Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Interview with medical thriller author John Bishop MD

Today’s special guest author is John Bishop MD. He’s chatting with me about his medical thriller, Act of Murder (A Doc Brady Mystery).

John Bishop MD is the author of Act of Murder: A Doc Brady Mystery. Dr. Bishop has practiced orthopedic surgery in Houston, Texas, for 30 years. His Doc Brady medical thriller series is set in the changing environment of medicine in the 1990s. Drawing on his years of experience as a practicing surgeon, Bishop entertains readers using his unique insights into the medical world with all its challenges, intricacies, and complexities, while at the same time revealing the compassion and dedication of health care professionals. Dr. Bishop and his wife, Joan, reside in the Texas Hill Country.

Welcome, John. Please tell us about your current release.
Act of Murder is a medical mystery novel centered around Dr. Jim Bob Brady, an orthopedic surgeon in Houston, Texas. He witnesses his neighbor's ten-year-old son, who has Osteogenesis Imperfecta, killed by a hit-and-run driver. Was this an accident, or an Act of Murder? After the child's death, he enlists his son J.J. and his wife Mary Louise in chasing down clues from another child with the same bone disease that take them deeper and deeper into a Houston that Brady didn't know existed. They discover a macabre conspiracy stretching from the largest teaching hospital in Texas, to the upper reaches of Houston's legal community, to the shores of Galveston Bay. Soon Doc Brady realizes that the old adage remains true: The love of money is the root of all evil.

What inspired you to write this book?
I was inspired to write this book for a number of reasons. First, an old friend lost a child, and the grief around that issue was quite intense. I wanted to somehow put into words the emotions that surround that sort of cataclysmic event. At the same time, I had ended a long-lasting teaching position, and was concentrating on my medical practice only, without the teaching, or the presentations required at national meetings, or the articles that required publishing as a part of being a Professor. I found I time. I had always enjoyed the writing of medical articles, but not the politics of academic medicine. So, instead of sitting down at my desk, and starting an article on the Effects of Hydroxyapatite Synthetic Bone Graft on Acetabular Insufficiency, I sat down and wrote the title, Act of Murder, and took it from there. It was like a faucet was turned on inside of me, and I just couldn't quit writing. What a feeling!

What exciting story are you working on next?
I have two other Doc Brady books coming out. The next, Act of Deception, releases June 10th. In this novel, Brady gets sued for medical malpractice when a patient whose knee he replaced ends up losing the leg to an amputation. Brady is convinced he did nothing wrong. Did he somehow commit malpractice, and this is all his fault, or is this an Act of Deception. The next book is Act of Revenge, and releases September 10th. Doc Brady is involved in a ski accident on the slopes in Aspen, and befriends the victim who happens to be a plastic surgeon in Houston. The plastic surgeon is later seen on national television threatening the President of the Insurance Company who has recently cancelled the doctor's malpractice insurance. The next day, the executive is found dead. Is this a suicide, or an Act of Revenge?

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I guess I first considered myself a writer when I wrote Act of Murder, back in 1994 or so. The book wasn't published at the time, but I had the "juice" so I kept writing. I completed two additional novels after Act of Deception and Act of Revenge, Act of Negligence and Act of Fate. Now that the first three books are being published, I've gone back to writing about Doc Brady, and hopefully I'll see all of them in print. I've completed two new novels, and am working on the third, which would be the eighth in the series.

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 can't say that I write full time, although I am retired from my Orthopedic Surgery practice. I still play the piano, which has kept me somewhat sane all these years, and I am an avid golfer. So now I divide my time between my three hobbies, and juggle my daily schedule to accommodate all three.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I'm not sure this is a quirk, but I generally do not create an outline of the novel prior to writing. I mull around an idea in my head, think of a title that would fit well with "Act of,” sit down, and start typing. Sometimes the story line will flow, sometimes I back myself into a corner and have to work my way out by either changing my tack on a subject, or by creating a complete fabrication that is believable. That's the fun of writing. You don't like a character that you've created? Bam! They're gone! Too bad, so sad.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I grew up an only child in a very small town outside Waco, Texas, of very modest means. My mother was oldest of eight children, my dad the youngest of nine children. They grew up in the Depression, without an opportunity for college, so I was the first in the entire family to achieve that. Growing up my only real aspiration was to get out of town, and make my own life. I stumbled across the idea of going to medical school when I was a sophomore in college, when we used to sit around the dorm and watch the broadcast of lottery numbers of draftees for the Viet Nam War. As I remember, you had three guaranteed deferments back then: medical school, divinity school, or marriage. It was an easy choice for a kid making extra money by playing music. I didn't mind the idea of serving my country, I just wanted to serve when the timing was best for me. As it turned out, when I did get drafted, towards the end of medical school, the military discovered I had Rheumatic Fever with a heart murmur when I was twelve, and classified me as 4-F. All that worry for nothing.


Thanks for being here today!

Monday, April 27, 2020

Interview with children's author Kelly McInenly

Welcome, readers. Today’s special guest is children’s author Kelly McInenly. We’re chatting about the first three books in Little Milly and the Great Lakes series: Marj and the Medal, Peg and the Party Line, and Bess and the Boil.

During her virtual book tour, Kelly 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.

Kelly knew Little Milly Lake as Grandma Mill McInenly. The usually serious Mildred would occasionally surprise her granddaughter with tales of the fun and mischief that she and her five older sisters found growing up in the Maritimes in the early 1900s. The combination of little money or supervision, and a notoriously grumpy father, made for simple stories with just the right blend of silly and sweet.

Little Milly and the Great Lakes is Kelly’s first creative writing endeavor… she has been distracted by Little Mateo and Little Lucas.

Please share a little bit about your current release.
Little Milly and the Great Lakes is a six-book children’s series, of which the first three books have just been published. The stories are based on Little Milly and her five sisters, who grew up in the early 1900s on Canada’s east coast with little money or parental supervision.

What inspired you to write this book?
At first, I was inspired by how fun my grandmother’s childhood stories were, given how un-fun (sorry Grandma!) she was… she wasn’t born prim & proper with a perm??? When she passed away, I was inspired to capture the stories in writing, so our family would not forget them. It was not until my children were young readers – and I became aware of how strange and sassy made kids’ books had become - that I was finally inspired to publish the series as a sweeter, simpler option for parents.

Excerpt from Little Milly and the Great Lakes:
‘In a weathered slat house by the edge of the sea,
Lived Sergeant George Lake – Grump with a capital G

And his six little girls, all clever and silly:
Marj, Peg, Ene, Flo, Bess, and of course, Little Milly’

What exciting story are you working on next?
The three remaining Lake sisters will be up to some mischief in the next three books in the Little Milly series – Ene and the Ivey, Flo and the Fishermen and Milly and the Mail. Little Milly fans will be featured in the illustrations.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I won the local legion’s Remembrance Day Poetry contest when I was 12 years old. I received $40, which I made me a professional writer and funded some trips to the corner store.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your workday like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I don’t write full-time, but I do communicate full-time. I am a consultant specializing in Marketing, Communicating, Selling & Negotiating. I work with businesses across North America, which means a lot of time on the road. I find the time to write as part of my traveling routine, either in my transit time or in the quiet times before and after client sessions when there is no more room for business in my head and creativity feels like a hot bath for my brain.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I am distance runner, which means I can be running for hours at a time. I write many of my stories in my head to pass the time, then type them up when I get some computer time. That may be why I write in rhyme… the steady rhythm of my footsteps and heartbeat might influence me more than I realize!

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be an Advertising Executive… Angela Bower (heroine of ‘80s TV sitcom ‘Who’s the Boss?’) was my idol – smart, creative and glamorous. I also wanted to attend university so, since there were no degree programs for Advertising at the time, pursued my Bachelor of Commerce with a focus on Marketing. And dyed my hair blonde like Angela, of course.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
There is a bird hidden on each page of the Little Milly stories… kids love spotting them once they know to look for them… happy birdwatching!


Thank you for being a guest on my blog!
It was my pleasure!

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Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Interview with women's fiction writer Jessica Winters Mireles

Women’s fiction author Jessica Winters Mireles is here today to chat about her new romance, Lost in Oaxaca, a novel.

Born and raised in Santa Barbara, California, Jessica Winters Mireles holds a degree in piano performance from USC. After graduating, she began her career as a piano teacher and performer.

Four children and a studio of over forty piano students later, Jessica’s life changed drastically when her youngest daughter was diagnosed with leukemia at the age of two; she soon decided that life was too short to give up on her dreams of becoming a writer, and after five years of carving out some time each day from her busy schedule, she finished Lost in Oaxaca.

Jessica’s work has been published in GreenPrints and Mothering magazines. She also knows quite a bit about Oaxaca, as her husband is an indigenous Zapotec man from the highlands of Oaxaca and is a great source of inspiration. She lives with her husband and family in Santa Barbara, California.

Welcome, Jessica. Please tell us about your current release.
The title of my novel is Lost in Oaxaca. The story is about a piano teacher, who as a young pianist lost out on a concert career after an injury to her hand destroyed her ability to play. She now leads a solitary life teaching piano, and she has a star student: Graciela, the daughter of her mother’s Mexican housekeeper. Camille has been grooming the young Graciela for the career that she missed out on, and now Graciela, newly turned eighteen, has just won the grand prize in a piano competition, which means she gets to perform with the LA Philharmonic. Camille is ecstatic; if she can’t play herself, at least as Graciela’s teacher, she will finally get the recognition she deserves.

But there are only two weeks left before the concert, and Graciela has disappeared—gone back to her family’s village in the mountains of Oaxaca, Mexico. Desperate to bring Graciela back in time for the concert, Camille goes after her, but on the way there, a bus accident leaves her without any of her possessions. Alone and unable to speak the language, Camille is befriended by Alejandro, a Zapotec man who lives in LA but is from the same village as Graciela. Despite a contentious first meeting, Alejandro helps Camille navigate the rugged terrain and unfamiliar culture of Oaxaca, allowing her the opportunity to view the world in a different light—and perhaps find love in the process.

What inspired you to write this book?
Mostly, it was my career as a pianist and teacher that inspired me. I’d hate for my students to know this, but for decades, I’ve been writing stories in my head while teaching piano lessons. I’ve found that listening to music, even from a young child in the process of learning to play the piano, sparks great writing ideas. Through the years, I’ve also wondered how I would react if an injury to my hands prevented me from playing the piano, so I incorporated this idea into my novel, as well. I’m also a hopeless romantic, and adore a good love story. My novel was definitely inspired by my own love story: I’ve been married to the love of my life for 33 years. Our many trips to my husband’s hometown in Mexico have allowed me an incredible glimpse into the beautiful culture of Oaxaca, Mexico.

What exciting story are you working on next?
I have so many ideas right now, it’s difficult to decide what to do. I’m sure it will have to do with a middle-aged woman navigating some big life change!

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I’m a very late bloomer. As a child, I was a bookworm, and always loved to write. Looking back now, I realize that I was a very good writer all through school, but somehow told myself the story that I wasn’t good enough to pursue it professionally. I chose music instead. While a piano performance major at USC, I had the opportunity to take a creative writing class with T. C. Boyle, and fell in love with writing all over again. Unfortunately, I once again put my dreams on hold to get married, raise four children, and teach a studio of 40 piano students. When my youngest daughter was two, she was diagnosed with leukemia. After almost three years of chemotherapy, she was considered cured, and in a sense, I was cured, too. I decided that I would write again, no matter what. I began to allow a little time each day to write. I signed up for an adult education writing class, started a blog, and joined a bi-weekly writing group. The funny thing is that even though I have a novel coming out soon, it’s still difficult for me to refer to myself as a “writer.” Maybe when I have the next novel under my belt, I’ll own that title.

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 can’t write full time because I still have a large class of piano students and one teenage daughter still living at home. I do manage to squeeze in about 2-3 hours each day if I can. I would love to be able to write all day long!

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I love photography, and often will look through the photos I’ve taken with my phone to find inspiration to write. I believe that many writers are inspired by other types of creative expression. I also make up stories in my head about people I see on the street; I imagine what they looked like as children, and what their life experiences have been.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a famous concert pianist! And I wanted to be Nancy Drew.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
This may sound trite, but I want to say that it’s really never too late to fulfill one’s life dream. Sometimes it takes hitting bottom to make one realize that life is too short to ignore those deep desires! I didn’t start seriously writing until my late forties. I’m 58 now and am about to publish my first novel. If I can do it, anyone can do it.


Thanks for being my guest today!

Monday, April 20, 2020

Interview with writer Katie Nolan

Helping me kick off a new week is writer Katie Nolan. We’re chatting about her memoir, Confessions of a Hobo’s Daughter.

Welcome, Katie. Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
I was raised poor by a former maid and a former hobo. We lived in such a remote place in the Cascade mountains that, as my father stated, “the authorities would never think to look.” Originally, only an old logging road led up to the house where my parents settled, a house that was originally used as a goat shed and that had no indoor plumbing. I received my PhD in philosophy from SUNY Binghamton when I was fifty years old, and taught philosophy in Seattle until I retired. Recently, I experimented with off-the-grid living and taught myself how to build from pallets. I hug trees and have never met a 2x4 I didn't want to salvage. 

Please tell us about your current release.
Eight-plus years in the writing, Confessions of a Hobo's Daughter began as a re-telling of my father's story as a hobo and a fugitive, based upon stories he told me. Eventually, it seemed to demand a telling of my part in it, as his daughter. The story begins at home, a subsistence farm nestled on the west side of the Cascade mountains, where I grew up and where I helped my father with the farming. When I was a young woman, with Mt. St. Helens off in the distance, my father told me his terrible secret about how he once killed a man. He asked me to tell no one about that revelation, including my mother. I believe this strained my relationship with my mother and wondered whether keeping such a secret, even from my intimate relationships, contributed to them always ending in disaster.

I had come to a breaking point in my most recent long-term relationship, feeling particularly hurt when he refused to accept my gift of a pillow embroidered with, “Stay with me, the best is yet to come.” I was retiring to the Olympic Peninsula and he had no interest in joining me. With little planning, I bought a thirty-day train pass on Amtrak, taking my journals along, hoping to confront this past littered with failed relationships. Throughout this train trip, I gazed out the window wondering how my father had felt riding on the top of the train, a much more uncomfortable trip than the one I was on. I began to use my journals to write on the train, wrestling with my story and my father's story. I tried to meditate in my seat, discovering that it no longer brought a rather peaceful feeling but instead brought tears streaming down my cheeks. Embarrassed, I turned my face to the train windows, and gradually couldn't get myself to meditate, a scary moment because I thought meditation would solve all my problems. I didn't set out to write a book that would work as therapy, but eventually I did gain some insights that have helped me to move forward. As in my life, the book ends on a hopeful note, as my best friend Audrey encourages me to meditate in spite of the tears, and to pursue a connection with a fellow zen student and writer.

What inspired you to write this book?
I've always struggled with my father's past as a fugitive and as a hobo. Perhaps I wanted people to understand that so-called criminal behavior can be environmental, that is, we would respond similarly in that situation. Thus, I always wince upon hearing, “You've done the crime, you should do the time.”

In my father's case, he did kill a man but it was in self-defense. But who would believe it was self-defense when the man he killed was a prison guard? I wanted to honor my father's life and those men like him, who were caught in the terrible injustices of the Great Depression, during which men were imprisoned for having less than a dollar in their pocket via vagrancy laws. They were then put on chain gangs and delivered free labor, all the while beatings and “killing for sport” of prisoners by guards was condoned, or at least ignored.

I recall very few statements by others’ word for word, but I recall vividly my father stating, “The guards was killing us one by one.” Each night the men were crowded into a cage that looked just like the old-fashioned circus cages that were once used for transporting animals. I tried to capture this experience with the following passage, which begins with my father's bumming around buddy, Harry, shouting, “Let's go!”  My father had just killed the guard so they could make their escape.

Everyone in the cage who could still move came tumbling out. Those with gangrene from the long months of the chain cutting into their ankles looked on with disinterest. The rest began running down the dirt road, with me and Harry in the lead. When we heard the dogs coming after us, we ducked into the swamp. No one followed, believing the swamp, with its quicksand and adders would be sure death...When we could no longer hear the dogs, me and Harry sunk down in the mud.

Perhaps not surprisingly my father taught me that being happy was more worthy of our attention than living to make a buck. While I was reasonably content teaching philosophy, I felt like something was missing in my life. A friend mentioned that they thought with all my activism for social justice (stop police brutality, peace marches, environmental issues, taking students on trips to rebuild New Orleans), I had forgotten to live my life. I was struck by this, and it was certainly true that I had essentially worked the equivalent of two full-time jobs, rushing from teaching to sponsoring student clubs, to activist meetings, with little space between them. It was rare that I had an evening to myself. So retiring and dropping all of these activities so I could write the book, I think was inspired by my wanting to reverse that condition of “forgetting to live my life.” I honestly didn't realize at the time just how much the writing of the book would turn out to help me.

What exciting story are you working on next?
My present book, Confessions of a Hobo's Daughter, ends with multiple insights, including those regarding affairs of the heart, but one of the aha moments is that for some of us, meditation alone will not bring peace or enlightenment. Spiritual growth may also require a Western-style therapeutic approach. So my next book takes off from this. It is a travel/spiritual quest memoir, tentatively titled Path of Doubt, that includes my facing an uprising in Taiwan, living in a Tibetan monastery in Seattle, and facing my fear of snakes in Japan, all in an effort to work with Soto-shu and Rinzai zen masters. I pose the question to myself as to why I am stuck on the spiritual path and hope to find some answers to that question, and others, through continued research and by interviewing some spiritually realized masters and therapists.

In the book after that, tentatively titled Building Solitude, I wish to explore what it means to be a woman builder. I want to address how I became literally entranced with power tools, once I overcame my fear of them. I am intrigued by Bachelard's Poetics of Space, and I plan to interview women builders to inform my own phenomenology of building. I love to build in solitude and find great peace as I become one with the tools and materials. What does it mean for women to build? Why have I been drawn to building since I was a child?

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
When Hedgebrook awarded me a three-week writing retreat, based upon some gritty autobiographical poems I had written (now published as Zoot Suit Redux, an ibook that includes many WTO poems), I had some time and space to focus on writing for the first time. I couldn't believe I was accepted and I was so nurtured as a writer there! That made me believe I could write.

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 don't write full-time. I work part-time jobs painting and plastering, a way to supplement my retirement income. I've also recently bought a tiny house, a fixer-upper, and spend a lot of time on repairs. That along with removing a quarter acre backyard of six foot blackberry bushes by hand has kept me pretty busy! I tend to write more in the winter, setting aside a couple hours each morning. But I do most of my writing in marathon sessions at writing retreats, and was able to finish this book at Hypatia-in-the-Woods, a marvelous cottage in the woods near Shelton, Washington, where writers are sponsored for various lengths of time by the organization.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I like to write in public spaces, including on the train, in coffee shops, and in diners during their slow times. I find it encouraging when folks at nearby tables ask me questions about what I’m writing, then show an interest in the topic.  So my thanks goes out to other customers at Farm’s Reach Cafe in Chimacum, Washington, who cheered me on.  Early on, while living off-the-grid, I wrote in my car with a long orange extension cord snaking out the window to an outdoor plug at a local community center. So thank you to Coyle Community Center for being so generous with your electricity!

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I loved growing up on a farm, so naturally I wanted to be a farmer's wife and live out a “Cheaper by the Dozen” type of life. It was the 1950s so I couldn't imagine being the farmer! When no flourishing farmer came to court me, I changed to wanting to be a missionary nurse. Now, of course, I understand the colonizing attitude implicit in that idea. But the missionary nurse idea does still fit with the ongoing urge I've had since childhood to live simply in a hut in a forest. I really have no idea why that urge is there.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Writing Confessions of a Hobo's Daughter pushed me to rethink my own ideas on prisons. Because I had filed away my father's story into a memory vault that was safely distant until I wrote the book, I hadn't fully confronted what it meant to put a ball and chain on a human being or to put someone in a cage. Strangely, given my father's history, I once stated to a prison abolition activist that “We still have to incarcerate people who have killed someone.” I'm startled to think how I had occluded the fact that my father had killed a man. Now, I believe that no human being should be put in a cage. 

Thanks for joining me today, Katie.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Interview with debut legal thriller author Michael McAuliffe

Today’s special guest is debut author Michael McAuliffe to chat about his legal thriller, No Truth Left To Tell.

Michael McAuliffe has practiced law for over 30 years. He has served as an assistant United States attorney and as a federal civil rights prosecutor at the Department of Justice. In 2008, Michael was elected as the state attorney for Palm Beach County leading an office of 125 prosecutors. After leaving public service in 2012, Michael was the general counsel for a global company. He also has been a partner at a major law firm, a senior lecturing fellow at Duke University’s School of Law and an adjunct professor at the College of William & Mary’s School of Law. In 1993-94, Michael was a CEP fellow and visiting law professor in the Czech Republic.

Michael is an avid alpine mountaineer having climbed and reached the summits of Aconcagua, Denali, Kilimanjaro, Island Peak in the Himalayas, and many other mountains.

He and his wife Robin, a US district judge, have three children, and live in Florida and Massachusetts.

Welcome, Michael. Please tell us about your current release.
No Truth Left To Tell is a story about the feds trying to stop the Ku Klux Klan from starting a new race war in the South in the 1990s. Adrien Rush, a young, ambitious federal prosecutor from Washington, DC, is sent to Lynwood, Louisiana, to work on the Klan investigation with Lee Mercer, an experienced and skeptical black FBI agent. They must solve a series of cross burnings targeting the town’s minorities before the violence escalates. Their case becomes compromised when the feds realize a local police detective employed his own brand of justice to extract the confession from the culprit, who is the grand dragon of the Klan. The inescapable collision of right and wrong, of white and black, has deadly consequences.

The novel is about violent racist extremism and police brutality in America and the high cost of protecting the rights of us all.

What inspired you to write this book?
Early in my legal career, I was a federal civil rights prosecutor in the Criminal Section of the Civil Rights Division at the Department of Justice. While in the section, I travelled around the country investigating and prosecuting violent extremists, corrupt law officials (many in law enforcement) and human traffickers. The novel is loosely based on those experiences including a case in which I prosecuted thirteen members of the Klan in Louisiana and their grand dragon. Also, many of the victims of racial violence I met while working as a federal prosecutor showed great courage and resolve in the face of terror. For decades, I wanted to create a fictional world that reflected their very real and inspiring bravery and determination.

Excerpt from No Truth Left to Tell:

Nettie Wynn awoke from a deep slumber that night to the siren calls of the fire engine. She grasped the corner post of the full-sized bed and lifted her small frame. She shuffled toward the offending noise, and as she drew back the heavy floral curtains, the cycling lights sprinted into the room and around the walls. She reached out and tried to touch the truck’s folded ladder, but her hand hit the windowpane instead.

With her sleep-blurred vision, Wynn thought she saw a tree on fire in her yard. The tree’s impending demise would be yet another unexpected loss for her. Just last month, Shirley, her neighbor of thirty years, had stopped visiting after she was moved into a nursing home. And six months ago, despite a legion of dedicated customers and decades of service, the grocer down on the corner had closed his tiny shop. The new economy didn’t have any room for him, he had said.

She stared out the window for the ten thousandth time but didn’t, or couldn’t, easily see that she was looking at the branded expression of hate. She wasn’t made that way. So she stood awhile longer before she recognized the true nature of the spectacle before her.

Oh, my—Lord, help me.

(From Chapter Two, page 16, of No Truth Left To Tell.)

What exciting story are you working on next?
I am working on two new stories. One involves the same protagonist in No Truth Left To Tell, Adrien Rush, battling a sophisticated and brutal group of human traffickers. The second story is about a quiet Czech professor who becomes a war hero while fighting in the free Czech army based in London during WWII. After the war, he must escape again when the communists take all his property in 1948 and try to arrest him as a subversive. The velvet revolution creates the chance for professor to return to his native Bohemia after over forty years in exile. He must battle the old communists––many of whom who are now the new democrats––to recover his property and to discover the life that he might have led.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I write professionally and have for thirty years. Some form of storytelling, or at least advocacy through communication, is a part of what I do and who I am as an attorney. However, I was humbled by the process of writing fiction which I started in 2016. I only recently became comfortable accepting the label “writer” without it being tethered to the legal profession.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your workday like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I balance writing with teaching law school on a part-time basis and also practicing law. I write nearly every day even if for only an hour.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I wake up during the night with an idea or phrase relating to an ongoing writing project. I grab my iPhone on the nightstand, and I type in whatever has just surfaced from the creative recesses in my head. I email the typed version of a scribble to myself (often accompanied by a short grunt or other verbal confirmation of my latest inspiration and the swish of the apple email being both sent and received by me). My wife doesn’t always appreciate this ritual, but the dog at the foot of the bed seems to get it.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
An astronaut and a father. At least I accomplished the more important one.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Keep reading stories and sharing them. Sharing stories isn’t just an act of generosity, it’s also an exercise of self-preservation because we all need common experiences (real and imagined) to thrive.


Thanks for stopping by today, Michael.

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Interview with novelist Kathryn Schleich

My special guest today is writer Kathryn Schleich. She’s chatting with me about her new crime thriller, Salvation Station.

Kathryn Schleich has been a writer for thirty years. Her most recent publications include the short story “Reckless Acts,” featured in After Effects: A Zimbell House Anthology, and her story “Grand Slam,” published in The Acentos Review in May 2017. She is the author of two editions of the book Hollywood and Catholic Women: Virgins, Whores, Mothers, and Other Images, which evolved from her master’s thesis. Her guest posts have been featured on the Women On Writing blog, The Muffin, and she writes for the Amherst H. Wilder Foundation’s volunteer newsletter. When she’s not writing, Schleich is likely volunteering in the education and arts communities in the Twin Cities, where she lives. Friends, family, good food, wine, and traveling are important aspects of her life. Salvation Station is her first novel.

Welcome, Kathryn. Please tell us about your current release.
Salvation Station is a crime thriller published by She Writes Press.

When committed female police captain Linda Turner, haunted by the murders of two small children and their pastor father, becomes obsessed with solving the harrowing case, she finds herself wrapped up in a mission to expose a fraudulent religious organization and an unrepentant killer.

Despite her years of experience investigating homicides for the force, Captain Linda Turner is haunted by the murders of the Hansen family. The two small children, clothed in tattered Disney pajamas, were buried with their father, a pastor, in the flower garden behind a church parsonage in Lincoln, Nebraska. But Mrs. Hansen is nowhere to be found—and neither is the killer.

In St. Louis, the televangelist Ray Williams is about to lose his show—until one of his regular attendees approaches him with an idea that will help him save it. Despite his initial misgivings, Ray agrees to give it a try. He can’t deny his attraction to this woman, and besides, she’d assured him the plan is just—God gave her the instructions in a dream.

Multiple story lines entwine throughout this compelling mystery, delving into the topics of murder, religious faith, and the inherent dangers in blindly accepting faith as truth. While Reverend Williams is swept up in his newfound success and plans for his wedding, Captain Turner can only hope that she and her team will catch the Hansens’ cunning killer—before more bodies surface.


“Salvation Station is your next must-read mystery. Kathryn Schleich perfectly blends together a taut tale of murder in the church. A devilishly good tale.” —CARA LOCKWOOD, USA Today best-selling author of I Do (But I Don’t)

“Salvation Station is an edge-of-your-seat, page-turning thriller that might possibly leave you unable to sleep. This book is what we need in the world right now—a killer we can hate and a model cop we can get behind, showing us that women are as fierce as men and then some.” —MARGO DILL, Managing Editor, WOW! Women On Writing

What inspired you to write this book?
Two specific instances inspired Salvation Station. First, I worked with law enforcement trying to solve a suspicious death in my family (unfortunately we didn’t, too much time had lapsed). But I was fascinated with how the police actually work. And second, I was married to a Catholic deacon over 20 years. During that time, I witnessed first-hand a very dark side to religion. I’m not just speaking about hypocrisy among the ‘faithful’, but the often disturbing elements of lying, fraud, and taking advantage of others. Add to that the sex abuse scandal within Church. Other faiths have sexual outrages, but generally other religions are not the immense hierarchy the Catholic Church is and don’t merit the same amount of attention. What all these examples have in common I think is the inconceivable breach of trust, a major theme in the book.

Excerpt from Salvation Station:
His voice was as smooth as good Kentucky sipping whiskey, the southern lilt forceful yet refined. Among the crowd, a few responded, “Amen!” as the Reverend Ray Williams, his body six foot three inches of sinewy muscle, strode across the cramped stage on a mission to save and assessed his sparse flock. The set was tightly confined; on TV, the lighting, color, and camera angles would give the illusion of spaciousness.

“Remember what the Bible tells us in John, chapter eight, verse twelve. Jesus proclaims, ‘I am the light of the world! Whoever follows Me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life!’ Believe in Him and I tell you, brothers and sisters, all who accept Jesus Christ will have everlasting life!”

Rev. Ray had done this work long enough to know everything looked better on television, except the numbers. For five years, he’d courted an audience from a low-power cable TV station in St. Louis, confident his message would attract followers looking for salvation. A couple thousand worshippers invited The Road to Calvary into their homes, but it wasn’t enough. He had spent more of his own money than he cared to admit; however, expenses kept rising, and there was relentless competition for viewers, members, and revenue.

Even now, Ray was conflicted in his decision to close what had seemed a promising venture. He’d never lost his enthusiasm or the feeling he was indeed proclaiming the word of God and news of salvation. Ray knew everyone was a sinner, including himself. He hoped The Road to Calvary would spur people to rise above their sins, accept the Good News, and find the true meaning of Christ in their lives. The reverend smiled warmly at his audience and motioned for them to stand. “Let us share our belief in Jesus Christ by praying together our prayer of deliverance.”

The congregation rose to their feet and repeated the words they had come to know by heart: “Lord Jesus, I believe in You. I believe You died for my sins and rose again to save me from a world mired in sin . . .”

At the prayer’s end, a cheerful male voice yelled off stage left, “That’s a wrap!”

The prayerful opened their eyes. Ray bid his flock goodbye. “Thank you for joining us, and see you next week for another taping.”

What exciting story are you working on next?
Currently, I have two short stories I’m seeking to publish. Later in 2020 or early 2021 I will rerelease Shades of Darkness, Shades of Grace, a novel which I published in 2008 under a pen name. It’s primarily a domestic thriller based on true events. The reviews have been so positive that I decided to relaunch the book for a larger audience. Lastly, I’m half-way through writing a mystery set in a rural college town.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I really considered myself a writer when I wrote my master’s thesis in the early 1990s on the image of Catholic women in Hollywood films. That evolved into my first book, Hollywood and Catholic Women: Virgins, Whores, Mothers, and Other Images. It’s essentially a college textbook which has been used around the country.

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 have a chronic illness, so often it depends on how I’m feeling. My goal is to write every day, but it’s not just my own pieces I work on. I’m very involved in volunteering with a local foundation (the Amherst H. Wilder Foundation in St. Paul, Minnesota) and I do quite a bit of writing articles on their programs and amazing volunteers for their newsletter and/or website. I also have my blog and other volunteer activities. 

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I have to be by myself, with no noise or other distractions. When I see people happily writing away on their laptop in a coffee shop, I can’t for the life of me figure out how they do it.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A nurse, like my mom, Louise. There was only one problem – I couldn’t stand the sight of blood!

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Thank you so much for featuring me on your blog, Lisa!