The Next Big Thing Blog Hop

Welcome to this blog hop. What is a blog hop? It’s a virtual event that helps readers discover new authors. The first author tags five others whose work he or she admires, who each tag five more, who each tag five more, and so on. If you’re reading this, then, much to our collective relief, the world did not end on December 21st, which leaves you another millennia or so of reading pleasure. Why not start with the authors listed below?

Before we get to the questions, I’d like to thank Eyre Price for inviting me to participate. Eyre’s debut novel, Blues Highway Blues, surely deserves to be the Next Big Thing. If you haven’t read it, you’re missing a rare treat—a unique blend of humor, psychological horror, redemption, damnation, and music history, served up with a touch of the supernatural and some of the most lyrical prose you’ll find anywhere. You can learn more about Eyre and his writing here:

In this particular hop, the five authors I’ve chosen and I will each answer, on our respective blogs, the same 10 (predetermined) questions ranging from our current works in progress to our writing processes and beyond.  I hope you’ll enjoy learning about our work. Please feel free to share comments and questions. I’d love to hear from you. I’ll even answer back.

Now, here is my Next Big Thing!

1: What is the title of your book?

My most recent book is A Cup Full of Midnight, the second book in the Jared McKean private detective series. I’m currently working on the third book in the series.

2: Where did the idea come from for the book?

A Cup Full of Midnight was inspired by a spate of “vampire” murders that took place several years ago, one in Florida, one at a rest stop in Greenville, Tennessee, and one in northern Kentucky. A vague idea for a story based on a similar group of vampire wannabes was rattling around in the back of my mind for a few years, but it didn’t fully materialize until the first Jared McKean novel, when a subplot involving Jared’s nephew suddenly gave me the opportunity to bring in this dangerous fringe group. When I read a Wayne Dyer quote comparing God to a vast ocean of light you could dip an infinite amount from without diminishing the light, I got an image of the leader of this fringe group dipping a chalice into an ocean of darkness. That’s when the plot suddenly came together.

3: What genre does your book come under?

They’re character-driven private detective mysteries with an edge of thriller.

4: Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

I have a picture of Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, who starred in a series called New Amsterdam, on my desktop because he looks so much like I envisioned Jared.

Nikolaj sweet smile

I also wouldn’t turn down Thor actor Chris Hemsworth or Captain America, Chris Evans. None of them are exactly right, because I see Jared as his own person, but any of these guys would be the right type.

For Jared’s ex-wife, Maria, maybe a Julia Ormond type.

For his housemate/landlord/best friend, a Bill Brochtrup type.

For his brother, Randall, maybe Grant Show.

5: What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

When the nephew of Nashville private detective Jared McKean is accused of the ritual murder of a man who called himself The Vampire Prince of Nashville, Jared must unravel the  victim’s web of manipulation and deceit to save the boy he loves like a son, first from suspicion and then from a killer whose ruthlessness is matched only by his determination.

6: Is your book self-published, published by an independent publisher, or represented by an agency?

The Jared McKean books are published with The Permanent Press. The German editions are with Rowohlt, and the audio books are put out by Blackstone Audio. I”m represented by the fabulous Jill Marr of the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency.

7: How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

About two months. But the revisions for the first two books each took years, because my first drafts tend to be heavy on character and weak on structure. It takes multiple drafts to find the right plot and pacing. I also have to work around my day job. I’m hoping the process will get faster over time.

8: What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

People who like Robert B. Parker, Jonathan Kellerman, Robert Crais, Steven Womack, and Dennis Lehane (his Kenzie and Gennaro detective novels) would probably enjoy mine.

9: Who or what inspired you to write this book?

There have been so many people who have inspired me to write. My husband, my mother, my grandmother, my great-aunts, my cousin Travis Baldwin, and all the authors whose works helped shaped me as both a person and a writer. I talked about the inspiration for A Cup Full of Midnight a little while ago; it was an image and a situation that inspired that book, although the year I spent teaching teenagers with learning disabilities was also an influence. The third book, the one I’m writing now, was inspired by a book I read on human trafficking. It’s called A Crime so Monstrous, by Benjamin Skinner.

10: What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Jared carries the books. On the surface, he’s a simple man, but he has all these layers. He’s 36, and his life is in flux. He has a son with Down syndrome, a best friend with AIDS, an ex-wife he can’t seem to fall out of love with, and a loving yet unsettled relationship with his older brother, Randall. He has an elderly Akita and a horse almost as old as he is. He’s hanging out his shingle as a private investigator after an unjust dismissal from the police force. He’s the guy who will help you move your furniture two years after you dump him, but he’s also the guy who, if you’ve been kidnapped by human traffickers, won’t rest until he’s hunted down the bad guys and brought you back. He’s a typical tough-guy detective, a little bit impulsive, a little bit of an adrenaline junkie. Then you see him tucking in his son and pouring orange juice for his housemate’s dying ex-lover. I call him a hardboiled hero with a soft-boiled heart.

Below you will find (in alphabetical order) five authors who will be joining me by blog, next Wednesday. I’ve included a bit about what the experts are saying about their work. Do be sure to bookmark and add them to your calendars for updates on WIPs and New Releases! Happy Writing and Reading!

  1. Glen Allison – Glen writes the New Orleans-based Al Forte series about  a tortured hero, a former Navy Seal who seeks redemption by rescuing stolen children. The Clarion Ledger says, “Allison writes about the Big Easy form a Julie Smith perspective, not a watered-down touristy viewpoint. His inviting prose puts you right on a French Quarter balcony with a black cat named Boo and its well-worn owner, Al Forte.Wow! This guy’s got depth, scars and charisma. A cross between Jim Burke’s Dave Robicheaux, Lee Child’s Jack Reacher and Randy Wayne White’s Doc Ford.”
  2. Chester Campbell – Chester is the author of two series, one featuring sleuthing couple Greg and Jill McKenzie and one featuring harder-boiled Sid Chance. He’s also written two cold-war thrillers that will keep you on the edge of your seat. Anne K. Edwards of New Mystery Review says, “”Campbell weaves a complicated tale of purpose and cross purpose as the interesting cast of characters show us their motives for doing what they do. . . Recommended as a fun read, lots of action, a well written tale to hold your attention.  You’ll be wanting to read other stories by this imaginative author.  Enjoy.  I did.”
  3. J.T. Ellison – New York Times bestselling author J.T. Ellison is the author of the top-notch Taylor Jackson thrillers and of a new series featuring medical examiner Samantha Owens. Pubishers Weekly called her latest book “Breathtaking,” and it was a Top Pick in Romantic Times.
  4. Michael Haskins –  Michael’s Key West mysteries feature journalist Liam “Mad Mick” Murphy. Crimespree Magazine says, “Haskin’s writing is tight and lean; his plots riveting, full of action and suspense and packed with fascinating subplots that work their way through the story and end as either surprising twists or tantalizing teasers for future books. His characters are vivid and seem to reach from the pages.”
  5. Chris Knopf. His blog is here. Chris is the author of a series featuring sailor Sam Acquillo and another featuring attorney Jackie Swaitkowski. His latest novel, a standalone thriller called Dead Anyway, was named a Best of 2012 novel by Publisher’s Weekly, who called it a “taut, streamlined tale of a man investigating his own murder.”

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