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Justice Was A Struggle To Achieve

William Auman Author Interview

If Trees Could Testify follows a defense attorney who is investigating and trying a double homicide that has more questions than answers. What inspired you to write a fictional novel based on this real case?

The actual case upon which my book is based generated a significant amount of publicity, particularly in the Asheville area of the western NC mountains. As is noted, I was the principal defense attorney and therefore privy to information that would be subject to varying degrees of privacy concerns. Those factors, combined with a need to protect both the innocent as well as the potentially guilty, gave me no choice but to fictionalize the account to some degree.

How do you balance story development with shocking plot twists? Or can they be the same thing?

The plot twists really weren’t planned or sensationalized as they were based largely upon an accurate rendition of how the case transpired, although I did take the liberty of injecting some degree of diversion with regard to characters such as the draft-dodging son of the snake-handling minister.

What was the hardest part about writing a mystery story; where you constantly have to give just enough to keep the mystery alive until the big reveal?

The “mystery” was not overly difficult to recount in that it was based on events that had essential components of an intriguing story already built in. Many rabbits were chased in the form of biker gangs, organized crime, etc., but the essential and unfortunate message was that justice was a struggle to achieve for both defendants and victims. Human impacts can be lingering and strong when our system fails to fulfill its purpose.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

My next book will likely be a sequel to my first, that being “Pioneer Paddling Colonial Carolina.” I am an avid kayaker with a data base of over 350 bodies of water, but also a history buff with a passion for paddling in historical areas wherever they are found. I hope to expand and update the Carolinas, but also include much of Florida together with parts of Virgina, Georgia and Tennessee. Thank you for asking.

Author Links: Amazon | Website

IF TREES COULD TESTIFY… is a historical mystery novel based on the true story of Madison County’s infamous Gahagan murders. The homicides occurred near the Appalachian mountain town of Marshall, North Carolina, known by some as the “Jewel of the Blue Ridge,” but known by locals to be “a block wide, a mile long, sky high and hell deep.” The French Broad River bisects the town, which harbors both ghosts from Civil War events and the lore of mermaids.

On a quiet summer night in 1983, two elderly siblings were tragically murdered in their colonial, Georgian-style home across from Big Laurel Creek. Known for their distrust of banks and having a collection of antiques, gold, and silver coins, it was naturally assumed that robbery was the principal motive for the double homicide. The murders captivated a close-knit rural community for nearly two decades, as the local family roots of the victims dated all the way back to the early 1800s.

During the years that followed the senseless tragedy, a time during which the home was boarded up and abandoned, local folks rumored that they had occasionally seen the house lit up like a Christmas tree at night. There were also stories where the ghost of an elderly woman, walking and swinging a lantern, was reportedly seen along the highway which runs adjacent to the property. Some county residents have further claimed to have seen this apparition standing in a window on the second floor of the home during the time that it was vacant.

Suspects came and went as the case investigation spanned three different sheriff administrations. “Who done it” rumors abounded, with theories of involvement ranging from organized crime to outlaw biker gangs to even local family members. Finally, almost eighteen years after the murders, warrants were issued charging a father and two of his sons with having committed the crimes. The defendants maintained their innocence throughout the course of the legal proceedings, which blazed a trail of intrigue with numerous twists and turns along the way.

According to Fred Hughes, at the time the publisher and editor of the Madison News-Record and Sentinel, a Hollywood film crew was interested in producing a major motion picture based on the case. As noted in a subsequent editorial, Hughes was “reasonably certain” that the story could have made the silver screen, as it was full of “stranger than life events.”

This book should be categorized as a fictional mystery novel which is based on the true story of the murders and subsequent prosecution of those accused. Names have been changed to protect the innocent (as well as the potentially guilty), and a haunting tale is told with a focus on the search for justice for both victims and defendants. Colorful characters, including the draft-dodging son of a snake-handling minister, intertwine with more serious undertones as a surprise ending eventually unfolds. The author, William Auman, was the principal defense attorney in the actual case, and provides the reader with a dramatic and informative account of what was otherwise a tragedy to many.

A Cool Motivation For A Serial Killer

Daniel McKay Author Interview

The Black Swan Killer follows a philosophical detective who is hired by the police to consult on a serial killer trying to prove humanity is selfish and thus deserves to die. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

The Black Swan Killer was my attempt at writing what I know. I’ve done some fantasy books before but I thought I’d have a go at something I have some more expertise in and I’m a philosopher for my day job, so it seemed like a natural fit. Then it was just about making a story that was fun. I had been marking essays on psychological egoism (the idea that everyone is ultimately self-interested) and the idea of falsification at the time and together they seemed like a cool motivation for a serial killer.  

John Consequent is a unique detective unlike any I have read about before. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?

To hear my friends (and wife whose name is Sophia) tell it, I just put myself in the book. That isn’t true, but it isn’t entirely untrue either. I feel like I took elements of my personality and magnified them in order to make John, though I’m borrowing a little from House and a few other similar characters.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

I mean there’s a few obvious ones with self-interest, the meaning of life, and arrogance being chief among them. But the value of the impractical (or, maybe the non-instrumental) and what people are entitled to in a relationship and in the breakdown of a relationship come up too. 

What is the next book in the series that you are working on, and when will it be available?

The second book “The Heavens Fall” just came out a few days ago. It has John trying to defend two people for murder charges amongst other legal shennanigans. I’ve started the third book, but that could be a way off at this point.

Author Links: GoodReads | Facebook | Website

John Consequent is the world’s only philosophical detective. He can’t tell you whether your wife has been cheating or find the Maltese Falcon but if you need someone to convince you that your wife exists or find the true nature of consciousness, he’s your man.

So, when the police hire him to consult on a serial killer that’s trying to prove that humanity is ultimately selfish, it’s not his usual sort of case. To make matters worse, a group of nihilists are out to kill him for explaining the meaning of life to one of their buddies.

John’s going to need more than a clever argument and a comfy armchair to get out of this one.

After The First Two Murders Happen

Carolyn Summer Quinn Author Interview

The Final Comeuppance follows an author who has put the abuse she suffered at a private school behind her, until the headmaster winds up dead, and she needs to help find the killer. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?

Amanda has done a stellar job of attempting to move on from the hideous school she once attended, but can’t fully do that simply because she never knew the full story of all that was happening there. After the first two murders happen, her cousin the cop finds evidence they were connected to the now-defunct school then asks for her assistance with the case, and she finally has an opportunity to not only help him but to get a more complete picture of all that happened. In a way this case isn’t just about the murders. It’s Amanda’s own mystery, too. It’s what really propels her to help.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

I wanted to explore the theme of how childhood trauma can impact the rest of a child’s life, especially when it leaves unanswered questions. Even after Amanda has transferred away from the wretched private school where she was treated abominably, the bad memories go right along with her. She doesn’t know the motivations of the sick adults who ran the place and is left with endless speculations of why she was targeted by these terrible people. She only really knows half of her own story at the beginning.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

I work on more than one book at a time, so I’m thrilled to report that the next one is already available. It’s another mystery, and it’s a cold case about a child from a rather wacky family who goes missing in a Jersey Shore town in 1988. It opens in March 2020, and the last remaining family member, Bethany, still doesn’t know whodunit. It’s called CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF ANSWERS. I had a wonderful time writing it!

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

A bad private school.  The boomerang of corruption!  Amanda Conway has been haunted for twenty-one years by the emotional abuse she endured as a child at an “exclusive” but unscrupulously run private school.  One scandal ultimately led to the school’s demise, but more went uncovered, and now a killer is exacting retribution on the adults who once made certain children’s lives almost unbearable.  When Amanda’s cousin, Detective Pablo Conway, enlists her help in understanding the now-defunct school’s past, she reluctantly agrees to become a special consultant to the police, even though she thinks if any homicides could ever be called justifiable, these could.  As the bodies pile up, they try to figure out what happened in the past to cause murders in the present.  Who is behind this series of murders?  What was going on way back when?  And where so many irresponsible adults were once never caught doing wrong, can anything ever be set right?

Contracts For Sale – Book Trailer

Embrace your enemies. When their bodies are found, you won’t be a suspect.

How would you like to hire the services of an elite group of professional assassins who will accept the assignment of deleting your most horrific adversary, performing the perfect murder without a trace?

Chicago Sun-Times Reporter Paul Crawford is asked to investigate a series of recent murders he eventually calls the ‘Houdini Victims.’ He begins with the investigation of a corporate executive who vanishes from a parking garage in the Chicago Loop without a trace. The most unusual fact about this crime is that there is no body, no DNA evidence, no surveillance cameras, and no fingerprints. This murder was done by a professional, and neither Crawford nor his Channel Eight reporter buddy, Chaz Rizzo, can figure out who it is.

Mark Stelter, CEO of Eradication, Inc., has found a niche and a marketable demand for those who wish to eliminate their worst enemies. For the price of $99,900, he has a stable of professional killers who can abduct any victim and make them disappear. With the help of his affiliate company, Eco-Green Environmental Consultants, he has the chemicals, the facilities, and the personnel to make any murder victim vanish without a trace. He conducts his covert corporation like any other corporate entity, with a board of directors meeting monthly and dividend declarations to his shareholders.

But when one of the directors attempts to resign, things get complicated. Stelter sends his killers to track down and assassinate the former shareholder. They use a unique apparatus called a ‘bolito,’ instantaneously killing their victims. With a section in the director’s contracts barring them from resigning and signing their death warrants, the shareholders of Eradication Inc. are now getting nervous. Although they are making millions, the shareholders now realize they are risking their lives and can only escape their deaths.

As the victims vanish, Paul Crawford continues to investigate the environmental company and how they are connected to the recent Chicago murders. With the shareholders of Eradication Inc. wishing to resign and make a deal with the Chicago P.D., Mark Stelter struggles to keep his Board of Directors unified with an iron fist.

It is now only a question of time before either the reporters or the shareholders become the next vanishing victims of Eradication, Inc.

Amid The Worst Crimes In History

Craig W. Fisher Author Interview

Baker Street Irregular follows an intelligence agent that in the course of an investigation, becomes a murder suspect, now, he has to clear his name and find the killer. What was your inspiration for the mystery that must be unraveled?

I have always loved a good mystery story. So I had the idea of taking the best elements of the classic noir detective and applying them to my main character in the historical setting of a spy novel. A good mystery, of course, also needs a crime. So, with a backdrop of war and in the bloody shadow of the Nazis, I set this novel’s stage to play out amid the worst crimes in history. I have spent my life intrigued by that dark period, and as a keen historian, I wanted to try to do at least some justice to the sacrifices service personnel and civilians made. The story is very much centred around the events and predicaments Bill, the main character, finds himself in, but the related real-life history is always present.

What kind of research did you do for this novel to ensure you captured the essence of the stories theme?

I seemed to spend more time with my head in reference books than I did writing! I did my best to get the details correct, as I feel it’s necessary when writing historical fiction. I’m sure some minor errors slipped through, and I consciously made some changes in the interests of narrative interest, but on the whole, I aimed for accuracy. My idea for the Berlin scenes was to make the city come alive, almost as a character in its own right, with all its post-war destruction and underlying political and social decay becoming almost palpable.

What was the hardest part about writing a mystery story; where you constantly have to give just enough to keep the mystery alive until the big reveal?

I struggled to see the complete picture in the early stages of writing. I don’t think planning and structure work well for my creative flow, and I preferred to start getting scenes written and see where the narrative took me next. Ending the chapters with a revelation that kept the story pushing forward to the next stage was an organic way of leading the reader onward, keeping them connected with the investigation Bill was undertaking. Other than the main protagonists, the other characters appeared and evolved naturally, as required by the developing story. I really did fly by the seat of my pants, going as far as drafting a few different endings on paper, involving different characters each time. I figured if even I didn’t know who the culprit was, the reader would struggle to guess too!

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

I have already started writing the next adventure for Bill. By the time I have finished with the final draft, and it has been edited and proofread, I anticipate it will be published sometime in the latter half of next year. It will once again involve political intrigue and will jump ahead to later in Bill’s career with British Intelligence. He will again find himself involved with difficult situations and characters inspired by history, and do his utmost to annoy his superiors and adversaries with his usual sardonic wit.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

The allies have carved up the former empire of the short-lived, thousand-year Reich. Fractured post-war Berlin is a city crawling with spies and foreign agents. The police department is being run like a corrupt puppet of its Soviet masters. Decorated intelligence agent Bill Hoffmann is investigating the whereabouts and activities of an ex-Gestapo officer wanted by the British government for war crimes.
Suddenly a fellow agent ends up dead, surrounded by incriminating evidence that all points to Bill. A previous mission undercover in occupied Paris in 1944 appears to be somehow linked. Under threat from all sides, including his own, if he can solve the case and wrap up the investigation, he might also clear his name. He can trust no one.
All he has are his wits, questionable smoking habit and his trusty commando fighting knife.
Things are about to get even bloodier, but in Berlin, they’ve seen it all before.

Or have they?


Baker Street Irregular is an investigative spy thriller for fans of both espionage stories and classic hardboiled detective noir.

Adult Themes: Due to the historical setting and genre, the story includes, but is not limited to, misogyny, racism, graphic violence and death, as well as briefly addressing issues such as sex, torture, suicide, rape and the Holocaust.



WHO WERE THE BAKER STREET IRREGULARS?

One of many nicknames given to the World War Two British spy networks of the Special Operations Executive due to their unconventional tactics and location of the headquarters on Baker Street in Central London.

What Romance Isn’t Stormy

Marla A. White Author Interview

Cause For Elimination follows a woman in the equestrian world who’s friend is found murdered. Things get complicated when she develops feelings for the detective investigating the case. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

Up until recently, I was very involved in the equestrian world and, after trying out a few disciplines, fell in love with eventing.  Spending all that time in barns and around riders inspired me to want to write about a world that is very special to me.  Many of the characters and incidents described in the book are compilations of real people or events (the bellowing voice damning someone to hell? yep, that happened) that set my imagination on fire. Thankfully no one was ever found murdered, however! 

The inspiration for Justin was part real person and part information that fell in my lap. Weirdly I stumbled upon an article about a police detective who wrote his master’s thesis on feng shui and interrogations. That seemed like an interesting combination to explore. And what romance isn’t stormy when one person is keeping a secret?

Emily faces many challenges, from a riding accident to losing her friend to a mysterious murder. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?

I fell off my horse once.  Well, to be fair I fell off a LOT but one accident in particular unnerved me when my horse stumbled over a very tiny jump and we both fell. We were both fine, but the next day I got on bareback just to hack around and got nervous just looking at jumps. I knew I had to at least pop over a cross rail (a small jump that looks like an “x”) or I’d never jump again.  We made it and went on to jump (and fall off) for many more years but it always stuck in my head how would a professional handle it? Do they ever get “the yips” like Dani in “Ted Lasso” and suddenly can’t ride anymore? 

Like a lot of trainers I’ve known at small barns, Emily is  just a person who loved riding, starting working as an assistant tacking up horses and riding the ones who needed exercise. Riding horses wasn’t the career she’d planned but started looking possible and suddenly this terrible thing happened.  The one thing she loved turned on her and she doesn’t know how to handle it. But you don’t have to ride horses to empathize with her confidence issue.  Everyone at one point or another gets knocked down – in love, life, career, money, health, whatever that looks like for you – and you either take get back up again or you stay down.  

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

I’m really drawn to exploring second chances  in some way or another in all my books. Which either makes me very deep or not very imaginative LOL!  Emily faces the choice of stepping up to fill Pamela’s shoes or staying in her comfort zone in the shadow of some other trainer. Both choices are appealing to her for different reasons.  Dennis also struggles at a crossroad.  He’s given a chance to start his life over in L.A. but he’s torn between the pain of what he lost and knowing starting over is the only option if he wants a life worth living. 

Friendship is another important theme in this book.  Being a real friend to Emily drives Lottie to have to make some hard calls.  Would I be that good of a friend in the same situation? I hope so but… Dennis and Justin’s share a bond as co-workers and friends but is tested on an almost daily basis when ego and tempers are involved. What’s the breaking point for a friendship beyond which there’s no going back? 

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

My second Cookie Book for the Wild Rose Press, “Bloodstains and Candy Canes” comes out November 30th.

I’m also working on the sequel to last year’s Cookie Book, “The Starlight Mint Surprise Murder” that I’ll finished by November (finger’s crossed!) and hope to have it out early 2023.  

Author Links: Amazon | GoodReads

Reclaiming her life after a devastating riding accident, equestrian Emily Conners’ world shatters again when she discovers her friend and boss lying in a stall with a smashed skull. Now jobless and with a handsome cop underfoot investigating the case, she’s torn between wanting the killer found and keeping her own secrets safe.

Detective Justin Butler always gets his killer, but this victim has a stampede of enemies and few leads to go on. Stonewalled by the tight-knit equestrian world, he looks to Emily for help, but she’s strangely reluctant. Is she hiding something, or is she afraid of their growing attraction?

As the search for the murderer heats up, their hearts become entangled and their lives at risk, forcing Emily and Justin to work together to find the killer before they strike again.

Greed Trickles Down

Michael Pronko Author Interview

Azabu Getaway follows a detective in Japan who investigates a murder and kidnapping. This case takes the detective into a dark world of greed, and he must find the girls before more violence occurs. What was the inspiration for the mystery in your story?

I was reading all these articles about how wealthy businesses and individuals were moving their money overseas to avoid taxes, and it really irritated me. Most people stumble around, complain, and pay their taxes, but some feel the need to avoid paying any tax at all. They really got away with it, so it all seemed so simple and so unfair. I wanted to look at how that system affects ordinary people, and what it means. I don’t believe in any economic trickle-down theories, but I’m sure that greed trickles down. I also wanted to look at how non-Japanese live in Tokyo, and how they integrate into life or fail to. That’s a topic close to home for me. So, all of that mixed together into this mystery about marriage and crime.

With five books (so far) for Detective Hiroshi, he has faced a number of unique and creative adversaries. Where do you get your inspiration for the villains in your novels?

I’d like to say the inspiration is outside of me, but I think all of us have some degree of villainy lurking inside of us. One of the problems of the media is they don’t go into the motivations of criminals, so that’s why novels are so important, to give us a more rounded and complex view of why crime happens. I don’t think it’s about taking a crime and putting that into a character. It goes both ways. Usually, I start by wondering what kind of person would do these terrible things and then think about why. In that sense, Detective Hiroshi is not fighting crime but fighting individuals. The adversaries are very good at what they do, even though they do horrible things. So, I imagine how that kind of person would think or act, and then I ratchet it up a level or two.

What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?

I often rewrite while I’m commuting. I try to find a not-too-scrunched space on the train or at least with enough room to move my right hand, which isn’t easy on Tokyo trains. And then I pull out a pen and work over a few printed pages. Fairly old school, but the paper printout seems to give space to the words and makes them special. Writing on the train helps me see the flow of words differently. I have to finish the chapter before the last stop. When I get home, or to my office, I type the changes in and print them out for the next commute. It seems to help me focus.

Will you be continuing the Detective Hiroshi series, or do you have any new series planned? 

I have several more in the series outlined, so I’ll finish those. There is a new detective, Ishii, and Hiroshi will have some changes in his home life. I do have another new series planned, one written in the first person, and also set in Tokyo, but it’s still in the planning stages. I’ll probably work on two historical standalone mysteries I’ve been researching before I start that new series, though. I’ll squeeze in another collection of non-fiction essays about Tokyo life, too. Lots more to write!

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

Money isn’t the only thing. It’s the deadly thing.

After the murder of a high-flying executive in one of Tokyo’s wealth management firms, Detective Hiroshi finds himself investigating the financial schemes that secure the money of Tokyo’s elite investors. His forensic accounting gets sidetracked, though, by a second murder and the abduction of two girls from the home of a hotshot wealth manager.

The abducted girls are the daughters of an international couple who seemed to have it all—a large apartment in the high-end Azabu district, top schools for the children, and a life of happy affluence. Their life falls apart and they are swept up in threats and pursuits for reasons they cannot fathom.

Tracking the money and tracking the two daughters leads Hiroshi into Tokyo’s murky financial past and outside Japan’s borders as he discovers how overseas investments and tax shelters are really managed.

Hiroshi works with Sakaguchi and Takamatsu and others on the homicide team, including an assertive new detective, as they confront greed and violence in one of the wealthiest cities in the world.

Azabu Getaway is the fifth novel in the award-winning Detective Hiroshi series.

“A series that’s only getting better.” Kirkus Reviews

“If there’s a better crime series set in Japan, I’ve not yet read it.” Crime Thriller Hound.

“Hiroshi is one of the most distinctive and intrepid detectives in contemporary crime fiction.” Best Thrillers.

“Fans of quality police procedurals will welcome more of Hiroshi.” Publishers Weekly

Hidden Secrets and Spiritual Beliefs

Author Interview
George Hopkins Author Interview

When Secrets Come to Light follows a retired NYC detective as he renews friendships with old teammates and secrets from their past start to surface along with murder. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

It is strange how I was inspired to write this story. Covid-19 was a difficult time for me. A number of close friends died of the virus, and I didn’t have the desire to write. The idea for the book actually started after I read a cartoon in our local newspaper about the death of Wild Bill Hickock who was shot in the back of his head while playing poker. I recalled the card games we used to play as teenagers. Then, I remembered the beginning of Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness where a group of men from various backgrounds are waiting on a boat for the tide to change, and Marlow tells the story of Kurtz. So, I decided to put a lawyer, a salesman. a bank president, an astrophysicist, a garage mechanic and a retired detective together and let the story develop. All the men shared a childhood together, but each had gone his own way in life. Each faced his own problems and dealt with them in their own way. The detective and the garage mechanic had been best friends as teenagers. I wanted to create tension among the men, and hidden secrets and spiritual beliefs gave me that opportunity.

Did you create an outline for the characters in the story before you started writing or did the characters personalities grow organically as you were writing?

I wanted to explore friendships, different beliefs, age, loss, and their effect on people.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

When Secrets Come to Light was the first book I have written from the first-person point of view. I am playing with the idea of continuing with first-person narrative in my next book which is gradually beginning to come together. Hopefully, it will be available by next spring. Tentatively, it will be about the retired detective trying to help his paperboy come to grips with the death of his brother. One of the themes will be that no good deal goes unpunished.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Website

When retired NYC detective Tom Cavanaugh suggested renewing friendships with old teammates, he hadn’t seen in fifty years, he never expected it would unearth secrets leading to misgivings, conflict, violence and murder. He never really believed his late mother’s warning, “The worst is yet to come” – until now. To find the killer, Cavanaugh must struggle with friendships, doubts, promises, principles, and age.

Meeting the five remaining players of his eighth-grade basketball team (a prominent banker, a well-known lawyer, a pharmaceutical salesman, an astrophysicist, and a black garage mechanic) at the wake of another friend, Cavanaugh finds himself drawn into controversy and uncertainty, defending one of his former best friends who claims to have had spiritual visions that seem to give him the ability to know secrets and to heal. As the men rotate monthly card games, and the story moves through the boroughs of New York City, animosity builds, careers are threatened, and warnings expressed until the garage mechanic is brutally beaten and then killed. Cavanaugh fights his own demons and sets out to find the killer of his childhood friend.
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