Beyond the Books

Character Interview: Claire Conover from Margaret Fenton’s amateur sleuth mystery ‘Little Girl Gone’

character interviews logoWe’re thrilled to have here today Claire Conover from Margaret Fenton’s new mystery, Little Girl Gone.  Claire is a 30 year old social worker living in Birmingham, Alabama. It is a pleasure to have her with us today at Beyond the Books!

Thank you so for this interview, Claire.  Now that the book has been written, do you feel you were fairly portrayed or would you like to set anything straight with your readers?

I think I’m always pretty fairly portrayed by Margaret.  She used to work with child welfare social workers as the mental health consultant for the Jefferson County Department of Human Resources, so she knows about social workers and what they do every day.  She knows how difficult and draining this job can be, even if mine is at the slightly fictionalized Department of Human Services.

Do you feel the author did a good job colorizing your personality?  If not, how would you like to have been portrayed differently?

Once again, I think she nailed it.  She’s painted me as a very hard worker who’s very dedicated to her job and the kids she serves.  I don’t have much of a life outside work, a social life that is, and I wish that would change.  I could use some more friends.

What do you believe is your strongest trait?

I’m a workaholic.

Worst trait?

I’m a workaholic.

If you could choose someone in the television or movie industry to play your part if your book was made into a movie, who would that be (and you can’t say yourself!)?

What’s her name, from “When Harry met Sally”.  Hang on.  Margaret has to go look this up for me. Meg Ryan.  That’s her.  She’s a bit older than me, though.  Margaret really isn’t much a movie fan and really doesn’t know many actors and actresses.

Do you have a love interest in the book?

Oh Lord, that’s a loaded question.  I have a boyfriend and he’s really wonderful.  His name is Grant Summerville and he’s tall and handsome and owns his own business.  Really love him, but there’s this reporter named Kirk Mahoney who is always flirting with me.  And he is hot.  I know I should walk away and leave him alone but I don’t know if that’s possible.

At what point of the book did you start getting nervous about the way it was going to turn out?

Whenever I hear gunshots I get a bit nervous.  I mean I’ve had one close shave in Little Lamb Lost, and another in this book so I wonder how long my luck can hold.

If you could trade places with one of the other characters in the book, which character would you really not want to be and why?

I have a friend that I meet in Little Girl Gone, and her name is LaReesa Jones.  She’s 13 and her mother—well, let’s just say there is a lot to be desired there.  She lives with her grandmother and she’s pure hell.  But Reese has a lot of spirit and intelligence.  I wouldn’t want to be her, but I really like her!

How do you feel about the ending of the book without giving too much away?

Another close shave and a hell of a cliffhanger.  I’m really worried.

What words of wisdom would you give your author if s/he decided to write another book with you in it?

She’s working on it now.  My third book will be called Little White Lies.  There’s a bombing in Birmingham, and the victim has a baby.  Stay tuned!

Thank you for this interview, Claire.  Will we be seeing more of you in the future?

Hopefully by Christmas.  We’ll see.  She needs to get writing!

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LGGcoverTitle: Little Girl Gone

Genre: Mystery

Author: Margaret Fenton

Websitewww.margaretfenton.com

Find out more on Amazon

About the Book:

When Little Girl Gone opens, it’s September in Birmingham, Alabama, and Claire Conover is steeling herself. September—with its oppressive, unwelcome heat, back-to-school newness worn off, and skyrocketing reports of abuse and neglect—is a time of year Claire has come to dread.  As the crime rate increases, so increases the work load for Claire and the Jefferson County Department of Human Services Child Welfare Division. Seems this year is no exception.

When she takes into custody a 13-year-old girl found sleeping behind a grocery store, Claire is swept up in a case that turns out to be far more complicated, and far more dangerous, than initially meets the eye. Struggling to piece together the young girl’s identity, Claire finds herself with few answers and no shortage of questions.  Is the young girl a runaway?  An abuse victim?  Or something else?   But things go from bad to worse when the young girl’s mother is found murdered—and then the girl disappears.  Claire soon discovers that the mother was involved in an illegal gambling industry in Birmingham.  But even with this clue, the case becomes more complicated.  Could the young girl have pulled the trigger?  Is that even possible?  And where could she have run?  Did she run at all? In the midst of all the questions, only one thing is certain: Claire has to find the answers, and the girl, fast.

A swiftly paced, suspenseful, and shocking story, Little Girl Gone earns Margaret Fenton a solid spot among today’s best mystery writers.  Masterful plotting, extraordinary character development, and a pulse racer of a plot combine to create an extraordinary mystery resplendent with twists, turns, and surprises.  An unforgettable story informed by Fenton’s near decade of experience as a social worker, Little Girl Gone also shines a light on the plight of at risk children and the dedication of those tireless and compassionate workers who serve them.  A stellar entry into what Booklisthailed “a promising new series,” Little Girl Gone is mesmerizing.

About the Author:

margaretfentonbirmingham

Margaret Fenton grew up on the Mississippi Gulf Coast and moved to Birmingham in 1996. She received her B.A. in English from the Newcomb College of Tulane University, and her Master of Social Work from Tulane. Fenton spent nearly ten years as a child and family therapist before taking a break to focus on her writing. Her work tends to reflect her interest in social causes and mental health, especially where kids are concerned. She serves as planning coordinator of Murder in the Magic City, a one-day, one-track annual mystery fan conference in Homewood, Alabama. She is President of the Birmingham Chapter of Sisters in Crime and a member of the Mystery Writers of America. Margaret lives in the Birmingham suburb of Hoover with her husband, a software developer.

Connect with the author on the web:

https://www.margaretfenton.com/

https://www.facebook.com/margaret.fenton

Character Interview: Danny Baker from Philip Cioffari’s mystery/thriller, THE BRONX KILL

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We’re thrilled to have here today, Danny Baker from Philip Cioffari’s new mystery/thriller, THE BRONX KILL.  Danny is a 24 year old temporarily unemployed aspiring teacher/writer, living in the Bronx, New York.

It is a pleasure to have him with us today at Beyond the Books!

Thank you so much for this interview, Danny.  Now that the book has been written, do you feel you were fairly portrayed or would you like to set anything straight with your readers?

Do you feel the author did a good job colorizing your personality?  If not, how would you like to have been portrayed differently?

Well, I suppose any character would like to be portrayed more glamorously than he truly is, but I think my author portrayed me honestly and realistically, which I guess is all that we can really ask for. He portrayed me, flaws and all, though I secretly hope some of my charm and glamor shows through. I think it does.

What do you believe is your strongest trait?

I think I have a sense of fair play. I try to treat everyone with respect. And I’m determined to find the truth, about myself and the world I move through, even if the truth hurts—which, in the novel, it does.

Worse trait?

Because of a debt I owe him, I let myself be overly influenced by another character in the novel, my friend Charlie. Because if him, I didn’t always act as honorably as I should have, especially with regard to the drowning incident in the novel. But I guess that’s what growth is all about: moving from the “you” you don’t like, to the “you” you’re comfortable with.

If you could choose someone in the television or movie industry to play your part if your book was made into a movie, who would that be (and you can’t say yourself!)?

Some possibilities: Douglas Booth, Emory Cohen, Frank Dillane, Nicholas Hoult. Mark Wahlberg, if he were younger.

Do you have a love interest in the book?

Yes. A woman who’s in love with one of my best friends. We lose touch, but throughout the novel, I’m yearning to meet her again.

At what point of the book did you start getting nervous about the way it was going to turn out?

I could see my friends and I going downhill, getting drawn deeper into a problem of our own making. As a result, I’m put in serious danger, especially when I come up against the NYPD detective who believes we caused the death by drowning of his younger brother.

If you could trade places with one of the other characters in the book, which character would you really not want to be and why?

I would not want to be my friend Charlie because of his uncontrollable desire to be in command of everyone and everything in his life, a trait which makes him blind to the needs of others, and causes him to suffer the rage of those he’s offended.

How do you feel about the ending of the book without giving too much away?

Basically, I feel good about it. A certain peace is achieved and, more importantly, a sense of hope.

What words of wisdom would you give your author if s/he decided to write another book with you in it?

Make me older and more mature.

Thank you for this interview, Danny.  Will we be seeing more of you in the future?

Anything’s possible. But knowing my author as I do, he usually like to start each new book with a clean slate.

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phil in b&W.jpgPhilip Cioffari is the author of the novels: DARK ROAD, DEAD END; JESUSVILLE;  CATHOLIC BOYS; and the short story collection, A HISTORY OF THINGS LOST OR BROKEN, which won the Tartt Fiction Prize, and the D. H. Lawrence award for fiction. His short stories have been published widely in commercial and literary magazines and anthologies, including North American Review, Playboy, Michigan Quarterly Review, Northwest Review, Florida Fiction, and Southern Humanities Review. He has written and directed for Off and Off-Off Broadway. His Indie feature film, which he wrote and directed, LOVE IN THE AGE OF DION, has won numerous awards, including Best Feature Film at the Long Island Int’l Film Expo, and Best Director at the NY Independent Film & Video Festival. He is a Professor of English, and director of the Performing and Literary Arts Honors Program, at William Paterson University. www.philipcioffari.com

Spotlight and Chapter Reveal: Echoes of Terror, by Maris Soule

EchoesOfTerrorFrontTitle: Echoes of Terror

Author: Maris Soule

Genre: Mystery

Publisher: Five Star

Websitehttp://marissoule.com 

Find out more on Amazon

The latest release by award-winning novelist Maris Soule, Echoes of Terror is a taut, tense tale about secrets, deadly intentions, and what happens when murder hits way too close to home.   Set against the backdrop of Skagway, Alaska,Echoes of Terror introduces protagonist Katherine Ward, a Skagway police officer who finds herself thrust in extraordinary—and extraordinarily frightening–circumstances when her past, present and future threaten to collide in a most dangerous way.

About Echoes of Terror:  Rural Skagway, Alaska’s small police force is accustomed to an occasional crime–a stolen bike here, a DUI there.  But when a teenager goes missing, the Skagway Police force is hardly prepared, especially with its Police Chief  in the hospital and an officer missing. Officer Katherine Ward is assigned the case, never expecting it to parallel her own kidnapping experience seventeen years earlier.  Soon, Katherine realizes what originally appeared to be the case of a rebellious teen runaway is anything but.  There’s something—or someone—sinister at work in this usually quiet town and a teenager’s life is in danger.

But missing teen Misty Morgan isn’t your average teenage girl:  she’s the daughter of a billionaire.  Misty thought running off with a college boy would get her father’s attention, but now she and another kidnapped teen are praying for their lives at the hands of a ruthless kidnapper. Stuck in China on a business trip, Misty’s father suspected his daughter was up to something and asked his longtime friend, Marine veteran Vince Nanini, to fly to Alaska and stop Misty. Problem is, Vince arrives too late to stop the kidnapping, and the police aren’t eager to let him help find the missing teen.

When Katherine realizes the same man who kidnapped and raped her years ago is the one holding Misty and the other teenager, the terror of those months in captivity resurfaces.  Together, Katherine and Vince must figure out where the kidnapper has taken two teenagers, and fast.  But nothing is at it seems in this race to stop a madman before he kills again. The clock is ticking—and this time, the past is close behind. Dangerously close behind…

Brimming with tension, filled with twists and turns, and resplendent with pulse-quickening suspense that reaches a dramatic and shocking crescendo, Echoes of Terror is a bone-chilling tale that grabs readers and doesn’t let go. Award-winning novelist Maris Soule delivers a briskly paced, masterfully plotted, spine-tinglingly realistic thriller that will leave readers gasping for breath.

According to bestselling novelist Libby Fischer Hellmann, author of the Ellie Foreman mystery series, “The pace and writing will keep you turning pages. And the twist at the end?  I didn’t see if coming. Do yourself a favor and read this thriller now.”

CHAPTER ONE

7:25 a.m. Thursday

“That guy is a frickin’ idiot.”

“Who’s an idiot?”

Brian Bane glanced at the girl sitting next to him before again splitting his attention between the twisting road in front of his Chevy Blazer and the tailgating Ford Explorer. On their right the roadway dropped over a thousand feet. As much as he liked excitement, this Internet-born adventure was not starting out as he’d imagined.

“The guy behind us,” he said, keeping a tight hold on the steering wheel. “He came up out of nowhere. Now he’s all over my ass. Like there’s any way for me to go faster up this grade.”

Misty—or Miss T as she was known on ChatPlace—twisted in her seat to look behind them. Her wild, blonde curls brushed her shoulders, and her mini-skirt showed a teasing view of her inner thigh. “Shit,” she hissed through her teeth.

“What?” Brian said.

“He sent Vince.”

“Who sent Vince?”

“My dad.”

“Your dad?” Brain didn’t like the sound of that. “So who’s Vince?”

“He’s a guy Dad knew in the Marines. He’s supposed to do computer security for my dad’s business, but he keeps acting like he’s my bodyguard. I can’t do a frickin’ thing without him showing up.”

She flopped back against the seat, and crossed her arms over her chest. The fact that her old man had sent someone after her, and the way she was pouting, didn’t bode well. For the first time since he’d picked Misty up in Skagway, Brian wasn’t so certain she was the eighteen years she’d advertised.

“How old are you, Misty? Your real age, I mean.”

She glared at him, and then looked away. “Age is meaningless.”

Meaningless, my ass, he thought. Damn, I’m so screwed. He was about to take an under-aged girl into Canada. No wonder some steroid filled ex-Marine with an over attachment to the boss’s daughter was after him. He’d be lucky if he wasn’t arrested as an International felon.

“Do you think—?”

A thump to the back corner bumper sent the Blazer into a fishtail, and Brian gasped, clinging to the steering wheel as he fought to bring the car back under control. “Jeez, Misty, your dad’s buddy just rammed us.”

“Then step on the gas,” Misty ordered, giving a quick glance behind them. “Outrun him.”

“In this thing?” The old Blazer was tired iron. The first part of the Klondike Highway, from Skagway to White Pass and the Canadian line, was a twisting, turning two-laner that rose from sea level to over three thousand feet. The steep incline was already taxing the engine. They’d be lucky to outrun a snowplow through this stretch.

Again the Explorer rammed into them, this time lurching them straight toward the guardrail as the road turned. Misty yelped and grabbed at the door. Brian swung the wheel. The sensation of the front right fender grating on metal vibrated through the steering column. When they came out of the turn, the Explorer was nearly side by side.

“Your dad’s buddy is nuts! He’s going to kill us.”

“Just go faster!”

“I’m going as fast as I can.”

The powerful Explorer began squeezing them closer to the guardrail. Jaw clenched and muscles taut, Brian struggled to keep his SUV on the pavement. Adrenalin pumped through his body, a bitter taste rising to his throat.

And then his heart nearly stopped.

Just a few hundred feet ahead, the guardrail turned into a twisted, jagged strip of metal that hung limply to the ground. Open air replaced protection. One bump from the Explorer as they passed that broken section of guardrail, and they’d definitely be going over the edge, tumbling down the mountainside.

“That’s it, Babe.”

Brian pulled his foot from the gas and began to brake.

“What are you doing? Don’t slow down!”

“Forget it,” he said in disgust. Man, his friends had been right about this whole hooking up online thing. They’d tried to talk him out of it, but all Brian had been seeing was a summer traveling through Canada with a hot chick. Instead of lots of sex and partying, after this ex-Marine got through with him, he’d be lucky if all of his body parts were intact.

Brian brought the Blazer to a complete stop, his entire body shaking. The Explorer angled in front of him, preventing a forward escape. With a sigh, Brian shifted into park, and then turned toward Misty—the beautiful, sexy Miss T.

The beautiful, sexy, under-aged, Miss T, he mentally corrected. “Wouldn’t you know I’d hook up with jailbait.”

She glared at him. “So it didn’t work out. Stop whining. Vince isn’t going to do anything to you.”

“Oh yeah?” Brian sure hoped that was true. “So, what was this, just a little joy ride for you?”

“What it was is none of your business.” Once again she looked away, out the side window.

Brian stared at her for a second, kicking himself for being such an idiot, then he stepped out of the car. As he looked toward the Explorer, he wondered if he should act angry—after all, Misty had duped him. Or guilty—because he should have known she was under-age.

The other car door began to open, and Brian called out, “Listen, man, I had no idea she was—” He broke off as the man straightened and faced him. He almost laughed when he saw the bear mask . . .

Then he saw the gun.

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MarisSoule2015

Acclaimed novelist Maris Soule is a two time RITA finalist who has won numerous awards for her novels over the last three decades. Born and raised in California, Maris majored in art at U.C. Davis and taught art for 8 years before retiring to raise a family. Maris and her husband divide their time between Michigan and Florida. Echoes of Terror is her 30th book.  Visit Maris Soule online at: www.marissoule.com

Character Interview: Alex Moreno from Liza Treviño’s women’s contemporary fiction novel, ‘All That Glitters: A Tale of Sex, Drugs and Hollywood Dreams’

character interviews logo

We’re thrilled to have here today Alexandria Moreno from Liza Treviño’s new women’s fiction novel, All That Glitters: A Tale of Sex, Drugs and Hollywood Dreams.  Alex Moreno is a 33 year old, film director screenwriter hyphenate living in Los Angeles, California.

It is a pleasure to have her with us today at Beyond the Books!

Thank you for inviting me here.

Thank you so much for this interview, Alex.  Now that the book has been written, do you feel you were fairly portrayed or would you like to set anything straight with your readers?

Yeah, I think I might’ve been a little too fairly portrayed. Seeing it all there in black and white, well, it’s hard to believe that’s supposed to be me. Sure, there was some poetic license here and there, especially early on…and, yeah…there are a few things that I’ll say are pure speculation on the author’s part, but I get it.  She’s got to tell a story and she’s got to amp up for maximum impact. I see myself in there, and I’m not too surprised about how I come off.

Do you feel the author did a good job colorizing your personality?  If not, how would you like to have been portrayed differently?

It’s weird to read about yourself, that’s for sure.  But, I think the author wrote me as I am – without pulling too many punches.  She wrote me as a “take it or leave it” kind of chick.  That’s not so great for me, because I can come off as, shall we say, unsympathetic? And that’s fair.  What can I say, I’ve proudly been “unsympathetic” from time to time.

What do you believe is your strongest trait?

Hmmm, I guess it would be my ability to focus on a goal 100% until it’s accomplished and do whatever it takes to make the goal happen.

Worse trait?

The same as my strongest trait. Really.

If you could choose someone in the television or movie industry to play your part if your book was made into a movie, who would that be (and you can’t say yourself!)?

I’d really like a Latina to portray me. I’d love someone like a cross between Michelle Rodriguez and Salma Hayek to play me. Yeah, that would be fucking cool. 

Do you have a love interest in the book?

Yeah, I guess you could say that. I mean, definitely more than I realized.

At what point of the book did you start getting nervous about the way it was going to turn out?

Can I say the first page? I write about other people, so to start reading, and know that the person on the page is me…well, it’s surreal. I mean, it’s all right there from the first page.

If you could trade places with one of the other characters in the book, which character would you really not want to be and why? 

My ex, Nick.  It would be depressing to be that much of an asshole—sorry, to be that much of a jerk. All. The.Time.

How do you feel about the ending of the book without giving too much away?

It’s dramatic, cinematic and I like that it provides closure without feeling final. How’s that for vague?  You know, I dig the wraparound structure the author used to tell the story. So, you start with the end at the beginning and then see everything that led up to that point, like Raging Bull. That’s cool. So, when the story does “catch up” to the end, there’s a sense of, “oh, THAT’S why that was happening.”  It made the ending feel more complete overall.

What words of wisdom would you give your author if s/he decided to write another book with you in it?

I’d say, good luck with trying to keep up with my next adventures.  

Thank you for this interview, Alex.  Will we be seeing more of you in the future?

No doubt about it.

I certainly hope so. You’ll have to read the book to find out.

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184cd-author2blisa

Liza Treviño hails from Texas, spending many of her formative years on the I-35 corridor of San Antonio, Austin and Dallas.  In pursuit of adventure and a Ph.D., Liza moved to Los Angeles where she compiled a collection of short-term, low-level Hollywood jobs like script girl, producer assistant and production assistant.  Her time as a Hollywood Jane-of-all-trades gave her an insider’s view to a world most only see from the outside, providing the inspiration for creating a new breed of Latina heroine. Website: lizatrevino.com

All That Glitters Cover

About the book: 

Alexandria Moreno – clever, sexy, ambitious and, at times, self-destructive – blazes a path from Texas to Los Angeles at the dawn of the 1980s to make her dreams of becoming an A-list Hollywood film director come true. She and her best friend arrive in Los Angeles with little more than hope and determination to make it big. Alex, her beauty as dark and mysterious as her scarred heart, stands at the bottom of the Hollywood mountain looking up, fighting for her chance to climb to the top. Will her quest to live fast and take no prisoners on her way to the top destroy her in the end?

All That Glitters is a women’s fiction Jackie Collins-type saga that introduces a strong, driven Latina heroine at the center of a rags-to-riches story spanning a decade of action. Along the way, Alexandria walks the fine line separating ambition and self-destruction, and discovers that some sacrifices will cost her everything.

Advance Praise for All That Glitters

Kudos to Liza Treviño for giving us this unique image of the New Latina! I urge reading All that Glitters. You won’t regret it. – Graciela Limón, author
Treviño tells her story with wit, intelligence, and an undercurrent of sadness at the plight women face to make a name for themselves as human beings instead of strictly as women.” Jonathan Marcantoni, author and publisher of La Casita Grande Press

Click to Buy on Amazon: All That Glitters

First Chapter Reveal: Sealed Up by Steve Dunn Hanson

sealed-up

Title: Sealed Up
Author: Steve Dunn Hanson
Publisher: Independent
Pages: 402
Genre: Action/Adventure/Suspense

The Da Vinci Code unsettles. SEALED UP shakes to the core!

UCLA anthropologist Nathan Hill, in a funk since his young wife’s death, learns of staggering millennia-old chronicles sealed up somewhere in a Mesoamerica cliff. This bombshell rocks him out of his gloom, and he leads a clandestine expedition to uncover them. What are they? Who put them there? No one knows. But, self-absorbed televangelist Brother Luke, who funds the expedition, thinks he does. If he’s right, his power-hunger will have off-the-charts gratification.

Striking Audra Chang joins Nathan in his pursuit and brings her own shocking secret. As they struggle through a literal jungle of puzzles and dead ends, she finds herself falling in love with Nathan. Her secret, though, may make that a non-starter.

When a shaman with a thirst for human sacrifice, and a murderous Mexican drug lord with a mysterious connection to Brother Luke emerge, the expedition appears doomed. Yet Nathan is convinced that fate—or something—demands these inscrutable chronicles be unearthed.

And if they are . . . what shattering disruption will they unleash?

Intricately layered and remarkably researched, this enthralling suspense-driven and thought provoking tour de force begs a startling question: Could it happen?

Pick up your copy at:

Amazon

First Chapter:

Thursday, December 21, 2000

NAJA, CHIAPAS, MEXICO

Nacom was dying.

Guanacaste trees filtered the twilight into gold slivers that shimmered across Laguna Naja. The lake bore the name of the Lacandón Maya village nestled against it. Kish squatted on the ribbon of beach that framed the giant pond and stared at the darkening blue water. His black hair hung like string around his face, and his white tunic draped him like a sack. Koh Maria told him to wait there. She said her grandfather wanted to speak with him.

Kish knew what Nacom wanted.

“Who will follow a nineteen-year-old shaman,” he groused. Guttural growls of howler monkeys sounded like mocking laughter, and his shoulders slumped. A sharp tug on his tunic pulled him from his petulance.

“Now,” Koh Maria said.

Kish followed her to Nacom’s hut where she pushed open two square-ish boards hinged to weathered posts. Inside, roughhewn mahogany planks of random widths formed the walls. The shaman’s shriveled body lay in a hand-loomed hammock of faded palm-green and corn-yellow stripes. He cracked open his eyes as Kish stood beside him. With the back of his hand, he dismissed Koh Maria.

“You. Chilam.” Nacom whispered. “Itzamná speaks.”

“Priest? Me?” Kish stuttered as he shook his head.

“Obey!” Nacom responded, and his finger pointed to the arcane mahogany box beneath his hammock. Kish did not know what was inside, but something about the box unsettled him. The old man moved his fingers back and forth. Once. Twice. Kish was to pick it up. His hands quivered as he set the box on the simple table by the hammock’s side.

Nacom mumbled something. Kish bent closer. Nacom spoke again. “What day?”

Kish replied in Hach T’ana, the pure Mayan tongue: “Lahca baktun. Bolonlahun katun. Uuc tun. Canlahun uinal. Uuclahun kin.” December 21, 2000—winter solstice.

“Yes,” Nacom slurred. “You prepare. Lahca baktun. Bolonlahun katun. Bolonlahun tun. Uaxac uinal. Hun kin.” In four-thousand-one-hundred-eighty-four days. His hand moved to a thin cord around his neck. He labored as he pulled it from under his white tunic revealing a small key. Kish was to remove it.

With care he raised the old man’s head and slipped the cord over it. For a long moment Nacom lay still; his breath hardly there at all. Then the index finger of his right hand pushed toward the box and wiggled. Kish fought his anxiety as he inserted the key.

“Should I open it?” His voice was high, tense. Nacom’s head bobbed a little. Kish turned the key and raised the lid. A rectangular-shaped object on top was enfolded in white cotton cloth. The one on the bottom, shaped the same but thicker, was wrapped tight in the black pelt of a jaguar and bound with four cords. Kish reached to pick up the white one.

“No!” Nacom’s fingers lifted an inch as he forced out the word with startling firmness. “You. Prepare. Listen Itzamná.” His breath was heavy. “You. Keep box. Sacwa’an (white). Study. Follow. I’ic’ (black). No you. Give. Lahca baktun. Bolonlahun katun. Bolonlahun tun. Uaxac uinal. Hun kin.” In four-thousand-one-hundred-eighty-four days. His breath was a gasp and almost ceased. For a long moment there was no movement; no sound, except for Kish’s own nervous panting. Then Nacom whispered, “Not fail. Lock box. Koh Maria.”

Kish closed the lid and fastened it. His hands shook as he put the cord with the key around his own neck. He scrambled to the doorway and motioned to Koh Maria. She entered, opened her eyes wide at Kish’s ashen face, then went to her grandfather and held his hand. His face puckered into a tiny wrinkled smile. With effort he lifted his eyes to reveal red-veined film, and words like a ghost-rustle parted his lips. “The box. Kish.” Koh Maria nodded.

With a gurgle, Nacom breathed in.

Breathed out.

Then no more.

About the Author

steve-dunn-hanson

I’ve lived in places that grew me . . . from a small Idaho farm town, a run-down neighborhood in St. Louis, and a middle-class southern California community, to Sydney, Australia, and Bucharest, Romania. My experiences are as varied as the places I’ve lived. I have a hopper full of “reality” including being a volunteer jail chaplain and flying with a U.S. presidential candidate in his small plane when an engine conked out. And all of this is fodder for my writing.

My latest book is the action/adventure/suspense novel, Sealed Up.

WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK

 

Character Interview: Frank Swiver from Harley Mazuk, mystery/private eye, White with Fish, Red with Murder

WhiteFish_RedMurder FinalWe’re thrilled to have here today Frank Swiver from Harley Mazuk’s new mystery, White with Fish, Red with Murder.  Frank Swiver is a 35-year-old shamus living in San Francisco, California.

It is a pleasure to have him with us today at Beyond the Books!

Thank you so for this interview, Frank.  Now that the book has been written, do you feel you were fairly portrayed or would you like to set anything straight with your readers?

It’s funny how things work out. The book is my story, in my words, but when I go back and read it now, I do seem a little slow on the uptake sometimes. And I make mistakes with the dames. But I was telling it the way it happened. You look at the big picture, I do all right with women. And I never claimed to be Sherlock Holmes, just a hard-working private eye.

Do you feel the author did a good job colorizing your personality?  If not, how would you like to have been portrayed differently?

I don’t know about “colorizing my personality.” We were trying to write a page-turner here, and we told it the way it went down. That was fair enough to me.

What do you believe is your strongest trait?

I’m not fearless, but I have the courage it takes to do the job. And I’m a hard worker. If I take your money, I’ll keep at it until I solve the case. Courage and perseverance . . . you can take your choice.

Worse trait?

My loyalty to women is not always all it should be. I’m thinking here about Vera Peregrino, my secretary. I let her down. I look back on it and I don’t know how it happened. But at least I stuck with the case and sprung her from jail on that murder rap.

If you could choose someone in the television or movie industry to play your part if your book was made into a movie, who would that be (and you can’t say yourself!)?

While I was on this case, a redhead I met in Chico told me I looked like that cat in Out of the Past, Robert Mitchum. I believe he’s a little younger than me, so I took that as a compliment. He’s a bit beefier than I am—I lost a lot of weight in Spain during the Civil War and never put it back on. And I don’t have a dimple in my chin. But I think she was getting at something about Mitchum’s eyes.

Do you have a love interest in the book?

Yeah, two. And that’s the problem.

At what point of the book did you start getting nervous about the way it was going to turn out?

I questioned one of the suspects, Spitbucket McQuade, the wine critic, over lunch at the Black Lizard Lounge. Just my luck he picks that day to open a poisoned bottle of Burgundy. McQuade got me a little hot with his cracks about Cicilia, and I slapped him in front of witnesses before I left. Twenty minutes later, he drops dead on the steps of his apartment building, and the owner of the Black Lizard tells the cops my name. I had to do some fast talking to keep them from taking me in. That’s where I started to worry. If I’d ended up in jail on a murder rap, I wouldn’t have been able to solve the Thursby killing and save Vera.

If you could trade places with one of the other characters in the book, which character would you really not want to be and why?

I wouldn’t have wanted to be McQuade, because he died. And while he was alive, nobody liked him.

How do you feel about the ending of the book without giving too much away?

The ending is not happy—I don’t get married and live happily ever after. At least it’s not a tragedy—I don’t die. But when the story ended, I felt I’d be better off dead. I guess that’s what they call noir.

What words of wisdom would you give your author if he decided to write another book with you in it?

Next time, Mr. Mazuk, less wine, more sex. And give me a chance to make it up to Vera.

Thank you for this interview, Frank Swiver.  Will we be seeing more of you in the future?

Oh, yeah. There’s a short adventure I had in Utah, in 1950. I called the case, “Pearl’s Valley.” It should be coming out as a stand-alone novelette in April, from Dark Passages Publishing. And there will be more novels, too.

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Harley Mazuk [http://www.harleymazuk.com/] is a mystery writer living in Maryland. His first novel, White with Fish, Red with Murder [http://www.drivenpress.net/white-with-fish-red-with-murder] is out now, from Driven Press. [http://www.drivenpress.net/]

 

 

Character Interview: Ed Earl Burch from Jim Nesbitt’s hard-boiled Texas thriller, The Right Wrong Number

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We’re thrilled to have here today Ed Earl Burch from Jim Nesbitt’s new hard-boiled Texas thriller, The Right Wrong Number.  Burch is a 44-year-old private detective living in Dallas, Texas.

It is a pleasure to have Ed Earl with us today at Beyond the Books!

Thank you so for this interview, Ed Earl.  Now that the book has been written, do you feel you were fairly portrayed or would you like to set anything straight with your readers?

I think that Nesbitt guy did a fairly good job telling my story. He’s an ex-journalist and has a pretty keen eye for details and a sharp ear for dialogue. I just wish he hadn’t made me look like such an idiot with women and hadn’t repeatedly told folks I’m bald and fat. I’m an ex-jock gone to seed, a big guy who used to play football and have the bad knees to prove it. I’d much prefer to be seen as svelte and streamlined.

EdEarl56-300dpi-3125x4167Do you feel the author did a good job colorizing your personality?  If not, how would you like to have been portrayed differently?

I spent a lot of time with Nesbitt and he flat wore me out with questions about this case. He’s a nosy bastard and you can’t shut him up. But I have to give the devil his due—he caught me square. I’m no Sam Spade or Philip Marlowe, although I do crack wise like those sharp guys. And I’m not supercool like Frank Bullitt. I’m more like Columbo—without the caricature.

What do you believe is your strongest trait?

I don’t quit. I get on the trail of a case and I stay there and don’t veer off into the brush. I’m relentless and don’t mind the long hours and tedious details of detective work. I’m no Sherlock Holmes with dazzling leaps of deduction and intuition. Nobody is. Building a case is slow, demanding work—people lie to you all the time and the truth is hard to come by. As a buddy of mine once said: there are a helluva lot of facts, but very little truth.

Worse trait?

I’m fatally attracted to women who are ready, willing and able to drive a stake through my heart.

If you could choose someone in the television or movie industry to play your part if your book was made into a movie, who would that be (and you can’t say yourself!)?

Tommy Lee Jones and Jeff Bridges immediately come to mind, but those boys are getting a little long in the tooth. Tom Sizemore would be good, if clean and sober. I think a great, dark-horse candidate would be Nick Searcy, the guy who played Art, Raylan Givens’ boss in Justified.

Do you have a love interest in the book?

I wouldn’t necessarily call it love, but it surely was lust. I banged boots with an old flame, a rangy strawberry blonde with a violent temper and a lethal knack for larceny and betrayal named Savannah Devlin Crowe.

At what point of the book did you start getting nervous about the way it was going to turn out?

When I came out of a pharmaceutical fog in a hospital with a Houston homicide detective yammering in my ear about people I didn’t remember killing.

If you could trade places with one of the other characters in the book, which character would you really not want to be and why?

My best friend, Krukovitch, a cranky and brilliant columnist and fellow traveler at my favorite bar, Louie’s. You’ll have to buy the book to figure out why.

How do you feel about the ending of the book without giving too much away?

Hollow, empty, guilty but glad I didn’t get a stake driven through my heart.

What words of wisdom would you give your author if he decided to write another book with you in it?

I’d like that sumbitch to give me a little more hair on top and use the terms svelte and streamlined to describe me. Give me a hat like Raylan Givens, maybe. And get me out of paying my bar tab.

Thank you for this interview, (name of character).  Will we be seeing more of you in the future?

You bet. Count on it. Can’t get rid of that Nesbitt guy. He’s like a bad habit. I expect he’ll be along shortly with another laundry list of questions.

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For more than 30 years, Jim Nesbitt roved the American Outback as a correspondent for newspapers and wire services in Alabama, Florida, Texas, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Washington, D.C. He chased hurricanes, earthquakes, plane wrecks, presidential candidates, wildfires, rodeo cowboys, ranchers, miners, loggers, farmers, migrant field hands, doctors, neo-Nazis and nuns with an eye for the telling detail and an ear for the voice of the people who give life to a story. He is a lapsed horseman, pilot, hunter and saloon sport with a keen appreciation for old guns, vintage cars and trucks, good cigars, aged whiskey and a well-told story. He now lives in Athens, Alabama and writes hard-boiled detective thrillers set in Texas.

Find out more about the book:www.amazon.com/author/jimnesbitt

Website: www.jimnesbitthardboiledbooks.com

Facebook author page:https://www.facebook.com/edearlburchbooks/

Blog: https://spottedmule.wordpress.com/

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