the Shattered Lives universe. Years ago, I was balancing college with a 50-hour workweek when an overwhelming wave of inspiration crashed in for the sequel series. It almost destroyed my work ethic, a 3.8 GPA, and my sanity in one fell blow. I think this is why I typically develop writer’s block within 6 to 10 months. Such conditions aren’t sustainable.
3. Why do you write under a pseudonym?
Because of the graphic nature of the books. It centers on a human trafficking organization and an all-male family of patriarchal extremists, so there are a lot of potential triggers. I have a day job and if people in my industry read my books and know they are mine, misconceptions might be formed. Just because I wrote the things that happen does not mean I think the behavior is acceptable, nor does it make them my beliefs. It’s pure fiction that served as an outlet when I needed it most.
4. What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?
I have always over-analyzed words to a degree that is probably unhealthy. About a decade ago, I knew an argument was imminent with a friend who has a reputation of not taking responsibility for their actions. Uncertain of how to handle it, I consulted a friend about my fear that this individual would try to manipulate my words to their advantage. My friend sternly informed me, “If they try to argue the meaning of words with you, they are going to lose.” I’ve thought about that statement a lot over the years.
5. What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching?
The Shattered Lives Chronicles involves a lot of psychology (mostly in books 3 through 5/6), but I have decades of first-hand experience, so it didn’t involve too much research. It’s only if I write something that I harbor doubts on that I’ll do a retroactive fact-check. When I do backcheck for plausibility, it involves a trip down the rabbit holes of conspiracy theory. These always lead to some aspect of the modern-day interpretation of the Illuminati. Yes, I know their real history (which is way more boring than what people think of them these days). No, my books do not contain their theories or ideology, although they are eventually mentioned by a character in a moment of frustration. It’s a nod to the conspiracy theorists and to make fun of myself for spending so many hours on myths about world domination. Also, the internet history on my old computer would probably make me look like a nutjob.
6. Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?
There is at least one foreshadowing and/or Easter egg in almost every chapter of the series. One of these hidden gems is in chapter 8, when Tylar asks Corbin if he used to be a skill trainer.
My favorite obscure gem is in Broken by Blood (book 3), where I have a character who does not speak with contractions and is against the use of ‘superfluous’ body language, such as shrugging, nodding, or shaking their head. It’s just something I didn’t believe the character would do. This individual would view such communication styles as ‘lazy’ and therefore unacceptable
7. What did you edit out of this book?
The funniest edit has to do with the time discrepancy between finishing the story and deciding to publish. I started writing the Shattered Lives Chronicles in 2001 and finished in 2008, which required me to remove all references to flip phones and change the description of TVs and computer monitors to flat screen.
The biggest edit was the name of the human trafficking establishment. It’s modeled after a school, complete with references to ‘proctors’, ‘campus’, ‘recess’, and ‘students’. Originally, I called it Pleasure High. The name of the story actually used to be Pleasure High. When I decided to publish, I split it where I could and rebranded it the Shattered Lives Chronicles. The school remained Pleasure High until several beta readers were like, “Uh, no. That name has got to go.” How I came up with the replacement of Cellar Institute is another story.
8. Shattered Lives is 1 story that had to be split into a 6 book series. Do you have a favorite?
Broken by Blood (book 3), though book 5 takes a close second. Broken by Blood reveals a pretty major story arc, which was exciting and fun to write. It also introduces my favorite character, Kyle. It’s because of Broken by Blood that I am writing another Manning story that takes place 19 years after the series ends. As for book 5, that part of the story is full torture and anguish. But it challenges the true nature of who Corbin, Tylar and Chase really are, and how they have evolved since the opening line of the first book. It also leaves the reader wondering who and what they would become in the wake of everything that happens. By the end of the series, there’s no denying my characters have paid in blood.