Wednesday 28 May 2014

Roxy rears her head again!

It starts with a woman frantically banging her tiny fists against the car window, spraying sweat and desperation all over the impenetrable glass. It ends with Roxy Parker solving not only this suspicious death but the murder of a whimsical groupie whose body is found washed up in a creek on the hinterland property of an aging rock star ...

Yep, I've officially begun the SIXTH Ghostwriter Mystery adventure and I'm in imaginary heaven again. Is there anything more fabulous to a writer than this early, dreamy process? You have the bare bones, the skeleton, the start (and end) as I do, and you have to fill in the blanks.

Starting a new novel is always exhilarating, energising and slightly terrifying. There's a clean slate, a million possibilities and an empty road ahead. With Roxy books, they always fill in very quickly. Well, almost always. I occasionally hit a road bump, the proverbial writers block, but it rarely lasts long and it only takes a quick glance at a previous book (find the voice, remember the inspiration!) to get me over the speed bumps.

Okay enough of the crappy road metaphores. You get the picture. And soon you will get the book, but first I have to get cracking. This means, dear readers, that I may be out of touch for a while.

I'll let you know how I'm going along the way, but please be patient with me. Once I'm ensconced in Roxy's world, I often forget to come up for air (let alone write a blog, eat lunch, pick up the kids ...) but the end result is usually worth it. At least it is to me. (My hungry kids may have other opinions on that.)

In the meantime, happy reading everyone and thanks for all your support over this long and fabulous process. And please, never hesitate to get in touch. I ALWAYS have time to hear from readers, especially happy ones!

xo Christina

Thursday 22 May 2014

How cozy am I?

I'm often described as the author of 'cozy mysteries' and I have no problem with that. I've always celebrated that title because it sounds about right. I love cozy mysteries myself. I like to snuggle up in front of the fire and read/solve a good mystery without having my wits terrified or my stomach turn from all the blood and gore.

Give me a tiny dagger wound and a good riddle any day over a sleazy serial killer who tortures his victims and scares the bejesus out of his readers. No thank you!

And I guess I write that way, too. My murders are not prolonged bloodfests, there's no Mr Evil lurking on every page, stringing out your nerves or startling you under the bed covers. There's a quick death and a lot of clues to help you work out whodunnit.

There's just one problem...

My characters tend to swear a lot. I mean, A LOT. And that's largely because most of my books are set in Australia. I've discussed this before, but it's important to remind everyone that profanities are a regular part of the Australian discourse. Love it or loathe, Aussies are a pretty foul-mouthed bunch. It's just part of who we are. An adult conversation is rarely completed without the odd 'bloody', 'shit', 'crap' and—dare I say it—f-word.

Doesn't bloody matter who you are or what friggin' class/wage bracket you're in, most of us swear. We don't give it a second thought. It's the laid-back, laconic image we have manifested and can't seem to shake off, even when no one's listening. Most of us don't have a problem with it, either, it's just a cultural thang.

But is it a 'cozy' thing?

Therein lies my conundrum. Because some of my characters cuss regularly and are quite gritty, does this negate the cozy title? I'd love to hear your thoughts on this. I know that many American readers of 'Cozy Crime', want the writing to be as benign as the murders and that's fair enough. Yet, as I tell my critics, to erase all the bad language in my books (which are largely set in Australia) would be like taking out the big hair, guns and the word 'ya'll' from a mystery set in America's deep south.

It just wouldn't ring true.

Yet to say my books are not cozy would be like calling Agatha Christie's work 'Thrillers'. We are what we are, give or take a few f-bombs.

What do you think? Does it even matter? Perhaps all this labelling is a bloody big waste of time? I'd love to hear from you. Jot me a comment below or email me directly:

Happy reading, everyone.
xo Christina

Tuesday 20 May 2014

WIN a paperback copy of my latest book

One of my favourite book websites and a keen supporter of my work is Goodreads, which many of you will know.  

Goodreads: Book reviews, recommendations, and discussionThey are currently running a giveaway, offering 3 paperback copies of my new Ghostwriter Mystery WORDS CAN KILL starring feisty Roxy Parker.

This book sees Australia's favourite 'Ghost' pack her bags and head to Europe on a quest to find her missing boyfriend, brooding photographer Max Farrell.
Or IS he her boyfriend? She's confused, he's gone missing (with another woman, no less) and the dead bodies are piling up, fast.

It's a fun, fast read and you can score a free paperback copy through the mail—thanks to Goodreads. Go check them out, and best of luck.

xo Christina

Words Can Kill (A Ghostwriter Mystery 5)
read book**Different edition

Words Can Kill (A Ghostwriter Mystery 5)

5.0 of 5 stars 5.00  ·  rating details  ·  3 ratings  ·  1 review
In her fifth and most heart-wrenching mystery yet, Ghostwriter Roxy Parker is hot on the trail of her estranged boyfriend Max. He's disappeared from a Swiss resort, a perky blonde by his side, and his flatmate has shown up murdered in Berlin. He was bludgeoned by his own 1920's Gibson guitar and the German police suspect Max of murder. But Roxy knows better.

Max Farrell ma...more

Sunday 18 May 2014

Better to sleep soundly?

My 10-year-old walked past a promotional poster for The Conjuring last week, and spent that night, wide-eyed and clawing at his sheets, terrified of falling asleep and into the nightmare-from-hell. He couldn't get the image out of his buzzing little brain.

He's never even seen the movie, not so much as a frame, but it didn't matter a jot.

My older son, meanwhile, could watch reruns of Halloween, Friday The 13th and I Know What You Did Last Summer then play a full game of Doom 3: Resurrection of Evil and still be blissfully snoring within minutes. (If his 'mean' mother ever allowed him, of course.) He's always slept like the proverbial bub and scary stories/sights seem to go straight over his head.

Is he the lucky one? Or is his brother?

My youngest may have an over-active imagination, one that keeps (us all) up at night, but I can't help wondering whether it's a gift in disguise. He's suffering, sure, but he's also a very creative character with a wonderful way with words. He can whip up a gripping story and take you into an imaginary world with incredible ease for his age (and spelling capacity).

Maybe his unsettled sleep is a small price to pay for a lifetime of conjuring?

What do you think? Please share your thoughts and comments below or send me an email: I'd love to hear from you.

Happy reading!
xo Christina

Monday 12 May 2014

The TRUE story behind my favourite "child"

Okay, I know you're not supposed to have favourites, but I have to confess, this one is really special to me (shhhhh, just don't tell anyone). I loved creating this 'baby', it reminded me a lot of my own wonderful childhood, and I still enjoy immersing myself in its many depths and delights.

No, of course I'm not referring to an actual flesh and blood kid. [I could never pick a fave—my boys are both so different and bring me pleasure (and some pain!) in wonderous and equal measure.]

I'm referring to one of my favourite Ghostwriter Mysteries: Dying Words which I am now making available for FREE through  Smashwords. That's a big drop from $2.99.

Why it's so spesh
I loved writing Dying Words—it poured out fast and fluently; I barely came up for breath. I love the content, the characters, the plot and the setting, part of it in exotic Indonesia. But most of all, I love the fact that it is based on a very real premise. That's the most exciting part of all, and that's why I've decided I want to share it with more readers and offer it for free.

Back in 2008 I was asked to write a book about my father's 45 years as a surveyor in Papua New Guinea. His company, Arman Larmer Surveys (ALS), began as a small, struggling business run from the kitchen bench of a home we shared with his business partner, Graeme Arman. Within 20 years ALS had moved into Indonesia, and become the largest survey company in PNG with capacity to deploy up to 20 survey teams at any one time, and working on major projects like the Ok Tedi Gold Mine and the LNG gas project.

It was a terriffic story and a joy to write. More than that, it was a unique chance to sit my father (a true 'man of few words') down and MAKE him talk. And not just about his work but about my childhood, how we came to be born and living in the tropics, and how he made such a success of it. All good stuff.

The fact behind the fiction 
During this process, I interviewed a charming, elderly man called Graham Matheson. He was the Surveyor General in those early days and a key player in Dad's career. After our interview, he handed me a framed, black and white photograph of a bunch of men sitting at a table during the 1970 survey congress. It was a fairly innocuous picture and, as I say in the novel, verging on outright dull.

Clearly it was not so dull to Mr Matheson. Late one night, some months after the book was published, I got a call from Graeme Arman frantic to know where the photo had ended up. Mr Matheson was on his deathbed, he had just hours to live, and was desperate for the photo be be returned. Pronto!

I madly did some research and realised it was with the publisher. One thing led to another and the picture was promptly couriered back. Mr Matheson died soon after. To this day I do not know whether he lived to see and hold that photo again, nor can I understand why he needed to so keenly.

Surely, on your deathbed, the last thing you care about is an old photo of a bygone time?

Then a friend in my bookclub said, "There's a story there!" and my imagination ran wild. I imagined it held the key to some elaborate mystery, maybe to a will with an enormous fortune?

I never learned the truth behind that picture, but I did get the germ of a great idea. The result is Dying Words, the fouth Ghostwriter Mystery. I do hope you enjoy it as much as I still do. And I thank you for being part of this adventure with me.

Happy reading.
xo Christina