J. Sydney Jones's Blog

July 15, 2014

img_0005Jason Goodwin is a British historian and author of the popular historical mystery novels featuring the eunuch detective Yashim and set in Istanbul during the early nineteenth century. The world of the Ottoman Empire figures importantly in the series, and Cambridge-educated Goodwin brings that world vividly to life in his novels, having already dealt with it in has narrative history, Lords of the Horizons: A History of the Ottoman Empire. The Yashim series debut, The Janissary Tree, earned Goodwin an Edgar Award for the Best Novel in 2007.


Second in the series, The Snake Stone, won critical praise from many quarters. Writing in the New York Times Book Review, Marilyn Stasio noted: “When you read a historical mystery by Jason Goodwin, you take a magic carpet ride to the most exotic place on earth.” The Washington Post also commended that series addition, observing: “The real pleasure of The Snake Stone lies in its powerful evocation of the cultural melting pot that was nineteenth-century Istanbul. . . . Goodwin’s sharp eye combines with a poetic style to bring the city vividly to life.” Book three in the series, The Bellini Card, prompted laudatory words from Publishers Weekly: “Goodwin skillfully blends deduction, action sequences and period color.” The fourth series installment, An Evil Eye,was published in the spring of 2011, and Publishers Weekly dubbed it “masterful.”


Fans had to wait three more years for the fifth and final volume of the series, The Baklava Club, which a Kirkus Reviews critic called “elegantly written,” and of which Publishers Weekly noted: “Goodwin well illustrates the complex crossroads of cultures, politics, and religions that mapped 19th-century Istanbul.” baklavaclub


Jason, it is a real pleasure to finally have you on Scene of the Crime. I have been a fan of your work since the series opener. Maybe we could open this interview with some discussion of your connection to Istanbul/Constantinople.


Twenty years ago, when the countries of communist eastern Europe overthrew their leaders, I decided to explore them – on foot. We walked, from Gdansk in Poland, all the way south to Istanbul.


We were months on the road, staying with farmers and priests each night, and gradually we felt the pull of The City. Istanbul was the great gateway between the continents, the capital of the Greek Orthodox world, the centre of trade and faith and thought in the region. We felt it as soon as we reached Hungary – which was conquered by the Ottoman Turks in the 16th century. There was more colour, and better coffee.


I became fascinated by the city, and eventually I wrote a book about Ottoman history, Lords of the Horizons. 


What things about historic Istanbul make it unique and a good physical setting in your books?


Istanbul – Constantinople – has often been called ‘the capital of the world’. Its physical setting is extraordinary, raised on hills above the Bosphorus, the deep channel that divides Asia from Europe, and links the Black Sea to the Mediterranean. Huge ships slide through the city, whose hills are crowned with mosques and minarets. For almost 2000 years, the city has been a meeting-place, a crossing point, and a melting pot.


It’s the perfect place to find a body…


Did you consciously set out to use your location as a “character” in your books, or did this grow naturally out of the initial story or stories?


Considering how old, how tangled, how ethnically and religiously diverse Istanbul is – and the scale of its historical monuments and districts – the city was bound to become a ‘character’ in the books. There are so many different ways to approach Istanbul: every street wants to tell a story.


9781250002433How do you incorporate location in your fiction? Do you pay overt attention to it in certain scenes, or is it a background inspiration for you? Are you conscious of referring to your specific city or locale as you write?


Absolutely. In The Bellini Card I took my characters to Venice, because Venice is Istanbul’s alter ego, a sort of watery reflection of Constantinople. I really enjoyed contrasting the two cities, whose histories are different, but entwined. 


How does Yashim interact with his surroundings? Is he a native, a blow-in, a reluctant or enthusiastic inhabitant, cynical about it, a booster? And conversely, how does the setting affect Yashim?


Yashim, my investigator, works for the sultan and the high officials of the Ottoman Empire. But when I chose the 1830s as my period, I had a problem: a male investigator would be unable to talk to half the people in Istanbul – all the women, secluded in their harems, would be off-limits.


So I made the cruelest cut, and turned Yashim into a eunuch. Istanbul had eunuchs at that time, so he blended perfectly with the atmosphere of the city. He sort of emerged from it, really.


Has there been any local reaction to your works?


The series has been translated into more than 40 languages, including languages once spoken in the Ottoman Empire. So not only Turkish but Greek, Serbian, Romanian, Hungarian etc. Everyone is curious to see how I have dealt with them – and I think they’ve been satisfied. The reaction from Turkish readers has been one of delighted astonishment: I’m told the recreation of the past is very convincing.snakestone-f78a53768bff573af1f8cf4bb303cf4b66589eb2-s2-c85


Have you ever made any goofs in depicting your location or time period? Please share–the more humorous the better (we all have).


In The Bellini Card I sent a Venetian Commissario into a cafe for a ‘coretto’, which is something even stronger than an espresso. So I thought.


A charming Venetian gentleman wrote to me, pointing it out (among other blunders, I’m afraid). A ‘cafe coretto’ is a coffee. A coretto on its own is a small male choir. So it was an odd choice for the Commissario.


Of the Yashim novels, do you have a favorite book or scene that focuses on the place? Could you quote a short passage or give an example of how the location figures in your novels?


This is a passage from The Janissary Tree:


“Yashim arrived early at the little restaurant beneath Galata Point and chose a quiet alcove which overlooked the channel of the Bosphorus. From where he sat he could watch the waterway he loved so much, the narrow sheet of gunmetal which had made Istanbul what it was: the junction of Europe and Asia, the pathway from the Black Sea into the Mediterranean, the great entrepot of world trade from ancient times to the present day.


“The water was as ever thick with shipping. A mountain of white sails rose above the deck of an Ottoman frigate, tacking up the straits. A shoal of fishing smacks, broad beamed and single masted, held out under an easterly wind for the Sea of Marmora. A customs boat swept past on its long red oars like a scurrying water-beetle. There were ferries, and skiffs, and overladen barges; lateen-rigged cutters from the Black Sea coast, house-boats moored by the crowded entrance to the Golden Horn. Across the jostling waterway, Yashim could just make out Scutari on the opposite shore, the beginning of Asia.


9780312426132“The Greeks had called Scutari Chalcydon, the city of the blind. In founding the city, the colonists had ignored the perfect natural setting across the water, where centuries later  Constantine was to turn the small town of Byzantium into a great imperial city which bore his name. For a thousand years it was the capital of the Roman Empire in the east,  until that empire had shrunk to a sliver of land around the city. Ever since the Conquest in 1453, the city had been known as Istanbul, the capital of the Turkish Ottoman empire. It was still the biggest city in the world.


“Fifteen hundred years of grandeur. Fifteen hundred years of power. Fifteen centuries of corruption, coups and compromises. A city of mosques, churches, synagogues; of markets and emporia; of tradesmen, soldiers, beggars. The city to beat all cities, overcrowded, greedy.


Perhaps, Yashim sometimes reflected, the Chalcydonians hadn’t been so blind, after all.”


Who are your favorite writers, and do you feel that other writers influenced you in your use of the spirit of place in your novels?


My all time favourite has to be Raymond Chandler. Chandler created Los Angeles for me – the sickly hue of decay, money in the heat, mobsters and hustlers and all the ugliness of modern American sprawl.


Of course when I first visited LA, it wasn’t like that at all – it 9780312429355was rather delightful. But that is beside the point!


Before Chandler, there was Dickens, who also created a city – Victorian, industrial London.


I used to write travel books, and there are several travel writers I admire who can conjure up cities and locations with consummate precision – Jan Morris is one.


And Graham Greene. I love Graham Greene: locations, and ambiguities.


Jason, thanks much for taking the time to talk with us at Scene of the Crime.


To learn more about Jason Goodwin visit the author on his home page.


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Published on July 15, 2014 21:16 • 2 views

June 9, 2014

BreedingThe U.S. release of A Matter of Breeding, the fifth book in my Viennese Mysteries series, is now available. To celebrate its publication, the San Francisco Book Review features me in an extensive interview on the series and on writing historical fiction, as does the Big Thrill.


The novel also continues to garner strong reviews.


Publishers Weekly felt that this “solid fifth whodunit featuring lawyer Karl Werthen and real-life criminologist pioneer Hanns Gross … is one of the series’ best at combining plot and historical background.”


Kirkus Reviews also had praise for the novel, noting: “Turn-of-the-century Austria has its own homegrown Jack the Ripper, a killer with a cruelly creative streak and a disturbingly playful nature…. Jones adds a delicious historic perspective…, all presented with precision and panache.”


Here’s a brief summary of the book:


The fifth installment of the acclaimed Viennese Mystery series, A Matter of Breeding, finds lawyer and private inquiries agent Karl Werthen and his colleague, the criminologist Dr. Hanns Gross, investigating a series of grizzly murder/mutilations of young women in the Austrian province of Styria. The newspapers are touting Jewish blood ritual murders and vampirism, and Werthen and Gross–assisted by the Irish writer Bram Stoker who is in Austria to give a speech–battle against time to discover the real motive for such brutal and seemingly random killings. Meanwhile, Werthen’s wife, Berthe, has her own case to deal with. Commissioned by Archduke Franz Ferdinand, she is investigating a potential breeding scandal at the famous Lipizzaner stud. If the stud line has indeed been corrupted, this can prove to be more than a mere embarrassment for the Habsburgs, for the Lipizzaner blood line has been introduced to most of the royal stables of Europe. As these dual investigations proceed, it eventually becomes apparent that there is a connection between the two. In the end, it all comes down to a matter of breeding.


You can actually buy it now at Amazon or  at your favorite bookshop.


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Published on June 09, 2014 09:15 • 2 views

BreedingIt’s still a few weeks to go before the U.S. release of A Matter of Breeding, the fifth book in my Viennese Mysteries series, and the book is already garnering good reviews.


Publishers Weekly felt that this “solid fifth whodunit featuring lawyer Karl Werthen and real-life criminologist pioneer Hanns Gross … is one of the series’ best at combining plot and historical background.”


Kirkus Reviews also had praise for the novel, noting: “Turn-of-the-century Austria has its own homegrown Jack the Ripper, a killer with a cruelly creative streak and a disturbingly playful nature…. Jones adds a delicious historic perspective…, all presented with precision and panache.”


Here’s a brief summary of the book:


The fifth installment of the acclaimed Viennese Mystery series, A Matter of Breeding, finds lawyer and private inquiries agent Karl Werthen and his colleague, the criminologist Dr. Hanns Gross, investigating a series of grizzly murder/mutilations of young women in the Austrian province of Styria. The newspapers are touting Jewish blood ritual murders and vampirism, and Werthen and Gross–assisted by the Irish writer Bram Stoker who is in Austria to give a speech–battle against time to discover the real motive for such brutal and seemingly random killings. Meanwhile, Werthen’s wife, Berthe, has her own case to deal with. Commissioned by Archduke Franz Ferdinand, she is investigating a potential breeding scandal at the famous Lipizzaner stud. If the stud line has indeed been corrupted, this can prove to be more than a mere embarrassment for the Habsburgs, for the Lipizzaner blood line has been introduced to most of the royal stables of Europe. As these dual investigations proceed, it eventually becomes apparent that there is a connection between the two. In the end, it all comes down to a matter of breeding.


You can actually buy it now at Amazon or pre-order at your favorite bookshop.


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Published on June 09, 2014 09:15 • 2 views

April 26, 2014

DeniseMinaTHUMBThey call it Tartan Noir, the Scots form of noir crime writing. And Glasgow crime writer Denise Mina is one of its major practitioners. Mina is the author of a number of critically acclaimed novels: the three installments of the “Garnethill” trilogy featuring Maureen O’Donnell as an unwilling sleuth; three novels featuring Paddy Meehan, a journalist in 1980s and 1990s Glasgow; the stand-alone crime novel, Sanctum; the 2010 graphic novel, A Sickness in the Family; and contributions to the John Constantine, Hellblazer series.


Increasingly, however, Mina has become identified with her series of novels featuring Glasgow DI Alex Morrow: Still Midnight, The End of the Wasp Season, Gods and Beasts, and The Red Road. Writing in the New York Times Book Review of the last-named novel, released in the U.S. in 2014, Marilyn Stasio noted: “If anyone can make you root for the murderer, it’s Denise Mina, whose defiantly unsentimental novels are less concerned with personal guilt than with the social evils that create criminals and the predators who nurture them. . . [The Red Road is] as fierce a story as any Mina has written.” Publishers Weekly also had high praise for this installment, calling it “perhaps her finest yet, a brilliantly crafted tale of corruption, ruined lives, and the far-reaching ripple effects of crime.” n413367


Mina hit the ground running, winning the John Creasy Dagger for Best First Crime Novel in 1998 for Garnethill, the first of a trilogy of the same name. She was dubbed the “Crown Princess of Crime” by author Val McDermid, who went on to note, “”If you don’t love Denise Mina, you don’t love crime fiction.”  Mina has also earned praise from fellow Scots writer Ian Rankin, who called her “one of the most exciting writers to have emerged in Britain for years.” She has since been a finalist for the Edgar and the recipient of the 2012 Theakstons Old Peculier crime novel of the year award (for The End of the Wasp Season), beating out such formidable competition as John Connolly.


Denise, it is a joy to finally have you at Scene of the Crime. I love the way you are able to infuse the thriller with depth and real understanding of human nature. Your characters have, as the wine wallahs say, legs. They last; they stick with you.


n389018First, could you describe your connection to Glasgow?


I live in Glasgow. I moved here when I was nineteen. My extended family lived here but my immediate family moved around a lot (21 times in 18 years). I only came back because I ran out of money in Galway in Ireland and came to get the cash to go back to London. I fell in love with Glasgow then. The people are so warm and the architecture is Victorian Gothic, it’s beautiful. No one wanted to live here then and it was possible to rent Victorian rooms for next to nothing.


Best off all the mountains can be seen from the city centre.


What things about Glasgow make it unique and a good physical

setting in your books?


It’s transferable in a day, actually a small geographical area. The people all talk to each other, almost manically. Standing at a bus stop together creates a sort of civil law obligation to tell your life story. Also the people are very funny.


Did you consciously set out to use Glasgow as a “character”garnethill

in your books, or did this grow naturally out of the initial story

or stories?


The Garnethill series was a love letter to Glagow, the weather, the amazing light here. I think it’s less of a character in my later books.


How do you incorporate location in your fiction? Do you pay overt

attention to it in certain scenes, or is it a background

inspiration for you?


Yeah. I always try to find the house that the characters would live in before I begin because it gives you so much of a sense of how they live, do they drive to the shops? What happens if they need milk or a gun? I do all the walks in the books as well, just because sometimes you’ll see things you didn’t expect: road works or a collapsed drunk or a memorial garden or something.


How do your various protagonists interact with their surroundings?


end of was (morrow 2)In Garnethill Maureen is very much part of the city. In the Alex Morrow books she is trying to get away from the setting, trying to detach herself but still very much coming from the underbelly of the city.


You have a large fan base in the States. Has there been much local reaction to your works?


Glaswegians really appreciate them, I think. It’s hard because my books are addressed to working class Galswegians and readings and emails tend to be from teachers or other people who object to swearing and so on. I did a dismaying reading here once to an audience who didn’t really get it and then afterward went into a really shitty cafe where the waitress recognised me, said she’d read my books when she was in psychiatric hospital and it had changed her life. The Paddy Meehan series is set in the eighties and nineties and depicts the city then. That’s been more controversial because everyone remembers the city differently. But I’m the one who’s right.


Reviews are almost universally good though.


Amazingly, although middle class Glaswegians don’t always get morrow 1the books middle class people in other countries do: Poland, France, the US and Canada. It’s weird.


Have you ever made any goofs in depicting your location or time  period? Please share–the more humorous the better (we all have).


Mostly spelling: let this be a lesson to the young. You can’t skip school for the last two years and leave at sixteen without it affecting your spelling. And spell check can’t catch place names. I’ve misspelled most areas in Glasgow.


Of the Glasgow novels, do you have a favorite book or scene that focuses on the place?


paddy1 fieldThe hills aren’t really documented in Glasgow. I’m always aware of how high a place is. Maureen’s house is on a high hill in the centre, Alex Morrow lives far out on the flat plains of suburbia.


Who are your favorite writers, and do you feel that other writers

influenced you in your use of the spirit of place in your novels?


Alistair Gray had a huge impact. No one wrote seriously about Glasgow but he did. Glasgow was a slightly ashamed place back then but he wrote about it with defiant pride and said that Glaswegians couldn’t imagine another life because we never saw ourselves depicted. It made me want to depict the city. And so I did.



Thanks for much for speaking about Glasgow and your works, Denise.



For more information on Denise Mina, visit her homepage.


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Published on April 26, 2014 15:24 • 9 views

April 4, 2014

a matter 3A Matter of Breeding, book five in the Viennese Mysteries, has just been published in England (due out in the U.S. in July) and has already been earning critical praise. British bookseller and blogger Jo Graham commented: “This is a rich and luscious historical read, within a well crafted plot, there are plenty of historical facts and famous faces to be found, fans of Conan Doyle will love this.” U.S. critic David Marshall, writing on the Thinking about Books Web site, remarked: “Altogether, A Matter of Breeding is a thoughtful … entertaining mystery.”


Read this fellow to get the real feel for the book and the series.


A quick précis :


1901. Karl Werthen and his colleague, renowned criminologist Dr Hanns Gross, are investigating a bizarre series of murders in the small Austrian town of Graz, aided, or impeded, by Irish author Bram Stoker, who as Marshall noted, is “some author fellow who’s visiting to promote his books. It seems vampires are at large and an expert’s help is called for. ” Meanwhile, back in Vienna, Karl’s wife Berthe is looking into what seems to be a fraudulent breeding scheme involving the prized Lipizzaner horses. Could the two investigations be connected?


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Published on April 04, 2014 21:08 • 12 views

March 25, 2014

GaryCorby[1]Australian novelist Gary Corby is the author of the Athenian Mystery series, which stars, as Corby explains on his home page, “Nicolaos, his girlfriend Diotima, and his irritating twelve year old brother Socrates.” The most recent series installment, The Marathon Conspiracy, is out this coming May. Publishers Weekly has this to say about the series: “Corby displays a real gift for pacing and plotting.” Similarly, Library Journal commented: “Mix one part ancient history, one part clever and contemporary banter, and one part action, and you have a top-notch crime caper.”


Gary, it is a real pleasure to welcome you Up Over (sorry about that) to Scene of the Crime. Can we start things off with the obvious? What made you choose ancient Greece for murder mysteries?


It was an incredibly exciting time! And unique in history.


Athens went through a golden age of about 50 years, during which they invented our civilization. In that tiny place and time, they had the world’s first democracy; they began modern theater; they had trial by jury; Hippocrates invented medical science; it’s the birth of philosophy and science. To top it off, they killed each other in such interesting ways. What’s not to like if you’re an historical mystery writer?


Nicolaos begins his career in The Pericles Commission when the new democracy is only three days old. It’s a little known fact that the guy who created the world’s first democracy was assassinated about three days later. That’s the first crime Nico has to solve.


 How does your protagonist interact with his surroundings?


Nicolaos is pretty much the dumbest guy in the room.


You see, Nico has an irritating little twelve year old brother named Socrates. Yes, it’s that Marathon Conspiracy Web[1]Socrates. Nico’s girlfriend is Diotima, a for-real lady philosopher of the time who was also a genius. His boss is Pericles, one of the greatest statesmen in all of history. Surrounded by all this genius, poor Nico is the one expected to solve the puzzles. Fortunately he has a sense of humour to see him through.


Did you consciously set out to use your location as a “character” in your books, or did this grow naturally out of the initial story or stories?


I get a huge boost from the culture. The place is famous, of course. Everyone knows the Acropolis and the temples and the mythology.


Ancient Greece gets used as the background for a lot of modern epic fantasy. Think of all the recent books and movies based on Greek heroes. That makes the setting both familiar to modern readers and, at the same time, rather exotic.


To an average reader, who perhaps isn’t a history expert, but who’s interested in the period, it’s like reading a murder mystery set in a fantastic world that really happened.


How do you incorporate location in your fiction? 


n357288 You wouldn’t believe how many hundreds of hours I’ve spent working out where everything was in ancient Athens. If you planted me in the middle of Athens in 461BC, I’m sure I could walk from, say, the Acropolis to the Academy without getting lost. Nico often mentions directions and things he sees about him, but to him of course, it’s all normal.


I make lots of use of lesser known locations as well as the major landmarks.


The Marathon Conspiracy for example is about dread secrets that have remained hidden for thirty years after the famous battle. Our heroes do visit the battleground to pick up some clues, but most of the action is set at a school for girls called the Sanctuary of Brauron.


Not many people know that Athens had the world’s first official girls’ school. It’s a known site; which means the building layout in the book is what you see when you visit the ruins.


Has there been any local reaction to your works?


Local reaction for me is more to do with what the ancient historians and the classics experts Sacred Games webthink!


I do get email from enthusiastic modern Greek readers. They usually ask me to include their favourite historical character in a future book. But it’s also the case that modern Greece is very different to the ancient. One classics professor who is Greek, but teaches in England, said to me that we’re all the cultural descendants of those ancient Greeks.


I’ve been fortunate that a lot of professionals like my books. My twitter following includes a fair sample of profs, which says to me that I’ve got the accuracy level about right. That isn’t necessary to tell a good detective story, but I’m also trying to give the reader a good feel for what it was like to live back then.


It’s also terrific for research. When I was writing Sacred Games, I needed to know how bright was the moonlight to see by, on the second night of the Olympic Games in 460BC. So I contacted one of my readers, who happens to be a professor of archaeo-astronomy (yes, there is such a subject). He gave me the precise phase of the moon for that night, 2,474 years ago.


ionia sanction - icon Have you ever made any goofs in depicting your location or time period? Please share–the more humorous the better (we all have).


This isn’t a book goof, but a real life goof…


A couple of the more ridiculous things that happen to my hero really did happen to me. At one point in The Ionia Sanction, Nico is in a tavern, where he orders what he’s assured is “a traditional local dish”, only to discover later that he is eating rat stew.


That happened to me. Only I didn’t eat a rat, when I was in a restaurant in Crete, I and several others in my party were served alley cat disguised as rabbit. The dodgy restaurant had come up with an innovative system for reducing their food costs. You can imagine how happy we were. When I wrote the book, I wanted Nico to suffer as I had.


One that isn’t a goof is that Nico from time to time mentions seeing or eating corn. That’s caused a steady stream of American readers to tell me I got it wrong. Corn is American! It could not possibly be in ancient Greece.


It’s true the sticky yellow stuff is from America, but corn is an ancient word that Ionia Sanction oz cover - iconmeans any cereal grain, including wheat and barley. Weirdly, even the Bible uses the word corn to mean barley, but no one seems to spot it.


Do you have a favorite book or scene?


You can’t play favourites with your own children!


But having said that… I always have a soft spot for the most recent book, so right now The Marathon Conspiracy is the one I think of fondly.


Who are your favorite writers, and do you feel that other writers influenced you in your use of the spirit of place in your novels?


George MacDonald Fraser for his Flashman Papers. They are the memoirs of Sir Harry Paget Flashman VC KCB KCIE, the greatest cad, bully and bounder ever to shirk his duty in the British Army.


Mary Renault showed the way on how it is possible to write good modern books set in ancient Greece. Her style and mine could not possibly be more different, but she wrote a series of unconnected novels each hitting some major event in the ancient world.


Last but not least, of course, is Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The Holmes stories are considered historical now, but they weren’t when Doyle wrote them.


PC-penguin-cover-smallIf you could live anywhere, where would it be and why?


There are too many great choices. I’ll nominate Munich — a place I’ve always loved to visit — and Vanuatu — it’s a small island in the South Pacific — southern France or southern England.


If we could move the food of France, the beer and bonhomie of Munich, and the weather and beaches of Vanuatu to a picturesque village in England, that would be about right.


What’s next for your Nico?


Nico and Diotima will continue to bounce in and out of Athens, keeping the city safe from enemies both domestic and foreign.


Nico and Diotima’s first adventure takes place in Athens, right at the birth of democracy. Then they move to Ionia on what’s now the Turkish coast to deal with a threat to Athens. Then they go to the Olympic Games, where a terrible crime occurs.


They have this unfortunate tendency to always be where things go wrong…


The Marathon Conspiracy sees them back in Athens, where they must deal with a deep, dark, thirty-year old conspiracy.


They’ll stay there for the next book, too, which will be called Death ex Machina. It’s a pun on the theatrical term deus ex machina. As you might imagine, this will be a theatrical death. After that, the working title of the book I’m writing now is Aegyptos. There are no prizes for guessing where they’re headed.


Gary, many thanks for taking the time to talk with us at Scene of the Crime.


To learn more about Gary Corby and his books visit his home page.


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Published on March 25, 2014 14:10 • 14 views

February 23, 2014

Image2It is my pleasure today to present an extended interview with J. Robert Janes, author of the acclaimed St-Cyr and Kohler series set in occupied France during World War II. The Wall Street Journal called the series “engrossing,” and Publishers Weekly felt that it “convincingly documents the wartime background of Nazi-occupied.” Jean-Louis St-Cyr is a widower, a inspector of the French Sûreté, and is partnered in crime detection with Bavarian Detektiv Inspektor Hermann Kohler. The pair set out together first in the 1992 Mayhem, and have been at it ever since, though there was a decade-long hiatus from 2002 to 2012. Janes had not quit writing during that time; far from it. He penned three further novels in the series as well as several young adult works, but it was not until 2012 that he struck a new publishing deal with Otto Penzler of Mysterious Press and his Open Road Media partners: they published Janes’ entire backlist in e-book, and contracted for future titles in the series as paperback and e-book originals.


Thus, St-Cyr and Kohler took the stage once again in the 2012 title,w506156 Bellringer, and the critics were happy to have them back again. “St-Cyr and Kohler [have] returned in an enthralling, character-propelled new police procedural,” declared Kirkus Reviews, while Publishers Weekly noted: “The combined ingenuity of St. Cyr and Kohler, the harsh realities of the occupation, and an array of intriguing characters will keep readers turning the pages.” Janes reprises the duo in the 2013 Tapestry and in the fifteenth in the series, Carnival, due out next month.


So, without further ado, welcome to Scene of the Crime, Bob. Please tell us about your long-running series. Could you give us a sense of your protagonists and of Paris and all of France in the early 1940s?


Jean-Louis St-Cyr, of the Sûreté Nationale, and his partner, Hermann Kohler, of the Gestapo’s Kripo, its Kriminalpolizei, are now all but through their sixteenth investigation. What this means, in very simple terms, is that for a great deal of the past twenty-four years I have been living with and through those two. Some of the books took longer than others–one learns one’s history, et cetera, as one goes along. Some stories also demand more than others. But the question is, of course, not just why is it that I am continually drawn to German-Occupied France during the Second World War, but why, after perhaps a year and a half or two on one book, do I suddenly come to a point where I’m excited about the next one? I use one-word titles throughout the series and often these come to me while I’m still writing another, and it is then, I’m certain, that the subconscious has patiently been working on this “next one”.


n402313 France is, of course, a remarkably beautiful and intelligent country. There are huge differences from region to region, each exhibiting its own patois, character and substance. It’s food, too, and not just the wine. All of these regions have their history, character and substance, and of course, I write historical novels that just happen to be mysteries (or vice versa), yet still, what is it that drives me to do this–me who is still, after all, and was, a mining engineer, a geologist, university lecturer, research scientist, high school teacher–all that sort of baggage that folks carry as they get on in life?


First let me state that what happened during the Occupation of France could have happened anywhere and definitely did, there being degrees of the extreme. Additionally, the books are not anti-French in the slightest. French readers and professors have all stressed this. Louis Malle, the great French film director, did tell me he appreciated and understood what I was up to and wished me well, but warned me that in France, and with the French, I would have a very hard time. Generally the French don’t want to deal with the Occupation, except in very couched terms, and Malle was only too aware of this. But I was to get on with it anyways.


So, first a difficult time and country to choose if one wanted the n432337locals to appreciate and help with what I was up to; secondly, a good Gestapo, as a partner–ah mon Dieu, how could I have chosen to do such a thing too? Well, I didn’t. I more or less fell into it when at the end of The Hunting Ground, a thriller about Lily de St-Germain, née Hollis–it has a very bad Sûreté–I set my pencil down and asked myself, Hey, what about a good Sûreté in all of this? Well, he would have to have a German overseer like everything else, but I’d make Hermann only a Detektiv Inspektor; Jean-Louis would be a Chief Inspector.


You’ve been at this series a long time. Do you ever have any difficulties coming up with new plot lines?


I wrote Mayhem, the first, in seven months back in 1990–that’s the one Louis Malle very kindly read when published in1992. Carousel took about ten months, and by then Constable and Company had “bought” the series. And then, you ask? Well, once you start a series you had better keep on doing it and I did, sometimes two in one year, and I still am. And yes, they don’t get easier only harder and harder, and of course I know German-Occupied France probably as well as anyone can, though–and this is what drives me, too–I am still finding things that excite me.




n70691 Human frailties are many, and when you have a situation where dishonesty is officially sanctioned, the setting is ripe for a myriad of possibilities. Not just avarice, lust, passion or hatred, but memories that step further back in time until the present situation allows release in vengeance. Informing on your neighbour, the shopkeeper, the priest, whatever, was not only engendered but rewarded. Whispers were important. Inflation was rampant, food shortages the norm, clothing too, and the marché noir, the black market, rife and with roots and rootlets everywhere, the BOFs, les beurre, oeufs et fromage boys who were dominated not only by the pègre, the underworld, but by the brass, the big shots, the Bonzen und Oberbonzen from the Reich and additionally the captains of French industry, commerce and lots else. Les hautes aussi et la bourgeiosie aisée et la petite bourgeoisie.


All were in on it, from the little guy–the schoolboy or schoolgirl–right to the teacher or the mother, the father being in the Reich as a prisoner of war. But remember that living in and through the 1930s was very much still a part of everything. Most homes didn’t have the things we have today. There was virtually no refrigeration for most households. Washing machines were things whose photos and descriptions were gazed at longingly or curiously in the magazines and newspapers used in the communal outhouse where twenty or thirty flats would share the same outdoor “crapper” or the toilet down the hall.


Bathtubs for most meant going to the local bathhouse n70696where most were extremely conscious of the cost: a face cloth was this much, a towel that–if you hadn’t brought your own, the spruce needles, too, and the sand,  soap being rather scarce and the ersatz terribly hard on the skin and eyes. And you did not ever take longer than you had paid for ahead of time or the concierge ou la propriétaire would unlock the door and chase you out. Five francs was a lot of money in those days, ten a fortune to some, the franc at roughly 100 to the U.S. dollar on the official exchange if you could get the dollars; 140 or 160 on the black bourse; 200 to the pound sterling on the official as well. But you had to be careful because there were all those informants out there, those “watchers”, gestapistes français as well, and if they thought you had a lot of cash to exchange, you could very well lose it and end up in the Seine, the Loire, the Rhône or any of the many others.


Now add in the blackout and the streets, as in Paris, Lyon or Bordeaux, particularly when the whole country was Occupied–streets that were so dark one had to feel one’s way or use a pinch-the-cat pocket torch which you pumped to life with the thumb. So you have, if you like, a nation of night-dwellers but don’t ever get caught. A week cleaning toilets in the local commissariat, and by 1943, two years forced labour in the Reich.


n70710Now add in the curfew which, though it varied, generally settled at from midnight to 5.00 a.m. but don’t forget that Hitler put France on Central European time and would later add in an hour in winter of daylight saving, in summer two. So in Paris and other cities and towns public transport–the métro’s last trains in Paris, for instance, began their final run at 10.00 p.m. and you either missed it and stayed the night in the cabaret or whatever, or you walked and took your chances.


And please don’t ever forget that there were virtually no private automobiles, that where there had been 350,000 of them in Paris in 1939, there were now 4,500, and most of those were driven by the Occupier.


Point being, the possibilities are endless, and there’s the history, too, of each region. In Stonekiller, Madame Ernestine Fillioux was not just gathering mushrooms in the Dordogne, she was killed and partially butchered with a hand axe and that leads us to Lascaux and the cave artwork there, but also to Heinrich Himmler who had a passion for trying to prove the Third Reich had a historic right to be in France and to have conquered it.




And in Dollmaker there’s not just a U-boat captain-suspectn70694 and his family’s doll-making history, there’s the Quiberon Penninsula and its tumuli and standing stones that go back thousands of years and predate Gallic times. Yet the RAF are bombing the hell out of Lorient as they try to do the impossible and destroy its submarine pens.


You see, I take my two detectives into and out of Paris, so that we experience these very different regions during the Occupation. Yet each has such a rich and varied nature and history I can pluck things here and there and put them all to good use. And I don’t just like and enjoy good paintings, food, fabrics and all the rest, I live them because my two guys do. Perfumes, of course, silks and satins too, and parachute silk that ends up as female underwear thus damning the victim for having been up to more than one kind of mischief, namely the résistance.


Throughout, my two detectives are honest cops who will point the finger of truth wherever it belongs and that can mean at the Occupier. They’re very different men but have many things in common, including a firm belief that war, as they had experienced it in the Great War, is not only wrong but crazy. An insanity that welds them as does their penchant for being honest in such an age of officially-sanctioned crime.


n70693Though they can’t advise me and maybe wish they could, I have always seen their series as the trajectory of an artillery shell–a parabolic curve from start to finish with its zenith from December 1942 to February 1943 and that great turning point, the Wehrmacht’s defeat at Stalingrad. Mayhem to Bellringer, Carnival and Tapestry are all at that zenith. In the 16th, they are now in October 1943 and heading towards that up-against-the-post ending, since St-Cyr works with one of the Occupier and must be a collabo’ to many résistants, and Kohler is and was of that Occupier. Hence I now am busy fleshing out both the beginning and the end of that trajectory which will culminate in the so-called “battle for Paris” in August 1944.


Are there any writers who inspire you? Any favorite authors?


Sometimes I’m asked who are my favourite writers and while I know it may seem wrong to some, let me state emphatically that when I started writing adult fiction way back in 1980 with The Toy Shop, I stopped reading that of others. Certainly I know artists and such study the work of others, but here’s the point: I think, live and work at story all the time. It never leaves me. And I know myself. I’d be developing plot and character only to read something quite different and maybe pick up something that would then intrude what I was on about, and I wouldn’t realize this until I’d written pages and pages. For the same reason, I seldom attend the Shaw Theatre, for if the acting is good, so is my concentration, and of course I love the things I’ve seen, but that’s not the point. With film, however, there is that little bit of distance I need, and I do like nothing better than to watch a really good film. Maybe I do pick up things there. I don’t really know, but when I write I am, in a sense, in a film and doing all those many, many things one has to do to make it all live.


But I did have favourites, of course, and their books are n70700still on my shelves along with everything else and like old friends. And yes, occasionally I touch them and read an intro paragraph or two, just to see how I’m doing or whatever. And I did break this rule once to read Stieg Larrson’s trio. This was quite by accident. Neighbour Margo loved mysteries, and to help  her stay in her house I would take out her garbage. She had left Stieg’s first on a table and it had started to rain, so I grabbed it to take it in to her and I read that first page. Right away I knew he was a journalist. It just hits you so hard, and it’s sad he had to step off this planet and leave such a success behind. I read that first one in two days and that must, I think, say something.



If you could live anywhere else, where would it be?


J Robert Janes - photo by Charles BellamyI’ve my garden, my workroom, and my walks up the Lower Niagara River. Where else could I find those? Sure I’d like the nearness to things and the research libraries they have in London, the museums and galleries too, the closeness to France and Germany, all that sort of thing. But I’m here in Niagara and have been a full-time writer for the past forty-four years.


What’s next for St-Cyr and Kohler?


Well, what’s next for St-Cyr and Kohler? Carnival, the 15th, is due to be published this May and it takes St-Cyr and Kohler to Alsace where St-Cyr, being French, has no jurisdiction and is, indeed, a foreigner. Even speaking French is verboten. Two apparent suicides bring them to a work camp, a factory, and finally to a Konzentrationslager, but mostly to a Karneval that was left behind when the Blitzkrieg struck. Booths, shies, the Ferris wheel, et cetera, are all in their states of ruin, and it is here that one of the suicides occurred, the other being in that rayon factory.


The 16th sees them back in Paris but in October 1943, the time period having been moved ahead. Unfortunately so many things have intruded of late, I am still all but on that final page and wondering if I will ever finish it–a remarkable story, that’s for sure. Has to be, doesn’t it? But if you write as I do and have, you will come to that truest of writer’s points. You will come to hate the book you’ve been writing until, that is, you set that pencil down as I do, or stop typing. Then there’s the joy, one hopes, of course, of reading it all through and working on it. That’s when I can finally relax and ask myself, Who was it that wrote this? Myself or someone only my subconscious knows?


Bob, thanks so much for taking the time to talk with us at Scene of the Crime.


For more information, see the home page of J. Robert Janes.


Also see J. Kingston Pierce’s excellent interview at the Rap Sheet.


St. Cyr and Kohler series:


1. Mayhem (1992)


2. Carousel (1992)


3. Kaleidoscope (1993)


4. Salamander (1994


5. Mannequin (1994)


6. Sandman (1994)


7. Stonekiller (1995)


8. Dollmaker (1995)


9. Gypsy (1997)


10. Madrigal (1999)


11. Beekeeper (2001)


12. Flykiller (2002)


13. Bellringer (2012)


14. Tapestry (2013)


15. Carnival (2014)


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Published on February 23, 2014 14:36 • 16 views

February 9, 2014

ccdutch2 copyColin Cotterill is the author of numerous volumes in the popular Dr. Siri Paiboun series, featuring the septuagenarian Laotian coroner. Dr. Siri had thought to spend a peaceful retirement, but he is conscripted by the Communist government after the 1975 takeover of Laos. He hopes to make this job a sinecure; in the event he continually finds himself knee deep in murders and cover ups, far from the usual retirement activities.


Siri was introduced in the 2004 title, The Coroner’s Lunch, a “convincing and highly interesting portrayal of an exotic locale… [that] marks the author as someone to watch,” according to Publishers Weekly. Since then, Cotterill has published eight more Dr. Siri mysteries, with The Woman Who Wouldn’t Die appearing in 2013.


Cotterill has also turned his attention to a feisty female Thai journalist, n368078Jimm Jurree, in another series. Forced to move from Chiang Mai when the matriarch of the family develops dementia, Jimm and her family take over a dilapidated seafront resort on the Gulf of Siam. Jimm thinks she will die of boredom there, until other deaths intrude and she becomes an unwilling sleuth. The first in that series, Killed at the Whim of a Hat, came out in 2011, followed by Grandad, There’s a Head on the Beach in 2012, and The Axe Factor in 2013. A Kirkus Reviews critic has noted of this series: “Definitely puts the fun in family dysfunction. Jimm, an Asian Stephanie Plum, rattles steadily to a solution, with many hilarious episodes along the way.”


Cotterill, born in England, currently lives on the Gulf of Thailand.


Colin, it’s great to have you on Scene of the Crime. Looking at your homepage, I see that you have a CV that makes most of us feel like couch potatoes. You’re not only a novelist of note, but you’ve also taught and trained teachers around the world before settling in Thailand. You spent several years in Laos, initially with UNESCO, and then moved on to become involved in child protection in the region. Oh, yes, and did I forget to mention you are also a well-known cartoonist?


n402702First, maybe you could focus on your time in Laos. What brought you there?


In 1990 I  was sent to Laos on a UNESCO education project. It was a fascinating chance for me as I’d been working with Lao refugees in Australia and hearing all the stories of the communist takeover. I’d never lived in a socialist state so I didn’t really know what to expect. I stayed on after the UN contract as a volunteer for two more years. 


What things about Laos in the 1970s make it unique and a good physical setting in your books?


I’ve often said that I could get a grocery list published if it was set in 1970s Vientiane. It was a weird and wonderfully awful period when you needed three typed documents to sell a chicken and permission to travel to the next village sometimes took up to a year to obtain. Most of the educated classes had fled ahead of the communist takeover so the place was being administered by soldiers with no experience and very few of the skills necessary to run a country. Yet, somehow, the Lao that remained not only survived, but seemed to make the most of this new Lao-run country. It was the first time in living memory that the country wasn’t under colonial rule or involved in wars. Merely living day-to-day in such an environment was a challenge, so I thought that it would be very interesting to set murder and mayhem mysteries there.


Did you consciously set out to use Laos as a “character” in your n392645books, or did this grow naturally out of the initial story or stories?


The character of the country had to come through in the stories in order to set the tone. Laos didn’t change very much between the communist arrival in 75 and my arrival in 90 so the setting was in me. A writer has an obligation to put readers who haven’t visited a country into that environment. Comparatively few people have visited Laos and hardly any were there during the transition. If I did a bad job of telling the place I could never tell the stories.


How do you incorporate location in your fiction? Do you pay overt attention to it in certain scenes, or is it a background inspiration for you?


In many scenes, the location dictates the game plan. If the physical and technological difficulties are integral to the plot you make an effort to bring out that role. But some situations you imagine yourself there and if scenery is necessary you let the writing come up with a balance that paints in the background without taking over the show.


n376616How does Dr. Siri interact with his surroundings?


Dr. Siri, a Lao, was educated in Paris and spent a good many years there. His cultural and religious beliefs are therefore a mixture of East and West. This perhaps helps him to ‘see’ his home country far more clearly than someone who has never left it. He’s able to balance what he’s told with what he knows to be fact. And, as a man in his seventies and a member of the communist party he’s able to voice those observations without fear of being locked up. As one would expect, after spending over forty years as a communist and then to finally live under communist rule and see its failings, his cynicism and humour are often the only ways he can cope with the mess he’s inherited.


Has there been any local reaction to your works?


There is a very scant reading culture in Laos. There are far too many reasons to go into this than time allows here. So I know few Lao who have read what little literature exists in that country. The officials charged with reading and censoring work in foreign languages have long since given up the ghost and most books written about Laos are currently available in local shops. Dr. Siri therefore has a large audience of expats living in Laos who eat up the books. Then there are a few older educated Lao who, like Siri, have lived in the west, who communicate with me from time to time. One older gentleman likes to tell me that he IS Dr. Siri. But the most remarkable phenomenon is the acceptance of the books by second generation Lao who write from Europe and Australia and the US to tell me how they’re coming to understand their parents’ country and philosophy a lot more by reading the books. Although I have no wood here to touch, so far, I haven’t had any negative press from the Lao community.


Have you ever made any goofs in depicting your location or time 41ZXDunxixL__SS500_period? Please share–the more humorous the better (we all have).


My first reaction was ‘no’, at least not in the copies that make it to the bookshops. I did have a couple of people write to tell me that Dr. Siri couldn’t possibly have read Animal Farm when he was at school. In fact I doubt George Orwell was born then. My mistake was that I have the whole picture of what Siri does and when, but I only expose parts of his story at a time. Siri later returns to his old high school to rescue their library. It’s then that he discovers Animal Farm. I wasn’t careful enough in my wording. Me Culpa.


But at the level of me passing my script on to my editorial readers I screw up all the time. It’s what happens when you write with a glass at your elbow.


Of the Dr. Siri novels, do you have a favorite book or scene that focuses on the place? Could you quote a short passage or give an example of how the location figures in your novels?


6Vientiane features very loudly in most of the books and the changing seasons give her moods and depressions. Here’s a passage talking about her dry season from The Merry Misogynist.


“Siri had designated this Sunday a Vientiane day. The capital was a little ghostly when they set out at nine. Stores were shuttered, many closed for so long the locks had rusted to the hasps. Houses were in permanent disrepair. The dusts of March had settled on the city like a grey-brown layer of snow. Roads, even those with bitumen surfaces, looked like dirt tracks. There were no obvious colours anywhere, only shades. Even the gaudiest billboards had been reduced to a fuzzy pastel. The most common sounds they heard as they cruised the streets were the sweeping of front steps and the dry-clearing of throats.”


Who are your favorite writers, and do you feel that other writers influenced you in your use of the spirit of place in your novels?


I know that my favourite writers influenced my sense of place because they’re all travel writers. I don’t read a lot of fiction but I love to travel with writers and see a country through their eyes. Norman Lewis and his wonderful A Dragon Apparent was an inspiration as are Paul Theroux and Bill Bryson.


How about the news series featuring Jimm Jurree?n438815


My wife and I moved to a fishing village in the south of Thailand and I started a new series based down here. The first book is called, Killed at the Whim of a Hat. The place features as much as the characters and I hope I’m able to paint a picture of what it’s like to live down here.


Colin, thanks so much for taking the time to share your thoughts with Scene of the Crime.


For more information on Colin Cotterill, see his homepage.


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Published on February 09, 2014 15:58 • 19 views

January 10, 2014

me-198x300Ever wonder about book covers? Who designs them? How do they go about it? I have long been a fan of Jem Butcher, who has done the artwork on my Viennese Mysteries for Severn House. His most recent, for A Matter of Breeding, out in England next spring and in the U.S. in the summer, is just plain smashing.


I am very pleased to present an email discussion I had with Jem regarding his work:


How did you get involved in cover design, how long have you been at it?


I did a degree in Graphic Design at Bath, graduating back in 1990, and fell more or less into book cover design. I’ve been doing it ever since, for various publishers in-house and now as a freelancer.


Do you pick and choose the books or take what comes a matter 3along?


When I was Art Director at Simon and Schuster, I could sometimes choose which covers to work on, but most of the time I spent fire fighting. These days I take what comes along, within reason. I think it is important to be versatile within what is a very narrow design field.



When you get a title, what is the process in determining the cover? Do you always have to read the book to get the concept or are some books just obvious from the title? Can you walk us through the process briefly from MS in hand to finished book cover?


More often than not the cover design process is a sales / marketing driven one. The publisher will often have a clear idea of their target audience and market. My job as a cover designer is to design something appropriate for that audience. It sounds obvious but a ‘chick lit’ women’s romantic comedy should have the correct visual language that describes that genre. Like-wise a male action ‘Special Forces Adventure’ story shouldn’t look like a Jackie Collins romp! The trick however is not just to design to a formula, but to be creative and inventive within the given genre. 


Child 44 HBI will start with reading the brief and hopefully a synopsis of the book; sometimes I will be sent the manuscript and I will dip into that. From there I will do some market research in the given genre, to see what’s out there. Then I’ll do some some design ‘style’ research to give me some inspiration. I’ll put a ‘mood board’ together of relevant material, which can be useful to fall back on if I loose sight of the goal. From there I’ll do some picture research into relevant subject material. Hopefully this will inspire some ideas, and that’s when the hard work starts of making an idea work visually.


With my Vienna books it seems you must do a close read to put real clues in the artwork–for example with The Keeper of Hands you featured a woman that readers could take to be Berthe, wife of the protagonist Werthen. This is a book in which women figure heavily and you also pair that portrait with the Maria Theresa statue of the only female leader in Habsburg history. Was that deliberate or a matter of serendipity? In A Matter of Breeding, dealing with horse (and human) breeding, you feature a fiaker with horse and place it just near the Spanish Riding School, another scene in the book and resonant with the theme. Again, deliberate or happy coincidence? And if the latter, do you give that level of insight to all your covers?


 I think experience and good briefing can help with finding life and death changerelevant material for a cover, for example where, when, what, how, and a good description of characters helps enormously. However the major pitfall can be being too literal about what happens in the book, a healthy amount of artistic licence is needed.


What have been some of your favorite covers? Why?


Some of my favourite covers have been because of who the author is, e.g. I’ve done a few of Stephen Fry’s books, he is a fantastic character. Others are more about the design, something I did recently is ‘Sketcher’ by Alma Books. I like the interaction of the photographic element and the graphic stripes. Or the big ‘voting X’ on ‘The Life and Death of Democracy’ Others are up there for me because they have been commercially successful with a good design, e.g. The Shopaholic series (first three) or Child 44.


sketcher 11 new amend 2What have been the most difficult? Why?


Books that attempt to cross genres are difficult, because you are trying to speak two different visual languages at once. And often the publisher is confused about where the book should sit. Other ‘difficult’ books are often a product of publisher’s various problems with the book. The cover being a very tangible sign of a difficult, or even an unwanted birth.


Any differences between fiction and nonfiction covers?


Fiction covers are generally often more difficult, because they are more subjective. With non fiction, we know where we stand regarding the subject matter at least.



Authors always seem to be carping about the covers for shopaholics copytheir books. Any primo complaints to share? Any compliments?


No real complaints from authors, or at least none that have reached me. Quite a few compliments though, which is nice. Trying to shoe-horn a bad author idea or several ideas onto a cover often spells disaster.



Anything further you would care to add about the design business in general? 


A common problem I find is that a publisher will often offer a solution to a problem they have with a cover, rather than explain what the problem is. For instance they will often say, ‘Make the type bigger’, what they really mean is we need it to look more commercial / mass market, or more masculine perhaps.


Are you available also for freelancing for authors going their own in ebooks? 


Yup definitely available for self published work, however self published authors need to be aware of the design process.


new tag 3


Thanks much Jem for taking the time to talk with us at Scene of the Crime.


You might also check out Jem’s Movie-Book site for trailers and animated book covers.


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Published on January 10, 2014 11:37 • 16 views

December 20, 2013

logoI have written before about the influence my year abroad as a student had on me. Numerous of the “Diverse” feuilletons deal with that year and the other decades I spent in Europe, mostly in Vienna.


Today I want to link to an extended interview I recently had with my


Young man abroad

Young man abroad


Vienna alma mater, the Institute of European Studies (IES) for their “Alum of the Month” publication. As I state in the interview, “Outside of my family, IES Vienna was the single biggest influence in my life. It made me what I am today, it opened the world for me, it allowed me to see possibilities I never knew existed. It was in Vienna that I decided to become a writer. I stayed on for a number of years and learned my craft there and also found a subject that I have mined over and over in nonfiction and fiction: the amazing renaissance of Vienna 1900.”


Here is a great big DANKE to IES for changing my life. And in case you missed the link above, here it is again!


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Published on December 20, 2013 11:13 • 15 views