Thursday, December 12, 2019

Interview with mystery author Elka Ray

Novelist Elka Ray joins me today to chat about her new romantic mystery, Divorce Is Murder.

During her virtual book tour, Elka will be awarding a $20 Amazon or Barnes and Noble (winner’s choice) gift card to a lucky randomly drawn winner. To be entered for a chance to win, use the form below. To increase your chances of winning, feel free to visit her other tour stops and enter there, too!

Welcome, Elka. Please share a little bit about your current release.
My latest mystery, Divorce Is Murder, follows divorce lawyer Toby Wong as she moves back to the small town where she was bullied as a kid. It's not long before the meangirl behind Toby's bullying is found murdered. The prime suspect is Toby's attractive client - whom Toby had a hopeless teenaged crush on.

Everywhere she turns, Toby runs into people she'd rather forget. She grows increasingly convinced that one of the kids who tormented her way back when has grown up to be a murderer. As Toby solves the modern-day killing, another mystery is revealed: what traumatized Toby as a teenager?

What inspired you to write this book?
I'm interested in the lasting effects of trauma, especially those suffered in our youth. How do negative incidents - ranging from everyday kinds of hurts, for example always being picked last for softball, to bonafide tragedies - affect us in later life? Why do some of us shrug things off and thrive while others crumble?
Besides the modern-day murder mystery, Divorce Is Murder takes us back to teenaged Toby's stint at an awful summer camp.

Here's an excerpt from Divorce Is Murder:

That noise? Had I imagined the soft tremor of the door, the handle just starting to turn? I must have because the door stayed tight shut, no light around the edges, no eager whisper of my name. I tried to slow my breathing, to be even quieter than I was already, to force my ears to be even sharper.

The floor was cold and hard. My butt hurt, and my knees felt welded in place. It was painful to stretch out my legs. I held onto a table and stood, as stiff and rickety as my Grannie Mei Li, in the hospital, a few days before she’d died. I forced myself to straighten up, forced myself to face the cold hard truth: I’d been waiting a long time. Too long. It was very late. My eyes felt gritty.

He wasn’t coming.

A slow tentative shuffle to the door, my heart as heavy as my footsteps. Why did he write that note but not come? Had he been caught? Surely, if he could have, he’d have come to me.

A slick of silver lead my hand to the doorknob, which felt even colder than my creaky fingers. Cold and smooth. It started to turn but stopped. I tried again. And again. It was no use. The door was locked. It couldn’t be!

What exciting story are you working on next?
I'm thrilled that the Toby Wong Vancouver Island mystery books will become a series. In the second book, a socialite friend of Toby's mom goes missing after falling for a conman she met online. Family loyalty forces Toby into the drama.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I finally felt legit after my last novel, Saigon Dark - a much darker, scarier thriller - got some great reviews from respected authors and book pros.

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?
As well as writing fiction I work as an editor. I'm usually at my desk from 8am until at least 3.30pm. I live by the beach in Central Vietnam. My "coffee breaks" involve a dash to the beach for a swim. That's where a lot of the background work happens. Story ideas and characters' voices come when I'm in the ocean.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I'm superstitious. My desk is surrounded by lucky cat statues and lucky crystals. In Divorce Is Murder, Toby is a skeptic and embarrassed by her mom, an old hippie who earns her living reading fortunes. Having been raised by a scientist dad and a much more spiritual mom, I'm constantly torn between skepticism and a desire to hedge my bets.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I thought that everyone smart studied Science. Despite my best efforts, it was pretty obvious my talents lay elsewhere. In sixth grade my teacher told my mom I'd grow up to be a writer.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
As well as writing I'm an avid reader - mostly of mysteries and suspense. Much to my surprise I've found a brilliant book community on Instagram. If you read, write, or have any creative passions to share, please come and meet me there.


Thank you for being a guest on my blog!
Many thanks for having me on!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Goddess Fish Promotions said...

Thanks for hosting!

Edgar Gerik said...

Great interview

Bernie Wallace said...

Did you come up with the story of the book or the title first?

Rita Wray said...

Sounds like a good book.

Victoria Alexander said...

Great giveaway, thanks for sharing!

Bernie Wallace said...

Which of your characters was hardest to write for?

Caryl Kane said...

What authors do you enjoy reading?