Morning and Happy Friday everyone. For those of you who had to go back to work Wed or Thu, I bet you are glad it's the weekend. It's positively tropical here in Scotland today, 13C. Very mild for January.
Anyway, following on from last week's review of For The Love of Jazz, I thought I would get to know the woman behind the book. Enjoy today's interview, Sooz
It’s great to be here, Susan.
I know you have a love of jazz music. What in particular about jazz inspired you to have it as a main theme running through your debut novel?
Definitely the way it makes me feel. The melodious sounds of the instruments and the singers’ voices stir something in me. That and images of Billie Holiday, and Louis Amstrong in their early days in clubs crammed with people and thick smoke. The idea rattled around in my head long before ending up on paper and fit the story and characters as the book unfolded.
There is a lot of very tense sexual chemistry in the book and well executed. How did you go about ensuring Patrick was such a heartthrob?
Believe it or not he was a difficult character to write. He clammed up for most of the book. It was only when I spent quality time with him that he finally opened up and told me all his secrets and they made him so delicious.
The two time periods, when the aunt disappeared and the present, often overlap by means of the paranormal/ghost aspect. What gave you the idea for this and did you employ any tactics for ensuring that it would weave seamlessly into the story?
Great question! Lola and William were part of another story and I became so attached that I wanted to include them. They originally had a bigger role, taking control of Patrick and Josie, but it didn’t work with the rest of the story, so I brainstormed ideas to make it fit without them taking over the story or the main characters.
How would you categorise the elements of your book in order of importance, eg romance/suspense/etc?
Romance first for sure. Mystery is another major element. It does have elements of the suspense/paranormal/ghosts, but they’re not nearly enough to be considered major elements.
You deal with a very serious theme in the book, that of a relationship between a black woman and a white upper middle-class man. What led you to include these characters and indeed make them a focal point?
My parents are a mixed couple, along with a lot of people in my family, and even my own marriage. Growing up, I longed to see mixed couples romances, but they were few and far between back then. Also, the original story was about Lola and William and the challenges they faced, not only as a mixed couple, but being from different social backgrounds. Josie and Patrick’s story won over, but I enjoyed them so much I wanted them to be a part of the story.
I love reading about old houses. I think this is the first novel where I have read about house restoration. Do you have any personal experience of this trade, and if not, how did you choose this career for Josie?
My parents love to buy fixer uppers. Thankfully it wasn’t while I lived at home. That’s as close to it as I got. I do love old houses, but more learning about their history than restoring them. I wanted Josie to have a unique career, and something that would tie her not only to Patrick, but the house.
I don’t think I’ve ever asked this question, yet it’s a fairly simple one. How did you choose your characters’ names? The motivation of authors in naming their characters interests me, as we all do it differently.
I take character naming very seriously. I have a book with baby names and I look up the meaning to make sure it fits the character. I took Josie’s name from another book I was writing. It fit her better. Her last name, Fagan, was Billie Holiday’s birth name. I wanted them connected in some way. Patrick’s name was easier. I researched old Chicago names and came up with Pullman.
The tension and danger created throughout the novel via the threats decidedly adds an air of excitement to the novel and I loved the twist at the end. Did you use any devices to send the reader off on wild goose chases to think it was someone other than the culprit?
I’m glad to hear you liked the twist at the end. I’d never written suspense before, so it was a challenge for me. I’m great with figuring out the ‘who dun it’ when I read or watch a show, but it’s different when you’re trying to create it yourself. I got great feedback/tips from Leigh Michaels, a teacher at Gotham, about suspects, and the book Writing and Selling your Mystery Novel on dropping clues and misguiding readers. I also studied a lot of criminal shows to see how they fooled watchers.
The issue of the uncle’s will and the money lent an additional note of intrigue to what Patrick and Josie would do. Did you always know what Josie would do, or did you have a few options?
Her business is important to her, and the money would really help, but Josie’s an upright person so there was only one choice. The challenge was if she would give up the house, given her strong connection and love for it.
With the release of For The Love of Jazz, what’s next for you?
I’m working on two stories at the moment. The first one is called Deadly Bloodlines. It’s a thriller about the daughter of a serial killer who lives in Cayman. The second is the story of a woman meets her soul mate in her dreams. It’s called The Trouble with Soul Mates. Not sure what category that one will go into yet.
Favourite Christmas movie
Toss-up between It’s a wonderful life and Love Actually.
Favourite animated or children’s movie
Megamind. I’m a sucker for a laugh and underdogs.
Have you ever made any New Year’s resolutions? If so, name one which worked and one which didn’t?
Oh, yes. Taking on-line writing classes. I always felt I didn’t have enough time. I made time that year. One that didn’t make it was a resolution in 2008 to get published. I published in 2012 and it wasn’t even on my list. LOL.
What’s the big annual celebration for you?
Christmas. It’s my favorite time of year: spending time with family and friends, decorating the house, and seeing everything covered in lights.
You live in the Cayman Islands. Tell us something we would be unlikely to know about Cayman. Hmm, telling you something about the people would be easier. Caymanian men were in WWII and worked building bridges in the US.
What was your favourite subject at school?
English Literature for sure. I wasn’t great at interpreting Shakespeare, but I loved the poetic sound of the words and how they flowed together to make music and comedy.
What was your first job?
Working at an ice-cream parlour after school and on Saturdays. I got to eat as much ice cream as I wanted. It seemed like a dream come true at the time, but I didn’t eat ice-cream for a year after I stopped working there.
Everyone knows I am a huge Rupert Penry-Jones fan. Who’s your RPJ? (husband or partner disallowed!)
I’d have to say Hugh Jackman. He’s sexy, down to earth, has a sense of humor, and isn’t afraid to sing and dance.
Desserts - cakes or cheese and biscuits? And which is your favourite?
I’m gonna be greedy and take both. LOL. I have a sweet tooth, but I love cheese.
Wine, cocktails or spirits and which is your favourite?
I like a glass of red wine once in a while, but I’ll take a fruity martini any day.
Thanks so much for having me. I really enjoyed answering your questions and hanging out!
It was great to have you, Elke. Thanks for stopping by.
It was great to have you, Elke. Thanks for stopping by.
You can catch up with Elke here:-
and you can buy the book via the following links -
Tune in on Sunday for another Six Sentence Sunday. And I have a rather large surprise for you!