Wednesday, May 27, 2015

WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY: Rita Lee Chapman, Author

Rita Lee Chapman, Author
Australian author Rita Lee Chapman brings us her latest novel, DANGEROUS ASSOCIATIONS, described as a crime mystery thriller about “a woman whose first husband's exploits are wreaking havoc with her new life.” The author of a romantic travel mystery and a book for horse lovers, Chapman wanted to appeal to both male and female readers so turned to crime fiction.

Chapman is spending her retirement writing novels. Besides writing and reading, she enjoys playing tennis, socializing with friends, and walking around Australia’s beaches, rivers, and lakes.

Don't miss the short excerpt from DANGEROUS ASSOCIATIONS following the interview.

Q: You’ve written a romantic travel mystery and a book for horse lovers. What drew you to write your latest book, a crime mystery, DANGEROUS ASSOCIATIONS?

Rita Lee Chapman: I wanted to write something that could appeal to both male and female readers.  WINSTON – A HORSE’S TALE was very definitely targeted at horse lovers and I felt that MISSING IN EGYPT probably appealed to women more than men.  Actually it’s very hard to write for men as most seem to prefer very straight-forward, down-to-earth writing, without the frills and romance!  I thought J.K.Rowling achieved it well with her book, The Silkworm, written under the pen-name of Robert Galbraith, as I really did think it was written by a man.

I enjoy reading crime mysteries and watch quite a few crime shows on TV, so I thought it would make an interesting change.  Also, you get to kill some of your characters off!

Q: How do you create compelling characters that engage readers? When writing in different genres such as you’ve done, do you find that you create characters in a similar manner? Or, do you reveal unique characteristics differently depending on the genre?

Rita Lee Chapman: Creating characters is similar in any genre.  Possibly my female lead characters may display similar characteristics as, so far, they have always been nice people!  In DANGEROUS ASSOCIATIONS Cathy’s husband, Geoffrey, was born in the East End of London and his speech and expressions were fun to write.  I could hear Dennis Waterman’s voice (from The Minder and New Tricks) speaking to me as I wrote.  I also enjoyed writing the Sargeant’s character.

Q: Reviewers tout DANGEROUS ASSOCIATIONS as “chilling.” How do you create a “chilling” story? How relevant is suspense toward a compelling read?

Rita Lee Chapman: I think readers expect suspense in a mystery or crime novel.  You have to be a bit ruthless and try to add some shock value.  I must say I was surprised by the use of the word “chilling” in a review of DANGEROUS ASSOCIATIONS, but then I knew what was going to happen!  I do think what one reader would find chilling, another might not. 

Q: Why did you choose to write DANGEROUS ASSOCIATIONS in first person? Did you find it helpful or restrictive?

Rita Lee Chapman: I like writing in the first person; I think it is easier to portray what your characters are thinking and feeling.  I overcame any restrictiveness by switching characters.

Q: Do you find the concept of heroes vs villains useful in developing a compelling plot?

Rita Lee Chapman: Definitely.  I think every crime mystery has to have at least one hero and a villain.           

Q: Do you write your books strictly to entertain readers or do you try to deliver a message or educate as well?

Rita Lee Chapman: DANGEROUS ASSOCIATIONS was just for entertainment, but I did try to deliver a message in WINSTON – A HORSE’S TALE.  So much cruelty to animals is caused by well-meaning people not knowing any better.  When I wrote MISSING IN EGYPT, I had recently visited Egypt and been amazed – it is so different to anywhere else in the world.  So many of their temples are in such great condition that it is not hard to imagine how they must have been in their heyday.  I wanted to try and capture the essence of Egypt for those who had been unable to visit and those who wanted to relive the experience.

Q: You selected Egypt as the setting for your romantic travel mystery, MISSING IN EGYPT, because it is “a mysterious and intriguing country,” ideal for a mystery. What about the setting for DANGEROUS ASSOCIATIONS? Did it help define the backstory for your crime mystery?

Rita Lee Chapman: My books, so far, have all been based partly in Australia, because that’s where I live it’s the most familiar to me.  It’s also beautiful, by the way.  I have also been lucky enough to have travelled to several different countries and I like to include those experiences in my stories.

Q: Do you like to mix romance and mystery? What about humor? Does it help to flesh out your characters and engage readers?

Rita Lee Chapman: Yes, I love to mix romance and mystery.   Romance makes the world go around!  Most people have a love interest in their lives so I think it makes the characters more engaging.  As for humour – I’d love to write comedy but the best I can manage is a few one liners.

Q: What’s next?

Rita Lee Chapman:  At the moment I’m busy promoting DANGEROUS ASSOCIATIONS but I am thinking about writing another book in the MISSING IN….  series.  I’d like to follow up on Anna’s later life and see what else she gets up to.  I think we’ve both learned a lot since MISSING IN EGYPT!

Q: Tell us about Rita Lee Chapman. What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Rita Lee Chapman: Like most writers, I’m a prolific reader.  Some of my favourite authors are Kate Morton, Bryce Courtenay, Barbara Bradford Taylor, Colleen McCullough, Dick Francis, Mary Higgins Clark, Jeffrey Archer, Fiona Walker and Rebecca Bryn.

I also like playing tennis (enthusiastically, but not very well), walking around our lovely rivers, lakes and beaches and socialising.   We have made some lovely friends since we retired to Queensland and share some great lunches and dinners.

Thank you for having me on your blog, Joyce, it’s been fun.

About Rita Lee Chapman

Rita Lee Chapman was born in London and moved to Australia in her early twenties.  It was only when she retired that she wrote her first novel, MISSING IN EGYPT, a romantic travel mystery. 

WINSTON – A HORSE’S TALE followed, written for horse lovers like herself.  “It was the book I had to write.” 

Her latest book, DANGEROUS ASSOCIATIONS, is her first foray into crime mystery.

An ex-husband, a new love, a stalker.  Cathy Thompson’s link to her ex-husband fills her life with threats and intimidation.  She must either trap her stalker or find Geoffrey to put an end to her life of fear. 

Chapter 3 Love Calls Again

I remember turning the radio dial to my favourite station as I went up the hill towards work.  As I coasted down the other side I touched the brakes lightly to steady the car as I approached the sharp left-hand turn.  It was a bad corner, where trucks often misjudged the angle and spilt their load across the road.  I remembered the feeling of fear as I pushed the brake pedal harder, still without any response.  I pumped the brake a couple of times but my foot was flat to the floor and the car was out of control and heading towards the safety barrier.  I knew there was at least a fifteen foot drop on the other side.  I was told afterwards by the police that the driver of the car behind me said the car flew over the guardrail, landed half way down the hill, rolled and landed on its side at the bottom.  I remember the sound of metal against metal as the car hit the guardrail, but I was going too fast for it to stop us.  I could recall the feeling of flying through the air and the thud as the car landed but  I was unconscious when they pulled me out. 

MISSING IN EGYPT will intrigue you with its twists and turns, romance and adventure as well as its insights into Australian and Egyptian cultures.  Australian Anna Davies travels to Egypt with her lover to help him search for his brother, who disappeared whilst on holiday.  The Valley of the Kings, Abu Simbel and the Temple of Karnak are amongst the settings for their search.  Will they be able to track him down and find him alive - or is Ramy already dead?  What tragedies await Anna and Kareem as they come closer to retracing his footsteps?  This fast-paced action plot will keep you guessing until the end.

One for horse lovers!  Winston is a good-looking palomino horse whose life involves several different owners and many adventures.  As you read his story, told by Winston himself, you will appreciate horse ownership from the horse’s point of view.  Born on a country property in Australia, Winston
tells of his breaking-in and education and the different people he encounters – good, bad and ignorant.  As well as his own story, Winston includes the experiences of other horses he meets along life’s way. 

Whether it’s jumping, eventing, hunting or just hacking, Winston tries hard to please his rider. Follow his successes and his failures from his breaking-in to his show jumping win. It is an eventful life – the story of one Australian horse out of thousands, but one that you will remember.



MISSING IN EGYPT  purchase links

WINSTON – A HORSE’S TALE purchase links

Author Links

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