Author Interview with Crime Writer Leigh Russell

 

 

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About Leigh Russell

After many years teaching English in secondary school, internationally bestselling author Leigh Russell now writes crime fiction full time. Published in English and in translation in Europe, her Geraldine Steel and Ian Peterson titles have appeared on many bestseller lists, including #1 on kindle. Leigh’s work has been nominated for several major awards, including the CWA New Blood Dagger and CWA Dagger in the Library, and her Geraldine Steel and Ian Peterson series are in development for television with Avalon Television Ltd. Journey to Death is the first title in her Lucy Hall series published by Thomas and Mercer.

 

 

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Your new book Suspicion, is out April 22. What do you enjoy about writing psychological thrillers?

What I enjoy most about writing, is the freedom to explore how other people might respond when they encounter difficulties and challenges. All of my books begin with a “What if” question. In the case of Suspicion, the question was: ‘What might a woman do to preserve her marriage, if she discovered her husband was having an affair?’ Writing psychological thrillers allows me to live someone else’s fictitious life for a while, and experience their story vicariously.

 

 

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How does your approach to writing differ between a psychological thriller versus a police procedural?

My police procedurals are written mainly from my detective’s point of view, but they also include chapters that take readers inside the mind of my killer and other characters. This adds tension for readers, who often know more than the police investigating the murder. My stand alone psychological thrillers are written in the first person. Although readers only know what the narrator knows, they can still deduce information for themselves. Writing in the first person focuses more closely on the character of the narrator, and his or her private thoughts and feelings, which affects the readers’ engagement with the narrative, but writing from different points of view can be more dramatic. Both types of story are fun to write, and I enjoy the challenge of switching between third person and first person narratives.

 

What motivated you to write psychological thrillers?

As a writer, I don’t believe we choose our stories. Rather, our stories find us. So when the idea for this book occurred to me one day, complete with the voice of the protagonist, all I had to do was write the story in her words – although they are my words really, because she is my creation.

 

 

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What’s a typical writing day like for you?

There is no ‘typical’ day for me. Every day is different. I wake up as late as possible, and most days my husband brings me a cup of tea in bed, by which time I’m usually already working. I write on an ipad with goes with me everywhere, so I can work anywhere. Once I am up and about, if I’m not otherwise occupied my day will be spent writing, but it is extremely rare for me to have a completely free day. Life often gets in the way of my writing, but I consider myself fortunate to have a family who place so many demands on my time. I wouldn’t change anything about my life,       except to have more hours in the day.

 

 

Tell us about the investigation that Detective Sergeant Geraldine Steel is working on in Rogue Killer.

In Rogue Killer, a rough sleeper is killed in a seemingly random attack. The killer is careful to leave no clue to his identity, and the police are stumped. Then a second body is discovered. Geraldine is worried some of her colleagues might not investigate these murders as thoroughly as they should, because the victims were homeless. Meanwhile, a young girl has run away from home and witnessed a murder at night on the streets of York. Her eye witness account  could help the police to track down the killer, but she is too frightened to come forward.

 

 

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Who is the man killed in the attack?

The man killed in the first attack is a rough sleeper who is known to the local homeless shelters, but has no family who would miss him or mourn for him. Sharing news of a murder with the victim’s family is the part of her job Geraldine usually finds the hardest, but she is desperately sad about the solitude this victim endured in his life.  

 

 

Name some of your favourite books of 2019.

I haven’t read many books published in 2019 but books I have read so far this year include the weighty Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett, a tour de force which he wrote at the age of twenty-eight. Unusually, most of my reading this year has been non-fiction as I am writing a trilogy set in Renaissance Italy. Historical fiction is a completely new departure for me and it has required a lot of research into a fascinating period in history.

In terms of books actually published in 2019, I’m looking forward to reading The Testaments by Margaret Atwood which is published in September, as I enjoyed The Handmaid’s Tale .

 

 

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Q&A with the authors of The Sherlock Holmes & Lucy James Mystery Series

 

 

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Q&A for MysteryThrillerWeek.com

Charles Veley & Anna Elliott, authors of The Sherlock Holmes & Lucy James Mystery Series

 

 

What’s it like crafting stories about the great Sherlock Holmes?

Pretty exhilarating, actually. We’re in a wonderful tradition, with a lot of brilliant company. And Holmes is so familiar to us both that it’s a joy imagining what he’d do when faced with a particular problem. At first we wondered how readers would respond to our bringing a daughter into Holmes’s life, but the overwhelming majority of reviews are enthusiastic supporters of the idea.  

 

 

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What was your creative process for writing Lucy James?

Anna had the idea of where she’d be the first time Holmes and Watson would see her – on the stage at the D’Oyly Carte opera, singing the lead in The Mikado. Watson described her there, and when she entered a few pages later, she took on a life of her own. She still does. We imagine the situations and Lucy takes it from there.

 

 

What kind of relationship do Sherlock and Lucy have and how do they complement each other?

They’re different, but equals. Sherlock has a deep and abiding respect for Lucy, and vice versa. Of course, she’s admired him ever since she read Watson’s accounts of his adventures when she was an American schoolgirl. In our stories, the two are not competing and the conflict is never the sort you would find in a ‘buddy’ movie. Our Sherlock and Lucy each go to different places and investigate different parts of the central problem. Then they exchange thoughts and draw their own conclusions. Generally, Holmes takes the role of cautious parent when advising Lucy — but he doesn’t always get his way. And they save each other’s life again and again. Towards the end of the first book there’s this exchange of dialogue, after Lucy saves Holmes in a gunfight and learns whose daughter she really is:

Holmes said quietly, “Lucy, I owe you my life.”

“Well, now I know I owe you my life,” said Lucy, her eyes shining. “So I guess we’re even.”

So, yes, different, but equals.

 

 

 

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How do you share in the writing process?

We start with the core situation of the story and exchange emails on that. Then we’ll send each other chapters of the opening scenes–Anna doing the Lucy chapters and me doing Watson’s. Soon we exchange more emails on where the story goes next, and then we’ll exchange blocks of chapters until we’re done. This all happens via email and Word documents, since we’re hours away from each other. Once in a while we’ll talk about it when we’re visiting or on the phone, but those times are generally devoted to family matters rather than our books.

 

 

Is Sherlock Holmes the greatest detective of all time?

Life Magazine says he is, in their 2016 issue titled “The Story Behind The World’s Greatest Detective.” Holmes is the most filmed character of all time, he has hundreds of fan clubs around the world, he has larger-than-life-size bronze statues erected to him in both London and St. Petersburg, and hundreds of new stories about him are published every year. Can any other detective say the same? Or even come close? I think the evidence is overwhelming. Though I must admit I’ve never seen Holmes’s picture on bubble gum cards ;-).

 

 

 

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What’s Lucy James’ view of her Father?

She understands that he needs his own space – just as she needs hers. Each of them has their own life to lead. Lucy has strong emotional relationships to people – her husband, to name but one person – and in some ways she feels regret that Holmes won’t have many of the satisfactions that come with the life of the heart. But she respects his long-ago choice to pursue his profession with such intensity. She has a unique understanding of Holmes based on what she’s learned about him from her mother. As we continue with the series, Anna and I are exploring the roots of Holmes’s passions for justice and crime-solving—we think that’s going to be a very compelling tale indeed.

 

What role does Watson play helping Lucy James and Holmes on cases?

Watson is the steadying force, the rock, the friend and companion for both Holmes and Lucy. Watson chronicles the parts of the story he sees, as he did in the original tales. He also pitches in with the investigative duties where needed, and even when he hasn’t been asked. Of course he’s always been a good man to have at your side when faced with danger–this holds true in our stories as well. Our Watson, however, shows his human side just a bit more than the canonical figure. He’s challenged when his relationship with Holmes is rocked by the entrance of Lucy into Holmes’s life, and since his wife Mary passed away, he’s feeling the need for relationships even more. Still, he has the satisfaction of always being a key player in the battles Sherlock and Lucy are waging with the evildoers.

 

If Sherlock and Lucy were alive today, do you think they could solve some challenging cold cases?

Most definitely! As our series opens, in fact, Lucy herself is working the 21-year-old cold case of her identity, and she and Holmes get that one solved by the end of the last chapter, even while stopping an assassination attempt that would have destroyed the Empire!  And that was without the aid of all the research tools we have today. So, the answer is definitely a resounding “Yes” I also think they’d take a good attitude toward our century if they found themselves here rather than in Victorian London. They’d both see the advantages to our global technology and wouldn’t spend a lot of time whining about trivia or how bored they are.

 

If you had to pick, who would you be: Watson, Lucy or Holmes?

It’s so tempting to pick Holmes, because who wouldn’t want to experience being that smart and energetic and independent, and also immortal?  Also, though he does have all the cares of the world (or at least the world of the current case) on his shoulders, and that’s a heavy responsibility to bear alone, he still has Watson and Lucy for support.

 

 

 

Charles Veley image Sherlock Holmes Mystery

 

 

Charles Veley has loved Sherlock Holmes since boyhood. During one year, he read the entire canon to his then-ten-year-old daughter at evening story time. He is extremely proud of her accomplishments as historical novelist Anna Elliott, and thrilled to be coauthor with her on the Sherlock and Lucy Mystery Series. Also a fan of Gilbert & Sullivan, he wrote “The Pirates of Finance,” a new musical in the G&S tradition that won an award at the New York Musical Theatre Festival in 2013. Other than “The Last Moriarty,” all the books on his Amazon Author Page were written when he was a full-time author during the late Seventies and early Eighties. He has retired from United Technologies Corporation, but still consults for the company’ regarding its large real estate development projects.

 

 

 

Anna Elliot Sherlock Holmes mysteries

 

 

A longtime devotee of historical fiction and Arthurian legend, Anna Elliott was expecting her first child when she woke up from a very vivid dream of telling her mother that she was going to write a book about Modred’s daughter, Isolde. She was very grateful to her daughter for being an excellent sleeper even as a newborn and allowing her the time to turn her dream into a finished book! She now lives in Princeton, New Jersey, with her husband and baby girl. Twilight of Avalon is her first published work.

 

www.annaelliottbooks.com

A Sherlock Holmes and Lucy James Mystery (9 book series)

 

 

 

 

 

Mystery Writer Samantha Goodwin speaks about The Murder At Macbeth

 

 

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Author Tempeste Blake interviews mystery writer Samantha Goodwin on her new release – Murder At Macbeth.

 

 

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It’s MYSTERY THRILLER WEEK (www.mysterythrillerweek.com) and I’m doing a little happy dance. I’ve made great new friends at this event and found some fantastic reads to add to my library.

And speaking of new friends. Samantha Goodwin, author of Murder at Macbeth, and I recently sat down over tea and had a chat about … okay, really we talked via email and messenger, but I’m painting a picture so play along … we sat and drank tea and chatted about writing and books, especially those of the mystery variety, and here’s how some of the conversation went.

 

 

 

Hand writing the text: Q&A

 

 

 

T: Do you have any writing habits or superstitions?

S: I handwrite everything as I find my ideas flow better! It’s great because it means I can write anywhere, my favourite location is outside on those rare sunny English days. It is however, not the most time-efficient way of writing as then I have to spend time typing everything up as I go along and start editing!

 

T: Where did you get the inspiration for your story?

S: I was inspired by a newspaper article about a London West End actor who was accidentally stabbed live on stage. That got me thinking; what if that had been intentional? What a dramatic way to murder someone and believe you could get away with it.

I’ve always been fascinated by the superstitions surrounding Macbeth about it being cursed and the fact the play itself is about corruption and deception provided an interesting parallel to the murder mystery. Plus, I found the concept of interviewing suspects who are also actors really interesting; they could so easily be playing a part to hide the truth.

 

 

 

Idee als Glühbirne und Papierkugeln

 

 

 

T: How long did it take you to write your novel?

S: It took me one year to finish the complete first draft of my novel and then another year to complete the editing. Which considering I was working full time and pregnant while writing it, I was really pleased about! I carved out time to write every day but it usually ended up being only 30 minutes in the morning before work or 1 hour during my lunch break. At first it seemed completely impossible to write an entire book with such little time, but before long I found I could get into the swing of it and write pretty quickly. I actually found the balance of doing my editing and looking after a newborn much more difficult. I did a lot of one-handed typing while holding a sleeping baby!

 

 

T: I know asking about favorite characters can be like asking about a favorite child or pet, but . . . do you have a favorite character or one you’d love to bring back in another story?

S: I love both of the detective characters, I’ve deliberately set the novel up so it could work as the first in a series so it would be great to bring them both back in future stories. The astute Detective Inspector Finley Robson leads the murder investigation. Smart and resourceful, he has an uncanny ability for getting to the bottom of the toughest cases. However, he is also struggling to overcome his own troubled past and finds the unusual theatrical case resonates deeply with him. Detective Sergeant Nadia Zahra is his tenacious, no-nonsense partner who has risen quickly through the ranks to become one of the youngest detectives at the London Metropolitan police force. Fiercely loyal, she maintains a healthy disregard for bureaucracy and is a force to be reckoned with.

 

 

Follow the remainder of the interview on Tempeste Blake’s website: Author Interview: Debut Mystery Author Samantha Goodwin

 

 

Tempeste Blake

@samanthagoodwinauthor

 

 

 

Interview with Heleyne Hammersley Author of Psychological Suspense & Crime

 

 

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About Heleyne Hammersley

Heleyne Hammersley is a British writer based in Cumbria. She writes psychological suspense thrillers and crime novels.

Heleyne has been writing since junior school – her first work was a collection of poems called ‘Give Them the Works’ when she was ten years old. The poems were carefully handwritten on plain paper and tied together with knitting wool.

 

 

How does your writing approach differ between psychological suspense thriller and crime?

One of the main differences between writing psychological suspense and crime is the amount of research.  I find that, now I’m writing a crime series, I need to try to keep the police procedures as accurate as possible.  I also research postmortem techniques and I’ve spent quite a bit of time finding out about how dead bodies decompose in different environments.

For both of my psychological suspense novels much of the plot and the setting was based on my own travel experiences.

 

 

 

Research

 

 

 

Do you still write poetry?

I haven’t written poetry for many years.  I used to write as a teenager but it was all angst-ridden nonsense really.  I feel most comfortable writing longer works now.

 

Who is DI Kate Fletcher?

Kate is a British police detective from South Yorkshire.  She is dedicated to her career and is extremely good at her job.  She was shaped by a difficult childhood during a time of social unrest in the UK.  After a divorce and a promotion she has returned to her old ‘stomping ground’ after living in the north of England for many years.  She inspires loyalty in her team and she has a strong sense of justice.

 

 

 

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What things have you learned in order to write police procedurals?

So much!  UK police ranks, UK police procedures, forensics, the symptoms of a range of medical conditions, how CCTV and ANPR work, how to dispose of a dead body (and how not to)…the list is endless.

 

 

In the third book of the Kate Fletcher series Bad Seed, who is the first victim?

Melissa Buckley.  She’s in her twenties and works for a train company.  Melissa and her husband have been trying for a baby for some time and her death may be linked to their struggles with IVF.

 

 

 

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Who are the members of Kate’s team working the case?

Other than Kate, there’s DC Dan Hollis who’s having some family issues of his own in Bad Seed.  He’s Kate’s trusted ‘side kick’ but she’s starting to doubt him a little in this book. DC Sam Cooper is a computer geek and Kate’s go-to team member for all things technology related.  She ends up in serious danger towards the end of the novel. DC Matt Barrett is the ‘straight arrow’ of the team. He’s extremely reliable and methodical. The final team member is DS Steve O’Connor who has links with the seedier side of Doncaster life.  They’re all supervised by DCI Bill Raymond who’s working his final cases before retirement in Bad Seed.

 

 

What do you enjoy most about writing crime fiction?

I love the plotting stage – figuring out what will and what won’t work and how a real police team would deal with my fictional crimes.  I also quite enjoy the gorier elements of the research – some of the science stuff is fascinating.

 

 

 

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Who are your favorite authors?

Val McDermid, Karin Slaughter, Stephen King, Margaret Atwood, Patricia Cornwell….how many am I allowed?

 

What are you working on next?

I’m currently writing the fourth in the Kate Fletcher series.  After that…who knows?

 

 

DI Kate Fletcher Series

 

 

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www.heleynehammersley.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Interview with Christine Carbo Author of the Glacier Park Mysteries

 

 

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A SHARP SOLITUDE – A GLACIER PARK MYSTERY

Interview for Benjamin Thomas


 

What’s your creative approach to writing a book?

I usually get my ideas from small things that spark my interest: an interesting article, a unique person, a story I’ve heard in the past that sticks with me, a line from a poem or a song…. If that thing of interest stays with me, I know I have the seed of an idea I’m willing sit with during the time it takes to write a novel. Once I have that idea, I will take some notes and brainstorm more ideas around the topic or character, but I’m not much of an outliner. I often simply end up diving in and writing as far as the headlights. Sometimes I’m at a loss for what should come next, get frustrated, and force myself to outline, but I rarely end up writing what I outline anyway, so it always comes out differently than I imagine it will. I also have no set writing schedule. I fit it in whenever it makes sense, sometimes in the morning, sometimes over the weekends, sometimes later in the day after my other job. I realize this is different from many other authors, but it has worked for me so far. I always think, someday I will create and stick to a writing schedule, but so far it hasn’t happened. Ha, I’m reminded of the saying: someday is no day.


 

Creativity

 

 

 

You write great characters in the Glacier Park mysteries. What’s the first thing you begin with? How do you develop them and bring out their flaws?

I often begin by thinking about a character’s childhood. So much of a character’s makeup depends on their upbringing: some important family dynamic (or even the lack of a family), a relationship with a parent, a traumatic event that may have happened. Our upbringings so often shape how we deal with circumstances that pop up later in life. Sometimes they prepare us well or sometimes our pasts leave us ill-equipped to deal with various situations and we end up making them so much worse than we want because of our own baggage. I find it interesting when a certain case or criminal situation that my detective or sleuth finds themselves embroiled in brings up unexpected emotions that have not been fully dealt with because of things that have occurred in their pasts.

For example, in my my first book, The Wild Inside, my main character is a lead detective – a Series 1811 – for the Department of the Interior who is called to the federal land of Glacier National Park to investigate a murder that occurs there. However, Glacier is the last place he wants to be because when he was young, something very traumatic occurred while he was camping there with his father. Right from the get-go, I know my character will be haunted by not only the place but by the crime he’s investigating. In my fourth book, A Sharp Solitude, my main character is a local, resident FBI agent in northwest Montana. She is also a single mom of a daughter she fiercely wants to protect and shield from having the type of childhood she had because when she was young, her father was not present and was even in prison for some time. She does not want her daughter to experience the lack of a father and makes sure she is able to spend plenty of time with her dad. However, he ends being a prime suspect in a local case, and my main character gets tangled up professionally because she is driven to protect her daughter. She gets involved in the case in spite of the professional conflict of interest. So, essentially, the things we throw at our characters can often resonate more deeply if they somehow brush up against past experiences of their lives.



 

 

Welcome to Glacier National Park

 

 

 

What’s the relationship like between Reeve Landon and FBI investigator Ali Paige?

Reeve is someone Ali actually respects. She admires his steady, persistent drive to go into the woods and do the work he does, which is part of the University of Montana’s canine detection program in which dogs are trained to help find the scat of certain wild animals for biologists to study. She does not view him as a deadbeat dad, like she saw her own father, yet, she does get irritated with him for putting his work first at times. Plus, in general, she does not understand how they can make a relationship work because, in fact, she sees him as being a little too much like herself. At one point, she thinks: “We both seemed to be followed by a certain darkness like a stray dog you can’t convince to go away. It was if we were always reminding each other that people never rid themselves of lonesomeness even in the company of a partner.” And of course, they both feel this way because of things that occurred in their lives when they were younger.



 

“We both seemed to be followed by a certain darkness like a stray dog you can’t convince to go away. It was if we were always reminding each other that people never rid themselves of lonesomeness even in the company of a partner.”

 

 

 

The settings are woven perfectly into your books. How important is it in your writing?

Setting is very important to me, but I like to point out that setting does not always have to be an entire area or town, or even nature. A strong setting can be a well-described trailer park, a busy, concrete-laden city, a popular bar, an old Victorian home, a cold cell in a jail, a small house not far from a refinery where the windows need to be shut when the wind is blowing in the wrong direction….

So, for me, the question is less about a particular setting, and more about the entire place that is the larger backdrop, or locale, for my stories which are made up of specific scenes in specific places. I don’t dwell on how to weave it in because I think that occurs naturally for the most part, but I do believe describing place is essential to creating good characters and stories because people are shaped by the places they reside, just as they are by their past experiences. And even past experiences took place somewhere, and that area will often inform how that experience played out and the character’s memories of what happened.

Because I reside in northwest Montana – where the landscape is such a huge part of our lives, where its grandness is obvious, I tend to weave geography and nature into my stories. I think many writers from the northwest and the west in general are well-aware of the area’s exceptionalism and therefore, incorporate it into their stories. I’m only about a half-hour drive from Glacier National Park, and at my house, where I usually write, I often see deer, elk, bear and sometimes a stray moose meander through my yard. Already this spring, I’ve seen a herd of up to seventy or eighty elk pass through about three times a week. It tends to inform our existence when every time we look out a window, we see something wild or dramatic, even if it’s simply the jutting mountains in the distance. When we drive to the store, we see fields with eagles perched on telephone poles looking for prey, reminding us that we’re never far from the wilderness. When I walk my dogs, I wouldn’t think of going into the woods without bear spray when the grizzlies are out of hibernation since I live close enough to fairly undeveloped areas, and even the developed ones have bears that meander through.

Also, Glacier brings millions of tourists to see its grandness, and I love Glacier, so it’s fun to set some of my stories in it or near it. I try not to preach in any of my novels, but I do keep in mind that nature is not something separate from us. And although Glacier is, in essence, an island of undeveloped, unmined, unlogged land – a place of unfettered beauty which is sometimes experienced by people like it’s an amusement park to be enjoyed briefly and then departed to return home where nature is not so obvious – I know that we are all a part of nature, even if we’re surrounded by concrete. I’m thrilled that we have conserved certain areas as we have, and I hope that people understand that these places should not simply be islands for enjoyment for a few weeks out of their lives and then left for their homes that might be viewed as less natural. No matter where we live, we are not separate from nature, and although concrete can create the illusion that we are, it’s important to understand how we are a part of it, even when we’re in the center of a city.

Because I carry these personal beliefs about the natural world, and because I’ve mainly written about characters living in northwest Montana, I tend to make characters that are acutely aware of their natural surroundings. I believe I would do this no matter where my book was taking place, even if not among the wilderness of my state. Over-description can definitely bore a reader, but a little attention to the clouds above and the trees on the sidewalk –even if they’re dying – and how characters notice these things or even the lack of them and how they treat them goes a long way to seat a story in geography, in place, and thereby create atmosphere. I do think that’s essential to a good story with deep characters.


 

 

Grunge state of Montana flag map

 

 

 

Have you been to a lot of sites you write about?

Yes, I’ve been to most of them, but every once in a while I make a place up: a landmark, a restaurant or a bar, a house, a campground….  In A Sharp Solitude, I have a scene about a shooting range near Tallahassee, Florida, and I made it up entirely because I have not been to a shooting range in Florida. Of course, even when making up a place, I still try to pay attention to the details that I imagine make that place unique.

 

In A Sharp Solitude, who is officially on the case of Anne Marie Johnson?

The county sheriff’s office has jurisdiction over the case since her body was found on county land, not far from Glacier National Park. She wasn’t found within the park; if she had been, the case would fall primarily under federal jurisdiction. Nor was she discovered in the city limits, so the police department is not involved either. In some instances, the county might ask for help from the city police department or from the resident FBI agents. However, I did not have my county characters corroborating with other agencies in A Sharp Solitude. The county runs the investigation on their own with two Flathead County deputies working for the detective division who are leading the investigation. The police department and the local FBI resident agents, however, would be well-aware of the crime and have access to its developments, which allowed me to have Ali, a resident agent, nudge up closely – too closely – to the investigation in spite of having a conflict of interest. When I was doing my research for the novel, I had called the lead detective from the county, and I asked her, would it be plausible for one of the local resident agents to just pop in to the county building while a detective from the county is interrogating a person of interest for a local crime without any reason other than to see how things are going? I had thought I was stretching things a little too far, but to my delight, she said that it happens all the time and that they all work closely together – that’s it’s not uncommon for the local resident agents to check in and see what’s going on and that they wouldn’t think twice of it. Sometimes, she said, the county asks for their opinion, their advice or for their help.

 

 

 

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What has helped your writing craft over the years?

Lots of reading, hanging around with other writers, going to workshops and learning to trust my own intuitions about my work. At times, especially when I first began writing, I have been insecure – as all writers tend to be at one point or another – and I have learned that insecurities can be helpful. So often, we think of the feelings of insecurity as awful and unwanted, but insecurities can actually provide fuel to get it right. They helped to keep me wanting to learn more, to never quit trying to do better, and to take advice.

On the other hand, I’m a little bull-headed too, which is also a useful trait in the world of writing. If you’re always taking advice from readers and critique groups, you can revise forever, especially if you can’t parse the good from the bad. It’s important to trust when you think you have it right and to stick to your guns when you do. Knowing when to listen to the critiques and when to shut them out can be a tricky balance. In other words, you need to know when it’s time to fully go with your story and trust in it, and that does take a certain amount of confidence. So, in other words, I’ve learned to use both my insecurities and my bull-headedness to my advantage, which has ultimately led me to be more confident in the process. But, it’s definitely a fluctuating process and some projects go more easily than others.


 

What are you working on next?

I am working on my fifth novel – one that has been a bit of a challenge for me (speaking of projects that go more easily than others). I have heard that sometimes a manuscript will resist us, no matter how much we love a subject, and this is my first experience with that. It doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be written. Quite the contrary – it means we’re onto something that is worth working harder on to get right. It just means we struggle a little more. In this novel, the main character has a very unusual job that not many people are aware of. She is a death-row mitigation specialist, which means she helps research, understand and interpret the dark case histories of criminals destined for death row to present recommendations to judges and jurors with the goal of mitigating their sentence. Only, she is currently taking a break from that job because she has had a crisis of conviction that has compelled her to retreat to a cabin in northwest Montana. A crime occurs in her neck of the woods that draws her back into that world which now haunts her, and she is forced to reckon with who she believes she is as a person.

 

Thanks so much, Benjamin, for asking such great questions!

All best, Christine

 

 

 

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Christine Carbo is the author of The Wild Inside, Mortal Fall, The Weight of Night, and A Sharp Solitude (all from Atria Books/Simon and Schuster) and a recipient of the Womens’ National Book Association Pinckley Prize, the Silver Falchion Award and the High Plains Book Award. After earning a pilot’s license, pursuing various adventures in Norway, and working a brief stint as a flight attendant, she got an MA in English and linguistics and taught college-level courses. She still teaches, in a vastly different realm, as the owner of a Pilates studio. A Florida native, she and her family live in Whitefish, Montana. Find out more at ChristineCarbo.com.

 

 

www.ChristineCarbo.com

 

 

 

 

Interview with Robert Bailey Author of the McMurtrie & Drake Legal Thriller series

 

 

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Meet Robert Bailey author of the McMurtrie & Drake Legal Thriller series

 

 

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His last challenge: live long enough to save the lives of those he loves.

Cold-blooded killer JimBone Wheeler blames Tom McMurtrie for putting him on death row. He once vowed that he’d bring “a reckoning” on Tom and everyone the southern lawyer holds dear. When Wheeler escapes from prison, he aims to fulfill his promise. Victim by victim, he’s getting closer to his ultimate target. But for Tom, who’s dying of cancer, the role of savior and protector is a struggle that is becoming more desperate by the hour.

As the body count mounts, Tom, his partner, Rick Drake, and his best friend, Bocephus Haynes, brace for a confrontation like nothing they have ever faced before. This battle will be waged not in a courthouse but on the streets and fields of north Alabama. With all those he loves at risk, Tom must save his family, his friends, and his legacy from a killer whose hunger for retribution knows no bounds.

Now, as time ticks down and fate and vengeance close in, who will survive Wheeler’s final reckoning?

 

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Interview Key Shows Interviewing Interviews Or Interviewer

 

 

 

What was your creative process when you wrote Tom McMurtrie?

ANSWER:  I was daydreaming in a law school class one day about what would happen if my professor actually had to try a case.  It was very much a smart aleck idea at the time, but it stuck with me. Soon, I was imagining this legendary professor who would return to the courtroom with a former student and I had the situation that would form the basis for The Professor.

 

What type of law did he teach in book one, The Professor?

ANSWER:  Evidence

 

What’s the relationship like between Tom McMurtrie and Rick Drake?

ANSWER:  Tom was Rick’s Evidence professor and trial team coach when Rick was in law school.  During a trial team competition, Rick and Tom got into an altercation, and the publicity from this incident cost Rick a job with a prestigious law firm and forced him to hang a shingle and become a solo practitioner.  In The Professor, Tom refers a longtime friend, whose family has been killed in a tragic trucking collision in Henshaw, Alabama, to Rick for representation.  He makes the referral because Rick is from Henshaw but also in the hopes that the case would give Rick’s career a boost. The two men’s estranged relationship eventually resolves and they team up to take on the trucking company by the end of the story.  For the remaining three books, they are partners in the law firm of McMurtrie & Drake.

 

 

 

 

Legal Sign Design With Scales Of Justice Symbol.

 

 

 

 

Who is Bocephus Haynes and how did  he meet Tom?

ANSWER:  Bo is also a former student of Tom’s as well as being Tom’s best friend.  Bo is an African-American attorney practicing in Pulaski, Tennessee. Bo met Tom after an injury derailed his football career during college.  After being mentored by Tom, Bo decided to go to law school and went on to become one of the finest trial lawyers in the state of Tennessee.

 

 

In The Last Trial, what’s the story behind Tom and his old nemesis Jack Willistone?

ANSWER:  Jack Willistone was the ruthless trucking tycoon from The Professor, who is arrested at the end of the story.  Jack makes a brief cameo in book two, Between Black and White, and is murdered at the beginning of The Last Trial.  The person accused of the crime, Wilma Newton, is represented by Tom in the ensuing murder trial after Wilma’s oldest daughter begs Tom to take the case.

 

 

 

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In The Final Reckoning, who is Jimbone Wheeler?

ANSWER:  JimBone Wheeler is a death row inmate who blames his imprisonment on Tom.  At the beginning of the story, JimBone escapes from incarceration with the help of a rogue nurse.

 

 

 

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What are his motivations in this story?

ANSWER:  To bring a reckoning on Tom and everyone Tom holds dear.

 

What kind of cancer is Tom McMurtrie dealing with in The Final Reckoning?

ANSWER:  State IV lung cancer

 

What is he fighting for in this story?

ANSWER:  Tom is literally fighting for his life and the lives of those he loves, as he tries to stop JImBone Wheeler from obtaining his reckoning.

 

 

 

Robert Bailey image

 

 

Robert Bailey was born in Huntsville, Alabama, the son of a builder and a schoolteacher. From the time he could walk, he’s loved stories, especially those about Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant and his beloved Alabama Crimson Tide football team.

Robert obtained a Bachelor of Arts in History from Davidson College in North Carolina. Law School at the University of Alabama followed, where Robert made Law Review, competed on the school’s trial team and managed to watch every home football game.

For the past thirteen years, he’s been a civil defense trial lawyer in his hometown of Huntsville. He’s married to the incomparable Dixie Bailey and they have two boys and a little girl.

When Robert’s not writing, practicing law or being a parent, he enjoys playing golf, watching Alabama football and coaching his sons’ little league baseball teams.

 

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Interview with Alice K. Boatwright Author of the Ellie Kent Mysteries

 

 

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Alice K. Boatwright

Alice K. Boatwright is the author of the award-winning Ellie Kent mysteries. In the first book, UNDER AN ENGLISH HEAVEN, life brings the skeptical American Ellie Kent to an English village as the vicar’s new wife; but death keeps her guessing how long she’ll be there. Winner of the 2016 Mystery & Mayhem Grand Prize for best mystery, UNDER AN ENGLISH HEAVEN has attracted an enthusiastic following.

The series continues with WHAT CHILD IS THIS? It’s now Christmas in Little Beecham . . . a season to celebrate with caroling, mistletoe, and mince pies. Ellie Kent is looking forward to her first English village Christmas, but a missing Oxford student and an abandoned baby soon draw her away from the fireside into danger.

 

 

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Interview

 

Who is Ellie Kent and where did she come from?

Ellie Kent is a divorced American professor of English literature in her mid-30s who falls in love with Graham Kent, a widowed English vicar in his mid-40s, marries him, and moves from San Francisco to his home in a Cotswold village. That is her biography, but, as to where the idea for her came from, I would have to say that, like all of my characters, she began as a mixture of me and not-me characteristics and slowly revealed herself as an independent being through the stories about her.

 

 

What is your method of character creation?

I don’t have any one method. Characters come to me in a variety of ways – for example, I wrote a story about a girl I saw on BART (the Bay Area subway) who had her hair dyed like a rainbow. Another was inspired by the idea of writing about someone who thought Marilyn Monroe should star in the movie of her life. Often I give my characters qualities that are the opposite of mine, which I think is a way of telling myself “This is not me.” For example, my women characters are almost always taller than I am and have dark hair. Wish fulfillment! They can also do all sorts of things that I would never attempt to do. . . such as solve a murder mystery. When I first conceived of Ellie, I was visiting England, but I lived in San Francisco, taught part-time, and longed to be able to move to England.

 

 

 

Create Ideas Aspiration Solution Inspiration Concept

 

 

 

How do you go from character creation to telling her story?

By the time I began writing UNDER AN ENGLISH HEAVEN, my husband (who is neither English nor a vicar) and I had left the US and were living in an English village. I knew from the start that I wanted to write about my love for England, its culture and traditions – as well as all of the changes Ellie would be faced with as an ex-pat and newlywed in a strange country. These issues became the backdrop for the mystery and an integral part of the book. I also knew that I wanted to write about the period from Halloween to Remembrance Day and plot elements, such as that Ellie would be accused of murder and would try to solve the mystery to clear her name. I knew the identity of the dead man from the first . . . but all of the details of his story took several drafts to become clear. I never outline. I prefer to let a story to evolve like a photograph that develops gradually and comes into focus over time.

 

What are the elements of good storytelling?

The bottom line is that the story offers believable characters striving against the odds to achieve what they need or think they want – and succeeding or not.

 

 

 

Storytelling Puzzle Audience Emotion Engagement 3d Illustration

 

 

 

How did Ellie and Graham meet?

They met by accident at the home of Ellie’s parents in Berkeley, California. Her father is a retired professor who taught for a year at Oxford during Graham’s time as a student there. Years later, when Graham is on a sabbatical in the Bay Area, he visits his former professor – and meets Ellie. Over several months, they become friends and lovers, and then decide to marry when it is time for him to return to England.  The first book takes place less than two months after their marriage.

 

What is the Cotswold village of Little Beecham like?

Little Beecham is a fictional, but typical, Cotswold village of honey-colored limestone cottages and shops, originally built to support a now-ruined manor house. The high street boasts a village store/post office, butcher shop, pub, antique shop, used bookstore, and library. It is book-ended by the 800-year-old St. Martin and All Angels Church at one end and the village school at the other, with a village hall just on the outskirts. Surrounded by woods and fields, it is picturesque without being a tourist attraction. It is located in Oxfordshire about 25 miles from Oxford.

 

Describe your editing process and the importance of rewriting.

For me, writing is rewriting.  I do my first draft very fast – like a sketch covering the whole canvas. Then I carefully build up the picture over about seven main drafts. Along the way I make notes, write character studies, draw maps, create timelines, consult experts, do research. As I get closer to the end, I print out the whole manuscript and read it aloud. Very close to the end, I share the manuscript with readers whose perspective I value and an editor. I also do my own final copyedit.

 

 

 

Diagram of Writing Process.

 

 

 

What do you like about having an amateur sleuth?

I love the traditional English mysteries with amateur sleuths, especially Miss Marple, Miss Silver, Harriet Vane, Agatha Raisin, Mary Stewart’s heroines, and others. Amateurs have to be brave, imaginative, and willing to improvise. They have no structure to rely on, no job description, no license.  Although I enjoy reading many types of mysteries, I have never been interested in writing any other kind.

 

What do you enjoy most about writing mysteries?

I like the fact that the traditional plot structure provides a scaffold on which to build the story, but you can vary the other elements as you wish. Creating the puzzle at the core of the story is a very interesting challenge because, as author, you know too much to experience it as the reader will. Finally, it is satisfying to write books where justice is served and good triumphs (at least to some extent). I think we all need that message these days.

 

 

 

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What are the most challenging aspects of writing?

The most challenging aspect of writing is sticking with your project through all the phases of uncertainty until it is the best book you can write. . . then following it through the further uncertainties of publication and public response. In writing, persistence is at least as important as talent.

 

What’s next for you?

I am working on the third Ellie Kent mystery, another book that has a mystery element but is not a murder mystery, and several short stories.

 

 

 

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Alice is also the author of the award-winning COLLATERAL DAMAGE, three linked stories about the Vietnam War told from the perspective of those who fought, those who resisted, and the family and friends caught in the crossfire.

She has taught writing at UC Berkeley Extension, the University of New Hampshire, and the American School of Paris. After 10 years of living in England and France, she now makes her home in the Pacific Northwest.

 

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Interview with M.R. Mackenzie Author of the Anna Scavolini Thrillers

 

 

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M. R. Mackenzie was born and lives in Glasgow, Scotland. He studied at Glasgow University and has a PhD in Film Studies. In 2016, he contributed a chapter on the Italian giallo film to Cult Cinema: An Arrow Video Companion.

In addition to writing, he works as an independent Blu-ray/DVD producer and has overseen releases of films by a number of acclaimed directors, among them Dario Argento, Joe Dante and Seijun Suzuki.

His debut novel, In the Silence, reached #2 in Amazon UK’s Scottish crime fiction bestsellers chart.

 

 

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Interview 

 

Why did you decide to get a PhD in Film studies?

If I’m being completely honest, a major factor was that, at the time, I was in my early twenties and had very little idea as to what I hoped to do with my life. I’d just completed a Masters in Film Studies, which I’d enjoyed, and felt I had certain things to say about an obscure body of films – the Italian “giallo” thrillers of the early 1970s – which no one else was saying. One of my lecturers, who later became my thesis supervisor, encouraged me to do a PhD, which I took as a vote of confidence and duly submitted my application. In doing so, I was able to avoid the big bad world for another five and a half years, while at the same time exploring, in considerable depth, a body of films I really like. The end result was a 90,000-word doorstop that people tell me has enhanced their understanding of and enjoyment of giallo films… though I did come out the other end knowing I didn’t want to spend another minute in academia!

 

 

 

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What was it like writing your first book?

Strangely enough, a lot like writing my PhD thesis, both in terms of overall word count and the sheer amount of time I spent on it! In the beginning, I wasn’t really sure what I was doing or if I was even capable of writing a novel, but I persevered and, over the course of several years, kept coming back to the manuscript, chipping away at it, refining it, adding layers to it… If I was doing it again today, it wouldn’t take me anything like as long – indeed, I wrote the first draft of the manuscript I recently finished in little more than two months – but at the time it was an essential learning process for me as I was effectively teaching myself how to write a novel from scratch, so there was a lot of trial and error involved.

 

 

How does your writing process differ between screenplay and manuscript?

It’s funny you should ask, because In the Silence, my first novel, actually started life as a screenplay. I wrote it very quickly: it took me somewhere between two and three weeks to go from the initial idea to a finished (albeit seriously rough) first draft – so I suppose you could say the biggest difference is time! I tend to find that there’s not actually a whole lot that separates the two mediums when it comes to the early planning stages. With both, I write copious notes and spend a long time figuring out the structure, the twists and turns, where the various act breaks occur, and then only start the actual process of drafting once I have a very thorough outline from which to work. A crucial difference, though, and one that I’ve learned to really appreciate as I’ve left scripts behind in favour of novels, is that, when you’re writing prose, you’ve got an opportunity to really get inside your characters’ heads. You’re party to their inner thoughts and emotions in a way that you’re simply not with a film. When you’re writing a script, you have to convey everything through action and dialogue, whereas, with a novel, you’re free to draw on a much broader and in my view richer toolset.

 

 

 

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What did you experience writing about criminology lecturer Anna?

Writing Anna is definitely an interesting experience. In many respects, we have a lot in common, while in others we’re polar opposites – not least the fact that I’m a 6 ft 3 man while she’s a 5 ft 2 woman! She’s someone who tends to have very definite opinions about things – again, some of which I agree with, while with others I disagree with her completely. In real life, I’m not sure how well we’d get on – though I suspect I’d probably just play it safe and agree with everything she said – but I do admire her determination and tenacity… even if it sometimes gets her into trouble. Over the course of In the Silence, I take her to some very dark places indeed, and I can tell you for a fact that I don’t half as much resilience as her.

 

What do you enjoy writing about crime fiction?

It’s a really good question and one I’m not sure I can adequately explain. I find myself drawn to crime and horror, both on the page and on the screen, both as a reader/viewer and as a writer. I suspect there’s something about the vicarious thrill of exploring our darkest fears from a position of safety – a bit like going skydiving or on a rollercoaster. But I also think that, more than pretty much any other type of “genre novel”, crime fiction tells us something about society. All the best crime novels, in my opinion, comment on or reveal some sort of truth about the world today, whether it’s something their authors put there deliberately or something that’s seeped into the bones of the story without its creator being conscious of it. Also, I really love a good mystery and putting all the clues together, whether I’m the one coming up with them or just the one trying to figure them all out.

 

 

 

Hands placing last piece of a Puzzle

 

 

 

Tell about Zoe Callahan in your next book, Cruel Summer.

Zoe was a secondary character in In the Silence, and for Cruel Summer, I elevated her to the position of central protagonist. I designed her to be the polar opposite of her best friend Anna. Where Anna is studious and a bookworm, Zoe is a party girl. Where Anna has very definite opinions about the way the world is and how it should be, Zoe doesn’t really have what you would call an ideology. Her emotions are very intense, but her response to any given situation is always governed by how it affects her or the people she cares about in the immediate sense as opposed to having a highly developed moral or philosophical set of beliefs. That makes her a lot of fun to write, because her responses are always very raw and visceral. She has a keen sense of right and wrong, and when she perceives an injustice as having taken place, she’s incapable of sitting on her hands and doing nothing. But because she’s naïve and impulsive, she tends not to think through the consequences of her actions, so her attempts to make things better quickly end up having precisely the opposite effect…

 

 

Who is Dominic Ryland and what motivates him?

Ryland is a mysterious figure, and intentionally so. He’s a charismatic but previously largely unknown politician who is suddenly thrust into the spotlight when certain shadowy figures, who are pulling the strings behind the scenes, pressure him into running for leadership of his party. We fairly quickly discover that he’s not a nice man at all, though I’ve deliberately kept his motivations, and the nature of the hold his “handlers” have over him, vague. If you want to find out where he really comes from and what motivates him to do what he does, you’ll have to read the book!

 

 

Does Cruel Summer have any thematic elements?

The main theme of Cruel Summer is justice – more specifically, exploring the limitations of the judicial process and both the rights and wrongs and the implications of taking matters into one’s own hands when the official system lets you down. Smashing the system, standing up to power, dispensing your own idea of justice – all these things are incredibly appealing, but as Zoe learns to her cost, all actions have consequences, and other people may end up paying the price for your follies…

 

 

 

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Zoe Callahan is having the summer from hell… and it’s about to get a whole lot worse.

She’s stuck in a dead-end job, her relationship is going nowhere, and the memory of the Kelvingrove Park Murders three years ago continues to cast a long shadow over every aspect of her life.

When a prostitute is brutally assaulted by Dominic Ryland, a rising political star with a suspiciously spotless personal reputation, Zoe leaps at the chance to distract herself with a noble cause, and sets out on a one-woman crusade to bring Ryland to justice.

But in doing so, she quickly finds herself on the wrong side of some very dangerous people – people who have reputations to protect and who would think nothing of silencing Zoe by any means necessary.

An explosive thriller set against the backdrop of a sweltering heatwave, Cruel Summer is the sequel to M.R. Mackenzie’s critically acclaimed In the Silence and the second instalment in the Kelvingrove Park Trilogy.

 

 

Available May 28 pre-order now: Cruel Summer

 

 

M.R. Mackenzie image

 

 

M. R. Mackenzie was born and lives in Glasgow, Scotland. He studied at Glasgow University and has a PhD in Film Studies. In 2016, he contributed a chapter on the Italian giallo film to Cult Cinema: An Arrow Video Companion.

In addition to writing, he works as an independent Blu-ray/DVD producer and has overseen releases of films by a number of acclaimed directors, among them Dario Argento, Joe Dante and Seijun Suzuki.

His debut novel, In the Silence, reached #2 in Amazon UK’s Scottish crime fiction bestsellers chart.

 

M.R. Mackenzie

 

 

 

 

 

Why I write Psychological Thrillers by A.J. Waines

 

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AJ Waines writes Psychological Thrillers with *nearly half-a-million* copies sold worldwide. She’s a #1 Bestselling Author: GIRL ON A TRAIN topped the full UK and Australian Kindle Charts in 2015 & 2016. She’s also the author of Psychological thrillers Don’t You Dare, and Inside The Whispers. 

 

 

Don't-you-Dare Medium

 

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Why I write Psychological Thrillers

By AJ Waines

 

As a child, I devoured the Famous Five mysteries by Enid Blyton and was later drawn to crime thrillers, such as A Simple Plan by Scott Smith and The Day of the Jackal by Frederick Forsyth. Ever since they became recognised as a distinct category, however, I’ve been captivated by psychological thrillers, loving writers such as Minette Walters and Nicci French, from the 1990’s onwards. At the time, I was in awe of all writers and the idea of actually putting together a psychological thriller myself was completely beyond me!

Before I first had a go at writing fiction in 2008, I was a psychotherapist for 15 years. As well as seeing clients with mainstream issues such as low self-esteem, depression and relationship issues, I was privileged to work with ex-convicts from high-security institutions. I found this work fascinating and aside from giving me ideas for novels, it gave me considerable insight into the disturbed and criminal mind.

So, should I try to write murder mysteries or psychological thrillers..? Which would I choose? In the end I didn’t. I put the two genres together.

In my first attempt at a novel, The Evil Beneath, I wanted to create a story that had a distinct mystery on the surface and a deeper psychological thriller lurking underneath. To create dissonance between what the reader ‘knows’ and what the lead character hasn’t yet worked out. I like to find ways to mislead the reader and to create jeopardy from the ‘inside-out’, rather than from the ‘outside-in’. By this I mean that the characters are exposed to danger on a mental level – mind-games and deception – rather than (or as well as!) a physical one.

I’ve written nine psych thrillers to date, with another in the pipeline, and my plots usually centre around the  hidden unreliability or instability of individuals in the story. My protagonists often face a tortuous situation: a missing child, a death made to look like suicide, a stalker, a simple but deadly mistake, for instance. In Don’t you Dare, for example, the story starts with a mother misunderstanding a situation involving her daughter and killing someone. This kind of mystery allows the reader to get right inside the minds of key players. It encourages them to try to anticipate how characters might handle certain dilemmas and tempts the reader towards trying to figure out what their true motives are. Not just ‘who dunnit’– but ‘why’ and ‘how dunnit’! It also invites readers to consider: what on earth would I do if I was faced with this situation..?

Most of all, I like the idea of dramatic events happening to ordinary people. A dark and deadly puzzle involving clues where hidden dangers come to light. I love twists and turns and that big OMG moment at the end, of course – that turns everything on its head! In my novel, No Longer Safe, for instance, nothing is as it seems… Many readers told me that when they got to the end of the book, they were so gob-smacked, they had to go back to the beginning to discover how the events turned out as they did! That’s such a great compliment for a writer. I love to knock my readers sideways – and there’s certainly a delicious sting in the tail in that novel!

In all my books I like exploring moral dilemmas and what happens when relationships are blighted by jealousy, secrets, lies or revenge. I like writing ‘domestic noir’ – what could be more scary than thinking you’re safe in your own home and finding that’s where your worst nightmares begin…

My current favourite authors are Belinda Bauer, Claire Kendall,  Lucy Clarke and Sabine Durrant. Brilliant books I’ve read recently are: Until You’re Mine by Samantha Hayes and Tideline by Penny Hancock.

Enemy at the Window, the next novel from AJ Waines is due for release by Bloodhound Books on 28 June.

 

 

BOOK GIVEAWAY

AJ Waines is giving away a free paperback of her book Inside the Whispers . To enter the drawing simply like, share this post on WordPress or on social media. A random winner will be selected! (UK adressess only)

May the odds ever be in your favor.

 

 

ITW only

 

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You can find AJ Waines at:

Amazon: http://viewauthor.at/AJWaines

Website www.ajwaines.co.uk

Newsletter http://eepurl.com/bamGuL

Blog: www.awaines.blogspot.co.uk

Facebook: www.facebook.com/AJWaines  

Twitter: www.twitter.com/AJWaines  

 

 

Author Biography:

 

AJWainesa

 

AJ Waines is a number one bestselling author, topping the entire UK and Australian Kindle Charts in two consecutive years, with Girl on a Train. Following fifteen years as a psychotherapist, the author has sold nearly half a million copies of her books, with publishing deals in UK, France, Germany, Norway, Hungary and Canada (audio books).

AJ Waines has been featured in The Wall Street Journal and The Times and has been ranked a Top 10 UK author on Amazon KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing). She lives in Hampshire, UK, with her husband.

 

 

 

 

Historical Mystery with Alan Bradley’s Flavia De Luce

Interview with Alan Bradley

 

Describe the historical background during which your story takes place.

The Flavia de Luce novels are set about five years after the end of the Second World War. England is still impoverished from the conflict, and social recovery has scarcely begun. Rationing is still in effect and times are tough. Old England is gone, and everything now seems shambles and decay. Only by clinging to ancient traditions do the people find a sense of comfort and security.

 

 

A lot of your stories take place in the English village of Bishop’s Lacey. What were such places like during the 1950’s?

Before the building of the motorways, and the rise of the motor-car, English towns and villages were much more isolated than today. Transportation was by railway. There was a profusion of local institutions and government, each providing services to a relatively small area. Many people had never traveled far from where they were born, although that was beginning to change. The war had brought an influx of servicemen from the U.S. and what remained of the British Empire. Strangers were viewed with suspicion. Some things never change.

 

 

 

Recessed Country Map Britain

 

 

 

What did you learn about Flavia De Luce while writing this story?

Flavia never ceases to amaze me, especially her frightening grasp of the underside of chemistry. I am always as surprised as any reader at the things she says and does. In “The Golden Tresses of the Dead”, I began to discover Flavia’s underlying compassion. I began to suspect that she might, in the end, come to love a few people as much as she loves corpses. Well…almost.

 

 

I love all of the titles of your books. Describe how you came to name “The Golden Tresses of the Dead.”

The title is taken from Shakespeare’s Sonnet 68, and concerns a certain ghastly and despicable practice which was once fairly common among those who will stop at nothing in their lust for money. Does it still exist? I hope not, although you can never be sure about anything where money is concerned.

 

 

 

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What do you enjoy most about writing historical mysteries?

The research is always great fun. England in the 1950’s has always been of special interest to me, and ferreting out forgotten customs and folklore is like a paid holiday. It isn’t so much a case of finding ideas as weeding out the vast number that present themselves. Each book centres upon a particular long-lost English custom or peculiarity, ranging from sociopathic stamp-collecting to peculiar religious sects, and from Gypsy caravans to the exhumation of saints.

 

 

What can you tell us about Ophelia and her wedding?

Feely has come to the altar at last, after a protracted on-again-off-again courtship with former Luftwaffe pilot, Dieter, who has elected to remain in England after being shot down and kept captive as a prisoner of war – and all because of his love of the Bronte sisters! Their courtship has been a war in itself, with Feely as fierce as any Field Marshal. Now, just when peace seems about to break out, something nasty is found in the wedding cake.

 

 

 

wedding funny cake

 

 

 

What’s the relationship like between her and Flavia?

It has been mostly a life of revenge and re-revenge. Feely is as vain a creature as ever fogged mirror with her self-admiring breath. Flavia fancies poisons. The outcome is inevitable.

 

 

What role does Dogger play in this one?

Arthur Wellesley Dogger, who served with Flavia’s father, Colonel de Luce in the Far East, suffers from what would nowadays be diagnosed as PTSD. Because of his fragility, Dogger has worked at different times as gardener, manservant, and general all-round handyman. But much about the man himself remains shadowy. In “The Golden Tresses of the Dead” Flavia and Dogger found their own detective agency: Arthur Dogger and Associates – Discreet Investigations. Their first official case involves rogue missionaries, quack remedies and, of course, that abominable crime to which I have referred above. All typical, of course, of a sleepy country village.

 

 

I recently had the pleasure of listening to an interview you had with Jayne Entwistle on Audiophile. What was it like speaking with Jayne for the first time?

It was astounding to find how similar our experiences had been in my writing the books and her recording them for the audiobook versions. Jayne has won awards for her portrayal of Flavia, and with good reason: her ability to bring to life a whole cast of characters is a special gift. The interview was conducted by an interviewer in New York, with Jayne in Los Angeles, me in a tiny studio on an island in the middle of the Irish Sea. It was like getting Mercury and Pluto together for a good old chinwag and an abundance of laughs. What we had in common, of course, was Flavia de Luce, who seems to have approved. At least, she hasn’t poisoned either of us….yet.

 

 

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Behind the Mic with Audiophile Magazine: Interview with Alan Bradley & Jayne Entwistle

 

Originally appears on AudioFile Magazine Feb. 15, 2019. Duration 30 min. 

 

 

Alan Bradley image

 

 

 

About Alan Bradley

Alan Bradley received the Crime Writers’ Association Debut Dagger Award for The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, his first novel, which went on to win the Agatha Award, the Barry Award, the Dilys Award, the Arthur Ellis Award, the Macavity Award and the Spotted Owl Award. He is the author of many short stories, children’s stories, newspaper columns, and the memoir The Shoebox Bible. He co-authored Ms. Holmes of Baker Street with the late William A.S. Sarjeant. Bradley lives in Malta with his wife and two calculating cats. His seventh Flavia de Luce mystery, “As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust” will be published in the US and Canada on January 6, 2015, and in the UK on April 23.

 

www.alanbradleyauthor.com