Today I have the pleasure to present an author who’s been leading a double life. His award-winning Daniel Jacobus mystery series is set in the dark corners of the classical music world, of which Gerald Elias is intimately familiar as a former violinist with the Boston Symphony, associate concertmaster of the Utah Symphony and as a conductor, composer, and teacher. Today, he celebrates his upcoming release, the audiobook edition of Murder at the Royal Albert.
There are tons of mystery audiobooks on the market. What makes your new one, Murder at the Royal Albert, so special?
You mean, other than a great Publishers Weekly review?
That’s fine for starters, but what else?
Okay, this is what makes my audiobook unique: The story, which place in the dark corners of the classical music world, involves a young musician murdered at her first performance with a great symphony orchestra. The printed book works great as a traditional whodunnit. But with the audiobook, we’ve woven spectacular performances of the music that’s performed in the book into the fabric of the story telling. What’s extra special for me is that I took part as a musician in the performances that you’ll hear in the audiobook, including the live Boston Symphony performance of Mahler’s schizophrenic Sixth Symphony at Royal Albert Hall that is the critical moment of the mystery.
That is indeed special, Jerry. But let’s take a step back. What exactly do you mean by “the dark corners of the classical music world?”
Murder at the Royal Albert is the eighth installment of my Daniel Jacobus mystery series. They all revolve around aspects of the music world in which musicians are inclined to want to kill each other. (That was a joke…sort of.) Here are some examples: Sexual misconduct on conservatory campuses, bitter relationships between despotic conductors and orchestra musicians, shady dealings by violin makers and dealers who cheat their way to profit, ethically compromised music critics, ruthless concert managers, rivalries among violin teachers seeking fame through their students, cutthroat violin competitions that prey upon young talent. The list goes on and on, but you get the gist. And these issues aren’t figments of my imagination. They’re real, and I’ve seen it all as a professional musician for almost a half century.
Whew! Who knew? Tell us more about the series. Who is this Daniel Jacobus?
Jacobus is a bit of my alter ego. He’s a curmudgeonly, reclusive violin teacher who also happens to be an amateur sleuth extraordinaire. He’s dragged kicking and screaming into these murders that baffle everyone, including law enforcement, and always gets himself into hot water, but ultimately manages to solve the mystery. Though I’m neither as cantankerous (I hope) or reclusive, I do share many of Jacobus’s views about life and music. It has been said of Jacobus that he has a heart of gold, though you might have to mine for it to find it. And, I should add, Jacobus is blind.
Blind! That’s novel. Why blind?
Two reasons, really. The first is that – and we all know this to be true – that when someone loses the ability to use one of their senses, they often more than make up for it with their others. So, even though Jacobus can’t see, his enhanced power of hearing is so acute that it not only makes him an even greater musician, it enables him to perceive things that mere mortals can’t.
The second reason is metaphorical. So much of what takes place on the concert stage these days is, ironically, visual. The flamboyant conductor, the gaudy dress, the high-powered marketing of otherwise mediocre musicians. All those things made Jacobus bitter, who, as a blind person, perceived music as it should be – by its sound, and nothing else. That’s what made him turn his back on the music world, though not on the music.
But that’s all the more reason to have an audiobook version, right? We can pretend we’re Jacobus and hear the story and the music with no impediments.
Speaking of which, what more can you tell us about the audiobook production?
In addition to writing the book, it was my job to oversee the music part. First, I had to determine what music and performances needed to be gathered that would be best suited to the book, and then get permission from the performers to use it. Fortunately, all of my colleagues whose beautiful performances you’ll hear were totally forthcoming, and the Boston Symphony was very gracious not only allowing me to use some very special live performances in which I participated, but to send me the audio files to use for the production. (By the way, all the music you’ll hear on this audiobook were live performances, so there’s an excitement to them that you’ll never get from a commercially produced recording.)
I then had to distill all those performances down to fit into the reading of the book, and to determine to the split second when they should start and end. Once that was figured out, I spent an afternoon with the recording engineer to work out the volume levels. For example, a music excerpt might start softly, under the narrator; then we might stop the narrator for several seconds and bring the music to full volume; then, finally, resume the narration and fade the music. It was fascinating to watch the engineer do his magic as I provided my two cents.
I should add that the narrator, Alison Larkin, did an absolutely miraculous job juggling the voices of at least a dozen different characters. Since the book takes place in the UK and Alison is English, it was a perfect fit!
So fascinating! Have you published anything apart from the Daniel Jacobus series that we should be thinking about?
I have two stand-alone mysteries. My most recent one, Roundtree Days, was named a finalist for Killer Nashville’s coveted 2023 Silver Falchion Award. The story is set in the fictional Utah desert town of Loomis City, where the hero, lawman Jefferson Dance, solves an arson, kidnapping, and murder in the course of a single day.
The Beethoven Sequence is a political thriller about a much different kind of music pedagogue than Jacobus. Layton Stolz becomes a cult figure and then president of the United States, and then goes insane. Go figure.
I’ll just briefly mention two more books, both of which are self-published. Symphonies & Scorpions is nonfiction and is an insider’s view (mine) of life as a professional orchestra musician, set in the context of the Boston Symphony’s history-making tour to China in 1979 and its triumphant return in 2014. I’m one of the few musicians who performed on both tours, and the book chronicles the eye-popping changes that took place in orchestras and in the world during those decades. There are also lots of funny stories.
The final book I’ll mention is It’s a Crime!, an entertaining, eclectic collection of 30 short mysteries that I’ve written over the years. It’s a fun bedside read!
Well, this has been a splendid conversation, Jerry. I can’t wait to listen to Murder at the Royal Albert!
Marta Moran Bishop
I know you love horses and understand their souls, as written novels told from their point of view. What made you decide on writing a story from the point of view of little mice?
Last summer, we had mouse’s nest in our hay shed and my husband tossed the nest with the little pups out into the woods. The mice ended up moving under the tack room wood floor in the horse’s barn. The stalls have a dirt floor with mats on top. For a year, the mice tunneled up under the mats to steal grain from the floor of the stalls. And for a year, I filled the two to four-inch holes along the wall in with horse manure, having nothing else handy. The mice continued to tunnel, and I continued to fill in the holes, and ended up adding peppermint balls under the wall. (Peppermint is supposed to deter mice.) Well, nothing worked. Each day, I’d go out and repeat the process. One day, I began laughing. Wondering what the mice were doing with all the manure and peppermint balls. My husband and I had a good laugh about it, coming up with many strange ideas. But it was when I told my graphic artist the story, and he sent me graphic after graphic, that the characters began talking to me and The Mice of Barnville episodes began.
Your previous work was developed in the format of a novel. Is it different to think up the story one episode at a time?
In a way, but the graphics took me into each new episode. I planned on four episodes. I am about a quarter of the way through episode four now, and the characters are telling me what is happening and what will happen. Each mouse has its own character, name, and ways of doing things. The stories are meant to entertain and help others find humor in the small or annoying things in life.
Please share an excerpt from Episode One—The Quest: THE JOURNEY
Scampering across the field, pants hanging nearly around his ankles, Joshua yelled. “Uncle Horace, Uncle Horace, I found it!”
“I’m over here Joshua. Now pull up your pants. They are falling down again. You, being such a skinny young mouse, should wear suspenders or at least a string to keep them up? Now, what did you find?”
Looking through the spectacles that covered the rheumy eyes of his great-great uncle, he replied. “The perfect place for our new home, and I found it!”
“Here’s a bit of string.” He said, pulling it out of his pocket and tying it around the waist of the young mouse. “If we are to be scampering around, you’ll need it.” He felt proud of still being able to see as well as he did in the bright sunlight after spending so many years underground in the dark. Horace tugged at his white eyebrows, pushed his glasses up, and tightly gripped his walking stick, as he stated. “Lead on. Let’s go see what you found Joshua, and if it is as you say, you’ll get special honor in our kingdom. But please slow down. I don’t move as fast as once I did.”
“Okay, Uncle Horace, follow me.”
Through the jungle of brush and tall trees, Joshua led the way. Followed by Uncle Horace hobbling along, holding tight to his cane. About twenty others, who couldn’t resist seeing what Joshua had found, followed behind. Murmurs went through the group.
How do you get into the mind and heart of animals, so that you can write their stories from their point of view?
For me, it is a matter of letting go of my ego and opening myself up to another person or being. I believe that all life is sentient and, though they may not think and act the same as a human; it doesn’t mean they don’t feel and have their own thoughts and ways of expressing themselves.
Though taking on the emotions of anyone or anything can present its own issues. It can become harder to either find a compromise with another or find a way to let go of their pain or confusion. For instance, we had an infestation of bald-faced hornets, which my husband saturated their nest with a poison to kill off the nest. Bald-faced hornets are very aggressive, and though they eat some other annoying bugs, they remember the faces of people that have bothered them and go after them. They do not lose their stingers, but can sting a person or animal multiple times. Well, after the nest had been sprayed and the ones who were late coming home flew up to it, I could sense their confusion and pain at the destruction of their home. So you see, it can cause someone who opens themselves to the thoughts and feelings of other beings to feel too much.
Why did you decide to make the Episodes rather than short stories?
I remembered as a child that schools and theaters offered small snippets of either a full-length movie each day, or else shorts, so I thought, why not do it in book form? Both my husband and I had adored the episodes as children, and wondered if it would work in book form. The episodes range from eighteen to forty-four pages. Each one a new chapter of the mice’s story of building a community, teamwork, facing challenges, both outside and inside themselves.
What ages would you say The Mice of Barnville Episodes are written for?
The stories can be read to the young, or read by anyone from six to one hundred and six. They are meant more for humor and enjoyment rather than strictly children’s books, and there are no pictures in the books.
- The Mice of Barnville: Episode One — THE QUEST
- The Mice of Barnville - Episode Two: Forging The Homestead
- THE MICE OF BARNVILLE: EPISODE THREE - ADVERSITY AND INNOVATION
Today I have the pleasure to present a UK & USA bestselling Author/Poet. D.G. Torrens is a prolific writer with deep passion for the written word. She has published 22 books to date and is currently penning book 23 due for release in May 2024. In addition, the author has also published 4 short stories in multi-author anthologies for charities including BRUMOLOGY and LOVE LETTERS TO WATER.
Tell me about your recent book release and what was the inspiration behind your writing it?
ONE FOR SORROW (released in May 2023) is book one of seven in my new Survivor Series. Each book is a stand-alone story that shines a light on various forms of abuse: domestic violence, coercive control, narcissism, love bombing, gaslighting and more.
ONE FOR SORROW focuses on domestic violence. The story centers around Avery, Ethan, and Willow (Avery’s best friend) Avery suffered a tragic childhood and as a woman in her twenties, is quite untrusting of people. She prefers to spend her time at home, hiking and taking photographs on long leisurely walks. That is until she meets the charming and persuasive Ethan Channing who sweeps her off her feet. For the first time in her life, she falls in love unconditionally, unaware of the red flags. Avery’s best friend, Willow, suspects all is not right with Ethan and tries to warn her friend. However, it falls on deaf ears. Over time, Avery withdraws from social society little by little. It becomes almost impossible for Willow to see Avery on her own. When she does, Avery looks thinner and often sporting bruises that she tries to cover up and Ethan is often nearby.
ONE FOR SORROW not only highlights the suffering of the victims but also highlights the effects on family and friends who get caught up in it.
Here is what the book is about:
THE PAST BROKE HER BUT THE PRESENT MAY KILL HER...
Avery Masters’ has never known love, only false representations of it. Failed by her mother and again by the state care system, she trusts no one. Until the charming, handsome, Ethan Channing enters her life unexpectedly and love bombs her. Avery falls hard and fast. Unbeknownst to Avery, Ethan is concealing a deadly secret!
Willow Forbes, Avery's best friend, sees right through Ethan and tries to warn Avery to no avail.
Avery's life is about to take a perilous turn.
AVERY'S LIFE HANGS IN THE BALANCE
Why and when did you decide to become a writer?
I think I have always been a writer. I have been writing since I was around 9 years old. I wrote poetry and short stories. It was my safe place– a place to hide behind a pen and paper in a quiet corner when I was young. Writing fast became my solace. I would create my own worlds and lose myself in them.
By the time I reached my late 20s, I had half written novels and short stories stacked away in corners of my house as well as note pads filled with future ideas. Once I hit my 30s, I began to pen my life story and it finally emerged as a completed book in 20ll. I have since gone on to write 23 books and number 24 is currently in the works, called TWO FOR JOY.
What book has been the greatest influence on you and your writing and why?
I have read and re-read all of Charles Dickens novels. I could relate to many of the characters in his stories. Charles Dickens was a vigorous campaigner for children’s rights too. This was truly inspirational to me. I know how hard that would have been in the 18th century, when the common way to deal with homeless children was to put them in the workhouse. I love Charles Dickens and find it incredible that he could write all those incredible stories with so many children in tow! (He had around 10 children I believe) I know how difficult it can be to write a book with one child in tow…
My favourite quote by Charles Dickens: No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another.
Where do you find ideas for your books?
My ideas come to me in the most unlikely of places, a dream, while walking in the park with my daughter or simply while listening to music. I can be struck with an idea at any time. I have the most wildest of imaginations… My mind never closes, not for a second. It is always busy, even when I am tired and want to sleep my mind is a continuously working. I would not know how to shut my mind off–it is impossible.
Where do you find ideas for your characters?
My characters are found through everyday people. Real life. I know so many people from all walks of life and that gives me much inspiration to draw from.
How would you describe your writing style?
That is a hard question. I think my writing style is unique, I often method write to get into character for a current WIP, much like an actor would method act. I find it easier to get into my character’s head that way thus able to project a true description of them and their feelings in certain scenes. I like to express my character’s emotions in a way that moves my readers, and they can feel the pain and love my characters are feeling. The best way for me to do this is to method write and get into character.
What are your current projects?
I am currently working on a secret project (all will be revealed soon) it is a new direction for me and one that I am excited about. I am also working on book two in my Survivor Series called TWO FOR JOY.
Today I have the pleasure to present an author of over 31 books, who was born and raised in Los Angeles. Martha Perez is a wife, mother, grandmother of two beautiful granddaughters and dog lover of Toby and Bella. Broken Pieces is her first book; Broken Heart is her second book and is an accomplishment of which she is very proud. She is a woman with simple tastes. She loves reading books and takes long walks in the evening. Martha enjoys going to baseball games: movies, and unknown adventures.
Please introduce us to your newest book, The Love Between Us.
I wanted to write about a love to remember a sweet story about Darlene Montgomery and the boy next door Connor Ledger. The book cover inspired me to write a fantastic story; it's lovely and colorful—romance with a bit of drama.
Memories hold the key to cherishing what we've lost, yet yearn to hold close within our hearts. Love, the profound devotion and passionate emotions it stirs, once ignited a young flame within me. I dreamt of unexpected escapades as I grew, eager to savor the gifts life had to offer.
But as life took over, its vibrant hues and all-encompassing demands left little room for adventure. My longing to travel and explore the world remained unfulfilled. Books became my solace, transporting me to different worlds beyond my own.
The Love Between Us is the story of Darlene Montgomery, the girl who adored the boy next door, Connor Ledger. Her affection for him knew no bounds, an unwavering devotion impossible to deny.
Would fate grant her the chance to be with Connor, to experience the butterflies fluttering in her stomach whenever he was near, her palms sweating, and her toes tingling with the hope that he might one day notice her?
Life's journey unfolds with both shades of gray and bursts of colorfulness. "The Love Between Us" is not your typical fairy tale, but its enchanting love story will linger in your thoughts long after you turn the final page.
You are an inspiration to a lot of people. What is your Passion? What is your motivation?
My inspiration is to have the power to inspire people with my experiences and to spread love and kindness through my books … What's my passion? Great question. My love is having an extravagant fondness for reading beautiful books and writing stories that have meaning as an author. I am motivated to work harder to give more to my readers.
You are very good at what you do, and there are a lot of qualities one must have to be successful. What do you feel is the best characteristic to have to succeed?
My qualities to write, create promote. I am much more than books and writing. I'm a tough woman. I challenge myself every single day so I can be successful. I am a success in my own right.
Do you have any other Passion or Life Goals, and if so, what are they?
My other passion is to travel the world and go on different adventures. My Life goal is to write as many books as possible to leave my family a Legacy of books and a piece of me.
For those inspired by you who would like to chase their dreams and achieve their Life Goals, what advice would you give them to help them succeed?
I would say; if you believe you will achieve. Achieving is something you work hard from your inner yourself. It's a passion to reach your goals, reach for the stars, climb the highest Mountain have faith in yourself; everything else will fall into place.
You are very motivating. For those that would want to support you, how can they do so, and what is the best way for them to contact you?
They are welcome to follow me on Social Media Facebook, Twitter Threads, and Instagram.
I want to thank Uvi for the opportunity for the Interview and for designing my beautiful book cover.
Today I have the pleasure to present an author who turned to writing in 2000 as a means of coping with a debilitating illness. Cynthia Hamilton now has 13 books in print, all of which are available on Amazon. In addition to THE MADELINE DAWKINS MYSTERY SERIES, she writes general fiction and some memoir: FINDING RUTH and ONCE UPON A LYME...A TALE OF TWO JOURNEYS.
Where did the idea for your Madeline Dawkins Mystery Series come from?
The idea for Madeline came to me in a flash one morning – a fully-formed character, complete with shocking, salacious backstory. The details of her metamorphosis occurred to me after I had clear picture of the kind of woman she was before her enviable lifestyle was yanked out from under her in the most horrific way.
Ultimately, what I wanted was to take a character and transform her into someone entirely different, while keeping her essential qualities intact. By the end of the prequel – Spouse Trap – the comfortable, privileged life Madeline had known for 12 years had been ripped out from under her. But she came away from her ordeal stronger and focused solely on creating a new life and never being vulnerable again.
Where did you find the inspiration for the supporting characters?
I wish I could tell you, but I have no idea where or why these ideas came to me. In fact, I was writing a scene in Spouse Trap where Madeline is making a call to a flight attendant friend of hers down in LA. Next thing I know, a 6’4” surfer dude with shoulder-length blond hair answered the phone. I remember how confused I felt as my fingers tapped out the scene. Who is this guy? What’s with the liter-size orange soda?
Once I got my head around this curveball, Mike Delaney’s history came to me: recovering alcoholic/druggy, and long-term boyfriend of Madeline’s since their college days. Crushed by Madeline’s decision to part ways, he took on self-destructive habits.
From that point on, everything dovetailed. Mike became an integral part of the series, and a very fun, integral character in his own right.
Where did the ideas for the subsequent stories come from?
Fortunately for me, I inspire very easily. Once I had my protagonist and her partner, storylines made up from tidbits of actual events or random musing started streaming across my mind’s eye. If I ever get to a point when I’m not sure where to go next, I give myself time and let my subconscious do its thing. Sometimes a news article or a even an advertisement in our local magazines can spark a character or even a whole storyline.
Can you give any examples of finding a storyline in local media?
The inspiration for one of the storylines in Houses of Deception came from an ad in one of our local magazines. I remember scoffing at this full-page ad featuring a husband and wife real estate team, where most of the page was covered with an image of them exiting a church on their wedding day. I just couldn’t resist having fun with my own interpretation of what that was all about!
Is there one book in the series that you like best?
That is a tough one to answer! When I recently rebranded the series with new covers, I decided to reread all 8 books. Girl Trap is pretty intense. The two separate storylines are filled with danger. I don’t want to give anything away, but I actually had to ask myself after I’d written the book if I’d pushed any boundaries. I definitely dove into a very intense plotline, and I was surprised and gratified that it came off so well.
As an aside, the audio version of Girl Trap is currently being recorded by voice actress Marnye Young, Audio Sorcerous. After reading the script/book, she sent me an email saying, “And wow oh wow!”
Can you give us an excerpt from Spouse Trap?
Madeline Ridley opened her eyes with a start. Her mouth was dry and an unpleasant taste lingered on her tongue. Her head felt heavy and it ached as she moved. Reflexively, she flung out an arm, seeking the reassuring comfort of her husband’s body. Instead, she encountered the cool starchiness of unfamiliar bed linens. Where am I?
She sat bolt upright, her heart and head throbbing in unison. Either she had been in the throes of a disorienting dream, or she really was in a strange room.
Not knowing where she was terrified her.
The only illumination came from the meager predawn seeping through the French doors at the far end of the room. Her left hand groped the side table for the lamp switch.
The light temporarily blinded her, making her wince. She looked around, quickly searching for any object that would ground her to her life. She was not in either of her bedrooms, or any of the guest rooms. She sat tentatively on the edge of the bed, breathing hard. By the furnishings and the layout she figured she was in a hotel room. But where?
Grabbing the phone, she recognized the familiar logo of The Edgecliff Hotel across the top. The Edgecliff; right. Steven and I were here for the fundraiser, she thought. Okay. This recollection made her feel less shaky, but it didn’t explain how she’d ended up in this room. Did we drink too much and decide to get a room?
She glanced at the other side of the bed. The sheets were flung back, indicating it had been occupied at some point.
“Steven?” she called out. “Steven?” As she got up from the bed, she caught sight of the dress she’d worn to the ball. She reached for it and the bra and panties she had been wearing only hours earlier fell to the floor. She stooped to retrieve them, discovering the dainty lace articles were in tatters.
“Steven!” she cried out, trembling as she wove her way to the bathroom on unsteady feet. “Steven?” She flipped on the light switch, and squinting through the glare, found the room empty. She backed out into the hallway, checking the closets for clues of her predicament.
Why am I in a room at The Edgecliff? she asked of her reflection in the hall mirror. All she saw was tousled hair, smudged lipstick and bloodshot eyes. Her hand traveled down the side of her neck to her clavicle, where three bright red scratches stretched toward her left breast. She turned away from the mirror, panting as she forced herself to recall how she had gotten there. And whose nails had made those marks on her.
Images of last evening began filtering across her mind’s eye. She recalled stepping out of the Maserati at the hotel entrance and walking with Steven to
the main ballroom. He had been in a foul mood; she clearly remembered that. She could hear the harsh tone in his voice, could see the anger in his eyes as he laid into her. What was he mad about? Madeline shook her head. She couldn’t figure it out.
But she did recollect walking fast to catch up with him as he stormed off toward the lobby—him turning around, calling her a filthy whore under his breath. She remembered the sting of tears in her eyes and the feeling of disbelief as she watched him drive off, leaving her there on the curb.
With shaking hands, Madeline struggled into the red lace Valentino gown. She recalled the dark-haired man coming toward her…two glasses of champagne in his hands. His consoling words…Don’t worry, I’ll make sure you get home…
Madeline’s throat closed, making it impossible to breathe. Her eyes teared up, but the cries couldn’t escape. This did not happen! This did not happen! she thought, though it was obvious she had been in a hotel room with someone, and the odds were it wasn’t her husband.
She sank into a chair as she pleaded with herself to remember how she had gotten to this room. Panic set in. Her hands flew to her earlobes; she went limp with relief when she felt the teardrop diamond earrings still in place. But where were her diamond watch and bracelet? And her wedding ring?
She frantically looked around and spotted her handbag, itself a pricey investment. She opened it hastily and found her jewelry, along with her cell phone and credit cards. She had not been robbed, at least. But what happened? Who had been here with her?
As she looked for cash in her tiny bag, she discovered the key to the beach house. She had put it in at the last minute, just in case she and Steven drank too much and didn’t want to drive back up the hill. She clutched the key tightly in her hand; it was her salvation.
She found her shoes and carried them in one hand and hiked up her gown with the other. With the first tinges of daybreak coloring the sky, she crept out the French doors and followed the pathway. She crossed out of The Edgecliff grounds and headed down the steps to the sand. In less than ten minutes, she had made it to the beach house without seeing a soul.
Peter C Bradbury
Today I have the pleasure to present an author who always loved to read, but it wasn't until numerous people asked him to write about his experiences in private homes, that he began his author journey. He was a traditional English butler, from near Manchester, England. His experiences in one home turned into a murder mystery called Stonebridge Manor, with an English mansion. Instagram Killer is his latest mystery.
What inspired your newest book, ‘Instagram Killer’?
It came about because every day, I post pictures of my books on Instagram and Twitter. To a lesser extent, I also post on Facebook and other social media sites, but I have the most reach on Twitter and Instagram.
In return for the posts I do, I get retweets and likes, and I reciprocate with many others doing the same thing. But I also receive very many messages as well.
It was these messages that inspired the book.
So what messages do you get?
It all seems so personable at first, and pleasant. I am very open, I don’t use a fake name, and my profiles say I’m married and I use real pictures. So they usually ask me where I’m from, how interesting I am, and that they would like to be a friend. So then they suggest that it would be much more convenient to chat on WhatsApp, or Telegram, or Google Chat, as Instagram and Twitter are quite limited.
Then the tone changes, sometimes quickly, and the stories change, but some seem quite believable at first. They range from being unemployed, a family member is sick, or they are hungry and need food.
Others say they want to send you pictures and videos but you need to pay for them. I.D.’s are asked for or your address. They want internet bills paid. New phones are needed. They want to go out with their friends but have no money. There is gold in Ghana that needs to be sent to you for safekeeping. Soldiers need to pay someone to get leave. They have fallen in love with you and need support. Cryptocurrency or Bitcoin is a good investment. A gift card should be sent to them because they are now a friend. They need medication for menstrual periods. They want to hook up for sex.
So all the messages are from women?
Actually, no. After a while you begin to see the same pictures on different profiles, and get the same messages. They like to use porn stars pictures, pretending they are that person. They want you to buy the pictures and videos they have stolen from the porn stars. After realizing this, I called some of them out and some admitted to be being guys.
This is a full time business for a lot of people, and they can pretend to be who they want to be. You never really know who anyone is, unless they want to meet you and don’t want money up front. Out of all the messages I’ve received, 99% have wanted money in some form eventually, and when you refuse to, they drop you like a stone.
Apart from not really knowing the gender of the folk who message you, it also becomes clear that they come from all over the world. Ghana and Nigeria are popular places, but also Europe and Asia.
The book is called, ‘Instagram Killer,’ so is about a killer?
Yes. What really disturbed me about all the messages, were those from women who wanted to hook up. I have no problem with prostitution, but these women are prepared to meet total strangers, with little regard to their safety, and some women even invite you to their home.
So I thought, ‘what if some man took advantage of this’? A man who is very careful, who is good with disguises, and doesn’t leave traces of himself. He has learned to spot the scammers, those with fake profiles, and those who are so desperate to find love and be paid, that they will make huge mistakes.
It would be so easy for an evil guy to do this, that it scared me. I had to write about it.
What kind of writer are you?
I like to believe I entertain and make my readers think. I’m a fast reader so I like to read books that I can pick up in the morning and have it finished the same day. I don’t like books that are long winded, make you pick up a dictionary all the time, or do a lot of technical jargon. So my books are not too long, have short chapters, and keep you turning the pages. I love when a reader has said that they couldn’t put the book down, or that I got them reading again.
I do like to write about murders, or an issue like bullying or human trafficking, although my first love was horror. I may do a horror story one day, but only when I find a new angle that doesn’t re-hash the usual stories.
You said you are open about who you are, so who are you?
I live in northern California with my wife of 28 years, Debbie. I have no birth children but I am a stepfather to four.
I was born and raised in the North West of England near Manchester and moved to the USA in 1994 when I married Debbie, who is from San Francisco. We have lived in various places, including Texas and Maryland when I was working as a butler.
I am a huge football (soccer) fan, so my life revolves around the fixture list. I will get up at 4am if my team is playing, (Manchester United) as I want to see the game live. I was born in 1955, retired now, and still have family in England.
I really dislike corruption, bullies, liars, selfishness, ignorance, and scammers.
I wish I could lose weight as quickly as I gain it, and see more of the world.
I hope you will enjoy reading my books!
Today I have the pleasure to present an author who pushes the boundaries of reality. Martin Tracey specializes in Dark Fiction including Crime (with a twist) and the Paranormal. He has a passion for The Beatles & Wolverhampton Wanderers FC. Both music and football/soccer often find their way into his stories. Martin lives in Birmingham, UK. He is married and has two daughters
Where did the idea for Club 27 come from and what is the meaning of the name?
There have been a number of pop stars who have tragically died at the tender age of 27: Brian Jones, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain and Amy Winehouse to name just six. The fact that this has happened so many times has always fascinated me and I felt that it would be a good subject to weave one of my Judd Stone novels around. The origins of the club are equally as fascinating. Legend has it that blues artist Robert Johnson sold his soul to the Devil at a crossroads in return for a significant uplift in musical talent. He died aged 27 after drinking poisoned whisky.
Tell us about Judd and who inspired his character traits.
Judd Stone is a captivating, irrepressible and self-destructive character. It’s funny how Judd came about really, as initially I wanted him to just be a sidekick and contrasting character for William Chamberlain in Mind Guerrilla. Mind Guerrilla was intended to be a standalone but instead it has turned out to be book 1 in the Judd Stone series as readers responded so positively to Judd’s anti-hero appeal. I quickly realised that he is a character that I could develop and he was a character who I could place in various situations which are irresistible to the reader. He is an ordinary bloke but larger than life at the same time. He couldn’t care less about placing himself in danger and in spite of the scrapes he often faces, his resilience and ability to bounce back means he gets results. Even when his methods can be—shall we say—a little questionable. What is never questionable though are his good intentions. For all his sense of danger and rock hard exterior, underneath it all he has a heart of gold. This I feel makes him a very attractive character – sometimes angry, sometimes extreme in his actions, someone you’d want in your corner, yet someone who is lovable and vulnerable. What he fails to realise is that his worst enemy is not the antagonists he comes across time and time again, but actually it’s himself! I’m not consciously sure who inspired his character traits. He is a big Beatles fan, just like me, so I guess that trait was easy enough to write about. He has a great sense of justice which again plays into my own psyche but he balances the scales of justice a lot more extreme than I ever would.
The Judd Stone Series features harrowing adventures with Judd. Where would you like to take the series and where does book 2, Club 27, fit in the grand scheme of things?
To be honest I think it’s more a case of where does the series take me! With a ‘no-holds-barred’ character like Judd, and the plots of his books flirting with the supernatural at times, it basically means not much is off-limits when it comes to Judd’s adventures. It’s kind of ‘what will he get up to next?’ In Mind Guerrilla I felt that his rebellious nature against police procedures limited the scope for a perpetual Judd Stone series as his methods of fighting crime are so unconventional. Therefore, I decided to set him free in Club 27 so that he could flex his disorderly muscles and get the bad guys and gals completely on his own terms. This also makes his adventures a lot more entertaining.
Judd likes his music and he feels duty bound to offer protection, so when he has an opportunity to explore the 27 Club, whilst literally having the responsibility to shelter the life of a global pop sensation, it was a situation that he couldn’t resist and one I knew that he could excel in…. subject of course to the odd inevitable setback. In Club 27, Judd is on a mission to save someone who is even more self-destructive than he is. He has the necessary unique skill-set for this, having hit rock bottom himself entangled with his formidable persona and unrivalled courage.
The next two Judd Stone books in the series, Lunar and Double Fantasy, find Judd still fighting crime on his own terms as a private detective. Albeit in the latter he takes a break from the day job for a boozy weekend in Liverpool – but even that doesn’t prevent Judd from getting caught up in a very dangerous situation!
Tell us about yourself and how your passion for The Beatles & Wolverhampton Wanderers FC. Both music and football inspires your literary work.
Although I write with the shackles off and I’m not the best at following rules, I do feel that there are two key principles that enable the craft of writing: write about what you know and write books that you yourself would like to read. From a young age I wanted to be one of two things, a footballer or a pop star. Every given moment saw me going up the local playing fields to play football using jumpers for goalposts. I dreamed I was playing for my beloved Wolves but as I became older, I knew that turning professional was never going to be a thing. However, attending matchdays at Molineux is certainly achievable and watching my team play is one of my favourite days out. Wolverhampton has some decent pubs too which helps. I played in school and Sunday leagues teams and I wasn’t a bad goalkeeper to be fair but clearly wasn’t good enough to make it a career. Music was always my first love anyway especially The Beatles whom I discovered during a season of Beatles films over the Christmas period of 1979. I wanted to be John Lennon in A Hard Day’s Night, singing ‘I Should Have Known Better’ in a train carriage to an audience of captivated teenage girls. When Lennon, my favourite Beatle by far, got tragically and needlessly murdered just a year later it catapulted me into learning more and more about every facet of him and his band. Since then, I’ve taken ‘pilgrimages’ to Liverpool, London and New York to track down as many Beatles and Lennon haunts as I can. I personally had some modest success in the music industry, albeit nowhere near the success of The Fab Four of course! I supported the Fine Young Cannibals and have a song ‘Raging Bull’ available on Spotify and a Wolverhampton Wanderers CD: Old Gold Anthems – see the Wolves connection there? So, when I took to writing it was natural to use football and music in my work. One of my writing highlights incidentally is the fact that Julia Baird, sister of John Lennon, has a signed copy of my book Double Fantasy. Also, Andrew Ridgeley of Wham! has a signed copy of Club 27. Wham! and George Michael are not too far behind The Beatles in my musical passions.
In what ways do you push the boundaries of reality in your dark fiction work.
I guess this notion began as early as my standalone debut novel Beneath The Floodlights with the main thrust of the plot being a nest of vampires taking over a soccer team! I like my ideas and plot lines to be as original as I can make them and I try to offer the reader something new. By ‘pushing the boundaries of reality’ I try and send the reader on a rollercoaster but just stay within the realms of the story being believable—vampires are probably as far-fetched as I have ever been—but I do like to inject elements of the supernatural into my work. Having encountered a supernatural experience myself I know that things can happen outside of the everyday norm.
Give us an excerpt from Club 27?
The drive to the desolated motel had been a long one, but eventually, Judd pulled into the sun-soaked car park and a cloud of dust surrounded the wheels as he braked to a halt. When he stepped out of the car into the lingering dust clouds, clutching a holdall full of money, Ziggy was already waiting for him with his eye firmly staring down the barrel of a rifle which was pointing straight at Judd.
“I trust that holdall’s full of money,” said the criminal.
“For once it looks like you haven’t let your ego overrule your head, Stone. No police I see. Or perhaps it’s to the contrary, your ego may have convinced you that you can become Phoenix’s knight in shining armour. Well, think again.”
“I gave you my word, now you keep yours and hand Phoenix over to me.”
“Once I have the money.”
“Why don’t you come and get it?”
“Because last time we danced I came away the loser.”
“Ziggy, you’re pointing a gun right down my throat. I’m not even armed. Come on over and I’ll hand it to you.”
“Like I fully trust you, Stone. Now open the holdall and show me what’s inside. For all I know there’s nothing in it.”
“Judd unzipped the holdall, pulled the opening wide and held the bag out to Ziggy so that he could see the stash of bank notes.”
“Ok, now really slowly I want you to throw the money as far as you can towards me and then place your hands in the air. If you try anything funny, I’ll blow your brains out and the world will never see Phoenix Easter again.”