|"Order and method, mon ami!"|
|"Order and method, mon ami!"|
|At Teague Library in Glendale, with Donis and librarian Shelly|
|Trying on hats, with Don|
|Barbara Peters, me, Donis Casey. Like my new hat?|
|Meeting new readers at the PEO function in Tempe.|
|Be Still My Heart.|
|Oh, what a night! Dinner at Lola Bistro with my husband, Dan, and wonderful friends Kat & Chris F. Holm, & Lauren O'Brien.|
|At the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame with the incredibly talented Chris F. Holm.|
|My "Murder He/She Solved" panel with moderator extraordinaire Kat Niidas Holm, Joy Castro, Robert Olen Butler, & Bruce DeSilva. (Just out of the frame: panelists Hannah Dennison & Cathy Wiley.)|
|With Kat. Can you tell we're having fun yet?|
|Neliza Drew, Dan O'Shea, Dan O'Shea's Rather Spectacular Jacket, & Sabrina Ogden.|
|With my amazing friend Robin Spano at the Canuck event.|
|More Canucks! My Toronto Sisters in Crime Helen Nelson & Janet Costello.|
|With another wonderful friend, Kathy Ryan.|
|Colin Campbell, Christa Faust, & Judy Bobalik. Did I want to steal Christa's lovely vintage purse? Oh, yes.|
|Timeless style: Ken Wishnia & Kelli Stanley.|
|Preparing to toss Brad Parks into the hotel fountain...|
|At the last minute, we showed mercy & posed for our annual Charlie's Angel photo instead. (With Christine McCann, Lauren O'Brien, Elyse Dinh, & Brad Parks.)|
|What we look like when we're not toying with Brad's fate. You'd never guess what we're *really* like!|
|One of the best things about Bouchercon: seeing friends from every corner of the continent. Hanging with with Austin's awesome Scott Montgomery.|
|Thugs of the world unite! With Big Daddy Thug (AKA Todd Robinson) & Robert McClure.|
How much research do you do for your books?
The short answer is: just enough to get the job done. I’m not one of those research lovers who pores over old books in the stacks or delves deep into the details. I do just enough research to allow me to depict the settings, situations, and characters in my books with verisimilitude.
But, on occasion, I will venture out of my writing cave to do some research. Here’s a summary of a recent research excursion I took for my work-in–progress:
The last few scenes of my book take place in Washington, D.C., on the Mall (The National Mall. You know, the place with the Capitol and Washington Monument). So I put myself in my protagonist’s shoes and drove to the Vienna Metro station where I boarded an Orange Line train (I’m a Northern Virginia suburbanite—it didn’t take long).
Then I made notes about what I experienced (saw, heard, smelled (yuck)) as we paralleled I-66 before diving underground. At Metro Center, I changed trains, but not before darting from platform to platform, trying to shed imaginary followers (as my protagonist does). I kept track of which escalators I took and where I doubled back and what the whoosh of air preceding the trains into the station felt like. If anyone was truly following me, I must have looked quite confused (and/or suspicious)!
When I got off the subway—where the protagonist in my story gets off—I pulled out my camera and began to take pictures as I walked. In many cases, I didn’t even slow down as I pressed the shutter button, because I was timing how long it took me to reach certain landmarks. (In all, I took 221 pictures.)
I continued this for the next hour or so, snapping more pictures and traipsing along the Mall. Then I visited a couple of D.C. “attractions” (which shall remain nameless for the time being), to do some research for two particular scenes. At each place, I took a guided tour, again snapping pictures and asking questions where necessary (the questions had more to do with the buildings’ layouts, than the collections, which I’m sure made my guides suspicious. Thankfully, no one called security on me).
Name-wise, my Collector series is easier to tackle than anything else I’ve ever written. I think it’s because I’m playing around with both pulp crime and religion – two wildly disparate influences, perhaps, but each with their own rich traditions to draw upon when it comes to dubbing characters.If you'd like to read on, and get some insight into the names that pepper my brand spanking Collector novel The Wrong Goodbye, then click through to read the rest of my post. If, however, you'd rather see photos of bleary-eyed con-goers, then keep reading.
My protagonist, Sam Thornton, takes his name from the pulp side of the fence. It’s derived from two of my literary heroes, who’ve both influenced my Collector series immensely: Samuel Dashiell Hammett, and Raymond Thornton Chandler. The handle suits him because although he’s an undead collector of souls, his role in the narrative is essentially that of the hard-bitten detective.
His handler Lilith, on the other hand, is yanked straight from the Apocrypha. These texts, considered by some to be gospel and others heretical, describe her as a voluptuous, redheaded vixen with wicked ways and an insatiable appetite for sex – the first woman in Creation, cast out of the Garden of Eden by God for refusing to be subservient to Adam. Folklore tells us Lilith then engaged her appetites with countless (ahem) members of the demon realm, giving rise to incubi and succubi, who are in turn responsible for our modern (nonsparkly) vampire myth. Though she’s hardly a household name, she’s inspired many a redheaded seductress in fiction, from Brigid O’Shaughnessy to Jessica Rabbit. In short, she’s the archetype on which the modern femme fatale was built – and therefore perfect to play the role of one in my novels.
My first Collector novel, Dead Harvest (out now!), features a young girl named Kate MacNeil, whose surname (in a winking minor spoiler) was lifted directly from The Exorcist. It also features an angel named So’enel, whose name, if I assembled it correctly (which I may well not have, in which case I hope I get points for trying), is Hebrew for “warrior for God.”
|My Morally Challenged Heroes panel. L to R: Ali Karim, Lou Berney, Liz Hand, Seth Harwood, and yours truly. Air-vent cockroach not pictured.|
|The Murder He/She Solved Panel. L to R: the lovely and talented Katrina Niidas Holm, the captivating Hilary Davidson, Joy Castro, Robert Olen Butler, Bruce DeSilva, Hannah Dennison, and Cathy Wiley|
|Katrina and I enjoying dinner at Lola with good friends Dan, Hilary, and Lauren|
|Some scruffy author signing books|