Hard Word Book Club Reads Zoe Sharpe’s RIOT ACT

  • Post by Crime Fiction Coordinator Scott Montgomery 

9781631940750Admittedly The Hard Word Book Club can also be a bit of a boy’s club, due to the genres we read being considered “male oriented”. I’m happy this month to put the spotlight on one of the best action/adventure writers out there  her kick-ass heroine with our upcoming discussion of Riot Act by Zoe Sharpe. It is the second book in the Charlie Fox series. Fox is often referred to as a female Jack Reacher, but like her author, she has a voice all her own (a voice we appreciated at last September’s hell-raising Noir at the Bar).

Riot Act has Charlie apartment and dog sitting for a friend. The first paragraph literally kicks things off with her fighting a bunch of hoodlums in front of the complex. In response gang threats, a security force is hired who turn out to be a pack of thugs no better than the hoodlums. Charlie finds herself caught between both, as well as the police. Of course Charlie’s training in The Queen’s army gives her a special set of skills.

Riot Act is an entertaining book providing strong characters and action, a finale that lives up to its title, and much to discuss. Be ready to talk about gender and class in crime fiction and well as the British take on genre writing.

We’ll meet Wednesday, August 27th, at 7PM on BookPeople’s third floor. Books are 10% off to those who attend. Our November book will be The Killing Kind, the third book in John Connolly’s Charlie Parker series.

You can find copies of Riot Act on our shelves and via bookpeople.com. The Hard Word Book Club meets the last Wednesday of each month at 7 PM. 

Bouchercon Recap, Part 3: Panel Redux

  • Post by Director of Suspense Molly Odintz
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My Bouchercon Book Haul

If you’ve noticed a bit of radio silence on our blog these past couple weeks, that’s because MysteryPeople’s Scott Montgomery, Meike Alana, and I took a road trip to the Big Easy for the “Blood on the Bayou” Bouchercon, one of the world’s largest gathering of mystery writers, fans, bloggers, agents, editors, marketers, librarians, booksellers and publishers. The breath of those titles pales in comparison to the diversity of day jobs talked about, past and present. Poison experts mingled with ex-cops, ex-cons, ex-journalists, and expert martial artists. This year’s conference, due to its desirable locale, was busier than most, so trust me when I say that the memories I’ve brought back represent a small slice of the enormous number of great experiences had over the weekend at Bouchercon.

Bouchercon exists on many levels. First, there are the official events: the panels, the awards, the signings, the book room; in short, plenty to entertain a mystery lover. There’s also plenty of behind the scenes industry action, as publishers celebrate anniversaries, authors celebrate book releases, and meetings galore happen across the city. Then, there’s that special camaraderie that only occurs from geeking out about mystery with folks just as weird as we are. That part seems to happen mainly in the hotel bar.

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Adding Mystery to the Story: Guest Post from Rick Ollerman

Rick Ollerman will be one of our authors at our upcoming Noir At The Bar, an event celebrating the magical mixture of author readings and brews. Noir at the Bar takes place at Threadgill’s South and begins at 7 PM, Tuesday September 20th. Ollerman will be joined by Jesse Sublett, John Lawton, and Zoe Sharp. We’ll have giveaways galore for those who attend – come by Threadgill’s South, Tuesday, September 20th, at 7 PM!

 

NOVELS AND SHORT STORIES: Advice and Opinions On Two Forms of Writing

by Rick Ollerman

A friend of mine recently asked me about a problem she’s having writing a novel. She writes mostly short stories and I write mostly novels and while she says she has the ending “set” and a solid beginning, she’s struggling with what comes between. Endings aside, she wanted to know if I ever struggled with the last two thirds of a novel.

The short answer is no, I don’t, but that’s because the process of writing a novel is different than writing a short story. A short story should be something that you can hold in your head in its entirety. You can’t do that with a novel, it’s just too damned big.

When I write a short story I need to know the point I want to make before I begin. I need to know what I’m writing to, what the thing is I want to say. It could be the expression of a mood or an emotion, the consequence of an action, or the classic twist the reader shouldn’t see coming. In the case of a forthcoming anthology based on the music of The Replacements (Waiting To Be Forgotten, 2016?), the point was derived from one of their songs.

This is not so for a novel. When I begin a new book-length project I start with a concept that usually comes from asking “what if” or “how come” sorts of questions. Those answers give me the characters. Put them together and I can write the opening. When people ask the seemingly eternal but silly question about what’s more important, characters or plot, there’s no real answer because both are needed to write a good book. In fact, I’d offer the formula “characters + plot + setting = good book,” assuming of course that the book is well written in the first place.

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MysteryPeople Q&A with Zoë Sharp

Zoë Sharp will be one of our authors at our upcoming Noir At The Bar, an event celebrating the magical mixture of author readings and brews. Noir at the Bar takes place at Threadgill’s South and begins at 7 PM, Tuesday September 20th. Her latest book features Kelly Jacks, a former Crime Scene Investigator turned crime scene cleaner after being framed for murder. Meike Alana caught up with her for this interview bout her latest, The Blood Whisperer.

 

Meike Alana: At one point, a character tells Kelly Jacks that she may not have a dick but she certainly has balls (a great line, by the way). Can you tell us a little bit about how you developed a character as complex as Kelly?

Zoë Sharp: Well, I’ve written eleven novels in the Charlie Fox series, but there are other stories I want to tell that wouldn’t be a good fit in Charlie’s world.

The idea for The Blood Whisperer came about because I was intrigued by the idea of writing a series of standalones⎯which sounds like a contradiction, I know. They would be individual stories, with different main protagonists, but all strong female characters who were, for whatever reason, slightly on the wrong side of the law. So, where the first reaction of a ‘normal’ person when confronted with the kind of danger Kelly faces would be to go to the police, for her that isn’t an option. She has to rely on her instincts to keep her alive.

Kelly very much evolved as I wrote the book, which is how I like to develop characters. I know some people write complicated biographies before they begin, but until a person walks onto the page for the first time, they haven’t really taken shape for me. Her interest in free-climbing, for instance, began as a method of escaping from the four walls of her home, a way of finding an additional sense of freedom having endured being in prison, but it quickly became an integral part of the story.

“The idea for The Blood Whisperer came about because I was intrigued by the idea of writing a series of standalones⎯which sounds like a contradiction, I know. They would be individual stories, with different main protagonists, but all strong female characters who were, for whatever reason, slightly on the wrong side of the law.”

 

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MysteryPeople Review: THE BLOOD WHISPERER by Zoë Sharp

Zoë Sharp will be reading at our next Noir at the Bar event. Noir at the Bar meets at Threadgills South off of Riverside, and starts at 7 PM. Sharp will be joined by John Lawton, Rick Ollerman, Mike McCrary and Jesse Sublett. Copies of each author’s latest will be available for sale at the event. Below, you’ll find a review of The Blood Whisperer,  Sharp’s latest book to make its way across the pond.

Post by MysteryPeople Contributor Meike Alana

9781631940828Zoë Sharp may be known for her Charlie Fox series, but her latest stand-alone, The Blood Whisperer, is killer. At one time, Kelly Jacks worked in law enforcement as one of the best CSI’s in the business.  Nicknamed “The Blood Whisperer” for her seeming ability to coax the most incriminating details out of every crime scene, she had only to read the evidence carefully to find the truth—the evidence never lied.  So when she wakes up next to a mutilated body with a bloody knife in her hand, she knows she’s been framed and trusts that the evidence will clear her.  But this time the evidence lets her down—she is convicted and serves a 6-year prison term for manslaughter.

Now she is free and working as a crime scene cleaner.  In her former life she spent 10 years as the first on the scene, ready to investigate the evidence and uncover the circumstances of the crime.  Now she is the last one in, charged with erasing all evidence that a crime even took place.  It’s not a bad life and she’s making a go at returning to a sense of normalcy.

Until the day she notices something amiss at the site of an apparent suicide.  Something about the blood spatter pattern suggests that the victim may have had some help in pulling the trigger.  Kelly alerts her boss, Ray McCarron, of her suspicions but he tells her to move forward with the cleanup.  The next day Ray is beaten to within an inch of his life.

Kelly doesn’t think the two events are connected at first.  But when she wakes up next to the mutilated body of her coworker Tyrone, with a bloody knife in her hands, she realizes that she’s been set up again.  This time, she doesn’t trust law enforcement to clear her name and goes on the run to find the real killer herself.  And she uses some special skills she picked up in prison to take no prisoners.

Zoë Sharp is the author of the Charlie Fox series, which includes 10 novels, a short-story collection, and a novella.  In Kelly Jacks, Sharp has created another kick-ass female character with an intriguing background.  In this stand-alone novel (that one desperately hopes may become the first in a new series), Sharp has crafted a complex, twisting plot including Russian gangsters and the elite world of thoroughbred horse racing.  As the suspense mounts and the body count rises, the reader is left to race breathlessly to the last page.

Noir at the Bar meets at Threadgills South off of Riverside, and starts at 7 PM. Sharp will be joined by John Lawton, Rick Ollerman, Mike McCrary and Jesse Sublett. Copies of each author’s latest will be available for sale at the event. Find out more about Noir at the Bar! 

Noir at the Bar Gets Continental

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Noir At the Bar will be back in action Tuesday, September 20th at Threadgill’s South. Along with local author, musician and man-about-town Jesse Sublett, we have two authors from outside the state and one from Britain. This could be the closest we come to being classy.

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From Left: Zoe Sharp, John Lawton, Rick Ollerman, & Jesse Sublett

Rick Ollerman hails from Florida, where his latest book, Mad Dog Barked, takes place. Rick has his feet firmly planted in the hard boiled tradition to tell his two fisted tales. Mad Dog Barked gives us hard drinking and harder living private detective Scott Porter, who becomes the caretaker of a first edition copy of Poe’s “The Murders In The Rue Morgue” that draws the attention of old school gangsters and several other nefarious types.

Our first author from across the pond is Zoe Sharp. She is best known for her series character, Charlie Fox, who is often described as the female Jack Reacher. Her latest is a standalone, Blood Whisperer that deals with a wrongfully-imprisoned-crime-scene-investigator-turned-crime-scene-cleaner who is framed for murder. Zoe doesn’t tour the States often so catch her while you can.

John Lawton is an American who writes about Britain. The Unfortunate Englishman is his second book to feature Joe Wilderness, an agent for MI6 (or so we think, it’s a little complex). Come out and see why he is a MysteryPeople customer favorite.

We will have each author’s latest for sale at the event, as well as some from our own stash to give away. Jesse Sublett will be providing music as well as reading from 1960’s Austin Gangsters, a history of the Overton Gang and one of the best true crime explorations of Austin out there. Join us at Threadgill’s on Riverside, Sept 20th, at 7PM, and keep a good thing going.

Noir at the Bar takes place at Threadgill’s South (off of Riverside.) Our next Noir at the Bar is Tuesday, September 20th, at 7 PM. Recent books by each author will be available for purchase at the signing. We’ll be giving out books left and right, so come prepared for wonderful readings and some free reads!