Con Me Once by J. L. Delozier

By Don Helin

When Frank Lambda, a bumbling superhero wannabe, witnesses a mob hit gone wrong, he ends up running for his life.

Enter the mysterious Keira, whose secret academy claims to turn wannabes like Frank into real heroes. Frank knows a con when he sees one. But desperate for an escape, he joins three other recruits for training in Las Vegas. Against the backdrop of a thousand spandex-clad cosplayers, Keira’s true agenda—a multimillion-dollar heist from her mobster brother—is exposed. With their lives and a fortune at stake, Frank and his team of misfits fight to become the heroes they always wanted to be.

J. L. Delozier has practiced rural and disaster medicine for 25 years. For inspiration, she turns to science that exists on the edge of reality—bizarre medical anomalies, new genetic discoveries, and anything that seems too weird to be true. She’s published three thrillers, the first of which was nominated for a “Best First Novel” award by the International Thriller Writers. Her short fiction has appeared in the British crime anthology Noirville: Tales from the Dark Side, in NoirCon’s official journal, Retreats from Oblivion, and in Thriller Magazine. Her first sci-fi short story won the “Women Hold Up Half the Sky” prize of the Roswell Award and appeared in Artemis Journal. She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and three rescue cats.

The Big Thrill had the opportunity to catch up with J. L. Delozier.

What attracts you to this genre?

I’ve always loved the world of comics and cosplay—I’m the world’s geekiest physician—and using that world as the setting for a gritty crime novel has been a fantasy of mine for a long time.

J. L. Delozier

What surprised you as you wrote the book?

I just can’t seem to avoid the dark side. On the surface, this should be a light action-adventure romp— Kick-Ass meets Ocean’s Eleven. But I just have to add grit, noir, and dark humor. It’s a compulsion, I guess.

No spoilers, but what can you tell us about the book that we won’t find in the jacket copy or the PR materials?

The cast of characters is racially and sexually diverse. The geek world is all-inclusive, and I wanted my book to be as well.

What authors or books have influenced you during your career?

Stephen King—the king of horror. Each of my books has a touch of his blood in it. David Morrell—I devoured his writing guide and loved the graphic novels he wrote for Marvel. And hey, he used to teach in my hometown at Penn State. Michael Crichton—a fellow physician who puts the science first in science fiction, yet makes it accessible and entertaining.

Neil Gaimen—I adore his graphic novels and the fairy-tale feel of his books. Again, I try to put a touch of his unique sense of unreality in each book I write.

What’s the one question you wish someone would ask you?

Usually, I hate it when people ask where I get my ideas. Where does anyone? But in this book’s case, I have a specific answer: from an old GQ article on the “real-life superhero community,” specifically a man named Phoenix Jones. The article made me ponder the psychology behind the need for these (mostly) men to dress up in homemade costumes and patrol their neighborhoods. It also made me wonder what would happen if they got embroiled in some heavy shit, and voila! CON ME ONCE was born.

What are you doing to promote your book?

I’m trying something different this time. CON ME ONCE has a huge geek culture/cosplay element to it, so instead of spreading the word through traditional literary venues, I’ve reached out to “geek” blogs and podcasters, comic book stores, and conventions to generate buzz. If time weren’t a factor (damned day job) I’d attend all the big comic-cons, too. A girl can dream…

What’s next?

My WIP, working title The Photo Thief, is my first mystery with a significant paranormal element and also my first to mix POV characters: one first person and one third person. It’s been a challenge, to say the least, but hopefully it’ll be worth it. The plot centers around a young adult with a seizure disorder who “hears” old photographs collected by her great-grandfather speaking to her. They ask her to solve their murders—including her own mother’s.

When you’re not writing, what are you doing?

I still work a 20-hour-per-week day job, which includes teaching (I’m an associate clinical professor of medicine at Penn State) so my writing career occupies most of my free time with little leftover for a hobby. I am an avid hockey fan, both collegiate (Penn State) and NHL (the Penguins). I also used to take accordion lessons. My cats and husband are grateful that my time spent writing precludes this.

*****

J. L. Delozier has practiced rural and disaster medicine for 25 years. For inspiration, she turns to science that exists on the edge of reality—bizarre medical anomalies, new genetic discoveries, and anything that seems too weird to be true. She’s published three thrillers, the first of which was nominated for a “Best First Novel” award by the International Thriller Writers organization. Her short fiction has appeared in the British crime anthology, Noirville: Tales from the Dark Side, in NoirCon’s official journal, Retreats from Oblivion, and in Thriller Magazine. Her first sci-fi short story won the “Women Hold Up Half the Sky” prize of the Roswell Award and appeared in Artemis Journal. She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and three rescue cats.

To learn more about the author and her work, please visit her website.

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