Guest post by Rolynn Anderson.
Writing is a humbling career. Every day I make presumptions and end up red-faced because I was wrong-sometimes horribly wrong-about my reckonings. FAINT, my sixth novel, released this week, is living proof of author smackdown. I took on Alzheimer’s, blindness, embalming, burial rituals, organ transplants, and clairvoyant dogs in FAINT, third in the funeral planner suspense series. No wonder the novel took me two years to write! My research on all these areas made me woozy with revelations.
Let’s take embalming. Better yet, you take embalming. Whoa! Consider the instruments and chemicals involved, the cleaning of the corpse and plumping with injections…the make-up…the dressing. Lordy, I even watched a ‘Do it at home’ embalming on You Tube. I had to hide my eyes half of the time. Among all these new learnings: Embalmers are bound by strict rules, forbidden to stray beyond their ‘normal’ tasks. They can’t even take fingerprints off the cadaver!
Blindness. Pete, a character in my novel, is a blind forensic investigator. I’d learned about blind men and women employed by the FBI after 9/11 to analyze suspect audio tapes and I wanted to explore their skill sets. Some of my characters were prejudiced against Pete. New learnings: blind people are shunned in some cultures, regarded as ‘less than,’ even evil.
Telepathic dogs. I was worried Elwood (Elly) a Scottie, who warns his mistress when she’s going to faint, was pushing a paranormal envelop. New learning: dogs can be trained to alert their owners of impending seizures and insulin lows. Elly’s skill was not a stretch, at all.
Burial rituals. Turns out every religion has a specific way to deal with the deceased. New learning: Certain orthodox religions require mourners to kiss the corpse in an open casket, within twenty-four hours.
Sounds like fiction, huh? I love what research turns up, pleased to see my presumptions challenged and energized by the complexity I get to add to characters and plots. Now, with my sixth book published, I’ve learned to test each and every assumption…but I must admit I don’t mind being wrong, because I can use that new information in my story!
It’s your turn.
GIVEAWAY QUESTION On what topic did your research for a book point out faulty assumptions? A free e-book of FAINT (you choose the format) goes to a random commenter.
Here’s FAINT, my newly released third in the Funeral Planner Suspense Series. Happy New Year, everyone! Rolynn
Their dead clients refuse to rest in peace.
How did small-town boutique funeral planning morph into crime-solving? Ask freelance embalmer Trudy Solomon, or Pete McDonald, a blind, forensic investigator. They’re unearthing mysteries of the deceased for their pregnant boss, Jan Keller, while her journalist husband, Roman, is benched by a ten million dollar defamation suit.
A dead client goes missing, and investigating his disappearance forces Trudy and Pete to confront their fiercely independent styles. When danger stalks them, will they blend brains, brawn and belief in one another to solve crimes and save themselves?
If you’re a KaT regular, you’ll recognize this week’s guest. We’ve hosted her three times and are delighted she’s back today for a spirited discussion about her newest release. Welcome Rolynn Anderson!
I’m tickled to be back on Kiss and Thrill with you, Sarah. You’ve hosted coming out parties for three of my romantic suspense novels (LAST RESORT, SWOON and LIE CATCHERS). Now it’s FEAR LAND, my fifth published novel. I am giving a portion of each sale of FEAR LAND to the Brain Research Foundation (TheBRF.org)
Sarah: Given the story line, that is a truly wonderful gift! Tell us about your journey to write FEAR LAND.
Rolynn: Trauma is the topic, the many shades of anxiety. Most of us experience a trauma or two in our lifetimes, suffering symptoms from mild depression and a few nightmares to full-blown post traumatic stress. My own response to a trauma interested me, but I also wanted to know more about PTSD and high suicide rates among soldiers. I wondered if some children were born anxious. Were all forms of trauma curable?
Sarah: Wow, that’s fascinating, but it kind of sounds like a thesis, not a suspense novel.
Rolynn: I know! We novel writers are researchers at heart. I like to learn and teach with each novel I write, as well. I think the reader will learn a lot about trauma in my novel, but I hope the plot makes it a page-turner.
Sarah: Start with the hero, heroine, so we know we’re looking at a fiction piece.
Rolynn: Yes, ma’am! My heroine, Tally Rosella, is a child psychiatrist who has finished one study of anxious kids in Washington State and will begin a second study at a big California college. Her new neighbor, Cole Messer, an Army Major who will teach ROTC at the college, is good at hiding the effects of combat trauma. He’s single-parenting a highly anxious boy; Cole wants to enroll his son into Tally’s new study.
Sarah: Ah, a couple with conflict, but clearly Tally’s the strong one, here.
Rolynn: Nope. Now I introduce a modest paranormal feature. You see, Tally hears mind-rants from adults who have strong (usually negative) feelings toward her. These men and women might be perfectly polite, even flirty with her, but their minds are ranting nasty tunes.
Sarah: Ooo, I wish I had that feature! That must make her a powerful psychiatrist.
Rolynn: You’d think so. She couldn’t take on a patient who rants at her, because it interferes with her objectivity. That’s why she works with kids. Their minds don’t yell at her.
Sarah: Now add the suspense…
Rolynn: I’ll avoid spoilers here. Bottom line: Tally encounters devious colleagues, spurring her on to ‘use’ her elementary mind-reading skill. Trouble is, evil people have a way of taking advantage of good folks, and soon, Tally, Cole and Cole’s son are in danger.
Sarah: Yep! Now we’ve got the suspense. Where can we pick up this mystery?
Rolynn: Amazon Kindle
BTW, LIE CATCHERS comes out in re-release through Amazon Encore today! And for my other books and events, check out my website.
Here’s the blurb on FEAR LAND:
Tally Rosella, an acclaimed psychiatrist who helps children fraught with anxiety, avoids adults because their brains rant at her. But the chance to start a second child study and connect her findings to PTSD, sets her squarely among devious colleagues at a big California university.
Army Major Cole Messer, Tally’s new neighbor, won’t admit that trauma from combat tours in Afghanistan, destroyed his marriage and hampered his ability to lead. As a teacher of college ROTC and single parent, he’s focused on enrolling his highly anxious son in Tally’s study and getting back to active duty.
Someone is dead set against Tally’s presence at the university, and blowback from her battles with co-workers put Cole and his son in jeopardy. Watch what happens when people struggling with shades of anxiety collide with corrupt, revengeful foes.
Here’s today’s question: How astute are you at ‘mind reading?’ Whose mind would you like to read better…and why? Commenters are entered into a giveaway of an e-copy of FEAR LAND!
How did funeral planning morph into crime-solving? Ask free-lance embalmer Trudy Solomon or Pete McDonald, a blind forensic investigator. They’re solving mysteries of the deceased for their pregnant boss, Jan Keller, while her journalist husband, Roman, is benched by a ten million dollar defamation suit.
A dead client goes missing, and investigating his disappearance forces Trudy and Pete to confront their fiercely independent styles. When danger stalks them, will they blend brains, brawn and belief in one another?
I LOVE THIS COVER!!!
Please click the Contact Us button above and let us know where to send your goodies. (Email address for the PDF and snail mail for the notebook.)
Thanks to everyone who stopped over on Tuesday to welcome Rolynn and leave a comment! We really appreciate your time and interest.
Please join us next Tuesday, May 6th, when Rachel Grant hosts Diana Miller.
And on Wednesday, May 7th, our very own Krista Hall gives us a sneak peak at her DEBUT COVER REVEAL!
Broken Places was the 2013 Golden Heart® Winner in Romantic Suspense.
Make sure to come over and celebrate with us!
And on Thursday, May 8th, Krista Hall welcomes
Shelley Coriell and her new release THE BROKEN.
Today we welcome back a frequent guest: romantic suspense author ROLYNN ANDERSON. In researching her next novel, LIE CATCHERS, Rolynn set sail for Petersburg, Alaska. The small fishing town had an unsolved crime from 1932, the murder of the town’s richest, most beloved merchant: Sing Lee. She’s here to tell us a bit about the real story and how she interwove it with her latest release (which I devoured!)
by Rolynn Anderson
When: Early 1900’s
Where: Petersburg, Alaska, in the shadow of the LeConte Glacier
Who: Tlingit Indians, Norwegian immigrants. And one Chinese entrepreneur.
Why: The Tlingits and Norwegians made a living as fishermen. Sing Lee, the Chinese entrepreneur, made money off the fishermen.
How LIE CATCHERS (just released this month) came about:
It’s 2011 and my husband and I are cruising from Washington State to Alaska on our trawler, Intrepid (see picture below). Never had we covered that distance, much less navigated such difficult stretches of water.
We arrived in Petersburg, Alaska, all the strangeness of a scary virgin voyage replaced by our fascination for this charming fishing village.
The town, located on the northern portion of Mitkof Island, was settled first by Tlingit and Haida tribes. Norwegians showed up in the early 1900′s. Chinese workers soon arrived to gut and package fish caught by the Norwegians.
But one Chinese man, Sing Lee, stood out among the subservient workers. In no time at all, he’d established a country store and built up a reputation as a generous citizen and shrewd businessman. And yes, he may have run a little opium sideline business. (see his picture, below)
He was murdered in 1932 and to this day, the crime remains unsolved. I decided to solve the crime in LIE CATCHERS entwining it with a recent murder.
Why? Because I wanted to juxtapose how a crime was handled in 1932 next to a murder managed by authorities in 2014.
My other motivator: absolving the guilt carried by a whole town for never collaring the murderer of an important citizen.
For fun, I stirred in a budding romance between a Petersburg free-lance writer (researching the Sing Lee cold case) and a Treasury agent from Fresno sent to the Alaska town to solve the recent murder. The result is LIE CATCHERS!
Two unsolved murders will tear apart an Alaska fishing town unless a writer and a government agent reveal their secret obsessions.
Treasury agent Parker Browne is working undercover in Petersburg, Alaska to investigate a money scam and a murder. His prime suspect, Liv Hanson, is a freelance writer struggling to save her family’s business. Free spirited, full of life, and with a talent for catching liars, she fascinates Parker.
Trying to prove she’s a legitimate writer who cares about Petersburg’s issues, Liv pens a series of newspaper articles about an old, unsolved murder. When her cold case ties in with Parker’s investigation, bullets start to fly.
Parker understands money trails, and Liv knows the town residents. But he gave up on love two years ago, and she trusts no one, especially with her carefully guarded secret. If they mesh their skills to find the killers, will they survive the fallout?
I’m wondering if an historical event moved you to research and write a story. Comment on this concept and one of you, chosen at random will win a PDF of LIE CATCHERS (put your e-mail addy at the end of your comment). In addition, I’ll send you a mini-notebook, waterproofed, manufactured by Rite in the Rain.
Buy Sites: Amazon: http://amzn.com/B00HJDS1LG
Wild Rose Press: http://tinyurl.com/kedp4lr
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B005527LS2 Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4990049.Rolynn_Anderson
SUSPENSE SPIKED WITH ROMANCE
FADEOUT won a RONE award; LIE CATCHERS is a nominee for a RONE award!
Thanks for explaining the story behind the story, Rolynn! Readers, please comment for a chance to win a copy of LIE CATCHERS!
A special shout-out to Caryn Moya Block who wins a copy of Rolynn Anderson’s SWOON!
Please click on the Contact Us button and let us know how we can send it to you.
Mary Kay Andrews will be appearing on Tuesday, February 26 to reveal her secret identity.
A kiss and thrill exclusive!
She’ll also be giving away TEN books to lucky fans who leave a comment. Please join us.
“I’ve fainted two times in one week, Roman. That says something.”
Roman’s heart kicked up a beat. “And the faint dreams?”
“Ugly. Scary.” Color drained from her complexion. “I can’t breathe. I’m dying.”
“Oh, baby.” He touched her cheek, wanting the color to return.
She pulled in a breath to steady herself, her hand gripping Roman’s arm for support. In a voice so soft he had to watch her lips move to track her words, she said, “If Stan changed because of me, he’d want to meet me. Like I said, I need to believe he was a good man, brave enough to face me, know me.”
“So suicide is out.”
“What else is there?”
“In my dreams, I’m being suffocated. Maybe someone killed him.”
Excerpt from SWOON, Rolynn Anderson
Besides creating a unique, tasteful ceremony that celebrates the departed, Jan suffers from syncope (abrupt fainting spells, usually brought on by stress or shock.) They only last a minute or two, but in that time she dreams snippets of murder and mayhem which sets her on a mission to find out what exactly happened to the dearly departed.
Along for the adventure are a cast of amazingly quirky characters, including her black Scottish terrier, Elwood, who tracks shadows, senses villains and predicts her fainting spells. Add in her tumultuous relationship with super-hot Roman Keller and you’re caught up in a unique, fast-paced novel.
Hello again, Rolynn! Both FADEOUT and SWOON are chalk-full of interesting characters. Jan’s father ‘The General’ is written with authenticity and authority. Did you grow up in a military family? I did! My father was an Army officer, dragging five kids and a harried wife through 27 moves, Maryland, Wisconsin, Georgia, Germany, Japan and Korea, to name a few. He loved serving, and luckily, we were resilient enough to manage the upheavals in our lives.
I enjoy how Jan Solvang journals snippets of her obituary. Have you ever done that? Or know anyone who has? My father updated his obituary regularly, but the idea of using an obit as a goal-setting device was mine. I used this concept as a lesson plan for my high school students in English class, because many teenagers have such a vague notion of the future along with low ambitions.
My students were attracted by the lesson because it was a tad ghoulish. My theme: “If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll probably end up someplace else.” This is a lesson on specificity, too. I promised them (always the idealist!) the more detailed they made their goal-setting obit, the more likely they would get to their designed future.
Pete is a forensic investigator who is legally blind. What is a forensic investigator and how difficult is it for you as a writer to have him help solve mysteries and murders blind? I learned about a blind forensic investigator in a New York Times feature and was boggled by the concept. Pete works freelance for private and public agencies. He studies all the evidence of a crime, giving a fresh ‘eye’ to it. His forte is interrogation of any and all parties involved; he’s known for ‘seeing’ what no one else observes. Pete is bright, funny and calm, a perfect foil for Jan. My editor is in love with Pete and wants me to give him his own book!
How did you dream up the unnaturally perceptive Elwood? A friend of mine has a black Scottie named Charlie who actually DOES track shadows. What does he see, I asked myself…and that’s the path that led me to Elwood’s prescience.
I read up on Mary Tyler Moore’s dog and other animals that are able to help their masters (Mary’s dog warns her when her blood sugar is low). I ended up giving my dog a growth arc; can you believe it?
I’m also intrigued you added syncope as an issue Jan struggles with. What made you think of that? I’m a pantser as a writer, remember, so I make up a lot of stuff as I go along. I needed to have Jan faint so Roman could touch her…connect with her quickly.
I didn’t want to show her as weak or flighty, so I gave her the disease. Lots of research later, and meeting up a woman who has Syncope but still SCUBA dives…I used the disease as a challenge Jan had to overcome.
Favorite place in the world to visit/live? The Tuscany region of Italy.
Me too! Favorite movie? Last of the Mohicans; An Affair to Remember
(Sigh…Daniel Day-Lewis with long hair…I think you and I are twins, Rolynn. 🙂 ) What’s next for you? My editor has asked for the novel I’ve just completed, entitled LIE CATCHERS.
The setting is Petersburg, Alaska, a real-life fishing village settled by Norwegians in the early 1900’s. My heroine, from Petersburg, and the hero, a U.S Treasury agent from Fresno, have two unsolved murders dogging them. One is real and occurred in 1932 (talk about a cold case) and the other is recent (made-up).
My husband and I cruise on our trawler to Alaska in the summers…I can’t wait to tell the world about hot romance in cool, rainy Petersburg, Alaska!
Thanks for visiting us today, Rolynn, and good luck with LIE CATCHERS. For more on Rolynn Anderson’s funeral planner series please visit:
SUSPENSE SPIKED WITH ROMANCE!
Remember to leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of SWOON! Check back on Thursday for the winner’s name. Question of the Day: What’s on Your Bucket List?
wins an e-copy of Rolynn Anderson’s newest release
Congratulations, Morgan! Just click on the Contact Us page and let us know which address to send it to. A special thank you to everyone who stopped by to share their ‘obituary’.
TOMORROW: In honor of Halloween we are posting a special blog! Join Carey Baldwin and the rest of us as we celebrate “FREAKY FRIDAY GHOSTS AND GIVEAWAYS!
You’ll hear TRUE paranormal encounters from Lena Diaz, Sharon Wray, and Carey Baldwin!
Be prepared to tell your best (real) ghost encounter or your favorite Halloween memory. Lots of prizes!
See ya tomorrow…
- FADEOUT’S heroine, Jan Solvang, just might be YOUR funeral planner. What’s one phrase about you she MUST include in your obituary?
- (Answer in our comment section for a chance to win an e-copy of FADEOUT, the new romantic suspense novel by Rolynn Anderson!)
Hmm…I guess mine would be: Sarah Andre always felt tremendous joy when a friend achieved the dream of publishing a novel.
And it’s true (although that question was harder than I expected!) For me, the coolest part of being a writer is connecting with others, watching their careers launch and applauding their successes.
So picture this: Spanking New Writer goes to a conference and lines up to pitch to her first agent. (Translated: uncontrollable trembling, dry mouth, clammy hands, whispering the blurb over and over.) Smiling Writer behind her introduces herself and chats so amiably New Writer almost forgets her anxiety, which ultimately makes for a much better first pitch.
You guessed it! Rolynn Andreson stood behind me at the Desert Rose RWA chapter’s Desert Dreams Conference waaay back in 2006. And we’ve reconnected at that conference every time since. So imagine my thrill this year when she told me she’s now published! It is an absolute pleasure to introduce you to my friend, Rolynn Anderson.
Hi Rolynn, thanks for joining us today! In your debut novel, LAST RESORT how did you come up with a terror plot involving the Winter Olympics (which is plotted out realistically enough to give me the chills!)
Rumor has it this huge, posh fishing resort in Big Bay, B.C., was once owned by drug lords. Now it’s owned by London Drugs! I mean the place HAD to be written about. The other rumor I heard from the locals: CBS was going to house its crew at the big lodge for the Winter Olympics and fly them to Whistler by helicopter. That never happened…except in my novel. Don’t you love rumors?
Is there another novel in the works involving any of the primary or secondary characters from this story?
Not yet, but I’d love to give Rena another adventure with Nora riding shotgun.
My father died of Alheimer’s in 2005. My sister, brothers and I were planning his funeral in a traditional way until I realized how many young children were attending the memorial. We dumped old rituals in order to properly honor my father and teach the children gently about death. The event was so successful, I began thinking about the value of a ‘boutique’ (my term) funeral planner. Jan Solvang’s story emerged, and of course I had to add suspense and romance to the mix. Jan’s got a fainting disorder called Syncope and she’s inherited a Scottish terrier (Elwood) with some quirks, too.
Who are your favorite RS authors? Linda Howard, Suzanne Brockman.
SWOON, the second in the funeral planner series, comes out November 15th. Can you give us a sneak peek?
Jan’s been a boutique funeral planner for over a year, and her dead clients still refuse to rest in peace. She’s supposed to bury a missing woman and an infamous man, but her research on them disturbs family secrets, unmasks killers and imperils her relationship with Roman.
Wow! Sounds terrific. (Reader, please note Brenda Novak’s testimonial for Swoon below!)
Rolynn, tell our readers a bit about your fascinating retirement (summer adventures.)
My husband and I spend the four summer months living on our boat (a 46 foot trawler), cruising from Washington State, up the breathtaking Inside Passage, all the way to Alaska and back. We fish for shrimp, Dungeness Crab, rockfish, salmon and halibut, but mostly we enjoy the beauty of the area and the friends we reconnect with every year.
Do you ever get ideas for a story from those summer months?
Absolutely. I’ve just finished a double murder mystery called LIE CATCHER that takes place in Petersburg, Alaska. Liv, the main character, is a “Tlingwegian”…great grandma was a Tlingit Indian; great grandpop was a rough and tough Norwegian fisherman.
How do you spend your winter months besides writing?
We love to travel in the U.S. as well as abroad, but I also enjoy my half acre of fruit trees and garden in Central Coast California. I golf once or twice a week and I’m tournament chair of our golf club, as well.
Favorite food? Peanut butter and chocolate.
If you had a career do-over and had not been a teacher/principal…what profession would you choose?
A wine-maker; an athlete (golf?); a CEO.
~ Brenda Novak, NYT and USA Bestselling Author of WHEN LIGHTNING STRIKES
Don’t forget to leave a comment below:
What phrase should funeral planner, Jan Solvang include in YOUR obituary?
Stop back Thursday to see if you’ve won an e-copy of FADEOUT.
Rolynn Anderson, SUSPENSE SPIKED WITH ROMANCE LAST RESORT-print and digital at Amazon: http://tinyurl.com/3cq6d7b FADEOUT- print (digital soon) at Amazon: http://tinyurl.com/9yo9wwq Web: http://www.rolynnanderson.com Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/rolynnanderson Blog: http://blog.rolynnanderson.com/ Facebook: http://tinyurl.com/63vsnmt