Sunday, May 22, 2011
Liz's Lair: Mystery Author Ed Lynskey Talks About Romance in His Books
Today, we get a look into a new mystery series from Ed Lynskey, but first I have some news. Mortal Deception will debut June 6th with a great cyber margarita/tequilla shooter party all day long. There will be prizes every week for four weeks and a special drawing for a brand new kindle on July 4th. Come back then for all the details...and spread the word.
Be sure and mark your calendars for the festivities.
On another note, both Kari and I are offering manuscript critiques at the Brenda Novak auction. Our part ends at the end of May, so hop on over there and check it out. Right now we are the major bargains of the whole shebang!!
Now on to my friend and fellow author, Ed Lynskey.
Ed works and lives near the Pentagon outside of Washington, D.C. with his family and two cats. Needing a break from writing his PI Frank Johnson series, he wrote Lake Charles, a stand alone Appalachian noir, which is his ninth novel. He also decided to write a small town cozy, Quiet Anchorage, featuring a pair of seventy-something sisters, Alma and Isabel Trumbo. If Quiet Anchorage sells like hotcakes, Alma and Isabel will evolve into a series. So this year, he's offering something hardboiled (Lake Charles) and something softboiled (Quiet Anchorage).
Take it away, Ed.
Brendan Searches for Love in All the Wrong Places Until…
My new Appalachian noir Lake Charles is a suspense novel, as the reviewers and readers have noted, but I also set off my nineteen-year-old protagonist Brendan Fishback on a quest for a lasting romance. Granted the romance angle isn’t the big theme here, but most of my main characters form strong emotional bonds, be it as friends or as lovers. That human quality, I believe, has a vast appeal to fiction readers. They’re able to “like” the main character more strongly. As Lake Charles opens, I put Brendan between relationships.
Things of late have gone south. He wakes up in a motel bed, with the dead young lady Ashleigh after their casual meeting the night before at a rock concert. The local sheriff arrests him for her murder, and later through some dumb luck and legal wrangling, he’s released on bail.
Brendan works as a pressman in the small town of Umpire, Tennessee, in the Great Smoky Mountains, but now he’s forced to become a private eye as he goes after Ashleigh’s actual killer. We also soon discover he’s a lonely but hopeful guy. His eyes are kept peeled for the chance to meet Miss Right.
His previous steady, Salem Rojos, dumped him after he refused to ditch his pot habit. Now he regrets his decision, but what’s done is done. Despite his wounded heart, he realizes any reconciliation with Salem only amounts to wishful thinking. I like to show the main character coming to grips with a love gone awry. Nothing is more agonizing as being on the rebound from a failed romance.
The rich party girl, Ashleigh, his next date, obviously proves to be a lousy choice. After her murder, Brendan gets his act together and begins his self-detox. The weaning process triggers his unusual dream sequence where Ashleigh, in spirit, plays his femme fatale, at various times taunting, cajoling, and baiting him. He’s not sure if she’s real or not, but he’s unable to silence her say inside his head, and he even talks back to her. The evil Ashleigh, then, is how I cast the bad girl in Lake Charles.
When not battling the specter Ashleigh, Brendan is trying to help out his twin sister Edna who also happens to be married to Brendan’s best friend, Cobb Wheeler. Edna and Cobb have separated, and Brendan is of the mind they belong together, so he plays their peacemaker. He’s unable to see how he might not be the best advisor on affairs of the heart though his intentions are noble.
Edna disappears during their day outing at Lake Charles, and the two guys go look for her out there in the boonies. After the plot heats up with the mayhem, ambushes, and betrayals expected of a noir, Brendan finds his attention to romance temporarily diverted by other things, you know, like staying alive and out of prison.
But as we all know, romance can blossom at the most unlikely times. Casablanca, anybody? During the third act, Brendan is surprised when the mushy feelings inside him start to churn again. A different young lady—Veera Sutwala—has caught his eye, and despite all the strife raging around him, he’s learned these opportunities don’t swing around very often. He’d better act on this his feelings before it’s too late.
I hail from the writing school contending that noirs don’t always have to end on a downbeat note. I’m not saying the story’s ending has to follow the schmaltzy HEA formula, but good things do happen to us. So, I give Brendan a little credit for brains to figure a way out of his rough seas. He may not get all he wants, but he also doesn’t go away empty-handed. Otherwise what’s the point of reading the entire book?
I intended the romance in Lake Charles to serve a broader role than merely giving Brendan a girlfriend to pal around with daily. He’s a young man with some growing up to do in a hurry, and his maturing emotions tell him a satisfying relationship is what makes life worth living. Readers can identify with that sentiment, too. My aim is they will come to like Brendan and then want to root for his falling in love again.
Excerpt of the dreaded break up scene from Lake Charles:
">I’d lost a little swagger after Salem Rojos and I parted ways. It still smarted. I sighed. Ah, first love so broke our tender hearts. That night we’d relaxed in the lawn chairs. Their portable TV sat on the rear porch step. What did we tune in? Tony Beretta drove screaming after the villains in his gray muscle car. The citronella candles were a joke because I swatted an army of mosquitoes attacking me. Pete and his wife had gone to bed, and Salem and I sat alone. Squirming in her lawn chair, she parked her bright eyes on me.
Here it comes, I thought. We’d been quarreling all week.
“I won’t be at your pot parties, Brendan. Ever.”
“So you told me.”
“Yet you still go. I can smell the pot on your clothes, hair, and kisses.”
With a silent groan, I recrossed my ankles. She’s got to be on the rag, I thought but said, “I never promised you I’d quit.”
“My point precisely, and this is as good a time as any to promise it. Say it. I’m waiting, Brendan.”
What a bitchy nag. “Is it a big deal?” I shrugged. “I don’t miss any time from work. I’ve got no DUIs or arrests.”
“Well, I don’t like it. If you respected my feelings, you’d make the promise.”
“I tell you what. I’ll only come over when I’m straight,” I said, sure that my compromise was a generous and fair one. “How’s that sound?”
“Sounds like bullshit. You have to decide. It’s the dope, or it’s me. There’s no wiggle room left here.”
Resentful anger heated my cheeks and ears over her issuing an ultimatum. “Why did you wait until tonight to whip this on me, Salem?”
“It’s always bothered me. I like Brendan fine, but the pothead Brendan is a turn off.”
The tube picture was jerky. The Rojos watched TV in the backyard to savor any refreshing breezes. Mrs. Rojos had a neurosis that air conditioners bred summer pneumonia. Right now, breezes or no breezes, I sat there stewing. Nobody had called me a “pothead” to my face, and I didn’t like the seedy appellation.
“I’m waiting for your answer, Brendan.”
“Maybe we should take a break from each other.”
“There’s no maybe to it.” She bolted up from her lawn chair and moved to head indoors. She stopped but didn’t look back at me. “Good-bye, Brendan. If you ever grow up, give me a call. I’d love to hear when you’ve turned it around.”
“Hey, I’ll do that sometime.”
But I’d never updated Salem I was powering through kicking my drug habit, and I had a few major laps to go. That’s not to say I liked to live in my hermitage over the taxidermy shop. No nookie was a drag. But hell, I reasoned, I’d meet a galore of other Salems. With its 55,000 rowdy pipeline roughnecks, Valdez was rife with its juke joints, crapshoots, and cat houses all catering to the Good Time Charlies. Sure, I’d take off up north, hunt down Angus, and we’d go set the woods on fire. We Fishback men were babe magnets.
This is Liz talking now!! So guys, what do you think? Do you like romance in mysteries? Personally, I couldn't write one without it, but I have to admit it does complicate things in a series. Let's hear from you guys about this. Ed will give away a pdf file of Lake Charles to one lucky commenter. (That's the only format right now.)