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:




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)

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.

Meet novelist, playwright, artist and jeweler, Gerard Bianco

It is an honor to have with me today the very talented novelist, playwright, artist, and jeweler, Gerard Bianco. He is the author of the award-winning mystery/thriller The Deal Master. His latest book, Discipline: A Play recently won the Editor’s Choice Award. He is a contributing author in  Now Write! Mysteries, and was featured in Carol Hoenig’s book The Author’s Guide to Planning Book Events.

Laurie: Good morning, Gerard. Let’s start with your first novel, The Deal Master. Without giving anything away, can you give us a brief idea of what the book is about?

Gerard: The premise of the book is based on a mythological tale that comes down to us from the 13th century—modernized, of course. A serial killer is murdering women with red hair. Detective William Gillette and his team are on the hunt, but their investigation fails to turn up any concrete leads. They are clueless as to the identity of the killer or where he will strike next. Enter a mysterious man who holds information vital to the case, but this man will supply this information only through a series of deals. Gillette, desperate for a lead, accepts the stranger’s terms. This plunges the detective into a game for which he is unprepared. Each deal comes with a price, and Gillette soon finds himself in a predicament he can’t get out of unless he strikes the ultimate deal. Is this master of the deal Gillette’s answer to solving the crimes, or is he the detective’s worst nightmare? You’ll have to read the book to find out.

I should also mention that The Deal Master is a mystery/thriller. The story starts out as a mystery, but then slowly, a subtle, more important chain of events begins to take place, and soon the reader is galloping off into a spine-tingling thriller. This makes for an exciting read where you suddenly find yourself caught up in an entirely different adventure with the same characters. Reading The Deal Master is like getting two novels for the price of one.

Laurie: It sounds very intriguing. Your protagonist is Detective William Gillette. There are many murder mysteries written with a police detective as the lead character. What kind of person is he, and what makes him unique?

Gerard: William Gillette, son of the famous NYC detective Phil Gillette, was groomed from a early age to follow in his father’s footsteps. His youth and rugged handsomeness enhance his talent as a natural leader. He is well-liked, focused and serious. He was devoted to his mother, who was abused by his alcoholic father. He is not afraid to bend the rules, or even break them, to get what he wants.

There are some flaws in Gillette’s character, and this leads him to make mistakes. I am not a fan of a story in which an author presents his/her protagonist as someone who knows all the answers, solves all the riddles and shines brighter than all other characters in the book. When you read The Deal Master you feel Gillette’s anxieties, disappointments and trepidations. You know his exultation when he gets things right and you suffer his humiliation when he does something he shouldn’t—and he does this quite often.

Laurie: How much of you do we see in Gillette?

Gerard: I’ve always found it difficult to separate myself from my characters. There is a little of me in all the characters I create—some more than others. This metamorphosis is what breathes life into the characters. They would be made of wood, otherwise. My characters are real; they are made of flesh and blood. They have wants, fears and desires, like everyone else. And I’ll let you in on a little secret: by putting a bit of myself into my characters I get to live their lives as well. I get to solve the case. I get the girl, too. Most people live their fantasies in their thoughts and dreams, but these fantasies disappear when the dreamer stops dreaming. My fantasies last longer and seem to me to be a little more real because they’ve been printed on paper and are bound in a book.

Laurie: There are no doubt many authors, including myself, who have enjoyed the same sense of lasting fantasies. Do you foresee writing a series based on the same character?

Gerard: I’m asked all the time when the next Deal Master is coming. The fact is, I’ve already written a sequel, but it’s all in my head—there’s not a word of it on paper. Quite simply put, there are other projects I want to tackle before focusing on another mystery.

I love the theater and have always wanted to write a play. For the past three years I’ve devoted myself to this project. Voila! My newest book is titled, Discipline, A Play.

Laurie: Tell us a little about Discipline. It’s a comedy, is that right?

Gerard: Yes, Discipline is a zany, adult comedy. It’s funny and romantic. Paige Lovitt from Reader Views said, “Discipline truly made me laugh out loud.” But Discipline is also a powerful and serious play. If read correctly, you will see that it is the study of human behavior, injected with meaning where there appears to be none. It touches on subjects such as social norms, sexual overindulgence, society’s treatment of people with an affliction, the role of women in society as a force of good vs. evil and the advantages and disadvantages of a personal belief system.

The story takes place in Manhattan. The main character’s name is Harold Jenkins. Harold is a man stymied by his inability to overcome the outside forces that control his life. Essentially isolated in his apartment, he fights against the powers that be. Lilly, Harold’s lady love, keeps him at bay, adding sexual frustration to his already perturbed existence. New possibilities arrive for him, however, when he is awakened in the middle of the night by a strange man sniffling on his stove. The story continues from there.

Laurie: Do you see Discipline being acted out on a stage in front of an audience?

Gerard: Absolutely. Discipline was published in January, 2012 and already a local theater director wants to stage a performance. You see, the message of the play is timeless and universal, and it is for this reason that I foresee Discipline being performed locally, nationally and even globally. It’s a fun play—light and comical, even though the underlying message bears significance.

Laurie: That’s wonderful. I hope you will keep me informed about the progress. What else would you like to share with us?

Gerard: I’d be grateful if your lovely readers logged onto my website: to explore more about Discipline and The Deal Master, both of which have terrific book covers, by the way. Readers can also log onto my blog from my website. My blog contains interesting articles about writing, film, fashion and creativity.

Laurie, I want to thank you for this opportunity to speak to your readers. I hope that they have enjoyed this interview and will want to follow me on Twitter and like my Facebook fan page at:

Merci encore!

Laurie: Mahalo nui loa, a hui hou.

All About the Number Seven

I’ve been tagged by Jane Isaac. Like many others I don’t usually go in for chain letters, emails etc. but this one seemed like fun. Here are the instructions:

  1. Go to page 7 or 77 in your current manuscript
  2. Go to line 7
  3. Copy down the next 7 lines as they are (no cheating)
  4. Tag 7 other authors

Excerpt from Stairway to Heaven, page 7.

“That’s why I say it might be time to trade the ol’ girl in for a newer model. Something with a little more fire under the hood, if you know what I mean.” He glanced at me and winked before turning back to the road.

Chapter 2

“Is that Jackie?” Brian asked as he pulled to the curb in front of my cottage.

“That’s him.”

My little neighbor was sitting on my front steps with his dog, Dazy, beside him. Since Brian last saw him, Jackie had started wearing his hair cut short, bleached blond, and spiked. He was dressed in jeans and a red plaid hoodie. A teenager in the making.

I racked my brains on who to tag with and couldn’t resist on coming up with some of the loveliest people on Twitter:

  1. Gail Baugniet
  2. Philip Catshill
  3. Rachelle Ayala
  4. John Betcher
  5. Jerry Last
  6. Melissa Foster
  7. Toby Neal

Can’t wait to see what you come up with!

Press release

Honolulu, HI, March 11, 2012 /24-7PressRelease/ — Following on her successful mystery, Almost Paradise,  author Laurie Hanan returns with another thriller,  How Far Is Heaven? In her new novel, Hanan offers the same blend of Hawaiian flavor, tradition, and lore that propelled Almost Paradise into the limelight. Her writing is loved by locals, those who have moved to the Hawai’i from elsewhere, as well as anyone who has visited—or dreams of visiting—the islands. The five-star reviews her books continue to receive have placed Hanan in the top echelon of Hawaii’s thriller writers.

Like Hanan’s previous novel, How Far Is Heaven? follows the adventures of the unorthodox heroine, mail carrier Louise Golden. Louise makes a conscious effort to live a low-key, no-commitment lifestyle. But when a when a ghostlike figure appears in front of Louise’s headlights on a dark, rainy night, Louise can’t avoid hitting the young woman. After the woman wakes from a coma with amnesia, Louise feels obligated to help her. She finds herself pulled into another mystery with car chases, kidnappings, and—of course—murder.

Hanan’s clean, fast-paced prose has been compared to Sue Grafton, and her humor to Janet Evanovitch. Bestselling author William Bernhardt says, “The mystery is intriguing … there’s more going on in this book than the mere working out of the whodunit … because Hanan is a writer with depth, perception, and insight. This book is a pleasure to read.”

“I grew up on Nancy Drew,” Hanan says. “During my career as a Honolulu postal worker, I noticed how mail carriers move about the neighborhood unobserved, almost as part of the landscape. I thought it would be fun to write a mystery series with a mail carrier as the protagonist. When I retired from the postal service in 2006, I started writing the Louise Golden mystery series.”

Hanan is available for book signings and media interviews. She can be reached by email at  More information is available at her website All Hanan’s works, including  Almost Paradise, are available at Amazon.

Louise Golden is back in a new adventure! HOW FAR IS HEAVEN?

     Have you been wondering what Louise and all her friends have been up to? Find out in the new thriller, How Far Is Heaven? 

Christmas is never easy for mail carriers. But for Louise Golden, the season of good cheer is about to become a nightmare. Exhausted after a long day of  delivering mail in nasty weather, Louise is heading back to the station when, through the heavy rain, a ghostlike figure appears in her headlights. Louise hits her brakes, but it’s too late.

The girl is taken to the hospital, unconscious. Who is she? What was she doing in the middle of the road on a rainy night, dressed only in an oversized tee-shirt? Why hasn’t anyone reported her missing? When Jane Doe regains consciousness, she remembers nothing—not even her own name. Louise befriends the frightened girl, who then disappears.

Louise is suspended from work during the accident investigation, and uses her time to search for the missing girl. Meanwhile, with the holiday in full swing around her, Louise is confronted with religious traditions she feels no connection to. And how in the world is she supposed to sort out her relationships with the four men in her life? Each of them seems almost right, and yet so completely wrong.

Sexier and grittier than Almost Paradise, The second Louise Golden mystery takes the reader on a true Hawaiian roller coaster ride.