Interview with Harley Mazuk

101044HarleyinTuscanyHarley Mazuk was born in Cleveland, the last year the Indians won the World Series. Harley grew up in Shaker Heights, Ohio, attended Hiram College and spent his junior year at Elphinstone College, Bombay University. He received his B.A. in English literature. Retired from a long career in U.S. Government Service, Harley now writes full-time. He and his wife Anastasia live in Maryland, where they raised two children. Harley’s passions are writing, reading, Italian cars, and his family. He and his protagonist, Frank Swiver, share a love of California wine. Visit Harley Mazuk online at:

Tell us about your new release.

51ZieRgHZBLWhite with Fish, Red with Murder is the story of Frank Swiver, a private eye, who accepts an invitation to a wine tasting on a private rail car, and brings along his secretary and lover, Vera Peregrino. The host, General Thursby, wants Frank to find proof that a friend whose death was ruled accidental had been murdered. Thursby suspects Cicilia O’Callaghan, widow of his late friend and an old flame of Frank’s. But Thursby takes two slugs through the pump, and the cops arrest Vera for his killing. Frank finds himself trapped in a love triangle as he spends his nights with Cici, and his days trying to find Thursby’s real killer and spring Vera. But soon he realizes his relationship with Cici is poisonous, and he risks losing both women . . . and maybe his life.

What led you to write this book?

Being a bit of a rebellious youth, I never expected to reach old age. So as my 50th birthday loomed, the occasion called for a celebration. I decided to write a murder mystery game for my 50th birthday party. I asked the guests to dress in their best 1940s fashions, at a minimum fedoras for the gents and stockings with seams for the dames. I wrote scripts and assigned roles. There was plenty of wine, and everyone had fun. Some years later, I began to entertain serious thoughts about becoming a writer when I retired. I took the old scripts and dossiers I had written for the murder mystery characters out of the drawer and began to turn them into a novel, White with Fish, Red with Murder.

Which is more important characters or setting?

When you think about the elements of fiction–plot, setting, character, point of view, theme—setting is perhaps first among equals. Everything begins with, grows out of, starts with place. A story has to know where it is in time and place. Characters develop in and are shaped by their environments.

I didn’t think this way about the primacy of setting when I wrote most of White with Fish, so in my book, characters are more important than setting. It’s a character-driven novel.

Are any of your characters loosely based on people you know in real life?

They are, loosely. Some are composites of characters I’ve known; with some I relive incidents from my life that I think have or had emotional or dramatic impact. A good example is that I’ve never been a private eye, and I’ve never lived in San Francisco. Yet there’s a lot of me in my P.I., Frank Swiver. Frank is a pacifist, a Roman Catholic, and he drinks too much wine. I was a conscientious objector, I’m a Catholic, and I drink a lot of wine, too. So we share a consciousness, a philosophy, and an approach to life. That makes it easy for me to write Frank’s part. Other characters in the book share traits with people I’ve known, and we’ve lived through incidents that I recreate it the book.

What do you hope readers take away from your work?

This book is an “entertainment,” as Graham Greene used to say about some of his works. So I hope readers enjoy it and have fun. I’d like to transport readers to a slower paced, less technical world, in which the detective doesn’t rely on technology, lab results, or computers to solve the crime, but rather on his courage, his persistence, and work ethic. I’d like to leave readers wanting to come back and see Frank Swiver and some of the other characters again—there will be more.

Do you read the same genre you write?

For the most part, yes, I do. Mystery or detective fiction. This last fall and winter, I read Black Water Rising by Attica Locke, A Corpse in the Koryo, by James Church, Finding Nouf by Zoe Ferraris, The Coroner’s Lunch, Colin Cotterill, Miami Purity, Vicki Hendricks, and two Michael Didbin’s Cosi Fan Tutti and Dead Lagoon, featuring Aurelio Zen. Zen is one of my influences for Frank Swiver. I read an Eric Ambler novel, The Light of Day, on my Kindle.

What are you reading now?

I’m reading Richard III by William Shakespeare, a play about what happens when a sociopath takes over a great country. I’ve never read this before, but so far, I find it absolutely brilliant. I often have to use study guides to understand Shakespeare’s language, but the dialogue in this is so vivid, so clear, I know exactly what’s going on. Richard is not a likable character; he’s loathsome, actually, but he establishes a connection with the audience in his opening monologue. I won’t say readers (or audiences) root for him, exactly, but like Hannibal Lecter, he’s compelling, fascinating even. And though it is classified as a history play, the title page calls it “The Tragedy of King Richard the third.” It’s very enjoyable so far, and I think a writer can learn a lot from reading Shakespeare.

Interview: Mia Jo Celeste

fcportra-me-in-the-stairs-wMia Jo Celeste comes from a family of writers and English teachers, so it was no surprise when she chose to pursue both careers. She grew up watching horror movies and reading romances. To her, the two genres go together like salty and sweet in kettle corn.

What do you do when you are not writing?

I’m an English teacher, so you might say working with words is a big part of my life.

Do you have a reoccurring theme to your books?

Yes, and it’s not entirely intentional. I’m really a strong believer in second changes and in starting over, so many times my characters are on that journey. Most often, they succeed. We all have a broken place in our past and I write the story of its mending. That said, I have a big imagination and usually along the characters’ journey, a lot of fantastic, not quite real, stuff happens, which is why most of my work is also paranormal.

What do you hope readers take away from your work?

That people can change and grow. They can start again.

Have you ever written a scene that ‘creeped’ you out?

Yes, I’m one of those authors who believes that there must be emotion in the author if a scene’s going to generate emotion in the reader. Other Than, my new release is a paranormal tale, which has an element of horror to it. A scene that raised heebie-jeebies for me was when the heroine gets locked out of her room. It’s her first night on the island. She knows no one and she’s only seen a couple of rooms in the main house, so she gets lost. When she tries to find help, she ends up joining a line of zombie-workers. Then she discovers, they’re not only dead, but mindless and threatening. She’s surrounded, about to be attacked and she realizes as that these creatures have the same disease she does—they could be her future.

Do you read the same genre you write?

Yes, but pretty much, I read in every other genre, too. I’m addicted to stories, and I’m always looking for my next novel-fix, which leads to the next question—

What social media do you participate in?

I have a blog —I’m on Twitter and Facebook, but I’d love for readers to look for me on Goodreads so we could share must-reads.

Interview with Jane Jordan author of the historical thriller THE BEEKEEPER’S DAUGHTER

jane-jordanJane was born in in England, and grew up exploring the history and culture of London and surrounding counties. After some time spent in Germany in the 1990’s she immigrated to Detroit, USA, eventually settling in South West Florida. She returned to England after a fifteen-year absence, to spend six years in the South West of England living on Exmoor.  Here, inspired by the atmosphere, beautiful scenery and the ancient history of the place, she wrote her first novel Ravens Deep.  The next two books Blood & Ashes and A Memoir of Carl completed her gothic vampire trilogy.

Jane is a trained horticulturist, and spent time working and volunteering for Britain’s National Trust at Exmoor’s 1000-year-old Dunster Castle.  Gaining more insight into the history and mysteries surrounding these ancient places, and having always been intrigued by the supernatural, inspiration came for her fourth novel, THE BEEKEEPER’S DAUGHTER.  Combining the age-old struggle between good and evil with the passion and romance of the characters she creates.

Jane returned to Florida in 2013, and lives in Sarasota with her family.

Tell us about your new release.

the-beekeepers-daughter-book-coverTHE BEEKEEPER’S DAUGHTER is a historical thriller that primarily takes place in the late Victorian period. The story is set on Exmoor, the South West Coast of England. It tells the story of Annabel who is a talented bee charmer, she also inherited far more complex powers, for her mother was a witch.

Annabel grew up knowing that she was different from other people, and that she could manipulate more than just the bees. Living in harmony with nature, her abilities seemed like a natural way of life, but when faced with adversity, she summons these inherent powers to protect the ones she loves. Not only does she discover the extent of her own gift, she soon realizes that another, and possibly a far more powerful witch has a hold over her destiny.

Jevan is her childhood friend and sweetheart, and her heart is broken when he is forced to leave her and Exmoor. During his absence, she forms a friendship with Alex, the son of a wealthy landowner. Alex becomes besotted with her, and surprisingly Annabel feels a rare connection with him. Soon Alex’s attentions take a sinister turn. Although puzzled by his sudden change in character, she discovers that his father, Cerberus is the driving force behind many of his actions.

Unexpectedly, Jevan returns, and Annabel’s world turns upside down, but when Jevan is falsely arrested and condemned to death, she knows the only way to save him is to pledge her hand in marriage to Alex.

For Annabel, this marriage is a recipe for disaster, she begins to despise Alex, while she and Jevan are unable to stay away from each other. Thus ensues a devastating love triangle. As jealously intensifies, each man wants the other one dead. Annabel not only has to contend with this destructive relationship between Alex and Jevan, but she is in danger from the wrath of a spirit that refuses to rest in the foreboding Gothelstone Mansion. At the same time, her father-in-law seems intent on making her believe a diabolical truth.

In this dark and intriguing gothic tale, Annabel must unravel the Saltonstall legacy, save the life of the man she loves and destroy the source of evil that has plagued generations of the family before her.

What led you to write this book?

Continue reading “Interview with Jane Jordan author of the historical thriller THE BEEKEEPER’S DAUGHTER”

Interview with Glen Ebisch author of STORMY WEATHER

ebisch-photoTell us a little bit about yourself.

I have been a professor of philosophy for over thirty years. Most recently I retired from teaching at a small university in western Massachusetts. For much of that time I have also written mystery and suspense fiction, starting with books for young adults and moving on to writing for adults. I have had twenty-five books published, twelve of them in the last fifteen years as time has allowed me to write more. All are cozy in nature and suitable for any reader.

I live in western Massachusetts with my wife. My hobbies include reading (of course) and going to the gym. We also look forward to traveling to Maine and Cape May, New Jersey for our needed dose of the beach.

Tell us about your new release.

STORMY WEATHER, my latest mystery, is about Stormy McCloud, a meteorologist at a local television station who runs into trouble when the body of Travis Lambert, the senior meteorologist at the same station, is found in a shallow grave next to her house.  Although the police do not have enough to charge her, she is definitely their prime suspect. When the station hires private detective Chance Malone to investigate the murder, her situation doesn’t improve.  Malone is attractive, charming, and funny, all qualities that Stormy’s past experience with men has led her to avoid.  It also doesn’t help that Stormy has little background or interest in religion, while Malone is the unusual private detective who has a Bible in his desk drawer rather than a bottle of scotch.  As they work together to solve the murder, surprising aspects of Travis’ life come to light, and Chance and Stormy find their relationship deepening much to Stormy’ dismay.  When Stormy’s estranged mother appears on the scene, Stormy also must decide whether to have a relationship with the woman who deserted her as a child.  As the story proceeds, Stormy is forced to reconsider her view of men, her mother and her future.

51kjwnjlqhl-_sx311_bo1204203200_What led you to write this book?

Like most people who watch the weather report on their local television station, it has occasionally crossed my mind that this is a job, like all reporting, that turns a person into a local celebrity. I wanted to examine the problems that can arise with this kind of notoriety, and how conflicts can develop as people compete for a limited amount of fame.  As with many crime novels, it also focuses on how your life can be instantly turned around once you are suspected of having done something wrong.  I also wanted to have a subplot that dealt with the conflicts that can arise when people with different attitudes toward religion are attracted to each other, which is a common issue today.

What is more important: character or setting?

Usually my stories are highly character driven with the personality of the protagonist the-bad-actorbeing as important as the plot.  If you don’t care about the main characters, why would you care about what happens to them?  However, in this novel the setting was very important because I was concerned to create a realistic depiction of a small television station.  Where Stormy works is an important aspect of who she is, and why she’s in trouble. The small city setting is also important because it shows that serious crime can take place in relatively bucolic environments.

What do you do when you are not writing?

I am a recently retired professor of philosophy, and I still teach occasionally.  Although I don’t intentionally add philosophical concepts to my novels, I’m sure some slip in.  Since I the-black-dogthink a sound body is essential to a sound mind, I also exercise frequently, and my wife and I like to travel. I am also a fairly active reader, and I belong to several organizations for writers.

Do you read the same genre that you write?

Yes.  I think it is essential to enjoy reading the kind of books you like to write.  If you try to write a type of book you wouldn’t read just because you think it will sell, you are unlikely to be successful.  The reader will know that your heart isn’t in it.  However, it is also important for a writer to keep expanding his or her horizons, and this means that you must also read widely outside of your genre.  You can learn new things about style, character, and plot by studying novels that you might never write.  These can always be incorporated into the kind of writing you actually do.

What’s next for you?

I am planning to try something new by writing a romantic suspense novel with a heist/caper theme.  My heroine will be put in danger when she steals a valuable diamond from a powerful Russian oligarch. She and the hero must then come up with a plan to save her from the oligarch who is bent on revenge. I hope it will be an exciting combination.






Interview with Sally Fernandez

headshotSally Fernandez, a novelist of provocative political thrillers, wasn’t always twisting facts with fiction. Heavily endowed with skills acquired in banking, she embarked on her writing career. Fernandez’ focus on computer technology, business consulting, and project management, enhanced by business and technical writing, proved to be a boon. Her books of fiction also reflect the knowledge garnered from her business experiences, while living in New York City, San Francisco, and Hong Kong. Fernandez’ foray into writing fiction officially began in 2007 when the presidential election cycle was in full swing. The overwhelming political spin by the media compelled her to question the frightening possibilities the political scene could generate. As a confirmed political junkie, she took to the keyboard armed with unwinding events and discovered a new and exciting career. A world traveler, Ms. Fernandez and her husband, also the editor-in-residence, split time between their homes in the United States and Florence, Italy.

Tell us about your new release.

front-coverCLIMATIZED is my fifth novel and the first in the “Max Ford Thriller” series, featuring Maxine Ford as the female protagonist. Max debuts in her role as a private investigator and right out of the starting gate she is hired by the wife of a prominent senator to determine the cause of his untimely death. During her investigation, she discovers that three world-renowned scientists had lost their lives days before they were scheduled to testify before the late senator’s investigative committee on climate change. Meanwhile, a fourth scientist has gone missing. Max determined he is the key to unearthing the motives behind the deaths. Following the many twists and turns, Max uncovers a powerful organization responsible for the killings. Cogent evidence is provided to the president, forcing him to make a crucial decision—to cover up a diabolical plot—or bring down a multi-trillion-dollar world-wide economy.

What led you to write this book?

While conducting research for two earlier novels, I discovered that there is a disconnect between the scientific data and the public policy as it pertains to climate change. And I am sure we could all agree that climate change is a topic up there with religion and politics, one that creates not only heated conversations, but much confusion. As with all my novels, I weave fact with fiction, holding to the words of Francis Bacon, who said, “The truth is hard to tell, sometimes it needs fiction to make it plausible.” Therefore, using this style of writing, I believe Climatized will help the reader put to rest much of the confusion and shine a light on the real science.

Did you have an interesting experience in the research of this book?

Tackling an area of science where I had only a peripheral peripheral knowledge level was challenging and provided an unexpected education as I delved heavily into the science behind the causes of global warming. It also forged some interesting acquaintances. With Climatized, I altered my style slightly by incorporating a few real-life experts in my fictional plot, unbeknownst to them. One happened to be a New York Times bestselling author and the others where NASA Apollo Space Mission veterans and members of The Right Climate Stuff research team. After the manuscript was completed, I decided out of courtesy, to contact these experts and offer them a copy of the manuscript to fact-check to substantiate my research. I’m proud to say that the scientific data I weaved into my plot was spot on and I received their acclimation and full endorsement. Their continued support has been invaluable and has opened other avenues.

Which is more important characters or setting?

For my storylines to be plausible, everything between the pages must be believable, especially my characters. They tend to develop alongside me, like any relationship—notwithstanding my vivid imagination as I thrust them into various situations. But most important, the characters must stir emotions, good or bad, leaving the reader to want to learn more about them. The scenes are as important and must be vivid, transporting the reader to that place and time. Often I’ll use locations and real characters where I’ve shared experiences as a basis, but I also use locations, hotels, restaurants, or streets where I’ve never ventured. In those cases, I believe it is crucial that they be described accurately to add to the realism. Thanks to the Internet and satellite maps there is no reason not to make them as real as possible. Given my reel-to-reel writing style the reader always has a clear vision of the local scene.

Do you have a favorite fictional character by another author you’d like to meet?

I am a tad embarrassed to admit that I tend to read the works of my male counterparts, attempting to step in the shoes of Thor, Baldacci, Silva, et. al. And while their plotlines stir me, I’ve never been overly carried away with their female characters. Maybe that is why I was so compelled to give Max Ford a stage of her own in this new series. But going through my “guilt” pile of books I’ve started reading Janet Evanovich and I’m loving her Stephanie Plum character. While Max may be my alter-ego, Stephanie is definitely Max’s.

What do you hope readers take away from your work?

With all my novels, I have the same three goals: to create an entertaining read, to inform the reader, and to challenge the reader to ask the ultimate question, “What if?” In Climatized particularly, it is to arm the readers with the facts, so they can make an intelligent decision about a topic that is here to stay for some years to come.

Do you have a favorite writing place or writing rituals?

My writing environment may vary with the offices in my home in the United States and another in my home in Florence, Italy. And while these locations may somewhat inspire aspects of my plot, they primarily provide a quiet haven for creating. Then comes the hotel room somewhere in the world, when my husband, who is also my editor, and I need a change of venue. What does not change is my ritual. Each day starts with a morning workout to clear my head to prepare me for six to seven hours of steady writing and/or research. At the end of each day, I’m greeted with a glass of wine from my husband. That’s when we discuss the status of the book, what I am working on, what he is editing, or what is in the offing. Both of us are retired from our corporate careers, so we’re fortunate to be able to ignore the phones and the daily disturbances. And he cooks the dinners. It’s an amazing collaboration with our days being filled with all aspects of writing and publishing books. The only downside—is when we are not—my husband calls it our Post-Partum Publishing Syndrome. Overall, call me incredibly blessed!

Do you have a reoccurring theme to your books?

To quote another luminary, Pericles said, “Just because you don’t take an interest in politics, doesn’t mean politics won’t take an interest in you.” As a long-standing political junkie, I take contemporary political events and weave them into a fast-paced, fictional, suspense thrillers. And you won’t be able to keep yourself from learning along the way.

Interview with Kayelle Allen

kayelle-bio-picKAYELLE ALLEN is a best-selling American author. Her unstoppable heroes and heroines include contemporary every day folk, role-playing immortal gamers, futuristic covert agents, and warriors who purr.

How important is setting to your story?

In FOR WOMEN ONLY, the characters meet on a world alien to the heroine. They continue and bond their relationship on a world alien to the hero. Being alien, being different, is vital to the plot.

Which is more important characters or setting?

Unless you’re writing a travelogue, it’s the characters. They are what people rave about and what they remember about a book. I’ve had many emails from readers who said they loved this or that character, but setting is mentioned only in passing. “I’d For Women Onlylike to live in the Tarthian Empire,” one wrote. But many have emailed and messaged me online about Khyff, Senth, Luc, Izzorah, and the other people in my stories.

Are any of your characters loosely based on people you know in real life?

I will claim the fifth on that. Of course not. (Batting my eyes innocently.)

Do you people watch for character inspiration?

It’s a hazard of the profession. I’ve come up with some great characters after a trip to the dentist, airport, grocery store, park, you name it.

Do you have a favorite fictional character by another author you’d like to meet?

Ooh, I would totally love to meet Roarke, from JD Robb’s In Death series.

What do you hope readers take away from your work?

That being yourself and accepting others is the best way to enjoy life. There are themes of betrayal as well. All of us have faced betrayal in some form. The thing is, how do you handle it? As my hero in Bringer of Chaos: the Origin of Pietas says “Enemies will never betray you. Betrayal is reserved for family and friends.” I deal with that in my books. But I also sprinkle in humor and hope readers will be caught off guard by a funny moment, and come away laughing.

Do you have an interesting quirk about your personality that you’d like to share?

I’m crazy organized with my writing and anything related to it. I will find the easiest way to do something and then organize it, label it, and stack it neatly where it belongs. But do not make the mistake of thinking I keep house the same way. Sad, sad, sad. Not the same world at all. I’m a writer. I’m entitled to be messy somewhere. It’s part of my inspiration. (You believe me, don’t you?)

Which book impacted you as a teenager?

Reading the Foundation trilogy by Isaac Asimov. That series made me think about how an effect now could change the future. I created the Sempervian race as a direct result of considering that. If you live forever, you would see the effect of what you did today. So that became the basis for many stories in which they’re found, including At the Mercy of Her Pleasure and For Women Only, books 1 and 2 in the Antonello Brothers series.

What social media do you participate in?

I love Twitter and follow the #Thranduil hashtag every single day. If you’ve seen the Hobbit movies you know what I’m talking about. If you haven’t, Google his name and you’ll get it. I also use Facebook every day, I actively host authors on my guest blog, Romance Lives Forever, and I share to Pinterest, G+ and my Tumblr. But the one that takes most of my time and attention is Twitter.

Interview with Karen Harper

karenharperKaren Harper is the NYTimes and USA TODAY bestselling author of romantic suspense and historical novels. A former high school English teacher and college instructor of composition (Ohio State University,) Harper now writes full time. For years, she and her husband have divided their time between Columbus, Ohio and Naples, Florida. They love to travel to the British Isles. Harper won the Mary Higgins Clark Award in 2006. Visit her at or

–Tell us about your new release, CHASING SHADOWS. I’m excited to say that CHASING SHADOWS is the December launch book for a new romantic suspense series, although I’ve written each book to stand alone in case a reader picks up mid-series. The first three books will come out close together. Book #2, DROWNING TIDES in February, and FALLING DARKNESS in May. Claire Britten is a forensic psychologist who has gone through a divorce and is fighting the tough disease of narcolepsy. Nick Markwood is achasing-shadows-front-cover criminal lawyer with a dangerous enemy who hires Claire to help him with a case. Though they don’t trust each other at first, threats and attacks soon have them working together as a team, and spark fly from there.

–What led you to write this book? My husband and I were South West Florida snowbirds for 30 years—in Naples, to be exact. I fell in love with the glitz and glamour of the area, but also with the scary elements of the wild Everglades and “old Florida.” Eccentric characters and crimes galore somehow breed in south Florida. Ripped-from-the-headlines cases inspired me to partner Claire and Nick to delve into deaths that might be murder, or suicide—or even an accident.

–How important is setting to your story? Setting is so important that it becomes another key character in my stories. From the deep, dark Everglades, to Civil War Era plantation to the mysterious Ten Thousand Islands, Florida is a real gift for a suspense writer. The first two books also use tropical settings in the Caribbean such as Grand Cayman Island and even Cuba. Island are so unique and romantic.

–Have you ever written a scene that creeped you out? Absolutely! I try to write two or three of those in each book, especially when the hero and heroine are trapped. The fact that Claire must take some strong meds to fight her disease also helps the already scary settings and events. If she takes her meds wrong (or someone tampers with them—hint, hint) she experiences dreadful walking, waking nightmares on top of the fact she and Nick are under attack from their enemies.

–Do you read the same genre you write? Yes, but not when I’m writing it. When I’m not reading my own research, I binge read between books. The exception to that would be if I’m asked to give an endorsement of another author’s novel, and there is a deadline for that. I also write in two genres—romantic suspense for Mira Books and historical novels about real British women for HarperCollins—so I might read historicals while I’m writing a rom/sus. I really need a ‘brain transplant’ when I switch from one genre to the other since the dialogue, characters and cultures are so different.

–Do you people watch for character inspiration? I think all authors do this, although I have never completely copied a character in one of my books (60 and counting!) I do, however, use a particular characters trait I might see or certain way of speaking. But if someone I know thinks they are “in” one of my books, that’s not quite true. However, since I write about real people in my historicals, that is a whole different thing, bringing people I have researched to life from another era.

drowningtides_concept_approved–What’s next for you? I hope to keep writing both romantic suspense (I’m ready to sign a new 3-book contract for more of THE SOUTH SHORES SERIES.) There are lots of changes in Nick and Claire’s lives, both domestic and professional. I’m having such fun taking them into a deeper relationship with each other—and Claire’s ex is on the horizon as one of Nick’s staff. I’m also writing another Edwardian story. Think Downton Abbey for that elegant era. THE ROYAL NANNY, out last June was the true story of the Cockney woman who reared two kings. Although I was first published in 1982, I never get over the thrill of seeing a cover for my new book, seeing it in the stores or in someone’s hand. I saw a woman reading a Karen Harper book on a Florida beach a few years ago and proudly told her, “That’s my book!” She said, “It is not! I paid for it at Barnes and Noble!” And so it goes. Happy, sunny and scary reading to all of you this winter.