Friday, September 30, 2016

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Neil Low, Author of Theater of the Crime

During the course of writing novels, I come to places in my stories where I need to share information with readers, adding historical background, context, character development, plotting details, and clues. The problem, I feel, is that the information should be revealed gradually, and it must also move the story along and help my readers solve the mystery before them. The caveat is that these new facts can’t be delivered in the form of an information dump, which might have odd sounding dialogue or appear as an unnatural topic of conversation.

As an example, all too often, when I’m watching a detective movie, I’ll see a protagonist and his secret informant meet inside a strip bar to share information, which strikes me as an overworked cliché—and in real life would be dangerous for the snitch. Not all cops or detectives do their business openly in strip bars, but Hollywood seems to love it, possibly because it gives them a chance to showcase naked women and make a point that the productions are edgy, meaning realistic and gritty. So although I don’t mind nudity or sex in this genre, I make a deliberate effort to find something more engaging about Seattle’s history or geography, where I can bring new information to light, without resorting to the cliché or the information dump.

A case in point in my Theater of the Crime (Available at Seattle Mystery Bookshop, University Bookstore, and Edmonds Bookshop) is where I have protagonist Alan Stewart meet with Sylvie Jourdan, Alexander Conlin’s business manager for late night breakfast at El Gaucho’s Restaurant. I find that greater intimacy and information comes from the relaxed environments of restaurants, coffee shops, and cafes, where people are instinctively more social and let their guards down. There is banter, teasing, social intimacy, and the sharing of clues that the keepers of which might not even know they possess. The focus of their discussion this evening is the spate of suspicious deaths of leading vaudeville magicians, all while performing on Seattle stages during the twilight of the vaudeville years. Alan and Sylvie meet immediately after Conlin’s performance. That evening, in his role of “Alexander Who Knows,” he predicted yet another magician’s death. Alan needs to find out how he’s making these predictions—and if there’s a way for him to prevent any more deaths and solve the mysteries that have already occurred.

Thanks for stopping by to share your food for thought, Neil!

You can find Neil here:

Friday, September 23, 2016

FOODFIC: Please Welcome Russell James, Author of Q Island

Aiden Bailey has shredded wheat squares for breakfast. Every breakfast. At the same time each morning, the exact same amount, arranged the same way in his bowl. It’s part of what his mother Melanie calls the Routine. Aiden needs the Routine.

Aiden has autism, and is pretty far out on the spectrum, with severe communication issues. Having a rigid structure to his day gives him an anchor in the world, and that anchor gives him the internal peace to function.

But the outbreak of the paleovirus on Long Island, New York destroys his routines, and everyone else’s. The virus turns the infected into crazed killers, and the government quarantines the whole island. Aiden and Melanie are trapped.

Aiden becomes infected. But he doesn’t get sick. In fact, his autism gets better. The aspect of his personality that caused his mother so much work and heartache now may hold the cure to the spreading virus. But only if she can get him off the island. She has to get him past the infected, she has to get him past the government, and there’s a gang leader who’s found out about Aiden, and has his own plans for what to do with a boy who might be a cure...

Thanks for stopping by to share your food for thought, Russell!

You can find Russell here:

Q Island received a starred review from Publisher’s Weekly and was the Pick of the Month in Famous Monsters of Filmland Magazine. 

Friday, September 16, 2016

FOODFIC: Charmfall - Chloe Neill

Charmfall finds 15-year-old Lily Parker picking through the pile in [her] palm, eating the raisins and the other dried fruit first to get them out of the way before moving on to the nuts and – last but not least – chocolate chips. As she says: There may not be an order to the world, but there was definitely an order to trail mix.

But her sentiment’s not quite accurate – her world does have an order. No, not the St. Sophia’s School for Girls in Chicago world; that one has classes and schedules, sure, but the social game there is a minefield of unmarked safezones and bombs that de- and re-activate at will. Oh, wait – that’s all high schools, actually.

Anyway, I think Lily was referring to her other world – the newly-discovered magical realm that she’s trying to navigate between trig quizzes. And that world definitely has an order.

There are two metaphorical camps: the Adepts (Lily’s side) and the Reapers. Adepts, in short, are teenagers with magic, their powers ranging from psychic abilities to controlling elements to casting spells. Reapers are also magic-wielding teens, but they use their free time to suck the souls out of vulnerable kids to feed aged-out magical folk. The adepts try to stop the reapers and save the common folk.

So clearly adepts and reapers ride opposite ends of the moral teeter-totter. But their playground still has rules. Both sides hold meetings in marked locations – adepts in enclaves marked with encircled Ys, reapers in sanctuaries designated by quatrefoils. And a scale model of the city showing all assigned areas is conveniently located in a basement room of the school for the magical students’ reference.

There are even rules for arranged adept/reaper cross meetings:

Cease fire means no magic will be used during this meeting. South side rules means we’re fair game after we leave the bridge, but we can’t snipe hunt – so only the people on the bridge can work the magic, not the folks we brought with us.

See? Lots. Of. Order.

Now, with all that said, in this 3rd installment of the Dark Elite series, there is a disruption to the order – a loss of magic. For both teams. With the playing field equal, will the adepts and reapers call a truce until they can figure out what’s going on?

Good thing trail mix is high in protein…Lily’s gonna need it. ;)

Thursday, September 8, 2016

FOODFIC: Please Welcome C.P. Lesley, Author of Kingdom of the Shades

Ballerinas: aren’t they allergic to food? Sasha Sinclair, heroine of Desert Flower and Kingdom of the Shades, doesn’t think so. She’ll munch on a Danish at the drop of a pointe shoe. After all, how fat can she get when she dances ten hours a day? Her partner complains, but she knows he’s only goofing on her. Her father paired them when they were kids, so he’s closer than a brother. Besides, she eats healthy most of the time. She hasn’t much choice, having married a pilot from a culture that specializes in vegan cuisine. It was love at first sight, Tarkei-style—an ancient tradition commonly dismissed as a legend until Sasha and Danion, without even lifting a finger, proved the doubters wrong. Neither of them has time to cook, but in the twenty-fourth century they don’t have to: machines spit out restaurant-level meals on command.

Danion pays little attention to what goes in his mouth, but he does have standards. The virulent orange soup his protegé loves because it reminds him of the one Mama used to make has Danion sending silent prayers of thanks skyward that Mama is no longer around. Then there’s his old friend Thuja, who likes her dinner fresh—as in running at top speed in the other direction. Meals with Thuja pose a challenge. How many urgent prior engagements can one guy dream up, even with help from his equally disgusted wife?

Ballerinas spend a lot of time on tour, and food means home as well as sustenance. The vegan cuisine Sasha likes reminds her of trips to India and Mexico. And when she takes charge of her husband’s adopted daughter, torn from her native planet and dumped all unaware in San Francisco, the quest for the right chili pepper offers a way for them to bond. At least the girl isn’t asking for virulent orange soup….

Thanks for stopping by to share your food for thought, Carolyn!

In addition to Desert Flower and its sequel, Kingdom of the Shades, C. P. Lesley is the author of The Not Exactly Scarlet Pimpernel and Legends of the Five Directions, a series set in Russia during the childhood of Ivan the Terrible that begins with The Golden Lynx.

Five Directions Press          Amazon          Amazon UK          Amazon CA