Friday, February 20, 2015

SCHMOOZING WITH RICK MOFINA

1. Who has influenced you the most in your writing career?

Sister Mary from St. Michael’s Academy who taught me grammar in the 7th Grade with the intensity of a drill sergeant. We feared her. She numbered our seats, called us by our last names and smacked our desktops with a yardstick to ensure we paid attention to the examples she’d written on the board; demanding we identify subject and predicate. I remember how she once stared at me and said: “Mofina, one day you’ll thank me.”

2.What are you working on now?

Going through edits of my next book, EVERY SECOND, which is due for release later in 2015.


3. In what ways is your main protagonist like you? If at all?

I’m a former reporter and most of my main protagonists are reporters. I draw on my experience to get into their heads.

4. Are you character driven or plot driven?

Both. You need a sympathetic character and you need them to face challenges that will re-define them.

5. Are you a pantser or a plotter?

Plotter.

6. What do you hope readers will most take away from your writing?

That feeling you get when you just step off a mid-way thrill ride.

7. Where do you see yourself as a writer in 10 years?

I really don’t know.

8. What is one thing your readers would be most surprised to know about you?

I’d prefer not to say. I don’t want to spoil the surprise.

9. What do you like to read for pleasure?

The notes of F. Scott Fitzgerald, especially his essays in The Crack-Up.

10. Give us a summary of your latest book in a Tweet

Screams in the Night
, a gut-wrenching call and a reporter's life-long search for her missing sister.




Rick Mofina is a former journalist who has worked in newsroom across Canada. He's also reported from the Caribbean, Africa and Kuwait's border with Iraq. His books have been published in nearly 30 countries. The Crime Writers of Canada, The International Thriller Writers and The Private Eye Writers of America have listed his titles among the best in crime fiction. As two-time winner of Canada's Arthur Ellis Award, a three-time Thriller Award nominee and a two-time Shamus Award nominee, the Library Journal calls him, “One of the best thriller writers in the business."

Friday, February 13, 2015

CRIMINAL TENDENCIES

Time for this month's question once again. You may have forgotten at this point that it all started back last spring when four local mystery authors, Barbara Fradkin, R.J. Harlick, Mary Jane Maffini, and Linda Wiken were panelists at a Capital Crime Writers' workshop at the Ottawa Public Library. We had a great time but we also had a great stack of questions and by the end of our time, hadn't gotten through many of them. So, we're tackling them now. One a month. Sometimes we're all able to take part but at other times life interfers -- things like deadlines or even, holidays! -- so this week we're a threesome. Here's the question and our answers follow:


Protagonist, sidekick, villain -- which do you prefer to write?



MARY JANE MAFFINI:

I am most at home with the protagonist. The protagonist carries your values and is the person the reader cares about (if all goes well) but really, the sidekicks (quirky, irritating or whatever) and the villains (over the top, vengeful, evil, again whatever) are much more fun to write. Especially villains because you can get rid of them at the end of a book. Begone!


LINDA WIKEN:

This may turn out to be another question with total agreement. I find the protagonist the easiest to write, especially in a series, because the author has to get into his or her psyche right off the bat and that expands over time. And, if you're going together on a long journey of several books, this should be someone you like. Unless you're writing an anti-hero, it's not difficult to come up with a likeable character. Writing the villain can be liberating with an outlet for any deep-seated neuroses. :) No one would ever attribute those to the author's personality! The sidekick is the most fun because this person gets to be sympathetic, empathetic, play the role of a sounding board, and give the protagonist a good kick in the rear when necessary. Everyone need a reliable sidekick.


BARBARA FRADKIN:

Villains let us plumb our dark side and misbehave outrageously. It’s a great way for us writers, who are usually gentle, law-abiding, pacifist souls, to kick loose and be bad. Sidekicks are steadfast, smart and loyal, the friend we wish we could have at our side. But it is the protagonist who really holds our heart. When I write, even though I use multiple points of view, the protagonist is the one in whose shoes I walk and whose feelings and passions I share. Not only do I have to care about my protagonist and all the ordeals I am subjecting them to, but in order to spend months or years in their company, I have to enjoy them too.

Friday, February 6, 2015

MYSTERY REVIEW - PUT ON THE ARMOUR OF LIGHT

PUT ON THE ARMOUR OF LIGHT
By Catherine Macdonald
Dundurn


Turn-of-the-century Winnipeg seems the perfect backdrop for this first mystery from a Manitoban with a background in history. Then toss in an unusual sleuth in the form of the Reverend Charles Lauchlan, some very unsavory behavior from the town’s leading citizens, a touch of romance, and of course, murder.

For the Reverend, the challenges in his life are provided by tending to his Presbyterian flock and trying to juggles repairs to the church along with limited funds. But all that changes when his former university roommate, Peter McEvoy is arrested for murder. McEvoy’s once-promising future has disintegrated to alcoholism, gambling and sleazy bars. Then he’s arrested for the murder of one of the city’s most prominent citizens. Only McEvoy can’t remember what happened.

Lauchlan agrees to be responsible once bail is granted. He doesn’t believe his friend, even in a booze-induced state, could do such a thing and that draws him into a quest for the real murderer. Fortunately, Sergeant Andrew Setter of the Winnipeg Police agrees and they form an unusual alliance in searching for the truth. As Lauchlan gets more emotionally attached to the daughter of his former teacher and mentor, her relationship with the son of the dead man’s business partner draws them both into that family’s darkest secrets. And, as time runs out for McEvoy, Lauchlan ends up at the wrong end of a gun.

Catherine Macdonald spins a tale of power, greed and intrigue that is certain to keep the reader engaged until the final pages. Put On The Armour of Light has all the right ingredients: a crime hidden under layers of assumptions; a time period that sets its own restrictions on investigations; and aroster of engaging characters, from the Reverend to the police office, to a female photographer used at crime scenes. That’s a terrific addition and she could probably spin out in her own series.

If you’re watching Granchester on PBS, you’ll want to read this book!

Friday, January 30, 2015

SCHMOOZING WITH EVA GATES



1.Who has influenced you the most in your writing career?

My many friends in the Canadian writing community. It’s one thing to write a book, it’s quite another to perfect it (as near as possible), to get it published, and then to market and publicize it. You can write a book on your own, but you need help and advice to do all that other stuff, and I have found the Canadian mystery community, and now the cozy community, to be very close-knit and friendly. It is all about networking


2. What are you working on now?

The third Lighthouse Library mystery, Reading up a Storm.

3. In what ways is your main protagonist like you, if at all?

Lucy Richardson is her name and she is not like me in the least! She’s young (and I am not), inquisitive, brave, impulsive. She is intensely loyal to her friends, however, and I do hope that if ever I was in her shoes, I could also be counted on to do the right thing by my friends.

4. Are you character driver or plot driven?


Character. I have all these wonderful, eccentric Outer Banks people and I just love tossing them into the mix and seeing what they’ll do next.

5. Are you a pantser or a plotter?

Total plotter. I began my career as a pantser, and now that I am with Penguin, they require a solid outline as part of the contract. And I have found that I love writing from an outline. All the hard work is done ahead of time and I can enjoy weaving it all together. Which isn’t to say that I won’t deviate from the outline if I have a good reason to, but an outline provides the structure in which I can write. I love it.

6. What do you hope readers will most take away from your writing?

Fun. Nothing but a few hours of laughter and entertainment. If you’ve had a hard day at work or your family is giving you grief, there is absolutely nothing better than to settle down with a good cozy novel and be taken away on a fun ride to an interesting place.

7. Where do you see yourself as a writer in 10 years?

Under my real name of Vicki Delany, I have sixteen published books, of different sub-genres. But now, I’ve found my niche and I will be very happy if in ten years I’m still writing cozies. I will mention, if I may, that Vicki Delany is writing the Christmas Town mysteries for Berkely Prime Crime of which the first, Rest Ye Murdered Gentleman, will be out November 2015. Just in time for Christmas.

8. What is one thing your readers would be most surprised to know about you?

That I have sixteen published books?

9. What do you like to read for pleasure?

I read crime novels almost exclusively, with the occasional non-fiction thrown in. I am particularly enjoying the modern gothic format these days by writers like Kate Morton, Carol Goodman, or Simone St. James. My favourite book of 2014 was The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters, followed closely by The Secret Place by Tana French.

10. Tell us about your book in a Tweet:

When a priceless first edition Jane Austen is stolen from the Lighthouse Library, Lucy finds herself ensnared in a real-life mystery—and she’s not so sure there’s going to be a happy ending....



Eva Gates is the author of the Lighthouse Library cozy series from Penguin Obsidian, set in a historic lighthouse on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, featuring Boston-transplant librarian, and highly reluctant sleuth, Lucy Richardson. The first in the series, By Book or By Crook, will be released in February 2015. Eva is the pen name of bestselling author Vicki Delany, one of Canada’s most prolific and varied crime writers. Eva can be found at www.lighthouselibrarymysteries.com and Vicki at www.vickidelany.com




Friday, January 23, 2015

CRIMINAL TENDENCIES

It's question time again and here's what our three mystery authors are answering today: Are female victims over-represented in fiction and if so, why?


MARY JANE MAFFINI
:

I haven't done the math on this! However, I think it's possible because I think we may be more outraged by violence against women than men. Kids and animals are verboten. But a bigger concern is the graphic description of torture or sexual violence, quite aptly called 'torture porn'. It ratchets up our outrage. but is it serving another purpose and one which should make us think twice.



LINDA WIKEN:

My own feeling is that they are not over-represented. I think the fiction is mirroring what we read about and view in the media every day. Females are, generally speaking, more vulnerable in society. They therefore are prime candidates for the role of victim in fiction, as in life. I agree with MJ about the taboos surrounding children and animals, even though not all authors adhere to these. So, next in line are women. Members of minority groups are also on that continuum but are not as frequently portrayed as the victims in fiction.



R.J. HARLICK:


I can’t say I have ever noticed if too many victims are women. I might even suspect that more men get killed in crime novels, because they are the ones more likely be involved in violent situations.

Normally I don’t pay attention to gender distribution. But not long ago I found myself having to read a lot of mysteries, more so than usual. As I’m reading one book after another, it suddenly struck me that in many of them there was a much higher proportion of men in positions of authority or power than women. Most of the female characters were in supporting roles as wives, girlfriends, sidekicks, etc., with few taking on any significant role in the stories. Even the bad guys were more likely to be male than female. Now I did notice that this tendency seemed to be more apparent in books written by men than by women, but still many of the female writers were just as guilty.

So I asked myself why this would be the case and I’m afraid the only answer I could come up with was that the stories being written are essentially reflecting the real world. It also explains my inattention to gender distribution. I am just reading what I see happening around me on a day-to-day basis.

So my fellow writers maybe it is time we did something about it and add a little more gender equality into our writing. But you know what, even as I write this I am realizing that the majority of characters in my current book are male. Sheesh, you can’t win.



Friday, January 9, 2015


BLOOD WILL OUT

By Jill Downie
Dundurn



This is the third in the Moretti and Falla mystery series and by far, the most intricate. There are so many layers, each adding texture to the plot, that a variety of readers will be entertained. That the series is set in Guernsey, is a large part of the charm.

For the thespians in the crowd, the plot revolves around a new play put on by the Island Players. The playwright, Hugo Shawcross, claims to be a vampire and that’s what his play is about, much to the initial chagrin of some of the influential members of the group. But the play must go on, and as rehearsals begin, so do the murders.

For the mystery lovers, it’s a solid one starting with the death of a recluse and ending with a murderer consumed with greed and jealousy, determined to erase long-hidden secrets and anyone trying to expose them.

We’re also introduced to a new police officer from London, Aliosio Brown, whose Met training will be invaluable, or so the Chief Officer hopes.

We see a gentler side to Inspector Ed Moretti and a personal growth in his partner, Detective Sergeant Liz Falla. It’s her aunt, Elodie, who reveals much about the detective, about the actors and the play, and who adds a possible love interest for Moretti.

From reading this, you know that Downie has an insider’s knowledge of the theatre and a love of it. But, equally obvious is her command of the mystery genre and the ability to infuse the discipline and routines of police work with an emotional layer. And don’t forget her passion for Guernsey. It has all the ingredients wanted by an armchair traveler.

Eagerly awaiting my next trip to that magical isle!


Saturday, December 27, 2014

WISHING YOU THE MERRIEST!




I'm taking a break until early January. Time to relax and also, focus on writing. If I get really efficient and finish the book I'm reading, along with my book club book, I'll post a review next week.














Until then, wishing you a Merry Christmas,
Happy Hanukkah, and a very Happy New Year
with lots of plots and books!