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

April Interview Schedule:
4/3 Connie Berry
4/10 Malice Domestic Anthology 14 Authors
4/17 David Burnsworth
3/24 Grace Topping

Saturday Guest Bloggers: 4/6 Edith Maxwell, 4/13 Ellen Butler

WWK Satuday Bloggers: 4/20 Margaret S. Hamilton, 4/27 Kait Carson


Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

Please read Margaret S. Hamilton and Debra Goldstein's short stories (don't ask about their modus operandi) in a new anthology, Cooked To Death Vol. IV: Cold Cut Files

Congratulations to Shari Randall for her nomination for the Agatha Award for Best First Novel. Her book, Curses, Boiled Again was published by St. Martin's last year. Read the interviewabout the book here. Yay, Shari!

The Malice Domestic conference participants have nominated Annette Dashofy for an Agatha Award for her Zoe Chambers mystery Cry Wolf, published in 2018 by Henery Press. Read E. B. Davis's interview with Annette about Cry Wolf here. Will four nominations be the charm?

Warren Bull's Abraham Lincoln: Seldom Told Stories was released. It is available at: GoRead: https://www.goread.com/book/abraham-lincoln-seldom-told-stories or at Amazon: http://a.co/d/jdSBKdM

Grace Topping's mystery, Staging is Murder, which will be released April 30, is available for pre-order.

KM Rockwood's new short story, "Map to Oblivion," has been included the anthology Shhhh...Murder! edited by Andrew MacRae and published by Darkhouse Books. It was released on Sept. 12.

Warren Bull also has a story in Shhh...Murder! Look for "Elsinore Noir," Warren's short story, in this anthology.

Shari Randall's third Lobster Shack Mystery, Drawn and Buttered, was published February 26, 2019. Available for sale.


Wednesday, July 27, 2016

An Interview with R. Franklin James by E. B. Davis

 “I got her routine down. She’s in my sights. She’s dead whenever you say.”
R. Franklin James (Kindle Loc. 151)

R. Franklin James writes the Hollis Morgan Mystery series published by Camel Press. The Fallen Angels Book Club, the first book, presented the unusual premise of this series, which I will let Rae explain. That premise and main character, Hollis Morgan, kept me reading. The Trade List, the fourth book, released in May, shows how technology can either help exonerate or implicate individuals regardless of their innocence or guilt. Like identity theft, it’s a scary notion.

After you’ve read this interview, check out Rae’s May guest blog at: http://writerswhokill.blogspot.com/2016/05/you-cant-wait-for-muse-to-write-by-r.html   

Welcome back to WWK, Rae.                      E. B. Davis

Please explain the premise of your series to our readers. 

Although I wasn’t conscious of a theme when I first started, I realized by the time I finished the first book in the series (The Fallen Angels Book Club), that Hollis’s story is one of redemption.  My premise is that we each have to first forgive ourselves for our real and imagined transgressions before we see ourselves as others see us. The Hollis Morgan Mystery Series is about second chances and social labels, and how life has a way of holding up its mirror for us to see.

Who was Hollis before she went to prison and how did she earn her living? 

Hollis was a law student in San Francisco and her insurance broker husband supported them. Unfortunately, she didn’t know their income came from his fraudulent insurance claims.

How was Hollis able to join the California Bar when she was a convicted felon?

In California, there is a law called the Safety and Rehabilitation Act which allows ex-felons of non-violent crimes to apply, under certain conditions, for a judicial pardon. If awarded a pardon, the individual no longer must check the box that they were a felon and they are eligible to take the California Bar.

When Hollis’s manager, George Ravel inherits his birth mother’s estate, her husband’s family contests her will. You present Hollis at work as a probate attorney, but you aren’t an attorney. What research did you do to get the details right? Is a probate attorney different than a wills/estate attorney?

Actually, I was employed as a paralegal specializing in probate and intellectual property law. Writing about Hollis, I was able to directly draw from my work experience at a law firm very much like Dodson, Dodson and Doyle. I was very pleased to get an email from a probate judge in Los Angeles who said that my setting was so realistic she thought I must have visited her courtroom.

Probate Law encompasses wills, trusts, and estate settlements.

When Hollis receives a text message, which I’ve quoted above at the top of this interview, it’s found to have come from a burner phone. What is “triangulation?”

With the proper technology, law enforcement officials (and hackers) can trace a call from the location of the caller to the location of the person contacted. The “triangle” is: the location of the tracer, the caller and the person called. Thanks to a chip in our smartphones, it is fairly straightforward to locate a criminal, or a victim, who has a cell phone in their possession.  

When a woman is found dead with Hollis’s business card among her possessions, Hollis becomes a “person of interest” to police detective Silva, the main investigator. But Hollis’s friend, Stephanie, complicates matters. She isn’t very sensitive to Hollis’s needs, is she?

Stephanie and Hollis are friends for a reason. Neither would take advantage of their friendship—except when they have to. Stephanie isn’t afraid to tell Hollis she’s out of line when the situation warrants, and Hollis pulls no punches when Stephanie asks for her advice.

Because of her ex, Hollis has trust issues. But she confides in her current beau, John, while he doesn’t give up much information under the guise of his Homeland Security job. I found that a bit unfair, like a one-way street. Even further, when John finds out Hollis didn’t tell him all, he gets mad at her. “Don’t start keeping things from me, Hollis. When you do it starts piling up as garbage that separates us.” Doesn’t that apply to him as well?

Like attracts like: John’s social “walls” aren’t made from the same experiences as Hollis’s—but he has trust issues too. His issues are less from misplaced trust and more from an introverted personality with a wariness of people he doesn’t know. He was adopted and an only child. While he maintains strict secrecy about his job, he understands what it will take to bring Hollis out of her shell. He sees past her “walls” and knows what it means for her to slowly drop her guard. He doesn’t want her to slip behind those walls again.

You show readers a lot about Hollis through Vince Colton. How does Hollis treat Vince?

Hollis is immediately attracted to Vince’s plight. He is the vulnerable “shadow” that reflects her own needs. Her emotional wounds are echoed by Vince, and eventually his healing leads to her healing. He is like the younger brother who needs help to regain his footing, and she sees in him the man he is meant to be.
Your secondary characters are memorable. My favorite little-old-lady Phyllis Mason turns into a dynamo. She had me fooled (and I think Hollis, too.) What was her role in your story and how did she tie the estate case and the murder case together?  

Phyllis Mason was a highly successful district attorney before she retired. However, as she aged she gave into the stereotype of a fearful little old lady. Helping Hollis forces her to see that she still has the skills and savvy to make a vital contribution to solving a case.

How is the Trade List a double-edged sword?   

The actual Trade List is a compilation of coded names of interstate criminals and their protection. It is a list Olivia Shur wants to trade for her immunity. However, there are others who see the list’s extortion potential. The possibility of the sword to swing one way for blackmail and another for immunity depends upon who is wielding it. Hollis uncovers the connection at her own peril.

“It was a typical Bay Area summer day, gray with late afternoon fog hovering over the Golden Gate Bridge and the San Francisco skyline. It was Hollis’s favorite weather.” You’re kidding, right?

Mark Twain once said that the coldest winter he ever spent was a summer in San Francisco. Bay Area natives tend to favor the upside down seasons, and Hollis is contrary enough to make it her favorite.

Why does Hollis use tuna sandwiches as a restaurant’s “litmus” test?

Many people judge a restaurant or diner by the quality of their hamburgers or sometimes their desserts. If you can get a good burger, (others might choose a Crème Brulee), you’ve got a good place to eat. Hollis’s criterion runs to the tuna sandwich.

Have you plotted your series?

Yes. I’m a plotter at heart. First I created the story line for the first three books in the series. By the time I started writing the third book (The Return of the Fallen Angels Book Club), I knew Hollis’s story was not over. I generated the plot lines for another three books. I made a chapter outline of each book taking off from the one before it. Needless to say characters and plots don’t always follow an outline, but I find that it helps me avoid writer’s block.

How did you get your contract with Camel Press?

I have an agent who made the sale. Through her, I pitched a three-book series. Camel Press liked the concepts, and offered an option for a fourth book if I wrote the same protagonist.

What’s next for Hollis?

Books five and six are in various stages of production. Book five: The Bell Tolls will be released in May 2017. Hollis has evolved as a character. She’s a force who’s not afraid to step up and take action for what she feels is right.  However, her most cherished life support is shaken to the core and she has to make a decision about which road to take.



Margaret Turkevich said...

San Francisco setting, legal complications and devices, already a winner before I open the book.

Warren Bull said...

Thanks for sharing with us at WWK.

Kait said...

As a probate paralegal I can't wait to read this book. What a wonderful premise and timely story. Kudos.

Carla Damron said...

This sounds like a fascinating series. I love it that you deal with redemption as a theme in your mysteries.

Gloria Alden said...

Welcome to WWK. I'm sure I would really like this book, not only because of the plot, but because I love the San Francisco area. I have a daughter who lives 30 miles north of the city, and I've made many trips to it.

R. Franklin James said...

Thank you for the kind words. Hollis is a force to be reckoned with. Her deductive skills and mistrust of most people are a blessing and a curse.

Setting and storyline is everything in a Hollis Morgan mystery. I hope you enjoy!

R. Franklin James

Cynthia Sample said...

I love this series. Now I can't wait for Book 5!

Michele Drier said...

Both Rae and Hollis are friends!
I've read all the Hollis books (full disclosure, some are beta reads and no, I won't tell you what happens). One of the things I like about the series is that Hollis grows, both in her professional and personal life and discovers strengths she didn't realize she had.
Give me a strong woman protag every day!

Kathleen Asay said...

Great interview. Your comfort with the law and lawyers shows through in each book, real lawyers, not the ambulance-chasing stereotypes. It's good work and good reads.

KM Rockwood said...

Sounds like a winning series. I'm going to have to check it out. My series, Jesse Damon Crime Novels, also has a protagonist who has spent time in prison, but he's on the opposite end of the socio-economic ladder, and while he was not the triggerman, he's definitely guilty of felony murder. It'll be interesting to see how you handle some of the issues.

Penny Manson said...

I love a story that gives second chances to characters who deserve them. I love watching a character grow in a series. I love watching a character struggle with forgiveness of others and herself. I love Hollis Morgan!!

E. B. Davis said...

Thanks for the interview, Rae. I love your series premise and admire the research you've put into your writing. Good luck as you continue.