Thursday, July 15, 2021

THE LAST GASP - Chautona Havig - One Free Book

Welcome, Chautona. Tell us how much of yourself you write into your characters. If I were smart, none, but alas… not as smart as I wish I were. All teasing aside, I think that depends upon the character. Many of my characters are absolutely nothing like me. In fact, I often am annoyed with things they think or believe that are completely different from how I think or what I believe.

On the other hand, I do find things that are a part of my personal culture showing up in my books. Movies I liked (or didn’t), books, music, and even theological conundrums appear from time to time. In The Last Gasp, none of the characters are like me at all.

What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done? I once flew into Chicago at midnight, met up with one of my readers (whom I’d never met before) at the cell phone lot, and got into her car to drive around Chicago and get the feel for it. We spent hours driving around, walking up Michigan Avenue, touring the Drake Hotel, and so much more. We even stopped at the Super Dog place, and she demanded they reopen so I could have one of their famous “dogs.”

When did you first discover that you were a writer? I’ve always written. First in my head and then on paper. But I was twelve when I learned that I wanted to be an author. While reading A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, I ran across a teacher who told Francie that she needed to “write how it should have been.” And at that point, my life changed. I knew exactly what I wanted to do and be. Life and events were never how I thought they should be, but if I wrote the story the way I wanted it to go, life would be perfect—even if just on the page.

You sound a lot like me. I’ve always written, and I started creating novels, because I knew I could write them better than what I was reading. Then God told me to become a professional writer. Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading. If it’s clean and non-blasphemous, I’ll read it. No, really. I will. Okay, there’s more to it than that. While I do enjoy books outside Christian fiction, it is my primary reading. I love women’s fiction, family sagas, chick-lit, historical, fantasy… The ones I read the least are Biblical fiction and sci-fi, but I also enjoy those. Just less often. Additionally, I love reading nonfiction on many topics.

How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world? I tend to ignore how the world expects me to live and do my own thing. I know it sounds trite, but it’s true. In 2020, when the world shut down and people began to get cabin fever, I realized that my life hadn’t changed. I don’t use a cell phone, I don’t watch much TV, and I live in a small, remote town in California’s Mojave Desert. For reference, we’re ninety miles from Target, a mall, or my favorite fast-food place, In-N-Out.

How do you choose your characters’ names? Well, it’s a lot more difficult these days than it used to be. Names that are comfortable for my readers to read are important to me. As much as I love more creative and unique names (my parents ensured that with my name, eh?), it’s a pain to run across one in a book. The moment you have to pause and really look at and go, “How do you say that?” you’ve lost me for a bit.

So, whatever year someone was born in, if the Social Security Administration has information on names from that year, I go with the top 100 names and try to choose something in there. Occasionally, I have to go into the top 200.

Then I have to make sure what I choose is something I haven’t used. With over eighty books, that’s getting harder and harder. Finally, I have to make sure that name fits the personality of the character I’m writing. Usually, I have the name before I begin, and the reverse happens, but not always.

What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of? In life, probably that next year I get to retire from thirty years of homeschooling! WOOT! Professionally, I’d say my ACFW Mentor of the Year award. I didn’t even know that award existed, and to discover that I actually WON… wow. It means that all the work I pour into people is helpful and appreciated.  And that just blesses my socks off.

I understand that. I was the second Mentor of the Year. It was awesome to see what some of the people who nominated me said. If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why? A sloth. For obvious reasons. Seriously, who wouldn’t want to hang around all day doing nothing? Sounds heavenly. Some call me the Energizer Bunny, but I consider that a curse rather than a compliment.

One of my adult granddaughters loves sloths. Family members are always finding stuffed sloths or sloths on things for her. Then earlier this year, when my husband and I were apart for 2 months when he had serious covid, my daughter bought me a cute stuffed one. What is your favorite food? We have this little hole-in-the-wall Mexican place that has been in business for like fifty years or something (okay, at least 33!!!) and they make the BEST chips and mild salsa ever.

I love mild salsa, too. What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it? “Shiny Syndrome.” I get distracted by all the shiny, new ideas. I want to write all the books, do all the classes, teach all the things, read all the books… I can’t say I’ve overcome it, but I have learned to pack my schedule enough that I can’t drop everything and chase the new. I’d never meet deadlines. Of course, sometimes this means I overcommit myself, but hey. I’m a work in progress, right?

Aren’t we all? Tell us about the featured book. The Last Gasp is the first book in the new Ever After Mysteries series. This multi-author series takes beloved fairy tales and sets them in the 1920s… as mysteries! I’d not planned to write a Cinderella retelling (she’s not my favorite story!), but… Well, a woman in my Bible study was trying to get a feel for what these books would be like and said, “So… Cinderella is a cigarillo girl?” The rest is literary history. Lucinda Ashton is a cigarillo and candy seller at the Taj Mahal Theater in Hollywood in 1926. Garrison Prince is Hollywood royalty attending his last premiere. When gunshots ring out, it becomes more than one person’s last premiere!

Please give us the first page of the book.

Gary Prinz stepped out of the California sunshine and into the role of Garrison Prince, rising Hollywood royalty.

An unfashionably buxom receptionist bustled toward him in miserable-looking tweed. “Oh, Mr. Prince. Everyone’s waiting! So exciting. Come, come…” A second glance at him hinted she disapproved of his trousers, rolled-up shirtsleeves, and lightweight sweater vest. “You might have worn a sport coat at least.”

Everyone’s waiting? Sport coat? What for?

A few people waved as the woman trotted down the hallway, chattering about her excitement regarding the night’s premiere. “I won’t have tickets, of course, but I just know everyone will love The Stolen Title. It’s sure to be your best work yet!”

“I hope so, Miss Fischer. I hope so.”

The way she paused, as if for dramatic effect before flinging the door open, provided a hint of warning. Mr. Walker greeted him—Werner, if anyone did any digging, but German surnames were still out of fashion in America after the Kaiser and The Great War. “Come in, come in, Garrison. Our prince has arrived… We even have Eva here to celebrate with you. No champagne, of course. Must comply with Volstead, but…”

Only because this room is full of press reporters? Why?

A sick feeling shook his belly. If the picture is already a flop…

One cheeky man with a thick Brooklyn accent asked, “How do you feel about your new contract, Mr. Prince? Are you eager to begin work on this new project of Walker’s?”

The sick feeling turned cold. “I won’t be doing that, gentlemen. I—”

“Oh, don’t be modest, Gary.” Walker turned to the men clustered around the edge of the large office. “Can’t give away our studio’s secrets, but I can assure you that Garrison Prince is at the forefront of sweeping changes here at Imperial Studios.”

Uncertainty kept him silent. His gaze traveled about the office, taking in opulence he hadn’t noticed much after being invited into Walker’s inner sanctum in recent years. Like many men in Hollywood, he’d come from New Jersey, signed on as stunt and grunt man, and only out of sheer luck hit on a good contract when someone noticed that he had a handsome face that movie goers would like.

Eva, in long, languid movements, moved to his side and looped an arm through his. “Isn’t this a scream?”

It should have been said with emphasis and enthusiasm, perhaps with a giggle at the end, but the woman’s tone always sounded utterly bored. Gary shrugged. “I don’t know—?”

“Your contract, silly. I’ve seen it—or my equivalent. It’s the best my lawyer has seen.”

“I’m happy for you,” he began.

Walker preempted him. “Come, come. No time for chit-chat. We have a premiere to attend, but first…monumental business in the form of this six-year contract! The highest-paying one we’ve ever offered!”

Gasps and murmurs accompanied the fevered scribbling of pencils on notepads.

Lord, help me. Once I do this, I’ll never work in this town again—even as a soda jerk!

Walker held out a fountain pen. “Garrison?” There may have been an implied question in there somewhere, but Gary only heard the iron-clubbed threat beneath it. Sign it.

He stepped back and out of Eva’s grasp. “I apologize, sir.” A little deference wouldn’t hurt. “As generous as I’m certain it is…” He shot a look around him and prayed for the best. “And as flattered as I am, I distinctly recall telling you that I would not be continuing in film.”

How can readers find you on the Internet?

I’m @ChautonaHavig in most places, but the easiest way to find me is to visit . I have social media links there at the top right. You can also find me at where I chat about Christian fiction.

Thank you, Chautona, for sharing this book with my blog readers. I’m eager to read it and the others in the Ever After series.

Readers, here are links to the book. - Paperback - Kindle

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Sarah Taylor said...

Sounds like such a great book Blessings Sarah from Ohio

Chautona said...

I had a lot of fun taking a rather bland character (Lucinda) and showing that there's more to people than meets the eye sometimes!

Unknown said...

Hi, I'd love to win a print copy of The Last Gasp! I currently live in Montana, where I am a pastor's wife. I appreciate the opportunity to enter a giveaway! Lual Krautter My email is: krautter62520AToutlookDOTcom To learn more about me, go to:

traveler said...

This book sounds captivating and fascinating. Anne from NM.

petite said...

This is a very unique and creative book. Your interview was entertaining and informative. Thanks for your persistence in writing. Pearl-NM.

Abigail Mitchell said...

I love Mysteries, and can't wait to read this!
Abigail in VA

Sunnymay said...

The excerpt has tension with what the star will and won't do. He seems to be carried along in spite of refusing to do any more films.

Abigail Harris said...

I can't wait to read this retelling!

Abigail From Maryland

Lucy Reynolds said...

Love Chautona’s books. Thank you for sharing. Blessings from WV.

Sharon Bryant said...

Enter me in your awesome giveaway!!
Nichols SC.

Connie Porter Saunders said...

Can't wait to read this re-telling!
Connie from Kentucky

Lourdes said...

Great giveaway can't wait to read this.

Lourdes, Long Island New York

Cathe Swanson said...

This whole series looks like a blast! I can't wait to read them.

rubynreba said...

Sounds interesting to turn fairy tales into new settings. Enjoyed the review and first page of the book.
Beth from IA

Melissa M. said...

Fascinating, unique-sounding series!

Melissa M. from TN