Saturday, May 5, 2012

Vonnie Hughes: The Importance of Settings

          During the month of May, I've invited several authors to help kick off my mystery-trivia book tour. Today my guest is New Zealander, Vonnie Hughes, who writes romantic suspense. Read what Vonnie has to say about the importance of setting in a novel.
Post a comment on my blog on any day between April 30 and June 1 and your name will be entered in a drawing for one of my trivia books. Three names will be drawn, one for each book.


THE IMPORTANCE OF SETTINGS



My favorite books all have intriguing settings. I don’t mean they’ve necessarily had unusual settings, just that the action/story has taken place in locations that add to the overall impact of the book.

Take one of my keepers, Falling Hard and Fast by Kylie Brant, published in 1999. It is timeless because one of the protagonists in the book is the setting itself—the humid, slow as molasses creeping heat of the Louisiana summer. All throughout the book Kylie interposes little snippets like ‘The Stew ‘N Brew didn’t run to the healthier menu choices. Most of their selections featured deep-fat-fried entrées dripping with gravy. But their gumbo, Zoey had quickly learned, was out of this world.’
Can’t you just see the steamy, fatty-smelling kitchen out the back where the cook wipes his brow with a dishcloth, and out front the patrons sit in air-conditioned comfort conversing with laconic unsentimentality?

Another excerpt reads ‘Pulling up in front of Charity’s lone department store, she got out of the car and felt the slap of solid heat that thickened the air and squeezed the lungs.’ You can just imagine that heat weighing down on your shoulders. I particularly like that ‘slap of heat.’ Sets the tone nicely, even foretells a darkening of the story.
Many suspense and thriller writers use their characters’ foibles and the sultry weather of the southern states in their stories e.g. Beverley Barton’s Dying Game (Tennessee, Kentucky and Alabama), Sandra Brown’s Breath of Scandal (South Carolina) and Nora Roberts’ Tribute (Virginia).
But setting is not just a place. Setting can be weather or a particular era or an otherworld. One of my favorite settings is JD Robb’s futuristic New York in 2058. It’s even tougher and edgier than today’s NY, yet Robb (Roberts) has been careful not to overload the reader with too many details. A simple brushstroke here and there such as the overhead transports that belch fumes thirty feet above pedestrians’ heads is all it takes to drag the reader into the smog and cacophony of NY 2058.
As for Jayne Ann Krentz’s (Castle’s) futuristic setting for the Dreamlight Trilogy, where mankind has left Earth and established other colonies and where anything old brought from Earth is considered a valuable antique, it couldn’t work without the creation of the world of Harmony.
Many fascinating settings are found in historical novels. Think of the Regency era where people could communicate with the flick of a fan or by raising an eyebrow. A raised eyebrow could mean ‘I share your joke’ or it could be used to dampen pretension. The Victorian era, full of vice and licentiousness but with its overall layer of ultra-respectability, is often depicted by women wearing constricting corsets, crowded markets where pickpockets abound and Bow Street Runners became superseded by Scotland Yard.
The flavor of a book is determined by its setting.
What settings do you enjoy? What don’t you like and why? Do they remind you of a bad time in your life? Or do you find that particular time and place uninteresting? If you think about it, your attitude towards a setting might say more about you than the book itself.

Vonnie is a New Zealander living in Australia. She loves animals and jogging. She writes Regencies and romantic suspense novels and short stories. See her full bio on www.vonniehughes.com She is presently working on a romantic suspense, working title: Innocent Hostage and a Regency novella, working title: A Tale of Two Sisters.

Her earliest book is still available. It’s called COMING HOME and is about a soldier and a nurse, thrown together during the Napoleonic wars, who find more danger on their return to England than they ever did on the Iberian Peninsula. As well as in hardback, this can now be bought in e-book form from her Amazon site http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=Vonnie+Hughes&x=18&y=20

THE SECOND SON, e-published by MUSA is actually a prequel to COMING HOME. 
On January 13, 2012, The Wild Rose Press published both as a paperback and an e-book, Vonnie’s romantic suspense LETHAL REFUGE, which is set in New Zealand. An independent, mistrusting woman witnesses a murder and is thrown into the witness protection program. There she meets a police psychologist who demands complete trust from all the relocatees so he can help them adapt to their new lives. Fur flies when they are stalked by the killer who seems to be connected to the relocation team. Also available on Amazon here:http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=Vonnie+Hughes&x=18&y=20

Another Regency Historical, MR. MONFORT’S MARRIAGE, was e-published by MUSA on January 27, 2012.  Matthew Monfort is a businessman who is inveigled into marrying an earl’s daughter. With good reason he loathes the ton, so his new wife needn’t think she’s going to win him over, even though she’s quite delightful…and intelligent…and sweet…However Verity shows him that not all members of the ton are idle layabouts and that he can do much good with his largesse and with—shock, horror—the  unexpected and embarrassing title conferred on him by Prinny.


Stop by tomorrow for Sunday's for the Birds.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Day 5: Blog Tour: Holmes Runs Amuck

          During the month of May, I invited several authors to help me kick off my mystery-trivia book tour. Today I'm visiting with Stephen Brayton.
Post a comment on my blog on any day between April 30 and June 1 and your name will entered in a drawing for one of my trivia books. Three names will be drawn, one for each book.

When I contacted author Stephen Brayton about interviewing me on his blog, he quickly agreed. But he requested that the interview take place in my happy place or dream location—maybe on the beach in the Riviera, or having coffee in a French Bistro, or trekking across a desert on a camel. I could even invited others to join in. Although I have a lot of favorite places, the only one that made sense was 221B Baker Street, and, of course, I asked Holmes to join us. Big mistake. Holmes dominated the interview.

Stop by Stephen's blog site, Brayton's Briefs, for the complete interview and please leave a comment. I couldn't get a word in. Holmes answered all the questions before I could clear my throat.
Stop by tomorrow, too, and read what romance/suspense writer, Vonnie Hughes, say about the importance of setting in a novel.





My three mystery trivia books have been updated and reissued by LL-PublicationsThe Agatha Christie Triviography and Quiz BookThe Alfred Hitchcock Triviography and Quiz Book, and The Sherlock Holmes Triviography and Quiz Book.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Sharan Newman: A Picture is Worth . . . the Life of Your Novel


During the month of May, I've invited a few authors to help me kick off my mystery-trivia book tour. Today my guest is Sharan Newman author of The Real History of the World. Read what Sharan has to say about the importance of setting in writing a novel. Welcome, Sharan.

Where to put your novel?  No, really.

                  Imagine Wuthering Heights without the moors or The Snows of Kilimanjaro set on the Kansas prairie. They would be entirely different books.  Setting can add much to the atmosphere of a story.  In many cases, the place can almost be another character.  A Victorian house overlooking the rocky coast of Maine practically screams dark secrets and haunting.  But I have read too many stories in which the author decides that, say, Istanbul would be a good place to write about.  So she gets a guide book and notes that the protagonist visits the Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque.  But the story itself could really be anywhere.  Setting matters only if it helps to direct the action. 

                  In my own work I tend to set books in places that I want to visit or that I already know well.  The landscape, wildlife, weather: all of these become part of the book.  In Strong as Death a spring flood changes the lives of my characters, as does a trip through a foggy mountain pass.  A big city can become an adversary or a refuge.  Cara Black’s series set in Paris is a good example of this.

                  Locations don’t have to direct the mood of the story, however.   When I do workshops, I often hand out a photograph and have the participants describe it several different times.  They imagine setting the scene for a mystery, fantasy, science fiction, thriller or romance.  The choice of words and the focus are completely different each time.  Here is a sample of two photos for you to try out the process.  Think of the setting as a way to establish mood.  I guarantee that it can intensify the impact of your work, and save pages of boring explication.


Sharan Newman is a medieval historian who writes novels and non-fiction.  Her website is   http://www.sharannewman.com

She also blogs an update on the end of the world to keep readers apprised of anything that has happened since the publication of THE REAL HISTORY OF THE END OF THE WORLD.  HTTP://www.sharannewman.wordpress.com

Sharan has also realized that writers don’t get pensions or health insurance.  Therefor she is running for one term only in the Senate.  Read and comment on her platform and sign up for the proposed federal agency, The National Grammar Police.


Thanks, Sharan,
You've reminded us that setting is so much more than location.

Join me tomorrow. I'm a guest on writer Stephen Brayton's site. Stephen threw me some fun interview questions. In fact, they were so much fun, I decided to let Sherlock Holmes answer them for me. 

My three mystery trivia books have been updated and reissued by LL-PublicationsThe Agatha Christie Triviography and Quiz BookThe Alfred Hitchcock Triviography and Quiz Book, and The Sherlock Holmes Triviography and Quiz Book.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

When Adventure Comes Knocking


How adventurous are you? Would you spend your last dollar, or pound, on a first-class ticket to South Africa in search of a handsome stranger?
Or would you travel 3,000 miles to the Middle East to find a man you spoke to only once?
Two of Agatha Christie's young heroines did just that. Read about these two gutsy young women in my article, "When Adventure Comes Knocking," about Christie's two mysteries:
A Man in the Brown Suit and They Came to Baghdad
My host Camille Minichino has posted my article on her blog: The LadyKillers: an unsuitable blog for a woman . . . Stop by and leave a comment.


The Lady Killers


This month my three mystery trivia books in the Classic Mystery Triviography Series will be released on the 12th by LL-Publications. LL-Publications
The Alfred Hitchcock Triviography and Quiz Book,
The Sherlock Holmes Triviography and Quiz Book,
and
The Agatha Christie Triviography and Quiz Book. (previous title What's Your Agatha Christie I.Q.?)

Kathleen's website
Join me tomorrow when I host Sharan Newman, author of The Real History of the World. Read what Sharan has to say about the importance of setting in a novel.  

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Mystery Trivia Tuesday: The Birds


I want to thank Nancy Lauzon who hosted me yesterday on her blog, Chick Dick Mysteries. Entitled, "The Making of a Film, The Making of an Actress," my article is about the filming of The Birds, which took place fifty years ago. Here it is in case you missed it:

Answers are below.

Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds

1.  Who was Hitchcock’s first choice to play Mitch Brenner, a role that was eventually given to Rod Taylor?
a.  Jimmy Stewart                        b.  Sean Connery                        c.  Farley Granger

2. How long did it take to shoot the final scene when the birds attacked Tippi Hedren?
a.  12 hours                                    b.  one week                              c.  three days

3.  Where was the movie filmed?
a.  Santa Barbara                        c.  San Francisco                         c.  Bodega Bay

4.  Who is Tippi Hedren’s actress daughter?
a.  Melanie Griffin                        b.  Meg Ryan                            c.  Julia Roberts

5.  Who wrote the short story in which the film is based?
a.  Daphne Du Maurier            b.  Edgar Allan Poe                        c.  Alma Hitchcock


Join me tomorrow where I will be a guest on Camille Minichico's blog. Read about Agatha Christie's two most adventurous young heroines. 
My three mystery trivia books have been updated and are reissued by LL-Publications:
The Agatha Christie Triviography and Quiz Book,
The Alfred Hitchcock Triviography and Quiz Book, and
The Sherlock Holmes Triviography and Quiz Book.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Alfred Hitchcock and The Birds

Stop by Chick Dick Mysteries where Nancy Lauzon is hosting me as a guest blogger today.
My article is on Alfred Hitchcock and the filming of The Birds, how he chose the script, and how he discovered Tippi Hedren.
http://chickdickmysteries.com/2012/04/30/guest-blog-the-making-of-a-film-the-making-of-an-actress-by-kathleen-kaska/

This month my three mystery trivia books in the Classic Mystery Triviography Series will be released on the 12th.
The Alfred Hitchcock Triviography and Quiz Book,
The Sherlock Holmes Triviography and Quiz Book,
and
The Agatha Christie Triviography and Quiz Book.

Tomorrow is Mystery Trivia Tuesday and I'll present a trivia quiz on The Birds.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Sunday's for the Birds: Today is for Martha

On the bluff overlooking a river valley where the Wisconsin River spills into the Mississippi River, sets a monument to the last Wisconsin passenger pigeon who was shot in 1899 rending the species extinct in the wild.
In the early 1800s, the passenger pigeon, an elegant bird with a 16-inch-long tail and an iridescent plumage, numbered in the billions. Between 1866 and 1876, more than 12,000,000 brooding pigeons were killed, which resulted in the starvation of 6,000,000 nestlings. Over a five-year period in Petoskey, Michigan, more than 50,000 pigeons were killed each day, obliterating one of the bird’s largest nesting sites. Why the interest in pigeons? 
Food—squab had found its way to restaurants and dinner tables in the Midwest and eastern states. 

Martha, the last passenger pigeon believed to be alive, died in the Cincinnati Zoo on September 1, 1914. She was stuffed and sent to the Smithsonian where she was on display until 1999.