Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 1:03:48 — 58.4MB) | Embed
Don't miss out on the latest episodes. Subscribe now! Spotify | More
Happy New Year and welcome to The Best Of Joys Of Binge Reading for 2022.
We’re presenting the Top 15 Shows for the year as selected by you, our listeners.
And from previous years, I know that this is one of the most popular shows every year, so it’s wonderful to do it for you.
I’m Jenny Wheeler, the host of the show. And first of all, thank you for being part of our growing audience this year. This year, we reached the 250 episode mark, a great achievement, and we wouldn’t have done it without your appreciative listening.
We’ve divided the show into two parts because 15 episodes is too long to listen to in one go.
The first part with eight of the shows that are selected, will run this week. And then the second we’ll run in two weeks in mid-January, to give us plenty of summer relaxing time.
How we selected the ‘Best of’ authors
You know that I treasure all the authors we talked to and I’d never attempt to pick and choose winners.
So this selection is based solely on the numbers of people who listened to the shows that ran between December 1st, 2021 and December 1st, 2022. Taking those dates allows us to compile and edit the show in time for posting on the first Tuesday in January, 2023.
To give you the flavor, we’ve included selected highlights of each show so you can discover new authors you might have missed first time round or find books you might want to get into in 2023.
I’m thrilled once again at the generous blend of genres and locations represented in the ‘Best Of’ results, with mysteries, romances, historicals, thrillers, and even an outlier nonfiction title, all featured in the top 15.
And just as our listeners hailed from all over the world so do the authors you listened to, with the US, the UK, and Australian authors all well represented
So let’s get onto it. The first list runs this week, the second one, mid-January. Here it is. The Best of the Joys of Binge Reading 2022, Part One.
Best Of 2022 – Barbara Freethy – Chart-Topping Romance
Contemporary author Barbara Freethy is an Amazon KDP best-selling author of all time with a total of 12 million books sold in multiple languages. And that was just when I spoke to her six months ago.
She’s a master of thrilling mysteries, romantic suspense and heart-warming romance. Barbara was a successful traditionally published author who made an early jump to ND that’s independent publishing. And she’s found that being an indie – that’s independently published – author- totally suits her talent and style.
That’s particularly so because traditionally the big five publishing houses generally only handle one book a year and. Barbara writes much faster than one book a year. I asked her about that process
It goes without saying that you write highly entertaining and addictive books, but even so, How do you account for that brilliant success?
Many different factors contribute to author success
Barbara Freethy: It’s really hard to account for the success. There are a lot of factors that have gone into it. Publishing on a regular basis, being consistent with what I write, and meeting the reader’s expectations has been helpful for me. There are a lot of different factors.
I put a lot of time in, but then a lot of authors put a lot of time in, so I don’t do anything that much differently. I’ve got a good head for business, the business of publishing as well as for the writing, and that’s been helpful in my pursuit of an indie career.
Jenny Wheeler: Yes. you write in the genres of romantic suspense and contemporary romance. Those are your, main focuses, and you are firmly established in that as a reigning queen in that area.
Barbara Freethy: I really appreciate with digital now and with indie that I can write a book and, bring it out in four months for my audience. So, That’s been great.
Jenny Wheeler: It’s valuable too, cuz you get the instant feedback from how the readers are receiving it. You don’t have to wait two years and have almost gone cold on the idea
Going indie gave Barbara control of here career
Barbara Freethy: Right. I mean, in traditional publishing also, there’s so much dependency on the print book and when you write a series, it’s very difficult for any bookstore to carry all the books in the series in their store. They just don’t have shelf space for it.
So in the digital world it’s much easier to write a series because the reader can get all the books in the series, at the time that they want them.
When you’re doing it in traditional and you’re writing a series, which I have done for traditional publishers, I’d have a book out and then the second one wouldn’t come out for a year and a half, and by that time, the first book was gone and readers couldn’t find it.
It’s both not only just traditional, it’s also print versus digital. Having the option to shelve an unlimited number of books in any of the online bookstore has allowed writers to allow readers to binge read, which we couldn’t necessarily do before.
From binge watching to binge reading
Jenny Wheeler: That Netflix phenomenon of people binge watching was very much being transferred into reading with the digital Age is, hasn’t it?
Barbara Freethy: Yes, it has. It’s probably the number one difference. Readers can get all the books in a series and read them all at one time. And I know readers that’ll wait until there’s two or three books out before they’ll start a series simply because they want to binge. So I think that series have taken off in this era of binge everything, binge watching, binge reading. that’s been, that’s been really good for writers.
Jenny Wheeler: The other great thing about indie publishing for Barbara is that her books tend to cross the usual genre boundaries between romance and mystery and traditional publishing finds that complexity and little harder to handle as she explains.
Barbara Freethy: I had a lot of publishers say your books are hard to cover because they’re a little bit of everything. They’re emotional and then they’re funny and then they’re sad, and then they’re mysterious, but they’re not dark.
Treasured freedom of ‘writing between the lines’
I like to write between the lines. I feel like my writing is more interesting when it’s, got more dimensions to it.
I don’t like to just write to a particular trope. I’m sure I use the t tropes in my writing, but I don’t come at it from that point of view where I think a lot of writers specifically say, this is my trope and I’m writing to it. Whereas I’ll be much more interested in who the characters are and then what else can I throw at them?
What else can I do to make this twisty or surprising or different? So yes, I definitely marched to my own drummer in terms of how I write, but it worked so far and I think that the readers really appreciate it when there is depth to the story. So, that’s what I like to do.
Barbara FreethyBinge Reading Episode: Chart Topping Romance: https://thejoysofbingereading.com/barbara-freethy-chart-topping-romance/
Best of 2022 – Heather Webber – Magical Mysteries
Magical mystery author, Heather Weber lives in Ohio. But a visit to the South many years ago captivated her. And many of her mysteries reflect Southern charm, food, family, and a light dusting of the supernatural. And as she explains, it was an unusual event that led her to get into writing right from the start. She tells us the story.
Heather Webber: It was a dream that led me to writing. It was a little literal dream. I had woken up one night with this entire plot line in my head and I told my husband. ‘I had this amazing dream I can see all the characters. I know what happens throughout the whole story.’
And I said, ‘It would be a great movie. And then I said, no, no, it has to be a book, because there was just too much there.’
And he looked at me and said, ‘Why don’t you write it?’
I didn’t have any writing experience. I love to read, but I didn’t have a background in writing, but I think I was young enough and naive enough, and I had this burning story in my head that I had to get it out.
Heather’s first book still in the closet collecting dust
So I was like, okay. All right, I’ll do that. And I wrote it. It was 460 pages of family and love and loss and a little bit of magic. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? I sent that off to editors and agents and I got rejected across the board. So I gave myself five years. I said, okay, so that book’s not gonna work.
It’s up in my closet collecting dust. where it still remains to this day because I can’t seem to get rid of it, because I love it.
But I gave myself five years to get published. I figured that was enough time to really learn the craft of writing. Which, you know, it really is not long enough to learn the craft of writing.
That’s lifelong process, but it gave me a foundation to do that, to learn the ins and outs of publishing, how to format a novel, that kind of thing. I wrote probably five or six books in that time, and it wasn’t until six months before my deadline that I got the call that I was going to be published. So I really cut it short.
Jenny Wheeler: That’s fantastic and all that time you were also a full-time mum. That really takes some dedication to keep going when you’ve got so much else on. You could make excuses that you just didn’t have time and that kind of thing. I guess that it might have been a bit tempting sometimes to do that.
Giving herself a timeline a key to success
Heather Webber: Sometimes it’s still tempting, lemme tell you. But I think because I gave myself the timeline, that was the key for me. I gave myself five years and I was going to see that through, even during those times where I wanted to quit. That’s what really pushed me through.
Jenny Wheeler: That’s great because the next question I was going to ask you, and it’s one that I ask everybody really, is what do you credit with the quote secret of your success?
Heather Webber: It’s truly just persistence. when those first rejections came in – it’s a little bit of stubbornness too, actually – when those first rejections came in, I was just so upset by them.
Even though it is a business and you have to learn that it is a business and it’s not personal when your writing is rejected.
But I got a little chip on my shoulder. I will do this, I can do this. I know I can do this. I want to do this. And that’s a big thing is the wanting to do it. How badly you want something drives how much work you’re willing to put into it.
Jenny Wheeler: Yes. Yes.
Heather Webber: Per persistence is really key.
Links to Heather Webber:
Heather Webber Binge Reading Episode; Magic Mystery: https://thejoysofbingereading.com/heather-webber-magic-mystery/
Best of 2022 – Lynette Eason – Romantic Suspense
Lynette Eason is an author of inspirational romantic adventures with more than 50 books to her credit. I asked her how it all came together.
Jenny Wheeler: Lynette, your series are generally adventure with suspense and built into them a lot of former military heroes or people in the helping and rescuing professions. Is this how you started out, or did all that develop gradually as you went along along?
Lynette Eason: I started with the suspense genre and I’ve stuck with it ever since. That was what I was interested in writing and I didn’t see any reason to write anything else .
Jenny Wheeler: Was there a epiphany moment where you thought, I’ve just got to get that book written, something you’d always wanted to do, or was it something you just fell into somehow?
Lynette Eason: I don’t know that there was an epiphany moment. I know that when, I was growing up, I always loved to read suspense, like the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew and Alfred Hitchcock and Agatha Christie. I loved all of that stuff. but as far as trying to write, I tried to write a book when I was in the eighth grade and gave up because it was just too hard,
‘Talking to the voices in my head’
But I’ve always done really well with writing in school and always had really good compliments on creative writing exercise and stories.
So I think when my daughter was born and my husband traveled a lot with his job and I was lonely and I thought, you know, this might be a good time to try to write a book cause I always wanted to, but I just never really got around to it…
You know, like I said, eighth grade, gave up. So when he would be gone, I would sit down. I call it talking to the voices in my head and I pounded out a story. I knew that I wanted to write suspense. I didn’t know really, it was romantic suspense that I wanted to write until after I read, Dee Henderson’s book, Danger in the Shadows.
I guess that was the epiphany. I was like, this is what I wanna write. Yeah. And so, that’s just kind of tried to come up with that type of story.
Jenny Wheeler: That’s fantastic. Now, the most recent one that, that you’ve got out at the moment is Life Flight, and it’s the first book in a new series called Extreme Measures, and the hero of that is Penny, a medical rescue helicopter pilot who gets stuck on a mountain in a bad storm where there’s a serial killer loose. How do you keep the action moving?
Can this get any worse? Well yes, it can!
Lynette Eason: Oh gosh, you know, it’s funny, I don’t plot out my stories completely. I just start writing and see where the characters and the action and all that kind of takes me when things get bad, I try to figure out how I can make it worse and work that into the story somehow.
And the readers are going, can this get any worse? And then, oh yes, it actually can. So, it keeps readers awake and on the edge of their seat and keeps them coming back for more. I guess they really enjoy it. .
Jenny Wheeler: That’s great. I started to dip into the series before this one, danger Never Sleeps, and I must admit, I got really hooked into Danger Never Sleeps. You’ve got a four book series there, and they’re all ex-military who’ve worked together in Afghanistan in one way or another on a military deployment.
But now they’re back in the US and trying to settle down into normal lives. Various things that happened in Afghanistan impacting on their lives as they try to get back to some normality.
Now, I think it’s in Book Two of the series, I was quite struck because Heather goes sand boarding in the Bamiyan Mountains. Now, we had New Zealand troops deployed and their headquarters for part of the time was the Bamiyan Mountains, and I’d never heard of anybody going sand boarding there.
The detail that makes a story come alive
And I thought, wow, you’ve got the sort of detail that makes things come alive. And I wondered how you managed to get so close to the action. Do, you have family who are involved in the military or how do you do your research?
Lynette Eason: I have a couple of acquaintances that served there and one of those has turned into a good friend and he gave me a lot of little details that only somebody who’d served in the military would know about. And in the first book in Active Defense, I simply did some research on, okay, you have all these people serving in the military and they can’t be on duty 24 7, They’ve gotta have some fun in their lives, or you just, you gonna go nuts.
Jenny Wheeler: Yes.
Lynette Eason: So I like, what do they do? And so I started asking around and I started doing some research online and I found that they actually do go sandboarding in these mountains. And I was like, well, that’s really cool. My character’s gonna do that.
Jenny Wheeler: But, you haven’t actually, for example, flown helicopters yourself,
Lynette Eason: Ah, no, no. I have not flown a helicopter, but I have an FBI agent buddy who has, and he has given me all the details for all the helicopter stuff,
Lynette Eason’s writing schedule
Jenny Wheeler: Oh, that’s great. Do you have an idea output in terms of word count or the number of books you want to produce a year, what’s your production schedule like?
Lynette Eason: I do have a word count that I strive to reach each day. I don’t always do it, so therefore with the deadline creeps up, I find myself in panic mode, such as right now.
But life does interfere sometimes. I have family and other obligations and I have a niece and nephew that I love to keep up with. They’re seven years old and twins, My kids are older now.
I write every day, whether it’s 50 words or 1000 or 2000, at some point I am on my laptop just about every single day, trying to reach that word count because I know if I don’t, it’s gonna be more the next day and more the next day and more the next day.
I do, I work every day, usually. Holidays, weekends, you name it. There’ll be times I’ll take a couple of days off to do something fun with family, but I’m an empty nester.
My husband works a lot of hours and he’s pastor of a church and he works at the ministry in the Dominican and a ministry in Africa and he is gone quite a bit and it’s just me and the dog.
I enjoy what I do and I try to get done what I need to do, because I have to do it at some point.
Jenny Wheeler: You’ve got quite a sense of social justice and in the series like Elite Guardians and Women of Justice, there is a sense coming through of wanting to see right prevail. Tell us a bit about that aspect of your work. Has that always been an important thing to you?
A desire for justice Lynette’s driving force
Lynette Eason: Yes, I’m big on justice , I love that the bad guys get taken down. I love that when somebody does wrong, that the characters that I create have this sense of justice in that we’re gonna fix this, we’re gonna make it right, and it might be a control thing too, because you see so much that’s wrong in this world.
You see so many things that you can’t do anything about. as much as you you would love to solve the crisis of hunger and homelessness and all of these things in the world. You can do your part, but you’re not gonna fix it. And I think in my stories, I always have that happily ever after.
I’m not saying it’s cheesy and everything always works out in the end, but for the most part I give my readers a happy ending, because that’s why they read, and most people want the happy ending. I want the happy ending , and so I just love that. I can do that. I get to control it. I like to see the little person become the hero, I love to see characters change and grow. And learn about themselves not just outwardly, but inwardly, really learn something about themselves that makes them a better person.
Faith-based stories must be entertaining
Jenny Wheeler: Yes, that’s great. The other aspect of this, your publishers mainly faith-based publishers, like Life Inspired Romance and Revell, and there are faith aspects of your stories, not in a heavy-handed way. I wonder how you keep the right balance between introducing those things. there’s that joke that everybody calls out on God when they’re faced with tough situations.
But how do you do that in a way that isn’t going to turn people off?
Lynette Eason: Well, I don’t like to preach. I mean, there’s preaching and there’s preaching, I go to church and I know I’m gonna get preached at in church, you know? But when I’m reading, I don’t want to read a sermon.
My first goal is to be entertained. And as a writer, I want my readers to be entertained. I don’t want them to be flipping pages going, all right, I wanna get to the action. I wanna get the story. I can read about this other stuff some other time. That kind of thing.
There are no atheists in fox holes
I want my characters, if they’re Christians, if they have a faith element, I want them to live it naturally.
I want it to come through. as a part of their character, and that it’s very natural. It doesn’t come across as I’m like trying to force it or trying to fake it because nobody’s gonna respond to that, not positively anyway.
In my stories, I try to think, okay, if I put myself in that situation where, you know, somebody’s trying to kill me, I’m gonna be praying a lot, even if I don’t have really strong faith element, it’s gonna make me think about things.
Jenny Wheeler: Yeah, yeah. There is that saying there are no atheists in foxholes.
Lynette Eason: That No. Very true. Very true. Yes. Yes.
Links To Lynette:
Lynette Eason Binge Reading Episode; Inspirational Suspense: https://thejoysofbingereading.com/lynette-eason-romantic-suspense/
Dee Henderson Book that inspired Lynette: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/359463.Danger_in_the_Shadows
Best of 2022 – Christian White – Psychological Thrillers
Christian White is an Australian author, screenwriter and producer who’s award-winning first novel, The Nowhere Child has already attracted a major screen deal. His latest book, the psychological thriller Wild Place raises a question as old as human life itself. – Why do good people do bad things?
He co-wrote a Netflix show Clickbait which went to Number one in 41 countries and yet he says it took him a long time to get into writing thrillers because he didn’t think he was clever enough to do them well. Here’s Christian telling the story.
Christian White: When I first started out, I wanted to write, comedy, you know, I fancy myself a comedy writer, and I tried it and I just realized, oh, I’m really, really bad at writing comedy. And so I tried all these sort of, um, You know, I really like horror, so I dabbled with horror and I sort of tried different genres and, and weirdly it took me a long time to get around to that thriller mystery crime genre, mostly because I didn’t think I was clever enough.
Strangely, I have always loved reading them, so looking back, it’s a bit of a no-brainer, but I thought, no, I don’t think I can do it. I’m not clever enough.
Finding your space as a writer
And then as soon as. I started dabbling and then, and I realized, oh, actually I’m kind of good at this. I’m, I was terrible at all these other things that I tried, but I’m kind of good at this.
And then I leaned further and further in and then realized, it was just my space.
Jenny Wheeler: So how interesting that it took you quite a while to find that, and when you say you didn’t feel clever enough, are you referring there to having to do lots of plot twists and that kind of thing?
Christian White: Yeah, I always thought, you know, a good mystery needs a really great twist, but the twist can’t come out of nowhere. It’s got to be built in and it needs to keep audiences guessing and there needs to be twists and turns.
And I just thought, oh, I don’t think my brain can do that. And, what I realized was my first drafts are always terrible, but so much of what I do is going back and making it seem like I had all the answers from the beginning.
Discovering a process that works for you
I think I thought that you had to write it from beginning to end, and as soon as I discarded that notion, it all fell into place. I think it was, sorry if I’m wrong about this, but I think it was PT Anderson, the director who when he was talking about writing, he talks as if you are ironing the sleeve of a shirt.
so you don’t go – this is gonna be hard to just do, you know, without the visual – but you don’t start from the shoulder, go right down to the wrist and be done with it. You start at the shoulder, go a little bit down, then go back to the shoulder and go a little bit further and writing – I mean that’s so spot on.
That describes my process so well, so much of it is just building and building and building and making it seem like you are cleverer than you really are.
Jenny Wheeler: It’s interesting that you say that because I think writers do sometimes get that feeling when they’re two thirds or so into a book. They get that panicky feeling of, this isn’t good enough. I don’t know what’s supposed to be happening. They almost punish themselves about that feeling of uncertainty. But it sounds like you’ve learned to really ride it.
Christian White: Yes. My my process is – and now I’m onto my third book, so it’s really a process – that I will sit down, and before I start writing it all, I’ll come up with what I think is this ironclad plot.
The best laid plans… mostly don’t work out
You know, it’s really great. It’s got these cool twists and turns, and then around halfway through every single time, I realize – and there’s no way to say this that isn’t really pretentious, but your characters do take on a mind of their own and a life of their own, and usually I realize that about halfway through.
I’ve got to know them in a way that now I know they won’t do the things I want them to do in the second half. And at that time, I generally, I do two things. Firstly, I always follow the character. That always speaks plot for me. I might have this really amazing scene I’m building to, – I think characters are allowed to do stupid things because we all do stupid things.
But when I’m reading a book or watching a show or something and a character does something so plot serving that you can see the writer’s movements behind that, And whenever that happens, I completely emotionally disengage.
Christian White – its all about following character
The other secret weapon I have is my wife, Summer. I’ll do a first draft and then I’ll give it to her first, even before my publishers, and I’ll say, hey, the ending is terrible. Can you come up with all the twists and give me credit for it? That’s what happened in my second book in particular. I obviously won’t do spoilers, but it was a very ambitious twist. I spent a long time trying to make that twist work. I reached a point where I was about to give up and that would mean missing deadlines. It would mean everything falling apart.
Finally, after weeks I talked to Summer about it and said, here’s what I want to do, and here’s the problem. She was quiet for probably 12 seconds, and then she came up with all the answers. She is definitely my secret weapon. If we ever get divorced, my career will go down the tube.
Jenny Wheeler: That’s gorgeous. You seem to have also a fascination with the question of how well we know one another. Even in intimate relationships people hold deep secrets from those closest to them. And I wondered if that too was something that you’d grown up with, somehow being aware that there was a lot of stuff going on underneath that maybe they weren’t coming clean about.
Self discovery part of the writing journey
Christian White: Yeah, I mean, I think, I think on a subconscious level, I must have always feared this idea that. You know, those closest to us will be carrying some secret or do something so huge that it will unpick your relationship. But I didn’t realize that about myself until really I wrote three books about that very thing.
And even the TV show Clickbait is about that. You know, I co-wrote a film called Relic and even that goes into that territory and it’s really funny. I think that when I’m writing I am aware of the themes and I do start with certain questions, but I’m only at a really surface level.
Generally, all the themes just emerge naturally, all the true themes, and I really didn’t think about it until, the first book came out and people started to talk about those questions and say ‘Oh, you must be interested in that. ‘And I thought, yeah, I guess I am.
And now looking back, there are all these themes, these reoccurring themes that I think each of my three books by design very different but they all very much feel there’s, there’s similar themes tying them all together.
The ‘necessary truths’ we construct for ourselves
And I think that was completely subconscious, but clearly it’s a deep, it’s a deep fear I have, really, I can’t think of anything worse. If a serial killer came in and killed me, yes, that would be horrible, of course.
But what if you found out, your wife had killed someone? It’s this deep, deep fear because I think we set up these necessary truths in life. You know, where you have an idea of your parents and they have to be your idea of it, it’s a necessary truth.
When you find out that’s not the case, life can unravel very quickly and I guess that’s very scary. Although, having said that, it’s not like that happened to me.
I dunno what I’m working through, but clearly. Clearly there’s something going on.
Christian White Episode# https://thejoysofbingereading.com/christian-white-psychological-thrillers/
Clickbait Netflix show: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QwVLObz0MGs
Best of 2022 – Meg Waite Clayton – WWII adventure
Historical fiction, author Meg Waite Clayton’s latest book, The Postmistress of Paris has had a tremendous reception. It’s a thrilling world war two story about rescuing artists from Vichy, France, with a host of international reviewers eagerly anticipating in it and hyping it up before it even went on sale.
But as Meg explains, she’s already served a long apprenticeship to get to that place
Meg Waite Clayton: I did. This is, novel number eight. Here in the United States the first one that’s been reviewed by The New York Times, so that’s my long apprenticeship, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s been a lovely run and a lovely career, and I feel like it’s just keeps growing in a lovely way.
Jenny Wheeler: That’s wonderful. The central character of the postmistress in the book, she’s called Naneé , she’s a wealthy American who stays on in France after war is declared in 1939, partly because she feels it’s her home.
Mary Jayne Gold – remarkable inspiration
She’s been living there for quite some time and also because she has this lovely idea, or some might say silly idea, that she “quotes,” wants to make a difference in the war effort. And she was based on a real person named Mary Jayne Gold, who I had never heard of before your book, can you tell us a bit about Mary Jayne?
Meg Waite Clayton: Yes, absolutely. I will say, for starters that the character of Naneé is inspired by Mary Jane, but not exactly based on her for a reason I’ll tell you about. But Mary Jayne Gold was a real Chicago heiress who was indeed, living in Paris when Hitler invaded and she decided to stay. She was an extraordinary woman.
She flew airplanes before people did, and she chose to live outside of the normal parameters of somebody who was raised in her kind of wealth and privilege. And she did indeed stay in France and help vary Varian Fry’s effort to rescue artists and writers and other great thinkers from France after Hitler invaded.
Dagobert – the dog who barked at Hitler
She’s a wonderful person. She wrote a memoir herself called Crossroads Marseilles, 1940, which you can look at in French. It’s out of print in English. But one of the main differences with Mary Jayne Gold is that her real love story was she fell in love with a Marseilles mobster, basically a gangster, whose name was Killer, not because he was killed people, but because he killed the English language.
Well, it’s a lovely story, but it didn’t fit into the parameters of what I was trying to do, illuminating this effort to rescue people. And so that’s why Naneé is inspired by, rather than based upon, Mary Jayne Gold.
Jenny Wheeler: It’s an interesting little detail about flying planes though, because Naneé flies planes as well, doesn’t she?
Meg Waite Clayton: She does. There are many things that, Naneé and Mary Jayne Gold have in common, including that Vega Gold, which was the real airplane that Mary Jayne Gold flew, and the dog Dagobert who barks madly whenever Hitler’s name is mentioned.
I’d like to have made that up, but the real Mary Jayne Gold’s dog did that. It was too beautiful to leave out .
Rescuing artists from Nazi France
Jenny Wheeler: That’s absolutely right. Now you mentioned the name Variant Fry. He plays a very important role in the story. He is like the secret US coordinator for these people that they’re giving them out as refugees before the.
Germans really managed to clamp down on the country while they’re still in transition to the Vichy France regime, and I had never heard of him either. I didn’t realize until I read your footnote at the back that he was a real person. So tell us about him too.
Meg Waite Clayton: He was indeed a real person. He was involved in organizing this effort from the United States to send somebody over to take visas and help get people like Picasso, and Matisse and Chagall out of France.
An unlikely hero and man for his time
Hannah Arendt was one of the names on his list, They couldn’t figure out anybody else to do it so he said, fine, I will go. He spoke French. He spoke German. He was a writer, so it was totally outside of his bailiwick, but he went across to France and stayed far longer than he was meant to and helped rescue about 2,000 people before he was booted from France.
Jenny Wheeler: Oh, that’s fantastic. Yeah. And the surrealists also play a big part in the, story. I wondered why you chose, particularly the surrealist movement. Naneé is very much involved in the Paris art world before the Germans take over, isn’t she?
Meg Waite Clayton: She is. I will read you a quick line from the second paragraph of the book, which is Naneé ‘s thoughts on surrealism.
She’s going to see this exhibit. She describes it as 300 artworks depicting gigantic insects, bizarre floating heads, and dismembered or defiled bodies, which she knew were meant to be thought-provoking, but always left her feeling unsophisticated and far too American. Midwestern, not even from Chicago, but from Evanston.
An education in surrealist art part of the story
That’s really how I feel about the surrealist of art. I found it daunting before I researched for this book. Researching for this book gave me a great appreciation for what they were doing with surrealist art. Nonetheless, I don’t think I could hang most of it on my walls. That would gimme nightmares.
The reason I chose surrealism is because it was the art of the time, and many of the artists who were rescued in Varian’s Fry’s effort were indeed surrealists, So yes, that’s period appropriate.
A lot of the real-life artists have parts in the book as well. There are a couple who have reasonably prominent roles – André Breton and Max Ernst for starters. That obviously was also part of the development of the story.
Meg Waite Clayton: Yes exactly. I turned to Max Ernst because he was somebody who really was at Camp des Milles, which was this French internment camp outside of Aix-en-Provence where the French first, even before Hitler invaded, interned Jewish refugees, feeling fearful that they would be spies for the Reich.
An unusual household; artists and their rescuers
Max Ernst was interned there not once, but twice, and his story in that regard is really interesting and very demonstrative. He was put in this camp and when they let him go finally, he could have left and gone to the United States or someplace else, but instead he chose to stay in France.
He could not imagine that they would arrest him again or anything bad would happen to him. He was arrested again and put back in the camp. That’s part of the reason he’s there, because his real story is something I can thread through.
Similarly with André Breton. He was the leader of the surrealist movement. He is a really fascinating character. He did indeed live at Villa Air-Bel with Mary Jayne Gold and Varian Fry during this period I write about, with his wife and child, while he was waiting to try to be gotten out of France. He was both a great character and true to the real history. I always like to be as true to the real history as I can.
Jenny Wheeler: So it’s interesting. I didn’t realize that Mary Jayne had gone to the South and actually lived there with Varian. So that’s very much true to your story too.
Meg Waite Clayton: She is the one in real life who rented Villa Air-Bel, which was this ramshackle old villa outside of Marseille where many of the people involved in this effort lived together.
Joy and games during perilous times
That was one of the things that drew me to the story. They lived together, they threw these salons with artists and they played these crazy surrealist games together. Somehow or other they managed to have this incredibly good-spirited time together, actually fun, while at the same time risking their lives in order to help save people. It was such an extraordinary story that once I learned it, it called to me to write a novel about it.
Jenny Wheeler: Dare I ask what happened to Mary Jayne In the end?
Meg Waite Clayton: The real Mary Jayne was eventually booted out of France, and went back to the United States for the rest of the war.
After the war was over, she returned to France and lived the rest of her life there. If anybody’s interested in hearing more about her, there are a wonderful series of interviews with her on the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, site from when she is toward the end of her life, and they’re really extraordinary.
She is such an amazing character and it’s lovely to hear her talk about her story in her own words.
Meg Waite Clayton Binge Reading Episode WWII Best-Seller; https://thejoysofbingereading.com/meg-waite-clayton-wwii-best-seller/
Mary Jayne Gold: https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-evanston-heiress-inspires-novel-tt-1130-20211130-n36mbdjpnvbqhd27acvs253aka-story.html
Mary Jayne Gold: Oral History interview at the Holocaust memorial Museum site.: https://collections.ushmm.org/search/catalog/irn513492
Mary Jayne Gold Memoir; Crossroads Marseilles, 1940:
Varian Fry: https://www.ushmm.org/collections/bibliography/varian-fry
Best of 2022 – Stephanie Laurens – Regency Queen
Historical romance queen Stephanie Laurens has been in the Top 100 Romance Lists many times over. She’s one of the most popular Regency romance authors of all time with over 70 historical romances, including 40 New York times best sellers.
Her latest book, Foes Friends and Lovers, is set in a little later period than Regency in the Victorian age. But I started by asking her about the special popularity of Regency romance
Jenny Wheeler: Regency just fascinates people, doesn’t it? Why do you think that is?
Stephanie Laurens: I’ve always thought it was actually because of the peculiar… You know, when you actually got deeply into it… Yes. There’s all the carriages and the balls and the ball gowns there’s a lot of color in it, which is different to now.
So that is an attractive thing, and it’s very visually colorful which helps when you’re writing and you can make it exciting, adventurous, quite dramatic.
But underneath it all is the fact that at that time, socially, in the upper echelons of society, there was a time when you could actually start to marry for love,
Regency – an era where marrying for love became possible
And that particular band of society didn’t marry for love, prior to say 1800, But through of the romantic movement, which was very late 1700’s. and on through the Napoleonic Wars ,there came this questioning of marrying for love instead of just marrying for dynastic purposes or for convenience or you know, whatever, but not for love.
Love was not a criteria for marriage in that band of society prior to about then. So it means that the females in particular can make a decision. Do they want to marry for love? Do they want to marry not for love? Do they want to marry at all? Because again, if you’re dealing with the upper echelons, then the women didn’t have to marry.
It was expected. But if they really, really wanted to dig in their heels, they generally could not marry and go and do something else, with their lives. and that is r the same questions that women of today, or certainly the last few decades have also had to face. what do I do with my life?
I actually have a choice. So I think that echo has always made that time period particularly useful, whereas it’s less so in the Victorian era where I’m now writing and it’s harder to generate that resonance with modern times.
And then the Victorians took over
Jenny Wheeler: That’s the fascinating answer and it’s one that I’d never, ever really thought about.
So there was an evolution, because obviously the Victorians are after the Regency, so. that little burst of freedom, so to speak, gets squashed in the Victorian age.
Stephanie Laurens: Yes, it does. Exactly. That’s right. And so, the Regency – and in the early post Regency, like the 1830s for instance, before Victoria came to the throne and even just after, before she really had an impact and Victorian society evolved.
That band of time between say 1805 to about early 1840s has a different feel to it socially when it comes to love and marriage in the aristocracy.
Jenny Wheeler: Wow, that’s fascinating. Over this wonderful body of work, you’ve got a number of series, but one name stands out and that’s the Cynsters.
The Cynster clan central to Stephanie’s work
More than half of your books are related to that articular family and the most recent one, the one we must talk about today is Foes Friends and Lovers. That’s number 10 in the latest series. And this is the next generation of Cynsters. You’ve had a lot of books, 20 books with the first generation. This is the next generation down.
So tell us about the differences. Actually, it feeds in wonderfully to your explanation about the Regency and Victorians. Is it different to do the two books because they’re in different generations?
Stephanie Laurens: Well, yes, there definitely is a distinctly different feel and I’ve explored to some extent that in order to find the opening for a romance, particularly from the woman’s point of view, because I tend to write very strong female characters.
I’ve had to look more deeply into other things for the situations where a woman would be more able. To, as I said, face those questions, and that’s for instance, in Foes Friends and Lovers. I have what is essentially a runaway heiress who has taken refuge in a very eccentric, country estate, an estate that was run by very eccentric older women who were, both of them actually, were widows..
Second generation Cynsters face new challenges
When they die, she remains as the châtelain of the estate. Cynster is the one who inherits the estate, a Cynster male. And the next book after that, which is coming out in the middle of the year, the woman is running a steel mill in Sheffield.
So I’ve had to go out further in society rather than just staying in the London ballrooms and the social circles of London. I’ve had to really go out and find different areas in order to evolve a more interesting type of romance.
Jenny Wheeler: Foes Friends and Lovers is set in Nottinghamshire, isn’t it? Towards the north of the country. And she is Scottish in her family relationships. So I did wonder if that also helped to free it up a little bit from that London ton situation.
Stephanie Laurens: Exactly. That’s right. and some of the women, although they may be well born, they’re not your typical London Miss. The one I’m writing now is very funny because she’s a London Miss, but she’s taken a different tack. She’s very outrageous when she’s in London and she’s very much a country woman, managing a big state when she’s at home. I have to keep looking for these unusual situations where I can have a very strong female character.
New romance readers expect bigger stories
Jenny Wheeler: Is the way that men and women interact in this period with the next generation very different from how their parents interacted?
This is pretty much edging into mid Victorian. and it does seem to be yes, that men and women lived very separate lives. Far more so I think than in the Regency.
For instance, as I said, I tend to write about the aristocracy or certainly wealthy people. And in the Regency the males did not so much interest themselves in what we might call work of any sort.
And that’s what, the hero here in Foes Friends and lovers is also addressing this. He doesn’t have any really deep interest in anything, whereas his brothers and sisters and so on, they all. have something that they’re actually doing with their life, a purpose in their life.
And this is, I think, what has changed by the time you get into the Victorian era. I find that having a purpose in life, particularly for the men is, has become more desirable. It’s clear that they really need to have something else. Not just be sitting at home or counting the investments coming in.
The changing roles of men and women
They could be interested in investments and in actually investing in companies and so on. That would be acceptable. But just sitting at home being nothing and using the money doesn’t work anymore for them. They can’t spend all their time riding their estates and not contributing to the wider society anymore.
So that has changed. I think women always did have a role to play because of course they always manage the household, they manage the family, they manage this and that.
So for the woman, it’s not such a big change, but for the men, I think it is. It has been. And therefore they’re not necessarily spending all their time together.
Jenny Wheeler: Yes. Do you think that the expectations of romance readers have changed over the
time that you’ve been writing?
Stephanie Laurens: Some Yes. And some no, because I still find that there’s the same older readership that was always there.
I don’t mean older in terms of age so much as the people who were heavily into romance in the 1990s. They’re still the same, and some of them might have been quite young in the 1990s, so they’re still around so that group is still coming through. There is a newer group because I still get people who’ve only just started on my books.
New readers want not just romance but adventure too
Most of them it may be their first romance that they’ve ever read and a lot of them are still, oh, oh, this is what it’s all about. Oh, I never knew. and so you, get newness of people who are coming to them and what they’re getting out of it, I think its more not just the romance, but the adventure or the other thing that’s in there.
All my books have some other thing. There are very few books of mine, that are solely about the relationship. I think there’s one, maybe two. Two. There’s two. There’s usually some other major plot line running through it. So I think because of that, my book are still spanning the reader expectations.
Jenny Wheeler: That’s great. I wondered with your very intense scientific background, and you were in cancer research as well, whether this last couple of years observing from afar what’s been happening with the pandemic, if you had any. pangs of, oh, I’d love to be in that field still because there’s so much going on.
Stephanie Laurens: No, quite the opposite. I was very glad not to have been in that field. I think that the pressures must have been significant. I must admit, having worked in pathology labs and in fact developed pathology tests myself, I really take my hat off to the people who were running those labs. that must have just so, challenging.
A scientist turned romance author in a pandemic
It is useful because of course I can, and my husband’s also in science, so both of us can analyze all the data that comes out in possibly rather a more, detailed way than most people.
Jenny Wheeler: You have been doing that?
Stephanie Laurens: Oh, yes, absolutely in this latest wave. as always, I’ve got a graph going that I chart the, relevant figures every day just to convince myself that yes, all is going as it should, which it is. So that’s good.
Jenny Wheeler: That’s wonderful. Looking at your wider career, is there one thing that you might have done that you’d quit with being quotes, the secret of your success? What would it be?
Stephanie Laurens: Secret of my success, I would have to say probably learning to plot, which I did not do for the first, I dunno how many books, but after the second book for the Americans, which would’ve been book number 10, by then that stage I realized that there had to be an easier way,
I can obviously write stories, but surely I can be more efficient, because the idea of writing a lot of stuff and then going back over it and rewriting it again, and then rewriting it again and et cetera, et cetera, it wasn’t a very efficient process at all.
Streamlining the writing process for longevity
And so I gradually, over the years, Trained myself using other people’s different plans and I gradually taught myself how to plot for me, and I think that is one of the things that allowed me to keep writing for so long. and enjoying it still, that I’ve actually slimmed the whole process down.
I’m a lot more in control and I don’t do a lot of stuff that is thrown out in the wider scheme of things.
Jenny Wheeler: Yes. that book number 10 sounds like it might be significant because I did read somewhere. You were quoted as saying that your advice to beginner writers was not to expect anything to happen until they’d pretty well got to book six and maybe even to book 10.
Stephanie Laurens: Yes, that’s right. When you actually look back at people’s careers who have had a long career in writing, not people who were just flashes in the pan, most people who have had long careers in writing and been steady writers for decades, they have almost always written. I mean, you may have your first book published, but that doesn’t mean it’s gonna really turn anything on.
But by the time you get to Book 10, you have a lot better idea of what you’re doing, and that isn’t just my advice, that’s actually built on the advice of a lot of, as I said, authors who’ve been around for a long time and had long careers.
Stephanie Laurens Binge Reading Episode Regency Romance Rules: https://thejoysofbingereading.com/stephanie-laurens-romance-queen/
Best of 2022 – Isabella Maldonado – Crime Thriller
Award-winning author Isabella Maldonado wore a gun and a badge for two decades before turning her talents to writing about crime rather than chasing criminals. Her thriller The Cipher, the first book in her series featuring FBI agent Nina Guerrera is currently in development with Netflix starring Jennifer Lopez.
I started by asking Isabella about her life as a police officer and how she transitioned to writing crime thrillers.
Jenny Wheeler: Isabella you’re a former police officer. You had over two decades in the force, and you’re also a graduate of the F B I National Agency at Quantico. Now, that background has enabled you to seamlessly, it seems, move into writing novels that are attracting wide attention.
You are very much regarded as a writer to watch and you’ve had awards for your work, and now you’ve got some exciting news about a movie project. What’s happening there?
Isabella Maldonado: Well, yeah, it is very, very exciting. What happened is that, like right after the Cipher came out, which is the first book in the Nina Guerrera series, Hollywood called, It’s a good way to put it.
Jennifer Lopez – starring and producing
An actually there was interest from several different studios. I have a literary agent out of New York and then I had to get a Hollywood agent and then brokered a deal, and what ended up happening is Jennifer Lopez has her own production company Nuyorican Productions, and she teamed up with Netflix and they came in with.
Just the strongest deal.they did a really, great job and, so we went with that. And so it’s very, very exciting. It’s gonna be really wonderful to see my book come to life in that way.
Jenny Wheeler: Yes. Now I can imagine, I can believe why she would be attracted to the story because I don’t know if she’ll be playing the main role as well.
But it is a wonderful main role for a Latina actress, isn’t it?
Isabella Maldonado: She is going to star in it. Ah, fantastic. So , yeah, she will, she’s going to produce and she’s going to star and what they’re gonna do is they’re just going to make changes. People who have read the book will know that the lead character is 27 years old, so they’re just going to make changes the character will be more age appropriate.
Modern thrillers need emotion as well as action
I love reading thrillers as much as the next person, but I think that today’s more modern thrillers are bringing in more of an emotional component. I’ve noticed that, and so I wanted to have like a fully developed character arc where the reader goes with the character on.
First of all, a physical journey that is extremely tough, but also an emotional journey, and it seems like it’s resonating with readers. They’re really enjoying the dual level I wanted to include a social media component in there, just from my own experience in law enforcement. The public do sometimes get heavily involved in a case, especially a headline grabbing case. It can really be nightmarish at times to work a case and have the public. also talking about it and trading information and gossip about it, but it’s no longer just gossip around town.
It’s gossip all over the internet. And I wanted to put that forward and people they do get sucked in and I wanted to show the effect that had. on the investigation for the F B I agents.
Jenny Wheeler: There’s an element of romance or possible romance and the cipher and Isabella has some interesting things to say about, uh, female police officers, social life, or lack of it.
Romance and the female police officer
Isabella Maldonado: It was very hard to even have a regular schedule to have a social life. And then when I would finally meet a guy and go on a date, a lot of these guys they were either very intimidated. dating a female police officer. They felt like, I don’t know, maybe their masculinity was being challenged in some way, even though I didn’t do that overtly by any intention.
Or some of them were incredibly, overly fascinated. Like they really got excited about the idea that I had a gun and that I had a badge and, you know, whatever. That I could shoot and that I had some take down moves and were just a little too fascinated with my weaponry and stuff.
And I’m just like, yeah, this isn’t right. So a lot of the women that I know, at least back in those days, it’s probably different now, ended up marrying if they did get married, they ended up marrying other law enforcement officers only because it was kind of a challenge. Sone didn’t.
But it was often a challenge. And so that did happen. And that did happen to me.
Jenny Wheeler: I knew that you were now very happily raising a son, and I was quite curious, maybe did you marry a police officer or not?
Isabella Maldonado: Yeah, I did. I did, I did .
Isabella Maldonado Binge Reading Episode; From Crime Fighter to Crime Writer: https://thejoysofbingereading.com/isabella-maldonado-crime-fighter-to-crime-writer/
Best of 2022 – Andy Straka – Murder Sees Double
Andy Straka is an award-winning mystery author whose latest book Split City features identical twins who are also former pro bowling champs. When one of them is called upon by a small Midwest town sheriff, to identify the other’s body in the morgue, as you can imagine all hell breaks loose.
Andy and I began by settling the question of how much personal biography is involved in split cities. Backstory.
Andy Straka: I grew up in upstate New York, which is where this book is set. It’s not autobiographical in any way. but I am an identical twin to start off, and when I was young, my mother and father took my identical twin and I bowling almost every Sunday after church.
My parents were both bowlers. That changed a little bit when we got into our teens, it kind of fell away, but it was a part of my childhood that was a cherished memory.
Believe it or not, when the pandemic started a couple of years ago, I was hard at work on more of an international thriller, co-authored with another gentleman. I called him up and said, I need to take a break from this book, it’s too close to reality with everything going on right now. Part of the reason I wanted to do that is I felt the need to tell this story.
This idea came into my head. I wanted to do a traditional mystery that was based character-wise on reality.
Writing Split City a happy pandemic escape
It is set in an actual area, the Catskill Mountains of upstate New York where we’re from here in the US, but the town itself, Partridgeberry County and Twin Strikes, none of that exists. It’s all fictional. And I wanted to do an amateur sleuth. I didn’t want to have a professional detective or anybody with any kind of professional background. I didn’t want that level of reality.
It was actually great therapy for me to write this book. I’ve had fun writing it. I hope people have enjoyed reading it, and from the feedback I get from readers that seems to be the case. I’m having a blast with the characters. I’m working on the sequel right now.
Jenny Wheeler: Was it a bit of a tonic for you getting through the pandemic? Is that how you see it?
Andy Straka: Yes. I needed something that was an escape, and I can’t help but wonder if many readers are in the same boat these days. We have so much drama going on. All we’ve got to do is turn on our television or click our internet. It’s splashed into our faces everywhere, it seems.
Agatha Christie meets The Big Lebowski
Sometimes I just want to sit with a book – whether it be a physical book or an e-book. I can go either way myself but I know some people feel strongly either one with one or the other. But to be able to escape, to say, okay I’m in a different world now, I’m enjoying these characters, I want to know more about them, I want to have fun with them, and especially I’m enjoying the narrative voice and whatever is going on.
Jenny Wheeler: I’m talking to you from New Zealand, and in New Zealand, when we talk about bowls the thing that comes to mind, certainly for people of my generation, is lawn bowls and older people playing bowls outside on various smooth greens, dressed in almost uniforms, white costumes, like the cricketers use.
It’s not that sort of bowls you’re talking about at all is it? I don’t know if you even have that sort of bowls in the States. It’s a different sort of bowling entirely, so tell us a bit about the bowling in this book.
Andy Straka: This book is American ten pin bowling. That is the majority of the bowling alleys in this country. Billy Gills, who is the protagonist in the book, is a former pro bowler. He is pretty much washed up, except he occasionally tries to get into a tournament, and he runs the bowling alley, which is Split City. To describe this book in a nutshell I tell people that I like to think of it as Agatha Christie meets The Big Lebowski, if you’re familiar with that, and also meets Cheers.
Ten pin bowling as a gauge of community
I know that dates me a little bit but I wanted it to create a sense of community, a place where people come together. In this book there is a local church, and they meet once a month in the bowling alley. They have an event and bring people in from out of town and other areas for a recreational thing. It’s a fellowship and there’s a little talk and so forth.
Essentially, that’s known as Jesus Spares. My idea for the mystery series is that because this is a small town, it’s not like there are murders that happen every day, but all of these stories will in some way be related to those events that happen, whether it’s people from out of town or people in the region who come for this event. That is the idea behind it.
Professional bowling was in its heyday back 30, 40 years ago, and it’s not so much anymore, but it’s made something of a comeback.
The P B A as it’s known, is still quite popular, and particularly in the Midwest of the United States.
Nostalgia for a more cohesive time
But it’s mostly recreational families, people getting together. There are leagues and so forth that are formed, but they’re nowhere near as popular as they were back in my parents’ day. And there’s actually quite a good nonfiction book, a serious book by a sociologist, that came out about 20 years ago called Bowling Alone.
He documents the restructuring of American community. And he uses the bowling leagues as a metaphor, an analysis of that because, back in my parents’ day a much larger percentage of people were involved in these leagues. That fell off quite dramatically in the eighties and nineties, and he saw that as an indication of changes in community
Andy Straka: What I’m looking to do with this book is, I guess in some ways resurrect that feel that I got from my childhood of a community where people in a small town come together.
Jenny Wheeler: That’s interesting. More recent events indicate that the community is not so glued together as it was when you were growing up.
Your book takes us back to a time when the community was more glued together. But this book that you mentioned, Bowling Alone. indicates that perhaps the decline in popularity was because communities became less cohesive.
Bo in the book ‘nothing like my twin’
Andy Straka: Yes, yes, exactly. And you know, I think it’s to the point now where, and part of this of course, is due to social media and some of the technology we’re using right now, there are people that live in suburban neighborhoods that don’t even know their neighbors, for example.
That would not have been the case, back in my parents’ day. So, this book, doesn’t put its head in the sand to not recognize that. Of course it’s modern day, there’s technology and so forth, but it is in a small town. And some of the characters, are quite different.
And there’s some different things going on, and that’s something that I’ve had a lot of fun too, and I’m enjoying myself seeing these characters evolve and getting to know them a little better.
Jenny Wheeler: There is a humorous tone to it. You’re saying about bowls being a sport and you mentioned a sport there which I had never heard of. At the beginning I thought, he must be joking – extreme ironing as a sport. I looked it up and it really does exist. Tell us about that.
Well, I don’t know that all that much about it, but I should say this is sort of inside baseball, my identical twin brother. Is an economist. He has a PhD in economics. He’s a very prestigious executive with one of the big banks here in America. And he’s nothing like Bo. I wanted to make this character, nothing like him. Okay?
Gentle humor in the sport of ‘extreme ironing’
Billy and Bo both leave professional bowling. Bo leaves prematurely because he has an idea for these strange funky bowling shoes, and they take off. They’re known as TreadBos, and they become the Air Jordan sneakers of the bowling world.
He builds a little factory in this Partridgeberry County and his TreadBo shoes become this big, big thing. He’s also very quirky and very different. He has some money; he travels a lot. He’s a little bit of a womanizer.
But he also, does some strange things, one of which is extreme ironing. People can look it up on the internet. It’s, a phenomenon; sort of as a prank, sort of as a sport.
They will attempt to iron a shirt for example, on an ironing board. while standing on their head or riding on horseback or standing on the edge of a cliff climbing a mountain or whatever you can think of. It’s a thing.
Jenny Wheeler: The book opens with a very graphic scene of Billy being asked to go to the morgue by the local sheriff. Identify a body that the sheriff thinks is his brother. And because they’re identical twins, of course, that has a special poignancy.
I don’t think there’s anybody who wouldn’t identify with that scene and feel, for Billy. We won’t let on what actually happens. But what inspired you to open the book that way?
Sharing a sense of what its like to be a twin
Andy Straka: That’s just the first thought that occurred to me when I had the idea for the book. I didn’t know where it was gonna go or how it was gonna end up at.
I thought it might go in one direction and it ended up going in a completely different direction to my surprise. But I thought it was a good way to open a mystery right up front, with something that was unusual and something also that on an emotional level, I personally could relate late to because I could imagine myself being called in such a place and looking down at a body that looks like myself.
I tried to capture that as well as I could, to give readers a sense of what it’s like to be a twin, you know, to actually see someone else in the flesh who looks like you.
Yeah. even at my age now, and, and I, have a couple of grandchildren, even at my age, my twin and I talk all the time.
We don’t see each other physically as often as I would like, especially since the pandemic. But, you know, we talk usually two or three times a week but in any event, even just hearing his voice or seeing his face on a screen or whatever it might be, it’s hard for me to communicate with people what that feeling is like, but I wanted to try to do that as best I could with this dramatic scene.
Andy Straka Binge Reading Episode; Murder Sees Double: https://thejoysofbingereading.com/andy-straka-murder-sees-double/
Best of 2022 – Part II – The Top Seven – coming January 17
That’s it. The first part of the joys of binge readings based of 2022 in two weeks time, we’ll post the next episode. The seven shows that topped the year.
And don’t forget our usual reminder. If you enjoyed what you heard. Leave us a review. So others will find us too.
That’s it for today. Happy holidays and keep on reading and listening. Bye.