Sunday, December 03, 2017

Cozy Writer Kathy Krevat Chats about Sweet Treats, Ocean Views and Communities of Strong Women

First things first: you write about chocolate in your Chocolate Covered Mystery series, so you are the expert: what’s the best      chocolate treat in the world?

Dallmann Fine Chocolates – their Fleur de sel Caramels. They’re an amazing combination of sweet and salty chocolate goodness. I use them in the Chocolate Covered Mystery books – my main character, Michelle Serrano, gives away bite size pieces as a “gateway drug” to get customers in the store.

Speaking of best in the world, you wrote on your blog that you live near one of the most beautiful places in the world, The Torrey Pines State Park. Tell us about it!

Torrey Pines State Park is a gorgeous place with winding trails through the bluffs filled with Torrey Pine trees (imagine that!) where every time you go around a corner, you see a beautiful view of the Pacific Ocean. The park backs up onto the Torrey Pines Golf Course – home of many golf tournaments – that you’ve probably seen on TV.

I often walk when I’m trying to solve a problem in my book, and somehow walking on the beach – the sound of waves or the sea air – usually does the trick.

What made you decide to write mysteries?

I started writing mysteries when I read Janet Evanovich’s One for the Money and discovered that murder mysteries could be hilarious! I’d worked in public relations and marketing and assumed that because I read a lot and knew how to write ad copy, that I’d automatically know how to write a novel. Hah! I floundered for quite a while until I joined writing organizations like Sisters in Crime and Romance Writers of America.

What I love about writing mysteries is what people like about reading them – figuring out the clues, getting to know characters, learning something new, and seeing that justice is done.

I was delighted to finally meet Janet Evanovich last year. I let her know that she inspired me to write and that I have two series because of it.

 Who are your mystery heroes?

I’m assuming you mean authors and that’s easy. Terrie Moran, author of the Read ‘Em and Eat mystery series has been a wonderful friend and mentor. Jenn McKinlay, Kate Carlisle and Daryl Wood Gerber have answered tons of questions from me about the publishing industry. Harley Jane Kozak was very inspirational to me as well.

The writing industry is pretty unique in the level of support, knowledge and training most published authors offer new writers.

If you could choose a “personal trainer” in the publishing world, who would it be?

 Anyone? J.K. Rowling. She’s a master author and plotter. Hard working and committed to both her writing and to worthy causes. I admire her a great deal.

 Why did you choose to write a series about chocolate (not that I’m complaining)?

Chocolate is something that most people like! Also, I wanted to write cozies, but I’m not very crafty and I don’t cook. However, I can make chocolate. Isabella Knack, owner of Dallmann’s Fine Chocolates, provides the recipes in the books. The truffles I make are not the works of art she creates, but even my ugly lumps of chocolate are delicious. 

It’s also fun to describe chocolate – a lot of readers recommend having chocolate nearby when reading the books.  Chocolate has a long and rich history -- I use the history of chocolate by the Mayan people  in Truffled to Death.

Your website says you are obsessed with the Broadway Idiot documentary. What is that?

 It shows how the Broadway musical American Idiot was made with the initial approval and then enthusiastic input of Billy Joe Armstrong from Green Day. Watching it makes me want to write a musical. (Which would be impossible since I don’t play an instrument. Or write music. Or read music.) The documentary shows the sense of community and collaboration it takes to create theater, and I really admire that.

What books are now on your nightstand?

I just finished writing the second book in the series – The Trouble With Truth – so the To Be Read pile is even larger than normal. Being under deadline doesn’t stop me from buying books, just reading them. Kate Carlisle’s Eaves of Destruction and Jenn McKinlay’s Death in the Stacks are on the top of the pile.

I help to coordinate a writing conference for high school students which is my excuse for reading a lot of young adult books. I’m currently reading John Green’s Turtles All the Way Down at the same time as Maggie Stiefvater’s All the Crooked Saints. And there are about twenty more in the pile.

You live in San Diego; what’s the best thing about this place? Do you think you’ll live there forever?

The best thing about San Diego really is the weather. My husband and I walk most mornings, and we can do that at least 335 days of the year. (I might even be underestimating that number.) I love walking on the beach – it’s always changing. One of the surprising things about San Diego is the amazing theater community we have. Lots of Broadway shows get their start here and there’s so much quality work being done.

I’m not sure if we’ll live here forever, but even if we move somewhere else for a while, I’m sure we’ll come back.

You’ve lived on both the east and west coast. Which has made a bigger impact on your personality?

Since I’ve been in California longer, I’d have to say the west coast. But I also think that my personality and my views on life have always fit in here.  

What would you like readers to know about your books, and where can they find out more?

Both of my series feature strong women who run their own businesses and solve mysteries on the side. In The Trouble With Murder, single mom Colbie Summers is struggling to grow her Meowio Batali Gourmet Cat Food when she discovers the dead body of her friend and fellow entrepreneur.

In the Chocolate Covered Mystery series, chocolatier Michelle Serrano and book store manager Erica Russell manage their store – Chocolates and Chapters – while they solve mysteries in the small town of West Riverdale, Maryland.

Check out my website at or follow me on Twitter or Facebook.

Kathy Krevat is the author of the GOURMET CAT MYSTERY series featuring cat food chef Colbie Summers and her demanding cat Trouble, the culinary muse behind her recipes. Kathy also writes the bestselling CHOCOLATE COVERED MYSTERY series under the pen name, Kathy Aarons.

Kathy lives in San Diego with her husband of twenty-five years in the perfect location – close to Philz Coffee and the beach, and within visiting distance of her two grown daughters. When she’s not writing, she’s an advocate for youth arts education and president of Partners in Crime, the San Diego Chapter of Sisters in Crime. 

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Why I Can't Watch Horror Movies

Raquel Welch in THE LAST OF SHEILA. (Dusty Video Box)
My husband and sons love horror movies, and they plan to watch a whole bunch of them this month in anticipation of Halloween.

I will, as always, be in another room, reading or surfing the Net or watching a video more appropriate for me. I love wholesome oldies like The Sound of Music and That Darn Cat.  :)

To prove my low threshold for horror, I can share the movie that truly horrified me as a child: a campy 1973 production called THE LAST OF SHEILA. It starred James Coburn, Raquel Welch, Ian McShane, Dyan Cannon, James Mason, and Richard Benjamin. Truly an all-star cast for a cross between an Agatha Christie novel and a horror story.

In 1973 I was nine years old; I remember that my mom used to watch the afternoon movie (after she had spent the morning doing chores) and I would hang around watching it with her. She watched this one, and several of the scenes just scared the life out of me, particularly one gruesome one that took place in an old monastery. I had nightmares about it.

Decades later, I confided this in my horror-loving husband, who was eager to watch the movie for its horror elements. He watched it, laughing through most of it, and when we reached the scene that had made such a drastic impression on my young mind, he turned to me with a blank face. "That's it? That's not scary."

It was a little scary, but no, it wasn't the way I remembered it.

So I made it through a second showing of the movie, able as an adult to appreciate some of its finer points.

But it was a great reminder that people should not expose children to potentially frightening images until they are ready to handle them (as little Julia's experience demonstrates).

By the way, if you want to know more about TLOS, here's a blog that reviews it.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Weathering the Storm

I am amazed by the strength, courage and resilience of my friends in Florida in the wake of Irma. Many of them, for varying reasons, have stayed in their homes, ready to wait out the hurricane. They are already enduring a loss of electricity, empty stores, a lack of resources like gasoline, and an unrelenting forecast.

Yet they are finding ways to be positive, and this is inspiring. One of my friends just wrote that she has total peace of mind.
I can't claim that, and I don't have a hurricane barreling toward me!

Thank you to all of you for teaching me a lesson in courage, and I wish healthy and safety to you and your families.

(Art by my son Graham).

Saturday, September 02, 2017

How Long Before the Next Novel? Jess Lourey and Shannon Baker on Creativity, Bad Breakups, and the Restorative Power of Writing

Jess Lourey at a recent book signing.
A conversation with Jess and Shannon:

She was your everything. You woke up with her on your brain, scribbled notes to her throughout the day, fell asleep wondering how to make her happy. And now, after she consumed your life for an entire year, drove you crazy, and fulfilled you on levels you hadn’t known were possible, she’s left you. Just like that, she’s moved on to someone else.

Actually, if you’re lucky, she’s moved on to thousands of someone else's.

I’m talking books and readers, of course, and that day when your sweat and tears moves from your brain and computer to to bookshelves and e-readers all over the country. So, how long until you move on, too? When is it okay to start writing that next novel?

Today, the lovely Shannon Baker and I would like to share our experience on that front. Shannon and I have written over 20 books between us, and we’re on our second national blog tour, Double-booked Round Two. Shannon is promoting Dark Signal, the second in the fabulous Kate Fox series, and I’m shilling for March of Crime, the 11th (gasp!) in my Murder-by-Month mysteries. Pull up a chair, dip into your favorite ice cream flavor, and relax while Shannon and I share our book break-up, moving on stories.

Shannon Baker, you amazing soul, how are you?

Shannon Baker
Shannon: I’m stoked (does that term make me sound old?... or fat?) because I’m plotting a new series. To pick up on your analogy, it’s like the first blush of a romance. We’re flirting and kissing, I can barely think about anything else, and I’m waking up at night with a flutter in my heart.

Jessie: That’s fabulous. Also, “stoked” makes you sound “stoned,” so I’m cool with it. So, I’ve been churning out two books a year since May Day released in 2006. How about you?

Shannon: Slut. And I mean that in the best way possible! I mean, look at all the fun you’ve been having, while I stayed true to a novel that I should have left years earlier. I worked on that one book for over 10 years, finally had it published in 2010 with a nano-press, and then—only then—moved on. Since 2013, I’ve published one book a year, though I’ve had affairs with short stories and experimented with other unmentionable genres.

Jessie: Sweet naughtiness, that’s a lot of book break-ups. How long do you wait after sending one book off to your publisher before you start writing your second book or short story? Or do they overlap?

Shannon: I am at a writer’s retreat right now with a friend who is working on three books simultaneously. Unfathomably, she seems pretty normal. I don’t work on more than one book at a time. So it’s unusual for me to have an idea for a new series while I’m working on line edits from my editor for an ongoing series, AND, last week finished revisions on another book. 

I’m afraid of waiting too long to jump into another book because for me, writing is like exercise. If I let it go too long, it’s painful to get back into shape. It’s a habit and I don’t want to disrupt the routine I’ve established.

Jess's latest Murder-by-the-Month novel
Jessie: Makes sense. When I finished May Day back in 2003, I immediately began to shop it around. It hadn’t occurred to me to start another book until about rejection 376 (I received a total of 423), when an agent told me she liked what I was doing but couldn’t sell it unless it was a series. I began writing June Bug. That agent didn’t sign me, but someone else did. In a perfect world, I’d still have that kind of time (and blissful ignorance about the industry), enough so that I could dedicate complete brain time to one project. 

Now, with multiple series plus my author marketing commitments, I usually give myself 7 days after finishing one book to celebrate, make poor food choices, and relax before I start writing a new novel. Any less than that and I don’t feel like I’m honoring the work and energy I put into the manuscript. Any more than that and I start to go a little crazy. I need creative writing.

Shannon, do you carry around a notebook or something else to keep track of those random, buzzing story ideas for a future project that pop into your brain when you’re working on a current project?

Shannon: Gaa! I hate that I don’t a) carry around a notebook for ideas, and b) have so many ideas I need to. Maybe if carried a notebook I’d have ideas to write in it. But, maybe I’m turning over a new leaf, because as I write this, I remember being at a fun event last weekend and suddenly thinking how great it would be for a mystery series. *runs off to get that cool journal someone gave me*

Jessie: Yes! Write it down. I text myself notes and then transcribe them all at the end of the week. I also try to keep track of any writing hacks that I learn as I go, so I can remember to use them in the future but also so I can share them with others. A lot of those made it into my how-to book, Rewrite Your Life. (Yes, that was a shameless plug.) (Editor: View Jess's whole TED-x talk below).

Since today we’re talking about book break-ups, and specifically that moment when you move from writing one book to the next, it’s only fitting that we end by sharing our real-life break-up remedies. Back in the day when I was dumped by or did the dumping of boyfriends, my go-to was Ben & Jerry’s Chunky Monkey ice cream and red wine out of a box. Those huge shards of dark chocolate from the ice cream would get stuck in my back teeth, and when the red wine would rush over them, it’d create an explosion of rich, bitter deliciousness. Who needs boys when you can make that sort of fun yourself? Shannon, what was your break-up go-to?

Shannon: It took me over a decade, but I got the best break-up remedy possible. My husband of 20 years had a long-lasting affair in our town of 300 people and I left him to start a new life. Took me a while to get my sense of humor back about the whole thing and my appreciation of the place, but when I did, I got a whole mystery series out of it, starting with Stripped Bare and now Dark Signal. They say living well is the best revenge, but I have to say, writing is pretty sweet, too!

Please join Shannon and Jessie as they continue their blog tour. They will each be giving away three books this tour, and every comment you leave at a blog stop gets you once chance to win.

Jess Lourey (rhymes with "dowry") is best known for her critically-acclaimed Murder-by-Month mysteries, which have earned multiple starred reviews from Library Journal and Booklist, the latter calling her writing "a splendid mix of humor and suspense." She is a tenured professor of creative writing and sociology, a regular Psychology Today blogger, a sought-after workshop leader and keynote speaker who delivered the 2016 "Rewrite Your Life" TEDx Talk (below) and a leader of transformative writer's retreats.

Shannon Baker is the author of the Kate Fox mystery series (Tor/Forge). Set in the isolated cattle country of the Nebraska Sandhills, the series has earned great reviews. Kirkus says, “Baker serves up a ballsy heroine, a colorful backdrop, and a surprising ending.” She also writes the Nora Abbott mystery series (Midnight Ink), featuring Hopi Indian mysticism and environmental issues. Shannon makes her home in Tucson where she enjoys cocktails by the pool, breathtaking sunsets, a crazy Weimaraner, and killing people (in the pages of her books). She was voted Rocky Mountain Fiction Writer’s 2014 Writer of the Year. Visit Shannon at

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Feast on This

The final book in the Lilah Drake Undercover Dish mystery series hit shelves on September 5th. Have you pre-ordered your copy today?

Click here for the Amazon link.

Happy Eclipse!!

Monday, July 03, 2017

My First Foreign Cover

I am excited to unveil the cover of The Big Chili from my Japanese Publisher. The book is now available on the website, and I am thrilled with the whimsical artwork!

If you look closely you will see that the artist used not lines, but tiny dots, to create Lilah, Mick and all the dishes.

If you're a reader in Japan, look for it on bookshelves!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

The Nuances of Genre

I currently have two cozy mystery series on store shelves. They have both been generally well received, but some readers have expressed dismay that one series (which begins with the book A Dark and Stormy Murder) is not a traditional cozy. The book and its sequel, therefore, disappointed them.

This is fair; the traditional Classical mystery which eventually birthed the "cozy" genre does have certain distinctive features. Because writers are creative and like to put their own spin on things, however, there are diverse definitions of cozy these days, and genres have formed within genres as authors seek new territory and topics that haven't been mined by others.

These books in the Writer's Apprentice series have many cozy elements; small town, "cozy" relationships between characters, an isolated setting, picturesque scenery, a romantic entanglement, cute animals, and a "cozy" occupation for the main characters (writing).

In addition to being cozy, though, the books were meant to be an homage to the great romantic suspense novelists of the mid-twentieth century, particularly Mary Stewart, Phyllis A. Whitney, and Victoria Holt. Elements of the Gothic have been woven in as a part of this tribute, and so some people were disappointed to find that the books felt more like romantic suspense than like cozy mysteries. Other readers never noticed any deviation from the cozies they've read in the past; I think it all depends upon the reader's focus and criteria.

In any case, writers can only write their vision and hope that people enjoy the story that emerges. There will be at least one more Writer's Apprentice novel, and it will continue the romantic suspense tribute-based style (the final book is dedicated to Victoria Holt). The next book, a culmination of the story that has been building over two novels, will be titled A Dark and Twisting Path.

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Transitioning into Summer

Last Sunday my husband and I attended our final high school graduation. We listened, in blistering heat, as almost 900 names were read and the young people, dressed in black suits and white dresses, approached the dais for their diplomas. It was bittersweet, as these events always are.

Sweet because my son and his classmates worked hard to get to this day, and they were proud.

Sweet because it's wonderful for my son to contemplate the wide open future and the limitless possibilities for his life.

Sweet for his parents because we succeeded in guiding him to this milestone and helping to form him into the nice, funny, smart person he is today.

Bitter because I will never drive him to school in the morning again, chattering with him about silly things and discovering new pieces with him on the Classical music station.

Bitter because two of the students who should have received diplomas with my son did not live to see their graduations; their parents were there to accept their diplomas for them. How brave of these parents to come to this event in the midst of their grief, and how humbling to the rest of us and our inconsequential problems to see this reality of life: that nothing is guaranteed to us, not even those we love.

This summer will be a transitional one for our family. My eldest son will visit Europe for the first time (the first in our family to do so!), and when he returns he will be looking for a job and an apartment. My younger son will be working to claim the space his brother leaves behind and to gear up for his college career. And my husband and I, like zillions of parents before us, will have to get used to a house that is quiet far more often, and a life that is so, as well.

This, too, will be bittersweet. But just as the future is limitless for those graduates, it is limitless for all of us. 

We just have to ride those waves of transition and find the peaceful waters we can enjoy.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Two Wonderful Reads

Thanks to Soho Press and Skyhorse Publishing, I enjoyed two wonderful spring reads.

The first, WHAT MY BODY REMEMBERS (Soho Press), by Danish mystery author Agnete Friis, is a chilling and atmospheric suspense novel about a twenty-seven-year-old woman who is unmarried, unemployed, and suppressing a major trauma that is making it hard for her to function in her everyday life and putting her in grave danger of losing her son.

The main character, Ella, witnessed the murder of her mother when she was seven years old, but remembers nothing about the incident. Instead, her body does, and she suffers seizures whenever something reminds her of the night she lost everything--her mother to death, and her father to jail, for killing her mother.

Author Agnete Friis takes readers on a fairly predictable ride into Ella's past, but the book is compelling because of Friis' gift for description and characterization. Ella is prickly and vulnerable, and the ghosts of a twenty-year-old crime loom over her throughout the story, ready to emerge at any moment.

The book also raises some interesting questions about the nature of poverty, welfare, trauma, and essential humanity. Ella cannot hold a job, and she is judged harshly by a world that did little for her when she was broken by a terrible event.

While the novel holds few surprises in terms of the plot, it is stylish, compelling and hard to put down!
A totally different reading experience was Julian Lennon's beautiful TOUCH THE EARTH (Skyhorse Publishing). This book seeks an audience of very young readers who have the potential to save the earth by learning of our inextricable relationship to the environment.

I always loved BLUE'S CLUES because of the way it allowed young viewers to feel that they were taking an active role in the adventure. Lennon does the same here (along with his co-writer, Bart Davis) by letting young readers sit inside the White Feather Flier and take control of the instrument panel. He teaches them the four directions, and the way to use a compass. And then he lets them fly up and down, all over the earth, learning about the importance of water all over the earth--for people, animals, and the maintenance of all life on earth.

The book, in a simple and entertaining format, with beautiful illustrations by Smiljana Coh, includes young people in the important questions that face humanity. It encourages them to see that clean water is crucial to life, and that we can do things to help make the world a better and more ethical place.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Amateur Scientist Gordon Holmes on Scotland's Loch Ness, The Legendary Monster, and The Scientific Unknown

Back in 2007, I wrote this blog post about the Loch Ness Monster, in which I referenced Gordon Holmes, the man who took footage of a mysterious creature in the Loch. Recently I had the pleasure of chatting with Gordon, who provided many insights into the world's fascination with both the Loch and its reputed "monster."  Here's our interview--all photos supplied by Gordon Holmes.

 Are you a scientist by profession?

For twenty-two years I worked my way up from a Machine Tool Craftsman to a Design Engineer.

Then, when manufacturing went duff, I worked at Bradford University, Yorkshire, as an IT/Media Technician for another 22 years. Now I've retired early, so I have much more freedom.  

What got you interested in searching for Nessie?

Like most people, I have always been interested in the scientific unknown. So in 2003, I decided to finally  investigate the so-called Loch Ness Monster phenomena.  During the next four years, I visited the Loch on six occasions, armed with 7 X 50 Binoculars and Video Camera. However, there was no sign of Nessie.

Do you live near Loch Ness?

I live in a Yorkshire town called Shipley. Which is about 350 miles South of Loch Ness in England via roads and motorways. Journey time is about 10 hours, having several stops on route.

 You seem to have invented a great deal of sophisticated equipment. Do you have patents on your inventions? Do you work with a team, or alone?

No, I cannot patent anything on the equipment side since, I basically am utilising several units into a complete assembly. Anyone can do this, it just needs a bit of imagination and some technical know-how in mechanics, dynamics, electronics and, say, instrumentation. I have been fortunate to have experience in these topics during my career and hobbies. Most people could achieve all this; the main challenge is overcoming the fear to attempt it in the first place. Belief in the force, Luke or Lucy!

On the day that you got your famous footage, were you taken by surprise? Or were you expecting to find something?

On Saturday 26th May 2007 at about 9 PM (British Summer Time) I began to have doubts about my past 4 years and approx 160 hours attempting to observe the Loch Ness Monster, but with no luck. I had virtually decided not to investigate it in future. Although, one hour earlier I observed a good omen, a rainbow across the Loch. Then, whilst I was sat in the car, 70 foot above the loch (parked in a small parking area), around
 9: 30 PM, I noticed something moving tangentially across my line of sight about 150 yards away. I grabbed the camcorder and dashed next to the edge of the parking area. 

It took me about 20 seconds before I caught in through the camcorder viewfinder. For the next 2 minutes, I recorded, panned and zoomed in and out on the moving object. It seemed to be moving about 6mph. During this time, I also looked at it with just my eyesight. It was jet black but, appeared to be a couple of feet above the loch level with the water flowing over it. It was very aerodynamically shaped, like a Dolphin or a Big eel's head. Finally, it went out of visible range. When I stopped filming, I started shaking, for I knew this was going to be a massive sighting. A year later, Scottish TV told me their webpage showing my sighting, had about 1.8 million hits in the first 2 weeks!

DId you read about the Loch Ness Monster as a child?

 I was aware of the Loch Ness mystery from about the age of 10 years (1962) when my Mother bought me a small glass-like Nessie (actually, it was probably meant to be a stylish swan). My oldest Brother took me camping in Scotland during the early days of Skylab. For I remember seeing a large solar flare flowing off the low down, hazy sun. We had stopped near the shores of Loch Ness when it happened. (Note: Gordon warns that people should not look directly at the sun.  :) )

Why do you think the legend of the Loch Ness monster is so enduring?

When you observe tourists standing next to the Loch, they are praying to see Nessie. Whether they are from the US, Canada, Japan or Europe, they all are desperate for a Sighting. They want to believe, but should Nessie move quickly towards them, everyone would scream and quickly vanish, not surprisingly. 

Do we really want mysteries like this to be solved? Or is the joy in the quest?

As you say, it is the quest to solve the mystery that brings out our efforts. If we then solve it, the challenge has dissipated. I suppose if we knew all the Universe's biggest mysteries, then what would we search for? Fear not, though, is it likely we Humans will solve everything? Very unlikely, since we will probably be extinct long before then.

You've been to Loch Ness many times, but to most of us in America it's just the name of a famous body of water. What is the most striking thing about Loch Ness?

Since 2003, I believe I have had seventeen visits to investigate the Loch and Nessie. One year I visited four times. Usually, it is for a one week duration.

Loch Ness has many different aspects/treasures to it. One of the major influences is the weather. 

A foggy, murky loch has a mystical, frightening feel to it.

A bright, sunny loch would be wondrous and delightful.

Four days of continuous rain at Loch Ness would obviously be depressing.

Your 2007 webpage blog mentioned a romantic legend, which is something I never thought of, Julia. 

A child would be excited, but would also experience a scary-like sense.

To me it's a vast expanse I know well, a sort of friend, a second homecoming. The weather can change within minutes, so its never boring. However, the Real Monster of Loch Ness ia the Midge, a tiny biting fly thing. If the loch is calm and it is about to rain, beware of the Midge - aaarr!

Do you believe in the Loch Ness Monster?

Reports of Monster sightings at Loch Ness go back centuries, even to Saint Columba - 565 AD. For many years the locals would not discuss, if they had a sighting, since, they were very superstitious. However, based on hearsay, they describe a horrible looking Beastie. From the 1930s, there have been many hoaxes, and unfortunately it still happens up to the present day. The Experts agree that my footage was genuine, but they do not agree what it was. There is a TV Programme called, 'River Monster' and the Chap it is based around, catches very large and rare fish all over the world. He proves the local legends are indeed, true. 

Therefore I believe one or more large, scary looking Monsters could exist in Loch Ness over the centuries. Based on my footage, I would guess I filmed two large eels or dolphins (about 8 to 12 foot long), although, I don't believe anyone else has observed Dolphins in the loch before.

Thank you so much for chatting with me, Gordon!

Finally, here's an interview with Gordon on YouTube from the time of his sighting.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

English Thriller Writer Jane Corry Shares Her Thoughts About Serpentine Plots, Sea Views, and Second Marriages

Jane Corry is a writer and journalist and has spent time as the writer in residence of a high-security prison for men—an experience that helped inspire My Husband’s Wife, her debut thriller, published by Pamela Dorman Books. Corry runs regular writing workshops and speaks at literary festivals worldwide, including The Women’s Fiction Festival in Matera, Italy. Until recently, she was a tutor in creative writing at Oxford University.

Jane, thanks for chatting with me!!

Thank you.

      This is a complex story; it spans many years and alternates between two points of view. Every character has secrets.  What gave you the initial idea for the novel

      Three things! Working in a high-security male prison for three years.  Getting married again during that me. And my love of twists. I couldn’t help wondering about the relationship between first and second wives. Everyone assumes they shouldn’t get on. But what if a second wife had to ask the first wife a big favour? And suppose that involved a criminal who might actually be innocent. The book leaps forward fifteen years in the middle. So almost anything could happen….

You’re a journalist as well; what made you want to delve into fiction, specifically the thriller format? 

       I always wanted to be a novelist. I started writing little stories and poems from the age of three. I only became a journalist because I needed to earn my living and journalism seemed the best way because it involved writing. But then I had my own columns and was also bringing up three children – so had to put my original plan on the back burner until now. But it was worth it! 

The title is intriguing; we don’t really get to know its significance until later in the book. Did you go through several titles before you decided on this one, or was this always the one you had in mind? 

      It started out in my head as ‘My Husband’s New Wife’ but then evolved into ‘My Husband’s Wife’. I like contradictions! It makes people think twice….

Your characters are all flawed in one way or another.  Is it easy to guide your creation into making the wrong decision, or are you tempted, as the author, to let them have a different (and potentially more positive) outcome? 

I love flawed characters because it makes them more realistic. We all have flaws. I certainly do. As a reader, I don’t want a perfect character. I believe we are all here on earth to learn lessons and that means making mistakes along the way. Having said that, I do want them to have a positive outcome at the end!

 What sorts of books do you like to read? Which authors are your role models? 

At the moment I’m reading Christobel Kent’s The Loving Husband. I chose it because I met her when we were both speaking on a panel recently. I’m enjoying her style of writing and the riddles. Normally I don’t read psychological thrillers because I like to keep a distance from my own genre. I adore Anne Tyler and also Fay Weldon. I was lucky enough to meet Fay when I interviewed her as a young journalist and we’ve remained friends ever since. 

I’m also a huge fan of Alice Munro. I came across her when my now grown-up daughter was at school. I always used to read my children’s texts so I could test them – preferably in the car where they couldn’t run away!

Several scenes take place in prisons, and you were once the writer-in-residence of a men’s prison. How did this come about? How long did this experience last? What were your most prominent impressions of the experience? 

       I started working as writer in residence in a high-security male prison when my first marriage ended. The original contract was for two days a week for two years but they asked me to stay on for a third year. I was very struck by a number of factors. Although I was scared at first, I lost that fear when I was inside, working with the men and helping them to write life stories, poems, novels and short stories. Words are a great leveller. 

      I was also surprised by the fact that many criminals don’t look like they’ve done something awful. Some could have been a next door neighbor whom I might ask round for dinner. It wasn’t considered polite to ask what their crime was but sometimes they told me. Then I wished they hadn’t. It’s one thing to help a man write a story. But when they’ve confessed that they’ve killed or gang-raped, you can’t help but look at them in a different way. I was also struck by the amount of writing talent in prison. I entered some of my men’s work for competitions and many won prizes. 

      Writing can improve self-confidence and self-worth. It’s been proved that this can reduce the risk of re-offending. I am now a life story judge for the Koestler Awards which give prizes for writing and art to men and women in prison and mental institutions.

You are very good at withholding facts from your reader without them realizing, at the time, that the facts are missing. Is it difficult to plot this way? 

      Often the twists occur to me when I’m writing. Sometimes they come as I do the research (which I often do during the actual writing process). Then I go back and sow the seeds. So to answer your question, it’s complicated rather than difficult. But there’s nothing like that electric thrill when you suddenly think of another twist!

 In which environment can you write most productively?  Do you have any writing rituals?

I need complete peace. I’ve just about trained my new husband not to interrupt me! This is easier now the children are older although I also look after my granddaughter for two days a week.  I write at the top of the house, overlooking the sea. I live in the UK so it’s quite cold although I love to swim for most of the year (in a wet suit!). I also write in the morning after a dog jog along the beach and breakfast with my husband over the crossword. If it’s a grannie day, I’ll  catch up by writing in the evening instead.

That sounds wonderful! I am envious of your sea view. How long did it take you to write MY HUSBAND’S WIFE? 

Three and a half months of writing every day for the first draft. Then another four months for the whole editing process. I’m a journalist. I write fast. It’s what I was trained to do. But after so many years on the keyboard, my handwriting has suffered!

You do not live in the United States. Have you ever visited? 

Absolutely!  I have been to New York four times. Once with my first husband. Then on my own with my youngest son which was a real learning curve as it was my first time alone. We stayed with friends in Connecticut and then went to visit my older children who had summer jobs in upstate New York. 

Then I did a road trip with my second husband and visited Margaret Mitchell’s house in Atlanta – this was on my wishlist as I adore Gone With The Wind. The last trip was a transatlantic crossing on the Queen Mary 2 which my second husband surprised me with! Amazing. I’d love to do it again one day….   

For those of us who might visit England, what is a sight that we absolutely must see before we leave? 

The sea. There’s nothing like it. I’d suggest going round the whole coastline! If you could only go to one place, I’d suggest the Isle of Skye. I went there three years ago with some cousins to visit the Macdonald ‘family castle’ which is now in ruins. I had an uncle who married several times so I have lots of wonderful cousins from a variety of nationalities ranging from Chinese to Canadian.  Most of us have parents who died young, but we are all very close and extremely proud of our heritage. Skye has some amazing scenery and people.

Thank you! I will remember that. How can readers find out more about you and your writing? 
      Through Twitter and my author page. Do check out @janecorryauthor on Twitter
and Jane Corry on Facebook.  Thank you for having me! Meanwhile, I hope you enjoy MY HUSBAND’S WIFE. No one is quite  who they seem!

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Charles Salzberg and Swann Revisited

Back in 2012 I interviewed Charles Salzberg about his latest Swann novel. You can read that interview HERE.

Now I'm happy to report that Charles Salzberg has released a fourth novel in the Swann series called Swann's Way Out. This Shamus-nominated author has taken his protagonist through some difficult situations, and they continue in book four as Swann goes in search of a million missing dollars.

Back in 2012, Salzberg told me why he wrote a mystery:

"I had no intention of writing a mystery series.  When I was starting out I wrote very literary, very character-oriented novels, not strong on plot.  I wanted to see if I could write a plot-oriented book, and the best challenge I could find was to write a mystery or detective novel because those depend very heavily on plot.  I wrote Swann’s Last Song, which I thought of as an anti-detective novel, because in the original version Swann does not solve the case.  But publishers wouldn’t buy that, so I had to rewrite the ending (you can find both endings in the paperback version.) I was amazed when it was nominated for a Shamus Award for Best First PI Novel, and when I lost, I got pissed off and decided to write another.  It turns out, they’re fun to write and I have a lot of leeway now in what I can write about."

Find more at Salzberg's website:

Now, with the new title, Salzberg continues Swann's quest to right wrongs in a nostalgic, Chandler-esque style that incorporates action and humor.