Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Q&A with Nina Milton

This week, Midnight Ink sat down with Nina Milton, author of Unraveled Visions, A Shaman Mystery #2.

Midnight Ink: How long have you been writing?
Nina Milton: When I was five, my infant school teacher Mrs. Marsden read a story to the class. It might have been the fable "The Mouse and the Lion", but I can't really remember. Then she asked the class to write a story. I was dumbfounded. For the first time I realized that the books I loved were written by real human beings. Before that, I believed they must have fallen from some sort of story heaven. It was a revelation—from then on I was scribbling down stories all the time.

MI: What influence have other authors had on your writing?
NM: My early influence was Iris Murdoch; I l devoured all her books in my twenties and thirties alongside Woolf, Dickens and Harvey. But having babies scrambled my brain for years and I discovered crime fiction—anything from PD James to Patricia Cornwell. I also loved John le Carré’s novels from my first read.

MI: If you have a job outside of writing, what is it?
NM: I trained to be a nurse, but I don’t have the brain for all that technical stuff. Drug rounds scared me stiff in case I fell into dreaming up the next story. I worked in palliative care for ten years, but I’ve now given up the day job to write full time. Not that nursing is precisely a ‘day job’!

MI: If you weren’t a writer, what would you be doing?
NM: A better question is, if you’re not writing, what are you doing, which is almost always . . . gardening!

MI: What is/are your favorite thing/s to do when you’re not writing or working?
NM: When I’m not gardening I love reading, cooking, watching movies, seeing friends. Note that a glass of red [wine] goes well with all the above activities.

MI: Who is your favorite mystery sleuth and why?
NM: I particularly like Kate Atkinson’s Jackson Brodie, and Phil Rickman’s Merrily Watkins. But for real class, you can’t beat Sherlock Holmes, who’s planet-sized brain holds every fact and can see round every twisted corner.

MI: Do you have a favorite murder case from a book (either yours or another author’s)?
NM: I love complex plots, slightly ironic and uber-cool sleuths and elegant writing. So that accolade has to go the The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler. Apparently the plot was always secondary to Chandler . . . this is hard to believe, as the story is so more raveled than the wool in my knitting basket.

MI: What was your inspiration for this series?
NM: The idea for my Shaman Mysteries came to me when Sabbie walked right into my head and  spoke directly to me—sort of —‘“Hi, Nina, I’m Sabbie. I’m 28 and I’m a shaman and a complimentary therapist. I love my job, but sometimes some very strange people come into my therapy room . . .”

At around that time, I went on a walk with my son on the Somerset Levels, a moorland in the west of England. As we hiked along, the day became gloomy and we were almost lost because each field on the levels is surrounded by water; rivers,dykes, rhynes, ditches and canals. We came upon the areas where they extract peat industrially; huge chunks like empty back swimming pools are cut from the earth and they slowly fill with water becoming reed beds and marshes. My first thought? “That would be a great place to bury a body!”

MI: Tell us about Sabbie Dare.
NM: Sabbie Dare is the force majeure of the Shaman Mystery series. She lives a self-sufficient life in the sleepy town of Bridgwater, England, but still struggles with the memories of her difficult start in life, gaining the strength to get through each day from her shamanism and her pagan beliefs She has an open heart, and is adept at inviting trouble into her life.
Sabbie walks between worlds. She is able to tap into the spirit world through her shamanic trances, and that dimension helps her clients solve their problems. Trouble is, her client’s problems sometimes lead to terror and peril.
When a detective called Reynard walks into her life, she’s suspicious of him at first. Rey is the archetypal humourless, maverick policeman, and their relationship begins like an upmarket cocktail—bitter and full of ice, with a sparkler fizzing at the edge. But in the second of the series their relationship takes a new direction . . . 

MI: How do the Shaman Mysteries compare to your past works?
NM: Before Sabbie started her adventures, I wrote for children. My books for confident readers of 8 or 9 plus are not about crime, but they usually have some sort of mystery at their center.

MI: Do you have a pet? Tell us about him/her.
NM: We love cats and dogs in our family but we haven’t yet replaced Honey the cat, who died aged 18, and Jessie, our Border Collie who died of leukemia aged 14. We’re still thinking about it! However, we do have hens, which include growing babies and two combative cocks; they’re like part of the family and bring a chuckle every day.

MI: If you don’t have a pet, do you have a favorite animal?
NM: I love standard poodles—can someone please convince my husband that they’re perfectly butch when they’re not clipped in daft ways?

MI: What food could you live off of for the rest of your life?
NM: I was about to righteously say ‘any vegetable’ when I realized that would be a fib. It’s actually buttered toast. Sometimes, when everyone’s out and I’m writing all day long, I practically do live off it.

MI:Do you have a favorite recipe?
NM: Utterly rich and tomatoey pasta dishes.

MI: What is your favorite part about being an Inker?
NM: I think Midnight Ink supports its writers so well, and the other writers are friendly with each other—friendly and helpful. I’ve experienced massive, conglomerate publishing houses and really tiny indies, and Midnight Ink is my best experience yet.

Unraveled Visions, the second Shaman Mystery, is available online and in bookstores now!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Midnight Ink Monthly: September Edition

Midnight Ink Monthly's September Edition featured an essay from author Nina Milton. Check it out below.

Can a Shaman Find a Serial Killer?

Sabbie Dare walked into my life one day, as if she was already a fully-formed person.  That doesn't happen to me as a writer very often, and I grabbed the chance to write about this spunky twenty-eight-year-old.  She helped me create the Shaman Mystery series.

I'd been practicing shamanic techniques for a few years, and knew quite a few shaman who had set up a therapy business rather like Sabbie's.  They loved their work, despite the irregular hours and the terrible pay, but I could see that they never knew who would walk into their therapy rooms next. People who visit a shaman have all sorts of troubles . . . and can be hiding desperate secrets.  

In the first of the series, In the Moors, a man called Cliff Houghton starts seeing Sabbie Dare about his depression . . . and his terrible obsession with a series of child killings.  In the second, Unraveled Visions, Sabbie is approached by Mirela Brouviche, a young Romany from Bulgaria, who's frightend and alone after the disappearance of her sister.  

Each situation throws Sabbie into jeopardy, but she uses her shamanic visions—and her sound common sense—to help her get to the root of a mystery.  What I love the most about her is that once she has a whiff of the answers, she does not let go, however menacing things get.  
Learn more about Sabbie in Unraveled Visions by Nina Milton, available  now!

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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Q&A with Colin Campbell

This week, Midnight Ink sat down with Colin Campbell, author of the Resurrection Man Novels. His latest, Adobe Flats, was released earlier this month.

Midnight Ink: How long have you been writing?
Colin Campbell: I had to think about this because I feel like it’s not been that long but when I look back it’s been quite a while. Darkwater Towers was published in 2000 (Blackie & Co.) and it was the fourth book I’d written. Assume a book a year but 12 months to get it published, then add on the years of practicing with short stories, I reckon about 1994. So, shit. 20 years.

MI: What influence have other authors had on your writing?
CC: We’re all readers first, so the main influence is they made me love reading. A good story told well.  Words forming rhythms that painted pictures in my head. Then the pictures started moving so it was like watching a film with added emotion. That’s what they did for me. Then I wanted to do that myself, tell stories.

MI: Who is your favorite mystery sleuth and why?
CC: That’s a hard one. Past or present? And who counts as a mystery sleuth? I grew up reading James Bond and Philip Marlowe. Never really got into Sherlock Holmes, although I liked the old black and white films. Nowadays? On TV I watch Raylan Givens in Justified. I read the Ace Atkins Quinn Colson books. Harry Bosch. But I really like Jack Reacher. Somebody taller than me who doesn’t mince his words. How can you not look up to that?

MI: What was your inspiration for this series?
CC: The seed was my agent, Donna Bagdasarian, suggesting I write something set in America. My early books were UK-based crime. I couldn’t see myself faking an American character as well as Lee Child did so my initial answer was no. Then I remembered being sent across the Pennines to Blackpool when I was in plain clothes. To interview a prisoner then eliminate him from the enquiry. That seemed like a good way to get an English cop to America. Just further than Blackpool that’s all.

MI: Tell us about Jim Grant.
CC: Jim Grant is an ex-West Yorkshire Police officer sent to America as described above. He was in the army but doesn’t like talking about it, claiming he was only a typist. He hates guns and prefers to talk his way out of trouble rather than fight. A dry sense of humor helps diffuse situations, but of course that doesn’t always work. In fact it hardly ever does. He believes in doing what’s right and not necessarily what’s legal. He likes the ladies but isn’t a womanizer. He is employed primarily by the Boston PD but by a higher power that can utilize him across America because they can disown him if the shit hits the fan. It often does but so far they haven’t sacked him.

MI: How do the Resurrection Man Novels compare to your past works?
CC: My UK crime novels were very much my tributes to the boys in blue. They dealt with uniform cops on the frontline of British policing. A lot of the stories were based on fact or thinly veiled incidents that I’d dealt with. Jim Grant is more into thriller territory. The stories are bigger and the stakes higher but hopefully with enough authenticity from a police point of view. Less about procedures and more about attitude. What a cop feels about the things he’s dealing with. And more sex than I remember from my uniform days.

MI: If you weren’t a writer, what would you be doing?
CC: Well, I was a cop for 30 years so I guess I’ve already done what I would have done if I weren’t a writer. Retired from that and now living my hobby. I also coach tennis part time so I suppose if I weren’t writing I’d do more hours on court.

MI: Do you have a favorite murder case from a book (either yours or another author’s)?
CC: Not sure I’d call any of them a favorite. The first one I photographed when I was in SOCO (CSI in America) was an old lady who’d been raped and violated before she was killed. That one’s stuck with me. After that I can live without murders in books. It’s the cops I like reading about. If you press me on it, maybe Oddjob being sucked out of the airplane window in Goldfinger. The book. They switched it in the film.

MI: What are your favorite things to do when you’re not writing or working?
CC: I’m getting stuck in a rut here aren’t I? I love playing tennis. And watching movies. Either at the cinema or in my home cinema on blu-ray.
MI: Do you have a favorite recipe?
CC: I can’t cook for toffee. (English expression. Google it.)

MI: What is your favorite part about being an Inker?
CC: There is a sense of being part of a community of writers. We spend so much time locked away in a room typing that it’s nice to meet up at conventions and chew the fat. We all have the same doubts. We’ve all struggled to get published. It’s nice to share that. And pat each other on the back.

Adobe Flats, the third Resurrection Man Novel, is available online and in bookstores now!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Q&A with Joni Folger

This week, Midnight Ink sat down with Joni Folger, author of Of Merlot and Murder (Tangled Vines Mystery #2).

Midnight Ink: When did you start writing?
Joni Folger: [I] started writing romance in the mid-1980s with a category romance that will never see the light of day! But that was followed by what eventually became Hidden Treasures, a romantic suspense that was published in 2012 (Story Vault).

MI: What influence have other authors had on your writing?
JF: Huge. I have very eclectic tastes. I read everything from horror to historical romance. Biggest influence for my writing: Stephen King & Nora Roberts! Both have motivated me in different ways.

MI: Who is your favorite mystery sleuth and why?
JF: [I] love Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot, love Sherlock (in any form) and Martha Grime’s Richard Jury (and all his sleuthing friends). [I] also love BBC’s cozy mystery series Rosemary & Thyme and the Midsomer Murder mysteries by Caroline Graham. [And I'm a] huge fan of J.D. Robb’s In Death series—love the characters of Eve and Roarke.

MI: What was your inspiration for this series?
JF: It’s set in an area of the Texas Hill Country where I lived for several years. The town of Bastrop was my inspiration (and the quirky characters that live there). I made up the town of Delphine, but in my’s Bastrop.

MI: Tell us about Elise Beckett.
JF: Elise is headstrong, perky and inquisitive, with a huge heart and boundless affection for her family and extended family. She is kind and compassionate, but will defend those closest to her with the aggression of a mama bear defending her cubs, should the need arise. She’s funny, intelligent, and a romantic at heart.

MI: How does the Tangled Vines series compare to your other works?
JF: This was my first foray into the world of cozy mysteries. I usually write romantic suspense or paranormal romance (my first love). I’m all about the romance!

MI: What are your favorite things to do when you’re not writing or working?
JF: I LOVE working in my local theater, both on stage and directing. I also enjoy gardening and crafts.

MI: If you weren’t a writer, what would you be doing?
JF: Actor

MI: If you have a job outside of writing, what is it?
JF: Accounting Clerk for Dept of Community Development in Tillamook County, Oregon

MI: What food could you live off of for the rest of your life?
JF: Taco Bell! Also, if you put me in a vat of lobster, I would eat my way out...

MI: Do you have a pet? 
JF: Until recently, I had three little girls—cats. Unfortunately, I lost my oldest baby girl to cancer in July. Brindle had been with me for eleven years, and her loss is still very fresh with me. But I have two little goobers left: Spritie-Marie (really beautiful middle child and very naughty), and Isabeau (Momma’s little gray bear—sweet as honey).

MI: What is your favorite part about being an Inker?
JF: 1. The other authors that I’ve met. 2. Terri is awesome. 3. But mostly, MY BOOK COVERS!! I’m in LOVE with them.

 Of Merlot and Murder is available online and in bookstores now!

Monday, September 8, 2014

September 2014 Books Available Now!


Don't miss Midnight Ink's latest releases!

"A stylish noir voice."

Kirkus Reviews on Adobe Flats

"Readers will cheer for this avenging less-than-angel as she goes after some very bad people.
Publishers Weekly on Beauty with a Bomb

"Lively and entertaining . . . [a] well wrought whodunit." 
Publishers Weekly on Of Merlot and Murder

"[A] thrilling tale."
RT Book Reviews on Unraveled Visions

Now available from Midnight Ink, Barnes & Noble, Amazon and your local bookseller!