If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book, please contact E. B. Davis at writerswhokill@gmail.com.

April Interviews

4/1 Jennifer Chow, Mimi Lee Gets A Clue
4/8 John Gaspard
4/15 Art Taylor, The Boy Detective & The Summer of '74
4/22 Maggie Toussaint, Seas the Day
4/29 Grace Topping, Staging Wars

Saturday Guest Bloggers
4/4 Sasscer Hill
4/18 Jackie Green

WWK Bloggers:
4/11 Paula Gail Benson
4/25 Kait Carson


WWK is proud of our four Agatha nominees. Kaye George for Best Short Story--not her first time to be nominated, Connie Berry and Grace Topping for Best First Mystery Novel (wish they weren't having to compete against each other), and Annette Dashofy for Best Contemporary Novel--her fifth nomination!

Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

Look for Kaye George and Margaret S. Hamilton's short stories in the new Mid-Century Murder by Darkhouse Books. Kaye's story is "Life and Death on the Road" and Margaret's story is titled "4BR/3.5BA Contemporary."

Kaye George's first novel in the Vintage Sweets mystery series, Revenge is Sweet, will be released on March 10th. Look for the interview here on March 11.

Grace Topping's second novel in Laura Bishop staging series, Staging Wars, will be released by Henery Press on April 28th. Look for the interview here on April 29th.

Don't miss Shari Randall's "The Queen of Christmas" available on at Amazon. Shari's holiday story for WWK was too long so she published it for our enjoyment. It's available for 99 cents or on Kindle Unlimited for free!

KM Rockwood's "The Society" and "To Die A Free Man; the Story of Joseph Bowers" are included in the BOULD Awards Anthology, which was released on November 19. KM won second place with a cash prize for "The Society." Congratulations, KM! Kaye George's "Meeting on the Funicular" is also in this anthology, which can be bought for 99 cents on Kindle until November 30.

Shari Randall will be writing again for St. Martin's, perhaps under a pseudonym. We look forward to reading Shari's Ice Cream Shop Mystery series debuting next year. Congratulations, Shari!


Wednesday, April 30, 2014

An Interview with Linda Rodriguez

“Another train clattered through town, and its hooting whistle sounded to me like the murderer jeering at me for not being smarter, not seeing through his veils and machinations.”
                                                                                    Linda Rodriguez
                                                                                                             Every Hidden Fear (page. 198)

 Impersonal murders by hit men aren’t my favorite type of mysteries. In Linda Rodriguez’s Every Hidden Fear, the kill is personal and evoked by passion and fear. The villain-victim emotionally sucker-punched all the suspects. We hate the victim, we’re glad he’s dead, and it almost seems a shame to punish the killer—my favorite type of mystery. The reader wants to help eradicate the fear of the suspects.

The insidious aspect of Linda’s book is her demonstration that in our best attempt to love, we are our own enemy. I’ve loved all of Linda’s books, but this one was personal and affects her MC, Skeet Bannion. I found myself comparing my life to Skeet’s. I think you will, too.                                                        E. B. Davis

Here’s the jacket copy:

Skeet Bannion's Cherokee grandmother has come to live with her and her teenage ward Brian, and Skeet is still trying to adjust to the change while also keeping the peace on the local college campus. Then Ash Mowbray, a bad boy from the wrong side of the tracks, comes back to Brewster as a wealthy developer, pushing plans to build a shopping mall on the outskirts of town that will destroy the town square businesses. The town council is split on his proposal, and emotions are running high.

Mowbray makes things worse by announcing that he is the real father of the high school athlete Noah Steen, having left Noah’s mother, Chelsea, pregnant as a teenager when he fled town after high school. Chelsea and her husband Elliott are horrified that Mowbray has publicized that Elliott is not Noah’s father and afraid that he will steal their beloved son from them. Noah is shocked to learn the truth of his parentage and furious with Mowbray. It’s not long before Mowbray turns up murdered with Noah as the prime suspect. Brian and Noah's girlfriend Angie turn to Skeet to find the murderer and save their friend.

Is hate the opposite of love?

Actually, I think hate and love make up a circle. Love can turn into hate, especially love spurned or betrayed. In the extreme, each is a passion, and passions burn brightly or destructively. One can slide only too easily into the other.

Do you think love causes as many problems in the world as hate? Is there an alternative?

There are so many kinds of love, and they’re all terribly important to a world that needs more love in it than it has right now. But love can and does cause problems. Think the smother love of overprotective mothers or the possessive love of partners or parents. Think the insecure, jealous love of Othello or the overly romanticized love of so many of Jane Austen’s heroines’ unfortunate sisters. Think of Gov. Mark Sanford’s “love of his life” for his Argentinian mistress that caused him to destroy his family and fail in his duties as governor.

I do not think love causes as many problems as hate. Love gives us so much that’s wonderful while
hate gives nothing to anyone, except a spurious sense of power. But any emotion carried to an extreme can be a problem.

In loving we become vulnerable. Why does Skeet’s grandmother warn that choosing not to love is just as risky?

Gran quite rightly points out that closing yourself off to love and to other people can be crippling and leave you in a lonely, miserable situation when you grow old. Opening to the possibility of love does leave you vulnerable to rejection, betrayal, manipulation, and many other painful options. We have no guarantees when we give someone our love, but to refuse to love because of our fear of pain is ultimately the greatest failure. It’s like someone going underground to live in one of those 1950s bomb shelters to be safe and staying there for the rest of his life, a terrible waste.

When gambling, most people try to make an educated risk. But Charlie, Skeet’s father, doesn’t care about his odds. Why?

Charlie essentially locked himself into that underground bomb shelter for decades. Now, he’s grown old and realizes what he’s lost because of his fear. He knows that Marie may take advantage of him or hurt him, but he’s decided to take that chance because he’s seen the deterioration that comes with the refusal to take that chance on love.

Skeet knows that she has to allow Brian to make his own mistakes. But loving at any age involves risk. Does knowledge of that risk help to avoid the pitfalls of love?

I don’t think so. Having been around the block and had some of the naiveté knocked off may help us keep from rushing in where angels fear to tread at a moment’s notice, but even older and wiser souls can fall into the grip of a passionate love and find themselves saying and doing things they never thought they would.

I was unfamiliar with three terms you used. Could you define: Friend-zone (which my daughter and I discussed), Creator-signs, and Blind-yonega?

Only one of those is an actual term in the book—friend zone. It’s a term used by some of the men of the generations after the Boomers to mean a man whom a particular woman will be friends with but never have a sexual relationship with. Everything I’ve seen of it refers to the idea that a man can pretend to be friends with a woman, but then if she won’t have sex with him, he’s somehow allowed to feel aggrieved. Some men have even suggested that such women are guilty of “suitor-abuse” and there should be penalties for it under law.

The others are not actual terms I use in the book. Skeet and her gran talk about being able to read the signs that the Creator gives us in everyday life to guide us. The Cherokee don’t make vision quests because we feel that daily life is full of these signs, and it’s our gift and duty to read and interpret them. Yonega is the word for “white man” in the Cherokee language, Tsalagi, and it’s also the word for the English language. Gran says at one point in the book that the yonega are blind to the natural signs around them, focusing too much on technology and material things.

One ignores, one tries to commit suicide, and another kills in response to blackmail. Are you fascinated by how people react in different ways to the same stimuli?

Absolutely! It has always been a wonder to me to see how differently people react to the same stimuli—and often in the most unexpected ways.  It’s really noticeable when you put people under stress. This is what makes writing fiction so seductive. You’ve created these characters, but they often don’t do what you think they should do when faced with stressful situations. It’s always a surprise.

Train whistles form the background music of your novel. Is it realism or symbolism?

The trains are both. They began as realism. One of the small towns around Kansas City on which I based Brewster, Missouri—I used favorite parts of several—is Parkville, Missouri, which has major train lines running through the heart of the town. I added that background music as a realistic detail to evoke setting, and then I used it to further characterization through the ways in which Skeet interprets the train sounds. Sometimes they sound cheerful to her, and sometimes they sound as if they’re mocking her—and sometimes they sound ominous or mournful or angry. She is, of course, projecting her own emotions on them. As I used them in this way through the series, they began to take on a symbolic life of their own, as well.

When a heinous crime is committed by someone who manages to evade our justice system, or that crime is a moral one outside of the justice system, do we have the right to kill them, stopping further destruction and protecting others?

No, I don’t believe we do. As every little kid hears repeatedly, two wrongs don’t make a right. It is an appealing idea, however, when we see so many miscarriages of justice, but once you start down that road, anarchy and violent chaos are your final end points. Ash is a man who’s done evil things and would probably continue to do them, but that doesn’t mean that murdering him is allowable.

Men swirl around Skeet. One she loses, one disappoints her, and another hurts and angers her. Skeet’s love life seems a minefield. Is that an accurate analogy to real life?

Everyone I know, except a few blessed souls who married their childhood sweethearts and lived happily ever after, went through a romantic minefield before finding the partner with whom they could be truly happy—if they have found that person yet. Skeet’s definitely not in the “happily ever after” part yet but rather the emotional minefield part. Her romantic situation is not made better by closing herself off to love’s vulnerability. And that closing off is why she finds men swirling around her. Humans, especially male humans, tend to want what (or who) they can’t have.

Linda your cover art is fantastic. Who is the artist?

The cover paintings for all of my Skeet Bannion books are by Ross Jones of Deborah Wolfe Ltd. The jacket designs are by David Baldeosingh Rotstein and include a font created just for these books that was inspired by the Cherokee syllabary invented by Sequoiah. I feel very blessed with these eye-catching covers. St. Martin’s/Minotaur has been absolutely wonderful about cover art and design, consulting me every time and giving me absolutely gorgeous-looking books.

I can’t wait for the next novel. What’s next for Skeet?

In Skeet Bannion #4, tentatively called Every Family Doubt, Skeet receives a call from her estranged mother wanting Skeet to come to Tahlequah, Oklahoma, to solve a murder and free her stepfather, who’s been jailed for it. Gran insists she go, so she and Gran pack up Brian and head out for Tahlequah, capital of the Cherokee Nation. There she will be faced with and have to come to terms with all kinds of family entanglements and secrets—in her own family and with those involved in the murder.

  Don't be fooled by Linda's placid demeanor!

Every Hidden Fear will publish on May 6th, and it’s getting good reviews. Library Journal called it “engrossing.” It’s available for pre-order right now. Everyone who pre-orders Every Hidden Fear and sends me some kind of proof of pre-order (scan of receipt, email confirmation of order, etc.) at lindalynetterodriguez@gmail.com with a subject line of PRE-ORDER CONTEST goes into the pot for the drawing for the prizes. The grand prize is an original design, hand-knitted, multicolor lace shawl made from various luxury fibers, such as baby alpaca, merino, silk, and cashmere, many of which will be handspun and hand-dyed. I used to design and make these one-of-a-kind shawls on commission for hundreds of dollars each. I even made a special one for Sandra Cisneros. The second prize will be the chance to have a character in my next book named after you, and there will be two of these! And everyone who enters will receive a signed bookplate to go in their copy of Every Hidden Fear. For pre-order links, reviews and blurbs for Every Hidden Fear, and more details and photos on the shawl and contest, visit my blog. http://lindarodriguezwrites.blogspot.com/2014/04/pre-order-contest-for-every-hidden-fear.html
Linda Rodriguez’s second Skeet mystery, Every Broken Trust, was a selection of Las Comadres National Latino Book Club and is currently a finalist for both the International Latino Book Award and the Premio Aztlan Literary Prize. Her first Skeet novel, Every Last Secret, won the Malice Domestic Best First Traditional Mystery Novel Competition, was a Barnes & Noble mystery pick, and was a finalist for the International Latino Book Award. Her short story, “The Good Neighbor,” has been optioned for film. Find her on Twitter as @rodriguez_linda, on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/LindaRodriguezWrites, and on blogs with The Stiletto Gang http: http://thestilettogang.blogspot.com/, Writers Who Kill http://writerswhokill.blogspot.com/, and her own blog http://lindarodriguezwrites.blogspot.com.


Warren Bull said...

I was a big fan of Linda's first book and every subsequent book is better than the one before it. Luckily I pre-ordered so I'll get it as soon as it is released. I've been wanting to meet grandma through two books and now she appears.

Jim Jackson said...

I have not thought of love and hate as opposites. They both involve intense emotions. The opposite of love may be indifference?

Sounds like another terrific read, which I am looking forward to.

~ Jim

Linda Rodriguez said...

Warren, I think you'll enjoy reading about Gran. I had a lot of fun writing her parts of the book. She's based on my own grandmother who I lost when I was a kid, so I've tried to envision my gran as she would be in today's world. I've given her lots of little details from my own grandmother, and that was a real pleasure.

Linda Rodriguez said...

Jim, you may be right, but I do know that love can morph into hate if thwarted. Maybe they're the two sides of the same coin.

Gloria Alden said...

Linda, I'm also a big fan of your books and can't wait until this book arrives in the mail. I'd hoped Amazon would have sent the preordered books early.

I included my grandmother in my series, too, in several ways. One is my protagonist's own grandmother and another is one who only looks like my grandmother. I look forward to meeting yours.

As for the love/hate relationship, I've experiences anger, of course, but I can't think of a time when I actually hated a person - not even the ex who left after 31 years of marriage. Anger, yes, but I never hated him and still don't. Hate is a cancer growing inside and destroys.

Linda Rodriguez said...

Gloria, you're so right about hate being a cancer that destroys from within. I can't say I've ever felt it either, not even for the father who molested me repeatedly as a child. To me, hate is giving someone else real estate in your mind, a permanent foothold, and I only want to give that to those I love.

Kara Cerise said...

This sounds like another wonderful book, Linda. I'm glad that Gran is moving in with Skeet. I look forward to her grandmotherly wisdom and advice.

Linda Rodriguez said...

Thanks, Kara! Gran's likely to be dispensing mischief as well as wisdom. :-)

Shari Randall said...

Linda, I am so happy for you! And for me, because now there's another Skeet book ;) Your characters are so richly drawn. I am looking forward to seeing more of Skeet's family circle.
I'm glad EB touched on your book covers - they really are special. Have you met the artist who does them?

Linda Rodriguez said...

Thanks, Shari! No, I've never met either the artist or the designer. The designer is in-house with St. Martin's/Minotaur, I believe. The artist is freelance but with a company or agency that my publisher uses a lot. They sit in a series of meetings during the publishing process and take the suggestions my editor has asked me to send and turn them into mock-ups of fabulous covers to send back to me.

E. B. Davis said...

I liked Linda's first book. I thought her second was better. Now I'm hooked. Her books really do get better and better. The last time I felt that way, I was reading Peter Robinson! May you have a long career, Linda. Thanks for the interview.

Linda Rodriguez said...

Thank you, EB, for the insightful questions and for the kind words about my books. Peter Robinson! That's certainly an exciting comparison. :-)

Polly Iyer said...

I loved Linda's first book and fully intend to read the second and third. She hits every mark, writing, characterizations, and story. The trifecta. She deserves every accolade she receives.

Linda Rodriguez said...

Thanks so much, Polly! It means a lot to know that other writers "get" what you're trying to accomplish.