Friday, July 28, 2017

Interview with mystery author Glen Craney

Mystery author Glen Craney joins me today and we’re talking about his new dual-period historical thriller, The Virgin of the Wind Rose: A Christopher Columbus Mystery-Thriller.

Glen Craney is a novelist, screenwriter, and journalist. He holds graduate degrees from Indiana University School of Law and Columbia University School of Journalism. He practiced trial law before joining the Washington, D.C. press corps to cover national politics and the Iran-contra trial for Congressional Quarterly magazine. The Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts and Sciences awarded him the Nicholl Fellowship prize for best new screenwriting. He is a Chaucer Awards First-Place Winner, a three-time indieBRAG Medallion Honoree, and a three-time Foreword Reviews Book-of-the-Year Award Finalist. His debut historical novel, The Fire and the Light, was honored as Best New Fiction by the National Indie Excellence Awards. His books have taken readers to Occitania during the Albigensian Crusade, to the Scotland of Robert Bruce, to Portugal during the Age of Discovery, to the trenches of France during World War I, and to the American Hoovervilles of the Great Depression.

Welcome, Glen. Please tell us about your current release.
While investigating the murder of an American missionary in Ethiopia, rookie State Department lawyer Jaqueline Quartermane stumbles upon the infamous Templar Word Square, an ancient Latin puzzle that has eluded scholars for centuries. To her horror, she soon discovers the palindrome has been embedded with a cryptographic time bomb. Separated by half a millennium, two global conspiracies dovetail in this historical mystery-thriller to expose the world's most explosive secret: The real identity and mission of Christopher Columbus.

Awards: indieBRAG Medallion and Books&Benches Sceal Award Finalist

What inspired you to write this book?
I often get my book ideas from dreams. One night, I kept hearing the word “SATOR” spoken in my ear. I had never heard of that word, so I was obviously baffled. When I researched it, I came across an ancient Latin palindrome called the SATOR, or Templar, Square. That launched me on a detective quest that resulted in the novel.

Excerpt from The Virgin of the Wind Rose: A Christopher Columbus Mystery-Thriller:
Sopped in sweat, the ten-year-old Ethiopian boy prayed to St. Georgis the
Dragonslayer for protection as he wormed his way toward the tomb of
the first man on Earth.
  The tunnel’s gritty sandstone, stained red from the blood of Satan’s serpents,
punished his hands and knees. To preserve the precious air, he slowed his breaths
as he crawled. The settling night had cooled the mountain village above him,
but here, sixty meters below the surface, the trapped midday heat could roast
a chicken. Faint from hunger, he stopped and pulled a crust of bread from his
pocket. He chewed the morsel slowly, taking care to muzzle its aroma with his
tunic’s sleeve to avoid being swarmed by the bees that hived in the crevices.
  His dizziness eased, and he resumed his quest, groping blindly on all fours
along the narrowing walls. At last, he came to the Armory of the Shining Ones,
the long notch in the floor where the angels had once stored their lances.
  Mäqäraräb,” he whispered. Not far now.
  He knew every bend and cranny in this secret passage by memory, having
accompanied the priests on their daily inspections of the subterranean churches.
That was the only godsend from his miserable duties. His father, the High Priest
of Lalibela, had marked him at birth for religious service by tattooing a blue
cross on his right temple. As a result, he was forbidden to play football or chase
tourists for candy, and he would have to slave six more years carrying sandals
just to become a deacon. Everyone said he should be grateful for the honor,
but he had no desire to waste away his life mumbling incantations. Tomorrow
he planned to stow away in the cargo bin of the bus to Addis Ababa, where he
would find prosperous construction work and a beautiful girlfriend.
  Before leaving home, however, he craved an even more exciting escape,
one that promised a glimpse of Paradise. In a few hours, at dawn, his fellow villagers
would celebrate Timkat, the holiest of their many religious festivals.
The elders of the monastery had retired early to their cloisters to fast and prepare
themselves with chants. This night, the tenth of Terr, was the only time of the
year that Bet Golgota––the underground church of the Crucifixion––was left
unguarded. It would also be his last chance to pierce the veil that shrouded
Heaven’s wisdom and delights.
  He came hovering over the yawning trench that protected the entrance to
the nave, and ran a finger across an inscription on a stone carved in Ge’ez.
  The opening verse of Genesis.
  He kissed the ground that covered the bones of the biblical Adam. Then,
he reached up and inserted the stolen key into the lock just beyond the grave.
After several turns of the rusty tumbler, the pitted door squealed open.
  He slithered inside the trapezoidal cavern. Overhead, lit by ambient moonlight
from the fissures in the ceiling, faded frescoes of the martyred saints stared
down at him. Turning away from their accusing glares, he climbed to his feet
and approached the Selassie Chapel. The sanctuary was so sacred that for ages
only the head priest had been allowed to enter it. With a shaking hand, he drew
aside a ratty curtain that covered the burial vault of King Lalibela, the monarch
who had ruled Ethiopia during the time of the White Knights.
  Yes, it was here, in this very vault, where he had spied his father hide the
precious Leaves of Eden. How long he had dreamed of the ecstasy now so near
his grasp. He heard a whisper of warning from his soul: He who gazes upon the
hidden treasures of Lalibela will be struck blind and mute for eternity.

What exciting story are you working on next?
I’m in the midst of a historical novel set during the last days of the American Civil War.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I’ve always written for the jobs I’ve held, but I’ve taken a roundabout route to fiction. I went to law school and wrote legal opinions for appellate and federal district judges. Then, I worked as a reporter covering national politics for a magazine in Washington, D.C. After that, I wrote movie scripts for Hollywood, which led me to books and novels.

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?
I do write full-time. When not researching or traveling for my projects, I prefer to write in the mornings and edit in the afternoons.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I like to write in restaurants and cafes. To the amazement of the waiters, I’m able to concentrate better with the ambient noise and movement around me.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I’ve loved history and its mysteries since childhood, so I always knew I wanted to do something involving those subjects.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I always chase stories instead of historical eras. I blame my journalism experience.


Thanks for being here today, Glen!

1 comment:

Glen Craney said...

Thanks for hosting me, Lisa!