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

Advertisements

Gritty YA Fiction

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

girl_gun

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

Science Fiction Noir

* Note from Jess: ‘Noir’ can be defined as a “genre of crime film or fiction characterized by cynicism, fatalism, and moral ambiguity.” In this post, writer Richard Levesque shares his thoughts on the connection between science fiction and noir — which I certainly appreciate as a fan of cross-genre work!

INTO THE DARK: The Science Fiction/Noir Connection
Guest Post by Richard Levesque

noir_alley

Image by Pspynett

The running man darts past a streetlight, casting a long shadow across the wet pavement. He glances back and then ducks into an alley, pressing himself into the darkness as he catches his breath and listens. He thinks he’s safe, but from the other end of the alley a new shadow moves. There’s a moment’s recognition when he sees her, but his relief fades instantly when he realizes there’s only one reason she’d be here in this alley at the same time as him. He hears someone running up the street toward the alley, and he knows he’s cornered. There’s no choice but to shoot his way out, but who to shoot first? The woman is only a few steps away. He can smell her, can practically taste her. But he knows why she’s here, so he pulls out his laser cannon and blasts her into eternity.

Wait.

What?

Laser cannon? Wasn’t that supposed to be a snub-nosed .38?

Well, yes. If this were a 1940s detective novel or a 1950s film noir, that is. But it’s not. This is science fiction, and yet the story and characters have a lot in common with the kinds of hard-boiled crime fiction found in literature and film over the last 70 years or so. We still have the tough protagonist who lives on the edge of society and sometimes does bad things but always in the name of getting to the truth and shining a light on the darkness that’s just below the surface of seemingly respectable society. Along the way, he encounters a femme fatale, crooked cops, deadly mobsters, lots of dark interiors and shadowy exteriors, and even more disillusionment.

Face it: there are murders and crimes in science fiction; there are mysteries that need to be solved and shady characters who will stop at nothing to keep their secrets hidden. When these characters and situations emerge, science fiction blends with hard boiled noir.

The blending of SF and noir goes back a long way, maybe even to Fritz Lang’s Metropolis. Most SF fans probably think more readily of Blade Runner, though, or at least the original theatrical release of that film with the Sam Spade-style voiceover. There are a lot of other examples, among them William Gibson’s “Burning Chrome” and Jonathan Letham’s Gun, with Occasional Music. More recently, the development of deco-punk and diesel-punk have added to the SF/noir canon.

science_fiction_noir

“Neon City” artwork by Vladimir Manyuhin

But why blend SF and hard-boiled mystery? For me, the connection just seems natural as they’re my two favorite genres to read, and because I’ve spent a lot of time reading and writing about LA and Hollywood history and culture. When I started writing, I put my two loves together to end up with Take Back Tomorrow (a time travel novel set in 1940 Los Angeles) and Strictly Analog (about a down-and-out private detective in a near future, dystopian LA).

If you think about it, though, there’s also a logical connection. Look at science fiction from the early twentieth century—the pulpy, genre stuff in Amazing Stories, Astounding, and so on rather than more highbrow SF from Orwell and Huxley and Olaf Stapledon. In those pulp stories, the science fiction hero was a slightly disguised version of the cowboy or frontiersman, the hero of much of the popular fiction from the century before. That Western hero—the trailblazing loner who came into town, kissed a few shady ladies, blasted holes into the bullies trying to boss around the hard-working homesteaders, and then rode out again to explore the edges of the known world—managed to get bifurcated in the twentieth century. In one form, he became the private eye—still righting wrongs, messing with the wrong women, and always ending up alone after risking life and limb to make better the society that had somehow rejected him, or which he’d turned his back on voluntarily. And in his other form, he became the science fiction hero—exploring the galaxy and making future worlds safe for space colonists, taking on aliens and androids alike.

Great examples of these transplanted cowboys would include Northwest Smith in C.L. Moore’s stories, or John Carter in Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Mars series. There was a lot less disillusionment in those heroes; they were a lot more like their cowboy granddaddies than their jaded detective cousins. And yet the two are not much different; it’s the settings that change, and the weapons—snub-nosed .38s for one, laser canons for the other.

By the 1950s, the science fiction hero became a little darker, a little less pulpy. You can find the noir-themed beginnings of cyberpunk back there in the writings of Alfred Bester, in particular his novels The Stars My Destination and The Demolished Man, both crime novels set in the future with anti-hero characters and a tough, gritty tone. By the time we get to the 1980s and William Gibson’s Sprawl trilogy, the blending of science fiction and noir had reached a peak with characters occupying as risky a landscape as anything Philip Marlowe or Sam Spade had to navigate.

It only makes sense that the bifurcated cowboy would rejoin himself in the form of the futuristic detective or private eye. Like all good literature, science fiction tends to reflect the culture that creates it. Maybe we’ve reached a point where we’re less optimistic about our future than SF writers in the 1930s were, less hopeful that technology will get us out of our binds or that the monsters (real or imagined) will be defeated with a good right cross and some superior intellect. But if our heroes are growing darker, their situations bleaker, their outlooks more pessimistic, we’re still entertained, caught up in the fantasy that there’s still someone out there with enough guts to do what’s right even at great personal cost.

femme_fatale

Image by DualProdigy

…The femme fatale drops to the concrete, smoke rising from the big hole in her chest. The hero pauses over her corpse just long enough to say goodbye to the girl he thought she’d been. Then he runs off into the night, knowing his safety is only temporary…like ours.

* * *

RICHARD LEVESQUE has spent most of his life in Southern California. For the last several years he has taught composition and literature, including science fiction, as part of the English Department at Fullerton College. His first book, Take Back Tomorrow, was published in 2012, and he has followed it with other science fiction and urban fantasy novels, novellas, and short stories.

* Check out his short story, Walk A Mile — available for free on Amazon!

Richard Levesque Online: Website | Blog | Amazon | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

Crime and The Art World

CRIME AND THE ART WORLD
Guest Post by Russell James

artcrime
Image by Ikono

Art is fertile ground for crime writers. Huge sums are paid for a single item, a work that can be relatively small and transportable. In the first of my novels to revolve around the theft of an old master (Daylight, now out of print and hard to find) part of the fun lay in how the stolen masterpiece would be smuggled out of what was then the Soviet Union. The story included an art tutorial on the differences between copies, fakes and restoration – distinctions not as clear as you might hope. Great for complicating the plot.

In my most successful novel, Painting In The Dark, the art world underpinned the plot – yet it frightened some potential publishers who saw it as politically dangerous. I guess it was controversial: set in 1997 but looking back to the 1930s and 40s, it suggested that Tony Blair’s New Labour Party had bewitched a nation and swept to power much as Hitler’s New Socialists had in Germany. But the book’s main theme was art and the mania of art collectors motivated by more than money, more than sex, by an obsession to acquire and own a unique fetishistic object. They’ll stop at nothing to achieve their ends, making them ideal characters for a crime story. They are driven, they want ‘a brush with genius’. We readers understand and sympathise – even if we wouldn’t kill to gain our ends.

Plenty of crime novels allow wrongdoers to achieve their ends, and we law-abiding readers sometimes cheer – though when villains are motivated by cash alone the odds are they won’t get away. But an art fanatic? Why shouldn’t such a so-called villain keep the prize?

Remember: these are crime novels, not moral tracts.

* * *

British writer RUSSELL JAMES is the author of ten crime novels (and other books) and is a past chairman of the Crime Writers Association. Check out his website at http://russelljamesbooks.wordpress.com

Russell James Online: Website | Amazon | Twitter

Playmates: Blog Tour

Playmates

This is the blog tour page for my psychological thriller, Playmates (Book 1 in The Wilde Twins: a trilogy about a brother sister serial killing team).

If you would like to review the book or be a part of this blog tour, please contact me at missfey[@]gmail.com

I look forward to hearing from you!

* Playmates (website) | Amazon

* Wilde Twins (about the series) | Amazon

add_goodreads

===PLAYMATES: BLOG TOUR===

2013 (Pre-Publication)

Feb 23 — “Basement of Humanity” (article) at jessINK
Aug 6 — Author Spotlight with Morgen Bailey
Aug 8 — Excerpt with jessINK/Grammarly Inc.
Aug 9 — Excerpt on Indie Book Buffet
Oct 5 — Review at Midwest Book Review

2014 Blog Tour

Mar 31 — Excerpt in Bards and Sages Quarterly (journal)
April 12 — Review at Readers’ Favorite
April 17 — Book Feature at Book Goodies
April 17 — Acknowledgments / Thank You Note in trilogy
April 19 — Featured at Black Caviar Book Club
April 20 — Interview with Lori Lesko
April 21 — Author Page at Storyfinds
April 21 — Featured at Awesomegang
April 23 — Interview at I Heart Reading
April 25 — New Release Spotlight at Bestseller Bound
April 28 — Review at Hell Horror
April 29 — Featured at eBookSoda
April 29 — Spotlight at A Bookish Girl
April 30 — Giveaway at NOR and Goodreads
May 1 — Listed on Crime Thriller Hound UK
May 4 — Guest Post + Interview at Omnimystery
May 5 — Interview at Bangor Daily News
May 9 — Review at Goddess of Literature
May 9 — Interview at Awesome Gang
May 16 — Book Discovery at KBoards
May 17 — Interview at Bookie Monster
May 22 — Author Page and Interview at IndieView
May 27 — Interview + Review at Kelly Smith
June 10 — Review at Blogcritics
June — Book Spotlight at Butterfly-O-Meter

Differences: Mystery vs. Thriller

1. INTRODUCTION:

Nathan Bransford, a former literary agent, summarizes the differences between “thrillers, suspense, and mysteries” in a 2008 blog post:

Thrillers have action.
Suspense has danger, but not necessarily action.
Mysteries have mysteries, i.e., something you don’t know until the end.

2. KNOWING YOUR GENRE

* This article originally appeared at Folio Lit.

By John C. Ford
Author of The Morgue and Me (Viking)

books
Image © Royalty-Free/Corbis

If you want to travel to a nice place, the first step is finding it on the map. And so it is with writing a novel: if you want to get a novel up on the bookstore shelves, the first step is finding the shelf that you’re aiming for.

You’ve got a great idea, say, for a story about a young actress in turn-of-the-century Chicago, haunted by ghosts of the characters she plays on stage. A fine start (okay, just go with it for a second anyway). But if you start writing without a clear notion of whether your novel is a horror story, a young adult tale, or a historical romance, you are putting yourself in a hole — and probably a lot of reject piles. Why? Well, if you don’t know what shelf your book should be on, then agents, editors, and booksellers probably won’t either, and that will make them reluctant to invest in your manuscript.

If you are writing a crime story, this lesson applies to you. About thirty percent of novels purchased in the U.S. are mysteries or thrillers, and your first step as a crime writer should be knowing which of those two types of books — a mystery or a thriller — you are delivering to your readers.

And in order to take that step, you need to know what a mystery is, what a thriller is, and the differences between them. Relax… we’re here to help.

Mysteries begin with a murder. The major question is whodunit, and the novel answers that question. Thrillers begin with a situation that portends a catastrophe of some sort (an assassination, a bank robbery, a nuclear explosion, etc.) The major question is whether or not our hero will be able to prevent that catastrophe from occurring. This, in a nutshell, describes the difference between a mystery and a thriller.

The two genres have a number of deeper differences — in tone, point of view, and appeal — which writers should also know in order to understand the expectations that readers bring to each type of story. Some of those differences are as follows:

  • The Identity of the Antagonist: In a mystery, readers do not know who committed the murder (until the end); they try to figure it out along the way. In a thriller, readers often knows who the bad guy is, and hope that the hero can stop him.
  • Appeal to Readers: Mysteries readers take pleasure in the intellectual exercise of puzzling out a crime. Thriller readers enjoy the emotional aspect — riding out the highs and lows of the charged storyline.
  • Point of View: Mysteries tend to be written in the first person, while thrillers more often are written in the third person, and from multiple points of view.
  • Stakes: While solving a murder is by no means a “low stakes” endeavor, thrillers tend to have “higher” stakes that imperil larger numbers of people.
  • Pace: Mysteries usually have a slower pace than the fast-and-furious plotting of a thriller.
  • Action: Mysteries often have fewer action sequences than thrillers, in which the characters regularly find themselves in great danger.
  • Plot complexity: Mystery plots tend to be less complex than thrillers, which rely on a constant flow of events to provide a sense of immediacy.
  • Character depth: The slower pace of mysteries allows for greater depth of character than the thriller form.
  • Sub-genres: Mysteries tend to get sub-divided based on the identity of their protagonists: “amateur sleuth” mysteries feature a main character whose main occupation is not crime-solving; “police procedurals” often follow a police detective; “private investigator” novels, naturally, star private detectives. Thrillers get sub-divided based on the cultural or professional world in which the threat arises. Thus you have “medical thrillers,” “spy thrillers,” “financial/corporate thrillers,” and many others.

Based on the above, you should be able to tell whether your story, at its core, is a mystery or a thriller. Knowing the characteristics of your genre (and sub-genre) should inform the story choices you make, help you to identify authors of similar works to read for inspiration, and to know how your novel fits into the publishing picture when you address agents and editors. In short, it should help you see more clearly where your novel will end up in the bookstore — and that’s a very good thing.

To be clear, though, the qualities of mysteries and thrillers described above are by no means absolute. They should not be taken as hard-and-fast “rules” to follow, and indeed, many successful mysteries and thrillers deviate in ways large and small from the descriptions above. The thrillers of Harlan Coben, to give just one example, tend to revolve around complicated family histories — a personal type of storyline more expected in a mystery — rather than preventing a “high stakes” threat like terrorists poisoning a water system.

Writers should not fear to tread where others in the genre haven’t, either. Many of the thriller sub-genres began with authors exploring subject matter that had not been tackled yet in their genre. Scott Turow virtually invented the legal thriller with “Presumed Innocent.” Joseph Finder has set a number of thrillers in the corporate world, and with his success the sub-genre of corporate thrillers has flowered.

If you have your own story, certain aspects of it probably do not fit neatly into the generalized descriptions above. That’s okay. Better than okay — within the terrain of your genre, you want to find a fresh spot to claim as your own.

Indeed… breaking the “rules” can be great. But the first step, even in doing that, is knowing your genre well.