Connie Corcoran, Author of The Color of Evil and Hellfire and Damnation II, Talks About the Evolution of Both Books

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

I would very much like to welcome Connie Corcoran Wilson, author of the two non-fiction titles - It Came From the '70s: From The Godfather to Apocalypse Now and Laughing Through Life, as well as several other books. Ms. Wilson was nice enough to answer some questions for me about her two newest titles: The Color of Evil and Hellfire and Damnation II as well as her future plans. Thank you so much for stopping by Emeraldfire's Bookmark, Ms. Wilson, and I wish you all the best now and in the future!

Meet Connie Corcoran Wilson:

Connie Corcoran Wilson has published 10 books since 2003. Hellfire and Damnation ( came out in February, 2010. Her three volumes of true ghost stories of Route 66 (Ghostly Tales of Route 66, are out from Quixote and in E-book format from Quad City Press. Her first book (Training the Teacher as a Champion) was published by PLS Bookstores in 1989. Her sci fi novel Out of Time was published by Lachesis in 2008 and the screenplay written based on the book was a winner in a "Writer's Digest" competition. Her 2 humor collections are Both Sides Now (2003) and Laughing Through Life (2011). Her illustrated children's book, The Christmas Cats in Silly Hats was released at Christmas in 2011.

Hellfire and Damnation II was released July 28, 2012 in E-book format and in paperback shortly after (The Merry Blacksmith Press.) Her nonfiction book showcasing many of the movie reviews written for the Quad City Times between 1970 and 1979 made up the bulk of the book, along with 76 photos, major cast and interactive trivia.

Synopsis of The Color of Evil:

Tad McGreevy has a power that he has never revealed, not even to his life-long best friend, Stevie Scranton. When Tad looks at others, he sees colors. These auras tell Tad whether a person is good or evil. At night, Tad dreams about the evil-doers, reliving their crimes in horrifyingly vivid detail.

But Tad doesn't know if the evil acts he witnesses in his nightmares are happening now, are already over, or are going to occur in the future. He has no control over the horrifying visions. He has been told (by his parents) never to speak of his power. All Tad knows is that he wants to protect those he loves. And he wants the bad dreams to stop.

At Tad's eighth birthday party (April 1, 1995) in Cedar Falls, Iowa, the clown his parents hire to entertain Tad's third-grade classmates is one of the bad people. Pogo, the Killer Clown (aka Michael Clay) is a serial killer. So begins 53 nights of terror as Tad relives Pogo's crime, awakens screaming, and recites the terrifying details to his disbelieving family. The situation becomes so dire that Tad is hospitalized in a private institution under the care of a psychiatrist--who also does not believe the small boy's stories.

And then the police arrest Pogo, the Killer Clown.

Flash forward to the beginning of Tad's junior year in high school, 8 years later. Tad is 16 and recovered from the spring of his third-grade year. When Michael Clay was caught and imprisoned, the crime spree ended and so did Tad's bad dreams.

Until now, in the year of our Lord 2003, when evil once again stalks the land.

This is a terrifying, intense story of the dark people and places that lurk just beneath the surface of seemingly normal small-town America. As one reviewer says, "Wilson nails the darkness beneath the surface of small-town Midwestern life with an intense story based on fact."

Tad must wage a silent war against those who would harm the ones he loves. A battle to the death.

Coming to Amazon on January 11, 2012!

Synopsis of Hellfire and Damnation II: 

Hellfire and Damnation II is the sequel to the award-winning short story collection released in 2011 with a framing device of Dante's Inferno and the 9 Circles of Hell and sins/crimes punished at each. The first book won an E-Lit award, plus Silver Feather, NABE and Pinnacle awards. The book is unique in featuring illustrations with each story, and it also has a "From the Author" section that tells what inspired each story. It is 56,000 words long and has a cover by award-winning artist Vincent Chong of the U.K. The stories have variant settings, but it is not necessary to have read the first collection to enjoy the second.

Coming to Amazon on July 28, 2012!

Emeraldfire's Bookmark: After writing two non-fiction books, what interested you to begin writing books in the horror genre?

Connie Corcoran Wilson: I have been writing for over half a century and was hired by Performance Learning Systems, Inc. (of Emerson, NJ) to write their book Training the Teacher As A Champion, which was published by PLS in 1989. My next book, in 2003 (Both Sides Now), followed on the heels of the sale of my 2 businesses. (I had founded and run a Sylvan Learning Center in Bettendorf, IA, and a Prometric Testing Center there from 1987 and 1995, repectively).

When I sold my two businesses, I wanted to fulfill my life-long dream of trying to write "one of everything." I dabbled in humor (Both Sides Now and Laughing Through Life), wrote a Writer's Digest award-winning screenplay based on a sci-fi book in 2007(Out of Time), wrote that science fiction book (Out of Time, published by Lachesis and now out of print), wrote a children's book for my twin granddaughters (The Christmas Cats in Silly Hats) and began writing short stories, which became Hellfire and Damnation. I've always loved Stephen King's book NightShift and the short stories of William F. Nolan (Nightworlds) and other such psychological, supernatural suspenseful thrillers. I wouldn't call what I write "horror" so much as dark suspense or dark thriller.

I had never written fiction until 2008, when I began collecting and recording the Ghostly Tales of Route 66 while driving cross country on the Mother Road (3 volumes) as "work for hire". That led to short stories, which were first published as Hellfire and Damnation and were framed by Dante's Inferno and the sins or crimes punished at each of the 9 Circles of Hell. Later, I decided there would be a series of these Hellfire and Damnation books, and that is why there is a dedicated website (, as there is for The Color of Evil also has one (

Emeraldfire's Bookmark: How did you come up with the plot of The Color of Evil series?

Connie Corcoran Wilson: The Color of Evil came from expanding a short story in the first Hellfire and Damnation collection, which featured Tad McGreevy. That story was entitled "Living in Hell." (It was originally titled "Pufferfish," but I changed that title to fit the Hellfire and Damnation theme.) I felt bad about leaving Tad in the situation he was in when the story ended; he was in bad shape. I decided to write him out of the corner I had left him in. There will probably be 3 more books in the series, the way the characters are dictating the plot to me. The next book (Red Is for Rage) will take the students to the middle of their senior year, at the end of the first semester. The third book will take them from the end of first semester to the end of the school year. There may be a fourth book taking the characters to freshman year in college. I guess I won't know until I begin writing more of the other books. (I hope to release Red Is for Rage in early 2013.)

Emeraldfire's Bookmark: Having never read Dante's Inferno myself, (I know, 'shocked face'! :)) what would interest me as a new reader in Hellfire and Damnation I and II?

Connie Corcoran Wilson: The stories stand on their own and do not have to be read in any particular order. You can read Hellfire and Damnation II before or after Hellfire and Damnation the first book, although I recommend starting at the beginning if you can. That is one thing I like: there is complete variety to the series as far as plots, settings and writing styles; the stories are all written in different ways, and you do not HAVE to have read the first book to appreciate and enjoy the second. There are no recurring characters, as there are in The Color of Evil. Each story is a stand-alone experience, and readers will have to determine which ones they like best. If it leads them to, at some point, read the classic original book, so much the better.

Emeraldfire's Bookmark: You have said that both books of Hellfire and Damnation are based on Dante's Inferno - Is that through plot construction or writing style?

Connie Corcoran Wilson: The stories needed a "framing device." When I collected funny essays or stories (for Laughing Through Life) one criticism was that there was no "frame" to hold them together. that was because the humorous essays had appeared in at least 5 different newspapers or online, and there was really no 'frame" that worked. I considered a variety of "framing" options, but the one that I kept returning to was Dante's Inferno. (The 7 deadly sins had been done in 2 movies and the zodiac had been done and various other "framing" ideas were already out there.) I'm quite happy with using the device over and over, because there are so many sins or crimes punished at each of the 9 Circles of Hell. (I had to remind myself of that by checking it out on the Internet.) The two hardest for me to write have been "Gluttony" and "Heresy." As far as writing style, I just write the way I write: it isn't copied from anyone else, (including Dante.)

Emeraldfire's Bookmark: Give me a little 'sneak peek' if you can - How will the characters develop throughout The Color of Evil series?

Connie Corcoran Wilson: They're young people perched at the very beginning of their lives. They are about to graduate and some will go on to college, and some will marry, and some will leave Cedar Falls to go elsewhere to school, if the series goes on into college, as I think now that it will. The characters are in a state of flux at all times, because they are young and there are many things happening to them, including a classic struggle between good and evil in the person of a demented serial killer who is attempting to silence the young boy (Tad McGreevy) that he thinks could "out" him as he is attempting to evade the law There is romance, crime, horror, intrigue, betrayal---all the good stuff that I like to read about, myself and which I hope my readers will like to read. (No vampires or werewolves; just Carrie meets The Fury meets television's The Medium.)

Emeraldfire's Bookmark: What are your possible future plans for your writing career?

Connie Corcoran Wilson: Great question, Mareena! I was not aware I was forging a "career" until I began looking at this as "writing long," which means writing books, rather than simply short articles for newspapers or blogs. I've done that (writing short) for years (57, to be precise). I decided, when the E-book revolution began to really be talked about and become a reality, that I would try to become a publisher of e-books, anyway, and I have. I own all the e-book rights to my last 6 books, although I've had other small, independent print publishers. I see this as the third Chapter of my life:

I taught others how to write for many years (33, to be precise). I raised 2 kids (the youngest is 25). I always wanted to write for a living, and now I can follow that dream in retirement, even if I'm getting a bit of a late start. Writing short is great fun (and, still, more lucrative, for me. than my books. I was named 2008 Content Producer of the Year for Politics by Yahoo, which has 600,000 members), but a short article, of which I have literally thousands online, does not "stay" or hang around for years.

I may be like Philip K. Dick, who was not lauded during his lifetime but only achieved critical success after his death (some reviewers have mentioned us in the same breath, and I am flattered). Or, more famously, Van Gogh, who only sold ONE painting while he was alive. But I try to do the very best I can with the skill and talent God gave me. I hope to leave behind some good books that my children can take down off the shelf and say, "My mother (or grandmother) wrote this." I hope the reaction will be positive and somebody, some day, somewhere, will say, "You know...she really was a good writer."

"From the ashes a fire shall be woken" - J. R. R. Tolkien