Beyond the Story – A Circus Affair

After four dancers join a circus in Brazil, their idea of life under the Big Top changes forever. Given a tiny, cramped caravan for their six-month contract, they make a pact: to find a man who can take them away from their rust-bucket lifestyle.

Melissa is a hopeless romantic, but can she trust the dashing Ringmaster and his secretive ways, or does he have plans of his own?
Sarah’s goal is to remain at the circus, whatever the cost. But why?

Lisa, the youngest in the group, is as naive about the job as she is about life. She is looking for romance, but can she tell the difference between lust and true love?

Wendy’s only wish is for a quiet life, but will her disturbing past catch up with her?

Finding themselves outsiders in a Latin American world of female rivalry, magic tricks and murder, they walk a thin tightrope of discovery and learn how to live the nomadic life of circus performers. Amid the trapeze, treachery, and torrid affairs that constitute life in the sawdust strewn ring, a crime has been committed. Can the girls solve it in time and make it out alive?

If you’ve ever dreamed of running away with the circus, or are wondering what happens behind the scenes, this book is for you. Find out what really goes on when the curtains close, and what true circus life is all about.

Have you ever wanted to run away and join the circus? My guest today is straight from The Big Top. Stepping out from The Circus Affair by Michele E. Northwood, let’s find out what life in the circus is really like.

SJJ: Welcome to Beyond the Story. Please tell our guests your full name.

W: My name is Wendy, just Wendy.

SJJ: Well, “just Wendy” where do you live?

W: At present, I’m living in a dirty, old caravan that my friends and I have nicknamed: ‘The Rust Bucket’. We are working in Brazil on a six-month circus contract and, at the time of this interview, we have been there for about three months.

SJJ: That doesn’t sound too glamourous.

So, Wendy, tell us a little bit about your personality. What kind of person does it take to join a circus?

W: I’ve always been head-strong and have done whatever I wanted to do regardless of the warnings, circumstances or consequences. At the moment though, I’m struggling with a mixture of fear and depression. Sorry for the cliché, but I have literally run away with the circus. I’ve managed to escape an abusive husband who has got himself mixed up with the wrong crowd. So my normally headstrong personality has warped. I’ve become twitchy and nervous. I’m constantly looking over my shoulder because I believe that if my ex manages to locate me, he’ll drag me back home kicking and screaming. I’m petrified to think about what will happen to me if he does find me.

SJJ: I’m sorry to hear that. Now I know why you’re “just Wendy”. I hope this interview doesn’t lead him to you. You’re brave for doing this.

What about your childhood and family life?

W: I had a good, middle-class upbringing and never wanted for anything. I was a good student and attended dancing classes from the age of four to sixteen. I loved it, but I wouldn’t say that dancing was my forte. My dad was a successful businessman but I didn’t get to see him very often because of his work. My mum was subservient and her placid conformity to my father’s demands angered me. Because of that, I became a rebellious teenager, determined to make my mark on the world; to be headstrong and independent.

SJJ: Headstrong and independent—not bad traits. You work in a circus now, but was that something you always wanted or was there something else you aspired to do?

W: I studied Economics at university but have never had the chance to work in that field. I met my husband at university and against all advice, I married him. I was too young and should have listened to my parents, but I was love struck and saw my future life through rose coloured glasses. In reality, I left my home to escape one dominant man but all I did was exchange him for another more dangerous example.

SJJ: Well as they say, hindsight is 20/20.

Is there anything you would like to divulge about yourself; something perhaps that’s not well known?

W: I’m fighting an alcohol addiction. Due to my failed marriage and running away to a circus where I feel distanced from those around me, I have too much time to think and wallow in my misfortune. I hide my drinking from the other girls as much as I can, but I think Melissa, one of the other dancers, is suspicious.

SJJ: Now, I was not suspecting that. But, thank you for being so candid. The first step to helping yourself is admitting you have a problem.

If you don’t want to answer this next question, I completely understand. But what do you regret the most?

W: If you mean apart from my marriage, then I would have to say that part of me regrets coming to the circus. It seemed like the perfect way out. I could run away and keep on the move by travelling around and that would make it harder for my ex-husband to find me. I indeed feel safer in Brazil than in my own country, but I´m living on my nerves and drink to quell those emotions.

SJJ: You know, Wendy, you’re braver than you think you are.

I feel like if you could leave the circus you would. So, If you could step into another book, which would it be and how could you contribute to that story?

W: I could easily fit into either of Michele Northwood’s two dancing memoirs: “Fishnets in the Far East” and “Fishnets and Fire-eating.” I could probably mentor the girls during their travels to Korea and Japan. However, as they are true stories, I don’t think she’d allow me to appear!

SJJ: Have you asked her? I mean the worst she could say is no. And besides, there are plenty of fictious novels with real places, and characters who existed (particularly historical fiction). So, why couldn’t a true story have a fictitious character? I’m sure there are books that do.

Alright, so, describe to us your perfect day, what would that look like?

W: A day where I don’t live in fear of being found. A day where my ex-husband’s crimes do not involve me paying the price for his stupidity. I don’t care where I am living; I just want to find that feeling of contentment and relaxation that I lost a long time ago.

SJJ: And I hope you have that day soon and many more.

Now sometimes people find this a difficult question to answer. But what are your strengths?

W: I guess despite everything I´ve been through, I still consider myself to be a strong woman. Although my husband tried to break me, to make me compliant to his every whim, a hidden spark of defiance refused to die. It lay festering in the darkness, just waiting for me to be able to plot and carry out my escape. Perhaps it’s obstinance, perhaps it’s defiance; I can’t say for sure, but I’m a woman who has fought back. Stood up to her repression and continues to do so.

SJJ: I couldn’t agree with you more. It takes a strong woman to do what you have done.

OK, so let me ask you something a little less serious. What do you do for fun?

W: I’m pretty good at analyzing people and when I’ve established what makes them tick, what they are really all about, I enjoy playing mind games with them. I get particular pleasure out of doing it when I know that the other person is unaware of it or is uncomfortable by my comments.

Lisa, for example, is the youngest member of the group here in Brazil and the most naïve. She never knows if I’m playing with her or if I´m being serious. I get a sort of twisted kick out of that.

SJJ: All in good fun. I used to play practical jokes, nothing harmful of course.

And another more laid-back question—what do you do to relax?

W: I find it impossible to truly relax. I´m always on edge. I guess that’s why I drink. It takes the edge off, but it’s fleeting and leaves me wanting more. It’s a vicious circle of self-abuse.

SJJ: Well, you’re not alone, I’m sure. Relaxation doesn’t come easy to many people.

On an entirely different note, what would you say is your most embarrassing moment?

W: One night during the contract, I was alone in the caravan and I thought there was someone outside. Fearing for my life, I grabbed a few belongings and fled. I spent the night in a park and when the girls found me. I was covered in mud from head to toe. It wasn’t my greatest moment!

SJJ: I’m sure that wasn’t a pleasant experience.

What are your plans for the future, Wendy?

W: Until I know that my husband can no longer hurt me or find me, I don’t make plans for the future. I live day to day with the fear of discovery. If I manage to sort this all out, I´d like to get a job. Something in the field of Economics like my Degree would be great.

SJJ: Wendy, I truly hope you find peace.

If a movie was made about your life, who would you like to portrait you?

W: I think Sandra Bullock would be a good choice. She’s sassy, like me. I don’t think she’d be the greatest dancer but… neither am I!

SJJ: Are you happy with the way your story was told by the narrator?

W: Yes, I think the author has described me warts and all. Maybe I feel a little uncomfortable because I know that future readers will find out about my drinking problem and the stupid mistakes I have made in my life. Thwy’ll see my weaknesses but they will also discover my strengths. Let’s just hope that everything works out for me in the end!

SJJ: Thank you so much for being here, Wendy, and for letting us get to know you a little. I hope you you get the life you are dreaming of and that you overcome those weaknesses of yours. You are a strong and brave woman, and I’m rooting for you.

Author Bio

Michele has a First Class Honours Degree in Modern languages, (English and Spanish). She currently lives in Spain with her Spanish husband, two dogs and two cats. She teaches English in a public school and in her own private school and considers herself to be a frustrated writer – she never has enough time to write!

Michele has won two literary competitions, and her first novel: “Fishnets in the Far East: A Dancer´s Diary in Korea” is a Double Award Winner. ( “Best Memoir” with TCK Publishing in 2019 and a Finalist in the “Book Excellence Awards” in 2020. The sequel: “Fishnets and Fire-eating” has just been released, and she is currently editing her fourth book which will be a paranormal/horror novel.

In her past life …. (okay, when she was a young woman,) she worked as a professional dancer, magician and fire-eater who toured the world for over twenty years in theatre, musicals and circus. During that time, she was in the Guinness Book of Records for being part of the world´s largest Human mobile, and worked as a contortionist with the Circus of Horrors as their first “Girl inside a bottle”. She has rubbed shoulders with Sting, Chris de Burg, David Copperfield, Claudia Schiffer and Maurice Gibb from the Bee Gees. She has also worked as a knife throwers assistant, assisted a midget in his balancing act and has taken part in the finale of a Scorpions concert.

Michele is concerned about climate change, the abundance of plastic pollution and hates the way man-unkind treats the other species which inhabit this beautiful planet which we are slowly destroying. Michele loves living in the countryside with views of the sea and likes nothing better than to sit on the terrace at the end of the day, look up at the stars and contemplate.

Michele can be contacted at: antologiadeaguilas@gmail.com

twitter: @michele_e

Facebook: Michele E. Northwood Author

Beyond the Story – Sharing Hamilton

Philadelphia, 1791. James and Maria Reynolds are flat broke. Well aware of the attraction between his wife and Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton, James hatches a plan to blackmail Alexander and get rich – and sends Maria to seduce him.

Meanwhile, the mysterious Dr. Severus Black befriends the Hamiltons and becomes a close confidant of Alexander’s wife, Eliza. While Mrs. Hamilton grows fond of the handsome doctor, she also senses something different about the debonair young man.

Simultaneously, a vicious serial killer is stalking the city by night. As Hamilton’s affair with Maria runs headlong towards personal and professional catastrophe, the constables of Philadelphia draw a net around the emerged killer of young serving girls.

But what connection could Dr. Black have with the murders, which a hundred years later would be mirrored in his own country… by none other than Jack the Ripper?

In Sharing Hamilton, historical romance author Diana Rubino and award-winning myster/thriller writer Brian L. Porter uniquely blend the mystery and romance genres, based on the true story of the Hamilton affair with the added spice of a serial killer stalking the streets of USA’s first capital city.

My guest this week has not only stepped from the pages of this historical romantic mystery, but he’s stepped into the future.

SJJ: Welcome to Beyond the Story. Please tell our readers your full name.

SB: Well, hello there. My name, to give you my full title, is Doctor Severus Black, although for reasons that will be evident to those who have read the book in which I am featured, I am now known as Doctor Solomon Bruckman.

SJJ: I believe this is the first time I’ve interviewed a doctor on Beyond the Story. Now do I call you Dr. or just Severus or maybe Solomon? You know what I’ll just stick with doctor. So, tell us Dr., where do you live?

SB: I am currently residing in a small township known as Queenstown in the Natal Province of South Africa, having previously lived and worked in London, Liverpool, Paris and Philadelphia.

SJJ: Wow, you sure do (or is it did?) get around. I mean it’s 1791 where you come from.
And how would you describe your personality? Who are you, Dr. Black?

SB: That’s a tricky question really as I’d say my personality is rather multi-faceted.Most of the time, you would probably describe me as affable, some would say charming, and meticulous in all I do. There are times, however, when to be totally honest, I seem to undergo something of a metamorphosis, when another, let’s say, darker side of my nature tends to overwhelm me and takes control of my actions.

SJJ: So, what you’re saying is sometimes you’re a little Jekyll and sometimes you’re a little Hyde. (Laughs at her own joke).

Well, if that is what you’re like now, what were you like as a child? Did you have a happy childhood?

SB: My childhood was not what one would describe as a happy one. My father was a rather overbearing and dominating Presbyterian Church Minster in a small village in Norfolk, called Fenworthy Magna. He was an authoritarian and a fierce disciplinarian and his word was law in our home. I always felt my mother lived in fear of him as did I and my elder brother, Julian. The only person he showed any signs of affection towards was my little sister, Claudia. Beatings were a regular part of my life, for the merest infraction or failure to correctly quote scripture for example. I looked forward to the day when I would be old enough to leave home and make my own way in the world, especially after my sister’s death at an early age, and the death of my mother, of I think, a broken heart. My father’s behaviour towards me and my brother at her funeral was to put it mildly, diabolical and probably shaped the man I am today.

SJJ: I am so sorry you had such a troubled upbringing. But look at you now. I’m sure you are a successful doctor.

So, Dr., what kind of doctor are you?

SB: I am a physician, specialising in the treatment of women’s illnesses and diseases, the only job I have ever wanted to do. I was able to gain entry to the Worshipful Society of Apothecaries at an early age, later moving to the Royal College of Surgeons where I completed my training.

SJJ: You are lucky to have found your calling so early in life.

Do you have any obstacles in your life preventing your from achieving your goals?

SB: I am determined and single-minded and have never allowed anything or anyone to stand in the way of my goals in life, either professional or personal, though the French detective, LeClerc, who had tracked me all the way from Paris has interfered greatly in my life in recent years, which eventually led me to obtain passage on the barque, Emerald, bound for Brazil, from where I then obtained passage as ship’s doctor on the clipper ship, Lady Marian, arriving in South Africa some six weeks later.

SJJ: (Tracking you? Why would a French detective be tracking you?)

(Clears throat and stares at him suspiciously) Um, so, can you tell your readers something about you that not everyone knows?

SB: It is said that I am an expert on the dance floor. I do enjoy the opportunity that dancing affords me to get close to the ladies that would otherwise be beyond my reach on a social level. It is a little-known fact that I was schooled in the art of dancing by a real princess, whose name I shall not reveal, but who not only schooled me in the art of dance, but also in certain ways of conducting, shall we say, affairs of the heart?

SJJ: Dancing eh? (I suppose he’s not about to tell this audience anything incriminating).

Are there any defining moments in your life that made you who you are today?

SB: Definitely. I previously mentioned my father’s behaviour at my mother’s funeral. He, Aldous Black, with a heart as black as his name knew that my brother and I cared deeply for our mother, but we were only nine and seven years old when she died of a terrible wasting disease, which I’m sure was brought on by her heart being broken at the loss of my little sister at the age of four. Not only did my father force my brother and I to assist him in preparing my mother’s body for the funeral, but he publicly forced my brother and I to kiss her corpse in full view of the congregation in church. I will never forget the feel of her dead, cold, wax-like skin as she lay in the open coffin. It affected me for a long time to come and probably gave me my first shred of interest in the human body as a thing, rather than a living being and led me to go on to my chosen profession.

SJJ: What a terrible thing to do to young children. And I would think your mother’s death from disease was the catalyst that led you to become a doctor. Seems a little odd that you’d rather treat a body like a thing. But, hey, whatever makes you tick, I guess.

Do you have any regrets, Severus, I mean Dr.?

SB: I have regretted leaving every city in which I have practised both my medical practice, and my other activities. In particular, I dearly regret leaving Philadelphia as I enjoyed such a wonderful relationship with the ladies of polite society and especially the close bond I had developed with the beautiful Mrs. Eliza Hamilton counting her among my most favoured patients. Unfortunately, the activities of the forces of law enforcement, in particular Detective LeClerc were making life difficult as they appeared to be ready to attempt to take me into custody over the unexplained deaths of a number of unimportant serving wenches.

SJJ: Woah! What? (Shifts uncomfortably) Forget it. I don’t want to know. Well, I do… but I don’t.

Moving on. Is there anyone you look up to, consider to be a mentor, either in the past or right now? Or should I say in the past or further in the past?

SB: One of my earliest teachers in the art of the anatomy of the female body, Doctor Frederick Musgrove will always retain a place in my memory as a great mentor and teacher.

SJJ: Aww, that’s nice.

When you think of all your accomplishments, what is your proudest moment?

SB: That would be the first time I realised how incredibly easy it was to charm the ignorant and ill-educated working-class serving wenches of London into my clutches. How simple it was to lure them into my clutches so that I could indulge my nocturnal passions on their pathetic persons.

SJJ: (Pushes chair back a little further) OK, um. I… I don’t know how to respond to that. Um, you know that Jekyll and Hyde reference earlier was a joke, right?

SB: (Darkness clouds his face and he glares)

SJJ: I’m just going to move on with my interview questions (shuffles paper). What’s your idea of the perfect day?

SB: Visiting and treating the ladies of polite society, followed by, perhaps, an evening at a glittering social function, dancing with those very ladies, and engaging in conversation with them and their husbands on all manner of subjects, followed by a late-night sojourn into the dark streets in search of a young victim with whom I can indulge my nefarious tastes.

SJJ: (Jaw drops) Wow! You’re just really letting it all out, aren’t you? Related to Jack, are you? Never mind, don’t answer that. I don’t want to know.

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

SB: My strengths are my knowledge and skills in the treatment of women’s ailments, which I consider to be greater than most of my contemporaries. I suppose my greatest weakness, if I have any, would be my inability to control my baser impulses, though I would hesitate to classify them as a sign of weakness.

SJJ: I remember reading once that a lot of great surgeons are sociopaths, or is it psychopaths? But you know they aren’t dangerous. (Laughs nervously) Never mind.

What do you do for fun?

SB: I dance, I charm the ladies of society, and do I really need to answer to my other favoured pastime?

SJJ: Nope, not at all. Moving on.

What do you do to relax?

SB: I go out for late-night walks in the moonlight.

SJJ: And here I was hoping you’d say reading a good book, or taking a warm bath… alone.
This probably won’t resonate with you, being that you’re a…. forget it. What is your most embarrassing moment?

SB: Embarrasing? Well, I suppose the night I was almost caught whilst enjoying my dalliance with Caroline, the daughter of Seamus Carew, butcher of Philadelphia was something of an embarrassment to me. A zealous and very vigilant constable later named in the newspapers as Constable Fry, almost laid hands on me in the alley where I had just strangled the girl. Only my quick thinking in charging at the constable, pushing him to the ground where he hit his head and was knocked unconscious allowing me to complete my work and make my getaway, unhindered.

SJJ: Oh, for goodness sake! I did not need for you to go into the gory details. Thankfully, I’ve only a few questions left and then you can go back to wherever you came from. Honestly!!!

What are your plans for the future? Wait, let me guess – not get caught by the detective?

SB: I have a good life in Queenstown, as the doctor to the people of the township, where I am a well-respected member of the community as Doctor Bruckman. It is a largely Jewish community, and I have found it easy to adopt the ways of these pious folk. I have not indulged my basest instincts within the township as to do so might lay me open to accusations, but I make occasional journeys to Cape Town on the pretext of visiting friends, where I once again have the opportunity to take advantage of the plentiful young females of the lower order of society.

SJJ: You are one sick…

SB: (Glares)

SJJ: Three more questions and you can be on your way.

If a movie was made about your life, who would you want to play you?

SB: The English actor Ben Barnes, who played the lead in the 2009 movie, Dorian Gray, would be ideal to play me, as he even looks quite a lot like me.

SJJ: Now how would you know about him? He’s not from your time. Unless you’ve stepped out… never mind. I don’t want to know.

Are you happy with the way the narrator told your story in Sharing Hamilton?

SB: Yes, I was extremely happy with the way my story was told and with how I was depicted. After all, I have spent years perfecting my role of the perfect ‘English gentleman doctor’ which is precisely how I was portrayed.

SJJ: Uhuh! A gentleman eh?

If you could change one thing that happened in your story, would you? Can you elaborate or would it give too much away?

SB: It would have been perfect if that interfering Frenchman, LeClerc had not been invited to Philadelphia by the city authorities, having nearly laid his hands on me during my time in Paris. The man knew too much and if I’d remained in the city, he would probably have found me and my story would have ended at the end of a rope. If he hadn’t turned up, perhaps I could have stayed there and indulged myself for a year or two longer, before moving on. But as the Frenchies say, ‘C’est la vie’. Don’t worry, by the time you publish this account of my story, Dr Solomon Bruckman will be no more and will have moved on to pastures new. Where? I’m not sure, but the world as they say, is my oyster…

SJJ: Well, ah, thank you Severus Black for being so candid. I certainly wasn’t expecting that. You are free to climb back into you book. And as they say – don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

Severus Black is a character in the book, Sharing Hamilton, co-authored by Brian L Porter and Diana Rubino. Originally written as a historical romance by Diana, her agent liked the book but felt it would benefit from having ‘something extra’ added to it, perhaps by the addition of a serial killer backstory. Enter Diana’s old friend, British Murder/mystery author Brian L Porter. Diana asked Brian if he would be able to add a serial killer element to her book, without affecting the original story too much. He set to work and very soon, not only was Severus Black created, but the story of his nefarious nighttime activities seemed to slip seamlessly into the original story, and the result was the #1 bestselling book, Sharing Hamilton.

Author Bios

Brian L Porter

Brian is a multi award-winning, bestselling author, perhaps best known for his Mersey Murder Mystery series, set in and around the city of Liverpool, and in complete contrast his true-life Family of Rescue Dogs series. Most recently, his Cold War mystery/thriller, Pestilence: Breathe if you Dare, was the winner of the Best Mystery Novel Award in the Critters Readers Choice Awards 2020. He has so far penned 28 Amazon bestsellers, writing as Brian L Porter, Harry Porter and Juan Pablo Jalisco. He is also an accomplished poet, and his poetry collections are also Amazon bestsellers. He lives with his wife and their family of 9 rescue dogs, in the north of England. You can find all his books on his author pages at Amazon, just search for Brian L Porter and follow him (as Harry Porter) on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/harry.porter.12139862

Diana Rubino

Diana is an Amazon Top 100 Bestselling author. Her passion for history has take her to every setting of her historical and biographical novels: England, Franc, Egypt, Italy, and all over the United States. The contemporary fantasy “Fakin’ It”, set in Manhattan, won a Romantic Times Top Pick award. She’s the owner of engineering business CostPro Inc., golfer, pianist, rachquetballer, fitness nut, Jersey Shore Italian, and real estate tycoon on the side. Visit www.dianarubino.com, DianaRubinoAuthor on Facebook and @DianaLRubino on Twitter.

Beyond the Story – A Man’s Face

A slash of a scar from cheek to chin is all Marc Jordan remembers of the man kneeling over his dead mother. As he searches his memory for clues and hopes he is the first one to find the killer, he becomes involved in a bizarre psychotic family intrigue.  Murder, blackmail, corruption and betrayal leave a trail from the storied vineyards of Spain to the wineries of Southern California where no one is who or what they claim to be. When he is forced to accept a court case he does not want, Jordan inadvertently unravels the threads that lead to solving his mother’s murder. With each revelation Marc’s life spirals out of control in this dizzying thriller.

My guest today hails from the suspense thriller A Man’s Face by B. Roman. Let’s see what he has to say.

SJJ:      Hello, so happy you could join me today. Can you please tell our audience your full name and where you live?

MJ:     My name is Marc Jordan, changed from Marcus Jordain, when I became an attorney. I had rather mundane reasons for changing it, but it inadvertently gave me an anonymity that turned out to be quite beneficial.  I live in San Diego, California, but I lived in Stockton for a short time and went to law school at Berkeley. 

SJJ:      Anonymity, huh? Interesting.

And how would you describe your personality?

MJ:     I try to be outgoing and of good humor, although some of my friends would describe me as introspective, pensive, and a bit buttoned up (a stuffed shirt?). I avoid taking risks as an attorney – I like an easy win.  But my latest case is anything but that. I avoid the dating scene, bars and such – as too phony and a waste of time.  However, an unusual, serendipitous event brought me the love of my life; I am besotted and blind in my passion for her.

SJJ:      I’m happy to hear you’ve found someone to share your life. I wish you many happy years.

What was your childhood like? I like to ask this question because it gives our audience an idea of the person you are and perhaps the choice you made as an adult.

MJ:     I had the happiest childhood.  My father and I were very close, and I inherited his love of the outdoors and fitness. He was elegant and accomplished in the art of growing grapes and making wine. I adored and admired my mother who was an amazing chef, and an inspiration to me.  I lost them both to horrible tragedies when I was very young.  I was traumatized and had to grow up very fast.

SJJ:      I am so sorry you lost your parents tragically. Especially when you were very young.

Now, you stated before you are an attorney, but what kind of an attorney?

MJ:     I’m a defense attorney – a Public Defender actually. 

SJJ:      Is this something you’ve always wanted to do or do you have a dream job?

MJ:     My dream job was always to be a pilot, having my own charter jet – I got my love of flying from my uncle who worked in a charter air field. Since having my own plane is financially unrealistic, I fly for recreation, but I am happy that I became an attorney, to represent people who have no advocate because they have no money or influence. 

SJJ:      While you may not be flying for a career, you are at least getting to do what you love. And I think your reasons for being an attorney are commendable.

What would you say is the biggest obstacle in your live preventing you from achieving any goals you may have?

MJ:     My biggest, personal goal is to find the man – the man with the scar – who killed my mother. 

SJJ:      Oh no! Your mother was murdered? I’m so sorry. Please continue.

MJ:     I can remember nothing but seeing her lying lifeless on the kitchen floor as he fled.  My amnesia stands in the way of tracking him down and bringing him to justice. And I keep hoping he will walk into my office one day not knowing who I really am.

SJJ:      Well, I hope he does. I see now why your name change may work to your advantage.

What would you say are defining moments in your life that made you who you are today?

MJ:     Having both of my parents suffer heartbreaking, grisly deaths completely turned my life around.  Subsequently, I am tormented by dissociative amnesia, and am in therapy with a psychiatrist to try and remember who killed them and why.

SJJ:      As those horrific tragedies would. I so hope you get your memory back.

Is there anyone you look up to, consider to be a mentor, either in the past or right now?

MJ:     Judge Leroy Larimer, who I appear before frequently, has helped to steer my career.  I clerked for him when I was a law intern, and now he is urging me to take a big case that he feels would be a defining moment in my career.  Why, exactly, is somewhat of a mystery I have yet to solve.

SJJ:      Well, he must have a good reason for it. I say you should go for it.

When you think of all your accomplishments, what is your proudest moment?

MJ:     Without getting specific (or I would spoil your reading experience) I am proud when I find justice and mercy for one of my clients who has been wrongly convicted.  My current client is my biggest challenge, the circumstances of his case are complex and mind-boggling.  If I can get him acquitted it will be my proudest moment.

SJJ:      That would be a great thing. I’ve often wondered, if someone is guilty and they are acquitted, how does that make you feel? But that’s a question for another day. (smiles)

Let’s change the subject. What’s your idea of the perfect day?

MJ:     Taking the ferry boat from the Embarcadero to Coronado Island and enjoying the beach at the Del Coronado Hotel, then later taking a flight in a rented plane to relish the beautiful California coastline as the sun begins to set.

SJJ:      That does sound lovely.

And now for some fun. If a movie was made about your life, who would you want to play you?

MJ:     Milo Ventimiglia.  His performance was poignant in “The Art of Racing in the Rain.”

SJJ:      Hmm, I’ve not seen that movie. I’ll have to check it out.

And one final question, if you could change one thing that happened in your story, would you?

MJ:     While tragedy and betrayals are painful to endure, I wouldn’t have followed the path that I was destined to take, or appreciate my own personal moral compass.  I’m not sure I would change anything.

SJJ:      That’s a brave statement coming from someone who has endured such tragedy.

Thank you, Mark, for sharing your story with us. You can learn more about my guest in A Man’s Face by author B. Roman.

AUTHOR BIO

Barbara Roman (aka B. Roman) is the author of the inspirational YA Moon Singer series and two children’s fantasy books. Because of her music background as a professional singer and composer, her fantasy books have their roots in music theories and metaphors, entwined with the magic and mystery of metaphysical concepts and matters of ethics, faith, compassion, love, and heroism.

As a grounding force, Roman enjoys turning out a suspense fiction, exploring the human psyche as her book’s characters are caught up in intrigue, murder, and conspiracies, and try to balance the scales of good vs evil. 

Books by B. Roman

A Man’s Face     (suspense)

Whatever Became of Sin? (suspense)

The Moon Singer Series

                Book I:   The Crystal Clipper

                Book II:  The War Chamber

                Book III: The Wind Rose

                Prequel:  Before the Boy

Children’s Books by Barbara Roman

Alicia and the Light Bulb People in Star Factory 13

Hubert in Heaven – a hi-tech angel gets his wings

CONTACT LINKS

http://viewauthor.at/BRomanBooks

TWITTER:

https://twitter.com/BMoonSinger1

Facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/BRomanMoonSinger/

Goodreads page:

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7358514.B_Roman

Beyond the Story – The Black Wall

This interview is from one of the major characters from books Two and Three of the Tides Trilogy, The Black Wall and The Grace’s War. Ves is a sometime-companion and occasional friend of Kalis Syrina, the main protagonist.

Tides takes place on Eris, in a steam-powered civilization risen on the ruins of a much more advanced ancient past, ruled by theocracy and oligarchy, and at the mercy of the massive tidal forces caused by its giant moon, known as the Eye.

While this interview takes place during the events of the soon upcoming The Grace’s War, there are no major spoilers about what is to come (but there are some hints).

SJJ: My guest today steps out from the pages of The Black Wall Tides Trilogy by Author R. A. Fisher.
Hello and welcome to Beyond the Story. Please tell our guests today your full name and where you’re from?

Ves: Vesmalimali, but everyone who’s not from Ristro calls me Ves, so you can, too. Right now, I live on a steamship I, well, acquired and renamed Heaven’s Compromise, not that I remember what it was called before. But I’ve lived pretty much everywhere these past twenty-some-odd years. Everywhere but Ristro, because down there is nothing but insects and assholes. I can say that here, right?

SJJ: (Smiles) Of course you can, Ves. So, no last name, eh? Kind of like Sting or Bono.

And how would you describe yourself? What makes you… you?

Ves: How would I describe myself?

SJJ: Um, yes.

Ves: I’d say I was the most reasonable goddamn pirate on Eris and a respectable business man on top. My crew might have other ideas, but since none of them are here, let’s go with that.

SJJ: OK, sure. (Under her breath) Not sure I’d equate a pirate with a respectable business man.

So, you’re a self-professed pirate, but what were you like as a child? And what about your family life growing up?

Ves: Most people don’t know this, but the Corsairs are taken from their families when they’re young; trained at sea. They took me from my mum when I was maybe seven or eight, and I never saw her again. Voluntary, as in she volunteered me, since I sure a shit didn’t have a say in it. I don’t really hold it against her—I’m sure she had her reasons, though there’s plenty of times I wish I could have asked her why.

That’s all to say, I didn’t have much of what most people would call a family life. My family was the Corsairs. Right up until they weren’t.

SJJ: I’m sorry to hear that, I can imagine the questions you must have.

Now, you said earlier you are a pirate; can you elaborate on your career path a little?

Ves: I was what you might call a crime lord for a good long while, and I was goddamn miserable, fat, and lazy. I’m still fat and lazy, but at least I’m happy again.

SJJ: And what about other aspirations – anything you would truly love to do?

Ves: Nah, my dream job is what I’m doing now: riding the seas on a real ship, not a fucking sail boat, and relieving others of their excess belongings. Not regular folks unless I’ve got no choice; they’ve got it bad enough without me making it worse. But the Church? The way I see it, once they convince all those poor assholes to give up what’s theirs in Salvation Taxes, those taxes belong to me and mine. You can be sure the Church isn’t going to do anything useful with all that extra tin. And Ristro, too, because fuck those miserable shits. They taught me how to be a pirate, now I’ll show them what good teachers they were.

SJJ: Let it all out.

Ves, what is your biggest obstacle that is preventing your from achieving your goals?

Ves: Well, I’ve got this… I don’t think I could call her a friend. I’m pretty sure her kind don’t have friends. But she’s more than an acquaintance, too. A business partner on very good terms, maybe.

Anyway, Syrina has this knack for talking me into doing real stupid shit, which almost always means by the time it’s over I’ve lost my ship, or my barge, or my fucking raft, or whatever else I managed to scrape up since the last time, and I wake up one afternoon broke, drunk in a tree somewhere, and need to start all over again. And yet she’ll show up later and I’ll go along with it every fucking time, because despite the fact she’s made out of more lies than blood, and she looks like a different person every time I meet her, I think deep down under all the tattoos and bullshit she really does mean the world well. That’s rare enough these days, and ships are easy enough to come by, if you’re as good as I am at stealing them.
At least that’s what I tell myself, because otherwise it would mean I’m actually an idiot, and I have it on goddamn good authority that’s not the case. She was the reason I ended up as a miserable-ass crime boss down in Valez’Mui for twenty some years, though I didn’t know it was her at the time. That should give you some idea of how long she’s been fucking with me, though.

SJJ: Uhuh! I can’t help but wonder who this “good” authority is.

Anyway, tell us something about you that not everyone knows.

Ves: There’s nobody alive anymore that knows why I left the Corsairs and turned against Ristro. I suspect there never will be again, since I’m not telling, and the Astrologers that run that miserable swamp aren’t known for disclosing personal details. And yeah, it was personal. That’s all I’m going to say about it, though.

SJJ: Fair enough.

Do you have any regrets, Ves?

Ves: I don’t think anyone can live a life the way I’ve lived mine and not have more regrets than they could pack into this ample gut of mine. But what can we do besides try to do better next time? Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Just like sometimes I drink to forget my grief, and sometimes I drink to remember it.

SJJ: Well, you are human. Er, maybe not. But a conscious being. So, it makes sense you’d have some big regrets.

And what about someone you admire. Is there anyone in your life you consider to be a mentor, either in the past or right now?

Ves: There was someone, once. Not a mentor, but he knew me better than anyone is ever going to know me again. Kept me pointed the right direction; knew when to laugh at my dumb ass, and when to tear me a new dickhole… but he’s… well, he’s not around anymore.

SJJ: I’m sorry about that. Ves. It sounds to me like you could use someone like that again.

Now for a couple of lighthearted questions. What’s your idea of the perfect day?

Ves: A day of full fuel tanks, plenty of food and drink to go around, no land in sight, and everyone I care about is still alive at the end of it. You’d think I’d be an easy man to please, but I get days like that a lot less than I’d like.

SJJ: It’s nice to know you have a soft side.

What do you do for fun?

Ves: I drink, and sometimes I blow shit up. Sometimes I like to rile up my new first mate, just because. He’s a good guy, but fuck if that old man doesn’t have even more baggage than I do. If it wasn’t for me, he’d never loosen up.

SJJ: (laughs) You and I have different ideas of fun.

And after your perfect day and all that fun, what do you do to relax?

Ves: Isn’t that the same as fun?

SJJ: Well…

Ves: No? Not for everyone?

SJJ: Not mine, anyway.

Ves: Huh. Fair enough, I guess. Anyway, They’re the same to me.

SJJ: Well okay, then. To each their own.

If a movie was made about your life, who would you want to play you?

Ves: That’s a tough one. Maybe Ving Rhames? He’s got the voice for it, but he better start drinking the hard shit now to get it just right.

SJJ: And what about The Black Wall Tides Trilogy Are you happy with the way your story was told by the narrator?

Ves: He did alright with what we gave him, I guess. He fucked a few things up, but they always do, eh? I don’t hold too much against him, anyway.

SJJ: Well, maybe you should have spoken louder, gotten his attention. He can only write what you give him.

And, on that note, if you could change one thing that happened in your story, would you?

Ves: There was that not-mentor I mentioned earlier. Remember him? Well, I love life, but I’d end mine at noon if I could spend one more morning with him. So, one thing I could change? That’s the easiest goddamn question here. I’d bring that man back to my side where he fucking belongs.

SJJ: Thank you, Ves, for being so candid with me today. I’m sure you’re eager to get back to that steamship of yours.

Author Bio

Robert Fisher has lived in Hiroshima, Japan with his wife and five-year-old son for the past four years, where he occasionally teaches English, writes, and pretends to learn Japanese. Before that he lived in Vancouver, Canada where he worked in the beer industry and mostly just cavorted about, getting into trouble and eating Thai food. He placed fourth in The Vancouver Courier’s literary contest with his short story The Gift, which appeared in that paper on February 20, 2009. His science fiction novella The God Machine was published by Blue Cubicle Press in 2011.

Beyond the Story – The Happy War

After a successful blind date, Linda and Eric want to change the world.

With fiery passion for both each other and their common cause, they hatch a twisted plan. The first step: to assemble a loyal team of hotshots, each with a specific skill set. 

Assigned to special regions all over the globe, the team launches a two-week campaign to conquer war, anger and hate. One slip-up and they could all end up in jail… and the keen Detective Vega, who seems to be on to them, is asking too many questions.

But can Linda and Eric’s love survive the distance, and will all the love in the world be enough to create peace on Earth?

SJJ:         I am happy to introduce one of the characters from Author Eve Gaal’s novel–The Happy War.

Hello, and welcome to Beyond the Story. Can you please introduce yourself and tell our readers where you live?

GC:         Bonjourno. I live in Rome and my name is Giulia Como.

SJJ:         Pleased to meet you, Giulia. I’m thrilled to be interviewing you today. For the readers who have yet to make your acquaintance, how would you describe your personality?

GC:         I am sexy. Is that a personality?

SJJ:         Well, I suppose sexy can be part of your personality.

What were you like as a child? And what was your family life like?

GC:         We not have much money, but Mama took us to Ostia. It’s near the beach. I liked to play in the sand build castles. I don’t know my Papa.

SJJ:         I am so sorry you didn’t know your father, but where you lived sounds beautiful. I love the beach.

And what do you do for a living, Giulia?

GC:         I work with Juan at the design house. My job is sewing. Maybe you say seamstress.

SJJ:         Yes, that’s it, a seamstress.

                Do you have any other goals or dreams?

GC:         I have many, many dreams.

SJJ:         And I do hope some of them come true. (Smiles)

Now, Giulia, can you share with us something about you that not everyone knows. Maybe a deep desire, or funny quirk?

GC:         Why you ask such questions?

SJJ:         Oh, seems I may have touched a nerve. Moving on.

Are there any defining moments in your life that made you who you are today?

GC:         Maybe when I have first boyfriend.

SJJ:         Um, I see. Can you elaborate on that? …. No? OK.             

                Do you have any regrets?

GC:         No, love is most important.

SJJ:         Ah, well yes, love is important. I take it then; you mean you don’t have any regrets about past boyfriends.

Do you have someone you look up to, consider to be a mentor, either in the past or right now?

GC:         My boyfriend Juan is from United States. He is a handsome man and a designer at our fashion house. I love him so much.

SJJ:         Ohhhh! You’re dating your co-worker. Got it!

And, Giulia, when you think of all your accomplishments, what is your proudest moment?

GC:         Maybe when I meet Juan?

SJJ:         Again, Juan. You’re pretty infatuated with him, it seems.

GC:         (Blank stare)

SJJ:         Giulia, I know you’ve stepped from the pages of The Happy War, but if you could appear in another book, which would it be? And how could you contribute to that story?

GC:         (Laughs) My life is more exciting than any stupid book.

SJJ:         (Jaw drops – cue the crickets.) I’m sorry, I don’t know how to respond to that. Let’s just move on to the next question. Shall we? Okay.

I know I’m going to regret this, but what’s your idea of the perfect day?

GC:         Staying in bed with Juan.

SJJ:         Yup, what I thought you might say.

You know, I’ll just read off the rest of my questions here, just for fun. What are your strengths and your weaknesses?

GC:         I am strong woman. Juan is very big. He knows my heart.

SJJ:         Juan, Juan. (shakes head) Is he here by any chance? No? OK.

(Sighs) What do you do for fun?

GC:         Make love.

SJJ:         My psychic abilities are unstoppable today.

What do you do to relax?

GC:         Nothing.

SJJ:         Sooo, to relax you sit and do nothing, or do you mean you don’t do anything to relax? Not quite sure which it is.

GC:         (Blank stare)

SJJ:         OK, next question. What is your most embarrassing moment?

GC:         Oh, this is funny, but secret.

SJJ:         Seriously? You have a moment here to show people your depth, your funny side, your ahem “human” qualities. Although, on second thought, maybe it’s something a little too risqué for this interview.

Why don’t you tell us, Giulia, what your plans are for the future?

GC:         I might be moving.

SJJ:         Well that sounds adventurous. With Juan?

GC:         (Blank stare)

SJJ:         Giulia, if there was a movie made about your life, who would you want to play you?

GC:         Maybe Sophia Loren when she is young.

SJJ:         Ahh, yes. I can see it now.

And finally, are you happy with the way your story was told by the narrator?

GC:         No, writer a bitch.

SJJ:         (Jaw drops, cue crickets—again) OK, Giulia can you elaborate?

GC:         I wish writer not make me look like stupid floozy.

SJJ:         Oh, Giulia, I think you give your writer far too much credit on that one.

GC:         (Blank stare)

SJJ:         Thank you so much for joining me on Beyond the Story with my guest, Giulia Como, from The Happy Wars.

Author Bio

Eve Gaal, holds a Master’s Degree in Human Behavior and a Bachelor’s degree in English Literature. She is the author of The Happy WarPenniless Hearts, a standalone sequel titled, Penniless Souls and a short novella called The Fifth Commandment.  

After a long career in advertising, she has written countless stories, poems and articles. Her work has appeared in The Los Angeles Times, The Daily Pilot, several anthologies, and online.

Born in Boston, but a longtime Californian, she lives with her husband and a sweet, rescued Chihuahua called Pinky. Find out more at http://www.evegaal.com

New Release from Author Pete Adams

Author Pete Adams joins me today to discuss his upcoming release Road Kill – The Duchess of Frisian Tun.

SJJ: Thanks for joining me, Pete. Can you tell our readers what genre(s) does your new book fall under?

PA: Crime thriller, but really is:

An au courant, romantic comedy, crime thriller with scary bits. A droll and saucy insight into the Middle Class, Haute Monde and, Geography. Tales of a reclusive England with: The Journalist, The Professor, The Synchronised Swimming Instructor, The Fish Wife, The Dame, The Actress (really Jack Austin), The Geography Teacher, The Gossip Columnist, The Spy, The Police Inspector, The Man from the Council, The Priest, The Knight, The Super-grass (deceased), The Gangster, and, The Lady Blanche.

SJJ: Wow! That’s quite the list of interesting characters and obviously a multi-genres novel.

Are these genres ones you usually write under or are you trying something new?

PA: My books are crime thrillers – The DaDa series is essentially this but with brass knobs on. An idiosyncratic development of the miniseries ‘Kind Hearts and Martinets’ (5 books)

The DaDa Detective Agency is a cosy crime series with amusing notes:

Dadaism was an arts movement that flouted the conventional by producing works marked by incongruity.

The DaDa novels have an idiosyncratic narrative, the intention being to create a DNA spiral of the real and surreal narratives, but there is a rational design with a significant and satisfying, ending.

The central protagonists in the Kind Hearts and Martinets, miniseries, an elderly DCI, Jack (Jane) Austin and Detective Superintendent Amanda Bruce, have a growing following and, it was suggested I develop them into a new series. It has also been said, more than once, that Mandy and Jack are akin to a modern day Jeeves and Wooster; not intentional, but too tempting to ignore. Jack Austin (a cockney Wooster), and the more adroit and decorous and, definitely stronger, Amanda (Jeeves), retire from the police and establish the DaDa Detective Agency.

Picasso said, “Everything you can imagine is real”, and the DaDa Detective Agency books are strangely, real.

SJJ: Who is your target audience for this novel?

PA: It is for readers who enjoy crime stories that have intricate plots with a satisfactory conclusion, but also develop a thread to continues over several books – this is book 1, I have written book 2 (to be published soon) and book 3 is at the editing stage, book 4 – the start is sketched.

I am currently writing my 13th book and although there are various different series, all can be related to each other. In other words, there are familiar characters and plot references so readers will get that ‘Oh yeah’ feeling – an alternative angle on narratives elsewhere, previous support characters now in lead roles etc.

SJJ: When do you expect your new book to be released?

PA: This book is out on 19th August 2020.

SJJ: Please tell us a little about your new book.

PA: Blurb:

Cataclysmic events have occurred in the decorous upper middle class enclave within Southsea, Portsmouth, on the south coast of England.

But what were the circumstances that contributed to this violent clash involving a Sherman tank and a bazooka? The strange occurrence is investigated by Lord Everard Pimple, a naive, upper class twit who not only inadvertently opens a can of worms, but has an introduction into the world of womanly wiles.

Everard’s life is about to blow up like an atom bomb… he just doesn’t know it yet. But after the dust settles, will he still be standing?

—–

Here is a response from a beta reader who has also read and reviewed all 5 books of the Kind Hearts series:

Road Kill marks the first book as we step away from Pete Adams’ ‘Kind Hearts and Martinets’ series. In some ways it is a big step, in other ways small. Imagine a person with long legs taking small steps – that’s the kind of thing!

The first thing you note is a gentle shift in the characters. No longer are we are in the orbit of Jack/Jane/Dick Austin and the Community Policing department in Portsmouth. We are certainly in the same universe, the same city in fact but our points of reference for the majority of this book are new characters. Pimple is as inadvertent a main character as you will ever meet, a court reporter for the local Portsmouth newspaper, given a tip-off about a big story and following it in the hope of his big break.

The one thing that you will not get in this book is travel. The author cleverly sets almost three-quarters of the book in a single house in Frisian Tun; the road Jack and Amanda Austin reside on and saw so much military firepower in the previous series! The story unfolds as the occupants of the house try to explain to Pimple and his glamorous colleague, Cecilia Crumpet what has happened and their part in it. This approach to storytelling is great fun, with the personalities of the different storytellers becoming more pronounced throughout the story.

Everyone will have their own favourite. Whether it’s Aedd, the geography teacher with the wandering accent, the wandering hands of Georgiana Lovebody – the synchronised swimming teacher, the Professor daydreaming about goatherds, or Dame Pimple herself! In truth, the bickering, the personal relationships and slow destruction of the room add a huge amount to the story and make it a fun read.

One other change I would comment on is that Pete Adams has utilised a different writing style for this book compared to the previous books in the ‘Kind Hearts and Martinets’ series. Throughout the book the author makes asides to the reader directly. Whilst this starts as a surprise, it almost becomes its own subplot allowing the author to ponder on characters and their behaviour without interfering with the story’s narrative.

This is the first book of Pete Adams’ DaDa detective agency (Jack/Jane/Dick and Amanda/Duck’s) retirement venture, and it feels like we are in for another fun ride. If you enjoyed the first series then DaDa should be savoured.

Ryan (Debs)

SJJ: This sounds like an interesting read!

Where does the story take place?

PA: Portsmouth – south coast of the UK

SJJ: What inspired you to write this story?

PA: It is a natural sequel the ‘Kind Hearts and Martinets series’. The real and surreal narratives enable me to stretch plots but always with the reader seeing it in ‘reality’ – in other words, it is believable; just. This is what I like to do as an author – to expand comprehension but not to slip into ‘fantasy’ – well, maybe a little bit?

SJJ: What kind of research was involved in writing this story?

PA: None – It comes out of my head – not sure what that says about me?

SJJ: (Smiles) A great imagination.

Was any part of this book particularly difficult to write?

PA: I find all of my writing a challenge / difficult – it requires immense concentration to control complexity of the storylines I create and over many books but, I love it. I am almost obsessed by it.

Alison Baille, author said this “Pete Adams writes clever twisty tales, eccentric characters, crackling dialogue, a talented writer who has complete control of his material”

SJJ: How did you come up with the title? Did you have any other working titles?

PA: I love titles. I more often than not have the title before I start the book. The title inspires me. With ‘Road Kill’ it was the following on from an unlikely (but believable) pitch battle in an upper middle class street. The sub-title: The Duchess of Frisian Tun – is an elusive character, in the ilk of John of Gaunt’s wife, ‘Lady Blanche’ from the Kind Hearts series – for those perceptive enough, you may see that it is also an extrapolation of Chaucer’s Pilgrims Progress, but in a story where the characters do not go anywhere; it is mainly set in one room of one house.

SJJ: Who designed the cover? Did you have much input in the design?

PA: My Publisher uses Mint – I love it

SJJ: What is one of your favourite lines or quotes from the book?

PA: From the Prologue:

Before and After – What follows is before, and then, afterwards, is after. Not afters, as that would be a dessert, say, apple crumble and custard. Suffice to say this is a scary story when you get to the after bits, especially if the custard has gone cold. You, the innocent reader, will be lured into a sense of a secure world of haute-monde and geography and, when you are least aware – Bam!

Warning – What was lovely, could turn ugly. Not Jack Jane Dick Austin, because he was already ugly. However, his wife, Mandy, Duck, Austin, well, she is lovely but, can turn ugly even when Dick had done absolutely nothing wrong, like say, blow up an idyll, kill some gangsters an shit…

SJJ: I can see why that would be one of your favourites

Did you enjoy writing any particular scene? Please tell us a little about it if you can.

PA: I often think about this and it is difficult to select something that was special to me. I do find that with all of my books, scenes and especially the emotions I felt when I wrote them, return and I relive them in my head. For instance in book 12, there is a scene that even now makes me cry.

Road Kill is largely humorous but as Peter Ustinov said, “Comedy is a funny way of being serious.”

However, in Road Kill, I do love the innocent posh junior reporter being lured into taking on a dynamite story by the luscious sex bomb journalist Cecelia. In many ways the story is about the growth of this boy into manhood but in all of my stories, as in all of my life, it is the strong female characters that drive the plot and this scene, and this book, is no different.

SJJ: Does your book have any message or is it purely entertainment?

PA: All of my books have a message of social justice, fairness. This book not so much, because it is tee’ing up for the sequel, where the messages are built into the narrative; I love it when you find a book that you read and know you have to read the next one and the next…

SJJ: How long did it take you to write? To edit?

PA: This is difficult to say. I can never work to a deadline and I am always 2 or 3 books in front of my Publisher. I have 3 books written and submitted and now under contract with my publisher. I have 3 further books completed (I continually return to edit and rewrite sections) and another 2 books that are started and at various stages – again they are linked back to the previous 3 and so, it is a mobile feast.

Whilst writing this book one of the part characters, ‘The Man from the Council’, suggested himself as a lead in the DaDa book 3, just completed and editing, called ‘Wigs on the Green – A Blood Sport’.

If I had to guess, I would say Road Kill took about a year, but during that time I was also pushing on with the sequel ‘Rite Judgement’.

SJJ: During editing, did you have to delete a scene you liked but because it didn’t move the book forward, it had to be removed? Can you describe that scene?

PA: I have done this before and invariably I forget it. In my 3rd book the editor removed a whole chapter and when I objected, she showed me how it didn’t work and suggested I make a short story of it.

I find that nowadays, as I have become more experienced, I edit in a tougher way myself, before the publisher’s editor input, as I am writing and so, I can say, in Road Kill, there are no scenes that were not, in my view, important. I also write a sequel as I am going along and because I am under no deadline pressure, I can go back a book, or even two, and change things so the storyline tee’s up something that happens in latter books and, I have to say, I love it when that happens, when it all starts to hang together.

SJJ: Who is your favourite character? Your least favourite character?

PA: Oh that is tough. I have a male central protagonist, but as I mentioned above, the female characters I use are strong and I love developing those. What is interesting is that not everyone picks up on the fact that the female characters play such a big role in the plotting.

If I had to choose, then Amanda Austin, the wife of Jack Austin.

I do not have a least favourite because even the villains I enjoy writing and, every character plays a part. It is because of this that I commence a new series with previously sidelined characters playing a more central role.

SJJ: Just for fun! If this book became a movie, who would you like to see play the main character and if there’s a villain, who would play that role?

PA: I have been asked this many times and my feelings change, but for the character Jack Austin, I would choose Geoffrey Rush. For Amanda Austin, this is difficult but often I settle for Abigail Thaw.

SJJ: As this book is part of a series, can you please provide a list to the other novels.

PA: Here is the list: as I have mentioned, all the books are interrelated in plot references, even Larkin’s barkin’ which is set in 1966, has references that aficionados of my books would read as an ‘oh yeah’ moment, as something happens that recurs at a later date and in another book

Books by Pete Adams – Published or, written and under contract or, completed and editing or, commenced

The Kind Hearts and Martinets mini-series (5 books): all published

Book 1 – Cause and Effect – Vice Plagues the City

Book 2 – Irony in the Soul – Nobody Listens like the Dying

Book 3 – A Barrow Boy’s Cadenza – In dead Flat major

Book 4 – Ghost and Ragman Roll – Spectre or Spook

Book 5 – Merde and Mandarins

The Dada series:

Book 1 – Road Kill – The Duchess of Frisian Tun – Published 19th August 2020

Book 2 – Rite Judgement – Heads Roll, Corpses Dance – submitted and under contract.

Book 3 – Wigs on the Green – A Blood Sport – written, Publisher aware – editing.

Proposed Book 4 – Hosanna (sub-title to be decided) – commenced

The Rhubarb Papers series:

Book 1 – Dead No More – Rhubarb in the Mammon – submitted and under contract

Proposed book 2 – A Misanthrope’s Toll – Spanish Practices – Sub Rosa to be started.

The Larkin’s Barkin’ series:

Book 1 – Black Rose – A Midsummer Night’s Chutzpah – submitted and under contract.

Proposed book 2: A Deadly Queen, 4 Wars – George George and George are deadLong live Queenie – commenced.

The Avuncular Detective series:

Book 1 – Murder in a Royal Peculiar PART ONE – Seven Fingers – written, publisher aware.

Book 2 – Murder in a Royal Peculiar – PART TWO – A Choir of Assassins – Commenced

PS – I’m loving writing this series and the term ‘an Avuncular’, is used by Agatha Christie – the word avuncular meaning, an advisor or a consigliere in this context

SJJ: Where can your new book be purchased when it’s released?

PA: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Road-Kill-Duchess-Frisian-Detective-ebook/dp/B087Z5QNTZ

SJJ: To learn more about Author Pete Adams and his newest release, you can follow him on his blog tour.

Author Bio

Pete Adams is an architect with a practice in Portsmouth, UK, and from there he has, over forty years, designed and built buildings across England and Wales. Pete took up writing after listening to a radio interview of the writer Michael Connolly whilst driving home from Leeds. A passionate reader, the notion of writing his own novel was compelling, but he had always been told you must have a mind map for the book; Jeez, he could never get that.

Et Voila, Connolly responding to a question, said he never can plan a book and starts with an idea for chapter one and looks forward to seeing where it would lead. Job done, and that evening Pete started writing and the series, Kind Hearts and Martinets, was on the starting blocks. That was some ten years ago and hardly a day has passed where Pete has not worked on his writing, and currently, is halfway through his thirteenth book, has a growing number of short stories, one, critically acclaimed and published by Bloodhound, and has written and illustrated a series of historical nonsense stories called, Whopping Tales (seeking a publisher).

Pete describes himself as an inveterate daydreamer, and escapes into those dreams by writing crime thrillers with a thoughtful dash of social commentary. He has a writing style shaped by his formative years on an estate that re-housed London families after WWII, and his books have been likened to the writing of Tom Sharpe; his most cherished review, “made me laugh, made me cry, and made me think”.

Pete’s Links:

My Facebook book Page:

https://www.facebook.com/Peteadamsauthor/

The Kind Hearts and Martinets series:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Kind-Hearts-Martinets-5-Book/dp/B07SBZL6X8

Twitter

@Peteadams8

Beyond the Story – Black Cloud

Black Cloud

How many lives can one incident shatter?

For one Daylesford cop, this will be their last callout. Another may not make it. A third will call it quits.

Black cloud on a winter’s morning signals what nobody could’ve seen coming. An anything-but-routine welfare check by two Daylesford police officers at a farm in Korweinguboora. A fatal house explosion that leaves a rural community reeling.

Local cop John Franklin and Melbourne journalist Georgie Harvey are among the first responders at the property. The crime scene is compromised by fire and tonnes of water, and speculations run rife. Murder–suicide? Accident or sabotage? An isolated incident or just the beginning?

As lives hang in the balance, Franklin seeks answers and someone to hold accountable while Georgie investigates her toughest story yet. But will one of them crack?

http://mybook.to/blackcloud

I am happy to have a visitor today from the crime thriller novel Black Cloud by Sandi Wallace. Let’s find out a little about our guest.

SJJ: Can you please tell us your full name and where you live?

JF: Hi! Most people just call me Franklin, but for the record, I’m Senior Constable John Franklin, thirty-eight years old, and I live in Daylesford in Victoria, Australia. That’s an inland country town in what’s known as the spa or mineral springs region about an hour and a half from Melbourne. We have a permanent population of 2000-odd people, but that number regularly swells with influxes of tourists.

SJJ: It’s nice to meet you, John… Franklin. Thanks for taking the time for this interview.

How would you describe your personality?

JF: Words are more my girlfriend Georgie’s thing—she’s a journo—but I’ll give it a go. I’m a country bloke. A cop. Some people call me maverick because I am inclined to investigate and handle things my way, rather than necessarily toe to bureaucracy. I guess I am loyal, tough and enjoy a beer, but I don’t fit the dysfunctional hard-bitten, hard-drinking stereotype of a cop, though I can be cynical. I’m single dad to my teenage daughter, Kat, which complicates life, and I probably show my softer side mostly to her and Georgie. Like everybody, I’m flawed and make mistakes.

SFF: So, as you’ve already mentioned, you’re a cop, but can you give us a little more detail about your current occupation.

JF: I’m a senior constable with Victoria Police and currently on secondment with the crime investigation unit (CIU) in Bacchus Marsh. Whether or not I’ll ever be offered a permanent gig as a detective remains to be seen. But I’ve been keen to trade the blue uniform for plain clothes for several years now.

SJJ: Well, I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you.

So, what do you think is the biggest obstacle preventing your from achieving your goal?

JF: Last September, some of our local kids went missing from a camp in Mount Dandenong that I’d organised, along with my sarge, Lunny, and our proby officer, Sam. It was a life-and-death situation, and these were our kids and our responsibility. Without disclosing any further details of that case (you can find out more in Into the Fog), it’s been a push me–pull you with my district inspector and his ideas for my future ever since. At the start of the day on Wednesday 13 June, if he offered me a permanent gig with the Ds, I would jump at it. By the end…

SJJ: Tell us, Franklin, are there any defining moments in your life that made you who you are today?

JF: Plenty—good and bad. It’s the worst times that make us or break us. This case is the worst ever, it’s personal, so it’s going to be one of those defining moments you mention.

SJJ: What about regrets? Do you have any?

JF: Marrying young and ending up a divorcee with sole responsibility for our baby and an unrenovated cottage with a huge mortgage wasn’t how I wanted things to turn out with my first wife. But if we hadn’t gone there, Kat wouldn’t be here. Really, I try not to get bogged down with regrets, but aim to avoid the same mistakes and do better. Sometimes easier said than done though, isn’t it?

SJJ: Most definitely.

When you think of all your accomplishments, what is your proudest moment?

JF: Rather than one moment, can I just say the birth of Kat and her achievements, and her intention to follow my footsteps and become a cop, though it also terrifies me?

SJJ: Of course you can say that. Being proud of your child is wonderful and what parent isn’t terrified at times?

What’s your idea of the perfect day?

JF: The opposite to Wednesday 13 June. On that day, two of my old colleagues from Daylesford Police are at a farm in the small town of Korweinguboora when they get caught up in a gas explosion and house fire. Me and Marty Howell, my partner in CIU, are first responders to the callout. It’s a horror day. These two are my mates. And there’s a family of four and a nurse also involved. Worse still, we don’t know what we’re dealing with yet. Murder–suicide? Accident or sabotage? An isolated incident or just the beginning?

SJJ: Wow! I think any day would be better than that.

What do you do for fun?

JF: Time with Kat and Georgie comes first, though the job has a tendency of getting in the way. But among my other interests, I tinker with or take a ride on my Kawasaki Ninja, hit the local boxing studio, down some beers or shoot pool with my mates at the pub, and watch the footy, either local level or Aussie Rules. Throwing a line in at my favourite fishing spot always softens the edges—though catching a fish is a bonus.

SJJ: And finally, Franklin, what are your plans for the future?

JF: I can’t think beyond this case right now. My focus is to find the truth, answers for those left behind, and someone to hold accountable for this tragedy.

Bio Sandi Wallace

Sandi Wallace’s crime-writing apprenticeship comprised devouring as many crime stories as possible, developing her interest in policing, and working stints as banker, paralegal, cabinetmaker, office manager, executive assistant, personal trainer and journalist. She has won a host of prizes for her short crime fiction including several Scarlet Stiletto Awards and her debut novel Tell Me Why won the Davitt Award Readers’ Choice. Sandi is currently at work on a psychological thriller. She is still an avid reader of crime and loves life in the Dandenong Ranges outside of Melbourne with her husband.

Sandi’s Links

Website www.sandiwallace.com

Amazon www.amazon.com/author/sandiwallace

Goodreads www.goodreads.com/author/show/8431978.Sandi_Wallace

Facebook www.facebook.com/sandi.wallace.crimewriter

Instagram www.instagram.com/sandiwallacecrime

Pinterest www.pinterest.com.au/sandiwallace_crimewriter/

Beyond the Story – The Prodigal Son

In the middle of the night, a mysterious phone call from his past, changes his life for ever. Rob MacLaine, seasoned, battle hardened ex Special Forces operative, is summoned back to his family home on Achravie a small island off the west coast of Scotland.

Rob has had no contact with Achravie since his elder brother schemed to blame him for a car accident which killed a young friend. Having been sent away as a gangly, spotty, tousle haired youth by his father at the tender age of eighteen, Rob joins the army and progresses through various war zones such as Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq, first as a regular soldier and later as member of an elite group of Special Forces operatives.

But now Rob MacLaine is back on Achravie. Unrecognisable as the innocent young lad who left sixteen years earlier. Back to face his past and encounter friends and enemies alike in an explosive reunion with his elder brother and his “security” people. Rob joins forces with group of National Crime Agency operatives to help them solve the mystery of the dark secrets hidden behind the gates of Hillcrest Estate, Rob’s childhood home, now under the control of his elder brother, Bruce.

My guest this week is stepped out from the pages of The Prodigal Son to answer a few of my questions about himself and his busy life.

SJJ: Can you please tell us your full name and where you live?

RM: Robert (Rob) MacLaine, I live in Bourne End in Buckinghamshire, but my home is the island of Achravie, situated between the island of Arran and the Mull of Kintyre.

SJJ: How would you describe your personality, Rob?

RM: Split. Professionally – confident and competent and outgoing – Personally – Often insecure and lacking in self-esteem but still competitive.

SJJ: I think many of us have split personalities between professional and personal and it’s probably a good thing. 😊

Now this is a two-part question, what do you do for a living? And what is your dream job?

RM: I am the CEO of Harper MacLaine Security. Dream job – Laird of Achravie.

SJJ: What would you say is the biggest obstacle preventing you from achieving your goals?

RM: Time, I will achieve my goals.

SJJ: I suppose time can stand in the way.

Tell us something about you that not everyone knows.

RM: Big music fan, Bruce Springsteen, Joe Cocker and Eric Clapton to name but a few

SJJ: Rob, are there any defining moments in your life that made you who you are today?

RM: A car accident on Achravie, where I was brought up. I was wrongly blamed for the accident by my brother and sent away from my family and friends. – Joining the military made me the man I am today

SJJ: That must have been a difficult time in your life.

Do you have any regrets?

RM: Regrets, I’ve had a few, but yet again, too few to mention, as Frank Sinatra famously sang.

SJJ: Ha, ha, well I guess we’ll just leave it at that.

Is there anyone you look up to, consider to be a mentor, either in the past or right now?

RM: Sir Andrew Savage, a good friend and often father figure.

SJJ: When you think of all your accomplishments, what is your proudest moment?

RM: Taking ownership of Achravie Estate.

SJJ: Perhaps your dream of becoming Laird is around the corner. 😊

What’s your idea of the perfect day?

RM: Tomorrow

SJJ: A chance to start over – perhaps?

What would you say are your strengths and your weaknesses?

RM: Strengths – Professional confidence and competence. Weaknesses – Lack of self-belief.

SJJ: What do you do for fun, Rob?

RM: I remember fun, I think I enjoyed it if I remember rightly.

SJJ: Well, I think you should try it again sometime.

And what do you do to relax?

RM: Close physical contact with my wife.

SJJ: Do you have plans for the future?

RM: Build up Achravie Estate as a profitable enterprise and eventually make the island my permanent home.

SJJ: That sounds lovely!

If a movie was made about your life, who would you want to play you?

RM: Douglas Henshaw, he’d get the accent right.

SJJ: And finally, are you happy with the way your story was told?

RM: Reasonably, although it sometimes makes me out to be a violent man. I’m not and I’ll kill anyone who says I am!!

SJJ: Ha, ha, that’s funny! You’re joking – right?

Bio:

I was born in Glasgow, but spent the first three years of my life in London, before moving back to Ayrshire where I stayed for about thirty years before commencing a world tour of Scotland, living in a number of different locations. Over the years I have accumulated four children, nine grandchildren and most recently a great-grandson.

I served an engineering apprenticeship in the aviation industry and at various stages of my working life, I owned a private hire/bridal car business and later, a fifty cover licensed restaurant. However, I spent most of my working life in business development roles, mostly in the Oil & Gas industry. I was lucky enough to travel regularly to very diverse countries including the Middle and Far East, Africa, North and Latin America. Eight years ago, I moved from Aberdeen to Kings Worthy with my wife Val.

I have always enjoyed creative activities. I enjoyed art at school and have been allowed to hang some of my more recent paintings around the house. For as long as I can remember, I have had a yearning to write a novel. Travelling around as I did when I was working full time, I spent hours in airport lounges and hotel rooms where the only television programs were in Portuguese or Arabic, so I started to write “The Prodigal Son.” The rest, as they say, is history!

Links:

Book link – https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07VRXQ5KN

E-Mail: les@leshaswell.com

Linked In: www.linkedin.com/in/leshaswell

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Les-Haswell/e/B0861DL151

New Release from Author R. A. Fisher

Last year, you got to know a little about Author R. A. Fisher and his writing.

Robert joins me again this year to discuss his upcoming release, The Black Wall.

SJJ: What genre(s) does this book fall under?

RAF: The Black Wall is technically science fiction, but has a lot of steampunk and fantasy elements as well.

SJJ: Is this a genre you normally write in or are you trying something new?

RAF: It’s the second book in a series, so it’s what I’ve been doing for a while, though it’s evolved over time. When I wrote the now-scrapped first draft of it years ago, it was pure fantasy.

SJJ: Who is your target audience?

RAF: It’s on the mature end of YA, and anyone that’s interested in the “speculative fiction” range of storytelling. It takes place in a post-technology world, so they use cannons, swords and crossbows along with their dirigibles and steam cars, against a backdrop with advanced technology forgotten by the masses millennia before. There are even some romance elements, though that’s not the focus.

SJJ: When do you expect your new book to be released?

RAF: The Black Wall eBook will be released on Amazon July 14, with the paperback expected a few weeks before then.

SJJ: Please tell us a little about your new book.

RAF: When Syrina finds Anna and Pasha, survivors of General Mann’s assault on the valley hidden in the peaks of the Black Wall, she realizes they may be the key to discovering what she is. But after feelings she didn’t think possible well up for Pasha, things grow complicated.

With the help of Ves, pirate-turned-smuggler, they pursue Mann across the continent. However, growing tensions between factions within the Church of N’narad make the trip more perilous than they counted on.

Can Syrina find the key to herself and the voice in her head, and get revenge against her master? And what price would she be willing to pay?

SJJ: Where does the story take place?

RAF: The Tides Trilogy takes place on the world of Eris, which is an earth-sized moon circling a gas giant they call the Eye. The tidal forces from the Eye are extremely destructive, and what’s keeping them in check plays a central role in the series. Since the destruction of their technological advancements that brought them there thousands of years before, factions have formed, including a theocracy based on citizens buying into Heaven with Salvation Taxes, a nation of pirates, and the Merchant’s Syndicate, who are dedicated to controlling everyone else using long-lost technology.

SJJ: What inspired you to write this story?

RAF: The Black Wall was the first book I ever wrote, starting just after high school, and spanning 18 or so years. When I finished it was… awful, so I scrapped it, but I liked the ideas enough that I wrote a prequel, which became The Kalis Experiments. After that, I took the framework and some of the basic plot elements of The Black Wall and rewrote the whole thing. In the original version, Syrina was a one-dimensional killing machine who played a minor role in the story, and Pasha and Anna were werewolves and the central characters, which tells you something on how much it’s changed.

SJJ: What kind of research did you have to do?

RAF: For the series as a whole, the names of different airship parts and generally how steam-driven machines work. Also, which sides of ships are port and starboard, because no matter how many times I look them up, I always forget.

SJJ: I completely understand. Sometimes, information just doesn’t stick.

Was any part of this book particularly difficult to write?

RAF: There’s an escape scene where, when I first wrote it, I had no idea how the characters were going to get out, so in the first draft it was nine pages of them wandering around in the sewer not doing anything. Eventually, something happened, and later I went back and cut about 7 /12 pages of them milling around, talking about nothing like a Seinfeld episode taking place in absolute darkness.

SJJ: Did you enjoy writing any particular scene? Please tell us a little about it.

RAF: Syrina is a master of disguise, and I always enjoy writing her scenes from someone else’s point of view when she’s dressed up as different characters. There’s one where she’s going around as an old, syphilitic prostitute I had a lot of fun creating.

SJJ: Does your book have any message or is it purely entertainment?

RAF: Some themes that keep coming up throughout The Tides Trilogy are about self discovery; how we find out who we are, and what we do with that knowledge. Does there need to be a “point” to life, or is it ok to just live? Another one that comes up in the first two books is, what is love? Is it just a chemical reaction, or is it something more? Does it matter?

SJJ: How long did it take you to write? To edit?

RAF: As I mentioned, it took 18 years to write the first, terrible version. The rewrite took 8 months for the rough draft, and another few years of off and on editing. The third book is on track to be completely done in 8-10 months, so it definitely gets easier the more you write. As a comparison, The Kalis Experiments took about 5 years from concept to final draft, though I did write two novellas and had a baby in that time, too.

SJJ: During editing, did you have to delete a scene you liked but because it didn’t move the book forward, it had to be removed? Can you describe that scene?

RAF: Initially the first 80-100 pages were focused on Anna and Pasha’s lives in the valley before Mann came, which I later cut and summarized in one conversation between Pasha and Syrina. I really liked the complex society I’d come up with for the people in the valley and their beliefs, but on the first edit I was just waiting for the plot to begin for the first four chapters, so I slashed it all and began at Mann’s invasion.

SJJ: Who is your favourite character? Your least favourite character?

RAF: I guess it’s appropriate that Syrina is still my favorite character of The Tides Trilogy. I connect with both her flaws and her growth, and like I said before, her personas for every situation are a blast to write. I think my least favorite needs to be Pasha. He’s very rigid in his thinking. At first, I tried to push him to be more heroic, but it soon became evident that wasn’t his personality, and he’s often more immature than his little sister. That said, he’s central to some of my favorite scenes and events in The Black Wall.

SJJ: Please name the other published works in this series.

RAF: As I mentioned, this is Book Two of The Tides Trilogy, Book One being The Kalis Experiments, which you can buy here: http://mybook.to/kalis, or you can read the prologue first two chapters here: https://r-a-fisher.com/category/tides/the-kalis-experiments/. The third and final book of Tides, The Grace’s War, should be out within the next year or so if all goes well.

SJJ: Where can your new book be purchased when it’s released?

RAF: Book Two of Tides, The Black Wall, can be found on Amazon here: http://mybook.to/theblackwall, and you can read the prologue and first couple of chapters here: https://r-a-fisher.com/category/tides/theblackwall/.

Bio:

Robert Fisher has lived in Hiroshima, Japan with his wife and five-year-old son since 2015, where he occasionally teaches English, writes, and pretends to learn Japanese. Before that he lived in Vancouver, Canada where he worked in the beer industry and mostly just cavorted about, getting into trouble and eating Thai food.

He placed fourth in The Vancouver Courier’s literary contest with his short story The Gift, which appeared in that paper on February 20, 2009. His science fiction novella The God Machine was published by Blue Cubicle Press in 2011 under the name Robert Fisher.

He has been trying to write stories since he was four years old.

Links:

Website: https://r-a-fisher.com

Publisher’s Page: https://www.nextchapter.pub/authors/ra-fisher

Amazon Page: https://www.amazon.com/R-A-Fisher/e/B07T8PYST9

New Release by Author Ed Duncan

Author Ed Duncan joins me this week to discuss his newest release, Rico Stays. Released this past spring, this final book of the Pigeon-Blood Red Trilogy will be available for kindle download for $0.99 from Amazon.com July 7-11.

I hope you enjoy learning about this fascinating novel and perhaps it will become part of your TBR list.

SJJ: What genre does this book fall under?

ED: The genre of the novel is crime fiction.

SJJ: Is this a genre you normally write in.

ED: This is the only genre I write in.

SJJ: Who is your target audience?

ED: My target audience is anyone who enjoys a good story and is not put off by violence.

SJJ: When was your newest book released?

ED: It was released this Spring.

SJJ: Please tell us a little about your new book.

ED: After enforcer Richard “Rico” Sanders stepped in to protect his girlfriend from a local mob boss’ hot-headed nephew, all hell broke loose.

When the smoke cleared, the nephew had vanished and three goons lay dying where they’d stood. Fighting for his life, Rico was alive but gravely wounded.

Out of the hospital but not fully recovered, he needed a place to crash – a place where he wouldn’t be found. A place like the cabin owned by lawyer Paul Elliott, whose life Rico had saved more than once.

Trouble was, Paul’s girlfriend hadn’t forgotten Rico’s dark history – or Paul’s fascination with him. Vengeful killers would soon be coming for him.

The only question was whether he would be ready to face them.

SJJ: If not mentioned in the above question, where does the story take place?

ED: The story takes place in present day Chicago.

SJJ: What inspired you to write this story?

ED: Rico Stays is the third novel in The Pigeon-Blood Red Trilogy, and The Last Straw is the second. The germ of an idea for the first novel, Pigeon-Blood Red, came to me many years ago when I was still practicing law. I was attending a legal seminar and was taking an evening stroll when in my mind’s eye I saw a beautiful woman traveling alone and carrying something valuable that bad people – dangerous people – wanted to get their hands on. And I saw a lawyer coming to her rescue – or trying to. Over the months and years that followed I filled in details, many of which changed as a result of the multiple drafts and re-drafts. The “something” the woman was carrying became a “pigeon-blood red” ruby necklace.

SJJ: What kind of research did you have to do?

ED: I knew that I wanted what Alfred Hitchcock called the “MacGuffin” – the object that is necessary to the plot – to be something exotic. I settled on a piece of jewelry and stumbled upon the phrase “pigeon-blood red” as a description for the most desirable ruby in the world. I researched the origin of the term and found that it was coined centuries ago by Indian gem dealers. It describes the color of the rarest and most valuable rubies in the world, the same color as the first few drops of blood that trickle from the nostrils of a freshly killed pigeon. I learned that most such rubies originate in Myanmar and that many are smuggled out of that country. I wrote, based on my research, that the highest recorded price paid for a pigeon-blood red ruby was almost a half million dollars per carat. Then, just before the book was published, I learned from a newspaper article that that amount had more than doubled to over a million dollars. Fortunately, I was able to make the change before the book was published.

Not being a gun enthusiast, I also had to research the .45 Sig Sauer 226, the weapon of choice of Rico, my anti-hero. Known in some circles as the Rolls-Royce of pistols, it had been used for years by the Navy Seals (the only part of U.S. Armed Forces that did so) despite its high cost, which permitted me to write, “That was good enough for Rico.” Ironically, the Navy Seals have replaced the Sig Sauer with the Glock 19. Also, the Sig Sauer 226 has been updated, but Rico continues to use his trusty 226.

SJJ: Was any part of this book particularly difficult to write?

ED: No particular part was especially hard to write, but most of the exposition was more difficult to write than the dialogue. That has always been true for me. Dialogue is simply easier for me to write.

SJJ: How did you come up with the title?

ED: I took “Rico Stays” from a line in an old Barbara Stanwyk movie called Baby Face. At one point in the movie a lover of the main character, played by Stanwyk, strongly suggests that she get rid of her maid/friend, who was named “Chico.’ Stanwyk’s defiant reply was “Chico stays!” I liked the line, so just changed “Chico” to “Rico.”

SJJ: Who designed the cover? Did you have much input in the design?

ED: The cover artist is Jacob Arden McClure. Voyage Media in Los Angeles (whom I’m working with to try to convert my novels to a movie or a series) made the arrangements. Jacob has done all of my covers for the trilogy. I outline the stories for him and he gives me three covers (front and back) from which to choose.

SJJ: What is one of your favorite lines or quotes from the book?

ED: “She was a mouth-wateringly gorgeous woman and his mouth watered.”

SJJ: Did you enjoy writing any particular scene?

ED: I especially enjoyed writing the opening scene where Rico is listening intently to a baseball game on the car radio while on his way to a grocery store – soon to be the scene of a bloody shootout – when he becomes so entranced by a baseball game being played on a sandlot by two teams of adolescent boys that he totally tunes out the game on the radio. Later, watching the same game, Rico witnesses one of the boys as he chases a fly ball and collides with a man carrying a bag filled with liquor bottles. That collision starts a chain of events that give rise to the events that form the story in Rico Stays.

SJJ: Does your book have any message or is it purely entertainment?

ED: It is purely entertainment but it does have one message: loyalty is everything.

SJJ: How long did it take you to write? To edit?

ED: It took about a year to write during which there were long periods of inactivity while I awaited the arrival of the muse. My editor (Karen Krombie) did an excellent job. She suggested a schedule which she managed to stick to fairly closely (despite the intervention of Covid-19). I believe the whole process took about one month and three weeks.

SJJ: During editing, did you have to delete a scene you liked but because it didn’t move the book forward, it had to be removed?

ED: Fortunately, I did not encounter this problem.

SJJ: Who is your favorite character? Your least favorite character?

ED: I identify most with Paul who I always intended to be the main character, as he and I are both African American lawyers who were the first minority lawyers to be hired by, and to make partner in, our respective large majority law firms. In short, he is a highly idealized version of myself. However, beginning with the first novel and continuing through Rico Stays, the more I developed Rico’s character, the more he fought to become the central focus of the narrative, because his character is so compelling. Paul also fought hard to hold on to his status as the main character. Alas, while he fought valiantly (and had a subconscious assist from the author), Rico clearly won. Therefore, I suppose I must concede that he became my favorite character.

As to who is my least favorite character, there is no contest. Larry Cosgrove, the hot-headed nephew referenced in the blurb on the back of the book, wins hands down. Lest I spoil the novel, readers will have to read the novel to find out why.

SJJ: Just for fun! If this book became a movie, who would you like to see play the main character and if there’s a villain, who would play that role?

ED: Despite being almost too old (although that never stopped the various incarnations of James Bond), I can see Jon Hamm playing Rico. Unfortunately, no one readily comes to mind to play the villain, Larry Cosgrove. Nor can I think of anyone to play Paul since Denzel Washington aged out of the role several years ago. But I’m working on it!

SJJ: What are the names of the other published works in the series?

ED: As previously mentioned, the other works in the series are Pigeon-Blood Red and The Last Straw.

SJJ: Where can your new book be purchased?

ED: https://www.amazon.com/Rico-Stays-Pigeon-Blood-Red-Book-ebook/dp/B0885HL3LQ

Bio

Ed is a graduate of Oberlin College and Northwestern University Law School. He was a partner at a national law firm in Cleveland, Ohio for many years. He is the original author of a highly regarded legal treatise entitled Ohio Insurance Coverage, for which he provided annual supplements from 2008 through 2012. Ed, originally from Gary, Indiana, lives outside Cleveland.

Ed’s Links

Readers can visit my web page https://www.eduncan.net

Amazon Author Page https://www.amazon.com/author/edduncan

I am also on:

Facebook https://www.fb.com/ed.duncan1210

Twitter (@pigeonbloodred)

Pinterest (www.pinterest.com)