The Neon Junge
Tell us your latest news?
In addition to promoting “The Neon Jungle,” I’m finishing my next holiday romance for Extasy Books. I’m also working on the books I plan to release next year. Lately, I’ve been doing a lot of blogs and interviews to promote this new book, including a rather unique YouTube interview. A friend from my writer’s group conducts an interview while you ride along in her RV as she travels the countryside. It was so different I just had to do it.
What inspired you to write The Neon Jungle (Nick Seven Book 6)?
I wanted to write a Nick Seven story that would send him undercover to run a sting operation on the villain. The entertainment industry provided the perfect backdrop for the kind of story I wanted to tell. I’ve had some experience with the music business, and I’ve profiled a lot of musicians who work in bars and clubs. There are some less than glamorous things that go on behind the scenes, including questionable accounting practices. There are also some unethical people involved in that racket. It was an ideal combination for an urban thriller.
How did you come up with the title?
I’ve always been drawn to classic film noir crime capers, and “The Asphalt Jungle” is one of my favorites. When I chose to set a crime story in Miami and South Beach, “Neon Jungle” seemed like an apt description. Everything is bright gaudy lights splashing against art deco buildings, but there’s a feeling of something sinister behind the flashy façade. There are a lot of well-dressed predators roaming the streets, and danger where you least expect it. If that doesn’t describe a jungle, I don’t know what does!
How much of the book is realistic?
I strive to make all of my stories realistic, even though they are works of fiction. The characters are all composites, based on a different personality or physical traits I notice about people, with enough detail to make them lifelike. The locations are based on places I have visited, and I strive to make them realistic and believable. I don’t want someone who lives in an area where I based a story wondering “Has this guy ever been here?” There’s nothing more embarrassing than claiming to be knowledgeable about a place and having someone point out that I got it wrong.
What books have most influenced your life?
When I was first introduced to literature in high school, I was blown away by Ernest Hemingway’s “The Killers.” He managed to pack more story into a few pages than most writers do with a few hundred. That made me want to read more of his work. About that same time, I discovered Raymond Chandler and company. I think the ones that influenced me the most, though, were Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes mysteries, and “Dr. Doolittle” by Hugh Lofting.
Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
I’m a member of a local writer’s group, with a wide range of experienced writers. It’s a very supportive group, no competition, and everyone is willing to share their knowledge and ideas. The roundtable discussions are always productive and interesting. I also get feedback from an online group consisting of authors who work for the same publisher I do. If any aspiring writers reading this have the opportunity to join a writer’s group, by all means, do it.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
When you write a contemporary mystery or thriller, getting the forensic details correct is always a challenge. It’s easy for someone to do their own fact-checking online and if you don’t get it right, they’ll call you on it. Devising intriguing characters that step off the page can be challenging, and so is using dialogue and references that are current. Plotting can present a problem, especially when I come up with a really unique detail later in the story, and realize I have to go back and reference it. This is called writing myself into a corner, and it drives me crazy when it happens. It’s also embarrassing when my editor catches it before I do.
Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
I like to travel to locations I plan on using so I can be accurate when describing them. Using actual locations and landmarks has become a hallmark of the stories I write. I like it when a reader tells me they felt like they were standing in the scene next to the characters. That means I’ve done my job as a writer.
What was the hardest part of writing your book?
I think the hardest part of writing “The Neon Jungle” was being careful to separate fact from fiction. Many of the things I depicted were based on personal observations. I took great pains to fictionalize events, and the supporting characters. To paraphrase a popular old TV show, “The names were changed to protect the guilty.” The other challenge with this book was keeping the action at a fast pace while juggling the romance story that is interwoven in the plot. This one is actually a crime thriller first and a contemporary romance second.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
I hope they have as much reading “The Neon Jungle” as I had writing it. If they like this one, there are five others in this series, among many other books on my backlist.