SONS OF THE SPHINX: Love or Destiny? Meet Cheryl Carpinello to find out #YA #Paranormal #awardwinning #newreads

It’s been a while since we’ve had a guest, but today we have the lovely Cheryl Carpinello, the creative mind behind SONS OF THE SPHINX, 2014 Literary Classics Silver Medal winner Preteen/YA. Plus, she’s offer to give two random commenters an e-copy of her TUTANKHAMEN SPEAKS. So don’t be shy, share your favorite read as a kid, the one that still makes you smile, and your email, and you could be one of our winners! 

For me? Ohhh…Anne McCafferty’s Dragonriders of Pern (White Dragon) or even before that, Trixie Belden…

Without further ado, I give you Cheryl Carpinello…

If you were to hold a dinner party for six, who would you invite and share at least one question you would have for each.

My first guest would be Walt Disney. I would like to ask him how he ever came up with the idea of Disneyland and all of the rides. I would also ask him if he aware that he was creating such a magical world for kids and adults!

My second guest would be Plato. My question to him: Did you really visit Atlantis, and if so, would you tell me where it’s location was?

My third guest would be Bond, James Bond! I would like to ask him what has happened to all the Bond Girls he discarded. I would also ask him how one goes about getting to be a Bond Girl.

My fourth guest would be Elvis Presley. I would ask him to sing one song to me—“I Can’t Help Falling in Love With You.”

My fifth guest would be JRR Tolkien. My questions would be how did he come up with the different characters in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. I would also like to know how much his homeland of England contributed to his setting.

My sixth guest would be a double with Christopher Robin and Pooh. My question: Just how much fun was the 100-Acre Wood?

As children we tend to have an idea of what we want to be by the time we’re ten. What did you want to be? 

I always wanted to be a teacher. I remember playing school in my bedroom. I would line up all my stuffed animals and dolls on the bed. Then I would pass out papers and books. It was later in life that I found the stories in my head that I write about now.

Many writers have that first novel which will never see the light of day. Out of curiosity, do you have one stashed somewhere?

Yes, I do. I was probably about 30, and I had been reading Harlequin Romances. I decided that I would try and write one. The title is Castles in the Sky. It is about a female war correspondent who sees her husband die in Beruit. She retreats to the Colorado Rockies and there, true to Harlequin themes, finds her next love.

What’s the one genre you won’t ever try and why?

That would be erotica. I can’t read it and really don’t want to. I know I can’t write it.

 

Now because Cheryl agreed to come visit, even she can’t escape our Bullet List. Ready? 1…2…3…go!

Blades, guns, fists, or feet?

Guns. I watched a lot of Westerns growing up at home.

Favorite Fairy Tale of all time?

Sleeping Beauty. It sounded so romantic.

Three titles/authors sitting on your nightstand waiting to be read.

Twenty Years After by Alexandre Dumas

The Nile by Toby Wilkinson

The Shadow of Camelot by Wendy Leighton-Porter

Greatest one-liner of all time?

Sept. 19, 2014. After driving around the UK for 3 weeks on the wrong (sorry those of you who live there) side of the road and wondering why my husband and I were still alive every night, the day we drive back to London I say to him, “I think I could even drive in London!”

Sarcastic witticism, Southern sweetness, or Geeky disdain?

Sarcastic witticism

Strangest item currently taking up space in your writing cave?

Toys, toys, and more toys belonging to our two grandsons, 6 and 1 1/2.

Favorite supernatural creature?

A dragon like Pete’s Dragon.

Now that we have you glued to your seat, ready to see why Cheryl’s story won the 2014 Literary Classics Silver Award?

Sons of the Sphinx, a time travel adventure 

SONS OF THE SPHINX_front

Armed with what she considers her grandmother’s curse, 15-year-old Rosa agrees to help the ghost of King Tut find his lost queen Hesena. Though Hesena’s ba inhabits part of Rosa, finding the whole spirit of Hesena so that she and Tut can be together for the first time in over 3300 years proves to be a harder task than Rosa first thinks. Thrust back into Ancient Egypt with Tut, Rosa discovers that finding Hesena is not all she must do. She must keep out of the reach of the living Horemheb—who crosses mortal boundaries using Seth’s evil magic—if she is to stay alive to make it back home.

Sons of the Sphinx Buy Links:

Amazon                Smashwords              Nook               iBookstore

Author Links

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Facebook 

GoodReads 

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Author Sites

         Beyond Today Educator

         The Quest Books

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Other Books by Cheryl Carpinello

Guinevere: On the Eve of Legend – Amazon http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0025KUJ36

Young Knights of the Round Table: The King’s Ransom – MuseItUp Publishing book page: http://museituppublishing.com/bookstore/index.php/museityoung/action-adventure/the-king-s-ransom-detail 

Tutankhamen Speaks – Amazon http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00E18KH46

 Author Picture 300dpi copy

Author Bio

I love the Ancient and Medieval Worlds! As a retired English teacher, I hope to inspire young readers to read more through my Quest Books. Please follow me on this adventure. Hook up with me on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Goodreads, and Google.

Also please visit my other sites: Carpinello’s Writing Pages where I interview childrens/MG/Tween/YA authors; my home website Beyond Today Educator, and The Quest Books where I’ve teamed up with Fiona Ingram from South Africa and Wendy Leighton-Porter of England/France/Abu Dhabi to enable readers to find all of our Ancient and Medieval quest books in one place.

 Don’t forget to leave your name, email, and which book was your favorite as a kid in our comments, because you know you want a copy of Cheryl’s Tutankhamen Speaks!

Life’s Nasty Curve Balls #family #coping #writing

LIfe

Our story opens with our heroine nervously waiting for a phone call. A phone call that will alter her future because the job she’s been doing for the last sixteen plus years is playing Russian Roulette against a corporate budget, leaving her telecommuting position dangling by a thread.

The call comes. The job is hers. But now she faces re-entering the world of cubicles, braving the wild roads of bumper-to-bumper metal, and the need for something besides jeans and *gasp* t-shirts.

Three weeks after starting the new job, our plucky heroine faces a new challenge. Her beloved father-in-law is rapidly losing his battle with the dreaded marauders of cancer. While her devoted Knight, the gangly Prankster Duo, and ever-present fur-rug stand uselessly by, Mr. Garden Gnome tries varies defensive moves. Alas, it doesn’t work. Instead, the battle, hard fought and tear drenched, comes to a bitter end. Mr. Gnome makes his way to the Eternal Gardens, leaving the rest of the gathered behind.

Our heroine, Knight, Prankster Duo and fur-rug decide it’s time to move on to a new abode. One where Mr. Gnome’s shadow doesn’t peek out at the most disconcerting times.

Fortune smiles, a new abode is discovered, and cautious excitement ensues. A beam of light in the gray fog for our little clan.

But one member in particular is very broken hearted, even as he tries to carry on. Instead, three weeks to the day of Mr. Gnome’s departure, our heroine’s furry ball of never-ending love, chooses to follow the Eternal Garden path as well.

Hearts break anew, this time a little more deeper than before.

Just in case our heroine wasn’t paying attention, Life throws one more nasty ass curve ball–during a homeward trek, Knight and his metal mount are viciously attacked on the roadways, leaving the mount a gnarled ball of tangled wreckage, and Knight with a temporary limp.

Sound like something a writer would throw at a character to “challenge” them?

Guess again.

This is my life for the last two months. It hasn’t been easy. There have been some really rough days (and nights). I actually had to make myself count my blessings (new job, new home, Knight walked away from the accident, the Duo is doing well, my Herbal Witch (sis-in-law) is getting married…). Not something I normally have to force myself to do.

And my writing? Well, there hasn’t been room for the Muse lately.

But now, two months later, the roughest patches have been traversed and I’m standing, quite a bit winded and battered, on the other side, so it’s time to get back to it. And by “it”, I mean Life.

Every writer hits patches like these, where the idea of writing is so far fetched because everything else is right there demanding attention. Yet we soldier through, and when we emerge, we take all of those emotions (anger, grief, rage, tears, quiet joy, simmering sorrow) and put it to our writing. Our characters suddenly take on new depths and our plots carve out richer niches. All because life threw a series of sucker punches and we had a choice–stay down or get up and hit back.

And as those who’ve followed me for a while now know, I’ll always get back up and hit back.

–Wicked

NANO Warrior Tips…The Secret Ingredient is–SIMPLICITY! #NANO #writingtips

You’re almost done, Nano Warrior. Hang tight and pound out those words, the end is nigh… Let’s talk about simplicity…

Yes, I do realize I watch waaayyy too many cooking shows–Iron Chef, Master Chef, Hell’s Kitchen, Chopped–I can only excuse it because I CAN’T COOK.  I’m not even ashamed of this little facet of my personality.  It’s a given and all who know me are currently nodding their head sagely (yep, you can do that) as they remember numerous incidents that support this claim.  However, the opening line from Iron Chef fit perfectly for this little post.

I’m not sure how many of you out there have children that have been inducted into the hive mind of a little computer game known as MINECRAFT, but my Prankster Duo are devote practitioners.  This morning as I’m taking the younger one off to school, he couldn’t wait to share his plethora of MINECRAFT song parodies with me.  (Yes, they were amusing and some were really well done, surprisingly enough!)  But it got me to thinking–why is it in this day and age of some the best computer game graphics EVER–children are thrilled with a game made up of pixellated graphics that would make the original PONG blush?  I live with massive computer gamers/geeks/whatever you want to label them, and I’ve  shaken my head as they are enthralled for hours by the beauty and stunningly frightening realistic graphics of their chosen games.  The artwork is mind-blowing and I swear if I could figure out a way to have some of those artists do my covers, I’d be thrilled.

Sorry, got a little sidetracked.

So what’s the appeal of MINECRAFT versus, say Sky Rim or Arkham Asylum or one of those other epic computer games?

Simplicity.

As I wove my way home through rain slicked streets this morning, this little revelation set off a chain reaction.

I’m at the dreaded middle section of book 3.  You know that part–where you start to wonder if your story is really all that enthralling, are your characters sporting enough dimensions to hold readers, maybe it was fluke I managed to get the other books done?  Yeah, that big black hole most writers hit smack dab in the middle of their creations.  It sucks.  And it means that I’ve struggled the last couple of weeks to keep my story moving forward.  Buried under all these doubts, it’s hard to find your way out.  So I shut down my Macbook, went to lunch with someone I’m blessed to call friend and critique partner–Snarky Dwarf.  Over some luscious Mexican food, she helped me start an escape route.

Funny thing was, as we were digging it hit me–plots don’t have to rival a soap opera labyrinth. Not only will you get lost as you write, but your readers will get tired of  trying to find their way and leave.  Your plots, no matter how deep they go, should be spawned in simplicity.  It’s your characters that should possess all the secret nooks and crannies that make your story shine.  Yet, no matter how complex your characters are their underlying motivations have to be just as simple.  There are three basic human emotions that tend to help motivate your villain to grandiose heights: jealousy, vengeance, greed.  These three also make for some really good reasons on why your hero/heroine is under attack.

So while I may never grace the stage of Iron Chef, I give you the secret ingredient for your writing dish–Simplicity!

What emotions do you use to help motivate your characters?

NANO Word Warriors…How Deep Are Your Characters? #NANO #writingtips

Continuing our absentee assistance with those still struggling through the NANO battles, I present a post from September 2012 diving into character depth. I know you’re at that mid-point, but don’t give up, the end is coming, I promise…

Good morning, loyal Swamp followers. Today I wanted to ask you all the question–how do you add depth to your characters?

To follow the wandering path of my mind behind this particular question, here’s the map:

Starting point:  While reading some of my fav authors lately (Gun Metal Magic by Ilona Andrews, Archangel’s Storm by Nalini Singh, Ashes of Honor by Seanan McGuire, and Widow’s Web by Jennifer Estep–just the first handful mind you) my skin has been sporting this lovely green tint as I consider how they work they magic they do with their character development.

Jumps to:  I really want that depth in my stories *whine whine* .  I wonder if they sell magical potion at a discount? If so, where could I get it?

Sharp left to: If I got it, would it taste funny? You know I really should consider going out to a gourmet shop of some kind and checking out some seasonings. I need to get better descriptions of differing scents for Xander.

Quick U-turn to: How does one get that level of real personality into their characters? What emotional trauma must I inflict on my characters to dress them in such gorgeously realistic personality garments?

Break the speed limit, cover a few miles: How much therapy would most UF characters have to under go before they were considered “normal”?

Scenic Outlook stop: Remember that workshop? You know the one where they talked about character arcs?  Okay, so we need…history, motivators, personality quirks, strengths, weaknesses, lions, tigers and bears…oh my!

Back on highway: Character depth equals making your characters into real people, which is far from easy because every individual personality is made up of a myriad of decisions, behaviors, attitudes, etc.  So I guess that means to give your characters depth, you have to…

Big Exit Sign Ahead:  Give them a chance to grow into a person through your story.

My Knight in Slightly Muddy Armor claims I am directly challenged. After plotting out this little tangent, I think I have to agree.  However, I’m really curious, how do you think you develop character depth when writing?

NANO Warrior Help…Let Me Show You What I Mean #writingtips #NANO

Since I’m seriously buried under packing boxes and tied up with packing tape while the rest of you brave souls tackle NANO, I’m reposting older posts this month, in hopes they can help you win the word battle of November.  This one dates back to September 2011. Once the new shack is up and running, I’ll be back to my weekly posts… 

I promised to share the agony of editing with you, so sit down, strap in and hang on.  We’re now heading into the treacherous world of show-don’t-tell. You all know this pit of despairing darkness, it’s the one where someone reads your work then says, “Why are you telling me this, why can’t you just show me?”  Every writer faces this harsh enemy armed only with a small writing instrument and sheer guts.  Some carry a broader defense in the form of a laptop, but still the enemy is fierce and determined to leave you shuddering in its wake.

There are thousands (seriously google it) of articles out there on how to work through the challenges of showing versus telling, but I’m an orbitally fixated person (see previous blog) so I’m just going to share an example of enlightment that was seared into my brain.

Here’s the original:

Raine moved like lightening to catch the little black remote before it hit the ground. Eden gave a frustrated shriek and went after Ryder’s face with her long nails, scoring three long scratches before her could stop her.

 Ryder cursed, yanking the doctor’s arms behind her back, forcing her to face forward.  Raine didn’t spare Eden a glance, but moved in to the cell. She could feel Cheveyo coming up behind her. Using her magic, Raine called up a small illuminating ball of light to chase back the darkness from the cell.

Huddled in the corner was a naked Gavin. Fresh cuts, seeping burns, and trickles of blood mixed with sweat-drenched, tangled hair made macabre abstracts over the shaking arms, wrapped around drawn up legs.

The enlightened minds of my editors pointed out the following issues with this small passage. For example in the very first line, saying she moved like lightening is telling, not showing.  Then on to the usage of verbs. Picking the right verb makes a world of difference. Action scenes demand strong verbs, use them but don’t -ing them (will face this little critter in the next blog).  With the light of knowledge searing my brain, here is the re-write:

Raine sprang forward and caught the little black remote before it hit the ground. Eden shrieked and  raked Ryder’s face with her long nails, scoring three long gashes before he could stop her.

He cursed and yanked her  arms behind her back, forcing her to face forward. Without sparing her a glance, Raine dashed into the cell with Cheveyo right behind her. She summoned a small ball of light to chase back the darkness from the cell.

Gavin was huddled in the corner, naked. Fresh cuts, seeping burns, and trickles of blood, mixed with sweat-drenched, tangled hair threw macabre abstracts over his shaking arms, which were wrapped around his drawn-up legs.

See how much better that reads? Plus it paints a more vivid picture of what’s happening for the reader.  This is the beauty of showing versus telling. It’s worth every drop of blood you sweat as you transfer those voices in your head to paper.

So next week, I’ll move on to passive versus active.  Oh ye old English lessons. Dust them off, it’s time to go back to school!

Wicked

For the NANO Warriors–It’s Hell on the Weak, When the Strong are Around #writingtips #NANO

Back on September 12, 2011, I posted this article, which, strangely enough, still works today. So in honor of all those stepping foot into the NANOWRIMO battlefield, may this help arm you in your war on words….

We’re almost to the end of the editing tips journey, aren’t you happy?  This visit I thought we’d examine the infuriating world of strong versus weak, or what some like to call, active versus passive.  Many of us spent years in English class learning the difference between verbs that sit there and do nothing and those that rise to the top and poke your eyes out.

Every writer faces this challenge and every reader has hit those passages that make them want to scream, “Just do it already!”.   No writer wants their reader to get bored and move on. That is not our goal as story tellers. We want our readers to stay up late through the night to finish “…just one more page” regardless of the fact that at the crack of dawn you have a meeting your entire career hinges upon.  That’s why there’s such thing as coffee and make-up.  It’s so much easier to dump artifical nerves and spackle on skin tone cover up to dimish the impact of exhaustion.

The key to recognizing and beating the crap out of passive voice is not to add -ing to every verb in your sentence, but to make your sentences do something.  For example, in Shadow’s Edge (deal with folks, it’s my first book and this is where all the really good lessons are coming from!) my editors kindly pointed out this particular sentence was way too passive:

Natasha’s look was unfriendly.

The best way to smack that line into submission and make it do something:

Natasha threw her an unfriendly look.

Can you hear the difference?  The first draft is almost eerily (No,E,  I’m not calling you home from the Werewolf Monastary! By the way, bring me back some Blood Red!) to close to telling versus showing.  See how well all these little pointers merge together!

Here’s another example (yep, from Shadow’s Edge):

Gavin and Talbot continued talking for couple of minutes.  Then Talbot was shaking Gavin’s hand and saying good night to Raine.

A few tweaks and viola! New and improved:

Gavin and Talbot continued talking for a couple of minutes.  Then Talbot shook Gavin’s hand and said good night to Raine.

See how it moves your scene, makes it more “real”?  Using the word “was” means you’ve begun to travel down that passive trail and meander into some boring territory. Spice it up, people. Kick it around, make it scream for your readers.

So remember, when your writing starts to chicken out, put it in a cage fight and knock “was” out of the ring.  Trust me, you’re readers will love you for it!

Unveiling the cover of Shadow’s Curse and a Newsletter Giveaway… #UF #KynKronicles #newreads

Okay, I waited as long as I could but now I’m excited to share the gorgeousness of my fourth book in the Kyn Kronicles: SHADOW’S CURSE, coming January 2015!

Now, here’s the deal–I’ve decided to do a little giveaway for the upcoming holidays starting November 1st and running until December 19th. You, my loyal readers, and my newsletter subscribers have a chance to win. Want the details? Great, then click the link below to see my latest newsletter and if you’re interested in getting sneak peeks into my upcoming books and covers, feel free to join in. The link is under the Newsletter tab above.  Don’t worry about being bombarded by newsletters, mine only come out twice a year.

NEWSLETTER SIGN UP

If you’re not into the newsletter concept, feel free to click the Rafflecopter link below to enter as well.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

or leave a comment with your favorite thing about the holidays below (with your email addie).

And, what pray tell, am I giving away?

Well, five lucky winners will get a digital copy of my first three Kyn Kronicles and five other lucky winners, will get a digital copy of HUNTED BY THE PAST, the first in my Paranormal Romantic Suspense series, PSY-IV Teams.

It just my way of giving a little reader joy for the holidays. Winners will be announce on December 20th, so don’t forget to check back.

Shadows Curse Cover

SHADOW’S CURSE: BOOK 4 OF THE KYN KRONICLES

Beauty is a treacherous bitch, and her name is Natasha.

Death and chaos can devastate even the best-laid plans…

As the leader of the Amanusa, Natasha Bertoi thrives on chaos, but when tragedy strikes the Northwest Kyn, leaving bodies and betrayal in its wake, not even she is prepared for the fallout.  With Northwest houses in an uproar and the Wraiths hungry for blood, all her carefully laid plans are put to the test as she wards off the greedy clutches of the ruling Kyn Council. Her plans and pawns are moving along nicely, until he joins the game.

Whispers of treachery draw Darius Abazi to the Northwest in search of justice honed with vengeance.  After years of protecting the Council and its secrets he harbors no illusions on how lies can be twisted into truth. As death stalks the Northwest Kyn, he faces off with the beautiful, but manipulative Natasha to uncover the mastermind behind it all.

A dangerous attraction lures the two predators into a deadly game, where one wrong move could destroy all that Natasha holds dear.

 

COMING FROM BLACK OPAL BOOKS IN JAN. 2015

The Art of Telling It Quick #flashfiction #shortstories

I recently had the unique pleasure of reading submissions for a writing contest. The subject: adult fiction short story and adult flash fiction.

First and foremost, I must give huge credit to these brave writers. Trying to create a story within a limited word count (500 words for flash fiction/5000 for short) is a daunting challenge to begin with, yet these stalwart souls managed to do just that and do it well.

Me and short stories tend not to see eye-to-eye. I find it difficult to craft a solid story arc within a limited space. Much like Twitter limiting my pontifications to 140 characters…serious challenge.

After indulging in the entries of our mini-ink slingers, I noticed a few things that made certain stories stand out and haunt my curiosity long after I put the pages down.

1. The main character–no matter what the setting or conflict, if the main character didn’t come out of the gate with a memorable presence, the story just couldn’t hold me.  Not that you’d get every aspect of who the character was, but you got the most interesting part of their personality–and why it was so interesting.  (I’d give examples, but I don’t want any spoilers for this particular contest.)

2. Clean writing–if you consider submitting any of your writing to a contest of any length, please, please ensure you’ve ironed out the misspellings, verb agreements, and punctuation errors, just as if you were submitted to the all-holy editor/agent. Nothing pulls a reader out of a story like a misspelled word or misplaced punctuation.

3.  Simple, concise story conflict–there is limited space to explore your story with short fiction, even more microscopic space if it’s flash fiction. The story’s conflict must be diamond bright and polished–get that sucker down to a jeweled nugget–gives you more room to flesh your character and detail your setting.

4.  Don’t answer every reader question–keep a few nibbles out there, it gives us (the readers) something to ponder. Did the character mean to do/say that? What could possibly motivated them to make that decision? While the main story issues may be addressed, those little questions, those are the ones that stick with your reader and bring them back for more.

Now I turn to you, my lovely readers and followers, what makes short stories or flash fiction stick with you? What do you enjoy? What makes you want to scream in frustration if not done right?

HUNTED BY THE PAST joins Fall Into Fantasy Blog Hop #FIFG14 #giveaway #PNR

FIFG large

Ahhh…fall is in full swing which means it’s once again time for the Fall Into Fantasy Blog Hop (#FIFG14) from Oct. 17th-31st.

Join me and tons of great authors as we swing through the virtual world armed with great reads we’re giving away to lucky commenters. And I’m not limiting my giveaways to just one book. Oh no, first up, I’ll pick three individuals who leave us a book recommendation they found this year in the comments below (complete w/your email) a digital copy of HUNTED BY THE PAST, the first in my new paranormal romantic suspense series, PSY-IV Teams.

In case you missed our book tour last month, I give  you a small teaser, just to snag your curosity of what happens when a reluctant ex-military psychic is forced into a lethal game with the nightmare from her past and the man she just can’t forget.
Gunshot-HuntedAnd if that wasn’t enough to tempt you into this exciting hop, then maybe you’ll want to be the proud new owner of all three Kyn Kronicles (SHADOW’S EDGE, SHADOW’S SOUL, and SHADOW’S MOON) plus a plethora of fantastic swag going to one of our grand prize winners…

swag 1 funJust click here and enter the Rafflecopter giveaways and leave your book recommendation below (w/your email).

FALL INTO FANTASY BLOG HOP RAFFLECOPTERS

I’ll announce the three winners of HUNTED BY THE PAST on NOVEMBER 3rd on this post, so check back!

Nailing The Murder Scene with Sara Jayne Townsend #MIU #mystery

Today’s visitor is Sara Jayne Townsend, a mistress of suspense from MuseItUp Publishing. Her debut novel DEATH SCENE follows the adventures of actress and amateur sleuth, Shara Summers. Shara’s heart-pounding journey continues November 25th with the release of DEAD COOL

Death Scene 200x300                    Dead Cool 200x300

So what do you have to do to bring death and mayhem to life? Read on to find out…

A SENSE OF PLACE

By Sara Jayne Townsend

The crime fiction market is a crowded place indeed. It has many sub-genres, and its fans are avid and discerning readers. Which all make it rather difficult for a new author to break into this very established market. There are many, many outstanding writers in the field of crime fiction. How does an unknown find a place for herself amongst the footsteps of so many giants?

As a reader of crime myself, one of the things that always stands out for me is a strong sense of place. It’s not enough just to have a strong character, a victim, a motive, a method. None of these things are enough on their own if the location is not descriptive enough to be a background character all of its own. Many crime authors write about real-life places, with enough description to make the reader feel they know the place, even if they’ve never been there. I’ve never visited Chicago, but Sara Paretsky (my all-time favourite crime writer) brings it to life so well in her VI Warshawski series that I feel I actually know the place. Ian Rankin’s famous detective Rebus walks the streets of Edinburgh. The city of Amsterdam has been put on the map of late because of a number of Scandinavian crime writers, and even Dublin has become trendy in the world of crime fiction – with ‘Emerald Noir’ inspiring a generation of Irish detective inspectors.

Of course, if you’re going to create a convincing sense of place in your novels, you either have to do a lot of research or pick a place you’ve actually been to several times. I’m not a big fan of research but I’ve done a lot of travelling, and I decided I could use that.

My amateur sleuth Shara Summers became a Canadian in England because my own background is rooted in the two places. I am English, and live in England, but spent eight years of my life in Canada when my family emigrated there. I visit Toronto on a regular basis, and that is where Shara resides at the beginning of DEATH SCENE. New York City also has a cameo role in this novel – at the start of the story, my actress amateur sleuth is filming in Central Park. I love New York City and have visited many times. One such trip inspired me so much I went walking around Central Park drinking in the atmosphere and taking copious notes, so I could write a scene set there. The thing about Central Park is, you can do something like that and not look in the least out of place.

But most of the action in DEATH SCENE takes place in and around London, and the place where I have been living for the last twenty years. Many of the streets mentioned are real places. You can’t pinpoint any of the residences featured in the novel to an actual address, but I know where they all are. Most of the action in the second Shara Summers book, DEAD COOL, takes place in a hotel just off Tottenham Court Road. The hotel doesn’t actually exist, but I could take you into central London and point out the exact spot where that hotel stands.

My plan with the Shara series when I first conceived it was to take Shara all over the world in her adventures. I’ve travelled to many wonderful places, and I’d like to share them with readers through Shara. In fact, I might run out of murder victims before I run out of locations.

But more immediately, I do have plans to take Shara back to New York City in a future book. This is such an amazing place I feel I’m not done with it yet.

Much thanks to Sara Jayne for taking time to visit with us. Intrigued? Then go forth and pick up your copies of DEATH SCENE and DEAD COOL today!

Sara Townsend (25a)

Sara-Jayne Townsend is a UK-based writer of crime and horror. She was born in Cheshire in 1969, but spent most of the 1980s living in Canada after her family emigrated there. She now lives in Surrey with two cats and her guitarist husband Chris. She co-founded the T Party Writers’ Group in 1994, and remains Chair Person.

The first book in her amateur sleuth series about Canadian actress Shara Summers, DEATH SCENE, is now available, with the sequel, DEAD COOL, released on 25 November and available for pre-order. Visit the MuseItUp Publishing book store to buy both: http://museituppublishing.com/bookstore/index.php/our-authors/70-our-authors/authors-t/420-sara-jayne-townsend

You can learn more about Sara and her writing at her website at http://sarajaynetownsend.weebly.com or her blog at http://sayssara.wordpress.com.