Somewhere along the line, a perceptive soul came up with the idea of “The Next Big Thing Author Blog Event.” In addition to the serious purpose of giving folks more insight into the writers they’re reading – or might want to read – it’s also a bunch of fun. If you’ve ever been part of a chain letter, you’ll understand the basic notion. (I’m proud to say that I once scored nine bottles of liquor in a Christmas chain letter, so I’m a great believer in the concept.)
Here’s how this one works: A writer in the chain answers the following 10 questions and posts the answers on their website and/or blog, and links it to Facebook, Twitter, whatever social media they use. Then the writer tags one or more other authors, who do the same the following week, and so on, and so on. Each writer adds his/her name and website/blog at the end. The object of this is to spread as much information as possible about our works in a new and unique manner.
I want to thank Madeline St. John, who introduced me to this blog event by tagging me for this week’s Q&A. Madeline is the author of the charming “Myrtle” short stories set in Los Angeles. Her current story, BACK IN THE SADDLE, is available from Amazon here: http://www.amazon.com/Back-in-the-Saddle-ebook/dp/B00B4YTEOO/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1359241709&sr=1-2&keywords=back+in+the+saddle+st.+john
For next week, I’m tagging two very talented authors:
Margo Carey http://hauntedpen.blogspot.com/ lives in Marblehead and captures that environment beautifully in her paranormal mysteries, SOME STILL HEAR HER SCREAM and TRACES OF EVIL.
Malcolm Henderson http://www.malcolmlhenderson.com/ authored the wonderful DON’T KILL THE COW TOO QUICK http://www.amazon.com/Dont-Kill-Cow-Quick-ebook/dp/B006WOKJ2M/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1359241868&sr=1-2&keywords=dont+kill+the+cow+too+quick and SUPERSTITION, PIRATES, GHOSTS AND FOLKLORE OF BOCAS DEL TORO. http://www.amazon.com/Superstition-Pirates-Ghosts-Folklore-ebook/dp/B00AV8Q9Y2/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1359241936&sr=1-1&keywords=malcolm+henderson
So, on to my Q&A —
WHAT IS THE WORKING TITLE FOR YOUR BOOK (OR WORK IN PROGRESS)?
I’m working on several projects.. MESSAGE FROM PANAMA, a thriller (see post below) was published in December.
ESCAPE TO PANAMA, the sequel, and a third book, MURDER IN THE COFFEE, a cozy written under the name Jane Vasarhelyi, will hopefully hit the stands by December.
WHERE DID THE IDEA COME FROM FOR YOUR BOOK?
The first book was a “pantser,” which I wrote without any sense of where it came from or how it would end. The second book grew out of learning that my nephew was engaged in an extremely dangerous enterprise as a military prosecutor of the Gitmo prisoners. I mean, that almost begged to be a story. The cozy came from the wonderful coffee culture here in the Western Panama mountains.
WHAT GENRE DOES YOUR BOOK FALL UNDER?
The first two are thrillers, the 3rd a cozy mystery.
WHICH ACTORS WOULD YOU CHOOSE TO PLAY YOUR CHARACTERS IN A MOVIE RENDITION?
For Pen Smith, the main protagonist of both thrillers, Chris Pine or Matthew McConaughey. For other male parts, Jonathan Rhys-Meyers, Tim Roth, Rupert Penry Jones. There are, of course, women in the books, including Pen’s main squeeze, but no actress jumps out at me, so I’ll leave it there. Have no thoughts yet about the cozy.
WHAT IS THE ONE-SENTENCE SYNOPSIS OF YOUR BOOK?
MESSAGE – A mysterious letter from his dead uncle summons Washington, DC political consultant Pen Smith to Panama, where he’s the victim of a brazen daylight shooting, heir to an enormous fortune, the object of embezzlement—and the man charged with the secret of a longtime family tragedy.
ESCAPE – Mid Eastern terrorists have given up trying to penetrate Army security and murder GITMO prosecutor Col. Patrick Smith, so they declare a brutal fatwah on his family.
MURDER – Mysterious things are happening in the coffee plantations of Panama and the nephew of a famous Belgian detective steps in to solve them.
WILL YOUR BOOK BE SELF-PUBLISHED OR REPRESENTED BY AN AGENCY?
MESSAGE FROM PANAMA was self-published under my own imprint, Hanging Moon Press. I haven’t decided about ESCAPE and MURDER.
HOW LONG DID IT TAKE YOU TO WRITE THE FIRST DRAFT OF YOUR MANUSCRIPT?
The first draft about a year. The four years following were devoted to rewrites and edits. The second and third books are going much faster than the first. (Thank goodness!)
WHAT OTHER BOOKS WOULD YOU COMPARE THIS STORY TO WITHIN YOUR GENRE?
This is tough because comparing your work to that of a successful author just invites criticism. I think I’ll pass on this.
WHO OR WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO WRITE THIS BOOK?
I’ve been an employed writer all my life, since I was 12 years old. (Honest to God. My hometown paper, the Savannah Morning News, paid me for book reviews.) There are good things about people wanting to pay you to write. For example, you never hurt for a job. But the downside was never wanting to say “no” to an assignment. Eventually, I was able to put the old life aside and slip on the new one. Occasionally, folks will still ask me to write something for them but now I have no problem with the “no” word.
WHAT ELSE ABOUT YOUR BOOK MIGHT PIQUE THE READER’S INTEREST?
I think Panama as a setting. There’s been a lot of intrigue here and most people, if asked, could probably find it on a map. Try that for any other country with a population of 3 million people.
The mix of folks here is also interesting. The indigenous people are pre-Colombian, the French are left over from an unsuccessful attempt to build the first canal linking the Pacific and Atlantic, and a hardy group of Scandinavians settled in the lush mountains of Western Panama, where their descendants currently produce the world’s best and most expensive coffee. (Unless you count an Indonesian variety that has to pass through the gut of a Civit before being consumed by humans. Ugh.). And, of course, no history of Panama would be complete without the Conquistadors who came to seize the gold of South America. Unfortunately, little Panama was the primary collection and export point for this gold and the pirate Henry Morgan repeatedly raped, sacked and pillaged everything in sight. Lots of elements here for a writer to work with.
Now to the excellent authors who preceded me, as many as I know. (The list didn’t appear in this form until two generations ago. Like any chain letter, this one branches out.) On our branch, as far back as I could go, they are:
Libby Fischer Hellman www.libbyhellmann.com
Sarah Chen at http://www.sarahmchen.com/Home_Page.html
Madeline St. John
Britt Vasarhelyi http://www.dontshootthewriter.com