Every October, Teri Polen generously hosts Bad Moon Rising, a series of daily posts featuring horror, sci-fi, and paranormal books from the Indie author community. Teri never includes her own wonderful books in this series and so this year I invited Teri over to Roberta Writes for an Appendix to Bad Moon Rising post featuring her horror novel, Sarah.
Introducing Teri Polen
Thanks so much for hosting me today, Robbie! For those of you not familiar with my blog, throughout the month of October I host Bad Moon Rising, which features a horror, paranormal, supernatural, or thriller indie author daily. Each author completes a short interview with both fun and writing-related questions and chooses one of their books to highlight. When Robbie asked if I’d like to answer my own BMR interview questions, I jumped at the chance—especially since my first book, Sarah, is FREE TODAY ONLY on Amazon!
Sarah is a young adult horror story, but there are also plenty of comedic moments. Two of my friends are very much not horror fans, books or movies, but out of loyalty both read it and survived just fine. Strangly enough, the story was inspired by my black cat, Shadow. We’d just moved into a new house where no one had ever lived, and Shadow would sit at the bottom of the stairs, fur bristling, staring and growling at something we couldn’t see. It got the wheels turning and made me wonder how a house could be haunted if there were no previous occupants. And the story was born from that little nugget. I mentioned Shadow in the acknowledgements and also wrote a black cat, Eby (short for Ebony), into the story. He deserved the credit.
Even if you’re not a horror fan, I hope you’ll take a chance on Sarah and download it for FREE today!
I must add that I have read Sarah and loved it!
What’s your favorite season of American Horror Story?
That’s a difficult question to answer. The first season, Murder House, was a favorite for a couple reasons—I’m a Dylan McDermott fan, and I was stupid excited a show like that was finally on TV. I was skeptical about the addition of Lady Gaga in season five, Hotel, but she did an outstanding job. I adored season eight, Apocalypse, because it brought the witches back into the mix, and Cody Fern gave a mesmerizing performance as Michael Langdon, the antichrist.
If you watch horror movies, are you the person who yells at the characters, covers your eyes, or falls asleep?
I’m definitely the person who yells at the characters over their idiotic actions. Of course it’s a good idea to check out the basement/attic/outside by yourself. Then I usually start laughing and cheering for the villain because the naïve characters got what was coming to them. I’m aware I have a dark, twisty sense of humor that not everyone appreciates.
Do you ever see figures in your peripheral vision?
Yes. Sometimes they’re real. For years (and as recently as last month), hubby or my sons tried to scare me by jumping out of the closet, from behind furniture, etc., but it never worked. I’m not a nervous type of person. Sometimes I see things in my peripheral vision that aren’t my hubby or sons. Who knows what they might be?
If you decided to write a spinoff of a side character, who would you choose?
I didn’t even need to think about this one. It would be Finn, the best friend of my main character, Cain, in Sarah. He’s blatantly honest, eternally loyal, and has a soft spot for Cain’s little sister, Maddie. I also never knew what would come out of his mouth. He was snarky from the beginning and gave me plenty of laughs.
What do you do to get inside your characters’ heads?
Sometimes my characters are pretty forthcoming about who they are and how their minds work. When they’re stubborn, I use a technique I learned at a writer’s retreat. I interview them. It’s surprising what they’ll reveal.
What are you working on now?
I just turned in the sequel to my third book, Subject A36, a young adult sci-fi/dystopia. It’s releasing later than I’d like (May 2022), especially for a sequel, but writing during the pandemic was a struggle for me. I wanted to make sure these characters were able to tell their story. I’ve had another story floating around in my head for the past two years, a YA supernatural/horror, so I’m working on that right now.
Thank you, Teri, for joining in this Appendix to Bad Moon Rising, I really enjoyed your responses to the questions.
Sarah by Teri Polen
Seventeen-year-old horror fan Cain Shannon thought helping a ghost find her killers would be the supernatural adventure of a lifetime. Now, he just hopes to survive long enough to protect his family and friends from her.
A bet between friends goes horribly wrong, resulting in Sarah’s death. When she returns to seek justice against those responsible, Cain agrees to help her. But when he discovers Sarah has been hijacking his body, he realizes she wants retribution instead of justice.
Terrified of what could have happened when he wasn’t in control, Cain commands Sarah to leave his house – but exorcising her isn’t that easy. She retaliates against her murderers in bloody, horrific ways, each death making her stronger, then sets her sights on Cain. With the help of friends, Cain fights to save himself and his loved ones and searches for a way to stop Sarah before she kills again.
Purchase Sarah by Teri Polen
Link to Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Sarah-Teri-Polen-ebook/dp/B01NBIFRF4
My review of Sarah
I listened to the audio book of Sarah by Teri Polen. I thought the reader did a good job and narrated the story at a good pace and with sufficient expression and interest factor to keep the listener engaged.
I thought this book was really creepy. It is a YA book and the characters are all older teenagers which I think worked well for this plot as teenagers, particularly males, do not see risk and are likely to react to situations with a lot more bravado than an adult would in the same circumstances. The almost underhanded and devious way the ghost of Sarah, a murdered school girl, introduces herself to Cain, a jock with a kind heart, lets you know in a subtle way right up front that this is not a particularly friendly ghost and that there is more to her than initially meets the eye.
Cain has assumed the role of man of the house after the death of his father and is protective of his Mother and much younger sister. His compassion, youth and naivety does not stand him good stead in identifying the potential threat posed by Sarah although, as he finds out more about her death, he gradually realises that she is after retribution against her killers and is not looking for help to move on from her current status.
The author’s descriptions of Sarah as she becomes more and more evil and travels further down the path of revenge are very vivid and disturbing. Sarah’s evil thoughts and deeds are reflected in her ghostly face and form.
Fortunately for Cain, he has good friends on his side in the form of Finn, an intelligent and clear minded childhood friend, and Lindsey, a lovely young lady with an aunt who deals in the occult and is able to provide talismans and assistance in fighting Sarah as she becomes more deranged and angry. The clairvoyant aunt was a bit convenient but I did not detract from the story for me.