Book Club Visit

img_0835I had a great time earlier this week visiting the King Albert Street book club in Coquitlam, BC.

The ladies in the club had read Horse With No Name and then asked me to join the group and answer questions. We talked about character motivations, history of the North Okanagan, transgendered cowboys, and lots more.

They even fed me cheese, which makes them my best friends for life. 😉

Indie Author Day 2016

I had the great pleasure of participating in Indie Author Day on October 10, 2016. The downtown branch of the Vancouver Public Library hosted 30 authors in the promenade area. Photos from left to right: Reading from Horse With No Name With my friend and fellow author Joel Mark Harris Indie authors on the VPL …

Q&A with Thriller Author Michael Parker

Today I’m thrilled to have British thriller author Michael Parker answer some questions about his books and his writing.

Michael ParkerMichael is the author of ten books. His first novel, NORTH SLOPE was published in 1980, and is now available as a POD paperback and Kindle on Amazon.

You can find out more about Michael and his books at www.MichaelParkerBooks.com


1. What drew you to writing the types of books that you write? Books that interweave historical events, mystery and elements of the thriller genre.

Having been brought up with children’s classics through to ‘grown up’ fiction, I became fascinated with authors such as Hammond Innes, Desmond Bagley, Denis Wheatley and many others. I discovered new authors in the library such as Nigel Tranter who wrote ‘The Master of Gray’, a novel about Queen Elizabeth and Mary, Queen of Scots. One of the writers who had the biggest impact on me was Mickey Spillane with his Mike Hammer novels. Ed McBain was another. So there was a fairly eclectic mix of authors from which I learned the art of story-telling in different genres.

2. A couple of your books involve events from WWII. Is this period of particular interest to you? Do you think you’ll write another book set in this time?

Devils TrinityWhen I learned that the British invented centimetric radar to defeat the Nazi wolf packs in the Atlantic in World War Two, it fascinated me enough to want to write something. I invented a fictitious island off the north coast of Scotland for the story. Apart from the military research, I studied much about whaling and life on a remote island and how the island community lived. I don’t think I’ll write another war story though.

3. Where do your ideas for books come from?

Usually from some relevant fact. i.e., The discovery of oil in Alaska (North Slope). Centimetric radar (Shadow of the Wolf). Constructing a railway line from Mombassa to Uganda in the nineteenth century (Hell’s Gate). An American project to divert the Gulf Stream in the nineteenth century, later abandoned (The Devil’s Trinity). The sale of Nazi gold by the Bolivian government (I had a friend who was involved in the early stages (A Dangerous Game). There are other reasons, of course, but mainly inspired by real life events.

4. One of your reviewers described your books as ‘impossible to put down’. How do you create tension and compelling forward momentum in a book?

I believe it is important to keep the reader ‘hooked’. An opening paragraph is the first hook, but each scene should, I believe, finish with a hook too; this encourages the reader to want to read on. When I put my characters in seemingly impossible situations, I have to come up with a way for them to extricate themselves without inventing something that would seem unlikely. The elements of those situations must be planted elsewhere in the plot without the reader realizing why they are there.

5. Your book that was released earlier this year, A Dangerous Game, is set in present-day America and Mexico. Do you have a preference for writing in the present or the past?

Eagles ConvenantI’ve no particular preference; it depends on where my inspiration has come from. Writing in the present means keeping up with modern trends like technology etc., whereas writing in the past means I can avoid such things as cell phones, computer hacking, forensic science etc. But whichever way I go, it doesn’t make it easier.

6. Please share a bit about the book you are currently writing.

I have brought Marcus Blake back (A Covert War) to investigate the death of a British cabinet minister. Officially the minister died from cancer, but a suicide note was found by his body with a disgusting revelation about his private life. The police and the coroner are all satisfied it was suicide, but one man believes it was murder. Marcus has a part time secretary working for him. Her name is Vereen and she is a single mother on benefits who likes smoking marijuana. Marcus learns of a private clinic where illegal genetic engineering is carried out. The cabinet minister was connected to this in some way, but his secrets have gone to the grave. Vereen comes under the influence of a nightclub owner who is involved with a satanic set and is also linked to the dead minister.

I am about halfway through the first draft and have a couple of dead bodies in there so far. This novel isn’t inspired by anything other than to change direction a little and develop a mystery thriller.

Historical Chicago and Characters Who Insist on Being Seen with Tracy Tonkinson

Podcast episode 31Tracy Tonkinson is a fellow Canadian author who has a deep love for history. In this interview she explains what drew her to write about late 19th century Chicago. We also discuss her character Drew McMillan, who made himself known to Tracy, and had such an effect on her, that she’s now writing a second mystery series featuring this Pinkerton agent.

In the introduction I mention that podcast guest Cassidy Salem will have the next book in her Adina Donati series available next week. You can learn more about Dying for Data here.

You can find out more about today’s guest, Tracy, and all her books on her website DiamondAndDoranMysteries.com. You can also find her on Facebook.

Press play (above) to listen to the show, or read the transcript below. Remember you can also subscribe to the show on iTunes. And listen on Stitcher.

You can also click here to watch the interview on YouTube.

Transcription of Interview with Tracy Tonkinson

Alexandra: Hi, Mystery readers. I’m Alexandra Amor, this is It’s a Mystery podcast and I’m here today with Tracy Tonkinson. Hi, Tracy.

Tracy: Hi, Alexandra, how are you?

Alexandra: Very well, how are you?

Tracy: Good, thank you.

Alexandra: Good, excellent, so let me introduce you to our listeners.

TracyTTracy Tonkinson is the author of “Madman” and of “Poison,” the first two books in her “Diamond And Doran Mystery Series,” which follow rookie cop Arthur Diamond and the veteran sergeant Billy Doran as they clean up 19th century Chicago.

Also out soon is “Argent,” which is the first book in the “Drew McMillan Case Files” series and this one follows the early career of Pinkerton agent, Drew McMillan.

Let’s begin talking about Diamond and Doran.

Let’s start by talking about Sergeant Billy Doran. Tell us a bit about him. He’s an Irish Catholic living in Chicago.

Keep reading →

Lesbian Mysteries, Dangerous Settings, and Pond Frogs with Cari Hunter

Podcast episode 30Big congratulations go out to my guest on this episode Cari Hunter, who, a few days after we recorded this won the Best Mystery / Thriller award at the 2016 Golden Crown Literary Society awards (also known as a Goldie).

Cari is a full-time paramedic and part-time writer. As she mentions during the interview, her work informs her writing in a number of areas, including giving her a keen ear for dialogue, and an enjoyment for writing it.

In the introduction I mention that podcast guest Janel Gradowski has a new book out in her Culinary Competition Mystery Series called Banana Muffins and Mayhem. You can learn more at Janel’s site here.

And I also mention the mystery I’m reading at the moment; the third book in Paul Doiron’s series set in the Maine Wilderness. The book is called Bad Little Falls and I adore the sense of place and the deep character development that Paul brings to his books.

You can find out more about today’s guest, Cari, and all her books on her website CariHunter.wordpress.com.

Press play (above) to listen to the show, or read the transcript below. Remember you can also subscribe to the show on iTunes. And listen on Stitcher.

You can also click here to watch the interview on YouTube.

Transcription of Interview with Cari Hunter

Alexandra: Hello, mystery readers. I am Alexandra Amor and this is “It’s a Mystery” podcast. I am here today with Cari Hunter. Hi, Cari.

Cari: Hello.

Alexandra: How are you today?

Cari: I am absolutely fine, and the sun is shining for once which makes a change for this part of the world.

Alexandra: That’s great. Yeah, we’ve got gray skies and rain here in the middle of July.

Cari: It’s been like that, so it’s a rare occasion when the sun actually peaks through.

Alexandra: Nice. Well, let me introduce you to our listeners.

CariHunterCari Hunter lives in the northwest of England with her wife, two cats and a pond full of frogs. (I’m going to have to ask you about the frogs later.) She works full-time as a paramedic and dreams up stories in her spare time. Cari is the author of six novels and currently in the middle of writing a new crime series based in the Peak District.

The first in the series, “No Good Reason”, won best lesbian thriller at the 2015 Rainbow Award, and its sequel, “Cold to the Touch”, was published in December. A third book, “A Quiet Death”, is due for publication next year in January 2017.

Let’s start by talking about the Peak District. That’s something I’m fascinated by. I love a strong sense of setting in a mystery novel, and I really try to incorporate that in my books.

You live in the Peak District is that correct?

Keep reading →

Stubborn Characters, Future Spy Thrillers, and Abundant Creativity with Kasia Radzka

Podcast episode 29Today I’m interviewing Australian author Kasia Radzka. Kasia has a series of crime thrillers featuring her ‘stubborn’ investigative journalist sleuth Lexi Ryder. Kasia and I discuss the origin of characters, writing habits, and whether or not outlining a plot works for her.

I’ve added a new segment to the podcast where I mention new books being released by former guests. I’ll add this intro to the audio recording each week, though it won’t be included in the YouTube video.

This week two guests of the show have new books out. Malcolm Richards, who I spoke to in Episode 11, has released his next book in the Emily Swanson series; the book is called Cold Hearts. You can learn more at Malcolm’s website.

As well, Renee Pawlish, who I spoke to in Episode 22, has a new book in her Dewey Webb PI Series called Murder in Fashion. You can learn more at Amazon.com.

You can find out more about today’s guest, Kasia, and all her books on her website KasiaRadzka.com.

Press play (above) to listen to the show, or read the transcript below. Remember you can also subscribe to the show on iTunes. And listen on Stitcher.

You can also click here to watch the interview on YouTube.

Transcript of Interview with Kasia Radzka

Alexandra: Hi mystery readers, I am Alexandra Amor. This is It’s a Mystery Podcast and I’m here today with Kasia Radzka. Hi Kasia.

Kasia: Hi Alexandra, how are you?

Alexandra: Very well, how are you?

Kasia: Good, thank you. Thanks so much for having me on the show.

Alexandra: Oh you’re so welcome, it’s my pleasure, I’m looking forward to talking to you very much. Let’s give everyone a little bit of information about you.

KasiaRadzkaKasia Radzka is an author, athlete wannabe and blogger living with her husband and son on the Gold Coast, Australia. In her lack of spare time, she likes to run marathons, eat fine food and drink good wine, discover new places and write action-packed novels. She’s currently working on book number four in her Lexi Ryder Crime Thriller series. So that’s what we’re here to talk about today.

Why don’t you start by telling us a little bit about Lexi.

Kasia: Okay, Lexi is an investigative journalist who likes to get herself into trouble. So trouble seems to follow her around everywhere and I suppose she likes to get into the way of people who do bad things.

Alexandra: Was she a character that you, let’s say, that you created from some sort of inspiration or did…where did she come from?

Keep reading →

Writing Thrillers on Trains, Visual Story Ideas, and Kidnapping Plots with Rachel Amphlett

Podcast episode 28Thriller author Rachel Amphlett grew up reading thrillers. She mentions both Dick Francis (perhaps my all-time favorite mystery author) and Enid Blyton in our chat; those were two authors who introduced me to the world of mysteries as a young person as well.

I asked Rachel about writing in a genre that is predominantly occupied by men, but like JF Penn, she doesn’t let that phase or stop her. Her Dan Taylor series concerns a former British soldier struggling with PTSD, as well as an injury received during a run-in with an IED.

You can find out more about Rachel and all her books on her website RachelAmphlett.com. And as with so many of my guests, Rachel has a book – and two book extracts – available for free. You can find that on her website.

Press play (above) to listen to the show, or read the transcript below. Remember you can also subscribe to the show on iTunes. And listen on Stitcher.

You can also click here to watch the interview on YouTube.

Transcript of Interview with Rachel Amphlett

Alexandra: Hi, mystery readers, I’m Alexandra Amor. This is “It’s a Mystery” podcast and I’m here today with Rachel Amphlett. Hi, Rachel.

Rachel: Hi.

Alexandra: How are you?

Rachel: Good, thanks, and thanks for having me on the show.

Alexandra: Oh, you’re so welcome. It’s great to have you here. Let me introduce you to our listeners.

RachelAmphlettBefore moving to Australia in 2005, Rachel Amphlett lived in the UK and helped run a pub, played guitar in bands, worked as a TV and film extra, dabbled in radio as a presenter and freelance producer for the BBC, and worked in publishing as a subeditor and editorial assistant. Her thrillers appeal to a worldwide audience and have been compared to Robert Ludlum, Michael Crichton, and Clive Cussler.

Thank you so much for being here with me today, Rachel. The thing that I found so intriguing about your books, or one of the things, is that you’re a woman writing in a man’s world. We mentioned J.F. Penn just before we started recording and the conspiracy theory-thriller genre really is dominated by men.

Can you talk a little bit about that? What drew you to this genre?

Keep reading →

New Romantic Mystery from Alexandra Amor

I have been remiss in mentioning this. I got too busy writing the next book in this series and very nearly forgot to let you know about the first book. 😉

Love and Death at the Inn:
A Juliet Island Romantic Mystery

60% Mystery. 40% Romance. 100% escape.

Born and raised on Juliet Island, Maggie Archer’s whole life is dedicated to the rustic inn her parents built. When a guest is found dead, the inn’s already precarious financial situation teeters on the brink. Maggie begins to wonder if the growing number of accidents at the inn are really just that, or if something more sinister is at play.

Elliott Simon’s life has recently gone off the rails. His stop on Juliet Island is meant to be temporary but when he finds a body floating in the ocean his plans are put on hold by the RCMP. Complicating matters is his growing attraction to the owner of the Cormorant Inn, the beautiful and headstrong Maggie Archer.

When a fire strikes at the inn, and it looks as though it could have been deliberately set, Maggie and Elliott are in a race to find the perpetrator before more tragedy strikes.

Love and Death at the Inn is the first in a series of cozy romantic mysteries set on the wild west coast of British Columbia.

If you like character-based stories where friendship and love form the foundation, beautiful locations, and a little bit of romantic entanglement, then you’ll love Alexandra Amor’s heartwarming Juliet Island Romantic Mysteries.

*Note: there are occasional instances of swearing in this book, including the odd F-bomb.

Purchase now in ebook or paperback at the following retailers:

Kobo
Amazon
iTunes
Barnes and Noble

The Swinging Sixties, Dirty Weekends, and Rat-Like Cunning with Peter Bartram

Podcast episode 27As writers, my guests and I make stories up from our imagination, but we also very often pull parts of them from our own lives. As a reader, I love nothing more than when a mystery novel is grounded in real life. It gives such depth and richness to a novel.

Peter Bartram is an author who has worked as a journalist for decades. He has brought that experience, and the experience of living and working in the seaside town in the south of England called Brighton, to his series of mystery novels. Peter’s series involves main character, and cunning journalist, Colin Crampton, his beautiful girlfriend Shirley the Sheila, and a host of other characters who are entirely fictional, but as Peter says, are influenced by his time on the news desk.

I learned some things I didn’t know during this interview, which always pleases me, including a bit about how newspaper type was set before the age of computers.

You can find out more about Peter and his Colin Crampton series on his website ColinCrampton.com. And as with so many of my guests, Peter has a book available for free. It is a prequel to the series and you can find it here.

Press play (above) to listen to the show, or read the transcript below. Remember you can also subscribe to the show on iTunes. And listen on Stitcher.

You can also click here to watch the interview on YouTube.

Transcript of Interview with Peter Bartram

Alexandra: Hi everyone, this is It’s a Mystery podcast, I’m Alexandra Amor and I’m here with Pete Bartram. Hi Peter.

Peter: Good morning, Alexandra.

Alexandra: How are you today?

Peter: I am very well and how about yourself?

Alexandra: I’m good. Yeah, a little soggy here in Vancouver today, but otherwise doing well.

Let me introduce you to our listeners.

PeterBPeter Bartram brings years of experience as a journalist to his Crampton of the Chronicle Crime Mystery series. Which features crime reporter Colin Crampton in 1960s Brighton, England. Peter’s novels are fast-paced and humorous. The action is matched by the laughs.

Peter began his career as a reporter on the Worthing Herald newspaper in the U.K. before working as a journalist and editor in London and finally becoming freelance. He has done most things in journalism, from door stepping for quotes to writing serious editorials. He’s pursued stories in locations as diverse as 700 feet down a coal mine and the courtier’s chamber at the Buckingham Palace.

Peter has written 21 non-fiction books, including five ghost-written, in areas such as biographies, current affairs and how-to titles before turning to crime and penning “Headline Murder,” the first novel in the Crampton of the Chronicle series.

Welcome Peter.

I want to start back at the beginning and ask you what prompted you to make the switch from non-fiction to fiction after such a long career in non-fiction.

Peter: Well, I’ve always wanted to do it. A basic problem wretched me, I thought, “No money in it.” That may ultimately prove to be wrong, only time will tell.

The fact of the matter is, I’ve worked all my career as a journalist. I was a freelance journalist from 1974 onwards. When you’re a freelance journalist and you’re earning your living from it, you have to keep your nose to the grindstone writing features and stories and commissioned non-fiction books at the time. And it was only in recent years that I have had a chance to do this, which is something that I always wanted to do.

Alexandra: Colin and the stories that are set in Brighton.

You specifically chose to set them in the 1960s. So why is that?

Keep reading →