Sunday, June 25, 2017

Interview with Jefferson Chene

Recently at the urging of my publisher with Inkspell, I featured an interview with Jamie Richmond, my redheaded protagonist from that trio of mysteries, Devious, Vanishing Act and Fleeing Beauty. So it seemed only natural to give Jefferson Chene the stage today. 

Tell us a little about yourself:   

I’m not given to talking about myself much. I grew up in Detroit in an orphanage run by the Catholic church. My name comes from the intersection near downtown Detroit where I was found. Turns out the cops accidentally wrote that down on the report instead of ‘Baby Doe’ or something like that. By the time anyone noticed it, the name was part of the official record and it stuck. I was raised by the nuns and a priest who ran the orphanage and an adjacent school. It’s safe to say I’m no choirboy, but I have a very strict sense of right and wrong.  That’s probably why I became a cop.

How did your background get you involved in this novel?   

I’m a detective sergeant with the Michigan State Police. We handle major cases, usually those that cross jurisdictional lines, like from one suburban city to another.  When we realized the homicide victims were found in three different cities and the work of a serial killer, it was exactly the kind of case we take on.  

Who came first, you or the author? 

(laughs sarcastically) Guess that one’s up for debate, depending on who you ask. I’ve always been here. He just recognized my cases would make for a good story. Maybe a movie someday.  I wonder if Denzel Washington would play me. (more laughter) Or maybe somebody younger.

What’s your greatest strength?   And of course, we want to know the opposite, your greatest weakness.  

Strength would be my intelligence. I’m a student of criminal behavior. After more than ten years as a cop, I’ve seen a lot. Sometimes I can figure out a motive and who stands to gain the most from the crime. That’s helped me solve a number of cases.  Weakness… well, I’m not exactly a lady’s man. There’s a lot about women that I don’t understand, (chuckles) and probably never will.

What is it about this mystery that sets it apart from the others?   

The killer in “Why 319?” is taunting the police. Why else would they leave that message on the bathroom mirror? If they didn’t do that, it’s doubtful that we would have connected the murders, since they’ve taken place in three different cities across the metro area. So it’s an ego trip. Trying to show up the cops, that the killer thinks they are smarter than we are. But we don’t stop until we solve a case. That’s what makes our squad different. We’re a determined group of bad asses.

Tell us something about your background that may or may not be revealed in the book? 

(chuckles again) This is starting to sound like one of those online dating profiles. Okay, here goes. I enjoy cooking. I read fiction, mostly crime stories like Elmore Leonard’s work. After all these years, I’ve never considered trying to find my biological parents. They must have had their reasons for abandoning me. Life goes on. 

Are you the type of person who always seeks out the company of others?  

Nah, I’m comfortable on my own.  I’m close with the rest of the squad and have a small circle of good friends and acquaintances. I like people but I’m just not the gregarious type.

What do you do to relax after a day of fighting crime? 

A good meal, a drink or two and maybe read a couple of chapters of a good book. There’s a lot of great stories out there. I’m an insomniac, so sleep is elusive. It’s also vastly overrated.

Who’s your best friend and what influence have they had on your life?  

(Hesitates) I’d have to say Megan McDonald. We’ve been friends since the third grade. She knows most of my secrets. Maybe that’s why she followed me into police work. Every once in a while, she’d make some snide comment or try and get me back into the fold with the nuns and the priest who still run the school we attended. Megan’s a good reminder of my roots and how far I’ve come.

Which do you prefer, music or television?   

I’ll watch football on television, but that’s about it. Music. Give me some old Motown, blues, rock and roll or jazz and I’m good.  Like this one.

Sunday, June 18, 2017


Happy Father's Day!

I have never been a big believer in signs or coincidence. Nor do I put much stock in the astrological forecasts in the internet. To me they are about as random as the message you get inside a fortune cookie. An old friend says that whenever you read one, you’re supposed to add the words ‘in bed’ at the end of the sentence. Don’t know if that makes a difference, but it’s usually worth a laugh.

Yesterday was the annual Book Festival in Ann Arbor, Michigan. This was my third year attending and it’s always enjoyable. It’s a great opportunity to talk with people about my novels and the writing process.  Conversations covered the gamut. Characters names, locations, outlines, plot lines, sequels, dialogue. You name it, we probably talked about it.  Sales were pretty good. And a number of people indicated they were going to go online and buy the electronic versions, so that’s something to look forward to.

Now I must admit that when it comes to technology, I’m a bit of a dinosaur. Unlike many vendors, I’m not set up to accept credit cards.  Cash (or as Pappy Cantrell would say, ‘dead presidents’) works just fine. I’ve accepted a check or two and never had a problem.   

As things were progressing yesterday, a young lady visiting my booth became intrigued with the story line of “Why 319?” and when she decided to buy a copy and get it autographed, we ran into a little snag. Explaining the ‘no tech’ situation, she flashed a dazzling smile and said “I’ll be right back. There’s an ATM just down the street.”  She returned within five minutes and made her purchase. With another winning smile, she was on her way.

About an hour later, a young couple was very interested in the same book. Learning that it was cash and carry, they ran to the machine and hurried back.  Ken and Cathy, another couple I was talking to witnessed this. Ken checked out the back cover, then cracked the book and read a page. Once the young couple was taken care of, he turned to me.

“I’ll take this too. People are willing to go get money and buy it right now. That’s a good sign.”

I’m skeptical, but willing to take his word for it.

Here are a couple of pictures from yesterday's event.  And a little tune that's so appropriate for dinosaurs everywhere.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Interview with Jamie Richmond

Melissa, the boss at Inkspell Publishing, who is extremely smart and talented (which is why she picked up the Jamie Richmond mystery series) encourages her authors to try different methods to engage the readers with our characters. So I decided it was high time to share some details about Jamie, my favorite fictional redhead.  Melissa developed the questions.  My challenge was answering them while keeping a straight face. The focus is on "Devious" the first book in the series. There are even a few pictures of what Jamie could look like.

1. What was your first impression of your writer?  He’s a bit of a smart ass. Of course, so am I. But he thinks he knows everything.  It’s always a laugh when I do something totally unexpected and take his story in a completely different direction.

2. How did you and the hero/heroine meet?   Malone was the sergeant in charge of the state police troopers who were about to go on patrol. I’d managed to do a ride-along with a trooper for research for my next book. It wasn’t love at first sight, but it certainly got my attention.

3.  What is your greatest strength? Greatest weakness?  How have they shaped your life?
Greatest strength would be my stubbornness. Although some people might call that resilience. Once I’ve made my mind up on something, I’m determined to see it through to the end.  My greatest weakness is my lack of self-confidence when it comes to dating and relationships.  My stubbornness has actually ended a few romances, but I’m beginning to think those wouldn’t have worked out anyway.  But Malone seems to be okay with it.

4. What first drew you to your hero/heroine? Malone’s a quiet guy with a good sense of humor. And he’s got these cobalt blue eyes that always pull me in. Sometimes I just forget about everything else when he’s around.

5.  If you could be in any profession, what would you do and why? That’s a tough one. I enjoy being a writer but lately I’m the one solving a real life mystery instead of just writing fiction. Maybe I’d be part of a team of investigative reporters, digging into the facts, coming up with leads, chasing down the bad guys.  

6.  So, in your story, what was the most memorable moment for you?  Figuring out who was behind the shooting and how to prove it was very memorable.

7.  What do you do for fun? I have a small circle of friends. Whenever we get together, we always have a great time.

8. Would you like for your writer to create a sequel for you?  Why or why not? Well, so far he’s done two sequels (Vanishing Act and Fleeing Beauty) and I’ve got a lot of ideas for some other adventures.  He has been grumbling about doing some short stories that predate my first story, something he calls a prequel. Like I said, I’ve got the ideas. I just need him to listen.

9.  What do you do for a living?  I was a newspaper reporter before turning my attention to becoming an author and writing mysteries. Writing comes naturally to me.

10.  What is your greatest fear? That I’ll wake up one day and discover that this new romance with Malone was nothing but a flight of fantasy.

11.  What do you wear when you go to sleep? (Laughs) Well, that depends on if I’m sleeping alone or not.  Winter time it’s flannel jammies. Summer time I sleep in the raw. If Malone’s around, I tend to end up naked pretty quickly.

12.  What is your most prized possession?  That would be a pair of dangling jade earrings and a matching pendant my mother gave me when I turned sixteen. She swears the color perfectly matches my eyes. I only wear them on special occasions.

14.  What do you think your greatest weakness is? My greatest weakness is my lack of self-confidence when it comes to dating and relationships.
15.  What do you think is your strongest attribute? My intelligence. I’m pretty sharp and have always paid attention to details.

16.  What are you proudest of? That I can be successful on my own.

17.  What is most attractive to you about the opposite sex?  A sense of self, with a little spark of humor. Of course, a nice smile works too.

18.  What trait or characteristic do you most dislike about the opposite sex? Braggarts. I guess there’s a fine line between self-confident and thinking the world revolves around you.

19.  What’s your favorite thing to do on a rainy afternoon?  Curl up on the sofa with a good book or Malone. Listen to the rain beat against the windows and enjoy Mother Nature’s display.

20.  What’s your favorite animal? Dogs.  I like a big dog, like a golden retriever.

21.  Have you ever thought about getting a tattoo, what would it be and where? (Laughs) I’m not much into body art. But since I’m Irish, maybe a little four leaf clover would be appropriate. I’d probably get it on my butt.  (More laughter) You can take it from there.

 Somehow this tune always come to mind when thinking about Jamie.