SUZANNE BAGINSKIE — Retired Paralegal Authors a Romantic Suspense Series During Covid-19

Suzanne Baginskie recently retired after twenty-nine years as a paralegal/office manager with the same law firm. Formerly a short story writer, she has written and sold many fiction and non-fiction stories. During Covid-19 in 2021, she authored her first book, Dangerous Charade, submitted it to a traditional publisher, and was offered a five-book contract to write a series. Her FBI Affairs novels blend mystery and suspense with a bit of romance. Suzanne has been writing ever since her mother gave her a diary for her eighth birthday. Unknowingly, her mother’s inspirational nudge helped the writer inside her emerge.

Dangerous Charade begins when an undercover mission in a Las Vegas Casino goes wrong. FBI Agent Noelle Farrell’s cover is blown, and someone wants revenge. She’s sent to Florida under the Witness Protection Program, where she runs into her old partner, Agent Kyle Rivers. He’s assigned to keep her safe. Deep in hiding, someone targets Noelle. Kyle vows to protect her, unaware she has a secret—one her assailants already know.

How long did it take you to write your first book? Six months during Covid-19, and here’s why. I entered a Harlequin contest advertised for romantic suspense novels with a six-month deadline. They asked for the blurb, a synopsis, and three chapters. My submission was chosen, and the novel had to be finished in the required time. After working at a law firm, I worked well under pressure. When I sent the completed manuscript in, my book made the final ten but didn’t win. Two months later, a new traditional publisher advertised for romance manuscripts. I submitted Dangerous Charade. Shortly after, I signed a contract for a series. Each book can be read as a standalone.

How do you come up with character names? I use three different ways. Sometimes, I search for the first name in an old baby name book, which shows the meanings, origins, and derivations. My surnames are borrowed from the daily obituary page. I also used the telephone book’s white pages before they became obsolete. At times, I feature one of my friends or family’s names, first or last. Then I see if they mention it after they read the book. It’s one way to see if they really read them.

We hear of strong-willed characters. Do yours behave or run wild? I write high-profile female characters who work alongside their macho FBI male partners in the Cybercrime, Human Trafficking, and Homicide Division of the FBI. The circumstances they face are basically the same for both sexes when working on a mission alone or with a partner. Therefore, my female agents harbor the qualities of critical thinking, good communication, make dire decisions in dangerous situations, and are brave enough to risk their lives to bring down the perps in a run wild way. All the titles of my book begin with Dangerous.

Where do you place your settings—real or fictional locations? I set my novels in real towns. Analytical, I tend to research so I can use the correct interstates they’d travel and some highlights of the city to add to the ambiance. I also like inserting the weather because it may play a role in my books. My first novel is set in the small fishing town of Crystal Springs, Florida, the second in Allentown and the mountains of Pennsylvania, and the third in Daytona Beach, Florida. My continuing FBI theme of Cybercrime, Human Trafficking, and Homicide is based on the Orlando area. It ranks third in the nation for the highest human trafficking crimes.

Looking to the future, what’s in store for you? I’m writing my next book, Dangerous Undercurrents, Book Four in my FBI Affair

s series, and I hope to have it completed very shortly. I’m a frequent cruiser and a Thalassophile (a lover of the ocean.) This book will take my FBI characters off dry land and have them board a cruise ship without any weapons to solve an undercover mission on a seven-day cruising adventure.

Book Link: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B09JPCX2CX
Website: http://www.suzanne.baginskie.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sbaginskie
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14062235.SuzanneBaginskie
Twitter: https://twitter.com/SBaginskie

Groups I belong to:

Mystery Writers of America
Florida Mystery Writers of America
Romance Writers of America
Florida Writers Association
Sisters-in-Crime
Florida Gulf Coast Sisters-in-Crime

6 Comments

  1. Pamela Ruth Meyer

    It sounds like you jumped from the legal-world’s frying pan right into the writing-world’s flame, Suzanne. What a rollercoaster! Doesn’t your hurried tightrope new life fit perfectly with the breathless pursuits of your protagonist? Best of Luck with the series and enjoy the ride!

    Reply
    • Suzanne Baginskie

      Pamela,

      Actually. I wrote and sold lots of short fiction and non-fiction stories for years. Like other writers my dream was a novel with my name on the cover. I learned that you totally have to invest all your time and effort to achieve it. In the end, my goal was accomplished while stuck at home with the unknown Covid-19 virus. Thanks for commenting.

      Reply
  2. Michael A. Black

    It sounds like you’re on a roll, Suzanne. Best of luck keeping those dangerous books flowing.

    Reply
    • Suzanne Baginskie

      Michael. Thanks for the good wishes. George so graciously hosted me and helped me get the word out on my series. I appreciate you taking the time to read my post. Have a good Memorial day.

      Reply
  3. Glenda Carroll

    Suzanne, your books sound fascinating. I can’t wait to read them. Especially the one set in Allentown, PA. My parents are from that region, Wilkes-Barre and Kingston. I learned to swim at Harvey’s Lake!

    And George, thank you for all you do for the mystery community, both the readers and the writers!

    Reply
    • Suzanne Baginskie

      Glenda,

      Thanks for your comment and interest. I’m originally from New Jersey and my dad was from Scranton PA. I hope you enjoy my books and have a good Memorial Day.

      Reply

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GIGI PANDIAN – USA Today Bestselling and Award-winning Author

Gigi Pandian is a USA Today bestselling and award-winning mystery author, breast cancer survivor, and locked-room mystery enthusiast. The child of cultural anthropologists from New Mexico and the southern tip of India, she spent her childhood being dragged around the world on their research trips and now lives in northern California. She’s been awarded Agatha, Anthony, Lefty, and Derringer awards and has been a finalist for the Edgar. She writes the Secret Staircase mysteries, Accidental Alchemist mysteries, and Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt mysteries.

The Raven Thief: A locked-room mystery Publishers Weekly called a “brilliant homage to classic golden age authors” in a starred review.

One murder. Four impossibilities. A fake séance hides a very real crime. Secret Staircase Construction just finished their first project with Tempest Raj officially a part of the team―a classic mystery novel-themed home interior. Their client is now ready to celebrate her new life without her cheating ex-husband, famous mystery author Corbin Colt. First up, a party, and Tempest and Grandpa Ash are invited to the exclusive mock séance to remove any trace of Corbin from the property―for good. It’s all lighthearted fun until Corbin’s dead body crashes the party. The only possible suspects are the eight people around the séance table―a circle of clasped hands that wasn’t broken. Suspicion quickly falls on Grandpa Ash, the only one with actual blood on him. To prove her beloved grandfather’s innocence, Tempest must figure out what really happened―and how―or Ash will be cooking his delectable Indian and Scottish creations nevermore.

Do you write in more than one genre?  Everything I write is a lighthearted mystery (nothing dark or gritty), but I write in overlapping mystery subgenres. My Jaya Jones novels are adventure cozies, my Accidental Alchemist Mysteries are paranormal, and my new Secret Staircase Mysteries are locked-room mysteries.

Where do you write?  I used to be a café writer, but during the pandemic, I carved out a beautiful, yet tiny, space in my house, with bay windows next to my desk.

What, if any, distractions do you allow? I listen to rain sounds while writing, which is a wonderful vibe for ambient noise. My husband and I both work from home, so we set up our home offices at the far ends of the house so we wouldn’t distract each other! If our doors are closed, we send a text message to each other to see if we’re interruptible (my “door” is a curtain). If the door is open, we’re not doing deep work and can talk to each other.

What are you currently working on? I’m alternating between revisions for the third Secret Staircase Mystery and writing the next Accidental Alchemist Mystery.

How long did it take you to write your first book? I started writing as a hobby in 2001. It was only when I discovered National Novel Month five years later that I finally finished writing a whole draft. I was so excited that I sent it to the Malice Domestic grants competition for unpublished traditional mystery writers, and I was so surprised to win that year’s grant! That’s what got me to take my writing seriously. I joined Sisters in Crime, found a local writing community, and took workshops to learn how to make the book good. That took another two years.

Do you outline, or are you a pantser? An outline is my security blanket! But as soon as I begin writing, my characters take over, and my outline goes out the window.

Where do you place your settings—real or fictional locations?

I always start with real places and real history, then branch off into fiction. My Secret Staircase Mysteries are set in the fictional small town of Hidden Creek, California, which is quite similar to my town on a hillside in the San Francisco Bay Area, but with lots more freedom to create whatever I need for the story to work.

What kind of research do you do? As much as the Internet can be helpful, the most inspiring bits of information usually comes from tangible experiences, such as visiting a location or finding an old book in the library. I have dozens of paper notebooks filled with notes.

What is your favorite novel? My favorite book is Borrower of the Night by Elizabeth Peters, a perfect mix of mystery, romance, humor, and adventure. I discovered it at the perfect time, as a teenager, and it’s the book that made me want to be a writer.

Favorite movie? Romancing the Stone.

Looking to the future, what’s in store for you? I have so many books and stories I want to write! The challenge is carving out time to write them.

Do you have any advice for new writers? Don’t compare your journey to anyone else’s.

How do our readers contact you?

My website, where you can send me a note or sign up for my email newsletter, which comes with my free Edgar-nominated short story “The Locked Room Library” — www.gigipandian.com
My books — www.gigipandian.com/books
Amazon — amazon.com/author/gigipandian

17 Comments

  1. Thonie Hevron

    I’ve seen Gigi’s name as an active member of the San Francisco Bay Area writers’ community. This is the first time I’ve taken to read an interview. Thank you, George, for introducing us all to this remarkable author. I will be buying and reading books by Gigi Pandian!

    Reply
  2. Donnell Ann Bell

    Gigi, such a delight to read about your process. Thanks, George for hosting her!

    Reply
  3. Pamela Meyer

    Thanks George and Gigi, for this deeper look. I’m reading and loving the Raven Thief right now. I must say, Gigi, I’d need to ‘close my door’ sometimes too if I were writing two series (or is it three?) at the same time. How do you keep it all straight?

    Reply
    • Gigi Pandian

      George, thank you again so much for hosting me! And thanks to everyone who stopped by!

      Reply
    • Gigi Pandian

      So happy to hear you’re enjoying the book, Pamela. I only work on one book at a time! Once I hand over a draft to my critique partners or editor, THEN I can switch.

      Reply
  4. Arthur Vidro

    This is an old-fashioned success story — Gigi has talent but also works super-hard on her stories and puts all the necessary blood, sweat, and tears into her writing and rewriting. She’s earned her success. She takes the time to make her writing as good as it can be. And the results speak for themselves.

    Reply
    • Gigi Pandian

      Thank you so much, Arthur. I’m lucky that my family is very understanding when I disappear behind my office curtain to write 🙂

      Reply
  5. Malena E.

    I’m a big fan of Gigi’s work and can’t wait to read The Raven Thief. Loved the first locked-room mystery novel so much. All of Gigi’s series are full of great plots, locations and characters. Can’t go wrong. Glad to hear there is another Tempest Raj book in the works.

    Reply
    • Gigi Pandian

      Thank you so much, Malena! Now that Book 3 was accepted by my editor, I’m working on Book 4 🙂

      Reply
  6. Heather Haven

    Gigi is a long-time favorite. She’s a lovely person and a wonderful writer. I love the Accidental Alchemist series.

    Reply
    • Gigi Pandian

      Thank you, Heather! Dorian refuses to stick to my outline for the next Accidental Alchemist novel, so he’s derailing my revisions–but I’m still having fun 🙂

      Reply
  7. Margaret Mizushima

    Congratulations on your success, Gigi! So glad you carved out a space of your own to write in. It’s important! Looking forward to reading The Raven Thief!

    Reply
    • Gigi Pandian

      Thank you, Margaret! My office is a MESS right now as I’m surrounded by research notes, so I’ll have to clean it as soon as I hand this off to my editor.

      Reply
  8. Alec Peche

    I’m listening to Under Lock and Skeleton Key (thanks to Chirp) at the moment. I’ve listened to 52% of the book and haven’t figured out who the murderer is. In fact, I don’t have a suspect yet, lol. Looking forward to the second book in this series.

    Reply
    • Gigi Pandian

      Oooh, I’m glad my misdirection is working. Glad you’re enjoying the audiobook!

      Reply
  9. Michael A. Black

    The story your writing is inspirational. You sound like you’re on the way to becoming a new Agatha Christie. Congratulations on your success and best of luck to you.

    Reply
    • Gigi Pandian

      Thank you so much, Michael. I couldn’t dream of becoming Christie, but I’m having a lot of fun continuing to read books from the Golden Age of detective fiction and writing my own spin on the genre.

      Reply

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CLAUDIA RIESS – Art Historian and Mystery Author

Claudia Riess is the author of seven novels, four of which form her art history mystery series published by Level Best Books. She has worked in the editorial departments of The New Yorker and Holt, Rinehart and Winston and has edited several art history monographs. Stolen Light, the first book in her series, was chosen by Vassar’s Latin American history professor for distribution to the college’s people-to-people trips to Cuba.

To Kingdom Come, the fourth and most recent will be added to the syllabus of a survey course on West and Central African Art at the University of Cincinnati. Claudia has written a number of articles for Mystery Readers Journal, Women’s National Book Association, and Mystery Scene magazine. At present, she’s consulting with her protagonists about a questionable plot twist in Chapter 9 of the duo’s murder investigation unfolding in book 5; working title: Dreaming of Monet, scheduled for release in winter 2023.

To Kingdom Come, released May 31, 2022 – Amateur sleuths Erika Shawn, an art magazine editor, and Harrison Wheatley, an art history professor, are caught up in a multiple murder case involving the repatriation of African art seized during the colonial era. The story alternates between present-day events and those described in a journal penned in the late 1890s. Much of the action takes place in London, the scene of the crimes and quest for redemption.

The backstory to an art mystery series – My introduction to the art world came at a very early age and was as much a part of the natural course of events as learning to read and being read to—Winnie the Pooh, Mary Poppins, Alice in Wonderland—and being told laugh-out-loud stories, ad-libbed by my father, about a little girl named Jeanie, clearly my alias, and her adventures with her anonymous daddy, clearly my own. And like bedtime stories, my introduction to art—my association with art—was, and is, bound up with family, with adventure, with safe harbor. It began with outings to museums. We lived in Brooklyn, and a few great ones were a short subway or car ride away: The Metropolitan, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Frick. And typically, these outings were followed by take-out Chinese food and talks around the kitchen table about what we had seen that day. We debated about which painter’s perspective best described the real world and what the real world really was. Color and light? Shape and dimension? And what about imagination? Created imagery? Inner reality that distorted the exterior world? Talks of the relative nature of beauty and truth were woven into these conversations, and all the while, we were savoring our chicken chow mein and fried rice with lobster sauce.

Because of my background, for a good many years, my idea of the art world was a romanticized one. It was not until later in life, after I’d written a couple of rom-com-like novels and murder mysteries, did I consider writing an art suspense novel. By then, I’d learned a lot more about the art world: About how the price of art is virtually uncontrolled, dependent on the whims of collectors and dealers and the transient tastes and fads of the times. And on the seamier side: art was ransomed, forged, used to launder money, stolen, and sold on the black market. That the art world is, in fact, a world in which the most sublime of human instincts collide with its basest. What a great amalgam for fiction!

So I began to write my art mystery series. I’m a stickler for historical accuracy, so I take off from it, filling in the gaps with events that conform to its character and, therefore, might have been. Then, in a butterfly-effect maneuver, I fast-forward to the present and drop a pair of resourceful lovers (I’m an incurable romantic) into the challenging set of circumstances that have evolved—multiple murders included—and see if the sleuthing duo can sort it out. For instance, in Knight Light, the third in the series, my inspiration came from two quotes. From the painter Marcel Duchamp: “Not all artists are chess players, but all chess players are artists.” And from World Chess Champion Alexander Alekhine: “Chess for me is not a game, but an art.” Interesting! From there, I discovered that the two had actually been teammates on the French chess team in the 1933 Chess Olympiad and, furthermore, that Alekhine’s death in 1946 has been considered a cold case to this day. My fiction took off from there, integrated with the facts.

Although To Kingdom Come, the fourth and most recent book in the series, is basically structured on the same criteria as the three books before it, it’s the first one inspired not by a subject I was at least moderately in the know about, but by one that I was essentially unfamiliar with, that is, the Benin Bronzes. I knew that they existed, yes. I had seen several of these amazing works on exhibit. But it was not until I, by chance, came across a news article about African agents in the fields of the arts and government pressing for their return that I was minimally clued in. I wanted to learn more. Although not my only source, Dan Hicks’s The Brutish Museums: The Benin Bronzes, Colonial Violence, and Cultural Restitution was the main one, and the line that most made my blood boil and led me to writing To Kingdom Come is this: “The sacking of Benin City in 1897 was an attack on human life, on culture, on belief, on art, and sovereignty.”

It took a while to drum up the courage to write the book. I took notes, made outlines, and procrastinated. I was afraid of being accused of either exploiting or trivializing the subject, especially in these understandably sensitive times, when writers engaged in the intimacy of fiction are apt to be criticized for stepping outside their lanes—of race, religion, social status, cultural heritage.

I asked myself how I’d feel if the tables were turned if a fiction writer for whom the Holocaust is not directly related to their history—part of who they are—were to create a story in which the Holocaust is a pivotal plot point. I answered that provided they’re mindful of the sensibilities of others, it’s fine—welcome, really.

Anyway, as fellow humans, aren’t our histories from a broader perspective integrated, the divisions of “otherness” blurred? In the end, I decided it’s possible to preserve the sanctity of a group’s heritage without its becoming sacrosanct. We buy travel guides, visit foreign lands, read history books and memoirs, and write fiction. Why else, if not to reach beyond our own frontiers in the hope of understanding what to others is familiar ground?

Organizations of which Riess is a member:
Sisters in Crime (SinC)
National Association of Independent Writers and Editors (NAIWE)
Women’s National Book Association (WNBA)
Historical Novel Society

Contact links:
Website: claudiariessbooks.com
Twitter: @ClaudiaRiess
Instagram: @claudiariessbooks
Pinterest: claudiariessbooks
Email: claudiariess.w@gmail.com

Amazon Link: Amazon.com: To Kingdom Come: An Art History Mystery: 9781685121105: Riess, Claudia: Books

10 Comments

  1. John G. Bluck

    Claudia, I’m impressed by your story of how you formulated the ideas for your books. Your vivid description of your process made me picture you writing your books. I’ve dabbled in many things and hobbies, among them artwork and photography. I look forward to reading your novels. Cheers.

    Reply
  2. Marie Sutro

    Love the part about drumming up the courage!

    Reply
    • Claudia

      Thanks, Marie.
      This one took a lot more courage than my previous novels. Mostly because I was basically heading into the unknown on a very current and sensitive subject,

      Reply
  3. Karen A Phillips

    Very fun post! I love how, as a writer, research for a novel can take you down unexpected paths and you learn so much in the process.

    Reply
    • Claudia

      Thanks, Karen! Yes, I’ve learned a lot of things about the external world in the process of writing mysteries pivoting on historical events or individuals. And in going down those “unexpected paths” you speak of, I’ve learned a lot about myself, too.

      Reply
  4. Michael A. Black

    I think it’s fabulous that you’re able to integrate the works of art into your writing. Your description of your family discussion after visiting the museum brought back a memory of mine of the thrill of seeing the paintings of Renoir and Monet for the first time at the Art Institute. Good luck with your new book.

    Reply
    • Claudia

      Thanks for your thoughtful comments, Michael. Glad my discussion elicited that wonderful memory!

      Reply
  5. Marcia Rosen

    I’ve read this book and it’s a wonderful story, beautifully written.

    Reply
    • Claudia

      Thank you, Marcia!

      Reply
  6. Claudia

    Thank you for having me as a guest, George. Much appreciated!

    Reply

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GLENN QUIGLEY – Irish Author and Artist

Glenn Quigley is an author and artist originally from Tallaght in Dublin, Ireland, and now living in Lisburn, Northern Ireland, with his partner of many years. His first novel, The Moth and Moon, was published in 2018. When not writing, he paints portraits in watercolours and tweets too many photos of lighthouses. He maintains a website of his latest work at www.glennquigley.com.

The Knights of Blackrabbit book one: These Young Wolves  – Spinning off from the Moth and Moon trilogy, THE KNIGHTS OF BLACKABBIT book one: THESE YOUNG WOLVES sees burly former crime lord Vince Knight returning to Port Knot to take command of the Night Watch—the very people who spent a good deal of time trying to imprison him. Under the scrutiny of the island’s ruling council, a distrusting local population, and a certain dashing captain, Vince must battle against the criminals he used to lead.

The Knights of Blackrabbit book one: These Young Wolves was released on 20th December 2022 from Ninestar Press. www.ninestarpress.com

The Great Santa Showdown It’s two weeks before Christmas, and the official Santa Claus of the small town of Yuleboro is retiring. Bookstore owner Gregory and tree farmer John will have to battle through a tournament designed to test the skills of any would-be Kris Kringles. As they go head to head in the town’s first-ever Great Santa Showdown, will it be more than just the competition that heats up?

The Great Santa Showdown is available from JMS Books: https://www.jms-books.com/glenn-quigley-c-224_559/the-great-santa-showdown-p-4550.html

You can find my other published works on my Amazon page: https://viewauthor.at/glenquigley.

Do you write in more than one genre? I tend to write Historical Fiction* for my novels and contemporary for my short stories. That said, I am currently working on a contemporary novel.

(*Technically, as they’re set in an alt-history, my novels are Historical Fantasy, but that makes it sound like a world of “knights, wizards, and dragons” instead of “everyone is treated equally, regardless of race, gender, or sexual orientation.”)

Where do you write? What, if any, distractions do you allow? I write in my spare bedroom/study with the door closed. I cannot have any other sounds except for the white noise of a howling thunderstorm and crackling fire that I found on Youtube. I started listening to it when writing the storm scene in my first novel, The Moth and Moon and found it really helps me concentrate. I can’t listen to music or TV as I can’t have any other voices or competing narratives playing while I’m writing.

We hear of strong-willed characters. Do yours behave or run wild? They mostly behave themselves though if one character pushes to the front of my mind, they tend not to shut up until I’ve written their story. Very occasionally, one character will refuse to do what I want and insist on doing things their own way. For example, Lady Eva Wolfe-Chase was a side character in The Moth and Moon, but she insisted on becoming central to the plot of the follow-up novel, The Lion Lies Waiting. Sometimes, you’ve got to get out of a character’s way and let them have their turn in the spotlight.

Do you have subplots? If so, how do you weave them into the novel’s arc? Absolutely. Subplots are essential to my work. They flesh out side characters and help build a world. In my Moth and Moon series, the setting is a little village on a remote island. Subplots help to establish the world and convince the reader that this is a living, breathing place. Sometimes the subplots tie directly into the main plot, sometimes, they’re there to justify a side character’s actions later in the story, and sometimes they add some flavour or shift the tone a little.

Do you base any of your characters on real people? In a way. I often cast actors in the roles of my characters, especially during a first draft. This helps to solidify them in my mind and gives me something to build from. Usually, by the time the story is finished, they’ve evolved and grown into their own thing. I have a character in my upcoming novel, The Knights of Blackrabbit, book one: These Young Wolves, who was inspired by the late actor James Robertson Justice. I took his on-screen persona (big, blustering, and physically intimidating) and applied it to the character of Captain James Godgrave. This was an enormous help in getting that character off the ground, so to speak. It was a foundation on which I could build. Similarly, in my new short story, The Great Santa Showdown, I cast two of my favourite Hallmark movie actors in the lead roles.

I’ve yet to consciously base a character on anyone I know personally, though reading back, I can spot some friends and family popping up in certain aspects. It’s funny how that happens without me being conscious of it at the time.

Do you outline, or are you a pantser? For The Great Santa Showdown, I had a rough idea for the plot first (a small town holding a competition to pick their new Santa Claus), but mostly I tend to start with an image or line of dialogue and build on that. Once I’ve got a sense of the story, I’ll work out a character arc (a story circle). This usually gives me enough sense of what the plot will need to be for the arc to make sense. So, I’m a little bit of both, I think.

What kind of research do you do? My novels are set in an alternate 18th century, so I have a lot of leeway when it comes to historical accuracy, but I still try to stick as close as I can to actual history. This tends to be less about world events and more about clothing/architecture/day-to-day life. I read a lot about small towns, fishing villages, boats, and clothing of the era. A lot of research is done online, which can be time-consuming as I have to check the sources on many things. The main character of The Moth and Moon trilogy, Robin Shipp, sails a Cornish lugger (a traditional fishing boat), and I read two books written by someone who sailed a similar boat in the late 20th century just to try and pick up some little details that I could use. I’ve also got a dictionary of Regency-era slang words, which is a fun read!

Where do you place your settings—real or fictional locations? Fictional. I created a group of islands off the coast of Cornwall called the Pell Isles, and that’s where The Moth and Moon trilogy and its spin-off, The Knights of Blackrabbit series, are set. I find there’s much more freedom in a fictional location and a lot to keep track of. I have maps made of Merryapple (the island setting for The Moth and Moon) and Port Knot (the town where The Knights of Blackrabbit is set) to help keep things straight. For The Great Santa Showdown, I created the small, All-American town of Yuleboro and gave it lots of Christmas-themed street names, which I loved doing. Some of the best fun in writing comes from making up places you’d love to visit and making up people you’d love to meet there.

                                

Where to find me online:
Facebook: www.facebook.com/glennquigleyauthor
Twitter: @glennquigley
Instagram: @glennquigleyauthor
Mastodon: @glennquigley@mastodon.online
Website: www.glennquigley.com

Other works by the author:
The Moth and Moon
The Lion Lies Waiting
We Cry the Sea
Use as Wallpaper
The Great Santa Showdown

2 Comments

  1. Michael A. Black

    It sounds like an interesting concept writing historicals set in an alternate universe. Do you use a big printed template to keep things straight or is it all in your head? Best of luck to you.

    Reply
    • Glenn Quigley

      Thanks, Michael! I have a master timeline of all events mentioned, and that gets updated with each new story. Aside from that, I’ve got some notes about the technology used (it’s mostly clockwork stuff) so that I can drop those into the stories to maintain a sort of continuity. I try to steer as close to real world history as I can, for the same of simplicity.

      Reply

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JAMIE COLLINS – The Journey from The View to Stilettos

Jamie Collins’ binge-worthy Secrets and Stilettos series is about four high-profile women who are hired to co-anchor a daytime talk show. Collins infuses her books with grit, sizzle, and heat reminiscent of the talented writers (Jackie Collins, Sidney Sheldon, and Olivia Goldsmith) on which she cut her writing chops, reading and emulating their iconic styles. As a former model/actress, Collins’ stilettos have been everywhere, from nightclubs in Japan to the Playboy mansion to dinner with a Sinatra. Her aim is to delight and entertain readers of women’s fiction everywhere.

Blonde Up! is the fast-paced first book in this fun, drama-filled series. Casey Singer is determined to shine bright… but keeps getting in her own way. Can she grasp fame before her star burns out? If you like off-the-hook heroines, searches for identity, and global adventures, then you’ll love Jamie Collins’ wild ride.

Start with the prequel, Sign On!, which is available for free download on Collins’ author website at https://www.jamiecollinsauthor.com/free-book-offer.

Collins is currently working on Pretty Sensation! which is the first book in the spin-off Show Series, slated for release this summer.

What brought you to writing? I have always wanted to be an author. Even as a child, I would write stories and poems and keep countless journals. I pursued a degree in creative writing after exhausting most local colleges’ English literature offerings and received a degree in Fiction Writing from Columbia College in Chicago, where I lived. Later, I became certified in secondary education in Language Arts.

How did this series come to be? I had the idea for this series based on the premiere of The View way back when it first aired on television. I wrote the massive first draft on a train ride from a suburb outside of Chicago to my job downtown daily due to a compulsion to live in the story’s world. It took about eighteen months to complete it. Many years later, a writing coach encouraged me to break up the manuscript into four separate books featuring each woman’s backstory, which I did. Thus, the Secrets and Stilettos series was born.

We hear of strong-willed characters. Do yours behave or run wild? It has always been my aim to write about strong female protagonists. That said, the road to redemption is quite different for each of these women. Strong-willed is an understatement for Casey Singer in book #1, for sure!

Do you have subplots? If so, how do you weave them into the novel’s arc? Much like the paperback tomes that I loved to read as a young adult, I most enjoy storylines that involve multiple threads and plot twists, which serve to ramp up the drama. Each book in the series can be read as a stand-alone and contain many plot layers and compelling minor characters. All of these components will be brought forward in the second tier of the series as well to keep the delicious excitement going and pages turning.

Do you outline, or are you a pantser? While I started out as a pantser, my writing method is more intentional today. I have a background in education, so I adhere to the benefits of using character sheets, outlines, and note cards to keep things from running off the rails. This, blended with the thrill of discovery when the spirit moves me, keeps the writing fun, fresh, and authentic.

Do you base any of your characters on real people? Yes. Each of my characters has a unique and lifelike existence. I utilize traits and personality types compiled from people I know or have known. So, my characters are a mix of real-life people and my creation. I find character building to be one of the strongest pillars of storytelling and the most enjoyable. I am fascinated by human nature and psychology. Having realistic and compelling characters helps to amplify the stories and creates a connection with the readers in a way they love.

Do you have any advice for new writers? I would encourage anyone who feels the passion to write—to do so much and often. Writing is a skill that one can learn but also needs to be nourished. There is no fast track to success; only you can define what that means for you. Take advantage of all the support and information that is out there for authors at all stages. As an author, you get to make up people, worlds, and stories for a living. It’s the perfect job. I could not think of a more perfect gift to share with others!

Looking to the future, what’s in store for you? Plans are in place for the completion and successive launches of all four books in the next tier, the Show Series, starting with Pretty Sensation! This is followed by additional series projects with even more heat and sizzle to include gorgeous male protagonists, a nod to the sexy senior set, as well as a foray into the paranormal/historical realm with some exciting new titles. Jump onto my mailing list to stay in the know regarding news and new releases at https://www.jamiecollinsauthor.com. I would love to connect with you!

Follow me on social media, and feel free to reach out.

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My books are available on all retail platforms including Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo. Click here to buy https://www.jamiecollinsauthor.com/copy-of-books.

6 Comments

  1. Mark Bodek

    Kudos to you Jamie for being creativity yourself! This is enticing

    Reply
    • Jamie Collins

      Thanks, Mark for your support! I truly appreciate it.

      Reply
  2. David Witzig

    Congratulations Jamie! Great interview! I’m so glad you are doing so well with your writing!

    Reply
    • Jamie Collins

      Thanks, so much David! It is easy to stay inspired in an industry that is constantly changing. It is amazing to be able to do what truly comes from the heart. 🙂

      Reply
  3. Michael A. Black

    Great to hear about your success as a writer, Jamie. I’m a Columbia alumnus in Fiction Writing as well. Your series sounds fascinating. Best of luck to you.

    Reply
    • Jamie Collins

      Michael, thank you so much for your kind words! I have very fond memories of my time at Columbia. I met so many creative people there. Would love to know what type of fiction you write.

      Reply

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ZARA ALTAIR – Enter An Ancient World

Zara Altair combines mystery with a bit of adventure in the Argolicus Mysteries, based in southern Italy at the time of Ostrogoth’s rule.

Meet Argolicus, a learned man who turns detective at the bidding of neighbors who know him as trustworthy, wise, and fair. He collects evidence, deciphers politics, and digs into the deepest secrets of the human heart. His tools are the logic of Aristotle, the self-restraint of Epictetus, the theology of Arius, and the empirical insights of Marcus Aurelius, and all sharpened to an edge by wry humor and ferocious curiosity.

Italians (Romans) and Goths live under one king, while Constantinople rules the Roman Empire. At times the cultures clash, but Argolicus uses his wit, sometimes with help from his tutor Nikolaos, to provide justice in a province far from the King’s court.

Zara Altair lives in Beaverton, Oregon. Her stories are rich in historical detail based on years of research. Her approach to writing is to present the puzzle and let Argolicus and Nikolaos find the solution encountering a bit of adventure and some humor in their search.

Discover the world of long-ago Italy in the Argolicus Collection, four mysteries that cover the range from a small farm to rich families where politics and murder collide.

Do you write in more than one genre? I do now. I’m working on a modern crime novel with a female detective, Death of a Lonely Cloud, to be published this year. And, A cozy mystery for next Christmas for a new series featuring Miss Chocolate, a fluffy chocolate-colored cat who lives on a boat.

What brought you to writing? I’ve been writing since I was a child. I can’t imagine myself not writing.

What is the most challenging part of your writing process? For me, the most difficult part of the writing process is building up the tension.

Do you base any of your characters on real people? Argolicus was a real person, but not much is known about him. Argolicus leads the privileged and leisurely life of a Roman patrician under the Ostrogoth rule of King Theodoric. Raised in the tradition of privilege, he was schooled by a Greek tutor, Nikolaos, who is now his companion but still drills him in Greek and martial arts.

Argolicus was a real person at the time of Theodoric’s reign in Italy. He is mentioned nine times in Cassiodorus’ Variae (iii 11, iii 12, iii 29, iii 30, iii 33, iv 22, iv 25, iv 29, iv 42) as praefectus urbis of Rome.

Do you outline, or are you a pantser? I outline the basic plot but planned scenes change as I am actually writing. I use the next plot point to make sure I’m headed toward it no matter how the scene changes.

What kind of research do you do? For the Argolicus stories, the research involved a lot of reading—many books in English and Italian. Plus, I went to Italy and interviewed history professors who referred me to more books. For each novel, I also interview experts in themes for the book, for example, civic structure and governance in the 6th Century for The Grain Merchant.

For the current novel, I took Detective B. Adam Richardson’s Writer’s Detective School, which is crammed with details about how a detective thinks and works. Plus, he has sessions where we can ask questions that pertain to our current work. I’ve also talked with the local coroner’s office and the sheriff.

What obstacles do you face when writing about historical figures? The biggest challenge is keeping my characters in sync with the times. For example, slavery is assumed and not an issue.

Do you have any advice for new writers? Stay with your story idea. It’s your story. Write it. Don’t worry about genre or subgenre. Just write the story. The big test of writing is that you finish the story.

Visit the website at https://zaraaltair.com.

 

8 Comments

  1. Zara Altair

    Thank you, George. Love meeting your tribe.

    Reply
    • George Cramer

      Thank you, Zara, always nice having you drop by for a visit.

      Reply
  2. Bruce Lewis

    You have to admire writers, like Zara, who not only pride themselves in their writing but also take care in the preparation with thorough research. And research can be fun, like her trips to Italy. You not only get to gather material for your book, but also learn about new things and meet interesting people. Go Zara!

    Reply
    • Zara Altair

      Hi Bruce! I’d recommend going to Italy even if you aren’t researching. 😊 But being on the spot reveals details you’d never learn from Google Maps Plus once people learn you’re writing a novel the share amazing bits Thank you so much for your kind words

      Reply
  3. Karen A Phillips

    The Argolicus mystery series sounds very intriguing! I agree with Zara, as a writer, building up the tension is my biggest challenge. And thank you, Zara, for mentioning Detective B. Adam Richardson’s Writer’s Detective School. I had not heard of it. I will check it out. And thank you George Cramer for introducing another interesting author.

    Reply
    • Zara Altair

      Hi Karen. Thanks for stopping by. Adam is amazing for details about being a detective. And, he willingly shares his vast store of knowledge.

      Reply
  4. MIchael A. Black

    It sounds like you do an amazing amount of research for your novels. I hope Argolicus keeps on solving those mysteries. Best of luck to you.

    Reply
    • Zara Altair

      Thanks Michael. Yes, research was BIG. 😄 And then each story has its own set of research details Thanks for the kind words

      Reply

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