Interview: Jake Needham

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I am pleased to present an interview with the exceedingly cool and knowledgeable Jake Needham, described by The Straits Times as “Asia’s most stylish and atmospheric writer of crime fiction”!

Describe yourself in 5 words:

JN: No. Good. At. Such. Questions.

Share a short excerpt and blurb of your latest book:

umbrella_man

Excerpt: Tay had no idea what time it was when he eventually slipped off to sleep, but he woke in the night to the sound of rain splashing against his windows and bouncing off the brick pavers in his garden.

He had just had that dream again.

There had been lights. There were always lights. They swirled in the air likes pieces of a shattered mirror propelled by a whirlwind. And his mother had spoken to him from somewhere outside in the rain.

It was a dream he had had several times since his mother died, but when he woke he could never remember what she had said to him. Nothing good, he imagined. His mother had never been happy with his career choice and after he became a policeman she gradually seemed to lose interest in him altogether. After she moved to New York and remarried, he seldom heard from her at all, but to be fair she seldom heard from him either. Over the last fifteen or twenty years they had just gradually slipped out of each other’s lives. It seemed impossible that a man could lose track of his mother, or a mother could lose track of her son, but that was exactly what had happened.

Tay figured he and his mother had communicated more in his dreams over the last year than they had in life during all of the twenty years that had come before. The only problem was, when he woke from his dreams, he could not for the life of him remember what it was they had communicated about.

Tay hoped, at the very least, he had finally said some of the things he should have said to his mother before she died, some of the things he knew now he had wanted to say to her all along. It was a phenomenon he found himself experiencing more and more often recently. People kept dying before Tay could tell them the things he wanted to tell them. The older he got, the more distant his connections to the world became, and the more people there were whom he knew he had failed to communicate with as well as he should.

A progression like that, Tay knew, did not bode particularly well for his future.

– THE UMBRELLA MAN (An Inspector Samuel Tay novel)

Blurb: “In his raw power to bring the street-level flavor of contemporary Asian cities to life, Jake Needham is Michael Connelly with steamed rice.” – The Bangkok Post

What do you enjoy about the genre in which you write?:

JN: I don’t have a favorite author. Honestly, I don’t. I read contemporary fiction constantly and have what most would probably call rather middlebrow taste. Yes, there are authors whose new books I look forward to — such as James Lee Burke, David Ignatius, Stephen Hunter, Michael Connelly, Lee Child, John Sandford, Charles McCarry, Nelson DeMille, and Martin Cruz Smith — but there’s no particular author I could come even close to labeling as my favorite.

What do you enjoy about the genre in which you write?:

JN: It’s unexplored territory, as least as far as mainstream fiction goes. I’m not at all sure I could bring a fresh enough eye to a novel set in Los Angeles, or New York, or London, or Paris to make you see and smell the place. You already know all about them, or think you do. But when I take you to Hong Kong or Dubai or Singapore, you are less certain of your ground. Then you’re all mine…

Once upon a time, Jake Needham got incredible press coverage in Singapore — two huge features in The Straits Times and pieces in darn near every other local publication as well. Then THE AMBASSADOR’S WIFE came out and there was no more press coverage overnight. For all the details, check out this interview HERE, which makes for rather interesting reading…so I asked Mr. Needham the following question: How have your experiences with the media in Singapore influenced you, as an individual and/or as a writer?

JN: Not at all, really. I write what interests me, and people read what interests them. I can’t see that whether I am a popular figure with the authorities and the mass media in Singapore is relevant to much of anything. Anyway, not being able to go back to Singapore again is about as disturbing as being barred from having a prostate examination.

What is your definition of “good writing”?

JN: Anything I enjoy reading.

Please share your #1 tip for writers in the crime fiction genre:

JN: Don’t take yourself or your work too seriously. We’re entertainers. We’re not responsible for the survival of the species.

* * *

JAKE NEEDHAM is an American screen and television writer who began writing crime novels and legal thrillers when he realized he really didn’t like movies and television very much. He is a lawyer by education and has lived and worked in Hong Kong, Singapore, and Thailand for over twenty-five years. He, his wife, and their two sons now divide their time between homes in Thailand and the United States.

THE DEAD AMERICAN (Inspector Tay Novels, Book 3) is out now!!

Jake Needham Online: Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Amazon | Goodreads

Am I haunted? Or just going crazy?

AM I HAUNTED? OR JUST GOING CRAZY?
Guest Post by Lacy Sereduk

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“The evil is coming…” says a voice in the darkness.

Something woke me up, last night.  Not the usual creepiness that comes at night.  Not my kids.  I don’t really know what it was; it was like a night terror experience but it wasn’t terrifying — almost calming.  This was a whole new way to wake up for me.  But, being who I am, I laid there and tried to go back to sleep until my brain made it clear that it wouldn’t let me.  My brain likes to think about food pretty much all the time.  So, not being able to vanquish the visions of a late-night snack, I got up.

My room and the house was quiet and dark because it was just after midnight.  I quietly opened my bedroom door; slowly so as not to bump anything behind it.  Just as I’ve got it three quarters of the way open, a voice, on the other side of the door, whispers, “Damnit.”  I’ll admit it: I jumped.  I turned away from the voice, toward the switch, and flipped the lights on, expecting to find one of my kids had just been caught (and now this is serious because of the language).

Turning back to the room, there’s no one around.  Just the quiet stillness of our house at night.  Experiences like this aren’t very new to me so I just furrow my brow and search out a treat.  However, this got me thinking back down a path that I’ve thought a few times before.  Am I haunted?

A few weeks ago, I had come home and saw an old man in my driveway.  I was driving my husband’s truck, so, pulling into his parking spot, I watched the old man walk in front of my own truck.  I waited, expecting the man to come around the other side.  He looked like he was dressed for church: black suit, black tie, white dress shirt.  He was very thin, old, and had a good amount of short white hair on his head.  Maybe he’s going to the front door of the house?

I waited.  I reached forward and shut the truck off and still I waited.  I waited until it was completely clear that the man had just *poofed* into non-existence and would not be rejoining reality on the other side of my truck.  For hours, I wracked my brain, trying to figure out where he could have gone, where he could have come from, why I would have thought I even saw a man.  This wasn’t the first time that I’ve seen someone that shouldn’t be there and most likely won’t be the last.

I wrote my first novel, Discernment, because of what I see at night, under the cover of darkness.  The things that come into my room (or wherever I’m sleeping), the shadow people that haunt me, and the monsters under the bed.  Having the night terror disorder, in and of itself, is enough to drive someone to crazy way faster than they’d have arrived on their own, BUT, I don’t think I’m crazy.  So, if I didn’t accidentally fall off the planet for a minute, while sitting in my driveway, that leaves me to wonder: other than being haunted, what else is there?  A strange link to a parallel universe?  My brain showing me a memory, out of the blue, and accidentally getting it crossed with my optic sensors?  I don’t know.  If you do, I’m all ears.

I love hearing feedback from readers about their own experiences and their own stories.  Have you ever seen someone that you were positive was standing right there and then they disappeared?  Have you ever walked into a room and heard a voice without a body that belonged to it?  Ever woken up because you had an eery feeling that someone was watching you?  Trust me, there’s no judgement here if bumps in the night freak you out just a little.

* * *

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LACY SEREDUK is an Idaho native and enjoys long walks on the beach, reading, coffee, and video games. Her hope for her book, Discernment, was, originally cathartic, as a way to ‘get out’ some of the demons that have haunted her from childhood. With her published novel, she now hopes to help other sufferers know that they are not wholly alone in their fight toward the light.

Lacy Sereduk Online: BlogAmazon | Goodreads | Discernment I | Discernment II

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by Lacy Sereduk

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Why Yawatta Hosby Loves Writing Thrillers

WHY I LOVE WRITING THRILLERS
Guest Post by Yawatta Hosby

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Image: The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)

Here’s a secret: I love horror movies. I’m talking Saw, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Friday the 13th, Wrong Turn, basically anything that’s gory and disturbing. I also love suspense movies that have betrayal and mind games, like Mindhunters, Scream, I Know What You Did Last Summer, and Straw Dogs. I’m not going to lie—I have to watch during the daytime. Even so, I end up getting nightmares for two weeks straight.

Being interested in those types of movies naturally led me to wanting to write those types of books. At first, I was too terrified of reading horror or thriller books until a few years ago. In movies, you’re warned that something morbid is popping up by the creepy music in the background. In books, not so much.

That’s what I admire about the thriller genre. There are no warnings when a scene or image will make readers jump out of their seats. It’s fun creating scenarios that will give readers goosebumps. In thrillers, you’re allowed to make characters unlikeable. For me, the villains are very fascinating to write. It’s a good feeling when readers send you messages of how much they despised a person in your story and was looking forward to their karma. Or to receive messages that they fell in love with a person in your story and wept about the outcome. That means readers felt passion for your book, and you can never go wrong with that.

I write books in different genres, without using a pen name, but I’m confident that I’ll always find my way back to creating thrillers. In fact, I have a couple of books I’m hoping to publish by the end of this year:

  • Plenty of Fish is a short story. A stranger approaches a local celebrity. It’s definitely not a love story. Is he crazy? Lonely? Dangerous?
  • My novella is about an obsessive man willing to do anything to get the family he deserves.

I’m hoping these two stories will be published next year:

  • The sequel to One By One, revolving around Detective Brown’s daughter. (Some people have hinted that they’d like to see the story continue, so I’m up for the challenge). :)
  • A story about a crazed ballerina who terrorizes her younger sister because she feels that her sister is responsible for their brother’s death.

For all the writers out there, why do you create thrillers? For all the readers out there, why do you love scaring yourself?

Keep smiling,
Yawatta Hosby

* * *

With a desire to escape every day life, YAWATTA HOSBY creates stories. She’s always had a fascination with psychology, so she likes to focus on the inner-struggles within her characters. Her short story “Room For Two” is published in the online literary magazine The Write Place At the Write Time (Spring/Summer 2013 edition).

Yawatta Hosby Online: Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Amazon | Goodreads | Interview

Interview: Yawatta Hosby

yawatta

I am pleased to present an interview with Yawatta Hosby, who writes because it’s all about the mind games…

Describe yourself in 5 words:

YH: Quirky, INTJ, Laidback, Creative, Mysterious.

Share a short excerpt and blurb of your latest book:

EXCERPT: “Where do you think they are?” Logan asked.

Kenan sat on top of a rotted tree stump. He rubbed his forehead. “I have no idea. If I did, we’d already be there.”

Logan sighed. He had no choice but to follow Kenan’s lead because he knew the area more than Logan did.

He wanted to ask Kenan a more personal question, like did he think something awful happened to them? Kenan was quiet during their search and had calmly taken over this morning that Logan couldn’t tell if his friend was freaking out.

If a tragedy happened ten years ago, it could occur again.

BLURB: Alone in the woods, the weekend turns into a deadly game when a killer hunts Rae and her friends. They struggle to stay alive and discover the truth. Is someone stalking them, or is there a killer among the group?

Share an excerpt of your favorite author’s work (10-100 words):

YH: I’m sharing Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None. My novel was inspired by this book:

What was the name? The signature was rather difficult to read. Emily Brent thought patiently: “So many people write their signatures quite illegibly.”

She let her mind run back over the people at Belhaven. She had been there two summers running.

What do you enjoy about the genre in which you write?:

YH: It’s all about the mind games for me. Who’s mentally stronger to win in the end? The fear is entertaining as well. I love creating situations that have readers afraid. That have them jump out of their seat or force them to sleep with the light on.

I love creating the bad guys and the good guys. And the twists and turns will always be my favorite part of a book. I want readers to think they know the outcome, only to be surprised by the ending. My biggest fear—being boring.

What is your definition of “good writing”?

YH: Good writing focuses on description in a scene. Readers should be able to vividly see, hear, taste, and feel everything as though they’re taking the journey with your characters, not just reading about them.

Good writing consists of understanding the genre you write for and applying the formula. Don’t mislead readers and tell them it’s a horror story when it’s really a paranormal love story. Don’t tell them it’s a contemporary drama when it keeps them laughing instead of crying.

Please share your #1 tip for writers in the mystery/suspense/thriller genre:

YH: Stephen King says it best: “Don’t write in fear.” Don’t be afraid to make your story go there. Don’t be afraid of controversy or edgy topics. I think readers will respect you for it. Write the story that speaks to you, not the one you’re unmotivated to write but think it’ll be a bestseller. If you’re not really feeling the story, the readers will be able to tell.

* * *

With a desire to escape every day life, YAWATTA HOSBY creates stories. She’s always had a fascination with psychology, so she likes to focus on the inner-struggles within her characters. Her short story “Room For Two” is published in the online literary magazine The Write Place At the Write Time (Spring/Summer 2013 edition).

Yawatta Hosby Online: Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Amazon | Goodreads | Guest Post

Interview: Mel Sherratt

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I am pleased to present an interview with Mel Sherratt: a writer of murder and mayhem…and a hoarder of killer heels!

Describe yourself in 5 words:

MS: Emotional, loyal, obsessive, creative, determined.

Share a short excerpt and blurb of your latest book:

Excerpt: At eight thirty that evening, Ella grabbed her handbag and almost bounced down the front steps to the pavement and into a waiting taxi. She slid into the back seat and closed the door.

‘Rendezvous, Marsh Street,’ she told him.

They set off for the city centre, and she gazed idly out of the car window as they drove down Trentham Road. She ran a finger up and down her leg from her knee to the hem of her short skirt. In anticipation, her hand moved to the neckline of her sheer blouse, fingertips running over the naked area of her chest. She couldn’t wait to get into Hanley now. It had taken her a few hours to control her anger today but, God, she needed to be screwed.

She turned slightly to see the driver studying her through his rear-view mirror. Not taking her heavily made-up eyes from his, she ran her tongue suggestively over red-coated lips, fingers trailing across her skin. While he adjusted the mirror to get a better view, she moved her hand down inside her blouse, splaying her fingers and rubbing the palm of her hand back and forth across her nipple.

Already she could feel it erect, sense the heat building up between her legs. The driver crunched his gears and she laughed silently before looking away. Who was she to give a free show? And besides, she was saving herself. It was her night tonight.

Blurb: Following the death of her husband and unborn child, Charley Belington sells the family home and bravely starts life over again. On moving into a new flat, she is befriended by her landlady, Ella, who seems like the perfect friend and confidante.

But, unbeknown to Charley, Ella is fighting her own dark and dirty demons as the fallout from a horrific childhood sends her spiralling down into madness—and unspeakable obsessions.

As Ella’s mind splinters, her increasingly bizarre attentions make Charley uneasy. But with every step Charley tries to take to distance herself, Ella moves in a tightening lockstep with her, closer and closer and closer…

What do you enjoy about the genre in which you write?:

MS: I can murder people – it’s a license to kill… Seriously, people are complex, good and bad – there is literally nothing as queer as folk. So I like to write ‘whydunnits’ as well as ‘whodunnits.’ I love creating dark, dangerous characters – with lots of sexual tension, fear and violence. Yet, you’ll always find emotion in my books too – I like to root for the underdog. It all makes for interesting plots. It’s what I’m known for, which is why I aim for a particular market of readers who like that type of thing.

Seriously, apart from staying within the realms of reality as well as, with some of my books, police procedures, it’s fiction so anything can happen.

What is your definition of “good writing”?

MS: As long as the grammar and structure are good, it’s all about story for me. What I mean by that is, I want a good book that I can lose myself in, immerse myself into its characters and enjoy timeout in a world that someone else has created. I read a lot of books in different genres – literary and easy read, but it’s the story that I think defines good writing.

Please share your #1 tip for writers in the mystery/suspense/thriller genre:

MS: Write the book you always wanted to read.

* * *

MEL SHERRATT is a writer of murder and mayhem…and a hoarder of killer heels. Taunting the Dead, her standalone crime thriller, was an Amazon Kindle Top 100 Bestseller of 2012.

Mel Sherratt Online: Website (new URL) | Website (current URL) | Facebook | Twitter | Amazon | Goodreads

Gritty YA Fiction

GRITTY AND THE ‘MIKI RADICCI’ SERIES
Guest Post by M.E. Purfield

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Gritty is not always good. Traditionalists, fundamentalist, and Goody-Goodies do not like gritty. I’m not positive why. Maybe it undermines what dead generations taught. You see, gritty is a rebellion. It’s dirty, violent, and transcendent. In storytelling, gritty is the extreme setting and obstacle a main character may go through. And if you follow traditional storytelling where a main character reaches the light of change at the end, gritty can be a great dark tunnel.

Gritty is most commonly associated with the city, drugs, and crime. Before I came up with my Miki Radicci series, I had already written three stand alone Young Adult novels. Two of them took place in the city and all three had an element of crime to the story. So making a gritty series was a no-brainer. But why did I do it?

My background is vanilla. I grew up white suburban middle class. I was forced to do all the things my parents and society expects me to do. I hated most of my childhood. I hated being one with the crowd. Reality was a boring prison. To escape I immersed myself into horror and crime films and fiction. If I was born to be rebellious then writing gritty fiction is hardwired into my soul. I get off on it. I like to push buttons, upset the traditionalists, fundamentalists, and the Goody-Goodies.

Basically, I’m a dick.

Basically, I love my freedom.

The Miki Radicci series is a young adult, urban, noir, fantasy. The grit comes natural, but there’s always a conscious level I try to adhere. Primarily, my anti-hero main character is gritty. You can either love her or hate her. Based on reader reaction, that is exactly what people do. The funny thing is, they love her and hate her for the same reasons.

Miki is sixteen but an emancipated, self-sufficient artist. She doesn’t live under her parents’ roof or control. Miki is also an alcoholic. Her best friend is a former bum boy who now goes to school and lives with Miki. She is also a bit of a criminal herself. She makes fake identifications and is handy with picking locks.

All those traits are conscious and planned to make her gritty. She goes against the traditional teen girl who follows what her parents say and want; who has plans for college; who is dealing with a boyfriend or best friend or whatever.

Another conscious step for grit is her psychic ability. Miki can psychically feel another’s pain or death. Murder and violence is scary. I wanted to go against the norm that violence looks cool. When the reader experiences Miki’s pain or death, they should not enjoy it. The words should jumpstart a dread in their imagination that will upset them.

Her psychic ability also works on another level. It expresses Miki’s hero side. Because of the pain she feels from others, Miki becomes a vigilante and avenges the victim’s assault or death. Her ability defines her good core. I consciously try not to make it part of the plot or a thread in the series. You will not find out why or how she got it. There’s no final fight between good and evil.

So there you have it. Love me, hate me, that is the grit of Miki Radicci and I. It’s a rebellion. It’s a way of life. It is who I am. And I hope it is who you are too. Or I may piss you off.

* * *

M.E. PURFIELD has done some script work for low low low budget films and even directed a few shorts. When it comes to writing novels, his strengths lie with Young Adult fiction, contemporary and noir fantasy. When not practicing the art of Potty Mouth, he spends his time raising his son, being married, watching horror films, and listening to punk music.

M.E. Purfield Online: Website | FacebookAmazon | Goodreads

Interview: Brian McGilloway

I am pleased to present Author Interview #4 with Brian McGilloway! Part of the Partners in Crime blog tour.

Describe yourself in 5 words:

BM: Husband, father, former teacher, writer.

Share a short excerpt and blurb of your latest book:

someone_you_know_brian_mcgilloway_

Synopsis: Just before Christmas, the body of a sixteen-year-old girl is found along the train tracks on the outskirts of a small town. As Detective Lucy Black investigates the teenager’s tragic last hours in search of clues to her death, she realizes that some of the victim’s friends may have been her most dangerous enemies—and that whoever killed her is ready to kill again. Haunted by the memory of a case gone wrong, and taunted by a killer on the loose, Lucy finds herself pitted against a lethal opponent hiding in plain sight.
Someone You Know, Brian McGilloway

Share an excerpt of your favorite author’s work (10-100 words):

“Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter – to-morrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther…And one fine morning —
So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”
— The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

What do you enjoy about the genre in which you write?:

BM: I was a crime reader before a crime writer so I love the genre. There’s something immensely satisfying in a good thriller and, for me, the thrill lies not in the violence, but in the solving of the crime and the assertion of some form of order at the end. Mind you, from Greek Tragedy onwards, we’ve been concerned with stories that move from order to disorder to new order – especially where that disorder is caused by the killing of an individual. Thriller writing is the modern iteration of that concept.

What is your definition of “good writing”?

BM: That’s an interesting question. It all comes down to ‘value’, which is, of course, completely subjective. Everyone values different things. Good writing for me is writing which somehow expresses an emotion or feeling which I recognize but would never have been able to put into words so succinctly. I think we all have those moments of recognition when reading – those moments that connect us through our shared thoughts, feelings and experiences.

Please share your #1 tip for writers in the mystery/suspense/thriller genre:

BM: I’m in no position to be giving advice to others! My number one rule for me is to write everyday when I am working on a book. Stopping for a while makes me begin to doubt what I’ve written. If I just keep the momentum going, I’ll always come back at the end and redraft anyway.

Your websites/blogs/etc:

BM: I’m online at www.brianmcgilloway.com, on Twitter @BrianMcGilloway and on Facebook. And I’m always delighted to hear from fellow crime fiction readers.

* * *

BRIAN McGILLOWAY is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of DS Lucy Black thrillers and Inspector Devlin mysteries. He won the BBC Tony Doyle Award 2014 and is a father of four.

Brian McGilloway Online: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads