Archive for the ‘crime’ Tag

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.

 

 

 

 

Mystery Bargain Bundle

DEATH SCENE is one of four e-books in a special limited-edition holiday bundle from MuseItUp Publishing.  Entitled ‘Sirens on Death Starke Avenue’, a name amalgamating four titles, these four mystery novels can be bought in one bundle for the bargain price of $1.99. And my fellow ‘bundlees’ (if that’s a word) have all been blogging about our bundle this week, so today’s post is a blatant plug for the four books in this bundle and links to the author blogs.

SIRENSONSTARKEDEATHBLVD_boxsetSTARK NAKED DEAD by  Conda V Douglas
The gossiping women of the Widows Brigade in the new ski resort of Starke, Idaho love a good scandal—this time it’s a murder mystery, and a stark naked corpse.

SUNSHINE BOULEVARD by J.Q. Rose
Mysterious deaths upset the Florida retirement community interfering with their seasonal activities and turning up more than dead bodies.

THE SOUND OF SIRENS by Heather Fraser-Brainerd and David Fraser
Thanksgiving dinner with the family can be murder. Especially when someone is actually trying to kill you.

DEATH SCENE by Sara Jayne Townsend
Poking around in family closets produces skeletons, and actress Shara Summers takes on more than she can handle when she starts investigating family mysteries.

So that’s four books by five authors, bundled up in 747 pages of suspense, for the bargain price of only $1.99 until 2 December.

This bundle is available direct from MuseItUp Publishing.

DEAD COOL Launch Day!

Dead Cool 200x300It’s here at last! The long-awaited release day for the second Shara Summers novel, DEAD COOL. And I’m celebrating with an online launch party on Facebook later today. It will be starting around 6:30pm Greenwich Mean Time – when I get home from the day job, basically. If you go to the FB event, it is clever enough to tell you what time it will start in your time zone.

There will be prizes on offer, and chat. I will get the ball rolling here by offering one free copy of DEAD COOL, in whichever e-book format you prefer.  Comment on this post to be in with a chance of winning.  If you put a comment on the Facebook event page today as well, you’ll get to go in the draw twice! The draw will be made at noon tomorrow.

If you don’t want to wait that long for your copy, you can buy it in all e-book formats direct from MuseItUp. For Kindle owners, the UK link is here and the US link here.  And if you’ve got a Kobo or a Nook, I’m even giving you the links to buy it there, too.

As a teaser, here is the back cover blurb:

Actress Shara Summers has settled in London and is “between jobs” when her Canadian ex-boyfriend David sails back into her life, begging to her to fill the backing singer vacancy in the up and coming band he’s about to go on a European tour with. Short on funds and auditions Shara reluctantly agrees, but tragedy strikes at the opening night party when the band’s charismatic front man Dallas Cleary Anderson falls to his death from a hotel window. It soon becomes clear that Dallas did not fall, but was pushed. His arrogant and confrontational manner means there are no shortage of people who wanted him out of the band permanently – but who would resort to murder?

Until I get home from work, the celebrations will be limited to a little virtual champagne.  But do stop by the online party later, for some more serious celebrations.

Cheers!

champagne

 

 

Monday’s Friend: Joan C Curtis

My guest today is fellow mystery writer Joan C Curtis, whose book THE CLOCK STRIKES MIDNIGHT, is released by MuseItUp Publishing tomorrow. Welcome, Joan!

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

JCC: My guess is I knew I was destined to be a writer when I wrote the short story for Reader’s Digest about the summer after my father’s death. I had been thinking about that story for a long time. When I put it to paper, it felt right. That story won second place in a national competition and was later published. My journey as a writer began in that moment.

SJT: Who would you cite as your influences?

JCC: One of my greatest influences is my mom. She doesn’t consider herself a writer, but she certainly taught me about reading. She never is without a book and she reads everything. Furthermore she has written some wonderful poetry. Influences come in different ways. My mom’s support and her love of books influenced me to pursue a literary career. I’m sure that was not her intention!

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

JCC: Writing is a craft. It is not something that you can do just because you know how to pick up a pencil or type on a keyboard. My first (practice novel) novel taught me how little I know about the craft of writing fiction. Had I known that ahead of time, I would not have written an entire manuscript to find out. Pursuing a career as a writer means learning the craft, going to classes, listening to feedback, writing and re-writing, exploring new genre, practicing, reading with a writer’s eye, and finally understanding that learning never stops.

SJT: You have said in earlier interviews that you are more a ‘pantser’ than a ‘plotter’. How did the plot for ‘The Clock Strkes Midnight’ develop?

JCC: I wish I could tell you that the plot came to me and poof there it was. Instead it was more of developing characters that acted in certain ways, given their circumstances, and allowing the story to evolve. I put the reins in the hands of the characters. I knew I wanted the story to move forward and there was an end result. If a character got stuck, I’d ask myself what can she do to move the story along? That often brought out a new plot point.

SJT: The story revolves around two sisters, Marlene and Janie, each of which is dealing with her own demons. The rivalry between these two siblings is very effectively written. Do you have siblings of your own from which to take inspiration of sibling rivalry?

JCC: That’s a great question, Sara Jayne. Yes, I have two sisters. I’m the middle child. My older sister basically removed herself from the sib ship. She is my half-sister and I think she always felt separate, even as a very young child. She pushed me away and created her own friends. My younger sister was born when I was 18 months old. As my mom describes it, as soon as she was born, I latched onto her and took care of her. We became inseparable, similar to Marlene and Janie as young children. As teens, we clashed as all young teenagers do. There were big arguments over clothes, boyfriends, and chores. But, the foundation of trust and love was created in our early years, and eventually when the teenage craziness abated, we became close again.

SJT: The sisters both harbour resentment over their mother Eloise, who they both seem to regard as a weak-willed alcoholic. But the second section of the book gives us some insight into Eloise’s early life, and paints a very different picture of her. How did you see Eloise when you started writing about her? Did you see her as a villain, and a bad mother, or someone you felt deserved sympathy?

JCC: I’m afraid I always saw Eloise as a narcissist. Yes, she engenders sympathy, but her core character is not so much a villain as a person who cannot love anyone but herself. You will note that there are two sisters in the Eloise generation as well. Eloise’s older sister, Sarah, plays an important role in the development of Marlene and Janie. She is also a stark contrast to Eloise. I can’t say too much more about Eloise without giving too much away. I would be interested in learning how readers saw her. They may have gotten a very different picture than I did and that would be great.

The Clock Strikes Midnight (2)SJT: Where can readers buy THE CLOCK STRIKES MIDNIGHT?

JCC: This is the question all my friends are asking me! You can buy the book on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo and MuseItUp Publishing. Right now it’s still on pre-order for $2.99. I’d also like to invite your readers to our Facebook Launch Party on 25 November from 3:00 pm-5:00 pm Eastern Standard Time. There they can join in the fun and maybe win a free copy of the book along with many other prizes.

SJT: Any works in progress you’d like to tell us about?

JCC: My second mystery will be published by MuseItUp in the Spring, 2015. The title, e-Murderer, is about a serial killer who sends anonymous emails to a young woman working for a psychiatrist. The descriptions of the murders sound ominously similar to the deaths of co-eds in the college town where the story takes place. The e-Murderer is the first in a series starring Jenna Scali.

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

JCC: My favourite pastime is reading. But that sounds a bit boring. I also love tennis. I played for years and now prefer to watch. Going to the US Open is a special treat. I tend to spend a lot of time exercising. I swim, spin, do Pilates and walk many miles a week. I also love to entertain and travel. Italy is my country of preference.

 AUTHOR BIO:

Joan C Curtis is an award-winning writer who has published 5 books and numerous stories. In her newest mystery/suspense novel, The Clock Strikes Midnight, scheduled for release by MuseItUp Publishing on 25 November 2014.

Joan has been an avid reader for as long as she can remember.  She reads all kinds of books, including women’s fiction, mysteries, biography, and memoir.  Her passion as a reader lies closer to literary writing with a commercial bent. She writes books she would love to read.

“I write about characters who remind me of myself at times and my sister at times, but never fully so. My stories are told from a woman’s point of view. Characters drive my writing and my reading.”

Having grown up in the South with a mother from Westchester County New York, Joan has a unique take on blending the southern traditions with the eye of a northerner.  She spent most of her childhood in North Carolina and now resides in Georgia.

 

Monthly Round-up: July 2014

(Cross-posted on the WriteClub blog)

And I’m back for a look at what’s been going on writing-wise in my world for the past month.

COMING SOON:

Edits continue apace on both DEATH SCENE and DEAD COOL – in fact these have been keeping me extremely busy for the last few weeks. DEAD COOL is currently at a more advanced stage than DEATH SCENE.

It is looking likely at this stage that DEATH SCENE will have a mid-September release, and DEAD COOL will follow a month later. The good news is, pre-orders will be able to be placed and logged ahead of release date. The bad news is, I think this facility is only available to people in the US & Canada. My British fans are going to have to hold off until Autumn.

PROMOTIONAL NEWS:

I’ve been rather busy making guest appearances over the Internet over the past month. Here is a list of where you can find me, along with the links.

16 June – Susan A Royal (interview & blog swap)
17 June – Heather Fraser Brainerd & David Fraser (interview)
24 June – Heather Greenis (guest post)
25 June – The Poet’s Fire (interview)
8 July – Helena Fairfax (guest post)
10 July – Mary Waibel (interview)

Convention-wise, I went to the Theakstons Old Peculier crime writing festival in Harrogate earlier this month. I met up with a lot of other crime writers, and handed out postcards with the cover image of DEATH SCENE on. I also left a pile of them on the book swap table, where everyone seemed to be leaving their promotional cards, and I was happy to note that they all disappeared. Whether or not this interest will manifest into sales I don’t know, but I am happy that the cover is attracting people’s interest. That’s the first step, anyway.

Next up is the Nineworlds Geekfest convention in London in August, where the writing group is running a workshop of writing exercises designed to beat writers’ block, and I will be participating in a panel on ‘Noir’ fiction in all its forms.

WORK IN PROGRESS:

I’ve actually got three, and they are all at a bit of an impasse.

1) The Collaboration:

This is the 1960s crime thriller I am working on with hubby. We worked on the plotting together, and I have finished the first draft, which I have since passed to him to read. He is presently working on plot holes that we need to work out how to fix.

2) The horror novel:

I believed this one to be finished, and earlier in the year I was sending it out. But identical comments were coming back with the rejections, which made me realise it needs another polish. I have yet to sit down and redraft it.

3) The third Shara book:

This began life a number of years ago as the second Shara book, and lurched to a halt because I had not plotted it properly. I abandoned it and started writing the novel that would eventually become DEAD COOL. Recently I’ve hauled it out in an attempt to dust it off and give it another go. But I need to fix the plot problems first, and take into account the fact that Shara starts this novel in a different place than she original did, after the events of DEAD COOL. It has been calling out to me to get back to it. But I know that if I start writing it again without working out the plot problems first, I’m going to stall in the same place I did the first time around. I will say that it’s not that I don’t know who the murderer is, because I do. It’s the middle bit that’s giving me problems with this one, and the logistics behind how Shara solves the murder.

I am ashamed to say that in spite of having three works on the go, I haven’t done much work on any of them for nearly three weeks. My excuse is that having two books to edit has been keeping me busy. But that’s not a very good excuse.

I am setting a pledge to myself. By the time I come to you with August’s update, I must have made progress on at least one of these WIPs.

Till next time, then…