ALL THE DEADLY LIES by Marian Lanouette

Lanouette.All The Deadly Lies

I am completely thrilled to have Marian Lanouette as my guest on a Biblio Paradise today! We know each other via Sisters in Crime and social media, and I’m a big fan of hers, both personally and professionally. I’m delighted that she made time to stop by for her newest release!

Good morning Devon,
And thank you for hosting Jake and I today. Devon, you asked how the Jake Carrington thriller series developed and how he and his team had grown over the series. Jake’s a recently promoted lieutenant for the Wilkesbury Police Department (WPD) and his ups and downs pull from deep within him.

I was working on my first book (which is still in the first draft stage) when Jake popped into my head, forcing me to put aside The Loss of Power. After a week I gave in and started recording his characters and team, and the scenes that floated through my head as if the story was a movie.

The more I wrote the more excited I got. Halfway through this outline I realized Jake’s story was not a single book but an entire series. What he showed me wasn’t only his professional side, but he gave me a glimpse into his personal life. I discovered I had to explore both side of him to do him justice. And then his sidekick, Louie Romanelli, snuck up on me and stole my heart. He and Jake have more than a professional relationship.

Jake, a single guy, is complemented by Louie, the married one. Louie has been Jake’s best friend since grade school, and he and his wife Sophia were there for Jake when his sister Eva was murdered in their teens. It’s this bond they carried throughout their professional and personal lives that helps each one to cope with the atrocities they deal with each day.

In All the Deadly Lies, book one of the series, Jake the player is stalked by a former girlfriend, as he finds true love for the first time. One of the cases he’s working is so similar to his sister Eva’s murder, it throws Jake into a tailspin. An innocent victim, as so many are, haunts Jake as her killer left no clues.

On the personal side, he has to learn to compromise to make the relationship work, while he investigates two high profile cases. It’s interesting to watch him metamorphosis from ‘a me kind of person’ to one who puts another person’s needs before his own.

Though each killer when caught can justify their reason for murder, to Jake, no reason is ever valid.

In book two, All the Hidden Sins, Jake deals with personal loss, as well as the possibility his sister’s killer might go free. He gets involved with a woman who has lost everything (son, husband, savings and self-esteem) due to her gambling problem. Helpless, Kyra Russell accepts a deal with the devil, in the form of mob boss, Phil Lucci, who’s hands reached deep into the WPD. Lucci offers Kyra enough money to pay off her debt and start anew with one condition. She burns bodies for him. He wants her to mingle his corpses with the legal ones she processes at her job at the crematory. Phil uses Kyra’s relationship with Jake to discredit him when he finds he can’t buy him.

Jake believes he understands human nature, and people and their actions. He’s floored when he realizes he’s been played by Kyra. It comes at a large cost—possibly his career. In the end there one person again who stands by him, and helps to pick him back up.

I don’t want to give too much away here. I love the whole series, but this story is my favorite. It’s drawn from one of my careers, and before you ask, the circumstances are pure fiction.

In book three, All the Pretty Brides, Jake is back on track both with the job and Mia as he deals with a serial killer. Each year for the past five years the killer takes a woman about to get married. One that resembles the woman who jilted him at the alter six years ago. Twists and turns at each corner, leave Jake and his team frustrated. The killer gives him two weeks to find him before he kills again. Louie is hardly any help as he deals with his wife’s first job out of the house in seventeen years. The problem, she’s picked a predator to work for. One Louie and Jake had arrested the previous year for sexual deviant behavior, though the charges were dropped when his accusers settled out of court for an undisclosed sum of money. Attorney Malone taunts Louie at every chance he gets as he puts the moves on Sophia. No one can talk any sense into her. She believes Louie’s reason for harping is his desire to stop her from working. That is until…
Jake corners the serial and all does not end well…
Sorry, again I don’t want to give spoilers to either story thread.

I’m working on book four, All the Dirty Secrets now, which is due to the publisher in May. Jake and Louie must deal with the commissioner, Todd Blake whose wife Callie is murder. She’s found in a seedy motel with pictures of her posing with another man in a scanty outfit.

As they investigate the crime it leads back to photographer Melinda Mastrianni and her boyfriend. The past comes back at him again in this small city of one hundred thousand residents. Melinda is Jake’s high school sweetheart. One he dumped after Eva’s murder.

When he examines her files he learns she’s photographed many prominent women, and fears there’ll be more deaths. Melinda denies her involvement. She’s upset and suggests someone had to have hacked in her files to get the pictures. Whoever killed Callie had used the boudoir pictures to not only blackmail the Blakes but to humiliate them. It bothers Jake that Callie went alone to the motel to deal with the blackmailer. A mistake that got her killed.

Then another woman who had posed for Melinda is murdered, but to Jake’s trained eye, it looks like a copycat killing.

In his personal life Mia throws a wrench into it when she suggests they move in together. Blindsided, Jake stumbles in his response and uses the case to put her off. The stomach wound he received in the last book has him popping pain pills to function. He wasn’t cleared to return to work yet, but the commissioner had requested he and Louie work the file and no one else.

The deeper he investigates the case, the stranger it gets. His captain, Shamus McGuire’s high powered CEO wife, Darcy, has received a blackmail letter. She too posed for Mastrianni. The link, the photos and Callie Blake was her best friend. It’s humiliating for him, his captain and his wife when Jake must question them and view all the pictures. In the midst of it all…someone released Darcy McGuire’s boudoir pictures to the press with Jake photoshopped into them by her side.

Not only is Mia upset with the pictures and their meaning, Captain Shamus McGuire is furious with Jake and his wife, as the jokes fly around the station. In Jake’s opinion, whoever sent those pictures to the press were out to destroy either Darcy or him, or both of them.

I hope you enjoy Jake and his crew. He had faults as we all do, but he learns from them as he deals with new challenges thrown at him in every story.

To catch up with what’s new with Marian here are her links:
Author’s Website
Pinterest 2
Amazon Author Page

Buy links

Jake Carrington Release schedule:
All the Deadly Lies—February 27, 2018
All the Hidden Sins—July 31, 2018
All the Pretty Brides—December 18, 2018
All the Dirty Secrets—May 1, 2018

full head and shoulders shot apielig pictures


Epsitolary Joys

One of my favorite types of books to read (or write) is the epistolary novel. That’s a novel written as letters, in case you were wondering. It’s one of the few times present tense and/or changing tense doesn’t bother me when I read a novel-length piece of work.

As a writer, historical letters are a wonderful way for me to understand a period of time when I want to set something in another era. Reading collections of letters set in that time, by a wide array of individuals across professions and economic ranges gives me more of a picture of concerns, interests, and desires than a history book, or even a newspaper article. Because letters are about personal response to an issue or an event.

Diaries are another primary source I love to read when I’m researching an era. Of course, both diaries and letters are subjective, rather than objective. They were written from an individual’s point of view. But that’s what makes them so interesting. They’re not objective. You can see into the heart of the writer — even when the writer tries to obscure that heart, or put on a mask for others.

When I get stuck while writing a novel, I’ll often write a few letters between the characters, from different points of view. Those aren’t used in the novels themselves, for the most part, but they get me past the stuck parts, because I get to the heart of what’s bothering the characters. Then I can figure out what they’re trying to hide and why. I can build and move forward from there.

I had pen pals all over the world for many years. I loved it. In the third grade, our class in Rye, New York, wrote to a class in Rye, England. For years, I stayed in touch with my pen pal, and even got to visit her more than once when I was in England.

I admit, I don’t write enough letters now, although I’m trying to get back into it. I do write Christmas/Holiday cards. It’s one of my great joys of the season. Writing a personal note in the card makes me feel connected. It makes me feel I let each person know that they matter enough to take the time to find the card, to write the card, to mail the card.

Letters are about connection, which is why I like them so much in both fiction and non-fiction.

Some of my favorite collections that rely on letter writing and/or diaries:

84 CHARING CROSS ROAD by Helene Hanff (non-fiction)
THE PULL OF THE MOON by Elizabeth Berg
THE HISTORIAN by Elizabeth Kostova
LETTERS OF VIRGINIA WOOLF (multiple volumes, non-fiction)
WORDS IN AIR (correspondence of Elizabeth Bishop & Robert Lowell, non-fiction)
JANE AUSTEN: LETTERS (non-fiction)

By far, the best book on diaries and their writers is A BOOK OF ONE’S OWN by Thomas Mallon.


Tracking Medusa Cover 1


The first Gwen Finnegan mystery, TRACKING MEDUSA, re-released digitally on January 12, 2018. It’s got a universal buy link here (and should be back up on Amazon by the time this post goes live, included in the universal buy links, although I’ll have lost all its reviews).


Archaeologist Dr. Gwen Finnegan is on the hunt for her lover’s killer. Historical researcher Justin Yates bumps into her, on the steps of the New York Public Library, and comes to her aid when she’s attacked, sparking an attraction between them in spite of their age difference. After avoiding a cadre of pursuers at the Met Museum, Gwen impulsively invites Justin to hop a plane with her to the UK. The shy historian, frustrated with his failing relationship, jumps at the chance to join her on a real adventure. That adventure takes them through Europe, pursued by factions including Gwen’s ex-lover and nemesis, Karl, as they try to unspool fact from fiction in a multi-generational obsession with a statue of the goddess Medusa.

The Mechanics of the Re-Release:
The print version (a print run, not a POD), should come out either late this year, or at the beginning of next year, when the second Gwen Finnegan mystery, THE BALTHAZAAR TREASURE, releases.

Sadly, due to issues with my webhost,, they will not allow me to post the cover of the book or a downloadable media kit, unless I pay them an additional monthly fee on top of the hosting fee I already pay. Have you ever heard of a host who claims simple JPGs are “double escape security issues” and demands extra payment? Websites need images. The Gwen Finnegan Mysteries website will move hosts shortly and be rebuilt — it will include the photos I took as I researched the various locales for the book and choreographed the chase scene inside NYC’s Metropolitan Museum of Art and more.

Why the need for a re-release?

Unfortunately, Amber Quill Press, who was Gwen’s champion and great to work with, shut its doors nearly two years ago. Originally, I planned to go with the same digital publisher/distributor that released PLAYING THE ANGLES and SAVASANA AT SEA (as Ava Dunne) late last year — but then they closed their doors, too.

So TRACKING MEDUSA went directly to the new digital publisher/distributor, and I’ve moved both PLAYING THE ANGLES and SAVASANA AT SEA to this new digital home. Future digital releases in all three series will go through this distributor (unless they go under, too). New websites are being built for the series (and for everything else I do) and go live on a new webhost in the next few weeks. Stay tuned both here and on Ink in My Coffee for the details.

If you own an Amber Quill version, be it digital or print — the text is the same (my editor, copy editor, and I fixed some stylistic things to fit with both the digital and the print publishers’ house styles). It also has teasers for MYTH AND INTERPRETATION, a between-the-books novella that releases this summer, and the opening of THE BALTHAZAAR TREASURE, the second mystery, which releases in January 2019. But the book is still the book, and you don’t have to feel like you’re missing anything.

Tracking Medusa — Q & A About the Book and its Process:

Question: How did you come up with TRACKING MEDUSA?

Devon Ellington: The Medusa myth always fascinated me. I got mad in CLASH OF THE TITANS when she was killed. I felt she was marginalized and destroyed because she was powerful. I’ve always loved archaeology — when I was little, even though I always knew I’d be a writer, but before I made the commitment to theatre, I wanted to be an archaeologist. My life took a different path, but it always interested me. I also don’t think science and spirituality need to negate each other. I wanted to work with a character who was smart and based a lot in science and evidence, but was a practicing witch and able to use all those facets towards her goals. The opening scene, in the club at Gramercy Park, came early on.

When I lived in New York, I spent a lot of time wandering around the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the New York Public Library. The Justin character evolved out of that, especially when a group of us who were affiliated with PEN got a behind-the-scenes tour at the Library.

Justin was inspired by the same real individual who inspired Billy Root in my urban fantasy series The Jain Lazarus Adventures, but the two characters evolved very differently, and have grown into very much their own men. Justin’s journey through this series gets quite dark at times. Billy takes a very different route in finding his true purpose.

I also wanted to play with the age difference between Gwen and Justin. Gwen is a dozen years older than Justin — how does that affect their relationship? Especially since Justin’s emotional age is much younger than his chronological age.

It all started to come together one day when I was at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, wandering around the Greek and Roman galleries, which had just reopened, and the Egyptian gallery.

Q: Tell us about the background of the chase scene at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

DE: That was a lot of fun. I’d written my way a few chapters into the book, and I wanted to get it right. I took a day and went back to the Met, with my camera and my notebook, to choreograph the scenes. A couple of security guards asked me what I was doing, and I told them I was choreographing a chase scene through the Met for a book. They were enthusiastic, and offered ideas and feedback (while still keeping an eye on things– no one neglected their jobs)! They asked not to be specifically named in the acknowledgements, in case Management was unhappy about it, but at this point, I’m sure most of them have moved on to other jobs.

Also, at that time, Hatshepsut had her own room. It’s been dismantled now, much to my disgust, and the Hatshepsut sphinx was in the same room as the Temple of Dendur, last time I visited New York. She’s not too happy about it.

I find it insulting that she no longer has her own room — it was an important exhibit focused just on her and her achievements.

I’m putting photos from the Met and the Library and some of the places in Edinburgh and Ayrshire up on the website: Once the webhost move is complete and the site is rebuilt.

Q: Did you ever get to study archaeology?

DE: Not traditionally. In 2013, I was able to take, through Coursera, an online class with Sue Alcock of Brown University called “Archaeology’s Dirty Little Secrets”, about some of the basics. I loved it, and I was lucky enough to head from the Cape to Brown to meet her. In fact, she got me back in touch with one of my favorite playwrights from my early days in New York theatre, who was teaching at Brown. In the edits, I fixed a few glaring errors in the manuscript, but I still have made, shall we say, “adjustments” in proper process to serve the needs of the story. I hope Sue will forgive me — and I plan to study more with her if the opportunity arises.

Q: The relationship seems more of a triangle that a couple, thanks to Karl. Can you talk about that a bit?

DE: Karl was originally going to be the primary antagonist — former lover gone bad. However, Karl had other ideas. The relationship between Gwen and Karl has gone through various permutations for over twenty years. Their bond is so strong that even the genuine love between Gwen and Justin can’t break it. Nor should it. This idea that fictional characters can only have a single relationship and everything else must come second is something I believe is harmful to teach readers to look for as human beings. We are capable of having more than one relationship without those relationships being a threat to each other, and I wanted to explore that.

Q: Then, of course, there’s Edward.

DE: Yes, there is. Again, Edward was supposed to be a very small supporting character whose purpose was to provide information and the next lead for Gwen and Justin to follow. But Edward had other ideas. I believe in following my instincts when characters want to take a different direction than the original plan. It’s the subconscious mind at work, which always knows more than the conscious mind. The subconscious embodies itself in the characters, so when you let that go, at least in early drafts, you can get to a better place than you would otherwise. When you write something that needs a structure, such as a mystery, then you take it and adjust the piece to the structure. Fortunately, the genre lines are blurring somewhat, and I take full advantage of that!

Q: Did you get any push-back because your vampire is named Edward?

DE: Because of Twilight? More power to Stephanie Meyer for creating a trilogy that connected to so many people. But I hadn’t read her books when I wrote this, and the only thing Edward Ramsey has in common with the other Edward is the fact they’re both vampires. One trusted reader who’s a big Twilight fan suggested I change his name, but Edward’s Edward, and there’s more than one Edward on the planet. My editor and publisher had no problem with it. I also wanted the vampire aspect to be peripheral to this novel. It comes more to the center in the third book, especially where Justin is concerned.

Q: So where do your characters go from here?

DE: You’ll have to read the books to find out! How’s that for avoidance AND self-promotion! 😉 Seriously, the second book, THE BALTHAZAAR TREASURE, is about salvaging a pirate ship, and there’s a murder, AND Gwen and Justin face new obstacles in their relationship. There are definitely some surprises in that one, for readers who think they have a handle on Gwen and Justin. MYTH AND INTERPRETATION, a between-the-books novella deals with what Gwen and Justin deal with in New York, trying to build a stable, adult partnership and some of the obstacles they face in the life/work balance. It’s vital information needed to go into what happens in BALTHAZAAR, but it ruined the pace and plot of BALTHAZAAR, so we yanked it out and developed it into its own novella.

Excerpt ( takes place on Lindsfarne, at the old kilns):

A clap of thunder followed almost immediately by a flash of lightning startled them. The lightning snaked out of the sky and struck the rocky beach close enough to them the hairs on their arms tingled.
“Whoa!” Justin yelled.
“The kilns!” Gwen said. “It’s too far to make it back to town.”
They grabbed their belongings and ran into the nearest small, arched doorway cut in the rock as the rain poured down. Once inside, they stepped back. The kilns were empty stone spaces now, with two small arched openings out to the rocky ground, another larger one, and a fourth smaller one. They leaned against the side wall near the back to avoid the rain whipped in by the wind. Gwen tried to shove the wet hair out of her face.
“That came in fast,” said Justin. They watched the storm race across the rocks, lightning reaching out like electrical, skeletal fingers.
“Storms do here.” She shivered. “The storms usually leave almost as quickly as they come in. I should’ve paid attention. And I should have found us a secure indoor place to work, like the Crown and Anchor.”
“We’d have been noticed in a pub.”
“At least we wouldn’t be soaked to the skin. Sorry.”
“I’ll dry off,” said Justin. “I’m kind of glad to be in this big coat, even if it makes me look stupid.”
“You don’t look stupid. You—”
“Bloody hell! We’re not being paid enough for this bollocks!” A voice floated to them from right outside the kiln.
Gwen and Justin exchanged looks. Gwen pulled Justin farther back into the kilns. They were in the backmost corner, hidden by shadows thrown from the other archways, but not much else.
Two men, bundled in heavy coats, ducked just inside the protected arch. They stared out at the driving rain. They were almost within arm’s reach of Gwen and Justin, who barely dared to breathe.
“Ye can’t blame ’im for the weather now,” said one of the men, slightly shorter than the other.
“I can blame him for bloody hell anything I want,” said the man who spoke first. “We don’t even know who they are. Just a man and a woman. She’s got red hair; he don’t.”
Gwen and Justin stared at each other. Justin pulled off his hat and handed it to Gwen. She yanked it down and tucked her red hair under it.
The shorter man chuckled. “He’s just a jealous bloke. Wants to know what the missus is doing when he’s not there.”
“I wouldn’t have agreed if I hadn’t had too many pints,” the man said. “I don’t like to put my fists to a man unless I have a personal argument with him. Besides, I hate this island. Haunted it is.”
“We just wait out the storm, then walk around a bit. There’s a pub or two. We can ask around. Someone will have seen ’em. Don’t get too many strangers ’round here. They’ll be remembered.”
Justin leaned close to Gwen’s ear. “Is there another way out?” She pointed deeper into the kilns. They’d have to cross behind the men, hoping they didn’t dislodge any stones.
“I’m not staying here. Bloody tide’ll come in and fill this place right up.” The taller man shifted in his coat.
“No, it won’t. These kilns have been there for o’er two hunnard year. They wouldn’t have built ’em if they couldn’t use ’em in bad weather. Seein’s as that’s all you get here.”
“’Twill now. With all that global warming bollocks.”
“Ye’re not going all environmental on me, are ye? Next step, you’ll be vegetarian. That’ll ruin a good night out.”
“Nah. I still like me pint and me steak. But I’m regrettin’ agreein’ to this.”
“We took the man’s money. We’re not killin’ them or nothin’. Just givin’ them a what-for so they stop sneakin’ around together.”
Justin and Gwen looked at each other again.
Suddenly, a long, low howl filled the air. Justin and Gwen jumped because it sounded as though it was right beside them.
“What in the bloody hell?” the taller man asked.
The sound of footsteps padding toward them grew louder, along with a familiar sound of ragged breath. Another howl rent the air. A large dark head poked around the side of the archway. The two men screamed and nearly climbed over each other as they scrambled out and ran through the central arch into the storm. The large black dog turned to look at Gwen and Justin, then turned away and padded off.
“Am I completely hallucinating,” asked Justin, “or did that ghost dog from hell just wink at us?”


TRACKING MEDUSA, the first Gwen Finnegan Mystery, $3.99 digitally here.

Lists, Logs, and First Books of the Year

Lists and Logs:
I decided to keep a reading notebook for 2018. Handwritten, of course, and then share bits and pieces here and on Ink in My Coffee.

Not because I want to boast. But I want to see what I choose to read, whether for pleasure or because I’m paid to read it, or for research for a project. I also want to see how certain books lead to other books.

Some of these books will lead to a new, upcoming feature called “Conversations with a Book.” Sometimes, when I read a book, I feel as though I’m having a conversation with the book or its author. I plan to share some of these with you this year.

I couldn’t wait to start the book journal until January 1.

From December 22 to 31, I read 26 books. Doesn’t sound possible, does it, and I’m not boasting. I read a lot. I was hungry for words. I felt creatively tired, and knew that I’m on a brutal deadline schedule this year. I wanted to use other people’s words as fuel.

Three of them I am still reading — not yet finished. So I guess the actual total of completed reads is 23, not 26.

16 were non-fiction. That included two cookbooks (yes, I read cookbooks like most people read novels) and one biography that’s background for one of my novels.

One of the non-fiction books will result in a “Conversation with a Book” piece. I took extensive notes as I read.

8 were fiction. Of the fiction, 7 of the 8 were mysteries (the only non-mystery I read was re-reading A CHRISTMAS CAROL, which I do every Christmas Eve).

1 was digital, fiction, recommended by a friend. The rest were print books.

Four of the mysteries were a huge disappointment. In fact, one enraged me so much I don’t want to read anything else by that author, and I certainly won’t buy it. One of the others I liked a lot, one I thought was a lot of fun, and two I liked and respected, although I found them very sad.

11 were books I own; 5 of which were re-reads, 2 of which I bought because I wanted to, and 4 which were holiday gifts.

15 were library books.

What does that all mean?

I have absolutely no idea.

But several books led me to order other books, and we’ll see where that winds up.

First Book of the Year
For some reason, the first book of the year is important to me. I’m not sure when that started or why.

We usually give and receive books for Christmas and start reading them on Christmas Eve (we’re Icelandic that way). But the first book choice of the new year started mattering to me.

I remember living in Seattle in the mid-1980s and making a big deal of the choice. My first purchase and read that year was Gail Fairfield’s CHOICE CENTERED TAROT, which is still a favorite.

This year, in keeping with my resolution to read more poetry, my first read, shortly after midnight was LOCKSLEY HALL AND OTHER POEMS by Alfred Lord Tennyson. It’s a small, old volume that was a gift from a friend earlier this year.

I’d read Tennyson before, but this time the rose-colored glasses were off. I was surprised by my negative reaction. He’s supposed to be romantic, isn’t he? To me, the poems felt like the male narrator blamed the women in the poems for the narrator’s own weaknesses, while pretending to wrap it up in adoration for her. I want to do some more research — I think I may have another “Conversation with A Book” piece come out of it.

The book includes:
Locksley Hall
The May Queen
The Lady of Shalott (which, interestingly enough, was referenced in one of the mystery novels I read in the past few days)
The Lord of Burleigh
Lady Clara Vere de Vere

I plan to re-read them, several times, slowly, in the coming weeks, and research the questions that I came up with in response to the reading. I’ll let you know if I find any answers!

My first choice of novel was something that was given to me over a year ago, and I hadn’t had the chance to read it. I liked the title, and I was looking forward to it. Sadly, when I picked it up, I discovered it was written in the present tense. I loathe novels written in the present tense. To me, it’s the author standing there, screaming in my face, “Look at ME! I’m a such a great stylist!” instead of getting out of the way and letting me experience the book.

So I put the book down. I will give it to someone who can enjoy it. No, I’m not posting the title and author — I don’t believe in author bashing.

I picked up another novel I’d been given several years ago and not had the chance to read, LUNCH WITH ELIZABETH DAVID by Roger Williams, and I’m enjoying it.

Is your choice of first book of the year important to you? Why or why not? Have you read Tennyson? What are your impressions?

Do you keep track of what you read? What tools do you use? How do you find it helpful?

I’m asking because I’m genuinely curious!

Holiday Break

Paper Heart

We’re taking a reading break for the holidays! Hope you received lots of lovely books!

There are some websites changes happening in January, so it might be difficult to reach us. There will be some changes on this site coming in the next few weeks; more interviews, more essays on process, and a new feature called “Conversations With a Book.”

Details will follow.

See you at the bookstore, the library, the book bin . . .

Guest Patsy Collins: Leave Nothing But Footprints

LNBF (1)

Q: What was the inspiration for LEAVE NOTHING BUT FOOTPRINTS?

Patsy Collins: You know how we’re always told to write what we know? Well, I do much of my writing whilst travelling with my photographer husband in our campervan. The novel is about photographers in a campervan… The storyline isn’t at all autobiographical, I promise, but getting two people to share such a small space is a good way for the reader to learn about them and watch their growing relationship.

The natural landscape is one of my interests, so I’ve made Eliot an eco campaigner. Mostly I want the book to be a fun, lighthearted read, but if it also encourages readers to take slightly better care of the world around them, I’ll be extremely pleased.

Q: How did Capri influence the story?

PC: Capri is used as a contrast to the main part of the story which takes place in South Wales. It’s an expensive, unusual destination, chosen by Jess simply for the luxurious facilities offered by the spa hotel. Capri represents the life Jess had before meeting Eliot. She enjoyed her holiday there, but it also highlighted the emptiness of her life. It’s not until she travels to the apparently less exciting Welsh coastline that she begins to find the sense of purpose she’d been lacking.

Q:What makes Wales the perfect place for this, and why does Wales make it different than setting it elsewhere?

PC: Partly it’s the fact that Jess and Eliot live, and work from, the campervan. They stay in empty fields and on quiet roadsides rather than on busy campsites – something which is entirely possible there, but much less practical in many other places. There’s none of the luxury Jess is used to. Learning to cope with that, whilst working hard and learning new skills, helps both reveal and develop her character.

The hills and beaches of Wales are rugged, spectacular and beautiful, but they can also be moody, forbidding and hard work. Kind of like Eliot. There’s not much that’s gentle and easy about the landscape, but the climbs and long hikes are definitely worth the effort. That’s reflected in Jess’s emotional journey.

Q: In general, how do you feel place affects your writing? What kind of details do you use to make your locations unique?

PC: The locations are very important to me, so much so that I do first drafts wherever the stories are set. That helps me get a feel for the place and of course makes research much easier.

With Leave Nothing But Footprints, I walked where Jess and Eliot walked. I climbed up to see the views which they photographed. Just as they did, I went out early in the morning and late in the day, to watch the effects of the changing light. I literally put myself in their place and noticed what they’d notice, tried to feel as they’d feel and react as they would. It’s a technique I’ve used before and found effective.

I don’t attempt to write a travel guide to any of my locations. Instead I try to capture the atmosphere with a few small details. The sand on the path, flowers which bloom alongside it and the sound of surf pounding onto the rocks below, form the background to one scene for example.

Q: What is your process working on a book, from inspiration to completion?

PC: First I create an outline of the plot and do some basic research, if needed, to ensure that plot will work. I pick the location and begin to think about the characters. Although there will be little to show for this stage, probably around 500 words, it can take months.

Then I start writing – on location if I can. Ideally I’d write the first draft all in one go, but that’s often not possible. I may hit a snag with the story, lose enthusiasm, or something unconnected with writing may cause an interruption. When the first draft is finally complete, sometimes years after I started, I leave it and write something else. That gives me the distance I need to start editing.

I’ll rewrite and leave the story as many times as necessary to get the novel as good as I feel I’ll be able to get it on my own. Then it goes to my fantastic beta readers. I’ll rewrite again, using their feedback. During each rewrite, I’ll research anything I don’t already know. That process will also be repeated until I’m satisfied with the book. After that, it’s just the usual copy editing and proofreading to arrange.

Q: Do you have any unusual rituals or objects you need around you when you write?

PC: Not really. Whether I’m in the campervan or at home I use the same laptop computer (I always write straight onto that, rather than on paper) and I drink a lot of tea.

Q: What are you working on now?

PC: I’m doing a ‘cosy crime’ story for NaNo. Four of my previous novels have had crime elements in them, but this will be the first one in which crime is the main genre. The action will be split between my home town and another seaside location I know well, so I’ve already got the settings fairly clear in my mind. I’m hoping that this time I really will manage my idea.

Thank you, Patsy, for joining us!

Jessica Borlase always gets what she wants. From cocktails in the exact shade of her manicure, holiday on Capri with friends, to a spacious apartment, her father’s money makes it possible. She enjoys the luxurious lifestyle and is grateful for his support, but frustrated to always be treated as Daddy’s pampered little girl. She tries to break free, by leaving Borlase Enterprises and studying photography.

Now what Jess wants is the utterly gorgeous Eliot Beatty; a world famous photographer who often uses his talents to benefit conservation projects. Her father attempts to bribe Eliot into taking Jess on an assignment in order to teach her the skills she’ll need to develop a career. Although annoyed at the interference, she’s delighted to discover this means two weeks with Eliot in the beautiful countryside of South Wales and close confines of a campervan. Trouble is, the man can’t be bought.

Jess eventually manages to persuade Eliot to take her. She believes she can earn his respect and that she’s ready for the hard work, long hours and living conditions far short of those she’s used to. She’s wrong on all counts. Can Jess learn to cope with the realities of the trip, and is Eliot really worth the effort?

Book link

Author Bio:
Patsy Collins will write anywhere she can reach in her campervan. She’s the author of five novels; four contemporary romances and one coming of age story with a difference. Hundreds of her short stories have been published in magazines in the UK, Australia, Sweden, Ireland and South Africa. She’s also co-author of From Story Idea to Reader – an accessible guide to writing fiction.

Patsy blogs about free entry writing competitions – and runs the womagwriter blog which is handy for magazine guidelines.



Savasana at Sea Cover tiny


Tomorrow, November 15, is the official release day of SAVANASA AT SEA, the first Nautical Namaste Mystery, under the Ava Dunne name.

This is an absolute case of I wrote the book I wanted to read, but couldn’t find. I worked in the office of a cruise line many years ago, and was drawn to the multi-cultural, international people that work on ships. Everyone has a story, and it’s a story worth telling. I also liked the aspects of a locked room mystery that being on a cruise ship held.

As a yoga practitioner, I’m annoyed when I see those who practice yoga portrayed as flaky or silly or dumb. Most of the teachers I know are smart and grounded and funny and talented. Practitioners are from all walks of life, so you have all kinds of people. They’re not generically flaky or stupid.

I knew I wanted to write a mystery. I wanted to use elements of the cozy mystery genre, but I also knew that the formula itself was too restrictive for what I wanted to say. Which is why this is labeled as “not quite cozy.”

I also wanted elements of comedy and romance. Early drafts had more of a chick-lit flavor to them, and the comedy felt forced instead of organic. When I let the humor and the banter flow from character rather than formula, it worked.

One of the things I loved about working on Broadway with diverse casts such as we had on shows like Miss Saigon and David Henry Hwang’s re-envisioning of Flower Drum Song was that we had the opportunity for real discussions about race, religion, sexism, oppression, and the casual comments we sometimes make, not realizing they’re hurtful. We could talk openly, without getting either offensive or defensive, about our experiences, and try to come up with ways to make the world a better, more tolerant place. Since we were artists, it often took the form of stories, plays, performance pieces, songs or poetry. I tried to capture some of that sense of collaboration in these stories.

I hope you like SAVASANA AT SEA. For those of you not familiar with yoga, “Savasana” is also known as “Corpse Pose.” I felt that was appropriate for a mystery, but I wanted to use the traditional name for the pose, not “Corpse Pose.”

At the back of each book, I also have an article with travel tips, and links to some of the real places mentioned in the book. Since the cruise route changes from book to book, it gives the crew — and the reader — chances to visit fascinating, beautiful places all over the world.

The book is available digitally, through several outlets. The Nautical Namaste website has more information about the series. I also have more background information about the crew, short bios written as though they’d be handed out in Welcome Packets, and information about the backgrounds of passengers relevant to each voyage.

We’re in negotiations for a small, traditional print run to happen at some point next year. The contracts aren’t signed, so it’s not a definite, but fingers crossed the numbers for digital sales will be strong enough to warrant a print run.

Below is an excerpt from Savasana at Sea:

“I wonder how many guests tried to hide in their cabins this time.” Roz McIntyre snickered as she joined us. She was a dancer on the entertainment staff, a tall, slender, dark-skinned woman with exquisite posture, who reminded me of a cross between a Daddy Long-Legs and a giraffe. From the moment I set foot aboard the Charisma, she decided we would be friends. Considering Geri’s hostility, I was grateful. “Hello, Sebastian. Hello, Sophie. How’s it going?”
“I’m sure we’ll hear in CB later, when the bets are paid off,” Sebastian replied. “Crew bar,” he added, for my benefit.
“I can put the damn life vest on in my sleep,” I grumbled.
“Let’s hope you never need to,” Sebastian dropped the joking tone.
“Bet Geri’s making you teach the two o’clock Pilates,” said Roz. “While she’s off assignating with Gary or Viktor. She hates Pilates.”
“She told some guy named Gary she didn’t have time for him right now,” I said. “Is ‘assignating’ even a word?”
“I’ll submit it to the OED when I get a minute.” Roz nodded. “Then it’s Viktor. Thanks for the tip. It’ll give me an ace up my sleeve against her when I need it.”
“Geri’s not supposed to mess with the ship’s second officer.” Sebastian frowned.
“Or he with her,” Roz shot back. “I don’t like Geri, but let’s not blame the woman for everything, shall we?” She tugged my arm. “Let’s grab something to eat. If you don’t eat when you can, you’ll pass out at the most inconvenient times.”
“Watch out for that one.” Sebastian nodded in Roz’s direction. “She likes bad men and good champagne.”


SAVASANA AT SEA Buy links here.