Interview with Jordaina Sydney Robinson, Paranormal Cozy Mystery Author

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I’m delighted to have Jordaina Sydney Robinson as my guest for the first author interview on this blog.

AF: First of all, the whole concept of the book is great comedy. When you die, you don’t go the heaven or hell, you go to work. What made you think of this?

JSR: To be honest I don’t remember it being anything specific. I think that it was just an idea I had floating around in the back of my head while I was working on other projects and because I wasn’t focusing on it, it developed on its own.

AF: The afterlife Bridget encounters, with its rules and divisions and enforced camaraderie and community-building, reminds me of every bad job I’ve ever had—and of the annoying parts of the good jobs. I’ve sat through faculty meetings thinking about your book and suddenly found it all hilarious instead of tedious. Thank you. What jobs have you had that inspired this aspect of the book? What were the craziest rules or forced let’s-all-get-acquainted activities? (I guess you’d better not name the actual places of employment.)

JSR: The afterlife is really the culmination of every job I’ve ever had … and I’ve had a lot. In my entire life I’ve only ever had two jobs that I’ve held for longer than six months. One I very nearly made it to a year’s service and my current job where I’m around the nine month mark. Both times it has been more to do with the people than the job. So I’ve been through a zillion inductions and am probably more conversant with the ridiculousness of most jobs because I swap too much to become accustomed to it as the “norm”.

There aren’t any specifically crazy rules or let’s-get-acquainted activities that spring to mind. Just the general discomfort of starting a new job and having no clue what you’re doing. I have had to do role-play in interviews or training though. So, so painfully awkward.

 AF: Have you ever seen a ghost? If so, where? Do you believe in them?

JSR: I haven’t ever seen a ghost, but I was talking to a friend about it the other day and we were discussing how time works (sounds way more intellectual than it actually was). We were talking about whether it flows from past to future or if every moment of time exists simultaneously and how, if the latter were true, then maybe a ghost is simply a glimpse into the past or future.

But because that type of thinking makes my brain hurt, I prefer to believe in the linear flow of time which also means I do believe in ghosts. I believe an echo of your energy can remain and “haunt” somewhere you felt strongly about or had a strong emotional reaction to/in while the rest of your energy or soul goes to wherever it goes.

AF: Humor is important for facing our mortality. Maybe I noticed this because I’m a good bit older than you. I’m actually going to die someday?! You showed so much insight about attachment to life and to the little as well as the big things that give it structure and meaning, the roles and goals and connections. And it’s never hammered home, never breaks the humorous tone; it’s just there, in the background. Did you think of this as you wrote the book? What work did you have to do to get the balance right?

JSR: I did consider it and I was very aware that elements of the book could be incredibly sad if they were written a certain way (Bridget’s funeral in Deader Still for example). Personally, if someone’s having a bad time I always try to find some humour in the situation to make them laugh or lighten it somehow because I genuinely believe that how you approach or understand a situation defines that situation. I’ve tried to keep this a theme in the book without making it too preachy because, in my heart, I’m a positive person which is why Bridget and Sabrina are always pointing out the silver lining. I think everything in life has a funny or positive side to it, or potentially a really sad side – it all depends on finding the right perspective.dfw-jr-bsn2-cover-large

AF: You certainly achieved that in Deader Still. Bridget’s funeral is hilarious.

Next question: Bridget is so frankly, fearlessly herself, character flaws and all, she’s irresistible. Her willingness to break rules, along with Sabrina and Edith, is part of her appeal. I think we all have that urge and don’t dare act on it. In what ways are you like her and in what ways unlike her?

JSR: I absolutely loathe being told what to do so that’s all me, but then I think that’s also most people. As for rule breaking – it depends on the consequences! And if I can see the point of the rule. Wearing a seatbelt? Obviously. Having your main meal before your dessert? I’m much more flexible on those type of social rules.

Also, I’d say I was bravely myself not fearlessly like Bridget. Bridget just is who she is without any thought or care. I’m a little more cautious but I should probably mention that I’m a (ever-so-slightly) rabid feminist so it’s important to me that Bridget and Sabrina especially are strong, fearless and independent characters.

AF: Which came first—the concept of this bureaucratic afterlife world, the idea of a murder mystery among ghosts, or something else? How many versions of the afterlife world did you come up with?

JSR: Oh, the murder mystery all the way! I grew up on Murder, She Wrote and all those types of shows so the dead bodies were never in question. Even when I’m reading your Mae Martin series, which I know doesn’t have dead bodies in it, I still find myself trying to guess who’s going to bite it first! Just the murderer in me 🙂

Everything else just sort of came together and worked out. I only really had the one version of the afterlife which I’ve tweaked (somewhat heavily). I know some of my readers find it a little annoying that I don’t reveal the whole inner workings of the afterlife’s bureaucratic system but for me, that’s kind of the point of the bureaucratic nature of the afterlife. It’s also why Bridget struggles so much because she doesn’t know the parameters.

AF: What are you currently working on?

JSR: I’m just working on the third book in the Bridget series A Little More Dead which I’m super excited about and really enjoying writing but I’m also working on a couple of new projects. One is about a newspaper reporter who investigates spooky happenings and explains them away rationally while solving a couple of murders. The first book in that series is tentatively scheduled for release at the start of 2017. The second project is about the assistant to the four horsemen of the apocalypse. Both are the same universe as Bridget but both have a different tone.

AF: I look forward to reading all of them.

*****

Jordaina Sydney Robinson grew up and, despite many adventures further afield, still lives in the North West of England. For fun she buys notebooks, gets walked by her husky puppy and sings really loudly and really badly whilst driving her trusty old Seat, Roger. If you want to find out just how bad her singing is then you can visit her official website at  www.JordainaSydneyRobinson.com  and ask her.

To buy her books, follow this link .

 

Review: Death by Disputation, by Anna Castle

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This second book in the Francis Bacon mystery series is a strong as the first. At times bawdy and rowdy, at times thought-provoking, it centers around outgoing and adventurous Thomas Clarady, student and first-time spy, but the scholarly Bacon plays a key role as Tom’s spymaster. The contrast in their characters and lifestyles gives depth and texture to the story. Castle weaves religious-political intrigue, murder mystery, and Tom’s colorful friendships and love life into a tightly-paced plot. The murder mystery and the spy story mix, and though the latter often takes the upper hand, the author keeps track of all the threads. Christopher Marlowe, who is portrayed with quite a flair, plays a role in both plot lines.

The writing is never pedantic, yet each scene is crafted with well-chosen historical details that gives the reader a full sense of the times—the smells, the sounds, the clothes and furnishings, and the beliefs and customs of Elizabethan England. Some historical novelists feel the need to dump all of their research into a book, smothering the story. Castle knows better. She has such a grasp of the times she can use settings, props and costumes as needed, to reveal and enhance characters and events, but never clutter the story. And speaking of costumes, there is a Shakespearian feel to various layers of disguises employed by some of the characters.

One particular scene I found fascinating and revealing was the Rogation Day event. It illustrates the contrast between the Anglicans and the Puritans and the tensions between them. While the issue of religious fanaticism in politics is serious, and the insights Tom gains into how it feels to be a member of such a zealous community are also serious, there are comic touches such as the conflict between two young ladies of opposing views, and Tom’s delightful response to it. I’m sure my neighbors heard me laugh. The balance between comedy and food for thought is just right—and suited to a story told primarily in Tom’s point of view.

The final chapter, amusingly, shows Tom from Bacon’s point of view, so different from how Tom experiences himself. At first the ending seemed a bit dry as the conclusion of such a vivid and juicy book, but then it struck me a sort of “after the ecstasy, the laundry” realism, as Francis Bacon gets on with getting on in the world.

Note: I recommend reading the series in order, starting with Murder by Misrule.

Sales links to buy from all e-book retailers can be found on

http://www.annacastle.com/francis-bacon-series/death-by-disputation

 

Everywhere #Bargains #99cents and #free #e-books

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Everything listed on this site is a bargain, of course, indie prices being what they are, but these are a few of the super-bargains.

 99 cents:

Chains of Prophecy by Jason Crawford

Sales links: https://everywhereindies.wordpress.com/books-by-genre-urban-fantasy

Reprobate by Martyn v. Halm

Sales links: https://everywhereindies.wordpress.com/suspense-and-thriller

Time Shifters by Shanna Lauffey

sales links: https://everywhereindies.wordpress.com/books-by-genre-science-fiction/

  Free:

The Outlaw Women by Amber Foxx

Fundamental Error by Martyn v. Halm

both can be found on: https://everywhereindies.wordpress.com/short-story-singles-and-collections

and one of the books I just reviewed, Lost Cause by J.L. Simpson

download links: https://everywhereindies.wordpress.com/books-by-genre-mystery

Two Reviews: The Daisy Dunlop Mysteries

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Lost Cause (Daisy Dunlop Mystery #1)

This is the kind of book you could read nonstop. Witty, naughty, fast-paced, well-plotted. Think of an R-rated British I Love Lucy with a whole tangle of mysteries—a missing heir, insurance fraud, a man with a secret, and murder—and you’ll get a sense of what you’re in for. Daisy is a colorful character. She’s smart, attractive, accident prone, inquisitive, and happily married to a man who wants to keep her out of trouble, though the job he finds for her does nothing of the sort. It was refreshing to read a book where the passionate romance is between husband and wife, parents of a teenager. The twists and turns of this story surprised me constantly. The contrast, conflict and repartee between Daisy and her employer Solomon kept me entertained. This is the only book I’ve ever read where a shot was fired that made me laugh out loud. It was a perfect punch line for the whole plot. When you get to it, you’ll know what I mean. I think this is the shortest review I’ve ever written, but with a plot like this, it’s hard to say more without spoilers. I’m hooked on Daisy Dunlop and look forward to keeping up with the series.

Lost and Found (Daisy Dunlop Mystery #2)

Would the sexual prowess of a poodle really incite someone to murder …?

This line from the blurb made me laugh. Many events in the book made me laugh, too—especially the method by which Daisy enacts a heroic rescue near the end. I still laugh thinking about it.

The humor is natural and authentic, coming from characters, relationships and situations, and is funnier for being so genuine. While this is essentially a comic mystery, the murders are handled with realistic seriousness and there are moments of human connection and caring that are true to life rather than risible. When there’s sex, though, it can be hilarious. Daisy and Paul’s marital romance continues to be one of the delights of the series, along with Daisy’s conflicted working relationship with her husband’s best friend Solomon.

The author is incredibly creative. The plot is full of unexpected events and original, colorful characters from beginning to end. And as for the poodles? Read the book to find out.

Buy links (and other great books)https://everywhereindies.wordpress.com/books-by-genre-mystery/

Lost Cause is currently FREE and Lost and Found only $2.99.