Contest: Win a Free Killer Nashville Registration

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My friend, Logan Masterson, who won last year’s crime scene investigation award, is giving away a free registration to the Killer Nashville Thriller, Mystery, and Crime Literature Conference. This year’s lineup is terrific, with Guests of Honor Anne Perry and D.P. Lyle and five tracks, including craft of writing, business of writing, a reader track, a forensic track, and a genre-specific track. Ever wondered what it’s like to be a black ops contractor? Ever wanted to know the secrets of top police interrogators? Maybe you want to find an agent or publisher, have your work critiqued, network with other readers and writers of crime fiction, or maybe you’d like to hone your writing craft. Killer Nashville is the place to do it all.

“Why so generous?” you might ask. Well, in addition to being a darn good solver of mock crime scenes, Logan is also a talented artist and graphic designer. In return for his generous donation of time and talent, he’s already receiving a free registration. Since there’s only one of him, he has a spare registration and decided to donate it to a lucky contest winner.

Other prizes include sets of three books (C.J. Box’s The Highway, Alan Lewis’s The Blood in Snowflake Garden, and either Racing the Devil or A Cup Full of Midnight by yours truly) and some cool Killer Nashville swag.

The contest only runs a few more days, so be sure to go to his website and click on the link. It will take you to rafflecopter, which is a) a seriously cool name for a website, and b) where the contest will be held.

There’ are no strings attached. Logan just wants to help promote the contest and some of his fellow writers. So don’t wait. Go to Logan’s site and enter:

Spotlight on Bruce DeSilva

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Bruce DeSilva

Today’s spotlight is on Bruce DeSilva, the author of the hard-boiled Liam Mulligan crime novels.

His first novel, Rogue Island, won the Edgar and Macavity awards and was a finalist for the Anthony, Barry, and Shamus awards. The second, Cliff Walk, was recently published to rave pre-publication notices including starred reviews in Publishers Weekly and Booklist. It’s an enviable beginning, but Bruce has paid his dues. Before launching his career as a novelist, he worked as a journalist for 40 years, most recently as a senior editor and writing coach for The Associated Press. Stories he edited won virtually every major journalism prize including The Polk (twice), The Livingston (twice), and the ASNE. He also edited two Pulitzer finalists and helped edit a Pulitzer winner. He reviews books for the AP and is a master’s thesis adviser at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. His years of experience give his novels a polish and crispness that make them stand out from the crowd. Cliff Walk picks up not long after Rogue Island leaves off, but the books stand alone.

Cover_Cliff Walk

Want an appetizer? Here’s a brief description of Cliff Walk, followed by the opening chapters:

Prostitution has been legal in Rhode Island for more than a decade, and Liam Mulligan, an old-school investigative reporter at the dying Providence newspaper, suspects the governor has been taking payoffs to keep it that way. But this isn’t the only story making headlines. A child’s severed arm is discovered in a pile of garbage at a pig farm. Then the body of an internet pornographer is found sprawled on the rocks at the base of Newport’s famous Cliff Walk. At first, the killings seem random, but as Mulligan keeps digging into the state’s thriving sex business, strange connections emerge. Promised free sex with hookers if he minds his own business — and a beating if he doesn’t — Mulligan enlists Thanks-Dad, the newspaper publisher’s son, and Attila the Nun, the state’s colorful attorney general, in his quest for the truth. What Mulligan learns will lead him to question his beliefs about sexual morality, shake his tenuous religions faith, and leave him wondering who his friends are. “Cliff Walk” is at once a hard-boiled mystery and an exploration of sex and religion in the age of pornography.

Cliff Walk, the opening chapters:


Cosmo Scalici hollered over the grunts and squeals of 3,000 hogs rooting in his muddy outdoor pens. “Right here’s where I found it, poking outta this pile of garbage. Gave me the creeps, the way the fingers curled like it wanted me to come closer.”

“What did you do?” I hollered back.

“Jumped the fence and tried to snatch it, but one of the sows beat me to it.”

“Couldn’t get it away from her?”

“You shittin’ me? Ever try to wrestle lunch from a 600-pound hog? I whacked her on the snout with a shovel my guys use to muck the pens. She didn’t even blink.”

To mask the stink, we puffed on cigars, his a Royal Jamaica, mine a Cohiba.

“Jesus, Mary, and Joseph,” he said. “The nails were painted pink, and it was so small. The little girl that arm came from couldn’t a been more than nine years old. The sow just wolfed it down. You could hear the bones crunch in her teeth.”

“Where‟s the hog now, Cosmo?”

“State cops shot her in the head, loaded her in a van, and took off. Said they was gonna open her stomach, see what’s left of the evidence. I told ‘em, that‟s $250 worth of chops and bacon wholesale, so you damn well better send me a check, ‘less you want me to sue your ass.”

“Any other body parts turn up?”

“The cops spent a couple hours raking through the garbage. Didn’t find nothin’. If there was any more, it’s all pig shit by now.”

We kept smoking as we slopped across his twelve acres to the sprawling white farmhouse with green shutters where I’d left my car. Once this was woodland and meadow, typical of the countryside in the little town of Pascoag in Rhode Island’s sleepy northwest corner. But Cosmo had bulldozed his whole place into an ugly mess of stumps, mud, and stones.

“How do you suppose the arm got here?” I asked.

“The staties kept asking the same question, like I’m supposed to fuckin’ know.”

He scowled as I scrawled the quote in my reporter‟s notebook.

“Look, Mulligan,” he said. “My company? Scalisi Recycling? It’s a three mil a year operation. My twelve trucks collect garbage from schools, jails, and restaurants all over the Rhode Island. That arm coulda been tossed in a dumpster anywhere between Woonsocket and Westerly.”

I knew it was true. Scalici Recycling was a fancy name for a company that picked up garbage so pigs could reprocess it into bacon, but there was big money in it. I’d written about the operation five years ago when the Mafia tried to muscle in. Cosmo drilled one hired thug though the temple with a bolt gun used to slaughter livestock and put another in a coma with his ham-sized fists. He called it trash removal. The cops called it self-defense.

I’d parked my heap beside is his new Ford pick-up. Mine had a New England Patriots decal on the rear window. His had a bumper sticker that said:

If You Don’t Like Manure, Move To The City.

“Getting along any better with the folks around here?” I asked as I jerked open my car door.

“Nah. They’re still whining about the smell. Still complaining about the noise from the garbage trucks. That guy over there?” he said, pointing at a raised ranch across the road. “He’s a real asshole. That one down there? Total jerk. This whole area’s zoned agricultural. They build their houses out here and want to pretend they‟re in fuckin’ Newport? Fuck them and the minivans they rode in on.”


A prowl car slipped behind me on America’s Cup Avenue, and when I swung onto Thames Street, it hugged my bumper. A left turn onto Prospect Hill didn’t shake it, so when I reached the red octagonal sign at the corner of Bellevue Avenue, I broke with local custom and came to a complete stop. Then I turned left, and the red flashers lit me up.

I rolled the window down and watched in the side mirror as a Newport city cop unfolded himself from the cruiser and swaggered toward me, the heels of his boots clicking on the pavement, his leather gun belt creaking. I shoved the paperwork at him before he asked for it. He snatched it without a word, walked back to the cruiser, and ran my license and registration. I listened in on my police scanner and was relieved to learn that my Rhode Island driver’s license was valid and that the heap I’d been driving for years had not been reported stolen.

I heard the gun belt creak again, and the cop, whose name tag identified him as Officer Phelps, was back, handing my paperwork through the window.

“May I ask what business you have in this neighborhood tonight, Mr. Mulligan?”


Ordinarily, I don‟t pick fights with lawmen packing high-powered side arms. Anyone who’d covered cops and robbers as long as I had could recognize the .357 Sig Sauer on Officer Phelps’s hip. But he’d had no legitimate reason to pull me over.

“Have you been drinking tonight, sir?”

“Not yet.”

“May I have permission to search your vehicle?”

“Hell, no.”

Officer Phelps dropped his right hand to the butt of his pistol and gave me a hard look.

“Please step out of the car, sir.”

I did, affording him the opportunity to admire how fine I looked in a black Ralph Lauren tuxedo. He hesitated a moment, wondering if I might actually be somebody; but tuxedoes can be rented, and a somebody would have had better wheels. I put my palms against the side of the car and assumed the position. He patted me down, sighing when he failed to turn up a crack pipe, lock picks, or a gravity knife.

When he was done, he wrote me up for running the sign I’d stopped at and admonished me to drive carefully. I was lucky he didn’t shoot me. In this part of Newport, driving a car worth less than $80,000 was a capital offense.

I fired the ignition and rolled past the marble and terra cotta dreams of 19th century robber barons: The Breakers, Marble House, Rosecliff, Kingscote, The Elms, Hunter House, Beechwood, Ochre Court, Chepstow, Chateau-su-Mer. And my favorite, Clarendon Court, where Claus von Bulow either did or did not try to murder his heiress wife by injecting her with insulin, depending on whether you believe the first jury or the second. Here, sculpted cherubs frolic in formal gardens. Greek gods cling to gilded cornices and peer across the Atlantic Ocean. Massive oak doors open at a touch, and vast dining rooms rise to frescoed ceilings. A few of these shrines to hubris and bad taste have been turned into museums, but the rest remain among the most exclusive addresses in the world, just as they have been for more than hundred years.

 Men who ripped fortunes from the grasps of competitors built the Newport mansions. Cornelius Vanderbilt, who stitched the face of America with rails and ties. Big Jim Fair, who dug silver out of Nevada‟s Comstock Lode. Edward J. Berwind, who fueled American industry with Appalachian coal. They were doers, and they built these forty-, sixty-, and eighty-room monstrosities as retreats, playgrounds, and monuments to themselves.

 But that was generations ago. Today, those who live in the mansions are scions of the doers, living on somebody else’s money in somebody else’s dream. They try to keep the Gilded Age alive in a blaze of crystal chandeliers, the scent of lilies drifting over elegantly attired dinner guests. And they keep the likes of me out with ivy-covered walls, hand-wrought iron gates, and a vigilant local constabulary.

 Except tonight. Tonight, I had an invitation.

Just past Beechwood, the Astors’ Italianate summer cottage, I slid behind a shimmering silver Porsche in a line of cars drifting toward the gilded iron gate to the grounds of Belcourt Castle. One by one, they turned into the torch-lit, crushed stone drive: a Maserati, a Bentley, a Ferrari, a Lamborghini, a Maybach, another Bentley, and something sleek that may have been a Bugatti, although I‟d never seen one before. Trailing them was a poverty-stricken sad sack in a mere Mercedes Benz. I wondered if Officer Phelps had hassled him, too.

 Up ahead, liveried valets opened car doors, grasped bejeweled hands to help ladies from their fairytale carriages, climbed in, and floated away to distant parking lots. Then a nine-year-old Bronco with rust pocks on the hood, a crushed passenger-side fender, and a diseased muffler rumbled up, and I got out.

“Be careful with it this time,” I said as I flipped the keys to a valet. “Look what happened the last time you parked it.”

I strolled through the courtyard to a heavy oak door where an Emperor Penguin with a clipboard was checking the guest list. He studied my engraved invitation and scowled.

“Surely you are not Mrs. Emma Shaw of The Providence Dispatch.”

“What gave me away?”

 “Do this job as long as I have,” he said, “and you develop a sixth sense about this sort of thing.” He looked me up and down. “I can see that your eyebrows haven‟t been plucked lately.” He paused to rub his chin with his big left wing. “And your perfume is a little off. The last dame to walk through here was wearing Shalimar. You smell like Eau d‟ Cigars.”

 “You don’t know any women who smoke cigars?”

 “Not the kind made out of tobacco,” he said. From his snicker, I could tell he took special pride in that one. “I’m sorry, sir, but I can’t admit you.”

 “Oh yeah? Well this isn‟t the only mansion in town, buster.” I turned away to retrieve Secretariat, my pet name for the Bronco.

I’d drawn the assignment to cover the annual Derby Ball after Emma, our society reporter, quit last week, taking a buyout that trimmed 30 more jobs from a newsroom already cut to the marrow by last year’s layoffs. Ed Lomax, the city editor, had pretended he was doing me a favor.

“I can guarantee you the cover of the living section,” he said.

 “Let me get this straight,” I said. “We can no longer afford to have our baseball writer travel with the Red Sox. We don‟t have a medical writer or a religion writer anymore. Our Washington bureau is down to one reporter. And this is a priority?”

“The ball is the final event of the week-long Newport Jumping Derby,” he said. “It’s one of the biggest hoity-toity events of the year.”

 “So they say, but who gives a shit?”

“Other than the horses?”

 “I’m a little busy with real stories right now, boss, I’m trolling through the governor’s campaign contribution list to figure out who’s buying him off this year. I’m looking into the toxic waste dumping in Briggs Marsh. And I’m still trying to figure out how that little girl’s arm ended up as pig food last week.”

 “Look, Mulligan. Sometimes you have to do things you don’t want to do. It’s part of being a professional.”

 “And I have to do this particular thing because . . . ?”

“Because the publisher’s 17-year-old niece is one of the equestrians.”

 “Aw, crap.”

But if I couldn‟t get in, I couldn‟t be blamed for not covering it. Lomax didn‟t need to hear how readily I took no for an answer. I’d almost made it out of the courtyard when I heard high heels clicking behind me and a woman’s voice calling my name. I quickened my pace. I was asking a valet where I could find my car when the high heels clattered to a stop beside me and their owner, a tiny middle-aged woman who’d had one facelift too many, took me by the arm.

“I am so sorry for the confusion, Mr. Mulligan. Your Mr. Lomax called to say you would be taking Miss Shaw’s place, and I neglected to amend the guest list.”

“And you are?”

 “Hillary Proctor, but you can call me ‘Hill.’ I’m the publicity director for the Derby, and I am honored that you are joining us this evening. I do hope my lapse hasn’t caused you any embarrassment.”

Aw, crap.

“Look, Hill,” I said as she escorted me past the shrugging penguin and into the mansion’s antechamber, “I’m supposed to write about the important people who are here and describe what they are wearing, but I can’t tell the difference between a Vanderbilt draped in a Paris original and a trailer park queen dressed by J.C. Penney.”

 “Of course you can’t. You’re the young man who writes about mobsters and crooked politicians. I love your work, darling.

“So you’re the one,” I said.

 “Oh, I do love a man with a sense of humor. How would you like to be my escort for the evening? I’ll whisper the names of the worthies and what they are wearing in your ear, and the gossips will be all a twitter about the mysterious man on my arm.”

 “That’s a very gracious offer, Hill, but I like to work alone. Do you think y ou could just jot everything down while I wander around and soak up a little color?”

“Certainly,” she said, not looking the least bit disappointed.

I handed her my notebook, strolled across the antechamber, and stepped into a huge dining room with a mosaic pink marble floor and a wall of stained glass windows that bristled with Christian iconography. Men in tuxedos and women in ball gowns were loading china plates with shrimp, roast beef, and several dishes I couldn’t identify, all of it tastefully displayed on a 16-foot-long walnut trestle table.

The room was illuminated by nine crystal chandeliers. The grand dame who owned the house liked to boast that the largest of them had once graced the parlor of an 18th century Russian count. The hunky plumber she had impetuously married and then divorced tattled that it had actually been scavenged from a dilapidated movie house in Worcester, Mass. I made a mental note to include that tidbit of Newport lore in my story.

 The Dispatch’s ethics policy prohibited reporters from accepting freebies, but the roast beef looked too good to pass up. I scarfed some down and then followed the sound of music up a winding oak staircase to the second floor. There, four chandeliers blazed from a vaulted cream-colored ceiling that arched 30 feet above a parquet ballroom floor. A fireplace, its limestone and marble chimneypiece carved to resemble a French chateau, commanded one end of the room. The hearth was big enough to roast a stegosaurus or cremate New England Patriots’ offensive line. At the other end of the room, a band I wasn’t hip enough to recognize played hip-hop music I wasn’t tone-deaf enough to like.

I snatched a flute of champagne from a circulating waiter and circumnavigated the dance floor, spotting the mayors of Newport, Providence, New Haven, and Boston; the governors of Rhode Island, Connecticut, Vermont, Kentucky, and New Jersey; one of Rhode Island‟s U.S. senators; both of its congressmen; three bank presidents; four Brown University deans; twelve captains of industry; two Kennedys; a Bush; and a herd of athletic-looking young women.

I found a spot against the wall between a couple of suits of armor and watched the mayor of Boston try to dance the Soulja Boy with a teenage girl whose last name might have been DuPont or Firestone. When a waiter glided by, I nabbed another flute, but it just made me thirsty for a Killian’s at the White Horse Tavern. After observing the festivities for a half-hour, I figured I’d seen enough.

I was looking for Hill so I could retrieve my notebook when I spotted Salvatore Maniella. He was leaning against a corner of the huge chimneypiece, as out of place as Mel Gibson at a Seder. What was a creep like him doing at a swanky event like this? I was still lurking a few minutes later when our governor strolled up and tapped him on the shoulder. They crossed the ballroom together and slipped into a room behind the bandstand. I gave them 20 seconds and then followed.

Through the half-open door I could make out red flock wallpaper, a G clef design in gold-leaf on the ceiling, and a grand piano—the mansion’s music room, which the current owner had proudly restored to its original garishness. Maniella and the governor had the room to themselves, but they stood close, whispering conspiratorially in one another’s ears. After a moment, they grinned and shook hands.

I slipped away as they turned toward the door.

To learn more about Bruce and his writing, check his website and his blog.

Profile: Jochem Vandersteen

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Today, the spotlight is on Jochem Vandersteen, creator of the Sons of Spade review blog, founder of the Hardboiled Collective, and author of the Noah Milano and Mike Dalmas stories. His first full-length novel, a Noah Milano mystery called White Knight Syndrome, is available in print and e-books. You can find his novel, novelettes, and short stories here.

He’s an aficionado of crime fiction in general, but his first love is private detective fiction. Jochem has a broad definition of the genre, which he divides into “official” and “unofficial” PIs. The “unofficial” PI may come disguised as a reporter, vigilante, or other lone hero, but the spirit of independence and justice make them all brothers (and sisters) under the skin. In 2007, Jochem created the Sons of Spade site to spotlight the fictional PI. He’s been reviewing and promoting private eye fiction ever since.

Here’s what he has to say about hardboiled detective fiction: “To me, one of the main attractions to hardboiled fiction to me is the writing style. Sure, I love the tough guys walking around and the plots involving murder, crooks and femme fatales but if there’s one genre that is generally written in a style I enjoy, it’s the hardboiled one.Hardboiled prose is sparse, direct, tough. This style was born from the working class readership of the first pulp magazines like Black Mask and Dime Detective that offered these stories. Also, an important element was the fact the writers of these stories got paid by the word. If they didn’t want the content of their stories butchered by editors they had to tell those stories in as few words as possible . . . Elmore Leonard had as one of his writing rules ‘Leave out the parts people skip.’ Together with [Robert B. Parker, he is a master at this.” Read more of this interview on Murderous Musings.

Speaking of hardboiled fiction, another of Jochem’s brain children is the Hardboiled Collective, a group of hardboiled authors who like and respect each others’ work in the detective genre and are working to spread the word.

Jochem says he’s been writing all his life and writing hardboiled stories for more than a decade. His primary influences include classic writers like Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler as well as more modern authors like Harlan Coben and Robert B. Parker. He’s also a fan of alternative rock and comic books, which manifests in the number of pop culture references that find their way into his stories.

He currently has two series going. The first features Noah Milano. Here’s how he describes Noah: “Noah Milano is a Los Angeles private eye/security specialist with more than a few ‘family’ problems. Because, in his case, his family is ‘the family.’ He’s the estranged son of a mobster which creates a big deal of tension and more than a few problems.  Fiercely independent, and determined to sever all ties with his past, Noah has to adjust from being a spoiled mobster son to being an independent operator with little money. Fortunately he’s learned a great deal about security from his years as his dad’s personal bodyguard. Perhaps in penance, he now uses these skills to earn an honest (well, relatively) living.”

His second series features Mike Dalmas. Here’s what Jochem has to say about Mike: “Husband, father, vigilante… Mike Dalmas left Special Forces to become a dedicated family man, but when his daughter gets molested he had his revenge, killing the pervert who committed the crime. Now the Bay City cops keep him out of jail if he takes care of their dirty work. The things their badges won’t allow them to do but for which Dalmas has the right skill set.”

Milano and Dalmas are both intriguing, complex characters. The stories are dark and sometimes brutal, but always with an eye toward justice. If you like hardboiled detective fiction, give Jochem’s work a chance, and be sure to visit both the Sons of Spade and the Hardboiled Collective blogs.

Want to read more about Jochem? Check out the following interviews and reviews:

Timothy Hallinan’s Blog Cabin

Dancing with Myself
Pulp Pusher
Michael Haskins Chasin’ the Wind Blog

Jochem encourages anyone who would like to, to contact him at

The Next Big Thing Blog Hop

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Welcome to this blog hop. What is a blog hop? It’s a virtual event that helps readers discover new authors. The first author tags five others whose work he or she admires, who each tag five more, who each tag five more, and so on. If you’re reading this, then, much to our collective relief, the world did not end on December 21st, which leaves you another millennia or so of reading pleasure. Why not start with the authors listed below?

Before we get to the questions, I’d like to thank Eyre Price for inviting me to participate. Eyre’s debut novel, Blues Highway Blues, surely deserves to be the Next Big Thing. If you haven’t read it, you’re missing a rare treat—a unique blend of humor, psychological horror, redemption, damnation, and music history, served up with a touch of the supernatural and some of the most lyrical prose you’ll find anywhere. You can learn more about Eyre and his writing here:

In this particular hop, the five authors I’ve chosen and I will each answer, on our respective blogs, the same 10 (predetermined) questions ranging from our current works in progress to our writing processes and beyond.  I hope you’ll enjoy learning about our work. Please feel free to share comments and questions. I’d love to hear from you. I’ll even answer back.

Now, here is my Next Big Thing!

1: What is the title of your book?

My most recent book is A Cup Full of Midnight, the second book in the Jared McKean private detective series. I’m currently working on the third book in the series.

2: Where did the idea come from for the book?

A Cup Full of Midnight was inspired by a spate of “vampire” murders that took place several years ago, one in Florida, one at a rest stop in Greenville, Tennessee, and one in northern Kentucky. A vague idea for a story based on a similar group of vampire wannabes was rattling around in the back of my mind for a few years, but it didn’t fully materialize until the first Jared McKean novel, when a subplot involving Jared’s nephew suddenly gave me the opportunity to bring in this dangerous fringe group. When I read a Wayne Dyer quote comparing God to a vast ocean of light you could dip an infinite amount from without diminishing the light, I got an image of the leader of this fringe group dipping a chalice into an ocean of darkness. That’s when the plot suddenly came together.

3: What genre does your book come under?

They’re character-driven private detective mysteries with an edge of thriller.

4: Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

I have a picture of Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, who starred in a series called New Amsterdam, on my desktop because he looks so much like I envisioned Jared.

Nikolaj sweet smile

I also wouldn’t turn down Thor actor Chris Hemsworth (though Jared is a little blonder) or Captain America, Chris Evans. None of them are exactly right, because I see Jared as his own person, but any of these guys would be the right type.

For Jared’s ex-wife, Maria, maybe a Julia Ormond type.

For his housemate/landlord/best friend, a Bill Brochtrup type.

For his brother, Randall, maybe Grant Show.

5: What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

When the nephew of Nashville private detective Jared McKean is accused of the ritual murder of a man who called himself The Vampire Prince of Nashville, Jared must unravel the  victim’s web of manipulation and deceit to save the boy he loves like a son, first from suspicion and then from a killer whose ruthlessness is matched only by his determination.

6: Is your book self-published, published by an independent publisher, or represented by an agency?

The first two Jared McKean books are published with The Permanent Press. The German editions are with Rowohlt, and the audio books are put out by Blackstone Audio. I”m represented by the fabulous Jill Marr of the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency.

7: How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

About two months. But the revisions for the first two books each took years, because I have to work around my day job. I’m hoping the process will get faster over time.

8: What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

People who like Robert B. Parker, Jonathan Kellerman, Robert Crais, Steven Womack, and Dennis Lehane (his Kenzie and Gennaro detective novels) would probably enjoy mine.

9: Who or what inspired you to write this book?

There have been so many people who have inspired me to write. My husband, my mother, my grandmother, my great-aunts, my cousin Travis Baldwin, and all the authors whose works helped shaped me as both a person and a writer. I talked about the inspiration for A Cup Full of Midnight a little while ago; it was an image and a situation that inspired that book, although the year I spent teaching teenagers with learning disabilities was also an influence. The third book, the one I’m writing now, was inspired by a book I read on human trafficking. It’s called A Crime so Monstrous, by Benjamin Skinner.

10: What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Jared carries the books. On the surface, he’s a simple man, but he has all these layers. He’s 36, and his life is in flux. He has a son with Down syndrome, a best friend with AIDS, an ex-wife he can’t seem to fall out of love with, and a loving yet unsettled relationship with his older brother, Randall. He has an elderly Akita and a horse almost as old as he is. He’s hanging out his shingle as a private investigator after an unjust dismissal from the police force. He’s the guy who will help you move your furniture two years after you dump him, but he’s also the guy who, if you’ve been kidnapped by human traffickers, won’t rest until he’s hunted down the bad guys and brought you back. He’s a typical tough-guy detective, a little bit impulsive, a little bit of an adrenaline junkie. Then you see him tucking in his son and pouring orange juice for his housemate’s dying ex-lover. I call him a hardboiled hero with a soft-boiled heart.

Below you will find (in alphabetical order) five authors who will be joining me by blog, next Wednesday. I’ve included a bit about what the experts are saying about their work. Do be sure to bookmark and add them to your calendars for updates on WIPs and New Releases! Happy Writing and Reading!

  1. Glen Allison – Glen writes the New Orleans-based Al Forte series about  a tortured hero, a former Navy Seal who seeks redemption by rescuing stolen children. The Clarion Ledger says, “Allison writes about the Big Easy form a Julie Smith perspective, not a watered-down touristy viewpoint. His inviting prose puts you right on a French Quarter balcony with a black cat named Boo and its well-worn owner, Al Forte.Wow! This guy’s got depth, scars and charisma. A cross between Jim Burke’s Dave Robicheaux, Lee Child’s Jack Reacher and Randy Wayne White’s Doc Ford.”
  2. Chester Campbell – Chester is the author of two series, one featuring sleuthing couple Greg and Jill McKenzie and one featuring harder-boiled Sid Chance. He’s also written two cold-war thrillers that will keep you on the edge of your seat. Anne K. Edwards of New Mystery Review says, “”Campbell weaves a complicated tale of purpose and cross purpose as the interesting cast of characters show us their motives for doing what they do. . . Recommended as a fun read, lots of action, a well written tale to hold your attention.  You’ll be wanting to read other stories by this imaginative author.  Enjoy.  I did.”
  3. J.T. Ellison – New York Times bestselling author J.T. Ellison is the author of the top-notch Taylor Jackson thrillers and of a new series featuring medical examiner Samantha Owens. Pubishers Weekly called her latest book “Breathtaking,” and it was a Top Pick in Romantic Times.
  4. Michael Haskins -  Michael’s Key West mysteries feature journalist Liam “Mad Mick” Murphy. Crimespree Magazine says, “Haskin’s writing is tight and lean; his plots riveting, full of action and suspense and packed with fascinating subplots that work their way through the story and end as either surprising twists or tantalizing teasers for future books. His characters are vivid and seem to reach from the pages.”
  5. Chris Knopf. His blog is here. Chris is the author of a series featuring sailor Sam Acquillo and another featuring attorney Jackie Swaitkowski. His latest novel, a standalone thriller called Dead Anyway, was named a Best of 2012 novel by Publisher’s Weekly, who called it a “taut, streamlined tale of a man investigating his own murder.”


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Welcome to A Killer Conversation, where I hope you’ll meet some new authors and find some new books to love. I’ll also post useful or informative links and the occasional post on a real-life criminal case or law enforcement issue. Look for some round table discussions from the Hardboiled Collective, organized by Sons of Spade creator Jochem Van der Steen, as well as other interviews, discussions, profiles, and reviews. In short, a hodgepodge of topics related to crime and crime fiction.

Next week (Wednesday, December 29), I’ll post my contribution to the Next Big Thing Blog Hop, which friend and fellow author Eyre Price was kind enough to tag me for. More on Eyre’s book next week. After that, we’re off and running. Please feel free to share your questions and comments. I’d love to hear from you.