Filed under: Killer Year Members
My Very First Panel
Will happen at Thrillerfest
Saturday, 9:00-9:50 am
Private eyes see that justice is done when cops fail.
P.J. Parrish, Panel Master
Filed under: Dave White
Back in High School, my friends Brian, Ryan and I started… The Story…
It was an oral tradition and involved super powers, space travel, rubles and Moonstar… it was whacked and eventually moved into email. Occasionally we have started new stories.
We are starting it again… A serialized story we will write through email and then post on the blog. If you are interested, you can follow it here. Expect inside jokes, expect whackiness… expect the unexpected.
Oh, and possibly expect it to end unexpectedly…
Stay Tuned for Part One, by Ryan.
And Part Two, by Me
Hi everyone… Allison Brennan interviewed me and posted it over here on Dishing with the Divas. Hope you stop by.
When Gwen first fell under Al’s spell, she never would have thought she’d end the relationship, certainly not so abruptly after so many years. He arrived home, unexpected — unexpected because normally he would have called from the airport, “I’m getting my bags, come pick me up. I’ll be waiting.” But today, today he just appeared at the door. A shadow. “I got a ride,” he said, and she looked over his shoulder and saw the car pulling away, the drift of auburn hair through the driver’s side window. No grey. That was the thing Gwen would remembered later, no grey at all. “I didn’t want to bother you,” he said, “since I got the ride, you know.”
“Sure, I know. Thank you.”
He stood there and for a moment neither knew what to say. Then he set down his bags beside the door and drew a breath. She smelled mint. “Are you hungry?” she said.
“I ate on the plane.”
He went to the couch, dropped down heavily. “I have to go again tomorrow. They want me in Anaheim.”
“Yeah, a new pitch.” He hesitated, and she thought he felt unsure of himself. She expected him to say something right then, but he only shrugged a bit and said, “Cut my hair? It’s been too long, and I need to make a good impression on these guys tomorrow.”
The thought of his hair in her fingers made her hands shake. Lots of grey in his hair now, like hers. “Oh, I don’t know,” she said. Then she thought of the scissors, the smooth cool sensation of the metal in her hands. The crisp sound of blade against blade. “Of course,” she said, thinking of auburn. “I’d love to cut your hair.”
In four weeks, THE MARK will be on bookstore shelves across the country. It’s been over 14 months since I agreed to a publishing deal, and while the process has been, at times, agonizingly slow, it’s also been exciting as hell. From the moment my editor emailed me the very first cover concept to the day a box of galleys arrived at my mailbox, special moments have come fast and furious. The most exciting one of all, though, is four weeks away.
On June 26th, Henry Parker and Amanda Davies will live and breathe, and THE MARK will be the first of (knock wood) many books featuring the two. Early reviews have been tremendous and humbling. But the fates of Henry and Amanda are, in the end, up to you–the reader.
For those attending Book Expo America, I will be signing ARCs of THE MARK at two separate events on Friday, June 1st. Stop by, say hi, I’ll also be unveiling my first ever bookmark (special thanks to my brilliant and patient father-in-law).
1:00-1:45 at the MIRA booth (#3874 – 3875 – 3975), alongside Deadly Seven authors Alex Kava, Michelle Gagnon, J.T. Ellison and M.J. Rose.
3:45-4:15 at the Mystery Writers of America booth (#2750)
The chase begins on June 26th. Just four short weeks.
Filed under: Patry Francis
When I entered high school, there was a war going on. Every night the local paper printed the addresses of soldiers who wanted to get mail. I wrote to every name on the list, and used my babysitting money to send them small gifts.
In most cases, I sent only one letter or package, but one Marine and I became close friends. We wrote sporadically, then weekly, and finally almost daily. I sent him a photograph, which he taped inside his helmet. He told people I was his girlfriend, though we both knew I would never be that. He was twenty-one and serving a second tour; I was fifteen and had never been away from my home or parents for more than a week.
He told me things that people who knew and loved him could not bear to hear. I related the small stories that arose in the life of a bookish high schooler, and he seemed to draw comfort from their dailiness. We shared jokes, and filled sheets of pale blue stationery with the lyrics of songs that we loved. I can still remember sitting at the kitchen table as I transcribed the words to “Blowin in the Wind.” When he wrote back to say that the song had come on the radio as he read my letter, I learned the meaning of serendipity.
He believed the war was a “just cause.” I was already participating in local protests. But our differing viewpoints never affected our friendship.
My father was drinking coffee in the kitchen and I was in my bedroom getting ready for school when my grandfather came in with the paper. The screen door slammed behind him.
“Patry’s friend is on the front page!” he announced. “He was killed in action.”
Even now, I can hear the sound of the door that door slamming, a kind of punctuation mark to my grandfather’s statement. I can feel the claustrophobia of my tiny bedroom with the roses on the wallpaper, and see my open bureau before me, my shirts piled in neat stacks. The one on top was as pink as those wallpaper roses.
The mail from that distant country was sometimes slow and unreliable. My friend had been dead for six months when the last letter arrived. I kept it for many years, but eventually, during one of life’s transitions, it was lost.
No matter. I not only remember every word, I remember how they looked on the page. Small, and slanted downward, all huddled at the top.
The letter was totally unlike any I had received from him before. There was no date or salutation, no stories or song lyrics, no noting the number of days till he’d be home. Just a question:
Did you ever think that maybe you were just a figment of your own imagination?
It was so many years ago now. My grandfather is dead– my father, who jumped up from the kitchen table when he heard the news–dead, too. And the room with the pink flowered wallpaper where I spent my childhood is a kingdom I can never re-enter, except through memory.
Only the question–cryptic, strangely prescient, and still utterly mysterious– remains.
Filed under: Marc Lecard
A few days before Jane and I left on vacation I emailed the finished manuscript of my new novel to editor and agent.
Then we flew out to Ann Arbor Michigan to spend a week in Jane’s brother’s guest room, doing absolutely nothing, the dolce far niente, doing sweet fuck all.
The book would have to do without me for a week. I had some plans for the next novel, true, a few ideas I wanted to work on. But it seemed like a good idea to let them lie fallow. My brain was feeling bruised and abused, like the last canteloupe in the bin. I needed recovery time.
I wouldn’t even think of writing, I told myself.
I had cleverly booked us a red-eye flight to Michigan, thinking: sleep on plane, more time to vacate. It didn’t quite work out. We were seated in the middle of an eighth-grade field trip, on its way to Washington DC to learn about our democratic form of government. Excited middle schoolers do not sleep. They talk, sing, whisper, giggle, yell and talk. If they had begun to sing “99 bottles of beer on the wall” I planned to kick out the emergency door and let the pressure change suck us all into oblivion. But sleeping was not on the agenda.
Sunday was a daze: beer, Irish music, lush green woods, sun, river. Far fucking niente.
Monday morning I got an email from my editor about the manuscript. He had some suggestions. They were well taken.
Monday night, or rather very early Tuesday morning I woke up, sweating, from a dream of compulsive rewriting. I lay there in the dark, going over the multitude of things wrong (I now realized) with the book. How had I let them happen? Why did I think I could turn in a manuscript made up almost entirely of weak points? What the fuck was wrong with me?
Sleeping was not on the agenda.
The next day my hard-working editor sent me a much longer list of problems with the book. Though his comments were wrapped in reassurances that the book was good and the problems merely local, I wasn’t fooled. The book was shit. He was just being polite about it. I was a worthless hack, now revealed in all his fraudulent infamy.
But it did occur to me that, if I just changed one scene, deleted another (now useless), and moved another to much later in the narrative, a lot could be saved. It really was a lot better that way, clearer and more exciting. And that gave me a few more ideas.
I wrote them down. Then I wrote down some more ideas, ways to fix the novel, and ideas for new stories, an idea for a completely different novel.
I had lots of ideas.
Sleeping was not on the agenda.
It’s hopeless, this idea that you can take a vacation from your own brain. Lying fallow sucks anyway.
The good thing about being on vacation is that you have lots more time to work.
(Cross posted from Murderati.com)
I made a BIG mistake this week.
On Monday night, I was innocently watching television when I saw a commercial with a sock monkey. On Tuesday, I was in a local bookstore and turned a corner, coming face to face with… a traditional sock monkey. Even my late night viewing has been corrupted. Phantom of the Opera has been on a never-ending HBO loop, and there’s an antique cymbal playing grinder monkey, one which makes me cringe with distaste because he looks like a sock monkey. Putting aside the delightful Kristy Kiernan’s hallucinations of spider monkeys and my own disinterest in the real beasts, the fake ones always capture my attention. They seem to be making some kind of resurgence. Whether they are on television, made from all natural ingredients or whatever, sock monkeys are suddenly EVERYWHERE I LOOK.
Now before you start thinking I’m just plain crazy, allow me to explain the genesis of this… well, fear is the only truthful term I can apply here.
When I was a little girl, I read a book called Baleful Beasts and Eerie Creatures, an anthology of short stories edited by Andre Norton and illustrated by the legendary Rod Ruth.
I remember reading this book one night when my parents were out. I had a babysitter. Mistake number one, no parents to turn to in my hour of need. Mistake number two, getting scared to death by the story of the basilisk yet continuing to read the damn thing. Mistake number three, looking at the illustrations. There was no way you couldn’t spend hours staring into the creatures eyes, especially that stupid basilisk. Mistake number four, allowing the book to stay in my room.
Of course I didn’t leave the book in my room. After I finished reading the stories, I took it into the living room and left it on the coffee table. But it ended up back in my room. At the time, I was entirely confident it was that damnable Patchwork Monkey, his nasty little fingers grasping the pages of the book, creeping, creeping up the stairs to my room, depositing himself on my night side table where he could sink those viciously sharp little teeth into my neck whilst I slept, unaware. But since I couldn’t sleep that night, kept drifting in and out, all I could understand was I heard dragging footsteps in the hallway, a hulking monster came to my door, and the book was placed with great care on my bedside table. See that little sucker, just sitting in the tree? Can’t you imagine those stringy red lips opening, those sharp little monkey teeth…
Man, it still gets me creeped out.
And I know it’s in my old boxes in my parents place, which means Mom is going to be stuck going through them looking for this treasure, which is sadly out of print and sells for $200 on eBay.
Why am I searching for the book? I have an idea for a story that is going to take some research into the Gothic and horror world to make work properly. This is something I avoid at all costs. Why would I spend any time scaring myself more than I already do? It’s bad enough to delve into the mind of serial killers and comb autopsy reports on a daily basis. My imagination is always on overdrive. Toss in the supernatural element and I’m going to be a total basket case for months.
Yet I’m compelled to travel this road, to search for better ways to tell a story, for deeper meaning, for alternate routes into my readers minds. I’ve been trying to get up the nerve to open a couple of Stephen King novels. Or watch a spooky movie. Anything to start the desensitizing process.
I figure this would be a good place to start. It’s a test of sorts. Do the stories that freaked me out as a kid still wig me out? If not, if I can read them as a writer and appreciate their menace, maybe I can move on to bigger and better stories.
What would you suggest? Any books or movies that I can start my research with that won’t leave me jumpy but will give me the essence of the genre? And if you’ve got some good Gothic recommendations, please include them too!
Wine of the Week: 2003 Affentaler Pinot Noir Monkey Wine (Baden)
If you want to read something exceptionally cool, visit The Rap Sheet blog for J. Kingston Pierce’s one year anniversary celebration. “You’re Still The One” has been a week of fascinating single title mysteries considered under/unappreciated at the time of their initial publication. Many famous, not so famous and familiar writers, bloggers and industry folk’s opinions are represented. My TBR pile will never be the same.
Filed under: Robert Gregory Browne
Late Friday night was usually the best time to find them. His victims.
Around about eleven-thirty, they’d be coming home off the Interstate, half drunk and lonely, playing their favorite I’m-down-and-out-and-feeling-blue song on the car stereo. Some of them smoked cigarettes–which he hated. Made his clothes stink.
Tuck would punish them for that.
This time, a guy in a beat-up, metallic blue Chevy Nova saw him with his thumb out and pulled over. Tuck had always thought that was a funny name for a car. No va. Down in Nogales it meant, “No go.”
He was half smiling at the thought when the guy rolled down his window. The last bars of an old, sad country tune escaped. “Where you headed?”
“Just up the road a bit.”
The guy was checking out his smile. “Something funny?”
“I like your car.”
The guy gave Tuck a look, but unlocked the passenger door anyway. Tuck climbed in, immediately sucking in the smell of one of those sickly sweet air fresheners mixed with the unmistakable odor of tequila. The heater was on and that was good, because, smell or no smell, he’d been freezing his ass off out on the roadside.
The guy hit the gas before he had a chance to strap himself in. “So what’s up the road? You live around here?”
Tuck clicked the buckle shut. “Nope.”
That one made Tuck laugh. “I haven’t had a girlfriend since high school. I’m more of a one night stand kinda guy.”
The driver nodded. “Same here.”
They were silent after that. Stayed that way for half a dozen miles along a stretch of empty road. There was no moon and, except for the headlights, the night was a black hole. Just like Tuck’s heart.
He only half-listened to the music, some generic cowboy crying about drinkin’ and cheatin’. It was just a wash of sound as far as he was concerned.
The driver finally said, “You hitchhike a lot?”
“Every Friday night,” he told him.
“Pretty dangerous. Lotta crazies out there.”
“Goes both ways,” Tuck said. “You never know who you’re picking up.”
“I suppose that’s true.”
“Ever hear of the Highway Hacker?”
The driver nodded. “Who hasn’t? It’s all over the news.”
“Always uses a bowie knife. Gets his victims under his control, then hacks off their fingers, their toes, and slits their throat.” Tuck paused. “Takes the tongue, too. That’s something the news don’t tell you.”
“And you know this how?” the driver asked.
Tuck shrugged. “I know what I know.”
He was smiling again and the guy took his eyes off the road for a moment and squinted at him. “You trying to scare me or something?”
“The thought crossed my mind,” Tuck said. “Always helps with the control issues.”
He brought out the bowie knife he kept tucked in his belt.
The driver took one startled look at it, then let loose a laugh so loud it momentarily drowned out the music.
Tuck frowned. “What’s so funny?”
“I like your knife,” the driver said. “But I like this even better.”
Tuck let his gaze drop to the driver’s left hand, only to discover that he was holding a sawed-off twelve-gauge.
It had come out of nowhere.
Now it was the driver’s turn to smile. “You ever heard,” he said, “of the Interstate Shooter?”
That was when Tuck decided that maybe Friday nights weren’t so wonderful after all.
Filed under: Dave White
It seems the Killer Year Blog has transitioned once again and we are now cross posting some of the posts on our own blog to this one… So here we go, my official back cover copy:
THIS IS WHAT CAN HAPPEN …
A hit and run. Simple as that. And suddenly harmless old Gerry Figuroa is lying dead on the asphalt. New Jersey cop turned private investigator Jackson Donne sure as hell doesn’t want to investigate his drinking buddy’s death, but he’s made a promise that leaves him no choice.
And before long, he’s drawing uncomfortably close to a murderer.
Meanwhile, an apparently routine divorce case takes a dangerous turn, and sinister connections to Gerry’s death start to emerge. Just when it seems things can’t get any worse, Donne learns that a bitter old enemy is mixed up in the whole mess. Bill Martin, his ex-Narcotics Department partner, has secrets to expose that could re-open the still-aching wounds of Donne’s past. Permanently.
Donne would like nothing better than to crawl back into a bottle and forget he ever heard Gerry Figuroa’s name, but it’s too late for that. Now he’s in way too deep, tangled up in a plot whose tendrils reach deep into his town’s past—and his own.
… WHEN ONE MAN DIES