ASW: Karetta and Molly, congratulations on the success of your novel, Satan’s Chamber, which you wrote collaboratively. Your novel is set in Sudan and is a spy thriller as well as a novel of social justice. Why don’t we begin with your giving us an overview?
KH & MT: Satan’s Chamber is action-packed, and casts women in roles that remain, even into the twenty-first century, monopolized by men.
ASW: I’m curious, as a woman and as a reader—did you two set out to show women as strong, brave, and highly competent in the novel? Or, did a female CIA operative as “hero archetype” just happen organically during the writing process?
KH & MT: For thirty years, Karetta co-owned a firm that helped raise awareness in the workplace of gender and cultural differences. She designed many a teaching tool for improving cross-gender communications, and she was perennially conscious of the importance of strong women in positions of authority for other women to hold as models. Molly is an unabashed feminist, who championed women’s rights in a bastion of male traditions, so there was immediate consensus that Satan’s Chamber would include both strong women and men.
KH & MT: Our biggest challenge was not the actual collaboration of ideas and research, but the time difference between the West Coast where Molly lives and the East where Karetta makes her home—all compounded by the fact that Molly is a night person, and Karetta works best in the mornings. Our communication efforts consisted of continuous emails and weekly two-hour phone calls around noon Eastern Time. We discussed the story, analyzed the characters, and brainstormed what could happen next. We both drafted chapters, but Molly did the final rewrite so the voice would be consistent throughout.
ASW: Let’s talk about your indie press, Fuze Publishing. I read in a review that Fuze Publishing is “launching fresh voices and challenging the status quo.” Can you unpack this quotation and provide some examples?
KH & MT: For a little backstory: Our press was originally founded so that we could publish Satan’s Chamber, and we based our press on that novel’s strengths: we would bring out well-crafted stories that cross cultures and have the power to educate and change minds. We’d realized that going the traditional route would be time-consuming, frustrating, and uncertain, and we were also aware that if a contract with a large publishing house came through, we would have to do all the marketing ourselves, our book would have only a few months to make its mark, and we’d receive a pittance in royalties.
After we brought out Satan’s Chamber, we were approached by other authors who had been turned down by mainstream publishing companies. We saw our opportunity to fill a void by creating a company that would publish works by unknown authors that we felt showed similar strengths. Our business model is unique in that our authors “buy” into the company, and we work as a team to sell our books. Fuze offered these fresh new voices an opportunity to be heard, by challenging the traditional publishing model.
ASW: Many of your titles at Fuze Publishing, such as Walter Bennett’s novel, Leaving Tuscaloosa, are receiving international attention and literary recognition. What are some forthcoming titles on the horizon at Fuze Publishing that we can look forward to?
KH & MT: This month we brought out The Voice At The Door, A Novel of Emily Dickinson, by James Sulzer, which doesn’t so much cross cultures as it does recreate a different historical period in intimate detail. Using the letters and poems of Emily Dickinson, as well as the sermons of Charles Wadsworth, Jim re-imagines the fateful meeting between Emily Dickinson and the famous Philadelphia pastor, Charles Wadsworth. The narrative goes on to weave a rich tapestry of intellectual and spiritual communion, encompassing the three great mysteries of Emily Dickinson’s life: her agonized love poetry of the early 1860s, her partial blindness in 1863-1865, and her subsequent withdrawal from the world.
A brand new sequel to Satan’s Chamber—Broken Angels—researched and written exclusively by Molly, has also garnered advance praise. The narrative splits its time between the centers of power in and around Washington, D.C., and locations in Ukraine. Case Officer Victoria Pierce has been assigned to Odessa under deep cover, so she’s operating without a net, tracking the disappearance of highly enriched uranium from the country’s stockpiles. When she stumbles on a ring of sex-traffickers, she has a tough choice—getting involved in rescuing girls will draw her off-task. Or will it? Another plot thread unspooling stateside may be tangled in the Ukrainian web, and perhaps it is only in taking on all evil that you get to its heart.
ASW: Do either of you have a collaborative or singular book forthcoming?
KH & MT: We do not. Karetta runs the company full time and doesn’t have time to write any more. In fact, it is safe to say that Satan’s Chamber will be her only book.
ASW: Thank you so much, Molly and Karetta, for taking the time to do this interview. I hope all of our readers will add your novel, Satan’s Chamber, and other Fuze titles to their reading list.
KH & MT: Thanks so much, Amy, for the opportunity to speak about our spy thriller, Satan’s Chamber, and our publishing company. Please know that we are always looking for quality manuscripts that are in publish-ready form. Molly works with each manuscript to shape and polish it, but we do not have the staff to work with developmental scripts, only those that have been expertly edited and are close to completion.
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