A Twisted Vengeance, A Starred PW Review!

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I was not going to check my phone this morning until my second cup of tea–silver needle, so delicately fragrant, sip and enjoy and watch the birds discover the sun’s out in the garden. But halfway through the cup I had this urge to check my email. I saw one from Jennifer, my agent, the subject: I’m seeing stars in the PW review! Followed by a reply from my editor, Maia. How could I not open that email? And here’s what I discovered! A starred review for A Twisted Vengeance, Kate Clifford #2!

If you don’t want to click on the link, I’ve provided the text below. But really, you do want to go to PW online and see that red star!

A Twisted Vengeance: A Kate Clifford Mystery
Candace Robb. Pegasus Crime, $25.95 (320p) ISBN 978-1-68177-452-7

Lovers of Shakespeare’s Richard II will find Robb’s intricate sequel to 2016’s The Service of the Dead a particular treat, as it charts the course of Richard’s downfall and his cousin Henry of Bolingbroke’s rise through the fears and uncertainties of the residents of the city of York in July 1399. These anxieties are worsened by a series of strange deaths connected to the extended family of Kate Clifford, a fierce young widow struggling to cope with not only her own household of jostling servants and the recently arrived illegitimate children of her late husband but also the return of her quarrelsome mother, Eleanor, from Strasbourg with religious women in tow. The character of Clifford is compelling and finely drawn, and for those readers who are patient enough to manage an unusually large number of secondary characters, the answers to a series of mysteries, starting with the reason for an intruder’s attack on a beguine (or poor sister) in the middle of the night, are highly satisfying. Agent: Jennifer Weltz, Jean V. Naggar Literary Agency. (May)

 

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Snippets about Writing & Fairy Tales

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First it was the run up to the Medieval Women’s Choir concert (songs of pilgrimage), and the concert itself, and now I’m deep into the middle of Kate Clifford #3, in which I’ve been reacquainted with a beloved cast member of the Owen Archer series who is now elderly but still vibrant. At such times, my blog is sadly abandoned.

But it needn’t be! I thought I’d share some snippets of things that have caught my attention recently.

This morning, it was this exchange on Twitter, where it’s #folkloreThursday. I tweeted a quote I’d come across that I love:
A fairy tale is a story where one king goes to another king to borrow a cup of sugar.–Angela Carter
The moderator of the hashtag for that hour responded, Ouch – that’s a bit cynical – I’d have thought it was where one king visits another to borrow some unicorn horn.
And I said, Cynical?! Not at all! Down to earth.
And loads of women expressed delight at my tweet (one adding The queen’s words.)
How much better it would be for all of us if kings/queens/presidents/etc. peaceably swapped homely things like cups of sugar instead of sending armies to take all the sugar cane in the fields. I’m channeling Magda Digby here.

And then recently there was this article by the writer George Saunders, in which I discovered a kindred spirit. We have such similar processes! No, I don’t imagine the P and N on my forehead, but in essence, it’s spot on for me, especially section 7, about the pins.

“A work of fiction can be understood as a three-beat movement: a juggler gathers bowling pins; throws them in the air; catches them. This intuitive approach I’ve been discussing is most essential, I think, during the first phase: the gathering of the pins. This gathering phase really is: conjuring up the pins. Somehow the best pins are the ones made inadvertently… Concentrating on the line-to-line sound of the prose, or some matter of internal logic, or describing a certain swath of nature in the most evocative way (that is, by doing whatever gives us delight, and about which we have a strong opinion), we suddenly find that we’ve made a pin. Which pin? Better not to name it. To name it is to reduce it. Often “pin” exists simply as some form of imperative, or a thing about which we’re curious; a threat, a promise, a pattern, a vow we feel must soon be broken. Scrooge says it would be best if Tiny Tim died and eliminated the surplus population; Romeo loves Juliet; Akaky Akakievich needs a new overcoat; Gatsby really wants Daisy. (The colour grey keeps showing up; everything that occurs in the story does so in pairs.)

“Then: up go the pins. The reader knows they are up there and waits for them to come down and be caught. If they don’t come down (Romeo decides not to date Juliet after all, but to go to law school; the weather in St Petersburg suddenly gets tropical, and the overcoat will not be needed; Gatsby sours on Daisy, falls for Betty; the writer seems to have forgotten about his grey motif) the reader cries foul, …  and she throws down the book and wanders away ….

“The writer, having tossed up some suitably interesting pins, knows they have to come down, and, in my experience, the greatest pleasure in writing fiction is when they come down in a surprising way that conveys more and better meaning than you’d had any idea was possible. One of the new pleasures I experienced writing this, my first novel, was simply that the pins were more numerous, stayed in the air longer, and landed in ways that were more unforeseen and complexly instructive to me than has happened in shorter works.”

It’s a rich, thoughtful article.

Until next time!

The Murder Mystery as a Cultural Lens, part 1

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In November of last year I was invited by the Classics, Medieval, and Early Modern Studies Graduate Research Cluster at the University of Washington to talk about my career writing fiction about late medieval England, Scotland, and Wales. I flailed around for a topic specific enough to provide some focus, yet sufficiently expansive–so far it’s been quite a ride and I’ve lots to say! I finally chose to talk about the murder mystery writer as a cultural lens.

In case you haven’t encountered the term before: A cultural lens is another term for viewing things from the perspective of a foreign culture. In order to apply a cultural lens on a situation, skills like empathy and understanding are needed. I explained that it’s important for my sleuths to not assume that the people of York (or Edinburgh, Perth, Windsor, St. David’s, etc.) view things the same way they do, or their places of origin did. So this applies on both a personal and government level. I like to emphasize empathy: In an investigation, a detective needs to listen—deep listening—and needs to hear all sides.

I thought I’d share with you the conclusion of that talk, given shortly after the US presidential election.

***

Something odd keeps happening—my books mirror current affairs in uncanny ways. I’d begun writing about the Scottish Wars of Independence from the perspective of the Scottish people—the Margaret Kerr trilogy, seeking to expose the horror of living in a war zone, and how that might give rise to violent rebellion, when 9/11 happened. And we declared war.

The Riddle of St (Small)When I wrote The Riddle of St. Leonard’s [Owen Archer #5]—about corrodians in medieval hospitals and the financial crisis they were causing at St. Leonard’s in York—the care they received helping them live longer—too long, costing too much to support, I found echoes in political arguments about Social Security and Medicare bankrupting the nation.

And most recently, … in A Twisted Vengeance [Kate Clifford #2] I’m writing about A Twisted Vengeancethe edginess of the populace in the midst of political upheaval. As I worked through my editor’s notes on the manuscript last week I felt a sense of déjà vu as the election results came in and I realized the enormity of the changes ahead —talk about political upheaval. As a writer I was pleased with the veracity of my depiction of the characters’ fear about the future. Personally I’m in shock to be in their shoes. I have a character question why people have rushed to support the king’s cousin, Henry, who is a cipher to them—yes, he strikes a heroic figure, a tournament champion, but why do they believe his rule will be better for them than Richard’s? Because he says so? And then… almost half the voters in my country go for the guy who promises change—huge change—though he’s never held public office and… well, you see the similarity.

How does this happen? Is it because in writing about the past with empathy novelists are tapping into universals? I think so.

So—since the election I’ve been wondering what lessons I can take from my work. How would Owen and Kate approach what has happened? They would examine the things the other side holds dear, they would frame their questions in ways that opened up dialogue, so the others would reveal themselves. When they met resistance they’d explore different routes in. All in the interest of understanding so that they might see how to restore order.

I’m hoping that the deeper reward for me in using the mystery as a cultural lens, even more resonant and life confirming than my original fascination with discovering what life was like in the past, is in teaching me how to open my eyes in the present, in this difficult present in which I find myself. To look at those I don’t understand as a cultural anthropologist, and to engage them as my sleuths do, with unloaded questions that have some hope of opening up a dialogue in which I might find clues as to how to communicate that we’re all in this together, and this is what’s at stake.

Women in Community–& a preview!

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Ever since the Women’s March on Washington I’ve been thinking about the power of women in community.

I’ve been writing about strong, clever, resourceful women throughout my career. Even in the Owen Archer series I surround my male sleuth with strong women–Lucie Wilton, the Riverwoman Magda Digby, Bess Merchet, Dame Phillippa…  But it wasn’t until I was writing the Margaret Kerr novels that I realized how much I believe women’s power lies in their wisdom about the importance of community–in the middle ages and today. That was Margaret’s Achilles heel–even before she left her home in Perth she had no such community. Gradually she learned to appreciate the help of her serving woman Celia, her mother Christiana, her friend Ada, and, as we left her, she was on her way to seek the help of her Great-Aunt Euphemia. Margaret’s path to wisdom and power.

In between writing about Margaret and creating Kate Clifford I became fascinated with the Beguine movement–communities of lay religious women. [See two guest posts about Beguines here and here.]

Service of the Dead KD2b REVYou will recall that toward the end of The Service of the Dead Kate’s mother, Eleanor, arrives in York in the company of three Beguines from Strasbourg. Eleanor returned when she did so that I might use her as the catalyst for Kate’s cathartic outburst at the end. The Beguines are merely her companions. But Dina, Clara, and Brigida move to center stage in A Twisted Vengeance. In the US and Canada it will be published in hardcover and ebook on 9 May. (And The Service of the Dead will come out in trade paperback.) Here’s a sneak preview of the further adventures of Kate Clifford & community.

 

twisted-vengeance_new-coverPrologue

York, second week in July, 1399

The terror of the dream never abated. She opened her eyes in the dark prison of her childhood bedchamber. Heard his ragged breathing, smelled his breath—cloying sweetness of wine, rancid stench of bile—as he leaned down, reaching for her, whispering of his need, his hunger. She opened her mouth to scream, but she was mute. She struggled to push him away, but her arms were limp, heavy, dead to her.

Why do you not strike him down, my Lord? How can you abide such abomination, my Savior? Are you not my Savior? Is he right, that I deserve this?

It is a dream, only a dream, now, tonight, it is truly only a dream, he is dead, he can no longer hurt me, it is a dream, wake up wake up wake up.

She sat up, panting, her shift clinging to her sweat-soaked body. A noise. Someone moving about on the other side of her door, in the kitchen. Outside her window it was the soft gray of a midsummer night. Who would be moving about the kitchen in the middle of the night? Why had Dame Eleanor lodged her here, across the garden from her sisters, all alone? But they did not know she was alone. They thought Nan, the serving maid, would be here. Perhaps it was only Nan she heard, returning early.

He had sworn that he would find her, rise from the grave and take her, that they were bound for eternity. Whoever it was, they were at the door. The dagger. She slipped it from beneath her pillow. The door creaked open. Not Nan—much too tall for Nan. A man’s breath, a man’s smell. He took a step in. She leapt from the bed, throwing herself on him, forcing him to fall backward into the kitchen. Stabbing him, stabbing, stabbing. Not speaking. Never speak. Never make a noise. He will kill me if I wake the others.

“God have mercy. Have mercy!” he wheezed.

She stopped. This voice was soft. Frightened. God forgive me. It is not him. Not Father.

She dropped her dagger in the doorway as she backed into her room. Heart pounding, fighting the fear and confusion clouding her mind, she dressed, stumbling in her haste. She must think what to do. Berend. He was strong and kind. He would help her. She would go through the gate to Dame Katherine’s kitchen and wake Berend.

She retrieved her dagger. Bloody. Slippery. Wiped it on her skirt. Tucked it in her girdle. Stepped to the door, lifting her skirts to step over his body. But there was no body. God help me!

A hand over her mouth. He spun her round and clutched her so tightly she felt his blood flowing, soaking the back of her gown, the warmth of it. She gagged on the sickly sweet smell of it, like her father’s wine-breath. He dragged her outside into the garden. The great wolfhounds began to bark. Salvation? She struggled, but he did not lose his grip; even when he stumbled he grasped her so tightly she could not breathe. Her feet skimmed the grass, the packed mud of the alley. I am dying.

A jolt. She was pulled free, falling forward.

“Run to the church.” It was the soldier who watched all night from the street. More than a soldier, a guardian angel. He kicked the wounded man in the stomach.

She curled over herself, gasping for breath.

“Get up. Run to the church. Do not stop. Do not look back.” He nudged her, gently. “Run!” Suddenly there were more men. They rushed at her savior.

She rose and ran, her breath a searing knife in her throat and chest, but she ran, ran for her life. She heard the men attacking the soldier, bone against flesh against bone. Surely an angel could not suffer mortal wounds. But she would pray for him. To the church across Castlegate. Door locked. Stumbling round to the side, where the sisters entered. Footsteps coming her way. She fled, and there it was, the door, opening, the candle by the lady altar. She crumpled to the floor, the cool tiles. She stretched out upon them, bloodied, cursed, saved.

___________

If you’d like a chance to win one of three galleys of A Twisted Vengeance, sign up for my publisher’s giveaway on Goodreads (giveaway runs 7 Feb – 7 Mar).

Performing Medieval Music: the Medieval Women’s Choir

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As you might recall, the launch for The Service of the Dead at the University Bookstore was graced by members of Seattle’s Medieval Women’s Choir raising their voices in exquisite harmony. I loved the sound and the women so much that I joined the choir in September!

So during the darkening days of autumn I was buoyed by the rehearsals for our join-choirChristmas concert, Monday nights becoming beacons of light, laughter, song, and camaraderie. Our performance in St. James Cathedral on the first evening in December was truly a magical experience for me. Our voices soared, while  musicians accompanied our voices with lively harp, vielle, and percussion. Such a gorgeous venue, and we received a standing ovation at the end. Icing on the cake! (Photo is from a past performance by the choir.)

I’m hooked. I cannot wait for rehearsals to resume in January.

And what a fabulous way to dive into the topic of medieval music. Our choir director, Eric Mentzel, is not only a specialist in early music, but a gifted and congenial musical coach; he is an associate professor of voice at the University of Oregon. Even when he’s correcting us, he inspires laughter and ease. My two favorite quotes from recent rehearsals: “Sing as if we’ve been singing this together in the convent for 40 years”; and, when instructing us in how to build on repetitions in a melisma*,“never repeat, insist.” So evocative. Marian Seibert, soloist and rehearsal director when Eric isn’t available is equally warm and humorous, even when drilling us.

Here’s a link to the choir website if you’d like to learn more about it: http://medievalwomenschoir.org/

6a21f0cfc30f69e020fcd0de044fe169And, yes, I’m sure that as I learn more I will discover a character just waiting to step into York Minster and raise his? her? voice. The minster choir would have been male, but perhaps the nuns of Clementhorpe Priory…

For now, I’m simply enjoying the experience.

Serendipity: This explanation of the medieval origins of the Christmas carol was just posted on the British Library blog!

I welcome recommendations regarding books/articles on medieval music. And if you’re in Seattle in March, come hear us!

* A melisma is a run of notes, quickly sung, on one syllable of text.

Gazing Inward, With Friendly Curiosity

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Our most important writing tool is trust in our own unique vision, our own voice. Stop comparing. Look within. I wrote that in my journal after a friend, a poet, confided that she was experiencing a storm of self-doubt. As I reassured her I smiled to myself, remembering times she’s done the same for me.

Here are some inspiring quotes with a similar message (italics mine):

If you get stuck, get away from your desk. Take a walk, take a bath, go to sleep, make a pie, draw, listen to ­music, meditate, exercise; whatever you do, don’t just stick there scowling at the problem. But don’t make telephone calls or go to a party; if you do, other people’s words will pour in where your lost words should be. Open a gap for them, create a space. Be patient. –Hilary Mantel The Guardian 22 Feb 2010

[When asked, what’s the best book you’ve ever received as a gift]: The Professional, by W. C. Heinz. It profiles a boxer before a match in the 1950s. I reread it before taping a stand-up special. Preparing to perform comedy in front of hundreds (or thousands) of people and telling jokes that may or may not make them laugh is just as terrifying as getting hit in the face while boxing. I boxed for a while a couple years back, and the fear of getting punched was a big hurdle I had to get over. But you know what helped? Getting punched. Just one time was enough to learn that the fear of pain is worse than the pain itself. That’s like stand-up. I learned to just get up there and own my jokes. Relax and take the punches. The crowd will forgive you for less-than-perfect jokes, but nobody likes to watch a fearful performer.  –Amy Schumer NYT 8/11/16 By the Book

Wright Morris said that “Writes have an island, a center of refuge, within themselves. It is the mind’s anchorage, the soul’s Great Good Place.”

Paula Fox (Paris Review, The Art of Fiction No. 181) “I never felt any sort of egocentricity about my writing. I think I felt that it was a dispassionate gift that some force had given me. And I still think that. It’s as if something speaks through me, and then I have to sit up there every day for it to have a place to come and speak through me.”  Also:  “Everything you write is autobiographical, even science fiction, and the planet Ork. In some way even that is a reflection of you—who you are. You write about yourself as if you were a specimen, as if you were a specimen of a human being, and so you write about being human. The only one you really know, reasonably well, in some cases unreasonably well, is yourself.”

“…not only must we wake the sleeper in our self, we must help her enter and reenter the state of wonder.” Jonis Agee (The Daily Beast, “The True Secret of Staying Young,” 13 Aug 16)

Richard Wilbur: “Step off into the blank of your mind, something will come to you.”

October Sunrise

October Sunrise

Mostly importantly, enjoy your own wonderfully crazy imagination. Untether it. Later, you’ll edit.

An Interview, a Talk, a Book Club, a Reading

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Lithia Park, Ashland, OR

I’m back in my office after a week in Ashland (southwestern Oregon), home of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. The photo is Lithia Park in the center of town.

Geoffrey Riley got my week off to a great start with a wide-ranging interview on the Jefferson Exchange, a morning show on Jefferson Public Radio, a service of Southern Oregon University. Listen here! He is the sort of interviewer every writer dreams of, so well prepared.

reading-at-bloomsbury-booksAt the Ashland Public Library later that day I talked about the historic Richard II, prelude to an evening performance of Shakespeare’s Richard II. Christopher Liam Moore’s Richard, though at odds with my own impression of the man, was riveting. Here’s a quote from a review in the Ashland Daily Tidings: “Mr. Moore presents a bewildered and snotty little Richard; a spoiled princeling not nearly ready for prime time. Decked out in assorted hilariously inappropriate outfits (a jester-like crown that doesn’t quite fit the head, a pair of pretentious leopard-print shoes) and seated on a leather Chesterfield throne that is a conspicuous nod to the absurdities of the London gentleman’s club, Moore’s Richard is less a king and more a spoiled and isolated product of the grandiose bubble in which he lives. He makes horrible decisions. He rages against his few remaining loyalists. He irritates, alienates, and discreetly obliterates every sympathetic éminence grise within a 200-mile radius.” I agree. What they don’t mention is his sardonic presentation of the tragic monologue at the beginning of V.v. It will be a while before I can read it with the pathos I usually find in it–his biting, scornful tone is still in my head. I thoroughly enjoyed the evening.

nightingales-book-clubOn Thursday, I spent the afternoon with members of a book club that meets at Nightingales Inn. They had read The Apothecary Rose and many had also caught my Tuesday morning interview, so they didn’t limit their questions to Owen Archer and Lucie Wilton but were very curious about Kate Clifford. Here we are on the porch afterward.

describing-at-bloomsbury-booksNightingales Inn also hosts a literary salon on Thursday evenings, and afterward a group walked me up to Bloomsbury Books for my evening reading  and talk about my new sleuth Kate Clifford, introduced in The Service of the Dead. Ashland is such a wonderfully literary town.

Huge thanks to my friend Sharan Newman for her hospitality and bloomsbury-books-audiencewonderful cooking, as well as not only setting up all the book events, but also scoring tickets to the sold-out Richard II and to The Winter’s Tale in the outdoor theater (magical).

Tea and Book Talk at the Bellevue Library: Mysterious England (and more)

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I cannot believe it’s September already! A busy month for me. Coming up in a week mysteriour england flyer sep16(10 September), Alice Boatwright, Marty Wingate and I will be at the Bellevue Library, 2-3:30 pm, to talk about our books, our love of England, and serve tea. Check out the poster in a larger format here!

Shortly after that I take off to New Orleans for Bouchercon (World Mystery Convention). Going to be there? My panel is on Thursday, 15 September, 1:30-2:20pm–Does Anyone Really Know What Time It Is? with Larry Sweazy, Dana Chamblee Carpenter, Eleanor Kuhns, Laura Joh Rowland, and Verena Rose (moderator). Book signing immediately afterward!

And then, at month’s end, I’ll be in Ashland, OR, where I’ll be interviewed by Emily Curitan at JPR radio; give a talk at the Ashland Library at 2 pm Tuesday, 27 September, The Enigma of the White Hart: Who Was Richard II?; and chat with readers about The Service of the Dead at Bloomsbury Bookstore on Thursday evening, 29 September, 7-8:00 pm. I’ll also be talking to a book club or two and seeing some wonderful theater, especially Richard II (by you-know-who–I mean, this IS Ashland, after all). This full schedule in Ashland is courtesy of my friend and fellow medievalist-in-crime, Sharan Newman. Thanks, Sharan!

 

My Unruly Characters

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At first it surprised me that the characters I created in my books chatted and interacted with each other even when I stepped away from my desk. While I weeded the garden, walked with friends, washed dishes, fell asleep, I eavesdropped on Owen Archer, Lucie Wilton, Bess and Tom Merchet, Archbishop Thoresby, Magda Digby… . Occasionally I woke in the morning recalling entire scenes played out in my dreams—some useful, some not. I had never imagined such strangeness when I first tried writing fiction, but I welcomed it with open arms—what writer wouldn’t?! The continuous exposure deepens the characters for me. It’s especially helpful when writing a series in which many characters appear in each book, and some return after long absences. It’s invaluable to me to imagine these people’s lives between their appearances, to glimpse what’s going on behind the scenes.

The Apothecary Rose (Small)As the characters settled in and began to feel as if they were part of my family, they developed autonomy. My first experience with this involved Potter Digby in The Apothecary Rose. He was a fishy smelling weasel of a character in the outline; but Owen listened to him, giving him the chance to reveal his individual moral code. This wasn’t planned. Owen Archer, my creation, took the time to talk to Potter, allowing him to reveal his humanity. I wound up deeply regretting how things were going to turn out for him.

Brother Michaelo, definitely not one of the good guys in The Apothecary Rose, alsoA Gift of Sanctuary (Small) changed my mind. John Thoresby, Archbishop of York, made him his personal secretary in an act symbolic of donning a hair shirt. But, in the course of ten novels, Michaelo developed a respect for the archbishop and a desire to redeem himself. He was a good friend to Lucie Wilton’s father, Sir Robert D’Arby, in his last days (A Gift of Sanctuary). By the tenth book, A Vigil of Spies, Brother Michaelo became a tragic figure—deeply flawed, but honorable and admirable. Just this week a reader messaged me on Facebook urging me to stop Michaelo from leaving York and returning to Normandy.

How does this happen? How did Geoffrey Chaucer, a man who annoys Owen, become his friend? How is it that Owen deeply mourns—well, best not say who, in case you’ve not reached book 10.

A Trust Betrayed (Small) - CopyThis isn’t just about flawed characters becoming lovable. Many of my characters aren’t planned, but arise in a scene and take on an unexpected significance. In A Trust Betrayed, when Margaret Kerr met her uncle’s groom, Hal, he was meant to be part of the scenery, needed for a few scenes but expendable. But Maggie and Hal formed a bond, and he kept stepping up to help her. In A Triple Knot (one of my non-series novels), Joan revised Triple Knot_cvrof Kent’s childhood nurse, Efa, was meant to appear only in memory; but she was just the person to step back into Joan’s life and help her cope with her unhappiness.

Most recently, Sir Elric, a knight in the service of Ralph Neville, Earl of Westmoreland, popped up in a scene in The Service of the Dead. Kate Clifford was meeting her loathsome brother-in-law Lionel Neville and found he was not alone—not planned, Service of the Dead KD2b REVbut I found myself adding that detail. It occurred to me that it would be fun if Lionel were accompanied by someone who sees right through him, someone he’s desperate to impress. Sir Elric’s was to be brief walk-on role. But the chemistry between Elric and Kate—well, I couldn’t waste that. He’s back in the second book, and the third.

The eeriest one of all happened late one afternoon, just around quitting time. In the midst of an action scene late in The Service of the Dead, Kate pauses at the edge of the road, uncertain which way to go, and a little hand takes hers. I remember lifting my own hands off the keyboard and looking around my office asking, Who is this? It didn’t take me long to figure it out, but, as with Efa, this character was to be someone mentioned, but never met. Now I cannot imagine the series without her.

This is one of the joys of the writing life—I never know who will stride into the scene, or defy me.

Down the Rabbit Hole: interview on The Big Thrill

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I’m interviewed in the July issue of The Big Thrill, the monthly publication of International Thriller Writers. George Ebey fed me questions and let me run with them–and I did, dear readers, I did. I talk about how I wound up in Seattle, why I left grad school, and how those choices led to Owen Archer, Lucie Wilton, Margaret Kerr, Kate Clifford, and my life in crime…writing. Come join me down the rabbit hole!

I also talk shop, of course. You know how I love to talk shop. A sample from the interview:

George Ebey: What elements do you feel are essential for a good suspense story?

Me: It is a cruel game we play. We create a sense of danger for characters about whom we’ve made our readers care, then pepper the narrative with life-threatening events and potential antagonists with plausible reasons for doing them harm, all while withholding information until the plot requires it be revealed. If we do our work well, the readers are hopelessly hooked.

NB: The title of Kate Clifford book 2 has changed, so forget what I cited at the end of the interview as the “working title.” I have a much better one.