Interview with Paco Chierici author of Lions of the Sky

 

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Interview with Paco Chierici author of Lions of the Sky

 

What motivated you to write a novel? 

I have always aspired to write a novel, ever since I was a child.  As a first timer I had a sense of how difficult it would be, and still I underestimated by a lot.  Lions of the Sky was motivated by my desire to share the inherent drama of naval aviation while telling a thrilling story.  It’s such a fantastic world, filled with wildly interesting people and daily craziness. And when you add the peril of actual military action to the mix, it elevates the stakes even further.

 

 

In learning how to write fiction what helped you the most?

I love reading fiction.  I’m a voracious consumer of books.  I took note of how my favorite authors crafted their stories and did my best to write with purpose.  I love characters, so I took great care to create fully developed, real people who would react in a natural manner to the circumstances I threw them into.  I also love the details of flying jets from aircraft carriers and wanted to share the intricacies with the reader in a manner that pulled them into the cockpit as a participant without overwhelming them with minutia.  Lastly, I have always enjoyed explaining how the high level global maneuvering of governments affect the individuals at the pointy end of the spear. When you read the news about “The Chinese” aggressively building up their military presence in the South China Sea, and “The Americans” sending ships to sail through the islands asserting freedom of navigation, there are actual humans representing those nations who are put at risk.  I tell stories where the global tensions build on a macro scale, but the reader gets to focus on how those tensions affect the individuals at the points of contact.

 

 

How did you come up with the title Lions of the Sky?

I must say that coming up with a good title was almost as challenging as writing the book itself.  I was in the Blacklions squadron myself, so I am partial to that squadron name. My characters end up in the Blacklions as well, once the trials of their training are complete, and are then sent to face the threat in the South China Sea.  I liked the simplicity and allusion of Lions of the Sky.  

 

 

How competitive are fighter pilots?

The short answer is, massively competitive.  Every aspect of being a fighter pilot is a competition.  From the moment we decide we aspire to be fighter pilots we are put into a pool of applicants that far exceeds the number required.  I don’t know the exact numbers, but say thousands per year for just a couple hundred slots at the far end of the funnel. Every academic test, every flight, every physical fitness test, every medical exam, is an opportunity to fail and be removed.  Over the course of our 18 months of flight training we fly hundreds of flights, each graded. If one fails too many flights, you are washed out. Once we finish flight school and get to the Fleet the competition changes gears. Each aircraft carrier landing is graded and all the grades are posted in each squadron’s Ready Room for all to see.  

It is such a competitive environment that when we dogfight against each other, before each flight we recite the Training Rules in an almost religious manner.  They are strict guidelines designed to reign in our natural desire to win every fight so that we preserve a measure of safety while practicing aerial combat.  

So yes, fighter pilots are extremely competitive.

 

 

As the instructor what role does Sam Richardson play in shaping the younger pilots?

Sam’s role is to make sure that the students he greets at their arrival to the F/A-18 training squadron are transformed from excited young bucks eager to play with their new toy into men and women who are prepared to go into combat the day after they graduate nine months later.  He sets the tone with his example and experience but he’s also approachable in that he’s only four years older than his students.  

 

 

What drives Keely Silvers to achieve her lifelong dream? 

Keely is driven by the belief that the cockpit of a fighter is absolutely where she belongs. She is surprised at first that there would be any opposition to her becoming a fighter pilot based on her gender, then annoyed, then angry at constantly having to defend herself.  Her crisis of confidence is especially powerful because it seems to validate the external beliefs she has been battling. And its resolution is particularly poignant as well, not to give away too much. 

 

 

Does Lions of the Sky employ any themes?

Lions explores a number of classic themes including love, war, death, survival, prejudice, and in a manner particular to being a fighter pilot, coming of age. 

 

 

Who are your favorite authors?

My current favorites are Daniel Silva (Gabriel Allon series) and Michael Connelly (Harry Bosch series).  They both write character-centric thrillers and are masters at building tension while still writing beautifully. I aspire to their level of craftsmanship. 

I have always loved Hemingway, Le Carré, and Elmore Leonard for much the same reason. They have the ability to tell beautiful stories that have a tremendous amount of tension and fantastic, rich characters. 

 

Are you excited about the new Top Gun movie?

I am.  The first was such a cultural event that has had amazing staying power.  I have some friends still in the Navy that worked on the new film as liaisons and they assure me it’s going to be a good movie.  I’m hopeful that the new movie will be just as fun and fix some of the cheesier parts.  

 

What’s next for you?

I’m four chapters into the sequel to Lions, titled The Dragon.  We join Slammer Richardson on his next adventure, which is completely different from Lions.  It’s Slammer, this time, who is in crisis.  Shot down, stuck behind enemy lines, rescued and captured.  He’s got to find a way to make it back to the carrier so he can save the woman who helped him and stop an imminent war based on false pretenses. 

 

 

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In the world of fighter pilots, the most alpha of the alpha, competition is everything and the stakes are impossibly high. A Top Gun for the new millennium, LIONS OF THE SKY propels us into a realm in which friendship, loyalty, and skill are tested, battles won and lost in an instant, and lives irrevocably changed in the time it takes to plug in your afterburners.

 

AmazonGoodreads | Website

 

 

 

Fighter Jet Head-On View

 

 

 

About the Author

 

During his active duty career in the U.S. Navy, Francesco “Paco” Chierici flew A-6E Intruders and F-14A Tomcats, deployed to conflict zones from Somalia to Iraq and was stationed aboard carriers including the USS Ranger, Nimitz and Kitty Hawk. Unable to give up dogfighting, he flew the F-5 Tiger II for a further ten years as a Bandit. Throughout his military career, Paco accumulated 3,000 tactical hours, 400 carrier landings, a Southwest Asia Service Medal with Bronze Star and three Strike/Flight Air Medals.

Prior to writing Lions in the Sky, Paco published extensively in Aviation Classics Magazine, AOPA Magazine, and Fighter Sweep, as well as creating and producing the award winning naval aviation documentary Speed and Angels.

Currently a 737 captain, Paco can often be found in the skies above California flying a Yak-50 with a group of likeminded G-hounds to get his dogfighting fix. A graduate of Boston University, Paco lives in Northern California with his wife Hillary, and two children.

 

www.lionsofthesky.com

 

 

 

 

The Evolution and Development of the Jonathan Quinn Series with Author Brett Battles

 

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Jonathan Quinn is the best at what he does: making bodies disappear. Within the espionage world, his reputation is impeccable.

There was a time, though, when that reputation was still being built under his mentor, Durrie. A time when the very man who had taught Quinn all he knew could have derailed the young cleaner’s future.

Fifteen years ago, Quinn was offered a job. On the surface, a straightforward mission to stop a terrorist. But the client gave Quinn the additional task of taking on Durrie as his number two, as a last chance for the veteran agent to be rehabilitated.

Durrie had been on a downward spiral, going from being a highly respected operative to an unreliable has-been. These changes threatened to destroy everything—not only in Quinn’s life, but Orlando’s, too. She was Durrie’s girlfriend, and Quinn’s best friend.

Both she and Quinn were desperate to help Durrie return to the person he once was.
They hoped this job would be the answer.

 

Amazon | Goodreads | Website

 

 

 

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Discuss the evolution of freelance operative and professional “cleaner,” Jonathan Quinn.

When Quinn shows up in The Cleaner, the first book of the series, he’s been in the business for, I think, just under fifteen years. His first five years were spent as an apprentice, then, after being on his own, he becomes one of the best body removal specialist in the espionage world. To be clear, he’s not an assassin, though if he needs to act, he will. He’s the guy you hire to “clean” the scene of an operation so that it looks like nothing happened. This includes making whatever bodies have been left behind disappear forever. With the exception of his apprentice, Nate, from the first time we see Quinn, he’s basically a loner. But, over the course of the series (twelve novels, several short stories and a novella, so far), he reunites with Orlando, the woman he has secretly loved for years. With her and Nate, they become a team that only gets better and better at what they do. 

 

 

 

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How did the relationship between Quinn and Orlando originate?

Quinn and Orlando started off as apprentices at the same time, for mentors where friends. So, they often worked together. Quinn found himself drawn to her from the very start. But his mentor, Durrie, made the first move, beginning a relationship with Orlando that left Quinn out in the cold. Five years later, after a tragedy that threatened to divide Quinn and Orlando forever, Quinn has little choice but to go to her for help. From that moment, their relationship begins to mend until it becomes something even more than Quinn could have ever hoped.

 

 

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Who are the members of Quinn’s team?

Orlando, of course, who is both a badass in the field and pretty handy with computers. Nate, who is Quinn’s apprentice in the first several books, and partner in those that come after. Daeng, a former Thai monk who is pretty chill even in highly stressful situations. And, most recently, Jar, (my current favorite character) a young Thai woman who is on the autism spectrum, and is even better at all things cyber than Orlando. She’s also getting better at working in the field, too. There are other operatives who make occasional appearances, but these are the core members of the team.

 

 

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Discuss the development of the series featuring Nate in Night Man.

It wasn’t too long into the Quinn series that I began to think about featuring his apprentice Nate in his own stories. The problem was coming up with an angle that would set his books apart from Quinn’s. A few novels ago, an event happened in the Quinn novels that opened up an avenue I hadn’t even considered before. And from that came Night Man. I’ve also been able to set up up so that these “personal missions” of Nates come between jobs he does with Quinn, allowing him to continue on in the Quinn books, too. I’d tell you more but, you know…spoilers.

 

 

 

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Did anything stand out in your writing process during Night Man?

A few things. The Night Man books—well, book at the moment—will all be more crime based thrillers as opposed to spy thrillers like Quinn. This have given me a whole new area to dive into, which is exciting. I love that Nate is driven to fight for those who can’t fight for themselves by…let’s just call it…a voice in his head that he can’t say no to. The stories are also told in first person by Nate, which is different than the Quinn books, too. I absolutely love writing in first person. Finally, Night Man was a blast to write.  I’m not saying my other novels weren’t fun, too. It’s just that Night Man was enjoyable from beginning to end.

 

“Stay faithful to the stories in your head” – Paula Hawkins

 

 

In addition to the recently released NIGHT MAN, Battles has just published THE DAMAGED, another novel in his Jonathan Quinn spy thriller series. This time the story takes place fifteen years ago, when Quinn was still establishing himself as a cleaner—the person who makes bodies disappear—and centers around his deteriorating relationship with his mentor, who may or may not be going mad. A dangerous thing in a world full of guns and secrets and death.

 

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Brett Battles is a Barry Award-winning author of over thirty novels, including Rewinder, the Jonathan Quinn series, the Logan Harper series, and the Project Eden series. He’s also the coauthor, with Robert Gregory Browne, of the Alexandra Poe series. You can learn more at his website:

BrettBattles.com

 

 

 

 

Interview with Robert McCaw Author of Off The Grid

 

Off the Grid Koa Kane

 

 

A scrap of cloth fluttering in the wind leads Hilo police Chief Detective Koa Kāne to the tortured remains of an unfortunate soul, left to burn in the path of an advancing lava flow. For Koa, it’s the second gruesome homicide of the day, and he soon discovers the murders are linked. These grisly crimes on Hawaiʻi’s Big Island could rewrite history―or cost Chief Detective Koa Kāne his career.

The dead, a reclusive couple living off the grid, turn out to be mysterious fugitives. The CIA, the Chinese government, and the Defense Intelligence Agency, attempt to thwart Koa’s investigation and obscure the victims’ true identities. Undeterred by mounting political pressure, Koa pursues the truth only to find himself drawn into a web of international intrigue.

While Koa investigates, the Big Island scrambles to prepare for the biggest and most explosive political rally in its history. Despite police resources stretched to the breaking point, Koa uncovers a government conspiracy so shocking its exposure topples senior officials far beyond Hawaii’s shores.

 

Amazon | Goodreads | Pub-Site

 

 

 

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Author Interview

 

How did the idea for Off the Grid begin?

Three disparate threads came together to inspire Off The Grid. First, my wife and I bought a painting from an artist who lived in a ramshackle house deep in the forest near the nearly off the grid village of Volcano, Hawaii. Visiting her home, stuffed with all manner of eclectic objects of dubious aesthetics, made me think I’d stumbled into a writer’s dream. That the artist’s husband had some kind of clandestine military background only further sparked my interest.

Second, one night my wife and I drove up to our favorite local restaurant in Hawi, a small town on the northwest coast of the Big Island, only to find it permanently closed because law enforcement authorities had arrested the proprietor as a fugitive from justice. My subsequent research established that he was far from the only wanted man to have been caught hiding out on the Big Island.

Lastly, I am an avid reader of the international press and had become fascinated by one of the most bizarre, unexplained misadventures in contemporary military history. No spoilers here. So voila! I had fugitives from a bizarre international incident living off the grid in rural Hawaii. All I had to do was find a unique way to imagine their deaths and unleash my chief detective on the case.

 

 

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What was your process for creating characters such as detective Koa Kāne?

Creating Koa Kāne involved an iterative process. Given my legal background and expertise, I wanted a character who would work with a prosecutor. Thus, Koa became a police detective. The story is set in Hawaii and draws on Hawaiian history, culture, and language. To effectively relate the culture and language, I wanted Koa to be Hawaiian. Like all good protagonists, he had to have a compelling backstory—one that drove his passion for justice. As a criminal lawyer, I have long been fascinated with the ways that people’s secret criminal acts shape their behavior. Regret, fear, guilt are powerful emotions that drive people to both good and bad ends. A cop with a deadly secret in his past provided lots of interesting hooks for a murder mystery. Thus, Koa became the killer turned cop with a potent passion to extract justice.

 

 

 

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If you were to describe him, what are some of his characteristics?

Koa is smart and tenacious, but driven by remorse and guilt for having killed a man. Having escaped punishment for his crime, he is highly suspicious and paranoid about being conned, the way he deceived the police who investigated his crime. He is Hawaiian to the core, with a deep knowledge and appreciation of Hawaiian history and culture, but also worldly because of his military service. Viewing most politicians as disingenuous, he avoids getting involved in politics wherever possible, although he doesn’t fear confrontation when politicians attempt to impede his work. As the oldest living Kāne male, he is devoted to his family, especially his mother and sister, but deeply troubled by the disturbed and criminal behavior of his youngest brother. A loyal friend, his relationships with people run deep as exemplified by his bond with his giant fisherman buddy Hook Hao. He inspires loyalty in others, particularly Zeke Brown, the Hawaii county prosecutor. Ever playful with his girlfriend Nālani, he is proud of her expertise and accomplishments as a biologist and national park ranger.

 

 

 

Was it difficult writing about a police procedural?

Writing a police procedural required much research, but involved much fun. There are many tools available to writers. In my professional life, I had considerable experience with the legal side of criminal procedure, including warrants, searches, interrogations, prosecutors, grand juries, indictments, trials, and incarceration. I have used forensic text books, police equipment catalogues, and interviews with police officers to learn the more nitty-gritty side of police work. In this respect the annual Writer’s Police Academy, where federal, state, and local law enforcement officers teach police procedures was invaluable. 

 

 

 

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What kind of political pressure does Koa Kane face when he begins to uncover the truth?

Although Hilo is a small town, it has a political elite that cherishes and nurtures power. Koa, on the other hand, grew up dirt poor and pulled himself up through tenacious hard work, and is driven by remorse and guilt to find justice for the victims of crime. He has little patience for politics and believes that the rich and famous commit just as many crimes as the poor and downtrodden. These differing perspectives create conflicts when Koa’s investigations touch on the political powerful or their wealthy constituents, especially because his police chief is close to, and protective of, the mayor.

 

 

 

What was your experience coming up with the plot for Off the Grid?

I knew from the outset how I wanted to begin Off The Grid and I also knew the general shape of the ending. I’ve heard other authors say that it’s the middle part of a novel where you find out if you really have an interesting story. So it was with Off The Grid. I also wanted to fashion a multi-layered mystery, and so Koa first follows a string of clues to the identity of the initially unidentified victims. As he solves that mystery, he must discover and pursue the killers, yet that too leads to yet another question—who is the mastermind behind it all. And why?

 

 

 

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Why did you pick Hawaii for the setting?

I first went to the Big Island of Hawaii in 1986 and fell in love with the mountains and incredibly varied landscapes and climates. When most people think of Hawaii, its beaches and palm trees come to mind, but the Big Island has much more—rain forests, cattle ranches, and alpine climates to name but a few of its charms. Mauna Kea reaches 14,000 feet above sea level and was once glaciated during the ice ages. It still collects several feet of snow most winters. The day atop the mountain arise before sunlight touches the rest of the island and the sun set on the land below before it fades from the mountain top. If the weather is right you can stand on the beach, looking up through the palm trees to see the snow-capped peak of Mauna Kea turn red at sunset.

I was lucky enough to meet real Hawaiians who shared their knowledge of this most special island. The land, its unique history, the culture of its people, and their language fascinated me. I quickly learned that there are two Hawaiis—the “tourist” Hawaii, largely manufactured by a sophisticated PR machine, and the real Hawaii, largely hidden from the tourists. In many ways, Hawaii itself, the real Hawaii, became one of the most important characters in Off The Grid.

 

 

 

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What are some interesting facts you discovered in your research?

The ancient Hawaiians were great environmentalist. They imposed taboos restricting certain kinds of fishing during certain times of the year. They also created substantial aquaculture projects, raising fish in salt water ponds connected to the ocean. Their dry land farming systems produced surplus crops.

Lacking a written language, the ancient Hawaiians became great story tellers, not unlike the great epic poets of Greek and Roman antiquity, capturing their genealogical history in long poems, memorizing navigational information in chants, and explaining natural phenomena through legendary gods and goddesses.

Western businessmen—mostly sugar, pineapple, and cattle barons—spent years undermining the Hawaiian monarchy, whose sovereignty was recognized by the United States and many other nations, before these ruthless entrepreneurs staged a coup d’état, resulting in the expropriation of the Hawaiian Islands by the United States. For almost a hundred years thereafter, Hawaiians were forbidden to speak their native language in schools or government.

 

 

 

What were some challenges you faced while writing this book?

The biggest challenge that I faced, and the biggest challenge for most emerging authors, was finding a publisher. In today’s post-Amazon, super competitive publishing world, that is a tremendous obstacle for most emerging authors. I was extraordinarily fortunate to find Mel Parker, of Mel Parker Books, LLC, who became my agent and found a great publisher, Oceanview Publishing, for my book. Connecting with Oceanview Publishing has offered a second huge benefit. They have contracted to publish my third book—Fire and Vengeance—in 2020.

 

 

 

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What’s the best thing about being a writer?

As a lawyer I was always more or less constrained by the provable facts. A novelist’s freedom to invent stories and modify facts gets the creative juices flowing. Good review are also nice! But perhaps the most rewarding aspect of being a writer is to encounter the individual reader who says “I really liked your story!”

 

 

What kind of advice would you give to a new writer?

First, write what you know and love. Never attempt to jump on a “trend.” By the time your book gets written, edited, and published, the “trend” you sought to emulate will have passed into the dustbin. Second, find a good editor, one who will look at the substance of your story as well as the grammar and spelling. The exchange of ideas with a skillful editor will improve your work a hundred fold.

 

 

 

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Do you have any favorite quotes?

I will share four of my favorites quotes about truth.

“Truth never damages a cause that is just.” ― Mahatma Gandhi

“In a room where people unanimously maintain a conspiracy of silence, one word of truth
sounds like a pistol shot.” ― Czesław Miłosz

“It takes two to speak the truth—one to speak, and another to hear.” Thoreau: A Week on the Concord and Marrimack Rivers

“History warns us that it is the customary fate of a new truths to begin as heresies and to end as superstitions.” T. H. Huxley: The Coming of Age of “The Origins of Species”

 

 

 

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Robert B. McCaw, a seasoned attorney and veteran of many headline-grabbing cases, blends his decades-old passion for Hawaiian history with a life-long enthusiasm for crime fiction to create the compelling protagonist, Chief Detective Koa Kāne, in Death of a Messenger. A former US Army officer and judicial clerk at the US Supreme Court, McCaw’s firsthand military experience, legal expertise, and immersion in all things Hawaiian lend the characters in this richly layered thriller unparalleled authenticity. An avid photographer and part-time resident of the Big Island since the 1990s, he and his wife split their time between New York and Hawaii.

Death of a Messenger is the first novel of the Koa Kāne Hawaiian Mystery series.

 

Website | Amazon | Twitter

 

 

 

 

Allison Brennan on Writing & The Lucy Kincaid series

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Allison Brennan discusses writing and her new books in the Lucy Kincaid series, STORM WARNING and NOTHING TO HIDE.

 

 

How do you determine if your idea is viable enough for a complete novel?

Because I don’t plot, every book idea evolves as I’m writing. Usually, I have a spark of an idea — a premise, a set-up, a character conflict — something that interests me. If the idea isn’t working, I tweak it as I write. Sometimes, a story just flows and the idea was better than I thought. Other times, the initial idea isn’t strong enough to carry a novel — I’ve actually written a couple short stories/novellas on ideas that were good but not “big” enough for 100,000 words. But after three dozen books, I usually know based on the initial story concept whether the idea is viable.

 

 

 

Viability Word Thermometer Potetential Success Business Measurem

 

 

 

Do you approach writing every book the same or does it vary?

Yes. I start with an idea and a character and go from there. I don’t plot. I start at the beginning and write (mostly) linearly. At about the end of the first act (roughly page 100-150) I almost always get stuck and go back to the beginning. I add/cut/edit extensively. Then I finish the book. The first 150 pages usually takes me twice as long to write as the last 300 pages. And, ironically, it’s usually the first act that has more editorial notes than the last act. Go figure! But I can’t seem to do it any other way.

 

 

What are the bare essentials of your writing process? 

A computer and caffeine. LOL. Seriously, I write every day. I start in the morning and write until the kids come home from school—and often later. I wish I could say I write XXX number of words a day then shut it off, but no. I write anywhere from 1,000 to 5,000 a day. Some days—especially in the last act as I’m nearing the end of the book and am really excited about what’s happening, I can write up to 10,000 words in a day. It’s rare, and they need a lot of editing! (For example, once I wrote an entire chapter with no dialogue tags because I was typing so fast!) 

 

 

 

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How would you say your writing process has changed over the years?

Mostly, no. But I have noticed one fundamental change. My first five or six books I wrote from beginning to end, a “sloppy copy” and when back to edit. I wrote fast, a lot of it was a mess, but I had the confidence that I could clean it up in edits. Now, I can’t seem to do that. I edit as I go. About book seven, I realized that if I think I’m writing something that isn’t working, I can’t continue. I have to go back and fix it. This isn’t about the word choices or grammar, it’s about story. If the story isn’t working quite right, I can’t continue without fixing it. The good news is that my first draft is usually really clean and tight. The bad news is that it takes me a lot longer to write that first draft. Now, and for about the last 10-15 books, at the beginning of the writing day, I re-read the last scene or chapter I wrote to get me back into the story (editing as necessary) then write the next scene or chapter. 

 

How do you break down your story into scenes?

Instinct. 

 

 

 

Black luminous computer keyboard and edit key. Conceptual 3D rendering

 

 

 

 

Did you enjoy writing the next Lucy Kincaid books, Storm Warning and Nothing to Hide?

I always love writing. I’m doing what I love. Even when I’m struggling with a story or a scene, I love it. Storm Warning was particularly fun because I knew it was going to be a novella and I could focus on one linear story. The benefit is that I don’t worry about sub-plots, and the story itself tends to be more fast-paced. This has been true for all the novellas I’ve written, so they’re a lot of fun to write. Nothing to Hide started with a solid premise — I wanted to call the book Two Lies and a Truth because each of the widows lied to Lucy about something and Sean’s son Jesse lied to him about something. The book is really about the lies we tell to protect others, and the lies we tell to protect ourselves. 

Anyway, by the end of the book I loved the way it turned out, though I’ll admit at the beginning of the third act I had no idea how I was going to catch the killer (though by that point I knew who it was. And no, I didn’t know when I first started writing who was guilty!)

 

 

 

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How are these two stories related to one another?

They really aren’t, other than sharing the main characters. In fact, Storm Warning more directly relates to the upcoming Lucy Kincaid book Cut and Run. The novella was set against the backdrop of a storm and flooding outside San Antonio. In the beginning of Cut and Run which takes place two months later, Lucy’s team identifies four bodies that had been uncovered in a mass grave after the flood waters passed. Nothing to Hide takes place between those two stories.

 

 

 

Storm Warning image

 

 

 

How does Lucy’s background in psychology help her solve cases?

Criminal psychology has always fascinated me, and I’ve read a lot of books about the subject, as well as true crime. Psychology is a tool that can be learned, but mostly it’s a tool that many cops use based solely on experience. So to me, Lucy has the best of both worlds—she’s been trained in criminal psychology, and she has a lot of experience both before and after she became an FBI agent. Now that she has nearly two years under her belt as an agent, she has more confidence in her abilities, but she still calls in those who have more experience to help—as any good investigator will do. 

 

 

 

Successful Investigation, File closed and Case Solved

 

 

 

What dilemma is she facing trying to solve the crimes in Nothing to Hide?

The biggest problem with this case is that there is no apparent motive. The victims are very loosely connected (all married men under forty, all driving home alone at night, all killed by the side of the road when they exited their vehicle for no known reason.) But the men didn’t know each other; no one in their circles knew each other. They were of different races and socio-economic status. They had different family structures. The attack itself was quick but not painless, and as Lucy and her partner quickly learn, each injury was specific. The lack of motive for these crimes is what is keeping Lucy from solving it quickly—plus, there is little forensic evidence. If the crimes are truly random, Lucy recognizes that they won’t be able to solve the murders until the killer slips up and there’s a witness or physical evidence left behind. And so far, nothing. 

As an aside, I wrote the killer so smart that even I had a hard time figuring out how to solve the crimes! I went back to a statement made by retired cop Lee Lofland in one of his blogs: every contact leaves a trace. That means that the killer had to have left something behind, even if they don’t know what it is. So they go back and look more carefully at each crime scene. And while the evidence they do find doesn’t give them enough to find the killer, it does give them a direction to pursue.

 

 

 

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New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Allison Brennan believes that life is too short to be bored, so she had five children and writes three books a year.

Allison has penned more than two dozen thrillers and many short stories. RT Book Reviews calls Allison “a master of suspense” and her books “haunting,” “mesmerizing,” “pulse-pounding” and “emotionally complex.” RT also said that “The Lucy Kincaid/Sean Rogan books are getting better and better!”

COLD SNAP, was a finalist for Best Thriller in the Thriller Awards (ITW) and FEAR NO EVIL (2007) and COMPULSION (2015) won the Daphne du Maurier award. Allison has been nominated multiple times for RWA’s Best Romantic Suspense award, and the Kiss of Death’s Daphne award.

Allison lives in Northern California with her husband, five children, and assorted pets. Her current release is STORM WARNING: A Lucy Kincaid Novella, and NOTHING TO HIDE Lucy Kincaid #14 Available now.

 

www.allisonbrennan.com

 

 

 

 

J.D. Trafford Discusses His Newest Legal Thriller Without Precedent

 

 

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Interview with author J.D. Trafford

 

 

What was your experience creating Matthew Daley?

I knew from the outset that Matthew Daley was going to start high (fancy job and lots of money) and be brought low (no job and living in parent’s basement), but that was about it. Through the editing process the character, however, was became much clearer and the stakes became more significant to him personally and professionally. This is my sixth book, and I’d say that this book more than any of the others was created more during the editing process than in the initial draft. It reminded me that editing is not distinct. It should be considered an extension of the writing process.

 

What exactly is a corporate lawyer?

There are two kinds of corporate lawyer: transactional, when deals are made and partnerships are born, and litigation, when all those deals and partnerships go to hell. My experience is that the transactional, corporate attorneys are salesmen. They wine and dine. Corporate litigation attorneys are warriors. They love to fight.

 

 

 

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Describe the relationship between Matthew Daley and his sister.

Mathew grew up in an abusive household with another who is an alcoholic. His sister was his protector. She took a lot of the heat while he was growing up and that allowed Matthew to focus on his education and escape.

 

Does his sense of justice change throughout the book?

Yes, I think he began without caring much about justice. It was about winning or losing. He wanted to win because he was paid to win. By the end, the law became personal and he wanted to win for his family.

 

What kind of dilemma is he facing?

Like a lot of lawyers, you go to law school with an idea of how your life is going to be and then there comes a day when you’re like, “is this really it?” There is a gap between what you thought it was going to be and the reality of life. For Matthew Daley, he was living the dream and then he realized that dream came at a cost.

 

 

 

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What can you tell us about his fiancee?

She is also a lawyer at a big firm, and she is like a mirror image of Matthew Daley but it takes her longer to understand the realities and costs of what they do for a living.

 

Where is he blue-collar hometown located?

This book takes place in St. Louis, Missouri.

 

 

 

St Louis

 

 

 

How high are the stakes if he loses?

The case is his redemption. He has bet his whole life, job, and savings on this case.

 

How many attorneys does a large pharmaceutical company normally have?

I think the short answer is that they have as many as they need plus one.

 

What are you working on next?

I’m working of another legal thriller that takes place in St. Louis. I think I know how it’ll end, but if I say it out loud, I’ll jinx it.

 

 

 

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J.D. Trafford is an award-winning author who has been profiled in Mystery Scene Magazine (a “writer of merit”). His debut novel was selected as an IndieReader bestselling pick, and his books have topped Amazon’s bestseller lists, including Amazon’s #1 Legal Thriller.

In addition to graduating with honors from a Top 20 law school, J.D. Trafford has worked as a civil and criminal prosecutor, an associate at a large national law firm, and a non-profit attorney for people who could not afford legal representation.

Prior to law school, J.D. Trafford worked in Washington D.C. and lived in Saint Louis, Missouri. He worked on issues of housing, education, and poverty in communities of color.

He now lives with his wife and children in the Midwest, and bikes whenever possible.

 

www.jdtrafford.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Historical Mysteries with Author L. A. Chandlar

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About L.A.  Chandlar

LA CHANDLAR is a 2019 Agatha nominated, National Best Selling author with Kensington Publishing. Her debut novel, The Silver Gun – Book One in the Art Deco Mystery Series debuted in 2017. The Gold Pawn (Best Historical Agatha Nominated) released 2019, and Book 3, The Pearl Dagger, releases August 2019. Laurie takes a fresh look at the innovative and artful side of 1930s New York City and features Mayor Fiorello La Guardia. Laurie lives in New York City with her family.

 

 

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Interview

 

What do you enjoy most about writing historical mysteries?

  •       I love bringing into play a larger picture of the culture or the era. I feel like we learn about history in pockets and it’s so fun to learn about what was going on at the same time. For instance, we all know about the famous crash of the Hindenburg, but most of us don’t know it was tooling around back and forth across the Atlantic frequently. So it was a part of the New York City skies quite a lot. It’s also why I love to bring in cameo appearances of famous people, often before they were household names.

 

 

How long did it take you to write your first book?

  •       The first one was hard to figure out timing. I got the idea for the series right after I moved to New York City and we decided to start having children. Needless to say, I had a hard time carving out the hours to write. But I could read, so for a long time, I immersed myself in 1930s history and biographies of Fiorello La Guardia. By the time I figured out how writing works for me personally, because we are all unique and there’s no formula, then it went fast because I’d developed so much. It took about six months to write the first draft of The Silver Gun (of course that was after about seven years of research! Lol).   

 

 

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Describe the historical background of New York during your story.

  •       What I love most about this series, is the fact that often the 1930s is overshadowed by the Depression, and I show a different side. People automatically think soup lines and shanty towns. But despite all that, the thirties was a vibrant time full of innovation, women’s rights, art, humor… In some ways I feel like the 1920s and 30s were more modern and more like today than the 1940s and 50s. I think we regressed in some ways. Women were rising to prominent positions in the workplace before World War II and the lively spirit of Mayor La Guardia is inspiring. And funny! The humor of the time and of the mayor specifically is what I really love. So my protagonist is the top aide of the mayor’s, and through the story and through her perspective, I try to exemplify those qualities that I think our time has forgotten. The art and architecture of the time was vibrant and engaging, the cocktails were numerous and freeing right after Prohibition ended, and the era was smack dab in the middle of the two world wars. Yet, the beauty even in the midst of adversity was staggering. I think that’s why most people know what Art Deco is. For those two short decades, the art was distinctive and memorable.

 

 

 

 

 

Why are they called the Art Deco mysteries?

  •       Well of course they take place during the Art Deco era, and those words “Art Deco Mysteries” evokes that exact time frame. But it was also suitable because I wanted to show the vibrancy of art in that era (and in general). I have a piece of art in the background of each story that comes alongside a character as they navigate the mystery. I love those deeper levels, and I choose things that are rather unknown, or seen in a unique way. In The Silver Gun, Lane Sanders, the protagonist, comes across an old artist’s journal. The artist is a household name today, but then was not. In The Gold Pawn, Lane and later a villain, come across a famous classic novel that everyone knows but surprisingly few have actually read. And in The Pearl Dagger is my absolute favorite! In 1936 Orson Welles as part of the Federal Works Project, creates the first all-black theater cast and they perform Macbeth. They set the eerie play with a jungle and skeleton-esque stage. It was called Voodoo Macbeth. It was wildly successful, sold out ten weeks in a row and toured the country. I would do anything to go back in time to see it first-hand.

 

 

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Who is Lane Sanders and what is she struggling with during The Gold Pawn?

  •       Lane Sanders is the aide to the ninety-ninth mayor of New York City, Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia. In The Silver Gun, Lane realizes that her own history is full of questions and secrets. So in The Gold Pawn she has to face the ghosts of her past and wrestle with not only the dark parts of her family history, but the darkness within herself. An actual gold pawn is the death card of a famous crime network boss and the entire book is about that pawn as they unravel the mystery to discover not just what that pawn means, but who is the player and who is the pawn.

 

 

 

 

 

What’s her occupation and what was it like in the 1930’s?

  •       As aide to the mayor, she handles secretarial duties, press releases and is generally a sounding board to the mayor. Lane was raised by her aunt, an artist and philanthropist. So her upbringing makes her more worldly and ahead of her time, but like the artists were in the Belle Époque era and in the Village downtown in the twenties and thirties. So Lane is more progressive than many women then in some ways, but I portrayed her as someone whom Gertrude Stein or Dorothy Parker would have raised. She does face in the office some fanny pats and degrading things of that sort, that I remember my mother and her friends having to face. In fact there’s a scene where Lane takes one of the handsy guys to task, and the setting was from a story my mom told me, but Lane’s reaction is what many of us women are prepared to do in the subway now. Let’s just say she utilizes those high heels of hers very well. Lane also sees herself as a self-proclaimed investigative reporter. And everything she does on a day to day basis in the stories is often accurate from articles about the mayor’s office and the fact that none of the reporters could keep up with him. There are so many articles that proclaim the insufficient number of adjectives and storm superlatives to describe Fiorello.

 

 

Jack of All Trades Business Cards Diverse Versatile Skills Exper

 

 

What’s a typical writing day like for you?

  •       Right now I do most of my writing in the mornings after my kids go to school. The first book was writing primarily at night after everyone else went to bed. I think writers need to continually flex with what works in different seasons. I had a harder year with the death of my father, and honestly, I was exhausted physically and emotionally. And yet, you still have to work, you still have to feed the kids, pay the bills… But my regular routines just didn’t work. I ended switching around the day and had an hour or so here or there to literally do nothing. I could watch TV or nap or whatever. Because if I didn’t do that, the rest of my time was fruitless.

 

 

What role does the setting play in the Art Deco mysteries?

  •       The setting is mainly New York City and Lane adores the city. It becomes another character. And the setting is what makes the story a world. I love it when I read a book and when I’m finished, I miss that world. A book can have an excellent plot, but if I don’t miss the world, I probably won’t read it again. So I hope that the city and its spontaneous capacity for beauty and excitement, along with Lane’s family life with her Aunt Evelyn, really make people enjoy diving into the books.

 

 

How’s the writing going for the Pearl Dagger?

  •       It’s great! It releases August 27th and I just finished up the last edits.

 

 

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What can you tell us about the plot and the crime syndicate?

  •       At the end of The Gold Pawn, it is revealed who is behind the major crime syndicate. But at the beginning of The Pearl Dagger, the main characters don’t know yet. So it created a very fun writing situation wherein the reader is more informed than the characters. And you have to take into consideration readers who have not read the prior books. You absolutely can read The Pearl Dagger on its own. But if you’re a series lover,  you’d probably enjoy the series more from starting at the beginning. In this book, a pinball gambling racket claims the life of friend and a new ring-leader of the syndicate rises to power. Spurred on by the possibility of the crime network spreading through Europe, Lane and Detective Finn Brodie head to London where not only do they hunt down the intentions of the new crime boss, but Finn has to face the ghosts of his own past that threaten to cripple not only the investigation, but his life and Lane’s.

 

 

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Art Deco Mysteries

The Silver Gun

The Gold Pawn

The Pearl Dagger

 

 

 

 

Mike Papantonio Discusses His New Legal Thriller Law and Addiction

 

 

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Author Interview 

 

*What’s the connection between Jake Rutledge and Nicholas “Deke” Deketomis?

Jake is a brand-new lawyer, a recent law school graduate.  His brother has just died of on opioid overdose, and when Jake returns to his West Virginia hometown of Oakley, he discovers that opioid addiction has devastated the community.  This is what drives him to take on the country’s pharmaceutical companies – to hold them accountable for this widespread opioid abuse. Jake realizes that if he wants to succeed, he needs a seasoned pro — like Nicholas “Deke” Deketomis – on his side.  Deke is a partner at one of the country’s most powerful law firms, and is well-known for his winning tactics against corporate wrong-doers.  Jake coaxes Deke to visit Oakley to see first-hand why the once thriving town is now called Zombieland. Deke is overwhelmed by the devastation and agrees to join forces with Jake.

 

 

 

 

 

*Why is Deke reluctant to take the case from Jake?

Deke has more work than he can handle, but Jake reminds him of what it was like to be a young trial lawyer on a mission.  Deke has gone up against Big Tobacco, and nothing since has motivated him as much as this opioid case. It the same kind of life-and-death consequences.

 

*What’s Jake’s initial strategy against the Big Pharma companies?

Initially, Jake wanted to bring a case in state court on behalf of the individuals addicted to opioids.

 

 

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*What can you tell us about Deke’s legal strategy against Big Pharma?

Deke’s strategy is to represent counties that have suffered financial losses due to opioid addiction.  He personalized the deaths, beyond the numbers, by displaying photographs of 117 people who died in a single day because of opioids.  And he presents a series of maps, beginning in 1999 showing drug poisoning mortality data in the country, with death rate going from dark blue to dark red.  With each passing year, the complexion of the map changes, with more and more red popping up – as if the graphics were bleeding out for all to see. Deke then demonstrates precisely how Big Pharma brought about this massive abuse of opioids.

 

 

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*What interesting facts did you learn while researching for Law & Addiction?

When I was first approached about representing plaintiffs in an action against the major corporate opioid distributors, I knew little about the opioid epidemic.  As I write these words, somewhere in America an individual is dying of a drug overdose. During the next twenty-four hours, there will be at least 115 deaths from the same cause. In 2017, more than 72,000 people in the United States died of a drug overdose. To put that in perspective, during our seventeen-year involvement in the Vietnam War, there was a total of 58,220 American casualties.

The more I discovered, the more outraged I became. The opioid crisis didn’t occur as some kind of happenstance, but as a direct result of corporate greed. My legal team has documented these claims . . . and more. We have roomfuls of paperwork showing that these distributors knowingly and willfully opened Pandora’s Box, and the evils and misery that sprang out of that box are still plaguing our society.

My hope in writing this fictional account was to both edify and entertain. I wanted to provide readers with a front-row account of this epidemic, but not bludgeon them in the process. While I didn’t try to gloss over the human suffering, I still remain a believer in the power of the human spirit to prevail. At the same time, I am hopeful about getting meaningful justice out of this terrible and sad epidemic caused by corporate greed. I hope this novel does spark outrage in readers. As a nation, we need to be outraged.

 

 

 

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One week before Jake Rutledge is scheduled to graduate from law school, he receives the devastating news of the death of his fraternal twin, Blake. What makes this death even more terrible for Jake is that his brother died of a drug overdose. Until hearing of his death, Jake had no idea his brother was even using drugs.

When Jake returns home to Oakley, West Virginia, he takes a hard look at the circumstances of his brother’s death. In the five years Jake has been away for his schooling, his hometown has drastically changed. Because of the opioid epidemic, and the blight it has brought, many now call Oakley Zombieland. Jake can see how his town’s demise parallels his brother’s.

Undeterred, the newly minted lawyer takes on the entrenched powers by filing two lawsuits. Jake quickly learns what happens when you upset a hornet’s nest. The young attorney might be wet behind the ears, but is sure there is no lawyer that could help him more than Nick Deke Deketomis and his law firm of Bergman/Deketomis. Deke is a legendary lawyer. When he was Jake’s age he was making his name fighting Big Tobacco. Against all odds, Jake gets Nick and his firm to sign on to his case before it’s too late.

 

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Publishers Weekly Book Review: Law and Addiction by Mike Papantonio

Kirkus Book Reviews: Law and Addiction by Mike Papantonio

 

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Mike Papantonio is a senior partner of Levin Papantonio, one of the largest plaintiffs’ law firms in America, that has handled thousands of cases throughout the nation involving pharmaceutical drug litigation, Florida tobacco litigation, litigation for asbestos-related health damage, securities fraud actions, and other mass tort cases. “Pap” has received dozens of multimillion dollar verdicts on behalf of victims of corporate corruption.

Papantonio is one of the youngest attorneys to have been inducted into the Trial Lawyer Hall of Fame. In 2012 Papantonio became President of the National Trial Lawyers Association, one of the largest trial lawyer organizations in America. For his trial work on behalf of consumers, Papantonio has received some of the most prestigious awards reserved by the Public Justice Foundation, The American Association for Justice, and the National Trial Lawyers Association.

Papantonio is an author of four motivational books for lawyers. He is also co-author of Air America: The Playbook, a New York Times Political Best Seller.

Papantonio is the host of the nationally syndicated radio show “Ring of Fire” along with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., and Sam Seder. Papantonio has conducted hundreds of recorded interviews with guests, including Dan Rather, Helen Thomas, Howard Zinn, Arianna Huffington, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Bernie Sanders, David Crosby, Merle Haggard, Morgan Spurlock, John Edwards, Bill Moyers, Rickie Lee Jones, Alanis Morissette, Pete Seeger, Jackson Browne, Chuck D from Public Enemy, Henry Rollins, Ted Sorensen, and Elizabeth Kucinich. His role on “Ring of Fire” is featured in the movie, “Jesus Camp,” which was nominated for the 2007 Academy Award for Documentary Feature.

Papantonio is also a political commentator who frequently appears on MSNBC, Free Speech TV, RT America Network, and Fox News.

Papantonio is married and has one daughter. He is an avid scuba diver and often dives on the Emerald Coast.

 

www.mikepapantonio.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 .

 

 

Leigh Russell image

 

 

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Author Owen Mullen Discusses Crime Thriller Out of the Silence

 

 

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About Owen Mullen

Owen Mullen is a McIlvanney Crime Book Of The Year long-listed novelist. And So It Began earned a coveted Sunday Times Crime Club ⭐Star pick

 

 

Interview

 

How did the idea for Out of the Silence develop into a full novel?

 

Hi Benjamin, and thank you for inviting me here.

I woke up with the idea one morning; it came to me almost whole. The beginning and ending arrived exactly as they appear in the book. After that I pieced the individual character’s stories together, then folded them in and out of each other as I wrote. The original draft underwent many, many revisions until I was satisfied I was telling the tale I’d imagined.

 

 

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Did you decide that Ralph Buchanan would be an investigative reporter early in the process?

Ralph wasn’t in the original run of the story and didn’t appear until my wife read what I’d written and asked ‘Yes, it’s very good, but which part will Leonardo play?’ And Ralph was born.

 

 

Why was he banished to Pakistan by his Newspaper?

He was banished because of his drink-fuelled behaviour. In the original I spent 40,000 words exploring Ralph’s back story until again, my wife Christine asked ‘What story are you telling?’

 

 

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Who is Simone Jasnin and what’s her role in the story?

Simone is the Doctor who treats the injured Afra in a rural hospital. Incensed by what she’s seen she goes to Lahore seeking someone to help her expose these types of injustices. That someone turns out to be Ralph Buchanan

 

How did you determine Pakistan was the setting for the story?

Pakistan was perfect for this story…a beautiful, diverse country rich in culture and history, but like most places when you scratch the surface a darker truth lies hidden.

 

 

 

Map of Pakistan

 

 

 

What was your research about Pakistan like?

Exciting! I travelled to the region, read many books, spoke to people and spent long hours on the internet.

 

What’s next for you?

I’ve literally just finished the follow-up to In Harm’s Way which picks the story up five years on. Next project is already underway; a story about two South London gangsters.

 

 

 

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When no one knows you are in danger how can you ever be saved…
The Baxter house in the Lowther Hills, in Scotland, has been on the estate agent’s books for decades. Dilapidated and near-derelict, nobody is interested in it. But, for one potential buyer, the remote location and rat-infested cellar are perfect.

For the first year, Mackenzie’s marriage to Derek was ideal. But Derek believes she is having an affair and when she realises her husband is becoming controlling, she knows she’s made a terrible mistake.

But Mackenzie has a drinking problem so when she threatens to leave Derek and then disappears no one believes she has been abducted.

DS Geddes is handed the case but isn’t convinced anything criminal has taken place until a startling development comes to light.

Has Mackenzie been abducted or has she simply left her husband?

And who has bought The Baxter house and for what purpose?

 

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Owen Mullen image

 

 

Owen Mullen graduated from Strathclyde University, moved to London and worked as a rock musician, session singer and songwriter, and had a hit record in Japan with a band he refuses to name; Owen still loves to perform on occasion. His great love for travel has taken him on many adventures from the Amazon and Africa to the colourful continent of India and Nepal. A gregarious recluse, he and his wife, Christine, split their time between Glasgow, and their home away from home in the Greek Islands where the Charlie Cameron and Delaney series’, and the In Harm’s Way psychological thriller were created.

My books raise a lot of social issues…If you would like a set of questions for #bookgroupdiscussions please contact me.

 

 

 

 

 

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 ;-).

 

 

 

GREATEST - Glowing Neon Sign on stonework wall

 

 

 

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)