An interview with author Josie Brown creator of The Housewife Assassin series

The Housewife Assassin's Handbook cover image

The Housewife Assassin’s Handbook cover image

A few months back I read and reviewed the fabulous Housewife Assassin’s Handbook by Josie Brown. Today I’m thrilled to be welcoming Josie to the CTG blog to talk about the Housewife Assassin Series …

So tell me, how did you get the idea for the Housewife Assassin’s Handbook?

Wow, great question! And believe it or not, no one has ever asked me that before. Go figure. 

It was several years after 911. Still, as a mother, that event had such an impact on me–really, on everyone, parent, child or whomever–

So much so, that I felt…well, helpless.

When that happens, I figure a way in which to turn it around. In this case, I asked myself:  What could a parent–a mother–do to not only protect herself AND her children, but life she thought she’d secured?

That’s how Donna Stone* was born.

And what readers discover is that Donna doesn’t know how close the threat is to her.

Seriously, the day I came up with her and the plot for Book 1 — The Housewife Assassin’s Handbook  — I got chills. It was a hot day in August, and yet I got CHILLS. 

I called an author friend of mine, Karin Tabke, and I said, “Here’s a story I want to write…”

After I told her the plot, she said, “Oh my God. It’s the ultimate woman’s mission: to protect her loved ones–and the ultimate response. Now, write it.”

So I did.

But when I presented it to my first literary agent, he said, “I don’t get it.”

Immediately I got another agent. 

 

Your main character, Donna Stone, is fabulously dynamic and gutsy. When you created her, did you model her on any actors or people you know?

Ha ha! Personally, I feel there are several actresses who could play her. EMBRACE her gutsiness. I’m happy to say  a television producer feels the same way, and is currently shopping it around. She’s as excited about it as me. So fingers crossed, others will buy into Donna’s world. 

Tell us a little about your writing process, do you plot out the story events before sitting down to write, or do you dive right in and see where the story takes you?

I come up with an overall premise. And then I do the heavy lifting and actually do a full chapter-by-chapter outline. In doing so, I throw “plot spaghetti” at the proverbial wall. In other words, I do a lot of what ifs: 

How will Donna get out of this tight spot, or another?

How will her relationship change–and grow–with Jack?

What threat will the Quorum through their way?

How will Donna’s children survive a world that is more dangerous than anyone realizes?

I endeavor to move her journey forward in each book. I truly am honored when readers appreciate her story.

How do you organise your writing day: do you have a favourite time and place to write?

I write on a netbook, which allows me to roam all over my home and garden (I live in San Francisco, so I’m drawn to the sun, like a moth to a flame), or to a coffee shop, with one of my writer pals (COUGH! — Kate Perry — COUGH!)

What tips and tricks have you learnt that you’d like to pass on to aspiring crime and thriller writers?

I’m so happy to do so. Here’s the one that counts the most:

Don’t be afraid to write the book YOU’D want to read. You are the best judge of what you should be writing: not an editor, not an agent, not a trend, not your mother. Not even your best friend. YOU. 

During NaNoWriMo, I put up thirty-one tips, one for each day, for other authors, both aspiring and published. We all need to remember why we put in the hard hours–and our hearts on ours sleeves-as we scribble away. I wanted to share my thoughts on the industry, now some seven years and twelve books later.

And what’s next for you, have you got a novel in progress at the moment and, if so, when will we be able to read it?

Vacation to Die For cover image

Vacation to Die For cover image

This month in fact, I’ll be releasing a one-off The Candidate, a political thriller. Or as I put it: SCANDAL meets HOMELAND when a political campaign manager discovers that Washington’s power elite have embroiled his presidential candidate in a plot involving an imminent act of terrorism on US soil.

And of course, Donna is back in August, in The Housewife Assassin’s Vacation to Die For

Also I invite your readers to enter my contest (which is running only through August 2nd) for a $100 gift card from the bookstore of their choice. It’s my way of thanking readers for appreciating the fourth book of the series, The Housewife Assassin’s Relationship Survival Guide.

Thanks, Crime Thriller Girl, for sharing me with your friends and readers! — Josie

A huge thank you to Josie Brown for dropping by the blog, and do make sure you follow the links above to pop on over to her website and enter the fantastic contest that’s running to 2nd August. 

CRIMEFEST is here!

CRIMEFEST logo

CRIMEFEST logo

Hurray, today is the start of CrimeFest – a wonderful crime writing convention held in Bristol, England.

I’m heading there today and will be soon be enjoying the great panels, interviews, and other writerly goings on from Thursday to Sunday this week.

If you spot me be sure to come and say hi.

Oh and watch this space for updates …

Review: Crocodile Tears by Mark O’Sullivan

cover image

cover image

What the blurb says: “DI Leo Woods’ life is a mess. Work keeps him sane. More or less. On an ice-cold winter morning in an affluent Dublin suburb, he stares down at the bloodied corpse of a property developer. Dermot Brennan’s features, distorted in terror, are a reflection of Leo’s own disfigured face. Life does that kind of thing to Leo. Makes faces at him.

With the help of ambitious but impetuous Detective Sergeant Helen Troy, Leo uncovers a frosted web of lies, where nobody is quite who they seem. But who ever is? A host of suspects emerge: Brennan’s beautiful but aloof wife, Anna; their estranged son; two former business associates bearing grudges and secrets; a young man convinced Brennan has ruined his life; an ex-pat American gardener; and an arrogant sculptor who may or may not have been having an affair with the dead man’s wife.

As ice and snow grip Dublin, Woods and Troy find themselves battling forces as malevolent as the weather: jealousy, greed and betrayal. Can they identify the murderer before things get even uglier?”

Mark O’Sullivan is already an award-winning author having published three pre-teen, four Young Adult and one adult novel. Crocodile Tears is his debut in literary crime fiction.

It’s a beautifully crafted and gripping story as you follow fifty-six-year-old DI Leo Woods on the hunt for a killer.

As the blurb says, there are a lot of suspects in this story, all with secrets to hide, and all with potential motive and opportunity to have killed Dermot Brennan.

What I loved about this book is the way that the investigation gradually revealed clues to the killer’s identity without making the final truth clear until the end. Add into the mix the atmospheric setting, Leo’s rather complicated personal life, and his need to keep the investigation (and his bosses) on track and on site despite the sometimes rash actions of his talented, eager but on occasion impetuous Detective Sergeant, Helen Troy, and you’ve got an engrossing story and a web of relationships and secrets that will stay with you long after you’ve read the final page.

Recommended.

 

[With thanks to Transworld Publishers for my copy of Crocodile Tears]

 

Review: Trespasser by Paul Doiron

cover image

cover image

Now, as regular visitors to the CTG blog will know, we’re big fans of Paul Doiron and his Mike Bowditch series. Guest reader Sally Fallon dived in to the latest book to see what was next in store for Mike …

The blurb says: “Paul Doiron’s riveting follow-up to his Edgar Award–nominated novel, The Poacher’s Son.

While on patrol on a foggy March evening, game warden Mike Bowditch receives a call for help. A woman has reportedly struck a deer on a lonely coast road. When he arrives on the scene, he finds blood on the road—but both the driver and the deer have vanished. Her body is found the next day, brutalised in a way eerily similar to a case seven years ago, when a jury sentenced Erland Jefferts to life imprisonment for the rape and murder of a college student.

So was Jefferts framed?  When Bowditch begins to investigate he receives a warning from state prosecutors to stop asking questions. but for Bowditch, doing nothing is not an option.  And as he closes in on the truth, he  suddenly discovers how dangerous his opponents are, and how far they will go to prevent him from bringing a killer to justice.”

Although this is the second novel in a series, it is a stand-alone fast-paced, contemporary thriller.  You gradually get drawn into a small but spread out community in the cold state of Maine.   You can feel the beautifully described cold, mud and mist seeping into your bones as the story unfolds and winter gradually thaws.

Warden Mike battles not only with his demanding job, the elements and the range of characters in his community.  He also has to deal with tensions in his current relationship and the ghosts of his relationship with his parents, in particular his father.  It is easy to read but has a surprisingly complex cast of characters, including the possible trespassers of the title.  Mike becomes increasingly embroiled in the case, and he becomes increasingly injured.  The reader becomes desperate for Mike to solve the case before he gets even more damaged.

You can expect the next in the series (Bad Little Falls) to be equally fast paced and detailed.

Recommended.

[With thanks to C&R Crime for our copy of Trespasser]

Events Alert: Nordic Noir announce first ‘Nordicana’ expo

Nordicana logo

Nordicana logo

If you’re a fan Scandinavian crime thriller fiction and film this could be an event for you.

Run in association with Arrow Films and the literary network English Pen, the first Nordicana expo is scheduled for 15 – 16 June 2013 and will be held at The Farmiloe Building – 34-35 St. John Street, London, EC1.

The event will bring fans of Nordic noir together for a two-day celebration of fiction and film, featuring author panel discussions, signings, exclusive screenings, talks and much more.

To find out all the details and how to book, check out the Nordic Noir website at http://nordicnoir.tv/nordicana/

Fancy doing an MA in Creative Writing – Crime Thriller Novels?

English: City University The City University d...

English: City University The City University dates back to 1894 when it was founded as the Northampton Institute (being located in Northampton Square). It achieved university status in 1966, as an independent institution outside the University of London federation. It has always had strong links with the City of London and the Lord Mayor is the university’s chancellor. This attractive sign stands outside a rather less attractive concrete building on Spencer Street. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ever thought of doing an MA in Creative Writing? How about one that specializes in crime thriller novels?

Well, if you’ve ever toyed with the idea, this could be the perfect course for you …

City University, London, added a Crime Thriller Novels strand to their already hugely popular MA in Creative Writing in 2012. I’m lucky enough to be one of the first cohort of students, and I’m having a fantastic time. It’s lots of work, lots of reading, and it’s challenging and encouraging all at once. I’d certainly recommend it.

Sound like it’s something you’d be interested in?

If so, you can find out more over at the City University website at: http://www.city.ac.uk/courses/postgraduate/creative-writing-novels

Also, there’s an open evening on Wednesday 19th June from 5pm – 7pm, so you can meet the tutors and ask questions about the course.

Love Reading: do you get a daily fix?

I love books

I love books (Photo credit: jamarmstrong)

I love reading, but what with my day job, my Creative Writing MA studies, drafting my novel, and all the usual day-to-day stuff to fit in, it can be tough to grab much time to read.

I’m lucky that I’m a fast reader, especially if the story grips me from the outset and carries me along, but I reckon that it’s only around an hour a day that I manage to read for in the week, and that’s split into short bursts – a couple of minutes as I drink my first morning coffee, a few minutes at lunchtime, a little longer if I’m soaking in the bath. I usually get to read for longer at the weekends, although it never seems like long enough!

What about you?

Do you read every day, or just at the weekends?