Sunday, December 15, 2013

WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY: Journalist and Author Monte Dutton

Monte Dutton, Author
Sports journalist turned novelist Monte Dutton brings us THE INTANGIBLES, a novel about a Southern town struggling to integrate in the late 1960s. Those of us who experienced the 1960s comprehend the effects -- at least on some level-- from the unsettling series of events of that decade. Dutton wrote his book to describe the problems faced by all sides in the integration efforts. A reviewer claims that THE INTANGIBLES is a “compelling, finely crafted reflection of a mighty turbulent time and place in our history” that “blends perfect balance of warmth, humor, action, terror and depth.”

Dutton, who currently lives in South Carolina, covered Nascar racing as a reporter for 20 years. He has happily turned to writing fiction, because, he says, “The best way to tell the truth is to write fiction.” He also enjoys playing the guitar and writing songs, and loves sports. THE INTANGIBLES is his second novel; his first, THE AUDACITY OF DOPE, was published in 2011.

Don't miss the opportunity to enter a Giveaway at the end of his interview.

Q:  What inspired you to write THE INTANGIBLES? Did you base it on real-life experiences and/or events?

Monte Dutton: I was a child during the period covered by THE INTANGIBLES, but my memories are vivid. Some characters were created with real people in mind, just as many were not. The same is true of the events described therein. It’s fair to say that the novel is loosely based on my recollections of school desegregation and the civil rights movement as it affected my hometown.

Q:  Is THE INTANGIBLES a story about The South and overcoming bigotry? Or is it about football and how it can contribute to the solution of social problems?

Monte Dutton: It’s a story of the former with the experience of a high school football team providing a foundation. My goal was to depict the cultural change that complicated the lives of black and white alike.

Q: How do you engage readers to care about your characters? Did you base them on real people?

Monte Dutton: It’s pretty simple. By creating characters who interested me, I figured I was creating characters who would interest readers. It was all a matter of being able to think the way the characters thought: to imagine myself as them when I was writing. The world changed rapidly. Fear of those changes was the chief instigator of the disorder and violence that occurred.

Q: What is the significance of the title THE INTANGIBLES?

Monte Dutton: It’s a double entendre. The Intangibles were the slogans on the high school’s locker-room walls, and when the schools were integrated in Fairmont, the town folk were plunging into a new way of life whose effects were difficult to anticipate or measure.

Q: Did you write THE INTANGIBLES to deliver a message? To entertain? To educate?

Monte Dutton: All of those. I wanted to depict the hardships of the time. I wanted to remind younger generations that the cataclysmic events of their lives are not unprecedented. I tried to write in an irreverent vein that would create amusement, but I also tried to depict the late 1960s in the South authentically.

Q: What makes a good villain? Does THE INTANGIBLES have a villain? Or is the concept of bigotry the “villain?” Do you need a villain to have a hero?

Monte Dutton: The chief villain is the bitter ex-football coach, Preston Shipley, who has been moved to principal of Fairmont High School. A conspiracy gathers around Shipley’s bitterness, which is more personal than political, and draws other villains into its web. Bigotry plays a role in Shipley’s character that is similar to the role of slavery in the Civil War. It isn’t his only consideration, but, without it, he wouldn’t have succumbed to hate and self-destruction.

Q:  Your book is set in the late 1960s when there were no cell phones, personal computers, or internet.  How much research did you conduct to assure historical accuracy? How important is accuracy to credibility?

Monte Dutton:  The story begins on the day of JFK’s assassination, then jumps four years ahead. The rest occurs in 1967-68. I researched the times in terms of when events occurred: the assassinations of RFK and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the Vietnam War, South Carolina’s Orangeburg Massacre, and other considerations, such as popular television shows and hit songs. I blended historical research with my own memories of the times. If a story is set in the past, it seems to me that it has to ring true if it is to illuminate as well as entertain.

Q: You have been a reporter and have written non-fiction books. What is different about the two approaches? Do you prefer fiction over non-fiction? Were you able to apply one to the other?

Monte Dutton: I have little desire to write non-fiction again, though I write the occasional free-lance story. Journalism isn’t really about telling the truth. It’s about getting as close to the truth as possible by reporting what people say the truth is. It’s not the same thing. My favorite irony: The best way to tell the truth is to write fiction. I really love it. I’m never happier than when sitting at my laptop, describing a world of my own invention and telling a story that fits that world.

Q: What’s next?

Monte Dutton: I’m working on the second draft of Crazy by Natural Causes, a contemporary novel set in rural Kentucky. In a sense, Chance Benford in Crazy -- like Riley Mansfield in my first novel, The Audacity of Dope -- is a person whose life is uprooted because, well, the damndest things happen to him. Chance rolls with this flow better than Riley, but both novels are about the absurdity of life. Audacity is more of a suspense thriller. Crazy has its share of suspense, but Riley and Chance don’t have much in common. Riley has a quiet determination and stubborn streak that Chance lacks. Chance learns to drift along where the rivers of his life happen to flow.

Q:  Tell us about Monte Dutton? What do you like to do when you’re not working or writing?

Monte Dutton: I love playing guitar and writing songs. I love sports, most notably the football programs of Clinton High School and Furman University. I’ve had a lifelong passion for the Boston Red Sox. I still watch NASCAR races on TV, though I don’t have much interest in going to the track again. Writing daily blogs on my website ( has been good therapy and a handy way to get ready to write fiction. The daily blog is like singing scales in a choir or chorus; it’s a warm-up exercise as well as a promotional device for raising interest in my novels.

About Monte Dutton

Monte Dutton lives in Clinton, South Carolina. In high school, he played football for a state championship team, then attended Furman University, Greenville, S.C., graduating in 1980, B.A., cum laude, political science/history. 

He spent 20 years (1993-2012) writing about NASCAR for several publications. He was named Writer of the Year by the Eastern Motorsports Press Association (Frank Blunk Award) in 2003 and Writer of the Year by the National Motorsports Press Association (George Cunningham Award) in 2008. His NASCAR writing was syndicated by King Feature Syndicate in the form of a weekly page, "NASCAR This Week" for 17 years.

Monte Dutton is also the author of Pride of Clinton, a history of high school football in his hometown, 1986; At Speed, 2000 (Potomac Books); Rebel with a Cause: A Season with NASCAR's Tony Stewart, 2001 (Potomac Books); Jeff Gordon: The Racer, 2001 (Thomas Nelson); Postcards from Pit Road, 2003 (Potomac Books); Haul A** and Turn Left, 2005 (Warner Books), True to the Roots: Americana Music Revealed, 2006. (Bison Books); and is an Editor/Contributor of Taking Stock: Life in NASCAR's Fast Lane, 2004 (Potomac Books). 

The Audacity of Dope, 2011 (Neverland Publishing) was his first novel, and Neverland recently published his second, THE INTANGIBLES. Another, Crazy by Natural Causes, is in the works.

It’s 1968. The winds of change are descending on Fairmont and engulfing the small South Carolina town in a tornadic frenzy. The public schools are finally being completely integrated. Mossy Springs High School is closing and its black students are now attending formerly all-white Fairmont High; the town is rife with racial tension. Several black youths have been arrested for tossing firebombs at a handful of stores. White citizens form a private academy for the purpose of keeping their kids out of the integrated school system. The Ku Klux Klan is growing.

Reese Knighton arrives on the scene at precisely the right time. The principal of Fairmont High School, Claude Lowell, becomes superintendent of the school district. Lowell chooses Preston Shipley, currently the football coach, to replace him as principal and hires Knighton to coach the team, thus forcing Knighton to find common ground with Willie Spurgeon, the successful Mossy Springs coach who has been passed over for a job he richly deserves.

At The Intangibles’ center is the Hoskins family, their relationships to those living within the town of Fairmont giving rise to a memorable cast of characters. Tommy Hoskins is a local businessman and farmer who is a supporter of the team, on which his older son, Frankie, plays. Frankie’s best friend is Raymond Simpson, who lives in a shanty on the Hoskins’ farm. Another of Frankie’s friends, Ned Whitesides, is a spoiled bigot. Clarence “Click” Clowney is the talented, rebellious quarterback from Mossy Springs. Al Martin is the staunch black tackle who becomes the glue that keeps the integrated team together. Twins James and Joey Leverette are the sons of professors at local Oconee College. Curly Mayhew coaches rival Lexington Central. Laura Hedison is a white cheerleader. Jorge Heredia is a tennis player at the college who sells drugs on the side. Aubrey Roper is a college girl who exerts a corruptive influence on Frankie Hoskins. The county sheriff, a turncoat within the team, Ned Whitesides’ father, the loyal assistants, militants both black and white, a doctor, a lawyer, local businessmen, and others all add fuel to the fires of prejudice and fear of the unknown that are raging in the town of Fairmont.

This is a story of a high school football team that puts aside its differences, never realizing that, outside its bounds, the world is unraveling. It’s a story about the cultural changes, good and bad, that take place when two societies shift and finally come together.

Ultimately, THE INTANGIBLES is a story of triumph achieved at considerable cost.


Purchase Links 

Author Links
Twitter:  @MonteDutton

US entrants only, please

Thursday, December 12, 2013

WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY: Author and Journalist Catherine Feeny

Catherine Feeny, Author
Author and journalist Catherine Feeny imagined what it might be like to fall for a movie star and move with him to Hollywood.  In “Into-the-Woods” style, her new book FLOWER GIRL takes readers to the next step of the fairy tale, which, according to reviewers, includes many twists and turns.

FLOWER GIRL is Feeny’s fifth novel. She also is a freelance journalist and writes short stories and drama for BBC Radio 4. She currently lives in London – where she loves to cook, especially to bake bread. She also lived in the U.S. for four years and spent time in France and Spain.

Q: Would you characterize FLOWER GIRL as a romance or mystery or…?

Catherine Feeny: FLOWER GIRL is a romance, but it has elements of mystery and intrigue too.

I had always wondered what would happen if you got to live the dream: to meet a movie star and have him whisk you off to Hollywood. The answer I came up with was that, however handsome and charismatic his image might be, you would still wake up with a real man. That idea intrigued me and it was what I went on to explore in the novel.

Q: How do you make FLOWER GIRL “an emotional roller coaster, well worth the ride!” – as described by a reviewer? How do you engage your readers to care about the “flower girl”?

Catherine Feeny: Let me answer the second question first. I think readers care about Violet, whose work as a freelance florist gives the novel its title, because she is a compelling and believable character, who has to find a way of dealing with a remarkable sequence of events.

Once you care about Violet, the twists and turns of the plot are an emotional roller coaster because you experience them with and through her.

Q: Would you describe Violet Lake, your protagonist, as a modern, independent woman? How important is her type of character to the development of your story?

Catherine Feeny: Yes, she is modern and independent. She also has her feet on the ground and doesn’t stand in awe of anybody. That is why she is able to navigate a course through the craziness that is showbiz Hollywood.

The story is mostly described through Violet’s eyes, so she is immensely important to its development. Initially she is completely out of her depth in the world into which she has tumbled, but she is not naive and she is certainly no fool. She makes sense of her situation by means of a level-headed gaze and a good pinch of sardonic wit. Her journey is also the reader’s.

Q: Were you able to use your journalist skills to write a fictional novel? Or is the difference between reporting news and creating a story difficult to cross?

Catherine Feeny: I very much used what I learnt as a journalist when writing FLOWER GIRL. In particular my time in the Shetland Isles, where I lived until recently. The Shetland Isles are Britain’s most northerly archipelago, situated fifteen hours by ferry from the Scottish mainland. They have their own distinct identity, and an oral storytelling tradition still thrives there.

As a journalist I met up with lots Shetland folk, and heard the wonderful tales they had to tell. In the process I fell in love with the twists and turns of spellbinding narrative, and that is reflected in the intricate plot of FLOWER GIRL.

Journalistic writing must be punchy, immediate, and full of arresting turns of phrase. I also incorporated those characteristics into the language of FLOWER GIRL.

Q: How would you define a “villain”? Does FLOWER GIRL have “villains”?

Catherine Feeny: A villain is an antagonist; the person who endeavours to prevent a happy ending. Oh yes, FLOWER GIRL has several, my favourite being the malevolent Harold Acker, of whom I will say no more. People will just have to read the novel!

Q: Did you write FLOWER GIRL primarily to entertain? Did you also write it to educate or deliver a message?

Catherine Feeny: I did write FLOWER GIRL primarily to entertain, which goes back to my delight in telling a cracking good story. I certainly didn’t intend to educate, but any novel is bound to indicate its writer’s approach to life, and give a sense of their priorities.

Q: In addition to writing your novels, you are also a journalist. When did you first realize that you are a writer? What has inspired you to continue to write?

Catherine Feeny: I have written ever since I was a child. I continue because I can’t imagine not doing so. There would be a void in my life that nothing else could fill.

Q: How is FLOWER GIRL different from your four previous novels?

Catherine Feeny: My four previous novels were written before I lived in Shetland, and their aim was to make a political point. Although they did have romantic elements, FLOWER GIRL represents a move into a different genre.

My four previous novels were published by Hodder & Stoughton. FLOWER GIRL is published on Amazon Kindle. That was another big departure for me, but I am convinced that ebooks are the future. I like the speed with which they can come onto the market, and the way in which, as a writer, you have control over every aspect of the publishing process, from choosing a cover to marketing. They also put authors into a new and much closer relationship with their public. These are exciting times for writers and readers alike. It is no exaggeration to say that we are in the throes of a literary revolution.

Q: What’s next?

Catherine Feeny: I’m currently gestating an idea for another novel, but I’ll leave it at that. I’m a bit superstitious about a work in progress!

Q: Tell us about Catherine Feeny. What do you like to do when you’re not writing or working?

Catherine Feeny: I love to cook. In particular I am a passionate breadmaker. The alchemy that happens when you bring so few ingredients together never ceases to thrill me. And the smell of fresh bread is just magical!

More About Catherine Feeny

Catherine Feeny is the author of four previous novels, published by Hodder & Stoughton. She also teaches Creative Writing, works as a freelance journalist, and writes short stories and drama for BBC Radio 4. She currently lives in Lincoln UK, but has spent time in France and Spain, and lived in the United States for four years. Her travels around America by Greyhound bus at the age of sixteen were among the inspirations for FLOWERGIRL.

FLOWER GIRL tells the story of how a night of passion leads London florist Violet Lake to leave her former life behind, and fly off with her movie star lover to live with him in his Hollywood mansion. Once there, however, Violet’s fantasy starts to unravel, and she finds herself catapulted into an adventure which carries her across the entire American continent, and leaves her future happiness hanging in the balance.

Social Links
       Twitter: @CatherineFeeny1

Where to Purchase
        Amazon US
      Amazon UK

Sunday, December 8, 2013

WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY: Author Lynn Albrecht

Lynn Albrecht, Author
Mystery author Lynn Albrecht brings us DYING FOR SEX  touted by reviewers as a “Great mystery, great humor” and “Sex, drugs, and an old folks home? How could it get any better?” Albrecht values humor—which comes through in her interview—but understands that a mystery with lots of twists, turns, and red herrings creates an entertaining book.

Albrecht originally worked in broadcasting and then in the field of corporate communications—a career I pursued for more than 25 years. (I, too, did not do well with the power suits.) So I can appreciate her career change to become a social worker. Today she continues to work part time as a social worker and lives in Canada with her husband.

Be sure to check into her "Huge Kindle Giveaway" posted at the end of the interview. You could win a Kindle Paperwhite!

Q:  Your reviewers praise the mystery in DYING FOR SEX. How did you conceive it? What inspired it? Was it based on real events?

Lynn Albrecht: I had tried to write novels in my thirties––a romance and a historical novel. I never got very far. Many years passed until the urge to write a story came over me again. This time I knew that in order to succeed, I had to write about what I knew. When I started writing DYING FOR SEX at the age of fifty-four, I figured I knew about quite a few things. I’d had some career changes, a couple of kids, a failed marriage, fallen in love again, and watched my formerly toned youthful body morph into something I barely recognized. I worked with the elderly as a social worker and realized that as we age the twenty-year old voice inside us is still there despite what is happening on the outside.  I wanted the main character to be older and going through the stuff that we go through as we age. And I wanted the seniors in the story to be fun and have distinct personalities just like in real life.

I also knew that I had to have the whole swinger scenario in the story somehow. Most of my adult life I have heard a lot of rumors and stories about the swinger lifestyle. When I started researching it for the book, I was astounded to learn there was actually an “adult lifestyle club” in the heart of the city I lived at that time. The more I looked into it the more I realized that a) it was more popular than I ever realized, and b) for me, it’s a subject that inspires hilarity. Could I ask for more? Let’s face it, sex can just be downright funny.

Q: How important is humor to telling your story?

Lynn Albrecht:  Very. My main goal was to make people laugh. I have always loved Janet Evanovich’s and Laura Levine’s books. I started reading the Stephanie Plum series in my forties and I can tell you those books saved me from plunging into total insanity some days. My son wanted to get his gazillieth piercing, my daughter announced she was leaving university to learn how to massage horses, and my boobs were starting to droop so badly they slapped me in the face when I jogged. So I would lose myself in one of Janet’s books and the world suddenly didn’t look so bad anymore, although the whole boob thing remained very disconcerting.

Q: Your reviewers point out the successful integration of intrigue and humor in DYING FOR SEX.  How did you keep readers in suspense and laughing?

Lynn Albrecht:  I had to keep reminding myself not to get too serious. I knew I had to have lots of twists and turns in the plot and a few red herrings, but I kept the voice of Lindy in the forefront.  She just has a way of turning a potentially serious situation into mayhem. DYING FOR SEX is not a scary book. No blood, no gore, but a good mystery that I think, keeps you guessing as well as laughing.

Q: How do you create credibility for your amateur sleuth, Lindy Sutton, to the extent that we believe she can solve the mystery? Why do readers care what happens to her?

Lynn Albrecht:  She’s a lot like you and me. She’s just this woman who’s been drawn into helping solve a mystery by the victim’s brother. She has absolutely no idea how to go about it. So she pulls in her best friend and her sister to help, as well as this old gay guy named Chappy Lowton, who lives at the retirement home where the victim worked. They’re all just ordinary people, bumbling along asking questions, and getting into trouble in the process. Along the way, life intrudes. Her son brings home this outrageously ugly bus and parks it in their driveway, her long dormant hormones fire up for the very annoying detective on the case, and her sister constantly makes fun of her. Lindy’s not particularly brilliant or brave, she’s hard on herself, and uses humor to cover up her insecurities. She doesn’t solve the mystery in a concise, methodical way, because she’s not like a Kay Scarpetta.  But she does solve it. And I think she does it the way you or I might, and I think that’s why people like her character.

Q:  Did you write DYING FOR SEX purely for entertainment? Or were you trying to educate your readers? Deliver a message?

Lynn Albrecht:  My goal was to entertain and hopefully, keep people guessing about the identity of the murderer and what was going to happen next. Any messages that are in the book are pretty simple I think. Seniors are not staid, used-up, people with nothing to offer. The elderly people in DYING FOR SEX, all have very different, and I think, interesting personalities and they are important to the storyline. Fifty-year old women can be funny, still have a lot to offer and think about sex. People are diverse and therefore diverse in their tastes and proclivities. Mothers will protect a child no matter how old either of them get. Laughter just makes life better. Nothing too pithy.  DYING FOR SEX ain’t  Dostoyevsky after all.

Q: How helpful is the concept of villain versus hero to telling your story? Do the actions of your villain result in the heroic responses of the protagonist?

Lynn Albrecht: Lindy is not the typical kind of hero you see in a lot of mysteries. This is a light mystery so Lindy isn’t going to grab a machine gun and take out a gaggle of assassins or anything like that. I tried to make it believable even though Lindy tends to end up in some ridiculous situations. She’s kind of a chaos magnet, but believable chaos. I think because it is a light mystery, the idea of the villain is less intense but still does bad things. Lindy reacts to that, but again, in a way that you or I might.

Q: Is any of DYING FOR SEX based on real events? Is the back story based on your own experiences or did you need to do research?
Lynn Albrecht:  Well as I said earlier, I am a little older than Lindy. So I did base some of her thoughts, feelings on things I have been through, especially her relationship with her son Brent, how she feels about her changing body, sexuality, and her love of Spanx of course. The swinger part of it required a whole lot of on-line research, which needed nerves of steel and a few stiff drinks. But I got through it.

Q: Did your characters push you around and make you write what they wanted? Or were you in control? Did you start with an outline?

Lynn Albrecht: I sat down one Easter weekend and wrote out the entire plot on index cards. Then I started writing, going from one card to the next. At first it was a struggle to let the characters’ voices come out. It took me a while before I relaxed and just let their voices take over. I kept control of the plot and where the characters were going, but I let the characters take over control of the dialogue and the narrative feel of the book. In particular, I felt that Lindy’s voice had to be strong and consistent.

Q:  What’s next?

Lynn Albrecht: I still work part-time as a social worker and I’m working hard to promote DYING FOR SEX.  I’m a novice when it comes to things like twitter, face book, and well, blog tours. It’s a steep learning curve. My publisher does help, but really the onus is on me to get the book noticed. But I’m learning and it’s another adventure. I’m enjoying it.

When I am not promoting DYING FOR SEX, I am working on the second Lindy Sutton mystery. The same characters are in it––Lindy, Patty, Toni, Dixie, and of course, Chappy Lowton.

Q:  Tell us about Lynn Albrecht. What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Lynn Albrecht: Not a hell of a lot. Give me a good mystery and a glass of Sauvignon Blanc and I’m happy. I do travel with my husband when we have the time and money to do so. I love Sedona, Arizona in particular so we try to visit there once a year. I periodically bug my two adult children in a valiant effort to make them remember I’m still around and have relevance in their lives. Sometimes it works. And I spend an inordinate amount of time sussing out sales on Spanx and trying to figure out why my knees have started to droop.

About Lynn Albrecht
Lynn C. Albrecht started her career in broadcasting. Quickly realizing she was not going to be the next Lisa Laflamme, she entered the world of corporate communications. After years of writing videos, speeches, advertising, and dressing in power suits with shoulders pads that made her look like Hunter Hearst Helmsley, she had a great epiphany. She ditched the shoulder pads and returned to school. Five years later, she was released into the unsuspecting healthcare system as a social worker. She works at St. Mary’s General Hospital in Kitchener, Ontario.
Lynn lives in Baden, Ontario with her infinitely patient husband, John Belton.
 DYING FOR SEX is her first book. She is currently hard at work on the second Lindy Sutton mystery.

Lindy Sutton has her hands full. In between having her clown act clobbered by pint-sized critics, keeping a group of sex-crazed octogenarians from starting brawls in the raciest bar in town, and trying to keep her crazy Aunt Pip from being tossed out of Laughing Pines retirement home, she still has to contend with her son’s garish band bus parked in her driveway. Could things get any worse? Yup! Margaret Quaid, the social worker at Laughing Pines is found dead of an apparent overdose and the drop dead handsome detective on the case, thinks she stole the drugs from the retirement home and was pretty active in the world of wife swapping to boot. Lindy’s temper soars, along with her long dormant hormones, as she sets out to clear Margaret’s name, find the murderer and make the sexy detective eat crow. Aided and abetted by the aging but flamboyant Chappy Lowton, her eccentric and sarcastic sister, her best friend Patty, and that hoard of sex-crazed geriatrics, Lindy wades into the world of swingers only to find that there are plenty of people with a motive to kill the social worker.
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Giveaway:  Enter here

First Prize: Kindle Paperwhite and an autographed copy of Dying for Sex

Second Prize: $50 Amazon Gift Card and an autographed copy of Dying for Sex

Third Prize: $25 Amazon Gift Card and an autographed copy of Dying for Sex

Thursday, December 5, 2013

WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY: Mystery Author Jill Edmondson

Jill Edmondson, Author
Mystery author Jill Edmondson knows what she likes, and her latest book FRISKY BUSINESS involves her hard-boiled detective Sasha Jackson in another Toronto-based case. Edmondson believes in building credibility through leaving loose ends and making mistakes – in addition to factual accuracy.  And a hero will always be a hero – but needs a catalyst to be so.

Edmondson loves to travel and – like, yours truly – goes to Broadway plays (oh I wish I, too, could have seen nine in the past year!). She also enjoys her two toothless Maltese dogs.

Q: What inspired your story-line--the murder of a porn star--for FRISKY BUSINESS?

Jill Edmondson: The book was totally inspired by chapter two of Empire of Illusion by Chris Hedges.  Hedges is one of my favorite writers, and Empire of Illusion is one of the most thought-provoking books I’ve read in a long time.  In chapter two, Hedges examines the realities of the “adult entertainment” industry, particularly XXX movies.  I can’t remember the last time I read anything that made me so angry.  It made me mad enough to kill, well, only fictionally…

Q: How do you convince readers that Sasha Jackson is a credible hard-boiled private detective? What makes her “hard-boiled?” Why do readers care what happens to her?

Jill Edmondson: I am so happy to be able to say that readers tell me again and again that they can relate to her, that they’d like to hang out with her.  She’s fun, and likes to have a good time, but there’s more to her than that.

Like the archetypal hard-boiled PI, Sasha has an inner moral compass that guides her.  Making things right is her goal, and if a few stupid rules get broken in the process… Sasha can be counted on to do the right thing, but will probably do it the wrong way.  That’s fine though, the results are what matters, even if she does end up setting her hair on fire, or getting shot in the boobs, or totaling an expensive car…

Q: Why did you decide to write a series featuring Sasha Jackson?

Jill Edmondson: Sasha was clearly formed in my mind before I ever started writing, before I even came up with an idea for a plot!  This was a result of a few things…
·      For several years, I ran a mystery book club (and for a while I actually ran two mystery book clubs).
·      In 2005, I was a judge for the Arthur Ellis Awards (and read about 60 mysteries in about 4 months)
·      When I was doing my MA, I did a few research papers on Women in Crime Fiction.
·      I was a non-author member of Crime Writers of Canada and of Sisters in Crime.
All of those things combined to give birth to Sasha.  I knew the mystery genre really well.  I had a solid idea of what I liked and didn’t like in a mystery novel or character.  I had a good idea of what was under-represented in the genre.  And I’d learned from various discussions what fellow readers DIDN’T like or what they wished there was more of in the genre.  When I decided to try my hand at writing, I knew right away who my sleuth would be. 

Q:  How relevant is Toronto as a setting for telling the story? Does it add to the mystery? Are you able to exploit its unique aspects?

Jill Edmondson:  Very, yes, and yes!  The city is almost another character, and many reviewers have commented (favorably) on the setting.  Toronto is diverse, and it really is a city of neighbourhoods.  Each area of the city, to some extent, can be characterized by culture, mood, commerce, language, income, and so on.  These locales add to the plots of each Sasha book.  The series wouldn’t be the same if it were set in, let’s say, Vancouver or Boston. 

A while ago, I managed to get the Sasha books into the hands of David Mayor, the former Mayor of Toronto, and he Tweeted: 

Gorgeous day to kick back with a big mug of coffee and the latest Jill Edmondson mystery - in which Toronto plays itself.
- the books are terrific and Sasha suitably feisty. And I love Toronto playing itself!

That was pretty high praise!

Q: Did you write FRISKY BUSINESS solely to entertain? Or also to educate or deliver a message?

Jill Edmondson:  Entertainment must come first, but if there’s a message subtly delivered as well, then great!

Q:  Are you a believer in heroes and villains? What makes an engaging villain? Does a hero depend on the villain’s actions to become a hero?

Jill Edmondson:  A hero will always be a hero, that innate sense of morals or justice will always BE there, but it takes some kind of a catalyst, some precipitating event to SHOW the hero’s character.  Superman never leaped tall buildings in a single bound just because he was bored. 

As for villains… that’s tricky.  If a writer goes too far in making a villain loathsome, then the reader may be turned off.  I think a workable villain needs to have a shred of decency, some indication of humanity… buried way deep down.

Q:  How do you make your story “credible?” Does credibility enhance the mystery and/or suspense?

Jill Edmondson: There are many things a mystery author can do to add credibility, making it factual, researching bullet wounds and blood spatter patterns, and so on.  But to me, one of the best ways to make a story credible is to have mistakes, to have loose ends.  Real life does not unfold logically or perfectly, with everything wrapped up in a nice little package.  As long as order is restored in the end, the journey to that destination can and should contain a SNAFU or two. 

Q:  How important is humor in telling your story or creating your characters?

Jill Edmondson: I think a dose of humor is necessary.  I want readers to have a giggle now and then.  For me, this is easiest to do in dialogue.  Often, when I write, I’m laughing my head off.  I can get away with saying or doing things in fiction that I’d never say or do in real life. 

Q:  What’s next? Will you be writing more Sasha Jackson stories?

Jill Edmondson:  Number five, Odd Lang Syne, is already underway.  It’s about Gina Gervais, a former teen idol.  Gina is at the peak of her comeback, back on the top of the charts.  Everything should be golden, but it’s not.  She’s going through a nasty divorce, she’s got a stalker, and, oh sh*t, someone’s just released a sex tape of her.  If that’s not bad enough, her estranged husband is murdered, and guess who the number one suspect is? 

Q:  Tell us about Jill Edmondson. What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Jill Edmondson:  Can I borrow your credit card before I answer that question?  I love to travel.  Put me on a plane to anywhere!  I never really plan my trips, I just bumble along when I get there. 

My other favourite money vacuum, I mean pastime, is going to concerts, musicals and live theatre.  I’ve seen 9 Broadway shows in the last ~year!

About Jill Edmondson

Jill Edmondson is the author of the Sasha Jackson mystery series.  There’s a thin line between Jill and her sleuth Sasha, although Jill has never worked at a phone sex hotline, and Sasha isn’t a language geek. Jill enjoys bumming around any country where they speak a Latin-based language.  She also loves head-banging rock concerts, ice cream, palm trees, and absolutely adores her two toothless Maltese dogs.  

About FRISKY BUSINESS – the latest Sasha Jackson Mystery

This time around, PI Sasha Jackson is investigating the murder of a porn star...  

The drug addicted girl was a worthless nobody, so the cops aren't putting much effort into finding out who killed her.  Sasha takes on the case, and learns that the dirty picture business is way dirtier than it seems. She discovers surprising motives and even more surprising secrets, and just when she thinks she's solved the case, another dead body turns up. 

Meanwhile, Sasha's private life is a shambles.  Her brother is pissing her off, Sasha's love-life is on the rocks, and her BFF has her nose out of joint over Sasha's latest revelations.   And then there's the driving instructor, the locksmith and the glazier.  Let's just say it's a good thing that Sasha has a credit card.  

Why can't everyone just chill out long enough for Sasha to get in a good jam session, or have a good night's sleep?  

Oh, for crying out loud, pass the Scotch...

About BLOOD AND GROOM – the first Sasha Jackson Mystery

When not talking dirty at her part-time phone sex job, fledgling gumshoe Sasha Jackson is spending her days learning how “till death do us part” applies to her jilted client.

Christine Arvisais was dumped by her gold-plated fiancé Gordon just days before mailing the wedding invitations.  Four months later, Gordon was shot during his Saturday morning jog. 

Then another former fiancé is killed and it appears Cupid’s bow is no match for the Grim Reaper’s scythe.  As Sasha continues her investigation, she uncovers a pattern of guys who skipped “I do” and now never will. 

Jill Edmondson is the author of four mystery novels.  FRISKY BUSINESS is the latest novel featuring PI Sasha Jackson. 

For more info on Jill, check out her:


Follow her on Twitter @JillEdmondson