Review of SHARK DIALOGUES, by Kiana Davenport

Shark Dialogues, by Kiana Davenport

shark dialoguesIf ever a book deserved more than five stars, it is this one. Each paragraph flows like a poem, and I found myself reading the same words again and again, trying to absorb all the ideas contained in each line. This is not a fast read, by any means, but well worth taking the time to read it well.

The lines between story and myth blur as this expansive saga follows seven generations of a family in Hawai’i. The often-dark, angry tale begins as “Pono’s girls” are summoned to the Big Island by their 84-year-old grandmother. The four mixed-race cousins, who have scattered across the globe, are united  only by memories of summers shared in the home of the fearsome Pono. Now they return to the run-down coffee plantation once again to face the six-foot-tall kahuna with flowing gray hair, who uses a cane made from a human spine and possesses the power to kill with just a look. The reader is then taken back to 1834, as a shipwrecked, one-eyed whaler turned cannibal falls in love with a runaway Tahitian princess. The story then centers around their great-granddaughter, Pono. At sixteen, Pono falls in love with Duke, a pure Hawaiian surfer. Duke contracts leprosy and the two young lovers go into hiding, living like animals in the wild jungles as they are pursued by bounty hunters. Duke is finally captured and imprisoned in the leper colony at Kalaupapa, on the Island of Molokai. The love story between Duke and Pono spans more than sixty years and has to be one of the most extraordinary, most haunting, tales of all time. The reader is brought to the present, as Pono’s granddaughters wrestle with the secrets of their family’s past. They finally learn of their grandfather, who—ashamed of his leprosy—had made Pono vow not to tell anyone of his existence.

This story carries an underlying theme of the racial tension that still simmers just beneath the surface in modern day in Hawai’i. It revolves around the Hawaiian matriarch who, though she despises foreigners, is actually of mixed race herself, granddaughter of an American and a Tahitian. Pono’s daughters marry non-Hawaiians and produce a mixed bag of grandchildren, four of whom become the other central characters in the story. As a non-Hawaiian raised in the Hawaiian Islands, these islands are the only home I know. I have always counted the Hawaiian people as my own. And yet, they will never count me as one of them. I have spent my life studying Hawaiian history, doing my best to understand and sympathize with the anger at the injustices inflicted on the Hawaiians by foreigners—Americans in particular. This book does a good job of shedding light on the political complexities, the rage and frustration that still drive Hawaiian activists today.

Apart From Love: Murderous Sparks and Murderous Rages

It’s my pleasure to have as my guest today Uvi Poznansky . While she doesn’t write murder mysteries, according to Uvi her characters do harbor murderous thoughts. Here’s what she has to say about them:

Laurie:  Your novel, Apart From Love, is a cross between Contemporary Romance and Family Saga. Tell me a little about it.

Uvi PoznanskyUvi:  My novel, Apart From Love, is an intimate peek into the life of a uniquely strange family: Natasha, the accomplished pianist, has been stricken with early-onset Alzheimer’s. Her ex-husband Lenny has never told their son Ben, who left home ten years ago, about her situation. At the same time he, Lenny, has been carrying on a love affair with a young redhead, who bears a striking physical resemblance to his wife–but unlike her, Anita is uneducated, direct and unrefined. This is how things stand at this moment, the moment of Ben’s return to his childhood home, and to a contentious relationship with his father.

Laurie:  Tell us about the Anita, the girl in the midst of a firestorm of passion in this story.

Uvi: Anita is has been dabbed “a diamond in the rough” by one of my reviewers. She is so direct, sultry yet naive, and most of all, different… How, you may wonder out loud, did she spring from my mind?

The answer is a bit odd. At first I decided to model her as the-opposite-of-me. By which I mean a lot more than just her use of language (talking in sentences laden with ‘like’ and the dreaded double-negatives.) Anita was to become a bold and spontaneous spirit, anything but repressed. She would be promiscuous. Her voice would be shockingly direct:
“In my defense I have this to say: When men notice me, when the lusty glint appears in their eyes, which betrays how, in their heads, they’re stripping me naked—it’s me they accuse of being indecent.
Problem is, men notice me all the time.
How can a girl like me ever claim to be innocent? Even if I haven’t done nothing wrong, I’m already soiled, simply because of their dirty thoughts.”
And from the beginning she would move quickly to get what she wants:
“The minute our eyes met, I knew what to do: so I stopped in the middle of what I was doing, which was dusting off the glass shield over the ice cream buckets, and stacking up waffle cones here and sugar cones there. From the counter I grabbed a bunch of paper tissues, and bent all the way down, like, to pick something from the floor. Then with a swift, discrete shove, I stuffed the tissues into one side of my bra, then the other, ‘cause I truly believe in having them two scoops—if you know what I mean—roundly and firmly in place.
Having a small chest is no good: men seem to like girls with boobs that bulge out.”
I don’t even know how it happened, but once Anita started talking in my mind—which she did for nearly a year—I started to like her more and more. I asked myself, how would she play against Ben, who is a complex character, hesitant, highly sophisticated? How would she play against Lenny, a would-be author who is so proud of his refined expressions, when her background is so different from his? To my surprise, Anita ended up taking over not only the story, but also me.

Laurie: What kind of relationship starts forming between her and Ben?

Uvi: Facing a woman that brings memories of his mother to his mind, a woman who is married to his father yet is younger than him, Ben’s mind plays tricks on him. Here is how he describes his reaction to her:
“I open my eyes and at once, fear awakens in me. No, not just fear—but something more severe, something like a rage, a murderous rage. Right now it is a vague emotion, still without form.
“I do not even want to know at whom it is aimed—but I recognize that it is fueled, in part, by desire. It turns me white with anguish, as if I have just walked through glass, shattering it—or let my fingers spread open, dropping an egg to the floor, or a fossil, the fragile fossil of a fetus.
I move the knife away from me and—trying to avoid any rush moves—I turn to take a look at Anita: her outline is framed, for an instant, by the kitchen door. The next instant she is gone.”
Anita, for her part, can sense the murderous spark in his eyes:
“I pity him, seeing how consumed he is by desire. His entire body is like, burning up. And his eyes, they’re fluttering around me until—like a moth heading, in a roundabout way, into a light source—they connect with mine. I can sense his hate sometimes, and at once pull back from him, ‘cause I spot how hard his jaw is set, and even, how murderous the spark right there, in that shadow under his lashes, which reminds me of some animal, getting pretty tense, like, getting ready for the kill.”

Laurie: When you write a book, is the place where the story takes place important to you? Give me an example of the setting in Apart From Love.
Apart From love
Uvi: I find that you more likely to gravitate towards a story if the place is familiar to you–you have your own memories of it, perhaps–or if it sweeps you away to a distant place, a place you have never visited, or even envisioned before?
Here is an excerpt from Apart From Love, where the protagonist, Ben, talks about coming back to town, and seeing San Vicente Street with fresh eyes–seeing it as it is and as it was then.
” The reason I know this place, the reason it ignites such emotion, such passion in me, is not the sight of these homes—but the majestic trees, whispering in the night air. Planted at regular intervals along the median, as long as the eye can see, they are named Naked Coral Trees. Naked because—according to my father—they shed their leaves annually.
During our walks that spring, dad would point out the tree: Its fiery red flowers, that looked like fat pinecones at the tips of irregular, twisting branches, and the seeds, which in certain species were used for medicinal purposes by indigenous peoples. The seeds were toxic, he warned, and could cause fatal poisoning. I learned that mature Coral trees should be watered frequently—but not during the summer months. In fact, he said, the less water in summer, the more flowers you can expect the following spring.
I cross two lanes of traffic, come closer to one of those Naked Coral Trees, and with great awe, brush my fingers across the trunk. It is a contorted, elephantine thing, with a roughly textured bark, and thick roots clinging fiercely to the earth. This being early October there are no flowers, no leaves, even. The tree seems to take on a humanoid appearance, as if it were the body of a character, or even several characters, mangled beyond recognition.
It is a stunning sight, which has fascinated me since childhood. Above me, the bare limbs—some of which have been pruned recently—are branching apart, and looking at them you can imagine a knee here, an elbow there, someone wrestling, someone in embrace.
As you walk past them, the trees seem to tell you a story line by line, scene by scene. In one tree I could see a man and a woman, kissing; in another, a father and son.”

Find out more about this talented author and artist at these sites:


Interview with Malika Gandhi

Laurie:  I’m excited to have Malika Gandhi with me here, West of the Equator. Good morning, Malika.  So happy you could join me from the other side of the globe. Please tell our audience what your book is about.

Malika:  Freedom of the Monsoon is about five individuals who struggle against pre Indian Independence – the Quit India Movement. It is a story where we see sacrifice evoked by love and compassion but also anger and hate. The genre is historical with romance.

It is not a political story but a personal one. The book is told from the viewpoint of five, who are childhood friends. Little did they know that their country, their world was going to change drastically when Mahatma Gandhi called the Quit India Movement.

Laurie:  Do you have one main character, or is the story told equally by several different characters? Who are the protagonists?

Malika: There are five characters and each tells their story from their viewpoint.  I think Pooja is the protagonist, for her story is very personal and will touch the lives of so many, as is Rakesh’s who is a freedom fighter.

Laurie:  Why did you choose to write about this time in Indian History? Is it personal to you in some way?

Malika:  When I was a child, I saw a movie called 1942 A Love Story. This is a Bollywood movie and is set during the Quit India Movement. It showed me that horrific time and what happened. It made me begin to think and research the pre-independence era.

I thought about the lives of those Indian people and how they felt during that time. What made some of them to become a freedom fighter? How did they cope when a loved one was taken away during this Indian war against the British Raj? There were so many questions in my head that I wanted answered and I wanted non-Indians and Indians alike to – especially NRIs – non-resident Indians, to know more about this time in history.

I suppose in that way, it is personal to me.

Laurie:  What is the harshest criticism you’ve received as an author?

Malika:  I suppose that I write English as a second language? My first language is Gujarati. As well as speaking my native language, I have grown up in England speaking English from as early as I can remember.

Laurie:  Has that criticism changed the way you write in any way?

Malika:   I don’t think it has changed me at all.

Laurie:  Do you have any pet peeves when it comes to what you read? (For example, I hate semi colons).

Malika:  I don’t like unformatted works or wrongly used punctuation. I try and make sure my manuscript is properly formatted and has minimum punctuation flaws or preferably, none at all.

Laurie:  Are you working on a sequel?

Malika:  Yes, I am working on my second book which has a working title – Petal.

Laurie:  Can you tell us what it’s about?

Malika:  It is set in two consequent years – 1947 and 2012.

1947 sees the character of Anjali, who is a minor character in Freedom of the Monsoon. In the first chapter, she is seen running from killers of the post-Independence era, which is then called Partition (of India).

2012 sees the character of Arianna, who is the subject of two lovers. She travels to India and finds something different and yet exciting in an old haveli (an old Indian mansion).

These two are connected by paranormal activity.

Laurie:  You are originally from Mumbai and now live in the U.K. How is life in the U.K. different from life in India?

Malika:  I was born in Mumbai (called Bombay then) but moved to the UK when I was two, so I have really grown up here. Life in the UK is very different. Even though the same cultures are followed here in the UK, the perspective of everything is so different, in attitude especially.

Laurie:  Who are your favorite authors?

Malika:  I love J.K.Rowling and just recently, Ruth Warburton. They both write about witches, which is something I am partial to.

Laurie:  Do you have any favorite Indian authors?

Malika:  I am a fan of V.S. Naipaul too and I like Meera Syal.

Laurie:  What do you look for when searching for the next book to read?

Malika: I love to read fantasy and paranormal books, even children’s books – if they are anything like J.K.Rowling.  People say – do not judge a book by its cover, but for me, that is impossible. A cover for me sets the tone of the book and that is what leads me to read it.

Laurie:  Is there anything else you’d like to tell us?

Malika:  Please read Freedom of the Monsoon. It is very different but interesting too.

Malika Gandhi’s Bio:

Malika Gandhi lives with her husband and two sons in the East Midlands, UK. She is a homemaker and in between caring for her family, she writes her books and dabbles in a little painting too. She loves to experiment with different mediums, such as oils, acrylic and watercolour.

Malika was born in India but moved to London when she was two, where her father was already settled. She travelled with her mother and brother.

Malika has lived in London, studied in Southampton and moved to Leicester after her marriage, which is where her husband and his family live. A girl moves in with her in-laws after marriage, at least for a short time.

Malika loves to watch movies, visits art and history museums and is curious about the universe.

Links to purchase Freedom of the Monsoon: – Amazon UK – Amazon USA – Malika’s publisher

Links to my blogs: – About Me, My book and Everything else – The Unicorns’s Book Reviews

Facebook Pages:

Facebook Timeline:



Mondays Are Murder interviews Sabrina, the protagonist from Run Into The Wind

Mondays Are Murder has started something different! I will be interviewing protagonists from novels about murder. Today I’d like to introduce to you Sabrina, created by author Lynn Hubbard.

Laurie: Good morning, Sabrina. It’s wonderful to have you with me today. Please give us a little introduction to the story you star in.

Sabrina: Ummm Hello, I’m Sabrina and Run into the Wind is about my life. My mama always called me a “free spirit”. I guess that means I don’t like doin’ housework. I’d rather be off fishing or helping the hands with the spring foals. Life was good until them outlaws came to town. They murdered my family and would have killed me if I didn’t sneak off to go fishing. If I would have had my shotgun on me the story would have ended there.

Laurie: Oh, my. What a horrible thing to happen! What did you do then?

Sabrina: After my folks died, I ran away from my domineering brother and headed west. He hired every two-bit bouty  hunter to come after me, so I hid out in Oklahoma. Of course a lone girl in Tulsey sticks out like a new penny. So I became “Will” and dressed as boy.

Laurie: What an an ingenious plan. How did you get by?

Sabrina: There was an opening at the corral so I took it. Horse’s have more sense than most people anyway, so I felt right at home. I’d rather be shoveling horse crap any day than gussied up at some fancy ball.

Laurie: I’m with you there. I love horses. So tell us, what’s it like for you, living there?

Sabrina: It isn’t easy, however, Life never is. I like working and it helps to keep my mind off of the past. It’s hard to think about losing my family. I have nightmares some times, but the horses don’t mind. They bring me comfort.

Laurie: Who are your supporting cast – family, friends, neighbors, etc.?

I try to keep to myself mostly. The less town folks noising into my business the better. But Mr. Swanson, my employer is a good guy. And Mac the bartender is the nearest thing I could call a friend. There aren’t too many women in Tulsey. The saloon girls are alright, but Sally Reynolds, the Doctor’s daughter makes me want to spit nails. She acts like she can’t do anything. And she’s always prancing around town in new dresses from the east. Blech!

Now we have gotten a new sheriff recently. Brock. He’s a bit different than the rest. And to tell you the truth, he makes my toes curl. Of course he thinks I’m a boy. As I said, Life is hard.

Laurie: Yes, it does sound as though life is hard. But you’ve managed to work things out. What are your best attributes?

Sabrina: My green eyes.  I wish I would have inherited my mama’s golden red hair as well, but I don’t have the best of luck.

Laurie: What are your character flaws, and do they sometimes help you?

Sabrina: Sometimes I talk without thinkin’ first. Mr. Swanson is always getting on to me for that. And I might be a bit impulsive. But I’d probably be dead now if I wasn’t.

Laurie: It sounds as though your “flaw” is what saved you. Think about the author who created you. Is she anything like you?

Sabrina: Heck No! I don’t think Lynn has ever caught a fish in her life! As far as riding a horse, well let’s just say it’s harder than it looks. But she is a pretty good story teller.

Laurie: Are you satisfied with the way the book ended?

Sabrina: Oh yes! I was very, very happy if you know what I mean. Of course Lynn’s fans weren’t too happy it ended. They wanted to hear more. So Lynn wrote “Chase the Moon”. Why she named it after Brock’s loud mouth brother, I’ll never know. As if his ego wasn’t large enough already.

Laurie: It’s good to know there’s a sequel available. If you could change the ending to your story, how  would it be different?

Sabrina: I lost another one of my friends. Brock says I shouldn’t blame myself. But who else is there? He died protecting me, it just isn’t fair.

Laurie: I can’t imagine how awful that would be. Will there be more books about you?

Sabrina: Well “Chase” of course and Lynn has been mulling over a new adventure if she ever finishes the Revolutionary War book she’s working on. She’s been piddling with it for ages.

If you want to read my whole story visit Lynn’s Site and sign up for her newsletter.

Lynn’s  website,   BlogFacebookTwitterGoodreads or sign up for my Newsletter!

Run into the Wind -Amazon

Chase the Moon –Amazon (Free with Prime!)

The Next Big Thing

So, here’s the plan:

1.  Answer the following ten questions about a current WIP.
2.  Tag five other writers and link their blogs so we can all hop over and read their answers. It’s that simple.

1.] What is the title of your book? 

My working title is Another Day in Paradise. All the titles in the Louise Golden mystery series come from songs, and refer to Paradise or Heaven. The song Another Day in Paradise deals with homelessness, an issue I also touch on in this book.

2.] Where did the idea for the book come from?
The origins of the plot came from something that actually happened to a friend of mine. Her dog was stolen, and her mail carrier found the dog living at another home on her route. A similar situation kicks off my story, though what happens next is entirely fictional.

3.] What genre would your book fall under?
Mystery with a strong female protagonist, just this side of cozy. I avoid graphic descriptions of violence, explicit sexual situations, and profanity (at least in English), thought there are situations that would not be found in a typical “cozy”. In this book there is some indelicate use of the Portuguese language.

4.] Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
Though Louise is younger than Meg Ryan, I’ve always seen her as the Meg Ryan type. I’m not sure about the male characters.

5.] What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
A dog is stolen from a customer on her route, and mail carrier Louise Golden soon discovers that there is more sinister afoot than a dog napping ring.

6.] Is your book published or represented?
With the help of my lawyer, I pulled out of a publishing contract. I am now using a small indie publisher.

7.] How long did it take you to write?
Since this is supposed to be about a work in progress, I am referring to a work still in progress. So far I’ve spent about 9 months on it, and still have a ways to go. My hope it to have it published in early December.

8.] What other books within your genre would you compare it to?

Readers most often compare my writing style to Sue Grafton and Janet Evanovich. I am honored, because these are two of my favorite authors. I’d say my books are somewhere in between the two.

9.] Which authors inspired you to write this book?

I’ve always wanted to write a mystery series that could compare to Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Millhone series, and Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plumb series.

10.] Tell us anything else that might pique our interest in your book

It’s too soon for a back cover blurb. I’ll just say this is the third installment in the Louise Golden series. If you enjoyed the first two, you’ll love this one.

And now, five awesome writers whose work you want to watch:

Gail M. Baugniet (mystery)

Jane Isaac (mystery)

Douglas Wickard (mystery/thriller)

Philip Catshill (crime/thriller)

Patricia Paris (romance/romantic mystery)

FREE FOR 5 DAYS: MURDER BY PLANE Author T.E. Avery on writing, flying, and the roaring 30’s

Good morning everyone! It’s a beautiful Tuesday morning here in the land of aloha. Due to family issues, I got off track with my MONDAYS ARE MURDER interviews. But I’m back today with author T.E. Avery to talk about his novel, MURDER BY PLANE. The book is available FREE on Amazon for the next 5 days so be sure to download your copy! If you don’t have a Kindle device, download the Kindle app to your phone or computer. Happy reading!

Laurie: I’m so happy to have this chance to talk to you, Tom. First, please tell us about your protagonist, Reginald St. John.

Tom:  Reginald was a flying ace during the First World War, but he dislikes talking about it and has nightmares about the war.  He flew after the war as a Hollywood stunt pilot and then became a star of silent movies.  Reginald had stage training as a young man.  This allowed him to make the transition to talking pictures.  Reginald had been engaged to an actress, but she died in a plane crash.  Reginald was the pilot.  He lives with the memory and guilt of her death.  He drinks too much and this has all but ended his career.

Laurie: As an actor and a pilot, how is Reginald in a position to solve a mystery?

Tom: Reginald worked behind enemy lines during the war and learned to use his smooth voice to interrogate prisoners.  Reginald can even hypnotize people who are not especially strong willed.

Laurie: Is there a lot of yourself in St. John?

Tom: No way.  Reginald is brave and cool.

Laurie: Are you a pilot?

Tom: I was a private pilot as a young man and owned a Cessna 150.  My grandfather was a WW1 pilot.

Laurie:  Why did you choose the 1930’s as a setting for your story?

Tom:  I have always loved the films from the 1930s, especially mysteries and screwball comedies.

Laurie:   What kind of research did you have to do to write the book, especially considering it takes place during an era you don’t remember yourself?

Tom: I wrote the draft and then did my research on the internet and from books and film.

Laurie:  Was there anything surprising you discovered in your research about life the 30’s?

Tom:  I’m always surprised by the strength and the skills of that generation.  I do not think I could have done as well, back then, as they did.  I loved researching the swing music.

Laurie: Is there anything else you’d like to share?
Tom: Murder By Plane will be free for the next five days on Amazon Kindle.
My reading and writing life as inspired by classic films and books:
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Robert Spiller: Why I Write Cozies

Today I’m talking with an author who has chosen an unusual genre, with a unique protagonist. I’m very pleased to welcome Robert Spiller to Mondays Are Murder.

Laurie: Good morning, Robert. Thank you so much for joining me this morning. Very few male authors write from a female perspective. Why did you choose to create a female protagonist, rather than a male?

Robert: Good Question, and one that I still ask myself.  Here goes:  I have a friend, a fellow math teacher, who I think has many of the qualities an amateur sleuth should have.  One in particular is a phenomenal memory (which at times is a real pain in the rear end).  She’s honest, compassionate and dogged in the pursuit of truth. She loved teaching (she’s retired) and in particular the teaching of teenagers.  Thus Bonnie Pinkwater was born. Also, I had written a Sci-fi with dual perspectives, male and female and so I naively thought, “How hard can it be?”

Laurie:  Which leads to my next question. You know the saying, Men are from Mars, women are from Venus. How difficult is it for you to get into the mind of a woman so you can accurately write from her perspective?

Robert: I write another series (as yet unpublished) with a teenage male protagonist, so when I switch back to Bonnie my thoughts require a bit of a shift. Three things help. One is that I’m currently writing the fifth Bonnie Pinkwater mystery, Napier’s Bones.  Because I can go back and read the previous four installments, I usually read a chapter or two and get back into the mindset of a fifty year old widow, who has little patience with fools. In addition, I am lucky to be in a critique group with some wonderful female writers. They aren’t shy about letting me know when I step out of bounds and abandon my feminine side. And since I have been with Bonnie for almost a decade, she has become my favorite character to write. I may not know the minds of every female on Earth, but I think I know what makes her tick.

Laurie: Bonnie Pinkwater stands out from the usual female sleuth because of her career. Please tell us about her, and how her career leads her into one mystery after another.

Robert: That’s the cool thing about writing cozies (very little sex and violence: think Miss Marple) and amateur sleuth mysteries. Unlike cops and private eyes or even medical examiners, school teachers have absolutely no reason to involve themselves in a murder investigation. In every book I must create a reason for Bonnie to be smack dab at the heart of a series of murders. Sometimes she is a suspect. Sometimes she is convinced the lead investigator has it wrong – a deputy sheriff who happens to be a former student.

As for Bonnie herself, she has a fierce love of her students and more often than not this love will not stand still for injustice, either when one of them is harmed or accused of something she knows they didn’t do.  In my current work in progress a very special gift addressed to her is found in a grave of a thirty year old murder victim.  This gift will draw her into decades old multiple murder conspiracy.

Laurie: Robert, you yourself are a retired math teacher. Have you imbued Bonnie with a lot of your own personality, or is she entirely different from you?

Robert: Initially, Bonnie was as sweet as the woman I was modeling her after. In the final mix down, that didn’t work for me. I needed her to be a bit more edgy. One thing I did was give her an affliction, which she calls her Imp of the Perverse. Bonnie seems driven to say and do things which get her in trouble and which almost invariably she regrets. This device allows me to toss into her personality some of my own failings (I have my own Imp of the Perverse) and also allows me to add humor to the mystery. In the end, Bonnie is a bit like me but is a far, far better and smarter person.

Another feature of the Bonnie Pinkwater mysteries is that Bonnie is an expert in the History of Mathematics, particularly historic mathematicians (Math History is a hobby of mine). Each book, although contemporary, features some portion of the life of a historic mathematician. My recent release features Leonhard Euler, in my opinion the most prolific mathematician to have ever drawn breath. Thus readers get to learn some cool stuff along with solving an entertaining mystery.  Also, something in the lives of these historic figures gives Bonnie that AHA moment when she knows the identity of the killer.

Laurie: You described your books as cozies, another unusual choice for a male author. Why did you choose this genre, rather than hard boiled crime?

Robert: I’ve spent 35 years in a profession I love. It’s what I know and where my passion lies. I have also spent most of those years teaching in a small town on the plains of Colorado. Once I decided to place my stories (and my murders) in this setting, I knew who would be my sleuth.  No one is like a long-time teacher in a small community. They get to know everyone from the ground up, have known them since they were little squirts. Plus, if they’re like Bonnie they push their nose into everyone’s business. I needed a cop on the scene (Bonnie’s former student, Deputy Byron Hickman) but I didn’t need to have my sleuth be one.  In the end a teacher just sounded like more fun.

Laurie: You live in a beautiful part of the country. When you aren’t writing, what do you enjoy doing?

Robert: I hike and bike in the mountains, and in perhaps a few of the best urban parks on the planet – Garden of the Gods, Waldo Canyon, Lovell Gulch, Palmer Park, Red Rocks Canyon, Cheyenne Canyon are all within spitting distance of where I live. Also, I have a two year old grandson, who I don’t see nearly enough. Lately, since I’ve retired from teaching I’ve taken to going back into classrooms to speak about writing to aspiring young writers.

Laurie: I have visited some of those parks myself and they are fabulous. Is there anything else you’d like to share with us?

Robert: Let’s see, I have a few books I’d like folks to know about: The Witch of Agnesi, A Calculated Demise, Irrational Numbers, and the most recent, Radical Equations.  We’re talking life-changing literature people. Please friend me on Facebook. I have a weekly math problem (Friday) that everyone is invited to try.  Also there is Twitter (@SpillerBob) and my blog SpillerWrites:  Just recently I posted a mini-class on Setting (although I’ve also posted on such subjects as tribute bands, grandchildren, cucumbers, and chickens. If you’re an author, I would be happy to interview you.


Thanks for this fun interview.  And last, for all of you mystery readers (and Writers), remember Left Coast Crime Mystery Conference will be in Colorado Springs in 2013.

Author Patricia Paris talks about romance and murder

It’s a beautiful morning in Hawaii for Mondays Are Murder. Today I have with me author Patricia Paris.

Laurie: Good morning, Patricia. So glad you could talk with me today. I know you are basically a romance novelist, but this blog is about murder, so I’ll focus on your book, A Murderous Game. The plot makes it sound like a typical crime thriller. Is that what it is, or is this book a romance that happens to contain a murder?

Patricia: I am a romance novelist, and write two different types of romances. The first are contemporary romances that are both sweet and passionate. In these, the hero and heroine are faced with difficult decisions that threaten their new found love. My Cedar Cove Series: This Time Forever and Letters to Gabriella are examples of these. The second are romantic suspense, like A Murderous Game.

I wouldn’t call A Murderous Game a thriller, more so a mystery. The heroine, Abby Carpenter, is going through a difficult divorce. Her husband is a master at bullying her into concessions and embarrassing her through a string of public infidelities. As a way of dealing with her anger and frustration over his continual demands, or “exorcising the demons” as her best friend, Rachael, calls it, Abby imagines different ways of killing her soon to be ex. Her life is turned upside down when the man turns up “really” dead, and Abby becomes the primary suspect in the murder.

Her newly developing romance with Gage Farriday, a powerful man from her past, who was awarded a multi-billion dollar development contract that her dead husband had also bid on, leads to further complications when Gage also becomes a suspect. As the detective on the case begins to narrow in on the case, the murderer tries to cover their tracks, putting Abby right in the line of fire.

Laurie: That sounds both intriguing and exciting. What kind of person is your protagonist, Abby Carpenter?

Patricia: I see Abby as a very independent, career-minded woman who tries to make the best of whatever life throws at her. She has a wonderful, occasionally biting, sense of humor, but most of it self-directed. Despite becoming the target of a sleazy reporter’s expose, she finds a way to face the world with her head held high—at least until she can return to her townhouse each evening where she believes herself to be safe. She’s a bit of a dreamer, with a kind heart, but she has a quiet strength that serves her well when she needs it most.

Laurie: How do you come up with the characters in all your books? Are they based on people you know, or are they purely fictional?

My characters just come to me. Oftentimes, they take on different attributes and behaviors as I write the first draft and they begin to get more flushed out. None of my characters are based on actual people, although I will sometimes give them a characteristic, habit, or a quirk of people I’ve encountered over the years, like my hero, Blake in This Time Forever, who has a definitive habit of sticking his tongue in his cheek when he’s pondering something. For the most part, they’re purely fictional, but as they come from my head, I’m sure a bit of me has spilled over into each of them somewhere.

Laurie:  When did you begin your writing career?

Patricia: I’ve been writing since I was a little girl. As a very young child I wrote stories about animals, imaginary friends, or taking some wonderful adventure. I wrote my first novel in high school. It was horrible! I still have it in a box in the basement, and it’s amusing to look back on it every decade or so. I also wrote poetry in high school and was often a contributor to the school newspaper. My first published novel, This Time Forever, which was released about nine months ago, took me over three years and dozens of rewrites before I was satisfied with it. But there were several written both before, and in between, that I have stuffed away in file drawers waiting to be pulled out to see if I want to rework them.

Laurie: How much time do you put into writing?

Patricia: I spend most of my time writing. I’m fortunate in that I don’t work outside the home, so I can devote as much time as I have energy for on my writing. I do some form of writing almost every day. When I get stuck on plot, or my characters aren’t cooperating, I’ll sometimes take a break from my WIP for a few days or more to let things brew. While that’s bubbling on the back burner, I’ll usually work on another book, either outlining or flushing out what I’ve already written.

Laurie: What are you currently working on?

Patricia: I have two WIP’s going at the time. One is the third installment of my Cedar Cove Series, titled: Return to Cedar Cove. My primary focus right now however is on the sequel to A Murderous Game, which is titled: Run Rachael Run. It is also a romantic suspense, but slightly darker and a little edgier than A Murderous Game (AMG). The heroine, Rachael Gooding, was Abby’s best friend in AMG, and she’s a real corker! I can’t tell you how many readers contacted me to ask if I was planning to write a book for Rachael. She’s a high-spirited, in-your-face if she has to be, heroine. Her stunning good looks make men drool in her wake, but they cause her more problems than they’re worth, including murder. Run Rachael Run is set to be released in the Spring of 2013.

Laurie: Your fans clearly have a lot to look forward to! Is there anything else you’d like to share?

Patricia: I’d like to thank you, Laurie, for inviting me to spend time with you to talk about A Murderous Game. Although I’m a romance novelist at heart, I love all genres, and am an avid reader, especially mystery; so it was fun for me to focus on my story through the mystery lens as opposed to the romance one which I generally do.

Laurie: Find A Murderous Game and all of Patricia’s books on Amazon:

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Author David Bishop Talks To Mondays Are Murder

The Hawaiian sun is setting on this Monday, but it’s never too late for murder. I am pleased to have with me the author of a number of excellent books, David Bishop.

Laurie: Thank you so much, David, for taking the time to answer a few questions this evening. You’re a very prolific author, with five books recently published and two more planned for release in the next several months. How long does it take you to write each book?

David: I began seriously writing mystery fiction in 2003. I delayed coming to market with my books because I wanted to study the craft and write-write-write before inflicting my early efforts onto an unsuspecting readership. By the time I brought The Beholder, a Maddie Richards Mystery to market, I had four novels finished, subject to the constant tinkering that authors do. As my study of the craft gave me greater skill, I went back and reworked each of the novels to reflect the lessons learned. I wanted to launch with several books to establish myself as a quality writer capable of supplying loyal readers with a continuing stream of stories.

Laurie: You proceeded with a great amount of patience—much more than a lot of authors do. Your write about a number of different protagonists. Do you foresee any of them reappearing as part of a series in the future?

David: The short answer is yes. In fact, this process is already started. The leading man of Who Murdered Garson Talmadge, a Matt Kile Mystery, will star in a second novel that will come out in June, The original Alibi, a Matt Kile Mystery. The Blackmail Club, a Jack McCall Mystery, is my second mystery starring Jack McCall; the first was The Third Coincidence. These two McCall stories are already available. The Beholder, a Maddie Richards Mystery, has been very popular. My second mystery featuring Maddie Richards will come out in the spring of 2013. The working title is Empty Promises, a Maddie Richards Mystery. Maddie will be joined by Ryan Testler who costarred beside Linda Darby in The Woman, a mystery well flavored with romantic suspense. So, yes, I love series characters and my readers will continue to see Matt Kile mysteries and Maddie Richards mysteries.

Laurie: Your fans definitely have something to look forward to. How much of your own personality do you put into your main characters?

David:  I suspect every author slips a little of himself or herself under the front door of his fiction. I certainly do. My sense of humor is definitely in evidence. Matt Kile is the protagonist through whom I most displayed the humor, but it is in all the stories to some degree. Also, I am a romantic so I strive to deliver enough of a romantic side story to please my female readers without being too much for men folk.  Beyond that my twenty plus years as a financial analyst gives me the attention to detail which comes into play as I plan the crimes, the salting of clues, and the solutions. I am also a big believer that justice should prevail, in some fashion; however, the justice doled out is often not in the traditional structure.

Laurie: It’s quite a trick to write a book that appeals to both genders. What about your secondary characters? Are any of them  based on people you’ve known? How do you come up with your characters?

David: Some characters are based, at least in part, on people I know. Sometimes the victims are based on people I don’t like. I encourage my friends to be nice to me so they won’t end up on the floor of one of my mysteries. Life and living brings us into contact with people constantly. Also I am a great observer of people. I see tics and talents I find interesting and often these are brought out in my characters.

Laurie: Now you’re going to have all your acquaintances in a who’s who guessing game. In Who Murdered Garson Talmadge, there is a dog named Asta. Are you a dog lover? Do you own a dog?

David: Asta was a fictional dog owned by Nick and Nora Charles in the wonderful book, radio, and movie series, The Thin Man. I used Asta as an historical drop-in to bring a smile to those readers who saw the connection, yet structured it so it would not be distracting to readers who did not see that connection. I do like dogs, have owned several, but not at the moment.

Laurie: I’m a dog lover myself, and saw the connection right away.

Would you name some of the authors who inspire your work?

David: So many who have come and gone, sticking to my own genre: Dashiell Hammett (Sam Spade and the Thin Man), Raymond Chandler (Philip Marlowe), Mickey Spillane (Mike Hammer), Willard Huntington Wright (Philo Vance), Earl Derr Biggers (Charlie Chan), Rex Stout (Nero Wolfe), and, of course, Agatha Christie and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I shy away from mentioning living authors as there are so many whose works I admire.

Laurie: Do you have any writing pet peeves?

David:  I interpret that question to mean pet peeves with how other writers do a certain thing. If I did them, I’d just stop, thereby avoid the pet peeve. Like most readers, I am turned off by overly lengthy descriptions of almost anything, the exception being tense scenes. These should be broken down into inches and seconds to present the heightened stress at a nearly real-time pace. Two-thirds of a page describing a sunset or a bush or whatever is too much. We’ve all read books where we find ourselves skipping ahead to the next paragraph when the writer falls victim to diarrhea-of-the-mouth descriptions. As a reader, I also lose patience with stories which start too slowly, and keep that pace too long. For me, those books become wall bangers just before I pick up a different novel. I don’t want my books to be wall bangers for anyone.

Laurie: Is there anything else you’d like to tell us?

David: Yes, if I may, a statement to everyone reading this posting. The last several years I have been writing well enough to allow me to say: My stories are good. Take a journey with me. Laugh. Hold your breath. Cheer. Boo. The characters are rich, and the plots are grabbers. I promise most of you that you will be very glad you came along. I’d promise all of you, but nothing is liked by everyone. Some people don’t like golf, or chocolate, or apple pie, or even a hearty laugh. But I’ll bet you like some of that stuff and I’ll bet you’ll like my mysteries.

Yours Very Truly, David Bishop

History’s Most Famous Murder by Proxy, with Rachelle Ayala

Today in Mondays Are Murder, I’m excited to be featuring a very different kind of book. It isn’t a crime novel or a mystery whodunit, but a story about a murder, nonetheless. In fact, one of the most famous murders of all time. I think you’ll be as fascinated as I am by the tale Rachelle Ayala tells in Michal’s Window.

Laurie: Good morning, Rachelle. I am so pleased you could join me to talk about your fascinating book. Please give us a brief description of your debut novel, Michal’s Window.

Rachelle: Michal’s Window is an experiential treatment of the life of King David through the woman who loved him first. On the surface it is a historical romance, but as in real life, nothing is straightforward and love does not always triumph. Michal loves, loses, celebrates and grieves, but is vindicated in the end by the love of God who would never leave nor forsake her.

Laurie: Without giving away too much of the plot, tell us about the murder that transpires in your novel.

 Rachelle: The murder of Uriah is the most famous murder by proxy in history. David, the king, commits adultery with Uriah’s wife and impregnates her. When Uriah fails to cover up by sleeping with his wife, David orders his commander to put Uriah in a dangerous position and then withdraw the rest of the forces so he would die.

Laurie: For those who are familiar with the Biblical story, what surprises will we find in Michal’s Window?

Rachelle: Oh, I’ve embellished it so much, you’d have to have the Bible open as you read along to separate fact from fantasy. Let’s just say there’s a disturbingly hunky Philistine warrior, a goddess worshipping priestess, magic spells and henna painting, a hand-fasting scene with double serpents and a crimson rug of love.

Laurie: It sounds like a story that would appeal to readers of all genres, whether or not they have a particular interest in the Bible. What was it about this particular Bible story that touched you so strongly that you felt you must write a full length novel about it?

Rachelle: While David’s affair with Bathsheba is probably the second most famous Bible story, after David and Goliath, Michal’s role in David’s life has been diminished by Bible scholars, most of whom were men. Here was a princess who fell in love with a lowly servant, who was the only woman the Bible mentions as loving a man, and who sacrificed her comfortable lifestyle, position, family ties, and ultimately her husband David’s love to save him from her father. She lost everything she held dear when she let David escape from her window. Take a moment and realize that Michal saved the line to Jesus Christ. Yes, she made mistakes and was not the perfect wife, but the Bible immortalizes her love for David in two places, and I believe David immortalized his love for her in 2nd Samuel 3:5.

Laurie: There are many stories in the Bible of God using women to bring about epic historical changes. Let’s get back to the murder. How did Michal react to David doing away with Uriah?

Rachelle: She pretty much suspected David of having had an affair with Bathsheba, but the murder of Uriah caught her by surprise and she was horrified. For the first time, she actually walked out on David and refused to play along with his schemes. She matured as a woman and would no longer settle for a one-sided relationship.

Laurie: What about Bathsheba? How did she feel having to marry the man who murdered her husband?

Rachelle: Bathsheba was not a main character so I didn’t delve deeply into her psyche. She appeared aloof and lukewarm during her tenure in the harem. Later on, her grandfather led the conspiracy against David. I would imagine she would have been bitter about losing her husband and put all her hopes into her son, Solomon, to become the next king.

Here’s what she says in a fight with Michal over the Queen’s crown:

“You think I want it? It has cost me. Everyone. I. Love.” Her raging breath spit in my face as she detangled the crown from her hair and smashed it into my cheekbone with a bruising clunk. Ahinoam and Haggith broke us apart. Bathsheba sobbed in Ahinoam’s arms. I picked up her queen’s crown and looped it on my arm. Ayala, Rachelle. Michal’s Window (Kindle Locations 10091-10093). Amiga Books.

 Laurie: Do you write full time now?

Rachelle: I’m a retired software engineer, so between my duties as mother and wife, you could say I write full time, although being an indie author, promotion and marketing consume a significant portion of my day.

Laurie: I can sure understand all of those issues. What are you currently working on?

Rachelle: I’m absolutely in love with my current work, Broken Build. It takes my experience as a software engineer and transports it to new levels of danger and excitement not found in the green and grey cubicles of my former life. Let’s just say it’s a Romantic Suspense with a touch of comedy and lots of broken bodies, code, and lives. You can find out more about it at my blog.

Laurie: Hopefully you’ll come back again to talk with me about your new book. What authors inspire your work?

Rachelle: This is actually a difficult question. I read so widely. There’s Agatha Christie, Michael Crichton, Diana Gabaldon and definitely Lisa Gardner, absolutely love her! But these days I read almost nothing but indie work.

Laurie: Lisa Gardner is one of my favorites, too. Wonderful that you support other indie authors–we need all the support we can get.  Is there anything else you’d like to share?

Rachelle: David’s life is a lesson on God’s love and mercy. He can take a premeditated murderer and give him two sons, Solomon and Nathan, who lead physically to Jesus Christ. David was far from perfect, but his repentance and dependence on God is an object lesson for all of us.

There is no hole too deep Your love cannot fill, no place too far You cannot go.” Michal’s prayer over Tamar, David’s daughter who was raped by his son Amnon.