seamus
Author Interview

6 Ws with Author Seamus Heffernan

Seamus Heffernan is the next Crooked Cat Books author to be featured in this series. This Canadian author’s debut novel, NAPALM HEARTS, launches April 24.

The novel’s main character is a successful American P.I. who is bored out of his mind spying on cheating spouses in his adopted city of London. Let’cover art hi-ress just say his next case will shake things up for him.

Here’s one thing Seamus says about writing: “Fiction is the natural extension of our need to share stories.” I like that.

Here are his responses to my 6Ws — who, what, when, where, how, and why. (How does end with a W.)

Who is Seamus Heffernan?

Well, I’ve been a lot of things in a lot of different places—high school teacher, policy wonk, freelance journalist, marketing/communications mercenary, speechwriter— but right now I work in politics and live in British Columbia, Canada, where I split my time between Abbotsford, Mission and Vancouver.

What does he write?

Crime fiction. My debut novel, NAPALM HEARTS, is a detective story about a successful but lonely American PI working in London, England. He works infidelity cases and while he’s making a good living, he’s bored as hell. He accepts a case from a wealthy client who wants him to find his much-younger and missing trophy wife. It’s set to be the first in an ongoing series.

When did he begin writing?

When I was a kid, my dad used to bring me to this used bookshop in my hometown of St. John’s, Newfoundland, where I became an obsessive reader of comic books and cheap paperbacks. That got me writing a lot, both in school and on my own, but so much of it was just dreck. In the back of my head, though, even as I got older, I always knew that this is what I wanted to do. I wanted to write cool stories and create characters people cared about. I wanted my book to someday be on that book shop’s shelf. Life kept getting in the way, like it always does if you let it, but the last couple of years I just dug in, stopped wasting time, and committed to it.

How does he write?

It’s like the gym: I carve out time and force myself to do it. I have a theory that a lot of writers actually hate the process. I’m lucky in that I like the writing part, especially when you get going and it all starts to click. But the whole getting started part… well, that’s always a lot trickier.

When I’m working, I will often have music on or play movies in the background, if only for the company and occasional distraction. Silence has always been off-putting to me, which comes as exactly zero surprise to any of my friends.

Where does he write?

In my living room or one specific corner of a local coffee shop. The baristas there have become very supportive of my alleged creative efforts, which I appreciate.

Why does he write?

This should be where I say something like “Oh, I write because I must” or “I simply have no choice, I’m an artist” but none of that’s true. I love the craft of writing, I love the world-building it demands, and I love the satisfaction of creating a story that just hums along while it draws people in. But I never really feel like I have to do this. I’m envious of those who have that kind of discipline and devotion, frankly.

It’s probably the most human thing about us, to share stories. We all do it, all the time. Oh man, my boss reamed me out today. Hey, did I ever tell you I was in a band in college? Listen, I’m doing this cleanse and I’m literally gonna die if I don’t get a burger. Watch anybody at a party, mingling. We swap tales to get to know each other.

Fiction is the natural extension of our need to share stories. That’s why I write. This thing where we make up stories and throw them out into the world is just this wonderful, precious thing we get to do. I’ve personally decided to use that gift to write trashy detective novels, but what the hell. We don’t all get to win a Nobel for Literature.

ABOUT NAPALM HEARTS:

Find the girl. Find the truth.

Thaddeus Grayle is a successful but bored American private investigator who has grown weary of snooping after the cheating spouses of his adopted city of London, England. Recently divorced and even more recently sober, he fills what little free time he has with movies, baseball and his own torrid affairs. He wants a change, and it finally arrives thanks to a wealthy businessman desperate to find his hard-partying wife—a young woman who might be in the biggest trouble of her life.

NAPALM HEARTS may be ordered here.

SEAMUS HEFFERNAN ON SOCIAL MEDIA:

Official Website

Facebook

Twitter

Instagram

Thanks for having me, Joan!

 

 

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Chasing the Case, New release

I Killed Off the Husband

Of course, the husband in this case belongs to Isabel Long, the protagonist in my new mystery, Chasing the Case. My own is alive and well, thank you.

But when I wrote this book, I made Isabel a widow. Her husband, Sam, had died of natural causes and not by anybody’s hand. Oh, why not?

Chasing the Case is written in the first person, so I will admit there is more than a little of me in Isabel. We’re both nosy smart asses. She and I live in a small, Chasing the Case cover copyrural town. I was a longtime journalist, and so was she. But she is an amateur P.I. and I’m not. I just get to write about one.

For those who might be wondering, I didn’t start this book thinking I would have a widow as my main character. Like so many other things, it just happened.

Isabel was happily married to Sam, a skilled woodworker who was kinda deaf from power tools. He was a nice guy and a good dancer.

For those who know me, Sam sounds a little bit like Hank, my real-life spouse. Well, as I’ve said before, you take what you know and have your way with it. Most of my adult fiction has a character who is a carpenter. I joke that in this one, I bumped him off. Hank didn’t mind.

Anyway, Isabel loved and grieved for Sam when he died — it was actually the start of her bad year. (The end to her long-time career as a journalist was also a part of that year.)

She chose to mourn him properly before deciding “to do something foolish,” as she says.

And that’s where the book starts. Besides giving a go at being a private investigator, Isabel gets interested in a man. I’m not going to spoil the story by telling you who, but I like the guy. I bet you will, too.

I also believe you will find the inscription Isabel chose to put on Sam’s gravestone amusing. But that’s too far into the book. I offer instead an excerpt about Sam from the first chapter. Here, Isabel is digging a grave in the back yard for a pet cat that loved Sam. It’s late October, but the town is getting hit with an unexpected early snow.

I dip the shovel into the hole and eyeball the depth. I figure I have at least a foot to go. I’ve reached a rocky patch, but if I need to, I’ll get the crowbar from the shed. That’s the way Sam would do it, so I follow his advice. The crowbar is hanging where he left it.

Sam was a master woodworker although he was too humble to say that about himself. Anyone who hired him to build a staircase or do finish work in their house always got more than their money’s worth. He did the same when he built this house.

His workshop was in the basement. I could hear him banging around down there, building something beautiful. I haven’t had the heart to do anything with his tools. Sometimes I take my coffee down there, especially the first months after he was gone, just like I used to when he was alive. I’d bring him a cup. He’d light up a cigarette, the only place in the house he smoked, and tell me what he was doing.

Yes, I miss him like hell.

We met in Boston, got married pretty fast, and started having kids. We moved to Conwell with the first, Matthew, because we wanted to raise him in the country, and then had two more close together. After taking a break to be with the kids when they were little, I started writing for the Daily Star as a correspondent, covering my town and the ones around it. I got paid, first by the inch, and then by the story. I used to be a reporter in Boston, not the Globe or Herald but something a lot smaller and now nonexistent – a victim of the big crash in 2008 and the rise of online news. At the Star, I went from correspondent to staff reporter to editor, and as I joke, clawed my way to the top, where I liked it until the paper got sold.

Sam and I made a good life here for our kids and us. He was a trustworthy guy, a little deaf from the power equipment and used to keeping things inside. But he was kind, hardworking, and a great dancer.

Yup, it still hurts.

THE NITTY GRITTY: Like what you read? Chasing the Case is available from Amazon. Here’s the link: http://mybook.to/chasingthecase 

You can pre-order the Kindle version, which has an official launch of May 18, or buy a paperback now. Thanks for your support.

By the way, if you’re on Facebook, join me for an online launch party that day, 2 p.m. Eastern Time Zone for online discussion and contests.

ABOUT THE IMAGE ABOVE: That’s an alleyway that leads to the Shelburne Falls Candlepin Bowling Alley in Western Massachusetts.

 

 

 

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Author Interview

6Ws with Author Joseph Lewis

Joseph Lewis is the latest author to be featured in this series. His fifth book, Caught in a Web, will be published April 26.

He’s a school administrator by day and a writer of thriller fiction at night — although there is that internal pre-writing when he is inspired wherever. An interesting Caught in a Webfact: unlike many author, he likes to write in a noisy setting.

I have read Joseph’s first four books. They may be of thriller fiction genre, but they also shed light on such horrible examples of human behavior as human trafficking.

Here are Joesph’s responses to my 6Ws — who, what, when, where, how, and why. (How does end with a W.)

Who is author Joseph Lewis?

I grew up in West Bend, Wisconsin, but for many reasons, I call Waukesha, Wisconsin my home. Waukesha also happens to be the setting for much of my writing. I have been in education for 41 years as a teacher, coach, counselor and now administrator. I am married to my wife, Kim, for 26 years (in July), and we have three children: Wil (deceased in July 2014), Hannah and Emily. We reside in Virginia.

What does he write?

I write thriller fiction, ranging from thriller/mystery, thriller/suspense, and psychological thriller. However, I have a budding idea for a young adult story that is knocking its way to the forefront, sort of pushing out some of the other story ideas wanting to come first.

When does he write?

Typically, I write after dinner for about two to three hours a night. I don’t like to write in solitude, so I write in the family room while Kim and the girls watch TV. Noise doesn’t bother me and I’m able to tune it out. There are times, however, when I will disappear into the downstairs family room, put on a TV show or movie and listen to it while I write. I like noise.

How does he write?

I use a laptop and write in Word. My routine is that I first edit the chapter I had worked on the night before. It serves two purposes: 1. I edit as I go along, and 2. Gets me in the mood and the atmosphere of the story so I can write the next chapter. Push play and repeat until the work is completed.

Why does he write?

It sounds cliché but honestly, I have to write. I do quite a bit of prewriting in my head throughout the day. Sometimes I will jot down an idea, a phrase, a character conversation to add to that evening’s work, but that happens rarely. I am constantly thinking about a character or two, some action, a setting and dialogue. Bottom line is that I have this need to write. I would compare it to a runner or weight lifter. They do it because they love it and feel sort of lost if they don’t. I approach writing the same way.

More: Give readers a brief description of your new book plus when it is available to buy and where, plus the publisher.

My fifth book, Caught in a Web, will be published April 26. It is currently available preorder from Black Rose Writing and can be ordered with a promo code for a discount. Use the promo code: PREORDER2018to receive a 10% discount at http://bit.ly/2GtdsXL

The book blurb is:

The bodies of high school and middle school kids are found dead from an overdose of heroin and fentanyl. The drug trade along the I-94 and I-43 corridors and the Milwaukee Metro area is controlled by MS-13, a violent gang originating from El Salvador. Ricardo Fuentes is sent from Chicago to Waukesha to find out who is cutting in on their business, shut it down and teach them a lesson. But he has an ulterior motive: find and kill a fifteen-year-old boy, George Tokay, who had killed his cousin the previous summer.

Detectives Jamie Graff, Pat O’Connor and Paul Eiselmann race to find the source of the drugs, shut down the ring, and find Fuentes before he kills anyone else, especially George or members of his family. The three detectives discover the ring has its roots in a high school among the students and staff.

Other works:

Book One of the Lives Trilogy, Stolen Lives:

Two thirteen-year-old boys are abducted off a safe suburban street. Kelliher and hisStolen Lives hi res team of FBI agents have 24 hours to find them or they will end up like the other
kids they found- dead! They have no leads, no clues, and nothing to go on. And, Kelliher suspects that one of his team members might be involved. http://tinyurl.com/Stolen-Lives-J-Lewis

Book Two of the Lives Trilogy, Shattered Lives:

Shattered Lives hi resThe FBI thought the boys were safe. They were until people began dying. Now the hunt is on for six dangerous and desperate men who vow revenge. No leads and nothing to go
on, the FBI can only sit back and wait. A dangerous game that threatens not only the boys, but their families. http://tinyurl.com/Shattered-Lives-J-Lewis

Book Three of the Lives Trilogy, Splintered Lives:

A 14 year old boy and his father face three dangerous and desperate men willing toSplintered Lives hi res make the ultimate sacrifice to save the rest of the family. http://tinyurl.com/Splintered-Lives-J-Lewis

The Lives Trilogy Prequel, Taking Lives:

FBI Agent Pete Kelliher and his partner search for the clues behind the bodies of six boys left in various and remote parts of the country. Even though they live in separate parts of the country, the lives of FBI Kelliher, 11 year old Brett McGovern, Taking Lives hi resand 11 year old George Tokay are separate pieces of a puzzle. The two boys become interwoven with the same thread that Pete Kelliher holds in his hand. The three of them are on a collision course and when that happens, their futures grow dark as each search for a way out. http://tinyurl.com/Taking-Lives-J-Lewis

Joseph Lewis on social media:

Twitter: @jrlewisauthor

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Joseph.Lewis.Author/

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Chasing the Case, Writing

How It Starts

Well, you have to start somewhere. That certainly includes writing a book. When I began Chasing the Case in fall 2016, I did what I always do: I started writing and kept at it.

Isabel Long, the mystery’s main character, tells the story, so the novel is written in first person. She introduces herself while she buries a dead cat in her back yard. And as it so often happens with a chore, her mind wanders toward her recent bad year — the deathcover2 copy blog of her husband and losing her job running a newspaper. She goes over her last day at the paper and how she swiped some folders of cold cases. At the time, she wasn’t sure what she was going to do with the info they contain. Now that she’s decided to investigate a 28-year-old missing person’s case, it will come in handy.

I tried to give the reader a first good look at Isabel. She’s smart and sassy. She won’t take crap from anybody. But she also cares. This helps her become a good private investigator — along with the transferable skills she had as a longtime journalist.

Before I continue, let me share a story. After I finished Chasing the Case in spring 2017, I pitched the novel to various agents and publishers. An editor at one small indie house that specializes in mysteries wrote back that I broke some cardinal rule by killing off a beloved pet — the cat Isabel is burying — never mind starting the book that way. I responded that writers are meant to break rules. No, I didn’t hear back. (And thanks to my publisher, Crooked Cat Books, for taking me on.)

Today I looked at a document with the barest of notes: “Set the scene. Isabel gets a part-time job at the Red Rooster. She is working one night or day when an old coot comes in. His daughter disappeared years ago. Cops flubbed the case, treating her as a missing person and not a criminal case. It is one of the cases Isabel stole from the newsroom.”

While it got me going, it’s not what I wrote a month later. The opener in that early draft is close to what appears in the book. I believe it’s a good start.

Below you will find a teaser to Chasing the Case. Here is a bit of the opening chapter called Dead Cat.

My name is Isabel Long. You may know of me, at least if you live in these parts. I was the managing editor of the local paper, the Daily Star, for almost fifteen years until the bastard who owned it sold out to a big chain. I shouldn’t really call him a bastard. He’s a decent enough guy. But he walked away from the newspaper that had been in his family for three generations with a couple of million bucks in his bank account, lucky him, and abandoned us to a corporation.

I remember the morning he called everyone into the pressroom to give the news. He claimed nothing would change. We had nothing to worry about. I turned to my assistant editor and muttered, “Open wide. You won’t feel a thing.”

I was right. He was wrong.

A month in, we were told by the publisher, who still had his job then, we all had to reapply for ours. He pulled us into his office one by one. Of course, these things are always done on a Friday. They don’t like ugly scenes in the middle of the workweek.

I sat across from George at his desk. I looked him in the eye. He had a hard time doing the same.

“Isabel, I hate to do this to you,” he said.

“Then don’t.”

“I know it’s been a bad year for you.”

“Tell me about it.”

“Please, Isabel, you’re not making this easy.”

“Why should I? I worked my tail off for this paper for thirty-one years, as a reporter then an editor. I ran the newsroom for the last fifteen. Now I’m getting the heave-ho.”

“No, you’re not. You just have to reapply.”

“So, what are the odds they’ll hire me back at what I get paid now?”

“Do you want me to be honest or lie?”

“What do you think?”

His head moved in a slow sideways roll.

“God’s honest truth, I haven’t a clue.”

“Be straight with me, George. What’ll happen if I don’t reapply?”

“You can kiss this job good-bye.”

That’s what I liked about George. Being an old Yankee, he never tried to make bad news sound good. I’m the same way although I grew up in the eastern part of the state, and unlike George, I may be a New Englander, but I’m not a Yankee. My grandparents came over on the boat from the Azores and Madeira islands. My last name before I got married was Ferreira. George’s folks were on the Mayflower or some other Yankee vessel. My folks fished and worked in sweatshops. His bled blue when they got a paper cut.

“What does that mean?” I said.

“You can collect unemployment for a while.”

“Any severance pay?”

He cleared his throat.

“I believe there’d be a, uh, modest payment considering your length of service here.”

“Enough to buy new shoes?”

“Depends on where you buy them.”

“I am guessing more like Payless than Versace.”

George’s head was rolling still. He knew my humor by now.

“No, not Versace but a lot better than Payless.”

I thought it over. If Sam, my husband, were still alive, we would’ve talked it over that night. But he’s part of my bad year, the start of it really. He died in his favorite chair while watching a basketball game on TV. That was November 8, twelve days from today. No one suspected the skinny guy would go from a heart attack. I couldn’t do anything to get him back when I found him. Too bad. He’s one of the good ones. I miss him like hell.

I was too ticked off to accept the deal.

“Tell them I said no.”

“You sure?”

“Have you ever known me not to be sure?”

He smiled one of those smiles that leak sadness from inside.

“Okay, go see the ladies in the office. Consider this your last day.”

“So soon, eh? I get it. They don’t want me poisoning the pool. Let me get my stuff, and I’ll be out of your hair.”

“Uh.”

“What is it now?”

“I have to go with you to your office when you do it.”

“They’re afraid I’ll take some pencils and a pica pole? Jesus, I’m glad I’m not gonna work here anymore.”

George frowned. “I know.”

Later, George tried not to make me look too criminal when he accompanied me to my office. He sat in my chair while I went through the drawers and shelves. I already had a box I snagged from the pressroom when the HR director thought I went to the women’s room. As I took what belonged to me, I kept getting interrupted by my staff, who said nice things and even hugged me, all for the first time. I liked things to be at a professional distance. No drinks after work with the underlings or anything like that. But I was touched they wanted to say good-bye. I was a decent boss. I treated my staff fairly, and they knew I had their back. I was the mother wolf of the newsroom. No one touched my pups.

I wasn’t about to ask any of them if they would be reapplying for their jobs. I bet the ones with young families and college debt would, but I didn’t want to know. And I didn’t want them to think I’m the only one with convictions.

I made cleaning out my desk seem as boring as possible. I wanted George to lose interest in what I was doing. I already stashed the photos of Sam, our daughter and two sons, and our granddaughter who was born in May, the only happy thing that happened so far this year. I had some desk art, silly stuff like pinecones, shells, and a jar of sea glass. I’m nuts about stuff like that. There wasn’t much in the drawers I wanted to take home: my lunch bag, thermos, and purse. I’m not a hoarder. I opened each drawer, gave their contents a quick assessment, and then let them slide shut. I didn’t even take a pencil or pad although I should’ve out of spite.

George woke up a little when I removed a couple of manila folders from the bottom drawer.

“What’s that?”

“Clippings. I’m gonna have to get a new job sometime.”

He nodded. I was pleased he believed me. He wouldn’t want what was in those folders to leave the newsroom. They were for cold cases like the one that happened twenty-eight years ago in Conwell, the hilltown in Western Massachusetts where I live. A woman, Adela Collins, disappeared, and the cops were too incompetent to figure out what happened to her. I shoved the folders in the box.

That happened four months ago. I can’t even read the Star and what the new owners have done with it. At least, I don’t think about the paper all the time or get pissed off about it, just some of the time, like right now while I bury this cat.

NOTE: If you like what you’ve read, here is the universal link to Amazon: http://mybook.to/chasingthecase

You can pre-order the Kindle version, which will pop into your computer, tablet etc. on May 18. For those who prefer a copy in hand, the paperback is available.

I appreciate those who have ordered a copy. Thanks for your support. I hope you enjoy what you read.

ABOUT THE PHOTO ABOVE: The Bridge of Flowers in Shelburne Falls opened a few days ago. The first blossoms are crocuses and such. I couldn’t help walking the bridge. That, too, was another start.

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Bea Fishback
Author Interview, Crooked Cat Books

6 Ws with Author Beatrice Fishback

Beatrice Fishback is the next Crooked Cat Books author to be featured in this series.

She writes in three genres: inspirational historic romances; cozy mysteries, and contemporary romance novellas. Currently, she is working on a sequel to Dying to Eat at the Pub and also the third in her historic romance series Bethel Manor published 51p2vcidkvL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_by Crooked Cat Publishers.

Here are Bea’s responses to my 6Ws — who, what, when, where, how, and why. (How does end with a W.)

Who is author Beatrice Fishback?

I was born and raised in upstate New York with six siblings, so I absolutely love NY pizza, bagels and sub sandwiches—those foot long things that kind of resemble submarines. My father was a professional firefighter and my mother a registered nurse. Although my dad served in WWII, was wounded three times and received the Purple Heart for bravery, he left the Army before my parents married and I grew up around my extended family.

So when I became the wife of a military man, who took me around the world for twenty years, I had no idea what that lifestyle would be like. During several stateside, and three overseas assignments—Saudi Arabia, Korea and England—we raised our two children and our family developed a totally different worldview than I had grown up with. It was after my husband retired from the Army and we began a new season of life that I discovered my love of writing.

With fictional characters set in places where we have lived in England, my heart’s desire has been that those who have not had the privilege to travel will enjoy some of these areas we have loved. I would add, we proudly boast about our two grown children and two grandchildren and currently we live in North Carolina.

What does she write?

I have three genres, but I began my journey of writing by submitting inspirational articles and stories in compilations. Doing those smaller endeavors was a great way to get my feet wet and learn the craft before jumping into the deep end of writing full length novels. The three genres are inspirational historic romances, cozy 41o9mquN0xL._SX311_BO1,204,203,200_mysteries, and several contemporary romance novellas. If truth be told, my cozy mystery Dying to Eat at the Pub set in the small English village where we lived, is probably the one I had the most fun writing.

How does she write?

Initially, as a newbie writer I would get a thought and immediately compose a sentence that would hopefully bloom into either a short story or devotional. When I began to write novels and novellas I quickly learned I was a pantser, writing by the seat of my pants, and not a planner of details. But I wish I could be more of a planner as I have several ideas for books I haven’t finished because I don’t know where the characters are going to end up.

Where does she write?

I’m a moving target with my laptop and need a variety of settings to stimulate creative juices. I can be found at a coffee shop, library or café and very rarely sit at a desk to work. If I’m at home, the kitchen table is my go to spot.

Why does she write?

I have always loved to read, especially cozy mysteries and as a pre-teen historic romances set in England so the natural draw to those two genres makes perfect sense. However, I enjoy writing the most when words I have penned touch a heartstring in a reader. What a powerful tool to be able to take someone else into another world for a moment in time with your characters. It is a privilege and honor to write for that reason alone.

More: I am working on the sequel to Dying to Eat at the Pub and also the third in my historic romance series Bethel Manor published by Crooked Cat Publishers.

Other works: You can find other titles by clicking the Amazon link below.

Beatrice Fishback on social media:

Facebook: www.facebook.com/Beasattitudes

Website: www.beasattitudes.net

Amazon link: http://amzn.to/2ednlcJ

 

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