Murder: Live and in Technicolor
Working undercover gives FBI Art Crime Team agent Jason West the illusion that he’s safe from his stalker, Dr. Jeremy Kyser. Though film history and preservation are not Jason’s area of expertise, he’s intrigued by the case of a well-connected UCLA film studies professor whose family believes she may have been murdered after discovering a legendary lost 1950s PI film.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the country, BAU Chief Sam Kennedy gets disturbing news: the Roadside Ripper, the serial killer Sam believes murdered his college boyfriend, may not have been working alone.
When I was in high school, I discovered Dorothy Gilman (author of the Mrs. Pollifax series). One of the standalones I read was THE TIGHTROPE (it's one of her best) and it was a murder mystery revolving around four people who, as children, were the inspiration of a classic children's novel. This made-up classic sounded so interesting that I wished it really did exist--and later I discovered it did! Gilman ended up going back and writing the novel for real. I always thought that was SO clever and would be fun to do with my own work (because yes, even in high school, I was planning my writing career). And so, that's what I ended up doing by using SNOWBALL IN HELL as the inspiration for the lost film in THE MOVIE-TOWN MURDERS.
Mystery Bookshop owner Ellery Page and Police Chief Jack Carson are diving for the legendary pirate galleon Blood Red Rose when they discover an old-fashioned diver’s suit, water-damaged and encrusted with barnacles. Further examination reveals that the twentieth century suit contains a twenty-first century body. Who was the mysterious diver? No one seems to be missing from the quaint and cozy town of Pirate’s Cove. Was the victim really diving for pirate’s gold? And if not, what exactly did he do to earn that bullet hole in his skull?
Some mystery readers really do NOT like any romance in their crime stories. Which is fine, of course! But I prefer stories that do balance romance and mystery. Partly because I think our ability to love is one of the best things about us humans (versus one of the worst things about us, which is our willingness to kill each other).Also, I think nothing is more mysterious than love. ;-)
I come from a long line of ferocious arguers. My paternal grandfather got so mad once, he actually fainted during an argument. My cousins used to pull knives on each other. Butter knives (they were preteens) but still. My great uncle and great aunt didn't speak to each other for forty years. So. I understand arguing. :-D Through the years, I've learned to listen as well as talk during an argument, and it's worked wonders in ALL my relationships, but particularly my romantic relationships. Granted, not everyone has the same style of arguing--and that's actually a really important thing to find out about someone before you commit to them. You need to know that you'll be able to reason things out together, because without fail there will be bumps in the road. I try and bring that life lesson into my own stories.
One of the fun parts of writing is getting to experience things you're probably (hopefully?) never going to experience in real life. Like diving wrecks, finding treasure, or solving a murder mystery. What you don't want to do though, is turn your main character into yourself--or even worse, an idealized version of yourself. When the author is afraid to let their characters be fearful or foolish or just plain wrong, I think it says more about the writer than the character.
Fifty years ago, a glamorous Hollywood party ended in murder--the only clue a bloody Tarot card. Timothy North is not the first journalist to dig into the details of what really happened that long-ago summer's night, and he's not deterred by the grim fate of his predecessor. Tim has a book to write. But when a Tarot card turns up pinned to his front door, Tim recognizes the warning for what it is. He needs help--and the only person he can turn to is his ex-lover, Detective Jack Brady.
...a colorful cast of supporting characters and a romantic interest that felt wonderfully human to me. Jack is at varying times hard as a rock or so vulnerable I wanted to give him a hug. He reacts in realistic ways ñ which means he doesn't always make the nice guy choice ñ but he's probably one of the nicest guys I've read by Lanyon so far. Book Utopia * * * * * Cards on the Table was one half of the very first of the Partners in Crime collections I did with Sarah Black for Loose Id Books. The story was first published in 2007, but it was one I'd started years before and then abandoned (as was my habit before I turned pro).
Cosmo Saville has never been happier. His adored police commissioner husband has finally—mostly— accepted his witchy ways. And in return, Cosmo has promised to stay out of police business. It seems their Happily Ever After has come at last, until Cos discovers John’s sister might be a pawn in a dangerous game of blackmail…
When you're writing a series, each book is a piece of a larger puzzle. That means in each book, certain long-standing questions are answered while new questions are posed. It's kind of like working a loom: it's that weft and weave and shuttle. That means there are loose ends at the end of every book--except the final book. That's how it works. So it's very funny to hear from readers who object to ALL THE LOOSE ENDS. If there were no loose ends, there would be no point in writing the next book. :-D The goal of the series writer is to answer the most burning questions while posing new intriguing questions and quandaries. You want readers to feel slightly satisfied but hungry for more.
A question authors often get is, "Where do you get your ideas?" which I find interesting because authors get their ideas the same places everyone gets their ideas: that storehouse of experience, imagination, and influence. When I was growing up, I loved the weekly NBC Mystery Movies--in particular, McMillan and Wife. So when the time came to write the Bedknobs and Broomsticks series, I lovingly lifted a few of my favorite bits from the show--and then tweaked the heck out of them so that the end result is something original and (hopefully) fun.
Or maybe it isn't so much that the character does a bad thing, as the character does something that results in dreadful and unforeseen consequences. This is the ongoing challenge of writing stories about amateur sleuths, because sleuthing requires the main character to take chances and cross lines that none of us would ordinarily do. Of course, fiction is not real life. Fiction is symbolic. And characters crossing those lines and taking those chances allows us to explore the moral and ethical dilemma of doing the wrong thing for the right reason.
Message in a bottle. Somewhere in the cobwebbed cellar of the decrepit antebellum mansion known as Ballineen are the legendary Lee bottles--and Austin Gillespie is there to find them. The last thing on his mind is hot and heavy romance with handsome bad boy PI Jeff Brady. But Jeff has other ideas and, after one intoxicating night, so does Austin. The only problem is they have different ideas. Jeff doesnít believe in love at first sight, and even if he did, he's buried more deeply in the closet than those famous missing bottles of vintage Madeira. Popping a cork or two is one thing. Popping the question? No way. No how. Unless Austin is ready to give up on another dream, he's going to have to figure out how to make sure the lights go on--and stay on--in Georgia.
Reading Josh Lanyon's A Vintage Affair was like being dropped into a skewed version of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof by Tennessee Williams and the 1944 film Arsenic and Old Lace written by Joseph Kesselring and directed by Frank Capra. If you have a thing for wine or the old south (even though the story takes place in modern times), you'll love this story. A Top Pick, Night Owl Reviews * * * * * A Vintage Affair was written in 2010 for Loose Id Books. The great thing about the M/M market back then was it was really open to experimental stuff like...a Southern Gothic pastiche/suspense/romance. ;-)
Ellery Page, owner of Pirate Cove's only mystery bookstore, is both flattered and bemused when he’s invited to the annual Marauder’s Masquerade.
I've read some interesting comments wherein readers feel the conflict between Ellery and Jack is due to miscommunication. :-D This is incorrect. Ellery and Jack actually communicate a LOT and very honestly. The problem for Ellery and Jack is that they start out wanting different things from each other. That's not miscommunication. The other problem is Jack is emotionally torn and struggling with his feelings. Again, that is not miscommunication. Finally, characters grow and change, so what they want and need also changes thru the course of a series. Again, that is not miscommunication, it's growth. It's Character Arc. ;-D
We all do stupid things now and then, take risks we shouldn't, make choices that feel--even to us in hindsight--out of character. But so long as these stupid choices are still within the character's...character, I believe them to be a good way of advancing the plot. I say this as someone who has advanced the plot of her own life by making occasionally questionable choices. Just as a flop in real life can motivate you to ultimately triumph, so it is--and should be--in fiction.
It's 1943 and the world is at war. Reporter Nathan Doyle is just back from the European Theater when he's asked to cover the murder of a society blackmailer--a man who, Homicide Detective Matthew Spain believes, Nathan had every reason to want dead.
There's something about the 1940s--and particularly World War II -- that seems to represent all that was best and worst in humankind. That was a tough time for anyone to fall in love, given how uncertain the future was, but it was particularly a tough time for anyone outside of the mainstream. Paranoia was rampant -- and not necessarily unjustified. So finding happy endings for characters in this time period is not always easy. But humans are resilient and history teaches us that love can put down roots even in the rockiest of terrain.
It's moving day Chez Holmes. Somehow, against Kit's better instincts, he and J.X. are setting up house together. But while J.X. is off at a mystery fiction convention, Kit unpacks a crate that should contain old china. It doesn't...
God Help You Merry Gentlemen… Arriving home early after spending Christmas in jolly old England, sometimes amateur sleuth Adrien English discovers alarming developments at Cloak and Dagger Books—and an old acquaintance seeking help in finding a missing boyfriend. Fortunately, Adrien just happens to know a really good private eye…
Relationships are not static. We're either growing closer to people or we're beginning to disengage. A holding pattern is usually the preliminary to disengaging. Partly this is because humans are not static. We change throughout our lives. We don't always grow; sometimes we shrink, we narrow, we ossify. Or we grow in different directions. We outgrow a certain number of relationships in any lifetime. The challenge in writing a series where relationship is paramount, is showing believable change in both characters, change that will ultimately bring them closer together. With change comes conflict, but if the conflict is the right kind, it's actually the agent of helping those characters achieve greater intimacy.
Special Agents for the Department of Diplomatic Security, Taylor MacAllister and Will Brandt have been partners and best friends for three years, but everything changed the night Taylor admitted the truth about his feelings for Will. But it's complicated...
Even when you love someone. Even when you're "perfect" for each other, there are going to be those times when it's all you can do not to hit your better half with a frying pan. Or maybe that's just me. As close as Special Agents for the Diplomatic Security Service Will Brandt and Taylor MacAllister are, they have their moments of exasperation too--though an actual brawl is pretty rare.
Who or what is responsible for the gruesome deaths of members of the secret society known as the Society of Osiris? Doctor Armiston, an irascible, confirmed bachelor who believes in medicine not mysticism, is certain the deaths are only tragic accidents. Members of the Society of Osiris suspect something more sinister is at work. They profess to believe an ancient curse has been visited upon their society. Handsome and mysterious Captain Maxwell requests Armiston’s help. Tarot cards? Egyptology? Spiritualism? Armiston has little patience with the superficial and silly pastimes of the rich, but he does love a good puzzle. Or could it be that he is more drawn to young Captain Maxwell than he wishes to admit? Either way, Armiston must solve the secret of the cursed sarcophagus very soon, for Captain Maxwell is the next slated to die…
Another challenge in adapting an Edwardian novel for a contemporary romance buying audience was that of trying to stay true-ish to the source material while writing a book my own readers would get something out of. There's no question I like to try new things--and drag my readership along with me. But not everyone can make the jump (or honestly should even try--life's too short to read what you don't enjoy). I wasn't sure how successful the meld was until I heard the audio narrator read the first chapter. Suddenly the story sounded like Sherlock Holmes or Charles Dickens. Only...romantic. Romantic enough to bring a blush to a mummy's cheek.
I was uncertain as to the theme of the novel until I began to deal with the topic of Maxwell's opium addiction. After reading WAY too many medical books from the late 1800s I couldn't help noticing that the effect of opium on the body was described a lot like mummifying the internal organs. Once I saw that, I understood that this image of mummification -- of both artificially trying to preserve something and also a smothering, deadening of pain and distancing real life interactions -- persisted throughout the novel. And so I recognized my theme.
The challenge of writing a mash-up is you're generally working with a story in public domain, and the author is long dead. Which means you can't consult on things that don't make sense to you or the living editor. Like...Hey, Riccardo, you never explained what happened to X!! It's tricky because you're trying to retain the flavor and feel of the original, but the goal is to make it something very new and very different. But how different is TOO different? And how different is not enough different? It's a difficult balance and hugely challenging.
Three years ago, a scandal cost antiquarian book hunter James Winter everything that mattered to him: his job, his lover, and his self-respect. But now the rich and unscrupulous Mr. Stephanopoulos has a proposition. A previously unpublished Christmas book by Charles Dickens has turned up in the hands of an English chemistry professor by the name of Sedgwick Crisparkle. Mr. S. wants that book at any price -- and he needs James to get it for him. There's just one catch. James can't tell the nutty professor who the buyer is. Actually, two catches because the nutty Professor Crisparkle turns out to be totally gorgeous -- and on the prowl. Faster than you can say "Old Saint Nick," James is mixing business with pleasure -- and in real danger of forgetting that this is just a holiday romance.
The Dickens with Love was the first story I wrote specifically as a Christmas story, and it remains my favorite. It's got all the things I love: lost manuscripts, book hunters, a tiny bit of mystery, a tiny bit of magic, and a lot of really scrumptious food and setting. And James and Sedgwick remain two of my very favorite odd couples.
I actually do believe in--have experienced--love at first sight. But I've also experienced, well, maybe not the opposite, but I've ended up good friends--and more--with people I didn't initially like. So you never can tell...
At the urging of his agent, irascible mystery author Christopher Holmes agrees to attend a mystery writer's conference in the wilds of California wine country. But no sooner does he arrive then he discovers the pajama-clad body of a woman in the woods. Sometimes truth really is stranger than fiction...
A murderous fall down icy stairs is nearly all she wrote for Anna Hitchcock, the “American Agatha Christie.” The cry for help from his old mentor cuts short mystery author Kit Holmes’ romantic weekend with his new boyfriend J.X. Moriarity, and lands him an amateur sleuth gig in an elegant snowbound mansion in the Berkshires. Unfortunately, a clever killer is still one step ahead of Kit...
A gay high-society wedding. A stolen book of spells. A love-threatening lie. Can a witch avoid a murder rap without revealing the supernatural truth?
I always describe this series as Bewitched meets McMillan and Wife meets a gay mystery. I LOVED McMillan and Wife when I was a kid and I always wanted to write something that captured that particular mood. So Mainly by Moonlight has a number of "Easter eggs" hidden within its pages as a nod to my inspirations. Like the toast John and Cos share.
What I wanted to do with the Bedknobs and Broomsticks series was create a world that is basically OUR world, only with witches. Witches gifted with magical powers. The challenge is keeping my characters very human with recognizable and relatable concerns that can't be solved by a magical spell. I wanted the emotional ante to be real and occasionally painful. And I think that's best achieved by having the characters face many of the same challenges all married couples deal with: in-laws, friends, expectations, even the question of whether or not to have children.
I'm not sure if I've ever written a story before where almost everything in the protag's life is in flux PLUS the clock is ticking. In Mainly by Moonlight, Cosmo Saville, antiques dealer and witch, is trying to plan a wedding and solve a murder in the middle of moving house (the mortal way). But I think the time factor adds an element of suspense and craziness to the, er, festivities.
Despite having attracted the attention of a dangerous stalker, Special Agent Jason West is doing his best to keep his mind on his job and off his own troubles. But his latest case implicates one of the original Monuments Men in the theft and perhaps destruction of part of the world’s cultural heritage—a lost painting by Vermeer. Putting him on a collision course with romantic partner BAU Chief Sam Kennedy.
Granted, some of us are more hurtful than others. Sam Kennedy is a tough character to be in love with. Not because he doesn't care enough--he might even care too much, but that just adds to his difficulty. Those are the kinds of characters I like though. The complicated ones. The ones you love despite yourself.
I mean, as corny as that sounds, I think one of the most interesting things in a romance novel is to see the characters reacting to each other, noticing each other, showing that brief instant of guard-down recognition...
The snick of a lock. The squeak of door hinges. The creak of a floorboard..Nothing is more mysterious than footsteps in the dark. Are those approaching steps that of friend or enemy? Lover or killer? Authors L.B. Gregg, Nicole Kimberling, Josh Lanyon, Dal MacLean, Z.A. Maxfield, Meg Perry, C.S. Poe and S.C. Wynne join forces for Footsteps in the Dark, eight sexy and suspenseful novellas of Male/Male Mystery and Romance.
The SO is from Montreal, so I set this particular story there in a nod to him. It's a wonderful city. The perfect blend of Old World charm and the best of contemporary cosmopolitan. It's also a very romantic city and so it was very easy to imagine two men discovering that happiness--and love--really are often to be found in your own backyard.
CS Poe's clever and cinematic contribution to the FOOTSTEPS IN THE DARK anthology is Lights, Camera, Action. CS uses her real life experience in the movie industry to give the story those details that make a made-up world feel almost more real than real life. Plus...I love stories with PIs! And Rory Byrne is a great character.
ZA Maxfield's lip-smacking contribution to the FOOTSTEPS IN THE DARK anthology is a scrumptious blend of crime, cozy and crazy. It features a jaded and convalescent chef, an enigmatic ex-cop and an adorable goof of a Labrador pup. In other words, the perfect recipe for an afternoon's read.
Dal Maclean's A Country for Old Men is set on the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides, so right there I knew I was going to love it. But it also has one of my very favorite romantic dynamics: a second chance with the one who got away. I ADORE second-chance-at-love stories and this is a great one!
One of my favorite elements in M/M fiction is hurt/comfort. There's something about seeing the tender, protective side of a tough guy that just melts my little readers' heart. My own resident tough guy talks a good game, but he's actually (deep down--way deep down--keep going, it's down there...) a sentimental guy and very tender. Which is why S.C. Wynne's wonderful, witty Reality Bites bangs that hurt/comfort button for me.
Meg Perry's Twelve Seconds is a fascinating glimpse into a world I don't think I've ever seen explored in mystery fiction. The setting is Cape Canaveral. One of her heroes is a journalist covering all matters space related and the other is a federal officer assigned to the base. Best of all, Twelve Seconds kicks off a brand new series.
It's no secret that I ADORE Nicole Kimberling's contribution to the FOOTSTEPS IN THE DARK anthology. It's pretty much the perfect cozy, in my opinion. It's got a wry and witty protagonist, a staunch and long-suffering (mark my words, he's going to be long-suffering, he just doesn't know it yet) love interest, food, quirky side characters, more food, a great setting in the PNW, old mysteries and new mysteries... it's a delectable and delicious serving of mystery and romance.
What I love about this story by L.B. Gregg is that it happens in real time. It's funny, it's fast, it's thrilling--it's a run for your life and yet in all that panic and excitement, LB manages to work in a bit of genuine, heartfelt romance.
Librarian Carter Matheson is determined to enjoy himself on a Scottish bus tour for fans of mystery author Dame Vanessa Rayburn. Sure, his ex, Trevor, will also be on the trip with his new boyfriend, leaving Carter to share a room with a stranger, but he can't pass up a chance to meet his favorite author. Carter's roommate turns out to be John Knight, a figure as mysterious as any character from Vanessa's books. His strange affect and nighttime wanderings make Carter suspicious. When a fellow traveler's death sparks rumors of foul play, Carter is left wondering if there's anyone on the tour he can trust.
The idea for Murder Takes the High Road came to me while on a bus tour of the Highlands with my sisters and bestie. There are always going to be funny, quirky things when traveling with a pack of strangers (and by pack of strangers I don't mean my sisters and bestie) and so it seemed natural to use the actual trip as the structure for a murder mystery. The characters, on the other hand, are completely made up. OR ARE THEY? ;-)
Part of the fun in a cozy mystery is the fact that an ordinary person is caught up in extraordinary events. The balance is keeping it grounded in a recognizable, but ever so slightly comic reality. So the threat has to be real, but at the same time even in real life, threat is sometimes so unbelievable, it's funny. Laughter at the funeral, in a sense.
Nothing up his sleeves. Nothing but murder… Jason West, hot-shot special agent with the FBI’s Art Crime Team, is at the Wyoming home of Behavioral Analysis Unit Chief Sam Kennedy, recuperating from a recent hit-and-run accident, when he’s asked to consult on the theft of a priceless collection of vintage magic posters. But before Jason can say “presto change-o,” the owner of the art collection turns up murdered in a National Forest. When the dead man is revealed to be the Kubla Khanjurer, a much-hated part-time magician accused of revealing the highly guarded secrets of professional illusionists, it seems clear this is a simple revenge killing—until Jason realizes an earlier suspicious death at the trendy magic club Top Hat White Rabbit might be part of the same larger and more sinister pattern.
One of the interesting things about reading true crime is the disturbing realization that anyone can be a victim. The predator always has a plan. The victim...not so much. And no one can be on their guard every minute of every day. Not even an FBI agent...
On the eve of the new millennium, diamond thief Noel Snow seduced FBI special agent Robert Cuffe, then fled into the dawn. Now a successful novelist, Noel uses his capers as fodder for his books, and has modeled his hero's nemesis (and potential love interest) on Cuffe. Though he leaves Robert a drunken phone message every New Year's Eve, Noel hasn't seen or heard from him in a decade. So he's thrilled when his former lover shows up at his upstate farm one Christmas Eve. Elation quickly turns to alarm when Robert accuses Noel of being responsible for a recent rash of diamond heists. Robert is all business and as cold as ice: it seems his only interest in Noel is to put him behind bars. Innocent of the crimes, and still as attracted as ever to the oh-so-serious lawman, Noel plans a second seduction—providing he can stay out of jail long enough!
I think it's important to give characters jobs that tell the reader a lot about who that person is. But at the same time, we are not our job, and neither are characters. Sometimes we all behave "out of character," but those deviations have to make sense.
I don't think the modern romance reader is looking for the hero or heroine to be rescued by the other hero or heroine, but there's no denying there's something pretty darned appealing about someone who's ready to step in and lend a hand when you most need it. Especially if you don't know you need it!
The last person Texas Ranger Web Eisley expects to see four days before Christmas is his first love ballet dancer Mitch Evans.The attraction between them is as strong as ever, but is love enough to keep Mitch in town in the New Year?
Yeah, sex, sure, but what a holiday romance really needs, in my opinion, is an element of magic. It doesn't have to be actual supernatural happenings, but something quirky or surprising and not quite ordinary has to happen in a Christmas story. Maybe it's snow in Los Angeles, maybe it's a trapped Llama, or maybe it's a reappearing/disappearing reindeer...
I think there's some truth to the idea that opposites attract, but they don't necessarily make for the best relationships. Relationships are built on having enough important stuff in common and/or being very good at compromise. That said, I do like writing about relationships where the character dynamics guarantee some work will be involved. I like conflict between the characters to be organic and real, and nothing is more organic than trying to understand someone really different from you.
Christmas on Catalina Island--it's just what the doctor ordered.Injured in the line of duty, FBI Special Agent Shane Donovan is longing for a few days of peace and quiet. But an offshore storm, a geriatric treasure hunter, and the guy who dumped him without a word two years earlier are about to unwrap all Shane's carefully laid holiday plans.
It's a challenge to create unique and memorable characters. You can only write what you know--meaning what you have studied, experienced or imagined. If the thought has occurred to you yet, you can't use it. Which is why it's so important to read outside your preferences.
Humor is tricky. If there is one thing that separates people--and makes or breaks relationships--it's not sharing the same sense of humor. So the kind of thing that makes one reader laugh out loud could seem silly or stupid (or even annoying to someone else). But that doesn't stop me from writing scenes that tickle my own sense of humor!
If there's no real obstacle to two people falling in love, it's not much of a story. You have to have conflict. But I like the conflict to be real. To be a genuine potential deal-breaker. It's uncomfortable, but watching the characters work their way past their differences, struggling to be together is how you know it's love and it will last. But that usually means someone is going to have seriously hurt the other person. Sometimes the hurt is simply circumstantial. Sometimes the hurt is the result of a misunderstanding. And sometimes, the best times (I think) the hurt comes from a character who has some work to do.
Talk about Kitchen Nightmares! TV Chef Rocky and Foodie Blogger Jesse have been pals forever, so it should have been the most natural thing in the world to kick their relationship up a notch. Instead, it turned out to be a disaster. But Christmas is the season of love, and someone's cooking up a sweet surprise... Housebound for the holidays? Four contemporary holiday novellas about finding love in your own backyard. Even when you don't have a backyard.
I think my very favorite part of writing any story--but particularly romance--is dialog. I love snappy, funny, revealing conversations. Both for what the characters are saying and for what they're NOT saying.
Although I generally prefer writing murder and mayhem, something about the holidays brings out the sweetness and light in me. *Ahem* All kidding aside, I love writing Christmas stories. For me, the perfect Christmas story is sweet and light and goofy, but also carries a message of redemption because...well, that's sort of the point of the season. I've never actually checked, but I'm pretty sure the words "I'm sorry" feature prominently in all my holiday stories.
The last thing Jason West, an ambitious young FBI special agent with the Art Crime Team, wants—or needs—is his uncertain and unacknowledged romantic relationship with irascible legendary Behavioral Analysis Unit Chief Sam Kennedy. And it’s starting to feel like Sam is not thrilled with the idea either. But personal feelings must be put aside when Sam requests Jason’s help to catch a deranged killer targeting wealthy, upscale art collectors. A killer whose calling card is a series of grotesque paintings depicting the murders.
The FBI is one of the few organizations that not only is okay with fraternization between coworkers, it encourages it! Partly that's because agents move around a lot, and it's easier to find a second job for a spouse who works in your own organization than find a job for a spouse who works for another company. All the same, when work romances go bad, they go can go REALLY bad. Which is actually a fascinating dynamic to explore in a romance.
The problem with characters always making the smart and sensible choice, is that all books would end with the police showing up and hauling the bad guys off to jail, and the protagonist having a stiff drink and going to bed for a well-deserved rest after their close call. And that would happen at the end of Chapter One. Characters in books have to take chances, have to be willing to risks that a normal, sensible person would not -- and yet must do so for reasons compelling and convincing enough that readers are not screaming DON'T GO DOWN TO THE CELLAR! Secretly, we want the character to go down to the cellar, we want the story to escalate and grow more thrilling, but we need it to happen for the right reasons. We must be convinced the character has no real other choice.
The difficulty of writing a series with a romantic arc, is a number of readers will always struggle with the fact that for several books, there will be problems in the relationship. The characters are working their way to their Happy Ever After. It's a quest. Every bit as much as a quest as the search for a magical artifact. If the characters already knew their life lessons, and the relationship was on rock solid ground, well, that would be lovely, but all the tension and excitement would be gone. We'd be at the resolution of that plot line. Still, when good characters behave badly, it can drive readers to distraction.
Felix Day, author of the Constantine Sphinx mysteries, and Leonard Fuller, author of the Inspector Fez mysteries, are bitter rivals and the best of enemies. Both happen to be present when a notorious author of roman à clef is shot by an invisible assailant during a signing at historic Marlborough Bookstore. Even if they weren’t both suspects, it’s the perfect opportunity to match wits and sleuthing skills. If only the murderer was equally amused.
Elliot Mills comes face-to-face with evil in this follow-up to Fair Game and Fair Chance from bestselling author Josh Lanyon One final game of cat and mouse... Ex-FBI agent Elliot Mills thought he was done with the most brutal case of his career. The Sculptor, the serial killer he spent years hunting, is finally in jail. But Elliot's hope dies when he learns the murderer wasn't acting alone. Now everyone is at risk once again--from a madman determined to finish his partner's gruesome mission.
If you're writing a series, the characters -- and their relationships -- must show growth. There needs to be a character ARC. By the time you start the next book--even if relatively little story time has passed--the characters must have learned something from the previous adventures. Or there's no point to those previous adventures. But at the same time you don't want to lose what makes those characters appealing in the first place. So there has to be growth, but the characters can't become unrecognizable from their earlier selves. And, if you're writing any kind of romance, you have to figure out how to keep sexual tension and a certain amount of emotional conflict in play, without artificially manufacturing problems.
Three years ago investigative reporter Parker Davidson barely survived a brutal attack by his psychopathic ex-boyfriend. It’s given him a dim view of romance. When Parker’s ex escapes from a maximum security prison, LAPD Lieutenant Henry Stagge is tasked with making sure that Parker doesn’t end up a victim a second—and final—time. Most cops believe Parker got what he deserved, but over the course of a few very tense hours, Henry begins to wonder if there’s more to Parker than he thought. Second chances happen in the strangest places—and at the strangest times.
An escaped killer. A handsome bodyguard. Yeah, this is not that story. Well, yes, it is that story, but that's not exactly what the story is about. A lot of readers don't care for short stories. They feel that a short story is just a novel the author couldn't be bothered to write. But a short story is actually more like looking at a painting through a magnifying glass. Yes, the existing possibilities for the story are huge, but this framework only allows for a tight and very focused glimpse. The short story is a study in detail -- and that's what I love about it.
His romantic weekend in ruins, shy twenty-something artist Perry Foster learns that things can always get worse when he returns home from San Francisco to find a dead body in his bathtub. A dead body in a very ugly sportscoat -- and matching socks. The dead man is a stranger to Perry, but that's not much of a comfort; how did a strange dead man get in a locked flat at the isolated Alton Estate in the wilds of the "Northeast Kingdom" of Vermont? Perry turns to help from "tall, dark and hostile" former navy SEAL Nick Reno -- but is Reno all that he seems?
The creepy old Alston Estate with its chilly, cobwebbed ice house and crumbling dovecote and dusty gazebo is a major player in The Ghost Wore Yellow Socks. In fact, the challenge for the sequel is coming up with an equally intriguing and mysterious setting. The only thing I love more than secret passages are paintings where the eyes move.
In every healthy romantic relationship there's a balance of power. It's not a static thing; it's constantly shifting, readjusting, realigning as both partners change and (ideally) grow. I like to explore how that dynamic works in the initial stages of falling in love. Typically I'll use easily identifiable contrasts of age or physical strength or education or financial stability, but those are just symbols. The characters have to be more than their job description or appearance. In The Ghost Wore Yellow Socks, Perry is younger, physically frail, and rather sheltered, but he's got a resilience and mental toughness that I love.
One of the things I like best about this particular book was the opportunity to go full-on madcap. The setting reminds me of those quirky 1930s mysteries: a spooky old house, a disappearing corpse, and a cast of kooks. But even kooky characters have to be more than a set of quirks and tics. I give a lot of thought to the backstories of minor characters too. Most of that backstory never makes it into the book, but I think--hope--it keeps even the craziest of my characters recognizably human.
Special Agent Jason West is seconded from the FBI Art Crime Team to temporarily partner with disgraced, legendary “manhunter” Sam Kennedy when it appears that Kennedy’s most famous case, the capture and conviction of a serial killer known as The Huntsman, may actually have been a disastrous failure. The Huntsman is still out there...and the killing has begun again.
Well, actually, in this case...sex and humor. Which is a delicate balance for a writer. You don't want to spoil the mood for the reader. But, like the poets say, there's many a slip twixt the sip and the kiss. Or something like that. Being human is a messy business--not much like the movies--and sex is one of the messiest things of all. Not just the logistics of it, though...yes. Certainly that! But I'm thinking more about emotions. Emotions are not tidy. This is one of the reasons why I eventually changed my mind about writing sex scenes in mysteries. You can learn stuff about characters in those scenes that there is no way of otherwise exploring. And a sense of humor is all part of that.
I remember reading an interview with John Irving where he responded to the observation that certain motifs kept showing up in his work. His point was that yes, these things were symbols -- themes that continued to be important to him. In his case it was bears and incest. For me it seems to be spooky old houses, falling through uncertain flooring...there are probably a bunch of them that show up regularly. I'm sure they mean something and once I know for sure, maybe they'll stop popping into my stories.
In every romance novel there comes that moment in the story where the main character--both main characters, in fact -- are forced to confront their preconceptions about this person they're unwillingly falling for. It's only when the characters let go of their former biases that any kind of meaningful relationship can happen. Not that you can love someone and still misunderstand them...
Twenty years ago young Brian Arlington, heir to Arlington fortune, was kidnapped. Though the ransom was paid, the boy was never seen again and is presumed dead. Pierce Mather, the family lawyer, now administers and controls the Arlington billions. He's none too happy, and more than a little suspicious, when investigative journalist Griffin Hadley shows up to write about the decades-old mystery. Griff shrugs off the coldly handsome Pierce's objections, but it might not be so easy to shrug off the objections of someone willing to do anything to keep the past buried.
Setting up house with his new lover was tricky before arson landed his former radical father in the guest bedroom. Now ex-FBI agent Elliot Mills has to figure out who is willing to kill to keep Roland's memoirs from being published.
Disagreement is a normal part of any relationship. Learning to argue passionately without turning a difference of opinion into a war is part of being a civilzed grown-up. It's also a sign of love and respect -- that ability to accept that people you love and care about aren't always going to see things your way. My characters frequently disagree, but one thing I always try to show is how they work through those disagreements without destroying their relationship.
When you're writing about death and danger -- as I so often am -- I like to contrast that side of the main character's life with the softer more emotional side. Partly because I like writing about relationships! But partly because I think that contrast lends more power to both stories: the relationship story and the criminal investigation. When your characters love and are loved, they've got a lot to lose. It raises the stakes considerably.
An incredible savings. Over 600 pages and 200,000 words for less than $1.50 a book. This box set contains six complete bestselling mystery and suspense novellas by one of the leading authors of Male/Male crime and mystery fiction. Contains The Dark Horse, Cards on the Table, A Vintage Affair, Blood Red Butterfly, Don't Look Back, Lovers and Other Strangers
Fed up with his desk duty in the Imperial Arcane Library, book hunter Colin Bliss accepts a private commission to find The Sword's Shadow, a legendary and dangerous witches' grimoire. But to find the book, Colin must travel to the remote Western Isles and solve a centuries' old murder. It should be nothing more than an academic exercise, so why is dour -- and unreasonably sexy -- Magister Septimus Marx doing his best to keep Colin from accepting this mission -- even going so far as to seduce Colin on their train journey north? Septimus is not the only problem. Who is the strange fairy woman that keeps appearing at inconvenient times? And who is working behind the scenes with the sinister adventuress Irania Briggs? And why do Colin's employers at the Museum of the Literary Occult keep accusing Colin of betraying them? As Colin digs deeper and deeper into the Long Island's mysterious past, he begins to understand why Septimus is willing to stop him at any price -- but by then, it's too late to turn back. Read the excerpt
Fresh out of college and recently dumped by his long-time girlfriend, shy and bookish Jefferson Blythe is touring Europe using an inherited vintage copy of Esquire Magazine's Europe in Style. Jefferson Blythe, Esquire is about old maps, new adventures, getting lost, getting found, getting drunk, and being mistaken for an international criminal. In other words, normal summer vacation when you're in your twenties.
I have a nutty sense of humor so even in real life I have a tendency to laugh at inappropriate times. Because I mostly write crime and mystery, I sometimes find myself struggling to find that perfect balance. I don't want to diffuse the danger and threat too much--but it's impossible not to see (at the very least) the irony in so many of these deadly scenarios.
Clever and ambitious, Special Agent Adam Darling (yeah, he's heard all the jokes before) was on the fast track to promotion and success until his mishandling of a high profile operation left one person dead and Adam "On the Beach." Now he's got a new partner, a new case, and a new chance to resurrect his career, hunting a cruel and cunning serial killer in a remote mountain resort in Oregon. Deputy Sheriff Robert Haskell may seem laid-back, but he's a tough and efficient cop -- and he's none too thrilled to see feebs on his turf -- even when one of the agents is smart, handsome -- and probably gay. But a butchered body in a Native American museum is out of his small town department's league. For that matter, icy, uptight Adam Darling is out of Rob's league, but that doesn't mean Rob won't take his best shot.
Actually, by the time WINTER KILL takes place, Senior Special Agent Kennedy is a Unit Chief for the FBI's Behavioral Analysis Unit. Which means WINTER KILL falls in the middle of the Art of Murder trilogy. I thought this was an interesting way to introduce Kennedy, who can be an unmitigated asshole--certainly if he's not falling in love with you (and sometimes even when he is).
For me, the most interesting angle in a mystery is always motive. Maybe because in real life we so rarely get an answer as to why people do the things they do -- especially when those actions have fatal consequences. I suppose that's because there is rarely one reason -- barring madness -- that someone is driven to violence? But fiction is not real life and it has to make sense in a way that real life doesn't.
The much-requested digital collection of Josh's most popular short stories written between 2007 and 2013. Eight stories of adventure and contemporary romance. Included here are: "Perfect Day" "A Limited Engagement" "In Sunshine or In Shadow" "The French Have a Word for It" "In a Dark Wood" "Until We Meet Once More" "Heart Trouble" "In Plain Sight"
Connor loves teaching. He loves working with kids, he loves feeling like he's making a difference. And the kids -- and parents -- seem to love him. Until the afternoon he makes a small error in judgment, and an angry father's thoughtless comments start the kind of rumor that destroys careers. And lives. Now everything Connor thought he knew about himself and his world is in doubt. But sometimes help comes from the most unexpected direction.
One thing I enjoy writing -- well, maybe *enjoy* isn't the right word -- one thing I like to try to capture is the initial awkwardness of getting to know someone. All those firsts. Sometimes they're painless, but a lot of those firsts are just...AWKWARD. But weirdly enough going through the awkwardness together is actually part of how you build intimacy.
And sometimes it *is* all a big misunderstanding. But sometimes there are unconscious biases going on, and even we aren't aware of them. And until we're made aware, we can't really work through them. That was part of what Everything I Know was about. Because Wes Callahan isn't a bad guy and would never, in the ordinary course of events, said such terrible, unfair things. In fact, he's genuinely horrified when he has to face facts.
Ten years ago Cosmo Bari vanished, and with him, his legendary masterpiece, Virgin in Pastel. Since that day no one in the seaside art colony of Steeple Hill has heard from the eccentric painter. Surrounded by an extended family of Cosmo’s colorful compatriots, mystery writer Kyle Bari believes he has come to terms with being abandoned by his famous father, until the day Adam MacKinnon arrives with his new lover, the beautiful but poisonous, Brett. Brett has an unerring instinct for other people’s weak spots; soon the quiet colony is seething with hostility and suspicion as Brett hints he knows something about the missing artist.
When I'm asked which of my books is my favorite, I can never come up with anything, but Murder in Pastel would definitely be on the list. It has some of my favorite story elements: complicated interpersonal relationships, old lovers reunited, art and a cold case. Stone cold.
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