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  • Writer's pictureBrandie June

Interview With Author Colleen M. Story

Updated: Oct 2, 2022

I recently had the pleasure to chat with author Colleen M. Story about her upcoming supernatural thriller, The Beached Ones. We also talked about her path to publishing, her advice for aspiring authors, and more!

Author Colleen M. Story

Can you tell us a bit about The Beached Ones?

The Beached Ones is a story of the bond between two brothers who grow up in an abusive home. The older brother, Daniel, intends to go back and rescue his younger brother. But then he’s involved in a horrible accident that changes everything. He struggles to get to his younger brother, but he’s surrounded by a new supernatural reality that seems to be doing everything it can to stop him.

What inspired The Beached Ones?

The idea for this book came to me after watching the movie, “Sarah’s Key,” which was based on the book of the same title by Tatiana de Rosnay.

The movie had a profound effect on me. Without giving too much away, the main character is haunted by the death of her little brother, for which she blames herself. At the end of the movie (spoiler alert), unable to shake her guilt, she commits suicide. Close curtain.

That movie haunted me for months. It seemed so unfair, what happened to the main character. And I kept feeling like her story was left unfinished. What happened after the suicide? The Beached Ones gave me a chance to explore that general question, although of course, within an entirely different story.

Your main character, Daniel, is a stunt rider. What inspired that choice and how did you research such a profession?

Daniel has to grow up fast, and as I was developing his character I knew he’d have to have some sort of gritty profession. I had seen a freestyle motocross event at our local state fair before I started on the story, and it just seemed to fit him perfectly. I researched the athletes online, watching videos and reading interviews with the riders. Then I also took a motorcycle riding class myself. It was a blast and I ended up getting my motorcycle certification on my driver’s license. I don’t have a motorcycle, unfortunately, but I was proud of passing that test.

The Beached Ones takes place in Iowa and San Francisco. How did you research these locations?

For the first draft of the book, I researched the journey the characters take online, finding pictures and specific stopping places as I went. Before working on the next draft, I wanted to experience the journey for myself. It seemed an indulgent idea at the time, but I am fortunate to have a supportive mom who loves to travel and encouraged me to go by gamely offering to go with me.

We enjoyed a once-in-a-lifetime trip. Many of the locations in the book are based on real places: Harlan, Iowa, is a beautiful little town with a picturesque central square; the Salt Lake City public library is an incredible feat of architecture joyful to experience; and I highly recommend the food and good service at the Diamond Horseshoe Café in Cheyenne, Wyoming, the inspiration for one of the cafés in the story.

I reserve a special place in my heart for the Golden Gate Bridge Patrol officer I met while visiting San Francisco. His real-life stories informed the final scene in the book.

What was the path for publishing The Beached Ones?

When I finished The Beached Ones, I checked with the publisher for my previous novel, Loreena’s Gift, which had released five years earlier. At that point, they had changed direction and were no longer taking stories with a supernatural element, so I had to start over. I pursued the traditional route of researching publishers and querying those I thought may enjoy The Beached Ones. I was thrilled when CamCat Books called to say they wanted to publish it.

I see that you do writing coaching as well and have written several books to help writers. What piece of advice do you give to aspiring authors?

I am a full-time health and wellness writer, so I have combined my knowledge and skills there with my fascination with writing and creativity. I now provide books and teach workshops on topics like increasing productivity, finding time to write, overcoming procrastination, avoiding repetitive injuries while at the computer, finding your niche for book marketing, boosting creativity and brainpower, manage self-doubt, and the like.

If I were to give aspiring writers just one piece of advice, it would be this: trust yourself. After interviewing nearly 400 writers and talking to more at workshops, I now firmly believe that if you are called to write, there is a reason for it.

Maybe you’re meant to be a bestselling author, but often it’s something deeper than that. You’re meant to heal from a trauma, bring a new idea into the world, share an easy-to-follow method of success, or create characters that inspire people. Your purpose in writing is as unique as you are.

It’s easy to doubt yourself along the way. Trust yourself and trust that the writing will take you where you’re destined to go. It’s always somewhere better than where you are now.

Can you tell us anything about what you are working on now?

I’m excited about my next novel, which is a retelling of the Midas myth in full novel format. I discovered in my research that there was a real King Midas who lived back in the late 700s BCE, so I’m combining some of the real story with the myth and having a lot of fun creating this new world.

Where can we get The Beached Ones?

The Beached Ones is available at CamCat Books, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and wherever books are sold. It is available in hardcover, large print paperback, ebook, and audio.

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Where's the best place to follow you?

You can find me at all the following places!

The Beached Ones Synopsis:


Daniel and his younger brother grew up in an abusive home. Daniel escaped. Now an established stunt rider, he intends to go back to rescue his brother. But then one jump goes horribly wrong…

He recovers to find himself in Iowa, unscathed, yet his life has drastically changed. His best friend won’t answer his calls. Even his girlfriend is hiding something. Increasingly terrified, he clings to the one thing he knows: He must pick up his brother in San Francisco. In five days.

From the isolating fields of Iowa to the crowded streets of San Francisco, Daniel must fight his way through a fog of disjointed memories and supernatural encounters to face the truth and pay a debt he didn’t know he owed.

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