Audiobook Blog Tour: Emma Griffin #1: The Girl In Cabin 13 by A.J. Rivers



About Audiobook #1

Author: A.J. Rivers

Narrator: Claire Duncan

Length: 7 hours 32 minutes

Publisher: Altered Path⎮2020

Genre:  Thriller

Series: Emma Griffin FBI, Book 1

Release date: Aug. 15, 2020

Synopsis: Knock…knock…

 

 

When Emma finds a dead body on her porch with her name written on the dead man’s hand, she uncovers a sinister clue to the mystery that has haunted her since childhood.

FBI Agent Emma Griffin is sent undercover to the small sleepy town of Feathered Nest to uncover the truth behind the strings of disappearances that has left the town terrified.

To Emma, there is nothing that can lay buried forever. Even though her own childhood has been plagued by deaths and disappearances. Her mother’s death, her father’s disappearance, and her boyfriend’s disappearance. The only cases that she hasn’t solved. Her obsession with finding out the truth behind her past was what led her to join the FBI.

Now, she must face what may be her biggest case. In cabin 13, there lies an uneasy feeling. The feeling of her movements being watched. When a knock on her door revealed a body on her porch and her name written on a piece of paper in the dead man’s hand. Suddenly, her worlds collide.

With the past still haunting her, Emma must fight past her own demons to stop the body count from rising.

The woods have secrets. And this idyllic town has dark and murderous ones. Either, she reveals them or risk them claiming her, too.

In Feathered Nest, nothing is what it seems. 

The girl in cabin 13 is about to find out that the dead may have secrets of their own.

 

Buy Links for Audiobook #1

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I’m always a sucker for FBI books. Insert The Girl in Cabin 13! It’s a good mystery with great suspense that’ll keep you turning the pages to find out what happens next. Told in first person point of view, author A.J. Rivers takes you deep into the mindset of embattled FBI Agent Emma Griffin. Good plot, characters that jump off the page, and a narrator that delivers a solid audiobook. Recommended! 

AUTHOR INTERVIEW

 

How did you celebrate after finishing this novel? 

I am a major coffee lover, so I really enjoy celebrating wrapping up a book by getting out of my writing room and relaxing with a good cup of flavored coffee. I drink my coffee black all the time, and I’m usually drinking very dark, robust blends. My favorite is actually called Death Wish. So when it’s time to relax and “indulge” a little, it’s with a cup of still black, but flavored coffee. My current choice is S’mores, but we’re getting close to pumpkin season. Since the end of books is always the most intense when it comes to writing, I also love to let off steam when I’m done by bringing my dog Daisy out for a long walk and enjoying the fresh air. 

 

In your opinion, what are the pros and cons of writing a stand-alone novel vs. writing a series? 

There is definitely a time and place for both. A stand-alone novel is a great opportunity to tell one focused, explosive story that doesn’t have to rely on any previous world-building or leave room for other books. It’s a shooting star situation. One bright moment that is contained within itself. Stand-alone is also great for much longer works. A series is all about creating a world for readers to live in. They get to know the characters like friends and family, and go on these adventures with them. It’s a blast to be able to revisit the same places, get to know the people, businesses, and little quirks, and keep up with them as time passes. It makes you want to keep coming back, so you keep reading the books. A series lets you explore big story arcs and delve deeper into the characters. But it also requires organization and attention to detail. You have to be able to come up with layered people and realistic places that readers will care about, as well as complex stories that can unfold a little at a time. 

 

What’s your favorite:

  • Food

I don’t have one set favorite, but I love Indian food. Chana masala is my go-to. I am always in the mood for raw vegetables or fruit salad.

  •  Song

Thriller, by Michael Jackson. 

  •  Book

Dream Boy, by Jim Grimsley 

  • Television show 

Murder investigation shows, Matlock, Murder, She Wrote, Golden Girls, and in the spirit of full disclosure, my guilty pleasure shows include Catfish and anything having to do with Halloween through holiday cooking or baking

  • Movie

The Ghost and Mr. Chicken, Dirty Dancing, Ghostbusters, Nightmare Before Christmas

  •  Band

Beatles. Michael Jackson is my favorite musician, I love girl groups from the 50s and 60s, disco, and 80s music

  •  Sports team

Chicago Cubs

  • City

Richmond, Virginia

 

Are any of those things referenced in appearance in your work? 

All the time. Because I have some pretty obscure tastes in some ways, I sometimes find myself having my characters reference things or make jokes and cultural references I then wonder if the readers will even get, so I have to go back and replace them with something easier to recognize. Especially when it comes to music and movies. I’m not a huge movie person and the ones I particularly love are pretty old school, so when I whip out references to Luther Heggs, I have to remind myself that probably isn’t going to ring a ton of bells. 

 

What bits of advice would you give to aspiring authors?

I’ll repeat the same thing that’s been said over and over, but that is so true. Write. Write. Write. Write all the time. Don’t just rely on your computer. Bring a notebook and pen around with you and write things down. You never know when you’re going to hear a phrase that inspires you, or get an idea, or even just hear a name that you like. Write it down. I also highly recommend talking through dialogue out loud. It can feel awkward at first, but the natural, believable conversations and thoughts are key to really enjoyable books. They make the characters more relatable and the action smoother. The best way to make that happen is to carry on the conversation. If you have a voice-to-text program on your computer, put it on and just talk through the conversation like you are the characters. Don’t worry about the spelling, punctuation, or accuracy at this point. Just talk it through as naturally as you can and let it come out. You can then take what you said and write it out in your draft with proper tags and action. 

I’d also tell aspiring authors to take their writing seriously. There can be a lot of pressure to only seeing writing as art and something that can only be done in the right mood or situation. There is definitely art to good writing and crafting a book, and it’s always easier when the mood and inspiration are right, but if you are going to consistently create strong, enjoyable books, you have to see it as work. You have to work hard, get the words out even when they aren’t flowing smoothly, and be willing to edit mercilessly. The best advice I ever got was from my college professor who told me to kill my darlings. You have to be willing to not see every word you write as precious, but also fight for your voice and your vision when it’s important. 

 

 

About the Author: A.J. Rivers

 

A.J. Rivers loves all things mystery and thriller. Growing up in a sleepy small town, A.J. spent her days enthralled in crime solving novels and movies. She started creating stories at a young age to escape and create adventures for herself. As a child she dreamed of solving crimes and becoming a crime fighter. She dreamed of being as great as her favorite crime solving character Sherlock Holmes. While in college she realized that leading a crime fighting life might be more gruesome than she could stomach. She decided that the best course of action would be to fuse her love of writing with her love of thrilling mysteries together.

She finds inspiration from researching true crimes and is passionate about writing suspenseful novels with crazy twists. Twists that you’ll never see coming. The inspiration for her first novel came when she read a news article about a missing young woman in a small town that was never found. Her question on who, what, and why brought her to her journal to discovering the dark twisted story behind the disappearance and to seek justice for the victim through her writing.

Her thriller novels have elements of mystery, suspense, and romance.

When she’s not absorbed in a novel or working on her next thriller mystery, her favorite past time is spent with her husky. She finds great inspiration while going on hikes with her dog.

 

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About the Narrator: Claire Duncan

 

Claire Duncan is a multi-award winning actress living in NYC.  She has performed Off-Broadway, regionally, and in national tours, and appeared in the Drama Desk nominated revival of The Threepenny Opera. She has played the lead in a dozen films, and received a Best Actress Award for her work as Rosetta in the dark comedy Rosetta’s Blues, which debuted at Cannes. As a singer, she had the honor of performing at Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center, and toured the country as a travel host with Visit The USA.

Claire’s broad career has shaped her into an exceptional and flexible voice artist. You can hear her on Nickelodeon and Comedy Central, in hundreds of national commercials, and in over thirty audiobooks. 

“Claire Duncan was a dynamo”  – New York Stage Review

 “Simply side-splitting… a terrific comedic actress” – Show Business Weekly

Proud member of SAG-AFTRA and AEA.

 

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Act Of Revenge: A Doc Brady Mystery by John Bishop MD



Plastic surgeon Lou Edwards’s life is complicated by two major issues.

One, his wife has lupus, possibly due to leaking silicone from breast implants Edwards himself inserted. And two, his malpractice insurance has been canceled, as it has been for many other plastic surgeons, due to the burgeoning breast implant problem.

But it gets worse.

Shortly after Edwards threatens an insurance company president on national TV, the president is found murdered in his penthouse.

Dr. Jim Bob Brady once again finds himself doing a bit of investigating, this time on behalf of a colleague. But how well does he know this colleague? Is the investigation worth the threat to Jim Bob’s own life? Will he discover that it was a burglary gone bad? A lover’s quarrel? Or is this an act of revenge?

 

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AN EXCERPT

 

Act of Revenge: A Medical Thriller
Chapter 2
by John Bishop, MD

 

Excerpted from Act of Revenge: A Doc Brady Mystery. Copyright © 2020 by John Bishop MD. All rights reserved. Published by Mantid Press.

 

Monday, February 10, 1997

 

JIM BOB! Jim Bob? Can you hear me?

I was stunned but not unconscious. My first concern was that I had sustained another head injury. I had been mugged a year and a half ago and had spent ten days in a coma after developing a subdural hematoma, a collection of blood between my brain and skull requiring surgery. The hair on my shaved head had taken seemingly forever to grow back out to a length and texture I could brush. I wasnt prepared to go through all that again.

 

Im okay, I think,I said to Mary Louise. She was kneeling down over me, skis off. Thanks for not being in front of me. I might have hit you, too. Wheres the guy I ran into?

 

Hes up the hill. Ill go check on him.And with that, she headed back up the slope.

 

Since I had landed face down in the snow, I used my corduroy cap to clean off my goggles and face in an attempt to see what was going on. I was partially buried in the foot-high drift, but when I assessed that my extremities were intact and my vision was relatively normal, I managed to turn myself around.

 

I sat up and saw my wife kneeling down over the man I had run into twenty yards behind me. One ski was off, and the other was twisted about 45 degrees, half-buried in the snow. Unfortunately, his leg was still attached to it. My skis had come undone, and God only knew where they had landed. Probably in someones condo.

 

I had heard of a ski accident that occurred on the same slope wherein a crash between two skiers had resulted in a lost ski sailing down the hill and crashing through a picture window into the living room of a residence. No one was hurt, at least in the home, but Im sure it gave them quite a start. And some decent kindling.

 

I abandoned my ski poles, which had still been attached to my wrists with their adjustable loops, and stepped up the hill to join Mary Louise and the unknown assailant. A thought crossed my mind that perhaps I was the unknown assailant. Whatever the situation, I hoped the man had experienced enough of a shock to render him an amnesiac but not unconscious or damaged.

 

Are you okay?Mary Louise was asking him repeatedly as I arrived on the scene. Several other skiers had gathered as well and had already placed their skis in the ground, tips up and crossed, the universal sign of an injury requiring the ski patrols attention.

 

The man was on his side. His eyes were open.

 

Listen,I said, Im a doctor. I need to check your pupils and your arms and legs. Dont be frightened. Okay?

 

He nodded.

His pupils reacted normally to light. I felt his neck.

Any pain here?I asked as I gently moved his cervical spine from side to side. Any numbness? Arms or legs?

He shook his head. My leg . . . killing me.

Im sure. Ill get down there in a minute.

The mans arms, chest, head, spine, and right leg all seemed to be in working order. It was time to address the crucial issue.

Listen,I explained, my name is Jim Brady. Im an orthopedic surgeon from Houston. I need to check out this left leg and try to decide if youve got a fracture in your femur or tibia or if youve got a knee ligament injury. I may not be able to tell, but Id like to try before the ski patrol arrives.Okay?

 

I dont want you to move it. Hurts too bad.

Well, the medic will have to move it to get you onto the stretcher. Your legs kind of twisted out at an angle. If I can figure out whats wrong, I may be able to make you more comfortable by moving it. Let me try.

 

He nodded. I gently felt his femur, the thigh bone, with both hands. No pain. Same with the tibia and fibula, the two bones connecting the knee to the ankle. When I felt his knee, however, even through his bulky, waterproof ski pants, I could feel the enlarged joint. He winced.

 

Its your knee, probably a ligament tear. If I can get your ski off andstraighten out the leg, youll feel a lot better. I want you to hang on for a minute.

 

Man, its killing me! Just leave it alone!

 

I paused, then slid down toward his boot release, had Mary Louise support the ski to minimize the torque, and unsnapped his boot from the binding. He moaned for a second, but I quickly untwisted the leg, brought it parallel to the other, and laid it down.

 

Damn it! I told you not tohuh. Feels better.

See,I said, you should have trusted me.

Sort of hard to trust a guy who runs you over, wouldnt you say?

I assumed amnesia wasnt going to be a problem for him.

Two members of the ski patrol arrived on separate snowmobiles pulling stretchers. One of them had probably been intended for me. I was glad to decline it. I helped the medics get my victim onto the stretcher and bind him down to minimize the shock of the journey to Snowmass Ski Clinic. I felt obligated to accompany them.

 

Are you by yourself? Is there anyone we can notify?Mary Louise asked. Ill be glad to make a call. Whatever you need.

 

Guess you better call my wife, tell her Im hurt. I hate to upset her,though.

 

Where are you staying?she asked him.

Wood Run Condos. Just down the hill. I was headed home.

So were we,Mary Louise said. Why dont I just run by there. Were at the Chamonix. Youre only a block or so away. How would that be?

 

He nodded and sort of smiled. Thatd be real nice, maam. Id appreciate

that.

 

She looked at him for a minute, waiting. I need your name and condo number,she said patiently, like a schoolteacher waiting for a third grader to figure out the times tables.

 

Oh, sure. Sorry. Im Lou Edwards. Her names Mimi. Were in 530 Wood Run. And thanks.

 

Its the least I can do,Mary Louise said, looking at me like she was very glad I was okay, but not happy that I had run over the poor man. I didnt blame her.

 


About the Author:

John Bishop MD is the author of Act of Revenge: A Doc Brady Mystery. Dr. Bishop has practiced orthopedic surgery in Houston, Texas, for 30 years. His Doc Brady medical thriller series is set in the changing environment of medicine in the 1990s. Drawing on his years of experience as a practicing surgeon, Bishop entertains readers using his unique insights into the medical world with all its challenges, intricacies, and complexities, while at the same time revealing the compassion and dedication of health care professionals. Dr. Bishop and his wife, Joan, reside in the Texas Hill Country. For more information, please visit:

John Bishop Author

Guest Post: By Robert B. McCaw Author of Fire and Vengeance

 

 

Fire and Vengeance final

 

 

(Koa Kāne Hawaiian Mystery #3)

 

Having killed his father’s nemesis and gotten away with it, Hilo, Hawai`i Chief Detective Koa Kane, is not your ordinary cop. Estranged from his younger brother who has been convicted of multiple crimes, he is not from a typical law enforcement family. Yet, Koa’s secret demons fuel his unwavering drive to pursue justice. Never has Koa’s motivation been greater than when he learns that an elementary school was placed atop a volcanic vent, which has now exploded. The subsequent murders of the school’s contractor and architect only add urgency to his search for the truth. As Koa’s investigation heats up, his brother collapses in jail from a previously undiagnosed brain tumor. Using his connections, Koa devises a risky plan to win his brother’s freedom. As Koa gradually unravels the obscure connections between multiple suspects, he uncovers a 40 year-old conspiracy. When he is about to apprehend the perpetrators, his investigation suddenly becomes entwined with his brother’s future, forcing Koa to choose between justice for the victims and his brother’s freedom.

 

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Copy space of tropical palm tree with sun light on sky background.

 

 

Guest  Post

By Robert B. McCaw

Themes of Fire and Vengeance

 

Fire and Vengeance is a murder mystery. First and foremost, I hope readers find it entertaining, especially in this coronavirus era, when we all need relief from the grim realities of life. This novel, like the others in the Koa Kāne mystery series, plays with several of my favorite literary themes. While they are not unique, I’ve woven these themes into my narratives and hope this blog post provides some insight into the development of the Koa Kāne mysteries.

One theme is that of place as character. The Big Island is a powerful force in the story, and its unique geology and weather take on anthropomorphic roles. The Island is a place of creation and destruction, often embodied in the myth of Pele, the Hawaiian goddess of volcanic fires. The opening pages of Fire and Vengeance feature the destructive powers of the Island as a volcanic vent, flooded with rainwater, explodes beneath an elementary school on Hualalai Mountain.

The earlier books in the series—Death of a Messenger and Off the Grid—similarly explore the unique volcanic powers that created and continue to shape the Big Island. Death of a Messenger takes the reader deep underground into Pele’s lava tubes. Off the Grid features the volcanic destruction of the Royal Gardens community on the slopes of Kīlauea. The explosive events in Fire and Vengeance continue to build on this premise.

The place-as-character theme is not limited to geologic forces but also extends to the history, culture, and language of the Island. Descriptions of the landscape, often employing Hawaiian words for places or features, like pu’us for cinder cones, help convey the island setting’s personality. The way the human characters in Fire and Vengeance interact with Hawaii’s geography helps define them, giving them depth within their unique island environment. For instance, the park service ceremony honoring Nālani for her public safety work in the wake of the May 2018 Kīlauea eruption and Koa’s control of the crowd around the disintegrating school building are windows into their lives as well as the world they inhabit.

Physicists like to say that for every action there is a reaction. That is also true in human behavior with one startling difference. Physicists can usually predict a precise reaction while life is rife with unintended consequences. Take Koa’s personal history, for example. What were the likely consequences of his reckless killing of his father’s nemesis? Maybe flight, maybe jail, but not that he should become a cop devoted to finding justice for murder victims.

The human compulsion to cover up one’s misdeeds only adds to our inability to predict consequences. Lawyers frequently warn that the cover-up is worse than the crime, and that is often true. Suppression prolongs the day of reckoning, sometimes for years or even decades, permitting unforeseen events to ensue that can impact the ultimate outcome. For example, a man who sexually harassed women in the 1990s had little expectation of dealing with the blowback arising from the #MeToo era. Readers will find unintended consequences throughout the Koa Kāne mystery series. It is one of my favorite themes.

The relationship between the past and present in the development of character fascinates me. I wonder whether we can ever truly escape our past. On the surface, the answer, of course, is yes. While traumatic events may leave scars, people have escaped poverty and abusive relationships. People do change. Redemption is a core theme in many religions, and there are legions of hypocritical politicians who have seen the light and renounced their various indiscretions. Our prison and parole systems rely in part on the belief in the rehabilitation. The blessing of forgiveness covers many sins, both large and small.

On a deeper level, however, the answer is not so obvious, especially when the past involves heinous acts like murder. Can Koa ever escape the fact that he killed a man? It haunts his days and invades his dreams. It drives his compulsion to seek justice and makes him good at his job. He seeks redemption, but can he ever find it? If not, at least his efforts result in some measure of personal catharsis and public service. Unfortunately, that is frequently not the case.

Fire and Vengeance features another set of relationships between past misdeeds and present actions. In this case, the participants acted in concert but then followed dramatically diverse paths. Their collective history governs their later lives in radically different ways. Because they joined together in criminal conduct, these players affect each other, if only because each knows that the others are aware of the sins they share. Adding to the drama, the passage of time alters their interactions as each one necessarily grows and changes. Can any of them escape what they have done? Is there a path to redemption? How do these relationships play out over time?

The passage of time obscures consciousness, a theme often captured in the admonition that those who ignore history are condemned to repeat it. There is no more vivid example than the current coronavirus plague. Humanity has suffered many pandemics, starting at least as early as 430 BC. The world nevertheless remained unprepared for COVID-19 because its leaders ignored the inevitability of another global health crisis. The Japanese built the Fukushima Daichi nuclear power plant where their ancestors had previously warned of massive tsunamis. Italians populate the slopes of Vesuvius, which is sure to erupt in the future. Collective obscured consciousness is a favorite theme with virtually unlimited potential.

The imagined tragedy at the heart of Fire and Vengeance happened only because the story’s fictional characters—like many modern-day Hawaiians—remain oblivious to the fact that Hualalai Mountain is an active volcano. The passage of more than 200 years since its last eruption should offer little solace that Hualalai will not erupt again. Yet, thousands live within its shadow, flying in and out from nearby Keāhole airport built on its flows, with little or no thought of the inherent risks. These residents are mostly indifferent to warnings by expert volcanologists and disregard the Hawaiian legends of past volcanic tragedies on the mountain.

For me, these themes make creative writing fun.

 

 

BobMcCaw_2019_Version_4 - Calli P. McCaw photographer

 

 

Robert McCaw is the author of Fire and Vengeance, Off the Grid, and Death of a Messenger. McCaw grew up in a military family, traveling the world. He is a graduate of Georgetown University, served as a U.S. Army lieutenant, and earned a law degree from the University of Virginia. He was a partner in a major international law firm in Washington, D.C. and New York City, representing major Wall Street clients in complex civil and criminal cases. Having lived on the Big Island of Hawaii, McCaw imbues his writing of the Islands with his more than 2-year love affair with this Pacific paradise. He now lives in New York City with his wife, Calli.

 

 

 

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

 

 

Cradle to Grave Banner (1)

 

 

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

 

 

Cradle to Grave Cover AUDIO

 

 

 

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.

 

Buy Links

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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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Retro old microphones for press conference or interview on table front gradient aquamarine background. Vintage old style filtered photo

 

 

 

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.

 

 

Problem analysis solution concept

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

Investigations on Office Binder. Toned Image. 3D.

 

 

 

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?

 

Amazon |Goodreads

 

 

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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.

 

Amazon | Goodreads | Audible

 

 

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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.

 

www.annaelliottbooks.com

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  

 

 

mysteriousand magical image of woman's hand holding a gold crown over gothic black background. Medieval period concept.

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

The Final toll image

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

Knight Medieval kneeling image with sword

 

 

 

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.”

 

 

 

Medieval castle middle ages image

 

 

 

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.”

 

 

 

Warwickshire, vintage stamp on paper background

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

Medieval town image

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

Tea being poured image

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

mediaeval knights on horseback

 

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