Showing posts with label mystery. Show all posts
Showing posts with label mystery. Show all posts

Thursday, December 6, 2018

"Warlight" by Michael Ondaatje

by Michael Ondaatje

Warlight by Michael Ondaatje

I’ve just joined a book club! Each month, I’ll post my review and the opinions of my fellow book clubbers. This month, we read Warlight by Michael Ondaatje, which was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2018.
Next pick is Bridge of Clay by Markus Zusak. Why not read along with us? Our next book club meeting is on 31 January, and I will post shortly after that.

From the internationally acclaimed, best-selling author of The English Patient: a mesmerizing new novel that tells a dramatic story set in the decade after World War II through the lives of a small group of unexpected characters and two teenagers whose lives are indelibly shaped by their unwitting involvement.
In a narrative as beguiling and mysterious as memory itself - shadowed and luminous at once - we read the story of fourteen-year-old Nathaniel, and his older sister, Rachel. In 1945, just after World War II, they stay behind in London when their parents move to Singapore, leaving them in the care of a mysterious figure named The Moth. They suspect he might be a criminal, and they grow both more convinced and less concerned as they come to know his eccentric crew of friends: men and women joined by a shared history of unspecified service during the war, all of whom seem, in some way, determined now to protect, and educate (in rather unusual ways) Rachel and Nathaniel.
But are they really what and who they claim to be? And what does it mean when the siblings' mother returns after months of silence without their father, explaining nothing, excusing nothing? A dozen years later, Nathaniel begins to uncover all that he didn't know and understand in that time, and it is this journey - through facts, recollection, and imagination - that he narrates in this masterwork from one of the great writers of our time.

In 1945 our parents went away and left us in the care of two men who may have been criminals. We were living on a street in London called Ruvigny Gardens, and one morning either our mother or our father suggested that after breakfast the family have a talk, and they told us that they would be leaving us and going to Singapore for a year. Not too long, they said, but it would not be a brief trip either. We would of course be well cared for in their absence. I remember our father was sitting on one of those uncomfortable iron garden chairs as he broke the news, while our mother, in a summer dress just behind his shoulder, watched how we responded. After a while she took my sister Rachel’s hand and held it against her waist, as if she could give it warmth.
Neither Rachel nor I said a word. We stared at our father, who was expanding on the details of their flight on the new Avro Tudor I, a descendant of the Lancaster bomber, which could cruise at more than three hundred miles an hour. They would have to land and change planes at least twice before arriving at their destination. He explained he had been promoted to take over the Unilever office in Asia, a step up in his career. It would be good for us all. He spoke seriously and our mother turned away at some point to look at her August garden. After my father had finished talking, seeing that I was confused, she came over to me and ran her fingers like a comb through my hair.
I was fourteen at the time, and Rachel nearly sixteen, and they told us we would be looked after in the holidays by a guardian, as our mother called him. They referred to him as a colleague. We had already met him—we used to call him “The Moth,” a name we had invented. Ours was a family with a habit for nicknames, which meant it was also a family of disguises. Rachel had already told me she suspected he worked as a criminal.
The arrangement appeared strange, but life still was haphazard and confusing during that period after the war; so what had been suggested did not feel unusual. We accepted the decision, as children do, and The Moth, who had recently become our third-floor lodger, a humble man, large but moth-like in his shy movements, was to be the solution. Our parents must have assumed he was reliable. As to whether The Moth’s criminality was evident to them, we were not sure.
[Want more? Click below to read a longer excerpt.]

Praise for the Book
“Our book of the year – and maybe of Ondaatje's career” ~ Daily Telegraph Books of the Year
“A novel of shadowy brilliance.” ~ The Times
“Fiction as rich, as beautiful, as melancholy as life itself, written in the visionary language of memory.” ~ Observer
“Ondaatje brilliantly threads the mysteries and disguises and tangled loyalties and personal yearnings of the secret world ... and has constructed something of real emotional and psychological heft, delicate melancholy and yet, frequently, page-turning plottiness. I haven’t read a better novel this year.” ~ Telegraph
“[A] haunting, brilliant novel from Ondaatje … Mesmerizing from the first sentence, rife with poignant insights and satisfying subplots, this novel about secrets and loss may be Ondaatje’s best work yet.” ~ Publishers Weekly
“A lyrical mystery that plays out in the shadow of World War II … Ondaatje’s shrewd character study plays out in a smart, sophisticated drama, one worth the long wait for fans of wartime intrigue.” ~ Kirkus

Book Clubbers’ Thoughts
“We’re so lucky we didn’t live through any of that. My parents are both English and I’ve heard stories of what they went through. My grandmother had to ‘go away’ during the war and didn’t come back until ten years later. When she died, we found assorted passports and other interesting things. She may have played a role similar to Nathaniel and Rachel’s mother.” ~ Denise
“I thought the greyhound trading and low-level criminality was an interesting aspect.” ~ Jan
“It would make a great movie. It’s an engaging book because it makes you think. It was a really interesting way of telling the story. Nathaniel had to infer what happened to his mother. You never really find out what happened to everyone.” ~ Kerrie
“I liked the historical aspect of the story and learning about the difficulties the characters endured.” ~ Kerry
“I read Nancy Wake’s biography and was interested to compare it to this book. In both books, everyone only knew the part they had to play in the war effort. There was no sharing of information. Warlight is a sad book with many layers. To Nathaniel and Rachel, their mother leaving them was worse than if she had died.” ~ Marie-Louise
“I didn’t really get into it. I thought it lacked emotional depth.” ~ Maryann
Conclusion: generally positive reviews.

My Review
I got this book on loan from the library.

By Lynda Dickson
In 1945, just after World War II, fourteen-year-old Nathaniel and his sixteen-year-old sister Rachel are left in the care of their mysterious boarder when their parents move to Singapore for their father’s new job. In their parents’ absence, Nathaniel and Rachel live a seemingly idyllic life, full of eccentric characters, illicit adventures, and secret romances. But all is not as it seems, and danger is lurking just around the corner. Later, as an adult, Nathaniel takes a job with the Foreign Office, where he tries to uncover the secrets of his mother’s wartime past and learns more than he bargained for.
The novel begins with a great opening line:
“In 1945 our parents went away and left us in the care of two men who may have been criminals.”
What follows is a series of vignettes describing the incidents that shape Nathaniel’s life. His childhood stories are recounted by an adult Nathaniel in the manner of a memoir, complete with lapses of memory and the inability to recall certain details.
“You return to that earlier time armed with the present, and no matter how dark that world was, you do not leave it unlit. You take your adult self with you. It is not to be a reliving, but a rewitnessing.”
When he later attempts to piece together the puzzle which is his mother’s life, it’s interesting to see how he interprets these events differently with the benefit of hindsight. Seemingly insignificant incidents from his childhood - such as the radio program his mother listens to, or the route he travels on through the city – take on a whole new meaning when new information comes to light.
“We order our lives with barely held stories. As if we have been lost in a confusing landscape, gathering what was invisible and unspoken […] sewing it all together in order to survive, incomplete …”
Nathaniel also tells us stories about his mother and the people she was involved with – things that he could not possibly know.
“I had not been told anything, but […] I know how to fill in a story from a grain of sand or a fragment of discovered truth. In retrospect the grains of sand had always been there …”
Throughout the book, the author reveals the depth of his research, giving us a fascinating insight into the day-to-day life of the working class, as well as glimpses into the secret world of wartime espionage. This charming coming-of-age story morphs into a spy mystery and an ode to those unsung heroes of the war.
“There were so many like her, who were content in the modesty of their wartime skills.”
It is also a poignant reflection on how our lives are determined by the things that happen to us in our youth. Nathaniel is very much a product of his unorthodox upbringing.
“What I am now was formed by whatever happened to me then, not by what I have achieved, but by how I got here.”
I just wish we had learned more about Rachel and the impact that these same events had on her life.
Warnings: sexual references, coarse language, sex scenes.

Some of My Favorite Lines
“Nothing lasts. Not even literary or artistic fame protects worldly things around us.”
“I sat silent on the floor, listening to this fairness of sharing I already knew existed nowhere else in the world, which could occur only in dreams.”
“In youth we are not so much embarrassed by the reality of our situation as fearful others might discover and judge it.”
“We passed industrial buildings, their lights muted, faint as stars, as if we were in a time capsule of the war years when blackouts and curfews had been in effect, when there was just warlight and only blind barges were allowed to move along this stretch of river.”
“I think it was becoming clear that it was not just my mother’s past that had become buried and anonymous. I felt I too had disappeared. I had lost my youth.”
“She was unchanged, still constantly new.”
“He’d been an adventurer, and now I stood there, claustrophobic within his life.”
“We lived through a time when events that appeared far-flung were neighbours.”

About the Author
Michael Ondaatje
Michael Ondaatje is the author of six previous novels, a memoir, a nonfiction book on film, and several books of poetry. The English Patient won the Booker Prize; Anil's Ghost won the Irish Times International Fiction Prize, the Giller Prize, and the Prix Médicis. Born in Sri Lanka, Michael Ondaatje now lives in Toronto.


Monday, November 26, 2018

"Mrs. Odboddy: And Then There Was a Tiger" by Elaine Faber

Mrs. Odboddy: And Then There Was a Tiger
(Mrs. Odboddy Mysteries Book 3)
by Elaine Faber

Mrs. Odboddy: And Then There Was a Tiger (Odboddy Mysteries Book 3) by Elaine Faber

Mrs. Odboddy: Hometown Patriot by Elaine FaberMrs. Odboddy: Undercover Courier by Elaine Faber

Mrs. Odboddy: And Then There Was a Tiger is currently on tour with Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours. The tour stops here today for a guest post by the author, an excerpt, and a giveaway. Please be sure to visit the other tour stops as well.

While the “tiger of war” rages across the Pacific during WWII, eccentric, elderly Agnes Odboddy, “fights the war from the home front”. Her patriotic duties are interrupted when she is accused of the Wilkey’s Market burglary.
A traveling carnival with a live tiger joins the parishioner’s harvest fair at The First Church of the Evening Star and Everlasting Light. Accused again when counterfeit bills are discovered at the carnival, and when the war bond money goes missing, Agnes sets out to restore her reputation and locate the money. Her attempts lead her into harm’s way when she discovers a friend’s betrayal and even more about carnival life than she bargained for.
Granddaughter Katherine’s turbulent love triangle with a doctor and an FBI agent rivals Agnes’s own on-again, off-again relationship with Godfrey.
In Faber’s latest novel, your favorite quirky character, Mrs. Odboddy, prevails against injustice and faces unexpected challenges ... and then There Was a Tiger!

Excerpt from Chapter One
“What in tarnation is all that mess on the front porch?” A tattered shoebox leaned against the newel post beside the front step. Clumps of string lay amidst more shredded paper on the porch.
Agnes switched off the motor of her 1930 Model A Ford. She pulled on the hand brake, jammed her silver chopsticks firmly into the bun on the back of her hennaed hair, and stepped out of the car.
Shreds of brown paper skittered across the lawn. Her frown deepened as she picked up pieces of cardboard and string.
Agnes Agatha Odboddy, in big bold letters, was scribbled across the middle of the brown wrapping paper. She flipped the shoebox over. An offensive odor wafted up from inside. “What the devil…”
Agnes glanced toward the porch and noticed the front door standing ajar. “Jumping Jehoshaphat.” Her granddaughter, Katherine, must have forgotten to lock it when she took their ward, Maddie, to school this morning.
She pushed open the front door, and peeked inside. “Good gravy!” Pillows–askew on the sofa. Magazines–scattered across the rug. Remnants of her grandmother’s vase speckled the hearth.
“Oh, my stars. We’ve been burgled.” Agnes rushed through the living room and into the kitchen. Breakfast coffee puddled in the middle of the table. A cup lay shattered in the sink. A kitchen chair lay sideways on the linoleum floor.
A scuffling sound came from the back bedroom. Agnes spun around. Was someone in there, ransacking her jewelry box? Should she run back out the front door? Agnes Odboddy, self-appointed scourge of the underworld–run for cover? Not on your tintype!
She grabbed a rolling pin from the drawer, the weapon of choice for a woman of a certain age, planning to sneak up on the thief, crack his head, and bring him to his cowardly knees.
Before she had taken three steps, a rat barreled out of her bedroom and down the hall. Agnes jumped back. “Yikes!”
The spindly-tailed rodent raced into the living room and scrambled up the flowered drapes to the top of the curtain rod. Ling-Ling, a feline nemesis in camo-gray, followed.
Merciful Heavens. A measly rodent? Agnes sent the rolling pin flying. It hit the wall, barely missing the front window, and clattered to the floor.
Rrowww! Ling-Ling clawed her way up the curtain, knocking a table lamp to the floor. Thud! The fringed shade spun off the lamp and rolled toward the front door. Down came the rod with a crash, as the rat dropped to the floor and raced out the front door with the Ling-Ling, the Siamese avenger three leaps behind.
Agnes shook her finger. “Ling-Ling. Bad girl. No! No…” What was she saying? “Go get her, girl.”
Agnes stepped onto the porch and put her hand to her eyes in time to see the pair racing up the street, headed toward The First Church of the Evening Star and Everlasting Light. She checked her watch. Yep, folks should just about be arriving for the afternoon prayer meeting. That’ll give them something to pray about. She stepped back into the house to assess the damage.
Never in her seventy-plus years had she seen such destruction. What unknown scoundrel hated her enough to leave a rat-filled shoebox addressed to her on the porch?
Agnes pondered the situation. Ling-Ling must come upon the shoebox and smelled the rodent through the wrapping paper. She could almost see her determined Siamese killing-machine scratching and kicking the box until she had shredded a hole big enough for the rat to escape, dash through the open door, and into the house. The image sent shivers up Agnes’s spine.
Ling-Ling would have followed with murder in her crossed blue eyes and the chase ensued. Not even an air raid from the Flying Tigers could have left her living room and kitchen in such a mess. No telling how the rest of the house would have suffered if Agnes hadn’t returned just at that moment.
What if Ling-Ling hadn’t found the box and taken matters into her own paws? Why, she might have cut the string herself, opened the box, and the rat would have leaped into her face. Maybe that was exactly the sender’s intention.
[Want more? Click below to read a longer excerpt.]

Praise for the Book
“The story does keep you on your toes, and you never see what is about to happen, and the setting is WWII, and even Mrs. Roosevelt is back. A don’t miss read that will make you want more once that last page is turned!” ~ Maureen’s Musings
“If you love wacky but fun adventures, this is the series for you. The historical detail adds additional depth.” ~ Laura’s Interests
“From page one, Faber's lively writing style and authentic language capture the mood of the 1940s and pull me along as a helpless captive to this engaging story. Highly recommended for entertainment value!” ~ June Gillam
“If you've not read this author before this is a must to pick up. She captivates you from the beginning and you just cannot put the book down. Some surprises in it you'll love, too.” ~ Ruth Powers
“With Agnes, there's never a dull page. Expect unceasing entertainment!” ~ Ellen Cardwell

Guest Post by the Author
Expectations of the Reader
A reader spends four to five hours immersed in a book from cover to cover. If the story is well written, for a time, she forgets her personal life. She sees herself either traveling alongside the main character or, if the writer is talented enough, the reader ‘becomes’ the character as the story moves forward.
She may wish to be transported into a romance where she feels loved and cherished. She may be a frustrated crime fighter who receives satisfaction from following clues and perhaps solving a mystery before the end of the book. She may hope to experience the thrills and chills of a thriller-suspense novel. Or, perhaps, to experience life in a different world or a different time in history. She may hope to learn more of the traditions of people from other lands or other cultures, presented in a way she can identify with.
How do these various types of book come about? Does the reader ever think about what was involved before this story could magically appear on the pages and land on a book store shelf for the benefit and pleasure of our reader?
Unless a reader is an author herself, it is doubtful that she could conceive of the time and energy that goes into writing a novel – plotting, writing, researching, editing, reviewing, formatting, and finally to cover design and publication. Each step takes hours and hours and hours.
The author must first come up with a premise for the story. Some authors outline the entire novel before they ever put fingers to keyboard. Others have a general idea of the story line, and let the story evolve as they write, figuring how to bring it all together in a cohesive manner. She thinks about the characters and the story line most days and often into the night. Every little thread must come together in the end. It is essential to keep the suspense or momentum throughout the middle, lest we lose the attention of the reader. She must keep each reaction and comment true to the personality of the characters as she envisions how they might respond to a certain event. She must make the reader understand the motivation and resulting actions or comments of the character through the dialogue.
The end must make sense and, preferably, be a satisfying conclusion to the reader, leaving her wishing there was another hundred pages in the story. She is left wondering where the sequel can be found, if there is one. In ideal circumstances, the characters have become real enough that she can almost see them as next-door neighbors or someone in her circle of friends.
What a challenge and what a victory when a reader comes back and says, “When is the next book coming out?” That is the reader’s expectation and the goal authors seek. That is the highest compliment.

About the Author
Elaine Faber
Elaine Faber lives in Northern California with her husband and two feline companions. She is a member of Sisters in Crime, California Cat Writers, and Northern California Publishers and Authors. She volunteers with the American Cancer Society Discovery Shop. She enjoys speaking on author panels, sharing highlights of her novels. Her short stories have appeared in national magazines and multiple anthologies. She has published seven books. In addition to the Mrs. Odboddy Mysteries Elaine writes the Black Cat Mysteries.

Enter the tour-wide giveaway for a chance to win a $50 Amazon gift card.


Wednesday, November 21, 2018

"Ginger Snapped" by Chloe Sunstone

Ginger Snapped
(Ginger Gibson Book 1)
by Chloe Sunstone

Ginger Snapped (Ginger Gibson Book 1) by Chloe Sunstone

Author Chloe Sunstone stops by today for an interview and to share a guest post and an excerpt from her latest thriller, Ginger Snapped. You can also enter our exclusive giveaway for a chance to win a signed paperback copy of the book.

How does an amazing professional opportunity descend into a living nightmare?
Carefree Ginger's motto of “Work Hard, Play Harder” shapes her life. So, when her husband, Jake, gets a job offer on the other side of the country, she is up for the adventure.
But after Jake accepts the promotion, nothing is as expected. While Ginger remains in Cleveland to sell their house, she is plagued by strange prank calls, premonition-like nightmares, and the feeling that she is being watched. Is Jake's new job putting her in danger?
Unfortunately, she ignores her intuition and soon finds herself face to face with a ruthless killer. Trapped in a deadly world of corporate corruption and murderous greed, she must overcome her own fears and rely on her wits if she plans to survive.
Although the first in the Ginger Gibson series, this is a standalone book.

Oh No! I’m back. I am surrounded by inky black nothingness. The air is musty…damp, my nostrils fill with the smell of dank basement. Like in a haunted house, filled with saws and chains and bloody hooks, this is the perfect place for any psycho to hide his tools of the crazy trade. I’m trembling, from the all-encompassing fear, eating at every cell in my body.
Where am I? My fingers search out for clues. Beneath me is a thin mattress on a hard surface. My head rests on a concrete-like pillow. My breathing escalates as the panic rises in my chest. I open my mouth to scream, but only a muted croak escapes. Over the thunder of my pounding heart, I hear a booming crack, a gunshot. I recognize the sound from a trip to the range with Jake years earlier.
I swing my legs over the side of my perch, thinking in my blind panic to run even though I cannot see. I can’t ignore this intense urge to flee. But my impulse is thwarted by an unknown restraint trapping my left arm, a rope? Panic has me in its grip. I gasp for air to fill my lungs but produce only whimpers and muted pleas.
A loud screech reverberates through the darkness. Rats? Oh, please, no rats! Could this get any worse? Hysterical, I yank relentlessly on the rope tethering me. With each tug, the line cuts deeper into my skin. My arm warms as blood seeps from the gouges, coating my hand and fingers.
Behind me, the sound of footsteps startles me. Before I can turn to confront my visitor, I feel the rush of air preceding the impact to the back of my head. A blaze of bright stars then, a different blackness envelopes me.
[Want more? Click below to read a longer excerpt.]

Interview With the Author
Chloe Sunstone joins me today to discuss her new book, Ginger Snapped.
For what age group do you recommend your book?
My books are murder mysteries, so all readers must be over eighteen years of age.
What sparked the idea for this book?
My latest thriller, Ginger Snapped, was inspired by a family trip to Northern California. While my husband and I walked hand in hand along the Golden Gate Bridge and visited Sonoma Valley like typical camera-carrying, Chardonnay-slugging tourists, we fell in love with the area and had a brief discussion about relocating from Cleveland to San Francisco to start a new adventure. But instead, we returned home to our normal life.
Remembering that seemingly, mundane discussion, I imagined a fictional world, where that relocation would threaten everything … our beliefs, our relationship and ultimately, our lives. A simple conversation inspired a potentially best-selling novel. Fun, huh?
Sure thing. So, which comes first? The character's story or the idea for the novel?
The character’s story, for sure! Years ago, while considering leaving my corporate career to become a full-time writer, I read a book where a best-selling author claimed that “Plot Kills a Story”.
Although I don’t agree 100% with that thought process, I understand the intent, which is to encourage the author to focus on the most important part of the book, character development.
So, combining character development with plot, I develop my characters by writing down the answers to these five questions:
·         Who are my main characters (i.e., hero, antagonist, etc.)?
·         What motivates those individuals (what is this person’s backstory, how does the character’s history drive their behavior)?
·         What will be the key problems to overcome (i.e., what are the stakes, why should the reader care/the hook to keep reading)?
·         How will the book end (i.e., who will die/survive, how do these deaths/survivals change the story, how will the main characters end up)?
·         What will be the unexpected twist(s)/red herring(s)?
Answering these questions allows me to understand my characters … to get into their heads … that is my favorite part of developing the character’s story.
Once I have answered the five questions, I create a chapter by chapter outline of the following:
·         Which character will be highlighted in this chapter and in what setting?
·         What are their key emotions/feelings?
·         How are those feelings tied to the underlying conflict/the climax and the ending?
Then I write as though I am the character within that chapter. At times, the experience is downright visceral, e.g., I cry when my characters cry, I laugh when they laugh ... you get the idea.
Wow, that’s the best answer I’ve ever had to that question. Moving on, what was the hardest part to write in this book?
I struggle writing the villain because it’s difficult for me to get in the head of a murderer. I want to see the good in everyone. Additionally, one of my pet peeves in books and movies are these omnipotent villains who somehow know all and act on it. It’s unrealistic to me.
Combining my desire for realism and need to find the good in everyone, I write multi-faceted antagonists with complex backgrounds to “explain/somewhat absolve” their devious behavior.
In my novels, it’s not always clear who is “good” and who is “evil” … or is it?
Hmm. How do you hope this book affects its readers?
I write to entertain, pure and simple. I want my readers to escape to a new world, a different world without their problems or stresses. Hopefully, my books allow the reader to propel themselves into a world of corporate intrigue. Additionally, I’m hopeful that the reader takes on the invigorating challenge of figuring out “Whodunit”.
How long did it take you to write this book?
This book took about ten months in total, including the post-editing process.
What is your writing routine?
Routine is probably the wrong word because I write at odd times. Sometimes plot ideas, phrasing, actions, etc., pop into my head in the middle of the night. When this occurs, I get up, go into my office, and start writing.
The other night, at about 4:00am, I heard my husband calling my name because he woke up and I wasn’t in bed. I had gotten up to put some ideas on paper, kept writing, and lost track of time. My motto: Follow the inspiration!
My preferred writing environment is at my home. During the warmer months, I love to sit out on my back deck, overlooking our pond, and write. The tranquil wooded setting and the company of local wildlife (e.g., ducks, swans, hawks) offer the perfect inspiration. Once the weather gets cold, I move into my great room, sit on my sectional, and gather inspiration from the same setting by looking out the floor to ceiling windows overlapping our property.
When I write in the evenings, I will usually put some sort of true crime or Investigation Discovery on the television at a low volume to help drag me into the dark place needed to write a thriller.
Your home sounds amazing. How did you get your book published?
I self-published. Originally, I considered the traditional publishing route. In order to learn more, I interviewed several traditional and self-published authors.
Additionally, I networked with a couple of small press publishers to better understand my options.
Based on my research, in most cases, the author is responsible for doing the bulk of their own marketing. As a result, the publisher’s main role (in my opinion) focuses on the other pieces of the process (cover design, blurb, editing, etc.).
So, I hired my own editor and cover designer, offering me more creative license in the process.
What advice do you have for someone who would like to become a published writer?
My main advice is DO YOUR RESEARCH! Join author groups, get references, check those author’s rankings online, and expand your network so you can tell the real deal from the scam artist.
Additionally, find an experienced editor, invest in a cover designer and learn, learn, and when you’re done, learn more. Did I mention learning?
I believe you did. What do you like to do when you're not writing?
A self-proclaimed foodie, my husband and I enjoy wine, fine dining, and travel, particularly to the Caribbean. Additionally, we are avid boaters, certified scuba divers, and general “water” people.
When we’re not on the water, we love watching football and spoiling our nieces and nephews.
What does your family think of your writing?
My husband, Mike, is extremely supportive. As a matter of fact, he was the catalyst for my job change. One typical Monday morning I dragged myself to my tedious Human Resources (HR) job. Tired legs, a bored mind and my drooping eyes watched the seconds tick by on the clock. I wondered when this hell would end. When will I be able to escape the suffocating structure of corporate America?
That evening, I trudged into my home, laptop in tow, prepared to make a quick, unhealthy dinner and hop on my Dell for another three to four hours of work. I made eye contact with my loving husband, Mike, and he knew.
“Babe, it’s time for you to quit for good. Do something else. How about writing? You’re so talented, you’ll figure it out. Check authoring a bestseller off your bucket list.”
So, the journey began. After over 25 years in HR, I took the leap and returned to my first love, writing. One hundred percent energized by creativity, I’ve written and released two cybercrime thrillers in the last year.
Fantastic! Please tell us a bit about your childhood.
I’m the oldest of five daughters and grew up in a typical middle-class household with my parents and my little sisters. I spent most of my childhood taking care of my younger sisters, being a good student, and reading a ton of mysteries in my spare time.
So, you like reading when you were a child?
Yes, I loved reading. At five years old, I was introduced to my first mystery, Encyclopedia Brown Takes the Case, and I was hooked. That first book turned me into a voracious reader, enjoying all of the Encyclopedia Brown novels, Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, and The Chronicles of Narnia, to name a few series.
I loved all of those, too! When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I love sharing my unique writing journey, because it proves anyone can fulfill their dreams. Growing up, I was an avid reader and exceptional writer who won some local writing contests, worked as the “Editor-in-Chief” of my high school newspaper, and pursued Journalism in college. But things changed. While in college, I became disillusioned with the media field and the constant demands to provide spin and slant to every story versus communicating actual events. So, I switched to business, a more finite profession, but I missed writing. Due to my long corporate hours, carving out time for writing was virtually impossible.
So, as I mentioned before, after over twenty-five years in Human Resources, I took the leap and returned to my first love, writing. Within the last year, I have released two cybercrime thrillers.
Did your childhood experiences influence your writing?
Yes, as far as genre, I stayed within the mystery/thriller world. From a book theme perspective, absolutely not. My books are corporate cyber-thrillers which are heavily influenced by my professional corporate Human Resources experience.
Which writers have influenced you the most?
Patricia Cornwell, hands down. I find the forensic aspect of her books fascinating. I have tried to emulate her style with the cybercrime piece of my books, offering authenticity, intrigue and expertise
Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
After over twenty-five years in Human Resources, I believe all feedback is a gift. I think most people struggle to give feedback on books, which is why it is such a challenge for authors to get reviews. With that said, I have received some reviews on my books. Here are some highlights:
“A modern take on a love story sprinkled with technological insight that ends not just with a bang but with an explosion!”
“The ending is reminiscent of a Stephen King storyline where, just when you thought you had it figured out, changes completely.”
“The book is entertaining and kept me on the edge of my seat page after page. The characters are very relatable, especially for anyone that has spent time at the mercy of a corporate environment trapped in an office.”
“Great book - the story flows and is quite a cybercrime thriller. The characters are believable and the ending is amazing!”
“The interesting mix of office politics, combined with cyber technology, and interpersonal relationships, make for an engaging read.”
What can we look forward to from you in the future?
I’ve written about 10,000 words of my next book, tentatively titled Spicy Ginger. The second in a series featuring Ginger Gibson, the main character from Ginger Snapped. Although a series, each book will be a standalone novel.
Here is an unedited excerpt from my next book:
When I departed into the warm night, I looked up and saw nothing, black nothingness, not a star in the ominous sky. Exhausted, I trudged across the empty parking lot to my car twirling my key chain in my hands. A light smell of the stale rain which had fallen hours earlier hung in the air. In the distance, birds chirped and frogs croaked from a nearby pond on the business park property. 
A crackling sound trumpeted behind me breaking me out of my reverie. I turned and an object moved toward my eye rapidly. It happened so fast. Instinct kicked in. I raised my arm to defend myself but I was carrying my laptop bag. The satchel swung violently slamming into the head of my assailant.
Before I could celebrate my dumb luck and sprint for my car, the loudest popping sound rang out. What was that? A gun shot? My gaze darted about trying to focus in the blackness. Fortunately, I saw it, a semi-automatic gun sliding across the asphalt. I dashed toward the firearm. My attacker grabbed my leg and I fell on my elbows.  Holy crap that hurt! Ignore the pain. I need that pistol now.
I kicked frantically like a wild horse as my attacker tried to corral me. No! I’m getting to that gun first. I belly skulked toward the pistol using my hands for leverage. The weight of my body caused my keys to penetrate deep into my palm, drawing drips of warm blood. As he bounded on top of me, I hit the panic button on my key fob. The blaring distress signal boomed through the air. The goon rose up and turned toward the deafening noise giving me space to maneuver. I used my feet as propellers and dove for the gun. Outstretching my fingers to maximum length, I felt the cold metal under my skin. Yes! I’ve got it.
I grasped the icy Glock in my trembling hand and turned towards the savage werewolf of a man. Brian’s face flashed into my mind. But it’s not Brian, focus Ginger!
Time stood still while I placed my index finger on the trigger, ready but petrified. Then my aggressor lunged at me. He’s too close. I aimed at the man’s thigh and pulled the trigger. The earsplitting boom rocked my body knocking me flat onto the asphalt below. I heard him hit the ground, wounded.
Lucky shot! I did it. I don’t know how but I hit him. I watched in horror as this hoodlum’s eyes widened.
He grabbed for his bleeding leg and screamed, “Why lady? You paid me good money to do this … I don’t understand.”
Sounds great! Thanks so much for stopping by today, Chloe. Best of luck with your future projects.

Guest Post by the Author
Finding Happiness through the Written Word
One typical Monday morning I dragged myself to my tedious Human Resources (HR) job. Tired legs, a bored mind and my drooping eyes watched the seconds tick by on the clock. I wondered when this hell would end. When will I be able to escape the suffocating structure of corporate America? That evening, I trudged into my home, laptop in tow, prepared to make a quick, unhealthy dinner and hop on my Dell for another three to four hours of work. I made eye contact with my loving husband, Mike, and he knew.
“Babe, it’s time for you to quit for good. Do something else. How about writing? You are so talented, you’ll figure it out. Check authoring a bestseller off your bucket list.”
So, the journey began. After over 25 years in HR, I took the leap and returned to my first love, writing. One hundred percent energized by the creativity encouraged when writing a masterpiece, I’ve written and released two cybercrime thrillers in the last year.
Why cybercrime? Well, most of my HR experience was in project management, implementing new systems and processes. Plus, I’m married to a Software Engineer and fascinated by today’s technology. Therefore, my books focus on a fictional world where cybercrime bleeds into the real world leading to mayhem and murder.
My latest thriller, Ginger Snapped, was inspired by a family trip to Northern California. While Mike and I walked hand in hand along the Golden Gate Bridge and visited Sonoma Valley like typical camera-carrying, Chardonnay-slugging tourists, we fell in love with the area and had a brief discussion about relocating from Cleveland to San Francisco to start a new adventure. But instead, we returned home to our normal life.
Years later, I recalled that seemingly mundane conversation and my overactive imagination created a situation, where that cross-country move would threaten everything … our beliefs, our relationship and, ultimately, our lives. A simple conversation inspired a potentially best-selling novel. Awesome, huh?

About the Author
Chloe Sunstone
After over twenty years in a wide variety of Human Resources roles, Chloe was compelled to return to her first love of writing. Combining her HR expertise, a fascination with cybercrime, her MBA education and a love for the written word, Chloe’s novels are entertaining, clever and engaging. Her first book, The Mentor, is a thrill ride with a twist that you will never see coming. Her latest novel, Ginger Snapped, was released October 2018.

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