Sunday, February 27, 2011
I stayed up all last night doing some research for this review. I'm a little blurry-eyed but hoping after a few doughnuts and I'll snap out of it. It was a Humphrey Bogart marathon. Today Marja McGraw talks about her writing.
Marja, your main character thinks he is Humphrey Bogart. Does he need to be checked into a facility with rubber walls?
Chris Cross bears a very strong resemblance to Humphrey Bogart, but he doesn’t actually believe that he is Bogey. He also enjoys vintage mystery movies. As a postman he was a little bored, and he began to imitate Bogey for the fun of it. As time went on, he began thinking that it might be interesting to become a private investigator like Bogey was in some of his movies. I think he just got carried away with the Bogey persona, and he found that it took him to places he hadn’t expected.
I write two series, including the Sandi Webster Mysteries and the Bogey Man Mysteries. Sandi is a young female P.I. In the latest Sandi Webster Mystery (The Bogey Man), Chris started watching her because some of her cases had gained quite a bit of notoriety. He thought he could learn from her. When Chris, the Bogey Man, became involved in a real murder case, Sandi helped him realize that just maybe he wasn’t quite cut out for the life of a private eye. The readers liked this character so much that I decided to give him his own series. Now he becomes involved in mysteries whether he wants to or not. He’s been joined by a new wife, a stepson and two Yellow Labrador retrievers.
Does his wife become involved in the mysteries, too?
Actually, the stories are told by Pamela Cross, so you see her point of view as well as the Bogey Man’s. While she does become involved, she also spends time trying to keep her seven-year-old son from being touched by the situations. In the meantime, their two Yellow Labs always seem to be front and center, and they do add a little humor to the stories. While Chris and Pamela Cross aren’t a modern Nick and Nora Charles, they do manage to create a stir when they look into crimes. They own a forties-themed restaurant, and it often becomes a setting for parts of the story.
What happens in your newest book? It just was released from Oak Tree Press, right?
Bogey Nights will be available in March of 2011. I’m pretty excited about it, to put it mildly.
In Bogey Nights, Chris and his wife, Pamela, lose their forties-themed restaurant to a fire. After buying a 1920s brick house to convert into a new restaurant, they discover a body buried in the basement that’s rested there since 1942.
Because of Chris’ notoriety from the case he was involved in earlier, the victim’s family approaches him and asks him and his wife to find out what happened all those years ago.
You’ll appreciate this, Mitch. Bogey Nights includes a young female reporter who keeps sticking her nose into the case while Chris and Pamela try to keep her in the dark. She’ll be a semi-regular in the series because she hooks up with a friend of Chris’.
Anyway, it turns out that in the forties, when the victim was killed, the old house was used as a boarding house. There are plenty of suspects and twists and turns in this story.
Goodness, you know how to turn up the heat by mentioning a female reporter. Speaking of heat, you live in the desert. How does that help your writing process?
It doesn’t, really. Well, maybe when the temperatures are up in the 120s, which they frequently are. When it’s that hot I have plenty of incentive to stay indoors and work on my books.
How did you decide to write with a Bogart slant?
Oddly enough, I’m not really sure. I was looking for something different to write about and decided to include this character in one of the Sandi Webster books. I had so much fun creating someone who walked and talked like Bogey that I kept going with him. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that I’m a Humphrey Bogart fan. The dialogue is fun to write, but it did require a lot of research to come up with the forties slang. Also, Mr. Bogart has some very distinct habits – at least in his movies. For instance, he’d roll his upper lip under every once in a while, or he’d rock back on his heels in a way that only Bogey could do.
What are your plans for a new Bogey Man book?
I recently forwarded the new book to my publisher, Oak Tree Press. It’s about four little old ladies, known as the Church Ladies, who ask Chris and Pamela to find a missing friend. One thing leads to another, and before long they’re involved in a Murder for Hire plot. The Church Ladies want to be involved every step of the way, and Chris would like nothing more than to lock them in their rooms (so to speak), but of course he can’t. There’s a lot of action and fun in this one.
Any future plans?
Right now I’m working on a new Sandi Webster story. She and her partner, Pete, are stranded in an old ghost town. I’m having a great time with it.
Thank you, Mitch, for sitting down and talking to me. I’ve been reading about some of your adventures, and you’re quite a guy. W.S. Gager has done a fine job with you, and I appreciate her time, too.
Thank you for telling us about a Bogey look-alike. Wish I'd known that before the marathon movie night. For more on the Bogey books, http://www.marjamcgraw.com
Monday, February 21, 2011
Mitch Malone here. W.S. Gager is working very hard to get my next exclusive to her publisher so again I am called in to help out. Today Geraldine Evans is visiting from across the pond on the book tour for her latest in the Rafferty & Llewellyn crime series.
Geraldine I understand you have a new book out in Britain that will only come to the U.S. in a couple of months. How come we can't have it sooner?
You could if it was down to me – I hate waiting for things, too .Writers know all about waiting. And waiting. And waiting some more. I’ll have a word with my publishers, but I wouldn’t hold your breath as they’ll likely ignore me.
That sounds like my editor too. You have quite a few books out in the series. What is the series about?
When I first thought of the series, I knew I wanted to write something amusing as I often felt the desire for a read other than mystery novels that were all about the crime and that failed to show the humanity of the lead character – unless it was about his drink and/or marriage problems. Lapsed Catholic, London-Irish Detective Inspector Joseph Aloysius Rafferty can’t cure or divorce his problems as it’s his own family that is the cause of them. In short, his family, from Ma Rafferty downwards, is not as law-abiding as Rafferty would like. His working-class family are way too keen on suspect ‘bargains’ and seem to get into this scrape or that. Even though they are of the opinion that if Rafferty must be a policeman he might have the decency to be a bent one – they expect him to sort out their little difficulties with the law.
To make Rafferty’s life even more difficult, I’ve provided him with a partner, in Welsh Methodist DS Dafyd Llewellyn, who has the soul of a Puritan and a moral rectitude that Is way above that of Rafferty or his family. He believes that no one should be above the law: not even the mothers of Detective Inspectors. Between the lot of them, I’m able to organize a humorous sub-plot as well as what I hope is some reasonably witty dialogue in the main plot. And then I add murder to the brew…
What's the new book about? Anything that would make a good story for the Grand River Journal? I have to get something out of doing these interviews to bail out W.S. Gager.
You could use Deadly Reunion, my latest Rafferty & Llewellyn mystery, as a dire warning of what might happen to you if you attend a school reunion. All the festering emotions from the attendees’ schooldays leap to the surface and soon one of their number is dead, poisoned most horribly.
Rafferty’s family have their own reunion since Ma Rafferty’s been on the internet and found more family than even she knew they had. This number of attendees at this family get-together grows, like Topsy, and Ma liberates Rafferty’s spare bedrooms for her guests.
Rafferty is a bit miffed at having four unwanted lodgers thrust upon him, especially because one of them is a tub-thumper from America’s Bible Belt. But then he is reconciled to his lodgers because he wouldn’t have solved the case if it wasn’t for tub-thumper Cyrus Rafferty.
Wow. My next exclusive started when I crashed my reunion. They didn’t even send me an invite. But you don’t want to hear about A Case of Hometown Blues. Your main characters are detectives in the police force. I'm not familiar with British police. Do they work well with the media? At least the newspaper media? I'm not too fond of TV media beings they can get something on the air in the blink of an eye.
DI Joe Rafferty’s not too keen on the press. He’s too honest and dislikes the half-truths and evasions that are often necessary to keep the media’s nose out of things. He hates press conferences at which his superior, Superintendent Bradley, shines. Gruff Yorkshireman, Bradley seems to undergo a change of personality for the press –it’s a personality that Rafferty seldom sees. Sergeant Llewellyn, unlike Rafferty, always thinks before he opens his mouth, which is always a good thing when one talks to the press!
One of your characters is funny and the other is the straight man. In my books I perform both parts. How does writing them both work? Is it difficult?
I don’t find it difficult, but then I’ve lived with them both so long. And then, my background is Irish and I’ve a strongly humorous bent, but I also have the serious side which has enabled me to find the determination to finish eighteen (and more, unpublished) novels. I really like both my main characters, which always helps. I seem to fall into their way of thinking easily. Having said that, I spend all my time in Joe Rafferty’s head and we only learn about Welshman, Dafyd Llewellyn’s personality through his dialogue and actions.
What's up next for you? Anything I can scoop the media with across the pond? I think I'm beginning to like the British vernacular.
I’m working on Kith and Kill, my next Rafferty novel and I’ve just finished the first draft. I’m also seriously considering writing a stand-alone novel. I’m still only at the thinking about doing it stage and haven’t thought much about what I would actually write. But once I’ve put this Blog Tour to bed, I’ll get my brain into gear and give it some serious thought.
I understand you provide quite a bit of help to new authors on your website. I've been doing a little teaching myself in my new book out this June. I found it very satisfying when I whipped those lazy reporters into shape. Why do you do it?
I’m just providing some of the ‘voice of experience’ stuff that I’d have liked when I started. Writing’s a hard enough profession, with a lot of loneliness and despair thrown into the mix, so I think it behoves the published writer to provide a bit of support, both moral and practical. I know what rejection’s like – I suffered through six years and six books of it when editors said things like: ‘You’re both good and original. However, what’s good isn’t original and what’s original isn’t good’!
Thanks Geraldine for stopping by for an interview. I’ll try and wait patiently for the U.S. release, but I’m not happy out it. To see more about Geraldine and her books, check out her website:
Monday, February 14, 2011
It’s Valentine’s Day and I’m tired of the flowers, candy and balloons showing up at the Grand River Journal newsroom. We are professionals, keep that romantic stuff where it belongs at home! Today as the special guest we have Ryan Murphy from Gumbo Justice by Holli Castillo. Ryan you are a district attorney in New Orleans. Why would you want to live there? Don’t you like snow?
Two words- Go cup. You can walk around in public with alcohol as long as it is in a plastic cup and not a can or bottle. Sure I like snow, but I like Tequila more. I guess I could also add gumbo, crawfish, beignets, 24/7 bars and restaurants, Mardi Gras, the Saints, the streetcar, drive-through Daiquiri shops, the French Quarter, and of course the crazy characters to my list of reasons for living in New Orleans. Living in the crime capital of the country I also have great job security as a prosecutor. And if something ever happens, I could switch to defense work and know I'll always be able to earn a living. Hard to picture it, I know, me a die-hard prosecutor and all, but you never know what might happen in the future...
It would be great to walk down the street with a beer. I bet there are lots of stories for me to cover there with all that crime. You are pretty tough character and faced some horrible things in Gumbo Justice. How did you get to be a tough female?
I grew up with four older brothers, each who tortured me more than the next. It was fight or flight in my family, and I'm too short to run fast. Plus I have a big mouth. When you're as outspoken as I am, you learn early on you need to be able to back it up. In the south, girls grow up fighting. It's put up or shut up, and as I mentioned, I'm not a big fan of shutting up.
What’s next for you in Jambalaya Justice?
Cherry, my hooker friend from Gumbo Justice, gets herself killed, and the detective assigned to the case, an older guy who could use some lessons in hygiene, doesn't work the case like I think he should. Of course, I manage to tag along for the investigation, and I even get to go undercover as a hooker myself. Plus I have my regular cases to prosecute, the murders by mob boss Marcelo Gendusa, a nasty domestic violence case, and the armed robbery of Big Who's strip club. For the record, stripper poles are NOT as easy to maneuver as you might think. All in a day's work, right?
You dress as a hooker? Can I take photos? Okay, maybe not. I can see your thinking I’m a brother that needs to be taken down. Ryan, what’s your take on all this Valentine’s Day sentimentality?
I'm not particularly sentimental, or at least I don't want people to think I am. Most people see sentimentality as a weakness. But just between you and me, I'm a big fan of Valentine's Day, and all the romance and sex it involves. Especially the sex part. A girl has needs, you know? My perfect V-Day would involve candles, a Jacuzzi tub, a bottle of wine, a box of chocolates, and a certain hot cop.
Wow. I wish I was going to New Orleans for Valentine’s Day and we could hook up. I’m going to be stuck in a blizzard, which is a good thing after that last answer. In Gumbo Justice there was a bit of romance between you and a cop friend of your brothers. Any chance that romance is going to continue?
The relationship will definitely continue, we'll just to see for all long. In case you haven't noticed, I tend to shoot myself in the foot a lot. I also don't have the best track record with the guys I pick out, so we'll just have to see where this goes.
Any chance you would be interested in moving to Grand River and allowing a reporter friend to get the inside scoop? I might be interested in making a dinner out of it …
I don't know about moving to Grand River, but I'm always up for a visit, especially if food is involved. Of course, it would have to be platonic. Shep has a jealous streak, and if things don't work out with him, badass undercover detective Monte Carlson is never more than a phone call away...
Thanks for having me, Mitch. The next time you have a mystery to work out, I would love to help you out.
Jealous huh? Well maybe we will plan a trip for some future date. I wouldn’t want to cause a rift in any relationship. I’m all for nonviolent means. That’s why I write the news.
Check out Ryan in action. Buy the book, Gumbo Justice. http://gumbojustice.net/
Monday, February 7, 2011
Mitch Malone here and this interviewing is keeping me from the crime beat but today I get to rub elbows with some celebrities so I guess it won't be so bad. Today's feature is Kit Sloane who has written eight Margot and Max mysteries.
Margot and Max are in the filmmaking business. How does that work? Do you go in for all that Hollywood glitter?
Well, Mitch, that’s the interesting part to me, the basic hard work that goes into making movies. Thanks to our family members in the “business,” I’ve learned that the perceived glitter is mostly in the eye of the TV reporters and the tabloid press. Movie people work long, hard hours at their crafts and it takes approximately 200 people all doing their different thing—from writers, directors, to electricians, artists, and plumbers—to get a movie made. It’s a highly competitive business and people labor to get into it and stay in it.
You've gotten some rave reviews for Margot and Max. How did you develop the concept for this mystery-solving duo?
I liked the idea of a film editor protagonist. Editors tend to be quiet, self-effacing people who don’t like the spotlight. They often work in windowless rooms far removed from the hustle and bustle of the actual filming. As my female protagonist points out, no one recognizes a film editor. Margot’s significant other is an in-your-face, popular film writer/director. This movie business, with its often larger-than-life personalities who don’t always make good “life decisions,” force her from her wallflower stance. It’s a fun chemistry to write about. I do recall an editor who rejected the series saying, “Who really wants to read about Hollywood people, anyway?” Well, quite a few, apparently, I’m happy to report!
I hear there is a little romance going on between the two. I'm not into all that flowers and craziness but do they head to the altar anytime soon?
Oh, they’ve known each other since a brief affair in film school when Margot became pregnant and Max suddenly disappeared. Fifteen years later they caught up with each other and have been together now for nearly a decade. Marriage? Nah, why ruin a beautiful relationship! They live and work together and have raised their son, now a wannabe actor. That’s commitment enough for them.
You live in a beautiful area of California and wine country too? Does the vino and scenery help you with your writing?
Absolutely. It is inspiring! Actually, every place I’ve traveled I’ve been inspired. The 2nd in the series, GRAPE NOIR, was based on a vacation from hell for Margot and Max in our wine country. I love the complexities of the relationships between the tourists and the wine growers...a necessary, but not always convivial, mix. Also we visit L.A. often and I listen to the gossip about work from my “kids” and there’s the start of another story! And, in a nice, unintended consequence, I can logically set the stories anywhere because of the Hollywood connection. So far, I’ve placed stories in “exotic” locales, in Guatemala, Cambridge, England, and Panama and, of course, in L.A.
What's next for this Hollywood couple? Will they be coming to the Midwest any time soon? Might be interesting to do a feature for a change instead of all the blood and guts on the crime beat.
I’m not sure what the “kids,” as one of the series’ fans calls them, are up to next. I should set them up in the Midwest. They’d love it! Thanks for the chat and you’d better get back to your beat!
Yes, sure. Those Hollywood types are certainly bossy! To find out more about this mystery check out the website: http://www.kitsloane.net/