Book Recommendation: A Murder at Rosamund’s Gate

I picked up A Murder at Rosamund’s Gate at the library–on a whim, which is how I pick out a lot of my library books. And I wasn’t disappointed. Susanna Calkins’ debut mystery had me guessing right up to the big reveal at the end. I had picked practically every character in the book as a suspect before the end, and I was still surprised to learn who the killer was. This is a book I highly recommend for anyone who loves a good mystery, Restoration England, and above-stairs/below-stairs intrigue.

A Murder at Rosamund’s Gate is the story of Lucy Campion, a chambermaid in the London home of Magistrate Hargrave. The tale is set in the seventeenth century and the amount of research that went into the book is astounding. The author’s vast knowledge of this time period  (she has a doctorate in British history) is obvious and imbues the text with a richness that would be hard to fake.

Lucy’s life is nothing but an endless cycle of drudgery until a series of murders catches the attention of London and another servant in the Hargrave household becomes a victim. Lucy takes it upon herself to find out all she can about the victim (whom Lucy thought she knew very well…but she may not have known the victim as well as she thought) and before long she finds herself in some shady places where no self-respecting young girl would have ventured alone in the seventeenth century. As she gets closer and closer to learning the truth about the murder, Lucy becomes embroiled in a life-threatening confrontation and has to fight harder than she ever dreamed if she wants to emerge from the ordeal alive.

There’s a little bit of romance in the book, too–just enough to give it that extra spark.

Did I mention that all this takes place against the backdrop of the deadly London Plague? The plague killed 90,000 Londoners before its ravages came to an end. Add to that the horrors of the Great Fire of London, and you’ve got yourself a pretty fantastic story.

Until next week,

Amy

 

Author Spotlight: Linda Berry

Today’s guest author is Linda Berry, whose new book, Pretty Corpse, was recently released. It’s getting fantastic reviews on Amazon and I’m honored to have Linda here today to talk about the book. The subject matter of the story is a little out of my comfort zone, but in Linda’s capable hands I think I’m going to enjoy it. I invite you to share your comments at the end of the post, but please note that Linda is very busy this week with promotion and other activities and may not be able to respond right away.

Tell us about Pretty Corpse.

The year is 1999. A serial rapist is targeting teen girls in San Francisco. While on patrol, Officer Lauren Starkley discovers one of the victims, and she’s shocked to find out the girl is a close friend of her daughter. The case instantly becomes intensely personal. Because she isn’t a detective, Lauren is restricted from investigating, but she does so nonetheless on her own time. Lauren has an uncanny ability to find obscure clues and link them together. Her relentless pursuit of the rapist draws her deeper into his world. He in turn, starts getting closer to Lauren and her daughter. Lauren needs to lure him out of hiding, fast, before her daughter becomes his next victim.

Your novels are filled with an interesting mix of characters. Tell us about that. 

My stories reflect the range of characters each of us knows in real life. We all have people we admire, people who threaten us or are just plain loony. I like to keep readers alert and surprised by creating several interrelated stories that and ebb and flow through the main story. We are all multi-dimensional, and have many stories happening simultaneously in our lives, and sometimes conflict erupts on many fronts. I like to get into those emotional tsunamis and explore a person’s breaking point, and how they deal with the challenge. Complex characters that are bitterly wounded or pathologically twisted are interesting to me. I like to contrast the most vile and repugnant aspects of human nature to the most heroic and noble, and throw some quirky characters in for good measure.

How did you research this police thriller?

To write authentically, I do extensive research. That doesn’t mean I let my fingers do the walking. I have to give a big thank you to the police officers at Mission Station in San Francisco in 2001, when I wrote this first draft. My research for Pretty Corpse came in the form of dozens of ride-alongs I did with various female patrol officers. I chose the night shift when the city was rife with criminal activity, and I got to see these courageous women in action. Several of my characters were inspired by the female cops I came to know, and also by the captain of the station, who gave generously of his time to help me authenticate my writing. Many of the side stories in Pretty Corpse are based on actual events relayed to me by police officers from Mission Station. 

Where do you write?

I write in a sunny office in my home overlooking a canal and peaceful wooded area. I live in Central Oregon, a resort town in the shadow of the Cascade Mountains.

You were an award-winning copywriter and art director for twenty-five years, and worked part of that time for the film industry. How did that experience shape your decision to become a novelist?

I had the privilege of collaborating with talented writers and some of the best editors in the business. I love books and have been an avid reader my entire life. I wrote novels as a passionate hobby. In fact, my three novels released this year by Winter Goose Publishing are the result of my efforts spanning a decade. Now that I’m retired, I write every day. It’s so much easier to produce good work when you can keep your train of thought moving forward, and are not constantly interrupted. 

What do you love most about your work?

I love the creative process itself—the challenge of developing and constructing plots that continually surprise the reader and hold them in a state of suspense. Writing is both a passion and a compulsion—a truly satisfying form of escape. My reward comes when a reader tells me they couldn’t put my book down and they talk about my characters as though they’re real people. Then I know I did my job well.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Happiness comes to me in many forms. Appreciation of life itself is the foundation of happiness. I find this planet miraculous, from subatomic matter to the galaxies in space. I enjoy the beauty of ecosystems, how so many forms of life—plants, birds, mammals, reptiles, insects—the smallest creature to the largest, are dependent on each other for survival. My idea of perfect happiness is living on a healthy planet where people live together in peace and are trusted guardians of nature.

What is your greatest fear?

Being impoverished, homeless, or mentally or physically impaired and dependent on others. I did undergo some terrible threats to my health six years ago. I had a bout of debilitating pain for about 8 months, which diminished my ability to enjoy life. I’m now completely recovered, and feel I’ve been given a second chance at life. The experience sharpened my awareness of how fragile life is, how it can be taken away in an instant, and how one might be forced to languish in pain for a period of time. It heightened my appreciation for the quality of life I have now, for every precious moment I’m healthy and independent.

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?

Lack of patience. Sometimes I get caught up in the everyday demands of life, and the illusion that I don’t have enough time to do everything I want to do.  I have to remind myself at times to live in the moment, address what is happening right in front of me, and listen to people, even when I feel I’m short on time. Giving another human being a few minutes of conversation can make a huge difference in that person’s life. Kindness goes a long way.

Who in your profession do you most admire?

I read everything, and admire countless writers, from journalists to screen writers to poets to authors. I especially love mysteries, and I read an average of two books a week. If the writing is solid, and the story is well-constructed, I’ll read it regardless of genre.

What is your greatest extravagance?

Disconnecting from the world. Getting out in nature with my husband and our dog in our motorhome. I love being on a lazy schedule and disconnecting from social media, where the only decision I have to make is when to eat and what hikes to take. I can write in uninterrupted peace for hours at a time, surrounded by nature, sometimes listening to the gentle patter of rain, watching water drip off leaves. I love going to national parks, off season. We went to Bryce and Zion and Arches and the Grand Canyon two years ago. Last year we went to Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons, and this year we may be going to Yosemite.

On what occasion would you lie?

I don’t tell big extravagant lies, but I do tell baby lies frequently, mostly when complimenting people. For example: “no, your ass doesn’t look big in those jeans” or “you look marvelous” when in actuality, you look hungover, and you have stains on your shirt.

What do you dislike most in your work?

When I hit a brick wall and I have to stop writing, sometimes for days, while I process my story and play out different scenarios in my head. I never force the creative process. What generally helps me break through the logjam is reading. I’ll bury my nose in a good book, and before long, ideas start percolating to the surface. I also have a muse, my nail goddess, who’s held captive doing my mani/pedi for 2 hours, and I bounce ideas off her. She has a creative mind and has been a wonderful contributor to my stories for years.

When and where were you happiest in your work?

This current period in my life is the happiest. Now that I’m retired, I have the luxury of writing every day. I wake up eager to get to work. I take my coffee up to my sunny office and dig in. I believe I’m at my most happiest when my husband and I are traveling and we’re parked in a beautiful wilderness area and the peace of the place seeps into my bones. I can write with no interruption.

If you could, what would you change about myself?

I would take twenty years of physical wear and tear off my body. Mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, I would change nothing. If I had to lose twenty years of life experience to be in a younger body, I would say no. I’m more at peace with myself at this stage of life than I have ever been.

What is your greatest achievement in work?

Having three novels completed and coming out this year, 2017. It’s a wonderful sense of accomplishment to see the culmination of years of work and endless rewrites in a physical book. Hidden Part One and Pretty Corpse are out, and Hidden Part Two comes out in September. I’m expecting my fourth mystery, Quiet Scream, to be out in December or January.

What is your most marked characteristic?

My friendliness, and my sense of humor. I have always had a keen interest in people and I’m a good observer, passionately interested in humans and the world around me. I’m an optimist at heart, and I’ve been blessed with a jolly spirit. I enjoy socializing but the greater part of my waking life is spent in solitude, writing, reading, and doing projects.

What is your most inspirational location in your city?

I like to get out on the wilderness trails with friends and dogs. We have a beautiful river, the Deschutes, that meanders through town and its character changes every foot of the way. There are many meadows, sagebrush flats, waterfalls, and breathtaking views of the Cascade Range. The look of a wild river, the various sounds of water rushing, falling, cascading over boulders, is invigorating and soothing. Hiking clears my head of thoughts and worries and puts me in a state of peacefulness.

What is your best advice for beginning writers?

Write about something you love and then your passion will come out in your words. Write often, everyday, if possible. Read, read, read. I read one or two books a week, and I also watch movies and TV productions that tell good stories. I take notes. I have volumes of notes, and refer to them daily.

 

Watch Linda’s Youtube trailers:

Hidden: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B-bNoFgaD9U&t=7s

Pretty Corpse: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7QHSvirTYdw&feature=youtu.be

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/linda.berry.94617 

Website: www.lindaberry.net

Twitter:@LindaBerry7272

Contact: lindaberrywriter@gmail.com

Best of luck with the new book, Linda!

Until next time,

Amy

Author Spotlight: Patricia Gligor, Part II

Today on Reade and Write I’m thrilled to welcome Patricia Gligor back for another interview! She’s here to discuss her brand-new, just-out-today book, Marnie Malone. Happy Book Birthday, Pat!

Tell us about Marnie Malone.

Marnie Malone is my fifth Malone mystery. I think the best way to tell you about it is through the blurb:

Someone is stalking Marnie.

It’s Marnie’s last week at the law firm of Cliburn & Reeves and she feels like she’s riding an emotional roller coaster. Up when she wins the divorce and custody battle for Callie Jackson against her abusive husband, Jed. And plummeting down when one witness after another decides not to testify against Mark Hall, an attorney at another Charleston firm and an “alleged” serial rapist.

Marnie receives one threat after another and she constantly feels the need to look over her shoulder, convinced that someone is stalking her. With Sam out of town on business, she’s alone in the big, old farmhouse and strange things are happening. Noises in the attic, creaking floorboards and someone watching her from the woods.

As she tries to determine the identity of the stalker, the list of men who have grudges against her grows longer each day. In her line of work she’s made enemies. Is the stalker someone from the past or one of the men on her list? And, how far will he go?

It sounds exciting! How long did it take you to write?

I started writing Marnie Malone in the early summer of 2015, after the release of Mistaken Identity. I was making progress when, unexpectedly, my mother sold her house and I had to move both of us into apartments. So, from October until the beginning of January 2016, I put the book on hold; there was simply no time to write. I finished writing and proof-reading the manuscript and I sent it to my publisher this past August.

Do you write linearly, or do you write each scene separately and then piece them together like a puzzle? Or is there some other path you take to writing a novel?

For each of my Malone mysteries, I started with a stack of notes, ideas for the book. Then I compiled them and created a chapter-by-chapter outline, listing what absolutely had to happen in each chapter. I guess you could say I wrote the book in my head first – to a degree. As I wrote, the outline was updated as necessary because, as in life, things didn’t always work out the way I’d originally planned. Often, my characters had other ideas.

This is my favorite question: Tell us a secret about one of your characters- something that’s not in the book.

I wracked my brain trying to answer this question and then I had to smile. Because I realized that any secrets my characters had were revealed by the end of Marnie Malone. A fitting and necessary conclusion (at least for now) to a series I’ve loved writing.

What time of day do you do your best writing?

I’m a morning person so I do my best writing then. As the day progresses and other responsibilities pop up, my creativity lessens. By evening, I’m lucky to write a cohesive sentence. Or my name. LOL

Can you tell us what you’re working on now?

I’m currently working on something different. A mystery/suspense standalone told in the first person. I hesitate at this point to call it a Romantic Suspense novel but there will be a strong romantic element, which has a huge impact on the plot.

Tell us about the dedication in Marnie Malone, if you wish.

I’m dedicating Marnie Malone to my brother, Steve, and my two beautiful nieces, Amber and Kelly. Family and friends mean everything to me!

Do you prefer to read a physical book (with paper pages that really turn), or do you prefer an E-reader, or perhaps audio books?

I definitely prefer a physical (paper) book. However, I read a lot of books on my Kindle, only because I’m on a limited budget and I can get so many more books for my money.

Remind us where we can connect with you.

You can connect with me (and I hope you will) at:

My blog: http://pat-writersforum.blogspot.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/patricia.gligor

Twitter: https://twitter.com/PatriciaGligor

Where is the new book available?

Marnie Malone can be ordered through your local book store and is available online at:

Amazon: http://tinyurl.com/gnvn4kq

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/Patricia+Gligor/_/N-8qa?_requestid=305533

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/search?Query=Patricia%20Gligor&ac.morein=true&ac.title=Patricia%20Gligor

   

Thank you for inviting me to be your guest, Amy. I had a lot of fun responding to your questions.

Pat, it’s always a pleasure to talk to you and I look forward to having you here again! Best wishes and congratulations on Marnie Malone!

Until next week,

Amy

 

 

 

 

 

It’s Release Day!

Good Tuesday morning! When I started working on The House on Candlewick Lane a million years ago (at least it seems that way), it felt like February 7, 2017, would never arrive. But here it is, and I’m thrilled to have the book out in the world!

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For those readers who may not be familiar with what the book is about, here’s the Amazon teaser, along with the link to purchase the book if you’re interested:

“It is every parent’s worst nightmare. Greer Dobbins’ daughter has been kidnapped—and spirited across the Atlantic to a hiding place in Scotland. Greer will do anything to find her, but the streets of Edinburgh hide a thousand secrets—including some she’d rather not face.

Art historian Dr. Greer Dobbins thought her ex-husband, Neill, had his gambling addiction under control. But in fact he was spiraling deeper and deeper into debt. When a group of shady lenders threatens to harm the divorced couple’s five-year-old daughter if he doesn’t pay up, a desperate Neill abducts the girl and flees to his native Scotland. Though the trail seems cold, Greer refuses to give up and embarks on a frantic search through the medieval alleys of Edinburgh—a city as beguiling as it is dangerous. But as the nightmare thickens with cryptic messages and a mysterious attack, Greer herself will become a target, along with everyone she holds dear.”

Link: click here

If you read my guest post on Just 4 My Books last week, you’ll know that I spent one semester in college as an intern at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. And even though I was only there for a few months, the organization and the work it does for families made a lasting impact on me. I learned that familial kidnapping is far more prevalent than stranger kidnapping, even though stranger kidnappings are almost always the ones we hear about on the news. The topic of familial kidnapping is explored in the book, albeit in the wrapping of a larger, more far-reaching mystery.

The House on Candlewick Lane is the first book in the Malice series, which currently consists of three books. Each book has a different main character, but you’ll find some characters that drop in throughout the series (some more than others). The second book in the series is called Highland Peril and will be out in the fall. The third book, with a working title of Death Comes to Thistlecross, will be out next year. I sincerely hope you’ll read the books and enjoy them as they introduce you (or take you back, if you’ve been there) to some of the most beautiful places in the United Kingdom.

Until next time,

Amy

P.S. Please feel free to (read: you’ll have my eternal gratitude!) spread this post far and wide!

Spotlight: Rabbi Ilene Schneider

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Today on Reade and Write I welcome Rabbi Ilene Schneider, who is both an author and an avid reader. I had the pleasure of meeting her at a Malice Domestic convention in Bethesda, Maryland, and I’m thrilled to finally host her here. Ilene answers my questions for readers today, but I hope to have her back soon to answer my questions for writers, too!

Welcome to Reade and Write, Ilene!

How often do you read?

Constantly. When do I not read is easier to answer: when I’m talking with someone, when I’m driving, when I’m sleeping, when I’m in the shower, when I’m at the movies or a play or concert, when I’m at religious services … I can’t think of any other times I don’t read. I even read while watching TV. 

What is the name of the last book you finished?

The Cat in the Living Room, a natural and cultural history of house cats.

What are you reading now?

I just started Alexandra Sokoloff’s Huntress Moon.

What is your preferred genre?

Cozy mysteries, with ventures into natural history books (recently reread John McPhee’s Pine Barrens for the umpteenth time) and popular history (anything by Erik Larson).

What was the last book you read outside your preferred genre?

The Cat in the Living Room.

Are you in a book club?

No.

Where do you obtain most of the books you read- from a bookstore, online, the library, borrowed from a friend, etc.?

Kindle. I’m addicted to it. I realized a while ago it’s not books I love but reading.

How do you decide which books to read?

Recommendations, reviews, new releases by authors I’ve enjoyed in the past, books by authors I’ve met.

What is in your To-Be-Read pile?

How much time and space do you have? 28 on my to-be-read list, 39 on my “classics” (books I may reread, including such books as Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and Maltese Falcon, as well as Sherlock Holmes, Little Women, Pride and Prejudice, etc.), 26 nature, history, biography, and research.

Do you pay attention to especially bad reviews of books when deciding whether to buy or read them?

Yes, I want to see if any of the negative reviews contain criticisms of things I dislike, like excessively gory or gratuitous violence, explicit or gratuitous sex, lack of character development, stilted dialogue …

Lots of people don’t have a favorite book for a variety of reasons. Do you have a favorite? What is it?

Whatever I’m currently reading. Assuming I like it to begin with.

Where is your favorite reading spot?

Wherever I am.

Anything else you want me to know?

If I have to lose a sense, I’d prefer anything but sight. I am a visual learner, so audio books won’t do it for me.

 

Rabbi Ilene Schneider, Ed.D., one of the first six women rabbis ordained in the U.S., has finally decided what she wants to be when she grows up. She retired from her day job to devote full time to writing. She is the author of the Rabbi Aviva Cohen mysteries: Chanukah Guilt, which was nominated for the Deadly Ink David Award for Best Mystery of 2007, was one of My Shelf’s 2007 Top Ten Reads, and was a Midwest Book Review Reviewers Choice Book; and Unleavened Dead, which won First Place from the Public Safety Writers Association, and was nominated for the Deadly Ink David Award for Best Mystery of 2012. Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine called Unleavened Dead “… a solid, funny mystery that provides an insider’s look at Jewish life.” A resident of Marlton, NJ, near Philadelphia, she has completed  the third book in the series, Yom Killer, and is also the author of Talk Dirty Yiddish.

new-cg-front-cover          unleaveneddead-cover

Please visit her website/blog: http://rabbiauthor.com or email her at rabbi.author@yahoo.com.

Thanks for stopping by, Ilene!

Until next time,

Amy

Author Spotlight: B.K. Stevens

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Today on Reade and Write I welcome B.K. Stevens, author of short stories almost too numerous to count (most of which appear in “Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine”), fiction, and non-fiction. She is the recipient of the Derringer Award (from the Short Mystery Fiction Society) and has been nominated for the Agatha, Anthony, and Macavity Awards. It’s an honor to have her here today discussing her book Fighting Chance.

Tell me about your book.

Fighting Chance could be called a cross between The Hardy Boys and The Karate Kid: It’s a young adult mystery laced with action and adventure, but it’s also a coming-of-age story about a teenager growing into adulthood while studying a martial art. When seventeen-year-old Matt Foley’s coach and mentor is killed in a sparring match at a tae kwon do tournament, the police decide it was a tragic accident. Matt’s not so sure. With help from a few friends, including the attractive but puzzling school newspaper editor, Graciana Cortez, Matt learns the coach’s opponent, Bobby Davis, is a brutal, highly skilled martial artist, the central attraction at an illegal fight club. Now, Matt’s convinced someone hired Davis to murder the coach. But who would want to harm the coach, and why do it at a tournament? Matt’s efforts to find the truth pull him into some dangerous conflicts. To improve his self-defense skills, he joins a Krav Maga class taught by a man who becomes his new mentor. Matt suspects that he’s going to need those skills, that some day he’ll have to face Bobby Davis himself. Fighting Chance was a finalist for both the Agatha and the Anthony awards for Best Young Adult Novel.

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Who is the audience for the book?

When I was teaching high-school English in Cleveland, it was easy to find outside reading novels to recommend to girls, not so easy to find ones to recommend to boys. Often, when I started to recommend a book to a boy, he’d interrupt with a question straight out of The Princess Bride: “Does it have any sports?” So I started toying with the idea of writing a sports-oriented mystery for teenaged boys. And since my husband’s a fifth-degree black belt, using martial arts as the sport seemed like a natural choice—I’d have an expert advisor I could consult without leaving the house. But I don’t want to define the audience for Fighting Chance too narrowly. The novel has several strong female characters, including Graciana. When a high-school book club read Fighting Chance, I was pleased to hear that both girls and boys enjoyed it. And adults who have read the novel have said they enjoyed it, too.

Tell me about the setting of your book—how did you choose it, what kind of research did you have to do, why did you choose it?

By the time I started writing Fighting Chance, my husband and I had moved to central Virginia, and that’s where I decided to set the book. We lived for several years in the small city of Lynchburg, then moved to the small town of Farmville (site of the recent vice-presidential debate). I’ve enjoyed getting to know this part of the country and the students I’ve met here, so I created a fictional small city/town called Ridgecrest, which I’ve imagined as midway between the sizes of Lynchburg and Farmville.

What was the hardest thing about writing the book?

One of the big challenges in writing Fighting Chance was making the martial arts scenes realistic and exciting—since I wanted to make the book appeal to young people interested in martial arts, I knew that was important. I was lucky to have my husband to choreograph those scenes, but in order to get things right and make sure I knew how to describe them, we had to act them out. And since he knows a lot about martial arts and I don’t, he always got to play the winner and I was always the loser—ouch. I often had to cry out, “Stop! Let me write that down before I forget it!” or “I didn’t quite get that—let’s do it again.” The process took a long time, and it sometimes got uncomfortable. But I’m pleased with the way the scenes turned out—my editor told me she found them gripping, and that was one of her reasons for deciding to accept the novel.

If your book were made into a movie, who would you like to see playing the main characters?

As I was writing the book, I had one actor clearly in mind—Chuck Norris. He’d be perfect in the role of Aaron, the Krav Maga teacher who becomes Matt’s mentor.  Thanks to my husband, I’ve seen all of Mr. Norris’s movies (most many times), and I think his gentle, encouraging demeanor is just right for Aaron. As for Matt and Graciana, I don’t know the names of many teenaged actors, so I’ll say Matt could be played by a seventeen-year-old Mark Wahlberg, and Graciana could be played by a seventeen-year-old Eva Mendes. And I think William H. Macy and Karen Allen (first and fourth Indiana Jones movies) would be great as Matt’s parents.

Tell me about some other books you’ve written.

Many years ago, I wrote two college textbooks and a book on Jewish education. My first mystery novel was Interpretation of Murder, published by Black Opal books, a traditional whodunit that offers readers insights into deaf culture and sign- language interpreting. (One of my daughters is a nationally certified American Sign Language interpreter, and my other daughter has significant hearing loss, so hearing issues are important to our family). Last April, Wildside Press published Her Infinite Variety: Tales of Women and Crime, a collection of eleven of my short stories—most first published in Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine (I’ve published forty stories in that wonderful magazine), a few first published in Woman’s World, Family Circle, or anthologies. The collection includes stories that were nominated for Agatha, Macavity, and Derringer awards, along with the winner of a national suspense-writing contest judged by Mary Higgins Clark.

Are you in one or more critique groups or partnerships?

I’ve participated in manuscript swaps through the Guppies chapter of Sisters in Crime, and those have been very helpful. Honestly, though, my best critique group is my family. My husband isn’t much of a critic—he’s so sweet and loyal that he likes everything I write—but he’s incredibly generous with his time and insights, spending countless hours discussing ideas and manuscripts with me, often making suggestions that help me solve plot problems and make many other sorts of improvements. My daughters, on the other hand, are ruthless. They’re always happy to rip apart anything I write, to point out problems I’ve missed, and to suggest solutions. My younger daughter is also a demon proofreader. I know how lucky I am to have such perceptive readers so determined to help me make my manuscripts as strong as they can possibly be.

Do you write every day?

I try to write every day, but I don’t always succeed. I think writing every day is an excellent goal, but I don’t think writers should despair if they can’t meet that goal. If I’d told myself that I absolutely had to write every day when I started writing—when I had young children, a full-time job, and time-consuming volunteer responsibilities—I would have given up long ago. Write as often and as much as you can, and console yourself with the thought that not every writer has to follow the same path.

What authors do you like best? What genres do you like best?

I have rather old-fashioned tastes in novels: I tend to prefer authors such as Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte, Anthony Trollope, and Mark Twain to more modern ones. I think my preference for traditional novels helps explain my love of mysteries—I like novels that actually have plots, and I like characters that actually do things, rather than characters who simply suffer and feel sorry for themselves. (I say more about this preference in an essay called “What’s Wrong with Mysteries?” which you can find here.) My favorite mystery writers include Dorothy L. Sayers, Josephine Tey, Harry Kemelman, and Dick Francis. I won’t name any living writers because I have many friends who write mysteries—if I mention some, I might hurt the feelings of others.

Where would you like to go more than anywhere else on earth?

I would love to go to Israel. I’ve always wanted to go there, but it’s never worked out—problems with time, problems with money. I’m still hoping I can go there before I die.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

In an 1884 essay called “The Art of Fiction,” Henry James offers the best advice for writers I’ve ever heard: “Try to be one of those people on whom nothing is lost!” James describes experience as a “huge spider-web” that can catch “every air-borne particle in its tissue.” Like a spider web, an imaginative mind “takes to itself the faintest hints of life.” Some people can pass through all sorts of experiences without gaining significant insights into them, or having much to say about them. Other people can grasp at “the faintest hints of life” and use them to create compelling characters and situations.  A writer who’s truly alert may get the idea for a novel from a scrap of conversation overheard in a restaurant.

What is your favorite movie and why?

Like almost everybody else, I love Casablanca—the clever dialogue, the incredible acting, the moving and noble themes. I’ll also mention a movie mystery that isn’t as well known, Dead Again. If you haven’t seen it yet, you should definitely watch it as soon as you can. The acting and directing are wonderful—it’s as suspenseful as Hitchcock at his best—and it’s also a beautifully constructed whodunit. Not all whodunits work well as movies, but this one definitely does.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

I’d say, “Start writing mysteries sooner.” I did a lot of creative writing in elementary school and junior high, but in senior high I got discouraged—I realized I’d never be as good as Shakespeare or Jane Austen, so I gave up completely. I did academic writing but no creative writing until I was in my mid-thirties, when I got an idea for a mystery novel that just wouldn’t go away. That novel never got published—I still hope to go back to it some day, now that I know what changes I need to make—but while I was working on it, I fell in love with writing mysteries. I finally realized that not all writers have to be Shakespeare or Austen. As long as we do our best and work hard at improving at our craft, there’s room for the rest of us, too.

Describe yourself in three words.

curious, hard-working, grateful

Is there anything I haven’t asked that you wanted me to?

I was hoping you’d ask me, “Do you think Fighting Chance would be the ideal gift for any young adults on my holiday list?” My answer would have been, “You bet!”

Where can readers connect with you?

The best place is my website, http://www.bkstevensmysteries.com; I think there’s a lot of interesting stuff there, including a humorous whodunit I wrote as a tribute to my dog after he passed away. I also have an Amazon author page at https://www.amazon.com/author/bkstevens, but I need to work on it—the bio is outdated and boring, and I should delete some things nobody has any interest in reading. I don’t have a Facebook author page, but I do have a personal page at https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003534785806&ref=bookmarks, and I’m always happy to connect with readers. I’m not yet on Twitter or Goodreads or any of the other things I know I should be on, but I’m working on it (or, at least, I’m planning to).

Where can readers find your books?

All of my books are available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo, as well as from their publishers. Fighting Chance is also available at some bookstores.

 

 

Meet Kristina Stanley

Avalanche Cover Final

Today I welcome Kristina Stanley, author of The Stone Mountain mystery series and other books of both fiction and non-fiction. Glad you could stop by, Kristina!

Tell me about your new book.

Avalanche: On a cold winter morning, the safe at Stone Mountain Resort is robbed, and Kalin Thompson’s brother, Roy, suspiciously disappears. As Director of Security, Kalin would normally lead the investigation, but when her brother becomes the prime suspect, she is ordered to stay clear.

The police and the president of the resort turn their sights on Kalin, who risks everything to covertly attempt to clear Roy’s name. As threats against her escalate, she moves closer to uncovering the guilty party. Is Kalin’s faith in her brother justified? Or will the truth destroy her?

Who is the audience for the book?

Avalanche is for mystery readers who like a little it of adventure along with the story.

Tell me about the setting of your book—how did you choose it, what kind of research did you have to do, why did you choose it?

Avalanche takes place in Stone Mountain. A mountain as deadly as it is majestic. I used to be the director of security at a ski resort in the Purcell Mountains. That job was my muse and inspired me to write about life in an isolated mountain resort.

What was the hardest thing about writing the book?

This was the first novel I wrote. After working with a literary agent, we decided together it belonged as the third novel in the Stone Mountain Series, so I rewrote the story to fit later in the series.

If your book were made into a movie, who would you like to see playing the main characters?

This is hard. Kalin Thompson would have to be played thirty-something, fit actor. She’s tender yet tough, and I’d like an actor who can portray those characteristics.

Tell me about your other books.

Descent and Blaze are the first two novels in the Stone Mountain Series. I’ve also written Look The Other Way, a mystery novel that takes place in the Bahamas, and I have just finished receiving feedback from my beta readers. I’ve also written The Author’s Guide to Selling Books To Non-Bookstores, to be released May 28th, by Imajin Books. This is my first non-fiction title.

Are you in one or more critique groups or partnerships?

I have five beta readers. I live in a small community in the Purcell Mountains, and there are no writer groups here. My beta readers all have different skills. One is great on checking character motivations, another on inconsistencies in the story line, another is a fabulous proofreader. I ask all my beta reader to mark in the margin when they think they know who the killer is. I also ask them to tell me when they skim. These are very important areas for a fast paced murder mystery.

Do you write every day?

That depends if you include blogging in this question. If you do, then yes. But I don’t write stories every day.

When you read a book, what authors do you like best? What genres do you like best?

I love to read mysteries, hence that’s what I write. I don’t have favorite authors. I try and read as many as I can. I also try to read every author who posts on my series, Mystery Mondays. Amy’s very popular post can be found at https://kristinastanley.com/2016/04/25/mystery-mondays-the-best-time-to-start-promoting-your-novel/ (Thank you!)

Where would you like to go more than anywhere else on earth?

I’ve been to every province in Canada except for Newfoundland. I’d like to go there one day.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Once you’ve finished your first novel, start writing the second one. Publication takes a long time, and it’s great if you have a second book ready after your first one is out. It also keeps you writing instead of waiting to hear back from wherever you’ve submitted your novel to.

What is your favorite movie and why?

I loved watching World War Z. Very scary, but not real. I actually hid under my coffee table during the scary parts. Pretend villains are much more fun to watch than real ones. Alien was also one of my favorites.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

I would tell myself not to throw away anything I wrote. While in my thirties, I wrote the start of a fantasy novel. I also wrote a murder mystery that took place in Aruba. For some reason, I didn’t keep this work. I now wish I had. I’m sure it wasn’t great, but I’d be curious to see what I’d written then. Who knows? Maybe I could have rewritten the stories.

Describe yourself in three words.

Happy, adventurous, loyal.

Where can readers connect with you?

I’m on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/KristinaStanley.Author/), and twitter (http://www.twitter.com/StanleyKMS), and my website is http://www.KristinaStanley.com). I love building my network and am good at following people back.

Where can readers find your books?

Thanks for asking. Descent and Blaze are for sale on Amazon world-wide. Avalanche will be published by Imajin Books in June. Descent will be published in Germany by Luzifer-Verlag later this year. The Author’s Guide To Selling Books To Non-Bookstores is available for pre-order on Kobo, Amazon, iBooks and Google Play. It will be up shortly and Smashwords.

Here are the links:

Descent: myBook.to/Descent

Blaze: http://myBook.to/BLAZEbyKristinaStanley

Avalanche will be released June 2016. https://kristinastanley.com/books/avalanche/

The Author’s Guide to Selling Books To Non-Bookstores

On Amazon: myBook.to/SellingBooks

On Kobo: https://store.kobobooks.com/en-ca/ebook/the-author-s-guide-to-selling-books-to-non-bookstores

On Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Kristina_Stanley_The_Author’s_Guide_to_Selling_Boo?id=S40JDAAAQBAJ

KS 75 High Res

Thank you for visiting Reade and Write to answer all these questions! I enjoyed the interview.

Until next week,

Amy