IT’S TELEVISION TUESDAY!!
How to Write A Mystery With Rebecca Cantrell And J.F.Penn
A SERIAL KILLER STALKS THE STREETS…
Cat burglar Shawnee Daniels always believed her “fearlessness rules” mantra would keep her on top and out of jail. When she hacks a confiscated hard drive at the Revere P.D., she focuses on a white-collar criminal accused of embezzlement. To teach him a lesson and recoup the funds she breaks into his massive contemporary in Bear Clave Estates. Jack has even more secrets, deadly secrets, secrets worth killing over.
A CAT BURGLAR PICKS THE WRONG HOUSE TO ROB…
Shawnee thinks she made it out clean until a deadly package arrives at her door soon after. He’s found her. As a glowing eagle taunts her Skype screen, Jack tells her she stole his precious trophy box — and he wants it back!
THEIR LIVES COLLIDE…
When her “helpful” best friend convinces her to date charismatic Detective Levaughn Samuels, her two worlds threaten to implode. Ordinarily Shawnee keeps a firm line between her professions, but dating Levaughn might help her get this psycho off her tail.
AND NOW, NO ONE IS SAFE…
In this lightning-fast-paced psychological thriller of secrets and lies, Shawnee juggles being stalked by a serial killer, dating the lead detective on the case, and tap dancing around her librarian best friend.
If she doesn’t find the trophy box, the killer’s coming for her. If she doesn’t expose her secrets and lies, more will die. And if she does, she could lose her freedom and everyone she holds dear.
If you’re a fan of Lisa Jackson, Rachel Abbott, Karin Slaughter thrillers, crime fiction with an edge, or psychological thrillers, mystery, and suspense, then Wings of Mayhem is for you.
Praise for Sue Coletta’s novels…
“The heart-stopping descriptions are so jarringly real that there are several scenes I will never forget.” ~ Eliza Cross, Award Winning Author
“Sue Coletta isn’t going to spare you the gory details or an honest look behind the crime scene tape. She’s a well versed author in all things crime who indelicately dumps you into the middle of a life which has been disrupted, disturbed, and marred by the evil acts of a solitary man.” ~ Beaux Cooper, Author and Amazon Reviewer
“Sue Coletta’s writing style is bold. It’s riveting.
The idea and plot to this book really grabbed me from the beginning and wouldn’t let me go. A Cat burglar doubling in law enforcement, steals a ‘trophy box’ from a devious serial killer. Who wouldn’t read that!
I found it to a very refreshing and original plot. Especially from the overdone cliches in the crime thriller category.
The lead character Shawnee Daniels was also a treat. Instead of being the poor, vulnerable victim we usually see, she daring! She’s a snarky bold character with a chip on her shoulder.
She’s a good anti-hero type who blurs the line between good and evil. Working for law enforcement as a computer analyst, professional cat burglar by night. Love it!
Shawnee vs. the serial killer
Finally! A serial killer with a worthy opponent. This made the book extremely entertaining and compelling to read. The killer was devious, smart and capable. But Shawnee Daniels was just a formidable. When these two clashed the conflict was awesome.
Can’t wait to read the next book! Kudos Sue!
CONNECT WITH SUE COLETTA
Suzanne is an award-winning author of historical crime fiction set during the American Revolution. She is also one of our talented participating authors in this years Mystery Thriller Week event Feb. 12-22. Don’t miss it!
Suzanne currently has two series:
The Blacksmith’s Daughter
Regulated for Murder
A Hostage to Heritage
We all perceive things a bit differently. The subtle shifts in perception makes all the difference from person to person. The faculty of sight may be the same, however the interpretation and reflection is quite different. Different indeed.
Now come, let us see through the eyes of yet another talented author…
*Who shaped your reading experience as a child?
Preschool, my reading experience was shaped by my mother, a schoolteacher. After that it was shaped by peers, popular television shows like Star Trek, and the Space Program. (I’m a native of Florida.)
I really appreciate how important early reading experiences are. They help sow the seeds that develop much later in life.
*Which books had the most impact on you in the early years?
In elementary school I devoured books in the Nancy Drew series. I also enjoyed biographies of women like Sacajawea and Abigail Adams. Later I shifted to reading classic science fiction, horror, historical fiction, and mysteries.
I’ve heard many authors begin with the Nancy Drew series! Sounds like you have a wide ranging interest in books.
*How did you develop a love for history?
That didn’t happen until I’d graduated from high school—where I had to memorize dates and details of long-ago battles without much context—and had the room to appreciate Florida’s fascinating history. When I studied history on my own, I discovered how horribly biased high-school history had been. History became fascinating because it was no longer sanitized.
Oh wow. You had quite an eye opening experience. I wonder why history books are biased? I’m sure that would open up a few can of worms!!
*Did you read historical fiction or texts in high school?
Yes, I read biographies of people who’d lived centuries earlier. I tried reading historical romances, but although the historical periods often inspired me to research them on my own, the characters did not appeal to me.
Wow. Not too many teenagers read historical biographies. This is rather impressive. If I were to start with biographies it’d be deathly boring. Reading historical fiction would have the reverse effect however.
*Which books developed your love for science fiction?
Most fiction written by H.G. Wells, Jules Verne, Ray Bradbury, Ursula LeGuin, Robert Silverberg, Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle, H.P. Lovecraft, and Poul Anderson. Andre Norton’s “Witchworld.” Anne McCaffrey’s “Pern.” Marion Zimmer Bradley’s “Darkover.”
Great group of authors!!
*What sources do you read for American history?
In the last twenty years, there’s been a surge of research published by scholars and historians on the Southern theater of the American Revolution. That’s the setting for my series, and in the back of each of my novels, I include a one-page bibliography of those works that were helpful.
Oh good. I hope to get a copy of a few of your books soon.
*Name 3 of your favorite historical people.
Enheduanna, Hannibal Barca, Dag Hammarskjöld
Yikes. Never heard of these guys.
*Name 3 things you hate about American history education.
Only three? Gee. It downplays or omits the successes of the “enemy” while downplaying or omitting American mistakes. It offers almost no hands-on interaction with historical elements, so it’s boring. And you don’t learn specific examples of how history repeats itself.
Now I can smell the bias there. It’s amazing what we willingly omit from the truth.
*What draws you to the American Revolution?
Religion was losing its stranglehold over people’s thinking as well as the running of governments during that time. Scientific thinking and processes were emerging as acceptable. Women also had more freedoms during the Revolution than they did prior to the war or for more than a century afterward. And with industry gaining momentum, the average person was no longer totally dependent upon handmade items.
*Besides the revolution what are your favorite parts of history?
I’m fascinated with early civilizations, such as the people of the Indus Valley, Anatolia, and Sumer. However some periods of history I avoid because they’ve been done to death: Tudor, Elizabethan, Regency, Victorian, and recently WW1.
I have interest in the early civilizations as well. Most recently, the early native Americans.
*Name historical fiction authors or books you enjoy.
Ellis Peters, Mary Stewart, Robert Louis Stevenson, Ashley Gardner, Daphne du Maurier.
Thanks! I always love good recommendations.
*Who are your favorite science fiction characters?
I have a soft spot for many of the characters (guests and regulars) of Star Trek: the Original Series as well as Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Also Lois McMaster Bujold’s protagonist Cordelia Naismith in Shards of Honor and Barrayar; and Maggie Black, protagonist in Terri Windling’s The Wood Wife. And, of course, Princess Leia.
Hard not to like the old Star Trek classics. I love what they’ve done with the new series too. I’m a big fan of the Fringe, Star Wars, 100 etc. The list go on and on…
*Name 3-5 pet peeves as a reader.
o Breaking a promise to the reader or otherwise not playing fair
o Creating a stupid villain or antagonist
o Dumping in pages of description or backstory that can easily be skipped
o Giving a protagonist unmerited rewards
*If you were a time traveler where would you go?
One that would bother me the most would be a stupid villain. I personally believe that ruins the entire story.
*Which historical customs would you bring into our society?
o Courtesy and politeness. In my lifetime, I’ve seen people become outrageously rude.
Instead of finding it appalling, society now considers rudeness entertainment.
o A thirst for knowledge. Where have all the critical thinkers gone?
I always enjoy seeing the different responses to this question. Your last response is rather intriguing.
*If you had to marry someone in the American Revolution who would it be?
It would be someone with many of John Adams’s qualities, but he needn’t necessarily be a patriot. In addition to being intelligent, Adams recognized and appreciated the intelligence of women. He didn’t chase petticoats like Ben Franklin did. He wasn’t a party animal like his cousin Sam, or Paul Revere, or John Hancock. (Wow, get those three together, and they’d drink all your booze.) He wasn’t weird, like Thomas Jefferson was. He also didn’t allow sentiment to derail his logic, demonstrated by his ability to successfully represent the British soldiers involved in the Boston “Massacre.”
Wonderful. I need to learn more about John Adams. I have a book about him buried deep in my TBR list.
*Are you originally from Northern Virginia?
Yes, born in raised in the suburbs of Northern Virginia, outside of DC.
I‘ve never been to northern Virginia before.
*What do you do currently in your occupation?
I’m a Communications Associate for The Kennedy Forum, a mental health advocacy non-profit founded by Patrick Kennedy – his book, A Common Struggle, is a great read if you haven’t checked it out yet!
Nice. Thanks for the book recommendation!
*Did you have a childhood fascination with fairy tales? Tell us about it and your all time favorites.
I don’t think it’s so much fairy tales, but just darker stories in general. I loved Alice In Wonderland, of course, and poetry by Edgar Allan Poe. Not your average childhood reads, but I think I had such an idyllic childhood that the dark and edgy stories captured my interest.
That makes sense. I’ve read some of Poe’s work, but now enough.
*What genre do you write?
Fiction. Leaning toward the magical surrealist side. I think the creative possibilities there are endless, and that intrigues me.
Can’t wait to see what you come up with!
*Have you always wanted to be a writer?
I read a quote recently that said something like look to your childhood passions to see where your life calling lies. I’ve always written, and I think when I reached an age where you start to question what you want to do, becoming an author seemed like a natural goal for me.
I love that quote!
*Where did you go to school? Major?
I went to Boston College and majored in Communications. I wrote Meditations In Wonderland there my last semester.
Wow. That sounds like a major feat. Penning a novel in your last semester of college is remarkable.
*What led you to write Meditations in Wonderland? Your premise looks pretty intriguing.
Thank you! I grew up loving Alice In Wonderland, and I was inspired by the dark tones it took on over the years as my generation grew with the story. From that landscape my story manifested itself in my mind over a few years, primarily starting when I studied abroad in London, saw Lewis Carroll’s original manuscript and visited Oxford, through to my senior year of college when I finally wrote it. It’s been called “Pretty Little Liars meets Alice In Wonderland.”
Never been to Oxford, but Cambridge is beautiful.
*Would it be classified as a psychological thriller?
I can definitely see an argument for that. As a dark Alice In Wonderland retelling I think no one would dispute that. It definitely has a lot of thriller-esque scenes and notes of magical surrealism. And, of course, a little nonsense.
It’s amazing to see what different authors are able to craft with their imagination.
*Tell us a little about the main character.
Elizabeth is 24, and she lives in Brooklyn and works as an interior designer in the city. I think many people can relate to the themes she’s struggling with – confronting and acknowledging the darker sides of herself, struggling with mental static and getting lost in the noise. In a sense she has to reclaim herself after giving in to a pattern of self-destructive behavior. She meditates, falls down the rabbit hole, and the rest is history.
Wow. Makes me want to know more about her.
You’re a writer; so whats your story, or what inspired you?
I don’t think I can pinpoint a single moment when I decided that I would be a writer – I’ve always just written, and then I couldn’t separate myself from the act of writing, it always felt a part of me. I used to carry around a composition notebook in elementary school that housed my first “novel,” scribbled in mechanical pencil between classes and after school, and eventually I graduated to my MacBook in college on which I wrote the manuscript for Meditations In Wonderland my last semester at Boston College. In terms of inspiration, I just follow that internal whisper that compels me to return to the blank page time and time again.
Keep following that internal whisper. And when you don’t hear it, write anyway.
What’s your GOAL in becoming a writer?
Having my writing published has always been the “ultimate” goal for me, and I think many writers can relate to that, however I think a more realistic goal is just to keep writing, to keep the process alive. The hardest part about writing, in truth, is the act of sitting down to write in the first place. If I can cultivate and keep my writing practice going, that’s a goal in itself that I think leads to the more penultimate dream of having your work published.
YES. I love this. The more realistic goal is to keep writing. I struggle with having consistent writing time so I completely understand this. The ‘butt in chair’ is the only way.
What 3 things have hindered you from completing your projects? (CONFLICT)
Timing, spaces, and disconnect. As for the first, why is it when you’re about to shut your eyes and fall asleep, warm under the covers, does your muse begin to speak? I think mine might be a sadist in that way. So the first conflict for me is the timing of writing, capturing what I need to capture often against difficult circumstances for doing so, like commuting, unplugging for a night’s sleep, or while on a run. As for the second, my writing practice benefits from having a clean, creative space to work in with minimal distractions from my “to do” list, which is probably why I wrote my first novel out of my home in a local Barnes & Noble. Last, disconnect is often a gatekeeper I grapple with. Either feeling disconnected from the story, from myself, from my creative process, or just from the voice that compels me to pick up where I left off. Some days you’re just not “feeling it,” so to speak, and I think writers can all commiserate there. The goal is to at least try to make sure two out of the three are at bay on any given day to try to make writing happen, and keep it cohesive!
The writing process is so mysterious to me. Not sure if you’ve read Anne Janzer’s book , The Writing Process, but I was greatly helped by it.
What keeps you motivated in achieving your dream? (DESIRE)
If the story needs to be told, I’ll continue to tell it. When I don’t feel that ache in my bones to keep writing, I’ll stop, but I still have that voice that refuses to stop whispering.
Stories are great and equally mysterious.
What’s your ANTAGONIST? What’s in the way?
Aren’t all of the best antagonists just reflections of ourselves, or our greatest fears? The fear that any next novel wouldn’t live up to the first, or that those new daring stylistic choices won’t engage the reader the way we hoped they would – we all have our dragon at that gate. For me, it’s scales are green, shiny, and coated with that existential “if I finish this, I have to turn it over to the business side of things” doubts. Writing is the fun part, but I think it’s important to embrace every part of the process, even the parts that we might rather procrastinate in facing.
Well spoken. It’s always a constant battle. Let’s keep at it, shall we?
Why do writers give up, quit or never complete their projects?
I think leaving a project is a very personal choice, so the reasons could be many. The best reason is probably because the project no longer feels authentic, which I think is a noble reason to step away, and faced with the same reality I hope I have the courage to do the same if it frees me up for the better project waiting in the shadows!
Seeing the next project is always tempting!
What would you say to a struggling writer who’s given up?
Take your time away, if you need it, and return to it when you feel compelled, nagged, and eaten away to resume. Because then you’ll really enjoy it, and your reader will feel that, too.
For me, it’s a gut feeling. If I stop, then it returns begging to be written.
BONUS: What else do you have coming down the pike?
I’ve been playing around with a sequel to my next novel, loosely based off of Through The Looking Glass, as Meditations In Wonderland was loosely based of Lewis Carrol’s Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland.
Keep us posted on the release date!
*Where did you go to college and what did you study?
Writing was in my blood from a very young age and by the age of 11 I knew I wanted to be a journalist. In fact, putting pen to paper had its merits even then. When I was at junior school in Bristol, England, I was the only student outside the school football team allowed to bunk off lessons to go to games – my reports appearing in the school newspaper, The Elm Park Ranger, each month. Out of 100’s of applicants I managed to qualify for the one-year pre-entry journalism course in Cardiff, Wales, which was great fun. I learnt all about the profession, passed my 100 words per minute shorthand, and studied journalism law, use of language and public administration. Two years later I had to return for a proficiency test after landing a job as a reporter on my local paper. Once I had passed that I was a qualified senior journalist. From there I progressed to sports journalism and have worked all over the UK. I am still managing to hold on to a job in a dying profession 38 years later, working as a freelance on UK national newspapers in London.
Wow. This is quite a resume!
*What did you grow up reading?
I wasn’t a big reader until one day I was moaning to my mum during the school holidays about being bored. “Read a book”, she said. “Boring,” I said. “I bet you won’t find this one boring,” she said. It was Ira Levin’s A Kiss Before Dying, and I read it in little more than a day. After that I was hooked. I always liked a twist or something that thrilled. Jaws, by Peter Benchley, was another quick read. Levin has always been my favourite though. I’ve read all his stuff, pretty diverse from horror (Rosemary’s Baby) to Sci-Fi (this perfect day). Boys from Brazil is possibly my favourite.
Haven’t heard of any of these guys but I love learning of new and interesting authors.
*What do you read for entertainment?
I love discovering something really original. I love psychological thrillers and books that at some stage give you an OMG moment where you just stare at the page, mouth open, shocked by what you’ve just read!
YES. I love psychological thrillers too! I think it takes a lot of skill it pull it off correctly with the desired effect.
*What are your favorite resources for journalism?
I’m more on the design and editing side these days so it’s a difficult question to answer. I like designing on In design, though the software does have its glitches.
I have seen this program and it looks pretty powerful from a designing standpoint. If I had to start over, design would be in my top 5 choices.
*Favorite genres to read?
Thriller/suspense/mystery… something original
Me too. Hard to resist a good thriller, suspense or mystery!
*According to your experience how is writing different from journalism?
The whole process needs a different mindset. When you go to journalism college or take a course the first thing they teach you is to follow a formula, which over time erodes your creative side. It is a different case for columnists or feature writers I imagine, but as a plain news hack you learn a series of rules that MUST be obeyed. The idea is to get the story across as quickly as possible without frills. You have to answer the five key questions in the first sentence or two in case the story is ‘cut’. There is no slow burn, it is instant: Who? Where? What? Why? When? How? It took a lot of “re-educating” myself to return to creative writing, though the one thing journalism has taught me is not to waste words and to avoid repetition. I am pretty adept at editing my own work ruthlessly before going to an independent editor at a later stage.
Wow. Sounds like being a journalist does have good benefit in training yourself in certain ways. I can see how it would affect your creativity though. It’s good that you still were able to retrain yourself after so many years. That’s great!
*How did you research your book Crossing The Whitewash?
As a career journalist of 38 years who has worked over the whole spectrum of the business I could draw on my own experiences greatly. Also, as a sports journalist I have met a lot of characters, so amalgamated many of them. For the things that happen earlier in the book there were stories I was told and I drew upon some experiences of my teen years. I have lived in most of the places featured – or know someone who has and was able to tap into their experiences. I had to read up about jails, but I’ve encountered so many situations it was just a case of getting them into a coherent order and embellishing them.
This is great. Sounds like you had a wealth of experience to draw from coupled with other resources.
*Introduce us to the football prodigy Gary Marshall
As a young teen, Gary is just an ordinary kid with a big talent for football (soccer) that his dad Stan is keen to encourage. Though he lives on a seedy, rundown estate he is happy-go- lucky with a positive outlook on life. This starts when he encounters a gang who want to steal his bike. He ends up indebted to another boy, Arnie Dolan, who helps him escape and is then drawn into the Boxer Boys gang and slides slowly off the rails. It’s a case of how a youngster can bow to peer pressure. It all has a deep effect on Gary’s life and the story is really about how he goes about trying to break those shackles.
Sounds like quite a story. I’ll be listening to the audio version of this book and really looking forward to it. You picked a good narrator too! Can’t wait to see how Gary brakes those shackles!
*Who is Arnie Dolan?
Crossing The Whitewash got an honourable mention in the genre category of the 2016 Writers’ Digest self-published eBook awards with the judges saying: “Arnie Dolan is terrifying, but never two dimensional”. I am hugely proud of this character. I wanted to write a real bad guy but to explain how he had got that way – the outside influences which dictated he turned out the way he did. He is incredibly resourceful but doesn’t use his attributes in a good way. Strange, really, that some of the first people to read the book admitted to feeling sympathy for a guy who has a propensity for savage violence – against men and women. Arnie is driven by a warped sense of right and wrong. His biggest asset is his immense loyalty and he feels let down by others who don’t afford him the same respect. The way his back story unfurls gave me a great deal of satisfaction.
Sounds like a juicy character! Very intriguing. Readers love these kind of anti-hero/grey kind of characters that they can relate to.
*What can you tell us about their relationship with one another?
This relationship forms the basis for the whole book. Arnie is a leader and all the other boys on the estate look up him. Gary has a bit of an individual streak, and is blessed with a couple of talents the others don’t have, so he never really fully immerses himself in the gang despite Arnie’s promptings. As Gary grows older, he realises that if he is to get his life back on track he must separate from Arnie completely. He moves away at a time when Arnie isn’t about and creates an entirely new life for himself. Pretty soon, though, Arnie goes looking for him.
This sounds like a really good book. Looking forward to getting into it.
*Tell us how the setting in the rundown London estate plays a part in the book
There were a lot of cheap estates built in London after the second world war. Tower blocks were grouped together to answer the demand for housing, but over time they became run down. The Boxers estate is a prime example, situated in a deprived area of London’s East End where the no.1 job opportunity is villainy. With little to do, kids on the estate form gangs with the intention of defending themselves against outsiders. It is against this background that Gary and Arnie meet.
Wow. I can almost picture the scenery in my head. Sounds pretty intriguing when you think about it. There are situations like this all over the world. Kids in the midst of poor environment, looking for a way out, hoping to survive. Excellent.
*What else are you working on?
My latest work is set in 1982, a prequel involving Arnie’s dad Big Mo Dolan. He has no end of worries, having to raise a young family on the same London estate with no job and little money. As his mind turns to crime, he is also concerned that his brother Clive has enlisted for the army at a time when Britain and Argentina are poised to go to war over the Falkland Islands. The story – as yet untitled – explains much of what later develops in Crossing The Whitewash. It is with the editor and I am hoping to release it in late Feb/early March.
Oh great! Keep us posted on the development. Would love to read this.
A Winter of Wolves is also the 4th volume in the series. Check out the first three volumes on Goodreads.
What led you to become a writer?
After 30 years of service as a federal prosecutor, I had collected hundreds of professional “war stories” from cases. Told correctly, these are also known as “plot lines.” My wife kept saying, “You should write a book,” so I did.
There’s no better fuel than life experience. Excellent!
Which authors inspire your writing the most?
If any served as inspiration, it would be the W.E.B. Griffin father-son team and series, since it showed me how characters could be developed over the course of a series of novels. I also love the way Michael Connelly writes.
Haven’t heard of W. E. B. Griffin, but I also love Michael Connelly. Great source of inspiration!
What’s your goal in becoming a writer?
I honestly just wanted to see what I could do. Nothing beyond that. The modest success (about 40,000 sales as a self-published author) has been a pleasant surprise.
Wonderul. I believe it’ll only get better. The reviews are great!
What three things have hindered your writing?
I don’t have three. The only obstacle before I retired was the day job; in other words, having enough time. Since then, the retail bias against self-published authors may have hindered sales, but not the writing itself.
Having enough time is always a struggle.
What keeps you motivated?
I just like to write.
That’s good enough motivation for anyone.
What is my antagonist?
I don’t allow those, don’t have one.
Oh, I love that attitude. Excellent.
Compared to my previous work, what’s it like being a writer?
First, I like my boss a lot more. Second, since I was a career prosecutor, I miss the cops and agents – real-life heroes – with whom I had the pleasure of working for years. Third, my schedule is my own now, and being comfortably retired, there’s no pressure. I’m very fortunate in that way.
This sounds like a very sweet experience. I wish I had it!
What would I say to a writer who has given up?
Find something you believe in enough to NOT give up on. Examine yourself. Why did you give up on writing? Lack of financial success? Self doubt? One can be overcome with perseverance. The other is a sign of some deeper issues. Identify them and start to deal with them.
Perseverance is the name of the game. I needed to hear this myself.
What are the key elements to a legal thriller?
I try very hard to avoid formulas. In real-life legal work – especially in solving criminal cases – formulaic approaches can lead to “tunnel vision.” By that, I mean that if you approach a case the same way every time, trying to solve a case using the same method that happened to work the last time, you can miss a lot of clues, make a lot of serious mistakes. Each case involves different people with different motivations. Some criminals act without rational motivation at all; they are creatures of impulse. A crime-based legal thriller by definition has to involve a crime, or series of crimes. After that, I climb on board with my characters for the investigative “ride,” to see where that leads. The solution can occur in or out of the courtroom.
I agree wholeheartedly. Formulas can be quite boring.
Introduce us to the Jeff Trask series.
Trask is my fictional alter-ego. A lot of my plot lines are based upon actual cases, and I use trial transcripts from actual cases in the books, with the usual name changes “to protect the innocent” (and guilty). While Trask and I share a lot of experiences, he probably learns faster on the job than I did. I strive for realism. There aren’t any Hollywood gun fights where the good guys snapshoot someone off the roof of a building a hundred yards away with a handgun, then outrun a string of machine gun bullets. I also try not to use the hackneyed lone, tortured soul, alcoholic detective approach. Complex crimes are not solved by rogue superheroes acting alone. They are solved by teams of good people – cops, medical examiners, forensic specialists, and then prosecutors and their staffs – all working together. I’ve been fortunate enough to earn praise from professionals in these fields who say, “Finally, somebody got it right.” Some critics have said that Trask is “too perfect,” in that he is NOT the typical tortured hero. We all have some demons, but I don’t seek readers who have to look down on a character in order to feel better about themselves. I don’t write literary fiction, and don’t have to apologize for that. The series is about how real teams solve real cases, facing criminals or criminal organizations posing real threats. It also has a lot of dark humor in it, which is also real, in that the guys and gals who do this work for a living have to have that sense of humor to do their jobs without going nuts.
I love the whole team idea to solving crimes. Not conforming to the typical hero complex is a great way to step outside the box.
What are the chief characteristics of Jeff Trask?
Smart. Occasionally a smart-ass, in fact. He does not, however, talk down to anyone or use his brain for anything other than finding solutions. He loves classic rock, and always has a jukebox playing in his head, usually providing a theme-based tune to any situation in which he finds himself. For example, in one book, he encounters a crime scene with about a dozen victims – gang members – shot to hell by a rival criminal element. Oingo Boingo’s “Dead Man’s Party” starts playing in his mind. Trask works well with others as long as they are interested in being part of the solution and not the problem.
The characteristics of the protagonist help readers fall in love with them.
Any planned releases for 2017?
The next book in the series has already started to take shape in my head. It will find its way to a keyboard some time next year.
Looking forward to it! it’ll give me some time to catch up in the series.
Marie Silk has enjoyed writing stories and plays since childhood. She lives with her family in the United States and travels the globe as often as life permits. She is an admirer of history, antiques, and architecture. She enjoys traveling the world, sampling new cuisines, and learning about history. She has written stories and plays in many genres since childhood. Marie is the author of the Amazon Best Selling series Davenport House family saga.
*Where are you from originally?
I was born in sunny Southern California and now live in the rustic northwest USA.
I used to live in sunny Southern California, but I’ve only been to the northwest once. Can’t wait to go back!
*What sort of books did you read growing up?
I enjoyed reading books about angels, adventure, and history. I also liked the pioneer-type books about survival in early America.
I’m always up for a good adventure. Then history, admittedly my worst subject, has grown on me the entire year!
*Who were your favorite characters and what did you appreciate about them?
My favorite characters were probably Jay and Lila from Frank Peretti’s YA adventure series. I thought it was neat that they got to travel to amazing destinations.
Hmm…I haven’t heard of them before. I’ll have to look them up now!
*What sort of plays have you written?
The plays I have written are mostly comedy and parody.
Oh wow, I love comedy. I was practically raised by comedians. Guess that’s where I get my funny bones. I’d love to read your plays sometime.
*What are your favorite antiques?
My favorite antiques include centuries-old furniture like dressing tables, room dividers, and canopy beds.
Cool! I like antiques too. Pottery in particular. There’s something artistic about it that gives you a rich appreciation of history.
*What are your favorite historical architectures?
My favorite architecture is Gothic…not so much the skulls and gargoyles, but the intricate carved detail and stained glass windows!
I don’t know much about Gothic architecture, but I agree with you that it’s beautiful!!
*Can you describe any significant ones in your stories?
In my first book, the ladies go shopping at Wanamaker’s, which is a real store now known as the Macy’s that hosts the Thanksgiving parades. The building is exquisite!
*How did you come to love history?
I realized I loved history when I began to travel and visit ancient and historical sites. I wanted to know everything about the sites and the events surrounding them!
That normally does the trick. It probably draws a connection to past cultures, peoples and lands separated by the sea of time.
*What are your favorite 3 time periods?
My three favorite time periods to study are Ancient Greece, Tudor England, and the Progressive Era.
Ancient Greece is endlessly fascinating. Tudor England and the progressive Era also strikes a fancy.
*Tell us about Mary Davenport.
Mary Davenport is twenty-two years old and has lived a sheltered life in the family’s mansion. Her father is her ally, but her mother often degrades Mary and everyone else in the house. When Mary’s father dies, she seeks help and friendship from the servants of the house, the only people she feels she can trust.
I love the historical family saga that you’ve created. It makes you want to know more about them and their culture. Well done.
*Why have you chosen this particular time period as a setting?
I chose the Progressive Era because there was so much happening in America due to the advancement in technology. I explore the reactions to experiencing cars, telephones, and electricity for the first time.
I’d like to see the look on someone’s face when riding a car for the first time!
*What kind of mansion do the Davenports live in?
It is a colonial mansion with many rooms. The family lives in the upstairs bedroom while the servants reside in the level below the main house.
The mansion must be a place of many adventures.
*Tell us about your newest book release.
My newest book is titled Davenport House 6: House Secrets and is a continuation of the family saga as they enter the Roaring 20’s. There are more secrets in the house to be explored that have only been hinted at in the previous book.
Love secrets! Your book covers are fabulous too.
According to Goodreads:
The family saga continues in this sixth book to Davenport House. It is 1919 when America begins to heal from the Great War and take her first steps into a roaring new Era.
The residents of Davenport House are changing with the times as new fashions and new laws are introduced. Clara turns a blind eye to her troubles at home and plans a grand masquerade ball for the county. Bridget uncovers a distressing truth and returns to the house to warn the others, but soon finds that she is no longer welcome there.
When a suspicious death occurs on the estate, the abundance of motives and sudden hushed lips cause tensions to rise throughout the house. Only the painful truth can set everyone free, but it will come at a price to reveal the house secrets once and for all.
*Does Mary have any sidekicks or companions?
Yes, Mary relies on friendships with her maid and the stable boy, but realizes she wants to have a lady’s companion for deeper friendship.
This makes me more curious to see who it is!
*Is it difficult writing and conveying historical fiction ?
I do not find it difficult to write. I take real historical events and create stories for characters to then experience those things.
Wow. Hats off to you for pulling off a bestselling historical mystery series.
*Does Mary have a favorite dress or outfit?
Mary is in mourning for her father for much of the series, so she wears a black mourning dress. Other than that, she does not care about clothes very much.
Interesting. Losing family is always the hardest.
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