by Cynthia Chow
& Joyce and Jim Lavene
This week we are reviewing Joyce and Jim Lavene’s supernatural mystery A Haunting Dream. The Lavene’s also share a guest post with us about what it is like writing together & you can enter to win a copy of the book-details at the end of this post.
A Haunting Dream By Joyce & Jim Lavene
Review by Cindy Chow
Had she not just been devastated by a break up with her boyfriend, Dae O’Donnell might not have been so willing to use her talent for reading the history of objects to help her irascible neighbor identify a medallion’s owner and claim a reward. Unfortunately, the former fiancé of FBI agent Kevin Brickman just walked back into his life to reclaim their relationship and end his budding romance with Dae, much to the sorrow of Dae and to the anger of Dae’s friends. All thoughts of self-pity fly out the window the second Dae touches the medallion though, as she not only recognizes it but also has a vision of the real owner’s murder. Even more upsetting to Dae is a dream that tells her that the murdered man’s young daughter has been kidnapped and desperately needs Dae’s help.
The small North Carolina town of Duck has accepted that its first mayor has the ability to find lost objects and “read” their history through touch, but her new abilities have the police dragging their feet and reluctant to fully support Dae’s claims. In fact, Dae has to look to an unexpected source to help her to develop her powers and save young Betsy; Ann Porter, Kevin’s former partner, possibly current fiancé, and a powerful psychic who had a breakdown when overwhelmed by the tragedies she continually encountered.
One can’t help but feel for Dae as her personal life implodes and she is also forced to run for re-election for mayor against a candidate who is willing to do whatever it takes to unseat her. I do wish that Kevin showed a little more backbone as Ann taunts, mocks, and even psychically attacks Dae. Poor Dae’s ex-con father doesn’t help matters, especially when it begins to seem that he may be involved in the kidnapping plot and murder. Dae’s supportive friends and her grandfather help her to prevail, and her good nature proves that the nice do not always finish last.
In this fourth Missing Pieces Mystery the husband and wife Lavene writing team continue to craft delightful plots with a touch of whimsy. They also create an ending that will have readers on the edge of their seats waiting for the next installment that is also sure to bring more complications into Dae’s life.
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How we come up with ideas
By Joyce and Jim Lavene
People ask us how we come up with ideas. That part is probably the same as most writers. Something you see or hear strikes you and your imagination takes off! There are more ideas, more stories, than anyone could write in a lifetime.
It’s a little different for us because we write together. That means the idea has to strike BOTH of us the same way. If one of us is only so-so about an idea, we usually don’t write it. That can be difficult – and a little tricky.
I don’t want to hurt HIS feelings about the wonderful idea he’s had. He doesn’t want to hurt MY feelings about the wonderful idea I’ve had.
How do we decide what is going to work for us?
It really is the idea that strikes both of us like a bolt of lightning. We both have to love it, or it won’t make it through the process. Lots of times, it’s his idea. Lots of times, it’s mine. The characters have to be people we both think are interesting. The place has to be somewhere we can both get excited about.
It takes about a year from the time we come up with a new idea until we sit down to write it. In the meantime, we add new things to the story and find new ways to look at the characters. We have pages and pages of text about what we want to say and how we want to say it before we sit down at the computer.
We are currently writing the second book in our new mystery series. The Sweet Pepper Fire Brigade Mysteries was born one morning when we were out driving and saw this tiny volunteer fire department. It was located in a small town in the Smoky Mountains, near Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.
Neither one of us are ever really sure why an idea hits us the right way. In this case, we started thinking about the amazing job that volunteer fire fighters do every day. They leave family events, get out of bed in the middle of the night, and risk their lives just for the good of the community. They are truly heroes!
And the more we thought about this idea, the more characters and plots evolved. What if this tiny fire department needed someone to help them get started? What if they hired a female fire fighter from Chicago? (Joyce’s family has served on the Chicago Fire Department for three generations)
And what if the ghost of the old fire chief was still hanging around?
What about the characters she’d find there in a small town called Sweet Pepper? What if the town grew and sold the hottest, sweetest peppers in the world? (Tennessee is known for their hot peppers) And what if they had a festival every year to celebrate their pepper heritage?
And so it went until the idea was set in our minds and we could hardly stand the excitement. We contacted our agent who ran the idea by our editor at Berkley and they loved it.
One catch: we write so many books, Berkley wanted us to write this series under a pseudonym – J.J. Cook.
We chose that name for the J.J. part (obviously), and Joyce’s maiden name is Koch, pronounced Cook.
That’s how it works. It’s not neat or particularly orderly, but we love our process. We enjoy working together each day, giving our characters life!
The first Sweet Pepper Fire Brigade Mystery, That Old Flame of Mine, will be out in April 2013. We’re looking forward to what our readers think about the new series!
To enter to win a copy of A Haunting Dream, simply email KRL at life@kingsriverlife[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “Dream”, or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen January 19, 2013. U.S. residents only.
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