Thursday 19 February 2015

Peace, man ... (Or why hippies should not take offense)

I go a little hard on 'hippies'* in my latest novel, A Note Before Dying, and for that I'd like to apologise and explain.

First, the explanation. 

It sounds like a dreadful cliche/cop-out but some of my best friends are hippies, really they are! And how could they not be? For the past 15 years I’ve been living in a region that could only be described as the Hippie Capital of Australia, the Byron Shire (just a hop skip and a djambe from the smoky village of Nimbin, a Hippie Mecca and home of the Age of Aquarius).

In my local shire, there are 'hippies' as far as the all-seeing eye can see—think, hemp clothing and velvet vests, white guys with dreads, communes and multiple occupancies, organic vegies and vegans, and creaky Kombi vans.  

At first it freaked me out. Fresh from the Meat Packing District of New York, I felt like I had landed on another planet. My God, who were these people?! The way 'they' ate, spoke, danced, dressed and even hugged (often in the middle of the street, for 10 minutes at a time), was like nothing I had ever encountered. 

And I've encountered plenty in my 40-plus years, I can tell you that! I mean, hey, I grew up in Papua New Guinea for crissake. I went to boarding school with nuns. I lived on a Greek Island, and worked in the cities of London, New York and LA. I've seen a fair bit; I've met my share of 'types'; and this was one of the most unique I had ever encountered.

Let me give you an example (one of many). My partner and I went to a dinner party one night, early in our first year here. All was going well, or so I thought, until one of the guests announcd that the energy in the room was not working for her and she wanted us to all gather in a circle, hold hands and chant. For half an hour. 

Hate to sound un-PC or anything, but that kind of thing, well, it takes a bit of getting used to. But get used to it I did. Eventually, I grew to understand that not all hippies are alike. (Duh!) I realised that boxing 'hippies' is as idiotic as boxing 'hipsters'. There may be a certain stereotypical way of eating, speaking, dancing, dressing and yes, even hugging, but that's where the similarities end.  Of course there are a million shades of grey, just like there are in every community subset and culture.

For every free-spirited hippie I have met, there is an equally close-minded (dare I say narcissistic?) one. Just as there are free spirits and narcissists amongst every subset. It's not rocket science, people. It's human beings, and you learn about it in Bigotry 101.

And so I hadn't really given the issue much thought lately, until I began to write my latest Ghostwriter Mystery, that is. 

And now for the apology...

While writing A Note Before Dying, I was forced to see 'hippies' afresh all over again, through Roxy Parker's eyes (and, even less sympathetically, through her rusted-on city mate Gilda Maltin's). And it wasn't pretty.

You see, Roxy lives and works in inner-city Sydney, more familiar with 'hipsters' than hippies'. She's a true-blue city gal. So when she comes to this region to ghostwrite the story of an aging rock star (and ends up investigating his murder, as is her want in life), she is viewing hippies through that distorted lens. The same lens through which I first viewed them. 

And so her bias comes out. Big time. Roxy and Gilda both give hippies a bit of a rough time in this book. They find them baffling, even a little amusing, and it may just annoy the 'hippies' who read it, and it will definitely annoy the PC police (of which, I know, there are many). 

Please don't take this to heart. It's fiction, people! It's about channelling the reality of a city girl encountering a 'subspecies' she has never met before. I did not write it to offend. I just wanted to be colourful and honest, and I hope I have achieved both.

[FYI: In the next book, Roxy does a lot of growing up. I can't speak for Gilda, though. I think she'll always be a little pigheaded where hemp clothing and white people in dreads is concerned. But hey, it's entertainment, peeps, it's supposed to be fun!]

So, with that caveat in mind, I hope you enjoy the latest Ghostwriter Mystery, and if you do see yourself in this book, I hope you can have a laugh (even if you do need to do a little chanting and burn a smudge stick afterwards).

Happy reading, everyone.

xo Christina 
*For want of a better word. I’m no fan of the term 'hippie', which, like ‘gypsy’ seems derogatory to me, yet is widely used and accepted in these parts, even amongst 'hippies'. Forgive me if it offends.

Sunday 15 February 2015

New Ghostwriter Mystery - you get the prizes!

With the launch of my 6th Ghostwriter Mystery, A NOTE BEFORE DYING I'm giving readers two chances to win a FREE copy of a current or past Ghostwriter mystery. I'm also discounting past Ghostwriter Mystery books so you can catch up on the story or simply immerse yourself in a fun, fast-paced adventure.

Win free copies

It's super simple; all you need to do is:

• GO TO TWITTER: tell me @CALarmer what makes a great murder mystery and you get a copy of my latest mystery A NOTE BEFORE DYING - just use my handle @CALarmer and the hashtag #GhostwriterMystery

• LOG ONTO AMAZON: be the first to review A NOTE BEFORE DYING on my Amazon website and you get your choice of any of my past mystery ebooks for free

Get discounted ebooks

• GO TO AMAZON: download a copy of Killer Twist (Book 1), Dying Words (Book 4) and Words Can Kill (Book 5) for just 99c each!

• GO TO SMASHWORDS: download a copy of Killer Twist (Book1), Dying Words (Book 4) and Words Can Kill (Book 5) for just 99c each!

Then sit back, read, and enjoy!

xo Christina

Monday 9 February 2015

Roxy returns—and no-one can guess whodunnit!

I'm thrilled (and not a little relieved) to announce the launch of my latest Ghostwriter Mystery,
A Note Before Dying

It's now available on Kindle at Amazon and iPad, Nook, Kobo etc, via Smashwords.

This is Roxy Parker's sixth scintillating adventure and my eighth crime novel, and I defy anyone to work out whodunnit before the riveting conclusion! No, really, it's been through more than its fair share of editors (thanks Diana, Elaine and Misha), not to mention readers (thanks Shell and Pete) and NOT ONE person has come close to guessing.

Can you work it out? 

Have a look and decide for yourself. Until then, happy (challenging!) reading.

xo Christina

A Note Before Dying (Ghostwriter Mystery 6)

When uber rock legend Jed Moody is electrocuted while strutting his stuff on stage, he’s lucky he’s got one true fan in the audience—ghostwriter Roxy Parker. She may be there to write his life story but now she wants to know who snuffed it out so violently, and why.

Could it be a string of lovers or his long-suffering wife? An embittered band member or the money hungry publicist? And what about all those local villagers who resent the upstart rock star, including sexy ‘sparkie’ Sam? He’s got the electrical expertise and the perfect reason to want Jed Moody dead. 

Sam’s also got his sights set on Roxy Parker and she’s falling for him fast.

In the sixth Ghostwriter Mystery, Roxy enlists her best friend Detective Gilda Maltin to help her investigate. What they uncover will shock Roxy to the core and make her question her own insight into the human heart.

Has Roxy’s fetish for crime finally clouded her judgment? Is she now incapable of recognizing evil, even when it’s staring her in the face?

Wednesday 4 February 2015

New Ghostwriter Cover Reveal!

A sneak peek for my devoted readers ...

A Note Before Dying will be up online at Amazon later tonight, and via Smashwords (Apple iPad, Nook, Kobo et al) over the next few days.

Stay tuned and happy squizzing.
(Oh and let me know what you think!)

xo Christina

Tuesday 3 February 2015

A note on my new title

It's been a long time coming, but the sixth Ghostwriter Mystery is about to hit the digital stands and, at last, I can reveal the winning title.
(grapple for the envelope, drum roll please...)

Roxy Parker's next adventure will be called: A Note Before Dying
(pause for thunderous applause)

A big THANK YOU, first and foremost, to fellow author Mary Kelly (of the Romantic Comedy trilogy) who emailed me through two terrific suggestions which helped form the basis of this wonderful title (once you read the book you'll understand just how wonderful it is). 

Mary has now won the coveted prize of naming the villain in my next book and has, in fact, already sent her suggestion through. It's a fabulous name, completely unexpected, and will make a terrific 'baddie'. She tells me the name is derived from an old work nemesis who, for now, shall remain nameless (not only for Mary's sake, but because I don't want to give away the plot to my next novel. Duh!)

Runners up
I'd also like to thank her four fellow contestants who also sent in some weird and wonderful ideas of their own: Michele (I'm stashing yours away for a future novel, hope that's okay), Lou (thanks, girl, you made me laugh), Horatio (six ideas! Man, you're prolific) and 'JP' (what the ...?). 

I loved hearing from you all and I appreciated your taking part. Thank you!

The trick behind titles
Naming book titles is not always as easy as it may seem. As Mary says, "As an author I find the title to be very important. Although sometimes a title is an easy choice from the start, I change my mind a million times for another book." 

In my case, I not only have to find a title that suits the specific plot, it has to have some general connection to murder (it has to sound a little ominous) and writing (it's a Ghostwriter Mystery, after all). Capturing all three elements in just a few words is no mean feat.

This time, as the story is about a musician who gets murdered, I think we've hit the right note.
(pause to groan loudly at the pun)

But you be the judge
A Note Before Dying will be up online by close of business Thursday, Feb 5. That's TOMORROW folks, and is subject to smooth sailing at Amazon and Smashwords. Look out for it and please, let me know your thoughts. 

I love hearing from my readers, and I look forward to taking you on another riveting ride with Roxy.

Happy reading everyone!
xo Christina