Today, I am hosting an author interview post with Lisa Fernow as part of the Dead on Her Feet book tour hosted by Goddess Fish Promotions. Dead on Her Feet is a mystery available now from Booktrope Publishing.
Lisa will be awarding a $30 GC to winner’s choice of online bookseller to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Be sure to follow the tour and comment; the more you comment, the better your chances of winning.
What happens when a dancer violates the tango code?
Tango instructor and chronic rule-breaker Antonia “Ant” Blakeley has no respect for authority. So when a much-hated member of the Atlanta tango community is stabbed in the middle of the dance floor, leaving her troubled nephew Christian first on the list of suspects, the last thing she wants to do is use her tango expertise to help the police work out how someone could have struck the fatal blow, unseen. As someone who has experienced police incompetence first hand Antonia doesn’t trust them to find the real killer. So she lies to give Christian an alibi, and the coverup begins.
Unfortunately for Ant, former marine Detective Sam Morrow is on the case and he will do whatever it takes to solve the crime. He’s not about to let Antonia hijack his case. As both Ant and Sam investigate (or in Ant’s case, interfere), the two sleuths are about to find out the more antagonistic meaning of “it takes two to tango.
Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area, Atlanta
THE ELEGANTLY SUITED ANTIQUES DEALER stood on a slab of bedrock jutting out into the Chattahoochee River and gazed out at Devil’s Race Course Shoals. The water level had been unseasonably low that July so he had been able to walk out practically into the middle of the channel without wetting his dress shoes.
In a few minutes the sun would set and the park would officially close. The water enthusiasts would pull their rafts from the rapids and the hikers would turn back on their trails to return to their cars and eventually, reluctantly, to civilization. Thunder rumbled in the distance.
Getting out into nature, far removed from his normal milieu, normally helped him to clear his mind but the Argentina business was different. Shameful. What should he do? Calling in the police was out of the question. He tried to play out the alternatives, weighing the consequences of each.
The thunder grew louder.
He pulled his cell phone out of his jacket pocket and dialed a number he knew better than to call but the unaccustomed wine he’d drunk at dinner overrode his better judgment. The phone rang five times. Finally a message came on instructing him to leave his name.
He said, “I need to talk to you. It’s important. Pick up. Pick up.”
He rambled into the phone at length as darkness fell, failing to notice that the river had begun to rise.
What comes first, the plot or characters?
For me, it starts with who will kill, who would they go after, and why? So I guess plot and characters are intertwined for me. The inspiration for Dead on Her Feet came when I became annoyed at a rival tango dancer who “stole” one of my favorite partners. In a flash of rage I imagined her dead, dead! And nobody seemed sorry at all! Ha! Aren’t you glad I take this out in my writing and not in real life?
What about your characters surprised you while writing Dead on Her Feet?
Being surprised by my characters is one of the greatest joys of writing, for me. One of my characters, Professor Bobby Glass, is a new dancer with bad eyesight, no rhythm, and no confidence. Contrast him with Eduardo Sanchez Jaury, an Argentine milonguero who has been dancing his entire life. When it comes to tango they are on opposite ends of the spectrum. In the back of my mind I always hoped Bobby and Eduardo would become friends.
As I started to build out their back stories I decided that one of the professor’s hobbies, since he’s a geologist, would be to help track down and authenticate gems the Nazis stole from the Jews in WWII. Don’t ask me where that idea came from. Meanwhile I decided Eduardo needed a dark past, and made him a Montonero, a member of an Argentine leftist group that carried out bombings, kidnappings and assassinations against the government. As I continued to research their fictitious histories, I discovered that while the former Argentine President Juan Peron was in power he had protected the Nazis and turned on the Montoneros he’d once supported. So Bobby and Eduardo, both hating Peron, had a reason to become great friends.
Didn’t see that one coming. But how cool.
How much of you is hidden in the characters in your book?
All the murderous parts. Otherwise the police might have to come for me.
Seriously, I think each character shares at least one characteristic with me or someone I love. It wasn’t planned. I am as stubborn as Antonia, for sure.
Dead on Her Feet has a soundtrack. Do you prefer to write in silence or with music?
That’s a really interesting question. For the most part I prefer to write in silence, but for the scenes actually involving music, I played the tracks over and over again, partly to get the timing down for the action I had plotted, but more to get the feeling of the scene. Tango music is a lot like opera in that both express deep passion – sometimes joyful, sometimes tragic. Click here to hear some of the soundtracks from Dead on Her Feet.
Dead on Her Feet is the first book in a planned series set in the tango world. How many books are planned?
I’m writing the second in the series now. This one will be set in Seattle. I would love to find a way to set different tango mysteries all over the world and keep Antonia busy solving crimes (or making things worse, depending on your perspective) indefinitely. There is a large group of tango addicts who travel all over to get their “fix” and it would be satisfying to follow them, as well as meet new characters. The challenge is how to credibly bring Sam Morrow along. Any ideas?
What is the hardest part about writing for you?
Sitting down in the chair in the first place, honestly. Writing is a discipline as much as it is a calling. I don’t allow myself to wait for inspiration.
From a craft standpoint I struggle a lot with story arcs. Robert McKee wrote a fabulous book on this and now I am on the straight and narrow path (or arc!).
I enjoyed the reading of Dead on Her Feet from your book launch party. What’s been your most rewarding experience since being published?
So glad you liked it! My most rewarding experience is hearing from my readers. For some reason I didn’t anticipate that people would actually write to me. One reader, who happens to be a friend, texted me after each chapter to tell me who she suspected and I had a lot of fun seeing the journey through her eyes. And, no, she didn’t guess the killer.
Anyone else who wants to watch the reading, can find it on my website here under An Evening of Argentine Intrigue.
Ebook or print? And why?
I like both for different occasions. I am a sucker for the tactile experience of holding a physical book in my hand. I especially like the older ones from the 30’s. They have beautiful book jackets, plus they smell good.
But for reading on the go, e-books win out. There is nothing like sitting on a beach in Thailand and being able to download a Robert Parker e-book in under 30 seconds. I consider that a technological miracle.
What book do you love that doesn’t get a lot of hype?
One of my very favorite mysteries of all time was actually written by A.A. Milne, author of the Winnie the Pooh series. It’s called The Red House Mystery and was published in 1922. It’s very innocent, and introduces conventions we’d consider cliché’s today. But at the time they were new and I love being transported back in time. I love going back to the golden age mysteries for this reason. Ngaio Marsh, Agatha Christie, Nicholas Blake, and others of that era used language very differently than we do today.
I also tend to enjoy strong female sleuths who don’t follow the rules. I recently collected 13 of my favorites from books, television and movies – if you go to my website and sign up for my email list you can download a free PDF of my recommendations: Female Sleuths Behaving Badly.
You have danced Argentine tango since 1996, studying with a number of legendary masters. What is a talent you wish you had, but don’t?
The ability to be present. Tango is totally improvised, and the best women follow without thinking. It’s a state I didn’t understand for many years, and rarely experience. The people who tend to be adept at this are often people who work intuitively with their bodies: yoga instructors and massage therapists, for example. Very Zen!
AUTHOR Bio and Links
Lisa Fernow grew up on the classic mysteries of Ngaio Marsh and Elizabeth Peters. Lisa has danced Argentine tango since 1996, studying with such legendary masters as Cacho Dante, Susana Miller, and Brigitta Winkler, as well as other inspiring instructors in Atlanta, Seattle, and Portland. Lisa’s short story,Death of a Tango Dancer was featured in King County Library’s Take Time to Read program. She lives in Seattle, Washington. Dead on Her Feet is the first book in a planned series set in the tango world. Read more at www.lisafernow.com.
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