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

October Interviews
10/2 Debra H. Goldstein, Two Bites To Many
10/10 Connie Berry, A Legacy of Murder
10/17 Lida Sideris, Double Murder or Nothing
10/23 Toni L. P. Kelner writing as Leigh Perry, The Skeleton Stuffs A Stocking
10/30 Jennifer David Hesse, Autumn Alibi

Saturday Guest Bloggers:
10/5 Ang Pompano
10/12 Eyes of Texas Anthology Writers
10/19 Neil Plakcy

WWK Bloggers: 10/26 Kait Carson


Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

Lyrical Press will publish Kaye George's Vintage Sweets mystery series. The first book, Revenge Is Sweet, will be released in March. Look for the interview here on 3/11.

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!

Susan Van Kirk's A Death At Tippett Pond was released on June 15th. Read E. B. Davis's interview with Susan.

KM Rockwood's "Frozen Daiquiris" appears in The Best Laid Plans: 21 Stories of Mystery & Suspense, edited by Judy Penz Sheluk. The anthology was released on June 18th.

Fishy Business anthology authors include KM Rockwood, Debra Goldstein, and James M. Jackson. This volume was edited by Linda Rodriguez.

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.

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: https://tinyurl.com/ydaklx8p

Grace Topping's mystery, Staging is Murder was released April 30.


Wednesday, January 17, 2018

An Interview With Kaye George by E. B. Davis

The Neanderthal tribe of Enga Dancing Flower must trek south to flee the approaching glacier, but the distance is long and the food is scarce. When a venerable elder drowns crossing a flooded river, Enga suspects that it was not an accident, and that a murderer travels with them.

I was on a spate of reading boring novels. So when I discovered I’d missed the second book of Kaye George’s People of the Wind series, Death On The Trek, I was glad—knowing it would be a great read—much to my relief.

I wouldn’t expect to love books about Neanderthals. But Kaye’s book captivated me. I read it in a day. The Neanderthal Hamapa tribe must migrate when its main food source, the mammoth, has gone south to escape glacier ice that is descending from what is now Canada. They encounter much strife and challenges along the way, but when murders occur, a tribe elder enlists Enga Dancing Flower, Kaye’s main character, to discover the perpetrator.

My interview with Kaye about the first book in the series, Death In The Time Of Ice, is linked here. Welcome back to WWK, Kaye!                                                                                                       E. B. Davis 
To orient modern readers, from what I could discern, the Hamapa Neanderthal tribe started their trek at the beginning of spring in what is now known as Wisconsin to follow their main food source, the mammoth, south after the glaciers move toward them. By the end of the story, in autumn, they have found mammoth located in what is now Texas. Ten thousand years ago? Did I get that right?

Not quite. It’s probably hard to tell, but I put them in New Mexico, near a distinctive rock formation, Tucumcari Mountain. And the story takes place about 30,000 years ago. I had the date in the intro to the first book. Maybe I should have repeated that in this one. I’ll include it in the third one!

To ground readers in the story, you start each chapter with a quote from an archeology, biology, or sociology book that explains an aspect of the chapter. Was that a technique you developed at the series inception or one you devised during beta readings?

I went through SO many iterations of style and content, it’s hard to tell. Since I’m writing from inside their world, it’s impossible to convey some of the things that might not make sense, or might be questionable to a modern reader. I thought that including snippets of my research might help. For instance, when I introduce the Denisovans, I can’t call them that. So I put a short passage describing their probable dark skin, hair, and eyes, from the genome reconstruction published online by the UK Natural History Museum. In the chapter where the storyteller relates ancient history about horses in North America fleeing to Asia (they originated on this continent, then migrated to Asia and were reintroduced by the Spanish), I quote from a book on Ice Age Mammals.

Prior to beginning the trek, Hama, the female ruler of the tribe, receives the adult names from the supreme spirit, Dakadaga, of two boys even though they have not come of age, as is the practice. One is an apprentice storyteller, and the other is the fire keeper, who inherited the job early, his predecessor having died. Enga Dancing Flower fears Hama doesn’t think the boys will survive the trek and gives them names to die by, but that isn’t the reason. What is?

The fire tender has already been doing the job of an adult, so it is fitting that he gets his Passage Ceremony before they start the trek. Also, the senior storyteller is getting old and, even if most of the tribe survives the trip, it’s doubtful he will. The apprentice has already learned all of the lore and is ready to step into his position, so this will make it easier, if that has to happen during the journey. But, really, the main reason is that the leader, through the high god, doesn’t think everyone will survive the journey. She’s right, of course.

Enga and her sister, Ung Strong Arm, are not native to the Hamapa tribe, having been taken in as infants. I was surprised that the tribe was mostly unprejudiced, (although wary of adults from other tribes). Sooka, a baby of another woman, was fathered by a Tall One, who I think may be of the homo sapiens species. Why don’t they have fear of other tribes/species?

Yes, the Tall One, Sooka’s father, was mostly Cro Magnon, or, as they’re now called, Anatomically Modern Humans or Early Modern Humans. (Personally, I liked Cro Magnon better.) There’s enough space for everyone back then, so they don’t have rivalry with other Neanderthal tribes. Instead, they trade with them on rare get-togethers. The Hamapa haven’t met enough people of other species to fear them. They assume others are like them. Most of them are, but with some marked differences, as they find out. But Enga and Ung are Neanderthals from a different tribe. They know that they are all one bad winter away from starvation, and the winters are getting worse, so they don’t mind helping out their own kind.

Although Enga and Ung are from another tribe, they must have close genetics to the Hamapa, who can communicate telepathically and verbally. Not only can they communicate telepathically, they also can intercept others thoughts and communiqués if the transmitter doesn’t cloak his/her thoughts, which can happen during unguarded moments. Why doesn’t telepathy cause more stress and fighting among members?

I think this is explained more fully in the first book, too. The two adopted girls are better able to learn the tribe’s own telepathy because they were so young when they come to the Hamapa. I’ve portrayed the tribe as a mostly peaceful people, with petty squabbles, but no serious battles. When, sometimes, the telepathy cloaks slip, that does cause some problems.

They run into the Mikino who attack them and take their mammoth jerky, which they brought to sustain them on their journey. Were the disgusting small people, the Mikino, homo floresiensis? Are there archeological clues that the species was aggressive?

Yes, that’s my portrayal of them, also called Hobbit People. There are not clues that they were disgusting and violent. I just wanted more conflict at the point where they encounter each other. But the latest research, which wasn’t out when I wrote this, shows that they were most likely descended from Homo habilis, beings that are much more ancient than either Homo sapiens or Neanderthals, even older than Homo erectus. I’m pleased to find this out, since it might (might!) make them more primitive and animal-like than the others in the world I created, where I mash all these species together on the same continent.

You wrote within two POVs: Enga and Jeek, a young boy who likes to throw spears even though it’s a “girl’s” job. Why did you want Jeek’s POV, and why was spear throwing a female pursuit?

First of all, the spear-throwing—that’s my feminist slant that pervades the whole set up. My thought is that, if you didn’t know biology and you weren’t strictly monogamous, you wouldn’t necessarily know who your father was. But you would always know who your mother was. So I had heredity and lineage come through the matriarchal line, and also gave them the main jobs—leading the tribe and hunting the food. As to Jeek, after I created him, I found that I liked him a lot and could give him a major role in the story. I wanted him to be an instrument of change for them, to challenge the status-quo. He’s Enga’s clever helper when she solves mysteries. I think of him like a street urchin for Holmes, only better.

They run across some helpful people they know as the Hooden, who dine on sloth, which they pen in caves and feed. The Hamapa are so hungry due to the Mikino attack, they need to eat the sloth. Have you confirmed that sloth is disgusting to eat?

Yes, I did find that out! Even though they have no body odor, the meat tastes terrible to almost everyone who has tried it. There is one tribe who occasionally eats it, but modern people who have tasted it never want to do that again. I had to include penned up sloth, because I ran across an article about giant sloths being kept in pens in Patagonia and had to use it.

When Panan One Eye is hit on the head with a rock and killed, his apprentice Mootak claims to have seen a spirit murder Panan. Why don’t many of the tribe believe him?

They’re pretty practical people. Even though they pay homage to their many gods, and feel that they influence their lives, they’re pragmatic enough to know that the gods don’t actually walk around among them.

Enga is pregnant with Tog’s child. Tog isn’t a great mate. He spends much of his time with another female and her child. He urges her to dance when she could miscarry. Do the Hamapa marry?

They don’t marry, exactly. They have a First Coupling, which is for a man or woman’s very first time. That is supposed to happen only with the approval of Hama and it used to be done in the Holy Cave, in the place where they lived before they set out on the trek. The Holy Cave was reserved for First Coupling, a female’s first Red Flow, and the place where they gave Birth. They’ll have to find a new place for this when they get to the new land. Once someone has a First Coupling, they usually stay together, but can change partners. The Hama does this more than anyone, it seems.

Is Vala an early sociopath?

She’s not a very good person! She is the daughter of Nanno, who was also not nice in the first book. However, her sister, Rho, didn’t turn out the way she did.

Why wouldn’t the Hooden touch Sooka?

I thought that, since she looked so different from the other Hamapa, the Hooden (Denisovans) would think something was very wrong with her.

Puka, spirit of strife? Are you having fun yet, Kaye?

You can’t imagine how fun these books are to write! And how difficult. I bring in all the professions I might have pursued, if I had an infinite life: archeology, linguistics, anthropology, even a bit of theology, to name a few.

What is your next project, Kaye?

The next People of the Wind book will be Death in the New Land and the poor Hamapa will be introduced to the awful practice of war. In the first book, they had their first murder ever, so they will have lost most of their innocence by the end of the third book. I’m ascribing to the Noble Savage model for them.

My immediate next project, though, the one I’m working on now, is a cozy series for Lyrical Press/Kensington—the Vintage Sweets mysteries set in Fredericksburg, Texas. The first book will be called REVENGE IS SWEET. I hope to have turned in the manuscript and to have a publication date by the time this appears.

Thanks so much for the interview and for your interest in my writing, and especially this series!                                            



Kait said...

Amazing! How cool that the research followed your instincts.

How difficult was it to world build for this series? It is clear from the interview how detailed and immersed you are in the setting and the characters. When I read Death in the Time of Ice it struck me how easily you move your readers from Neanderthal to modern times. Not an easy task.

Good luck with the Vintage Sweets mystery. Looking forward to reading it. Do you have a publication date yet?

Margaret Turkevich said...

Hi, Kaye, good luck with current and future projects! And maybe something set in Spain?

E. B. Davis said...

Thanks for a great read and interview, Kaye. I'm never disappointed! What's happening in your other series?

Jim Jackson said...

Congratulations on your continued success, Kaye. I always wave whenever we're passing the Knoxville area on our migrations.

~ Jim

Gloria Alden said...

Kaye, I haven't read the first book in your series, but when I go to Malice, I plan on buying both books in that series. I have read other of your books and enjoyed them. I hope your new series does well, too.

Sasscer Hill said...

Kaye, I am impressed by the depth of your research and how realistic your descriptions are of a series that is so shrouded in the mists of time. To do this, and then to switch to a modern cozy is quite remarkable. Congrats!

Warren Bull said...

Wow! I thought I had to do a lot of research. Sounds great.

Vicki Batman, sassy writer of sexy and funny fiction, blogger at Handbags, Books...Whatever said...

Oh my, Kaye. Congratulations on your books. You are writing in an interesting era.

Kaye George said...

I slept in on this snowy day and wake to find all these wonderful comments! Thanks so much for them.

Kait,the world building was detailed and I tried to be meticulous, but it wasn't as hard as deciding how to present it on the page. That was tough! I'm very glad I abandoned some of my earlier attempts. Many thanks to the Austin Mystery Writers, who suffered through them.

Margaret, if I do something in Spain, it'll have to be put at the back of the line.

E.B., I have ideas for a 3rd Cressa Carraway and a 4th Imogene books, but, see above, they're not at the front of the line right now.

Jim Jackson, shame on you! Give me a ring and we'll meet for lunch!

Gloria, Sasscer, Warren, and Vicki, many thanks!

And thanks a million to E.B. for the interview. I ALWAYS love to be interviewed here by you.

(I don't have a pub date on Vintage Sweets because I was delayed turning in the ms. But I hope it will be fall of 2018.)

Shari Randall said...

Kaye, I loved reading this interview. I was thinking how different your books are - ancient humans and a vintage sweet shop. You are a versatile writer, for sure. I loved Cressa and I'm looking forward to reading these other series.

Kaye George said...

Thank you, Shari! I guess I'm easily bored.

KM Rockwood said...

I have to get Death on the Trek. I loved the first book! I'm in aw of your imagination conceiving this entire world, and your ability to bring the whole thing to life on the page. Not to mention keeping other irons in the fire!

Thank you for sharing so much with us.

Kaye George said...

Thanks very much KM!