Title: Saints In The Shadows
Author: Alana Cash
BLURB supplied by Author
Set between New Orleans, Manhattan, the dream state, and memory, SAINTS IN THE SHADOWS begins with Maud Strand sleepwalking from her apartment in Manhattan to the Chinatown police station in February in her bare feet and pajamas. She's had prophetic dreams since she was a child and now they've started again in Manhattan.
Maud Strand, a New Orleans to New York transplant, is mourning the loss of the her father in a car accident. Maud has a secret from that day, a secret buried so deep in her psyche that she can't even remember it, but it's running her life. She's drifting in New York when she meets Lina Sandor aka Madame Budska a physicist turned psychic-to-the-elite. Madame Budska's clients are a billionaire hedge fund manager, a political kingmaker, a TV celebrity, and a crazy Princeton professor. Is she a "real" psychic or a charlatan? Actually, she's a bit of both, and she's also very kind.
After a few months' acquaintance, Lina asks Maud to take over the Madame Budska business while Lina goes off for what she calls "the big reveal." She trains Maud to "listen until you hear", "look until you see." It's the acts of listening and watching, and the dreams she has from those experiences, that help Maud unlock her mind and remember the secret that has kept her adrift in grief.
Madame Budska, your clients are some of the most powerful people in the country and some of the most famous. How did you happen to gain these people as clients?
I never look for clients. I still do not do that. My business starts when one day I am on a trip to see Disneyland in California. I give myself treat for flying first class, and I happen to sit across the aisle from a man who is studying Wall Street Journal. I ask to borrow his newspaper when he is finished and he gives it to me. He has circled some company names and as a joke, I think, he asks me to point to which one I like best. Something about the way he draws his circles makes me point to one special company. He laughs and says he can let me know if it does well. So, I give him my phone number. Six months go by and I get call from him. He tells me his name and reminds me where we met.
“I bought that stock you liked. Today they announced a stock split.” I laugh, and he says, “I told someone about you and he wants to me you and get some advice.”
Okay by me. But I create Madame Budska in case I ever get teaching job and my face in the newspaper. That is how I meet hedge fund manager who comes by one time by week now. He has friend running for office and he comes by to ask about winning. That friend tells beautiful woman about me and her boyfriend is big political consultant who has her followed and that is how he finds out about me.
It goes like that.
At one time you taught physics at a university in Hungary. How did you change from teaching to work as a psychic?
I come to New York for visit and I like it. So much to do and see. I want to stay, but it is big trouble to get a green card, so I think I will go to Disneyland and I return home to Budapest. As I explain before, I meet man on plane who introduces me to hedge fund manager. He tells me that if I invest in real estate in New York City, I can get resident status much faster. So I rent little apartment in East New York at first. Hedge fund manager doesn’t like to come there, so he helps me buy house in Manhattan. I pay him back already, of course.
I apply to teach, but no one hires me, so I keep doing work I do now.
How did you learn to do what you do?
That is complicated question to answer. Most people could do what I do, but they don’t want to listen to others. They don’t want to pay attention to others. They want to be listened to and get attention.
I was only child and had lots of time to watch people. Children notice things and my father asks me what I notice about the people who visit the house or that we see in the street. He doesn’t want me to lose that childlike ability to really see and really hear.
There is more, of course, but anyone can begin there.
What are the most common question that clients ask?
These are two most common questions.
First is, “Where will the money come from?” I answer, “Wherever it is right now.”
Second is, “Is this the person the love of my life?” I answer, “How does this love compare with other love you have felt?”
What is your name, where were you born and where do you live now?
I was born in Texas and have lived most of my life in Texas, but I’ve also lived in Scotland, England, New York City and Los Angeles, California (where I currently live)
What is the name of your latest book, and if you had to summarise it in less than 20 words what would you say?
SAINTS IN THE SHADOWS. A grieving young girl from New Orleans gets help from a Hungarian physicist-turned-psychic-to-the-elite in New York City.
How do you come up with characters names?
In SAINTS IN THE SHADOWS, the names are all symbols.
I chose the name Maud (Strand) for the protagonist after Maud Gonne, Irish revolutionary and muse for the Irish poet, William Butler Yeats. Maud’s deceased father was of Irish stock and Maud was experiencing her own inner turbulence.
Lina Sándor (aka Madame Budska) is an inside joke because several years ago I directed a documentary about Anna Freud, Sigmund Freud’s youngest daughter. Freud had a small circle of psychoanalysts who used to meet at his house and one of them was a Hungarian named Sándor Firenczi. In SAINTS IN THE SHADOWS, Lina Sándor’s father is a Jungian psychologist and Jung and Freud were rivals. (Okay, it’s not a very funny joke, but it’s my private joke).
Madame Budska’s clients are named after Greek gods, leaders, and iconic cultural terms that they seem to exemplify.
Detective Rilke is a poetic reference to Maria Reiner Rilke.
The name Madame Budska is just made up. I loved how it sounded kind of like growling.
Do you decide on character traits (ie shy, quiet, tomboy girl) before writing the whole book or as you go along?
For SAINTS IN THE SHADOWS, I described the characters in my mind, then looked for photographs on the Internet that fit a sensibility of the character that I had in my mind. That solidified the characters for me. From that point, they had a life of their own. If I thought about them, I knew what they would say and do and how they’d feel.
Do you create a basic plot/plan for your book, before you actually begin writing it out?
Yes, I did for Saints in the Shadows, but the book did not turn out the way I planned it much at all. First of all, it’s not fantasy. I had intended to write some fantasy elements – closer to Spiderman or Peter Pan. Second, the book is much richer in detail – music, color, fashion, wisdom, intense dreams, hidden agendas - than I could have plotted out. It all just sort of happened as I was writing.
Do you choose a title first, or write the book then choose the title?
This is a really fun question because the working title of SAINTS IN THE SHADOWS was “Clip.” I kept that working title and later, as the story changed, I intended to change the title to “The Dreamer.” However, as I kept writing, the characters became more intense and the word, dreamer, seemed too light. I finally settled on SAINTS IN THE SHADOWS because Maud had a secret in the shadows of her mind and she continually lit candles for saints, and Madame Budska is kind of a saint who seeks people out who are in the shadows – not in the spotlight.
How did you come up with the cover design for SAINTS IN THE SHADOWS?
I like photographs for covers because they tell part of the story. I have a friend name Mike Rosebery who is wonderful photographer. And I went through his Flicker site looking for a photograph that would work for the book and found a picture of a statue on a gravestone. This reflected both Maud’s prayers to saints and her grief, plus elements of symbols. Mike’s brother, Jim Rosebery works in publishing and he designed the cover which I think is pretty wonderful to look at.
What genre would you place your books into?
I believe SAINTS IN THE SHADOWS qualifies as New Adult/Adult Paranormal.
What can we expect from you in the future? More books of the same genre? Books of a different genre?I have been dreaming of the characters for the next book in The Madame Budska Series.