Archive for the ‘crime’ Tag

Monday’s Friend: Mary Andrea Clarke

Today I’m pleased to welcome historical crime writer Mary Andrea Clarke to the blog. Good to have you as my guest, Mary.

SJT: Did you always know you were destined to be a writer?

crimson cavalierMAC: No, although I always enjoyed writing.  It wasn’t really something I thought about consciously.  Some of my primary school teachers had suggested I should become an author.  I wasn’t really convinced at that point.  A slow burning flame that came to fruition, or maybe like the maturing of a good wine.

SJT: Who would you cite as your influences?

MAC: Agatha Christie, Georgette Heyer, Dorothy L Sayers, Jean Plaidy, although I don’t write about known historical figures, and Jane Austen.  Pride and Prejudice made a direct contribution to The Crimson Cavalier when I named Georgiana Grey after Mr Darcy’s sister.

SJT: What advice would you pass on to beginner writers that you wish someone had told you when you were first starting out?

MAC: Try not to get discouraged by the rejections.  There’s no average time or number of nos a writer will hear before getting the yes.  Go looking for opportunities to write, even if it’s not your preferred format.  Competitions, writers’ groups, evening classes, all are good discipline and set targets.  Even an encouraging letter from a competition organiser where you just missed the shortlist can be the spur to keep going.  Accountability is a good motivator and good feedback is always a help.  It also provides valuable interaction in an essentially solitary occupation.

love not poisonSJT: Have you ever been inspired to put people you know in real life in your books?

MAC: Only twice, both have ended up dead.  In most cases, I have found characters have evolved as a mix of qualities I have picked up subconsciously or something I’ve heard which has to be used.  The last real life inspired character was left face down in a river in my latest work in progress.  I must decide his fate or he will soon become bloated like some unfortunate individual I saw in Midsomer.

SJT: I’ve killed off real people in my books too! It’s quite carthartic. When it comes to your writing projects, would you describe yourself as a meticulous planner, or a ‘seat-of-the-pantser’?

MAC: Neither and both.  I do plan to an extent, but more on a next chapter basis than detailed planning of the manuscript.  Of course things don’t always go according to plan.  The Crimson Cavalier was full of surprises.  One character intended as a passing background figure suddenly appeared on the page, with a very specific appearance and a large part to play in the next book, Love Not Poison.  The latest Georgiana Grey work started as an exercise inspired by Dorothea Brande’s classic work, Becoming a Writer.  I wanted to shake things up.  Her suggestion of keeping a notebook by the bed and writing the first thing that comes into the head in the morning, before fully awake, kicked off a new novel.  I’m not sure yet where it’s leading but that’s half the fun.

SJT: Your series is about an independent-minded young woman in Regency England. Not a time desperately progressive when it comes to women’s rights. What inspired you to create the character of Georgiana Grey?

MAC: In a way, it was the very difficulties women encountered in that era which made me want a female sleuth trying to negotiate the system, if only to see if it could be done.  I always loved the film, ‘The Wicked Lady’, in its original black and white version.  While it may have required some suspension of disbelief, the intrigue and tension mixed with the class distinctions remains riveting.  The role of highway robber gave Georgiana a level of freedom to circumvent some of the rules  We know highwaymen were not the glamorous Robin Hood-like adventurers of fable.  Yet we also know the world is not black and white, the anti-hero has good points as the hero has flaws.  Ross Poldark’s anger at a sick man’s imprisonment for a minor crime leads to him breaking the law but I suspect most of us would not condemn him.  The prison scenes from the original ‘Poldark’ were in my mind when I motivated Georgiana’s anger about her servant’s conviction.

debt not dishonourSJT: Any current writing projects in the works?

MAC: At present I am editing The Body Nursery, which introduces some new characters, two bodysnatchers who discover a dead baby while liberating an old man from his coffin.  One is uncomfortable with treating the child as merchandise and suspects a questionable death which he decides to investigate.  Another lawbreaker with a conscience.  I have also started writing a new Georgiana Grey adventure, in which her cousin and chaperone, Selina Knatchbull, finds a body which subsequently disappears.

SJT: What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

MAC: I enjoy spending time with my long distance family when I get the chance, we always manage to do some fun stuff.  I like reading (of course!), going to the theatre and places of historical interest.  Just recently I had a great day out at Hampton Court,  I have been there before but always spot something new!

SJT: Thank you, Mary, for taking time to chat with me today.

If readers want to learm more about Mary’s work, check out her website and follow her on Twitter. The link to her publishers can be found here.

The first book in the Crimson Cavalier series is currently available on Kindle for 95p, so if you want to grab a bargain, hop over there right now (or $.123 if you’re in the US).

 

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Monday’s Friend: Sarah E Smith

Today’s guest is fellow KGHH author and crime writer Sarah E Smith. Welcome, Sarah!

Inside the Mind
By Sara E Smith

A couple of months ago, Sara asked me to blog about my processes, and whether it’s changed as I’ve developed as a writer. So I thought I’d explain how I do a whodunnit and why Byrd books are taking much longer to write than the Secret of Aldwych Strand did.

For mesarah e smith (2), writing a time travel trilogy was like falling off a log. Mark and Lucy’s story oozed from every pore. Tumbling like a river in flood; desperate to reach the world. This new set of books is best compared to wading through treacle without waders.  Symington, Earl Byrd,  my latest creation for KGHH publishing, is a gentleman detective; living and working at the start of the 20th century. His world is dark and dangerous. His opponents vicious, clever, and always one step ahead. Hence the treacle. I had to rethink how I wrote; had to become more methodical. Plot more, think more. Draft and discard more.

You see whilst I know exactly who the murderers are and why they have committed such heinous crimes, these tales aren’t put together from chapter one to chapter last.

Right from the beginning, before you write the words Chapter One, it’s important to know who the murderer is and why their victim, or victims, had to die. So, I write the murderer’s confession first. You know the drill: “Of course, I murdered Major Plumb in the Study with the lead piping…” and in early draft, this section always ends with: “And I would have got away with it, were it not for you pesky kids.”

After establishing the who and why, I write the first murder and continue up to the point where Byrd shows how clever he is by examining the evidence at the crime scene.  Then I stop, and write Byrd’s final speech to the suspects: “I’ve called you all here today to…” This allows me to establish the red herrings,  and the lies these people need to tell during the rest of the tale in order to make them possible murderers.

From then on it’s pretty plain sailing. Get the rest of the main story written predominantly from Byrd’s perspective – except when 3rd person or another POV is needed; meet and interview the suspects; and then kill off at least one more person. This done, it’s time to open the files: “I called you all here today” and the “Pesky Kids”; copy and paste them in, and job jobbed.

Except of course it’s not.

It’s at this point I realise I’ve  missed out one motive,  or forgotten to murder someone. In the worst case (as at the moment with his second book) the plot’s twisted in on itself and the universe will implode. So back I go and change, rewrite, and add until I’ve had enough… and never want to write a murder mystery again.

SB COC NEW MASTER COVER (2)So

Am I

Finished?

No!

Because as I read this draft through, it becomes blindingly obvious there’s no badinage and interplay between Byrd and his bizarre entourage: cousin CC (a chief inspector with Scotland Yard); Sampson and Watkins his servants. There’s no sub plot; no tantalising glimpses into the central characters past – or present.  By this point I also realise the history is missing. Those passing references to the events of the early 1900’s, which I must include, or burn in the fires of inaccuracy. So, after a short temper tantrum, I add those bits, and send it off to the editor before I make any changes … or throw any more toys out the pram.

At this point peace descends. A short month(ish) truce broken by an email from the editor. This reveals: gaping plot holes and an ending that doesn’t make sense; sections of text which drag, she doesn’t like or are a pile of poo – my words. It’s also now I realise, that some of the voices are too similar. A constable on the beat speaks like a toff. Byrd doesn’t have enough whimsies and mannerisms, and the least said about Sampson and Watkins the better.

Eventually though, the final product emerges and it’s over to you dear reader for your verdict…

twitter pics1 (2)

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Born in Plymouth in 1967 to a naval family, Sarah never wanted to go down to the sea in ships, she wanted to travel in time. For some people this would be a daunting challenge. For Sarah it was easy. There were three ways to do it: stow away in the TARDIS, study History and write a book. The last two were achievable, and she may not have travelled in the TARDIS, but she did once travel in a Mini Metro with Tom Baker, the fourth (and for those of us of a certain age, the best) Doctor Who.

Learn more about Sarah and her writing on her website, her blog and her Amazon page, or follow her on Twitter.

 

BOOK LINKS:

Meet Symington Byrd. Playboy. Gentleman. Detective.
viewBook.at/COC

For the Time Travellers out there: the Trilogy is complete:
getBook.at/CompleteTrilogy

 

 

Monthly Round-up: July 2017

(Cross-posted on the WriteClub blog)

This month’s round-up post is a week late, but this time last week I was sunning myself on a beach in France. The weather was lovely, but wifi access was appalling.

Hence, here we are now in August, reviewing July.

OUT NOW/COMING SOON

I’m hoping to promote the third Shara Summers novel, SPOTLIGHT ON DEATH, at Bouchercon in October, and hopefully I’ll have a release date by then. In the meantime I’m plugging the first book the series, DEATH SCENE.

PUBLICITY

The third Goodreads giveaway for THE WHISPERING DEATH has finished. The lucky winners were Angela Paull from Hampshire and Olivia Silva from Hertfordshire. They have each received a signed copy of THE WHISPERING DEATH.

I am very excited about the forthcoming Bouchercon in Toronto, which will be my first time attending this particular conference. And I am particularly thrilled about being offered a panel. The panel is about violence in crime, and should be very interesting, though since it’s on at 8:30am on the Friday, I am not sure how many people we’ll have in the audience.

WORK IN PROGRESS

I am pleased to report that the first draft of the new horror novel, OUTPOST H311, is finished, and work has commenced on the second draft. At this stage I am feeling confident I will hit the 1 October deadline to submit this one. Hopefully I’ll be feeling just as confident at the end of August.

Until then, if you are in the Northern Hemisphere, enjoy the rest of the summer. And if you are in then Southern Hemisphere, you’ve still got summer to look forward to.

Monthly Round-up: April 2017

(Cross-posted on the WriteClub blog)

Time, as they say, waits for no one. A third of the year has already gone. However, the best thing about this time of year is that I actually see my house in daylight during the week. Technically, it’s spring. But I think someone forgot to tell the weather that, as the temperature in the UK has been more winter-like the past few days. Some places even have snow. Anyway, enough about the weather. On with the news.

OUT NOW/COMING SOON

Seven years ago this month, my first novel was published – SUFFER THE CHILDREN was released in e-book format by Lyrical Press. It marked a major turning point in my life, fulfilling a dream that I had chased for thirty years. And now the book is available again, from a different publisher. If you haven’t yet read the book that started it all for me, you can buy it here from MuseItUp Publishing.

Coming up to the present day, I have been in touch with my editor and the edits for SPOTLIGHT ON DEATH, the new Shara Summers novel, will be underway shortly. I’m still optimistic for a 2017 release.

PUBLICITY

I’ve been a bit quiet on the publicity front of late. It’s now been nearly a year since anything new came out, and I always feel it’s difficult to plug a new book when it’s not really new at all.

I did run another Goodreads giveaway for THE WHISPERING DEATH, however, that finished on 15 April. The winners were: Rachel Sanders in Sutherland, and Adam Bradbury in Surrey. Their prizes were posted last week, and indeed should be in their hands by now. The plan is to run some more Goodreads giveaways between now and October, so if you’re still interested in winning a copy of this book, keep an eye on the Goodreads page.

I’m a bit light on the convention side of things this year as well. However, that’s largely because I’m going to Bouchercon in Toronto in October, and not only is that a con that requires an international trip, it also clashes with most of the other cons I generally go to (FantasyCon and Bristol Horror Con, to name two). But I’ve been wanting to do Bouchercon for years, and with it being in Toronto it gives me a good reason to go visit family and friends in Canada at the same time.

WORK IN PROGRESS

The new horror novel, OUTPOST H311, is going well. I’ve agreed a deadline with my publisher at KGHH on this one, and it’s full steam ahead.

That’s it for now. I’ve got to get on with the writing!

Monthly Round-Up: January 2017

(Cross-posted on the WriteClub blog)

I’m a bit late with this round-up since it’s now 1 February. So how have I been doing in the first month of this year? Let’s see…

OUT NOW

Nothing new out, but I’ll take this opportunity to pimp the existing works.

Horror

The Whispering Death
Suffer The Children

Crime (Contemporary Amateur Sleuth)

Death Scene
Dead Cool

Short Story Collection

Soul Screams

PUBLICITY

No guest blog posts to report. However, I am running a Goodreads Giveaway for THE WHISPERING DEATH for February, with two free paperback copies of the book to giveaway. You can enter here. Please note this is for UK entrants only, due to postage costs. Please promote the giveaway if you are able to – I am hoping to raise awareness of the book and perhaps get a few more reviews. There will be more giveaways over the next few months so watch this space.

WORK IN PROGRESS

Work has started on a new horror novel. Since this one is to be delivered to KGHH this year I am pressing on with it, and I have achieved nearly 10,000 words in the first month of the year. It is set in the Arctic, and it has the title OUTPOST H311.

Meanwhile the fourth Shara Summers novel is also a work in progress.

Plenty to keep me busy, then. See you at the end of February!

Monday’s Friend: Kevin Hopson

My first guest author of 2017 is Kevin Hopson. Welcome, Kevin!

SJT: When did you first know you were destined to be a writer?

KH: I think it was when I went through several career changes and I eventually chose writing over everything else. I had an interest in writing as a child, and it blossomed again while in college. Looking back, though, I really didn’t have a clue about what it took to be a writer. Now that I do, and I have willingly accepted those responsibilities, I’m fully committed to the craft.

SJT: Who would you cite as your influences?

KH: I’m a huge fan of Michael Crichton, David Baldacci, Lee Child, and Michael Connelly. I think these authors have influenced me the most in recent years, especially Lee Child and Michael Connelly. I read Child’s Jack Reacher series and Connelly’s Harry Bosch series almost religiously now. I love their characters, dialogue, pacing, plot, etc., and I’ve noticed their writing styles creeping into my own Jacob Schmidt series.

SJT: What advice would you pass on to beginner writers that you wish someone had told you when you were first starting out?

KH: I remember getting dejected early on in my writing career. I knew it would require a lot of practice to get where I wanted to go, but it took me a while to realize this. Even the best authors were rejected at some point, and I always used this as motivation. However, it never occurred to me the type of investment that’s needed to pursue a writing career. I’m not referring to the financial commitment, though this can still be significant for some depending on how they choose to market themselves. Instead, I’m talking about the time commitment. Outlining, plotting, character creation/development, research, editing, promotion/marketing, submissions, contracts, etc. It’s something I was kind of thrown into and had very little knowledge of. Because of this, anyone starting out in writing should do the proper research before diving in. Knowing what to expect will make the road much smoother.

SJT: Tell us about your latest release.

khopson-72dpi-1500x2000-2KH: CHILDREN OF THE SNOW is a short story that was released by MuseItUp Publishing on January 3. It’s the second book in my Jacob Schmidt series, which revolves around an Atlanta police officer. This story was initially written for a themed anthology so it can act as a stand-alone apocalyptic tale, but I still consider it part of the series. In fact, we meet a new character in this story that ends up being a major player in future instalments. Below is a blurb for the book.

“A historic snowstorm decimated an American Indian tribe in the nineteenth century. Thousands died, some ultimately eating their own in order to survive. Now the snowstorm has returned, and something sinister hides within it. Something detective Jacob Schmidt will witness firsthand.”

It is now available from Amazon.

SJT: Your character Jacob Schmidt lives in Atlanta, Georgia – a place where this Brit didn’t think there was much snow. Do you have a fondness for the snow or are you more a sun worshipper?

 KH: I’m assuming you’re referring to the cover for Children of the Snow. Even though Jacob Schmidt lives in Atlanta, I make no mention of this in Children of the Snow. I did this on purpose so the historical fiction aspect of the story would remain somewhat believable. For example, I don’t think there are any federally-recognized Indian tribes or reservations in Georgia, so the setting could be another state in the U.S. South or U.S. Southeast. This is fiction, however, and the story does have a “soft” apocalyptic setting, so Atlanta could still be a feasible location. In reality, the city doesn’t get a lot of snow. Personally, I loved the snow as a child. In fact, I still do, but I only like to see it once or twice a year. As I’ve grown older, I’ve become more of a sun worshipper.

SJT: What are you working on at the moment?

KH: I just finished another Jacob Schmidt story (the fifth in the series), but I haven’t decided what I want to do with it yet. It deals with domestic abuse, and I want to use it as a charity story. My only issue is deciding whether to self-publish it, keep it with my publisher, or try to market it elsewhere.

SJT: What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

KH: In addition to writing, I really enjoy making book trailers. I also love to read and watch movies. All of these things keep my creative juices flowing and act as stimulants for my writing.

Author Bio:

Prior to hitting the fiction scene in 2009, Kevin was a freelance writer for several years, covering everything from finance to sports. His debut work, World of Ash, was released by MuseItUp Publishing in the fall of 2010. Kevin has released nearly a dozen books through MuseItUp since then, and he has also been published in various magazines and anthology books. Kevin’s writing covers many genres, including dark fiction and horror, science fiction and fantasy, and crime fiction. His website can be found at http://www.kmhopson.com.

Monday’s Friend: Mark Pryor

Today crime writer Mark Pryor is chatting to me about his writing. Welcome, Mark!

SJT: When did you first know you were destined to be a writer?

MP: I think it’s always something I wanted to be, but I never really thought it was a realistic or achievable goal. Even as a kid I wrote (terrible!) short stories and my mum told me recently there’s a drawer somewhere full of them. Which is sort of a horrifying thought!

About ten years ago, though, I decided to really give it a try. I told myself that yes, I might fail and never get published, but the real failure would be not trying. So I wrote three (terrible?!) novels that never went anywhere, and then The Bookseller, which got interest from agents pretty immediately. Since that time, I haven’t dared to look back!

SJT: Who would you cite as your influences?

MP: I admire so many writers but I would have to say that the ones I read as a kid and teenager really shaped the stories I put together. People like Agatha Christie and Arthur Conan Doyle for their brilliant plotting, they would be my earliest influences. More recently I feel like I’ve learned from writers like Alan Furst and Philip Kerr, who manage to infuse their stories with such atmosphere, such a strong sense of place. I really admire that ability and try to emulate it in my own writing.

SJT: What advice would you pass on to beginner writers that you wish someone had told you when you were first starting out?

MP: I usually tell beginner writers two things: first, learn the craft. My first three novels didn’t get published because they weren’t good enough. I didn’t know about point-of-view, I used the passive tense, my characters were shallow and poorly-drawn. Maybe it’s time and practice that teaches, maybe it’s classes, or maybe it’s just reading a lot, but learning the craft is essential to success.

Once you have a handle on that, the only thing I can say is: don’t give up. I must have received three or four hundred rejections over the years, from agents and publishers. Sometimes my wife would look at me like I was mad for subjecting myself to all those “no thank-yous”. But I kept going, plugging away, writing and querying, and finally something clicked. Six books later I still look back and thank the lucky stars that I didn’t give up.

SJT: Tell us about your new book, HOLLOW MAN, and where we can buy it.

MP: You should be able to buy it everywhere, all bookstores and online. If not let me know and I’ll fix that lickity-split!

Hollow Man is a stand-alone, a departure from my Hugo Marston series. It’s a book that rattled around inside my head in various forms for several years before taking shape, and it’s certainly a lot darker than my series. It’s the story of a man who presents himself as a normal, functioning member of society when in reality he’s essentially mimicking those around him, copying them and learning how to express emotions by watching them. He’s aware of his emotional failing, though, and that’s why he tries to hide it—to protect his life, his lifestyle. But…

SJT: Your main character is a psychopath. How did you go about getting inside the head of this character, and making him someone that the reader would empathise with?

MP: I did a lot of research. I’m the kind of person who gets teary-eyed at commercials featuring puppies, or those videos of soldiers returning home and surprising their kids… so the idea of someone have no empathy is fascinating to me. I have a friend at work who’s a psychiatrist and an expert on psychopaths, so I bounced ideas off him a lot. And I did a lot a lot of reading, too.

I think (hope!) I made him sympathetic in the sense that he never set out to harm anyone. Quite the opposite, he just wants to live his life as normally as possible, knowing full well that if he’s identified as a psychopath by his peers he’d likely lose his job and his career as a musician. In other words, this isn’t a story about a bad man doing bad things, it’s more a story about a man with the capacity for evil trying to resist those urges, and how he reacts when the choices he makes take him off that path of decency and goodness.

SJT: Like your character, you’re an Englishman living in Texas. What are the main differences you notice between the two places?

MP: Apart from the weather, you mean?!

SJT: That goes without saying!

MP: There’s a lot to love about Texas but I think one of the major things (and I’ve found this to be true of America generally) is the can-do attitude. You’re allowed to be anything you want, and when you strike off in a new direction people are there to cheer you on. I can’t tell you how much support I’ve had when, first, switching my career from journalist to lawyer, and then on becoming a published author. I think this is the attitude that separates this country from almost everywhere else, and I really admire and appreciate it.

SJT: What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever done in the name of research?

MP: Can I plead the Fifth? Okay, I’ll relent… I’ve swapped emails with an actual sociopath, which may not seem like much but having done a lot of research I have to admit to feeling odd when seeing her name in my in-box. Also, I set one scene in The Button Man at a bdsm party, and I’ll point out that I rarely describe things I’ve not researched in person. What else? I can assure you that a review of my internet search history would raise a few eyebrows, from the above-mentioned to various types of poisons, and some explosives-related searching.

SJT: What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

MP: My greatest pleasure is my family, hanging out with them. Even when I’m writing, I try to do that—my eldest daughter often accompanies me to the library to read while I write. I’m also a huge soccer fan. I play on two teams and two of my kids play, so watching them gives me a lot of joy. I don’t have a lot of down time, or even time for reading, but I have no complaints about such a full life, I’m really very lucky indeed.

SJT: What’s next for you, writing-wise?

MP: I’m currently working on the sixth book in the Hugo Marston series, and I think my agent is negotiating further books in the series. I’ll focus on those for a bit but I do have a couple of idea for stand-alones that are slowly forming. I hope to find time to work those out, specifically one about a father and son who have to escape some bad guys chasing them across west Texas. I have a title for that book, but the story itself isn’t settled in my mind. Yet. 🙂

PRYORAUTHOR BIO

Mark Pryor is a former newspaper reporter from England, and now a prosecutor with the Travis County District Attorney’s Office, in Austin, Texas.

He is the author of the stand-alone psychological thriller, HOLLOW MAN, released on September 1 of this year by Seventh Street Books. He is also the author of five novels in the Hugo Marston series, which are set in Paris, London, and Barcelona. The first, called THE BOOKSELLER, was a Library Journal Debut of the Month, and called “unputdownable” by Oprah.com. The fifth was published in June of 2015, and the series was recently featured in the New York Times.

Mark is also the creator of the nationally-recognized true-crime blog ‘D.A. Confidential,’ and has appeared on CBS News’s 48 Hours and Discovery Channel’s Discovery ID: Cold Blood.

Website: www.MarkPryorBooks.com
Amazon Link
Barnes & Noble Link

Monday’s Friend: J E Seymour

Today I am pleased to welcome crime writer J E Seymour as my guest to the blog, with some sage advice on the editing process.

On Editing
By J E Seymour

I’m in the middle of editing my third novel. It’s not fun. I’m not even talking about the multiple times I’ve edited it myself, which is its own nightmare. I’m on the second round of professional edits with my publisher’s editor. Don’t get me wrong, she’s great. I don’t have anything against her, except that she’s forcing me to work at this. Yes, she is pushing me to do things with my writing I haven’t done before. Yes, she is making me stretch. And those are good things. I’m thrilled, really. When I’m not staring at the screen and cursing her.

StressFractures (2)This is what a good editor does. A good editor tells you what you’re doing wrong. The writer has to be able to take that criticism and make the writing better. Some of the criticism hurts. How can this person say that about my writing? But then, when I step back and look at it, maybe she’s right. Then I can make it better. And that is why a writer needs an editor. We all need someone to tell us when we’ve made a mistake.

Good editing starts at home. Set aside your first draft. I ignore it for a few weeks, some people set it aside for months. Then come back to it. You’ll see things you were missing the first time through. Then move on to beta readers. An outside eye, whether it’s a writers group or an individual reader, will again find things you missed, but should also help you with things like continuity.

After this, go over it yourself again. Pay attention to what your first readers said. Don’t let your personal feelings get in the way. Be objective.

For me, the next step is to send it to my publisher. Then the professional editor takes over and the real work begins. And if you’ll excuse me, I have to go bang my head on the desk as I go through the latest round of edits.

Author Bio

510x765-LeadPoisoning (2)J.E. Seymour lives and writes in the seacoast area of New Hampshire, USA. She has two novels out with Barking Rain Press – Lead Poisoning, and Stress Fractures, both featuring Kevin Markinson, retired mob hitman, Marine Veteran and all around family guy. Her third novel, Frostbite, featuring the same character, is due out from Barking Rain in March of 2016. She also has had more than twenty short stories published in print and ezines. In addition to writing, she works in a library and takes care of a farm with four ponies, two horses, a donkey, several cats, two rescued greyhounds, a cockatoo and two pet snakes. Find out more about her at her website and buy her books direct from the publisher here: http://www.barkingrainpress.org/j-e-seymour/

Monday’s Friend: Allan J Emerson

Today I’d like to welcome author Allan J Emerson to the blog.

 SJT: We have a lot in common, you and I. Like you, I was making up stories as a little kid. Mine used to feature any one of my dolls or stuffed toys, which all had names and family histories. What were your early stories about?

Allan Emerson author photoAJE: I do think the urge to tell stories surfaces when we’re quite young. When I was 7 or 8, my stories were mash-ups of movie plots, fairy tales, comic books, and whatever I thought up myself. They usually featured knights or kings who had some kind of special powers: they could fly, or read minds, or become invisible. I didn’t worry about anachronisms either—knights might shoot it out with the villain, or hear a cry for help over the radio.

SJT: Which writers inspire you?

AJE: Among mystery writers: P.D. James, Elizabeth George, and Ian Rankin. Louise Penny (the Inspector Gamache series). Stephen King has turned to mysteries recently (Mr. Mercedes). All of them write fully-realized characters living believable lives. Writers outside the mystery genre, like Alice Munro, Franz Kafka, Edith Wharton, and Saul Bellow, for their insights into what makes us human.

SJT: What advice would you pass on to beginner writers that you wish someone had told you when you were first starting out?

AJE: I wish someone had told me it was not enough to want to tell a story. You need the tools to tell it, and most of us aren’t born with them. Take a course, read books on writing, or do whatever you need to do to learn writing technique. I eventually figured a lot of it out myself, but I would’ve been producing better stories much sooner if I hadn’t learned by trial and a great deal of error.

SJT: So tell us about your latest book, DEATH OF A BRIDE AND GROOM.

AJE: My favourite subject! Death of a Bride and Groom is a small-town mystery with humour, a little sex, a little swearing, and some surprising relationships (kind of like the author’s life, only without the murders).

DeathOfABrideAndGroomFront (2)The bodies of a man and woman are discovered in full wedding regalia atop a giant wedding cake parade float. The murders create a sensation in the little town of Honeymoon Falls, and there’s no lack of suspects: Iris Morland, the “bride” was truly, deeply, hated by half the town. Connor Tarlech, her lover and the “groom,” had been responsible for a bankruptcy that devastated the other half. Police Chief Will Halsey tracks down the killer through a series of encounters with various townspeople, most of whom have secrets they have no intention of divulging. Here’s a brief extract from the discovery scene:

“The bride atop the float stared sightlessly out over the street behind him, her head resting against the back of the elaborate throne on which she was seated. Her crown of plastic orange blossoms had slipped askew, and the panel of gauzy material descending from it floated in the breeze in front of her, alternately veiling and revealing her face. Her brown hair fluttered against her lips, which were slightly parted as though interrupted in the middle of a word, a word she’d been confident would have resulted in a far different outcome. The cat Halsey had frightened was curled up in her lap, thin yellow crescents showing through its slitted lids.”

SJT: You are described as writing ‘humorous crime’. How do you go about putting humour in a story about death? Would you say there’s a fine line between comedy and tragedy?

AJE: Certainly, life can be tragic and funny at the same time. I once watched a cat scarf an entire meat pie on a kitchen counter while its distracted mistress told me about the terrible final days of her husband’s life. I couldn’t bring myself to interrupt her tearful account, and it wasn’t until the cat’s loud slurps caused her to look around that we both began to laugh.

I think most mysteries (at least the ones I enjoy) are not about death as much as they’re about what happens after a death. The humour in Death of a Bride and Groom comes from the behaviour of the living after the bodies are found.

SJT: Your setting, Honeymoon Falls, is clearly a thinly disguised version of Niagara Falls. A place I know well. As well as putting fictionalised versions of real places in your books, have you ever put fictionalised versions of real people in them?

AJE: There are elements of people I’ve known in my characters, but I’ve never fictionalized real people in full. I find modelling a character on a real person constrains my imagination; it’s hard for me to imagine the character doing anything the real person wouldn’t.

I did get the idea for the town of Honeymoon Falls while visiting Niagara Falls, although the resemblance extends only to the idea of both being honeymoon destinations. (Well, I have to admit the heart-shaped vibrating beds and mirrored ceilings in the hotel were suggested by brochures from some of the tackier establishments in the Niagara area.)

The idea of marketing their town as a honeymoon destination is born of the inhabitants’ desperation when the town’s major employer goes bankrupt. Since they don’t have anything like the spectacular natural wonder that is Niagara, they dub the town “the Romance Capital of the World” and cultivate an over-the-top romantic ambience which slides rapidly into kitsch.

SJT: Do you have plans for more murder and mayhem for the residents of Honeymoon Falls?

AJE: Absolutely! I’m currently working on the next in the series, to be called Death of an Action Hero.

SJT: What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

AJE: Read, travel (would love to visit England again), learn something new (I’m presently trying to learn French). I love theatre and have been toying with scriptwriting. I think watching actors bring to life characters I’ve created would be an incredible experience.

Thank you for inviting me to share your space today, Sara. It’s been a pleasure!

AUTHOR BIO

Allan J. Emerson is a Canadian writer and Death of a Bride and Groom is his first novel. Inspired by a trip to Niagara Falls, Emerson wondered what the daily lives of the permanent residents of such a popular honeymoon destination were like. Emerson was born in Saskatchewan and brought up in small towns there and in British Columbia, but lived in Australia and New Zealand also before settling with his wife in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Visit Allan’s website to learn more about his writing.

Monday’s Friend: Richard Bush (2)

Today I am pleased to welcome author and blues man Ricky Bush back to the blog, to talk about his two favourite things – blues and writing. Take it away, Ricky!

Blues And Trouble
By Ricky Bush

Ricky B (2)Blues and trouble. Those three words basically sum up the three books in my series involving Mitty Andersen and Pete Bolden, my crime fighting bluesmen. Wish I could get away with supplying that as a synopsis when asked to produce such. When I sat down to write the first book, River Bottom Blues, there was no doubt in my mind that it would revolve around those three little words.

I began listening to blues music when I was in high school (a long, long time ago), began playing the blues a decade or so later (blues harmonica) and began writing articles about the musicians and reviewing their recordings for a few different publications. Taking the old adage to “write what you know” to heart, I developed the characters of Mitty and his sidekick, Pete, both harmonica musicians, and the germ of an idea that had been floating around in my head for quite some time. The jumping off point was the unsolved murders of two renowned blues harmonica stars way back in the late 40s and 60s. I gave my protagonists the task of tracking down the person who murdered one of their harmonica colleagues in the present day. Of course, blues and trouble followed.

Really, I had no intentions of venturing further down the road after that first book. A series certainly didn’t enter my mind. I had that one idea in me and I had to get out of my system. I had a lot of fun with Mitty and Pete, though, and began toying with the idea of creating more blues and trouble for them. Didn’t really know what until I read a magazine article about a number of churches being burned throughout the South. The Devil’s Blues was born from that germ of an idea. When a close friend of theirs is falsely accused of firebombing his church, killing the congregation, Mitty and Pete see it as their duty to prove his innocence and, once again, blues and trouble cross their paths.

510x765-Howling-275x413 (2)A trip to Belize with the family several years ago sparked the idea for Howling Mountain Blues. At the time, I was still looking for a suitable home for my first book and had begun the second, without a clue as to whether either would ever be published. So, the idea of setting a third book in a tropical setting was far from being even a germ of an idea. If it had been, I would have looked for the multiple ways I could have written the trip off as research.

Eventually, though, the first book found a publisher and they agreed to put out the second. I was now hooked on Mitty and Pete and needed to come up with more…that’s right, blues and trouble. So, I sent them down to Belize to headline a blues festival without them realizing what kind of evil lies in wait.

So, yeah, blues and trouble pretty provide all the synopsis necessary when it comes to my crime fighting bluesmen.

Author Bio

Ricky Bush has been listening to, playing, and writing about the blues for most of his adult life. He has published articles about blues musicians and written reviews of their music for several different magazines and websites. After retiring from teaching, he began incorporating the music genre into his crime novels.

Find out more about Ricky and his writing from his website and his blog.

Buy his books here:

http://www.amazon.com/Ricky-Bush/e/B0073QET3S/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1431972106&sr=1-2-ent

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/ricky-bush?store=book&keyword=ricky+bush

Or from Barking Rain Press.