By E. M. Powell
Of course I love thrillers (don’t we all?!), but I especially love a thriller that brings something new and different to the table. In DOUBLE VISION, Colby Marshall does just that. Her heroine, Dr. Jenna Ramey, is an FBI forensic psychiatrist whose brain is wired very differently to most of us. Jenna also comes to this book, the second in the series, with a heck of a backstory that I’m sure will bring new readers rushing to catch up on the first one too. DOUBLE VISION is a fast-moving, intriguing read that grabs the reader from the off and refuses to let go.
Marshall is a multi-talented creative: writer by day, ballroom dancer and choreographer by night, and acting on stage when she has a spare moment. She lives in Georgia with her family and a collection of furry friends.
Exclusive to The Big Thrill, I caught up with Colby to find out more about her latest release.
This is the second outing for your heroine, Dr. Jenna Ramey, who debuted in the first book of the series, Color Blind. For readers coming new to her, there’s something that marks her out as very different: synesthesia. Can you explain what that is?
Different types of synesthesia manifest differently, so I can’t claim I know what every type is like to experience. In the case of grapheme-color synesthesia, the hardest aspect to describe is how the associations a synesthete makes are the same as those anyone makes in the way that they manifest. If a person hears the word “cake,” the image of a cake might flash in their mind. The difference is, their word/image reference was learned. Somewhere along the way, someone or something taught that person what cake is, showed him or her what it looks like, and so the association of the picture and word developed. Color associations are not limited to known things. Often a synesthete will lay eyes on something for the very first time, and immediately have a color association for it—that’s actually why it’s so useful to Jenna when she analyzes a crime scene.
Although he was born in Cumbria, England in 1968, author Mike Craven grew up in the northeast and attended the same school as Newcastle and England center-forward, Alan Shearer, before running away to join the circus army. He believes, but has no proof, that his little sister moved into his bedroom before the train had even left the station. He trained for two years as an armourer (that’s gunsmith to you and I) before spending the next ten being paid to travel the world and drink ridiculous amounts of alcohol.
In 1995, sick of writing postcards and having fun, he decided it might be time to do something a bit more sensible. And it doesn’t get more sensible than getting a law degree. So, he did social work instead. Two years later, he started working in Cumbria as a probation officer. Sixteen years, and a few promotions later, he is still there; although as a crime writer, he now has different motivations for trying to get inside the minds of criminals.
In between joining the army and securing a publishing deal, Mike found time to nurture a pet crocodile, survive cancer, get married, and buy a springer spaniel named Bracken. He wanted to call him Gimli, but was told to grow up. He lives in Carlisle where he tries to leave the house as little as possible and gets annoyed by people who say “it’s too cold to snow” and “watch that swan, its wings can break your arm”.”
Craven took time out of that busy schedule to talk to The Big Thrill about his new release, ASSUME NOTHING, BELIEVE NOBODY, CHALLENGE EVERYTHING, a collection of short stories that explores betrayals of trust, poker cheats, ambitious barristers, cyber bullies, lost diplomats and revenge.
By Ovidia Yu
First, would you tell us something about THE CAT SITTER’S WHISKERS?
Funny you should ask! It just came out last month. It’s the tenth book in The Dixie Hemingway Mystery Series, published by St. Martins/Minotaur and created by my mom, Blaize Clement. It’s my third book. I took over the series after my mom passed away in 2011, just after she’d put the finishing touches on Book #7. The books are all designed to stand alone on their own, but there’s an arc to Dixie’s personal life that started with the very first book, CURIOSITY KILLED THE CAT SITTER, and is continuing even as we speak (I’m just now finishing up book #11, which will be out next year).
It’s fascinating how you came to continue the Cat Sitter series. In a previous interview you described your initial response to the suggestion: “I was horrified. My mother was thrilled.” What has been most difficult about taking on Blaize Clement’s legacy—and what most rewarding?
Yeah, I think that’s still a pretty good summation of my feelings at the time. My mother was diagnosed with cancer in 2009. She had chemotherapy early on, but eventually decided to end treatment, partially because it wasn’t working very well, but also because she wanted to be in control of her final days and enjoy them—to “die well” as she described it. That decision meant a couple of things: one, she knew with certainty what was going to happen, and two, she had time to plan. It was her long-time editor at St. Martins, Marcia Markland, that suggested I continue the series, and when my mom asked what I thought, I didn’t even hesitate. I said no. I think I might have said hell no. Honestly, I just didn’t think I was capable of writing a full-length book, let alone a series with new installments practically every year. At that point, the longest thing I’d published was a feature for The Chicago Sun Times, not much more than three or four thousand words, plus I didn’t think I could really do the series justice. And I didn’t think the readers would accept it. And blah blah blah. I had a million excuses. Eventually, though, I changed my mind, largely due to my mom’s not-so-subtle reminders that a good son doesn’t say no to his mother, especially at her deathbed.
By John Raab
Richard Mabry, MD has authored several medical thrillers, many of them having been nominated for various literary awards. He’s created a new genre within the genre by writing, what he calls, medical suspense—with a heart. Now, he’s back with his latest book FATAL TRAUMA.
Mabry has practiced medicine for thirty-six years, written more than a hundred papers, spoken around the world, penned several textbooks, served in the Armed Forces, and still has energy to write fantastic suspense books. His latest brings the same passion as his previous novels, giving fans exactly what they’ve come to expect.
In an exclusive interview with The Big Thrill, Mabry talks about the inspiration behind FATAL TRAUMA, the writing process, and what’s next for him.
Give us an inside look into your latest release, FATAL TRAUMA.
In the opening scene, a gun-wielding man bursts into the ER with a wounded patient in a wheelchair, saying that if the man dies, he’ll kill everyone in the room. The stakes get even higher for the ER doctor when he recognizes that the nurse pushing the wheelchair, a gun at her head, is the woman he’s been dating.
Can you tell us about Dr. Mark Baker—why was he the perfect person for this story?
Dr. Baker represents so many of us in the profession at some stage in our practice of medicine—we’re beset by self-doubt, we second guess our decisions and motivations, and it often takes someone like nurse Kelly Atkinson to shore us up and help us through these tough times.
By Basil Sands
Ladies and gents I present to you Robert Kidera, author of the awesome new release RED GOLD. A first-person crime thriller that felt like Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, and Lawrence Block all rolled into one.
After an early fling in the motion picture industry and a long and successful career in academia, Kidera retired in 2010. With his desire to play major league baseball no longer a realistic dream, he chose to fulfill his other lifelong ambition and became a writer. He is a member of Southwest Writers, Sisters in Crime, and the International Thriller Writers organizations.
RED GOLD is his debut novel, the first installment in the McKenna Mystery series. He is currently working on its sequel, Get Lost, with a third book to follow.
Robert lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico, with his wife and Otis the cat. He has two daughters, a grandson, and granddaughter.
Welcome Robert. Tell us about RED GOLD.
Red Gold is the first volume of the Gabe McKenna Mystery Series. It’s the story of a shattered man who finds himself swept up in a lethal struggle for a lost fortune in nineteenth-century gold. More than that, it’s about a lost soul resurrecting himself, getting up off the canvas of personal despair and self-pity, and continuing The Fight. And giving himself a second chance at life and love.
By Dan Levy
Odds are you know someone who is, or was, part of American age that former journalist/anchorman Tom Brokaw called The Greatest Generation. One of the many noteworthy characteristics of this generation is that, when its (mostly) men returned from World War II, they didn’t share their experience—didn’t want to burden their families with the pain they’d felt and the suffering they’d witnessed, didn’t want to glamorize war; they knew better. They were simply men, and women, who loved their country, and who answered the call when America needed defending. They did a job they would soon learn was dirty and ugly, but they did it—and then put it behind them.
New York Times bestselling author Ralph Pezzullo describes today’s Navy SEALs with the same adjectives and reverence saved for the Greatest Generation. “These are guys who want to do the right thing. They’re very patriotic, but they don’t go crazy (expressing it),” says Pezzullo. “They’re not superheroes. They bleed, they cry, and they suffer just like the rest of us.”
But the one thing the SEALs have that perhaps some of us lack, is an unwavering belief in each other. And that’s what makes Pezzullo’s Hunt series, including the latest installment, HUNT THE FOX, different from the military (or former military) protagonists you’ll find in other thrillers. According to Pezzullo, “The concept of ‘team’ is key. Their teammates are probably the closest people in their lives. They go through hell together. They have one another’s backs. And, they know that. They completely depend on one another. I try to underline that all the time.”
In HUNT THE FOX, written with former Navy SEAL Don Mann, Pezzullo’s lead protagonist, Captain Thomas Crocker, notices he’s being tailed. He suspects the men tracking his movements are members of Syria’s intelligence agency, the Mulhabarat—and their presence is a sign of the region’s increasing volatility.
Ella and Maddy Lawton are identical twins. Ella has spent her high school years living in popular Maddy’s shadows, but she has never been envious of Maddy. In fact, she’s chosen the quiet, safe confines of her sketchbook over the constant battle for attention that has defined Maddy’s world.
When—after a heated argument—Maddy and Ella get into a tragic accident that leaves her sister dead, Ella wakes up in the hospital surrounded by loved ones who believe she is Maddy. Feeling responsible for Maddy’s death and everyone’s grief, Ella makes a split-second decision to pretend to be Maddy. Soon, Ella realizes that Maddy’s life was full of secrets. Caught in a web of lies, Ella is faced with two options—confess her deception or live her sister’s life.
Welcome Trisha, it’s good to talk to you again.
Brian: Just reading the synopsis, it strikes me that this is a story that my youngest daughter (and interview partner) Ellie, would go wild for. Do you run your story ideas by your own children before you write them?
I do not. In fact, I rarely discuss my books with anyone, with the exception of my agent and editor, until they are complete. I am a bit superstitious that way. I do have a group of teen readers that I hand my finished drafts off to before I send them in, but no…my kids pretty much know very little about my books until they are done and shipped off.
If you prefer your suspense-driven mysteries solved without all of the high-tech CSI wizardry we see today, your next read should be STONE COLD DEAD.
The story starts in mid-winter. 1960. A fifteen-year-old junior high school student wanders away from her school bus for a few minutes. When the bus takes off, just a few minutes later, it leaves her behind and the girl is never seen again. On New Year’s Eve, the missing girl’s mother, Irene, turns to newspaper reporter Ellie Stone for help. The local police have told Irene that her daughter has just run off with some boy. Ellie’s stories in the paper on an earlier murder case convince Irene that Ellie is her last hope. A good choice for several reasons. Ellie Stone is the smartest person in the room, great with puzzles and detecting patterns; she’s a crossword whiz and a savant at identifying classical music pieces. But her author says there’s more to his sleuth.
“She’s also got something to prove, to her father, to the men she works for, and even to herself,” James Ziskin says. “She’s also fearless. Well, perhaps ‘fearless’ isn’t quite right. She definitely experiences moments of fear, even terror. But she’s courageous, stands firm and fights through them. For instance, she will ask a suspect a pointed question, even when she fears a violent reaction. Then, when the suspect uses anger to deflect the question, she’ll ask it again, risking his wrath.”
Even more telling, Ellie just doesn’t give up. She proved that in Styx & Stone, when she was drawn into a murder investigation soon after moving upstate from her native New York City. In her second, No Stone Unturned, she helped out in another case in her adopted small town home. STONE COLD DEAD finds her still adapting to the culture and environment of New Holland, New York.
By Cynthia Eden
I’ve got an addiction to danger. I love the kick of adrenaline, the wild ride that comes from solving a murder, the thrill of hunting a killer. I love to figure out how a murderer’s mind works. Is he crazy—or just brutally cold-blooded? How does the killer think? How does the killer feel? How does he choose his victims?
I’ve also got an addiction to romance. I enjoy it when two characters fall in love, when they are willing to face any obstacle to be together. The emotions pull me in, and I’m totally hooked. I truly can’t stop reading.
Danger. Romance. Is it any wonder that I love to combine these elements to write romantic suspense? This genre gives me the perfect balance of danger and devotion. I can do a fifty-fifty split in the story as I write about deadly action and the struggle to fall in love.
In romantic suspense novels, villains are dark and demented. The high stakes are clear. And the pressure to survive? It’s extreme. But in every romance novel, one thing is guaranteed—the ending will be happy. It’s a safe threat. Readers can fear the villains in those pages. They can enjoy the tense suspense, but they can also be secure in knowing that before that book closes, good will triumph. The hero and heroine will survive. Love will totally win.
MAYHEM IN MARGAUX, on sale this month, is the sixth in the Wine Detective series by Jean-Pierre Alaux and Noel Balen. In this cozy series, wine expert Benjamin Cooker and his assistant Virgile become involved in helping solve wine-related mysteries throughout southern France. In MAYHEM the Bordeaux area is in the midst of a summer heat wave threatening the wine grapes when the brash new manager of a Margaux wine estate suffers a fatal accident. We were able to ask the translator, Sally Pane, about the latest volume and the Wine Detective series.
This is the sixth book, out of twenty-three published in France, to be published in English. It doesn’t seem necessary to read the earlier books to enjoy this one but could you give us some background on the earlier books?
Each book in the series can be read as a stand-alone, but they also each round out our understanding of the characters. In Treachery in Bordeaux, wine consultant Benjamin Cooker hires his assistant Virgile. After that, in Grand Cru Heist, Nightmare in Burgundy, Deadly Tasting, Cognac Conspiracies and MAYHEM IN MARGAUX the characters face different mysteries, and as readers we explore different wine regions.
A special charm of the series is the portrayal of quotidian life outside of Paris—in southwestern France—and the insider look at winemaking. In MAYHEM there are enjoyable digressions on summering at a rental villa in Cap Ferrat, the beautiful stones of the Medoc, and corks versus screw tops as well as a touching scene of Benjamin with his daughter visiting from New York. Do each of the books also touch on some current social issue such as gentrification or illegal immigrants?
The authors say themselves that each book is a special homage to a wine, its winemakers and its region, and with each they explore various aspects of everyday winemaking and its struggles: gentrification eating up vineyards, black market trafficking of grand crus, local superstitions, scars from World War II, foreign buyouts, and illegal immigrants being used to cut costs. At the same time, they remain light mysteries, much more about the detail and experience of that part of France.
By Dawn Ius
Wendy Tyson loves determined, gutsy women. Women who go after what they want. Women who aren’t afraid to speak up, to laugh, to fight for the underdog, to fall in love. Women, she says, who aren’t afraid to live. Tyson aspires to be that kind of woman every day. In the meantime, she writes about them.
Allison Campbell, an image consultant on the wealthy Main Line of Philadelphia, is one such woman. A complex character, Campbell grew up in a small town, born to an abusive father and a loving, but chronically ill mother. After a tragedy with a client during graduate school, Campbell is forced to find a new calling—and a new identity.
“Allison uses her education and her own haunting experiences to do her job—and to solve crimes,” Tyson says of her protagonist. “And while she helps others reinvent themselves, her best transformation was her own. Throughout the series, Allison never forgets her roots, and it’s the fact that she never quite fits in with the Main Line crowd that makes her so good at her job—and detective work.”
In DYING BRAND, the third of the Allison Campbell mysteries, Campbell attends an awards ceremony to honor a friend, but ends up investigating the brutal murder of her former boyfriend. Although Campbell hasn’t seen or spoken to him in years, damaging evidence begins to surface, making it appear as though she had more to do with him than she’s led everyone to believe.
Kat Martin, New York Times bestselling author and winner of the prestigious RT Book Review Magazine Career Achievement Award, is back with another novel in her popular Brodie series. Kat is a wonderful, cheerful individual. She loves to travel and research the locations she writes about. She has a talent for providing great imagery in her work, and her latest novel, AGAINST THE TIDE, is no exception.
Kat graciously agreed to answer a few questions.
AGAINST THE TIDE comes out May 26, 2015. Are you excited?
I’m particularly excited about this book because it’s one of my personal favorites. I let the plot run and realized I had something special going on, plus I love Rafe and Olivia, who are really smart and interesting people.
Please tell us a little about the book.
In AGAINST THE TIDE, Rafe Brodie is the captain of a charter fishing boat fleet in tiny Valdez, Alaska. It’s a beautiful but harsh and remote place to live. That the new owner of the Pelican Café seems out of place in such a world begins to intrigue Rafe. What is her story? Why would a beautiful woman like Olivia Chandler want to build a life in a place as far off the grid as Valdez? Unfortunately, when Rafe’s first mate, young Scotty Ferris, is murdered, Rafe has another, far more important mystery to solve. But as the clues unfold, Rafe begins to believe that Olivia’s mysterious past may lead him to the killer, which makes Liv equally determined to find the man who murdered their mutual friend.
How did you come up with the idea/plan for this novel?
I generally start with a concept that somehow pops into my head. In this case, I was visiting Valdez during my second, month-long trip to Alaska. As we drove out toward the pipeline, an element of the story began to take shape. Combining that element with solving a murder made it a compelling story to write.
John Connell spent years working as a cameraman on some of the biggest films and television shows in the country, including Jurassic Park and NYPD Blue. He loved the travel, the excitement, and the art of bringing stories to the screen. He also learned a lot about storytelling from some of the best in the business. Though he loved the work, he longed to move from behind the scenes helping bring to life someone else’s story, to writing his own. So, he left the industry, and began writing full time.
He was not an overnight success.
It took a decade, four defunct novels, and countless rejections before Connell landed a publishing deal. But the hard work and determination paid off. His novel, RUINS OF WAR—a unique, historical thriller set in postwar Germany—is already garnering national acclaim. And Connell, well, he’s considered a debut-to-watch.
The Big Thrill caught up with Connell at his home in Paris, where the author graciously agreed to answer a few questions.
What prompted the idea for a thriller set in postwar Germany? Do you have a personal connection to the period?
I’ve been a WW2 buff since I was a kid. I’ve read tons of books about the strategies, the politics, the rise and fall of Nazi Germany, though it’s the personal accounts of the individual soldiers that are my favorites. I felt I knew a good deal about the years leading up to and during the war, but I had neglected one vital part of that incredible era: its aftermath. My previous notions of relative peace and order were turned upside down while I was researching the backstory of the antagonist in an earlier, now defunct, novel.
By Cathy Clamp
Eleven years ago, young Braydon Thatcher was unable to stop a tragic murder, one that hit painfully close to home. Now a detective, Braydon can’t help but notice the eerie similarities between that murder and three women who have suddenly gone missing in the small town of Culpepper. But he has to focus on the present and keep distractions of the past to a minimum. Distractions like Sophia Hardwick, who crashes into town like a Florida thunderstorm, demanding to know where her missing sister is. The attraction between them is nearly his undoing. But he has to protect her, because it’s clear someone is resurrecting ghosts in order to punish Braydon. And if he lets his emotions for Sophia get the best of him, she could become yet another victim…
ITW contributing editor Cathy Clamp sat down with the author of this intriguing new romantic thriller to find out more about the story.
Is MANHUNT intended to be part of a series, or is it a standalone novel?
MANHUNT is a standalone novel…though in my head I definitely continued it to follow the characters after its “The End!”
Are Braydon and Sophia people your readers will have met before, or are they brand new characters?
This is the first time Braydon Thatcher and Sophia Hardwick have been introduced! And boy what a way to start!
Please tell us a little more about the town of Culpepper.
Culpepper is your stereotypical small, quiet town but in the best way possible. Sure there’s no big mall or a plethora of restaurants or attractions. But, the community really makes it great. They are a close bunch, ready to have each other’s backs when everything starts to go sideways…Which it does in MANHUNT. Because like almost every small town or, even large city, there’s a past that can’t stay hidden.
By Jeff Ayers
In Larry Sweazy’s first book in a new series, SEE ALSO MURDER, the year is 1964. Life on the North Dakota farm hasn’t always been easy for Marjorie Trumaine. She’s begun working as a professional indexer to help with the bills-—which have only gotten worse since the accident that left her husband, Hank, blind and paralyzed. But when her nearest neighbors are murdered in their beds, Marjorie suddenly has to deal with new and terrifying problems.
Sheriff Hilo Jenkins brings her a strange amulet, found clutched in the hand of her murdered neighbor, and asks her to quietly find out what it is. Marjorie uses all the skills she has developed as an indexer to research the amulet and look into the murders, but as she closes in on the killer, and people around her continue to die, she realizes the murderer is also closing in on her.
This month, Sweazy chatted with The Big Thrill about SEE ALSO MURDER and his other works.
What sparked the idea for your new mystery, SEE ALSO MURDER?
I’ve been a freelance indexer (I write back-of-the-book indexes for academic, reference, and technical books) for seventeen years, along with being a fiction writer. A source of education for indexers is a correspondence course offered by the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture). The course, along with many others, was designed to give farm wives a skill outside of farming that would generate an income in the off- season. Indexers have curious, organized minds, are methodical, well-read, and relentless in their pursuit to divine the most important information from a text—all great attributes of a good detective. Marjorie Trumaine was born from that course and its purpose, along with my experience as an indexer and love of mystery novels. Mixing the two was just natural, but the idea sparked in 2005 as a short story, and is just now a novel, ten years later.
Major Kit Bennings is an elite military intelligence agent working undercover in Moscow. When he is blackmailed by a brutal mafia don and former KGB general, he knows that his military career, if not his life, will soon be over. With little to lose, he goes rogue in the hope of saving his kidnapped sister and stopping a deadly, high-tech scheme directed against the lifeblood of America.
Yulana Petkova is a gorgeous divorcee, devoted mother, and Russian weapons engineer. And maybe more. Spy? Mob assassin? The shotgun marriage to stranger Kit Bennings takes her on a life-or-death hopscotch from Moscow to Los Angeles, from secret US military bases to Las Vegas, where she uses her wiles at every turn to carry out her own hidden agenda.
Hunted by killers from both Russia and the United States, Bennings and Petkova forge an uneasy alliance as they struggle to stop the brilliant deception.. the maskirovka… that could make the mafia kingpin the richest person in the world, while decimating the very heart of America’s economic and intelligence institutions.
UGLY YOUNG THING brings readers back to the town of Grand Trespass, Louisiana where sixteen-year-old Allie is trying to piece her life back together after the death of her mother and only brother.
When the book opens, we meet Allie, a traumatized young girl forced to rely on her looks to survive. All she has left of her family are horrible memories from her traumatic upbringing, and disgrace from the infamy that now accompanies her name. That’s what happens when your mother and brother are both murderers, and you live in a small town.
Allie gets a break when a kindly older woman takes her in as a foster child. But is her new situation too good to be true, or does her new family have ulterior motives? This is a book that will keep you guessing right up until the shocking ending.
The Big Thrill caught up with author Jennifer James to talk about her new release.
You do a wonderful job portraying Allie as a sympathetic character despite her hard exterior. Was she a character that came to you fully formed, or did she take a while to develop?
Allie came to me fully formed. In fact, I’m a little surprised that I didn’t make her a bigger character in my first thriller, Never Smile at Strangers, where she first appeared. Although she was only a supporting character in the first book, she was very important to the overall story.
By Rob Brunet
While Stu Strumwasser researched and wrote THE ORGAN BROKER, the waiting list for organs in the U.S. grew by more than thirty-five per cent. For most people, that means years of anxiety, diminished health, or even death. Where wealth meets entitlement, however, there’s an alternative: the global black market for body parts.
Like any market, each transaction takes a buyer and a seller, and both are featured in Strumwasser’s debut thriller, THE ORGAN BROKER. Doctors and other health care professionals are part of the cost, of course, but the serious money is made by middle men with the seemingly innocuous title of “transplant tourism director.” Jack Trayner is one of them, and THE ORGAN BROKER is his story.
Stu took time out as his debut novel launches to talk to The Big Thrill about Jack’s reality, and what’s driving a growth industry most people wish had no need to exist.
Stu, your story sits astride the very real need for organs and the desperation of those who would sell theirs. How much moral ambiguity do you find there?
A tremendous amount! The organ shortage crisis in America and other wealthy nations, combined with the fact that selling an organ is illegal in almost every country in the world, has created a black market. It leads to the exploitation of poor people in many third-world countries. While brokers charge American and European buyers perhaps $150K for “transplant tourism” (all-inclusive trips to go overseas and come home with a new kidney) the sellers usually receive little more than a thousand dollars. The money helps, for a time, but is rarely transformative. However, the after-effects of surgery and little or no aftercare can be. Many are left sick, crippled, or shunned by their communities, and some even die of infection or other complications. Nancy Schepper Hughes, the professor from Cal Berkely who often writes about the black market for organs, calls it “neo-cannibalism” because the most common reason given for selling an organ is “to feed my family.”
By Carolyn Hart
I penned A Farewell to Death on Demand this spring, but a funny thing happened on the way to Life Without Annie and Max. A knock on my door. There stood Annie, a glint in her steady gray eyes, a determined tilt to her chin.
“What are you thinking?”
Max was right behind her, his usual easy-going smile absent. “No more island sunshine? No alligators basking on a bank? No more laughter?”
Annie and Max looked me in the eye and said, “We’re here to stay.”
Do I want to see the displays at Death on Demand, catch up on the new mysteries, talk about old favorites? Or drop into Confidential Commissions and have a slice of Barb’s lemon pie?
Oh, yes. The scent of the ocean, the rattle of magnolia leaves, the grace and elegance of Spanish moss, hot heavy summer days, windy walks on a chilly winter beach, all await on the small sea island of Broward’s Rock.
I’ll see everyone again, ebullient Annie, charming Max, curmudgeonly author Emma Clyde, mystery maven Henny Brawley, ditzy mother-in-law Laurel Darling Roethke, intense reporter Marian Kenyon, stalwart police chief Billy Cameron, observant officer Hyla Harrison . . .
By Amy Lignor
Romantic Suspense is the genre that this amazing author is a part of. With inspirational plots and extremely fast-moving action—with a touch of love thrown in—Lynette Eason writes the characters that readers love and want to see time and time again. But not only is this a great writer, she’s also a true inspiration in more ways than one. Now, let’s meet the lady who claims the title of “plantser.”
At the core of your writing, fans and readers can see that “inspirational” path you take. Is it important to you to make sure that your characters follow that path when telling their tales?
That’s an interesting question. I actually write for the inspirational market for a lot of different reasons. I try to write true-to-life characters; ones who are true to themselves and their personalities. Since I write “faith based” stories for a mostly faith-based audience, my characters reflect that. No matter what religion a person follows, I think he or she would agree that their faith is a big part of their lives. I simply try to show that in my characters by having them think about and react in ways that reflect their faith.
What is your favorite genre?
My favorite genre is the one I write in: Romantic Suspense. And, truthfully, I’m not really all that romantic. I have to work to get that part in. I’m more interested in the suspense/action part. It’s funny, because I have a lot of male readers. One of my FBI buddies who critiques my stuff even said: “You don’t write like a girl.” I still laugh at that.
Is there any genre you have not yet touched that you would like to try in the future?
I really don’t think so. I adore suspense/thrillers and will probably stay right where I am.
Robert Wilson’s adrenaline-laced background alone is enough to inspire his fiction: a night-long battle for life without painkillers, being held up at gun-point in Africa, facing a pride of lions, cycling to Spain and Portugal. He has, to a large extent, walked the walk so he can talk the talk.
Wilson, whose books have been translated in twenty-two countries, recently answered a few questions for The Big Thrill about his life and latest novel, YOU WILL NEVER FIND ME. Enjoy the narrative voice of this disciplined, prolific, and versatile writer whose kaleidoscopic experience and approach to the craft of writing will enthrall you.
Let’s start with a short introduction.
I’ve written thirteen novels including the Bruce Medway noir series set in West Africa and two Lisbon books with WW2 settings the first of which, A Small Death in Lisbon, won the CWA Gold Dagger in 1999 and the International Deutsche Krimi prize in 2003. I’ve written four psychological crime novels set in Seville, with the Spanish detective, Javier Falcón. Two of these books (The Blind Man of Seville and The Silent and the Damned) were filmed and broadcast on Sky Atlantic as “Falcón” in 2012. A film of the fourth Falcón book was released in Spain in 2014 under the title La Ignorancia de la Sangre Capital Punishment. The first novel in my latest series set in London and featuring kidnap consultant, Charles Boxer, was nominated for the Ian Fleming Steel Dagger. This was followed by YOU WILL NEVER FIND ME in 2014 in the UK, and April 2015 in the U.S. The third book in the series, Stealing People, will be published in June 2015 in the UK and 2016 in the U.S.
By Layton Green
If you enjoy international crime novels, and you have not yet heard of Leena Lehtolainen, then you’re in for a treat. Highly regarded in Europe, Lehtolainen is Finland’s bestselling female crime author, and her titles have sold millions of copies in twenty-nine languages, as well as winning a variety of awards.
Lehtolainen skyrocketed to fame with My First Murder, a series featuring a down-to-earth, music-loving female detective named Maria Kallio. The series has been adapted for television, and remains her most popular creation.
However, she is not a one-series-wonder: Leena has also published a nonfiction work on figure skating (voted sports book of the year in Finland in 2010), literary fiction, juvenile fiction (her first novel was published when she was all of twelve years old), and a trilogy of quirky international thrillers starring a female bodyguard, the first of which was recently released in the United States.
Lehtolainen is a gracious, widely traveled, and fascinating author. Here’s a peek into her world.
Thanks for taking the time to chat, Leena. We’re thrilled to have you. I confess it’s the first time I’ve read a book set in Finland, and I loved the milieu. Do you live (or did you grow up) close to where the book is set?
Thank you, Layton. Yes, I grew up in Eastern Finland and live now near the sea and the Kopparnäs area. In my books the milieus are often real, but everything else is invented. I like to describe the Finnish nature so that people hopefully can feel that they really have visited new places with a book as a travel guide.
The Art of Being True
By Dawn Ius
New York Times bestselling author J. A. Jance can trace her love of literature all the way back to elementary school where she was introduced to the magical world of Frank Baum’s Wizard of Oz series.
She was, of course, fascinated by the stories, but even then, as an impressionable second-grade student in Mrs. Spangler’s class, Jance sensed “the author” behind the curtain and quickly realized that that is who she wanted to be—the person putting the words on the page.
Since 1982, Jance has been doing just that, with her latest thriller COLD BETRAYAL marking her fiftieth novel. More than twenty million copies of her books are in print, and they have been translated into eighteen languages—an impressive resume for any author.
Perhaps even more so for Jance, whose initial start as an author was met with daunting resistance.
While her passion for writing sparked at an early age, that flame was extinguished by her first husband, an alcoholic who declared that there would be only one writer in the house—and she wasn’t it.
For years, Jance penned poetry during the dark of night, hiding it away in a strong box so her husband wouldn’t catch her doing what, by his estimation, she shouldn’t be doing.
“When I wrote poetry, I thought I was being ‘true to my art,’” she says. “Years later, after my husband died—of chronic alcoholism at age forty-two—I had to go into the strong box for documents. And that’s where I found those old yellowed pieces of notebook paper and the poetry I’d jotted on them.”
Reading them back was like seeing her life on instant replay, and Jance suddenly understood, she hadn’t really been true to her art at all.
Instead, “I had been true to being a writer and using words to grapple with the essential issues of my life.”
While I was driving my twelve-year-old daughter home from softball practice last week, she told me about her day—including an irate commentary about her history lesson. “Did you know that in Athens, women were considered the property of their husbands?”
Before I could respond, she continued. “I told Mr. B that if I lived in Athens back then, I’d kill my husband, hide his body, and tell everyone he disappeared.”
While I appreciate her independence and strong sense of gender equality, I fear I’ve ruined my kids. That, after writing twenty-five crime novels including my latest, COMPULSION, I’m raising five children who are plotting the perfect murder. I reminded her that we believe in Heaven and Hell and while there may be a perfect murder, she wouldn’t want to go to Hell later.
Yet, a little piece of my heart was so very, very proud.
Even before I wrote crime thrillers, I was interested in crime. I don’t know if it started with my love of Trixie Belden (age eight), or Nancy Drew (age ten), or Agatha Christie (age twelve.) In Cold Blood was the first true crime novel I read when I was in eighth grade, and for years I devoured both true and fictional crime stories.
When I worked in the California State Legislature, one of my jobs was to read public safety legislation then explain—in one page or less—what the bill would actually do, both pro and con. This analysis gave me not only an understanding of crime in California, but the ability to look at all sides of an issue. In this capacity, I read the news daily, and even when I left the Legislature, I kept up with current events, particularly related to crime.
So it’s not really surprising when, years later, my oldest daughter wanted a MySpace page (yes, this was many years ago), I printed out a slew of articles where girls had been beaten, raped or murdered because they’d hooked up with someone they met online. One of the saddest stories was a girl who lived only an hour from our hometown who had a private MySpace page. Her best friend posted information about a party and “tagged” her. A young man who had been stalking this girl showed up, kidnapped, raped, and murdered her, then dumped her body in the delta.
Joanne Hichens grills Colleen Higgs, the majority shareholder and managing publisher of Modjaji Books, an independent feminist South African publishing company, about the challenges of venturing into new territory. After publishing more than seventy home-grown literary and poetry titles, Modjaji Books, going strong, is now publishing crime and thriller fiction.
First, tell us a little about the origins of the name of your publishing house. I know that Modjadji the Rain Queen, the hereditary Queen of Balobedu, a people of the Limpopo Province of South Africa, is a legend unto herself.
The succession to the position of Rain Queen is matrilineal which means the Queen’s eldest daughter is the heir, and males have no claim to the throne. The Rain Queen is believed to have special powers, including the ability to control clouds and rainfall. I wanted to incorporate the idea of ‘making rain for South African women,’ especially as drought and lack of rain is a problem in this region of the world, and while mulling over the name, I decided on Modjaji would be perfect. We spell the name with only one d, to differentiate it from the living Queen, Modjadji. Also, I grew up in Lesotho and had a Sesotho name, Pulani, which means daughter of the rain.
And why choose to focus on publishing only women?
The history of publishing in South Africa is enmeshed with the culture of resistance that flourished under apartheid. Struggle literature may have emerged from the underground, but women’s voices—and particularly black women’s voices—are still marginalized. Modjaji Books addresses this inequality by publishing books that are true to the spirit of the Rain Queen, a powerful female force for good, new life, and regeneration.
By Jeremy Burns
It’s Americans’ favorite time of year: tax season. With a tax code at tens of thousands of pages and an entire industry built up around helping ordinary citizens figure out exactly how much they owe, paying income tax has been among our most maligned of patriotic duties for nearly a century.
But what if federal income tax is, in fact, illegal?
Such is the bold question at the heart of Steve Berry’s latest thriller, THE PATRIOT THREAT. Once again, series hero Cotton Malone undertakes a globetrotting adventure to uncover the truth behind an explosive historical secret.
The government of the United States draws ninety-one percent of its total revenue from personal and corporate income tax. The tax codes that allow the government to levy the tax are built upon the 16th Amendment to the Constitution, but what if that amendment was never properly ratified? And what if proof of that failure fell into enemy hands? THE PATRIOT THREAT offers just such a scenario, built—as with all Steve Berry adventures—upon real, but little-known historical facts. Discrepancies in the amendment’s wording and cryptic warnings from the Secretary of State who presided over the process in 1913 could point to as many as twelve states’ ratifications being void, nullifying the amendment, eliminating the government’s ability to collect income tax, and bankrupting the country in one fell swoop.
When an exiled member of the North Korean elite, Kim Yong Jin, stumbles across documents that could destroy the United States, he sees his opportunity to win back his place in power. And unlike most of characters throughout his career, Berry loosely based Kim after the real deposed heir to the North Korean throne—Kim Jong Il’s older brother and political exile, Kim Jong-nam. The fascinating real-life scenario leading to his exile gives the antagonist a plausible and strong motivation for his actions throughout the story. Lucky for America that Cotton Malone is on the same Mediterranean cruise as Kim. Backed by Magellan Billet agent Luke Daniels and director Stephanie Nelle, Malone must stay a step ahead of Kim and ferret out some hidden truths, long buried in the past.
Treasury agent Isabella Shafer is a new character helping out, potentially filling a void left by Cassiopeia Vitt (but not to worry, Berry says, Cassiopeia will return). Kim’s daughter—Hana Sun—is another character Berry says he enjoyed writing, a smart yet conflicted young woman who proves an interesting dynamic in the tale. Her presence also allowed Berry to examine the awful North Korean death camps, where 200,000 people are currently confined.
By Dan Levy
While most of us have never been to the Military Academy at West Point, we can imagine what it might be like to attend. With little effort, you can visualize young men and women in perfectly creased uniforms moving about under a canopy of fall foliage, each moment of their day filled with plan and purpose. They carry a unique vision and mission for themselves, while working to fulfill a larger purpose in the defense of the United States.
Now, imagine one of the cadets, a seventeen year-old plebe, in his bunk late at night, writing by the light of a flashlight. He defies orders and routine to satisfy a need to tell stories. That is exactly how author and retired Brigadier General, A.J. Tata, spent years at West Point. “It became a balancing act between this genuine desire to serve my country and my passion to be a fiction author. I still have the spiral bound notebooks with the stories I wrote at West Point.”
Tata’s need to write didn’t stop once he graduated. If anything, for the man who commanded combat units from the eighty-second and one hundred and first Airborne Divisions, as well as tenth Mountain Division, it intensified. “My Threat series developed from a lot of late nights when I was out on deployment. I’d get back from combat missions and need to disconnect from and process everything that went on. (Writing) was helpful throughout my career. Escaping into (a) fiction world helped me, in some ways, deal with reality.”
Tata, who retired from the military in 2009, drew from his experience to create the four-book Threat series. But while the series met with much acclaim, Tata’s need to grow as a writer drove him to sideline his series protagonists (Matt and Zach Garrett), to explore a new focus. During his four-year hiatus, Tata reexamined his craft, who he was as an author, what kind of an author he wanted to become, and what mattered most to readers. “(Readers think), ‘I’m going to read the next Scott Harvath novel,’ or ‘I’m going to read the next Jack Reacher novel,’ or ‘I’m going to read the next Mitch Rapp novel,’” Tata said. “I’m trying to create that same type of character with Jake Mahegan. One that people fall in love with and want to follow regardless of the plot.”
By E. M. Powell
As a reader, how do you know you’re in for a treat before you even open the book at page one? A quick answer would be to say that it’s written by Heather Graham. Graham is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of more than one hundred books, boasting a career that has garnered her numerous awards.
My treat this month was THE DEAD PLAY ON, which is the third book in Graham’s Danni Cafferty and Michael Quinn series. Based in New Orleans, Cafferty and Quinn solve unusual crimes that the cops can’t.
In this latest outing, an apparent suicide turns out to be one of a number of musicians who have been murdered. The body count continues to rise, with the saxophone of one of the dead men at the center of the mystery—and possibly sending messages from beyond the grave. It’s a colorful, atmospheric paranormal with a host of vibrant characters and a great heroine and hero at its heart.
In my The Big Thrill interview with Graham, she answers questions about the book and what has made her the writer she is.
For me, New Orleans was like another character in the book, providing the perfect atmosphere and setting for this gripping paranormal romantic suspense. Did the setting provide the inspiration for this series, or did Danni Cafferty and Michael Quinn come calling first?
A bit of both! I was in the city mulling the kind of series I wanted to do and I saw the perfect place for their shop on a corner of Royal Street. Also, the city really lends itself to a paranormal suspense—and has as long as I can remember. It’s also a writer’s city—Truman Capote liked to claim he was born in the Monteleone (also on Royal Street) though I think the truth is that his mom went into labor there. Tennessee Williams—think A Streetcar Named Desire!—spent a great deal of time at the hotel, as did Eudora Welty, and many more. Harriet Beecher Stowe was a guest at the Cornstalk House while mulling Uncle Tom’s Cabin after seeing the slave market and . . . the list is endless! I have a free booklet up at Amazon that’s a collection of blogs on why I love NOLA for anyone interested. The city was simply perfect for the people I needed for the series—and the people were perfect for NOLA.
What can one man do against a huge criminal organization bent on world domination? Jon Land shows us in BLACK SCORPION: THE TYRANT REBORN, and thriller fans will love getting the answer.
The man in question is Michael Tiranno, whose cunning and ruthlessness in business earned him the nickname “The Tyrant.” Land introduced him in The Seven Sins. In that novel, Tiranno saved Las Vegas from a terrorist attack. This impressive character fully deserved to return in an even bigger adventure.
“You’d find him captivating, fascinating, charismatic, engaging, and a bit brash,” Land says. “The Tyrant inside him only emerges when he, someone close to him, or someone vulnerable, is harmed or threatened. The question, of course, then becomes which is the real Michael Tiranno.”
Tiranno gives us a clue to that in BLACK SCORPION when asked why he helps a family that just lost their house to foreclosure. He says, “Because I know what it’s like to lose a home.” But as Land points out, Tiranno’s motivations are more complex than that.
“I think Michael’s entire life, the core of his very existence, is about replacing what he lost the day as a young boy he witnessed the murder of his parents,” Land says. “But he can never get it, not really, which leads to him being a constantly restless soul moving on from one quest to another.”
Nicholas and Victoria Foulkes’ children are kidnapped to force repayment of a gambling debt, but when the couple are unable to raise the ransom money in time, they turn to crime. The stakes are raised when their crime spree catches the attention of Harry Evans, a childless and recently bereaved detective trying to dodge enforced retirement.
Smith writes tough-as-nails prose and delivers a page-turner that will leave you high on adrenaline.
Graham took some time this month to answer a couple of key questions about what inspired his latest release, and the motivating factors behind his protagonist Harry Evans and the family that opens old wounds.
How well does childless Harry Evans understand the plight of the central characters in SNATCHED FROM HOME?
I think he fully understands their desire to save their children. Being the swine I am, I have him mourning the loss of his own wife and unborn child. This gives him the perspective needed to put himself in their shoes. Also, he believes (wrongly) he could have done things differently and saved them.
By John Clement
BLESSED ARE THOSE WHO WEEP is the third book in Kristi Belcamino’s acclaimed series of thrillers chronicling the life of Gabriella Giovanni, an Italian-American crime reporter who happens to make a mean biscotti on the side. Not for nothing, Belcamino is herself Italian-American, and she knows a thing or two about baking biscotti as well, but it’s her career as a crime-beat reporter that imbues her fiction with a unique and rare note of authenticity. Her readers have come to expect suspenseful and gripping page-turners, and they’ll be happy to know that this new book does not disappoint.
I sat down with Belcamino to talk about her life, her work, and her latest novel.
BLESSED ARE THOSE WHO WEEP is out this month, and it’s already receiving high praise from readers and critics alike. Can you talk a little about the story?
Gabriella stumbles onto a horrific crime scene with only one survivor—a baby girl found crawling between the dead bodies of her family members. Reeling from the slaughter, Gabriella clings to the infant. When Social Services pries the little girl from her arms, the enormity of the tragedy hits home. Diving deep into a case that brings her buried past to the forefront, Gabriella is determined to hunt down the killer who left this helpless baby an orphan. But one by one the clues all lead to a dead end, and Gabriella’s obsession with finding justice pulls her into a dark, tortuous spiral that is set to destroy everything she loves …
It is a story about family, forgiveness, betrayal, and government cover-ups.
Known for capturing readers from the very first line and then surprising them with every carefully plotted twist and turn, what makes #1 New York Times bestselling author Harlan Coben’s books downright frightening is the underlying message reminding us just how frail the line is between order and chaos in our lives. With his latest, that message is as strong as ever. Coben once again reminds us there is a reason we call it the “American Dream” and the scary part is the possibility that we are all on the verge of waking up. THE STRANGER (Dutton; March 24, 2015) centers on the many secrets people keep when they think they’re anonymous – especially online – and how easily those secrets can be revealed when that information falls into the wrong hands.
In THE STRANGER, readers meet the Prices, who appear to be the perfect family. Adam and Corrine have a great marriage, with two wonderful sons, and a nice house in the New Jersey suburbs. Their world gets turned upside down when Adam meets the Stranger. Adam doesn’t know who he is, what his motive is, but the secret he has just shared about Corrine is not only devastating, it’s true.
The evening after he confronts his wife, Corinne disappears – and without even as much as a note to her boys. Did she run off on her own or could the stranger have had something to do with it? As Adam searches for Corinne and tries to track down the stranger that has just destroyed his life, he realizes he is tangled in something far bigger and darker than even Corrine’s deception.
By J. H. Bográn
There’s a reason why some authors prefer to write stand-alone novels: penning a series is no picnic. Readers demand fresh new adventures, but at the same time, the character must stay the same, but show a degree of change from one book to the next. In other words, it is a balancing act. In BRIDGES BURNED, the third entry in the Zoe Chambers series, Annette Dashofy walks that tightrope, and she graciously agreed to answer a few questions for The Big Thrill about her series, her writing, and her life.
What can you tell us about your new book?
In BRIDGES BURNED, paramedic Zoe Chambers is used to saving lives, but when she stops a man from running into a raging inferno in a futile attempt to rescue his wife, Zoe finds herself drawn to him, and even more so to his ten-year-old daughter. She invites them both to live at the farm while the grieving widower picks up the pieces of his life.
Vance Township Police Chief Pete Adams, of course, is not happy with this setup, especially when he finds evidence implicating Zoe’s new houseguest in murder times two. When Zoe ignores Pete’s dire warnings, she runs the very real chance of burning one too many bridges, losing everything—and everyone—she holds dear.
Tell us about Zoe Chambers.
Zoe loves her job as a paramedic. It’s a perfect fit with her natural caregiver tendencies. However, she continues to be conflicted regarding her future with the Coroner’s Office. She likes the idea of investigating crimes, but she’s struggling with the whole autopsy thing.
CITY OF BLOOD, Frederique Molay’s gripping thriller that held the French enthralled, is now set to work its magic across the spectrum of the English speaking world.
In the novel, which was recently translated into English, a major Parisian modern art event gets unexpected attention on live TV, causing Police Chief, Nico Sirsky, and his elite crime squad, to rush to the La Villette Park and Museum complex, built on the site of the French capital’s former slaughterhouses. Three decades after a tragic banquet, renowned artist Samuel Cassian is inaugurating the first archeological dig of modern art. Excavators uncover a skeleton in the presence of the international press.
Two questions smolder: could the bones be those of the artist’s own son, and does that death have anything to do with the current string of nightclub murders by the “Paris Butcher”?
The investigation takes Nico Sirsky and France’s top criminal investigation division from artists’ studios, to autopsy theaters and nightclubs in hopes of tracking down the murderer who threatens to turn the City of Lights into a City of Blood.
Writing has always been a passion for Molay, author of the award-winning international bestseller The 7th Woman. A laureate of Science Po, France’s prestigious Higher Institute of the Social Sciences, she began her career in politics and administration. She relinquished her position as Chief of Staff for the Deputy Mayor of Saint-Germain-en-Laye, Paris, for election to the local government in Saône-et-Loire. She also spent her nights pursuing a passion for writing, nourished since she wrote her first novel at the age of eleven. After The 7th Woman took France by storm, Molay dedicated her life to writing and raising her three children. She has five books to her name, including three in the Paris Homicide series.
By Karen Harper
Karen Harper caught up with one of the busiest “jack of all trades” and master of all, Gary Grossman, to talk about his new release, OLD EARTH. The man is amazingly successful in so many fields—journalist, newspaper columnist, television producer, playwright—and writer of thrillers. Readers who love Dan Brown will surely devour Gary’s newest book, OLD EARTH. Read on and hold on to your historical and thriller hats!
What is OLD EARTH about?
OLD EARTH is a geological thriller; a geological thriller that spans all time. It begins with a discovery made by an Italian mathematician in 1601 who’s testing his invention, the thermoscope. He determines that the best place to plot variations of temperatures in the middle of summer is in a cave. There, he finds a remarkable “truth” which in turn, points him to his life’s work—the stars. It also ultimately becomes, for the sake of the thriller, the reason he’s brought before the Inquisition. The scientist is Galileo.
Flash forward to today and a group of paleontologists digging in Montana’s famed dinosaur alley. During their excavations they make the same discovery as Galileo—thousands of miles and centuries apart. From there, OLD EARTH intercuts back and forth from modern times to Galileo’s trial, to other points in history that relate to the revelation. We also meet members of a 400-year-old clandestine organization hell bent on guarding the secret.
The thriller weaves history and intrigue, science and religion, and relatable characters with sprawling ideas. There’s even a nod to my political thrillers with a reference to one of the characters who first came to life in Executive Actions.
By Jeff Ayers
Vincent Zandri is the NEW YORK TIMES and USA TODAY bestselling author of more than 16 novels including THE INNOCENT, GODCHILD, THE REMAINS, MOONLIGHT RISES, and his latest, EVERYTHING BURNS.
When Reece Johnston was a boy, a fire destroyed his home, killing his mother and brothers while leaving him scarred for life. It also kindled something dark inside him: an irresistible attraction to flames in all their terrifying, tantalizing power. But after two failed arson attempts and two trips to the mental ward he was finally able to put down the matches and pick up the pieces.
With a career as a bestselling crime writer going strong, Reece is working to fix his broken marriage to Lisa and be there for their preteen daughter, Anna. He’s not just dealing with his own demons; there’s a world of deadly hurt bearing down on him in the form of the jealous rival he’s bested in literature and love, who’s determined to see Reece crash and burn. But a guy like Reece knows how to take the heat. And thanks to his lifelong friendship with fire, he also knows how to bring it.
Vincent chatted with The Big Thrill about his new novel and his past work.
What sparked the idea (pun intended) for EVERYTHING BURNS?
The basis for the plot was derived from the true story of my second wife and myself. We divorced some years ago, but stayed very close. For a while, my ex dated a would-be novelist. I found this rather odd since we, novelists, don’t exactly grow on trees. So what are the chances of that? Then one day, for reasons I won’t go into here, my ex-wife and I decided to start dating again. During that time, she underwent cosmetic eye surgery. On the morning her mother picked her up for the surgery, I also found out that the ex-boyfriend-would-be-novelist had been calling and texting again. Bingo! The plot for Everything Burns suddenly shot into my brain like a transfusion. The bit about the fire and the pyromania came later.
Iced Chiffon by Duffy Brown
All my life I thought launch was what really smart rocket scientists do to get something into space. Never in all those years did I expect to be involved in one. Yet here I am dong a launch of my very own. Not that I’m putting a rocket in space—though right now that seems like a snap—but I’m launching a book.
“What do you mean launch?” I asked my publisher. “The book comes out on a specific day, booksellers, B&N and Amazon put it up for sale, end of story. Done. Right?”
Wrong. To launch my first cozy mystery, ICED CHIFFON, I though it would be fun to do something different. I’ll have a mystery party at my house, I decided, with a real live mystery for the guests to solve. I have the house and I like parties. A match made in heaven.
Sixty is a nice number and I can just buy one of those interactive mystery party packs online and set up the mystery event based on that. Piece of cake.
You can see where this is going, can’t you? Murphy’s Law on steroids.
First off, there are no mystery party packs for sixty online. They had packs for twelve, but not five times the number. That meant I’d have to write the mystery. And if people are coming to my house I have to serve food and beverages.
A scientist’s outlandish claims about the true nature of reality are initially met with cynicism by former colleague Jacob Kelley, until darker events unfold that force Jacob to take them seriously as he is thrust into a frantic dual reality where he is both the accused and the investigator.
SUPERPOSITION is cleverly written to reflect the quantum world, with parts separated and yet entangled in alternating chapters. This is a truly fascinating approach to thriller writing, allowing the reader a wonderful double view of the entire situation. For example, the story allows us to examine the protagonist’s development in two parallel settings, each providing different challenges to be overcome and thus causing divergent effects.
The story’s strength lies in its ingenious structure that neatly unfolds against an impressive backdrop of science. But fear not, this is no academic quagmire, but a readily digestible thriller.
So, if you are looking for a unique spin on a murder thriller, this could be the one for you—or your quantum twin.
Now, I will hand over to the author David Walton as he answers my questions about the book, the writing process, science, and science fiction.
By George Ebey
New Zealand resident and author Sharlene Almond brings us INITIATED TO KILL, the first instalment in her new series that blends aspects of history with a modern day twist.
In this first outing, two men from different generations are initiated into a powerful organization that has sought control of the world and uses their power for destructive ends.
The Big Thrill recently caught up with Sharlene to learn more about this series and her plans for the future.
Tell us a little about INITIATED TO KILL.
INITIATED TO KILL is the first in the Annabella Cordova series. All of the books in the series have a part-historical, part-present day focus.
In this story, Annabella Cordova quickly becomes embroiled in a conspiracy involving the university she studies at. When her roommate goes missing, it becomes very personal. Her past gradually unveils, as she is closer to this than she could have possibly imagined. A childhood accident causing permanent deafness enables Annabella to use her other senses to read facial and body language, and detecting lies in people, including suspects.
What first inspired you to write tales involving history and modern-day crime?
When I was younger, I had a little notebook in which I would jot down ideas of things one day I would like to write about.
By Linda Davies
James O. Born has had a long and distinguished career as an agent for the Drug Enforcement Agency, and is still employed as an agent with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement where he has worked in a number of areas, including the Special Operations Team. This has given him experience that many writers would die for (figuratively, and probably literally too, if we ever stumbled into the path of clear and present danger!)
After years trying to get published, Born hit the big leagues when Putnam published his first novel Walking Money in 2004. This year marks his ninth book, SCENT OF MURDER. It focuses on the use of canine units in law enforcement and detection:
Two years after being tossed from the detective bureau for his questionable tactics catching a child molester, deputy Tim Hallett’s life is finally on track. Assigned to a special K-9 unit with the best partner in the world, a Belgian Malinois named Rocky, Hallett has finally learned to balance police work with his family life. But that all changes in the heat of a Florida sugarcane field.
The wealth of Born’s experience shines through in the novel in a way that is never allowed to bog down the narrative. He manages to combine background detail with a gripping and compelling plot that speeds along. I particularly enjoyed passages from the dog’s perspective.
Born also manages to create a very real and powerful microcosm of life with all the characters extremely well drawn and the dialogue snapping along with the ring of authenticity. This is a class act.