Talking Mystery & History with Author Ritter Ames

WELCOME BACK TO THE FORENSIC LENSES SERIES

 

 

An investigative and exploratory approach into the minds of voracious readers everywhere. Strap your seat belt and let’s take a ride into the wonderful world of mystery…

 

 

 

 

 

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Let’s see through the eyes of yet another voracious reader…

 

 

 

 

 

 

ritter-ames

 

 

 

 

Ritter Ames is the USA Today Bestselling author of the Organized Mysteries series and Bodies of Art mysteries. She’s also a voracious reader and one of our participating authors in  this year’s Mystery Thriller Week





Welcome Ritter!

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*Who influenced your reading habits the most as a child?

 

Oh, so many people. Probably the earliest was my grandmother, but once I started school I was fortunate to have wonderful teachers. And once I discovered the public library and that librarians LOVED to help kids find new books about things they liked, I couldn’t be stopped.

 

Thank the Lord for grandmothers! That’s wonderful you had so many helpful people early in life. I remember two particular teachers in elementary that encouraged me a lot. We never forget the ones who truly cared for us.

 

 

 

 

 

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*Which were the first mysteries that drew you into the genre?

 

The first mystery I ever read was in third grade, and it was The Brownie Scout Mystery by Dorothy Sterling. I checked it out of my elementary school library and honestly only chose it because I was a Brownie at the time, so felt that connection. Then, for Christmas, my aunt (the daughter of the grandmother I mentioned in the earlier question) gave me my first Trixie Belden book. It was the fourth book in the series, and I was thrilled to realize there were so many more Trixie Belden books for me to read, since I think they were all written before I was born. That led on to Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew, and I read a few Robin Kane mysteries that my cousin had, but none of them compared to Trixie and Honey’s mysteries and adventures. Later, I moved on to Sherlock Holmes and Agatha Christie.

 

I love hearing about the mysteries that shaped a writer early in life. 

 

 

 

 

 

A book is like a garden, carried in the pocket ~Chinese Proverb

 

 

 

 

*Name your top 5 favorite books and what affect they had on you.

 

1)    The Odessa File by Frederick Forsythe – I don’t want to spoil it for anyone who hasn’t read it, but I still have that amazed feeling whenever I think about the answer the bad guy received when he asked why the main character continued trying so hard to pursue him. I’d read the whole book up until then wondering why, myself, and the answer surprised me so much—especially when I realized the clue had been there all along, but I’d missed it.

2)    Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams – I purchased the hardcover edition of this book in 1987 because I was already an Adams fan due to the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series. So, I knew this wasn’t going to be your standard mystery. The absolute creative genius behind this book makes it not only my all-time favorite by this author (though the addition of Thor in the sequel The Long Dark Tea Time of the Soul makes that novel come a close second), but I’ve read and reread this book (and too short series) several times. I haven’t yet seen the BBC program featuring the novel, but it’s on my to-watch list when I get time for some British binging.

3)    Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy – This isn’t a mystery, but there were so many absolutely beautiful passages to fall into as I read the book. The first time I read it I probably took three times longer than usual to do so because I kept going back and rereading whole paragraphs and pages.

4)    Every Single Novel by Elizabeth Peters – Actually, I like a lot of her Barbara Michaels books, too, and I own several of her nonfiction books written under her real name of Barbara Mertz. But truly, I love everything penned as Elizabeth Peters and own every title she wrote under that name. Rather than list a novel, I’d have to say her Amelia Peabody Mystery Series would be my favorite because of the way she wove fascinating real facts within her historical mysteries, and had such standout characters throughout the titles. For almost the same reasons, I’d have to list the Vicky Bliss Mystery Series as a close second—with less books in the series it doesn’t have quite the depth of Peabody, but it does a great job of blending fact and mystery plot and characters. And, of course, there are the Jacqueline Kirby books, and the many wonderful standalones Peters wrote before all her series took off.

5)    The Harry Potter Series – I think every book in that series was wonderful, but together, seeing the complete series arc by the end, and all the pieces Rowling wove within the individual novels requires this whole series to be listed as one piece in my top five. But I’ve always been a series reader—as implied by my inclusion of all-things-Peters in the previous question—so this probably isn’t surprising.

 

I like these! Of course, I only recognize one of them, but I love to get book recommendations. There’s too  many good writers around to count. 

 

 

 

 

 

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*Name your favorite classic sleuths and how are they different from one another?

 

I love Miss Marple and Columbo for the same reasons: they pay attention to so much more than just the visible clues and they want to solve the crime to truly give the victim justice—not for accolades or to improve their own position.

 

I also love to read Martha Grimes’s Inspector Richard Jury series, but primarily the ones where Melrose Plant is involved in the case with him—because I love Melrose. He’s kind of a contemporary Lord Peter Wimsey and I look forward to his arrival in the books each time and the way he impacts the case.

 

Equally, I especially enjoy unconventional sleuths. I often stay up late on weekends to watch the old Avengers shows with Diana Riggs as Mrs. Peel, to see what kind of off-beat crime she and Steed will solve—usually eminently quirky. And finally, I adore the new BBC Sherlock series with Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman because they so perfectly play off one another and show not only Sherlock’s brilliance, but how his almost sociopathic tendency to not consider others is offset by Watson’s tempering humanity—which all comes together to better solve the case and understand the outcome.

 

I’ve yet to see the Sherlock Holmes series with Cumberbatch, although it’s cued and ready to go. 

 

 

 

 

 

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*How has reading affected your style of writing?

 

I think my writing has more often affected my reading style than the reverse. I’ve always been a voracious reader and read across all genres and literary and nonfiction standards. But while I used to be able to read through things that weren’t…shall we say…written as well as they could be, now that isn’t the case. I simply cannot read something filled with bad editing or—especially—are written with unbelievable plots, or if characters begin changing to suit a plot need rather than acting the way they always have. I just stop reading and move on to something else.

 

I find this very fascinating for some reason. The dynamic relationship between reading and writing is wonderful. I would say a voracious reader would develop a keen eye for the matters you mentioned above. Then developing the writing craft would only serve to sharpen those skills to a whole new level. 

 

 

 

 

 

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*If you could hire any fictional sleuth to solve a major crime who would it be? Who would be the sidekick?

 

I would love to see Columbo and Adrian Monk solve a crime together. I know that sounds mean because Columbo just standing next to Monk would probably give the OCD detective a mental breakdown, but to me it would be kind of an American Sherlock/Watson combo. I imagine Columbo would be the humanizing end of the team and Monk would be…well, Monk. But the crime solving could be the absolutely fastest on record with those two brilliant minds working on it at the same time.

 

 That sounds like a great combination!

 

 

 

 

 

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AT THE SCENE OF THE CRIME

 

*Name 3-5 of your pet peeves as a reader

 

1)    Love triangles. Hate them. Just pick a guy or girl already and move on to the real story. Don’t let the “which guy will she choose” go on from book to book to book.

2)    Authors who don’t think readers are smart enough to figure things out and try to fill in every single dot or write mostly dialogue and skimp on narrative because it’s easier.

3)    Characters who change from the way they’ve been throughout the story to fit plot problems a writer stumbled into and couldn’t figure how else to get out of.

4)    Unnecessary sex, violence or language as a quick and cheap way to try to heighten the tension.

 

I always find this one interesting. Writers can learn so much by hearing these.

 

 

 

 

 

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*How have mysteries changed over the years?

 

It feels like they’ve become more real to life through the years, but that may just be that I’ve gotten older and read things more contemporary to my life. I still love the old standbys like Christie and Dick Francis and Forsythe, but there are so many new authors like Michael Connelly and Lee Child who write fabulous, exciting mysteries that truly are 21stcentury. I think more than anything, we’re getting more blending of genres, so while we can find straight mysteries still, we also have great combinations we likely wouldn’t have had decades ago. The aforementioned Dirk Gently series, for example, or the fabulous Spellman Files series by Lisa Lutz, both of which use humor and contemporary insight as much as they do elements of mystery. Another offbeat cross-genre example is the Bryant and May series by Christopher Fowler, or anything by Jasper Fforde.

 

Wow, great examples here. I’m very interested in this topic for some reason. So intriguing! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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*What makes a great mystery?

 

It must give me something to figure out, and provide good characters I want to spend time with. I’ve read so many mysteries that I’m seldom halfway through a book before I’ve figured out whodunit, and that’s okay, as long as there are still surprises for me to discover as the character(s) still look for clues. I don’t want to know everything about everyone from the beginning, I want that to unfold just like the mystery, so if I solve the mystery halfway along, there’s still something to keep me reading.

 

That’s wonderful. There’s something so cerebral about solving a good puzzle, especially a ‘whodunit’.  When you weave in great characters, the book is well worth the read.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Great Unknown Puzzle Pieces Hole Uncharted Exploration Adven

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Connect with Ritter Ames

Ritterames.com | Amazon | Twitter | Facebook 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THANK YOU FOR STOPPING BY!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Come back and see us on the train!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Up for a reading challenge? Join the Book Hoarders Bucket List Reading Challenge  (Join Goodreads group here)

 

 

A Challenge for Book Hoarders Like Me at SallyAllenBooks.com

 

 

Don’t miss the inaugural powerhouse event of 2017!! Check out Mystery Thriller Week on my other site: Mysterythrillerweek.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

http://www.thewritingtrain.com

 

 

 

 

 

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Interview with the Multi-talented Jo Linsdell

 

 

 

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Please welcome the Award winning, multi-talented International Best selling author, Illustrator, CEO, Organizer, Cover designer, Booktuber, Social media junky, Marketing Expert and MOM!

Ladies & Gents I present to you….

 

JO LINSDELL

 

 

Books

 

 

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Book Covers

 

 

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CEO

Of Writers and Authors  which is in the Top 50  Writing Blogs of 2016.  A one stop place for people in the writing industry to learn, promote and network.

 

 

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Organizer

And the brains behind Promo Day a FREE annual online event for people in the publishing industry. Mark you calendar! The next event is Saturday May 6th 2017. #PromoDay2017. Please see Promoday.net for more info.

 

 

 

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*What part of England are you from?

This is actually a tough question for me. I was born in Gillingham but never actually lived there. I moved around a lot as a kid so the most truthful answer here would have to be ‘the South’. When I think of my ‘home’ in the UK, I tend to think of Kent, and Berkshire.

I would love to take a grand tour the UK one day. 



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*What’s it like living in Rome, Italy? 

I love it here. I came for 3 days back in 2001 and ended up staying (it was actually a lot easier to do than a lot of people think). Anyway, to cut a long story short, I’m now married to an Italian and together we have two sons. 

 

I love how much history and art is just scattered around here. Not just the big tourist stuff you find in the centre either. In fact, in the centre, there is so much there that you can walk by ancient monuments and not really notice them.

 

This is a photo I took when I took my kids for a walk in a local park.

I bet it’s very scenic!

 




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That’s part of an ancient roman aqueduct just sat there in the field. There were also parts of the old cobble roads in places. Made for a great history lesson for my boys, and was really beautiful.

Nice.

 




*Have you been to the Vatican?

One of my first jobs here was at a hostel very close to the Vatican so I know the area well. I’ve been to St. Peters several times. It’s just as impressive on the third or fourth visit as it was on the first. There is so much to see in there. I notice things I didn’t previously every time I go. 

I’d better put this one on the bucket list! 




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*You wear many different hats, which one do you enjoy most?

I love all of my jobs. My favourite varies depending on my mood. I’ve got a creative soul and so I’m always working on something; whether it’s writing a book, illustrating, or doing graphic design.

 

You are truly a multi-talented person.

 




*Can you tell us about some of the books you have written?

I started out with non fiction books about Italy; Italian for Tourists, which is an Italian-English phrasebook, and A Guide To Weddings In Italy.

 

I’ve also published children’s picture story books; Out and About at the Zoo, Fairy May, and The Box.

 

Then there are my other non fiction books; my award winning Virtual Book Tours: Effective Book Promotion From the Comfort of Your Own Home, and How to be Twittertastic.


I’m currently working on more non fiction and some more children’s books, plus some novels (romance, and thrillers). 

When you have a book release let me know, I’d love to help!

 

 


*How did you get into illustrating book covers? 

I started designing book covers just for fun in the beginning. I love playing around with photoshop and illustrator. A few friends said they really liked my designs and suggested that I add cover design to my list of services.

 

As I’m used to making my own covers for both digital and print I know exactly what an author needs. The right book cover can make all the difference when it comes to sales.

That’s so true! 

 


*Tell us about the benefits of your website writersandauthors.info

I started Writers and Authors back in 2006. I was just starting out in my writing career and thought it would be a good way to share my experiences, and learn from other authors at the same time.

 

The website has evolved a lot over the years and picked up numerous awards along the way. It’s turned into a real community for people in the writing/publishing industry, and often gets mentioned on other websites in their ‘Top sites lists”.

 

I offer writers the opportunity to be featured on the website and promote their books. Interviews, guest posts, book showcases, and excerpts. I’m an avid reviewer and so feature those on site too. There are also advertising options available.

 

Authors can have their books listed in the online bookstore too. It gives them more free publicity for their books (something us authors love ;)), and as I’m an Amazon affiliate, gain a little pocket money for me.

 

I work directly with authors, but also with PR companies, agents, and publishers. I love how the website allows me to connect with people from all parts of the publishing industry. 

Put this one on your blogroll folks! Lots of great material and resources.

 



*How did Promo day get started?

There were lots of online writers conferences but none that dealt with the marketing side of things so I created one.

 

Promo Day started out as a small event in a chatroom that I used to host on my author website. It turned out to be a huge success and so grew into an annual event with it’s own branding at http://www.promoday.net/

 

Can’t wait to tell people about this. Sounds great!

 



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*What are the benefits of participating in Promo day? 

 

Promo Day is a whole day dedicated to promoting, networking, and learning. It’s completely free to attend and everyone is welcome.  All you need to do is register on the website.

 

There are; webinars with industry experts, forums where you can connect with other attendees and discover promotional opportunities, and pitch sessions with publishers. Publishers take pitches during the event and get back to you the same day to let you know if they are interested or not. No waiting for weeks, or even months for a reply.

 

There are a lot of social activities throughout the day too. Activities are announced in the event forums, so you can put what you learn in the webinars into action straight away. You can join in a LIVE Twitterchat, or Facebook chat. You can even get interviewed about your book, or join in a LIVE video discussion streamed to YouTube. Promo Day teaches you how to build your author brand and market your books, helps you make connection in the publishing industry, and gives you opportunities to put your new skills in action so you can start seeing instant results.

 

Wow. Sounds really fun. 

 



*How do you personally benefit from Promo day?

 

Organising an event like Promo Day is a huge amount of work but I love it. It’s enabled me to make lots of new connections within the industry, and helped establish my own author brand.

 

There are sponsorship opportunities available that help cover the costs of putting the event together. Every year I come away with invitations to be hosted on websites, and always note an increase in sales of my own books following the event. The event has also lead to numerous collaborations and other business projects.



Lovely. This is very beneficial is many ways. I’m so glad you started it!





Jo Linsdell

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Thanks for joining us Jo!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Extras

 

 

Up for a challenge? Join the Book Hoarders Bucket List Reading Challenge

 

A Challenge for Book Hoarders Like Me at SallyAllenBooks.com

 

Don’t miss the inaugural powerhouse event of 2017!! Check out Mystery Thriller Week on my other site: Mysterythrillerweek.com

 

 

 

 

 

Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

http://www.thewritingtrain.com

Meet the Fabulous Bestselling Author Marie Silk

 

 

 

 

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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!

 

 

 

 

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*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! 

 

 

 

 

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“There are worse crimes than burning books. One of them is not reading them.”-Ray Bradbury

 

 

 

 

*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.

 

 

 

 

“Life is better when you’re laughing”-Unknown

 

 

 

 

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*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!!

 

 

 

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*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!

Oh lovely! 

 

 

*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!

 

 

 

 

 

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*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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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*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.

 

 

 

 

 

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

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*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. 

 

 

 

Thanks Marie for joining us on the Train!!

 

 

Connect with Marie Silk

Facebook | Goodreads | Website

 

PS

Don’t miss the inaugural powerhouse event of 2017!!

Check out my other site: Mysterythrillerweek.com

 

 

 

 

 

“It ain’t whatcha write, it’s the way atcha write it.”-Jack Kerouac

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

http://www.thewritingtrain.com