Monday, February 27, 2012

FAST FIVE Interview with Author Judith Price

Please welcome today’s guest, author Judith Price. Currently, she lives in the Middle East. Her first novel, Sudden Deception, is a thriller that takes the main character to areas that Judith writes about with ease. Among the dangerous settings the protagonst finds herself are Turkmenistan and Afghanistan.

  
FAST FIVE: Thank you for visiting today, Judith. Without the restriction of Twitter’s 140 characters, can you share with us a more detailed account of your novel and research for Sudden Deception (A Jill Oliver Thriller)?

JUDITH PRICE: It's a taut, complex thriller, reflecting the political realities of current events, details a week-long, action-packed journey that culminates in a stunning conclusion in Dubai. It depicts the personal journey and physical dangers a woman must take on to save the man she loves — and to save the world.

Jill is a terrorist profiler for the US Marshall Special Operations Group and former Remote Viewer for the FBI. When her new husband David, a war correspondent for Time, disappears while on assignment in the Middle East, Jill embarks upon a journey deep into the region to find him.

 

There are so many interesting elements that I discovered while researching this story. Who knew that there is a whole group (over one million) geocachers aka GPS treasure hunters in the world? When I described the smell of the Kabul airport, it's actually the smell I discovered on one of my trips to Dhaka, Bangladesh.


FAST FIVE: Along with being a terrorist profiler and former Remote Viewer, your protagonist, Jill Oliver, is newly married. Is “the job” the most important part of her life?

JUDITH PRICE: In Sudden Deception, the protagonist pulls herself away from her job and goes to the Middle East in search for David. She has no choice but to utilize her Remote Viewing skills and her kick-ass combat skills to help her on the journey.


FAST FIVE: The Mystery/Suspense genre is the focus of Fast Five interviews, but what unique twist makes your novel stand out?

JUDITH PRICE: Without giving a spoiler alert, I'd have to be vague.  I think the word betrayal is suitable and it doesn't just happen to one of the characters.


FAST FIVE: How does your main character’s profession draw her into suspenseful situations, (murder, for instance?)

JUDITH PRICE: Jill followers her Remote Viewing sessions that put her in dangerous situations where she has to use her trained skills as a US Marshall to avoid capture.


FAST FIVE: Is this book part of a series, and are you working on a sequel?

JUDITH PRICE: This book is the first in a trilogy plus a prequel with the Matthew McGregor story. MM story was too big of a back story for Sudden Deception. And it should be ready this spring.

Indecent Deception is the second in the trilogy and it takes Jill into Europol where she is investigating a money laundering scheme that is aiding a large terrorist cell.  While there she uncovers a century's old sex slave ring that will shock the world when she exposes its leaders.


FAST FIVE: You discovered some interesting information during the research of your novel, Sudden Deception, including the statistics on geocachers. Thank you for sharing the details here today. I look forward to reading more about Matthew McGregor, the nefarious character that aroused my curiosity in your first novel. I will also watch for the release of Indecent Deception. The following is not a Fast Five question, more an “if/then” scenario: If Paris is not an option, then where would you most like to spend your time writing and why.

JUDITH PRICE: I am residing back and forth from North America to Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. I wrote most of Sudden Deception, pen to pad, while floating on a cruiser on the Arabian Gulf. I don't think I'd change that.

Please check out my Blog: www.judithprice.com

Buy on Amazon: http://amzn.to/SuddenDeception

Tweet Me: @judith_price

Friday, February 24, 2012

Sisters in Crime Interview with Deborah Turrell Atkinson

Today’s Sisters in Crime/Hawaii spotlight shines on author Deborah Turrell Atkinson. Debby lives in Honolulu, Hawaii, with her husband and their two teenage sons. She is a recipient of the University of Hawaii’s Meryl Clark Award for Fiction. Her mystery series, featuring attorney Storm Kayama, portrays an insiders’ view of Hawaii.

Sisters in Crime/Hawaii: Debby, you were the first president of the Hawaii Chapter of Sisters in Crime. When did you decide to open a chapter of the national organization, Sisters in Crime, Inc., in Hawaii?

Deborah Turrell Atkinson: I believe I made the decision late 2005 or early 2006 after talking to my good friend, Beth Wasson, who runs National, and a couple of other friends who started chapters in other states. Judy Clemens comes to mind--she started an Ohio chapter and also served as president of National. We had our first Hawaii SinC meeting in November, 2006.
 

Sisters in Crime/Hawaii: What goals did you set for the Hawaii Chapter and its members?

Deborah Turrell Atkinson: My goals were twofold: First, to follow the National Bylaws, which is actually a requirement of a chapter. This is to "combat discrimination against women in the mystery field, educate publishers and the general public as to inequities in the treatment of female authors, and raise the level of awareness of their contribution to the field. Membership is open to all persons worldwide who have a special interest in mystery writing and in furthering the purposes of Sisters in Crime; Inc."

My second goal was to not only encourage the writing of crime fiction, but to educate the members of SinC about the fields of law enforcement. We had speakers from numerous fields: a firearm expert from HPD, who brought an assortment of guns that we got to handle, an Assistant U.S. attorney, an expert in forensic entomology, the Deputy Scientific Director of the Central Identification Laboratory (who helped identify some of Jeffrey Dahmer's victims, the K-9 corps (and their handlers, of course) from the Honolulu Sheriff's Department, and others. Things were pretty lively at times!


Sisters in Crime/Hawaii: You set a high standard for SinC/Hawaii with a diverse group of excellent speakers. While the first mystery novel has been attributed to Edgar Allan Poe, some credit the true origin of the Mystery genre to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle or Agatha Christie. Sydney Lehua Iaukea's The Queen and I (A Story of Dispossessions and Reconnections in Hawaii,) though historical in nature, contains its own mystery and suspense. Does today’s Mystery/Suspense genre carry a broader definition, one that includes traces or even subplots of romance, science fiction, fantasy, and . . . well, most genres?

Deborah Turrell Atkinson: I'm not sure I'd apply a "broader definition" of mystery today. Too many people in the field will hotly contest the difference between thrillers, mysteries, suspense, romance, sci-fi, and so on. There can be overlap, however. You'll see romance in a thriller, but the main thrust of a thriller must still be that ticking bomb, the kidnapped child, the imminent threat. Or some sci-fi element can exist in a mystery, but the author has to stress the whodunnit rather than the futuristic aspect. Hope I'm making sense. If anything, the field has become more complicated since Arthur Conan Doyle.


Sisters in Crime/Hawaii: Even with the advent of limitless subgenres, I agree that the author has to stress the whodunnit in a mystery. Your latest novel, PLEASING THE DEAD, is set in Maui. What is the story’s main plot line, where did you get the inspiration for your protagonist Storm Kayama, and did you have to suffer through extended on-site research before writing the novel?

Deborah Turrell Atkinson: As you may know, Pleasing the Dead is the fourth book in the Storm Kayama series. The story revolves around the trafficking of young women for prostitution and the Yakuza in Hawaii (Maui in particular). I got the inspiration for that idea when I heard Janet Kamerman, the first woman special agent in charge of the Honolulu Division, FBI, speak about problems facing the islands. This was in 2008, and Agent Kamerman gave us a lot of information about how law enforcement has changed since Sept 11, 2001. When I asked her what unique problems the islands faced, she stressed the trafficking of young women, particularly from China and the Philippines.

My inspiration for Storm Kayama came from a character that developed in one of my first novels--one still in a drawer somewhere. I liked her so much, I decided to make her the protagonist of the next book, which ended up getting published. That was Primitive Secrets.

Sisters in Crime/Hawaii: I am reading Primitive Secrets this week and am enjoying the action as well as the setting, in the town of Hilo on The Big Island. Would you please share some information about your participation in Explore Hawaii Book & Music Tour at Borders in the San Francisco Bay Area?

Deborah Turrell Atkinson: That trip to San Francisco was great! What a privilege to be included, and to have my way paid in a gesture of aloha by HVCB! Joanna Carolan, children's author; Cheryl Tsutsumi, travel and food author; Ken Emerson, slack key guitarist; and I were part of one weekend's entourage. Other authors and musicians participated, too, at different times. 


Sisters in Crime/Hawaii: Just for fun, if Paris is not an option, then where would you most like to spend your time writing and why?

Deborah Turrell Atkinson: Paris would be nice!! Actually, though, when I'm writing, I'm best at my own desk. I've worked in hotel rooms, other people's homes, in coffee shops, where ever, but home is best. I treat writing as a job. I need to get to work everyday at about the same time. Though my kids are now older and out of the house, I still sit down around 9 or ten in the morning and often work through lunch into the afternoon.

Sisters in Crime/Hawaii: Thank you for this enjoyable visit today, Debby, and best of luck with your writing where ever you are.

You can find Deborah Turrell Atkinson at her new website:
and at:

Monday, February 13, 2012

Fast Five Author Interview with M.H. Gerber

Please welcome my guest, M.H. Gerber, the author of NIGHT WALKS SOFTLY, the first in a series of novels set in the small town of Yellow River. She has been a French teacher in public and private schools for 30 years. She enjoys reading, writing, gardening, and sewing. She also enjoys cooking but sometimes has a tough time keeping it interesting!

FAST FIVE: Maureen, can you share with us a more detailed account of NIGHT WALKS SOFTLY and your research for the novel?

M.H. GERBER: Night Walks Softly is Anne’s story. We start in the middle of the action; Anne has already fallen in love, decided to leave Chicago and her job at the Art Institute, a job, not a career, to marry Dan Stedman. Dan’s dream is to go back to the town of his roots, to open a law practice, and to have a life that matters all while surrounded by family and community. He is steadfast and rooted, qualities that Anne finds appealing from the start. She has never felt “solid” in her setting; she is looking for meaning. Anne wants connections.

Night Walks Softly
by M.H. Gerber
 Anne is an intelligent and sensitive character. As she moves into their new home, a hundred-year-old fixer-upper, meets his friends, gets to know his family better, she is at first insecure and uncertain. Does she fit here? Will she be accepted? What is her “role?” She does not articulate these fears but some of her behaviors hint of insecurity. Anne copes by plunging forward. She refurbishes her house as her husband builds a business. She works at learning to cook, something she’d always wanted to do but had never taken the time to learn. And she begins a career, a teaching career. Anne becomes the new high school French teacher.

Meanwhile, there is a shadow in the idyllic community. All is not as pristine as it seems. There are drugs in the high school. A teacher has died in a car accident, an accident that seems suspicious. Anne unwittingly becomes involved in an intrigue of crime, danger and murder, simply by doing what she does best—listening, caring, helping.
As the year progresses, not only does Anne become more and more embroiled in the sinister plot, but at the same time, she becomes more of a member of the community, meets friends who become close and creates a stunning and personal home. Seasons change; the plot thickens; she grows. She and her husband become more used to each other, less eager to fulfill preconceived “roles” in their relationship and more comfortable, more together. The story ends with, as one reviewer says, surprise twists and turns, but at the end, dynamic change has happened in Yellow River. Anne has found her way.

FAST FIVE: After your protagonist, Anne, moves to Yellow River, she becomes a high school French teacher. Is “the job” the most important part of her life?
M.H. GERBER: Teachers are creative people. My protagonist creates. Her job is not her main focus. She loves her work, she loves every aspect of teaching and many scenes come either from the classroom, the teachers’ lounge or her home where she is preparing. She loves the grammar and literature she teaches. She enjoys the students, quirks and all. She is passionate about what she does. She loves connecting with members of the school community, working together toward a common goal.
But Anne is first and foremost an artist. She imagines perfection and works to craft it. She wants to build the perfect life, the perfect marriage. At the beginning of the story, her need for perfection is in overdrive and her relationship is a fledgling, not yet able to fly on its own. She works on her house, on her friendships, on her personal creations; all are equally as important to her as her job. For Anne, a full life is the goal. Anne wants it all.

FAST FIVE: The Mystery/Suspense genre is the focus of Fast Five interviews, but what unique twist makes your novel stand out?
M.H. GERBER: My novel works on so many levels. There is a clear suspense element that you see from the first, a thrill, an edge, but there is so much more. We really learn about a place and about how the characters fit into that place. We are invested in Anne, her friends and Yellow River. My unique twist is the sense of community, a sense so profound that I have written two subsequent books with the same setting and many of the same characters. My characters are round ---many of them. They become as real as friends in a setting that is beautiful, believable, hopeful.

FAST FIVE: How does your main character's profession draw her into suspenseful situations, (murder, for instance?)
M.H. GERBER: That’s part of the twist. Who would ever think a French teacher would end up in the middle of a criminal investigation? I dare not say much more so as not to spoil, but a French teacher is the least likely profession for a sleuth like Anne. Anne is not drawn into suspenseful situations, she cares and in so doing just falls into them. Sometimes rather clumsily. I love that about her.

FAST FIVE: Is this book part of a series, and are you working on a sequel?
M.H. GERBER: This is the first of three novels so far. All three focus on the story of one woman.
My second novel, Should Night Come, is the story of Sherry, a CPA who chooses to stay home with two small children. Her husband, the owner of a major company in Yellow River, disappears under suspicious circumstances. Sherry’s business and family are threatened. Will she prevail?

The third novel, Silent Night, has Deb, Anne’s good friend from book one, as the main character. Deb’s story is both suspenseful and romantic. Just as Deb gets her life back together, she learns that Gary is back and that her mammogram is “suspicious.”
I have plans to start another novel after a school trip to France in the spring. I would like part of it to be set in France and going, albeit with students, will give me the inspiration I need to start. Will there be more than four? I don’t know. It’s hard to say…. My characters tend to call the shots.

FAST FIVE: Not a Fast Five question, this is more an “if/then” scenario: If Paris is not an option, then where would you most like to spend your time writing and why.
M.H. GERBER: We have a very small lake house in NE Indiana. That is my favorite place to write. The glimmer of the sunlight on the water, the way the oak leaves rustle in the light breeze, the smells of the water, of the sun, all give me an ideal space. We even have a swan couple that returns each year to raise a new brood. My husband putzes, the kids read, fish, “be,” and I write. Later, we go out on the boat, cook out, hike. It’s all about family and relaxation. You can hear the quiet. No  internet, no doorbell, no “noise.” That’s my dream writing space. The climax of all three novels, coincidentally, happens in NE Indiana lake country!
Maureen, thank you so much for visiting today and sharing information about your Yellow River series, available at:

For more information about author M.H. Gerber and her books, please check these sites:
twitter- @gerbermgerber

Monday, February 6, 2012

FAST FIVE Author Interview with Stella Baker

My guest today is Stella Baker, the author of the mystery-suspense novel, 4 Gigs of Trouble. While reading Stella’s novel, between the action scenes, I found myself laughing out loud at protagonist Antonella Teitelbaum’s descriptive metaphors and similes. One in particular I enjoyed was a reference to Kilauea and Pele, Hawaii’s fiery goddess of volcanos. That should give you some indication of how high Stella turns up the heat. 

FAST FIVE: Welcome, Stella. Thank you for graciously consenting to this interview today. Rather than an “elevator pitch” of 140 characters, can you share with us a more detailed account of the novel and your research for 4 Gigs of Trouble?

STELLA: The opening scene of 4 Gigs of Trouble came to me pretty much complete. I was falling asleep, and in that goofy not-asleep-but-not-really-awake state I imagined an everyday woman confronted by a dying man. This dying man appeared to be a “street bum,” but he wasn’t. He had uncovered a conspiracy, one that, if left unchecked, would cost many people their lives. In fact, he was dying because of this secret. He passes the torch—cryptic words and a 4 gig flash drive—to the woman, and dies.

What was this secret and what would she do? If she decided to do the right thing, how could an everyday woman take on people far more powerful than she? I woke up the next morning still thinking about this woman. That’s how I knew I had to write the book, if for no other reason, I had to find out.

I developed the “bones” for the story. I figured out exactly who this everyday woman was and who would help her and who would thwart her. I knew how I wanted the story to end. I settled on a few key events along the way, as a roadmap to the finish, and then I began writing. I know some writers create a detailed outline. That’s probably a good idea, and I tried that on the first book I wrote, which lies in state under my bed. Enough said.

As to research, I’m lucky. I’ve been a reference librarian for a lot of years and there isn’t too much I can’t find out. When I write, I keep a browser open. When I need a piece of information, I toggle from Word to the internet or a library database and sniff out the fact. Sometimes, the sniffing is complex. For example, I needed to describe exactly how the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in DC handled the transportation of bodies from crime scene to autopsy. In particular, I needed to see how it might be possible to swap a body during transport. After some persistent searching, I found the DC OCME’s policy online. It told me what their procedure is (as of 2003 anyway), and based on that procedure, I figured out how to accomplish my fictional task.

I also get help from others. For example, I needed to find a scary Metro station and be able to describe it authentically. My niece lives in DC and often takes the metro. She identified the scary station, went there, took photos, did a Google Earth shot so I could see the surrounding area, and emailed it all to me, along with her description of intangibles like sounds and odor.

Stella working on her next novel!
But, in the end, we are writing fiction. The writer must create an experience that feels possible, with details that seem real. I think it was great mystery/crime writer Lawrence Block that said “hum a few bars…and fake it.” (From his book Telling Lies for Fun and Profit.) I tried to fake as little as possible, but 4 gigs is, after all, fiction!


FAST FIVE: Your extensive research for 4 Gigs of Trouble helped to give me the feeling of being in on the action as I read each chapter. Your protagonist, an ex marine, is now a teacher. Is “the job” the most important part of your protagonist’s life?

STELLA: Like a lot of women in their late 20s, Toni hasn’t completely figured out where she wants her life to take her. In her early twenties, she followed an interest and joined the Marine Corp. Honestly, her motivation was a mixture: partly to serve her county, partly to carry a gun as an MP, and partly to piss off her mother, whom she loves despite their mother-daughter relationship issues. After the military, Toni had to choose: police work or something less dangerous and, possibly, more fulfilling. Toni chooses her other love, American history, and becomes a high school teacher, much to her mother’s relief. But fate is a squirrely little creature, and this “safe” choice leads Toni to a very unsafe situation.

So what’s the most important part of Toni’s life? Figuring out what she wants her life to be. Being a teacher is certainly an important part. But more important is figuring out how to be a person who is willing to stand up and do the right thing, even when it’s scary as hell.


FAST FIVE: The Mystery/Suspense genre is the focus of Fast Five interviews, but what unique twist makes your novel stand out?

STELLA: The characters. They are funny and quirky and frightened and awesome, and to some degree, I swear I didn’t invent them. Some just showed up, demanding a part. For example, neither uncle was supposed to have such a big part, but those wise guys kept butting in until I, the lowly writer, gave up and gave in. I’m glad I did. Reviewers tell me one of the best things about the book is Toni and the dynamic she has with Lester and Gino, her two very different—and very unusual—uncles.


FAST FIVE: I agree with your reviewers. Toni’s major backup, the two loving uncles, bring their unique brand of humor and conviction to this story and sometimes to the rescue. How does your main character’s profession draw her into suspenseful situations, (murder, for instance?)

STELLA: I’m drawn to writing about everyday people, women particularly, in extraordinary (and dangerous) situations. As such, nothing about Toni’s job as a schoolteacher should draw her into suspenseful—or at least murderous—situations. And that’s what I love…just like in real life, “should” isn’t necessarily “is.”


FAST FIVE: Is this book part of a series, and are you working on a sequel?

STELLA: Fiction requires that the reader willingly suspend their disbelief. But good fiction shouldn’t tax the limits of that suspension. As much as I love Toni, and though some of my readers have asked, I don’t think Toni will be in another book. I mean, a schoolteacher could end up in murderous soup once…but twice? I’m not willing to ask my readers for that much suspension of disbelief.

My next book, The Postman Always Shoots Twice, due out late spring, is about another woman, in a different job, with a different voice and different problems. But guess what? She ends up in the soup too.


FAST FIVE: Thank you for your comprehensive description of your writing process and a sneak peek at your upcoming book, The Postman Always Shoots Twice. Just one last thing. Not a Fast Five question, more an “if/then” scenario: If Paris is not an option, then where would you most like to spend your time writing and why.

STELLA: On a cruise ship, to anywhere. My husband and I like to cruise and a particularly difficult scene in 4 Gigs of Trouble was actually written while cruising Alaska. Watching the ocean stream past me when my mind struggles with “and then…” seems to help me find my footing. I also wrote a scene or two in The Postman Always Shoots Twice while on a cruise to Panama.

And, Gail, thanks for having me today! It was great meeting you and I enjoyed stopping by.


FAST FIVE: You’re welcome, Stella. You have probably given many authors a reason to take a cruise, for inspiration to write descriptive scenes. Thank you again for taking the time for this interview.


4 Gigs of Trouble is available in eBook at Amazon. Paperback is available at Amazon and BN.




Saturday, February 4, 2012

Book Sale at The Makiki Community Library Honolulu

When I first moved to Hawaii in 1992, my timing coincided with the devastation of Hurricane Iniki. It was humbling to watch as locals, kama’aina, and malihini joined forces to demonstrate Hawaiian resiliency. For the first six months, I stayed at the Fernhurst YWCA on Wilder Ave. in Makiki. Whenever I had a few spare minutes, I roamed the area looking for interesting buildings and sights. I discovered an interesting library next to the Makiki District Park, The Makiki Community Library (MCL) and fell in love with its quaint atmosphere. 

Though the MCL is housed within a City and County parks building, it is not a city operation (nor is there any affiliation with the State Library System.) It is managed by the Friends of Makiki Community Library and functions as an independent non-profit group within the building.

Inside The Makiki Community Library

MCL accepts donations of books in good condition and holds fundraisers to cover some of the expenses for keeping the library open to the community as a recreational reading room and lending library. The mission of this library is to provide quality materials and programs that fulfill educational, informational, cultural, and recreational needs of the Makiki community. 

The Makiki Community Library
in background of Park
The Friends of Makiki Community Library
will hold a
Used Book Sale
on
Saturday and Sunday,
February 11 and 12,
from Noon to 4 p.m.
Along with finding some great books for a terrific price,
you can help support your local library.



The Makiki Community Library is located in Makiki District Park at1527 Ke’eaumoku Street, just mauka of Lunalilo Freeway. There is a parking lot off Ke’eaumoku Street about half a block makai of Wilder Ave. Another smaller lot can be accessed from Makiki Street, just makai of the garden plots. Signs on Ke’eaumoku Street and Wilder Ave. list times that street parking is allowed.

Makaki Public Garden Plots

If you want to supplement your books-in-print collection at a price that you might expect to pay for an eBook through the Internet, stop in at The Makiki Community Library on Saturday and Sunday, February 11 and 12. If you see me there, be sure to say ALOHA!

Poinsettia at Makiki public gardens