Thursday, 4 December 2008

Five Quick Questions with Grant McKenzie

Grant McKenzie's debut thriller, Switch, has been highly praised by the likes of Lee Child, Ken Bruen and David Hagberg (to name a few).

How far would you go to save the ones you love?

Would you commit murder?

Sam White is a failed actor turned night security guard who walks the empty corridors of a local mall, dreaming of a life he never achieved. But when he arrives home one morning to find his house a burnt-out shell with the bodies of his wife and daughter inside, he knows he would do anything just to have his old life back. His prayers are answered when he receives a phone call from a man who claims that the bodies removed from the fire don’t belong to his family. His wife and child are alive and Sam can still save them. But first, he must complete a few 'simple' tasks.

Pursued by the police, Sam joins forces with Zack Parker a plastic surgeon whose life has been ripped apart by the same sadistic kidnapper. As they race to save Sam's family, they are plunged into the labyrinthine underworld of Portland, Oregon, and the dark smuggling tunnels that run beneath the city.

But time is running out. To save his family, Sam must consider whether he is prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice ...

Grant has kindly agreed to join us and answer five quick questions.

What's one thing we may not know about Grant McKenzie?

In between novels, I like to create one new painting. I find the process of delving into the visual/design part of my brain helps to refresh my imagination palate for the next book. Although most of the paintings are simply intended to hang on my own walls, I have at times paid more bills through selling my artwork than with my writing. Although, being a debut novelist, you can understand how easily this was accomplished.

What television show would you like to make a guest appearance on?

I would actually love to appear on Coronation Street. Having been born in Scotland, I grew up on this long-time British soap. When I moved to Canada in my teens, I lost track of it for a time, but rediscovered it when working the late-night, dead-body shift at my first newspaper job. Now my wife, daughter and I are regular Corrie addicts. I even have a plot for my guest appearance. You see, it’s the return of Curly Watts. Curly has written a thriller about his time as a FreshCo Store Manager when his obsessed ex-girlfriend tried to kill him (remember that?). He returns to Corrie as part of a book tour and I get to be the other author he’s touring with. Then, and here’s the fun part, Claire falls for me and we begin an affair, but Ashley (her butcher husband) finds out. One night, I get tricked into meeting Ashley at his butcher shop. I never walk out. The meat pies never tasted so good ;-)

What's your greatest sporting moment?

At a curling bonspiel, it came down to the wire. The two worst teams were pitted against each other. I was the skipper and it was the final end. My team had left me with two scoring rocks against the competition’s one. I knew there was no trophy for second worst. I took a deep breath, grabbed my last rock, and went into a controlled slide. The rock was fast and true. I slammed into both our scoring rocks, clearing the target of everything but the competition’s lone rock. And with a mighty roar we held our trophy high. The skunk award for worst curling team. I still have it somewhere, although I think the skunk broke off.

What's your ideal holiday destination?

Somewhere warm and sunny with a sandy beach and a shade umbrella, but more importantly, money in the bank and the bills paid so I can actually relax and enjoy the moment.

How many comments to this blog post would I need to have you read and comment on my first thriller, The Interrogator?

Absolutely none. I would be honored.

Thanks, Grant. Please check Grant's website for all of the details of Switch.


If you enjoyed this interview, why not have a look at my other interviews with Will Lavender, Kelly Curtis, Lisa Unger, JA Konrath, Laura Benedict, Ed Lynskey, Luke Devenish, Karen Dionne and Michelle Gagnon.

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Five Quick Questions with Michelle Gagnon

Michelle Gagnon's thriller, Boneyard, has been praised from the likes of Jeffery Deaver, Douglas Preston, James Rollins and Cornelia Read (to name a few). This novel follows her highly sucessful debut, The Tunnels.

'A mass gravesite unearthed on the Appalachian Trail puts FBI Agent Kelly Jones at the head of an investigation that crosses the line—from Massachusetts to Vermont, from wealthy vacationers to poor transients, from a serial killer to a copycat nemesis. As darkness falls, another victim is taken. Kelly must race to save him before he joins the rest…in the boneyard.'

Michelle has kindly agreed to join us and answer five quick questions.

What's one thing we may not know about Michelle Gagnon?

I have dual citizenship: US and Ireland.

What television show would you like to make a guest appearance on?

Burn Notice, no question. There are “better” shows, but BN seems like it would be the most fun.

What's your greatest sporting moment?

I set the JV State High Jump record in RI my freshman year of high school, and it was only the third time I did the event. Apparently the record still stands, although if it doesn’t I don’t want to know about it.

What's your ideal holiday destination?

Hawaii, either the Big Island or Kauai.

How many comments to this blog post would I need to have you read and comment on my first thriller, The Interrogator?

Depends on the quality of the comments and the moral fabric of the commentors. Kidding. Not many, just depends on my own time constraints.

Thanks, Michelle. Please check Michelle's website for all of the details of Boneyard and The Tunnels.


If you enjoyed this interview, why not have a look at my other interviews with Will Lavender, Kelly Curtis, Lisa Unger, JA Konrath, Laura Benedict, Ed Lynskey, Luke Devenish and Karen Dionne.

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Five Quick Questions With Karen Dionne

Freezing Point is the debut thriller for author, and Backspace co-founder, Karen Dionne. The new release has been praised by the likes of David Morrell, Douglas Preston, Gayle Lynds and John Lescroart (and many more).

'As he faces the frozen behemoth of a giant iceberg, environmental activist Ben Maki sees Earth’s future. Clean drinking water for millions, waiting to be tapped from the polar ice. The Soldyne Corporation backs Ben’s grand philanthropic vision for a better today—while making its own plans for a very profitable tomorrow.

Rebecca Sweet lives for the cause—an eco-terrorist who will do whatever she must to protect the earth. And Ben Maki’s ideas have set her on the path to war…

All of them will be drawn into a battle between hope and helplessness, power and pride. But they are about to discover that deep within the ice waits an enemy more deadly than any could imagine—an apocalyptic horror mankind may not survive.'

Karen has kindly agreed to join us and answer five quick questions.

What's one thing we may not know about Karen Dionne?

I'm ranked #11 in the world at the expert level for Minesweeper. Sad, but true. Do you have any idea how many hours it's taken me to achieve that level of expertise? I'm told Lee Child is also a Minesweeper addict, and you don't see *his* name on that list. On the other hand, his name is on a dozen novels, and mine is on only one . . .

What television show would you like to make a guest appearance on?

Law & Order. Man, I love that show. Such terrific writing. I think I'd make a great mother of a serial killer. I raised four kids; I have that beleaguered, patience-of-a-saint look down pat.

What's your greatest sporting moment?

The time I spelled "quartz" on a triple word square. What? Scrabble's not a sport? It is the way *I* play, bub.

What's your ideal holiday destination?

Anyplace between the 25th parallels. I lived for 30 years in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. I've had enough snow and cold.

How many comments to this blog post would I need to have you read and comment on my first thriller, The Interrogator?

I'll make it easy for you, JJ - just one. As long as the commenter is male, between the ages of 18 and 35, unmarried, cleanshaven, works as a stockbroker, and lives in England.

Thanks, Karen. Please check Karen's website for all of the details of Freezing Point.


P.S If anyboby happens to know a clean-cut-English-male-stockbroker between the age of 18 and 35, ask him to drop of by and comment.

If you enjoyed this interview, why not have a look at my other interviews with Will Lavender, Kelly Curtis, Lisa Unger, JA Konrath, Laura Benedict, Ed Lynskey and Luke Devenish.

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Five Quick Questions with Luke Devenish

Empress of Rome: Den of Wolves is the debut novel for Luke Devenish. It is 44 BC and the rival powers of Rome are driving the republic to a violent end. A soothsayer foretells that the young Tiberius Nero, if he is wed to his cousin, the darkly beautiful Livia Drusilla, will sire four kings of Rome. Fuelled by ambition, Livia devotes her life to fulfilling the prophecy. No crime is too great when destiny beckons. So begins a murderous saga of sex, corruption and obsession at the dawning of the age of emperors. Narrated by the 100-year-old slave Iphicles, DEN OF WOLVES brings to life the great women of imperial Rome - Livia, Julia, Antonia and Agrippina - women who relied on their ambition, instincts and cunning to prosper.

Luke has kindly agreed to join us and answer five quick questions.

What's one thing we may not know about Luke Devenish?

When I was sixteen I won the 2nd Annual (and last ever) Channel Seven/Western Mail Young Writer's Award back in Perth, where I grew up. It was a big deal. I entered with a play I wrote called 'Murder is Gauche', which was a juvenile piss-take on all things Christie. Clearly it was a very slim field that year because I won first prize, which was a trip to Sydney to attend a two week course at Film School. Photographers coming to my school was something of a tip-off regarding my win before the actual announcement was made - as was the sight of the normally austere Deputy Principal Mr Hopkins nearly wetting himself with excitement. No one EVER won ANYTHING at my school, so I was latched onto as a poster boy. On the day of the prize giving ceremony I assembled with the other place-getters and all our proud parents and teachers at Curtin University. This award was such a big deal that then Premier Brian Burke was coming along to make a speech and give out certificates. At least, he was coming along in theory... The minutes turned into hours and the Premier still hadn't shown up. But I didn't care. I just sat in the front row in a grinning daze. Finally Burkie burst into the hall, gasping and puffing, swathed by his cronies. He made a very hasty and somewhat incoherent speech and then shook my hand for the photographers. His grip was rather moist - like a fresh baked muffin. Then he was out of there at light speed and it was all over. I went off to Sydney and had a marvellous time, even though the Film School was in North Ryde and I never saw the Harbour Bridge until the taxi took me back to the airport. I was so terminally adolescent that I never wrote anybody any thank you letters for the kindness that was shown to me. What an ingrate! Not long after that, the Young Writer's Award folded. Not long after that, the Western Mail folded. And just a few short years after THAT, Premier Brian Burke himself folded in a welter of ignominy and scandal. The moral to all this is that if any writer feels they are but weak and insignificant, think again. My juvenile writing and adolescent thoughtlessness combined to bring down a newspaper and a government. Makes you wonder, doesn't it?

What television show would you like to make a guest appearance on?

Well, 'Mornings with Kerry-Anne', obviously. People tell me she she plays champagne binge drinking games with you afterwards. And if you're really lucky you get to join her in a chorus of 'I Am What I Am'. It's the promise of that sort of thing that got me into this writing game.

What's your greatest sporting moment?

I'm a past master of quiet and dignified suffering in the name of humiliation and so many such moments have been enjoyed upon the sporting field. I can't catch, can't throw, I run like a girl and I deserved all the rocks that were chucked at me by disgusted school mates during my formative years. In primary school I got myself seconded into the so-called 'chess club' on Friday afternoons just so I could get out of it. I had mixed success - I can't play chess for nuts either. In Year Eight I developed tendinitis in my Achilles heel (God knows how) and rejoiced when it got me out of footy and cricket. I kept up that fake limp for six months. When I was in Year Eleven a very good friend was made captain of the red faction for our school swimming carnival. The backstroke lacked competitors so she thought it'd be funny to put me in it. I'd never swum backstroke in my life but was too nice to let her down. Not only did I come last in the event, but I came last in the next race too - they started it while I was still in the pool. All of these things hardened my character nicely, thanks. Ideal for anyone who writes for a living.

What's your ideal holiday destination?

Well, my other half and I had a very jolly couple of weeks in Amsterdam a couple of years ago and we would go back there at the drop of a hat. We had a hotel room with big, wide windows where you could sit on the sill and look down on the Herengracht canal for lots of people watching, Netherlands style. We were there in high summer when it doesn't get dark until midnight and then gets light again at 4.00am, so we lost all sense of time. Amsterdam is a very beautiful city and we did a lot of walking, eating and art consuming - which is a passion we share. We were NOT there for sleaze, but half way through the holiday we discovered the difference between those delightful establishments called Coffee Houses and those equally delightful dens of iniquity called Coffee Shops. In the former you get coffee and cakes. In the latter you get hydroponically grown products with names like 'Scud Missile' and 'AK47'. "When in Amsterdam..." we naively cried as we bought some. Then we cried again - like babies, really - when our consumption of this product caused us to lose all sense of reason and direction in our efforts to find the hotel when all the canals now looked the same and, what's more, everyone wanted to kill us. NEVER. AGAIN. Or at least until our next visit, when we probably will have recovered to some extent.

How many comments to this blog post would I need to have you read and comment on my first thriller, The Interrogator?

Oh, probably none. I like the cut of your jib already, JJ. Just TRY to stop me commenting.

Thanks, Luke. Please check Luke's website for all of the details of Empress of Rome: Den of Wolves.


If you enjoyed this interview, why not have a look at my other interviews with Will Lavender, Kelly Curtis, Lisa Unger, JA Konrath, Laura Benedict and Ed Lynskey.

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Nothing To Lose by Lee Child

I finally got my hands on Nothing To Lose by Lee Child. And now I give myself a lttle kick for waiting so long. I justified not rushing out to buy it this time by concentrating on my WIP. But, I just had to put it aside and dive into the latest book by my favorite thriller writer.

At the speed of a thousand startled Gazelles I ploughed through Nothing To Lose. As usual, I just couldn't put down the page-turning adventures of Jack Reacher. I don't want to give away any spoliers, but I just want to add that I enjoyed the couple of slight 'flaws' creeping in for the main character.

I'm a big fan of Mr Child's style of writing, in particular when his books are written in the third person point of view.

Another great read.


Thursday, 31 July 2008

The First Chapter

I've had a few questions lately along the lines of - 'how important is the first chapter?', 'how do you know where to start the book?' and 'should I give the background information for the story up front?'.

The first chapter is where the author has the opportunity to grip the reader's attention. Get them involved so they know that this is a story that won't be putting down real soon. The first chapter should introduce your main character/s in a situation of conflict. And that situation should announce the theme of the book.

The first chapter should start just before a major scene or the build up to one. For example, in my first book the main character finds himself on the wrong side of his favoured skill, interrogation. I introduced the main character in a situation of conflict and in a seemingly impossible circumstances that he needs to escape from.

A lot of first-time writers want to start their book with background information that they think the reader would need to know. I tend to think this is because authors spend so much time developing their character/s that we want to impart all of that information to our reader straight away. Not necessary. A paragraph here or there throughout the book in the narrative or through dialogue can fill in the gaps on background information that value-adds to the story.

The first paragraph needs to captivate or hook the reader. Give them something that spikes their interest to keep on reading. Last thing we want to do is bore the reader - that applies to the whole story, but to do it in the first paragraph can lose a lot more potential readers. I also think it is important to introduce the main character into the first paragraph. It lets the reader know who they are dealing with for the rest of the book. It gives them an initial visual that will shape their perceptions along the journey.

First chapters take time to get right. Don't be afraid of spending the extra time on this part of the book. We need to get it right for our readers. So, no backstory or flashbacks (and please no dream scene straight away), introduce your main character in a sitaution of conflict and make sure we hook the reader right from the start.


Sunday, 13 July 2008


I love writing dialogue. I think I could write a whole novel of dialogue. Sadly, I don't think readers want a complete story of dialogue alone. Anyway, thought I'd share some interchanges between characters in my WIP. Enjoy.

“I'm Detective Peterson and this is Detective Green.” The female looked up and nodded. “For legal purposes, this interview is being recorded by the two cameras you see in the room. They are being controlled by a Police Officer behind the mirror. Do you understand?

Jay nodded, knowing he needed to agree aloud for recording purposes.

“You will have to give a verbal response to all questions asked.”

“What if I don’t want to respond?”

“Well you’ll have to give a verbal response that you don’t want to respond.”

“That doesn’t make sense, Detective Peterson. By giving the verbal response, I am responding. So it defeats the purpose of not responding.”

The two Detectives looked at one another and Peterson looked at the mirror before staring back at Jay. “Just answer the questions you want to answer verbally, not just by nodding or shrugging. Okay?”

Jay felt like nodding, but didn’t want to push it - yet. “Yes.”

“Good. Now, for the record, could you state your full name and address?”

Jay did and added, “Would I be able to see your official identification, please?”

The Detectives looked at one another again before Peterson spoke. “We're in a Police Station and I have told you who we are.”

Jay shrugged. “You never know.”

They took out their badges and held them up quickly for Jay to see. He only wanted to know their first names – Stephen and Joanna.

“Satisfied?” Peterson asked. The red rising in his cheeks.

Detective Green looked at Jay. “Okay…Mr Ryan. Mind if I call you Jay?” Her voice was soft and inviting.

“Mind if I call you Jo?”


“What the hell are you playing at, Ryan?” Peterson almost burst out of his seat. “This is bullshit. You want to jerk us around? Stop with the smartass comments and just answer the questions.”


Saturday, 5 July 2008

Five Quick Questions with Ed Lynskey

Ed Lynskey's first two books are mysteries featuring his P.I. Frank Johnson: THE DIRT-BROWN DERBY and THE BLUE CHEER. His latest release, a thriller titled PELHAM FELL HERE has recived great reviews form the likes of James Crumley, James Rollins, Kevin O'brien and Anne Frasier.

Ed has kindly agreed to join us and answer five quick questions.

What's one thing we may not know about Ed Lynskey?

Years ago I took a complete spin around the Indianapolis International Speedway. The guide told us where everybody had wiped out and gave us a card of proof at the end.

What television show would you like to make a guest appearance on?

Career-wise as an author, OPRAH, without a doubt would punch your ticket.

If using a time machine, the DICK CAVETT SHOW with Janis Joplin as a co-guest or the STEVE ALLEN SHOW with Lenny Bruce as a co-guest.

What's your greatest sporting moment?

I scored the only run in a Pony League game for our baseball team. I even made the box score even if they misspelled my name.

What's your ideal holiday destination?

Bermuda in August. Great food and greater views.

How many comments to this blog post would I need to have you read and comment on my first thriller, The Interrogator?

No blog comments are needed for me. I was already intrigued enough to read it. Best of luck with it and for having me aboard, sir!

Thanks, Ed. Please check this website for all of the details of Pelham Fell Here.


If you enjoyed this interview, why not have a look at my other interviews with Will Lavender, Kelly Curtis, Lisa Unger, JA Konrath and Laura Benedict.

Friday, 4 July 2008

The Value of Writing Related Websites

I don't keep it a secret that the time I have spent in the last year or so at the AbsoluteWrite website, has helped me get a fantastic publishing deal.

I have now discovered another wonderful writing site called The Writers Block. Another fantastic site for writers to gather in a forum and exchange ideas and encourage each other toward their writing goals. This forum caters for all genre and for those just starting out to published authors.

Sometimes writers can feel isolated in chasing their dreams. I never felt that way whilst writing Interrogated, because I had the support and encouragement from an online writing community.

Whatever your writing goal may be, do yourself a favour by joining an online writing community. You won't regret it.


Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Favourite Lines - The Interrogator

Fellow author, Raymond Wong, tagged me and asked that I Blog my favourite line. I have to admit that it is very difficult because I have so many that are favourites. Because I'll know we'll do this more often, I start with a favourite near the beginning of The Interrogator.

“You’re going to be one of us, Jay, whether you like it or not,” Primrose said. “Now I need you to stay still. This may tickle just a little. You might want to bite down on something. Start with your pride.”

Boom. A thousand razors raced from his hand to his brain; a competition to register first. The pain hit before the hammer struck the nail a second terrific blow. Boom. A shrill from deep in his throat liberated his voice. Boom.

Now you'll have to buy my book to see what happens next.

Who will I tag? Laura, Lisa and Jamie.


Tuesday, 1 July 2008

Five Quick Questions with Laura Benedict

ISABELLA MOON is the gripping debut novel by author Laura Benedict. The supernatural thriller was released in hardcover by Ballantine Books in September, 2007 (US). It has also been released in Australia and the UK. It will be followed by another thriller, CALLING MR. LONELY HEARTS, in December 2008 (US).

Note: US cover pictured.

Laura has kindly agreed to join us and answer five quick questions.

What's one thing we may not know about Laura Benedict?

I like guns.

What television show would you like to make a guest appearance on?

Oh, this is so hard! I think I'd most like to be the celebrity guest judge on Project Runway, just like Sarah Jessica Parker was last season. I want to be incredibly nice to the contestants to make up for how snarky Nina is. But I think she's off the show now that she lost her gig at Elle Magazine. I kind of liked her though--she's the kind of bitchy I wish I could be. Michael Kors seems interesting, too. And I want to meet Seal. Maybe he hangs around and watches Heidi do the show. Unfortunately this all hinges on the celebrity part....

What's your greatest sporting moment?

I wrote about this years ago, but I suppose it's time to 'fess up again to a whole new listening audience. Way back in the 80's, my second-husband-to-be took me out to this place called Elephant Rocks not far from St. Louis in order to propose to me. (We had picked out the ring together, but I didn't know when I would get it. He was all about drama.) The rocks in the park are actually kind of egg-shaped, giving the place an other-wordly look. There's also a creek cutting through the middle of the park, a remnant, I assume of the water that cut those rocks a million years ago. When it came time to cross the creek, SHTB decided we should jump across instead of heading down to the bridge a couple hundred feet away. Now, I'm not a particularly athletic sort, but I'm no lump, either--So when SHTB leapt across like a freaking mountain goat, I knew I would have to follow nimbly behind. But the gap was pretty wide. And there were many teenagers hanging around that particular area. I was feeling awfully self-conscious. But there he was, holding his hand out, waiting for me. Surrounded by all those teenagers. (I was only 25 or so, but I felt very old) So I jumped. He caught my hand, but my foot didn't make it to the smooth-rock bank, and the front of my body slammed against the rock in a most undignified way and he had to haul me out of the water. There was much sniggering 'mongst the teenagers and I could tell he was very embarrassed as well. It was a long, cold drive home. It was an omen, of course. It was probably on that exact day that he also became my second-ex-husband-to-be.

What's your ideal holiday destination?

Anywhere I can get excellent Room Service.

How many comments to this blog post would I need to have you read and comment on my first thriller, The Interrogator?

Now here's a question designed to make me look like a Nina-league bitch (and I mean that in the nicest way possible!) if I don't say, like, two. Do you work for the government? Note: Not anymore, Laura. Well...maybe. JJ.

Thanks, Laura. Please check Laura's website and Blog for information on her latest release and her writing.


Monday, 30 June 2008

International Thriller Writers - Debut Authors

International Thriller Writers (ITW) is a community of professional authors and associated members banded together in order to promote the thriller genre.

ITW's Mission is: “To bestow recognition and promote the thriller genre at an innovative and superior level for and through our Active Members; to provide opportunities for mentoring, education and collegiality among thriller authors and industry professionals; and to grant awards for excellence in the thriller genre.” ITW By-laws: Article II, Purposes, Section 2.

ITW provides an excellent program for debut authors who have their first thriller due for release by a ITW recognised publisher. I am fortunate to now be part of this program in the lead up the the release of my first thriller. The program provides access to great information and fellow authors. Information that we may not know about if we were to tread this new release path alone. I have only been with this group a short time and have learnt so much about publishing and have taken away many valuable tips and met many great authors.

I am looking forward to the next year or so as many of my fellow debut authors release their novels. We will share the same nervous anticipation and support through our network of fantastic thriller writers and readers.


Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Five Quick Questions with JA Konrath

JA Konrath is the author of the popular LT Jacqueline 'Jack' Daniels Mystery series. A prolific writer, his books have received great reviews from the likes of Lee Child, David Morrell and James Rollins (plus many more).

JA has kindly agreed to join us and answer five quick questions

What's one thing we may not know about JA Konrath?

My fifth Jack Daneils novel, Fuzzy Navel, will be out July 8, 2008.

Okay, maybe you do know that already, but it's worth repeating. So I will.

Fuzzy Navel, July 8, 2008. I'll give a free copy to anyone who tattoos that on their forehead.

As for truly unknown JA Konrath facts, I wrote a book called Afraid under a pseudonym, Jack Kilborn. It's coming out in Australia and the UK this year, as a trade paper and a hardcover respectively, and then next year as a paperback in the US.

Okay, maybe you already knew that too.

Did I mention when Fuzzy Navel is coming out soon?

What television show would you like to make a guest appearance on?

Good Eats, starring Alton Brown. I'm nuts for that show. I want to be the Lady of the Refrigerator.

What's your greatest sporting moment?

I swam across a lake on a bet. I was damn proud I didn't drown. Unless I actually did drown, and this is the afterlife, in which case, where are all the strippers?

What's your ideal holiday destination?

Someplace I can go bass fishing. I've been neglecting vacations lately due to my work schedule, which isn't fair to my family, but hey, eating is more important than lying in the sun. Hopefully someday soon we'll be able to schedule proper time for vacation. In the meantime, the family tries to go camping, once a month, in the living room, using the sofa cushions and a bedsheet to make a tent. It's great, except when it rains.

How many comments to this blog post would I need to have you read and comment on my first thriller, The Interrogator? Note: JA kindly offered for me to send him a copy of Interrogated for comment when it is ready to go out. He provided the following response as general tips.

I know how hard it is to find readers, whether you book is just finished, agented, or has been published for five years. Personally, I've got a giant to-be-read pile and won't be able to read anything new until we're off foreign oil. But here are some tips.

a) Join or start a writers' group, at your local library or bookstore. Every writer should do that.
b) Find an agent. I know, easier said than done. But getting a good agent is a sure sign that your writing is finally good enough, which is a question that plagues all of us.
c) Attend writing conventions, meet other authors, and offer to trade manuscripts. Quid pro quo works on all levels, from newbie to longtime pro.
d) Google is your friend. Look for places online where you can meet fellow writers to critique your prose. I'm partial to
e) If you really really really want me to read your book, fly to Chicago and buy me a nice meal with a lot of beer. Yeah, that's expensive, but I'm worth every penny...

Thanks, JA. Please check JA's website for details of his latest release and some great writing tips.


Saturday, 21 June 2008

My First Interview, and Other Places I'm Popping Up

The first as the interviewee.

We belong to the same writer's site and Caroline asked if I would do an interview. Cool. Hope they're all that easy.

If any of you find the time, may I ask that you have a look and leave a comment for Caroline

I also got a mention on Lisa Unger's Blog -

And, I'm now on the Debut Author's page of International Thriller Writers

Thanks in advance.


Monday, 16 June 2008

Five Quick Questions with Lisa Unger

Lisa Unger is the New York Times Bestselling author of Beautiful Lies and Sliver of Truth. Her novels have been published in twenty-six countries. She has just released her third thriller, Black Out. The new novel has received high praise from the likes of Harlan Coben, Tess Gerristen and Joseph Finder.

Lisa has kindly agreed to join us and answer five quick questions.

What's one thing we may not know about Lisa Unger?

I'm an introverted extrovert. Meaning that I exhibit all the qualities of an extrovert -- you can dress me up and take me out to a party, I'll chat and dance and laugh and be sociable. But by the end of the evening, I'll be drained and exhausted. In my heart, I'm just a hobbit who'd rather be at home with a cup of tea, making up stories.

What television show would you like to make a guest appearance on?

"Alias" -- no hesitation. I need a hot pink wig and a pair of leather boots, some type of coat that swings dramatically with all my way-too-cool kung fu kicks. I want to be a bad-girl, turned good-girl, with a dark past and a bad attitude. Or maybe a good-girl turned bad-girl, pretending to still be a good girl. Hmmm ... the plot thickens.

What's your greatest sporting moment?

This question assumes that I've had some type of sporting moment, that I've ever actively played in or watched some type of organized sporting event of my own free will. Which I haven't. I did study Kung Fu for eight years until the small matter of pregnancy and motherhood derailed my martial arts aspirations. In spite of many years of hard work, I did remain persistently mediocre in my kung fu practice, though I enjoyed and miss it immensely. I'm also an avid kayaker. But I'm not sure there's much sports glory in paddling about the Gulf of Mexico and Intracoastal with one's two-and-a-half year old. No crowd-cheering, anyway. But it IS a special, quiet, kind of great moment to share something I love so much with someone I love so much. So I guess that would be it.

What's your ideal holiday destination?

Well I live in a subtropical climate, just a short walk to the beach. So, I dream of snowy holidays ... fire places and warm blankets, mountains and towering pines. I've always wanted to go snowshoeing or cross country skiing but have never done that. So I suppose that's my dream holiday destination. Though I have a month in Paris coming up this summer. And you won't find me weeping into my crepe over that, either.

How many comments to this blog post would I need to have you read and comment on my first thriller, The Interrogator?

I'd be thrilled to read your book, JJ. Just send it my way. But I hope you get a million comments to this blog post and that everyone runs right out to buy five copies of your book each as soon as it goes on sale. Congrats on a huge accomplishment. And best of everything to you!

Thanks Lisa. Please check Lisa's wonderful website for the details of her latest release, Black Out, and her other fantastic books.


Thursday, 12 June 2008

Five Quick Questions with Kelly Curtis

Kelly Curtis, M.S., is a school counselor, writer, speaker, and believer in the power of the Developmental Asset approach. Her book, Empowering Youth includes tips, activities, and real-life stories to inspire youth workers, teachers, parents, and other caring adults to empower young people.

Kelly has kindly agreed to join us and answer five quick questions.

What's one thing we may not know about Kelly Curtis?

I homeschooled my kids for one year, while we transitioned from one school district to another.

What television show would you like to make a guest appearance on?

Hannah Montana. My kids would flip!

What's your greatest sporting moment?

I showed horses as a kid, and I'll never forget winning English Pleasure at the International POA show, on a three-year-old gelding. We were both underdogs.

What's your ideal holiday destination?

That depends upon which holiday! In the winter we love anything on the west coast of Florida. But in the summer, there's no better place than our lake cabin in northern Wisconsin.

How many comments to this blog post would I need to have you read and comment on my first thriller, The Interrogator?

Hahaha! None! I'd love to read it! Umm, I mean I'd need to see a minimum of 15 comments for that (Thurston Howell III accent.)

Thanks Kelly. Please check Kelly's website for details of her writing and her blog, which features a series on becomming a writer.

Saturday, 31 May 2008

Five Quick Questions with Will Lavender

Will Lavender's debut novel, OBEDIENCE, is a psychological thriller that has reached the New York Times Bestseller List. OBEDIENCE has been praised from the likes of David Baldacci, Lisa Unger and Karin Slaughter (just to mention a few).

Will has kindly agreed to answer five quick questions.

What's one thing we may not know about Will Lavender?

The one thing people may not know about me is that I am a rabid college basketball fan. Here in Kentucky I follow the University of Kentucky Wildcats in an insane, demented, almost shameful manner. I follow them on road trips sometimes, for goodness sakes. I visit the message boards. It's really pathetic -- but I wouldn't stop it even if I could.

What television show would you like to make a guest appearance on?

JJ Abrams' Lost, clearly. I could play Gary Troup, come back from the dead.

What's your greatest sporting moment?

My greatest sporting moment is when I played high school baseball and did something-or-other. It must have been grand, though I can't quite remember the details. In the recurring dream I simply celebrate like a blurry madman and point at the scoreboard.

What's your ideal holiday destination?

Somewhere in the American northeast in a log cabin. In the driving snow. With the threat of bears outside. With a set of spine-ravaged, 1970s thriller novels left by other travelers on the plank bookshelves. And with blizzard warnings coming over the shortwave -- my only companion. In this fantasy I am always wearing animal furs and growing a beard that is taking on a life of its own. Ken Follett's The Eye of the Needle is on the table beside the bed.

How many comments to this blog post would I need to have you read and comment on my first thriller, The Interrogator?

0. Love to do it. But I have to warn you that any comments I made would likely be meaningless to the bottom line. My novel has sold in quite a few countries, but Australia isn't one of them. Maybe if beside my blurb Random House put something like --Will Lavender, Aspiring Wiggle.

Please check Will's website for all of the details of his writing. Thanks Will.


Tuesday, 27 May 2008

New Release - Hal Spacejock: No Free Lunch

Simon Haynes, author of the best-selling Hal Spacejock Novels, has launched the fourth book of the series - Hal Spacejock: No Free Lunch.

To celebrate the launch of the book, Simon is offering book one of the series for download absolutely free.

Do yourself a favour and check out Simon's website It's loaded with information for writers and readers alike. Competitions, giveaways and much more.



Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Two-Book Deal with Random House

Doesn't seem that long ago (it wasn't really) that I started with the goal to write a novel. I did and found a brilliant agent - Sophie Hamley of the Cameron Creswell Agency.

Sophie produced a great proposal and dispatched it for the first round of submissions. I have to admit I thought it would be around six months before we heard back from any editors. And then we would have to send the proposal off for few more rounds. Sophie was confident that we would find a great publisher to work with. Me, not so. I knew the odds were against me as a first time author securing a deal with any of the big publishers.

Three weeks later we received a two-book offer from Random House Australia. After picking myself off the floor, I asked a dozen questions or so that I can't remember. It just didn't seem that real. Sophie arranged a phone call with the acquisition editor at Random House, Larissa Edwards.

Larissa is wonderful to speak to and I can't wait to meet her in person. We had a great connection and she answered all of my questions in a very professional manner and outlined their plan for my novels. After the call I contacted Sophie and let her know that I definately wanted to work with Larissa and the team at Random House.

I would have never had made it this far without the wonderful support of the dedicated members of the Absolute Write Forum. And of course my critique partners and BETA readers. Thank you all and I look forward to keeping you updated on our journey to publication.

The next challenge is getting Lee Child to read Interrogated and to write a blurb that we can stick on the cover. Anyone have Lee's number?

Cheers team.


Thursday, 24 April 2008

Fight or Flight - What do your Characters do?

The Flight or Fight theory is something I ponder with all of my characters before I write them.

I wonder if my fellow writers consider this theory. I'm not just talking on a confrontation type of situation with limited consequential value. I mean in a life or death situation because I think in order to understand our characters we need to venture there with them (not necessarily in our stories but before we develop them).

Over the years I have seen people at that pure raw emotional level. And I learnt early that first impressions such as looks, build, age and sex of the subject isn't necessarily an accurate guage.

The thing is, given enough time - everyone will break down to pure raw emotion under certain circumstances. That animal instinct where we fight or flight.

So imagine your characters broken and at that raw emotion type level. What is their natural instinct? Do they fight or flight?

We need our MCs to have a vulnerability. But, we shouldn't just make it a 'cosmetic' vulnerability. We need to dig deep into our character's lives and start by figuring out what their raw emotions would be. Then give them a reason for those emotions either way.

I find starting with the raw emotion and building upon it doesn't 'cheat' the reader in the end. You know the feeling you get when you say 'I knew he/she was evil/good', that's because of the raw emotions you start with. After that you can twist and add to suit your needs for the story.

For me, this is truly understanding your character and allows you to build their personality upon it.


Friday, 18 April 2008

Types of Questions

Regardless of the occupation or personality of your characters, it is an advantage if you are aware of how to construct questions. Or, how your character should construct questions in order to ilicit the information they require. This doesn't just pertain to Detectives or Journalists (although I would argue many Jounalists could use a course in questioning techniques). It can be used by everyone and anyone to gain some information. Here's why:

Let's firstly look at types of questions:

Closed question. A closed question generally means an obstructive person or shy person will only provide a yes or no answer if given the choice. It is what it is - closed. It may be used effectively when leading someone to a point before reuqiring detail or when confirming detail. For example: Did you kill the maid? The answer can only be yes or no. There is no room for expansion because you haven't asked for expansion.

Open question. The best type of question to ask in order to get the other person talking and ideal as a first question to get the other person to explain their story. For example: Descibe in detail how you killed the maid. You see how there is no room for a simple yes or no answer.

Leading questions. Most favoured by Journalists. Personally, not my favourite because they lead a subject onto a topic that you want to hear about. Unlike probing (which I'll get to), these do not allow for a conversation to naturally, or skillfully, flow by letting the subject tell their story. Foe example: You said an email to the maid that you desired her; and it is apparent that this may be questionable intentions in the context of her murder - who do you think killed her?

Probing questions. As opposed to leading questions, their is no accusatory conotations regarding an incident. It's not going as far as a leading question. You get the subject on track and then follow up with an open question. For example: You said in an email to the maid that you desired her - what bearing do you think this has on the case?

Mirror questions. Simply put - you repeat the previous answer given and then ask another. This should not be overused because it is an obvious attempt at buying time to ask the next question. For example: Subject. I have no recollection of that night. Interviewer. So, you have no recollection of that night, why?

Multiple choice. Another one for the Journalists amongst us. No need to explain in detail here. The main problem is that you must know what choices are avialable. By that I mean if the reason for something happening is outside of the choices you are given, then you are showing your hand that you don't know. For example. Do you prefer killing with a knife or a gun?

That should jsut about cover off on the type of questions available for use. This information, coupled with questioning techniques that I will blog about another time, may help when considering how your characters will ask questions. Although the examples I provided are basic, I hope they put the type of questions in context.

Let me know if you have any questions or points on this post.


Tuesday, 8 April 2008

Using Body Language in our Writing

When I was in the Military, I spent some time teaching Body Language Analysis in interviewing and interrogation. This involved reading the subjects body language as well as using the interviewers/interrogators own body language to get the optimal results.

Research suggests the relative proportion of information is passed via three elements:

Verbal - 7% (what is said);

Vocal - 38% (how it is said); and

Non verbal - 55% (facial expression, posture, gestures).

In normal conversation, the verbal element is primarily used for passing the facts or opinions that a speaker wishes to convey to the listener. The vocal element is used to support the words and may also be used to support the non-verbal element which is used primarily for showing attitudes and feelings, though it can be a substitute for verbal messages, for example where there is a language barrier.

As you can see the non-verbal component, which is more commonly referred to as body language, is the single largest component of person to person communication.Each gesture is like a single word, and a word may have different meanings. It is only when the word is used in a sentence with other words that its meaning is fully understood. Gestures come in sentences/clusters and may indicate the truth about a person's feelings or attitudes.

We are generally unaware that posture, body movements and gestures can tell one story while the voice may be telling another. Suffice to say that if you work at understanding body language the better chance you have at understanding what is really being said.

So how does one transfer this information into their writing? Firstly, using body language indicators is a great way of 'showing' the information instead of 'telling' the reader what is happening. And, when using dialogue, accompany it with some sort of physical movements. Let's face it, do you just sit or stand still when talking to someone? Do you stand closer to someone you are more comfortable with? Do you touch the arm of someone you care for just before speaking with them?

A word of warning though. Don't have a physical movement at the end of each dialogue tag. Remember, everything we write must add value to the story somehow.

If you have a particular question on body language that you would like me to blog about, just let me know.


Taking the Tip

I'm taking the tip from the fabulous Kristin Nelson as mentioned in her pubrants Blog. Mum's the word when it comes to mentioning anything about my novel or the process involved whilst on submission.

Why would one want to take a risk at their publishing future by letting something slip. So, I'll have to keep blogging about something else until we have an outcome for The Interrogator.


Friday, 4 April 2008

I Have an Agent

And not just an average agent - a fantastic agent at a wonderful agency.

So what happened?

Well, at the end of last year I sent a query off to The Cameron Creswell Agency. Not long after, I received a request to send my full manuscript. The thing is, they were a bit inundated just before Christmas and requested I post it in in January. And I did. During the wait I worked on trying to improve my query (as you can read below). Then in February, I recieved this email:

Dear JJ,

We are reading your manuscript and enjoying it. We'll need a
bit more time to get through it and will get back to you as soon as possible.

Best wishes,

Great agent.
Now, the email had me jumping all around the place in expectation. Still, what a teasing email. I spent countless hours re-freshing my email account and checking my inbox. I spent the next week checking and checking and checking my email. That was a tough week. And then it came -an offer of representation.

I had spent considerable amount of time researching agents and agencies looking for that perfect fit and The Cameron Creswell Agency was my number one Aussie pick. I hit the jackpot. The hard work had payed off. For the last few weeks I have had plenty of exchanges of emails and regular updates with great advice from my wonderful agent, Sophie Hamley.

Sophie has finished her proposal to publishers and will start submitting next week. Nervous times ahead. Mind you, from my interactions with her, I have every faith in her ability to gain a great publisher. And the pressure is now on her because I've blogged about it. LOL.

I'm amazed that I have made it this far and feel blessed to be in this situation. Thank you everybody for your support and I promise to be back to blogging more often.