Interview: G.M. Malliet

Please welcome G.M. Malliet, author of the Inspector St. Just and Max Tudor mysteries.

What’s your idea of a perfect day?
A day when I’m snowed in and can sit by the fireplace reading a book. Accessories to this perfect day include a fresh cup of coffeeafatalwinter and a tin of McVitie’s biscuits.

Do you have a signature accessory, color, fragrance, phrase, or meal?
There is nothing better than a lobster roll, although lobster-and-shrimp tacos (which I’ve just discovered) run a close second. My mother’s family was from Maine—if it is possible to inherit food preferences, I have.

Excluding family, name three people who either inspired you or influenced your creativity.
Certain artists have always inspired me. Vincent Van Gogh, probably everyone’s favorite. All the pre-Raphaelites—I just saw the Tate exhibit of their work. All those deep jewel-tone colors and textures—wonderful. And in another field altogether, Alfred Hitchcock. Ok, one more: Julian Fellowes—I saw Gosford Park a dozen times when it first came out. I think anything visual inspires writers—we keep trying to describe everything we see.

Do you listen to music when you write?
Never. I wish I could, but anything with lyrics interferes completely. To get around this problem I once tried writing to a spa music CD and practically ended up with my nose planted on the keyboard.

If your latest book were chocolate, what kind would it be and why?
French chocolate. Very dark, very bitter, with a sweet brandy liqueur filling.

What made you interested in writing this particular story?
I was inspired by a non-fiction book. More than that gives too much of the plot away. But I can tell you nothing has moved me as much as this true story.

What themes do you regularly (re)visit in your writing?
I suppose every mystery author is fascinated by—obsessed by—the concept of bringing a killer to justice. Since so often we can’t see this happen in real life, we try to make things come out right on the page.

Tell us about your main character’s psyche or personality. What led her (or him) to be the person s/he is today?
Max Tudor is a former MI5 agent turned vicar of a small village: when his colleague in MI5 is murdered, Max, reeling from the violence, does a 180-degree and begins studying for the Anglican priesthood. He thinks he’s escaped his past but murder seems to trail him wherever he goes. And of course his special training, and his need to restore his safe-haven village to normalcy, make him a sleuth to be reckoned with.

Describe your protagonist as a mash-up of three famous people or characters.
I find I can’t do this. Max Tudor is just Max, but with a passing resemblance to Hugh Grant. If  you recall the scene in Bridget Jones’s Diary when the elevator opens on Hugh, you get the idea of the impact Max has on the women of his village.

If you could host a mystery-author dinner party, who are the six writers (living or otherwise) you’d include?
Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers, Robert Barnard, P.D. James, Ruth Rendell, and Patricia Highsmith. But given the company, I would also invite a food taster.

What’s next for you?
In the third Max Tudor (arriving September 2013) Max attends a dinner party that includes newcomers to the village like West End actor and dramatist Thaddeus Bottle and his downtrodden wife Melinda. When Thaddeus is found dead in the pre-dawn hours, Max knows a poisonous atmosphere has once again enveloped his idyllic village of Nether Monkslip. Remembrances sparked by the paintings of a famous local artist help Max unravel the lethal connections to long-ago crimes.

***

G.M. Malliet, current Agatha Award Best Novel nominee for A Fatal Winter: A Max Tudor Mystery, won the Agatha for her first book, Death of a Cozy Writer, which also won the Malice Domestic grant. Wicked Autumn, first in the Max Tudor series, was a 2011 Dilys and Agatha nominee for best novel and an NBC TODAY show Summer Reads Pick by Charlaine Harris. A Fatal Winter followed in 2012. Both books were listed by Library Journal as best mysteries of 2011 & 2012.

Website: GMMalliet.com
Facebook: /g.m.malliet
Twitter @gmmalliet

Interview: Cathy Perkins

Please welcome Cathy Perkins, author of The Professor and Honor Code.

What’s your idea of a perfect day?
This question made me laugh. Do you remember the pageant Q&A with Miss Rhode Island in Miss Congeniality? …a day in April…a light jacket…She was so good in that role.

I do love a shonorcodeunny day at our place in the mountains—getting outside with friends, family and the dogs. Then the evenings are cool enough for a fire, good food, and laughter. Good times.

Do you have a signature accessory, color, fragrance, phrase, or meal?
Not really.  I like so many different things; it’s no fun to stick to just one!

Excluding family, name three people who either inspired you or influenced your creativity.
Hmm, every book I’ve ever read (and that’s in the thousands) probably isn’t a good answer. Three people who’ve had a direct impact on my writing career are:

Renee Rearden–fantastic urban fantasy author and the world’s best critique partner

Steve Vassey–South Carolina Writer’s Workshop local chapter head and the guy who encouraged me when I first inched out and showed someone my first story.

Jenny Crusie–Fabulous author and teacher at my first Lowcountry Masterclass. I think my head nearly exploded that week!

Do you listen to music when you write? 
I’m happiest when listening to music. I love it all–classical to pop; country to jazz.

If your latest book were chocolate, what kind would it be and why?
Oh definitely dark chocolate; maybe with some sea salt or chili pepper for texture and a kick!

What made you interested in writing this particular story?
My muse delivered Honor Code nearly intact (ask any author–believe me, it’s a gift when that happens!). Apparently the story rolled around in my subconscious for a while, pulling characters and themes together. The story is a mystery–what happened to George Beason–but it delves into family relationships and how individual actions affect not just the person who does them, but those around them as well. Ultimately our personal choices–our code of honor–determines who and what we are.

What themes do you regularly (re)visit in your writing?
My tag line sums up my recurring themes–Mystery with a Financial Twist; Trust Issues; Family Bonds.

The financial part wasn’t in The Professor (although the family aspect was there!) Honor Code has all of these elements, as do the two stories that will release later this year: For Love or Money (May) and Cypher (fall 2013).

Tell us about your main character’s psyche or personality. What led her (or him) to be the person s/he is today?
Like so many young men and women, Detective Larry Robbins used the military as a way out of his small hometown. He ended up an MP and to his surprise, he was good at it. The college opportunity the military provides helped him get a degree in criminal justice. Years of police work has left him jaded–maybe even cynical–but he’s never lost his capacity for compassion. Police see people at their worst, but Robbins also saw people like Miz Rose who have good hearts and act from love. Robbins strives to maintain a balance in his life, but like most of us, some days he’s more successful than others.

If you could host a mystery-author dinner party, who are the six writers (living or otherwise) you’d include?
Part of me wants to give you six wonderful women (wonderful newer authors) I’ve met over the past few years at conferences and retreats, but I’m going to take a different direction.

John Sandford and Lee Child to guarantee a fast paced adventure

Jonathon King for introspection

Margaret Maron to add the family connection

Toni McGee Causey for a touch of crazy to keep things fun

And John le Carre as the political mastermind who pulls the strings behind the scenes

What’s next for you?
After several dark stories, I moved to the lighter end of the mystery spectrum with For Love or Money, releasing in May with Entangled Publishing. Written from Holly Price’s perspective, the mystery romps through eastern Washington State with its rivers, wineries, Native American casinos, and assorted farm animals. The relationship, with some wicked fun chemistry between our CPA amateur sleuth and a Franklin County detective, is a bigger part of the story. For Love or Money was huge fun to write and the advance reviews say readers like it! Stay tuned for more.

***

Cathy Perkins is a member of the Sisters in Crime, Romance Writers of America and International Thriller Writers. She writes predominantly financial-based mysteries but enjoys exploring the relationship aspect of her characters’ lives. Her suspense writing lurks behind a financial day-job, where she learned firsthand the camouflaged, hide in plain sight, skills employed by her villains.   Born and raised in South Carolina, the setting for Honor Code and The Professor, she now lives in Washington with her husband, children, a 75-pound Lab who thinks she’s still a lap-dog and a German Wirehair puppy.

Links

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/#!/CathyPerkinsAuthor

Twitter: http://twitter.com/cperkinswrites

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/Cathy_Perkins

Author Central:  http://www.amazon.com/Cathy-Perkins

Honor Code:

Amazon: http://amzn.to/QV32k6

Trade paperback: https://www.createspace.com/4062799

Barnes & Noble http://bit.ly/SZIW9k

Kobo http://bit.ly/12Rahmq

Interview and Giveaway: Terri Herman–Poncé

Please welcome Terri Herman–Poncé, author of the paranormal suspense novels  In This Life and Covet.

Giveaway: Terri has graciously offered to give a digital copy of Covet to one lucky reader: just leave a comment below today to enter the giveaway!  Winner will be selected at random.

What’s your idea of a perfect day?
Oh man, this is easy. My perfect day would be spent writing stories at a window overlooking an azure blue ocean and white sand, with a wonderful warm breeze blowing through. And maybe someday I’ll actually be able to have that perfect kind ocovetf day!

Do you have a signature accessory, color, fragrance, phrase, or meal?
Believe it or not, I DO have a signature phrase but it’s one I only seem to use at the day job. When someone asks me how I’m doing, I usually answer, “I’m groovy!” Maybe I should consider using it elsewhere. Whenever I say it, I usually get folks to smile. Then again, maybe they’re just laughing at me.

Excluding family, name three people who either inspired you or influenced your creativity.
Two people inspired and continue to inspire me. One is my best friend, whom I’ve known for nearly 16 years and who encouraged me to stop writing fanfic and instead write my own thing. Besides being my best friend, she’s my most amazing critiquer (she’s tough as nails and usually right) and my Muse. The other person is Robert Crais. I don’t know him personally (and I’d love to meet him!) but I think he’s about the most gifted, amazing writer out there. I’ve read all his books over and over again, and study them so I can become a better writer myself.

Do you listen to music when you write?
I can’t write without it! Music inspires me, and I have a playlist that’s created specifically for my characters. When I listen to it, the images and scenes emerge in my head like a movie. Sometimes, I’ll play one song over and over again for just one scene or chapter, that’s how much impact music has on my writing and me. And often, if I’m facing writer’s block, I’ll listen to music and let it take me for a ride. Inevitably, the emotions that I hear in music will take over, and the movies will start playing in my head again.

If your latest book were chocolate, what kind would it be and why?
Oh, great question! It would be dark chocolate with chili pepper because dark chocolate is decadent, and chili pepper is fiery hot. And, in my mind, my main character, David Bellotti, is decadent and fiery hot.

What made you interested in writing this particular story?
Well, I’ve had a love affair with David Bellotti since just after he was born in my mind, and that was many years ago. But the thing is, even though I’ve known him all this time I still don’t know him that well. So my stories are a way of exploring him inside and out and Covet, which is scheduled to release on March 25, was my way of tipping my hat to him. I’d never written him as a main protagonist before and I had the best time doing it.

What themes do you regularly (re)visit in your writing?
The trials and hopes and loyalty of love–through suspense and the otherworldly. I’m one of those writers who have to challenge my characters in the suspense that I write, but I prefer to do it to characters that already are in a relationship. There are so many books out there about couples coming together, which is really nice, but I love to show couples working together, and believing in each other, and who are willing to do anything to keep their love. You know, becoming better and stronger for it, as individuals and as a couple. In my case, I write about David and Lottie, whose love transcends time and that is deep on so many levels. And when challenges arise and the suspense heightens, drawing attention to those imperfections, they’re determined to fight through it for each other, ultimately finding that their love becomes even more profound.

Tell us about your main character’s psyche or personality. What led her (or him) to be the person s/he is today?
David Bellotti is a complex man but with simple values. He’s loyal, he doesn’t lie (he hates doing it and hates having it done to him), and he loves only one woman. He’s an ex-Marine turned professional soldier who truly believes that there is an order to be followed in this world and who detests inequity—to the point that he’ll become single-minded about it sometimes. There are many things that led him to become the man he is today that I, unfortunately, can’t share just yet because those things will be revealed in future books. But the biggest thorn in his side, right now? Galen, another professional soldier that David commands and who is also in love with Lottie. It makes for some interesting fireworks between the three characters.

Describe your protagonist as a mash-up of three famous people or characters.
Oh wow. You know what? I can’t do it. Maybe someone else will read David Bellotti and find similarities to other famous people or characters but I can’t. For me, he’s just David. Male character extraordinaire.

If you could host a mystery-author dinner party, who are the six writers (living or otherwise) you’d include?
Well, there are three mystery authors I’d host at my dinner party. First, I’d invite Robert Crais. As I mentioned above, he’s just an abso-freaking-lutely amazing storyteller. I’d love to get into his mind and learn the inner-workings of how he creates fiction (and maybe a thing or two about Joe Pike while I’m at it). I’d also invite Hank Phillippi Ryan. Not only is she an incredible mystery and suspense writer but also an incredible person. Always willing to help out newbie authors and the unpublished no matter how busy she is. And lastly, I’d invite Gillian Flynn. I only recently got turned onto her books and I’m hooked. Every now and then you find an author whose picture should appear next to the word “gifted.” She’s one of them.

What’s next for you?
I’m writing my third paranormal suspense, tentatively titled “Carry On.” It is, of course, another David Bellotti story. I just can’t seem to get enough of that man. *wink*

***

Terri Herman–Poncé looks for any opportunity to make stuff up. Born on Long Island, New York, she thinks anything that can’t so easily be explained is worth an extra look and often makes a great story. She loves red wine, sunrises, Ancient Egypt, and the New York Yankees. The youngest of five children, Terri lives with her husband and son on Long Island. In her next life, if she hasn’t moved on to somewhere else, Terri wants to be an astronomer. She’s fascinated with the night skies almost as much as she’s fascinated with Ancient Egypt.

Terri is a member of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, and Romance Writers of America. You can read about Terri and her stories at http://terriponce.com/ and can find her on Twitter (@TerriPonce) and Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/Terri.Ponce.Author).

Interview and Giveaway: Donnell Ann Bell

Please welcome Donnell Ann Bell, author of The Past Came Hunting and Deadly Recall.

Donnell has graciously offered to give a copy of Deadly Recall to one lucky reader (paperback within North America or digital version elsewhere): just leave a comment below today to enter the giveaway!  Winner will be selected at random.

What’s your idea of a perfect day?
Would it sound terrible if my idea of a perfect day would be to escape into the muse without interruption and spend time with my cdeadlyrecallharacters?  Those days seem infrequent at present.  I love the feeling of being so intense in the creation process that when it’s time to come back to real life, it feels like you’re coming down from a high, ya know?  The end of the perfect day would be to take a walk with my husband of 30 years through our Colorado tree-lined neighborhood and settle back into reality.

Do you have a signature accessory, color, fragrance, phrase, or meal?
Colors: I love vibrant orange colors as in my publicity photo, teals and blacks.  My closet is stocked with these colors.

Fragrance:  I have worn Chanel No. 5 since college.  I love it, and although I might try other fragrances, Chanel is my preference.

Phrase:  I suppose a phrase I’m known for — possibly because I was a director in a former life (ha ha ha) — is “Work with me.”  During brainstorming sessions with my critique group, when an idea pops into my head, I get so excited, I burst out…”Oh, oh, oh, work with me.”  Occasionally the ideas are pretty good!

Food:  I’m from New Mexico.  I LOVE chile rellenos.

Excluding family, name three people who either inspired you or influenced your creativity.
Two very special nuns:  Sister Frances Louise and Sister Virginia Mary.  Early on, I showed a love of storytelling.  These two women not only gave me writing assignments, they gave me writing prompts.  This happened in sixth and seventh grade, and I can’t tell you what it does for a little girl’s confidence.

My son.  I was already writing fiction when he went away to college.  But he left for Texas Christian University on his 18th birthday.  When it was time for him to leave, he walked into my office, sat down and said, “Mom, what are you going to do without me?”

The first thing I did was burst into tears and embarrassed him profusely.  But after I stopped blubbering, I told him, “Don’t worry, I’ll think of something.”  That something was my 2007 Golden Heart final Walk Away Joe, now called The Past Came Hunting.

Do you listen to music when you write? 
No.  I’m part-librarian.  I like to work in complete silence.  Shhhhh.

If your latest book were chocolate, what kind would it be and why?
I’ll say Almond Joys.  I recently had complicated foot surgery and I couldn’t put weight on my foot for six weeks.  During my recovery, my husband left miniature Almond Joys on my pillow many times to cheer me up.  Isn’t he a nice guy?

What made you interested in writing this particular story?
I’ve always loved Catholic-themed stories, like the movie The Trouble with Angels and the play Do Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up?  Then authors took a darker spin on the Church’s tumultuous history such as the The Da Vinci Code.  J.D. Robb wrote a mystery/thriller called Salvation in Death.  I’ve never read either of these books, and after I heard about them, I made a conscious decision not to so I wouldn’t inadvertently use their ideas.  I wanted to write a mystery without it being a referendum on the Catholic Church — I simply wanted to tell a story. I also wanted to write about New Mexico. Deadly Recall started out a germ of an idea that continued to grow.

What themes do you regularly (re)visit in your writing?
I’ve been told my books center on redemption and forgiveness.  My third book from Bell Bridge Books centers on betrayal.

Tell us about your main character’s psyche or personality. What led her (or him) to be the person s/he is today?
Eden Moran is a defender.  She has a strong concept of right and wrong; when she sees an injustice, she acts upon it.  What happens in the beginning of Deadly Recall carries over to her adult life.  She becomes a lawyer and a public defender.

Describe your protagonist as a mash-up of three famous people or characters.
Hmmm. I see Eden as her own person.  Maybe a female Perry Mason. 😉  Julie Bowen of Modern Family, but the character she played on Boston Legal.  And impulsive like Meg Ryan in Sleepless in Seattle.

If you could host a mystery-author dinner party, who are the six writers (living or otherwise) you’d include?
Six writers…  Oh, boy, talk about on the spot. 😉 Daphne du Maurier, Agatha Christie, Sandra Brown, Daniel Silva, Lawrence Sanders and Robert Crais.  That would be quite the occult with three alive and three dead, don’t you think?

What’s next for you?
Writing-wise, I’m editing two books (working titles “Betrayed” and “Buried Agendas”), plotting a story my critique group conjured up during our writing retreat two weeks ago, and developing my first mystery series.  Until now, I’ve written single titles.

Health-wise, I’m recovering from foot surgery, can’t wait to go to physical therapy and get back to a walking and workout regimen.

Thanks for having me, Mysteristas!

***

Donnell Ann Bell is a two-time Golden Heart® finalist who previously worked for a weekly business newspaper and a parenting magazine.  Her debut novel The Past Came Hunting became an Amazon bestseller, reaching as high as #6 on the paid overall list and finaling in 2012 Gayle Wilson Award for Excellence, RWA’s® Greater Detroit Bookseller’s Best, and the 2012 Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense. Deadly Recall, brought to you by Bell Bridge Books, is her second published novel.

For more information, please visit her online.

Website: www.donnellannbell.com,
Twitter: @donnellannbell
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Donnell-Ann-Bell/285286321485019?ref=hl.

Guest Post: Ellen Byerrum

The Magical Mystical Properties of Clothes

Do you believe in the magic of clothes? Do good things always seem to happen when you wear certain clothes? Or do you have clothes you avoid because something always seems to go wrong when you wear them?veiledrevenge

I was toying with these ideas while I was writing my latest Crime of Fashion Mystery, Veiled Revenge. Fashion reporter Lacey Smithsonian discovers that being her friend Stella’s maid of honor is a killer of a job. But love may save the day, and Stella and her fiancé Nigel might still make it all the way down the aisle—if murder, mayhem and a haunted Russian shawl don’t get them first.

I wanted to write about haunted clothing, but in my research I wasn’t finding much about that kind of phenomena. On the hunt for ghost stories or anecdotes or even stories and movies involving clothes, I found very few, and of those, virtually all were fictitious. Ghosts hang around bridges and houses and cemeteries and castles, among any number of locations, but apparently, they don’t hang out in old clothes.

And then something magical happened. No, I didn’t discover spirit-infested clothing in my own vintage closet, but I hooked up with some terrific women at the Smithsonian Museum of American History and was able to peek into the costume collection in the “nation’s closet,” which has over 30,000 items of American clothing, some reaching as far back as the dawn of this country. I figured if anyone had heard about that type of phenomena it would be the Smithsonian. And my trip there felt enchanted.

Several of their clothing experts graciously allowed me a couple of hours for interviews and to marvel over some vintage dresses and gowns. However, they had no stories of haunted clothes, except one woman remembered an intern who became depressed whenever she touched the clothes of Clover Adams. A celebrated hostess in 19th century Washington, D.C., Clover, the wife of Henry Adams, eventually committed suicide and is buried in Washington’s Rock Creek Cemetery. Visitors today remember her for the enigmatic and haunting statue (popularly known as “Grief”) which her husband commissioned from sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens for her grave. But whether the clothes retained some vestige of her grieving spirit, or whether the intern was simply saddened by thoughts of the tragic Clover Adams when she handled her clothes, we’ll never know.

But that’s how clothes can affect us. We can attribute powers to them. Whether with a red dress that catches a man’s eye or a pair of “lucky” socks that help a pitcher throw a perfect game, both men and women can play this game.

Ultimately I believe clothes can affect us for good or bad, because of the feelings we bring to them. I once knew a woman who worked at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration in Washington, D.C., who told me about an outfit she had worn several times. Each time she did, something terrible happened. It was a flattering outfit, and she tried to put the negative associations out of her mind. One day, she was going to wear it to the hospital to visit her husband who was in the hospital. Her teenage daughter took one look at her and said, “You can’t wear that! Do you want to kill Daddy?!” (There are no job safety rules for haunted clothing!) The woman put on something else.

At any rate, I decided to create own haunted garment for Veiled Revenge, making it an elaborate embroidered Russian shawl. Why Russian? Maybe because I took a terrific Russian history course in high school. Or because I saw some extravagant Russian altar cloths made of black velvet with silver and gold needlework at the Hillwood Museum in Washington. Or because I have a sometimes-spooky Russian character in my books, Gregor Kepelov, ex-KGB spy, who is woven through the Crime of Fashion mysteries. The Russian shawl has practically become its own character in the book. It is not a typical shawl, block-printed, from one of the mills. It was made by an ancestor of Kepelov who worked in one of the shawl factories, a woman who embroidered the pattern, the roses and leaves, but also stitched stories into the shawl, in tiny pictures between the roses.

But is it haunted? And does it have magical powers? That’s what fashion reporter Lacey Smithsonian has to figure out, in order to solve the mystery of Veiled Revenge.

***

Ellen Byerrum is a novelist, playwright, former Washington, D.C., journalist, and a graduate of private investigator school in Virginia. Her Crime of Fashion mysteries star a savvy, stylish female sleuth named Lacey Smithsonian, a reluctant fashion reporter in Washington D.C. In the course of researching her mysteries, Byerrum has acquired her own collection of 1940s vintage dresses, suits, and the occasional accessory, but laments her lack of closet space. Although she currently resides in Denver, Colorado, fashion reporter Lacey Smithsonian will continue to be based in Washington, “The City Fashion Forgot.” Veiled Revenge is the ninth book in the series.

You can find more about Ellen on her Web site (www.ellenbyerrum.com) or on Facebook (www.facebook.com/EllenByerrum).

New Release and Giveaway: Buyer Beware

Today is the release day for Diane Vallere’s Buyer Beware, the second book in her Style & Error series!

buyerbewareOut-of-work fashion expert Samantha Kidd is strapped. But when the buyer of handbags for a hot new retailer turns up dead and Samantha is recruited for the job, the opportunity comes with a caveat: she’s expected to find some answers. The police name a suspect but the label doesn’t fit. Samantha turns to a sexy stranger for help, but as the walls close around her like a snug satin lining, she must get a handle on the suspects, or risk being caught in the killer’s clutches.

Diane will be hosting our Facebook chat today, where the question is this: How much do nostalgia and familiarity play into your choices of books to read?

She has kindly agreed to give a digital copy of this fabulous mystery to one lucky participant.  Please visit the chat and leave a comment to enter.

Congratulations, Diane!

Interview: Jeri Westerson

Please welcome Jeri Westerson, author of the Crispin Guest mystery series (and others to come–see below!).

What’s your idea of a perfect day?
Being out and about somewhere with my hubby, antiquing or taking a drive through the countryside;  catching a great lunch in an oubloodlancetdoor café when the weather is not too hot, not too cold, and feasting on great food and drinking chilled wine;  then spending the rest of the day poolside and reading a good book. I think I had a few of those days when we went away for my birthday last summer.

Do you have a signature accessory, color, fragrance, phrase, or meal?
Does a sword count? But of course, I don’t take it EVERYWHERE with me.  I love red but don’t really wear it. I just like having it around as an accent color on things, like on rubies.

Excluding family, name three people who either inspired you or influenced your creativity.
I used to be a graphic artist before I started writing novels for publication, and I have to say I was inspired by a college art professor, Professor Patterson, who taught me to look beyond the two-dimensional.  It was other authors who inspired me to write, mostly J.R.R. Tolkien and William Shakespeare, to try to emulate the great depth of detail in the former, and the dramatic poise of the latter.

Do you listen to music when you write?
Often. I think music gets your head into the right frame of mind. I like to listen to medieval music or soundtracks of films set in the medieval era. Ironically, some of the worst films of the genre have the best scores!

If your latest book were chocolate, what kind would it be and why?
It would be dark, rich, and with a high percentage of cacao, with just the hint of bitterness. It would leave you satisfied but thinking about it for days after.  (Too bad Europe didn’t have chocolate in the middle ages.) Crispin’s stories are rich and deep and full of life’s bitterness, but he always manages to get something tasty from his experiences.

What made you interested in writing this particular story?
In Blood Lance, my latest medieval mystery, I wanted to write about knights jousting (since Crispin Guest, my main character, is a disgraced knight). Each book deals with a religious relic or venerated object and so in this one, Crispin must find the Holy Lance, the spear that pierced the side of Christ on the cross. With such a spear, it seemed like a good idea to incorporate knights and a joust and—since it’s in the news a lot—to look at Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I wondered if knights of old suffered from it, too and discovered a lot of interesting details about it. Two old friends of Crispin’s show up in this, one being the famous poet Geoffrey Chaucer, and he also runs into his old mentor’s son, the now grown-up Henry of Bolingbroke (the future King Henry IV).  I like to add many layers to my novels and to the characters in order to keep it interesting for readers and not just turn out your run-of-the-mill mystery.

What themes do you regularly (re)visit in your writing?
Honor, friendship, loyalty, family, the classes, what makes a man a man, the corruption of those in power.

Tell us about your main character’s psyche or personality. What led her (or him) to be the person s/he is today?
As I said, he is a disgraced knight, who was once a man of property and important to the court. Once he lost it all through an act of treason, he was forced to reinvent himself on the lowly streets of London, using his intelligence and fighting skills as the Tracker, a man who finds things for a fee. Sometimes he must find a murderer. Because he still has a hard time reconciling his current situation to what he once was, he has become a dark and brooding man, who drinks too much and perhaps recklessly puts himself in dangerous situations too readily. He can’t help his sense of honor, which is often a detriment to the situation he finds himself in, and he is always short of funds and sour of mood. He has a lot of personal demons to contend with.

Describe your protagonist as a mash-up of three famous people or characters.
Mr. Darcy meets Robin Hood meets James Bond.

If you could host a mystery-author dinner party, who are the six writers (living or otherwise) you’d include?
Dorothy Sayers—because her invention of Lord Peter with his layered backstory is perfect; Raymond Chandler—because he always wanted fame as a literary author and really didn’t see it when he was alive; Dorothy Parker—because she’s kick-ass witty; J.R.R. Tolkien and J.K. Rowling because these two know a thing or two about world-building; Mark Twain because his writing was witty, poignant, and wise—and so was he.

What’s next for you?
Besides the next Crispin Guest book, Shadow of the Alchemist, coming out in the fall of 2013, I’m still peddling my Oswald the Thief series to publishers (it’s my medieval caper series). And then I’m making a left turn and writing a contemporary paranormal series with plucky female protagonist Kylie Strange, in what I call my Booke of the Occult series, the first book being Strange Tales, a sort of Buffy the Vampire Slayer meets Grimm. (But there are no vampires in this series. Watch out for some other odd creatures, though). And then I’ll be working on my Jack Tucker Tales, a YA spin-off of the Crispin Guest series. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I will find publishers for all these series this year.

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Los Angeles native and award-winning author Jeri Westerson writes the critically acclaimed Crispin Guest Medieval Noir novels. Her brooding protagonist is Crispin Guest, a disgraced knight turned detective on the mean streets of fourteenth century London, running into thieves, kings, poets, and religious relics. When not writing, Jeri dabbles in gourmet cooking, drinks fine wines, eats cheap chocolate, and swoons over anything British.

For more information, please visit her online:

Website:  www.JeriWesterson.com, (includes Crispin’s personal blog, a series book trailer, book discussion guides, and Jeri’s appearance schedule).
Twitter: @jeriwesterson
Facebook: /crispin.guest or /jeriwesterson