Hi and welcome to my blog. Please make yourself at home and grab a drink from my hunky cabana boys, Zeke and Jake. So tell us a little about yourself.
Q: What genre do you write and for what publisher(s)?
A: Thank you for having me, Raine. Nice umbrellas there, fellas. Umm.
I’ve written for several publishers, but my three most recent books are with Champagne Books. Most are romantic suspense, but there is always an issue within the plot. For instance in Mortal Coil, I deal with not only murder and romance, but fraud and the misuse of funding in the facility my main character is trying to run honestly. In Tangled Web, I address the adoption issue for the family and the adoptee, as well as the emotional dilemma unwed mothers faced in the 30s and 40s. Nothing twists the plot like the lies told during that period when it was a stigma to be a “single mom,” Scarlet Letter-style.
Q: Tell us about your latest/upcoming release. What inspired it?
A: Kill Fee was born from my love of outspoken old folks, and the game of duplicate bridge. Throw in an environmentally sensitive beach property— something we have a lot of here in Florida—and a fifteen million dollar inheritance, and I was off and running. The characters took over. Kill Fee finds Penny Olsen, an environmental field worker, embroiled in multi-layered double murders that at first don’t seem to be connected. Because of her work and threats to her life, she searches out the connection. With her attorney Cole Martin at her side, she works to expose the evil doers.
Q: How do you build characters and their personalities and looks?
A: In Kill Fee it was easy; I borrowed from life experience. The old folks in the duplicate bridge club are all people I have known, mixed or enhanced. It was a way for me to immortalize them and get the readers laughing. Penny was fashioned after a young friend who was very adventurous with men when the pill changed sexual mores, and we hadn’t considered what that could lead to. When she read the early manuscript, she phoned me and said, “Oh, I just love Penny.” I said, “You’d better. She’s you.”
In the case of the Keystone Kop-like police, all it took was a few traffic tickets in Georgia and Florida. They fell into the manuscript from imagination, exaggeration and exasperation.
Q: Tell me about some of your heroes/heroines
A: My men are heroic in their morality—not stuffy or judgmental, but fun and forgiving. Of course, they are all great lovers. In Mortal Coil, my policeman is kind, involved and protective of the woman he comes to love. In Tangled Web, my hero is a flawed, but redeemable man, an architect, recently discharged from the Navy just before the end of World War Two.
My heroines can be tall or short, but they all have a mission—and a past.
Q: What do you do when the muses decide to take a holiday or become really difficult? How do you try to coax them back to the drawing board?
A: Journalism! While I wax journalistic, ideas come to me. This works to give me blog material for my guest blogs and my second Mondays on The Writers Vineyard. <thewritervineyard.com>
Q: Do you have any specific things (or rituals) that help you to write or that inspire you?
A: Movement, such as swimming, planes, trains and driving are my form of meditation. I can’t meditate in a standard way; I end up making a shopping list or worrying over a friend.
Q: If the world were to end tomorrow, what three things would be on your bucket list?
A: I’m pretty much caught up on my bucket list, with one exception, the Galapagos Islands. We waited too long to travel there. But we’ve seen many amazing places, including Tahiti, the Seychelles, Easter Island, Madagascar, most of the Caribbean Islands, South America, Antarctica, Spain, Greece, Pompeii, China, Africa, Australia, Tasmania and New Zealand—more than 100 countries in all. Although my husband has been to New Orleans many times on business, I never went. I’d still like to go there. And of course, I want to be a best selling author!
Q: Are there any authors who have influenced your work?
A: Many. Even a few poets like Ogden Nash of “Candy’s dandy but liquor is quicker” fame, and Robert Frost. We’ve lived in the South for thirty-one years. I’ve grown to appreciate southern writers. My WIP, now up for “adoption,” is a southern story. Margaret Mitchell, Pat Conroy and Anne Rivers Siddons were not only good reads but also good examples of excellent southern fiction.
Southerners use wonderful metaphors and similes. Nothing cliché, always fresh and original.
As to the Yankee writers, the earlier works of Anita Shreve, especially her two books that are linked: The Weight of Water and The Last Time They Met were pure genius. Her description of water and her moody grieving and regret really speak to me. The movement expressed at the end of The Last Time They Met was a one in a million—award-winning scene. I like several of our current more literary mystery writers: Greg Isles; Scott Turrow; Harlan Coban and Patricia Cornwell. And giving credit to my favorite author of serious long fiction, James A. Michener, responsible for our love affair with the South Pacific. He made the setting a living breathing character.
Q: What comes first for you: Setting? Storyline? Characters?
A: It’s a package. I mull the idea over before I begin so I know the premise and put appropriate people in the story. Then I let them react logically. In fact a fellow writer said he liked the logic of my stories. That doesn’t make them predictable; the back-story drives the motivation. The reader has to pay attention.
Setting is important but not the first thing I pick; however, Kill Fee could only have taken place in a southern beach town.
Q: If one of your books became a movie, which celebrities would you like to star as your main characters?
A: I’d like George Clooney to play Jack my anti-hero, in Tangled Web. I have a great seduction scene in the beginning of that book. My attorney hero in my new release would be a combination of Clooney, the White Collar criminal and the guy who stars in Suits on TV.
Q: What do you have coming next? Anything you want to tell us?
A: As I mentioned I have a WIP recently submitted. It’s called Morning After Midnight and follows a young man from age seven until he breaks through the morning light at age 43. The story started out a bit too serious. Then a charming young man dropped into my manuscript. His name is Skillet. (Don’t ask.) He’s the boyhood friend of my main character, Aaron, a serious boy struggling to find his foothold in a fractured family.
Immediately the clouds parted. The troubled Aaron had a place to go with his confusion and frustration. Growing up, the boys played together. Skillet was a Roman Catholic, Cajun and black transplant new in Aaron’s rural Georgia town. Both boys were outcasts, one by race, one by family history. Smoldering in the background are the attitudes of the 60s and 70s: segregation, desecration and integration. I told you I like issues. While it isn’t the story, it plays a supporting role, helping the reader picture rural Georgia in 1958 through 1993. Romance comes later as life leads the way.
I have a relationship with my strong characters and anti-heroines in this book.
Q: If you came with a warning label, what would it say?
A: “Laugh and cry at your own risk.” If it makes me cry, it should do the same for the reader: a litmus test for emotional saline.
Q: What else would you like readers to know about you or your work?
A: My labor of love takes me away, just as I hope it will do for the reader. I always write what I know and fill in the details with research. My hospice volunteering experiences, my traveling times, art school, and frequent relocations around the USA all contribute. I have a bad habit of talking to new people at parties and in restaurants. Can’t tell you how often a conversation includes the words “We used to live there.” Or “We visited there.”
Q: Where can we find you on the web?
A: Anytime you want to know what I’m up to, just google my full name: Julie Eberhart Painter. I have seven flash fiction stories, a bio and an excerpt on www.bewilderingstories.com. All my novels can be accessed even the one out of print.
My website is www.books-jepainter.com, where you can see my books displayed, and three buy buttons to champagnebooks.com. Amazon carries some by other publishers. My Champagne releases are in the Kindle Store and available through Barnes and Noble and other popular e-tailers.
Kill Fee by Jullie Eberhart Painter
When Penny Olsen’s uncle is murdered, she inherits fifteen million dollars, servants and his moldy mausoleum, a ninety-eight-year-old beach house on an environmentally sensitive property.
Attorney, Cole Martin and Penny’s friendship develops as the senior bridge players scoff. They originally though she was a gold digger.
But who, in this town of genteel seniors would kill her beloved man and the editor of EARTH-be-WARE Magazine, an environmental slick? Perhaps the same person or persons who are after Penny. What secrets do Penny and Cole share that bond them together—and almost tear them apart?
Access http://www.champagnebooks.com to read about and buy this book.
PG-13 Kill Fee:
“Murder at the Bridge Table”:
Before the last round was announced, Penny asked if anyone wanted more coffee before she threw it away. It was her habit to offer it, although her uncle was usually the only taker. She liked to get a head start on cleaning up the kitchen before the scores came to her for entry into the computer. Everyone had to be out of the clubroom by 1:00 so that the next meeting, scheduled for 1:30 could assemble.
Uncle Connie, being of Norwegian descent never turned down a cup of coffee. There were only ten ounces left, enough to make a cup without disturbing the sludge in the bottom.
“Here, I’ll pour it for you. Your hand is shaking today. Are you all right?” Penny felt a stab of concern for her eighty-year-old uncle who was so thin you could almost see through him.
“Thank you, sweetheart,” he smiled up at Penny, the skin around his rheumy eyes crinkling into familiar lines.
After pouring her uncle’s coffee, Penny walked into the kitchen and dumped the grounds into the garbage disposal. She hosed down the inside of the percolator and put it on the counter, then placed the Folgers can on the first shelf, within easy reach. “Now stay there, you.” She closed and locked the cabinet and returned to her director’s table.
“Move when ready for the last round,” Penny announced. She remained standing so that she could collect the pickup slips.
The players moved their boards and placed themselves at their last table positions.
Ten minutes into the play, Penny, looked up when she heard a strange noise. A crowd had gathered around her uncle’s table. Fear clutched her heart as she rushed toward them.
Uncle Connie lay sprawled back against his chair. Players were holding him so he didn’t drop to the floor. “Connie, you’re scaring us.”
“Come on fellow. Move. Are you all right?”
Penny could hardly breathe as she reached the group of concerned seniors. “Out of my way!”
The old folks parted.
“Uncle Connie, Uncle Connie! What’s wrong?” Oh, God, she thought, I can’t lose him. Not yet. But she could see that her uncle was very gray, his lips were already turning blue. Penny looked around, helplessly, “Do something!”
But every one of his old friends was in shock and not moving.
~ * ~