Detective Kay Hunter Blog Tour: Cradle To Grave by Rachel Amphlett

 

 

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Will Kay be able to find a ruthless killer and a missing child before it’s too late?

 

 

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About the Audiobook

Author: Rachel Amphlett

Narrator: Alison Campbell

Length: 7 hours 56 minutes

Publisher: Saxon Publishing⎮2019

Genre: Mystery, Police Procedural

Series: Detective Kay Hunter, Book 8

Release date: Oct. 15, 2019

 

 

 

 

Synopsis: When a faceless body is found floating in the river on a summer’s morning, Detective Kay Hunter and her team are tasked with finding out the man’s identity and where he came from.

The investigation takes a sinister turn when an abandoned boat is found, covered in blood stains and containing a child’s belongings.

Under mounting pressure from a distraught family and an unforgiving media, the police are in a race against time – but they have no leads and no motive for the events that have taken place.

Will Kay be able to find a ruthless killer and a missing child before it’s too late?

Cradle to Grave is the eighth book in the Detective Kay Hunter series by USA Today best-selling author Rachel Amphlett and perfect for listeners who love fast-paced murder mysteries.

 

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Four star review rating

 

 

Coming back to book #8 in the Kay Hunter series was like meeting up again with old time friends. I always enjoy a good crime thriller, or police procedural, especially one based in the UK.  Author Rachel Amphlett writes a tight plot that’ll keep you guessing until the very end.

 

 

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About the Author: Rachel Amphlett

Before turning to writing, Rachel Amphlett played guitar in bands, worked as a TV and film extra, dabbled in radio as a presenter and freelance producer for the BBC, and worked in publishing as a sub-editor and editorial assistant.

She now wields a pen instead of a plectrum and writes crime fiction and spy novels, including the Dan Taylor espionage novels and the Detective Kay Hunter series.

Originally from the UK and currently based in Brisbane, Australia, Rachel cites her writing influences as Michael Connelly, Lee Child, and Robert Ludlum. She’s also a huge fan of Peter James, Val McDermid, Robert Crais, Stuart MacBride, and many more.

She’s a member of International Thriller Writers and the Crime Writers Association, with the Italian foreign rights for her debut novel, White Gold sold to Fanucci Editore’s TIMECrime imprint, and the first four books in the Dan Taylor espionage series contracted to Germany’s Luzifer Verlag.

 

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Alison Campbell narrator Cradle to grave

 

About the Narrator: Allison Campbell

Alison Campbell is an actress based in Bristol, U.K. She has lent her voice to 50+ audiobooks, cartoons, documentaries and dramas. She can be found treading the boards across the country, in everything from Shakespeare to hip hop kids adventures. On screen she has appeared in dramas and science documentaries, her most recent co star was a CGI elephant. She can also be found performing the Natural Theatre Company’s award-winning surreal brand of interactive comedy around the globe.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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Blog Tour: A Murder in Mount Moriah by Mindy Quigley

 

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About Audiobook #1

 

Author: Mindy Quigley

Narrator: Holly Adams

Length: 9 hours 36 minutes

Publisher: Mindy Quigley⎮2015

Genre: Cozy Mystery

Series: Lindsay Harding Mysteries, Book 1

Release date: Apr. 15, 2015

 

 

 

 

Synopsis: From award-winning mystery writer Mindy Quigley comes a hilarious tale of small-town intrigue and big-time crime.

For hospital chaplain Lindsay Harding, facing death is part of the job. After all she spends her working days comforting sick and dying patients. But when the annual Civil War reenactment in her hometown of Mount Moriah, North Carolina, produces a real casualty, the Grim Reaper suddenly gets a little too close for comfort. With the clock ticking, the police struggle to unravel how and why a beloved local reenactor was shot in front of hundreds of onlookers. As fingers point and tempers flare, another victim ends up laid out on Lindsay’s front porch.

Lindsay’s life is in danger, but her efforts to expose the century-old sins that lie at the heart of the mystery are undermined by her disastrous love life, her no-good mother, and a ninja-like squirrel – not to mention the small matter of a dangerous killer who’ll stop at nothing to keep a sinister secret. Will courage, curiosity, and Lindsay’s irreverent brand of religion be enough to catch the killer before she becomes the next victim?

 

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There’s good books, great books, thrilling and exceptionally well written ones–but not all have what I call, the ENTERTAINMENT FACTOR. That’s why I love when I come across one. Insert Mindy Quigley’s Mount Moriah series starring ultra-adorable Lindsay Harding. What an adventurous romp! I just finished the first book in the series, A Murder in Mount Moriah and it was a hilariously entertaining mystery. This was the audiobook version narrated by Holly Adams. When you listen to her skillfully characterize each person with distinct southern accents, it adds stunning depth to an already amazing story. Don’t miss out on this series!

 

 

Author Interview

 

Was a possible audiobook recording something you were conscious of while writing? 

Not remotely. Audible was still a fairly young company when I started writing the first book, and it wasn’t really on my radar screen. For a while, Amazon had a program where they offered to cover the costs for authors to have their books made into audiobooks using professional actors and production staff. I was lucky enough to be selected for that program. 

Can I admit something terrible? As an author, you face so much rejection, so it was pretty great to have the tables turned. I got to audition narrators, negotiate terms, and make the ultimate decisions. It was an awesome experience to have the buck stop with me for a change!

 

 

How did you select your narrator?

I received dozens of audition tapes and had started to make a short list of possible narrators. When I heard Holly Adams’ audition, however, it went right to the top of the list. Her command of her voice–tone, accent, humor, diction–just blew away the competition.

 

 

Were there any real life inspirations behind your writing? 

The fact that my main characters are ministers and chaplains was drawn from real life. Two of my college roommates went on to become ministers, which was strange given that we didn’t go to a religious college and neither of them had particularly religious upbringings. My two roommates now provide wonderful, heartfelt pastoral care, all while taking irreverence to new and hilarious heights—traits I stole for Lindsay. 

Having been young women in our late teens and early twenties together helped me to see that ministers really are just humans, prone to all the same flaws and worries as anybody else. When you’ve seen someone eating dry pancake mix straight out of the box with a spoon, it really takes them off their pedestal. 

For the sake of my poor mother, I should take this opportunity to clarify that my main character’s mother, a no-good criminal sleazebag, is NOT based on her.

 

 

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About the Author: Mindy Quigley

 

Mindy Quigley is the author of the Mount Moriah cozy mystery series, which is based in part on her time working with the chaplains at Duke University Medical Center. Her short stories have won awards including the 2013 Bloody Scotland Short Story Competition and the 2018 Artemis Journal/Lightbringer Prize. Her non-writing career has been stranger than fiction, taking her from the US to the UK, where she worked as the personal assistant to the scientist who cloned Dolly the sheep, and as project manager for a research clinic founded by the author J.K. Rowling.

She now lives in Blacksburg, Virginia, with her Civil War history professor husband, their children, and their idiosyncratic miniature Schnauzer. 

 

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About the Narrator: Holly Adams

An actress and physical theatre performer for many years before becoming a Voice Actor, Holly continues to divide her time between stage, screen, circus, and audiobook narration. 

Holly began her VO career doing radioplays and audiobook characters with the amazing Full Cast Audio company. Since then, Holly has voiced radio and web commercials, various e-learning projects, documentary shorts. . . and of course, audiobooks! She has been nominated for Best Fiction and Best Female Narrator.  Holly has conservatory training; her attention to tone, energy and rhythm make her work personal and dynamic. Holly’s performance projects abroad (Italy, Afghanistan, Haiti, Russia, the UK, France, and the Middle East!) support her training and skill with dialects and languages.

 Holly records for Audible, Deyan Audio, Christian Audiobooks, Tantor, and more. Holly loves telling stories!

When she’s not in the recording studio, she is on stage or screen; favorite projects include Richard II, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, As You Like It, the films “Here Alone”, “Gotham Blue” and “Your Loving, Virginia”, working with girls in Kabul for the Afghan Children’s Circus and with  performers in Balan, Haiti, as well as with her ‘home circus’ Circus Culture. Holly is a SAG-AFTRA performer, a graduate of the International Dell ‘Arte School, and holds a Master’s in Theatre, Education and Social Change. Https://shearwaterproductions.com/voice-actor and on IMDb as Holly Adams III.

 

 

 

 

 

How Honey Became a Character by LC Hayden

 

 

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How Honey Became a Character

By L.C. Hayden

 

 

In order to understand how Honey, the dog, came to be a character in my latest thriller When Memory Fails, one must first know a bit about the story’s basic plot.

Sandy Sechrest, her boyfriend Daniel, and retired Detective Harry Bronson head for Sechrest Falls, a ghost town in Colorado, which houses an alluring ledger that the three seek. The sole resident in this ghost town is a character simply known as The Hermit.

In order for this story to work, I knew that the Hermit needed to be a strong character, one that the readers would identify with. However, when I read the first draft of When Memory Fails, the Hermit was definitely not memorable. The story needed something that would give the Hermit a boost.  I considered adding another character. I quickly eliminated that idea as it would only detract from the story.

What then? I thought and thought. Then it hit me.

The Hermit would have a dog. Yes, the right type of dog would be ideal.

Once I had decided this, my next step was to create such a dog. That meant first finding the right kind of breed. I felt overwhelmed when I realized that a lot of types of breeds exist, not to mention the sub-breeds. Which one should I choose? And how could I narrow this list down?

As I’m brooding over this, my dog, a Basenji named Honey, nudged me.

I looked at her.

She nudged me again. Feed me.

“Later,” I told her. I wanted to finish my research.

She gently hit my hand with her nose. No, now.

I glared at her. She nudged me again. I sighed and stood up. “Okay, dog, you win.” I went to the kitchen and prepared her food. For any other dog, this would be the end of the task. But not for Honey. She insists on me being present when she eats. If I simply put her food down and walk away, she will follow me and not eat. She’d rather starve. Consequently, I crossed my arms and waited until she finished eating.

Once she did, I quickly headed for my computer to finish my work. Honey ran in front of me, blocking my way. I stopped and looked at her.

Aren’t you forgetting something? her eyes seemed to ask.

I gave myself a mental tap on my forehead. Oh, yeah. Her after-dinner treat: a dental chew stick we call Greenie. Thank God she is willing to eat this by herself without me being present. I gave it to her and made a mad dash for my computer.

Minutes later, she stood by me and yelped. Basenji’s don’t bark as their ancestors used to live with the Egyptian pharaohs in their castles. Therefore, the dogs were not allowed to bark. To guarantee that there would be no barking in the castle, the king ordered the dogs’ vocal chords removed. Through generations, this breed of dogs lost their ability to bark, but they are definitely not one-hundred percent quiet. They learned to yodel and make all kinds of other noises. Thus the reason Honey yelped instead of barked.

I knew what she wanted. “Let me finish this first, and then we’ll take you for your walk,” I told her.

She let out another high pitch yelp.

I ignored her.

She yelped again.

I did my darnest to ignore her.

She yelped.

I stood up. “Okay, okay, you win. I get it. You want your walk now.”

Rich, my husband, put her harness on and the three of us went for the walk. Half-an-hour later, as we headed home, I treasured the idea that Honey likes to take a nap after her walk. Good. Finally, I’ll find the time to continue editing my novel.

We reached our house, and Rich said that he was a bit tired and was also going to take a nap. Great! A picture of a quiet house danced in my head. I could finally focus on my research.

That lasted a whole five minutes.

Honey let out a loud whining, not once, but a constant sound that sent a chill running down my back. I bolted out of my chair, nearly knocking it down, and ran down the hallway and into our bedroom.

Thankfully, being hard of hearing, my husband remained sound asleep. Honey stood beside the bed by his head, looking up at him, whining.

“Honey, what’s wrong? You’re going to wake Daddy up. Hush.” I pulled her toward me.

She worked her way free and resumed her stance by Rich’s head. Once again, she whined. I grabbed her again and the entire incident repeated itself.

In spite of my efforts to keep the dog quiet, my husband woke up. He opened his eyes and looked at her. “What’s wrong, Honey? You ate, you got your treat, and your walk. What do you want?”

Honey whined.

Rich sat up on the bed.

“Honey?”

She continued to whine.

“Do you want to play? Is that it?”

Her answer came in the form of another whine.

“Okay, okay. We’ll play.” Rich got up and reached for his shoes.

Soon as he was out of bed, the dog jumped up and occupied the same spot Rich had just vacated. She curled up and went to sleep.

Rich and I stood looking at her. She wanted his spot, and she got the spot.

I shook my head. “What a dog,” I told my husband.

Rich agreed.

I went back to work on my computer.

Now, let’s see, where was I? Oh yeah, I was about to decide on what kind of a breed the dog in my story should be. I considered the qualifications I needed for my fictional dog to have.

First of all, the dog shouldn’t be too big or too small. It had to be just the right size. An image of Honey popped in my head. I nodded. Yeah, a dog about her size would be ideal.

Second, I needed basically a quiet dog, like a Basenji.

Same image popped up. Honey.

I needed a dog that had a cute personality.

Honey.

I needed a dog that had a strong personality that always found a way to communicate with the humans in the story.

Honey.

I shook off the images and began the research. I typed in on the Google bar dog breeds. I heard Honey gently snoring, happy that everything had gone according to her schedule.

Honey.

I closed the search bar. I didn’t need to do any research. I had everything I needed here at home.

And that’s how Honey became a character in my book—and will continue to be a character in future Bronson books.

Honey. What a dog.

Read Honey’s first adventure in When Memory Fails at www.tinyurl.com/LCHaydenMemory .

 

 

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What happens when you lose your memory and others are depending on you?

When Sandra Sechrest discovers the terrible secret about her family’s ancestors, she’s determined to right the wrongs. She seeks Bronson, a retired detective’s help. They along with Bronson’s nephew travel to a ghost town in Colorado to unearth the secrets buried there.

But Sandra’s family led by the evil Bobbi Lazzarone will do anything to guarantee that Sandra fails—anything, including murder.

Suddenly Sandra, Daniel, and Bronson are thrown into a world filled with deception and danger. Bronson swears to protect the young couple at all costs, but when the house he’s at explodes, Bronson is left for dead, and Daniel and Sandra are forced to fend for themselves.

When Bronson regains consciousness, he can’t remember who he is, where he’s at, and why he’s there. Will he regain his memory in time to save Daniel and Sandra? Or has he finally met his match When Memory Fails?

 

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About L.C. Hayden

 

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L. C. Hayden is known for her adventures and for her travels. When her fans ask her why she does this, she answers, “Take Aimee Brent, my character in the Aimee Brent Mystery Series. She learned how to scuba dive. Do you really think I’m going to let her have more fun than me? No way! She had to learn how to scuba dive, so I learned how to scuba dive.
“Harry Bronson, my character in the Harry Bronson Thriller Series, has a motor home and travels all over. Well, guess what? I have a motor home and I travel all over.”

Hayden considers herself very lucky. She has been touched many times by miracles and angels. That led her to write her series based on hers and others’ angel and miracle experiences. “These books are very well received, both nationally and internationally.”

One of Hayden’s greatest joy is being a grandmother. “That’s the reason I wrote the children’s picture books. Don’t be surprised if the age level for my children’s books increases as my grandkids grow up.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audiobook Blog Tour: The Death in the Drink by Shea Macleod

 

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A local costuming guild has arrived in Astoria for a long weekend of recreating their favorite time period–the Regency. Think Jane Austen, sailing ships, high tea, a costume ball, and…a dead body.

When the guild’s nastiest member winds up dead in the drink, Viola is convinced it’s no accident. And after the husband of the deceased gets into a brawl on the front lawn of the town’s most well-known landmark, she knows something’s up. Armed with nothing more than a folding fan and her wits, she sets out to unveil the killer before somebody else winds up in Davy Jones’s locker.

 

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Viola and Cheryl are at it again in the latest mystery in Death in the Drink. You know you have a great story when you enjoy spending time with the characters. It doesn’t get better than that for the reader. The Viola Roberts series is much more than just good entertaining characters. The plotting, mystery, suspense are well written. The book is even better when you add the narration of Yvette Keller. Her voice creation and acting was perfect for this series.

 

 

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About the Author: Shéa MacLeod

Shéa MacLeod writes urban fantasy post-apocalyptic sci-fi paranormal romances with a twist of steampunk.  Mostly because she can’t make up her mind which genre she likes best so she decided to write them all.

After six years living in an Edwardian town house in London just a stone’s throw from the local cemetery, Shéa headed back to her hometown of Portland, Oregon. She plans to live out her days eating mushroom pizza, drinking too many caramel lattes, exploring exotic locales, and avoiding spiders.

Shéa is the author of the Viola Roberts Cozy Mysteries and the bestselling Lady Rample Mysteries.

 

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About the Narrator: Yvette Keller

Yvette Keller’s first job as a narrator was reading aloud to keep her little brother out of trouble. Her favorite party trick is reading words upside down. Little kids need to see the pictures. Yvette lives in her beloved home town of Santa Barbara, using a lifetime of vocal stamina in her home studio. She produces technical VO industrials for Mesa Steps Consulting clients in addition to audiobooks. A lifetime of reading and speaking has proven one thing: Yvette loves stories. She is thrilled to be making books accessible and engaging through her narration work.

 

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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.

 

 

 

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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.

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

Interview with Denise Domning Author of Servant of the Crown Mysteries

 

 

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Meet Denise Domning author of the Servant of Crown Mysteries  

 

 

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How did you develop a love for medieval history?

I was ten when I decided I wanted to be an archeologist. I spent years studying hieroglyphics and became proficient enough to write a middle school essay using them, but my true love at the time was the Minoan culture. Then in the mid-80s I had a dream about the high Middle Ages in Europe. The light bulb went on and I started researching. I found myself drawn to one particular place and period – England in the years 1189 to 1199, or England under the absent King Richard. I’ve been researching that time period ever since although I’ve let my interests expand to his younger brother John. Suffice it to say I’m pretty focused.

 

 

You stated, The Final Toll was the hardest book you’ve ever written, but “I think I like it the best of all.” Can you tell us about this experience?

I blame the whole problem on my sleuth, Sir Faucon. You see, for the first time since he took the job of Warwickshire’s first Coronarius, he makes an error in judgment, one based on a common prejudice of his time. Neither he nor I knew he had this prejudice, mostly because it’s aimed at the people of his own class. Moreover, until this book, I’ve always been pretty certain who the murderer is from the moment I start writing. That’s not to say I don’t doubt. As each suspect presents him or herself and their story, I find myself saying, “Look! I was wrong. This is the one who did it!” In spite of my doubts, my first choice has ultimately been the right one.

I started The Final Toll with that same tenuous certainty, and it stayed with me even as I worked my way through the suspects. But when it came time for Faucon to make his accusation, I couldn’t get him to do it. No matter how I wrote the scene, he refused to agree with me. Even though I was certain I was right, I went back to the beginning and rewrote— not once or twice, but five times— trying to skew it so he would agree with my predetermined murderer. The clues refused to add up. Finally, the little piece I needed appeared, revealing that Faucon himself was the problem. Once he admitted that, et voila, as Faucon might say.

 

 

 

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What’s the historical context or background of this story?

This series of books is based on a snippet of history I discovered years ago. One of the most intriguing things about England in the Middle Ages is its ability to generate wealth for its king. Blame this on the Norman Conquest. Because of William and his Aunt Emma, all of England belongs to the English king who then grants pieces of it to those under him. That’s the perfect structure for a lucrative taxation system, something the Plantagenets did their best to exploit. In 1194, right after the English have already once emptied their coffers to pay King Richard’s ransom, Richard turns around and demands that his councillors find a way to wring even more silver out of his subjects, whom he detested and blamed for leaving him locked up in Germany too long.

Under Archbishop Hubert Walter, Richard’s councillors come up with a novel solution, or rather find an avenue that had yet to be fully exploited. It is the English king’s right to collect a fine—

as well as lives and limbs— from murderers, burglars, and rapists. However, collecting those fines depended on the royal justices appearing to hear the accusation and render a judgment when decades could pass between judicial visits to each shire. Life didn’t stand still in the interim. Appealers, the accused, or witnesses could disappear or die, or worse, accuser and accused could settle the matter privately between themselves, cutting the king and his fine right out of the picture.

Richard’s councillors introduce their solution at the Michaelmas court of 1194. First, they strip sheriffs of the right to investigate these capital crimes, mostly to prevent the common practice of the sheriff taking bribes from wrongdoers to look the other way. Then they pronounce that each shire must elect three honest knights, each knight having an income of more than twenty pounds a year, to become the new keepers of the pleas. Finally, the councillors make the most important change of all and require that these knights employ a clerk at their own expense. For the first time every plea for royal justice will now be written down. This notation must include not only the crime, the value of the estate of the wrongdoer, and the verdict of the inquest jury, but the names of witnesses and the jury members. The edict not only includes the capital crimes of murders, rapes, burglaries where the stolen item is worth more than a shilling, but “any foul act,” such as treason or outlawry, where property or goods might be forfeit to the king. Never again will the royal treasury be cheated because appealer and accused settled “out of court.”

And why did Hubert Walter and his colleagues limit the choice of knights to only those with a substantial income of their own? The brilliance of this new position of Coronarius, or servant of the crown, is that it’s unpaid. Now if that isn’t efficient government, I don’t know what is.

That’s where my sleuth, Sir Faucon de Ramis, finds himself in October of 1194, as the first coroner for Warwickshire. Unfortunately, or fortunately as Faucon soon finds, there is very little direction as to how to do this job. He swiftly realizes he needs to determine to his own satisfaction who committed the murder so he’s certain he’s assessing the right estate.

 

 

 

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How important is setting in historical fiction versus the setting in other genres?

I can’t say that setting is any more or less important to historical fiction than any other genre as every genre has its conventions. What makes or breaks a novel is how deft an author is at conveying the expected milieu. In that, historical fiction can be unforgiving. Readers who love this genre already know their history. Beware the author who doesn’t check her facts for she will suffer the slings and arrows of critics who remind her that sycamores are an American tree and potatoes come from the New World. For the record, neither of those were my errors but I have heard from readers protesting facts that in other genres would be deemed unworthy of comment.

In historical fiction it’s not enough to be comfortable with the details of your chosen time period. You also have to get that information from your brain through your fingers and into the book in a way that doesn’t stop the flow. For me that requires writing out all the details I think I’ll need for a particular scene, say a meal in a merchant’s house. How many tables are there and how are they set? What’s on the floor? Where are the windows, if there are windows? Is there a newfangled chimney or is there a central hearth? What colors/designs are painted on the walls? What

furniture might there be besides the tables? Is there crockery? How does it smell? What sounds fill the air from nearby homes or their own workshops? Are they close enough to hear the bells from the nearest church? Are there regraters outside in the street selling goods? Is the neighboring merchant shouting out to passers-by about his wares?

Once I’ve answered those questions, I go back and tighten, tighten, tighten, eliminating this, shortening that, until there are just enough details to describe the scene without slowing the action. This is very hard to do for someone who writes history textbooks disguised as novels to educate unsuspecting readers. I want to share every cool fact I’ve learned. To protect my readers, I employ this mantra: “If I love it, take it out.”

 

 

 

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What are some of the customs of Warwickshire?

That’s a pretty broad question, so I’m assuming you mean the customs of Faucon’s time period. It’s surprisingly difficult to research local customs, celebrations and rituals. It’s even harder to verify that a particular ritual was practiced the same way in the 12 Century as it was when th someone finally wrote a description of it in the 14 Century. Fortunately for me, Faucon is new th to Warwickshire although his small inheritance, which comes to him through his mother, is in the forest of Arden. He isn’t aware of any customs although perhaps he’ll eventually find his way to the Rugby area on Martinmas, 1195 for the collection of Wroth Silver. Although he’ll be in near Atherstone in his next book, the onset of the Atherstone ball game is still five years distant.

With that said, there are plenty of general customs and traditions for me to employ. Life in this time period revolves around two calendars which often intersect. The first is the yearly progression of Catholic celebrations, festivals, and masses. The second is the seasonality of farming. For instance, Lady Day or Candlemas on February 2 is also the day to celebrate the nd beginning of the farming year with plow races. As for Edmund, he’s more likely to note the date on his scribblings as “third day after Martinmas in the third year of the reign of our holy Father, Celestine III.”

 

 

 

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How is it different than a typical city of today?

For three days after the awful events of 9/11 an awesome quiet broken only by birdsong ruled our skies. That’s when I realized I’d never once experienced the world without the sound track of engine noise. It was a pivotal moment for me in my understanding of what it was like to live in the late 12 Century. th

Medieval people live within sight and sound of nature. In rural communities the days begin with everyone’s roosters crowing along with the honk of domesticated geese, the quack of ducks, and the cooing of doves from their dove cote. A truly riotous avian chorus erupts from every tree, thicket and bush. There’s the complex song of a lark, the shrill military chatter of a kingfisher from the nearby stream and the mundane chatter of the swallows nesting under the eaves of barns and sheds. In the spring and fall, the skies fill with vast flocks of migrating wild ducks, geese and swans, so many that the almost non-stop honking must have been deafening. In those areas kept

wild for the pleasure of noblemen, stags trumpet to attract mates, the rare wolf howls and boar offer up blood-curdling grunts.

In the barnyards, sheep and goats bleat, cows low (or moo, depending on which word you prefer), and pigs grunt, all of them demanding attention. Rats and mice skitter and rustle in the thatch along with the occasional hedgehog. Everyone coughs, because even though the smoke is supposed to wind its way out of the hole in the cottage roof, smoke is everywhere. And everything–absolutely everything–in the cottage smells like smoke.

The ring of blacksmith’s hammer is rhythmic and even as he brings it down again and again on the thick piece of metal he’s turning into a tool. The bellows that keep his fire hot enough to soften iron gust and whoosh. At the grist mill, the miller snaps the goad over the back of his ox and the big creature begins to walk an endless circle. The grinding stone rumbles, turning steadily, the sound loud enough that the miller has to raise his voice to speak to customers; the knife sharpener’s wheel rumbles; the potter’s wheel rumbles as he shapes clay into new pots. The carpenter’s saws rasp through lengths of wood. The hammers of the wheelwright and cooper thud dully as they work narrow strips of metal onto their wheels and barrels.

And everyone sings. At the fuller’s cottage newly woven cloth is being fulled— the process of tightening the weave so the fabric doesn’t unravel— to the cadence of a specific set of songs. More songs ring out from the fields where the men swing their scythes. They use the rhythm to keep their movements in sync and prevent accidental injury. Down at the stream, the women sing as they rub their clothing clean while their youngest children chatter and play.

It isn’t as pleasant for those who live in the burgeoning towns of this era. Walled cities mean limited space, so dwellings are crammed close to each other. Beware the second storey window for the household maid may use it to empty the master’s chamberpot onto the street. There’s no privacy either inside or outside of the home. Every marital spat, every man practicing his sackbut, every family celebrating some milestone can be overheard, whether by folks on the streets or the family next door. If things get a little rowdy, the watch will be called and the offenders asked to hold it down

This may be a city but the denizens keep all the same animals as their rural cousins. Roosters crow, cats yowl, dogs bark, pigs grunt, cows low and sweetly cooing doves rain you-know-what down from above. Although these urban householders might also hear the tumble of water from their windows— every town and city has a reliable water source— chances are that the water carries the stench of human and animal wastes, including pollution from local industries such as slaughterhouses and dyers. Oh yes, humans were hard at creating toxic waste even a thousand years ago.

12 Century merchants and priests depend on knowing the time and that means a church bell. In th London at this time there are thirteen monastic houses as well as one hundred parish churches. Imagine the cacophony, all the bells ringing every three hours during the day, and of course for every funeral or event that might need to be announced to the public. Here, new technology— water power— is changing the way work is done. Water now turns the wheels that turn the gears

that drop the hammers onto metal or cloth. The never-ending thumping and clanging is so overwhelming that town councils are passing ordinances limiting when these mills can run.

Very few homes in the towns and cities are just a place to live. Instead, most are also the homeowner’s business establishment, with his shop located on the ground floor. Every day our merchant throws open the shutters of his shop and pitches his goods to all passersby at a shout. Regraters— think of them as Medieval mobile food trucks— walk the streets with their handcarts or wheelbarrows filled with something to sell, be that fresh fruit, day-old bread, or cheese. As they walk, they shout for folk to come buy their excellent wares. Priests and monks ride past on braying donkeys.

Where there is trade, there’s wagon traffic moving goods from one place to another. Bellowing oxen, their owners shouting and snapping goads, drag wagons along narrow, mucky lanes. Mounted merchants lead long trains of pack animals from city to city along what we would consider nothing more than an animal track.

Just as they do today, day laborers stand on corners and call out in the hopes of being hired. At night they’ll be replaced by the women who sell themselves to earn their daily bread. And then there are the ale houses, the pubs of their day. Every alewife has her own recipe and some serve food as well as drink. The folk who frequent these establishments are generally travelers or people without the ability to cook their own meals. For the folk who makes homes in the corners of sheds or in warehouses, the alehouse is often their only chance to enjoy the warmth of a fire and of community, so the singing commences.

That was the long answer to your question. The short answer is the only differences are the combustion engine and the lack of television.

 

 

 

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If I sat down with Sir Faucon de Ramis for tea what would be my first impression?

You would find yourself sitting across from a dark-haired man of medium height who wears his skin easily, the way men who have often come face-to-face with death do. There’s a native intelligence in Faucon’s dark eyes. He could well have become a successful Churchman, as is the usual fate for second sons of his class, except that his elder brother suffered a head injury that left him with concussion-related spontaneous rages. Faucon’s father immediately pulled his younger son from his monastery school and turned him into a knight and heir-in-waiting, something Faucon’s elder brother resents deeply. Once knighted, Faucon joined King Richard on Crusade, mostly to escape his family’s difficult and guilt-ridden dynamics. As often happens, leaving the safety of home for unfamiliar circumstances has caused Faucon to mature beyond his years, and given him the ability to feel comfortable anywhere. These traits are what causes his great-uncle, Bishop William of Hereford, to endow Faucon with enough property that he qualifies to become a Coronarius.

 

 

 

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Who is Brother Edmund and what is his job description?

Brother Edmund is the scribe or clerk whose job it is to write down all the particulars of the crimes Sir Faucon investigates, including the assessment of the wrongdoer’s estate. We don’t know much about him, except that he is in his middle years, is from the Norman-French speaking higher classes, and is well educated in English law. That’s hardly the usual CV for a mere scribe, and sure enough, Edmund didn’t start out as a clerk. He has been a Benedictine monk for most of his life. Unfortunately, Edmund suffers from a surfeit of rigidity in his personality and this character flaw has caused him to be banished from more than one abbey. He describes himself to Faucon as an honest man who will only speak as his heart directs. And so he does, never recognizing that he wields his “truth” as ably as Faucon swings his sword. As much trouble as this creates for Faucon, he swiftly realizes this demoted monk repays honesty with loyalty and has a surprisingly fearless heart.

 

 

What’s next  for you

What’s next is book five in this series, entitled (so far) “Caught Red-handed.” I’ve once again come across an unusual factoid, this time about the walking dead of the Middle Ages. It was just too interesting to pass up, especially when I found evidence of it in Warwickshire.

 

 

 

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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.

 

 

 

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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.

 

 

 

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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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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.

 

 

 

SHAKESPEARE - close-up of grungy vintage typeset word on metal backdrop

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

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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

 

 

 

 

 

The Elements of a Bestselling Thriller: Top Tips for Authors

 

Bestseller neon sign on brick wall background.

 

 

 

The Elements of a Bestselling Thriller: Top Tips for Authors

by Adam Durnham

 

When it comes to conjuring ideas for a thriller or mystery, authors should create perspectives that are relevant to current readers with a special attention to market trends. What are the possible elements of a bestselling thriller? Read to know more.

After reading a gripping mystery or thriller, do you find yourself thinking about how interesting it was? If you’re an author, there are elements to bestselling thrillers that can help your readers stay on the edges of their seats.

In order to do this, authors may want to strike a balance between the foundational elements of their work and current trends in thrillers and mysteries. Here are some top tips for authors who are planning to create pieces in these special genres.

 

Pick the type of thriller or mystery genre that you want to create

Thriller or mystery novels are broad categories on their own. It is important to know who your target readers are. Knowing your target audiences will help you determine the literary subgenre that you will use. Some thriller subgenres include:

 

  • Psychological thrillers: These thrillers include themes relating to psychological or mental health conditions. The protagonist or the perpetrators in such stories might have mental health issues.
  • Mystery thrillers: These thrillers feature mysteries that revolve around a crime, accident, or another incident. The protagonists in these works find and analyze clues throughout the stories.
  • Science fiction thrillers: These popular thrillers incorporate science fiction topics. Authors may be particularly creative with this subgenre, which may include futuristic themes such as aliens, monsters, human cloning, and entirely new worlds.

 

Developing clear ideas about your subgenres gives you a laser-sharp focus on the elements that you want to place in your story. The focus helps readers feel that your characters, settings, plot twists, and other crucial parts of your work are thematic and fit together cohesively.

 

Choose relevant themes

Theme is quite different from your subgenre. It unifies your story and gives something for your readers to think about as they progress through your story. This is helpful if you want to create a thriller or mystery novel, since you want to provide puzzle pieces that the readers can think about as they approach the end.

 

Consider using thriller or mystery story themes that people find relatable. They can involve problems such as mental health, addiction rehab, crime, or social injustices. These themes can bring value to your readers, especially if your readers advocate for such topics. Your book has a better chance at reaching the best-seller lists if many of your readers have firsthand experience with or knowledge of your themes.

 

Successful writers pay attention to what is happening in the larger culture. When topics about mental health, addictions, crime, or social problems appear in the news, books and movies associated with these relevant themes also appear.

 

Plot your story before beginning to write

Before starting your first chapter, consider creating an outline of your thriller or mystery to develop your plot. Outlines are important for many types of work, but they are especially crucial for thrillers and mysteries because those genres include large amounts of action. Creating a well-plotted story can help you avoid unnecessary fluff and irrelevant elements in your writing.

 

Your plot should include a buildup of conflict, and your characters’ goals and motivations should be consistent with your themes. Thrillers or mysteries can start at the middle of the action to create a thrilling atmosphere that you can heighten for effect.

 

Experiment with multiple points of view

One sign of a great author is his or her flexibility in presenting the points of view of various characters. Some bestselling thrillers and novels shift between the viewpoints of the protagonists and the villains in the stories instead of presenting the story entirely in the third person perspective.

 

Shifting between multiple points of view depends on your theme and other elements of your story. But multiple viewpoints can greatly benefit mystery and psychological thrillers. They can showcase the depth of the story and portray the intrinsic motivations, thoughts, and actions of the characters.

 

Create interesting plot twists

To develop an interesting plot twist, you need to get inside the minds of readers. One element of bestselling thrillers or mystery novels is that many plot twists can appear quite predictable at the beginnings of stories yet profound and surprising at the ends of the same pieces.

You can create these puzzle pieces to appear one way at the beginning and middle of your stories while creating a sense of jeopardy and conflict. Such story construction encourages readers to exercise their common sense and typical thought processes as they proceed through the plot.

When they encounter your story’s plot twist, readers may be surprised and pleased when your writing reveals your actual story. This shift is what makes the story gripping and exciting for readers. Well-written plot twists are one of your greatest tools as an author of mysteries or thrillers.

 

Ready, set, write!

If you keep in mind these elements of writing a bestselling novel, you can stay on top of your game. Great authors create solid foundations for their stories, incorporate creativity, and understand trends that matter to readers.

 

 

Golden Best Seller Award Over Black Paper Background