Mystery author Emily Ross is here today to chat with me about her new novel, Half in Love with Death.
Emily Ross received a 2014 Massachusetts Cultural Council finalist award in fiction for Half in Love with Death. She is an editor and contributor at deaddarlings.com. She works as a software developer, and loves dark mysteries and anything noir. She lives in Quincy Massachusetts with her husband and her elusive cat, Beau.
Welcome, Emily. Please tell us about your current release.
Half in Love with Death is a young adult mystery/thriller for readers of all ages.
It's the era of peace and love in the 1960s, but nothing is peaceful in Caroline's life. Since her beautiful older sister Jess disappeared, fifteen-year-old Caroline might as well have disappeared too. She's invisible to her parents, who can't stop blaming each other. The police keep following up on leads even Caroline knows are foolish. The only one who seems to care about her is Tony, her sister's older boyfriend, who soothes Caroline's desperate heart every time he turns his magical blue eyes on her.
Tony is convinced that the answer to Jess's disappearance is in California, the land of endless summer, among the runaways and flower children. Come with me, Tony says to Caroline, and we'll find her together. Tony is so loving, and all he cares about is bringing Jess home. And so Caroline follows, and closes a door behind her that may never open again, in a heartfelt thriller that never lets up.
What inspired you to write this book?
I was having trouble coming up with a plot for my novel, when my sister suggested I base it on a true crime, and not just any true crime. She confided in me that when she was twelve, she’d been obsessed with the disturbing case of serial killer, Charles Schmid, ‘the Pied Piper of Tucson.’ I did some research on this chilling case from 1965, and it became the inspiration for Half in Love with Death.
Excerpt from Half in Love with Death:
The night Jess left us, I sat on the front step twirling my little brother Dicky’s top round and round. As I sent it spinning down the walk- way and the black circles blurred into gray, I wanted to believe the stripes were really disappearing, that it was magic, but I knew it was an optical illusion. I was drawn to things that were not what they appeared to be. Sometimes I thought everything was an illusion.
I wiped the back of my neck, damp with sweat. It was getting late, but not a bit cooler. Darkness was erasing the green from the grass, the blue from the sky. The palm trees that lined our street looked like black cutouts. The swing sets were still. There were no more shouts of “olly olly oxen free.” The younger kids who’d been playing hide and seek had all gone inside.
The time of day right after dinner sometimes made me lonely, but that August night I had something to look forward to. I was going to the drive-in with Jess and her boyfriend, Tony. My sister was seventeen, two years older than me, and she was in love with Tony. I couldn’t wait for him to show up, take her hand and then mine as he turned to my dad and said, “I’ll bring your two princesses home before midnight, Mr. Galvin. Promise.” All the girls loved Tony, but he belonged to Jess, and when he took my hand I couldn’t help but feel he also belonged to me.
I squinted at the distant place where the road met the desert, willing his gold car to appear.
What exciting story are you working on next?
I’m working on a young adult mystery that involves dance teams, murder, and the city of Quincy.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I first felt like a writer in third grade when doing a free writing assignment on the topic, What the Waves Tell Me. I ended up being completely carried away by the words. It was a wondrous feeling. After that I didn’t officially think of myself as a ‘writer’, but I was a writer, and have been writing ever since. It’s something I have to do to feel like a complete person.
Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
Unfortunately I have a full time job. I work in IT as a web developer. That doesn’t leave me a lot of time to write, but it forces me to make good use of the time I have. I do most of my writing early in the morning before work, or very late at night, and on the weekends. So just about every minute of my free time is spent writing, and yes that means I have no life.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I get my best plot ideas when I’m walking or at the gym or between 3 and 4 in the morning. It’s pretty inconvenient, but whenever I get ideas, I write them down as notes in my iPhone. As a result, I now actually feel more creative on the iPhone than on my computer. Maybe someday I’ll write an entire novel on my iPhone…
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I was torn between wanting to a ballerina or a pathologist. Neither of those dreams came true!
Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I love connecting with readers and other writers. If you want to connect with me please check out my web site, and share your thoughts.
Thanks for being here today, Emily!